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Anyone who has been to Mike’s presentations about plastering will know that he has been trying to track down the meaning of the word ‘hawk’, in relation to the tool a plasterer uses to hold his plaster while he puts it on the wall.

We have finally found an answer that he is happy with and, as he promised, the person providing the answer gets a free hawk.

The meaning comes from the latin for hawk being “accipeter” (used during medieval times) and accipeter coming from the latin verb “caper” which means “to seize”. This working accipeter developed into the word assistant which we use today for working birds, mammals, and tools alike, so the modern (last 100 years or so) direct translation of “hawk” is “working assistant”.

I am very excited to be able to help and am looking forward to using my hawk to fix the plaster in my kitchen which decided to fall off the wall not long after we moved in (a week before xmas). Thank you also for the hints and tips, they will be invaluable during our renovations this year.

‘Rachael from Coventry’

We also had replies that suggested it was:

  • linked to the boards used by street-hawkers, or street-sellers, and while they may come from similar sources, we could not find any link from the street hawkers to the plasterers board
  • named after a falconers hawk because the plasterer holds it on his arm like a hawk
  • was from a German term for seize or grasp

In any case whatever you believe you need a hawk and a trowel if you want to have a go at plastering. Make sure you buy a light hawk, whether you chose plastic or aluminium because it will get very heavy after a couple of hours of plastering so don’t make your job harder by skimping on the quality for your tools.

Alumninium Hawk for plastering

Aluminium hawk – one of several available form our online shop – click to see price and availability

We have projects on how to plaster on our main website, and there are video instructions on Skim Plastering on our You Tube Channel.


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