Toothing masonry refers to the process of leaving alternating openings (teeth) for an adjoining block or brick wall to be started from. This allows the adjoining wall to be started without having to adjust or cut brick. The toothing process is also sometimes used when a window or door opening is to be cut into an existing masonry wall. For this process, the opening is cut and removed, a lintel installed, alternating bricks removed, and half/partial bricks are cut to be inserted back into the teeth to make the jamb flush for installing the window or door.
Toothing is sometimes disallowed by architects and engineers as it may provide less strength than ‘raking’ or ‘stepping back’ the masonry wall. The difficulty tied to filling, compacting, and pointing the joint mortar at full depth can result in compromised wall strength and potential for a ‘weak place’ that can be susceptible to cracking.