Leather Stitching Awl – An Essential Guide for Leather Craftsmen

I remember when I began leather crafting, one unusual thing that caught my interest was the stitching awl. It became my favorite leatherworking tool as it was handy for marking points along my crafts and effectively sewing leather pieces together.

A leather stitching awl is a versatile tool for making holes and sewing leather pieces and other materials, usually consisting of a sharp, pointed metal rod and a handle. Using this tool is as easy as pressing the awl point against the leather and smoothly driving the needle through it by using the handle as a lever.

A leather stitching awl is essential for folks starting their leather crafting journey. I’ll share every detail so that you can identify the various components of this tool to use it efficiently.

best leather awl

What is the Leather Stitching Awl?

The leather stitching awl is a multi-purpose tool artisans employ to puncture holes in a leather piece; it also comes in handy for passing threads through these holes to seam leather together. So, you can use a stitching awl to make holes in leather belts and similar items.

Impressively, the leather stitching awl does more than make holes and comes in various sizes, styles, and shapes. Thus, this tool can also hold, carry, and maneuver thread in and outside a working piece, and leatherworkers can use an awl to form markings on leather surfaces to carve out their preferred design.

Kindly note that leather stitching awls consist of 4 main components:

Handle: The handle of an awl is mostly made of grip-worthy wood, so whenever it is handled, it doesn’t slip off the hand of the user. Some hole punches have a compartment within the handle, and some have this compartment on top of the wood right below the Chuck. Please note that the Bobbin (spool) is usually embedded in the compartment.

Bobbin: The Bobbin is embedded within or above the handle and carries the thread.

Chuck: The Chuck, which serves as an intermediary between the Bobbin and the needle, is used to hold the needle firmly above it and aid the passage of the thread from the Bobbin to the needle.

Needle: The Needle, the easiest to identify, is a sharp-looking metal capable of piercing through leather and has an eye where the thread is hooked on. Just on the surface of the needle is a groove where the thread passes up toward the needle’s eye, making it easy for artisans to pass the thread through the eye.

What Are The Different Types Of Leather Stitching Awl?

Leather Craftsmen make use of numerous awl tools! While some are more important than others, they all have their specific purposes, and at some point, you may need each of these awl types, depending on what they are needed for at that moment.

Thus, it is imperative to know the various types of leather stitching awl – and here’s what you should know.

Awl Haft: The awl haft is a handle designed to fit various awl blades. This type of awl is constructed to allow easy grip, preventing your blade from slipping during use while meeting other demands dependent on what the awl is needed for.

This option appears cost-effective, as you can get blades alone for lesser amounts. Thus, most leather artisans find it easier using the awl haft, where blades can be changed while still using the same handle. Kindly get a functional awl haft that offers perfect gripping and comes in the right size.

Diamond Awl: I remember using this tool while working on a leather project that doesn’t require large openings. The diamond awl is another common type of awl blade used by every leather craftsman to make holes in the form of an “x” or diagonal square-like shape to pass a thread through during stitching.

This tool makes a remarkable impact on leather items by making each hole made by the diamond awl less visible after the passage of the thread. However, this depends on the thickness of your diamond awl, individual preference, and stitching purposes – since some craftsmen might prefer a much larger thickness.

Lacing Awl: The Lacing Awl is another standard tool found in a leather sewing kit, usually employed for pulling lacings through leather holes. Unlike the diamond awl or other common stitching awls with a sharp tip, it is distinctly blunt to prevent it from snagging into laces, with its surface partially flat.

Thus, lacing stitching awl tools leverage their shape and design to easily pull out laces or rope through holes and create space while making stitches. You can categorically place lacing awls amongst “flat leather stitching awls.”

Collar Awl: Collar Awl has a forged steel tip with sharp edges to make a deep cut through thick leather that allows you to pull out lace from and fold the lace back into the lacing slit.

The collar awl’s tang appears to be between 20 to approximately 26 centimeters long, which is an advantage while using them to pull and push lacing through. As one of the best leather awl tools, it is commonly used by saddle makers, but since it benefits the leather artisans, let us ensure they are in our leather sewing awl kit.

Curved Awl: This is an awl tool that allows an individual to leverage its shape and style to make holes between two leather types having corners or crafting curves following one or two types of leather stitches for easy maneuvering and correct precision while working on a project.

