Numbers on Adze

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Numbers on Adze

Postby tagnut69 » Tue Mar 26, 2013 4:48 pm

Hi I have a Sorby No3 adze, does this relate to the curve from handle to edge? I have seen on the net pictures of other makes with diffrent numbers and diffrent curves 0 being flat, 1 a bit curved 2 a bit more etc I just wondered if there was a standard like the sheffield standard for carving chisels.

Cheers

Chris
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Re: Numbers on Adze

Postby jrccaim » Wed Mar 27, 2013 5:37 am

Hmm. There is of course the Sheffield standard for carver's gouges. I would not trust it for a moment when it came to adzes; after all, adze-makers do not have to adhere at all to the Sheffield standards. Some of them may never have even heard of them. My advice, take a flat piece of any old wood, expendable for choice. Dig the adze hard into it. Once. Take a compass or dividers. Experimentally, by trial and error, determine the radius of the cut. Any units will do. Then you know where you stand. You can convert this radius to a Sheffield sweep (radius) if you want to. Lots of tables on the net, Google on "Sheffield sweep". For those readers who do not understand "sweep" may I recommend Mr Chris Pye's stuff on carving. Google him. Tonnes of stuff!

My experience is that a carving adze is hardly a precision instrument. You want a precise sweep, you use a gouge. And you judge it by eye. This is carving, not CNC (Computer Numerical Control). However, when you are roughing out, it might be useful to know what the radius of your adze actually is. So find out expermentally . Gransfors Number 1 may be completely different from Sorby's number 1.
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Re: Numbers on Adze

Postby tagnut69 » Wed Mar 27, 2013 12:35 pm

Thanks for that but I would like to know if there was a standard for the curve from the handle to the cutting edge, not side to side, from what I have seen the larger the number the more of a curve there is but have not seen any pics of diffrent numberd adze from the same maker
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Re: Numbers on Adze

Postby Billman » Sat Mar 30, 2013 10:44 pm

Many edge tool makers used a numbering system, to denote the size of a tool. Billhooks were usually marked in inches, except the Yorkshire pattern which was by size, 1 being the smallest and 3 the largest (now prove me wrong by posting a picture of a size 4 or 5). Sickles and bagging hooks were also sold by size 1 to 5 being common. Axes were sold by lb (pound) weight. As I am currently in France it is not possible to check my catalogues to see how they sized adzes, but it is not unreasonable to assume some makers used numbers...
Collector and restorer of old agricultural edge tools, especially billhooks
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Re: Numbers on Adze

Postby jrccaim » Sun Mar 31, 2013 6:03 am

OK, here's the deal. Adze manufacturers adhere to their own standards. These standards are individual, and very old, so a Sorby (say) #3 has nothing to do with (again say) a Gransfors #3 . The important parameter is the radius of curvature. Now I tend to eyeball the *&^3 thing and go from there, but if you want to be scientific you can determine the radius experimentally. Take a soft board, pine of some kind, take a good whack and only one good whack at it, so you get an imprint in the board. Now take a pair of dividers, screw-adjustable for choice, and by trial and error find a point where the divider setting exactly reproduces the arc you have made in the board. Then measure your divider setting and you have the radius of curvature. I find this stuff interesting but irrelevant, because if I have to carve a trough or something like it I I do it by eye, and you would be surprised how accurate your eye is with a bit of practice. You can do half a millimeter by eye. Fact is, it''s the hand that lets you down; I myself cannot chop any better than a couple mm but that's just me. If you can do better more power to you. Envy you!

An adze is a rather coarse tool. So you should not expect wonders from it. When I do carvings in picture frames for instance I would certainly not use an adze. I would use a gouge. I tend to make my own gouges, with custom-made sweeps. The sweep is just another term, very old, for the radius of curvature, and see my previous post on Sheffield sweeps. These are at least a standard of some kind! If I were carving a dough bowl, for example, I would certainly use a curved adze, if only I had one! Got to make one one of these days. Ah, summer is icumen in. Maybe this year. ... but anyway, the point is you match as best you can the curvature of what you are trying to carve to the tools you have on hand.
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