Swiss Army Knife
Swiss Army Knives
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Victorinox Original Awl

The original version of the Victorinox awl includes a sharp edge and a groove, which turns it into a reasonably efficient drill for working in leather, wood or sheet metal. This tool is sometimes called a reamer.

To use the awl tool to drill a hole, follow these steps:

  1. Poke a hole with the sharp point.
  2. Rotate the awl and gradually enlarge the hole.

In leather or other soft materials, you can often push the awl directly through the material, and then rotate it to get a rounded hole.

The awl will stay sharp for a long time if you only use it on wood, leather, aluminum or copper (or other soft metals).

You can use it for emergency "drilling" in sheet iron, but that will rapidly dull the awl's sharp edge.

Other Awls

Modern versions of the Victorinox awl includes a hole about midway along its length, so you can use it to push thread through leather or cloth when making emergency repairs. Victorinox added this feature to the awl in 1991, so you can use its absence to date the older Swiss Army knives.

Prior to 1961, the vintage Victorinox awl was much larger, with no sharp edges.

A few Victorinox Swiss Army knives include a reamer that has similar functions, but a slightly different shape. There is also a plain awl on the SwissTool, with a more abrupt taper and a sharper edge.

The Wenger awl/reamer is a similar tool that does not have the groove and sharp edge. It's a gentler tool that you can use to push a hole into soft materials, or to remove burrs from a drilled hole in metal or wood.

The Leatherman awl/reamer has a similar groove, with a more abrupt taper.