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What are the different types of adze?

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Image showing three different varieties of adze Adzes come in a large number of varieties, which are defined by things like blade width, sweep (curvature), shape and handle length.
Wonkee Donkee says that adzes are much more versatile than their names might suggest

Foot adzes

Image of a long handled adze, known as a foot adze Foot adzes have long handles that are designed to be used with two hands.
Image of a DIYer using a foot adze They are usually swung between the feet to shave wood, which is where they got their name.
Image of a shipwright using a foot adze for overhead work Some types of foot adze can also be used at chest or head height, depending on their weight.
Image of a carpenter's adze, a long handled heavy tool with a flat blade

Carpenter’s adzes

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.

Image of a flat blade, usually found on carpenter's adzes The blades are usually flat.
Image of a DIYer struggling with the weight of a tool The weight of a carpenter’s adze makes it too heavy to use at head height for long periods of time.
Image of the elongated blade on a railroad adze

Railroad adzes

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.

Image of an adze handle that has broken due to stress It was believed that when the tool was designed, this would reduce stress on the handle and help to prevent breakage.
Image of a shipwright's adze, identifiable by its wide blade

Shipwright’s adzes

Shipwright’s adzes often have a flared blade, which allows you to shave wider areas of wood with each stroke.

Image of a shipwright using a shipwright's adze above floor height They are lighter than carpenter’s adzes and can, therefore, be used overhead much more easily.
Image of a shipwright's adze with a lipped blade

Lipped shipwright’s adzes

This version of the shipwright’s adze has a blade that is swept upwards to create a shallow ‘U’ shape.

Image of a DIYer using a gutter adze to hollow out a wooden pole

Gutter adzes

Gutter adzes also feature lipped blades, which are ideal for hollowing out canoes, chair seats and troughs as well as gutters.

Hand adzes

Image of a one handed adze with a short handle 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.

Image of a cooper's hand adze with a flat blade for smoothing off the top of barrels Coopers (barrel makers) often used hand adzes with flat blades to smooth off the top of barrels.
Image of a DIYer hollowing out a bowl with a lipped hand adze Hand adzes with lipped blades are used to hollow out bowls or for precision carving.
Image of a D-handled adze, for use in confined spaces

D-handled adzes

These adzes are named after the shape of their handle.

Image of a DIYer in a situation that might warrant the use of a D-handled adze, where there is not enough room to swing their arm They do not need to be swung to be used, so they are ideal for working in confined areas.
Image of a DIYer holding a twin handled gutter adze

Two-handled adzes

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.

Image of a pocket adze blade, ready to be lashed to a branch

Pocket adzes

A pocket adze is a small adze blade that can be carried in a sheath in your pocket

Image of a pocket adze head lashed to a twig and ready to use 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!
Wonkee Donkee explains the uses for a pocket adze, which is a very versatile tool indeed!

Other types of adze

Image of a fireman using a demolition adze to pull down roof timbers

Boston adzes

Also known as a demolition adze, this tool has a blunt blade and is used for smashing materials apart during demolition work.

Image of a halligan bar, clearly showing the adze attachment In the US, fire fighters have demolition adze heads on one end of their halligan bars.
Image of a firefighter gaining access to a locked, burning residence using a halligan bar These tools are used to force entry into locked properties if they need access in an emergency.
Image of an ice axe with a pick and adze head

Ice adzes

Ice adzes are specialised tools designed for cutting or digging in ice.

Image showing a close up of the adze head of an ice axe, detached from the rest of the tool 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.

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