The Difference Between A Head Knife And A Round Knife

One tool is considered the unanimous weapon of choice in a leather crafter’s arsenal. The round knife, which is also called the head knife by most people in the industry, is the most versatile tool that leather crafters use to cut, skive and, generally, create wonders for their projects. There have been arguments on whether they are the same or two different knives used for the same purpose. With so much time in our hands because we’re just staying at home, thanks to this COVID-19 pandemic, it is time to settle this debate once and for all.

What is the difference between a head knife and a round knife? The main difference is in the shape of their respective blades. The top of the head knife’s edge looks like a straight line, while the round knife forms a subtle outline of a “V” if you look at its profile. They’re used for the same purpose.

These knives may carry out the same tasks, but their features could be something you’re looking for in a round knife or head knife. In this article, I will discuss the differences between the head knife and round knife and some of their similarities. I will also discuss the primary use for both blades and the best kinds of round knives and head knives in the market today. 

They Are Two Sides Of The Same Coin

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Most leather workers call one by the other and vice-versa. To a lot of them, a head knife is a round knife. There are subtle differences, though, that make one distinguishable from the other. Although these knives’ purpose is similar, some leatherworkers swear by the advantages each brings to the table in terms of their versatility and cutting specialty.

Main Uses For A Head/Round Knife

As the standard tool for leather crafters, round knives or head knives are used to cut thick or heavy leather. Different styles and techniques include cutting rounded corners and straights. You have to rock the blade forward and backward from a sharp-edged angle to achieve a smooth, round edge.

Another use for a round or head knife is for skiving leather. It means thinning down leather edges. It is an essential technique for leather crafting, but using a round knife or head knife to skive the edges could be a challenge for beginners, so if you’re not a skilled leather crafter yet, I recommend that you use a proper skiving tool to thin your hides. 

You could also use round knives and head knives to do quick, short cuts and long, straight cuts. As long as you are using thick leather of any weight, a round knife or head knife will do the trick for you.

Similarities Of Both Head Knife and Round Knife

To most of the leather crafting population, the round knife and a head knife are the same. Crafters have argued that both blades’ general use and purpose do not differ that much, and it is just a matter of preference on what you want to call that great tool you have holstered in that sheath.

Both are used as primary, versatile tools to cut leather in different ways. It’s a handy knife that is easy to whip up when you need to give life to your project and serves as a symbol for leather workers. The round/head knife is identified with the leather crafting industry.

They are also nearly similar in shape and structure. Both have rounded, half-moon blades with sharp, pointed edges and a handle, usually made of hard, polished wood to stabilize the blades when cutting.

What Makes Them Different From Each Other

Now, the other side of this matter is a tad bit complicated. I just told you that both have the same structure, yes, but the similarities in shape could be a bit deceiving. There are differences, some subtler than others. 

For one, the head knife is smaller in size. But you won’t notice this unless you have both knives side by side. If you look at the head knife’s profile, the top blade has a straight edge, and the blade, if you extend it all the way through, would form an oval shape. The head knife is also best for corners that need to be cut tighter.

A round knife is longer when measuring it tip to tip. Its profile shows a shallow angled top blade that almost forms a “v” shape. If you extend the round knife’s edge, it will look like a circle rather than an oval. Using a round knife is best when you need to cut shallow curves and straights but will pose a challenge if you need to cut a corner tight.

Best Kinds Of Head/Round Knife In The Market

As a leatherworker, you have to invest in equipment. Different skill levels require specific types and make of head/round knives to ensure that you can adequately do your projects. Whether you’re just starting or you already are a seasoned veteran, these are some of the best, widely used head/round knives in the industry today.

Tandy Leather Al Stohlman Round/Head Knife

Source: Amazon

This knife is perfect for all skill levels. You could be a veteran leather crafter working on a complicated project or a starter who wants to make his or her first leather project. You will find this a viable tool because it’s very comfortable to use. At $49.99, it has excellent value, and its high-quality blade is a hot commodity among leather crafters in the industry. 

However, if you have big hands, this might be a challenging knife to use because of its size. Still, it’s a very cost-effective tool that you may want to have as your first round knife and can even be used on your 1,000th project.

C.S Osborne No. 70

Source: Amazon

C.S. Osborne is a trusted brand in the industry and has had a long history of making top-quality tools for leather workers of all skill levels. The No. 70 is a top lightweight round/head knife that has garnered a ton of positive reviews and is a weapon of choice by some of the industry’s most seasoned crafters. 

Although being pretty sharp once it arrives, some have said that the blade may need a bit more sharpening to achieve its optimal performance. Although, once you get that sweet, sharp spot you want, the C.S. Osborne No. 70’s blade will stay sharp and will not be compromised even after years of use. It costs $54.99, which is relatively cheap but has fantastic value.

An excellent alternative to the No. 70 is the C.S. Osborne No.71 head knife. This US-made knife is made of high carbon steel, so you can count on its durability. It’s a little more expensive than the No. 70 with a price tag of $57.89 but still has excellent value.

Vergez Blanchard (125/150mm)


If you are the kind of leather crafter that prefers European brands, then the Vergez Blanchard 125mm or 150mm could be the perfect round knife for you. It has excellent size, fantastic if you put value in precision when cutting leather for your projects. It’s also a good round/head knife to use if you need to skive your leather.

Vergez Blanchard is a French brand with a long history of quality and has been trusted by leather workers across the globe for use in their projects. It’s relatively pricey at $90.00, but you are assured of a quality round knife, especially if you are selling your projects and you need it to be as good as it can be.

Weaver Leather Head/Round Knives

Source: Amazon

If you’re already a professional leather crafter and you’re looking for a good round knife or head knife to create your leather products and custom projects, then this one’s for you. Weaver Leather round/head knife blades are made in the USA and are of hand-forged steel. This means you get an extra sharp round knife that lasts long, so you can go and create projects as much as you want. 

This blade is suitable for skiving leather, so it is a versatile knife, but with that extra sharp blade, you will need to take extra care. It’s also the most expensive on this list at $132.50, so consider leveling up to this round/head knife only when you’re ready.

Stamesky Small Round/Head Knife

Source: Amazon

Now, if you’re just starting with your leather crafting career and you need a head knife or round knife to complete your arsenal of tools, this Stamesky Small Round Knife is what you want to have.

At only $23.99, it’s incredibly priced for beginners on a budget. Don’t sleep on this knife, though, just because you think the price is low. Its handle is made of solid oak and will be comfortable to hold for long periods, which will be the case when you’re starting–each project may feel like you’re spending long hours laboring over it.

Its size also makes it easy to lug around. The long handle may need some time to get used to, but you may want to consider this round knife if you have big hands.


The differences between a round knife and a head knife are subtle. There are similarities, too. It has mainly got to do with its shape, but the structure and purpose remain the same. No matter what your stand is on the topic, it is clear that you will need a quality round knife or head knife to create your projects and give life to them. Whether you are a beginner or a professional leather crafter, a good round or head knife to complete your tool kit is essential.

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