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How to Use an Old Drywall Lath Hatchet

How to Use an Old Drywall Lath Hatchet - Keep it Razor Sharp

This video was probably recorded in the 1950s. The installer is putting up 3/8-inch-thick drywall lath panels. These lath panels were often 16 inches wide and normally 4 feet long. They were introduced in the early 1900s. Some call it rock lath. The use of the word rock stuck with it as gypsum board transitioned to the dryall you see today in the year 2023.

A 1/4-inch to 3/8-inch-thick scratch coat of plaster would be installed over this followed by a thin coat of silky-smooth white veneer plaster.

The reason he uses so many nails is because of the combined weight of the plaster lath and the actual plaster.

The hatchets were used originally to cut the actual wood lath strips to length. Back in the 1800s 1.5-inch-wide by 1/4-inch-thick wood strips were nailed to the wall studs. There was about a 3/8-inch-wide gap between each one. The scratch coat of plaster would ooze through the gap and hook itself onto the wood in this manner. The hatchets were used to cut the wood strips to length.

Below the video is a photograph of my own hatchets. The one with the wood handle is about 45 years old!

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