Arches are constructions built of wedge-shaped blocks, which by reason of their shape give support one to another, and to the Arches. super-imposed weight, the resulting load being transmitted through the blocks to the abutments upon which the ends of the arch rest. An arch should be composed of such materials and designed of such dimensions as to enable it to retain its proper shape and resist the crushing strain imposed upon it. The abutments also must be strong enough to take safely the thrust of the weighted arch, as the slightest movement in these supports will cause deflection and failure. The outward thrust of an arch decreases as it approaches the semicircular form, but the somewhat prevalent idea that in the latter form no thrusting takes place is at variance with fact.

Fig. 14.  The shape of a voussoir, showing the use of lacing courses. Fig. 14.

Arches in brickwork may be classed under three heads: plain arches, rough-cut and gauged. Plain arches are built of uncut bricks, and since the difference between the outer and inner periphery of the arch requires the parts of which an arch is made up to be wedge-formed, which an ordinary brick is not, the difference must be made in mortar, with the result that the joints become wedge-shaped. This obviously gives an objectionable inconsistency of material in the arch, and for this reason to obtain greatest strength it is advisable to build these arches in independent rings of half-brick thickness. The undermost rings should have thin joints, those of each succeeding ring being slightly thickened. This prevents the lowest ring from settling while those above remain in position, which would cause an ugly fissure. In work of large span bonding blocks or "lacing courses" should be built into the arch, set in cement and running through its thickness at intervals, care being taken to introduce the lacing course at a place where the joints of the various rings coincide. Stone blocks in the shape of a voussoir (fig. 14) may be used instead.

Except for these lacing courses hydraulic lime mortar should be used for large arches, on account of its slightly accommodating nature.

Rough-cut arches are those in which the bricks are roughly cut with an axe to a wedge form; they are used over openings, such as doors and windows, where a strong arch of neat appearance is desired. The joints are usually made equal in width to those of the ordinary brickwork. Gauged arches are composed of specially made soft bricks, which are cut and rubbed to gauges or templates so as to form perfectly fitting voussoirs. Gauging is, of course, equally applicable to arches and walling, as it means no more than bringing every brick exactly to a certain form by cutting and rubbing. Gauged brickwork is set in lime putty instead of common mortar; the finished joints should not be more than 1/32 in. wide. To give stability the sides of the voussoirs are gauged out hollow and grouted in Portland cement, thus connecting each brick with the next by a joggle joint. Gauged arches, being for the most part but a half-brick in thickness on the soffit and not being tied by a bond to anything behind them - for behind them is the lintel with rough discharging arch over, supporting the remaining width of the wall - require to be executed with great care and nicety.

It is a common fault with workmen to rub the bricks thinner behind than before to lessen the labour required to obtain a very fine face joint. This practice tends to make the work bulge outwards; it should rather be inverted if it be done at all, though the best work is that in which the bricks are gauged to exactly the same thickness at the back as at the front. The same fault occurs when a gauged arch is inserted in an old wall, on account of the difficulty of filling up with cement the space behind the bricks.

The bond of an arch obtains its name from the arrangement of headers and stretchers on its soffit. The under side of an arch built in English bond, therefore, will show the same arrangement as the face of a wall built in English bond. If the arch is in Flemish the soffit presents the same appearance as the elevation of a wall built in that bond.

It is generally held that the building of wood into brickwork Plates. should as far as is possible be avoided. Wall plates of wood are, however, necessary where wood joists are used, and where these plates may not be supported on corbels of projecting brickwork or iron they must be let flush into the wall, taking the place of a course of bricks. They form a uniform bed for the joists, to which easy fixing is obtained. The various modes adopted for resting and fixing the ends of joists on walls are treated in the article Carpentry.

Fig. 15.  Relieving arches. Fig. 15.

Lintels, which may be of iron, steel, plain or reinforced concrete, or stone, are used over square-headed openings instead of or in conjunction with arches. They are useful to preserve the square form and receive the joiners' fittings, but except when made of steel or of concrete reinforced with steel bars, they should have relieving arches turned immediately over them (Fig.15).

"Fixing bricks" were formerly of wood of the same size as the ordinary brick, and built into the wall as required for fixing joinery. Owing to their liability to shrinkage and decay, their use is now practically abandoned, their place being taken by bricks of coke-breeze concrete, which do not shrink or rot and hold fast nails or screws driven into them. Another method often adopted for providing a fixing for joinery is to build in wood slips the thickness of a joint and 4½ in. wide. When suitable provision for fixing has not been made, wood plugs are driven into the joints of the bricks. Great care must be taken in driving these in the joints of reveals or at the corners of walls, or damage may be done.