What are the different types of adze?
Adzes come in a large number of varieties, which are defined by things like blade width, sweep (curvature), shape and handle length.
Foot adzes have long handles that are designed to be used with two hands. They are usually swung between the feet to shave wood, which is where they got their name. Some types of foot adze can also be used at chest or head height, depending on their weight.
These are heavy tools, designed purely to be efficient at shaving wood. The weight of the tool makes it easier to swing downwards during the planing process. The blades are usually flat. The weight of a carpenter’s adze makes it too heavy to use at head height for long periods of time.
On a railroad adze, the blade end of the head is elongated. It is designed to allow the blade to come into contact with a railway sleeper earlier in the swing. It was believed that when the tool was designed, this would reduce stress on the handle and help to prevent breakage.
Shipwright’s adzes often have a flared blade, which allows you to shave wider areas of wood with each stroke. They are lighter than carpenter’s adzes and can, therefore, be used overhead much more easily.
Lipped Shipwright Adze
This version of the shipwright’s adze has a blade that is swept upwards to create a shallow ‘U’ shape.
Gutter adzes also feature lipped blades, which are ideal for hollowing out canoes, chair seats and troughs as well as gutters.
Hand adzes have short, one-handed blades that allow for precision carving or working in smaller spaces. Larger one-handed adzes can be referred to as elbow adzes. Coopers (barrel makers) often used hand adzes with flat blades to smooth off the top of barrels. Hand adzes with lipped blades are used to hollow out bowls or for precision carving.
These adzes are named after the shape of their handle. They do not need to be swung to be used, so they are ideal for working in confined areas.
Two Handled Adze
Two-handled adzes work in the same way as other hand adzes but the second handle allows for greater precision and control with each swing.
A pocket adze is a small adze blade that can be carried in a sheath in your pocket It’s an incredibly useful tool to have if you’re out camping. All you need to do is lash the blade to a crooked twig!
Also known as a demolition adze, this tool has a blunt blade and is used for smashing materials apart during demolition work. In the US, fire fighters have demolition adze heads on one end of their halligan bars. These tools are used to force entry into locked properties if they need access in an emergency.
Ice adzes are specialised tools designed for cutting or digging in ice. They have wider, flatter heads than ice picks, which allows the user to chip chunks of ice or compacted snow away from a slope with ease.