Q&A / 

Salvage Glass Blocks

Belinda Morgan is building a new cabin somewhere near Saginaw, Texas and wants to reuse some glass block she installed a few years ago. Let her give you the details:

"I have a glass block shower with 50 glass blocks that are held together with mortar that I built. I want to use again in a new cabin that I am building.

How can I do this without breaking the blocks?  I don't have have a drill.

Can this be done by spraying on distilled vinegar with water?  I don't mind the slow process, just don't want to break the glass."

Here's my answer:

Belinda, you can do the vinegar method, but my guess is you'll be dead and gone by the time it chemically reacts with the mortar to soften and dissolve it.

You've got two choices:

  • carefully chipping away the mortar with a pointed tuck pointing mason's chisel
  • use a hammer drill with a 1/4-inch bit to drill away 50% of the mortar like a wild banchee

You can buy an amazing cordless Milwaukee drill that's both a regular drill and a hammer drill.

Using this tool with a 1/4-inch hammer-drill bit, you'll be able to slowly drill away at the mortar and not do any damage to the glass block.

It's one of the most BASIC power tools you should have and it will come in handy as you build the cabin.

Be sure to start at the top of the glass block rows and work sideways. The first block to remove is the one that's out away from a wall. Trying to get out a block that's bound in on two or three sides is Death on a Stick.


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