Awl Piercing Dies vs Hole Cutting Dies

May 12, 2021

If you're wanting to make holes for setting snaps and rivets, you have the option of using one of the following:

The hole cutting dies cut out a clean circle, like a paper hole punch.  In many cases, particularly with vinyl or non-fraying fabric, this open circle makes it easier to slip the stem of the snap or rivet through.  Because these dies cut like blades, they will wear down faster than the awl piercing dies and will need to be replaced more frequently, especially the bottom punch die.

  • Placing a small piece of cutting mat, vinyl, or leather on the bottom die when pressing may help to extend its use.
  • The cut pieces of fabric will collect in the top die (similar to how cut pieces of paper will collect in a paper hole punch) and will need to be cleaned out periodically, which can be tedious.

The awl piercing dies simply poke a hole, like an earring. It does not leave a clean-cut circle.  If your material is very thick/dense, like webbing, it may be easier to use the awl dies since the cutting dies may not be able to cut through.  Fabrics that fray may also benefit from a simple piercing rather than cutting to avoid unraveling.

The hand awl works similarly to the awl dies, except you hold it in your hand.  This would be ok with thin fabric but may be tiring with thicker/denser materials.


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