As discussed earlier in the guide, adzes are used for planing and carving wood. However, there are other, more common tools that can do those jobs, so why use an adze?To help you answer that question, adzes are compared to their main woodworking rivals below:
Flat-bladed adzes are used for planing wood. They are ideally suited to pieces of timber with large surface areas as their wide blades can smooth wood quickly.
Quick to plane large areas of wood, i.e. timbers
Can be used to create an antique effect (by leaving blade marks on the wooden surface)
Easier to create a smooth finish on a beam than it would be with an axe
Adze marks may not be desirable if an extremely smooth finish is required
It’s possible to use an axe to smooth the surface of a wooden beam, so buying an adze for smoothing is an additional expense
Planes are the most common choice for smoothing wooden surfaces, and can be used on small pieces of wood with ease. (See Woodworking Hand Planes)
Leaves a completely smooth surface
Can be used on a surface of any size
Less physically tiring than using an adze or axe
Planing a piece of wood with a large surface area is time consuming
Axes are the alternative to adzes when it comes to hewing timber. There are a few different techniques for ensuring a smooth finish – see Axes for more information.
Saves the expense of buying an adze for use once bark has been removed
Achieving a smooth surface on a beam takes a lot of skill and practice
Lipped adzes are ideal for hollowing out pieces of wood. Their wide blades make the process of removing material quick and effective.
Wide blades allow for rapid hollowing out of wood
Can be used to shape both the inside and the outside of a bowl
Can be used for large hollowing tasks, such as canoes, troughs, gutters and seats
More tiring to use than a gouge
Not suitable for precision work due to width of blade
The alternative to lipped adzes are gouges. These tend to have narrower blades and are much more useful for precision work. (See Gouges)
Narrow blade means the tool is suited for precision work
Can be used to carve in fine detail
Narrower blades mean that bowl carving from scratch would be a very slow process
Not suitable for large projects such as canoe, trough, gutter and seat hollowing
When compared to their more modern counterparts, adzes become tools that are used for more specialised tasks. They also appeal to woodworkers who are interested in using traditional methods or who are aiming for an antique effect on the items they produce.