Picture of make your own bookbinding awl
I recently started learning about the art & craft of bookbinding and quickly realized that although the tools for the process last a long time, the cost can add up to quite a big hole in ones pocket.  After doing a bit of research, looking and shopping, I decided that I could make some of the tools myself with materials that I already had at home.  

So here is my first one... the versatile and easy to make bookbinding awl!

The awl is used to make perforations on paper and materials such as grey board.  Then, those perforations are used as guides for the needles when "sewing" together the books/notepads/etc.

This is how you can make your own.

REVISION: Thanks so much for your comments and suggestions! Please check out the last step of this instructable for some extra suggestions plus reads the comments below.
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Step 1: Materials and tools required

Picture of materials and tools required
For this project you will need:

- one embroidery needle (I used one that was 1 3/4 inch in length)
- a paint brush with a long wooden handle (I needed a brush for glueing during the bookbinding process and found the one on the picture with a 12 inch handle.  The handle was too long for what I needed so I decided to cut it and used the far end of the brush for this project)
- white non-toxic glue that dries clear
- embroidery thread (I happened to have black thread left over from another project)
- a hand saw (I got this funky one for another project and it did the trick for this one too)
- a hand drill and small bit - the bit needs to be about the same diameter as the needle (for my project I used a .046 bit)

other useful tools:

- a pair of small needle nose pliers
- a piece of fine sand paper
redskyie2 years ago
This is a great instructable, especially for me as bookbinding awls are very hard to buy here.
I have a tip: when threading the thread through the handle and needle, perhaps you can use a beading needle?
It is basically a piece of thin wire, doubled over to leave a loop at one end like the eye of a needle - but the difference is, it is flexible, so it can go through a bead.
If you can't find a beading needle you could always use a piece of really thin wire.

Also, if you have it, upholstery or topstitching thread would be a lot stronger than embroidery thread which is really only for decoration. Sewists are always told never to use embroidery thread for seams because it's not strong enough. Another option might be silk thread which is both strong and pretty. If not, the same waxed linen thread you are probably using for bookbinding would also be better.
beading needle.jpg

waxed dental floss works really well also and its a lot cheaper for way more thread. I've been using it in place of thread to sew everything for 20 years. I rarely ever use regular sewing threads unless I'm using a machine

razorwinged (author)  redskyie2 years ago
Thank you! This was a total "duh!" moment. You are so right about the easier way to thread the needle! I have added an extra step to this instructable with photos showing how to use a needle threader... I do not have a beading needle yet both would do the trick. Also, thanks for the suggestions in regards to the thread choice. I used what I had at home yet will probably use stronger threads for my next awls.
eyesee2 years ago
Very good
razorwinged (author)  eyesee2 years ago
This is the best DIY Awl I have found yet, I am making books for my family for X-Mas, and my store-bought awl is dull. Thanks for the share.
razorwinged (author)  audreyobscura2 years ago
thank you! have fun making the books and do let me know if you have any questions and/or suggestions to make this instructable more helpful.