How to Thin Leather Easy Ways

One of the top skills of leather crafting is knowing how to thin leather, as it comes in handy for the production of a variety of leather items. This action makes the leather piece more flexible and soft, while its thickness gets reduced. It is a known fact that leather hides come with varying levels of thickness and some projects might require that you use thin leather materials.

You can find thin leather in stores, but it would help if you learn how to thin leather yourself. It is cost-effective reducing the leather’s thickness yourself, and you can easily get the desired result if you are good at it.

Amongst various skills like how to Restore leather, sew leather, and write on leather, knowing how to thin leather would make your crafts have a professional appearance. It turns out that this skill can help you in rebinding books, thereby creating a smooth overlapping and gluing transition. So, leather craftspeople, bookbinders, and shoemakers are sure to benefit a lot from engaging in this intensive skill.

How to Thin Leather Step By Step Guide

Thinning or skiving leather may not be quite easy like fixing minor cat scratches on leather, as it requires full attention. But with the right steps, it can be less difficult in achieving the desired results even as a beginner.

Nevertheless, here are some easy steps to help you with how to skive thin leather.

how to split leather

Using a Skiver

A skiver is an excellent tool that comes with an awesome design that helps leather craftspeople thin leather, and it does so with ease. Using this method to reduce the leather thickness, and it would be best if you first cut the leather material into the working dimensions for the project. Ensure you leave some additions around the perimeter (1-2 cm) for clearance.

Then, get the leather laid on your working surface and start pushing your skiver while holding it in a horizontal position. Keep working on the leather surface in the same motion till you get the desired thin result.

Kindly note that if you are getting started on how to thin leather edges, a stone-base work surface would be right. For all other hide surfaces, a hard wooden work surface or bench would work well. Working on your leather edges, bevel by holding the blade at the right-angle. Then, slide through the edge, focusing the tension on the leather hide using your fingers on the other hand.

How to Thin Leather with an Exacto/Xacto Knife

One excellent way on how to thin leather straps without using the leather skiver is using the Exacto knife that is easily found in many toolboxes at home. There are various options available in many craft stores, and you can pick a suitable one for your leather thinning. You can also try the Tandy Al Stohalm Round Knife, which works well for making cuts and thinning leather.

For this process, you would need to get your Exacto knife along with a cutting pad and start by laying the leather on the cutting pad. Ensure that the fleshy part of the hide faces upwards and start making a dent into the leather with the Exacto knife. Slice gently but ensure that the blade does not go all the way through and make sure only the surface gets off.

It would be best if you start with shallow angle cuts as you start, to ensure you don’t reduce the leather thickness more than you had planned. Also, a dampened leather would make it trickier to get the task done; thus, it is advisable to never wet the leather before you thin.

Interestingly, these knives come with removable blades and you can get them changed whenever you find them blunt. You can hold the craft knife more perpendicular if you want to bevel deeper but try to limit your leather thinning to the fleshy part of the hide.

Thinning Leather with sandpaper

This tool is great for reducing leather to the thinnest level you desire, and you can get the best sandpaper block to help you out. Before you get started using this procedure, it would help if you choose suitable sandpaper and get some tacking nails and a wooden block (2 X 6 or 2 X 2).

Then, cut the sandpaper based on the wooden block’s measurement and wrap it around it, while securing it with some tacking nails. It can be quite challenging thinning leather with this method since you would not be employing a skiver but it would also come out great.

Get started by laying the leather on your work surface, preferably on a plywood surface (without debris or sand), and secure the leather with some tacking nails so that it doesn’t fall off. Continue by sanding the leather with the sandpaper block, doing so evenly till you get the results you desire.

Hand-thinning Leather with Knife or Razor

Are you searching for how to skive leather with a razor blade or knife? You can follow the steps below:

  • Get your work surface prepared and ensure you are working on a smooth surface
  • Get the razor blade and knife ready, ensuring they are very sharp to make the whole process very easy
  • Hold the blade/knife securely, while placing your index finger at the top of the blade, and start working in smooth strokes

If you are just getting started on how to shave leather with such blades, you can alternate between using the tip or the heel of the blades. However, it would be best if you use the point that does not shave the leather excessively so that you don’t shave more than required.

How to Thin Leather


How do you reduce the thickness of leather?

There are various ways to reduce the thickness of leather but one of the commonest ways is by using a skiver. This tool would help you work through the surface and edges of the leather, allowing you to remove some layers to achieve the desired result.

You can also use a suitable leathercraft knife as they do not only function as a tool for cutting leather parts but also come in handy for thinning leather. You do not have a skiver and a suitable craft knife? Well, you can also use razor blades and your regular kitchen knife. Always ensure that the blade you use for leather thinning is always sharp, to make the process relatively easy.

How do you skive leather?

If you’ve been searching for how to split leather, using a leather skiving tool would work well in getting the job done. Get the leather you want to thin and get it laid on a smooth and flat work surface, with the skin faced down and the flesh faced up.

You have the option of using wooden work surfaces, as they work well for leather surfaces. Get started by horizontally holding the skiver or knife and push through the surface, away from you. Ensure the cuts appear evenly, making sure you work uniformly on the leather and keep repeating this process till you get to the desired level.

When should you skive leather?

If you find your leather appearing too thick and may not work well for the craft, it would help if you skive it to reduce the thickness. Thinning the leather can make it fold and bend easily, hide the seams, and reveals an overall attractive appearance. So, if you need a suitable strap for that leather handbag, you can skive the leather piece to get it right. Also, as a bookbinder, you can start skiving leather for book rebinding and make them come out clean.

What is a skiving tool?

A skiving tool or skiver is an excellent tool that many craftspeople employ in thinning leather. Acting relatively to a cutting tool, a leather skiver comes with sharp blades that cut through the surface of the leather, removing the fleshy part and leaving the thin leather skin.

A suitable skiving tool can help you attain the desired thickness you need for the leather, and does so within a short period, while the metal blade drags through the surface of the leather. There are handheld skiving tools and also tabletop versions, and you can also choose between getting the manual skivers and the machine versions.

How do you thin out leather edges?

It may seem quite tricky working on thinning the edges of the leather but using a suitable leather splitter, you can get this job done sooner. Prepare your work surface and place the leather, spreading it out to access the edges.

Get the thinning tool and push them through the edges of your leather, holding it horizontally. You can make use of a beveled for a beveled edge and a precise cut, ensuring that it appears great.

4 Ways to Thin Leather YouTube Video

Final Words

Thinning leather is an excellent part of the art of making leather items, and doing so requires that you keep to intricate details. Kindly note that this leather thinning skill is quite crucial in making the leather material appear supple and it ensures that the flesh side of the different types of leather hides comes off.

Are you seeking a suitable method on how to thin leather? Well for starters, it may seem quite tricky in getting the task done. However, you can do this yourself and also get the right result using the methods exposed in this article. Choosing from any of the methods explained above, you are sure to do it right like a professional.

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I am an Architect Engineer by profession with great interest in web and content creation. I have used leather products for a long time, which has increased my enthusiasm, knowledge, and understanding of leather. I am here to shed light on the leather and guide you on choosing the best leather products.

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