This week we'll continue our focus on the leather working tools Anvil uses everyday with the swivel knife. The running theme with all of these tools is a sense of elegance and simplicity. The swivel knife is no different. Functionally this tool is used during the leather tooling process. After the leather is cased (slightly dampened) the leather craftsman uses the swivel knife to cut into the leather. Usually this means cutting deep enough to provide a strong contour line without cutting entirely through the piece of leather. Using a swivel knife does require a bit of manual dexterity.
The tool consists of three major components. The Saddle is a curved section where the leather craftsman typically rests his index finger. The Body of the swivel knife is attached to the saddle with a bearing to allow it to rotate freely using the thumb and the middle fingers. The Blade is a sharpened rectangular wedge that slices thinly and then pushes the leather apart. Everyone handles theirs a bit differently and it's important to find one that is weighted and sized in such a way that it is comfortable.
In use, the Swivel knife is held at a slight angle to make maximum use of the blade as a wedge. The leather worker applies pressure and a bit of guidance with his index finger in the saddle, while controlling the rotation of the blade with his thumb and middle fingers. The wrist and pinky act as a pivot for the purposes of finer guidance. With a bit of practice the leather craftsman can cut any number of shapes, lines, curves into the leather. From there a maul and any number of textured wedges can be uses to create illustrations and patterns on the surface of a piece of leather.