An ode to Awl


There have been many times where I could have used a good scratch awl. They’re great for:

  • Making pilot holes for nails, brads and screws to prevent splitting (see Hand Tools: Their Ways and Workings by Aldren Watson. This text is within arm’s reach of your workbench isn’t it?) Yes, gimlets would work too.
  • Scribing lines with a try square during layout operations
  • Puncturing your beer can of choice to shotgun it

So while tool hunting on an antiquing outing one Saturday, a Stanley awl caught my eye. What I really liked about it was a steel shank that ran the length of it.

I could use a hammer with it without fear of splitting the handle. However, the $8.00 price tag was more than I wanted to part with so there it lies still to my knowledge.

Five shops later, I found another one. But this one had a bent tip, as if someone had tried to pry open a manhole cover. The chrome was missing in a few places too. At $2.95 the price reflected its condition. I put it down only to come back the next day realizing that a little TLC could make her serviceable again.

Here she is after I cleaned the metal, straightened the tip and ground a new point on the grinding wheel.

I cleaned the wood handle using mineral spirits, then applied two coats of boiled linseed oil, followed by three coats of spray-on polyurethane.

And now she’s ready for service in my tool kit.

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About The Write Biz

By day, I'm a mild-mannered copywriter who harnesses frontal-lobe creativity (right brain) to help B2B marketers generate leads and sales. By night I pick up hand tools to create wooden masterpieces...and give my black lab Bella the "red dot" laser to chase after.
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