Square Sewing Awls

Got any great sources for leather? Tools? Machinery? Looking for sources?
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dmcharg
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Re: Square Sewing Awls

#26 Post by dmcharg » Mon Dec 12, 2016 11:51 pm

Thanks Arttu,
I've got a packet of 55mm square awls on their way :)
Cheers
Duncan

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Re: Square Sewing Awls

#27 Post by dmcharg » Fri Jan 13, 2017 8:21 pm

G'day All,
A couple of days ago my packet of 36, 50mm square awls arrived. The seller reckon's they're from the 1950's-60's; no label on the packet, but they are in beautiful condition and already fairly sharp. I pushed one through a piece of veg. kangaroo holding the bare blade in my fingers. A bit of a polish up and these should be great. It's from the German ebay seller that Arttu posted, and there are a few different sizes on offer, but I went for the smallest awls he had :)
Here's a link : http://www.ebay.de/sch/carpcatcher1970/ ... 7675.l2562

The purchase price + postage to Australia was about $45 Aus. so $1.25 per awl! I'm happy.
Below are photos; first shows:
Top- a hafted old, large, commercial square awl I've had for years.
Middle- Hafted home-made small square awl
Bottom- the just arrived 50mm square awls. They have better form than mine.
IMG_6415.JPG
The packet-full.
IMG_6416.JPG
They're dinky little things. Looking forward to doing some fine sole stitching with them.
IMG_6417.JPG
Cheers
Duncan

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Re: Square Sewing Awls

#28 Post by PalmettoMan » Thu Aug 31, 2017 3:20 pm

Duncan or anyone else that might know,

What method would you use to sharpen these awls? I have two of these that were given to me by the gentleman I've been learning shoe repair from. He has never had a use for them, so they aren't in the best of shape. They came with the shop when he bought it. Both pierce thin leather fairly easily, but in their present condition aren't up to working on a sole.

Both are slightly larger than yours. I would guess 65-70mm un-hafted and are covered in a layer of what I call "old." They have no active rust and no pitting. But with their condition, I can not tell if they are sharpened just at the tip or is the entire blade one long bevel. In the pictures above this post I can see what looks like a bevel ground into the tip.

I thought I would ask before I polished them up and ruined them inadvertently.

Curt H.

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Re: Square Sewing Awls

#29 Post by dw » Thu Aug 31, 2017 3:47 pm

Curt,

I'm not Duncan but until the real one comes along...

I use square awls regularly. They are sharpened only at the tip. Some like the edge to be nearly perpendicular to the shaft just below it. Some like it to be sharpened with a little bit of an angle so that the pointed tip enters the leather first...easing the way for the rest of the awl, as who should say. Duncan's appears to have a leading tip. I cannot tell you which is more historically correct...I suppose it is what you're used to. But I have bought old-used and NOS sharpened both ways. Myself, I prefer a bit of a lead.

I also like to polish and thin the blades down a bit both width-wise and breadth-wise and I also use a little bigger awl than the one Duncan shows although I have some that size and they work.

I make sure my outsoles are wet, or at least damp, when I stitch.
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Re: Square Sewing Awls

#30 Post by das » Thu Aug 31, 2017 4:20 pm

Any/all awls can benefit from a polish w/ 600 grit wet-dry paper--the slicker the blade, the less effort poking it through. After you sharpen the "square" tip the way you like it on a fine stone, take a scrap of 5oz. veg leather, wet it, and form it into a piece around 1.5" wide by 4" long. Fold it in half, then fold the two sides out flat leaving a raised hump at the fold (in the middle) maybe 1/2 inch high. Let it dry. Cut your 600 grit to fit side to side, end to end. Spray some water on the paper and use the raised hump to polish the length of the blade, and the flats, both side, for polishing the sharpened tip. The hump will develop a handy divot or channel over time to hold the shank of the blade in place. Follow this with some strokes on a leather strop impregnated with jeweler's rouge, and of course dip the awl into beeswax in between each piercing. It should glide through afterwards like a hot knife through butter.

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Re: Square Sewing Awls

#31 Post by PalmettoMan » Mon Sep 04, 2017 9:45 pm

DW and das,

Thanks for the input. I finally got around to the awls today. I sharpened them on a ceramic stone and followed up with polishing up to 1200 grit paper. That certainly seemed to do the trick. They go through leather, and I would imagine my hand with ease.

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Re: Square Sewing Awls

#32 Post by das » Tue Sep 05, 2017 4:16 am

Sounds like you've got them well under control. The trick with "stitching" awls (square points) is to avoid twisting or wiggling them through, as we want to do instinctively. They need to just push through like a hot knife through butter, else the blades will snap-off.

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Re: Square Sewing Awls

#33 Post by dw » Tue Sep 05, 2017 5:22 am

Yes! That's so hard to do, such a hard habit to break. It's also why the shape and size of the haft is so important. A haft can facilitate that smooth straight push or make it almost impossible to avoid wiggling the awl.

If you're inseaming, wiggling the sewing awl makes the sharp point swing in a wide arc and that cuts and enlarges the hole in the inseam...preventing it from sealing as the stitch is tightened. AND it weakens the awl.

Same thing with pegging awls--the more you twist them trying to get them out of the leather , the sooner they'll break.
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Re: Square Sewing Awls

#34 Post by dmcharg » Sun Sep 10, 2017 3:05 pm

Sorry Curt, Only just came across your question, but Al and DW have it wrapped up well and you've got it under control :)
Have fun.
Cheers
Duncan

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Re: Square Sewing Awls

#35 Post by ygtyftree » Wed Sep 27, 2017 2:01 am

Duncan, thanks a lot for the Ebay info. I have ordered 12 in several sizes. Hope to get them sometimes next month.

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