Awls are handy tools, good for marking points and scribing lines. Great for layout and sometimes to start a screw.
I have made quite a few as they are simple enough and rewarding. They make a good gift to the right person.
A very useful tool that has been mostly forgotten and under used is the bird cage awl. Basically a pyramid shape with four sides. Better than a gimlet for starting a screw, and still good for marking and scribing. Once you have used one, you wont be without one. It drills really well and for drilling a small hole, nothing beats it.
These are a few awl and mini chisels bits that I put into handles to become tools. The two on the far left are bird cage awls.
Here is a bird cage awl variation that I invented as a quick and dirty tool when my expensive bought tool broke.
This crude screw starter is faster, more precise, less binding and way tougher than any of the purchased versions.
This is my latest bird cage awl. For more data on it you can visit my blog.
Thank you for that post , I was already convinced of the usefulness of the awls, I also have several in my drawers, but your first one is awsome.
For the diamond shape, I also agree that it is far better for starting screws, I personally often use a simple big old nail with also a pyramidal tip to punch a hole for a screw.
I have a question, why is it called bird's cage ? I don't see the connection (I must be missing something).
By the way I also discover your Website, congratulations , this is exactly what I like, plenty of ideas, lovely pictures, and all hand made, and wooden made, all what I like !
Thanks, I keep the bookmark, it will take some time to discover all of it
Please continue sharing here your work !
I would say that, yes, I think the threads have meat to bite in while there is a still guidance for the core of the screw.
In a conical hole, the threads would be equally touching the hole all around and there would be more friction, more difficult to turn the crew...
Personal interpretation ...
The pyramid shape offers 4 90 degree scrapers that work in either direction. These scrapers are relatively aggressive while tending to leave a fairly smooth surface. In olden days cricket cages and small bird cages were made by quickly drilling small holes in a few flat sections of wood for the lid and top.
They would make bars by taking split or rived wood and either scrape it to round or feed it through a sharp edged (90 degree) dowling plate to make quick, rough round bars. A chair devil made to scale was an ideal tool for shaping lath.
Being able to drill a quick hole was a must. Having a reliable tool that could do it over and over again was also a must. Do a google search on cricket cages and you will see what I am talking about.
My latest is 3 sided so it is even more aggressive than the classic version. The sharper angle would not have been as tough in the old days, but this one is made from carbide so it can take it.
Last edited by CedarSlayer; 10-13-2014 at 07:21 AM.
Just a quick heads-up on photo posting (since your attached images didn't show properly).
If you click the "Insert Image" button indicated in the screencap, you'll be able to upload your photos, either from a hosting service (such as Photobucket) or directly from your computer.
If you're referencing photos hosted on your own site, they naturally won't show when your site is inaccessible. For what it's worth, I haven't been able to access toolmakingart.com - is there perhaps an issue with the site?
I'm seeing those images back in action now after a page refresh . Looks like they were posted correctly, but yes, the source site seems a bit erratic right now.
Thanks Bob! I've added your Birdcage Awls to, variously, our Metalworking, Woodworking, and/or Measuring and Marking categories, as well as to your builder page: CedarSlayer's Homemade Tools. Your receipt:
Yes, my web provider has not been the most stable lately. I suspect they just moved me to a new server, so I hope that things get better.
While on the subject here are a few more nifty awls.
It does not drill as well as it looks like it could, but it does deburr a hole really well. I took an old HSS bit and put it in a power drill. This was run against a belt sander to make a nice tip.
This is a simpler one:
Made from mesquite, O1 steel, leather and aluminum bronze.
Last edited by CedarSlayer; 10-13-2014 at 05:55 PM.
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