Title:
Device for laying brick constructs
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A device for aiding in laying bricks to form a multi-sided brick construct comprises retaining means and a plurality of levels; wherein the retaining means allows the device to be retained at a given position in relation to a construct being formed so that the levels can be used to ensure that a course of bricks above the retaining means is laid substantially horizontally along a plurality of sides of the construct; and wherein the retaining means is mounted so that it can be moved or removed relative to the rest of the device.



Inventors:
Chisholm, Paul (Southport, GB)
Application Number:
10/972609
Publication Date:
04/28/2005
Filing Date:
10/25/2004
Assignee:
CHISHOLM PAUL
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E04G21/18; (IPC1-7): E04B1/00; E04F21/00
View Patent Images:
Related US Applications:
20040154239Plastic duct terminatorAugust, 2004Sack
20080289263One Piece Gutter with Intergrated ScreenNovember, 2008Brochu
20030159380Outside corner post protector and repair device for sidingAugust, 2003Charles Sr. et al.
20090255205Engineered Molded Fiberboard Panels and Methods of Making and Using the SameOctober, 2009Noble et al.
20050166490Skylight with displacement absorber and interlocking telescoping tubesAugust, 2005Darmer et al.
20030177712Flashing systemSeptember, 2003Gatherum
20100077679STRUCTURE INSTALLATION STANDApril, 2010Sagayama
20050144853Antiperch device for birdsJuly, 2005Sabine
20100024334Wood board incorporating embedded sound attenuating elements and stiffening elementsFebruary, 2010Stanhope
20010020353Modular trussSeptember, 2001Carr
20070193134Device for achieving an upper anchoring of a staircaseAugust, 2007Desjoyaux et al.



Primary Examiner:
BARTOSIK, ANTHONY N
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HESLIN ROTHENBERG FARLEY & MESITI PC (5 COLUMBIA CIRCLE, ALBANY, NY, 12203, US)
Claims:
1. A device for aiding in the laying of bricks to form a multi-sided brick construct, the device comprising a retaining member and a plurality of levels; wherein the retaining member allows the device to be retained at a given position in relation to a construct being formed so that the levels can be used to ensure that a course of bricks above the retaining member is laid substantially horizontally along a plurality of sides of the construct; and wherein the retaining member is mounted so that it can be moved or removed relative to the rest of the device.

2. A device according to claim 1; wherein the retaining member is movably mounted so that it can be moved into a first position at which it rests on a lower course of bricks and the device can then be used in laying one or more higher courses of bricks in a substantially horizontal manner; and wherein the retaining member can then be moved into a second position at which it is free from contact with the construct so that the device can then be lifted and, the retaining member can be used again at a higher position to retain the device when laying further courses of bricks in a substantially horizontal manner.

3. A device according to claim 2 wherein the retaining member is slidably mounted and/or pivotally mounted.

4. A device according to claim 1; wherein the retaining member is removably mounted to the device, so that the device can be used without the retaining member for laying a first course of bricks, but the retaining member can then be attached to the device to allow further courses of bricks to be laid with the retaining member in place and functioning to retain the device in relation to the construct so that the levels can be used to ensure that a course of bricks laid above the retaining member is laid substantially horizontally along a plurality of sides of the construct.

5. A device according to claim 1 further comprising a first side and a second side, and wherein said retaining member comprises a first retaining member located on said first side and further comprising a second retaining member located on said second side.

6. A device according to claim 1 comprising an indicator for indicating the upper edge of a course of bricks to be laid.

7. A device according to claim 6, wherein the indicator is adjustable between a plurality of different positions to allow the device to be used to lay bricks of different sizes.

8. A device according to claim 6, wherein said indicator comprises a first indicator of a plurality of indicators so that when the device is positioned on the construct using the retaining member the plurality of indicators can be used to aid in laying a plurality of courses of bricks in a substantially horizontal manner without needing to move the device.

9. A device according to claim 6; wherein the indicator is a mark, or a line of tensile or ductile material.

10. A device according to claim 1; wherein the device comprises an adjustment member configured to compensate for a degree of unevenness on a surface upon which the device is placed

11. A device according to claim 1, wherein said retaining member and said plurality of levels are configured to guide the laying of bricks to form a column.

12. A device according to claim 11 comprising a generally rectangular or generally square frame that defines a generally rectangular or generally square aperture for receiving bricks and/or mortar to form the column.

