Introduction: DIY Scratch Awl - 2 Ways

This Instructable coincides with my entry into Mitch Peacock's ToolMake16. Originally I intended to make a an icepick. However I went with a 7 mm 01 Tool Steel rod and i think it's just a little too thick. These turned into more of an scratch awl/center punch, still a useful tool. I choose to make one out a acrylic and another inspired by David Waelder's icepick, using a bullet casing from a 30-30.

What you will need:

-- 4-12"s - High Carbon Steel Rod (i used 01 Tool Steel)

-- Handle material - you can use your imagination here - I used an acrylic pen blank and 2 spent 30-30 bullet casings

-- 2 Part 5-minute epoxy

-- Solder / flux

-- Torch

-- Sandpaper

-- Metal or Plastic polish

-- Lathe - I used to shape the acrylic handle but you could easily use other tools to achieve the desired shape

-- Drill - Not 100 % necessarily but it'll make your life easier

-- Bench Grinder - You could also use a belt sander or another method of shaping the metal.

-- Reciprocating Saw

Step 1: Get the Handles Ready.

Acrylic Handle:

Step 1 - Drill out the center of your blank, i find drilling on the lathe always hits dead center.

Step 2 - Mount on the Lathe. I mounted it on my pen mandrel, if you prefer to turn between centers that's fine.

Step 3 - Turn down the material to your desired shape. I mostly used a roughing gouge, and a carbide tool for finishing

Step 4 - Sanding. Everyone's favorite step. For acrylic pieces, I wet sand with 600 grit paper and then move to micromesh sanding pads which go up to 12,000 grit.

Step 5 - Polishing. I use a friction polish to bring out the final shine.


Bullet Casing

Step 1 - Sort through spent rounds to find a couple casings that are in good condition.

Step 2 - Set aside for future use.

Disclaimer: Always exercise caution when using firearms or any materials related to firearms. When using casings ensure that they are from spent rounds and the primer has already been fired.

Step 2: Getting to the Point

Step 1 - Cut your round stock to your desired length. I used a reciprocating saw but you can use whatever you want. Your length will depend on the handle you are planning on using.

Step 2 - Mount the stock into a drill. You could turn it by hand but I've found the spinning helps keep everything even.

Step 3 - Use your bench grinder to create a point in your round stock.

Ensure you quench often to avoid overheating (which could weaken the steel)

Step 3: Attaching the Handles


Step 1 - Test fit your work. Make any adjustments necessary

Step 2 - Mix your two-part epoxy throughly

Step 3 - Apply the epoxy to the tang

Step 4 - Slide the spike into the handle



Step 1 - Ensure your torch is fueled up and ready to go.

Step 2 - Position the solder over the bullet casing you wish to use for a base, heat it up letting about 8-10 drops (use your judgement) fall into the casings.

Step 3 - Prepare your metal by applying flux

Step 4 - Use your torch to heat the outside of the casing; this will cause the solder inside to melt again.

Step 5 - Quickly slide the metal into the casing allowing it to cool.

Step 6 - Clean up overflow (if any) - you can reheat until it falls off or use a file.

Step 7 - Slightly pinch the top of the second casing; this will cause a tight fit for the lid.

Step 7.5 - I haven't done this but am exploring the option of pressing a magnet down into the lid casing to make it more secure

Step 8 - Optional - Clean up the casing. Use some brass polish to bring the shine out. Leaving it more natural is always a solid option as well.

Step 4: All Done

With that you are finished with two different scratch awls / center punches. There are a ton of other ways to get this done. I'd love to see how others have done it and where I can make improvements. I don't work a lot with metal but am always looking to learn more. I hope you've enjoyed this Instructable and look forward to doing more in the future. If anyone has any questions or if I can make anything clearer please let me know.

Metal Contest 2016

Participated in the
Metal Contest 2016