Making an Awl

A few months ago I purchased a Scratch Awl Kit from when they were on clearance.  I finally got around to turning the handle to assemble the kit.  Upon opening the kit I was a bit disappointed to find that one of the threaded inserts that holds the brass fitting was missing from the kit.  This didn’t prevent me from being able to turn the handle it just allows the handle to slide down the shaft of the awl if pressure is applied to the wood itself and not the brass knob at the top.

For the handle I was planning on using some nice Curly Kamani I have been saving for my future screw driver handles but I didn’t want to part it for such a little amount so I choose a cherry turning blank I also purchased from my local Rockler retail store.

The kit goes together pretty straight forward.  Drill the 7mm through hole just as you would a pen and glue in the brass tube.  I milled the ends square and put it on the mandrel with the 7mm bushings and began truing it up.  This particular kit calls for 7/32″ to be parted off from each end exposing the brass tube and keeping a flat surface to match the diameter of each brass fitting at each end.

Turned cherry handle.
Turned cherry handle.

Now I have an awl from Lee Valley but I am not 100% satisfied with the feel of the handle.  It’s just too small.  So that is what is so nice about making your own tools.  You can fit the handles to your liking.

After shaping the handle I had to sand it down to a fine grit of 600.  I opened my new pack of sand paper rolls from Rockler and was sorely disappointed that the 400 and 600 grit rolls were replaced with 240 and 150, respectively, from the factory. I found this out after I cut a strip off each and was walking to the lathe to sand.  I felt the paper with my thumb and thought they felt too rough.  Then I looked at the rolls only to find that they were not the correct grit.  So for future reference, make sure you check your purchases before you leave the store, especially if you live 2 hours away from said store.

For the finish I first applied the HUT Lite wax and buffed it off to help fill any scratches and grain followed by a light sanding with 600 grit paper, not from the roll aforementioned.  Then HUT Crystal Coat was wiped on and buffed off for a nice shine.

I may leave it the way it is and be sure to push on the brass knob when marking holes or I may flair the end of the brass tube and fill the top with epoxy to secure the handle in place.

If you are interested in making your own scratch awl, kits are available from Highland Woodworking, Penn State Industries, Woodturningz, and Bear Tooth Woods (available in Chrome) just to name a few.

Now, Rockler, contact me sometime and maybe we can work out a better review of your products.


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