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Make a simple and inexpensive Awl, also known as Bradawl or Scratch awl. This is a tool with a handle and steel spike, commonly used to mark out work and make indentations in wood and other materials to help in the insertion of screw or nails helping to lessen the possibility of splitting the work piece.

It only requires a few basic hand tools, some scrap pieces of hard wood and a 4mm thick Wall Tie. I have included a section for using power tools if you have them available.

To make using hand tools, you will need the following tools and materials:

5cm long scrap of hard wood
Hard Steel Wall Tie
Hand Saw File / Rasp
Hand Drill
4mm Drill Bit
Spokeshave (optional)
Sandpaper
Hacksaw (or bolt cutters)
Vice or work holding device
Glue

Average time to make 15 - 30 minutes depending upon your skill level

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To make using power tools, you will need the following tools and materials:

5cm long scrap of wood
Hard Steel Wall Tie
Drill Press
4mm Drill Bit
Lathe
Bench Grinder
Glue

Average time to make 10 - 20 minutes depending upon your skill level

Step 1: Prepare the Steel Spike

Cut the steel wall tie to length with a hacksaw to use as the spike for the awl. The length of the spike is up to you, but it needs to insert into the handle 3cm deep. I make the spike between 8 - 10cm overall. Using a hand file, create a long sharp point on one end.

Step 2: Drill a Hole to Recieve the Spike

The handle will be made from a piece of hard wood 3cm wide and 6cm long. Here I used Oak.

Place the wood in a vice or other form of work holding device and drill a 3cm deep hole down the center with a 4mm drill bit.

Step 3: Shape the Handle

Shape the handle to a comfortable design that feels good in your hand. The handle in these images was experimental and feels very nice. I placed the wood upright on a bench hook, but it could be clamped to the workbench or placed in a vice. I then cut away any waste using a hand saw. It can then be shaped using a spokeshave or a rasp.

Step 4: Finishing the Handle

When you are happy with the shape and feel of the handle, sand it smooth using a piece of sandpaper wrapped around wooden block and then apply a finish. I use Organic Boiled Linseed Oil.

Step 5: Fit the Spike

When the handle is finished, fit the spike using a strong glue. I use 2 part epoxy. Super glue will work also.

Step 6: Making the Awl Using Power Tools

I use scrap hardwood round blanks from previous projects. Here I used Horse Chestnut. 6cm long and 3cm diameter is a good size. Drill a 4mm hole 3cm deep down the center using the drill press.

Step 7: Shape the Handle Using a Lathe

If you have a lathe available, shape the handle to what you think will feel good to your hand.

Step 8: Make and Insert the Spike

Cut the steel wall tie to length with a hacksaw to use as the spike for the awl. The length of the spike is up to you, but it needs to insert into the handle 3cm deep. I make the spike between 8 - 10cm overall. Grind a long sharp point on one end using a bench grinder if available.

When the handle is finished, fit the spike using a strong glue. I use 2 part epoxy. Super glue will work also.

Step 9: Example Designs

This is a selection of awl's I have at various places around my workshop. They are cheap to make and are always available without searching to far.

<p>Very nice!</p>
<p>Very well done. These look great! :)</p>
<p>Thank you seamster. They make great little gifts too and they are handy for many crafts :)</p>
<p>Options for the spike: Hardened concrete nail, old drill bit. Taper and sharpen on a bench grinder with a bowl of water to prevent overheating. I have one quickie awl made from an old philips screwdriver with a ruined tip that I ground down. Everyone has some of these lying around, right? But not as pretty as this. I have one I made with a rosewood handle that was hand shaped and finished with BC gunstock finish. Prettiest icepick in my kitchen drawer!</p>
<p>Hi sharpstick :) They are one of the easiest tools to make and really handy. Thank you for the added options.</p>

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Bio: Mostly woodworking related projects with a special interest in toys and musical instruments.
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