japanese choana

Japanese Chouna (Adze) (釿)

In Japan, the Adze is called a Chouna. The Chouna is one of those tools that is used by skilled native Japanese artisans for woodworking but predominantly reducing and shaping the face of wooden sections. 

Chouna or Japanese Adze is superseded by the Saw

The long saw has reduced the need for the Chouna. This Adze was used to shape and thickness split logs. The long saw was used to rip logs into boards or beams but today large band saws on tracks rapidly rip big logs into sections. It is amazing to think about how our woodworking has evolved over the centuries from the humble Chouna to Bandsaw!

Is the Chouna Obsolete?

The Chouna Japanese Adze is seeing a bit of a comeback. It is not just the purest woodworker but also for the textured surface that is possible with this tool. I love to see the scaly dimpled texture that can be achieved with practice. 

How Easy is the Chouna to Perfect 

Don’t let me fool you into thinking that this tool is easy to master as it takes a lot of time dedicated to practice. Adze swinging is a mechanical motion that has to be repeated with only minimal correction. Only when the tool becomes an extension to your body will you be truly confident in the Art.

The shape of the Chouna

Unlike an Ono (Axe) the blade of the Adze (Chouna) is mounted at 90°onto a curved wooden handle. The ground primary bevel is on the back face and is honed to a very fine edge. The shape of the handle helps the Chouna to perform progressive strikes onto the wood.

Western Adze vs the Japanese Chouna

On face value, the Western Adze and Chouna are similar tools but they have subtle differences. The one difference that really stands out is the handle. The handle on the Chouna has an obvious curve and is long yet the Adze is fitted with a straight handle. The head-on Adze has a straight cutting edge but the Japanese Adze has a curved or straight sharpened edge. 

chouna adze handle shape
CHOUNA HANDLE SHAPE

The shape of the cut on a Chouna Adze

Because the Chouna has a curve to the cutting edge the shape of the cut is rounded. When you have hewn a plank or beam you will add an interesting curved surface texture like the reversed pattern of a snake’s skin.

chouna adze texture
CHOUNA TEXTURED PATTERN

Where can I BUY a Japanese Chouna

Genuine Chouna is handmade in Japan but there are many great Adzes available in the West. For instance, these Straight Elbow Adze made by North Bay Forge, hand-forged from US-made high carbon steel. If you buy anything via these links we receive a small commission.

Traditional Japanese Carpentry in 2020

Japanese Carpenters such as Takami Kawai are well respected for his dedication to traditional woodworking tools. 

Japanese Woodworking Tools – BLOG

Check out our other Articles on Japanese Handtools

The Japanese Kanna (Handplane) (鉋)

Japanese Nokogiri (Saw)(鋸)

Japanese Nomi (Chisel) (鑿, のみ)

Japanese Genno (Hammer) (玄能)

Japanese Ono (Axe) (斧)

Japanese Chouna (Adze) (釿)

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