13. A device according to claim 11 having one or more sides that are secured in place by releasable attachment means so that said one or more sides can be removed.

14. A device according to claim 11 comprising a three-sided frame.

15. A device according to any of claims 1 comprising a two-sided frame.

16. A device according to claim 1 wherein the device has a frame with one or more corners and has a right angled upright located at one or more of said corners.

17. A method of making a column or a corner comprising providing a device according to claim 1 and laying the bricks of the column or corner in a manner in which the bricks are in substantially horizontal courses.

18. A construct made using a device according to the method of claim 17.

19. A kit comprising a plurality of components for assembling together a device according to claim 1 and further comprising instructions for at least one of assembly and use of the device.

20. The method claim 17 further comprising: placing the device on top of a course of bricks with the retaining member in position to allow the device to be retained on top of said course of bricks; spreading a layer of mortar on top of said course of bricks; using the plurality of levels of the device to lay a second course of bricks on the mortar in a substantially horizontal manner.

21. The method of claim 20 further comprising removing the device from the top of said course of bricks and placing the device on top of said second course of bricks with the retaining member in position to allow the device to be retained on top of said second course of bricks.

Description:

The present invention relates to a device for aiding in laying brick constructs, especially to a device for aiding the laying of bricks in columns or corners.

Bricks have been used for thousands of years to construct columns and corners. However, even in the present day, brick columns and corners can be difficult to construct both quickly and accurately, because of the need to ensure that courses of bricks are level along a plurality of sides.

Indeed, the accurate construction of columns and corners is often regarded as a task for the skilled bricklayer, because it can cause major problems for the D.I.Y. enthusiast. Indeed, even skilled bricklayers can sometimes have difficulty in constructing columns or corners accurately. This is especially the case if there is pressure to complete a job quickly, as can arise if a construction project runs behind schedule or if there are insufficient bricklayers available on site.

Thus, a high level of craftsmanship is needed in rapid, accurate construction of brick columns and corners. Accurate construction is particularly important if the columns or corners are part of a major structural feature, because inaccuracies can give rise to uneven loading and to structural defects such as cracking. In any event, inaccuracies can greatly affect the aesthetic appearance of a construct and it may then still be necessary to demolish the construct and build it again. If the constructs are large, even a relatively small initial inaccuracy can become accentuated so that it becomes a major problem in the finished construct. In particular, it is important to note that virtually all buildings have corners and the appearance of a whole building can be affected if a corner is not level.

Traditionally, columns and corners have been constructed by using an elongate spirit level to check the levels of bricks in a course along each side of a column or corner prior to adding mortar and a further course of bricks. Excess mortar is then scraped off with a trowel and the procedure is repeated with further courses of bricks until a column or a corner of a desired height is achieved.

However, when such traditional methods of construction are used, errors in measuring the level of a course of bricks can arise if the spirit level is not accurately used along each side of a column or corner being constructed. This can easily happen if a bricklayer becomes fatigued, e.g. towards the end of a long working day, or if the spirit level is not repeatedly checked at several positions. As indicated above, these errors can become accentuated as the height of a column increases and it may then be necessary to remove one or more courses bricks and to re-lay them in order to ensure accuracy. This leads to increased costs and to delays in construction.

In order to try to increase accuracy, some bricklayers use T-squares or other guides for ensuring that corners are formed correctly. However these do not provide great assistance in ensuring that courses of bricks are laid horizontally. Corner profiles are sometimes used and are attached to string lines. However, a separate profile is needed for each corner and the profiles can be time-consuming and tedious to set up correctly. Usually, they require part of a construct to be laid initially and for mortar to be set before the profile can be used. (Thus there is a significant delay in waiting for mortar to set and this can be unpredictable, depending upon the mortar used and the weather conditions.) Furthermore the corner profiles rely upon attached string lines that are pegged out some distance away from the profiles. These lines are not always set accurately and may easily become misaligned or displaced over the course of a working day.

A recent development in bricklaying is to use the guide that is illustrated in FIG. 5, which is sometimes known as the “Bricky”™. This is an elongate device defining a central aperture that is approximately one brick wide. The depth of the device corresponds to the depth of mortar to be laid. However, whilst the device is useful in laying mortar to a desired depth, it is not designed for ensuring that corners or columns are horizontal. Indeed the device is used for laying mortar on the top of a straight course if bricks. Excess mortar is then scraped off, the device is removed, another line of bricks is laid on top of the mortar, and the process is repeated.

