This tool is called an adze, it is just like an axe but the cutting edge is at 90 degrees to the handle. Adzes come either with straight blades for creating flat surfaces or curved ones for hollowing. This is a very old one I bought in Romania in 1998 and works excedingly well. I use it every time I make a plate to hollow a little of the wood before I start turning. Curved adzes are very hard to come by in the UK but straight ones are quite common. I have a few old rusty straight ones and really need one with quite a deep hollow for hollowing the gutters I want to make for my new barn. So taday I spent the morning in the forge.

Begining to take shape

And this is the curve I was trying to achieve.

And after finishing forging. The next stages are; anealing, to make it as soft as possible, grinding, to refine the edge shape, hardening then tempering.

I had never understood why hand forged adzes were so much more expensive than axes when they look fairly similar. I had not realised the complexities of creating those two even curves in two planes and if either curve is just not perfect the tool will not work properly. I hope mine works OK.

5 Responses to adzes

  1. Juan December 14, 2008 at 3:58 am #

    If curved adzes are hard to come by in the UK, they are almost impossible to find in the US, at least at a price I can afford. So I have resolved that I will have to learn to forge my own. My mentor here is Alexander Weygers, “The Complete Modern Blacksmith”, 10 Speed Press, Berkeley, CA (1997). Last I looked this book was, remarkably, still in print. The illustrations in this book are beautiful, not ome photo, all line drawings. Weygers subggests using a former — that is, a conical form clamped in a vise (vice) to forge this type of tool. One would hammer out the tool over the former. This, as usual, means yet another thing to make. But once one made it, the problem of unequal curvatures would disappear. Hmmm. There is a guy up in Talkeetna with a big metal-cutting lathe. Maybe he would let me use it to tuen a former.In the meantime, I hollow out my big bowls with a chainsaw.

  2. Robin Wood December 14, 2008 at 8:12 am #

    Thanks for the comment Juan, Weygers is a good book I used it a lot when starting blacksmithing, I like that he uses scrap and reclaimed steel a lot. The bik or pointy bit of an anvil is a pretty good cone to hammer the adze around though it does not take all the skill out of it. It is not an easy tool to forge so if you have not done too much I would recommend making crook knives and gouges for smoothing the surfaces first then do your adze.

  3. Juan December 17, 2008 at 3:13 am #

    Very wise advice. I will follow it. At this point in my career, I would be happy to forge a froe, and a gouge would be occasion for a celebration! Thanks.

  4. Rowan June 20, 2015 at 5:55 am #

    Hi Robin,

    I was wondering if you have any recommendations on where to get a curved adze in the UK? I am planning on focusing on my spoon carving this summer but thought about moving onto bowls this winter so may be in need of a decent adze soon!


    • Robin Wood September 4, 2016 at 10:53 am #

      I’d recommend either a hans Karlsson or Nic Westerman, not cheap but cheap adzes in my experience are a waste of money.