Tusser mentions the countryman using an adze to "make trough for thy hogs." The adze can hollow a hog trough, but the adze is also a faster-working alternative to the plane. In 1678, Joseph Moxon described the adze being used "to take thin Chips off Timber or Boards, and to take off those Irregularities that the Ax by reason of its Form cannot well come at; and that a Plane (though rank set) will not make riddance enough with."

The common adze is a single-bevel tool worked with the flat face against the wood. This flat face curves gently back from the edge, matching the swing of the tool. While one hand powers the tool, your other hand anchors the end of the handle against your body. You adjust the depth of cut with your body position, while, down on the business end, the flat face hammers ever so slightly against the previously worked surface and guides the edge into the unworked wood. In experienced hands, it is dead accurate and leaves behind a smooth, lightly scalloped surface.

The edge slices off thin chips, more like broad shavings. You can work with the grain, across it, or diagonally. There is always a chance that unwanted wedging action would cause the wood to splinter ahead of the edge. For extra smooth work, therefore, some workers set their foot on the surface and swing the blade to cut beneath it. The wedge action is stymied because the worker's shoe holds down the wood until the edge slices it off. As one writer noted, "It is fearful to contemplate an error of judgment or an unsteady blow."

To keep its razor edge, an adze is usually hardened to the same degree as a chisel—too hard for a file. Since the adze has to go on the grindstone now and then, the handle has to be removable. If the handle were wedged in place like that of an axe, it would always be in the way as you tried to grind the bevel.

Carpenter's adzes are rather light tools, worked at high speed removing thin chips that bend up and allow the edge to cut smoothly without splitting. There are also adzes that are intended to split and chop as well as shear a surface. These railroad plate-layers adzes have a thick, heavy poll (the head opposite the edge). Intended for work on railroad ties, their inertial mass can pop out big chips of wood. This mass also makes them tiring to use with rapid, precise blows—but that's not what they're made for.

The shipwright's lipped adze will do all that a carpenter's adze will do, and excels at cutting a trench across the grain of a timber. Without the lips, trenching would be rough edged and much harder, as the splinters would be constantly entrapping the adze. Shipwrights, unlike carpenters, very often work in an arc in front of them. You'll find shipwrights using adzes with three-quarter length handles at close quarters.

A final technical term for adzing: When a timber has been worked over 50 percent of its surface, it is known as half-adzed. (Of the 23 known woodworking puns, a fair share involve the adze.)

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Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

Woodworking Tools and Installation Tips

There are a lot of things that either needs to be repaired, or put together when youre a homeowner. If youre a new homeowner, and have just gotten out of apartment style living, you might want to take this list with you to the hardware store. From remolding jobs to putting together furniture you can use these 5 power tools to get your stuff together. Dont forget too that youll need a few extra tools for other jobs around the house.

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