A common-bond wall looks very similar to a wall laid with a running bond. However, a common-bond wall is built with a header course (bricks laid perpendicular across the wythes) every second and fifth (or sixth) course.
The headers tie the wythes together, which is why a wall built with this pattern is much stronger than a wall of running bond. Because the headers present their short face and sometimes a slight color difference, they lend visual interest too. You can accentuate this feature by using a different brick color for the header courses.
As always, dry-lay a test run of the layout before using mortar. If the length of the wall is critical and comes out a fraction of a brick short or long in the test run, you can adjust the thickness of the mortar joints as you go to make it fit. Use grade SW brick in freezing climates and grade MW brick elsewhere.
One of the most common ways to lay bricks is aptly called a common bond -- essentially running bond with header bricks laid perpendicular to the others every fifth or sixth row. Start the first course with a full stretcher and the second with three-fourths of a stretcher, then headers. The third row starts with a full stretcher, the fourth row with a header then stretchers, and the fifth course with a full stretcher (just like the first course). Repeat this pattern until the wall is at its finished height.
18 to 24 hours to lay a 3x10-foot wall
Tape measure, chalk line, level, mason's trowel, brick set, pencil, small sledgehammer, mason's line, line level, mason's blocks, concave jointer, story pole
Designing layout, excavating, throwing mortar, setting brick
2x4 lumber, spacers, bricks, mortar
Lay out the bricks in a dry run with a full brick on the end of each wythe. Mark the edges of the wythes on the footing with chalk lines. Spread mortar on the footing and lay three bricks. Check for alignment and level. Lay three bricks of the second wythe, then lay two identical wythes at the other end of the wall.
Throw mortar on about two-thirds of the surface of the remaining brick in the first courses. Then butter the long side of a brick (a header brick) and push it into place against the short bricks. Lay two or three more header bricks in this fashion -- both on this end and the other end of the wall.
Working from the leads to the center, finish the first course of stretchers on both wythes, buttering the closure brick on both ends before setting it. Then finish the second course of headers from the leads to the center, moving the mason's block up as you go, leveling and plumbing.
Continue filling between the leads on the third course (stretcher course) of the front wythe, moving the line up to guide brick placement. Check the wythe with a level and story pole. Continue building up new leads, starting the fourth course with a header, followed by stretchers, and the fifth course with a full stretcher and stretchers thereafter, exactly like the first course.
When the front wythe is even with the leads, build leads on the rear wythe and fill between them the same way. Shift the mason's blocks and line to the rear wythe and move it up for each course. Check every other course for plumb and level. When both wythes are even with the leads, start the sixth course with a three-quarter brick, just like the second course, and build leads in the same order as the first five courses.
Lay out your block in a dry run, spacing it with 3/8-inch plywood spacers. Mark all the edges of the course. Take up the block and spread mortar on the footing. Push the first block into the mortar until it's 3/8 inch above the footing. Mortar the ears of the second block and push it against the first.
At this point, you can continue to build up the lead on one corner, then the other, or build both of them at the same time. To start the other lead, push a corner block into mortar at the other end. You can attach mason's blocks and line from one corner to the other to help keep them straight.
Beginning with the front wythe, throw a short length of mortar on both legs of the footing and set a corner brick and one more along each leg of the footing. Then lay three bricks on the rear wythe, inside the front corner. Check for level along and across the wythes, adjusting bricks as needed.