One for Awl

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Wayland

Hárbarðr
I’ve seen discussions about knives, axes and just about any other tool for bushcraft on this forum but what about the humble awl.

It’s one of the oldest tools in history and I am never very far from one of mine but it seems remarkably absent from most peoples kit list.

I suppose you could make do with one of the pointy bits on a SAK but they don’t really do the job well.

Am I alone in thinking of this as an essential tool? If you carry one how do you do it safely? Has anyone seen a really good bushcraft / backpacking version? If you don’t carry one how do you fix leatherwork or heavy canvas like a rucksack in the wild?
 
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Bardster

Native
Apr 28, 2005
1,118
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Staplehurst, Kent
I've got one with a collar clamp (like a drill chuck) and different size awl blades for it. I keep the blades in a small leather needle case I made.
 

Toddy

Mod
Mod
Jan 21, 2005
35,860
1,923
S. Lanarkshire
I have an incredibly sharp tringular bladed awl that I use for leatherworking but mostly I use a stiletto. It's old, high quality Victorian steel with a mother of pearl handle and it'll go through anything :D I keep it inside a little turned wooden needlecase and it's usually in my pack if I'm away from home. The 'blade' is a tapered spike that allows me to make whatever size of hole I need up to about 7mm.
Cheers,
Toddy
 

ChrisKavanaugh

Need to contact Admin...
The Inuit say the two most important possessions are a knife and sewing kit. I have several needles up to awl size in my kits. My boat knife also has a marlinespike for ropework. Important? I was on a small archaeological excavation locally. Initial surface surveying indicated it was at best a knapping local for passing hunters. The yellow caterpillar D9s were allready parked, surveying stakes laid out and another bit of nature soon to be 'developed.' And then I found it in my shifting tray, a 3" broken fragment of a bone awl polished by long use. " WOMEN, I have W-O-M-E-N ! Our small crew converged on me and the Chumash monitor ( US archaeology requires when appropriate a reperesentative of the contemporary tribes present to safeguard their cultural/religous concerns) a very political young lady took it with all the joy of a grandaughter receivng some heirloom. The project was halted and further test excavation revealed a unkown permanent village with mortuary complexes and a possible boy's initiation site. The development was so scaled back the land was sold to the adjoining parklands. All from my fortuitous find in a shovel of soil randomly plotted. :D
 
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Wayland

Hárbarðr
I use a traditional awl handle with a fixed diamond profiled awl. To protect the point I use a small section of Elder twig (with the spongy inner core) pushed over the end.

It's a bit bulky but it's definately the best for the job.

I also have an interesting tool called an "Awl for all" which has a collet chuck, thread reel and a hollow handle.

The needles for this are channeled like sewing machine needles and the idea is that it can be used to produce a lock stitch in heavy materials.

The result is not as good as a proper saddle stitch but it will stitch through multiple layers of cordura with ease. Great for quick repairs.
 

Wayland

Hárbarðr
I've been going through some old posts and I though this one needed updating.

I decided to make a new awl and a point sheath for it. I still think this is an important and incredibly underrated tool.



I had a nice piece of bog oak that came from Flag Fen (About 3000 years old.) and I made a collar from antler.



The little slide on the retaining thong was inspired by the traditional lasso loops used by the Saami and the sheath was made from half tanned leather for toughness.
 
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sasquatch

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jun 15, 2008
2,812
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Northampton
I made my own for leatherwork but have to admit it's never even crossed my mind to carry it with me! I don't trust the ones on SAK's for much but they do work in a pinch. Maybe that's why I've never carried an awl. Nice little sheath Gary, like everything it just looks right with the rest of your kit.
 

Tadpole

Full Member
Nov 12, 2005
2,842
20
56
Bristol
I carry just the blade of a diamond awl, I've not used it yet, but I'm sure that should I need to, i'd be able to find a branch or lump of wood to make a handle from, i also carry a couple of needles (blunt and sharp) and some sinue in my wallet. For all the people who take the micky, I've helped half a dozen people with repairs, everything from a hire car seat that the stitching had pulled, to a woman whose strap had come off from her bag.
 

forestwalker

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
I have large needles in my repair kit, and figure that in a pinch I can make a makeshift handle a awl (and sharpen the needle). Om longer trips I carry a sailmakers palm, for short trips I can use a piece of wood (selected to not be likely to split).

For a while RM sold awl blades based on a fur trade era design (the ones with the "bend" in te middle), and if I could get hold of one of those for a reasonable price I would buy and carry that; simple to make a makeshift handle, and when done just break the handle and store the awl for the next time. I wonder how hard the steel actually need to be, if one could grind one out of a large nail or thin rod. Would one even need to have heat treatable steel in an awl?
 

JohnC

Full Member
Jun 28, 2005
2,624
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Edinburgh
I've got an awl with this set, it goes in a sleeve in the sheath, it's proved useful with leather work and other projects, its a square section bit of steel off cut from a knife project in a horn handle..

 
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tombear

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 9, 2004
4,089
187
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Rossendale, Lancashire

Matt.S

Native
Mar 26, 2008
1,075
0
33
Exeter, Devon
I've various sizes and shapes of woodworking awl but what I use most now for sewing is a big sailmakers needle in what I think is a handle for needle files, it's got a screw on the side anyway and a hole you can poke the file handle into. Works well anyway.

i'd realy like a trade awl like this
http://www.crazycrow.com/mm5/mercha...arch_Begin_Only=&sort=&range_low=&range_high=

ATB

Tom
Uncle Ray sells them, but not for peanuts http://www.raymears.com/Bushcraft_Product/713-Stitching-Awl/
 

tombear

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 9, 2004
4,089
187
51
Rossendale, Lancashire
Um, £3.60 from the US or £22 from Mr Mears? I think I may be giving my mate over the pond a grovelling calll.


Yeh , I'd wanted some of Mikes awls but forgot to stick them on a order for 2 steels (he of course sent three) and within a few days of them arriving he was shockingly gone.

ATB

Tom
 

ged

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
I’ve seen discussions about knives, axes and just about any other tool for bushcraft on this forum but what about the humble awl.

It’s one of the oldest tools in history and I am never very far from one of mine but it seems remarkably absent from most peoples kit list.

I suppose you could make do with one of the pointy bits on a SAK but they don’t really do the job well.

Am I alone in thinking of this as an essential tool? If you carry one how do you do it safely? Has anyone seen a really good bushcraft / backpacking version? If you don’t carry one how do you fix leatherwork or heavy canvas like a rucksack in the wild?
You're not alone. There's one on my Victorinox SwissTool which is as safe to carry as it gets, and another three or four in my various toolkits. It's one of the things I'd call essential on a multi-tool, along with pliers, a can opener and of course most importantly a saw. It gets used a lot, most often when I'm starting large screws I suppose. The Victorinox is always on my belt, and unless I'm in bed or playing sport I'm usually wearing my belt, like I am now.
 

tombear

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jul 9, 2004
4,089
187
51
Rossendale, Lancashire
I've got 3 of the Crazy crow ones on the way for £15.90 total, I'll handle one with a bit of horn I have left for my possiblles bag.

ATB

Tom