Market Lavington Museum

Awl you need

Sorry about the pun which is not ours originally. But we are looking at an awl today.

Awls are simple tools, designed to punch or pierce holes through materials. Our awl was used by a cobbler.


This awl is about 12 centimetres (5 inches) long. It has a comfortable wooden handle and a sturdy spike, ideal for boring a hole through leather when shoe making or repairing. This awl was just for hole making, some awls have an eye near the pointed end so that a thread can be pushed through the hole when sewing leather pieces together.

This awl was found, along with other tools in Easterton and is thought to date from the early years of the twentieth century.

Awls are of course, dangerous. Perhaps the most famous awl accident was the one when Louis Braille managed to stab his eye with an awl. This blinded one eye immediately and the infection created blinded his other eye. Ironically, Louis later used an awl (blunted) to create his raised dot alphabet which enables blind people to read by touch.