The Adze is a tool which is swung about a pivot point when used, and has two key angles, α and β.

α is the effective angle at the cutting edge. The inside and outside edges will probably be cleaned up and polished; however this is the effective angle between those edges.

When resharpening, try to to not change the β angle

  • Only resharpen the tool on the inside edge (the upper part in the picture to the left), and
  • Hone/strop both the inside and outside edges.

β is the angle between the handle and the cutting edge. As the adze is a tool which is swung about some pivot point, this angle has a great impact on the usability of the tool.

  • If β is too small, the area behind the cutting edge will impact the wood before the cutting edge.
  • If β is too large, then the cutting edge will dig into the wood.

The angle needed for β is out of scope of the Sharpening Handbook, however, there are articles below which address how this can be determined, and how to set it.

General Guidelines
α Notes
Range Recom-
Softer woods
Finishing cuts
25° - 30° 25°

I've seen recommendations for α as low as 20° however this could be too shallow unless the user is working on very soft woods..

Hard woods
Roughing out cuts
25° - 35° 30° Use a higher α especially when working on dry hard woods.

Notes & Comments

When resharpening, it is best to only work on the inside part of the bevel. Modifications to the outside part of the bevel (the back bevel) could adjust the β angle, also known as the “hang” of the adze.

Having a bevel on the outside of the tool allows it to be better used for shallow scalloping work. The article by Dave Fisher in “Fine Woodworking” magazine shows this well.

To sharpen a lipped adze (also known as a shipwright's adze, and used for cutting across the grain), see the instructions in The Complete Guide to Sharpening by Leonard Lee. The recommended α angles follow those noted above; however the directions are a bit difficult to describe.

More Information

Books & Papers

Published Articles

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Remember : The goal of sharpening is to produce sharp tools, and these tools can injure you if mishandled. Safety measures should be followed to protect yourself and those in your shop. Be sure to read and follow all instructions from the manufacturer, and and utilize proper safety equipment. Never consume alcohol or anything that could impair your judgement before sharpening tools, or using sharp tools. Comments can be sent via eMail to me at