Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast
Results 1 to 20 of 64

Thread: Sheath making tutorial(Pic intensive)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 1999
    Location
    "Kickin' ASH" way out in West Texas
    Posts
    1,847

    Sheath making tutorial(Pic intensive)


    ADVERTISEMENT
    This is my first attempt at a tutorial so please be patient. I am not a photographer so the pics are not pro quality. The materials, methods, and equipment in this tutorial are only how I do things and are not the only way to go about sheath making.

    99.999999% of what I know about sheath making comes from the kind help of many of the fine folks that frequent this and other sheath making forums. Without the help, advice, and encouragement of guys like Paul Long, Sandy Morrisey, Duane Puckett, Mike Bartol, Dave Cole, and Dave Abramson I would not able to do the kind of work I am able to do now. These guys taught me most of all that none of this stuff is a secret and that there is room for anyone who wants to make and sell knife sheaths.

    When I decided to make a knife sheath I saw a tutorial and thought "Wow, I can do that!" Well..no I couldn't but I sure did try. So, after that I kept looking for tutorials but did not find too many. So now that I know a little bit about sheath making I figured I would post this and see if I could help provide a little information to folks who are looking to get started.

    In this tutorial I will outline how I build a Randall style sheath. I will make two of them. One will be hand sewn and the other I will do on my machine.

    First off there are certain things that you need to make a knife sheath a knife, materials, and tools.

    And yes my shop is a mess! It is not completely set up, we just moved in a couple of month ago, so I have not yet gotten completely organized. But it works for now and it make me happy.

    Materials:

    Leather: There are many types of leather but the one most used for sheath making is vegetable tanned leather. There are other kinds that are tanned and finished using different processes but "veg tan" is considered the leather of choice. There are many places to get leather and many levels of quality. You can buy leather from any number of places such as Tandy/Leather Factory, Siegels of California, Wickett and Craig, Weavers, etc. If you do a search you will find that each leather worker has their preference. I get my leather from Seigels of California, I prefer their double tanned saddle skirting. I also get leather from a local holster manufacturer who buys Herman Oak Leather by the pallet and lets me pick what I need and sells to me at cost.


    If you are just starting out I would recommend going to Tandy/Leather Factory. Tandy/Leather Factory stores are all over the country and they generally have people on staff who can help you pick out what you need. 8 oz. veg tan leather is a good all around choice for the type of sheath in this tutorial.

    Tools:

    Here are the tools I use most.



    The tool on the left is a safety skiver, it is used for thinning down or Skiving leather.

    On the right is a regular utility knife with replaceable blades. There are many options for cutting leather, but I like these utility knives because they are cheap and the blades are replaceable.

    From top to bottom in the middle are:

    Bag Punch- These are used to cut slots in leather. They come in various sizes depending on the size of the slot you need.

    Stitch Groover- These are used to cut a groove in leather fro laying out the stitch line. By cutting a groove you are able to lay out you line for stitching and the stitching sits in the grove below the surface of the leather, which reduced wear on the thread.

    Slicker/Bone Folder- These are used for forming, molding and burnishing leather. Bone folders can be made of many materials; bone, plastic, or in this case hardwood.

    Overstitch Wheel- These are used for marking stitch placement and cleaning up lines of stitching.

    Edger- These are used to round off the edges of leather.



    Drill Press- A drill press is one of the handiest things to have for leather working. A drill press can be used for making holes, sanding, and as a press to install rivets and snaps. I use mine constantly.


    Snaps and dies- Snaps are of course used for a variety of purposes on sheaths. The dies are used to install the snaps and rivets, instead of a press I use my drill press.


    Belt Sander- Belt sander is handy for evening up edges, especially on thicker sheaths and holsters.


    Sewing Machine- In order to sew sheaths you need a heavy duty sewing machine. My machine is a Class III harness machine capable of sewing over 3/4" of leather. Having a sewing machine like this saves a lot of time and effort.



    Needles and Thread- Hand-sewing is the best method for stitching leather but is more time and labor intensive. For hand-stitching you need 2 harness needles, wax, and thread. Regular needles will not do the job, harness needles are designed for sewing heavy leather. For thread I use Barbour's linen thread and wax it my self with bees wax.


    Adhesives- For permanently bonding leather Barge Cement is the glue of choice. DAP Weldwood contact cement also works very well and is widely available in home improvement stores. Rubber cement is used for temporarily gluing things together or where a less secure bond is acceptable.


    Finishes- There are many different kinds of finishes available for leather. I prefer natural finishes. Neatsfoot oil and or vegetable oils, such as olive, canola, etc, are used both to replace oils in leather and to darken leather. You can darken natural leather by oiling it and placing it in the sun. Leather will turn darker just like your skin.

