Tool: General Tools Scratch Awl
Awl a board. Yeah, that’s right. The awl is a great tool. I have quite a few awls including several antiques, even an 1805 wrought iron Lewis & Clark replica awl with antler handle. To be honest, for a while I didn’t know what an awl was for. Yeah, I get it.. it’s for poking holes. So what?
A handle and a pointy tip.
I’ve repeatedly worked on one Contemporary home for over ten years. That house has countless mahogany plywood doors fastened by piano hinge. From kitchen cabinets and bathroom vanities to walls of full-sized closet doors the house is full of them. Piano hinges come with lots of small screws. The screws are fastened every 2″.
I own a vital tool for hardware installation and that is the self-centering drill bit like the Rockler 3-Pc. Self-Centering Bit Set. A necessary size for the piano hinge is the small No. 4 bit. Unfortunately, I lost the best one I had so I bought a replacement but it’s a piece of crap and doesn’t work properly.
What do I use all the time to mark centers? I use an awl. There are reasons why I now prefer the awl to the self-centering bit for certain applications. One reason is that on piano hinges the self-centering bit has a tendency to slip around or not stay in the hole due to the thin hinge material. The awl is as precise as my eye can spot the center, every time. The self-centering bit requires the surfaces to be mated to be perfectly aligned when drilling. I find it’s easier to hold a piece of hardware in place and just mark the center with an awl, then remove the hardware and predrill.
If I’m set up with the self-centering bit, I might mark the first hole with an awl, secure the hardware with one screw and then finish the rest with power tools.
On the smallest of projects, I use the awl to mark location and then use my Starrett Pin Vise to predrill.