Awl This Could Have Been Yours...

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Project by Lazyman posted 10-06-2016 02:21 PM 1247 views 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

...If you had participated in the Summer 2016 Tool Swap.

These were the marking tools that I made for the 2016 Marking and Layout tool swap. Both the awl and the Japanese marking knife and handle were inspired by articles from the now defunct Shopnotes magazine. Instead of buying a Japanese marking knife, I decided to make one out of W1 tool steel and was shaped so that it can be used with or without the handle for those times when the handle might get in the way and to make it easier to resharpen it later.
The wood for both is ambrosia hickory harvested from a neighbor’s dead tree. This wood works and finishes like a dream and even though it has some spalting is not punky at all. I finished the wood with Tried and True varnish oil which yields a silky smooth texture on this wood. The ferrule on the awl was made from a copper pipe. During the process of shaping it square, it was heated and anneal several times to prevent splitting and it developed this really cool red patina that I decided to keep rather than polish like most people do with copper ferules. The ferrule on the knife handle was a brass pipe fitting. The knife handle tapers towards the blade end.

The lightning bolt affect on the awl was done by heating the steel to red hot and giving it a 3/4 twist and then grinding the twisted corners flat. The marking knife was ground to rough shape, hardened, tempered and honed. The inside of the knife handle has a V shape so that you can put the blade in backwards to protect the tip when not in use. The blade has a friction fit in the handle but I added a lock screw in case it loosens with age.

As a swap bonus and sort of a joke, I made the 2 tiny squares using a very thin strip of the hickory and some walnut. They turned out so nice I decided to whip out another full size one to make a matched set. The walnut was given to me by my wife’s uncle who said that it was given to him by a friend who somehow got it from the Library of Congress. We don’t really know what that means but it is a good story anyway.

The swap was a blast and being my first foray into some metal working I learned a lot. I’ll definitely do another one. If you want to see all of the tools that were made for the swap, you can see them here.

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

7 comments so far

View Andre's profile


2801 posts in 2317 days

#1 posted 10-06-2016 03:46 PM

Mighty fine set of tools!

-- Lifting one end of the plank.

View Ron Aylor's profile

Ron Aylor

2649 posts in 1159 days

#2 posted 10-06-2016 05:59 PM

Great job!

Might I send you my address so that we can pretend I participated?

View Woodknack's profile


12913 posts in 2891 days

#3 posted 10-06-2016 06:20 PM

I was the proud recipient! When he says the finish is silky smooth, it is literally silky smooth, I love it. The quality of these tools is exceptional. The knife design is clever, the handle is also the case; the blade comes out and can be inserted in either direction or used without the handle. The awl is perfect, I’ve wanted a bird cage awl for a long time so it worked out great that I got one. One of the first things I did, because I’m a jerk, is put the squares to the test against my Blue Point combo square and all 3 wood squares are dead nuts perfect. I’ve made squares, that’s tough to do and then to stay that way after being shipped cross country. I’ve already used all these tools in making a project and am very happy with them. Thanks Nathan.

-- Rick M,

View clieb91's profile


3664 posts in 4446 days

#4 posted 10-06-2016 08:21 PM

Really cool job. I have that article and looked at it but was not confident enough to give it a try. Looks like yours came out very well.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View bobasaurus's profile


3604 posts in 3695 days

#5 posted 10-06-2016 09:38 PM

That’s a great collection of tools. Love the twisted rod.

-- Allen, Colorado (Instagram @bobasaurus_woodworking)

View jeffswildwood's profile


4058 posts in 2488 days

#6 posted 10-06-2016 11:33 PM

Really nice. Quite a creative design.

-- We all make mistakes, the trick is to fix it in a way that says "I meant to do that".

View Lazyman's profile


3977 posts in 1899 days

#7 posted 10-07-2016 12:32 AM

Thanks everyone for the comments.

Thanks Rick. I hope you enjoy using them as much as I enjoyed making them. I really do want you to let me know if you have any problems since these are my metal working projects and hand tools. And no, you aren’t a jerk. What good is a square that isn’t square. I would have checked too. I wish I could take more credit for the finish on the wood. This is some of the coolest wood that I have ever used. Fresh off the table saw it has an almost polished sheen to it. The worm caller project that I posted recently is made from the same stuff and it even turns great too. Only problem is that I am sort of hording it because I have a limited supply. I wouldn’t accept $50/BF if someone offered it to me.

CtL, One reason I chose both the knife and awl was that neither of them require any expensive tools and both were fairly simple to make if you just take your time. Based upon the stuff I’ve seen you make, including the swap tools you just made, these would be a breeze for you. The Shopnotes articles have great instructions. They also have plans for an awl made with a twisted hexagonal shaft. That might be the one I make for myself once I get my hands on some hexagonal steel!

-- Nathan, TX -- Hire the lazy man. He may not do as much work but that's because he will find a better way.

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