long-handled adze

Gransfors straight blade, long handled adze.

An adze is an axe-like tool with a blade, which may be curved inward or straight (a straight-edged adze is called a carpenter's adze), set at right angles to the handle. It is used in hand woodworking, for roughing out a form or for dressing wood (that is, smoothing rough-cut timber). A traditional use was making the flat, walking surface of a native log bridge. Unlike an axe, it is not suitable for chopping wood. The main parts of an adze are the grip, the haft, the haft head, the blade, and the edge.


Adzes come in short-handled and long-handled forms. The short-handled variety is gripped with either one or both hands with the working piece of wood positioned between waist and knee height. A long-handled adze is more commonly used while straddling the work on, or close to the ground. In this case, you stand astride the piece of wood you are working on – a log or or a board – and swing the adze down between your legs, chipping off flakes of wood and walking backward as you go. With practice a person can become skillful at the technique and fashion a relatively smooth surface.


Adzes are commonly used in the construction of Appalachian-style log homes. Some builders use an adze as a tool on its own, others as finishing tool to a broad axe.


The cutting edge of an adze, like that of a chisel, needs to be kept very sharp, and it should always be stored in a sheath. Obvious care is needed, especially when using an adze while striking downward toward the feet. The toe of the front foot should be elevated so that a glancing blow strikes the bottom of the sole of the boot. Only the back of the heel of the front foot should be resting on the wood being worked.