Another instance where curved awl is specially used is when sure sides cannot be easily accessed, and this happens majorly during repairs or when a craftsman intentionally doesn’t want to completely prick the needle through the leather material, thereby adding little pressure to get the desired outcome.

Scratch Awl: A scratch awl is a circularly pointed punch tool with a sharp end or tip used for making holes in leather material. There are either one or more Scratch awls, also known as leather awl punch, inside every leather craftsman leather sewing awl kit because of their many uses – you can employ them for scratching leather surfaces and sometimes cutting through a hole.

Similarly, this tool can also be used for marking leather pieces to determine which area should be chopped away or joined with other leather types.

The scratch awl comes in several different sizes, so they are used based on individual tastes and purposes. The holes can be made on thinner or thicker leather, which can function as a passage through which thread runs, and stitches are done or as an eye for leather belts.

Sewing/Needle Awl: This is another type of awl used majorly for sewing or stitching thick and tough materials like leather. It has a sharp pointed needle to make holes and also an eye on that needle used to hold the thread and pass them through these holes, in that process, joining pieces of fabrics together.

The saddle workers, shoemakers/cobblers, and leather artisans use the Sewing awl to stitch projects.

Saddler’s Harness Awl: This tool falls under the category of a diamond awl tool since it also comes with an extended diamond needle tip used for making holes or marking sewing material – saddle workers mostly use them.

How Do You Sew Leather With a Leather Awl?

Whether you are a new or seasoned leatherworker, you should know that using a leather awl requires certain expertise. I’d be providing detailed steps prepared specifically from my journey as a leather craftsman to help you use a leather awl effectively.

Here are a few simple steps to learn how to sew leather by hand using the leather awl.

Step 1: Get the Thread Winded on the Bobbin

Prepare your leather awl by removing the Bobbin right beneath the handle and winding your thread around it until you have enough thread. After you must have finished winding the Bobbin, you return it.

While returning the Bobbin to the handle’s compartment, pull the thread strand out to the open or through the embedded hole from the compartment to the outside and lock it in.

Step 2: Fix the Thread across the Needle

Pass the thread you pulled out from the compartment carefully toward the groove of the needle and then straight into the needle’s eye. Ensure you pull enough thread out from the eye – then your leather awl is ready for sewing.

Step 3: Push the Needle via the Holes and Get the Thread Pulled

At this point, your leather material should be ready for sewing, and markings should be made for where your thread will follow. Push the leather awl into the first hole, getting the leather awl’s needle to the other side, and then pull the whole thread to the other side.

However, this should be a measured amount based on the length of how much is to be sewn, with a 20% tolerance ensured, as this helps to prevent excess wastage of thread.

Step 4: Continue the Stitches

Now the thread is all on the other side with the needle. Withdraw the leather awl from the first hole, leaving the thread on the other side, and push the needle to the second hole. You will notice we still have most of the thread at the other side of the first hole and just a little on the second hole held up by the needle.

Pay close attention to this: pull the leather awl back a little from the second hole but not entirely as you create an open loop. We will be making a lock stitch here – passing the end of the thread that went through the first hole into the loop of the needle from the second hole.

Then use your two hands to pull the thread and the leather awl simultaneously in opposite directions making a tie to tighten the stitch, i.e., the leather awl is completely pulled out from the second hole, and the thread looped with the needle is pulled In the opposite direction, still facing the other. Continue this entire process till you get to the last hole.

Step 5: Knot the Stitch at the End

When you reach the last hole on the leather piece, instead of making the lock stitch as we did on the previous holes, we cut the thread from the needle right inside that last hole and remove the leather awl tool.

Knot both ends of the thread together! After knotting the stitch, melt the excess thread using a hot knife or a lighter to blend well with the rest of the stitch.

What Is The Difference Between a Scratch Awl and Stitch Awl?

When it comes to leather artistry, scratch awl, and stitch awl are the most typical options you would find. While these two awl tools may look alike, they differ in their unique ways, tackling different problems and being best at a specific task.

Since they are both awl tools, they are used essentially to make holes in tough materials like leather, canvas, or denim. However, the scratch awl, aside from making a hole, is specifically used to trace patterns or marking for where the thread will pass through, to mark out portions of a piece to be cut out, like scratching across the piece visible enough to be easily identified.

