I use them for marking centers for
boring holes, I use them as scribes, and I poke holes in wood
for starting tiny brass screws. These photos show some of my
awls but not all my awls.
The one on the upper left is the
first one I ever owned. It was 1959 and I was in the Eighth
Grade. My dad fished it out of a box of miscellaneous stuff he
bought at an auction and gave it to me.
The other awls in the photo were
accumulated over the subsequent years and some I made, i.e., the
first and the last ones on the bottom row.
The one on the lower right I made
from the spike of an old broken tempered bronze blanket pin so
it is spark-less and nonmagnetic.
The following are another kind of
awl which is on the proximal end of English joiners' striking
knives, scribes, or marking knives. The knife end is the subject
of this post.
These tools have long been used in
the British Isles for laying out lines on wood for precise cuts
with saws and chisels and they were sometimes made by individual
craftsmen but most appear to have been manufactured.
They seem to have first appeared in
the very late 18th Century and were made in Sheffield, England
well into the 20th Century. For this commentary I selected a
variety of such tools so you can see the variation. Most are
sharpened from both sides but a few exhibit a single bevel.
First, all I have seen have a sharp
awl point on one end and a flared striking blade on the other
My favorite one that I have
used for many years is the one that is third from the right in
the above photo. It has a single bevel and the front and back
are parallel. The specimen on the left appears to be quite early
and it was fitted with a wooden bulbous handle to facilitate