Adzing (also known as Dubbing/Dressing)


How does a shipbuilder make logs or other rough timber smooth?

Smooth is a relative term here. Adzing involves the shipbuilder removing unwanted protrusions from the board or forming the board into the required shape (for example a knee or floor timber).

In the first section we look at what tools the shipbuilder uses for this and in the second part we analyse the successive operations

Adze: An adze is an axe with a curved blade set at right angles. It is swung downwards towards the timber, which is cut at slightly below or above foot level. This makes adzing a particularly dangerous operation. The razor-sharp axe can hit a hard area in the timber and deflect from the intended direction and end up hitting the foot or shin. (image 1 & 2)


The most common method is that the person using the adze stands with legs apart (image 3). The piece of timber to be cut is located in the centre.

Another method is the user of the axe hacking with the blade away from him for safety reasons (image 4) . The method used depends on what has to be adzed. To achieve the smoothest possible surface one works with legs apart. If the sides of the timber are to be adzed then you can stand next to the timber to work.

Adzing involves efficiency prevailing over aesthetics; Adzing removes rough chips of wood. In traditional shipbuilding a smooth flowing line was of secondary importance to the functionality of the ship. (image 5 & 6)

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Tools Required

  • An Adze

Materials Required

None applicable