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Glossary Index


Trowels & Floats

Trowel & Floats

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 rivetting.

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.

On a top quality trowel, up to 10 rivets may be used to fix the tang to provide a very firm hold. On a finishing trowel the rivets are ground absolutely flush in a manner in which they cannot be detected by feel.

Brick Trowels

Used for laying bricks. Several sizes and qualities are available.

Broad Heel Brick Trowels

1in wider across the heel, than standard width.

Canadian Pattern Blades

These are symmetrically curved on both sides. All other patterns of brick trowel have one side wider than the other.

Canadian Pattern Handle

These are made up from leather discs fitted with a capped tang.

Capped Handle

The tang extends through handle and is secured with a steel cap at the end. Ideal for tapping bricks into place.

Corner Trowels

Internal or external shapes are available. These are for producing a fine finish on corners.

Cross Grained Floats

Here the grain is in line with the direction of use. To stop the short grain splitting off in use, the handle is recessed into the entire length of the float.

Double Hang

This refers to a finishing trowel handle which is connected to the blade at each end of the handle.

Gauging Trowels

Small trowels with rounded noses. Used by Plasterers' to mix and apply small quantities of quick setting plaster.


This is governed by the height and angle of the tang and represents the amount of knuckle clearance when picking up mortar. The lift is measured from the end of the handle to the flat surface when the blade is lying flat.

London Pattern Handle

A rounded wooden end encloses the tang which extends approximately half way up the handle.

Plastic Floats

Used for roughing out and Plastering work. These are generally available in two sizes, 11in and 14in long.

Pointing Trowels

Shaped like brick trowels but much smaller with a symetrical blade, the longest being 7in long.

Serrated Floats

These are used for spreading adhesives and, by having the gaps in between the adhesive, this allows the material being stuck to be moved fractionally or, in the case of tiles, levelled.

The blade is attached by means of wing nuts through the light alloy backing.

These are generally made with 2 sizes of notches, 5m x 1.5m and 6mm x 2mm.

Single Hang

This refers to a finishing trowel handle which is only connected to the blade at the front of the handle.

Solid Forged

Forged from one solid piece of steel (including the tang). A more expensive but stronger construction.

Cheaper trowels have separate parts which are welded or rivetted together.

Straight Grained Floats

The grain runs longitudinally and at right angles to the direction of use.


The tang is the extension of the blade to which the handle is fitted.

Taper Grinding

Ground from a centre line of the blade both outwards and forwards giving balance and flexibility. Not to be confused with the cosmetic brushing on lower quality blades.

Through Tang

This when the tang extends right through the handle to the end when it is usually capped.

Sponge Floats

Used for sand and cement finishing. Different cell structures are available to create different finishes.

Window Trowels

Parallel sided but having a maximum width of 2in. Used in confined areas where access is limited.