The adze is one of the oldest designs of tool known to man, prehistoric examples made from antler and flint having been discovered. It is basically an axe blade that is set perpendicular to the handle rather than at right angles to it. The large carpenter’s adze is used to roughly square up timbers, the tool being swung towards the user to slowly plane down the timber. Generally, the user stands astride a board or log and swings the adze downwards between his feet, chipping off pieces of wood, moving backwards as they go and leaving a relatively smooth surface behind.
The adze has been in the military engineer’s tool bag for centuries and this interesting quote on its use comes from an 1841 publication called “Rules Chiefly Deduced from Experiment for Conducting the Practical Operations of a Siege”:
The carpenter’s broad axe is the most useful tool for rough squaring. The adze may answer the same purpose, but is more particularly adapted for cutting concave curves, when necessary.
Today we are looking at an adze head used by the military before the First World War:
This shape of adze head is known as a half head, carpenter’s adze. There is a square socket to fit a handle, a short weight at one end to balance the tool and a large curving head that comes to a blade at the opposite:
This example is marked with the /|\ stamp and was manufactured by Wills and Son in 1903:
It would of course be a shame to leave this adze head like this, so I purchased a modern adze handle made of hickory to fit to it:
I have apparently fitted the handle the wrong way around, so need to take the head off and flip it 180 degrees, however the head is designed to be removable to allow the blade to be sharpened. It is just a pressure fit on the handle, with the end of the handle left protruding from the top and no expansion wedges needed.