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Video of construction workers tamping a road surface

A tamp is a device used to compact or flatten an aggregate or another powdered or granular material, typically to make it resistant to further compression or simply to increase its density.


  • Small, handheld tampers are used to compress ground coffee into a puck to prepare espresso.
A fancy coffee tamper
  • Manual or powered tampers compact gravel before laying a concrete or brick patio or walkway so that the underlying gravel layer does not settle over time, or compress the fill in a utility trench as seen in the illustration.
  • Self-propelled, mechanised ballast tamping machines, which compact the ballast underneath rail tracks.
  • Preparing some firearms and artillery pieces for firing may involve tamping the charge, such as explosive material or a projectile, into the barrel. For example, muzzle loaders.
  • A fireplace can be tamped with a poker or similar tool to compress the material being burned (wood, coal, peat etc...). This improves the heat/burning efficiency, by reducing the volume of burning material that is exposed to airflow. This is often confused with damping - which involves reducing the intensity of the burn by restricting the flue or by the use of any fire retarding material such as water.

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