1) The awl is a small tool with a tapering, sharpened blade, used especially by shoemakers for piercing leather: it can be compared with the woodworker’s bradawl.
A Sheffield bye-law of 1690 contains a rare reference to makers of knives, shears, sickles, scissors, scythes, aulblades, files or other cutlery ware but this specialised trade had a much longer history in the town: 1655 Robert Dickson of Attercliffe in the parish of Sheffeld, albladesmith
1660 Adam Allen, awlbladesmith. In 1676 cutlers’ marks were granted to 34 awlbladesmiths on their admission to the company. The occupation continued to be mentioned in Sheffield documents and 15 Awl Blade Makers were listed in the trade directory of 1822. It was not uncommon from the sixteenth century for 'an awl' to be mistakenly written as 'a nall' which suggests that some clerks were not familiar with the term, n.b. 1655 Thomas Ryles of Sheffeld nallbladesmith.