Best Awl for Woodworking: Top Picks for 2023

Woodworking is an art that requires precision and patience. Whether you are a professional carpenter or a DIY enthusiast, having the right tools is essential to achieve the desired results. One such tool that every woodworker should have in their arsenal is an awl. An awl is a pointed tool that is used to make holes in wood, leather, and other materials. It is an essential tool for marking out and starting screw holes, as well as for making pilot holes for nails.

When it comes to woodworking, having the best awl is crucial. A good awl will make your work easier and more accurate, while a poor-quality one will make it frustrating and time-consuming. There are different types of awls available in the market, including scratch awls, brad awls, and birdcage awls. Each type has its own unique features and is designed for specific applications.

When choosing an awl for woodworking, there are several factors to consider. The first thing to look for is the material of the awl. The best awls are made of high-quality steel or titanium, which makes them durable and long-lasting. The size and shape of the awl are also essential. A long, pointed awl is ideal for making deep holes, while a shorter, thicker one is better for making shallow holes.

In this article, we have researched and tested several awls to identify the best awl for woodworking. We have evaluated each awl based on its material, size, shape, and performance. Our goal is to help you find the perfect awl that will make your woodworking projects easier and more enjoyable.

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Best Awls for Woodworking

If you’re a woodworking enthusiast, you know that having the right tools is essential to achieving the best results. An awl is a must-have tool for any woodworker, as it allows you to mark and punch holes accurately. However, with so many options available in the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the best one for your needs. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the best awls for woodworking to help you make an informed decision.

General Tools Scratch Awl Tool

General Tools Scratch Awl Tool

If you’re looking for an affordable awl for woodworking, the General Tools Scratch Awl Tool is a great option.

Pros

  • The wooden handle provides a comfortable grip and is contoured for easy use.
  • The steel blade is securely fastened to both the plated steel ferrule and the cap, ensuring durability.
  • The awl’s sharp point makes it easy to create a starting point for drilling or scribing.

Cons

  • The awl may not be suitable for heavy-duty woodworking tasks.
  • Some users have reported that the fluted handle can be uncomfortable to hold for extended periods of time.
  • The product may not come with a warranty.

This awl is a versatile tool that can be used for piercing soft materials, starting screw holes, scribing, and layout work. The ball handle awl establishes a starting point which reduces the chances of tools wandering, preventing damage to your workpiece.

The General Tools Scratch Awl Tool features a wooden handle that is contoured for comfortable grip, making it easy to use for extended periods of time. The steel blade is securely fastened to both the plated steel ferrule and the cap, ensuring that it can withstand heavy pressure and challenging workloads.

One of the best things about this awl is its sharp point, which makes it easy to create a starting point for drilling or scribing. It only takes a few seconds to use an awl scratch to make a starting point for a drill bit, which is much less time than it would take to sand out any damage.

Overall, if you’re looking for an affordable, basic awl for woodworking tasks, the General Tools Scratch Awl Tool is a great option. It’s versatile, durable, and easy to use, making it a must-have for any DIYer or woodworking enthusiast.

Narex Square Blade Birdcage Woodworking Scratch Awl 874710

Narex Square Blade Birdcage Woodworking Scratch Awl 874710

If you’re looking for a high-quality scratch awl for woodworking, the Narex Square Blade Birdcage Woodworking Scratch Awl 874710 is a great choice.

Pros

  • The square blade design makes it easy to drill pilot holes for screws.
  • The high carbon tool steel blade is durable and long-lasting.
  • The beautifully turned stained beech handle with steel ferrule provides a comfortable grip.

Cons

  • The round handle can make it prone to rolling off a benchtop.
  • The blade may require sharpening after extended use.
  • The scratch awl may not be suitable for use on softwoods.

This scratch awl is an excellent value for its quality and durability. The square blade design allows for easy pre-drilling of pilot holes for screws, and the high carbon tool steel blade ensures that it will last for years to come. The beautifully turned stained beech handle with steel ferrule provides a comfortable grip, making it easy to use for extended periods of time.

However, the round handle can make it prone to rolling off a benchtop, which can be a minor inconvenience. Additionally, the blade may require sharpening after extended use, although this is a common issue with most awls. Finally, the scratch awl may not be suitable for use on softwoods, as the sharp tip can easily damage the wood.

