In the last post I reshaped the handle on the large Gransfors Bruk adze, this time I replace the handle entirely on my small GB adze. There has always been something wrong with the small GB adze, I have never felt comfortable using it. I have shaved the handle down as a smaller handle is more comfortable to grip over longer periods of work. I also reshaped and made the pommel smaller, all to no avail. I feel that handle length is the real issue here, it is too short for comfortable and efficient use.
Time to make a new handle. It is possible to get the old handle out without wrecking it, a little bit of patience is required. All I used was a medium sized flat head screwdriver and a hammer. The new handle was made about 3 inches longer. As you can see the adze handle is the same handle as on the hand hatchet. Why use a an axe handle on a well made adze head? In my experience of using tools, handles are not interchangeable between axe and adze and if you do use the wrong handle the use and functionality of the tool is compromised.
This new handle makes so much difference to how the adze handles, what is more important is the strain is lessened on my body. I am not sure if this is the best shape of handle, but time will tell. It will be easy enough to take the one wooden wedge out and replace the handle. Removing the old handle and making and fitting a replacement took me less than an hours work. I am not sure whether I would recommend you doing the same, it depends on your ability and experience. By nature I am a cautious man and would say leave well alone unless confident in your skills. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on handle length and shape, and if you prefer the Gransfor Bruk, Hans Karlssen or S Djarv adzes. If you can not or do not want to leave a comment then email me at email@example.com
Using tools with bad handle design is fine for short periods. Do any amount of work with these tools and the body hurts. Do not assume that a maker of tools will put on the ideal handle. From my experience we all seem to have our own personal idea of what makes a good handle. A handle for one person will not always suit another.
I have a large GB adze, and I like it. I would class it as a good all rounder, great for wasting wood from a bowl and great for sculptural work. The problem I have is the handle. For some sculpting work it is too short and that bloody chunky fawns foot on the end, a hand wrecker. They have just stuck an axe handle onto it.
When I use an adze my right hand holds the pommel and this arm or hand is fixed against my body. My left hand swings and guides the adze. The fixing of the right hand is vital if I am to get a smooth cut. Holding this pommel is hard work as it does not fit my hand, so out comes the edge tools to shape it. I sand it smooth, because facets, unless very small, help cause blisters.
Working with wood on the ground and swinging the axe through the legs means that I am bending over way too much. Holding below the pommel means that I have to bend over even more. The adze is fine if you are working vertically or on raised work as the hand is below the pommel. One day I will put a slightly longer handle onto it, too long and it will change the arc the head swings through, and it will not cut as fluently and the bevel will need to be reground. A longer handle will also help with my back issues.
In a book I saw a picture of some guy with sacks wrapped around his shins to protect himself from his adze. This was not a black and white photo of hand tool user from years ago, but a recent image. I have heard of this leg protection before and always thought it a bit odd. The way an adze is used means that it should be almost impossible to cut ones shins. As you will see from the video I am happy to work right into my shoes. I am comfortable with using an adze in this way, and I have been using one for 20 years now, on and off. I would suggest that if you are new to using this tool that you always work between the legs so that any follow through or miss strokes will not be an issue. As with any hand tool we are using it with highly controlled motions, not widely throwing it through the air in the hope that it will cut in the right place. Every stroke counts, well that is my aim, even the best of us occasionally have glancing blows.
The adze is a great tool and works by cutting having the pivot point which is the end of the handle in a fixed and stable position. My hand usually holds the handle firmly against my crotch or thigh. Once you have found and anchored into this point then everything falls into place. If the hand holding the end of the handle is floating then it can be very difficult to create a good finish.