How to Hew Wood

Hewing Method


From the old latin proverb "De gustibus non est disputandum" (English: In matters of taste, there can be no disputes), some wood lovers prefer wood with perfect terminations and others with rustic appearance. In case of landscaping sleepers, the durability is the same, only changing the appearance of the garden style that wants to be created. In order to give a more rustic appearance to the sleeper, the hewing method can be used. For this method you will require an adze.

History and Instructions


Hewing is a great method to give the sleeper a more rustic appearance. In 1950’s, chainsaws did not exist and the only way to manufacture wooden sleepers was with an axe and an adze. The axe was used to cut the wood and shape the sleeper; following the hewing process with the adze to remove bark and the imperfections previously left by the axe. With this technique, the bark of the wood can be removed, giving a more rustic appearance.


In furniture and artistic uses of wood, the veins are highly appreciated, revealing other tones within the wood. Hewing is perfectly complemented with varnishing due to appearance and also durability. An example is in our "How to Embellish a Sleeper" post where the instructional video shows a hewed and varnished sleeper. Hewing adds aesthetic value and ideas for landscaping.


An instructional video is provided on hewing wooden sleepers; written instructions are included. The adze must be handled with proper caution, especially without previous experience. It is suggested to start off slowly and after some minutes of practice, accelerate moderately.


  1. Be in an open area with at least 9 m2 to work comfortably.
  2. Grab the axe and start hewing the sleeper with small cuts in one of the faces.
  3. Once the face is finished, rotate the sleeper and continue with the other faces.