We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Scratch Awl?

M. McGee
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
About Mechanics is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At About Mechanics, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A scratch awl is a tool used to make marks on solid objects. These awls are generally used to mark a line on a wood or metal surface to indicate the location for later work. A scratch awl is a very simple tool, basically a metal spike with a handle on one end. These tools are similar in appearance to a stitching awl or a bradawl, but have a subtly different construction.

The design of the common scratch awl hasn’t changed in a very long time. The work part is a metal spike that is sharpened to a fine point. This spike is typically made of hardened steel so it will keep a better point. When the point does begin to dull, it is possible to sharpen it with a metal file. On the end opposite the point, there is a handle, often made of wood. This handle is usually ball-shaped so the user can hold the tool in a wide range of orientations.

The general purpose of a scratch awl is to make noticeable marks on a hard surface, often metal, wood or stone. These marks often show where work is going to happen at a later time, such as making a screw hole or a cut. Since the area marked will likely be further deformed during the work process, the marks made by a scratch awl are often very rough.

On material without a grain, such as most metals, a scratch awl is a preferred method of marking areas. On materials with a grain, they are only used to make small marks or lines that go along the grain. When going against the grain, most workers use a marking knife. This chisel-like knife will easily cut surface fibers that would disrupt the awl’s path. On the other hand, when going with the grain, the knife will often get caught within grain valleys that the awl easily avoids.

While all types of awls are very similar, small variations exist to differentiate one type from another. For instance, a bradawl looks nearly exactly like a scratching awl except for a small variation in the tool’s point. A bradawl’s tip is flattened slightly to allow it to both bite into wood and then, by using a twisting motion, make a small divot to use as a screw hole. A stitching awl has a modified tip that allows it to puncture canvas or leather easily and push thread through the hole at the same time.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
M. McGee
By M. McGee , Former Writer
Mark McGee is a skilled writer and communicator who excels in crafting content that resonates with diverse audiences. With a background in communication-related fields, he brings strong organizational and interpersonal skills to his writing, ensuring that his work is both informative and engaging.

Discussion Comments

M. McGee

M. McGee

Former Writer

Mark McGee is a skilled writer and communicator who excels in crafting content that resonates with diverse audiences....
Learn more
About Mechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

About Mechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.