“The Trowel teaches that nothing can be united without proper cement, and the perfection of the building depends on the suitable disposition of the cement. So, Charity, the bond of perfection and social union, must unite separate minds and interests that, like the radii of a circle which extend from the center to every part of the circumference, the principle of universal benevolence may be diffused to every member of the community.”
A tool used to spread cement at the worksite of an operative mason, the speculative Mason makes use of the tool to spread the cement of friendship and Brotherly love. Removed from Emulation ritual in 1813, the trowel is still a popular symbol of the Craft in many parts of the world. It is the symbol of the Junior Deacon, and Grand Junior Deacon under the Grand Lodge of Scotland, while every Brother in the Swedish Rite wears the trowel as a badge of Membership.
This implement is considered the appropriate Working Tool of a Master Mason, because, in operative Masonry, while the Apprentice is engaged in preparing the rude materials, which require only the gauge and gavel to give them their proper shape, the Fellow Craft places them in their proper position by means of the plumb, level, and square; but the Master Mason alone, having examined their correctness and proved them true and trusty, secures them permanently in their place by spreading, with the Trowel, the cement that irrevocably binds them together.
The trowel when paired with the sword is also central to the symbolism of the three Degrees of Cryptic Masonry where they alluded to a certain text of scripture:
“When our enemies heard that we knew their scheme and that God had frustrated it, every one of us returned to his own work on the wall. From that day on, half of my men did the work while the other half held spears, shields, bows, and armor. The officers supported all the people of Judah, who were rebuilding the wall. The laborers who carried the loads worked with one hand and held a weapon with the other.”