Hawks – plastic versus metal

69572405 - construction worker wearing worker overall with wall plastering tools renovating apartment house. plasterer renovating indoor walls and ceilings with float and plaster. construction finishing works.Hawks or hand boards, whatever you call them (and there’s certainly a North/South divide on that debate), every plasterer needs one.  They are simple in design and to the untrained eye they all look the same.  Although there’s a set shape, the differences between manufacturers run a lot deeper than just the label.

Metal hawks can be more solid feeling in the hand than a plastic one but are a little heavier.  Plastic hawks are lighter and although they may feel different to hold, they are less of a strain to hold all day.  Older plasterers who may work infrequently may find a plastic hawk easier on the hand and wrist than a metal one.  Plastic hawks are also a good investment for a novice plasterer or a DIYer, as they are cheaper than metal ones and the ridged surface helps hold the plaster on it even if it is held at a slight angle.  Getting used to holding the hawk at the right angle can take practice, so a plastic one is great for learning and not wasting too much plaster as it slips off a metal one.

The other great factor in choosing a plastic hawk over a metal one is the cost.  They are cheaper, so if they are lost or left behind on a job they can be easily and cheaply replaced, and are available from most DIY stores.  For those with sensitive ears or a particular dislike for the sound of metal on metal then a plastic hawk also eliminates the scraping sound.

Metal hawks are longer lasting than a plastic one, however, and there are some with a ridged surface to help keep the plaster from slipping off, as well as flat ones for the experienced plasterer.  Nela manufacture three sizes, giving you a choice of weight as well as surface area, and they also have concentric circular ridges, and they are a little cheaper than the Marshalltown alternative.  All in all, it is a matter of personal choice, but there are advantages to both plastic and metal hawks, it just depends what you are looking for.

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