Tools for Building Canoes
[Petroglyph below: Man with Adze]
Ko'i, or Adzes / Dr. Kenneth P. Emory and Rowena Keaka
The stone adz was the most important tool of the Polynesians. With it they felled trees, shaped their canoes and canoe parts, and hewed timbers and household furnishings, wooden spears, and clubs.
The Polynesian adzes varied in size and shape, depending on their use. The styles used by the Hawaiians were similar to those used in the Marquesas and Society Islands and clearly show their origin from these islands. A noteworthy feature of the Hawaiian adz is the angle of the blade which does not cut at a right angle like the European ax.
The stone that was used in making the adz was basalt. Basalt comes from close-grained volcanic rock. Basalt quarries were usually found in volcanic mountains. Chipping was done with other stone tools. The adz maker would grind the blade edge on a grinding stone with sand and water to sharpen the blade. The adz blades were secured to their handles by lashing with coconut fiber cord or braid known as sennit, as shown in the illustration.
Types of Adzes and other Tools for Building Canoes / Chad Baybayan
The primary tool in building a canoe was the ko'i or adze. The ko'i was made from basalt and gathered from quarries. The islands had to be explored to find where the best "rock" could be found. The largest and best of the quarries was found on the slopes of Mauna Kea at an elevation of 12,400 feet. The tons of flakes that remain piled upon the slopes of Mauna Kea stands as a testimony to the skill of the Hawaiian craftsman. (The following list is from Tommy Holmes, The Hawaiian Canoe, p.27)