Making my own Leather Awl

I saw an amazing drill bit conversation of a concrete bit into an awl on YouTube the other day. There are several steps they got wrong in the grand scheme of things especially not quenching the awl to keep it’s tip from wearing out . So I dug through a bucket of bits I inherited from my wife’s grandfather.

He’s a former machinist so he had a TON of drill bits that i inherited when they moved into their trailer last year, and some of them aren’t usable anymore. Digging through I found the perfect bit, the actual teeth had broken/caked up with some kind of odd putty that was really hard to get off and not worth the effort to recover. I used my Dremel to sheer off the business end and ended up having a nice 1/8th round of metal to work with!

Taking my belt sander and my drill I turned the belt sander to medium, set the drill to spin against the grain for the most effective removal of material. After shaping for about 10 minutes I had a nice sharp point and a perfect length for what I wanted to deal with in the first place.

I added some scuff marks with the Dremel sander for some aesthetic and I may go back over it again to give it more of a “stone putting” like I used to do with knife making. But here it is so far!

I’ve got some sexy brown and orange stripped iron wood, or possibly some kookabola, I haven’t fully decided yet which type to make the handle with. I’ve got a brass fitting for the end I’ll use to fix them all together. I’ll update with more pictures once it’s ready!

Update: Having a few days off I worked till late into the night to get this completed i fixed the bit into the lathe and sanded the steel to a nice 2500 grit and sharpened the tip. Using some vegetable oil I had on hand and some previous experience with blacksmithing I gave the tip a heat cycled treatment with my butain torch, and then quenched it to harden the tip. Next I drilled the bronze fitting to size and ended up picking a Black walnut chunk I had forgotten about for the handle and got to work. Turned a beautiful knob and started sealing with CA glue. Unfortunately I didn’t realize I was almost out of said glue so in the end I actually didn’t get the super polished look I was hoping for, however, what it might not have in beauty,it has in sharpness! I ran verious tests last night and was more then pleased with how Sharp and strong the Awl came out. In my opinion it makes leatherworking that much more personal to the overall process.


Ooh, can’t wait to see the end result!


Cool Project. Yes, keep us updated.


Update in the main post!


This is very cool! I love repurposed tools - broken drill bits are so useful like that. Looks like you got a great point!


I’ve got a few More bits to work with that I may also repurpose, just gotta figure out how I wanna to it :grin:


Wow, that turned out absolutely beautiful! Great job, and I love how you detailed what you did to make it all. Thank you for sharing!


No problem! I have a few concrete drill bits that would add some spiral flair to the over all aesthetic to the Awl.


Very nice! I knew there was a reason I hadn’t thrown away my broken bits. :wink:


I’ve decided my next Awl is gonna have a resen handle

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