Overall, if you’re looking for a high-quality scratch awl for woodworking, the Narex Square Blade Birdcage Woodworking Scratch Awl 874710 is an excellent choice.

Narex Round Conical Scratch Awl

Narex Round Conical Scratch Awl

If you’re looking for a high-quality scratch awl for woodworking, the Narex Round Conical Scratch Awl is an excellent choice.

Pros

  • Made by a small tool manufacturer in the Czech Republic, ensuring excellent craftsmanship
  • Beautifully turned stained beech handle with steel ferrule provides a comfortable grip
  • High carbon tool steel blade is sharp and durable, making it perfect for pre-marking for screws and general layout work

Cons

  • The thin point may not be suitable for heavy-duty woodworking tasks
  • The handle may not be large enough for those with larger hands
  • The blade may require sharpening after extended use

This scratch awl is an excellent value for its quality and durability. The beautifully turned stained beech handle provides a comfortable grip, while the high carbon tool steel blade is sharp and durable, making it perfect for pre-marking for screws and general layout work. However, the thin point may not be suitable for heavy-duty woodworking tasks, and the handle may not be large enough for those with larger hands. Additionally, the blade may require sharpening after extended use.

Overall, if you’re looking for a scratch awl that provides excellent value for its quality and craftsmanship, the Narex Round Conical Scratch Awl is a great choice.

WoodRiver Mini-Awl

WoodRiver Mini-Awl

If you need an awl for woodworking, the WoodRiver Mini-Awl is a great choice.

Pros

  • The bubinga handle is comfortable to hold and provides a good grip.
  • The very fine point makes it easy to mark and make starting holes for small screws.
  • The small size is perfect for those tiny screws that come with box hinges or for any other small screws.

Cons

  • The awl is very small, which can make it difficult to hold for larger hands.
  • The fine point can be fragile and may break if used too aggressively.
  • The awl is not suitable for larger screws or holes.

This classy looking WoodRiver Mini-Awl is approximately 3-3/4″ long, with a bubinga handle and a high carbon tool steel business end with a very fine point. It is made by Woodcraft, a company with over 90 years of experience selling high-quality woodworking tools and supplies.

The bubinga handle is comfortable to hold and provides a good grip, which is essential when working with small screws. The very fine point makes it easy to mark and make starting holes for those tiny screws that come with box hinges or for any other small screws. The small size is perfect for those tiny screws, but it may not be suitable for larger screws or holes.

The awl is very small, which can make it difficult to hold for larger hands. The fine point can be fragile and may break if used too aggressively. However, if you need an awl for woodworking and you work with small screws, the WoodRiver Mini-Awl is a great choice.

Small Scratch Awl with Hardwood Handle | Awl for Scratching, Puching, Perforating | Woodworking Tool for Upholstery, Cabinetry, Caning, Sewing | MF-478

Small Scratch Awl with Hardwood Handle

If you’re looking for a versatile tool that can be used for many purposes, from punching and perforating holes when working with leather to putting marks on a woodworking project, then this Small Scratch Awl with Hardwood Handle from UNIQANTIQ HARDWARE SUPPLY is a great option.

Pros

  • The blade is made of tempered steel, which makes it durable and long-lasting.
  • The handle is made of hardwood, which provides a comfortable grip and prevents slipping.
  • This is a great tool for woodworking and antique furniture restoration. It can be used with upholstery, cabinetry, and more.

Cons

  • The blade may not be sharp enough for some users.
  • The handle may be too small for users with larger hands.
  • There is only one awl in the package, which may not be enough for some projects.

This scratch awl is a must-have for any woodworking or leatherworking enthusiast. The blade is sharp enough to make precise marks, but not so sharp that it will damage your materials. The handle is comfortable to hold and provides a good grip, even if your hands are sweaty or oily.

One of the great things about this tool is its versatility. You can use it for many different tasks, such as marking out dovetails, perforating leather, or even making pilot holes for screws. It’s also a great tool for antique furniture restoration, as it can be used to make small repairs or touch-ups.

Overall, if you’re looking for a reliable and versatile scratch awl, then this Small Scratch Awl with Hardwood Handle from UNIQANTIQ HARDWARE SUPPLY is definitely worth considering. It’s affordable, durable, and easy to use, making it a great addition to any workshop or toolbox.

