Christine Cox

Posts tagged ‘awl’

Amazing Awls

Besides being one of the first tools created by humans, the awl is amazing for its usefulness. The earliest were made from wood, stone, obsidian and bone. Before that they were probably used as found in nature, in the form of talons or teeth.

Grotte de Tarté

A few uses:

  • Punch holes in the pages before sewing a book
  • Check the depth of etching on a piece of metal
  • Push eyelets into tight holes
  • Dig small items out of tight spaces
  • Precisely scratch off resists
  • Sgraffito in enamels
  • Untie knots in threads
  • Push “reset” buttons on small electronics
  • Clean out a seam before soldering
  • Scratch words and designs into polymer clay and PMC
  • Point during demonstrations
  • Poke holes in leather
  • Hold jump rings in place while making chain maille

Sooner or later the question becomes “why don’t you own one.” You’ll need one for every room!

Get yours from Volcano Arts

Historic photo of awls by: Didier Descouens – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Bookbinding Tools Series: It Rolled Off the Table and Onto the Floor

wooden awl

Don’t worry about your awl hitting the floor

Binding books is about so much more than just the finished book. I love the process of designing the book and of choosing the materials. The subtle texture of paper and the smell of leather are irresistible. The simple act of calculating the thread or stringing a sewing frame starts focusing my mind on the tasks ahead. I love that transitional time when all the design choices have been made and I’m ready to start binding. With my journal — ripe with ideas represented by drawings and notes, ephemera, erasures and failed concepts — I feel that the future is known (and the bookbinding gods laugh). It’s a magical moment when I start gathering my materials and laying out my work space. The biggest enjoyment I get from the process is in using tools that I’ve made myself or have customized to my liking. Through years of binding over 300 books, I’ve amassed a very personal collection of modified or hand-made tools.

It rolled off the table and onto the floor

Are you tired of your awl making like a meatball just when you need it? If you’re using a round-handled wooden awl, just sand or file a flat plane on one side of the handle. If I’m modifying one of our Light Duty Awls, I modify it on a small belt sander

As long as you’re sanding, remove all the stain from the handle and then paint it to your liking with acrylic, milk or other paint. Waxing the milk paint after it’s dry and then buffing it will give the handle a nice glow. Stamp your initials on the handle using StazOn Ink and rubber alphabet stamps.

sanded awl

I have to decorate everything

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