- Saddle making with awls in Colonial Williamsburg
The stitching awl has been a part of history for as long as there has been a history to record. It was used as a way to mark a slave; the slave owner pierced the ear of his slave with an awl, and then marked him with an earring. This tradition is still used in some Native American tribes during their rituals. In the 18th century, saddle makers used a bridle awl to stitch the saddles they were producing.
- A stitching awl is often used for the more detailed and intricate work needed for heavier materials like leather and wood. It is also used to prepare materials for sewing. Even with the modern conveniences of products like the sewing machine, many projects still require the use of an awl for some of the more detailed work.
A stitching awl is a manual, hand-held tool, used to puncture heavy materials. It is used by shoemakers to sew the soles of shoes and to puncture holes for the laces. It is used in saddle making to puncture holes in the leather before the saddle is stitched, and it is used in the production of clothing accessories such as belts in preparation of the stitching. It is even used in the hobby of latch hooking, which is the process of creating a rug, wall hanging or pillow by wrapping the yarn around the eyelet of the tool and pulling it through to form a knot.
- There are many types of stitching awls, each with a slightly different design according to the job it is needed for. There is the bookbinder's awl, used for piercing holes in paper and for sewing the binding to the book. There is the bridle awl, used in the production of saddles and bridles. There is the scratch awl, which is used for making marks into wood and in wood design. Finally, we have the stitching awl itself. This is often used to make eyelets in certain materials so that they may be threaded with lace.
- The basic design of the stitching awl consists of a metal blade and a rod with a shaped tip. While the rod is generally placed in a handle, there are some awls without one. Every awl's tip will vary, because it is the tip that makes the puncture. The bookbinder's awl has a sharp tip that is pointed on the end. The bridle awl has a diamond-shaped tip, while the scratch awl's tip is round and tapered. The stitching awl has an eye on its end. This allows for its owner to pull more than one thread at a time through the material.