Friday, September 10, 2010

All My Awls

Not too long ago I was needing an AWL to finish the brain tanned buckskin skirt I had started to craft at one of the Firefly Classes I took. With buckskin sewing, you poke holes with an awl into the leather and lace up the pieces that you would "sew" together with leather thongs (strips of leather, or laces of leather).
This was the first time I learned about the tool called an "awl" which by definition just means a long pointed spike and can be used in endless ways... but specifically I needed a stitching awl, a tool made from metal in modern times but back in the day it was crafted from carved bone dating back to the romans and the paleolithic age.
So to say I was delighted when suddenly I was given handmade awls, let's just say i was 'awl' vaclempt.
Bort hand carved two awl handles from some silver maple wood, one awl point he carved from a cow bone... the other a nail. The nail was hammered in first, then the nail head end cut off, and the metal sharpened with a metal file.
The metal is alot harder to sharpen by hand then the bone, I believe (correct me if I am wrong guys!).
Urban Scout used a larger deer bone, leaving the structure of the bone as a handle - and he said he sharpened the bone on a concrete sidewalk, and made a sharp flat shaped point.
This is what he said about the awl pictured above:
"Leslie, the bone awl is made from an “Ulna Bone” but I use cannon bones as well. The ulna has that nice finger holding groove in it and sits in the hand very nicely. Cannon bones and a bit more work."
I like the idea of using bone more then metal, because you can sharpen it on a rough stone (or like Scout right on the sidewalk outside a neighborhood house) - with metal I worry about breathing in metal dust or getting it in my eye.
For the awl handle I love both styles these guys made, but there is something really nice about the feel of the wooden handle fitting easily in the palm of my hand.
Now to finish that fringe buckskin mini skirt!!



Kittie Howard said...

Love this post. Thanks to the guys for the info. Hub said he carved an awl from wood when he was an Eagle Scout. Happy Sewing!

Lou Cheese said...

A little more carving on the first one and I'd think you had something else in mind for it.

Leslie's Gone Oko said...

Hey Kittie!
That is so cool, i bet they didn't do that in girl scouts! However, i now wonder if i should not have been such an ANTI-girl scout growing up. I think i just feared the brown uniform.

HA! That is one Bort carved and I asked that right when I saw it... he said it was not intended to look like a penis.
but it does.

Bort said...

you like holding that wood

Franco Quidel said...

Just a heads up, you should be careful as to not breath in any of the bone dust. As it´s not good for your lungs :O

Leslie's Gone Oko said...

That's what I said!

Hey franco-
Thanks so much for pointing that out, I am sure bone dust is not healthy...
not everything natural is good to breathe! :)