Brent Parker of Brent Parker Motor Trimming wrote at length about the importance of reducing selvage bulk in his article “10 Tips to Take Your Trimming to the Next Level.” One way to do this is by using a skiver.
Skivers shave the edges of leather to make it thinner — allowing auto upholsterers to reduce selvage bulk, a primary cause of unsightly raised seams in leather-wrapped panels.
Of course, not every auto upholstery shop can afford a skiver and many have gotten along without one for many years. However, one look at the video below – which features the Fortuna ES-50 and CS5 leather skiving machines – and you’ll surely want to buy one.
Tell us: Do you own a skiving machine? If so, which make/model do you recommend and how big of a difference has it made in your projects? Please use the comments section below.
Fred Mattson says
I have used a hand skiving tool in my shop for over 35 years and it works just fine. The key to skiving leather is to keep a very sharp blade and clear away any fibers that might clog the throat of your tool. Also a slight side to side motion helps the blade through the leather instead of just dragging it across.
The machines that you feature in the article are great for commercial work that require large volumes of leather to be treated in an efficient and quick manner, but are not practical for most trim shops due to size and cost.
I have a Fotuna type Skiving machine made by Highlead. It takes some time to learn how to use it and adjust it for the process you are doing. but it does make the product look better when done right.
I have a Consew DCS3, it really make a difference in the final product. In fact one should not do some jobs with out it. One example would be a simple ash try cover on the vintage SL Mercedes or many components on a Rolls Royce. If you learn how to use your machine you can skive the complete piece not just the edges. ALL true restoration shops must have one!
Edward Brumfield says
I have been using a Leather Skiver for the past 6 years. I own two of them.The one that I use on a daily basis is the Highlead YXP-18. I use it for almost every job. Piping, seats, Dashboards,etc… Every trimmer that uses leather needs one..It took a long time for me to get used to using it, but it is a good investment and makes your work alot more pleasurable..
I’ve found it’s basically impossible to skive thin, floppy, chrome tanned leather using a hand skiving knife. Because I focus mainly on Horween ChromeExcel and Shell Cordovan, I decided to buy a good, used Fortuna bell knife skiver with top and bottom feed.
I guess I just don’t have the time or patience to try to mess around trying to hand skive soft leather anymore. I would much rather be actually MAKING the things I make than taking a few hours to (maybe or maybe not succesfully) skive the edges of the pieces. I’d rather use the Fortuna and have all pieces properly skived within less than a minute or two. But that’s just me…you all keep on hand skiving if you want to…:-)
I have realized that ‘skiving machine’ is a ‘must’ for a leather artisan or an upholsterer who works with leather…some pieces should be evenly skived to get a better appearance, and if we have to do some sewing, this procedure would be easier to join the pieces. That’s why two weeks ago i decided to buy a still in good shape ‘Fortuna skiver machine’ (103 years old)…At this moment my son is doing some little restoration on this beauty…soon, we’ll be sharing some information and a demonstration in this interesting forum.
Al Lui says
I am on my second skiving machine, its fantastic would hate to have to go back to hand skiving.
David Miller says
Well, I have been looking for a good, used Fortuna or Italian make skiving machine for a while now and there have just not been any available. I’ve almost broken down and decided to order one of the Consew models, even though I’ve been told they do not skive thinner chrome tanned leathers very well at all.
Really depressing how difficult it’s been to find a good machine to buy.
Jack Davis says
For sciving I use Veteran in So Calif. there price is reasonable