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An adze (pronounced /ˈædz/) is a tool used for smoothing rough-cut wood in hand woodworking. Generally, the user stands astride a board or log and swings the adze downwards towards his feet, chipping off pieces of wood, moving backwards as he goes and leaving a relatively smooth surface behind. Adzes are most often used for squaring up logs, or for hollowing out timber.

The adze is also a tool of choice for building wreckers, laborers who dismantle old buildings by hand for salvage. The single tool can serve all the needs of deconstruction with proper use.[1]

The blade of an adze is set at right angles to the tool's shaft (like a hoe or plane), unlike the blade of an axe which is set in line with the shaft. A very similar (but blunt) tool used for digging in hard ground is called a mattock.




In central Europe, adzes made by knapping flint are known from the late Mesolithic onwards ("Scheibenbeile"). Polished adzes and axes made of ground stone, such as amphibolite, basalt or Jadeite are typical for the Neolithic period. Shoe-last adzes or celts, named for their typical shape, are found in the Linearbandkeramic and Rössen cultures of the early Neolithic. Adzes were also made and used by prehistoric southeast Asian cultures, especially in the Mekong River basin.[citation needed]


The adze is shown in ancient Egypt from the Old Kingdom onward.[2] Originally the adze blades were made of stone, but already in the Predynastic Period copper adzes had all but replaced those made of flint.[3] While stone blades were fastened to the wooden handle by tying, metal blades had sockets into which the handle was fitted. Examples of Egyptian adzes can be found in museums and on the Petrie Museum website.

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