Thursday, 30 July 2009

Tools of the Trade: Awls

How do we get all of those tiny holes into all of those pages? We use our trusty awls! The picture above shows my little collection of punching utensils resting inside of my binders board punching trough. Have you noticed the odd one out? That's a pin vise, and I'll talk about that after I briefly mention the other three. The great thing about the two wooden handled awls on the right is that the thickness of the metal (after the portion that does the piercing) is the same all the way down to the base - which makes for nice even holes. The metal of the awl on the left has a graduated thickness which would make it nearly impossible to make holes the same width. Even though it doesn't make nice, tidy, and tiny holes I end up using it pretty often, because the base of the metal is approximately the thickness of most screw posts used in bindings of the same name. I use it for punching holes in the board & paper for those bindings.

Okay, back to that pin vise (the brand of mine is Starrett, by the way)! This is another tool I picked up at NBSS. The operation of this sweet sophisticate is similar to that of an X-acto. The silver portion unscrews, allowing a needle to be slipped into place and secured by screwing tightly into place. The beauty of this is that your holes will be precisely the size of the needle that you'll soon be threading through them. I have maybe a third of my needle exposed, but that's just because I've been making my mini-book earrings, much more of the needle can be used, and usually should be, so the vise doesn't go too far and make an impression on the inside of your signatures.

Tools of the Trade: Olfa Blades: A Follow Up

After my last post, Mindy commented with a curiosity about my take on snap-off versus replacement blades (X-acto). I am a fan of both, and used X-actos exclusively for everything related to my graphic design degree (cutting out print collateral & foam core, mostly). Assuming a #11 blade, when I've used X-actos for anything thicker than foam core with any sort of force, the tips have broken off quite quickly. I have found the Olfa blades I use to cause less stress on my wrist and fingers. I think because of the short angle of the blade, the Olfa is more ergonomically sound for the type of cutting that I do on a daily basis. That said, when held like a pencil, the X-acto works beautifully (and better) for cutting intricate details. Summary: both good, favored for different reasons, with Olfa still on top for daily bookbinding!


Antico Valore said...

I love this post!
It's so difficult to find good awls here in Italy! I don't know why!


lori vliegen said...

great post, monica! i'm with you on the olfa....i love mine! and, i'm definitely going to hunt down one of those pin vises! thanks for the info! :)

Rhonda said...

great info, thanks Monica!

The Geckos said...

I agree I like the info, but what are the cutting blade pictures supposed to be telling me? Is the flexed arm better or worse as a way of holding the blade? and is that [icture of the Xacto or the other brand?

Monica Holtsclaw said...

Thank you for your comments!

Good point, Geckos! I've added some key words to the photos to answer your questions. :) I've found that the angle of the blade dictates the way each knife is held for different types of cutting.

Carol said...

Very useful post - thanks very much!