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5 Best Awls For Leather Work: Ultimate Guide With Pros & Cons

Best awls for leather work

The Leather awl is a super handy tool that you’re going to consistently have close to you throughout your leather workdays. Leather awls have a variety of uses and it’s going to be an absolute cornerstone for your leather work projects. But what are the best awls for leather work? 

In this article, I researched the 6 best awls for leather work and I’m excited to share all I have found with you so you can make the best choice as fast as possible.

So, what are the best awls for leather work? The best awls for leather work are:

1. C.S. Osborne #144-43 Stitching Awl (Best Beginner Leather Awl)

2. Cosmos Pack Scratch Awl (Best Budget Leather Awl Set)

3. OWDEN Professional Leather Awl Tool (Best Interchangeable Leather Awl)

4. Leather Speed Stitcher Sewing Awl (Best Leather Sewing Awl)

5. General Tools 818 Hardwood Handle Scratch Awl (Best Leather Scratch Awl)

From the list of leather awls I have highlighted above, you will notice that while there are awls that are essentially useful for all kinds of purposes, there are other awls that are designed and are best for specific things. In order to learn more about the pros, cons, and what each is specifically good for, read on!

What is a Leather Awl?

A leather awl is a simple hand-held leatherwork tool that can be used for marking out leather, transferring patterns on leather, or piercing holes on leather meant for running thread stitches through. 

It’s a simple tool that often comes in two basic parts. A handle (often wooden) and a pointy blade. It’s usually the shape of the tip that differentiates one awl from another in terms of its look and use. 

While some awls will have special tips that would make them best for punching through leather, other awls will come with specially-shaped tips that will help you do a better job of pushing threads through your leather when hand stitching. This brings me to the types of leather awls that are generally available.

Best Awls For Leather Work Buying Guide

There are a couple of factors to consider when picking out the best awls for your leatherwork. These important factors include: 

Types of Leather Awl

Leather Awl TypeBest For & Type of Hole It Creates
Scratch AwlPiercing thick and thin leather
The Diamond AwlCreates an x-shaped hole without leaving large openings
Curved AwlsFor creating holes for stitching on rounded or curved leather 
Saddlers Harness AwlMake holes on thicker leather
Leather Stitching/Speed Stitcher/Sewing AwlPierces and allows threading through
Lacing AwlFor pulling leather thong or lace through holes
Collar AwlCreates larger slit holes

So as you can rightfully see, there are a variety of leather awls available and this article is going to help you sift through the lot and find the one that’s perfect for you.

Handle 

Leather awls come with different handle materials but what you would really want to get a is the ones with wooden handles. Now, some leather awls will simply be basic and downright functional.

On the other hand, some leather awls will come with exotic wood handles and unique ergonomic designs & shapes, grips. 

Another factor to consider when it comes to leather awl handles is abrasion protection. You would want your leather awl to have on the very top of its handle either a leather or metal abrasion protection to help keep the wooden part of the handle intact and not damaging in case you would want to sometimes strike your leather awl with a mallet or maul. 

All in all, some of these extra touches can markup the price of a leather awl remarkably and so deciding beforehand if you want a simple basic but functional leather awl or a premium grade leather awl is really important.

Blade: Fixed Blade vs Interchangeable Awl Blades

While some awls will come with cool interchangeable blade styles, other leather awls will come with a securely fixed blade.

As the name implies, the awls with the interchangeable blades will have a haft from which blades can be swapped out for different purposes. The fixed blade awls, on the other hand, will be permanently attached to its handle.

The interchangeable awl blades will be great if you’re just starting out and want to cut down the cost so you can have as many useful tools as possible. So getting a leather awl with a removable blade is going to be less costly.

This is because it is generally less expensive to buy awl blades alone than buying a complete awl that’s fixed permanently to a handle.

Also, in instances where you would want to save space, you wouldn’t want to buy a whole bunch of leather awls. Instead, you can get the interchangeable one and this is going to save you some space in your tools box and on your leather workspace.

The fixed blade leather awls will be great for professionals who would want to upgrade from using an interchangeable leather awl to awls with specific blade lengths, thickness, tips, handle material, grip, or size.

