Review: Schärffix® Leather Paring Device

Earlier this year we added this Schärffix baby to our workshop. I had been looking for an alternative to getting a gigantic skiving/leather paring machine, one that didn’t take up a lot of space or make a lot of noise. My sister and I are only borrowing the space of our current workshop, so we couldn’t just start installing gigantic equipment (like industrial sewing machines and the like), or make a lot of noise (we’re in a residential building). After a bit of online research, I gathered that a lot of leather workers seemed to recommend this tabletop skiver, which is actually used for bookbinding.

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All the way from Germany

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I must admit when I first got it out of its case (I always appreciate good packaging, and this baby came with its own padded plastic hard case), it looked a bit daunting, and totally hardcore.

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I didn’t want to break it, accidentally wreck it somehow (I’m extremely clumsy), or worse, cut myself because I didn’t know where the blades were (I’ve cut myself accidentally only too often)!

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The build feels great–heavy steel, good grip, and it attaches securely to the work table. I also love that it’s removable so I can have it on my work table when needed but keep it away when I’m not using it, and it’s fully manual, so no electricity or batteries required.

Since it’s originally made for bookbinding, there are certain limitations compared to a gigantic leather skiving machine (like what I had access to at school, which was the size of a big desk), such as the size of leather you can skive, and the thickness of the leather.

On the plus side, it works great for the leathers that it can accommodate. It takes a bit of practice to get the handling just right, and because it’s manual, you do need to rely on your own hands for a lot of the control, such as guiding the skive.

I had initially shot a few short video clips but because I can’t upload them (limitations of a free wordpress blog hahaha), I’m going to share screenshots instead :)) (P.S. forgive my chipped nail polish in the pictures :l)

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I mainly use Italian vegetable tanned cowhide leather for everything I make for Quiddity, so that’s the leather I’m using to test the Schärffix with. Here I am using a 1mm thick piece of vegtan. I also tried 2mm and 3mm thick vegtan leather but I think those were too thick for the Schärffix, and they were extremely difficult to pull through the device.

Since it was made for bookbinding (i.e. leather bound books), I think it’s best used for thinner leathers (such as this 1mm vegtan), in particular, leather which is very difficult to skive by hand/ using hand tools like skiving knives. For me, 1mm vegtan is nearly impossible to skive evenly using hand tools–I almost always cut too much off!

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The Schärffix works by inserting the leather underneath the blade (flesh side up, because the blade is on top), and then pulling downwards and to the right (in the same motion) in order to pull the leather across the blade as the blade skives off the desired thickness. You can adjust the thickness gauge (this determines how much will be skived off) and swap out the skiving wheel thingies underneath (these silver bar things determine the area of the skive, whether it’s the whole strip, a skived channel in the middle, and so forth)

Best with long strips of leather, cut narrowly. The Schärffix can flat-skive up to 3-4cm at a time/ per pass through. larger pieces of leather will be more difficult to get through the device, so it’s ideal for skiving edges, strips, parts to be folded over like the edges of wallets, etc.

Here I skived a thick edge of a small piece of 1mm vegtan leather:

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My scrap bit of leather
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Step one: insert the leather
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Step two: pull the leather downwards and to the right (while the left hand holds the rest of the leather steady and with a counter-force downwards)
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Step three: Keep pulling 
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Et voilà: the skived portion on the left, nice and evenly skived

And here I skived a long 1-cm wide strip of 1mm thick vegtan:

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Pull gingerly especially at the start, to avoid cutting the leather
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Pull steadily until the end of the strip

So far, so good. I haven’t had a project yet where I specifically featured the use of the Schärffix, but I’ll try to post one, one of these days (I’m a terribly inconsistent post-er) 😐

The Schärffix is €349 plus shipping, and they have all the extra parts and blades and stuff also available for sale at their website. When I contacted them about my interest in getting one, they were pretty helpful and my order arrived pretty quickly. If you don’t want to pay the shipping fee, I think there’s a minimum amount you need to reach to be able to get free shipping, or visit them in person in Germany! 🙂

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