How to Use a Leather Sewing Awl?
How to Use a Leather Sewing Awl?
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Being a dedicated leather craft artist, an enthusiast, making unparalleled belts, straps, horse saddles or knife sheaths, passport covers and pendants; or just a homeowner, you would hardly use an industrial sewing machine. Even if you regularly work on the thick cowhide materials, really durable and inflexible, you would select the hand suturing method, and it’s the right choice! Utilizing the perfect and advanced manual techniques, like “saddle stitching”, you get strong suture, neat, straight joints with even and exact spaces.

The Best Tools for Joining and Punching Sheepskin Materials

Before seaming up two thick, rawhide items, you are to glue them together, get a deep, straight bezel or notch, mark the points and punch them. The holes are to be neat, 100% vertical and evenly spaced. The best task-orientated tools that help you to meet this purpose are:

Finally, if you don’t have any task-orientated tool at hand, but still want to repair your favorite belt, bag strap or zipper, it’s possible to use a common fork that is equipped with 4 evenly-spaced and sharp tines. However, we strive for getting the most efficient tools that help us to make the most accurate, perfect holes, and strong joints fast, minimizing the hands’ fatigue. Sewing awl is a tool, able to make holes and seam up the thick natural items simultaneously and pretty good. Meanwhile, let’s check, how to use a sewing set on leather and what are the benefits of using this great, versatile, purpose-designed tool.

What is a Sewing Awl?

Sewing awl is an amazing tool that is designed to make holes in thick materials and sew them together. It consists of 3 basic parts:

  • a thick, large-diameter needle;
  • a well-designed, shaped, contoured handle;
  • a spool, equipped with the thick thread, located between them.

Sewing Awl

The needles can be interchangeable, coming with straight or curved blades. The heavy, long, waxed thread goes from the spool, making strong, lockstitches at once after the leather punching. It’s commonly made of heavy-duty polyester. The handle is preferably made of genuine, black or redwood, for example, ebony, mahogany or walnut. The handle’s shape can be different, following its applications and the artist’s preferences, but it is perfectly polished, smooth, and natural, untreated by no varnish or chemical solution. The blade is made of the strong and rust-resistant stainless steel. Its shape can be different: diamond, oval, hexagon or flat, depending on the application and the puncture types you are going to cut. A chuck or coupler is located between the handle and the blade. Having unscrewed it, you can change the needle. A wrench may be included to the kit, being stored inside of the handle.

A sewing awl is a multi-purpose, pro-grade tool that is widely used by leather making professionals, cobblers, handicraft shoemakers and repairers, as well as by bookmakers and scrapbookers. It looks like a heavy-duty, large-scale needle, but it serves like a compact and lightweight, manual sewing machine, that has all of its basic components, but for the engine.

Difference Between Ordinary and Sewing Awl

A common, stitching awl or a bradawl is a tool that comes with a straight, sharp, narrow blade. It is used for multiple applications, including:

  • marking and widening the stitch holes;
  • creating starter points for screws and nails;
  • making indentations in various materials.

The awl’s blade is placed across the material, commonly natural wood or leather, on the pre-defined points and cut the holes, applying some pressure. Afterward, it’s commonly twisted through 90 degrees to create or enlarge the puncture.

Additionally, a cobblers’ awl is commonly equipped with a curved blade. The one, designed for shoemaking or repairing applications can also come with a hook on the end. This way it is perfectly used on hard-to-reach leather shoe areas, fixing small rips or tears quite accurately.

How to Use an Awl to Sew Leather?

A sewing awl is designed for seaming up not only the genuine, thick leather, but also the other heavyweight materials like canvas or duck cloth. First of all, we are to prepare the tool for work. Therefore, let’s:

  • remove the bolt from the spool;
  • remove the thread, guiding it into the core opening;
  • reinsert the spool;
  • put the bolt back in, using the wrench;
  • insert the needle;
  • run the waxed cord into the blade eye.

I would recommend you to apply pliers for inserting the awl’s blade (the needle), as it’s sharp and some pressure would be necessary to insert it. The thread flows down through the core opening and the bezel, making the needlework process pretty easy.

Thus, to sew the thick, cowhide material with an awl, just put it through on the marked spot and drag the cord from the piercing. Bulldoze the blade through the next hole and take the cord end through the improvised loop. Pull the awl’s blade back and form a lockstitch. Proceed with the following spots and joints. Make several stitches backward to complete a secure ending. Cut the suture off.

Benefits of Using a Sewing Awl

A sewing awl kit is versatile, essential for leather craft and repair professionals, as well as for homeowners. It works on all kinds of heavy-weight materials like canvas, duck cloth or cowhide items. The tool is handy and intuitive-to-use, letting you make a lockstitch, similarly to the saddle sewing method. It helps the leathercraft artisans and homeowners to make strong, double-sided joints easily and fast. But for punching the leather with rotary whole punchers, chisels and overstitch wheels and then seaming up the material by the large, ordinary needles, you make the punctures and the seams simultaneously, so, it takes only a couple of minutes. Only the preliminary measuring and marking is essential. Thus, this tool is handy, essential for any household and quite affordable.

Hello, my name is Steve and I’m an author of the blog “Leather Toolkits“. The beauty is in simplicity, so learn, train, and make your life maximally simple by creating things that will please people for many years. Let your hobby grow into something more and make this world brighter! Hope, in this blog you will find answers to all of your questions.

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  1. It’s a great tool – one of our faves. But I want to know some of my requirement. How did you get the pre-placed holes in the leather? Did you punch them using this same tool? Are there templates for placing the holes just the right space apart?

    1. Hello, Judith! I usually use hole punch tool, diamond chisel or sewing awl.

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