Adzes Explained: The DIY Woodworking & Garden Tool You Never Knew You Needed

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When you have an interest in owning all of the most essential gardening tools for beginners, you're probably going to focus on pruning shears, a spade, and a wheelbarrow. It's understandable, as these are among the tools that every gardener needs right away. However, once you master the basics, you may be ready to explore using some non-traditional gardening tools that can do special jobs. One such tool is the adze. It's a versatile option for use in the garden, making it easier to break up hard soil when you're already sitting on the ground or standing, while also cutting out thick roots when you encounter them.

As another benefit, the adze has extra versatility. In fact, it's one of the tools you may want to invest in to start woodworking at home. For woodworking, you would use it to shape and trim wood as a hand tool. A worker would stand over the top of a piece of wood or place the wood in a vice and use the blade to shave down the larger piece.

The cutting edge on the blade sits at a 90-degree angle to the handle. The adze has a straight blade for flat surfaces or a curved blade for hollowing out the wood. The handle may consist of wood or fiberglass. The blade may range from 4 to 12 inches in length and 2 to 8 inches in width. You can purchase an adze with a wood handle for about $68 on Amazon.

Best tasks for using an adze around the house

As a woodworking tool, the adze is primarily useful for shaping the wood, almost like a plane. As you become more familiar with using it, you may use it for large tasks like hollowing out a canoe or for smaller, more precise tasks (like shaping wood when creating a sculpture or doing fine detail work for a piece of furniture). Someone who is building a large structure by hand may choose to use the adze to create a support beam from a fallen tree, removing pieces of the tree until they create the desired shape.

When using the adze as a gardening tool, some people refer to it as a mattock or a cutter mattock. The cutter mattock may have the adze blade on one side and an axe-like blade on the other. Some people may use the adze blade to move through the soil before using the axe-like blade to cut through roots, although some people use the adze blade for both tasks. When working in a garden space, the adze works nicely to break up soil that may have rocks or glass embedded in it. As it can move efficiently through extremely hard and dry soil, encountering hardened rocks or glass will not affect it. This tool also works nicely to cut weeds at the root, but the pieces may fly around, necessitating wearing protective gear.

How to use an adze safely and properly

As long as you are willing to follow the safety tips beginners should follow for home improvement projects and gardening projects, the adze is an option well worth considering. The blade is extremely sharp, so you should take significant care when handling the tool and when storing it. Make sure you are wearing protective clothing and eye protection with this tool.

Because you often swing the adze while working on a piece of timber between your legs or while sitting on the ground in the garden, you have to be careful, especially when you are just learning to use the tool. You want to make sure that you are using controlled motions as you swing the tool to reduce the chance of cutting yourself and causing a severe injury.

The best advice for using the adze on a piece of wood is to use small movements to make an accurate cut. You can always pull the blade along with extra force after penetrating the wood if you want a long cut. However, if you aren't accurate at the time the blade penetrates the wood, you're likely going to make a cut that's too deep. Work in the same direction as the grain of the wood as well to simplify the process.