There is therefore a major need for an improved device for to aid in laying bricks in a substantially horizontal manner, especially for a device that can be used to lay accurately multi-sided brick constructs, such as columns and corners.

According to the present invention there is provided a device for aiding in the laying of bricks to form a multi-sided brick construct, the device comprising retaining means and a plurality of levels; wherein the retaining means allows the device to be retained at a given position in relation to a construct being formed so that the levels can be used to ensure that a course of bricks laid above the retaining means is laid substantially horizontally along a plurality of sides of the construct; and wherein the retaining means is mounted so that it can be moved or removed relative to the rest of the device.

The present invention represents a major breakthrough in that a single device can be used at a given, stable position to check all required horizontals of a given course of bricks. This greatly increases accuracy. Furthermore, it makes the construction of difficult constructs, such as columns or corners, feasible for unskilled people, such as amateur DIY enthusiasts. The device is however also useful to skilled craftsmen, because it can greatly reduce construction time. For example, in constructing an accurate, one metre tall column, a saving in bricklaying time of 50% or more can typically be achieved. In view of the high cost of skilled labour, this can provide a major increase in profitability for construction firms.

In a first embodiment of the present invention the retaining means is movably mounted so that it can be moved into a first position at which it rests on a lower course of bricks and the device can then be used in laying one or more higher courses of bricks in a substantially horizontal manner, and the retaining means can then be moved into a second position at which it is free from contact with the construct, so that the device can then be lifted and, if desired, the retaining means can be used again at a higher position to retain the device when laying further courses of bricks in a substantially horizontal manner.

Thus, for example, a retaining means may be slidably mounted between a first position at which it is extended over a lower course of bricks and a second position at which it is retracted and no longer extends over the course of bricks. The retaining means are preferably in the form of members that can be easily slid into and out of a layer of mortar. If desired, the members may be interconnected via a common shaft that may be at right angles thereto. The members are preferably elongate—e.g. rods, bars, prongs or blades. They may optionally be coated or formed from a low friction agent—e.g. Teflon™. They may be oiled or greased.

As one alternative to being slidably mounted, the retaining means may, for example, be pivotally mounted so that it can be swung in and out of position.

A combination may even be used whereby a pivoting action (e.g. of a handle or lever) causes a slidably mounted retaining means to move in and out of position, or vice-versa. This may be achieved, for example, by using a cam.

Spring-loading or other resilient members may optionally be provided to assist in operating the retaining means. For example, a spring-loaded release mechanism may be provided and may be operated by a switch or catch. A spring or other resiliently deformable member may alternatively be used to prevent the retaining means moving too far in a given direction. Thus the retaining means may be operably connected with a spring or other resilient member.

The precise nature of the movement of the retaining means is not however crucial provided that the movably mounted retaining means can be moved in and out of position in order to perform its function in retaining the device on the construct.

In the above first embodiment of the present invention it is preferred that the retaining means is always attached to the device when the device is in use.

However, in a second embodiment of the present invention the retaining means is removably mounted to the device. Thus, when the retaining means is in place on the device it can perform the function of retaining the device in a desired position on a construct to allow the device to be used to lay one or more substantially horizontal course of bricks. However it can be removed if the presence of the retaining means at a given position is not desired (as discussed later).

This second embodiment does not require moving parts such as slidably or pivotally mounted members, but simply requires releasable securing means that allows the retaining means to be secured to the rest of the device when in use and to be released when not in use.

This may be achieved by many different ways. Indeed any suitable releasable engagement may be utilised. For example, resiliently deformable material may be used to releasably engage the retaining means (e.g. in a press-fit, friction-fit, and/or snap-fit engagement). Alternatively, releasable clamps, hook and eye arrangements, or releasably engaging male and female members may be used. The precise method of releasably securing the retaining means to the rest of the device is not crucial, so long as the retaining means can be conveniently released from/secured to the device when desired.

Indeed, for packaging, it may be more convenient for the retaining means not to be secured to other parts of the device. A kit comprising a plurality of components of the device invention is within the scope of the invention. The kit preferably includes instruction for assembly and/or use.

Having described the two main embodiments of the present invention, various aspects of the invention will now be described in further detail.

A retaining means (which may be movable/removable, as discussed above) is preferably provided on at least two sides of the device. If the device has opposing sides then it is preferred that retaining means be provided on at least two opposing sides of the device. More preferably, retaining means are provided on all sides of the device.

