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Selecting an Adze: Sizes and Weights

How to choose an adze:

Sizes and weights

Shop for Adzes


Image of an exceptionally fortunate DIYer who has found a way to receive goods immediately after clicking the buy button online If you’re buying an adze online then you’ll want to know as much specific information about it as possible.
Image of a computer screen showing Wonkee Donkee tools - a great source of information for learning about adzes and many other things Different sites will concentrate on different information, but most will tell you the weight and length of the tool.
Image showing an adze in the process of being hand forged There are no standardised sizes for adzes as they are mostly hand crafted. This means you have more freedom to choose the size you feel you will need for whichever job you’re planning to do.
Image showing a ruler with both imperial (inches) and metric (mm) measurements marked Measurements may be provided in metric (millimetres), imperial (inches) or both.

Overall length

 Image to show how the length of an adze is measured The overall length of an adze is the distance from the bottom of the handle to the top of the head.


Image of an adze head being weighed A weight is often provided, either for the entire tool or just the head. The website you are looking at should specify which weight they have provided.

The heavier the adze, the easier it is to shave off larger chunks of wood as the weight of the tool adds more force to your swing.

Image to show a weight expressed in both grams and pounds Weights can also be provided in metric (g) or imperial (lbs).


Image of two adze heads being measured for width Where a width is listed, it refers to the width of the tool’s cutting edge. Sizes usually range from 1/2″ to 5 1/2″ in half inch steps, although more specific sizes, such as 1 3/8″ do exist.
Image of a flared adze blade to illustrate width The wider the adze blade, the larger the surface area you can smooth with each swing.


Image to show how thickness is measured in adzes Blade thickness may also be provided. This will usually take the form of a measurement, followed by the type of material the blade is made of, such as 3/8″ steel.


Image of a lipped adze blade to illustrate sweep If you are buying a lipped adze then there may also be a reference to sweep. Sweep refers to the amount that the blade is curved.
Image showing the sizes and sweeps of adzes
 Sweep will be indicated with a number between 1 and 11, where 1 is flat and 11 is semicircular.

The smaller the number, the shallower the curve of the blade. This is measured on the London Pattern system, which is also referred to as the Sheffield system.

Image of a DIYer carving a bowl with a swept adze blade The lower the number of the sweep, the straighter the blade. If you’re carving tight corners, you will need an adze with a higher number sweep.
Wonkee Donkee explains that sweep numbers are one higher in Europe than they are in the UK for equivalent shaped adzes

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