I read a great post last night on the Holder Bros. industry blog about hand hewing beams with broad axes. It’s worth a mention here!
Beams that are hand hewn get a flat face treatment with nothing more than a felling axe and a broad axe. This is how beams were converted from round logs before the age of cheap fuel and portable mills and all that jazz.
Check out the “real meaning of hand hewn” post on the Holder Bros. site for a nice read. This was particularly helpful for me to learn about what to look for in a broad axe. I see them all the time at the local flea market, and while I’ve never seriously considered buying one, it’s great to know what to look for. (The bit about the slight curve in the blade — very useful.)
While we’re at it, here’s a video of a skilled Japanese carpenter with a broad axe in action (from Nicola Wood):