Types of Plastering Tools

Written by randall bullard
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Plastering is a centuries-old form of interior decoration for walls and ceilings. The tools used today for plaster applications are similar to those used in ancient civilisations with changes occurring primarily in the manufacturing materials used for the tools. Tools commonly used by the journeyman plaster applicator are the hawk and trowel; featheredges, slickers and darbies; the plaster scarifier and the plaster planer.

Plaster Trowels and Hawks

The trowel and hawk are the primary tools used by the plasterer to apply plaster mixtures. Available in different sizes, the plaster trowel and hawk are used together. The hawk holds the plaster material (mud) that the plasterer scoops from the hawk using the trowel. The plasterer then trowels, or applies, the mud to the walls and ceilings of a structure using the trowel.

Plaster Scarifier

The plasterer's scarifier is called a scratcher in the industry and is used to make raised ridges in the wet mud base coat of a plaster application. Once the base coat hardens, these scratches allow for bonding of subsequent plaster coats to the base coat by the hardening of the mud between these ridges.

Featheredges, Slickers and Darbies

Featheredges, slickers and darbies come in a variety of lengths and serve the purpose of removing excess plaster from walls during application of the second coat, called the brown coat. The excess mud is removed to give the wall a level surface before the plaster applicator uses the tools to slick down the walls. This process gives the wall a smooth, uniform look.

Plaster Planer

The plaster planer, commonly referred to as an angle plane, is used to prepare the hardened brown coat for application of the finish coat. In plaster applications, irregularities in the brown coat are removed once the brown coat has hardened using the plaster planer to scrape down the high spots and irregularities in the brown coat. The process of planing provides a level surface for the application of the finish coat.


As the finish coat begins to set, a brush and trowel are used to polish it. The worker uses a brush to sprinkle the plaster walls with water while using the trowel to achieve a smooth finish on the plaster wall. The application of the water induces a small amount of plaster slurry to form on the trowel as the wall is trowelled and this slurry fills any minor voids, cracks or gaps left in the wall.

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