Might want to spend a few extra bucks

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Review by Tedstor posted 03-22-2011 07:30 AM 2996 views 0 times favorited 6 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Might want to spend a few extra bucks No-picture-s No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

So it seems in the world of scratch awls, the price range seems to be $4.50-24.50. Sure, there are plenty of examples of awls that are priced higher and lower, but 95% seem to fall in this range. The General 818 is in the cheap camp at $4.50. When I decided to buy this tool, my school of thought was “its a glorified nail fastened to the end of a stick, how could a manufacturer possibly screw it up?” In other words, I figured the $4.50 tool was probably almost as good as the more expensive makes/models (in this case).
I’m typically satisfied with inexpensive tools with few moving parts. My $5 claw hammer has never let me down. However this awl, for lack of a more sophisticated term, sucks. Lowes had 4 of these on the rack. One of them had a shank that was visibly bent, and another had a cracked handle. Shipping damage? Still, a smart shopper would have simply walked away, but I decided to “stay the course” and bought one of the two that were not visably defective.
The tool was packaged with a red rubber tip guard. I’m not sure why. The tip was so dull, it wouldn’t have peirced an egg yolk. It looked as if the manufacturer stabbed an anvil with it before packaging. The tip was “mushroomed”. I understand that new tools often need some adjustments, but this was way beyond that. The shank has a wavy feel to it. Forging seems to be of very poor quality. The handle is ok, but the fit is far from first class.
I did manage to put a decent tip on it after a minute or two on the grinder. It now performs OK. I still wish I spent a few extra pesos for a better tool.
Don’t get me wrong here. I realize I bought a low end tool, and I got a low end tool. I guess I’m just trying to convey that this is a case where paying an extra $10, would likely yield a 10X better product. No bargain here.
I gave it 3 stars because it can be made into a serviceable tool. We’ll see how it holds up.

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1690 posts in 3400 days

6 comments so far

View racerglen's profile


3112 posts in 3548 days

#1 posted 03-22-2011 12:54 PM

Times have changed and so have manufacturing standards. I have, and use, exactly that awl..but my dad bought it in the early 1970’s
It’s tip is still sharp despite three sons, the handle retains most of it’s orriginal finish and there are no cracks, warps or bends. Sigh..Wonder where yours was made.

-- Glen, B.C. Canada

View Cliff De Witt 's profile

Cliff De Witt

130 posts in 3460 days

#2 posted 03-22-2011 06:32 PM

Yeah but every year the stock holders get their dividends.

-- Trying to find an answer to my son’s question: “…and forming organic cellulose by spinning it on its axis is interesting, why?”

View Woodwrecker's profile


4239 posts in 4343 days

#3 posted 03-22-2011 07:18 PM

A 2$ ice pic would beat that thing.
Thanks for the review.

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


19222 posts in 4443 days

#4 posted 03-28-2011 08:55 AM

NO, stockholders don’t get much in dividends. Upper management takes most of everything out of most companies. Too bad the standards have fallen so low that there is junk on the shelves;-(

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View slimt's profile


111 posts in 3705 days

#5 posted 04-03-2011 10:41 PM

You must have got a lemon I’ve bought the same one from Lowes in the last year and have used it a good deal with no problems . My wife and I went to an antique store today every tool I saw there was made in the USA most were still in good shape you could see and feel the quality .

View Tedstor's profile


1690 posts in 3400 days

#6 posted 04-04-2011 12:31 AM

Maybe, but the lemon I got, was the best of the two other lemons on the shelf. Maybe inspector #12 was on vacation the week that batch was made. Glad your awl is treating you well. Mine is too, but only after some time with a grinder and a file.

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