Using an Awl – Leather Crafts

Hand Stitching: Using an Awl

The awl is an ancient and versatile tool. It has many potential uses, but the projects in this book feature two of its primary functions: scratching a line as an alternative to the mechanical pencil and opening up stitch holes to aid in hand stitching.





Clamps (optional)

Stitching horse (optional)

Techniques Used

Working with Templates

Hand Stitching: Using a Stitching Groover

Hand Stitching: Using a Pricking Iron

Hand Stitching: Using a Stitching Horse


Awls come in many different sizes and shapes, but for the projects in this book, you’ll want an awl that fits your hand, with the butt in the palm of your hand and the spike short enough that the finger can hold and control the tip.

The awl is a tool worthy of extra caution. Never rush when working with this sharp tool. You may want to sand the tip of the awl down to a blunter surface so it is less sharp to minimize risk of serious injury.


Use the awl to trace the template. Clamp or hold the template securely to the leather. Holding the awl just like a pencil, scratch the outline of your project onto the leather. Keep in mind that the scratch line can’t be removed, whereas a light pencil line can be almost totally erased.


1 Secure the work and check your fingers. Secure the work, which has been prepared for hand-stitching with pre-punched stitch holes. If possible, use a stitching horse. If not, hold the work with your hands, but be aware of where your hands and fingers are before using the awl to prevent injury.

2 Position the awl for punching. Hold the awl in your dominant hand like a computer mouse, with the butt fitting roundly in your palm and your first finger resting near the end of the spike.

3 Spike the awl through the stitch holes. Push the awl through each stitch hole slowly but firmly, using your arm muscles, not your hands. Exert just enough controlled pressure to make the right hole size, then pull out again. With practice, you will develop a feel for this.

Pushing the awl through a stitch hole too forcefully can increase your risk of injury and may also create a larger hole than you need. Keep the awl under control and make the hole only as large as necessary.