Point Master criticism please

I am useless at pointing. Having a large slab laid area I find pointing it difficult and time consuming. Worse of all is keeping the surrounding slabs clean, I've tried using dry mortar mix but even fail at that. Having seen this tool advertised and watched the video I wondered if anyone had first hand experience of it, and what they thought? I know the video looks great, but like most other people I have bought items at shows where the demonstrator made it look easy, only to get home and find the item useless.
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Residing on low ground in North Staffordshire

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Some views expressed here earlier this year can be viewed at https://groups.google.com/group/uk.d-i-y/browse_thread/thread/d7440bf651a9759f/1e191650ad5bdc7a?hl=en&ie=UTF-8&q=pointmaster+group:uk.d-i-y#1e191650ad5bdc7a
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Robin
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On 22/10/2011 15:30, Moonraker wrote:

IME what you need is a damp mortar mix i.e. just enough water to darken the colour of the cement, and no more. I watched a master craftsman doing a large crazy paving area recently and he was mixing his mortar that way with great care.
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stuart noble wrote:

The right mix, care and, above all, practice beat *any* special tool. I used a small bricklaying trowel with either a rounded or pointed end for every style from a nice double tuck with a peak in the middle, to the recessed, almost half round shape.
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Tciao for Now!

John.

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On 22/10/2011 17:03, John Williamson wrote:

Just out of interest, what would be the experts method of getting mortar into very deep recesses where the lime mortar has failed? Some of mine go right to the back of the brick.
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On Sat, 22 Oct 2011 18:26:34 +0100, Maria wrote:

IANE but to pack the joints here I used a bit bent steel strip about 1/2" wide and 1/8" thick. Place mortar on trowel or hawk offer up to bottom edge of joint and push in with the bent steel strip.
The proper tool name is a brick jointer, google images has plenty of examples.
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Dave.




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I work with two trowels, a large one used as a mortar board, and a small (pointing) trowel to do the work. I repoint with a 6:1:1 mix, with the addition of a waterproofer (or combined waterproofer/ plasticiser) if the location if particularly exposed to rain/wind. Note that "pointing" is only the outer half inch of mortar - if you are raking out more than that, that's not just repointing, but is more structural. You should not routinely rake out lime mortar that deep - it's only chalk and sand and you can rake it all out if you keep going, but that doesn't mean there was anything wrong with it. You only want the loose stuff out which has been weathered and isn't supporting anything.
The mix is everything. Make/shape a piece of evenly flat mortar on the board, thickness slightly thinner than the gap it has to go in. Cut a clean square edge on it with the pointing trowel. Now move back about an inch so you are cutting an inch strip, and slide it off the mortar board. If you have the mix right, the edge of it sticks to the pointing trowel, and you can push it between the bricks without touching the brick faces. It will fall off the pointing trowel eventually, so don't take too long standing there thinking about the positioning/angle of attack. As you master this, you will realise how perfectly shaped the pointing trowel is. The two edges, and the option of forehand and backhand, give you loads of positioning options for inserting the mortar into cracks.
If the mortar slides off, it's too wet, or you're too ambitious on the size of the chunk you're trying to do in one go. If it crumbles without forming a single coherent piece, it's probably too dry, or it's been mixed up too long and has set too much (cement mortar).
A slight variation if you can't master getting the mortar to stick to the pointing trowel is to slide it in from the larger trowel, but this is not as professional, and may indicate you have the wrong mix, and thus more liable to get cement staining on the brick faces.
In either case, use the trowel to force as much in as possible, but don't worry about the finish yet.
Once you've got the mortar in the gap (usually when you've done a run of bricks), you then need to tidy up the pointing. The object here is to end up with a finish on the exposed mortar which is consistent, and is polished with damp steel which makes it smooth and weatherproof. It's easier to do this after the bricks have sucked a little moisture out of the mortar, which is why you leave it at least a few minutes. There are lots of different pointing finishes, but you should try to match whats already there, although things like ribbon pointing are not for beginners. The two easiest are a slight rain shedding slope which you do with the brick trowel, and the curved "bucket handle" finish which you do with a curved pointing tool (not normally with a bucket handle, although that's probably where the name came from originally). Some excess mortar will be ejected as you do either of these, but it will be dry enough to be crumbly by this time and should just fall away without sticking/staining the brick faces.
If you do make a mess of the brick faces, there's always the option to clean up with brick acid after a few weeks (when the mortar is well set), but don't use that anywhere near a lime mortar wall.
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Andrew Gabriel
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On 22/10/2011 15:30, Moonraker wrote:

I've got one. One attempt at lime mortar pointing went horribly wrong (it squeezed a lot of the water out and then clogged up the nozzle). I contacted them and they were very helpful. I am not experienced with lime mortar so I'm not blaming the tool yet - I need more tries with less water and more time to fatten the mortar up, then I'll be able to say if it's any good or not! The video makes it look very good though, and I have deep crevices that need filling, so if it works, it will ensure that the spaces are filled properly (but I'll probably poke it in with a wooden spatula or something just to make sure it has filled the spaces properly!)
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That's why I bought one - I'd joints where there was nothing behind the pointing until the plaster on t'other side of the 9" wall (or until the inside of the chimney stack).
I've not used lime mortar but the (now generally deprecated) 9:2:1 mix. With the pointmaster's nozzle adjusted to fit into the slot I can squirt a nice and fluffy mix at least 4" into the joint. Anyone younger and/or who eats their spinach could probably do better :)
I am still crap at pointing in terms of the final finish but (i) I've still not had much practice and more important (ii) I am *much* faster at getting a decent whack of mortar deep into the joint.
--
Robin
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