Have you ever encountered that one tool in your multi-tool kit that you had no clue what it was for? You’re probably looking at the awl. You’d be surprised how versatile and essential this overlooked tool can be. The good news is that if you have a multi-tool with an awl included, you can use it for various things.
In this article, we’ll discuss various exciting use cases for an awl and why taking full advantage of this nifty little tool is essential!
What is Awl and Its Purpose
The awl is a versatile and essential tool for anyone working with wood, leather, or fabrics. It makes precise holes in various materials without damaging anything around it.
There’s something special about the shape of an awl. The tool usually has a small thread hole at the end and is thicker and narrower than a knife blade. This design allows the user to apply pressure and make holes without cutting through the surrounding material. The awl is perfect for making starter holes for screws, nails, and other fasteners or marking patterns on fabric before cutting.
An awl is also a multi-purpose tool. Anyone working in a woodshop or on a construction site can use the pointed end of the awl to measure and mark. Awls have thread holes, so you can thread string or cord through a hole, which is handy for tying things up and hanging stuff.
Depending on the manufacturer, it might be called something different, like on Victorinox’s Swiss Army knife tool, an awl known as the reamer. The tool’s function and design remain the same despite the other names.
Types of Awls
We already know that awls are handy tools for all kinds of things. There’s an awl for every job, whether you’re a woodworker, leathercrafter, or seamstress. For different purposes, there are different awls.
- Let’s start with the multi-tool awl. This is the type of awl most people have seen, and you have one in your hand right now. This tool comes with a blunt head. You can use its knife edge and thread hole for many tasks, like punching holes in leather. This is the awl for you if you’re looking for a single tool that can do it all.
The rest of the types below are purpose-made awls with specific functions.
- The Bradawl is another popular type of awl. It’s specifically designed for woodworking and has a beveled chiseled tip. This tool is perfect for making small, precise pilot holes for nails and screws, and it’s designed to prevent the wood from splitting. If you’re a woodworker, this is an essential tool in your toolbox.
- The Scratch Awl, also known as a Scribe Awl, is another handy tool. It has a sharp spike design and is used to mark points or scratch lines for cutting or sawing on timber, sheet metals, glass, and ceramics. This is an excellent tool for marking precise cuts on your material.
- The Stitching Awl, also known as a leather awl or sewing awl, is a round or diamond-shaped eyelet that is perfect for stitching leather, heavy fabrics, and other materials. This is the awl you need if you’re a leather crafter, cobbler, or seamstress.
- Finally, there’s the Punch Awl. As the name suggests, this tool is solely designed for punching and piercing holes. It doesn’t have an eyelet for threading and sewing, making it perfect for those who only need to make holes in their materials.
10 Practical uses of awl in your Multi-Tool
Let’s explore ways to get the most out of your multi-tools awl:
- Punching holes in leather or fabric: The awl’s sharp point is excellent for making precise holes in leather and fabric. This comes in handy when you’re making belts, wallets, or bags, especially when you are outdoors.
- Removing nails or tacks from wood or other materials.
- Scribing or marking lines on wood, metal, or other materials: Mark lines or locations of cuts or drilling holes in woodworking or metalworking projects, or even for marking a fish while you’re out fishing.
- Use as a screwdriver: The pointed end of the awl is excellent for driving small screws or bolts. This comes in handy when trying to repair a piece of jewelry or a small electronic device, whether at home or out on a camping or fishing trip.
- Use as a backup carving knife: some awl has a sharp edge that you can use to cut or slice materials such as leather, wood, rubber, cardboard, or fabric. You can use it to make notches of timber for shelter building.
- Use as a can or bottle opener: The pointed end of the awl can be used to open bottles of beer or soda.
- Use to remove dirt and grime for tight places.
- Use as a pry bar that requires small forces and a tight place.
- Emergency repair – you can use an awl to repair gear and clothing quickly. For example, if a tent pole snaps, you can use an awl to punch holes in the fabric to thread a replacement pole through.
- Emergency fire-starting tools. You can use an awl to create a fire bow drill by punching a hole in a piece of wood and inserting a spindle. The spindle can then be rotated by hand to create friction and start a fire.
Top Multi-tool Models with Awl
While it may not be as flashy as a knife or pliers, an awl is a versatile and essential tool that can come in handy in various situations.
The multi-tools awl has been coming back in recent years. Many multi-tools manufacturers are now including them in their multi tool designs.
Some models come with a punch hole, and others with a sewing awl. For outdoor enthusiasts, a sewing hole is preferred, as it can be used to repair gear and clothing.
When it comes to the best multi-tools with an awl, Leatherman is a brand that stands out. They include a sewing awl in most of their best multi-tools, making them perfect for camping, survival, and backcountry use. Here are our top three picks for the best multi-tools with an awl:
- Leatherman Surge: This high-rated Leatherman model is a bit pricey but packed with features, including a thread awl.
- Leatherman Signal: This versatile design is perfect for camping, survival, and backcountry use. It has a robust awl with a threaded hole that you can use to modify and repair gear and clothes. The knife tip can also bore holes or make notches in wood, saving the tip from wear and tear.
- Gerber Center-Driver: This punch awl is one of three by Gerber that has an awl. It is designed for handypersons and is great for punching tough materials. The knife on Gerber is smaller than the Signal but still can do many things.