If desired, a plurality of retaining means may be provided on one or more sides of the device. Thus each side may have two or more retaining means. If a plurality of retaining means are provided on a side, they may be operably connected for concerted action (e.g. by a shaft or other connecting member), or may operate independently.

In some cases the retaining means may allow adjustments of the device even after the device has been laid on top of a course of bricks position. For example the retaining means may comprise rotatably mounted rods with ends that are flattened, oval or elliptical in profile. By turning one or more such rods the device may be raised or lowered slightly at a given location.

Many alternative adjustment means are possible to allow slight lifting/lowering of the device and all are within the scope of the present invention, whether or not they form part of the retaining means. For example, the turning of a screw or of a lever may be used to lift or lower the device at a given location.

The adjustment means is particularly useful if a region of unevenness (e.g. a chipped brick, a stone) causes the device not to lie as desired upon a given course of bricks. This can be easily checked by examining the levels of the device. The levels are discussed in greater detail below.

The primary purpose of the levels is to check that courses of bricks are substantially horizontal. The levels can be spirit levels, but any other devices for checking horizontals (e.g. electronic devices/laser levels) can be used and the term “level” should therefore be construed broadly.

(Levels to check verticals can be provided, if desired, but are not essential if the horizontal levels are used properly.)

The levels may be removably mounted, e.g. to assist in cleaning. maintenance, replacement, etc. However this is not essential.

Preferably the device has at least one level for checking that each side of a course of bricks is substantially horizontal. Thus if the device has two, three or four sides the device preferably has at least two, three or four levels respectively. The levels can be mounted upon any suitable part of the device. For example levels may be mounted on sides and/or or uprights of the device. If desired, half of the total number of levels present may be positioned on the sides of the device and half may be on the uprights. However many alternative arrangements are possible. Indeed the levels may even be mounted on the indicators: e.g. upon taut string or twine.

A device of the present invention can have many sides. However four-, three- or two-sided devices are preferred.

A four-sided device can be conveniently used to construct four-sided free-standing columns.

A three-sided device can be conveniently used constructing columns abutting, or protruding from, existing walls or other existing constructs.

A two-sided device is particularly flexible in use. It can be used to construct inner or outer corners and also to construct columns.

Normally (although not necessarily) the sides of the device will meet to form internal right angles so as to aid in the construction of right-angled corners, columns, etc.

If desired, one or more of the sides of the device may be detachable, although all sides should normally be relatively rigid when the device is in use.

Thus, for example, a four-sided device may be constructed so that it can be converted to a two or a three sided device by removing one or more sides. This makes the device more flexible in use. Screws, bolts, clamps or other releasable fixings may be used to interconnect sides that can subsequently be conveniently detached from one another. Indeed the device may even be sold as a kit comprising sides to be connected. This can aid in packing/storage by providing a low volume kit for self-assembly. Another alternative to aid in packing/storage is to provide the device in foldable form. For example it may comprise one or more hinged regions that can be fixed in position once unfolded by means of a bolt. Kits including all of the above possibilities are within the scope of the present invention. As indicated previously, preferred kits include instructions for assembly and/or use.

If the device is four-sided it is preferred that it forms a generally rectangular or generally square frame that defines a generally rectangular or generally square aperture for receiving bricks. The aperture is preferably shaped to correspond to the cross-section of a column to be constructed, but allowing for a small clearance so that the device does not become jammed on the column as the device is used to construct the column. Typically the clearance between inner edges of the device and the column will be less than 10 cm, less than 5 cm, or less than 1 cm (measured from the inner edges of the frame to the sides of a column being formed).

Preferably the device has one or more uprights. Desirably these are positioned at inner corners of the device, although it is also possible to position them at outer corners. Thus, if the frame is four-sided, four uprights are preferred. Fewer uprights can of course be used if the device is less than four-sided. Desirably the uprights are right angled.

Preferably the device comprises an indicator for indicating the upper edge of a course of bricks to be laid.

Any appropriate indicator may be used. For example, the indicator may be a length of tensile or ductile material (such as string, cord, wire, twine, synthetic fibre, etc), it may be an elongate rod, a marking, a sight, a laser, etc.

