If you make a lot of wallets, small purses, leather earrings, belts, straps, and other smaller leather work projects, then splitting is something you cannot escape – and the need for a leather splitter machine becomes relatively essential.
So in this article, I doubled down on the leather splitter machine and did some research on it and I’m ready to share with you all I found out to get you informed if it’s a tool you’re ready to invest in. Let’s get it on!
What is a Leather Splitter Machine?
A leather splitter machine is a device that’s used to reduce the thickness of leather evenly and more accurately on either a fairly large piece of leather or a strap piece. It’s works by feeding a piece of leather through the machine rollers and blade in order to split the leather to a required thickness.
It works best on hard thick skirting (vegetable tanned) leather but with the right adjustments, you should be able to split the very soft (chrome tanned) leathers as well. The key to keeping the leather splitting machine in top shape is to keep its blades super sharp all the time.
You can give your leather splitter machine blade a good sharp edge with a local blade sharpener who has a hollow ground sharpening machine. You can as well ensure you have an extra blade always ready for use when one dulls out.
Most leather splitter machines will come with a hollow ground blade and will require sharpening by a professional who will use a hollow ground sharpening machine to render an ultra sharpness on the blade edges.
While most beginner and some professional leather crafters will use Skiving Knives, the leather splitter machine is also a vital tool worth investing in (alongside your Skiving knives) for your leather work projects no matter your level of expertise.
What Does a Leather Splitter Do?
The leather splitting machine does basically one thing and that is to reduce any thickness of leather down to a preferred weight in the easiest, fastest, and most accurate manner.
The splitting is often operated by either pulling the leather through the leather splitter machine or using a hand crank that helps to feed the leather through the machine to split. The action depends on the brand or type of splitter you get.
The best tip that works no matter the brand of leather splitter machine you get is to never to split more than 2 ounces at a time. It’s better to be very gradually with your splits and gradually work your way down to your preferred weights.
Types of Leather Splitter Machine
While the leather splitter machine will perform just about one primary function of splitting leather, there are about 3 common types of leather splitter machines you’re bound to find on the market today.
These are the industrial leather splitting machine, Standard Leather Splitting Machine, and the Handheld Splitter Machine.
The Industrial Leather Splitter Machines
The industry leather splitting machines are the industrial size leather splitting machines. These are the more heavy duty leather splitter machines machines. The industrial leather splitting machines work slightly different from other splitter machines.
The industrial leather splitter machines are more powerful, can split all kinds of leather widths and thickness, and they are relatively more expensive.
The most outstanding features that are easily noticeably with the industrial leather splitter machines is that since these machines are used for large-scale projects, a lot of its functions and parts will be automated instead of the hand cranks actions and manual feeding operations with other splitters.
The industrial leather splitter machines will also be electricity powered and getting one will mean you might have to bump up the power supply to your workshop. Also, in addition to the electricity boost, you will need to a bigger space since these are not your regular table top machines.
Do to how pricy these machines are to purchase, maintain, and use, companies like Rocky Mountain Leather Supply offer splitting services.
The Standard Leather Splitter Machine
The standard leather splitter machine is suitable for crafters and small to medium scale leather workers. The standard leather splitter machine is usually (9 out of 10) a manually operated machine that can be mounted on a work bench with a clamps.
It’s often operated by pulling on a hand crank, lever, or thumb screws, that engages the blades for the splitting action. Although manually operated, you will be amazed at how heavy-duty the standard leather splitter machines are!
Unlike the industrial leather splitter machines, the standard leather splitter machine will have a limited splitting leather width it can handle, usually between 4-6 inches.
The Handheld Splitter Machine
The handheld leather splitter machines are very portable and designed to be handheld with a squeeze action that operates its splitting function.
The handheld leather splitter machines are pretty small when compared to the industrial and standard leather splitter machines but will do a great job for you.
Although not entirely popular and are often Chinese brands, they will do fairly good job especially of you work on a lot on straps, belt projects, or projects that do not involve wider widths and leathers that are too thick.
Benefits of Having a Leather Splitter Machine
Getting the right tools regardless what you do is always phenomenal and so getting a leather splitter machine for your leather splitting activities has a lot of advantages – I can say, even more than the obvious benefits you will think of.
Here are couple of benefits of having a leather splitter machine:
Makes the Most Accurate Splits
This is probably one of the most obvious reasons why you will get a leather splitter machine – simply to make splitting leather very accurate and perfect.
A properly adjusted or configured leather splitter machine will be able to bring down any thickness of leather all the way down to a fine hairline thickness without any errors.
You will simply split using your splitter machine, measure with a leather thickness gauge, and continue to split and measure till you achieve the thickness of your choice.
Split Thinner Leathers Easily
Splitting thinner leathers is really hard to do especially using manual Skiving or paring knives. Bringing down soft leather to that featherweight thickness can seem impossible even with the very best hand tools.
While most leather splitter machines will work best on very thick harness leathers, it will also do a fantastic splitting job on soft and thin leathers. The catch is the leather splitter blade must be sharp and installed properly – and you should be able to split those thin leathers perfectly.
Saves a Lot of Time
The leather splitter machine saves a lot of time. Having to splitter leather manually can be a pain especially if you’ve got a lot of projects you need to work on.
With a leather splitter machine you will be able to get all the parts of the leather article you’re making down to an appropriate thickness in a matter of minutes and ready for assembly.
Reuse Leather Scraps
If you make a lot of leather goods using thicker leathers, you will begin to notice the piles of leather scraps build up in your workspace. These scraps will sometimes consist of uneven, very soft, or very thick parts of the leather that you cannot ordinarily use.
The leather splitter is a great tool you can use to turn all those pieces of leather scraps into workable leather and make profitable items.
You can simply split the scraps to have even thickness and use it for little scrap projects for yourself or for sale.
No matter the kind of scraps you have you will be able to level it down to a nice even thickness and Voila! you have leather you can use for projects like wallets, key fobs, coasters, a whole bunch of scrap projects.
Remove Fuzziness on Flesh Side
Leather fuzziness is very common in a lot of vegetable tanned leathers. It’s the extra fuzzy fibers on the flesh side or underside of leather that makes leatherwork unprofessional.
While there are other ways to fix fuzzy leather, splitting with a leather splitter machine is one sure way to remove serious fuzziness off your leather.
After splitting off the fuzziness, you must apply a layer of Tokonole leather finish on the split side and slicker over the surface with a leather glass burnisher to prevent the fibers from becoming fuzzy once again.
Reduce Amount of Glue Usage and Improves Adhesion
Leather with a Fuzzy flesh side will soak up more glue to cover.
When leather is split, excess fibers are taken off the flesh side where glue is often applied when joining leather pieces. With this done, a small amount of glue can evenly be spread to cover quite large leather surface.
Reduces Weight from your Project
When making projects like bags, a bit of weight and thickness of the leather you use help to keep the item in shape. But with projects like wallets, sizing down every part of the wallet is key before assembling.
This is important because you wouldn’t want to make a wallet that’s bulky even before the user can fit anything into it.
Remove Variations in Tannery Split
Leather is split during tanning and this is done because leather is an organic material and as such will not be even. So splitting the leather down further to a consistent thickness before using it helps to remove any form of imperfections and thickness variations.