February 11, 2020

How to Skive Leather in Shoemaking?!

Every step in shoemaking is very important and influences on the next one.
So let’s learn shoemaking the right way!

In shoemaking there are a lot of topics to talk about but one of the most requested is about shoemaking tools. I already wrote a post about basic shoemaking tools “Beginners Shoemaking Tools and Materials: The Definitive Guide 2023” but still there are much more to talk about, about tiny and very important details. 

Why do I use this shoemaking knife and why do I recommend using it to all beginners?

Yes, now we talk about shoe making knife.

You can imagine that there are a lot of different types of knives to work within shoemaking. Actually, there is a knife for each certain work in making shoes ...But there is one excellent knife you can use in many shoemaking tasks.


I use this knife in my work and I recommend using this knife to my students and to all beginners in shoemaking.

Now, why exactly did I choose this knife?

The main reason is that it is good for multiple tasks in making shoes and it is very easy to maintain it during the work. 

What you can do with this knife in making your shoes?


It is one of the most important steps in shoemaking among 100 other steps and if you have a good knife and know how to work with it, you can achieve 30% of a good quality of your shoes.

(Here you will find a more detailed explanation about skiving and an excellent tutorial on how to skive working with this knife. )

What I want you to understand is why this knife is an excellent knife for skiving process that is a part of assembling of all upper and lining shoe parts

It has a curved blade and that’s why it allows to hold it in different manners in order to skive different amounts of the leather. You can skive leather very thin as well as to skive just a little bit; you can skive a wide leather surface or narrow surface as well. 


We need to trim extra of the heel layers in the process of leather heel making

Also, we need to trim extra of the sole edge during sole making in the shoes with welted construction. 

This Italian knife is good for it. All you need is to know how to hold it properly to not cut upper and yourself:) (wait a min., in the tutorial I show how to hold it).


With this knife, you can cut sole bends. It is leather for sole and it is thick. (If you want to know more about different leather types check this post too “Best Leather Types For-Beginners in Shoemaking”.)

 So before you will go to cut the exact shape of your shoe soles you will need to cut a little bit bigger piece of this thick leather. You can do it using this knife. 

How to maintain this knife?

It is super important to keep any shoe making knife sharp. If it is not sharp, you will have problems with the quality of your shoes and will work harder than needed.

So shoemakers usually sharpen their knives many times in each step of working.

To sharpen the knife is one of the hardest tasks for beginners in shoemaking because there are a lot of approaches for different types of knives and you really need to choose the best one for you. 

That’s why I recommend to you as a beginner in shoemaking to choose this Italian knife because it comes already sharp and what you need to do is to keep it sharp always.  

There is an easy way to keep it sharp with the use of sandpaper. 

I made for you a tutorial about this excellent knife where you also will find the easiest way on how to keep it always sharp!  

So watch the tutorial at the beginning of the article and don’t forget to scroll down to learn more about skiving.


It is one of the most complicated tasks for beginners in shoemaking because the good results comes from practice and knowledge about this technique.

Shoemaking knife and piece of leather

In this post I want to teach you how to skive.  So after practising this technique you will have good results, for sure. 

But before I want to explain to you why you should skive correctly and what is the most common outcomes that will influence on your further work after wrong skiving.

How skiving may influence for bad on your shoemaking craft!

To skive well the edges of your upper, especially in places where you have folding, you need to skive wide and thin enough edge. So when you will fold the edge, you will not have thick and bulky upper edge but thin and smooth folded one. 

If you will make bad skiving your shoes will have not only such an ugly look, especially if it is the top line of your upper,  but it will make your further work much harder.

  1. In elegant women shoes a seam must be in the distance of 1-1.5 mm from the edge. Because of the thick folded edge you will not be able to sew close to it and will sew far away from the edge.
  2.  As you will need to trim the lining close to the seam it will create few problems:

    -The big part of the folded edge will be visible. To learn more about folding in shoemaking, read this shoemaking article with free tutorial: "How to fold in shoemaking".

    - if you made cuts to fold narrow and curved throat line in the front these cuts will be visible
  3.  If you will trim the lining allowance not close to the seam (that will be incorrect) you will have not accurate cut and big enough edge of the lining that will extend.
  4.  If you will not skive thin enough the underline, you will see the edge through the top part of the lining or upper. For example, you will see the edges of lining back part through the upper. 

Now, I think you will want to know how to make a good skiving to overcome all these mistakes that beginners in shoemaking do. If you're interested in understanding the typical mistakes many shoemaking beginners make, I invite you to read this post: "HOW TO MAKE SHOES - Common Mistakes in the Shoemaking Process"

As usual, I prepared for you a shoe making tutorial with step by step explanation! 


P.S : If this shoemaking tutorial gave you a knew knowledge or a good idea, or just simply was helpful to you and your craft, be a nice web user and comment below ! I would appreciate it a lot.

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About the author 

Sveta Kletina

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  1. Sveta kletina, your innovation is unique. I have learned a lot from you in shoe making and I need to learn more on shoe crafting. Thanks alot I appreciate.

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