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Skiving made bearable...


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The best thing for skiving is to start with a very sharp blade, then sharpen it. Leather will not stretch out of shape when cut with a sharp blade. A razor blade is not ideal because you can't hold it, and also it has a two sided edge. You get more control with a single edge, as in |/, not \/. Ideally you want to cut a taper, not a sudden reduction in thickness.

 

If you are lacking access to good knife steel, find an old bread knife from 50 years ago and grind a single edge onto it. You then have the bonus of a nice handle. I say 50 years ago to give a chance of it being good steel that will retain an edge.

 

Work on a hard flat surface, glass is good. Strop the knife often.

 

Chris

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The best thing for skiving is to start with a very sharp blade, then sharpen it. Leather will not stretch out of shape when cut with a sharp blade. A razor blade is not ideal because you can't hold it, and also it has a two sided edge. You get more control with a single edge, as in |/, not \/. Ideally you want to cut a taper, not a sudden reduction in thickness.

 

If you are lacking access to good knife steel, find an old bread knife from 50 years ago and grind a single edge onto it. You then have the bonus of a nice handle. I say 50 years ago to give a chance of it being good steel that will retain an edge.

 

Work on a hard flat surface, glass is good. Strop the knife often.

 

Chris

 

I guess that professional Bookbinders skilled in the production of the best of traditionally-based leather bindings would be in a very strong position to offer some valuable advice. There are some truly splendid modern examples around using very complex mixed leather designs which must have involved a great deal of very precise skiving.

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Normally when I cut leather for repair work or bellows, it is only the edges that require to be feathered.It takes a bit of practice, but if the knife (I use a snap off bladed one to ensure I always get a really sharp cut)is angled at about thirty degrees to the leather it is possible to cut the leather to size when at the same time you are creating a feather edge.

No doubt some of you will hold your hands up in horror ,but it works for me.

Al

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Last week I had to make new straps for a duet concertina (the originals had been cut too short by a previous owner). I found a belt (the kind one wears around the waist) that was the right width but a bit too thick. After unsuccesfully attempting to build a skiving implement out of the blade of a wall-paper scraper (four inches wide, very sharp, provided with holes for mounting), a two-by-four and assorted hardware, I ended up thinning the leather at the ends using a wood plane (#4 smoother). I also cut the leather to shape using a band-saw. "If the only tool you have is a hammer..."

 

ocd

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I ended up thinning the leather at the ends using a wood plane (#4 smoother).

 

A spokeshave is a very common tool used by leather workers to thin leather, so using a plane is not far off being a conventional method.

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I ended up thinning the leather at the ends using a wood plane (#4 smoother).

 

A spokeshave is a very common tool used by leather workers to thin leather, so using a plane is not far off being a conventional method.

Rats! I thought I was been weird. Must try harder.

ocd

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I ended up thinning the leather at the ends using a wood plane (#4 smoother).

 

A spokeshave is a very common tool used by leather workers to thin leather, so using a plane is not far off being a conventional method.

Rats! I thought I was been weird. Must try harder.

ocd

 

No,skewed is having heavy dog collars for handles, which I have on the second concertina I bought. The leather handles were the only thing wrong with this old German style 20 button, and I was too lazy to run out to the harness shop to get some thin straps, so I bought a couple inexpensive dog collars. They were a bit heavier than I would have liked, but they worked. Ski ing would have been a good idea before I put them on.

 

Alan

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I imagine there are lots of methods for hand skiving, and your tip looks interesting.

 

When doing edges I use a commercially available "safety skiver" (eBay) and a jig surfaced with laminate. I had poor results on flat surfaces, so this jig angles the work toward me, and works well for me. The jig is very simply a wedge that improves my view of the work. It is 6 inches x 16 inches and tapers from 4 inches high to 3/4 inch high. I work cross-handed, stretching the strip with my left hand and skiving the left side of the strip using my right hand. Don't know why, but if I work on the right hand side of the strip, the results are poor.

 

The picture shows the safety skiver, a package of blades, and the jig. I generally find a blade is good for about 2/3 of a bellows. One day I'll make a jig and strop the old blades back to razor edge, but they're not expensive...

 

It also works well for gussets.

 

I tried the heavier type of "safety skiver", but found it too cumbersome.

 

Yes, I also would love to have a scharf-fix, but it's too pricey for a hobbyist.

post-8954-0-69695000-1306688412_thumb.jpg

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Actually Ruediger, it was meant to be. I edited that post twice to take out some errors before I posted and still some of the original errors appeared. I should have skived out those dog collars to make a better fit, but I was in a hurry to get the concertina in a playable condition. Leatherwork is another one those skills that one learns on the farm to keep things going. I know that if either grampa had seen that quick hackwork I would have heard about it.

 

Actually, we had a couple of curved knives of various sizes that looked a bit like hoof knives that we would use for skiving, the smallest was nice for doing the type of fine work you were originally talking about, as you didn't have to use the whole blade. You just adjusted it to use the tip.

 

Alan

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The best thing for skiving is to start with a very sharp blade, then sharpen it. Leather will not stretch out of shape when cut with a sharp blade. A razor blade is not ideal because you can't hold it, and also it has a two sided edge. You get more control with a single edge, as in |/, not \/. Ideally you want to cut a taper, not a sudden reduction in thickness.

 

If you are lacking access to good knife steel, find an old bread knife from 50 years ago and grind a single edge onto it. You then have the bonus of a nice handle. I say 50 years ago to give a chance of it being good steel that will retain an edge.

 

Work on a hard flat surface, glass is good. Strop the knife often.

 

Chris

 

Thanks or the answer, Chris - I appreciate it, but I don't quite see how it relates to the original posting...

 

do you see anything in the skive before cut approach that is inferior to the traditional way? I believe that the tapering issue can be taken care of by running several passes over the edge, subsequently reducing the width of it. Is there anything else that may make the approach fail?

 

The two major problems I faced when attempting to do the fine skiving were 1) constantly cutting into the outside edge and 2) not being able to maintain a clean inside edge. Of course, a lifelong and experienced skiver won't even think about this anymore, but to me these produced extremly unsatisfying results (I wished I could go through a couple of years of apprenticing, but I can't really). The approach I take now appears to take care of both; of course there'll be lots of refinements to be made - I'll keep those interested informed about the progress.

 

And needless to say and undisputed - as somebody once pointed out, the three secrets to successful skiving are a sharp knife, a very sharp knife and guess what.

 

Thanks again, RAc

Sorry I may have drifted in topic a little, I was attempting to make skiving even more bearable for you.

 

If what you do makes a taper then it works. Your method with the rule could be adapted to make more of a taper by shaping the edge of the ruler a little with a file into a shallow inverted V. Also, if the leather is stretching then the blade is probably not sharp enough. I do top runs with the stretch direction along the strip, but I skive sideways rather than along so there is not the same stretch issue.

 

"as somebody once pointed out, the three secrets to successful skiving are a sharp knife, a very sharp knife and guess what. " Suspect this was me...

 

Chris

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  • 2 weeks later...

My skiver tool (Tandy?) bends the blade to a fairly large radius, so you "scoop" the leather, rather than try to cut it away with a straight edge blade. Have you tried anything like this? It was very cheap to buy (30 years ago!!) and uses single sided razor blades.(Same as shown in apprenticeOF photo above)

Edited by wes williams
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