Proper plastering tools provided a base for Michelangelo's famous Sistine Chapel fresco and, although plastering tools might not deserve credit for the finished painting, they surely got the project started. Plastering tools like trowels and hawks remain an integral part of the plastering process. With the right tools, you can create simple wall finishes or the base for the world's next fresco masterpiece.
A trowel, the most essential and basic plastering tool, generally consists of a thin, flexible, metal blade attached on one side to a handle. A plasterer holds the handle while using the smooth opposite side to apply and spread plaster. Trowels appear in a variety of incarnations according to their intended use; certain trowels apply base coats, small trowels fit into tight corners and some trowels are bent to spread plaster onto to a wall's corner. Manufacturers use standard or stainless steel to make trowel blades and plastic or wood to make trowel handles.
A plaster hawk allows a plasterer to transport small portions of plaster from the mixing area to the work area. A plaster hawk consists of a large, typically 12-inch, square of metal. A handle pokes straight out from one side of the square, allowing a plasterer to hold the metal square in a flat upright position. When held in this manner, the hawk provides a flat surface onto which plaster may be mounded and carried from a bucket to the wall. The hawk is held in one hand while the other hand applies the plaster with a trowel.
A float smooths and spreads plaster during finish and decorative coats. The float consists of a yielding, flat rubber, sponge or synthetic surface. A handle protrudes from the opposite side of the rubber, sponge or synthetic surface. Plasterers drag floats across a wall's surface to create effects such as sanded or smooth textures.
A lime brush features long, coarse bristles attached to a wooden or plastic handle. A lime brush differs from standard paint brushes in the length of its bristles and the thickness of the brush. Lime brushes are frequently 1 inch to 2 inches thick. Plasterers use lime brushes to apply lime slake-based washes to plastered surfaces.
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