What Is An Awl? What Is An Awl Used For?

what is an awl
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An awl is a simple hand-tool consisting of a thin blade with a sharp end which is pushed by hand to form / pierce / start a hole or to scratch decoration or to pick.

An awl is a tool used by many different trades used for creating holes / scratching decoration in wood, leather, canvas, material, pottery and any material its sharp end can manipulate.

An awls sharp end can also be used to pick such as picking stitches and picking knots.

An awl usually has a wooden handle to offer the user grip and leverage of the tool.

Due to the simplicity of the awl, awls are usually low-cost tools.

The awl is a tool steeped in a huge history dating back to the stoneage and the first humans when they were made from bone.

There are many different types of awl each with a subtle difference made to suit certain tasks and certain crafts, although often awls are used across different crafts regardless of their original design intention:

What Is A Brad-Awl?


A brad-awl is most popularly used in woodwork for starting holes for nails or small screws.

A bradawl has a thin screwdriver like tip which is sharper than a screwdriver tip.

Nearly every woodworkers toolkit will be equipped with a bradawl.

birdcage awl, square awl

What Is A Birdcage-Awl? What Is A Square-Awl?

The birdcage awl also known as the square awl is primarily used for cutting a hole close to an edge without splitting the wood.

A birdcage awl has a sharp point which resembles someone who has whittled a piece of wood to a sharp pointed by cutting three of four angled cuts at the end to form a sharp point.

See the Old Clifton Birdcage Awl Review

scribing awl

What Is A Scratch-Awl? What Is A Scribing-Awl?

The scratch awl / marking point awl / scribing awl in woodwork is primarily used for marking the location of hinge holes and casement furniture.

The scratch / scribing awl is also a popular awl in many other crafts for forming holes in material such as leather, canvas and clothing, it is also useful in pottery for scratching decoration.

What Is A Stiching-Awl?

A stitching awl is primarily designed for forming holes in material and picking stitching.

A stitching awl has a tapered blade with a sharp point; the blade is thick at the top of the blade and tapers to a fine point at the sharp end. As the awl is pushed through the material the hole gets larger, this gives control over the size of the hole produced.

A stitching awl can have a straight blade or a curved / bent blade.

The stitching awl is a popular awl for leather-workers, sail-makers and similar crafts for forming holes in material such as leather, canvas and clothing.


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(ii) The details here are given in good faith, the details are constantly growing and evolving, there is scope for error and shouldn't be fully relied upon, please confirm any details for yourself by performing additional research from reliable sources.

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