A skiving knife is a tool dedicated to thin leathers, and it needs regular stropping and sharpening; which is a somehow tedious and time-consuming process. To lessen that burden, I decided to invest in genuine skiving knives; and when it comes to quality blades, the Japanese are popularly known to have the best ones. Although each type of Japanese skiving knife has its unique advantages and disadvantages, they are all made from excellent materials depending on where it is designed.
Skip the knockoffs and go for genuine articles! These five Japanese skiving knives are guaranteed to minimize the time and effort exerted in stropping and sharpening, so you can focus more on working on the leather projects. In this article, I will share the five best Japanese skiving knives based on the pros, cons, and purpose to help you decide which is ideal for your leather projects. Whether we like it or not, skiving is a definite skill you should learn, and these Japanese knives will surely help you achieve that. It will also offer a great number of leather projects you will enjoy making.
- Razor-sharp Japanese ‘Shirogami’ Leather Skiving Knife
- Multipurpose Kyoshin Elle Angled Utility/Skiving Knife
- The Customer-choice Chartermade Premium Japanese Skiver
- The Customizable LWranglers Sakura Japanese-Style Knife
- Craft Sha Hidetsugu Japanese Skiving Knife
- Tips and Recommendations on Getting the Japanese Skiver That Works For You
Razor-sharp Japanese ‘Shirogami’ Leather Skiving Knife
A traditional hand-made Japanese skiving knife made of white steel or “shirogami.” This skiving knife is ideal for almost all types of leather projects because of its versatility. Aside from skiving, it can also be used as a cutting tool to cut leather patterns and square ends. You can purchase this one online for $65.
A Shirogami skiving knife can function as a skiving and cutting tool. It can be used to cut leather patterns, square ends, and even create delicate cuts. Since white steel is known to have few impurities, many bladesmiths commonly use this type of steel. What I like about this skiving knife, aside from its versatility, is that it is so easy to sharpen whenever you need to. It is also hand-sharpened upon purchase, so you can start using it right away. Those are two of the things a beginner leathercrafter could admire about this skiver.
Despite its razor-sharp blade, the steel rusts easily. It sounds like a bummer but not really. Just make sure to wipe it dry every after use and store it in a dry container. One more drawback of this skiver is its unlacquered handle. I highly suggest that you coat the handle yourself should you decide to get this one.
Coating wood materials such as this provide damage resistance. Also, our hands get sweaty when we work, they gather dust and oils, and they sort of stick into the handle. We don’t want that, for sure.
Multipurpose Kyoshin Elle Angled Utility/Skiving Knife
A high-quality traditional skiving knife made of blue #2 steel or “aogami #2”. This type of steel is known for its durability due to its hardness. This skiving knife is considered to be the best multipurpose skiver. The slanted blade is excellent for making curve cuts and works best for wide width leather sheets. You can get this one for $45, but there are also slightly lower prices from different online shops.
This multi-purpose knife is great for skiving and cutting detailed, straight, and curves, so it is awesome for those who like to create intricate patterns. Its durable and sharp blade can cut heavy leathers, which is ideal for major leather projects like holsters, sling bags, belts, you name it. Since it is made of blue #2 steel, it has better edge retention, which means there would be more heavy leathercraft projects for you.
Another great thing about Kyoshin Elle is that the blade is tempered on the inside and annealed on the surface, which makes sharpening easy to do.
If you have a great eye for detail, you will notice that its blade is not symmetrical or very straight. For me, it is not a big deal because it still gets the job done unless you are a perfectionist when it comes to your tools. The major disadvantage is the need for regular sharpening despite having good edge retention, but then again, it is easy to do so for this knife.
The Customer-choice Chartermade Premium Japanese Skiver
If you are looking for a skiving knife with the best form and function, then the Chartermade premium is for you. I vouch for this one as I have been using this for years and it never failed to do its job. Although this is one expensive piece of tool, many leather workers prefer this over other Japanese skiving knives based on many customer reviews from different websites. Trust me. This skiver is worth it!
I can say so many good things about a Chartermade skiving knife, but I will narrow it down to the most notable ones that I am sure you would admire too. First of all, the handle’s ergonomic shape makes your whole skiving task comfortable. I like that it has a better grip on this one when I hold it vertically. Second, the innovative design makes this Chartermade Premium knife stand out.
