A master thatcher in countries such as South Africa, where thatching is a common practice, have a number of tools that are used to ensure that the roofing and thatch products on which they are working are built or manufactured to the highest quality. These tools are used throughout that thatching industry by Master Thatchers and include:
A Thatching Sickle
This thatchers tool is used to hand cut the thatch straw or reed. It is also used to clean and cut the bundles of thatching raw materials.
The Thatching Spade
The thatching spade is also commonly referred to as the dekspan or leggatt. It is more often than not a homemade tool that consists of a board of about 150 x 200 x 30 mm thick. It has a handle on one side and a flat side on the other (similar to plasterers float. Several sharp metal blades are attached to the flat side and run across the 150mm width of the instrument at a 45° angle. This thatching tool is used to both dress and shape the thatch into position during the building process.
A Straight Thatching Needle
A straight thatching needle is used during the thatching process to stitch the thatching to the roof battens. This needle is about 300mm long and uses thatching twine made out of a treated sisal rope. When in use this needle needs 2 people to use it effectively as it gets passed backwards and forwards through the thatch.
A Curved Thatching Needle
The curved thatching needle that is used by a master thatcher is also used to stitch the thatching raw materials to the roof battens. It is about 600mm long and does unlike the straight thatching needle mentioned above can be used by a single person during the construction process.
Climbing hooks are S shaped devices that are used to provide a stable foothold for when a master thatcher or his assistant is working on a roof. The top (smaller) hook is hooked over the roofing battens and the larger hook is used as a stirrup.
The foothold pole is a foothold alternative to the climbing hooks used by many master thatchers. It is simply a pole that is roughly 100mm in diameter. It is either wired to the roof timbers or uses 2 small climbing hooks to keep it stable.
All of these tools are used to ensure that the workmanship on all thatch structures built by a master thatcher are of the highest order. To find out more about thatching and these tools, please contact the nearest thatching guild.