I believe the trick (as well as using proper cable cutters) is to have the inner cable inside the outer so you don't crush the outer (obviously making sure you only cut off the very end of the inner). I've heard/read that an angle grinder works well too but not many of us have one of those to hand.
Cable cutters are just about the most pleasing of all cycling tools. I remember being amazed that I'd finally found the right tool to do the job and just snipping up an old cable for the fun of it...
Awl or bradawl? What are these strange contraptions of which you speak?
Small hand held dremels work a treat...and you get the "oooooooo" "arrrrrrrrrr" of the sparks as well. Now its back to the side cutters and hammer method (strictly for use by very por students only) I would recommend some cable cutters...if i could afford them