This article is about the hand tool. For the archaeology journal, see Trowel (journal).
Not to be confused with Trowell.
A gardening trowel
Trowel used by the Hon. King O'Malley in laying one of the foundation stones of the commencement column of the Federal Capital city of Canberra in 1913.
Trowel - tool used for archaeological excavations

A trowel is one of several similar hand tools used for digging, smoothing, or otherwise moving around small amounts of viscous or particulate material.

Hand tools

In gardening, a trowel is a tool with a pointed, scoop-shaped metal blade and a handle. It is used for breaking up earth, digging small holes, especially for planting and weeding, mixing in fertilizer or other additives, and transferring plants to pots.

A cathole trowel is similar to a gardening trowel, but it was specifically designed for digging catholes in the backcountry. Cathole trowels are used by backpackers, hikers and some kinds of campers, so they are often made of lighter weight materials than gardening trowels to make them easier to carry. Also, they may have features such as ruled sides to measure for proper cathole depth or jagged edges for cutting through roots or frozen soil. Some cathole trowels are also designed to fold-up or collapse into a smaller size for easier storage. Others allow for items such as toilet paper to be stored inside the handle.[1]

A bricklayer's trowel (also known as a masonry trowel or pointing trowel) is a tool with a handle and flat metal blade, used by masons for leveling, spreading, or shaping substances such as cement, plaster, or mortar, as well as for breaking bricks to shape them or smoothing a mould. A tuck pointing trowel is longer and thinner, designed for packing mortar between bricks. Brick trowels are traditionally made of carbon steel, but some newer versions are made of cast stainless steel, which has longer wear and is rust-free.

In archaeology brick or pointing trowels (usually 4" or 5" steel trowels) are used to scratch the strata in an excavation and allow the colours of the soil to be clear, so that the different strata can be identified, processed and excavated. In the United States, there are several preferred brands of pointing trowels, including the Marshalltown trowel; while in the British Isles the WHS 4" pointing trowel is the traditional tool.

Several types of trowel are used in concrete construction. The float trowel or finishing trowel is usually rectangular, used to smooth, level, or texture the top layer of hardening concrete. A flooring trowel has one rectangular end and one pointed end, made to fit corners.

A gauging trowel has a rounded tip, used to mix measured proportions of the different ingredients for quick set plaster.

A pool trowel is a flat-bladed tool with rounded ends used to apply coatings to concrete, especially on swimming pool decks.

Margin trowels and notched trowels are used to apply adhesive and grout when applying ceramic or stone tile to a surface.

A smaller but similarly shaped tool called the palette knife is used in oil painting.

Power tools

A power trowel is a type of Light Construction Equipment, used by construction companies and contractors, serving as a finishing equipment for concrete works.


The trowel is the nearest that the archaeological profession has to a uniform symbol. It is incorporated into the designs of many archaeological association logos and publications.

See also


Look up trowel in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
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