Kestrel Adze System
Carver Jim Heaton of Haines, Alaska, calls the adze his "bandsaw on a stick." Truly an adze with proper geometry is a very effective means of rapidly wasting wood. It is also an accurate way to work to the line without wasting time on unnecessary knife strokes. Properly designed, an adze will have such control that you can hog with it or take chips the thickness of this page. This control comes in part from our spherical grind. This means a slight tip of the wrist has you going from tiny controlled chips to hogging big chunks. The adzes available through regular suppliers have such bad geometry they are almost unusable.
Our adzes are available in a variety of ways. To save money you can buy an iron only. These come with instructions to help you make your adze from a natural tree crook or sawn blank. Our kits contain the iron with a heavy leather guard, a sawn, end-plugged rock maple haft blank, a length of twine and instructions. Or if you have time constraints and/or a willing budget, you can buy the tool hafted and ready to carve. All the made-up adzes come with a heavy leather guard and instructions on use. These adzes are beautifully balanced, a pleasure to own and use.
Kestrel Sitka Adze: The full size Sitka adze is our most popular seller. The gutter form allows cross-grain cuts, making it a good choice for roughing out and hollowing. The straight adze is used for establishing the planes in mask carving and the like. The straight blade allows real control over the work. Correct grind angles mean it is not inclined to be "sticky" in hogging.
Kestrel Baby Adze: Although this tool is smaller, it is not a toy. A nicely balanced adze wonderful for small work and accurate strokes. A real pleasure for young carvers and those with less powerful wrists. These are popular in both gutter and straight forms.
Kestrel Finish Adze: This is the tool for applying the finish texture that is characteristic of Northwest coast work. The cut-away haft allows the adze to spring. A fun and easy adze to work with. Shipped somewhat stiff, you can lighten up the spring area according to your desired action.
Kestrel Lip Adze: There is nothing like a lip adze for wasting large amounts of wood rapidly. Once you know where you are going, there is no sense mucking about in getting there. Most of my professional carving friends use a lip adze for even smaller mask-size carvings. These sophisticated tools have a slight radius to the cutting edge and the lips are angled out some to keep from "stuffing the chip." We also have a new light-weight lip iron available. The 2 1/2″ lighter version is the same weight as a Sitka gutter adze iron, giving you the same awesome balance as the Sitka adze but with a powerful 2 1/2″ cut. The 3" iron is the same 1/8″ stock but 3" wide for more power. Both are real wood eaters for wood carvers. These light lip adzes are not made for prying chips. For the massive wood wasting that comes with jobs like pole or canoe carving, the 4″ heavy iron is ideal. Mount on a slightly longer haft for greater leverage. All lip irons come with protective sheaths of thermal-formed Kydex and complete instructions.
Kestrel D-Adze: The traditional adze of the southern Northwest coast peoples. Today this tool finds favor among many Northwest carvers—some use it extensively. The D-adze can be used for shaping or surfacing and it will reach areas unavailable to an elbow adze. Great for laying down a distinctive texture, especially on larger work. Our D-adze iron is a monster weighing most of a pound to help transmit power to the work. The D-adze iron is available only with a leather guard.
|Item||Catalog number||Iron thickness||Iron length||Shank width||Cutting edge width||Iron weight|
|Sitka gutter adze||A-6||3/16″||6″||1 1/8″||1 7/8″||6 1/4 oz.|
|Sitka straight adze||A-7||3/16″||6″||1 1/8″||1 13/16″||6 oz.|
|Surfacing adze||A-5||Same as Sitka straight adze iron|
|Baby gutter adze||A-9||3/16″||5 1/8″||7/8″||1 11/16″||4 oz.|
|Baby straight adze||A-8||3/16″||5 1/8″||7/8″||1 1/2″||4 oz.|
|D-adze, straight||A-4||3/8″||6 1/2″||1 1/2″||2″||13 oz.|
|2 1/2″ lip adze||A-21||1/8″||5 3/4″||1 1/8″||2 1/2″||5 1/2 oz.|
|3″ lip adze||A-22||1/8″||6 1/2″||1 3/16″||3″||7 3/4 oz.|
|Item||Complete tool w/ leather sheath||Adze iron only||Haft blank only||Leather sheath only||Kit: iron, twine, haft blank, sheath|
|Sitka gutter adze||E-6||$175.00||A-6||$50.00||H-S||$44.00||S-6||$18.00||KE-6||$110.00|
|Sitka striaght adze||E-7||$166.00||A-7||$46.00||H-S||$44.00||S-7||$16.00||KE-7||$105.00|
|Baby gutter adze||E-9||$175.00||A-9||$50.00||H-B||$44.00||S-9||$18.00||KE-9||$110.00|
|Baby straight adze||E-8||$166.00||A-8||$46.00||H-B||$44.00||S-8||$16.00||KE-8||$105.00|
|2 1/2″ lip adze||E-21||$225.00||A-21||$105.00||H-L||$44.00||N/A||KE-21||$156.00|
|3″ lip adze||E-22||$230.00||A-22||$105.00||H-L||$44.00||N/A||KE-22||$160.00|
The adze irons and kits come with instructions for making your tool. Our adze blanks are Eastern Rock maple. They are bandsawed out and end-plugged for strength (except for the surfacing adze haft, for which plugging is unnecessary). The haft blanks will require rounding, shaping, and sanding, and you will have to cut the step to fit the iron. Kits include an adze iron, a haft blank, a leather sheath for the iron, and a length of twine for the wrapping. If you are ordering an iron only, you may request a length of twine; spools of twine are available on the Odds and Ends page.
Leather Adze Guard: These guards are hand sewn of heavy bark-tanned leather just like our knife sheaths. A leather thong attaches it to your adze. The adze kits include a leather sheath—the adze irons sold separately do not, with the exceptions of the D-irons. Typically my customers assure me they will make a great sheath themselves—rarely do they do so. Just one bad nick in an edge can cost you more than a good sheath. Order a sheath when you order your iron. You'll be glad to have it.
Adze recommendations for the beginning carver
There are so many possibilities it can be confusing—it needn't be. We sell two types of adze: the elbow adze and the D-adze. Most of the advantage lies with he elbow adze. I do not recommend you buy a D-adze unless you know why you want it. Gutter adzes are good for wasting wood with and across the grain. If I was starting with one tool, I'd choose the Sitka gutter adze. Straight adzes are somewhat more traditional on the coast. Many carvers use them almost exclusively; mask makers consider them essential. They are especially good for flat accurate cuts. An adze does not rebound like a hammer on a nail, so it is a mistake to buy too heavy an adze. For this reason, smaller people and those with less powerful wrists should stay with the baby adzes. Fast accurate cuts are better than wild flailing with a heavier tool.