I am a nosy teacher. During classes, I always like to poke through my students’ tool collections (with their blessing, of course) to see how they have modified their tools.
This weekend, I stumbled on a honey of a bird-cage awl.
One of the students in a class at Kelly Mehler’s School of Woodworking was an accomplished turner who was new to the world of “flat work.” He had some nice tool handles.
By far the best was the handle he turned for a bird-cage awl kit he’d bought from Czeck Edge. (The kit is $20 and is available here.) He’d turned the handle from she-oak, an Australian timber, and used what he termed “an English profile.”
The awl was perfect. The little peak near the ferrule allowed you to use your fingers to push the tool into the work instead of your palm.
If you are considering making one of these tools for yourself, I highly recommend the above handle pattern.
— Christopher Schwarz