Square Sewing Awls

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jake
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Square Sewing Awls

#1 Post by jake » Mon Sep 06, 2004 1:00 pm

Square sewing awls are hard to come by now-a-days. Here's one that Dick Anderson made to my specifications. Sweeet!
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Ok Dee-Dubb, I'm getting ready for 10 spi!!

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Re: Square Sewing Awls

#2 Post by dw » Mon Jun 22, 2009 7:00 am

All,

This was crazy interesting...to me at least:

Ebay had an auction that just ended on Sunday. It was for 50, 2-1/8 in. square awls (they appeared to be hand-forged). They looked pretty good, were obviously old...with some minor rust spots. Wrapped in brown paper. Located in Athens, Greece.

I was bidding on them and thought I might bid as high as $50.00. I know they are worth (to one of us) more than that but the sellor had a fairly large disclaimer that once they left his hands in Athens, he would no longer be responsible for them. In other words, if by some "strange" chance, Image they got lost in the mail..."Oh well!" I usually back off under such circumstances...I was willing to lose $40.00 but not much more. So with about 30 minutes left I bowed out.

Turns out they sold for $173.00! Image

But!! consider this...that's still only a little over $3.50 per awl. The buyer could sell them individually at twice the price and they'd still be a bargain. Image

[sigh] I just hope they didn't go to some "collector."

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Re: Square Sewing Awls

#3 Post by jon_g » Mon Jun 22, 2009 1:25 pm

DW,

I was also watching that auction, a little hesitant to buy 50 awls before seeing a couple but very interested.

I'd planned to bid on the knife and stone the same seller had listed but plain forgot about it at the last minute. I'm looking for a nice old honing stone to replace the ceramic knob and tube insulator I'm currently using, hard to find though.

I wonder how many times we're bidding against each other on these items, probably good that ebay has gone to this anonymous system.

Jon

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Re: Square Sewing Awls

#4 Post by big_larry » Mon Jun 22, 2009 7:58 pm

Me Too!

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Re: Square Sewing Awls

#5 Post by courtney » Wed Jun 24, 2009 2:20 pm

United Global Supply has listed in thier catalog square awls, sewing awls, pegging awls too. I spoke to the general manager Charlie Williams who told me they stopped production of the square awls, but seemed to think it may be possible to make them if there is enough intrest. I told him about the lack of any awls, and about this website which he had not heard of. He seemed interested to help get what people want. That would be cool.

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Re: Square Sewing Awls

#6 Post by courtney » Sat Jun 27, 2009 8:57 pm

I'm kind of surprised there has'nt been more commentary about the United Global Supply possibility. Maybe theres somthing I dont know.
Has anyone ever used John James shoe Awls?
I saw a source for King awls, are these still manufactured? are they good? What about using a diamond point curved awl for hand sewing soles?

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Re: Square Sewing Awls

#7 Post by dw » Sun Jun 28, 2009 6:08 am

In his recent post, Charles Williams of United Global Supply (who I have dealt with and recommended here) identified his company as representing United Shoe Machinery. He also indicated that they were considering getting back into manufacturing hand needles and awls.

I'm very interested in what they come up with.

But there are some awls of contemporary manufacture still on the market that, while adequate, leave a lot to be desired. It will depend upon the shape, number one, and the quality and temper of the steel number two...or maybe vice versa.

It's not easy...one can, on occasion find vintage, hand forged awls which once used inevitably spoil a person for anything short of that. So far I've not seen any representation of what UNS will have to offer. I suspect that stamped out awls may disappoint. The so called sewing awls that Osborne offers are a good example of what is not needed.

I have not seen John James Shoe awls that I know of (where can one find a catalog page or purchase them?) but I have used Kings extensively. Kings are good steel and usually shaped correctly but the major source of them as new manufacture has been Barnsley for most of the 36+ years I've been in this business. I don't think they are still being made.

I am not sure what you are referring to when you ask about the diamond point curved awls. If you are referring to the sickle shaped German Sewing awls, I think they are good. Obviously German shoemakers think so too. But I doubt that they are using them for sewing soles. I think they are "sewing awls" which means inseaming. I could be wrong about that but that's my sense of it. I have a small collection and use them on occasion for inseaming. But would feel crippled if they were all I had. Raiche is the name of the manufacturer. Unfortunately, I don't know of a steady source for them, either.