Or beginners who would like to invest in tools so they are professionally set up for their leatherworking journey. 

Also, another great thing about the fixed leather awl is they make your hand stitches and marking activities pretty fast as you wouldn’t waste any time trying to locate a particular awl blade to mount or fix into your haft.  

How it Fits In Your Hand

You will definitely want to be very comfortable when you work with your leather awls. Due to how handy this pretty little tool is, you will be using it a lot of times and for long hours every day. So you would want to be sure the leather awl you pick out is the right fit for your hand. 

The size of the handle should feel comfortable in your hand and you should be able to wrap your fingers around it as easily as possible without overstretching them or constantly readjusting them.

In this article, you will find awls that will be suitable for you if you have really big and mighty hands and awls for those of you who have cute little hands or generally, prefer to work with smaller tools.

Best Awls For Leather Work – Reviews

Now that you have seen a couple of things to expect when you want to pick out the best awl for your leather work. Let’s Go!!!

1. C.S. Osborne #144-43 Stitching Awl (Overall Best Leather Awl)

The C.S. Osborne Stitching Awl is from the well-known C.S. Osborne brand from the United States. This awl comes very sharp and has a diamond-shaped blade great for poking through stitching holes beforehand stitching leather. 

The blade of this tool is permanently and securely fixed into the body of the wooden handle with a strong supporting ferrule.

The C.S. Osborne Stitching Awl can punch through up to 9-ounce vegetable tanned leather with ease and makes holes sizes approximately 3/32inches by 1/16inches big which is often ideal for saddles, holsters, sheaths, etc. This awl also doubles as a scratch awl and can be used for all of your pattern and template design transfers.

The C.S. Osborne Stitching Awl has a handle around 4inches long with a 1-1/4 inches blade. It comes with a hardwood handle with a slender ergonomic design which is very comfortable to hold and use for long extensive periods.

It has a wide groove and two thin grooves on its handle that help you get a solid comfortable grip on the handle. 

Pros:

  • Versatile and can be used as a scratch awl
  • Comfortable to use
  • Slides through holes smoothly without a lot of drag
  • The Haft is suitable for all hand sizes
  • Require a little effort to push through holes

Cons:

  • The blade tends to bend when used on very thick leather 
  • May require a bit of polishing or sharpening to bring it to an extra-sharpness

If you’re interested in the C.S. Osborne Stitching Awl, you can check it out over here on Amazon!

2. Cosmos Pack Scratch Awl (Best Budget Leather Awl Set)

The Cosmos Pack Scratch Awl is my best budget pick for this review. This awl comes with a gourd shaded wood handle highly polished for a super soft comfortable feel. The blade of the Cosmos scratch awl is fixed and held in place with a metal ferrule. 

The handle is just about big enough to have a fairly comfortable grip on. They are very easy to control and maneuver.  

The Cosmos Pack Scratch Awl is small with an overall length of about 4-1/4inches and it’s great for making pinholes on leather for threading, sewing, and removing stitches. It’s also perfect for tracing patterns on leather and making quick precise markings on your leather.

Pros:

  • Comes in a set of 2 for a really good price
  • Super light-wight
  • Great tool for small leatherwork projects
  • Very sharp and strong blades
  • Helps to create holes for fine threads
  • Retains its sharpness for a pretty long time
  • Great for people with cute small hands
  • Extremely sharp and will pierce leather like butter
  • Easy to use and control
  • Very strong
  • Allows you to make holes very close to the edge of the item you’re making

Cons:

  • Handles are not hardwood
  • May be small for people with big mighty hands
  • Handle is small

If you’re interested in the Cosmos Pack Scratch Awl, you can check it out over here on Amazon!

3. OWDEN Professional Leather Awl Tool (Best Interchangeable Leather Awl)

The OWDEN Professional Leather Awl Tool is my choice for the best interchangeable leather awl for both professional and beginner leather workers. It comes with a 4-in-1 interchangeable awl blade. 

This professional leather awl includes 2 regular sized awl blades, 1 unit of lacing fid blade, and another unit of scratch awl blade – all made of alloy steel for durability. 

