Paring Leather

Leather bound book with raised pattern

The January meeting had member David Millhouse demonstrate to all how to pare leather. (This is also known as skiving leather). This process is needed to make the edge of the leather very thin, no more than the thickness of a piece of paper. This allows the leather to be folded over the edge of the case easily, corners can be tucked and generally worked more easily.

Paring is a process of cutting away the excess thickness from the back of the leather, and making sure you do not damage the front. It takes some practice, a knowledge of what you want to achieve, and a very sharp knife. The leather is placed face downwards on a hard flat surface such as a sheet of glass or polished stone, and then the knife is used to carefully take a bevel off the edge. This bevel is slowly made longer and flatter until between 1cm and 2cm have been thinned out along the full length of the leather.

The short demonstration was followed by the opportunity for all present to practise the technique on some scraps of leather supplied for the purpose. The workshop was extremely interesting, particularly for those who have not attempted the art before. It quickly became obvious that lots of scrap leather was going to be required before trusting the process to the final piece destined for a real book case.