Who on earth would spend £70 on a bradawl? It’s an awlful lot of money!
I’ve happily used a cheap bradawl for years, but see that awls are now made by some very good brands (e.g. Wiha and Bahco). In the UK, I can buy a cheap awl for under £5 or a made-in-Germany awl from Wiha for about £10.
Or I could spend £70 on an awl from Blue Spruce. Whoa! Who spends £70 on an awl? (Especially when the Wiha is made from sealed beechwood and Wiha’s invariably excellent quality.)
As far as I know - neither Wiha nor Blue Spruce make Brad Awls.
A brad awl is a somewhat archaic tool used to create small holes using a turning or twisting motion.
The best modern one that I know about comes from Veritas - Lee Valley
Some others that are shown as brad awls seem to have sharp points - more akin to scratch awls (marking tools), square-blade pointed birdcage awls (traditionally used for poking holes for caning birdcages) or sewing awls
With this bit of tutorial over - I can say that I agree with you that Blue Spruce makes some very pricey tools. Many of these are crafted as much for appearance and pride of ownership as they are for functionality.
Their choice of curly maple for a scratch awl handle - I suspect is based more on aesthetics than on pure functionality. Blue Spruce like some other small manufacturers (Bridge City comes to mind here) make some nice tools that seem to appeal to well-heeled tool users (or possibly collectors). For a general purpose scratch awl - I’ve always been happy with the inexpensive old ones I have from CS Osborne:
I grew up with a story book about a creature called a Churkendoose. He said “it all depends upon how you look at things”. That’s probably true about brad awls.
As far as I know, the idea of a brad awl was to use its tip with a twisting motion to shear the fibers of the wood creating a small hole. Such a hole would have cut wood fibers within it. Using a pointed awl (such as one typically called a scratch awl or garnish awl) by pushing it into the wood would compress the fibers in the wood. A conical (pointy) tip might have a greater propensity to split the wood apart - much like driving a nail in close to the edge or end of a board. This may be affected by the species of the wood and how it has been sawn (grain orientation is different between flat sawn and quarter sawn).