Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Laced sleepsack - step-by-step Part 3

Here is the next step on our project and another tip - something you should consider doing to increase the comfort of your hoods - especially if you are working in heavier leather. It's called "skiving", and it rhymes with "diving" and "driving". Apparently I have been saying this wrong in my head for years. Anyway...

Skiving is cutting leather in order to reduce its thickness. It takes a really sharp blade, and most leather craft pros use a special knife or even a machine to do this. You may want to skive along an edge before you fold it to reduce the bulk. Or, for this project I want to create a smooth transition on the inside of the hood from the seam to the edge of the seam allowance. If I didn't do this, you could feel the edge of the seam when the hood was laced tightly to your face.

I usually hold the piece I'm working on so I can feel how deep the blade is going. You don't want to cut through the main leather, just through the seam allowance. It's a tricky cut, and I am always amazed at how quickly the blade dulls when doing it. You may make it only a couple of inches before the blade becomes dull.

And now for some skiving action shots:
Easy does it...
When you start having to push hard to get the blade through, you know it's is getting dull.
After skiving: a smooth transition from the seam to the edge of the allowance.
Here's the hood front post-skiving. I know what you're thinking: that doesn't look so great. But, it feels much better, believe me.
Over the years I have tried a variety of tools to skive, from scary-sharp surgical blades to scalpels and straight-razors. It seems like they all dull rather quickly, and I end up going through a number of blades on each project.
One thing I have tried recently to keep the edge sharp is a powerstrop - circular discs of leather that go into your drill press or grinder that allow you to quickly strop the blade back to razor sharpness. You charge the strop with a honing compound that does the actual work of abrading the blade.
I use pliers to hold the blade, and can get about 3 times the use out of the blade before it gives out completely.
I'd be happy to share any tips you may have about skiving, so comments are welcome.

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