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What is a Steel Trowel?

By Cassie L. Damewood
Updated May 17, 2024
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A steel trowel is a small hand tool that consists of a handle and a blade. Its blade is traditionally made of different types of metal or steel. The handle material is normally wood, metal or plastic. It can be used to mix, dig, shape or smooth.

The trowel is a very old tool that dates back to early civilizations. Archaeological surveys have turned up various versions of the tool. The tool’s popularity is generally believed to be based on its simple construction and versatile applications.

The most popular and current household use for a steel trowel is in the garden. Its pointed metal blade has a slight scoop shape to it that facilitates assorted gardening tasks. In both container and traditional gardening, the trowel is perfect for digging small holes and chopping up clumps of dirt to ready the soil for planting. After the plant begins to grow, the trowel is commonly used for weeding, adding supplements and fertilizer to the potting soil and transferring plants to larger pots or window boxes.

Inside the home, general contractors may use the steel trowel in a variety of home improvement projects. In wall and ceiling plastering, a gauging trowel is often used to mix prescribed amounts of components together to create a quick set plaster concoction. If the home project involves setting ceramic or stone tile, notched and margin trowels are commonly used in the application of grout and adhesive to the tiles and surfaces.

Trowels are quite popular tools in home construction projects that involve brick and concrete. A bricklayer’s trowel, commonly referred to as a pointing trowel, is used by masons for a variety of tasks. It is typically used to break bricks to fit into tight spaces as well as to shape, spread and level the surfaces of mortar, cement and plaster. A smaller trowel with a long, thin blade is customarily used to pack and smooth mortar in between layers of bricks. The trowels used by masons are normally made of carbon or stainless steel.

Concrete workers frequently use steel trowels in their work. The finishing trowel, also called a float trowel, is artistically manipulated over the top layer of concrete as it hardens to create an appealing design and texture. A flooring trowel has two edges, one rectangular and one pointed, to get into tight corners to finish concrete. A special tool called a pool trowel has rounded ends to efficiently apply coatings to concrete surfaces, specifically those applied to concrete swimming pool decks.

Outside the realm of construction and gardening, a steel trowel is a popular tool among archaeologists. They customarily use brick or pointing trowels to gently scratch layers of rock to reveal strata. Once the strata are analyzed, it can be properly excavated and processed.

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