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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