BTW...United Global Supply is one source for bulldog pincers.

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Re: Square Sewing Awls

#8 Post by athan_chilton » Sun Jun 28, 2009 6:21 am

I don't know a thing about awls as yet, but regarding John James, if they are the British company I'm thinking of, they have long made the very best beading needles, which I have used for years.

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Re: Square Sewing Awls

#9 Post by dw » Sun Jun 28, 2009 8:26 am

I looked up John James in Redditch England and as far as I can tell they don't make awls. So either it's a specialty product that they don't list on their website or it's a different company.

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Re: Square Sewing Awls

#10 Post by athan_chilton » Sun Jun 28, 2009 9:22 am

Query to all: If one wanted to make various awls from scratch, what would be the process? When you say 'hand forged' do you mean literally blacksmith work, or modern machining?

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Re: Square Sewing Awls

#11 Post by romango » Wed Jan 13, 2010 11:24 pm

I recently purchased several square awls from Edwin Hale at http://haleandco.com/ I got several sizes but it seems the best size for mens boots and shoes is 2 7/8. They are very nice awls!

They're not cheap but they may also be totally unavailable soon.

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Re: Square Sewing Awls

#12 Post by amuckart » Thu Dec 29, 2011 3:18 pm

I've recently acquired a half dozen or so square awls in a variety of sizes, via an ebay auction.

I've never used one before, or been shown how, but none of the hafts I have seem to suit the grip the downward motion of the awl needs (as opposed to the more upward motion I use with inseaming awls).

Does anyone have photos of their square awls mounted up so I can see the hafts folk are using?

Thanks.

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Re: Square Sewing Awls

#13 Post by farmerfalconer » Tue Jan 08, 2013 4:10 pm

Im a little confused over all the terminology here. What is a "square awl"? Would a cross section of it be sqaure or diamond? Also are they straight or curved. Does any one have pics of what they would consider the perfect awl? I figure I could copy them and try them out. I could make the blades out of old needle files or something of the sort.

Thanks,
Cody

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Re: Square Sewing Awls

#14 Post by farmerfalconer » Tue Jan 08, 2013 4:11 pm

How can I contact Dick Anderson?
Cody

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Re: Square Sewing Awls

#15 Post by lancepryor » Tue Jan 08, 2013 6:40 pm

Cody:

A square awl is actually rectangular in cross section (at the tip). The width of the tip is quite small/narrow. This awl is used for sewing on the outsole (to the welt). The narrow width of the awl allows you to get a larger number of stitches (typically 10 to 12 per inch). A normal awl (e.g. used for inseaming) has an oval cross section, with the width much larger than the height. With the latter, you can't crowd in nearly as many stitches, because you would end up cutting a continuous hole in the leather.

In rough terms, a square awl makes a hole like this: |

whereas an oval awl (e.g. inseaming) makes a hole like this: -


There is no perfect awl; different awls have different applications, and different sizes are appropriate for different thread thicknesses.

In general, both square awls and inseaming awls are curved when looked at from the side.

If you are getting into shoemaking and learning about tools, the best reference is Salaman: Dictionary of Leather-Working Tools, C. 1700-1950: And the Tools of Allied Trades

Dick Anderson, Thornapple River Boots (http://www.thornappleriverboots.com/ ) 715-532-6301

Lance

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Re: Square Sewing Awls

#16 Post by farmerfalconer » Wed Jan 09, 2013 1:02 pm

Thanks,
cody

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Re: Square Sewing Awls

#17 Post by dearbone » Fri Jan 18, 2013 12:08 pm

I have a proposition to make, I have enough inseaming awls but not enough square sewing awls,I like to swap 10 or more inseaming awls for 10 or more square awls of the same sizes,The sizes are written in metric and imperial.
BTW, I am not selling but only swapping.
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Re: Square Sewing Awls

#18 Post by fclasse » Mon Aug 12, 2013 12:09 pm

Hi all - I just lucked out on eBay and discovered a cache of 40 vintage 2 3/8" square awls. No idea if these work yet (they have not yet arrived), but I do look forward to trying them out. I am hoping that these will do wonderfully well for fine stitching on a heel (for example, 18th century work). Lots of reading and practice to do before I get there, though!


