The finest paring knives I have ever encountered are the ones sold by TREVOR LLOYD at::
These knives are exceptionally well made from high quality "hunting knife steel" (I believe it's D-2 grade), only $55.00, plus post, and they hold an edge unbelievably well. I've had mine for over ten years. This is not to negate others knives, but Trevor's are simply the best! And they have beautiful hardwood handles as well. A student of mine from Toronto struggled much with leather paring until they bought a Trevor Lloyd knife. They come in both right and left-handed.
As for sharpening.... The very best approach I have ever found is when the blade becomes dull enough, strop the edge of the knife on very fine sandpaper, typically 320 grit. Taking great care as to the angle you're holding the blade. Then, next, laying the base of the knife dead-flat on the sandpaper, pull toward you on the sandpaper to remove the burr that has been created on the top edge. Be careful NOT to "round-off" the bottom of the edge! Now strop the knife ten or twelve times (BOTH sides of the knife) on a nice piece of bridle leather and it'll be sharp enough to de-hair with ease. Very many years ago this method was called "scary sharp". But it seems to be little known amongst newer binders on the scene today. Very dull knives will require a coarser grit paper at first, then progressing to the finer, and finally to the leather strop. I use the same strop since 1988 (my second one since I was seventeen years old), and have only "dressed" it twice. Both times with simple pumice powder. There is no need to spend money for "cremes" and such like.
Hope this helps!
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