The excellence of any mason’s work depends largely on the condition and quality of his hand tools. A tool dirty and/or poorly manufactured can be more than enough reason for inadequate work, so a careful selection of the tools is essential. tools of masonry
One of them manual tools which no construction worker can do without, because it is simply the most used, it is the spoon bricklayer or mason trowel. Its primary function is to prevent the different types of mortar or harmful elements such as lime or cement from damaging the operator’s hands. That’s why the trowel It is used for all kinds of tasks, from manually preparing a mixture to transferring said mixture from the bucket or wheelbarrow to the wall, or performing various types of tasks such as laying bricks and/or applying plaster or drywall work, and even use it as a unit of measure. Although it may not seem like it, the trowel It requires a special ability to handle it correctly and efficiently, which can only be achieved with time and good practice.
In fact, the trowel It has been in use for centuries, and its many names and shapes (i.e., leaf patterns) have been adapted to each country or region. that’s how we have mason’s spoons type Philadelphia, London, Guadalajara, Dutch, Argentine, Catalan, Madrid, Andalusian, Portuguese, North, Cuban, French and countless more. This means that the same style of pattern can be known by different names depending on the geographical location.
In addition, we must clarify that in many places it is also called masonry trowel or trowel to the following manual tools already described opportunely in Of Machines and Tools:
- The trowels used for finishing surfaces and that we can consult in trowels.
- The triangular spatulas presented spatulas.
In view of the above and to avoid confusion, on this occasion we will not mention specific names, so that each reader will be able to identify the spoon according to the denomination of their region.
Parts that make up a mason’s bucket
Let’s see what are the main parts that constitute a trowel and how they vary between models and applications.
The metallic material of mason’s spoons It is steel with a high degree of tempering, resistant to corrosion and repeated use.
Mango: depending on the angle of fixation of the stem, it is more or less inclined. It can be made of wood, fiber, plastic, leather, composite material or other non-slip materials.
Ferrule: present in wooden handles, it is a metal band located between the stem and the handle, and its function is to prevent the handle from breaking due to the pressure exerted during use.
Leaf: is the most important part of tool and comes in various lengths (between 5 and 12 inches) to suit each use, as well as different shapes, such as straight, rounded or triangular.
Tip: depending on each job, it can be slightly rounded (standard type), blunt (completely rounded), triangular or straight.
Heel: it is the back of the leaf and can be straight, rounded or rhomboid. The rounded shapes allow to hold a greater amount of mortar.
Stem: the shank to blade attachment determines the main type of bucket:
- it may be a single piece, in which case the trowel is called forged
- may be joined by brazing, in which case the trowel is called welded
Correct use of a masonry spoon
Beginners or DIY enthusiasts often find it very difficult to properly handle a trowel. Obviously, professional use has its secrets and this video illustrates the technique that must be followed for quality work.
Types of masonry buckets
The following table lists the various types of trowel that we can find on the market (remember that they can also be trowels or spatulas as explained above) and for which applications each one should be used.
What should be considered when choosing a mason’s bucket?
The quality of a masonry trowel or trowel is fundamentally determined by three aspects that we should not fail to review before deciding to purchase.
Steel type: the tool It must be made of first quality steel and must have a good temper and excellent behavior in the bending of the blade. One way to check these attributes is to gently tap the blade against a hard object. If the steel is good, the spoon will sound with a homogeneous tinkle on impact.
Blade Flexibility: during the use of the trowel, the sheet will be subjected to constant loads, so it must have a very good resistance to bending. This does not imply a rigid blade, but rather a blade that has as much flexibility as possible. To test it, let’s support our own weight against the blade; it must resist bending without breaking.
Not least, the flexibility of the blade during the process of spreading mortar and cutting brick reduces stress on the mason’s wrist.
Junction between blade and handle: In general, as we pointed out above, in the market we will find two types of trowel: forged (one piece) and welded (two pieces joined by brazing).
In fact, the forged is the one indicated for professional work, since it has a high resistance to breakage. On the other hand, its weight is high and the flatness of the sheet, as well as its uniformity, can be improved.
Welded buckets are a good option for DIY jobs, but they are not strong enough for everyday professional use.
b) Ergonomics of masonry buckets
Because it is a tool which will remain in the worker’s hand for hours on end, ergonomic considerations are very important to avoid future problems of fatigue and injury from use.
Therefore, before deciding to buy, let’s test the maneuverability of the trowel. It should fit properly in each hand, be light and well balanced for easy handling. We should also pay attention to the following details:
Bucket size and weight: larger sizes are heavier but can hold more mortar and other materials. However, a large size does not always mean greater productivity, since it depends on the effort that the worker can withstand without fatigue. Less hand and wrist fatigue means you can work at a more consistent pace, for a longer period of time, and with less risk of injury. So even with bigger hands, the trowel larger size may not be the best option.
Handle size and length: the size should match or be similar to the size of each person’s grip. If the handle extends beyond the end of the palm of the hand, it will reduce the injuries and discomfort caused in cases where the handle ends just at the base of the palm of the hand.
Handle shape: Tapered shanks, meaning those that get progressively thicker from shank to end, have a varied grip size, which can increase comfort for more precise work.
Angle between handle and work surface: A handle angle that keeps the wrist from bending to access the work surface will reduce hand and wrist fatigue as well as the risk of injury. If our work requires higher levels, for example, as we are building a wall, it will be convenient to use scaffolding so that we do not have to bend our wrists, or choose another trowel that has a different angle between the handle and the surface we are working on.
Handle material: As we have seen, the handles of the mason’s spoons They are available in different materials, such as wood, leather, non-slip plastic and padded fiber. Softer materials, such as leather, require less work to hold the tool and can help reduce vibration and cold. But leather can absorb sweat, so the spoon can become heavier and more difficult to maneuver. Let’s select a material that matches the way we use the handle when doing the job. If we need a firm grip, a non-slip grip handle can come in handy.