Medi­ev­al and Renais­sance Awl Hafts

Fol­low­ing on from my pre­vi­ous two posts about awls, I should say some­thing about medi­ev­al awl hafts since none of the hafts I’ve pic­tured pre­vi­ously are medi­ev­al in shape (one is an attempt, but it’s all wrong).

Marc Carlson has a lot of pic­tures of his­tor­ic shoe­makers on his Foot­wear of the Middle Ages site. Some of those pic­tures show awls in use (wheth­er as shoe­mak­ing tools, or instru­ments of tor­ture) from which I’ve had a go at draw­ing the out­lines of the hafts and put them in a PDF, includ­ing three mod­ern awl hafts from my col­lec­tion.

The draw­ings should give you an idea of the pro­files of medi­ev­al and renais­sance awls. The sizes are guesses based on my exist­ing awl hafts and how they fit in my hands, and on the scale from the pic­ture. The sizes of the awls from the SO1 ship­wreck are based on pho­to­graphs from the Memory of the Neth­er­lands site. The pic­tures are here: awl one (No.8 in my draw­ing), and awl two (No. 9 in my draw­ing).

The sizes aren’t exact; I think the hafts from “Two scenes with Sts Crispinus and Crispi­ni­anus” by the Bernese Mas­ter of the Pinks are implaus­ibly short, and the hafts shown in the pic­ture of Her­man someo­ne­or­oth­er in the 1531 Mendelschen Haus­buch are overly chunky. Remem­ber that these are paint­ings, not pho­to­graphs and if you use these to make your own hafts, find out what works for you.

Remem­ber also that the blades of medi­ev­al and renais­sance awls are always straight, curved awls are a mod­ern inven­tion.


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