Working with Concrete
Concrete is one of the most versatile building materials. It can be used for anything from entire buildings to portions of buildings, sidewalks, patios, post holes, steps and even decorative projects. Concrete work is also easy to learn, although it can be back-breaking.
The tools needed for concrete work include woodworking tools for building forms, a hammer, hand cross-cut saw, portable circular saw, measuring tape, square, level and string level, along with a small sledge and a maul. A pry bar is needed for disassembling the forms when the concrete dries. A builder’s transit or a laser level can make it easy to level or place a form to grade.
Concrete preparation tools are also required. The tools needed depend on the jobs you will be doing. Shovels and hoes are required for moving the liquid concrete around. Rubber hip boots are needed for wading in the wet concrete. For small jobs a wheelbarrow or mixing box are required for mixing the materials. A mortar hoe with holes in it makes it easier to mix the materials. A power mixer can also be mighty handy for small- to medium-sized jobs.
Concrete finishing tools include: a screeding board that is longer than the pour to pull the concrete off and level it with the form edges. A tamper can also be helpful in settling concrete in the forms. Other essential finishing tools include: an edger, groover, magnesium or wooden float, finishing trowel, pointing trowel, cement broom and a water hose. For larger projects such as floors or slabs, you’ll need a bull float with a bracket.
The Marshalltown Trowel Company models include an Auto-Just or RotaLeveler.
Marshalltown also makes it easy for the beginner with a Concrete Apprentice Tool Kit. It includes: finishing trowel and magnesium float (both with DuraSoft handle), wood float, groover, curved-end edger, margin trowel and a Marshalltown “Tips” book, all packed in a sturdy canvas tool bag. Suggested retail price is $138. For large projects, you may wish to rent a power trowel. The materials in concrete can irritate the skin so wear long-sleeved shirts, pants and gloves.