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I'd like to show you a fixture I created some time ago to help me skive leather to an appropriate thickness for action figure chin straps, belts, pack straps, and the like.

For those not that familiar with leather working, skiving (pronounced "sky-ving") is simply the thinning of leather, typically done with a very sharp, thin blade knife. Starting at one end of the leather the knife blade is inserted to the desired depth and then in one long fluid motion the leather is split. With practice, one can get very consistent results. Of course, I don't do it enough to obtain that kind of proficiency so I decided to devise a way to get the depth and uniformity I desired with the simple fixture shown below.

I started with an ordinary 3" x 6" porcelain wall tile (22 cents at my local Home Depot) to which I glued brass strips (1/4" x 1/64" by about 5 ½") at a specific spacing. The spacing corresponds to the width of the leather lace(s) that I most frequently use: ½", ¼", 1/8", 3/32", and 1/16". The 1/64" dimension of the brass strips is very thin (1 oz. in leather working terms) but could of course be any thickness one desires. As a matter of fact, I made the same fixture using brass strip of 1/32" thickness for leather lace where I desired the increased thickness. I chose brass strips of ¼" wide just to give adequate gluing surface to the porcelain tile.

To use the fixture, I simply lay the leather lace grain side down into the appropriate width space. I then use either of the tools I've shown to skive the flesh side of the leather lace that's protruding above my brass strip guides. The brass strips prevent me from cutting into the leather more than the height of the brass strip itself resulting in a very neat and uniform thinning of the leather lace. If I'm skiving a length of leather longer than the brass strip I simply advance it in the fixture and continue skiving.

I used Gorilla glue (http://www.gorillatough.com/index.php?page=gorilla-glue) to bond the brass strips to the porcelain tile. It provides a very secure bond but needs to be clamped while it cures. As the Gorilla glue is an expanding glue it will ooze out slightly from beneath the brass strips. No problem, however, as the porcelain tile makes it easy to simply score and scrape the excess glue away using a single edge razor blade. Final cleanup of the brass strips and porcelain tile was accomplished with a rag dampened lightly with acetone.

To finish the fixture, I glued a thin foam rubber base to the underside of the porcelain tile to provide a non-slip footing.

The skiving tools I use are easily obtained from any leather supply house. I got mine from Tandy Leather (http://www.tandyleatherfactory.com/en-usd/home/department/tools/knives-cutters-splitters/3025-00.aspx and http://www.tandyleatheroutlet.com/p-306-al-stohlman-brand-japanese-style-skiving-knife.aspx)

My favorite place to obtain leather lace is Rio Rondo (http://www.riorondo.com/). They have a good selection of colors and widths and you can purchase them in any amount you desire.

I hope this fixture may prove valuable in your own efforts and please let me know if you have any questions or comments.
 

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The Mighty Boosh
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8,425 Posts
Nice idea, thanks for sharing.I've done it a few times with a knife with varying results, and I thought of trying to re-purpose something like a pencil sharpener.

I admit when I read the first couple of lines of your I thought you were going to use the brass strips as blades, and have them lifted slightly off the tile so you just pushed the first bit of lace into the blade and then just pulled it out from the other side.

You've just given me an idea!
 

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Say what?
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9,400 Posts
Simple and elegant = brilliant.

Thank you.
 

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wave man TDY staff
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41,776 Posts
Not only very well thought out, but there's an aesthetic, as well as practical feature to your creation. That "Japanese style" style knife is also a beauty in itself.
 
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