An adze (sometimes spelled adz) is a woodworking tool, one of several tools used in ancient times to perform carpentry tasks. It dates back to the stone age and is very ax-like. The head, however, is attached at a right angle to the handle.
Archaeological evidence suggests that the first Neolithic farmers used adzes for everything from felling trees to shaping and assembling wooden architecture such as roof timbers, as well as constructing furniture, boxes for two- and four-wheeled vehicles, and walls for subterranean wells.
The original adze blades were made of stone, but cooper ones had replaced the flint by the Predynastic Period (around 3100BC starting with the first Pharaoh or Hor-Aha.
Generally, the user stands astride a board or log and swings the adze downwards between his feet, chipping off pieces of wood, moving backward as they go, and leaving a relatively smooth surface behind.
The adze is one of the earliest-dated tools in archaeological records. Examples of the adze dating back to the Stone Age have been discovered across Europe, and there’s evidence of it having also been used by the Maori tribes of Australia and the native people of the Northwest American coast.
Depictions of the adze have even been found in Ancient Egyptian Art, from the Old Kingdom onward. The long-handled ones are called foot adze and the short handle is a hand adze. One of the most popular types of foot adze today is the carpenter’s adze, a particularly heavy and powerful variation with a flat plane, ideal for shaving down broad wooden floorboards or timbers for a building’s frame. If you’re looking for the power of a foot adze but with a more lightweight and versatile design, the shipwright’s adze is a popular alternative. Its lighter weight means it’s can be used at waist or chest height, or even swung overhead. It’s also ideal if you’re looking for a tool to remove large areas of wood, as its flared edge removes wide shaves with each stroke.
The gutter adze is an interesting variation of the foot adze family. It has all the weight and power of a carpenter’s adze, but its lipped blade makes it ideal for hollowing out a log or forming a curve. It’s a useful tool for hollowing out large pieces such as guttering or a canoe.
From early Archaic Dalton sites (the Dalton period is circa 8500-7900 BC of native-American hunter-gatherers) in the United States, adzes are flaked stones like Dalton Adzes.
The studies reveal that these types of adzes were heavily made, recycled, used, and resharpened by various groups. The major use of adzes as analyzed in technological studies reveals that they were used for felling trees and manufacturing canoes.
Adzes were made of a variety of materials, shell, bone, stone, and metal, but typically have a domed upper side and a flat bottom, often with a distinct bevel towards the cutting edge.