F Tool Tuesday - What Do You Awl Do About Knots? | tamdoll's workspace

Tool Tuesday - What Do You Awl Do About Knots?

April 27, 2010
First question – do I let Stuart keep naming these posts? Do either of us have southern accents?  Does anyone think this is funny??
More seriously, I’m glad he wrote this one.  For years I’ve been using an ice-pick (a nice worn one that I got at an antique store for a buck) and calling it my awl.  I use it to poke holes in things (if you follow my crafting, you know it truly is that random.)  Maybe I need to upgrade to something more ergonomic, with a cute bulb handle.

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Tamdoll's red tool box

Since our first Tuesday Tool post, there have been quite a few comments about awls. An awl is useful in many ways, but it is almost essential for working with thread.
In addition to loosening knots in thread and rope, awls can also be used to help set up complex decorative knots and for thread work. For either of these applications, it is important to have a strong and sharp awl since a blunt or bent tip can easily snag and damage delicate thread and cordage.
Scratch Awl
What to look for:
Aside from the crafting or sewing awls that you may be familiar with, there are two basic types of awls - a scratch awl as shown above with a small bulbous handle, and a heavier duty steel awl that resembles an ice pick.
Scratch awls are designed for laying out marks in various types of materials. This means that their strong tips can handle the side loads encountered when working with heavier materials, such as leather cord. However, this also means that some awls are going to be thicker than others or with a shorter taper (such as in the one above), making them less for crafting.
You should have good luck finding a simple awl as shown above for about $4-7 at most home improvement stores.

In additional to awls, what other types of tools do you use when working with thread, yarn, and cord?


  1. Is a needle considered a hand tool? I use that with thread {:-D

  2. Our hands are tools!!! I think those are the ultimate tools. Now I'm thinking about trying an art project inspired by our hands - our thumbs! - that could be a creative project to try out one day...

    But I don't think the ToolGuyd would be much help with those unless he knows something about wrist-supports.

  3. I love this pos! I have a sewing awl too but not from an ice-pick. Thanks for sharing this wonderful "tool tuesday" with us! Have a lovely merry happy day and love to yoU!

  4. Does beeswax count as a tool? I tend to wax everything before I embroider or make decorative knots. I also use a pair of detailing shears made by Fiskars (made in USA) for all those tight spots that need a little trimming.
    This is a great addition to your blog! Love it.


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