In order to take into account the possibility of different sizes of brick, the indicator may be adjustably mounted. For example, an indicator may be a length of taut string threaded through a plurality of apertures and may be adjustable by virtue of a series of additional apertures provided at different predetermined heights through which the string can be threaded. Alternatively, the indicator may be slidably mounted for ease of adjustment. If desired, it may be provided with clamps to hold it in position or it may be tied. Many possibilities exist.

Preferably, a plurality of spaced apart indicators are present (e.g. a plurality of string indicators each positioned a course of bricks and mortar apart). This allows the retaining means to be used to position the device on the construct so that the indicators can be used to lay a plurality of courses of bricks. Thus several courses of bricks can be laid before it is necessary to release the retaining means and re-position the device to lay further courses of bricks and mortar. If desired, each of the plurality of indicators may be adjustable. Indeed the indicators may be simultaneously adjustable. For example, an actuating means may be provided to simultaneously increase or decrease the distance between indicators by a fixed amount to take into account different brick sizes.

In addition to providing a wide range of devices, the present invention also includes methods of construction using these devices.

The present invention therefore includes a method of making a brick construct comprising using a device of the present invention to lay bricks in a manner in which the bricks are in substantially horizontal courses.

A preferred method includes using the retaining means to retain the device in position on top of a first or higher course of bricks of the construct so that the device can be used to aid in laying one or more further courses of bricks.

A device of the present invention is preferably used to make a column or a corner, but many different constructs are possible. Thus the present invention further includes any construct made using a device of the present invention. The construct may, for example, be all or part of a building or wall.

The present invention will now be described by way of example only, with reference to the accompanying drawings, wherein:

FIG. 1 shows a four-sided device of the present invention having slidably mounted retaining means and being used to construct a free-standing column.

FIG. 2 shows a three-sided device of the present invention having slidably mounted retaining means and being used to construct a column abutting a wall.

FIGS. 3 and 4 show a two-sided device of the present invention having slidably mounted retaining means and being used to construct internal and external corners.

FIG. 5 shows a prior art device in position to lay mortar along the top of a wall.

FIGS. 6 to 9 show a two-sided device of the present invention having lever-operated retaining means and being used to construct a corner.

FIGS. 10 to 15 show a two-sided device of the present invention with removable retaining means

Turning now to FIG. 1, a device 100 of the present invention is shown that comprises a generally square frame 102, having four sides 104, 106, 108 and 110.

The frame 102 has inner edges 124 that define an aperture 138 for receiving bricks and/or mortar of a column 130 to be laid.

The device further comprises four right-angled uprights 112, 114, 116 and 118 located at the inner corners of the frame 102.

Two adjacent sides 106 and 108 of the frame 102 each carry a spirit level 140 for checking that bricks are substantially horizontal.

Two opposing sides 106 and 110 of the frame 102 each have slidably mounted retaining means 120 attached thereto. Each retaining means 120 comprises a pair of flat prongs 122 rigidly attached to a central shaft 128 (e.g. by soldering). The prongs 122 run through receiving channels (not shown) that are securely screwed to the base of sides 106 and 110.

In use, the device 100 is operated as follows. It is first laid upon a generally level, hard surface (e.g. a planar concrete surface concrete) on which a layer of mortar has been spread. The retaining means 120 are not in use at this stage and are in a retracted position. Once the device 100 has been placed upon the mortar, levels 140 are checked to see if the device 100 is generally horizontal along all sides 104, 106, 108 and 110. If necessary, the device 100 is adjusted, e.g. by light tapping, repositioning and/or adding further mortar underneath the device 100 until it is level.

A first course of bricks 132 can then be laid, using the inner edges 124 of the device 100 as a guide for ensuring the column 130 is square. The upper surface of the frame 102 also serves as a guide because it should lie level with the top of the first course of bricks 132.

Once the first course of bricks 132 has been laid, the device 100 is lifted, the retaining means 120 are slid inwardly and the device 100 is placed on top of the first course of bricks 132 with the retaining means 120 holding the device 100 in position. The levels 140 are then checked and, if necessary, the bricks are adjusted (e.g. by light tapping) until all sides are level. A layer of mortar is then spread on top of the first course of bricks 132 and a second course of bricks 134 is laid on top of the mortar. A line 126 is provided as an indicator for aligning the upper edges of a course of bricks being laid. The line 126 is held in place by being threaded through apertures 142. These are provided in the uprights 112, 114, 116 and 118. Additional apertures 144 are also provided. These allow for different sizes of brick and therefore the line 126 can easily be adjusted if needed.

