Adze Cutting Tool

Adze cutting tool

image-Luigi Zanasi

Strangely Named Tool

An adze, peculiar tool name, but I suppose the earth's inhabitants thousands of years ago, didn't talk much English.

It is used for carving or smoothing rough cut wood. Used most often for squaring up logs or hollowing out.

The implement has a similar chipping function to an axe, but is set at right angles to the shaft and the cut is made towards you instead of away.

I always advise against this, so be careful you don't cut off more than you can chew. It's a wonder Health and Safety haven't banned the implement.


The tool has been made from various materials throughout time. In the Mesolithic period, 10,000BC, they were made from knapping flint, stone, amphibolite, basalt or jadeite but by the Pre-dynastic age, copper had replaced stone.

The head was originally tied to a wooden haft (shaft shortened ) but when moulding of metals originated, a hole for the haft was created.

The haft is traditionally made from a crooked branch forming an approximate angle of 60 degrees, the thinner end used as the handle, the thicker inserted into the crook ( hole ) of the head. In new designs the haft is a lesser angle than the original.

Cutting edge shapes vary from flat to concave, even to 'U' shaped.

Smaller Tools

Straight blade adze and haft Carver's adze and haft Carver's bowl adze and haft

Smaller versions af the tool and selection of hafts can be viewed and bought by following this link to Amazon

Pfiel in Switzerland and Ox-Head in Germany are long established green woodworking manufacturers who use ash for their sturdy handles from 11"-18" long. The first 2 here are Pfiel

The 3" Straight Head Adze 05Z96, is perfect for flat cuts and priced at $131.99

A curved slow sweep blade ideal for intricate bowl carving, is the Curved Head 05Z97, with a 2-1/2" cutting edge. Priced at $159,99

Ideal for chair seat recessing, bowl carving and general scolloping is the Ox-Head Curved Gutter Adze which is priced at $126.70 and manufactured by Ox-Head.

The item at the top, Visa 3640/3641 has a 36" hickory handle priced at $90 and available at DIY

Replacement handles made of hickory or ash are $ 24 for a 36" and $ 4 for a 14"

Varieties and Users

Carpenters : A heavy tool often with steep curves

Shipwrights : Lighter thus more versatile, which can be used overhead or at chest height

Specialists and Coopers : Much shorter hafts than originals, used for barrels, bowls, fine woodworking and chair seats for comfy bums

More Green Tools at Green Woodworking

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