WoodRiver Max Awl 5/8” Diameter 5” Long

WoodRiver Max Awl

If you’re looking for a reliable and high-quality awl for woodworking, the WoodRiver Max Awl could be the perfect choice for you.

Pros

  • The 5/8” diameter of the metal portion is perfect for creating holes of different sizes.
  • The sharp point makes it easy to use and allows you to make precise holes and marks.
  • The 5” length of the awl provides a comfortable grip and allows you to apply the necessary pressure without straining your hand.

Cons

  • The price might be a bit higher compared to other awls on the market.
  • The awl might not be as durable as some other options, especially if you use it frequently.
  • The tapered shape of the metal portion might not be suitable for all types of woodworking projects.

The WoodRiver Max Awl is a great addition to any woodworking tool collection. It’s easy to use and provides precise results, making it perfect for both beginners and experienced woodworkers.

The 5/8” diameter of the metal portion is perfect for creating holes of different sizes, and the sharp point ensures that you can make clean and accurate marks. The 5” length of the awl provides a comfortable grip, which is essential when working on longer projects that require a lot of pressure.

One of the downsides of this awl is that it might not be as durable as some other options. If you use it frequently, you might need to replace it sooner than you would like. Additionally, the tapered shape of the metal portion might not be suitable for all types of woodworking projects, so you might need to consider other options if you need a straight awl.

Overall, the WoodRiver Max Awl is a great choice if you’re looking for a reliable and high-quality awl for woodworking. It might be a bit more expensive than other options, but the precision and ease of use make it worth the investment.

KAKURI Manual Hand Drill for Wood 1/8″ Hole, Woodworking Manual Awl Tool for Pilot Hole, Japanese Gimlet Tool KIRI, Japanese Steel Screw Blade (Straight), Made in Japan

KAKURI Manual Hand Drill for Wood

If you’re looking for a traditional Japanese manual drill tool for woodworking, the KAKURI Manual Hand Drill for Wood is a great option. With its screw tip wood cone, it’s convenient for drilling through holes or making pilot holes for thick screws and nails. Here are the pros and cons of this product:

Pros

  • The high hardness High-Speed Steel drill blade is used, making the drill cutting power higher than that of a normal drill, and a hole can be made in a very short time.
  • The razor-sharp durable blade helps your woodworking and woodcraft.
  • It can be used not only for general wood but also for drilling bamboo and resin products.

Cons

  • The maximum hole diameter is only 1/8″.
  • The drill bit may not be securely fastened in the handle.
  • The durability is not the best.

Overall, the KAKURI Manual Hand Drill for Wood is a great tool for woodworking and woodcraft. It comes with a blade sheath cap, so it is safe to carry and store. The official English instruction is included, making it easy to use even if you’re not familiar with Japanese tools. All KAKURI brand products are manufactured in Japan and handcrafted by Japanese craftsmen. If you’re looking for a high-quality Japanese manual drill tool, this is a great option.

Dritz Home 44106 Awl with Wooden Handle

Dritz Home 44106 Awl with Wooden Handle

If you’re looking for a versatile and reliable awl for woodworking, the Dritz Home 44106 Awl with Wooden Handle is a great option to consider.

Pros

  • The wooden handle is comfortable to hold and provides a good grip, making it easy to use for extended periods of time.
  • The sharp point of the awl allows for precise hole punching and marking, making it ideal for a variety of woodworking applications.
  • The compact size of the awl makes it easy to store and transport, so you can take it with you wherever you go.

Cons

  • The awl may not be suitable for heavy-duty woodworking tasks, as it is designed for smaller and more delicate projects.
  • The wooden handle may not be as durable as other materials, so it may need to be replaced over time with frequent use.
  • The awl may not be suitable for use with thicker materials, as it may not be strong enough to penetrate them.

In summary, if you’re looking for a versatile and reliable awl for woodworking, the Dritz Home 44106 Awl with Wooden Handle is a great choice. Its comfortable wooden handle, sharp point, and compact size make it a useful tool for a variety of woodworking applications.

Craftsman Scratch Awl Acetate Screwdriver

Craftsman Scratch Awl Acetate Screwdriver

If you’re looking for a durable and comfortable awl for woodworking, the Craftsman Scratch Awl Acetate Screwdriver is a great option to consider.

