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Make Blocks For Fun and Profit with The Wizard Block-Making Machine

In the first years of the 20th Century, cement was all the rage. And the idea of making your own cinder blocks (for fun and profit) apparently also became quite popular. In the early 1900s, the pages of American Carpenter and Builder (a building magazine from that era) were filled with advertisements for block-making machines and cement-stirring machines.

Sears offered the Wizard Block Making machine which retailed for $57.50 (a bargain at twice the price!). And Sears suggested that a man could save a lot of money on building a new home if he made his own blocks. Now if a man devoted himself to making nothing but blocks and if a man had someone else preparing the cement for pouring, he could make about one every two minutes. To do this, the poured cement was loaded into a form, pressed down, and then removed. The form was not removed until the concrete had hardened a bit. That meant if you were serious about making blocks, you had to have several forms on hand.

The ad below suggests that the block could be removed immediately from the form. I’d love to know if that was accurate. Having never made a block in the Sears Roebuck Wizard Block Making Machine, I can’t say for sure.

Sears estimated that 1,300 blocks were needed for the basement of The Chelsea (one of their kit homes). The Chelsea was a modest foursquare on a short cellar. If you devoted yourself to the creation of those blocks and really hustled, you’d need about five eight-hour days to do nothing but work like a dog making blocks. And that’s if he had someone else preparing the cement. That’s a lot of work.

When I give talks on Sears Homes, I get a surprising number of questions about the Wizard Block Making Machine. Apparently this labor-intensive, cinder-block maker was quite a popular item for Sears.

To learn more about Sears Homes, click here.

The Wizard

The Wizard

The catalog extols the many virtures of The Wizard

The catalog extols the many virtures of The Wizard

More info on the many benefits of The Wizard

More info on the many benefits of The Wizard

In what looks like a backwards evolution graphic, a man demonstrates how to use the easy-to-use Wizard block-making machine.

In what looks like a backwards evolution graphic, a man demonstrates how to use the "easy-to-use" Wizard block-making machine.

To read more about Sears Homes, click here.

To learn more about Rose’s book on Sears Homes, click here.

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  1. Jeff
    December 14th, 2012 at 08:16 | #1

    I have one of the few surviving Sears Wizards and have made blocks with it.

    It can make all sorts of decorative full blocks, corners, half and quarter blocks. One does not pour liquid concrete into them. A semi-dry concrete mixture (sand castle consistency) is dumped into the forming machine and is compressed by tamping the mixture with a club type of tool.

    Once this is done and any voids are removed, the block and the tray that it was formed on are carefully removed and placed in a steaming room where the concrete mixture absorbs the steam and cures. It works pretty good but is also back breaking work.

    I was able to crank out one block every 5 minutes, but making one every two minutes would be possible with practice.

  2. mario
    September 27th, 2013 at 17:27 | #2

    I would like to buy your machine for my collection.

  3. September 27th, 2013 at 17:40 | #3

    @mario
    Mario, if Jeff replies, I’ll forward him your email address.

  4. Arthur Foh
    January 29th, 2014 at 11:06 | #4

    Jeff :
    I have one of the few surviving Sears Wizards and have made blocks with it.

    It can make all sorts of decorative full blocks, corners, half and quarter blocks. One is not equipped for pouring liquid concrete into it.

    A semi-dry concrete mixture (sand castle consistency) is dumped into the forming machine and is compressed by tamping the mixture with a club type of tool.

    Once this is done and any voids are removed, the block and the tray that it was formed on are carefully removed and placed in a steaming room where the concrete mixture absorbs the steam and cures.

    It works pretty good but is also back-breaking work.

    I was able to crank out one block every 5 minutes, but making one every two minutes would be possible with practice.

    I need a concrete block maker like that.

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