This section is from the book "Spons' Mechanics' Own Book: A Manual For Handicraftsmen And Amateurs", by Edward Spon. Also available from Amazon: Spons' Mechanics' Own Book.
In the next place the stopping when filled into the natural joints of the brickwork, even if tucked in sound (which is not always the case), is "ironed" up to a smooth surface level with the face of the bricks, leaving nothing in the character of a key, by which the "artificial joint" when planted on its face may become incorporated with it. These artificial joints when "laid on" and completed consist of a network of raised bands of parallel width, bearing a strong resemblance to a fine mesh " trellis-work," stuck on to the brick face, and having no useful purpose whatever, beyond defining the bond and courses, and not always that truthfully, because, the brickwork being carried up without any particular regard to truth, the artificial joints are frequently placed upon the surface of the brick instead of the natural joint.
The whole secret of forming these joints depends upon the dexterity with which a workman can plaster on the face of the stopping a ridge of pointing material 1/2-3/4 in. wide, and then drag two-thirds of it off again with a " Frenchman," which is supposed to cut it off. This Frenchman is simply an old dinner-knife ground to a point, the tip of which is turned down square to form a hook, the hook being intended for cleaning off the superfluous material cut by the edge of the knife as it passed along the straightedge. But it is seldom sufficiently sharp for cutting it, so it simply drags off, leaving to each joint a couple of jagged edges, standing out 1/16-1/8 in. in thickness, upon which the moisture, dust, and sooty matters can deposit themselves to any extent, and eat their way into the mudlike stopping, which requires but a very short space of time to become entirely rotten and disintegrated, and if the surface or artificial joint has not by this time already fallen off from the want of cohesion, the whole will gradually bulge out from the face of the wall, and ultimately tumble together.
There is another description of pointing, sometimes called "bastard tuck," the mode being somewhat similar to the last, only that it is done without any previous stopping. The pointing mortar is generally laid on with a tool called a " jointer," guided by a straightedge. This tool has a face the same width as the intended joint, and leaves its impress upon the material, the superfluous margins being cut or dragged oft' by the Frenchman, the same as before. This kind of work is preferable to tuck-pointing, inasmuch as it is capable of being made sound and durable, especially if the original joints have been previously and effectually raked out; also the mortar may contain a greater proportion of grit, and need not contain any colouring matter to depreciate its setting qualities. It can also be pressed into the natural joints with greater effect, thereby ensuring stability, and finished flush with the face, which will be a nearer approach in appearance to work legitimately struck off the trowel.
There is yet another kind of " bastard tuck-pointing," which used occasionally to be applied to brickwork, faced with yellow malms, which consists of a method of stopping in the natural joints, while yet soft, and at the same time rubbing over the whole surface with a piece of brick of the same kind as those in the wall. By these means, the particles ground from the friction of the bricks become mingled with the mortar, so that the face of the wall, bricks, and joints are one level surface, and as nearly as possible one tint. It is then left until the time arrives for finishing, when the artificial joints are laid on in the same manner as described in tuck-pointing. One thing in favour of this method is the fact that the stopping becomes nearly as hard as the bricks, and therefore very little danger occurs of early decay. But with the disappearance of yellow malm bricks, this system of pointing appears to have disappeared also, and it would be well to be enabled to say the same of all other pointing in so far as new brickwork is concerned.
If pointing is to be done, and must be done, then let it be done properly - that is to say, neatly and sound, with good material, say Portland cement, spread out in a dry place for several days to air it, and mixed with a fair proportion of good sharp, fine grit, well washed; the natural joints raked out to a depth of not less than 3/8 in., easily done when the work is being built, before it has had time to get hard, with a piece of wood shaped as a raker; it should not by any means be done with an iron instrument, which, in the hands of an unskilful workman, will tear off the arris of the bricks. After raking, the face of the wall should be cleaned, and the joints well swept with a hard broom. It should be borne in mind, that if the bricks are cleaned at this stage, the cleaning can be done at half the cost, because the dirt and mortar spots will not have had time to case-harden; if allowed to do so, there is no hope of removing them without destroying the face of the brick. In hot, dry weather each piece of work should be well saturated with water before pointing, which should not be commenced while the water is standing upon the face.
The joints should also be "roughed in," and finished while sufficiently moist to be pliable; the tool should be a trowel, because what little trimming is necessary on the score of neatness is best done with the trowel, for the reason that it does not tear the edges. Bed brickwork especially, when pointed in this way, will look remarkably well; because, when toned down by a few months' wear, the tint of the cement harmonizes with the colour of the brick with a very pleasing effect. The strength and tone of the material will be greatly improved by a few drenchings of water, after the work is done, and sufficiently hard to bear it, providing the season of the year will permit it. In the absence of cement, the best "greystone lime" should be used. This should not be "run," the common way of treating this kind of lime, but "air-slaked," sifted dry through a very fine sieve, and mixed with the sand before wetting, in the same way as with cement, only the whole quantity required for the job should if possible be made up at one time, and kept moist; not by continual adding of water, but in a damp place, shaded from the sun and wind, and before using beaten into a fit state of consistency, with a wooden or iron beater.