With this tool, you will be able to create a wide variety of holes and hole sizes for your leather stitching. You will also be able to make corrections to already made holes that you find probably too small or out of line. 

This is one of the most versatile leather awl tools and you will be amazed by the variety of work you would be able to accomplish with this tool.

The handle of the OWDEN Professional Leather Awl is made from a highly durable ebony material and as mentioned earlier, its blades are made from alloy steel.

The blades are securely held to the hand by a brass ferrule that is not only functional but also adds to the overall beauty of the awl design.

Pros: 

  • Comes with a safe storage case that can be securely locked
  • It’s a highly versatile tool
  • Can be used to create a variety of holes and markings
  • Blades are very easy to sharpen
  • Has a very sturdy haft
  • Very durable ferrule attachment
  • Very smooth and comfortable handle
  • Absorbs pressure applied to it nicely
  • Great design
  • Results in holes with a uniform appearance

Cons: 

  • Requires a bit of effort to tighten and keep the blade fastened in its rightful position. You may have to use pliers to secure blades to its haft

If you’re interested in the OWDEN Professional Leather Awl Tool from the OWDEN brand, you can check out this tool over here on Amazon!

4. Leather Speed Stitcher Sewing Awl (Best Leather Sewing Awl)

The Leather Speedy Stitcher Sewing Awl is one of the fastest awls for hand stitching leather, tents, canvas, camping gear, tarps, and a bunch of other heavy-duty items.

The best thing about this awl is that it’s a utility tool that is very useful to have around the house, workshop, or farm – essentially, any sewing activity that involves leather, vinyl, or canvas.

The product comes with 1 speed stitcher sewing tool, 4 needles (comprising 2 straight and 2 curved needles with sizes #8 and #), a 14 yards waxed coarse thread, and a 180 and tube of additional waxed coarse thread. The needles are very replaceable. 

While a leather speed stitcher sewing awl can be a very intimidating tool, this one, in particular, is very easy even for a beginner once you get the hang of it. You will be able to make nice beautiful stitches as a sewing machine would do. 

Pros:

  • Very durable
  • Sturdy haft
  • Comfortable to use
  • Very fast sewing awl
  • Good quality tool from a great brand
  • Comes with extra needles and waxed threads
  • Awl for sewing 
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Comes with an Instructional manual
  • Needles can be used to sew tight hard to reach corners
  • Extremely handy

Cons:

  • It has a bit of a learning curve to its use

If you’re interested in this leather awl, you can check it out over here on Amazon for any additional information you may require.

5. General Tools Scratch Awl (Best Leather Scratch Awl)

The General Tools Scratch Awl is my pick for the best leather scratch awl you can get right now. It comes with a fixed 3-3/4inch alloy steel blade

The blade is securely attached to the handle of the awl with the help of a plated steel ferrule and a solid cap. The blade is actually fitted all the way through the hardwood handle so it’s very sturdy.

The handle is made of hardwood and it’s designed for comfort and has a nice smooth feel that won’t abrade your hands. The overall design is simple but reflective of a modern awl design.

This awl has a very solid build and can withstand a lot of heavy pressure and heavy-duty works. 

This awl is great for perforating leather, punching leather, aligning and realigning holes on leather, and can also be used to scribble smoothly without any drag to it.

Pros:

  • Very easy to use
  • Highly sturdy in hand
  • Good bang for the buck
  • Awesome classic feel
  • It’s a great utility tool that will be very useful with every project
  • Well built and nice clean finish
  • Displaces pressure and impacts applied to it nicely
  • Great for marking inconspicuous marks
  • Easy to carry
  • It can be tapped with a hammer or mallet
  • The bulbous hand makes it easy to grip and offers superior control

Cons:

  • Slightly hefty
  • Requires a bit of sharpening
  • Not thin

If you’re interested in the General Tools Scratch Awl, you can check it out over here on Amazon!

How To Use a Leather Awl

How To Use a Leather Stitching Awl

Macwilliam K. Appianing

Hi! I’m Macwilliam, the owner and founder of Favored Leather. I’m a huge Leatherwork enthusiast and I’ve been that for almost 13 years now. I'm excited to share my experiences and all the new stuff I learn each day!

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