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When hand-sewing, I stick my awl through the leather, using a block of bee's wax as a backing.  In hot weather, the wax gets soft and makes it difficult to push against and maintain leather alignment.  This morning, I had an epiphany.  I cut an old soft-wood dowel, wrapped copper wire around the end to keep it from splintering, covered the end with bee's wax, and made a new solid backing block to push my awl against.  It works so much better than bee's wax alone, I doubt I'll ever go back to the old way again.
Modified Large Frank James Rosette.
Standard Large Frank James Rosette.