On Gauged Brickwork
The usage of rubbed and gauged brickwork developed in England in the early seventh century and continued for the next 300 years.The designs of Wren and his contemporaries were interpreted in work of unparalleled virtuosity, and although the skill declined, it was still acknowledged as the supreme test of the craftsman bricklayer. The process begins with the firing of brick from 1050-1150 C in. The rather soft burned brick are then rubbed to the most exacting tolerances on a bench stone. Also, they are cut with a wire bow saw for various shapes, the voussoirs in arches are but one of the exacting shapes that are meticulously shaped using the bow saw and rubbing stone.
After the brick are shaped on site to machined like precision, they are then laid in a lime mortar with joints of 1 / 8 " or less in thickness! At the time of the inception of gauged work, all brick were hand formed. These hand formed brick were rather crudely shaped with many deformities apparent on their face side. The gauged brick were used on corners, arches, window and door surrounds, belt courses etc. The dichotomy that resulted from their usage allowed the craftsman bricklayer the opportunity to showcase their exacting skills while adding ornamentation in prevalent locations on the buildings. One just needs to look closely at some of our premiere buildings from the era when our country was young to spot this rather esoteric discipline showcased. One place that has many such examples to admire is the beautifully restored buildings of Colonial Williamsburg Virginia. For those interested in learning more of this process, may I recommend the excellent book titled Gauged Brickwork by the master mason Gerard Lynch. This book is a masterful work on the subject. Also, here is a connection to some photographs showcasing the artfully done brickwork.