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One only needs a few basic tools to get started forming concrete: a sledgehammer, a drill and screws or a hammer and nails, stakes, boards of a proper size for the project, and some sort of leveling device proper for the scope of the project. I prefer to use screws, #9, if possible, and like 3.5 inch and 1.75 inch for joining wood together. Steel stakes are the most durable in most cases, however specific conditions may require wood. If the project is large enough you may even need some strong string line or a laser to get marks across long distances. If you get far enough into working with concrete that you need to move or grade a large amount of dirt, some heavy equipment may be in order to reduce the overall workload and strain. Its no fun digging ditches by hand with a pickaxe.
For the placement of the concrete a garden or concrete rake, with a shovel on standby will be sufficient for the needs of a small project, as well as a board that is slightly longer than the concrete project is wide, called a screed. Both the concrete rake and the screed act like a squeegee, and one should not try to move a mountain of concrete with it. The slow and steady method of pulling back works best for keeping level and smooth.
Finishing concrete requires some slightly more specialized tools. Mainly trowels, floats, edgers,groovers, and brooms are used to finish most commercial type concrete, and for it to be done properly, years of practice and experience. You can study all you like, but until you actually finish concrete in different conditions,i.e. hot and cold weather, windy, humid, etc. you will not adequately be able to form a concept of what it feels like to work the concrete and have it respond in different ways.