The float, fray or trowel It is a traditional hand tool, used by masons to smooth and plaster surfaces. Its origin is uncertain, although there are strong indications that it appeared in the Jordan area about 7,500 years ago; The inhabitants of the city of Ain Ghazal used lime mixed with ground limestone to cover the walls and floors of their dwellings; It is believed that they used baked clay tiles as a float or fray for this purpose.
Over time, both tool as the material used for plastering (or plaster) were evolving and, with the arrival of the Industrial Revolution and the advent of machines tools and cheap steel, floats or trowels they began to be mass-produced, lowering their cost and increasing their quality.
Characteristics of the float
Above, we can see a painting by John Cranch (1751 – 1821), which shows a plasterer at work, with a float In his hand.
The trowel or fratacho is a tool versatile, which mainly allows you to apply plaster or plaster to the walls. It consists of a flat surface —usually sheet steel— whose edges can be smooth or, alternatively, smooth and serrated.
The top of the steel plate is attached to a handle, or handle, which can be made of wood, plastic-coated iron, rubber, and so on.
The lower part of this plate can be simply smooth and made of steel to carry out the fine plastering, which is complemented by the use of another float with felt, to smooth out any small imperfections or “lines” left by the fray flat.
Are tools very simple and inexpensive that are available at any hardware or paint store.
Applications of the float or trowel
It is used to apply fine plaster on the walls of a house, whether internal or external. They are also used to make a special type of plaster, called salpicré or salpicrete, which requires greater skill and care.
To apply the plaster, masons usually use the float in conjunction with a spoon and bucket, or else a board on which a large portion of plaster is placed, and from which, with the float or trowel, a small amount is removed at a time to apply on the wall.
Types of trowel or trowel
There are two types of floats: smooth ones and those with felt.
They are used to apply the plaster on the walls, in circular movements always in the same direction.
Another practical use is that of sealing the plaster when it is necessary to carry out a perforation or repair; finally, when it is necessary to repair cracks in a wall or apply plaster (glue stucco), the float allows a neat and uniform application of the material.
Are floatsinstead, they are used to smooth and remove the small imperfections left by the use of the float smooth; generally, lines generated by the edges of the tool. They are also often used to achieve relief details in plaster works such as modern stucco and salpicré.
If you want to know even more, you can continue reading about masonry spoons here.