Leatherworkers need a tool to poke through holes, and its sharp tip works best with leather. The question is when to use a diamond or a flat blade in your works and what is the importance of having one or both of these blades. We are answering these questions to help you choose the right awl blade for your projects.
What is the difference between a diamond and a flat awl blade? Diamond awl blades punch holes through leather, creating an ‘X’ cut to fit threads for stitching. A flat blade awl creates slits and pushes lace in leather for lacing projects. Diamond blade and flat blade awls can have a fixed or interchangeable blade for different purposes of leatherwork.
Awls are handy tools every leatherworker needs. This article will talk about the difference between a diamond and a flat awl blade and the different types of awls with flat and diamond tips. I also included the best buys for each type of awl, their costs, and their features to help you choose the best awl for your projects.
Awl Blades and Other Awl Parts
An awl is a hand-held tool for leatherworking. It is used for various purposes such as marking leather, punching holes and slits, stitching, and lacing leather. Here are the essential parts of an awl and their respective uses to help you decide what type of blade works best for your leather projects.
Diamond Bladed Awl for Stitching
Diamond bladed awls have pointed tips creating diamond holes, not the typical circular ones. These narrow holes are ideal for stitching as threads fit perfectly inside them and do not leave much space around the thread. It makes the seam tight and the project durable. Diamond blades gently part the leather and tend to seal back after stitching, which creates a clean stitch for your leather projects without any bulging seam line.
Flat Bladed Awl for Lacing
A sharp flat tip is the main characteristic of a flat blade. It punches slits through the leather, which are perfect for lacing leather edges. Laces will go smoothly in the slit, which can be applied with enough tension for tightening the seams without damaging the leather. Thick and thin laces can also be held by these slits depending on the size of the blade you use. Some flat blades are also used as a needle to help the laces go through leather slits more easily.
Other Essential Awl Parts
These are other awl parts that help the blade do its job in leatherwork. These parts are as important as the blade because you cannot use an awl with just the blade only.
Awl Haft for Swapping Blades
An awl is composed of a blade, and its handle is called an awl haft that works together to do different tasks in leatherwork. It holds the blade in place and can fit interchangeable blades. The haft is made of high quality and durable wood most suitable for an awl.
The handle is strong enough to be struck by a mallet when creating leather holes and must have abrasive protection or covering where the mallet hits. The protection can be a metal or leather that shields the wood from being easily damaged.
Awl hafts are ergonomically designed to fit the hands comfortably. It provides a solid grip for the leatherworker.
Fixed and Interchangeable Awl Blades
Awl blades connected to the haft can be fixed or interchangeable. Fixed awl blades are permanently attached to the awl handle. This is an excellent choice for experienced leatherworkers who use a specific awl for each leatherwork task. Using fixed blades saves you time because you will not be swapping blades for different tasks you’ll use the awl for. Choose a fixed awl blade if you are hammering through leather because it will not detach easily to the handle and is very durable for all the striking works.
Interchangeable awl blades are different blade types that individually fit in a single awl haft. These blades are perfect for beginners who are still mastering the skill to use awls. Leatherworkers on a budget are also encouraged to use interchangeable blades because it costs less and usually comes in a package when you buy them. These blades also save space in your tool storage.
Best Buys Diamond Blade Awls
Below are the different types of awl which use diamond blades and the recommended brand for each type.
Diamond Tip Awl
First on the list of diamond blades is a diamond tip awl. It makes a leather hole without a large opening resulting in an ‘X’ cut. The holes are just enough size for the needle and thread to fit perfectly, forming a tight stitch. It also comes in different sizes.
Kyoshin Elle Diamond Awl is one of the recommended tools of this category. It is made in Japan and costs $12.99. This awl is a great puncher of stitching holes for thick threads and is suitable for saddle making and the manufacture of big bags. Kyoshin Elle’s is a single awl with an irreplaceable blade.
Saddler’s Harness Awl
Used by saddle makers, the saddler’s harness awl has an elongated diamond-shaped blade for creating leather holes. Awls of this type can be a single awl or awl blade fitted into a universal haft and are available in different sizes.
A great buy is a C.S. Osborne 1-½’’ Harness Awl #42 blade, which costs $5.95. It is made from premium steel. The blade is from the finest and toughest hardened steel that does not bend easily. It is also handcrafted to produce a highly finished blade.
Stitching awl or needle awl has a pointed needle and eye on the tip. It helps thread pass through holes in stitching leather. Two of the best stitching awls in the market are the C.S. Osborne #144-43 Stitching Awl and the WUTA Diamond Shape Stitching Awl Set.
C.S. Osborne #144-43 Stitching Awl comes with a very sharp diamond-shaped blade suitable for poking leather stitch holes. It is versatile and comfortable to use and can punch holes in up to 9-ounce thick vegetable-tanned leather. Hole sizes made by this awl are approximately 3/32 inches by ⅙ inches big. Talking about versatility, it can also serve as a scratch awl to transfer patterns to leather. The blade is secured to the wooden body by a metal ferrule to ensure the handle’s firm grip on the blade. You can find it at Amazon for $17.69.
WUTA Diamond Shape Stitching Awl Set comes in three sizes; small, medium, and large-sized awls to create small to large diamond holes in leather. The set costs $29.99. The blades of these awls are made from high carbon steel, which is sharp and polished, and are permanently attached to its handle with a brass ferrule. The handle comes from another quality material of ebony wood. WUTA stitching awls are easy to grip and helps you work with leather at your best angle.
Best Buys Flat Blade Awls
Here are awls that use flat blades. Also listed below are some great brands for each type of awl available in your leather stores or online.
Used by saddle makers, a collar awl features an extended tang about 8-10 inches with a sharp cutting edge. This awl creates a slit through leather for thicker lace to go in.
Recommended by leatherworkers is the Collar Awl, 10” by C.S. Osborne, which costs $48.25. The riveted tang goes completely through the wood handle to provide extra strength and durability. It is perfect for inserting heavy laces into leather edges to add strength and design to your projects.
The lacing awl is somewhat the same as a collar awl that functions to help laces go through leather slits. Excellent addition to a lacing awl is its hooked tip or eye, where one end of the lace is placed. Lacing awl is pushed to the leather with the lace to its tip. The awl then drives laces in and out of the leather slits. It’s the same as using a needle and thread to sew,, but this time using an awl and a lace to join leathers together.
Seiwa Leathercraft Tool Lacing Awl Leather Thonging Fid is an awl great for the lacing task. It is made with high-quality materials and is available at Goods Japan online store for $8.99
This awl widens slits to help lace go smoothly and neatly through the leather and avoid forceful pulling of lace because of narrow slits. The flat blade of this awl cannot cut slits or holes but can only widen the created slits by simply inserting the awl tip into the leather slit after punching leather holes.
Awls are a staple in leatherwork that is why there are numerous awl types and different blades specialized for specific tasks. Surely no single awl blade can function as an all rounder. Now that you know the difference between a flat and a diamond awl blade, you will be able to use them properly in your projects. This will be your guide in purchasing the right awl for your leatherwork needs.