A bradawl is a tool with a blade similar to that of a straight screwdriver and a handle made from wood or plastic. A bradawl is used to make an indentation in wood or other materials in order to ease the insertion of a nail or screw. The blade is placed across the fibres of the wood, cutting them when pressure is applied - the bradawl is then twisted through 90 degrees which displaces the fibres creating a hole. This cutting action helps to prevent splitting of the wood along the grain. The term bradawl is very often misused when meaning an awl - a simple pointed device - possibly because brad is an old English word for a nail.