When the second course of bricks 134 has been laid the device 100 is removed from the column 130 by retracting the retaining means 120. This is done by sliding the retaining means 120 outwardly until they are clear of the column 130. The device 100 is then lifted, the retaining means 120 are slid inwardly, and the device 100 is placed on top of the second course of bricks 134, with the retaining means 120 holding the device 100 in position. Mortar and a third course of bricks 136 are then laid and levels 140 are checked as described above. The procedure is repeated as often as necessary until a column 130 of desired height has been formed. Once the final course of bricks has been laid the device 100 can be removed. If desired, a top piece can be added to the top of the column and can be secured in place with mortar.

An alternative procedure is to provide greatly elongated uprights 112, 114, 116 and 118 carrying a series of indicators 126 that are spaced apart to correspond with a plurality of courses of bricks to be laid. Using this procedure several different courses can be laid after laying the first course of bricks 132, without needing to remove and reposition the device 100 after laying each course. This can be advantageous in greatly speeding up the bricklaying procedure further, because the device 100 then only needs to be removed and repositioned occasionally. For example, if four indicators 126 are present to indicate the levels for four courses of bricks, the device 100 would only need to be repositioned every four courses.

In some cases it may be desired to provide a reinforced pillar 130. This is not a problem because the device 100 can he used to build up a column around a central reinforcing bar that is anchored in a concrete foundation. Before topping the column 130 with an end piece, concrete can be poured into a central void of the column to provide additional strength.

Turning now to FIG. 2, an alternative device of the present invention 200 is shown for constructing a column 202 abutting a wall 204. It can be seen that the device 200 has only three sides 206, 208 and 210 so as to allow for the wall. However the device 200 is used in an analogous manner to that described in connection with FIG. 1.

FIGS. 3 and 4 show a further alternative device of the present invention 300. This is used for constructing corners (both inner and outer ones). Here the retaining means 302 are not on opposing sides but are on adjacent sides of the device 300. Advantageously they may be spring-loaded. The device is used in an analogous manner to that described in connection with FIG. 1.

FIG. 5 illustrates the known “Bricky”™ device 400 for comparison. Its function is for laying mortar to a given level along a straight course of bricks. It does not include any retaining means and does not ensure that bricks for columns or corners are laid in a horizontal manner.

Turning now to FIG. 6, this shows a further device of the present invention 600 that that has been placed on top of a course of bricks, with retaining means 602 being used to support the device on the bricks. The first course of bricks has already been laid in an analogous manner to that described in connection with FIG. 1 (i.e. with the retaining means 602 retracted so that bricks can be laid next to inner edges 601 and 603 of the device 600 and with the upper edge of the sides of the device 605 being used to align the upper edges of a first course of bricks).

The retaining means 602 comprise a plurality of rods 604 that can be retracted, or can extended over a construct by turning handles 606. The handles 606 are connected to a cam mechanism that engages a bar, to which the rods 604 are connected (not shown).

In FIG. 6 the rods 604 are shown extended so that they rest on the bricks. An additional modification is to provide one or more fine adjustment means to allow the frame of the device 600 to be lifted or lowered slightly at a given location. This is achieved by means of rods 608 that are rotatably mounted within the frame of the device 600 and that have flattened ends. The rods 608 can be turned by knobs 610, so that the ends of the rods either lie flat against the bricks or pivot so as to change slightly the height of the frame of the device and of a level 612 at a given location (relative to the course of bricks). This can be used to take into account uneven regions, e.g. chips in bricks, pebbles, dirt, etc.

Conveniently, two adjustment means 608 are located at each side of the device 600. For example, one adjustment means 608 may be located at one side of the retaining means 602 and another adjustment means 608 may be located at the other side of the retaining means 602. (In a further alternative the adjustment means 608 may be integrated so as to itself be part of the retaining means, but to have an additional function of allowing adjustment.) Adjustments can readily be monitored by checking to see if the levels 612 of the device 600 are horizontal.

FIG. 7 is provided to show a view taken along the direction of arrow 7 of the device 600 shown in FIG. 6. Thus it shows a side-on view. Here indicators 614 can be more clearly seen. These are taut and each indicator is spaced apart from the next one by the height of a course of bricks and mortar. The first indicator 614 is spaced from the retaining means by this distance. A plurality of indicators 614 therefore allow several courses of bricks to be laid without moving the device 600.