Stitching awl, on the other hand, just like its name, is explicitly used to stitch on leather, canvas, and denim (hard materials). After making several holes as a marking on the material that is being worked upon using the stitching awl, the same stitching awl can still be used for the hand-sewing or stitching process.

The Stitching awl tool, unlike every other awl tool, consists of a handle that has a compartment where a bobbin is stored containing thread, with holes strategically drilled on it to help the thread move from the Bobbin up to the Chuck and then directly to the needle’s eye after carefully passing the needle groove.

Things to Consider Before Buying Leather Stitching Awl

While the end goal of every leatherworker is to make a beautiful piece of leatherwork, you should know that each individual has varying tool preferences. So several considerations should be taken to buy leather stitching awls that suit your style, hands skill, and preference.

To carefully select the best and appropriate leather stitching awl, here are the significant factors to help your selection.

The Handle

Since the leather stitching awl is a hand-held tool and is probably what every leather craftsman will constantly use, the stitching awl handle should be considered thoroughly. They come in different sizes, small, medium and large.

Another one is the handle shape; some are flat-sided, robust, completely round, and so on. We all have different ways our hands communicate with whatever it’s handling. Also, how other leather craftsmen position their hands while working might be different.

Thus, it’s advisable to try several of them to know best which one works for you; then, you can confidently decide on buying them. The Leather Stitching awl handles come in two different types, which are:

  • Metal Ferrule
  • Non-Ferrule

The advantage of the metal ferrule is that you can easily change the blade on the handle, meaning you can have the same handle for multiple blades. The blade on this handle is not permanent but can be switched to several other types of blade when needed at the point of working.

However, the metal ferrule handles are heavier than the non-ferrule handles, so consider that when choosing your handle and how often you will need to change from one blade to another.

The Blade

The second factor you want to consider is the blade before buying a leather stitching awl. So after you must have chosen a handle by closely observing its considerations, you come to the blade.

There are also a couple of different sizes for the blade; however, whatever size of blade you will be using is dependent on what you want to stitch, the holes you want to make, and also for marking.

When fitting blades into the handle, handles with metal ferrule are much easier; all you have to do is unscrew the fitting (Chuck) and insert your preferred blade into the fitting firmly (make sure the blade stands straight), and then tighten it back up.

But for the handle with a manually fitted blade, the non-ferrule handle, the fitting method varies; most require you to hammer the blade into the handle to fit in tightly.

Top 5 Leather Hole Punches in the Market

If you are in the market for a new leather awl or seek a perfect replacement for your leather punching tool, here are five best stitching awls you should check.

Osborne Diamond-Shaped Blade Leather Stitching Awl

Key Features:

  • Wooden handle
  • Permanently fixed blades
  • Measures 2 x 5 x 2 inches in dimension

The Osborne Diamond-Shaped Blade Leather Stitching Awl is an unparalleled tool with quality hardwood handles and sharp metal blades. It is durable, works for various stitching types, and can be used by amateur and seasoned leather crafters.

With each stroke, the awl effortlessly pierces through the leather, creating clean and precise perforations that harmoniously sync with your craft. Its ergonomic handle is thoughtfully designed for optimal grip, ensuring hours of comfortable stitching without compromising control.

General Tools Hardwood Handle Scratch Awl Tool

Key Features:

  • Wooden handle
  • Alloy steel blade
  • Measures 8.75 x 3.75 x 3.25 inches in dimension

The General Tools Hardwood Handle Scratch Awl Tool’s design is a masterpiece and enigmatic blend of fine craftsmanship. The immaculate hardwood handle, exquisitely sculpted and polished, ensures your hands feel comfortable working with this tool.

This awl’s slender, tapered stainless steel shaft effortlessly pierces through the toughest materials and is highly suitable for leather pieces. Furthermore, this awl is durable, resisting wear for an extended period.

Speedy Stitcher Leather Sewing Awl Kit

Key Features:

  • Sturdy
  • It comes with needles and a coarse thread
  • Measures ‎5 x 5 x 5 inches in dimension

The Speedy Stitcher Leather Sewing Awl Kit is a remarkable tool, famous for its ability to pierce through even the toughest hides. Whether you’re repairing a unique leather item or fashioning an entirely new masterpiece, this awe-inspiring tool provides unparalleled versatility.

