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Modified axe the answer

 Sherwood modified it so that he could take out raised bumps or bows out of the middle of cleft wood. The centre or the domed part of the axe is going to hit the wood first and so it can be used very precisely and will not cut the outer edges of the wood. Mainly used along the grain. Other axes do work but with a rounded blade this axe will only cut on a small section or arc of the blade.

If you have ever used an”Oxhead” adze you will have noticed that it not really a tool fit for purpose. This adze has a dome just like Sherwoods axe but in this case it only offers disadvantages. Often sold as a chair makers adze for bottoming chair seats and it is for this purpose I bought it. I sold it on years ago as it did not work. 

The bevel is huge and being on the inside it needs a lot of work to make it more acute. The obtuse bevel can be sharpened razor sharp but the problem is, as the tool slices through the wood, that this huge bevel will slow it down. A simple analogy is try pushing you fist through sand on the beech and then pushing your hand with your fingers tips first. The obtuse bevel will mean you will have to put a lot more effort, or energy, into the tool.
The sweep, that is the curve on the underside is steep and so will only take out small bites of wood, not what you want for chair seats where a shallow sweep is best.
The worst bit is that the edge is domed. WTF, who designed this tool, not someone who ever used an adze for chair bottoming. The shaving that can be taken out is small and you will be there for hours trying to hollow out a seat.

Now there well may be people who have found the perfect use of this tool, please let me know. For me and my uses this tool does not work and please do not waste your money on it.

Trevor, a student of mine, has just bought a second hand Gransfor Bruks two handed adze. I like it and would consider buying it for bowl work and chair bottoming. The sweep is less steep than the hand adze but still not quite flat enough for chair work. It works nicely and on a bowl it will waste the wood with little effort, whereas with the hand adze you will be still bashing away with an achey arm. I am still not sure about the GB hand adze, something not quite right about it. If you have one do grind the bevel further back, I have found this helps.

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Why we do not leave an axe in the axe block

One thing that I always teach my students is that you never leave an axe on or in your axe block.

An axe can easily be knocked out and fall. A potential source of injury and a damaged axe. The axe belongs on the floor under the block or in its mask or holder, or may be on a large surface.

Have a look at these photos and you will see that bits of wood have stuck to the axe. If there is any moisture in the wood this can start rusting as well. These bits of wood are really stuck and do take effort to remove. The other problem with this, is that the could stop the edge biting into the wood. The skipping axe is another potential injury, very small, but lets keep the odds in our favour.

You will see that the axe in the above picture has its whole edge in the wood. I have been told by many different people about injuries caused by the tip only being in the block. The hand or a digit can get caught between the block and the inclined axe edge. Go on set your axe in a block and see what happens if you reach, for say, a knife on the block, not looking properly. The digit will get trapped and badly cut. Really not nice. Now who would set an axe in a tree trunk at 6 foot above ground? You know, to keep it safe. Do you want this falling on your head or shoulder? Again I heard of someone doing this and then stringing up a hammock on the same branch, caught his hand between axe edge and tree.

What stories do you have about your axes? How do you keep them safe? Finally what are the most stupid things you have seen or heard? Do let me know, and post a comment. When I first started teaching at camps and festivals once or twice people would chop the axe into the ground “to keep it safe”. The horror, the speechlessness, the time then spent grinding out the damage.

Personally I prefer cross grain blocks rather than end grain block. The axe does not get stuck in a cross grain block. More importantly it is harder to chop your axe into, so you are not able to store your axe this way.

On another note my friend barn and talented spoon carver has posted a video on axe blocks, well worth a watch.

My Axe Blocks from barn carder on Vimeo.

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Axe mask

If you do not work leather then making an axe mask may be a bit of a challenge. Why not make one from wood instead and practise you morticing skills as well.

They work really well and most of my axes have wooden masks. The band is inner tube from car or lorry wheels. and these can be easily picked up free from anywhere that changes tyres. Maybe not the most beautiful of items, and I am sure that some of you will come up with more elegant solutions.
Morticing by hand is easy and it does not need to take very long.
So send examples to me that you have made and I will post them up here.