It doesn’t matter what trade you find yourself in, we all have parts of our job we’d just as soon avoid forever. I’ve been a mason for over thirty years, and I just don’t enjoy pouring and finishing concrete. I’d rather spend the day laying bricks and stones than tending to a new slab. You probably think I’m in the wrong line of work. Perhaps, but you have to wait around for concrete to cure. That’s just not fun. Whenever I have to tend to a slab, I want solid masonry hand tools. Pro Tool reviews recently handed me the new Ridgid masonry tools, and I was happy to test them provided they didn’t slow me down.
When all the screeding and bull floating is done, it’s time for the finer concrete finishing tools. Ridgid recently introduced their first line of concrete hand tools and they’ve been slowly creeping into the big orange store for a few months now. The tools include all new floats, trowels, groovers, and edgers. In fact, the new Ridgid masonry tools present a deep enough lineup to tackle all my finishing work. And, lucky me, I just so happened to have a slab to finish up.
Trowel and Float Blades
In the old days, trowels and floats performed better only after some use. They would “break in” as the metal became slightly bent upward toward the handle, and the edges would bevel with wear. This made them smooth out wet concrete better. The slightly worn edges made the tools less likely to gouge it. The golden stainless steel blades of the Ridgid trowels and floats not only resist corrosion, but they’ve also been broken in during the manufacturing process. They arrive with a slight curve and pre-ground edges like your own familiar, trusty, broken-in tools.
Handles and Overmolds
The fully-forged pointing trowels have a solid shank-through handle designed for strength and abuse. That means the steel goes all the way through the handle. In fact, if you pay attention to the photos, you’ll notice how I tap the block with the trowel handle. Masons use the handles of these tools to make their block work level and square. The old wood-handled trowels couldn’t “handle” that kind of abuse for too long! They’d quickly get loose and wobble.
The rubber overmold on all of the Ridgid masonry tools has been designed for comfort and grip security. This feature has some real benefit since finishing concrete means that your hands are typically wet and dirty.
Editors Note: Check out our article on How to Avoid Defects in Concrete Slabs.
With a wet batch of concrete bull-floated in the form, I got to work with the Ridgid masonry tools. The broken-in blades and pre-ground edges have a noticeable advantage over tools with fresh, sharp edges. That’s especially important for someone who typically avoids concrete finishing, and therefore, feels a bit rusty! It might not make as much of a difference for guys who are finishing every day, but those features sure are nice for me. And, if you need a particularly fool-proof smoothing tool, the pool floats, with their rounded edges, make the job quite easy. The blue steel version offers more flexibility and forgiveness than the stainless version.
A Material Difference
Manufacturers make floats and trowels out of several different materials: resin, wood, aluminum, steel, and magnesium. Masons have an important order of operations in proper concrete finishing that depends on the tool material choice. Some materials, like steel, seal the concrete’s pores. Other materials, like aluminum and magnesium, open the pores by pushing the aggregate down and bringing the “cream” to the surface.
We’ve made a critical distinction here: if a mason traps the bleed water by sealing the pores too soon with a steel trowel, the slab will likely exhibit concrete dusting and delaminate. So, after screeding and bull-floating, I used Ridgid’s aluminum and magnesium floats first to bring the bleed water to the surface. As the concrete cured, the bleedwater sheen evaporated. Then I used the steel trowels to finish the slab. These new Ridgid masonry tools did a great job.
Pointing trowels take a ton of abuse because, as I mentioned, we use the handles to tap brick and block into place. That’s why the steel strike surface of the fully-forged through-handles make so much of a difference. Wooden, plastic, or rubber overmolds would quickly break down under such use. But, this feature makes for a very nice touch. You might think that it would make them too heavy. In truth, they might be slightly heavier than my normal pointing trowel, but it’s no deal-breaker.
The Bottom Line
Ridgid did a nice job with these new masonry tools, especially considering that this lineup represents the brand’s first shot at it. It’s clear they consulted Pros before working out the final designs. The tools feel good in the hand, resist rust, and have the broken-in and pre-ground edges that make the job go smoothly. What’s even better: this concrete hand tool offering is comprehensive – there’s no screed or bull float, but every finishing tool you need is available. The tools might have even made the finishing side of masonry a little more palatable to me – and that’s saying a lot!
Ridgid Masonry Tools Features
- Broken-in blade shape
- Pre-ground edges
- Golden stainless steel resists corrosion
- Fully-forged through handle pointing trowels
Ridgid Masonry Floats, Trowels, Groovers, and Edgers Pricing
- Magnesium Float 16 x 3-1/8 inch- CM5000 – $25.97
- Aluminum Float 16 x 3-1/8 inch – CM5001 – $17.97
- 16 x 4-inch Stainless Steel Finishing Trowel – CM3002 – $33.97
- 12 x 4-inch Stainless Steel Finishing Trowel – CM3004 – $29.97
- 20 x 4-inch Stainless Steel Finishing Trowel – CM3000 – $38.97
- 18 x 4-inch Stainless Steel Finishing Trowel – CM3001 – $34.97
- 14 x 4-inch Stainless Steel Finishing Trowel – CM3003 – $33.97
- 8 x 3 inch Stainless Steel Midget Trowel – CM3005 – $24.97
- 5 x 2 inch Fully Forged Margin Trowel – CM2002 $12.97
- Fully Forged Margin Trowel 6 x 2 inch – CM2001 – $14.50
- Zinc Groover 6 x 4-3/8 inch – CM6000 – $21.97
- 6 x 4 inch Blue Steel Edger – CM6001 – $7.25
- 16 x 4-1/2 inch Stainless Steel Pool Trowel – CM4001 – $36.97
- 16 x 4-1/2 inch Blue Steel Pool Trowel – CM4000 – $36.97
- 10 inch Fully Forged London Brick Trowel – CM1001 – $33.97
- 12 x 5-1/8 inch Fully Forged London Brick Trowel – CM1000 – $36.97
- 6 x 2-3/4 inch Fully Forged Pointing Trowel – CM2000 – $12.50