Its sturdy yet lightweight design makes it suitable for various leather stitching tasks, helping you take your craftsmanship to a greater level. The Speedy stitcher sewing awl comes with four needles and a 14-yard waxed thread as a repair kit.

OWDEN Leathercraft Professional Stitch Awl

Key Features:

  • Made of durable aluminum
  • It has a sewing tool set of 3 threads, 2 needles, and a wrench
  • Measures 8.66 x 1.54 x 1.46 inches in dimension

The OWDEN Leathercraft Professional Stitch Awl is a tool that adapts effortlessly to your skill level. It has a small wrench that can easily lock and loosen needles. Furthermore, this set has three 11-yard threads that can effectively join your leather pieces.

Crafted with utmost precision and using the finest materials, this tool withstands the test of time, proving its worth. Finally, the steel blade, honed to perfection, retains its sharpness even after countless hours of relentless use.

Cosmos Pack Awl Tool

Key Features

  • Made of wood and metal
  • Pinhole tip
  • Measures 4.25 x 0.85 x 0.85 inches in dimension

For every DIYer and artisan, the Cosmos Pack Awl Tool is an outstanding option for leather crafts. This convenient awl provides all the features and capabilities you want for various jobs. You can use this awl to puncture and punch holes through any leather hide. The tool is a fantastic option for projects needing attention to detail because it is lightweight and straightforward.

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQS

Do you need an awl to sew Leather?

An awl is vital in sewing leather because it helps make holes or create markings on such thick materials. These holes allow sewing two leather pieces together to be easy and less time-consuming while keeping your work neat.

The awl also helps support maneuvering and having full supervision over your movement and making it firm when you finish your work. With the aid of a sewing awl, you can create varying stitching designs to make your craft stand out.

Is an awl the same as a Stiletto?

The stiletto may be used as an awl in some cases, like to make holes in fabrics, but cannot be used on all thick materials like the awl. By now, you should know that a suitable leather punch tool is designed to tackle any thickness ruggedly. However, the stiletto, while having needles, has less-sharper points and handles that are so different from the awl.

A stiletto is mostly smaller and can do only minor works compared to how robust and thick the awls are designed. So, the awl is universal leather punching tool, also capable of accomplishing numerous tasks.

What can I use instead of an awl for sewing?

When you find yourself in a situation where you don’t have an awl available, there are several alternatives you can try. One is a nail; you can choose a nail with proper sharpness that meet your need and make holes with it.

Other impressive options are screwdrivers and compass tools. You can use the pointed tip to make holes in your leather or markings. And you can ensure that your markings are straight using a proper measuring tool alongside any of the sharp-edged items.

What type of material would a sewing awl most likely be used on?

Unlike every other sewing tool, the awl is designed for rigid and strong materials like leather, canvas, and denim.

It is used to easily puncture holes into these materials by adding pressure from the handle of the awl, forcing the needle to pass through the material, making a presentable and neat hole for easy passage and fastening of threads while stitching.

Can you use a screwdriver as an awl?

A screwdriver can be a substitute for an awl if that’s what you can get your hands on while trying to mark leather or make holes in this material. However, it’s not the best option, as forcing the screwdriver through the leather is pretty difficult and will not give a clean cut compared to an awl. So, be sure to get your leatherworking tools to avoid such inconveniences.

Is a Bradawl the same as an awl?

An awl comprises a handle and a blade; the same goes for the Bradawl. However, a bradawl is slightly different from the regular awl. The Bradawl has a chisel-shaped edge and a flattened tip used to make holes in woods to take screws – they are often categorized under woodworking awl.

Final Word

The leather stitching awl is a useful and dependable tool for leatherworkers of all skill levels. These tools are necessary for finishing leather products and are suitable for folks who enjoy stitching leather by hand.

Stitching awls are a practical substitute for leather sewing machines and offer a portable and economical way to sew leather items. With cautiousness and concentration, you should master the proper way of using a leather stitching awl.

Evina Naomi

Ewofere, Evina Naomi is a biotechnologist and passionate content writer. As a great lover of leather and various leather crafts, she broadly addresses leather-related issues. She is a writer of many excellent articles on leather. With great knowledge and enthusiasm, readers can access researched pieces on various leather types and the best techniques that work on them. Naomi is here to lead you through the journey of choosing excellent leather products and ensure you handle them rightly. So you can embark on your leather sewing and crafting journey with her and have an incredible experience.

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