    For top finishes I prefer bees wax based finishes such as Montana Pitch Blend or Obenauf's LP. These finishes are god for the leather, natural, and they smell good. These type of finishes provide good water repellency while still allowing the leather to breathe.

    Saddle soap is used in the edge burnishing process.
    Last edited by nick681; 08-15-2010 at 01:42 PM.

    Looking to buy Aftershock Bolo #78 it is the knife my wife cut our wedding cake with. I had to sell it a few years back when times were tough and now I would like to buy it back.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 1999
    Location
    "Kickin' ASH" way out in West Texas
    Posts
    1,847
    Now on to making the sheath. The type of sheath I will be making is called a Randall Style sheath. This type of sheath was made popular by Randall knives and made by Sullivan's holster shop. As evidenced by the number of people who make and use these type of sheaths the design is a good one.

    I will be making a sheath for a Scrapyard Regulator.


    The first thing I do is trace the outline of the knife on a large piece of graph paper. Once this is done I decide the dimensions and design of the sheath.




    Once I have laid out the sheath, I cut the pattern out in stages and transfer the pattern to a suitable stiff media. Poster board, manila folders, old cereal boxes, or pretty much any thin type of cardboard will work.








    Then I cut out my patterns and trace them on my leather. When tracing your parts there are a couple of things to keep in mind. One, I always lay everything out on the back side of the leather. Two, be sure that you pattern is oriented with the proper side facing up. Having your pattern upside down is a surefire way to make a left handed sheath when you were trying to make a right handed one.



    Once the parts are laid out I cut them out using my utility knife.




    The pieces, from top to bottom are

    Back piece, which will be folded over to form the belt loop.

    Spacer/Front piece, which gives the guard of the knife a place to rest, keeps the sheath nice and flat, and make for a sturdier sheath IMO. The spacer piece is the exact same shape as the front piece.

    Welt, the welt is sewn into the sheath to protect the stitching form the edge of the blade.

    Looking to buy Aftershock Bolo #78 it is the knife my wife cut our wedding cake with. I had to sell it a few years back when times were tough and now I would like to buy it back.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 1999
    Location
    "Kickin' ASH" way out in West Texas
    Posts
    1,847
    Now begins the construction.

    The first thin I do is take the back piece and form the belt loop. In order to form leather you must first wet it. If you do not wet the leather it will not form well and is prone to cracking.

    When wet forming leather there are several things to keep in mind. Wet leather is really easy to mark. The slightest thing can make a permanent impression so you must work in a clean area, on smooth surface, and ensure that your fingernails are trimmed. You can even transfer fingerprints into the leather if you press too hard.





    For folding the belt loop on a sheath like this I run the leather under the faucet until the entire piece is wet. I wet the entire piece so that the whole thing will be the same color. If you only wet the part you want to bend you may end up with a different color where the water was.



    Then I take and press the pieces under two pieces of wood lined with leather (two strops I made that are now used for this purpose) and weigh them down with a piece of railroad rail. I leave the pieces there for an hour or so them take them out and let them dry.

    While the back pieces are drying I move on to the other parts of the sheath.

    Looking to buy Aftershock Bolo #78 it is the knife my wife cut our wedding cake with. I had to sell it a few years back when times were tough and now I would like to buy it back.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 1999
    Location
    "Kickin' ASH" way out in West Texas
    Posts
    1,847
    Now for the other part of the sheath.

    The next step is to glue the welt to the spacer.





    Since the grain or smooth side of the leather is on the inside of the sheath and the welt gets glued on both sides I have to rough up the leather. If you do not rough up the leather may not get good adhesion. I use 80 grit sand paper for this. Before I sand the leather I mark where the welt will be glued so I only sand the portion that needs it .



    When gluing leather together be sure to follow the manufacturers directions.



    Once the pieces are put together I go around the area that was glued and tap it with a smooth faced cobbler's hammer. (Sorry I forgot to add the cobbler's hammer to the pic of all the tools) If you use a regular hammer or mallet you will end up with some ugly marks.


    Once every thing is glued up and together it is time to test fit the knife.










    If the knife does not fit you may have to trim the welt a little bit. Just be careful not to cut the spacer.





    Next I dampen the top edge of the spacer and use the edger to round the inside edge and burnish the top edge. This makes for a nicer finished sheath.









    Then I apply a light coat of finish to the inside of the sheath. Once the finish is dry to the touch I assemble the spacer, welt, and front piece.

    I also mark the front piece where the welt goes so that I don's put any of the finish where the glues will go. If you get the finish where the glue will be you will not get good adhesion.



    Now I assemble the three pieces to make the front portion. At this point the edges are uneven( my hands don't quite work right), I will remedy this at the belt sander.


