Leatherwork tools – Keeping Them Sharp

Written on 13 Nov 2014

Obvious, but often not done properly, or regularly enough. Sharpening or stropping tools (polishing, or sometimes referred to as honing) regularly is crucial for safety and also for providing a good end result.Knife on the strop

Knives should always be kept sharp as cuts from these can be very damaging if the blade is blunt. You’re also more likely to have an accident if exerting excessive pressure while attempting to cut leather with a blunt blade…

Keeping the Harness awl blade sharp by using the stropHarness awl blade sharpened or polished in the direction of useUsing a blunt harness awl is never advisable. Don’t make it hard on yourself… sharpen and polish it up and it will glide easily through the leather. Remember, when sharpening the four facets on the harness awl, to only sharpen in the same direction as the awl would be used. For help with setting a harness awl blade in a handle click here, or you can buy a pre-sharpened harness awl pre-set in it’s handle (hasp) from Bowstock

The back of the paring knife is kept flat when sharpening or using the strop

Keep the back of the paring knife flat against the strop

A really sharp paring knife is a pleasure to use and it makes the task of paring or skiving, a joy! Remember to keep the back of the knife flat when sharpening or stropping this knife.

If you have a clicker knife, you can replace the old blades with new ones until you have mastered the skill of sharpening. You can sharpen the used clicker blades too.

If you’re lucky enough to have a paring machine, the blades should be changed regularly as they are very inexpensive compared to the price of leather!

Wooden Strap Cutter for Leather

Strap Cutter for leatherwork

Paring machine for leatherwork

Paring machine

The wooden strap cutter blades should also be changed regularly if you want nice, clean strap edges.  By following the directions that come with the tool, it’s very easy to change the blade, but take care when doing so!  The wooden strap cutter can be bought from most suppliers of leather-working tools and comes with a few spare blades.TIP: Although many of the strap cutters look very similar, some are better than others.

If you have a good rotary hand punch, you may find that the circular blades can be replaced when needed.

Finally, don’t neglect your edge beveler, or shave, as this needs to be kept sharp too!

TIP: Although many of the wooden strap cutters look very similar, some are better than others.

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