This is illustrated in FIG. 8. Indeed as many courses of bricks can be laid above a first layer of bricks as there are indicators 614. All courses will be horizontal, because this is verified by means of the levels 612.

It is important to appreciate that the adjustment means 608 illustrated in FIGS. 6 to 8 are optional.

FIG. 9 shows a simpler alternative to the device shown in FIGS. 6 to 8 in which the adjustment means 608 are omitted. The device comprises a retaining means on each side. Each retaining means has four slidably mounted rods, but in the view shown these cannot be seen because they are in use, extending over the lower layer of bricks shown. When it is desired to remove the device from between two courses of bricks the handles 606 are turned to retract the rods 604 from contact with the construct. The rods then protrude through apertures 616. The rods can then be moved back in the opposite direction by turning handles 606 in the opposite direction, the device can be placed onto the highest course of bricks and the procedure can be repeated.

FIG. 10 to 15 shows views of a yet further device of the present invention. Much of the device is similar to that illustrated in FIGS. 6 to 9. However the levers 606 are not present and, most importantly, the retaining means 702 that are present that are mounted so that they can be easily removed from the rest of the device 700 and then re-engaged when desired. Thus the retaining means 702 are removably mounted.

As shown in FIG. 10, a retaining means 702 is provided at both sides of the device 700. Each retaining means 702 comprises two inner rods 704 and two outer rods 708 with flattened ends. The rods with flattened ends 708 function as adjustment means, as discussed previously, but are integrated into the retaining means 702. All of the rods 704, 708 are interconnected via a bar 706 that can be easily gripped by a user of the device 700.

FIG. 11 is similar to FIG. 10, but shows three courses of bricks having been laid using the device.

FIG. 12 also shows the three courses of bricks shown in FIG. 11 but provides an inner view of the corner being constructed and allows the rods 704 and 708 to be more clearly seen

FIG. 13 shows a partial view taken from below the device shown in FIGS. 10 to 12. Here a rod 704 of the retaining means is shown housed in an elongate bore with cylindrical walls 705. The rod 704 also passes through part of the frame of the device 700 so that it can protrude and be used to rest the device upon a course of bricks. The rod is connected to bar 706. By pulling the bar 706 in the direction of the arrow shown in the figure the whole of the retaining means can be removed from the device.

FIG. 14 shows an alternative housing for the rod 704. Here it is held in place by a resiliently deformable fitting 707. This means that the rod 704 will stay in position unless a user applies a degree of force by pulling the bat 706 along the direction of the arrow shown in the figure to pull the rod out of the fitting 707. This can be advantageous in that the rod 704 will not easily slide out of a desired position when it is in use. (An alternative to the embodiments illustrated in FIGS. 13 and 14 is where the retaining means is held in place by a fitting, but, when in use, the retaining means protrudes underneath the frame rather than through the frame. This avoids the need for holes in the frame and also avoids any need for the retaining means to be slidably mounted. For example, the retaining means may simply be pressed into a press-fit support and removed, when desired by pulling it out of the support with sufficient force.)

FIG. 15 shows a partial side-on view of a device 700 in which the retaining means comprises a plurality of rods that are interconnected by a bar 706. The rods may be held in place by either of the means shown in FIGS. 13 and 14.

Terminology

“Column”

The term “column” is used herein to include piers and pilasters. It therefore includes freestanding columns as well as columns that may be used as supports for walls or other constructs. A simple column may have courses of only four bricks, with each brick being laid at right angles to an adjacent brick. Typically the column will have a generally square or a generally rectangular cross-section. However other shapes are possible, including columns with other polygonal cross-sections, with rounded cross-sections, etc.

“Brick”

The term “brick” is used herein to describe any building unit that can be used to construct columns. Thus traditional bricks are included, as are concrete building blocks, building blocks of other material, etc.

“Corner”

The term “corner” is used herein to include an angled part of a construct where two sides or walls meet. The corner need not be at 90°, but can be at any angle, with the frame of the device of the present invention being shaped accordingly. The corner may be an inner corner (extending inwardly relative to a construct) or an outer corner (extending outwardly relative to the construct).

“Substantially Horizontal”

For practical purposes a small amount of deviation from the absolute horizontal can be tolerated when laying courses of bricks “substantially horizontally” to form a column without any significant effect. The term “substantially horizontal” should be construed as allowing deviations from the horizontal that are not significant. Typically deviations of less than 5° may be tolerated.