There are two main functions for trowels, one being for the erection of structures and the other for providing the required finish. For erecting the structure one would include brick and pointing trowels, jointers, etc. Trowels for finishing include plastering, cementing, laying-on, gauging trowels, floats, small tools and hawks. Features of a top quality brick trowel are that the blade and tang should be forged from one piece of carbon steel and then taper ground. The edge should be carefully treated to produce a hardened edge for cutting. A fabricated trowel is one on which the blade is made separately from the tang and joined by welding, brazing or riveting. The quality features of a plastering trowel are flexible strength, and a very smooth surface. The blade should be worked to remove random stresses and slightly dished to prevent digging in and cross ground to reduce drag.
Toolbank stock a wide range of brick trowels, with different styles for different tasks:
London pattern trowels have a rounded end that encloses the tang which extends halfway up into the handle. They also have a more rounded heel which shapes the blade differently so mortar is carried a little bit further back. The Wide London pattern trowels are similar, but have a wider heel to collect even more mortar. Philadelphia pattern trowels have a squarer heel and are symmetrically curved on both sides (where most other trowels are not). The handles of these trowels are made from leather discs fitted with a capped tang.
Broad heel trowels are square trowels with approx. 1in wider blade. Pointing trowels are shaped like a brick trowel but are smaller to reach into harder to get to areas. Midget and Margin trowels are similar to pointing trowels in application but are more square in shape. Gauging trowels are small trowels with rounded noses which plasters use to mix and apply small quantities of quick setting plaster.
Plasterers & finishing trowels are, as the name suggests, used by plasterers to apply a smooth finish to the final coat of plaster. They should be flexible, yet strong enough to bend back into shape.
Cement and concrete trowels are designed to smooth the surfaces of cement once they begin to set. Tuck pointers are parallel sided with a max width of 2in, they are very useful in confined spaces for filling small cavities.
Tiling and mastic trowels are used for spreading adhesives, the serrations in the blade allow for gaps in the adhesive which in turn allows the material being stuck to move fractionally to ensure correct positioning. Bucket trowels are wide bladed trowels which are used for scooping mortar from a buck. Harling trowels look very similar to bucket trowels but have a deep curve at the back, they are used for pebble dashing. The pebbles are collected in the trowel and thrown at the wall directly from it.
There is also a range of more job specific trowels for finishing. Such as the Swimming pool trowel, which is designed to finish smooth, curved surfaces. Or Corner trowels which can be internal or external and are shaped to provide a fine finish in corners.
Small tools are Ideal for repairing plaster, filling coving mitres and ornamental plasterwork. Cement edgers have a curved blade one side to give a smooth curved finish to kerbs, steps etc.
Toolbank also sell a range of Sponge and rubber floats. These are designed for the finishing of sand and cement and come in different cell structures which provide different finishes the material. Wooden floats have cross grain to keep the grain in line with use, this is so that bits don’t split off during use, they are designed to scrub concrete or plaster to give it a sandy finish. Plastic floats are very useful for roughing out plastering work, they normally come in two sizes, 11 or 14in long.
Hawks are used to carry small amounts of mortar to the wall which can then be applied quickly.