Today, we are lucky to be experiencing a revival of traditional toolmaking, and there are many smiths making excellent tools. However, there has been a bit of an exception when it comes to the adze. About six months ago, I wrote a post about the shortage of quality adzes available without a long wait and what a challenge it is to make an adze that works well. Jason Lonon is up to the challenge, and I hope that it will help end some of the adze-deprived frustration out there if I mention him. But keep in mind, I don’t have any connection with Jason and he did not seek my endorsement. I just think this information may be helpful to those waiting for a good adze.
Although tools tend to build up over time, I try to keep a relatively small basic toolkit. Of course, there are lots of tools I’ve never tried. For all the bowls I have made, I have really only used two adzes — primarily the Hans Karlsson adze that I highlighted as part of my thoughts on adze design nearly a year ago. The Karlsson’s have found it difficult to keep up with the increased demand over the last couple of years, and admirably, they won’t compromise the quality of their tools in an attempt. I certainly won’t give up mine.
Recently, I bought an adze from Jason, sort of a smaller version of my HK, with a 1 3/4″ wide edge and a weight of about 24 ounces. I like this style with the shallow sweep in the middle of the edge and the raised lips that allow for a big bite. However, Jason makes adzes in different sizes and with different profiles.
Jason lives in North Carolina where he has practiced many types of woodworking in addition to blacksmithing. This background has helped him produce a tool that works sweetly. He has thought long and hard about the geometry of the head, the bevel, and how it all relates to the handle. The handle is hand carved and fitted very well. In short — this is a great adze.
You can check out Jason’s website and Facebook page. I have no idea if you’ll have to wait if you want and adze, but if you do, it will be worth it.
Hi Dave! I recently bought 2 differing sized Adze from Jason and a carving axe. I am thoroughly impressed with his craftsmanship, attention to detail, and customer service. I have some Karlsson gouges and Jason’s tools are equal in carving quality. They showed up quickly; each with a razor edge. I’m enjoying carving with them. Thanks for the early ‘Heads Up.’
Looks like a great tool.
Dave, Not to make this into an infomercial, but John Switzer, who just posted, of Black Bear Forge and Nic Westermann in Wales are also making very nice Adze’s. I am not sure if Tim Manney is making a bowl Adze, but he makes a very nice one for carving chair seats. Cheers
Thanks, Deneb. I’m glad that you mentioned those. I’ll post the links here to make it easier for folks to check them out:
Lot’s of great choices. As I mentioned I have true experience with very few adzes. Just passing along my positive experience with Jason’s. Maybe we’ll hear about still more options out there, and I think it’s important to note that different folks will prefer different adze sizes, weights, and styles depending on a number of factors including working methods, strength, typical bowl style and size, and/or just a certain feel to the tool that seems to fit them. So while there certainly are some universal factors common to a good adze, it is not necessarily a one-size-(or style)-fits-all situation. I can only speak from my limited experience based on my methods and style.
Also, starting with a good tool is one thing, but really getting to know it’s nuances and how to get the best from it takes time.
My Lonon adze came in the mail a few days ago. I’m very impressed. I have used it to rough out two cereal size bowls. It works like a charm. This adze is 2″ across the cutting edge, a gentle sweep on the cutting edge, a flat outer bevel, an inner never, and it is hung to get the wrist axis swing hitting the cutting edge to the wood right on. I do have a HK which works well for larger bowls and of course will not give it up. This 2″ Lonon adze is great for 5″ to 6″ across cereal bowls. I only had to wait one or two months for this order. I am not sure if that is usual, but it beat the 5 month wait for the HK.
Opps, that should be an inner bevel.
Jason Lonon adzes look great. 24oz = 672 grams seems like it would about the ideal weight for the adze head; my 600g/5cm radius HK is wonderful but feels a little small/light to me sometimes (I have tended to concentrate on large bowls until recently). One of his axes looks just like the HK carving axe 🙂
He makes his own handles too! Wonder if he also makes those leather edge guards (clever, original design)? The handles look really good but I wonder if he might consider selling some adze heads without handles (perhaps with a paper template of his handle) as it looks like they are selling “like hot cakes” and he can barely keep up. It would also reduce the “cost of entry” for potential purchasers with woodworking skills/ambitions; cheaper postage & packing too. That said, even though I enjoy carving my own handles, I would likely stretch to buy with the handle, because the handles often show wonderful imagination, design and craftsmanship too.
Just curious if you adjusted Jason’s adze from inside to outside bevel?
All of my adzes have both an inside and outside bevel, including the adze I purchased from Jason years ago. I just looked at the photos of Jason’s current adzes on his website and they all do have outside bevels (and inside). The outside bevel is not very steep on his, but what may make it seem like there is none is the fact that he has eased and polished the transition area between the the top of the head and the bevel. So there is no distinct back edge of the the bevel to see where it begins. Depending on what sort of work, how tight of hollows, you normally do, that outer bevel could be adjusted to suit those circumstances.
Thanks for pointing that out – it’s a bit subtle but I see the difference now. Thanks for being a solid resource.
You’re welcome. I also keep a pretty shallow outer bevel on my HK adze because most of the hollows I’m cutting are pretty open. I have another adze with a more distinct, steeper bevel that works into steeper hollows better. Happy carving!
I’m shopping for my first bowl adze and noticing some have the handle protruding through the adze head, and some don’t. Does it get in the way of the follow through? Other pros/cons?
It could, depending on the profile of the adze head and how much the handle protrudes. I have mine flush, but a 1/4″ or so sticking above the head will normally not cause a problem. I would ask the maker if there is a particular reason he or she has left more than that protruding. I can’t think of a reason why.
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