Pros

  • Made of heat-treated alloy steel, ensuring strength and durability
  • Comfort-optimized handle for high and low torque applications
  • Satin-nickel finish for a professional look

Cons

  • The scratch awl screwdriver is not as versatile as other awls on the market
  • The handle may not be comfortable for extended use
  • The tip may not be sharp enough for fine woodworking tasks

Craftsman is a well-known brand in the tool industry, and their Scratch Awl Acetate Screwdriver lives up to their reputation. This awl is made of heat-treated alloy steel, making it strong and durable. The comfort-optimized handle is designed to provide a good grip for both high and low torque applications. Additionally, the satin-nickel finish gives the awl a professional look.

One potential downside to this awl is that it may not be as versatile as other awls on the market. The scratch awl screwdriver is designed for specific tasks and may not be suitable for all woodworking needs. Additionally, some users may find the handle uncomfortable for extended use.

Another potential drawback is that the tip may not be sharp enough for fine woodworking tasks. While the awl is suitable for general woodworking needs, it may not be the best option for intricate tasks that require a very sharp point.

Overall, if you’re looking for a durable and comfortable awl for general woodworking tasks, the Craftsman Scratch Awl Acetate Screwdriver is a solid choice.

Buying Guide

When it comes to choosing the best awl for woodworking, there are several factors you should consider to ensure you get a tool that suits your needs. Here are some key features to look for when buying an awl:

Tip Shape and Size

The tip shape and size of an awl is crucial when it comes to the type of work you will be doing. If you’re working on fine details, a smaller, pointed tip will be more suitable. For general woodworking tasks, a larger, rounded tip will be more versatile.

Handle Material and Grip

The handle material and grip of an awl can make a big difference in terms of comfort and control. Look for a handle that is comfortable to hold and has a non-slip grip. Wooden handles are a popular choice, but there are also synthetic materials available that offer a comfortable grip.

Blade Material and Length

The blade material and length of an awl can affect its durability and performance. Look for a blade that is made from high-quality steel and is long enough to reach the depth you need for your work.

Price

Price is always a consideration when buying tools, but it’s important to remember that quality often comes at a higher cost. While you don’t need to break the bank, investing in a high-quality awl can save you money in the long run by lasting longer and performing better.

By considering these key features, you can choose an awl that will help you achieve the best results in your woodworking projects.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the essential features to look for in a high-quality woodworking awl?

When selecting a woodworking awl, there are a few essential features to consider. Firstly, the awl should have a sharp, sturdy tip that can easily penetrate wood without bending or breaking. Secondly, the handle should be comfortable to grip and provide good control. Lastly, the awl should be made of high-quality materials that can withstand frequent use.

How does a birdcage awl differ from other types of awls in woodworking?

A birdcage awl is a specialized type of awl that is designed to create small holes in wood for starting screws or nails. It features a hollow, cylindrical blade with a series of sharp, pointed teeth around the edge. These teeth help to grip the wood fibers and create a clean, precise hole.

What are the primary uses of a carpenter’s awl in woodworking projects?

A carpenter’s awl is a versatile tool that can be used for a variety of tasks in woodworking projects. It can be used to mark out precise measurements, create starter holes for screws or nails, and even help to align and position wood pieces during assembly.

Can you explain the historical significance of awl tools in woodworking craftsmanship?

Awls have been used in woodworking for centuries and have played an important role in the development of the craft. They were used by ancient civilizations to create intricate carvings and designs, and were essential tools for early furniture makers. Today, awls continue to be an important tool in the woodworking shop, helping craftsmen to create precise, high-quality work.

What are the advantages of using a square awl over other shapes in woodworking?

A square awl is a specialized type of awl that features a square-shaped tip. This shape makes it ideal for creating square or rectangular holes in wood, which can be useful for creating mortises or other joinery. Additionally, the square shape helps to prevent the awl from slipping or wandering during use, providing greater control and precision.

How do you properly maintain and care for an awl to ensure its longevity in a woodworking shop?

To ensure the longevity of your woodworking awl, it is important to keep it clean and well-maintained. After each use, wipe the blade clean with a soft cloth and store it in a dry, cool place. If the blade becomes dull or damaged, sharpen it with a honing stone or take it to a professional for sharpening. Additionally, avoid using the awl for tasks that it is not designed for, as this can cause unnecessary wear and tear.

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