Shaving Showdown: Skiving or Flat Leather Knife

Getting off that extra piece or sheet of leather in your project is essential. Dragging the knife across the leather reduces the leather thickness and helps the pieces bond together firmly. Skiving makes stitching easier and contributes to the overall finish of the leather. It eliminates that extra bulkiness in your leatherwork and enables you to plan your design well. Achieving this is possible by using the appropriate knife for that shaving session. 

Is a skiving knife better than a flat knife? A skiving knife works best for thinning leather suited for complex skiving. It has an angled blade that gives excellent control for right or left-handed users while a flat knife can be used in wide-width leather projects that involve simple scraping.

Skiving leather is one of the trickiest skills in leatherworks, and having the right knife for shaving off that extra leather will definitely enhance the quality of your product. Being the novice leatherworker that I am, I also have a hard time achieving the thickness that I want for my designs. If you are like me who wants to get the right knife to invest in for skiving, then this article is for you. It will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using a skiving knife versus a flat blade and when and why you should use them on your leather.

Indispensable Flat Knife For Equal Edges

If you are a leatherworker who wants to make the most out of your leather knife, then a flat knife will be the best choice for you. There are many flat knives in the market, and here are some of the pros and cons of using this.

Going In For The Pros

A flat knife has a blade with an equal angle, and its length and typically comes with a wooden handle. You can get a good grip on the knife and reduce leather thickness by sliding it down with enough force. This type is good at thinning the edges because its blade’s direction is always going down. It penetrates the leather well and works best on wide leather width materials. It can cut across a straight line in the leather apart from skiving and ensure flat square edges.

Its blade is easy to sharpen since the edge has the same angle achieving equal sharpness. You can polish it up by dragging the knife on the flat side of the leather. The flat blade is versatile for a leather knife because it is suited for left-handed or right-handed users. Its handle is usually made with high-quality wood comfortable for working in long hours. 

Weighing The Cons

Flat knives are easy to control, but it is challenging to get even thickness for long stretches of leather over time. Don’t worry though, once you get used to its motion, you will achieve the leather’s right thickness. It is a knife for almost everything (cutting to skiving).

If your project involves thinning in the middle like a wallet or cardholder, you should look for a better option. Avoid using a blunt and unpolished knife to avoid rough and feathery cuts along the edge. A flat knife is a multi-purpose blade, but you will need other knives for intricate patterns and meticulous skiving leatherwork. It is not ideal for round or curved edges.

The Verdict On Its Use

The flat leather knife should be on the top of your list when doing a wider-width leather project but not for leather works with many curving and rounding routines. It is well suited for thinning the edges to ready your project for stacking leather together to maintain the desired leather thickness. It is definitely a multi-purpose leather knife that comes out of the box ready for use. 

Exceptional Thickness From A Skiving Knife

Skiving knives have various blade shape options, which even includes a flat blade. If you have leatherworks with an intricate design, and budget is not an issue, a set of sparkling skiving knives is just the best.

Knowing The Pros

Like a flat knife, it typically comes with a wooden handle but has different blade shapes (including a flat skiving knife). Multiple brands are available on the market with various specifications giving you many options to choose from. What is nice about a skiving knife combined with exceptional skill, it produces beveled edges identical to a machine done. 

The knife either has blades beveled in the right or left directions, so you can quickly get comfortable using them. It can skive edges and thin out the middle portions of the leather. It has curved edges allowing you to cut along any direction. The curved blades also will enable you to scrape narrow strips of leather with equal thickness as you slide with a uniform stroke. You can even buy skiving knives and customize the blade to the angles you need. 

Considering The Cons

A skiving knife compared to a flat knife is pricey, but you can get a mid-range priced knife since you have lots of options in the market. You also need adept hand skill for exceptional results, and skiving in this knife should match its users (for left or right-hand users).

You should be careful and confident in getting the right angle for shaving, especially in the center of the leather, to avoid unnecessary mistakes (Unless you are willing to purchase another leather for your project). When you skive, it will need a firm and flat surface so that the blade can go smoothly like granite or glass.

Boiling Down To Its Use

A skiving knife with a beveled blade that matches its user is the best to use for projects that involve small details and curve skiving directions. It comes with many blade shapes that you can choose from for the appropriate one to use for your project. If you want to thin not just the leather edges, a skiving knife is the best.

Wise Choice For Shaving The Extra Off 

When doing leatherworks, skiving is necessary to reduce leather thickness. You can secure two pieces of leather together without the worry of bulkiness. If you have a project in mind and involves many leather sides or center thinning, you must know these simple tips before getting that leather knife.  

Choose The Right Blade 

The blade shape of the knife should be appropriate for your project. The ability to cut through the leather’s thickness of your choice should match your preference (If you are a left or right-handed user). Some leather is so thick that it needs a heavy-duty cutter and skivers.

If you plan to keep and use it for a more extended period, use a blade with a type of steel that can withstand the test of wear. Always examine if the blade length and handle is comfortable enough for you to work with. Consider too where you can purchase blade replacements or sharpen the blades. Remember that a sharp knife is not just sufficient for skiving. It should be sharp and polished.

If the knife is for general purposes, go for flat blades, but go for the other choice for heavy skiving. If it is within your budget and is a good investment in terms of use and comfort, then go for it! When owning any knife, be sure to have or make a knife sheath ready for your safety (just make one from scrap leather!). 

Consider Your Leather Work Skills

All knives should be handled with care and as dangerous objects; hence a right hand control is a prerequisite. You should always be confident of getting the accurate angle shavings when skiving and patient in leveling the leather (It takes effort to achieve this). 

Always do skiving on concrete and sleek surfaces so the knife will just ride off the leather and skive away from you. Skiving is tricky, and it will take some time before getting used to a new knife to get visually appealing edges. If you are going in for leather work as a hobby or business, then you should consider investing in the best tools. 


Skiving knives are essential tools for your leatherwork, and you should go for the best option. When going over your choices, always consider your comfort in using the type of knife. This will not only make skiving challenging but an enjoyable experience. It will also improve your leathercraft. Like knives, all tools work best with enough experience, and as the adage goes, practice (the deliberate and right way) makes perfect.

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