Since this is a small wall, I do not wish to buy any expensive tools.

seems they used some mortar. I failed when trying to use nothing but a small (nail) hammer. Any tricks?

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8 Answers 8


I had the same problem with a much bigger wall and I was using a small sledge hammer. No matter how hard I swung the hammer the wall wasn't moving. So I got a bigger sledge hammer . . . one that has a 4 foot handle and a 12 pound head. It was about $20 at Harbor Freight (cheap tools but they work for weekend jobs). I took one swing at the top (it was actually a concrete counter top on top of a big wall) and it broke into 5 big pieces that I could then break down. It was amazing. Crazy what a difference a bigger hammer will make.

  • The chisel did not do a dent. Big freaking hammer is my next option
    – csmba
    Aug 15, 2010 at 3:23
  • Yeah, I kinda laughed at the chisel option . . . even on a small wall why mess with little hand tools when you can use a giant sledge hammer!
    – tooshel
    Aug 17, 2010 at 5:17
  • 2
    "Get a bigger hammer" is the answer to many of life's problems.
    – chris
    Nov 14, 2010 at 21:33
  • 1
    If there were any reason to buy a BFH, this would be it!
    – Tim Meers
    Apr 11, 2011 at 18:53
  • @chris that's just what I said! In my answer below... several months before you did... in my answer that was the top one prior to this answer appearing - days later - and being accepted as the top answer even though it said the same thing... actually that's pretty odd (not that it matters, but hmm).
    – MGOwen
    May 14, 2012 at 7:27

I've had luck using a sledge hammer in similar circumstances.

You'd be surprised how many problems in life have "use a sledge hammer" as the correct answer.

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  • +1 - I'd be very surprised if a sledgehammer wouldn't take care of that in about 10 minutes. Aug 9, 2010 at 13:32
  • 1
    A sledge hammer would probably work well on the bricks that are further from the wall, but I don't think I'd want to be swinging anything heavy and unwieldy too close to a wall that I want to keep, or a faucet for that matter. ;)
    – gnovice
    Aug 9, 2010 at 19:04
  • @gnovice - If you started well away from the wall - the front face or near the front corner - you'd have plenty of room to swing without hitting anything important. Plus, the weight of the hammer will do most of the work for you without a major swing. Aug 12, 2010 at 17:04

See if you can get hold of a big heavy hammer. You will most likely need a masonry chisel too, not least as if the mortar is hard it will be quite tricky to remove from underneath the bottom course of bricks.

This is the kind of "occasional" job where it's handy to know someone (friend? family) who you can lend you the tools for the weekend. Or, hire them.


A masonry chisel and drilling hammer should probably do the trick.

  • masonry chisel Vs cold chisel? what's the difference?
    – csmba
    Aug 8, 2010 at 23:29
  • @csmba: Cold chisels are usually designed for metals, at least according to Wikipedia. I've used cold chisels to bust up stone before, but they are usually narrower than masonry chisels, and so may end up breaking off smaller pieces at a time.
    – gnovice
    Aug 9, 2010 at 4:29
  • The chisel is not working. I even tried drilling using my drill.. it is like trying to break a diamond with butter...
    – csmba
    Aug 15, 2010 at 3:16

I'm using a steel spud bar. It is about 5' long and weighs 25 to 30 pounds. Not only can I use it like a battering ram, but it has a wedge tip that I can use to pry.


I've been doing a similar job. I started with a 7lb sledge hammer, which either didn't work (for the bricks that are backed into a solid earth bank) or, in the case of freestanding brick wall sections, worked so well that it would send dangerous shrapnel flying at a glass window! So I bought the cheapest SDS drill I could find (£40 - thank you Wickes) and a 40mm-wide chisel bit, and went at it that way, raking the mortar out, then holding the bit to vibrate the bricks out. It's working pretty well, but it's hard work and slow.


If for some crazy reason a simple sledge or hammer/chisel doesn't take that down you can rent a small electric jackhammer at Home Depot, et al which would make quick work of that planter box.


A lump hammer should do the job.

If that doesn't knock the bricks off you might need to use a masonry chisel as well. You want to choose a wide bladed one and attack the mortar.

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