You can tell that this hand-made knife is made with careful process and attention to detail. The bevel alone is uniquely designed to minimize wear and dulling. It is ideal for cutting out intricate patterns and trimming edges. Lastly, among other skiving knives that I have, the Chartermade premium has the longest blade retention; and believe me when I say when it comes to being low maintenance, this one is the winner!
I have used this for heavy leather projects for years, and I have only stropped it only a few times.
Being highly recommended by many professional leathercrafters, Chartermade Premium is always sold out online, so you might want to add it to your wishlist just in case it’s back in stock again. The price of $200 is somewhat high for starters. Just so you know, this was not my first skiving knife when I started leathercrafting. I thought it through if this skiving knife is really worth it, and the answer is: Yes, it is.
The Customizable LWranglers Sakura Japanese-Style Knife
Designed after a traditional Japanese-style leathercraft knife. This handcrafted knife is made of CPM 20CV alloy and dymond wood handles, and solid brass pins. I like that this knife is stylish and that you have the option to have a decorative pin and engravings for some extra cost. I had mine engraved with my initials simply because it is nice to have something personalized. Aesthetic wise, LWranglers Sakura is the best bet. You can purchase a Sakura Japanese-style Skiving knife directly from their website for an initial price of $175.
The handle is moisture-resistant; therefore, it is protected from the oils and sweat of our palms. The blade is designed to make long, straight cuts; and skive both thin and heavy leather types. When it comes to durability, the blade is heat-treated with a triple temper and cryo to a 58-59 Rc.
The only disadvantage I experienced with the LWranglers Sakura skiving knife is that it needs regular stropping to maintain a razor-sharp edge. However, I do not find it a burden because it is just a quick stropping every once in a while. Another thing, if you wish to buy a customized one as a gift, purchase it way ahead of time because it takes a few months to arrive.
Craft Sha Hidetsugu Japanese Skiving Knife
Craft Sha Hidetsugu Japan-made skiving knife may appear plain and simple, but I can guarantee that its razor-sharp blade can do the job just as well. If you are looking for an affordable but reliable cutting and skiving knife in one, Craft Sha Hidetsugu is a good choice. It is available for online purchase at $39.99.
First of all, there is no need to sharpen it before your first use because the blade is pre-sharpened. It is also made of blue steel, so you know it is durable. As for the handle, it is relatively comfortable to hold. You can use this knife to cut curves, but I would say it is ideal for straight cuts.
The Hidetsugu Skiving knife’s overall appearance is too plain and simple for some people. I would not recommend this for those who are into stylish looking tools. The handle is also not lacquered.
Tips and Recommendations on Getting the Japanese Skiver That Works For You
Now that you know at least five of the best Japanese skiving knives out there. You are probably wondering which of these five you should get. You should really get one if you want to start leather crafting projects simply because there is no other way around it. My opinion is that all of these are great in their own rights and that it really depends on your preference. However, let me give you my two cents on the few things to consider before buying one.
Consider the load and types of leather projects you are going to use it with
If you are aiming for basic cutting and skiving, a skiving knife like Craft Sha Hidetsugu will do just fine. For more advanced, intricate, and heavy leather projects, go for the ones with longer edge retention like Chartermade premium or any blue steel blades.
Invest and get a genuine one!
I can’t say this strongly enough: always go for the authentic ones! The thing is, you are most likely to spend and waste more resources if you settle for cheap knockoffs. However, that does not mean you should go for the most expensive ones. You can still work within your budget and get the real deal. If that is your case, I highly suggest getting a multipurpose Japanese skiving knife like Kyoshin Elle or Japanese Shirogami skiver. Just make sure to buy them from reliable online shops and check for customer reviews.
Check your aesthetic and brand preference
Aesthetic or style is just a “cherry on top” because the most important thing is the function. Still, if I have the opportunity to get fancy with my tools, I would definitely go for it! The thing is, we all have aesthetic preferences, and sometimes we tend to develop brand attachment. I know I do! Chartermade Premium and LWranglers Sakura offer both form and function if you want something nice-looking and functional.
If you have no preference at all, I suggest simply picking one from the list and try to work with it as often as you can; so you can get comfortable handling it as you master the cutting and skiving skills.
These five Japanese Skiving knives may vary in price, form, and material, but they are all sure to meet your cutting and skiving needs as long as you get the authentic ones. Even though one blade may be low maintenance than the other, I would still encourage you to take care of whatever Japanese skiving knife you pick. Polishing, stropping, and sharpening it from time to time would indeed serve you better.