Preamble... Since the creation of their discipline, archaeologists have used "mason's trowels". On several points, these trowels are absolutely not adapted to a use in archaeology. Aware of the seriousness of this problem, Strati has been working since its creation in 1989, to build a real archaeologist's trowel. A lot of energy, time and money were invested in the realization of prototypes in order to identify the important points and define the priorities. In 1998, an "ideal" trowel was forged in the Pyrenees-Orientales, the Mecca of metallurgy... the dream was taking shape! In 2012, a first fundamental step was taken. By dint of hard work, Strati, in partnership with the Battiferro di Maniago company, developed the first archaeological trowel with the handle at 90°, in the extension of the blade. The Pi2 trowel was born creating a radical break between the mason's trowel and the archaeologist's trowel.
Since January 1, 2016, Strati no longer sells mason's trowels: to each profession its own tools!
Moral, if one day you disappear at the bottom of a hole... thanks to your Pi2 trowel, the archaeologists of the XXIVth century will be able to characterize you... even if it means finding yourself in a museum's showcase, it might as well be with the right label!
1/ The shape of the blade :
1.1 Diamond-shaped trowels
This shape is the most requested by archaeologists. It allows the bricklayer to break a brick in two with a sharp blow... hence the British industry, the country of all brick! All manufacturers offer this shape in different sizes and thicknesses.
1.2 Water drop trowels
These are pointed "cat's tongues". With the same size as a diamond trowel, the "water drop" shape gives you a larger surface area. The rounded backs prevent the novice digger from attacking the layers with the sharp angles present on the diamond and triangular trowels.
1.3 Triangular trowels
For the same size, triangular trowels have the largest surface area for stripping. The sharp angles make it possible to cut through hard ground ... but beware of foolishness!
2/ The length of the blade :
For a good use in archaeology, the length of the blade must be between 7 cm and 13 cm. A size inferior to 7 cm is often unsuitable, you will prefer a spatula. Above 13cm in length, you get tired unnecessarily, it is better to use a scraper. The 7cm trowels are the prerogative of the chef! because they are very practical to store in the pocket... We advise you to opt for a trowel of 11 or 13cm because over time your trowel will shrink by dint of scraping the ground!
3/ The thickness of the blade:
This depends on the substrate to be excavated: A thin blade is "sound". In wet, clayey, sandy soils, the vibrations transmitted by the blade will indicate the changes in layers. On the other hand, in stony areas, it will wear out more quickly. A thick blade is "deaf", transmitting less vibrations, so you will have difficulty "hearing" the layers. On the other hand, its thickness is a determining asset for digging in stony areas.
4/ The choice of a handle :
Unquestionably, the choice of the handle is often as important as the choice of the blade.
4.1 The handle inclination : For an optimal use, the handle must be in the extension of the blade and thus of your hand. Thus, your gesture will be precise and natural. The mason's trowels have an inclination of the handle intended to avoid that the mortar slips towards the pint of the trowel during handling.
4.2 The different materials :
4.2.1 Bi-material handles They have the advantage of minimizing the risk of loosening between the handle and the tang (metal part inside the handle)! This is particularly important if you are digging south of Patagonia.... and the first serious trowel dealer is 6000 kms away! Because, as you have all noticed one day, once the handle turns, your trowel is good for the scrap metal dealer!
4.2.2 Wooden handles Main advantage, their natural "touch" particularly comfortable and warm. The harmony between wood and metal is undeniable and the patina of time will give your trowel a soul!
4.3/ The diameter of the handle This parameter is unfortunately not a criterion for manufacturers at the moment! But, in general, bi-material handles are bigger than wooden ones.
5/ The choice of the guard: The guard is the part that joins the blade and the handle. Each manufacturer has developed a guard specific to its trowels. The shorter the guard, the closer your phalanges are to the ground and therefore the more likely they are to be scratched. On the other hand, the longer the guard, the more you will get tired scraping hard floors. To reassure newcomers, after a few days in the field, your hand will have found its rhythm! The WHS guard is rather "long" and stocky, which gives it a robust feel. The Master and Strati guard is "short" and of a standard diameter. The Marsalltown guard is intermediate and rather thin. Good digging to all ... from an archaeologist who unfortunately has never dug with a proper trowel... in the 80's, we had only welded trowels, cat's tongue, of 16cm on the building sites !