When it came time to install the window hardware (blind mounts, shade mounts, valance mounts) in my restored 1880s home, I discovered that a tool typically used for metalworking really sped up the job. I’m talking about my automatic center punch. The one I own is from General Tools (www.generaltools.com; Steel Automatic Center Punch, part #79). This little metal punch with its spring action allows one-handed hole-punching for screw-starting, as opposed to an awl and hammer or a tapping-type screw starter. Just align it with the hole in the hardware you need to mount, press the punch with one hand, and its blunt tip snaps a center mark and a starter hole. In the material I used for trim (both maple and MDF), its blunt tip seems to crush the fiber of the wood rather than split it. The result is a starter hole that will not split along the grain.
W. Scott Wohlgemuth, Factoryville, PA