Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mules and Adzes

According to Roger B. Ulrich's book Roman Woodworking, adzes have been around since the Copper Age and are one of the earliest woodworking tools.

Those with flat and curved blades were used in Roman times for hollowing logs, flattening boards, and shaping both furniture elements and ribs for boat hulls, and more.

I bought mine, a curved bowl adze, from Drew Langsner of Country Workshops.

Drew teaches classes at his facility on carving bowls and spoons based on Scandinavian techniques. He also describes the process in his book Country Woodcraft.

You can shape bowls on a chopping block or low bench and use the adze for roughing out the inside. A hewing hatchet is effective in shaping the outside, while spokeshaves, drawknives, and gouges clean up the choppy surfaces.

Other resources for learning about spoon and bowl carving: Wille Sundqvist's book Swedish Carving Techniques (yes, I did pay that much) and youtube videos (there are scads).

So what about mules? My other purchase from Country Workshops was plans to build a Shaving Mule—a smaller version of a shaving horse that uses elements from two different designs.

Although the compact size appealed to me, the main selling feature was the wide, adjustable, upholstered seat.

I'm not saying that I'm a prima donna who demands comfort in all her activities, but if Barcalounger ever develops a line of bicycles, I might be more inclined to exercise.


Shazza said...

Do you have room for a mule and a horse in your backyard?

The Village Carpenter said...

Yes! Plus a few bench dogs. :o)

Anonymous said...

Great stuff from Country Workshops and ahardslojdlife another spot is Spoons and bowls gotta love them.
Scrap Wood

The Village Carpenter said...

Scrap Wood, thanks for the link! I added it to my list. I like the bowl carving bench with wedges.

kees said...

or buy one from lie nielsen :-)

The Classical Touch-up Artist said...

A Scandinavian-scribe-fit log structure is on the top of my list.
I spent three weeks in Isabella MN. at the Great Lakes School of Log Building last year and have been scouring the countryside for the right land a timber.

The Village Carpenter said...

Kees, that's a good design and there are other free plans on the internet. The shaving mule plans I have also incorporates some of Brian Boggs ideas--specifically the part that holds the workpiece. That seems like a big improvement to traditional shaving horses.

TCTUA, I would love to see photos of your design for the log structure. Does it use some of Viking ship elements? I have seen Scandinavian boxes that reference parts of the ships.

John said...

Another adze source:

I made the Sitka gutter adze from the kit. It was fun to build and works well. I think Peter Galbert may have a post about this tool on his blog.

The Village Carpenter said...

Thanks for the link, John!