Covering for an Awl or
Spike... any round tool.
Last updated  2007-06-05
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Interesting how a small conversation can lead to a tutorial.  While advising Travis Homiak on starting a bellrope, the subject of
"prickers" or "spikes" came up with what the best one was for small fancywork being the main thrust of the conversation, but then I put
my foot in it and realized that a verbal instruction to "make a cover" for the awl needed a backup, so here we are:

I prefer a small "scratch"-type awl for my finer work (such as the earrings on the
jewelry pages) and for piercing thru small lines.   Marty
Combs sells a "French" or "Four-Way" spike on his site which is a true blessing when at sea or working on a boat, splicing docklines,
freeing-up or snugging down a recalcitrant shackle-pin and like that, but it's far too large for most fine fancywork.  The scratch-awl (see
above) is just the right size for most small fancywork, but you really need to either "cork" the tip or make a sheath for it if you're going to
transport it in a pocket or in a dittybag so you don't "spike" yourself, inadvertantly.   The awls are readily available at just about any good
hardware store, or even at Sear's.

To make the cover, take three lines about 60 inches long (1) and middle them up                    
then pierce thru line one at the middle point, lifting one of the three lays and passing
the end of the second line thru it as shown in (2)
and (3).

It helps if you get some cyanoacrylate (super-
glue) and coat the last inch of the line, allow it
to dry and then clip the end of the line at a 45°
angle.... this makes the end of the line it's own
spike and is useful in doing the finish work on
just about any piece of fancywork where tucking
thru of lines is required. (Click on  (3) )

Take the end of line two and pierce and pass thru
line three at the middle, then take the end of line
three and pierce and pass thru line one (4), thus
forming a triangle.  (5)  Note that you will have
ONE of the three laid lines on top and two on the
bottom of each pass-thru.  This will provide
strength to the tip of the sheath.

If you need another reason to do it this way, then
it's 'cos I feckin' said so, innit?

After you get this arranged right, snug the three
lines up to form a tight triangle (6) and then start
the "over-two" weave to actually make the
sheath itself.  The method for doing an "over-
two" weave is also gone into on
THIS page, but
I think that most can figure it out just by looking
at either (7a) (for those who don't get confused
by coloured tracer lines) or (7b)  (for those who,
like me, have enough trouble tying their shoes
and don't need no 'steenking' colours to confuse
them further).   

Working the first pass flat as shown in (7) is
probably easiest, although after some practice
you'll probably prefer to do it "in hand"... either
is just fine.

After you succeed in getting the first pass
tucked correctly, you'll want to tighten things
slowly until you get something that looks like
(8), making sure that the tightened weave is
symmetrical.  This will form the interior tip of
the sheath.  

Continue the "over-two" weave for four or five
more passes and then insert the tip of the awl into the resulting "pocket".   Holding the
awl vertical on a hard surface, continue the "over-two" on up the shaft until you get
about 3/8" from the top of the awl.   Make the weave as snug as you can as you go.

You can either go the same direction each time, which will produce a "true" fender
weave, as in (9C) or you can alternate directions with each pass (9B).  If you wish, try
four passes in one direction, then four passes in the other, then six alternating
directions, or any combinations of the above.  The main thing is to keep the weave
tight to the shaft of the awl so that it does not fall off of it's own accord.

When you've gotten to about 3/8 " from the top, make a simple footrope knot
and superglue the exterior of the footrope, clipping five of the six lines off.  There
WILL be quite a bit of "left" line, just save it for puddings or fillers.   The sixth line
can either be tied to the handle of the awl or tucked under a turkshead
around the handle of the awl.... your choice.  (9G) is tied around, while
(9H) and (9I) are tucked.

The awl tips are shown in (9J) (sharp piercing tip) and (9K) (semi-dull
lifting tip).  (9H) is just a blunter tip.   

Also in (9):   (9G) is an 11x9 square turkshead around the handle, (9H) is a
simple three-strand (Boy Scout Woggle) turkshead and (9I) is a 9 x 7
square turkshead.  These three allow me to find the correct awl even
in poor lighting conditions.  

(9B) is a line puller which is explained elsewhere on the site.... I just got
lazy and used an old picture.

Finally, when  you've completed the sheath and after several weeks of use,
you can varnish or superglue the exterior to prevent wear.  Allow some time
between finishing the sheath and applying whatever protectant you want
to use and "excercize" the sheath by moving the awl around in it and taking it off and putting it back on.  This will allow the awl's shaft to
get a good fit and is important, 'cos once you've applied the protective substance (especially superglue), that's all she

As always, the above is like a clear summer's day to me, but I probably overlooked or glossed over something which is second nature
to me and which has left you totally confused....
DON'T HESITATE TO POINT IT OUT!   Let me know if any points need clarification and
I'll do my best to ameliorate the FUBAR part.

NOTE:  This can also be used to cover ANY cylindrical object.

Hope this proved helpful!

Vince Brennan