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Re: Square Sewing Awls

#19 Post by Arttu » Wed Nov 30, 2016 11:47 am

I recently bought 10 square awls (8 90mm long, 2 67mm long) and when searching for information about the manufacturer (Wivos, from Germany) I found a french ebay seller who was selling awls by the same manufacturer. I bought another 12 70mm awls from them.

I don't know what the forum rules say about linking ebay auctions, but if anyone is interested in buying some, I can pm a link to the seller. They have several sizes listed. Or you can search ebay with the brand name.

Does anyone have any information about "Wivos" awls?

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Re: Square Sewing Awls

#20 Post by Arttu » Wed Nov 30, 2016 3:45 pm

Arttu » Wed Nov 30, 2016 11:47 am wrote:I recently bought 10 square awls (8 90mm long, 2 67mm long) and when searching for information about the manufacturer (Wivos, from Germany) I found a french ebay seller who was selling awls by the same manufacturer. I bought another dozen 70mm awls from them.

I don't know what the forum rules say about linking ebay auctions, but if anyone is interested in buying some, I can pm a link to the seller. They have several sizes listed. Or you can search ebay with the brand name.

Does anyone have any information about "Wivos" awls?
Edit- continuing the search for information about Wivos, I stumbled onto a German ebay seller selling the same awls for a much lower price, and in packs of 36. I won't go into spesific numbers, but let's say the price of a single awl was much less than a good bottle of beer. It was too cheap to pass, so now I have almost 60 square awl blades in varying sizes either here or in the mail. :uhoh:

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Re: Square Sewing Awls

#21 Post by admin » Wed Nov 30, 2016 6:00 pm

As long as no personal gain, self-promotion or profit is involved it is quite alright to post the name or internet address of the German company or the EBay link or even the price you paid.

If there is any question or doubt email admin for approval.

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Re: Square Sewing Awls

#22 Post by Arttu » Wed Nov 30, 2016 11:28 pm

Ok, good to know. Here is the link to one of the ebay auctions:

Ebay auction for 60mm square awls

The seller has several different sizes.

The price for these is about 1 euro/dollar per awl shipped, so if the quality of the awls is good, I'd say it's a bargain.

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Re: Square Sewing Awls

#23 Post by martin » Thu Dec 01, 2016 12:43 am

[quote="[url=viewtopic.php?p=41566#p41566]Does anyone have any information about "Wivos" awls?[/quote]

Not much but that the company is still around. Seems to be producing different stuff now, though. See http://www.wivos.de/chronik.html for a bit of their history. The name comes from the founder, Wilhelm Voswinkel. See http://www.wivos.de/galerien/produkte_03.html and http://www.wivos.de/galerien/produkte_04.html for historic product pics.

I understand that these awls (Querahle or Querort) in German are used for sewing on the outsole. I suppose held so that the flat part of the tip is so to say at a right angle to the line of sewing, correct?
When did this type of awl/technique come into being?

Cheers,
Martin

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Re: Square Sewing Awls

#24 Post by das » Thu Dec 01, 2016 3:05 am

Martin,

In English these are usually called "Stitiching" (versus "sewing") awls, or "square" awl (See: Rees and Devlin). Their first use seems to have been on rands rather than welts in the 1600s, if not possibly late 1500s. Welts stitched with the square awls: IIIIIIIIIIIIIIII slits, start in the 1700s on very fine men's work, and of course continue in use to this day. Extremely tiny stitching awls were used on women's white forepart rands through c.1660s-1760s, some stitched at 20-30 per inch.

Not whimsy either. Using the square stitching awl allowed much closer stitches without the risk of tearing through when pulling the threads tight at each stitch, and also allowed a heavier thread to be used. 17thc and 18thc (occasionally 19th-20thc) stitching is often wider in thread than the distance to the next hole--it put a lot more thread and wax into the seam than a round-section ("sewing") awl piercing a series of oooooooooo holes.

NB--Caveat: when using square stitching awls, polish them to a mirror finish (600 grit at least), sharpen the point perfectly, and never wiggle or twist them pushing through the work or they'll snap off.

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Re: Square Sewing Awls

#25 Post by martin » Fri Dec 02, 2016 10:55 am

Thank you for the detailed explanation, Al, that helps :-)
Something I need to try out with the next shoe.

Cheers,
Martin

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