    Looking to buy Aftershock Bolo #78 it is the knife my wife cut our wedding cake with. I had to sell it a few years back when times were tough and now I would like to buy it back.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 1999
    Location
    "Kickin' ASH" way out in West Texas
    Posts
    1,847
    Now for the hand sewn sheath.

    The method I use for hand sewing is not the traditional method. Some people will cry heresy! But this is how I do it and it has worked great for me and the people who have bought my sheaths.

    Al Stohlman's book on hand sewing leather is the bible for sewing leather. While my method is not in that book, if you plan on doing any sewing by hand it is a must have. You can get this book at Tandy/Leather Factory, Amazon, or almost any leather craft supplier. In fact you can learn a hell of a lot from any of Al Stohlman's books, I recommend them all.


    I will be using the edger, stitch groover, and overstitcth wheel..




    First I dampen the leather and then run the edger lightly around the upper edge to knock of the "feather edge" of leather that forms when using the belt sander. Then I use the stitch groover to cut the groove where the stitch line will be.





    I then lightly dampen the leather again and run the overstitch wheel along the groove to mark my stitches. Are sized according to how many stitches per inch they lay out. I mostly use #5 and #6. For this sheath I will use 6 stitches per inch.




    Next I chuck up a sharpened brass lacing needle in my drill press to make the holes for sewing. A drill bit cuts and removes material(which is bad) but a sharp smooth bit like this makes a hole and burnished the inside of the hole at the same time and no material is removed.



    Once I make all the holes I go around and lightly tap the whole front side with the cobbler's hammer and this is what you end up with.

    Now where did that back piece get to?

    Looking to buy Aftershock Bolo #78 it is the knife my wife cut our wedding cake with. I had to sell it a few years back when times were tough and now I would like to buy it back.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 1999
    Location
    "Kickin' ASH" way out in West Texas
    Posts
    1,847
    Now on to the back piece.

    Once the back piece is dry it is time to continue.







    Once again things aren't quite even. So I put my drum sander bit in my drill press and get everything trues right up. These drums come in different sizes and do a great job of getting edges evened up.






    Now that I have every thing all nice and even it's time to punch a slot for the keeper strap ( I blatantly stole this from Dwayne Puckett).


    Now I have to skive down the portion that will be folded to form the belt loop. If you do not skive this down the layers of the sheath will not lay right.






    After dampening the leather I skive it down to a real thin edge. Since all of the strength in the leather is in the grain or smooth side you can take it down pretty thin. In this case since since this portion is going to be part of a laminated sewn piece skiving this thin works great.



    Inside the belt loops have been edged and I applied some finish. Glue is drying and waiting to be assembled.


    After assembly and a few taps with the cobbler's hammer, the back piece is ready to mated with the rest of the sheath.

    Looking to buy Aftershock Bolo #78 it is the knife my wife cut our wedding cake with. I had to sell it a few years back when times were tough and now I would like to buy it back.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 1999
    Location
    "Kickin' ASH" way out in West Texas
    Posts
    1,847
    Alright, now it's time to everything assembled.

    For the sheath I will be sewing on my sewing machine All I have to do is glue the two parts together and true the edges up.

    For the sheath that is being sewn by hand a little more work is needed. First I have to glue the two parts together. Then comes a trip to the belt sander and the sanding drum to get the edges trued up.

    Once I get the edges trued up I have to go back and finish the holes the thread will go through. There are a couple of reasons I do this in multiple steps. The biggest reason is when you are going through multiple layers of leather a thin bit tends to wander so that your holes on the bottom will not match the ones on top. This will result in crooked stitching on the back of the sheath. If you do this in two or more steps the bit will follow the hole that is already made and stay true. Even though you have to go through each hole again it is worth it to get straight stitching on the back.









    After going through all of the holes again, I tap everything with the cobbler's hammer again and then run the overstitch wheel over the holes. Now every thing on the back is ready to be sewn.



    Both sheaths are ready to be sewn.


    After I sew these up I will post the second part of this tutorial.


    Thanks for looking,


    Nick

    Looking to buy Aftershock Bolo #78 it is the knife my wife cut our wedding cake with. I had to sell it a few years back when times were tough and now I would like to buy it back.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Nov 1999
    Location
    "Kickin' ASH" way out in West Texas
    Posts
    1,847

    Here is half of the sheath I am hand stitching sewn. When I am sewing a project by hand many times I will break each line of stitching up and do it in sections. By breaking up the stitch line in two I have a shorter line to complete at any given time. Also by doing this I am working with a shorter length of thread. The shorter your thread the less likely hood of it getting tangles while you sew.




    Here is a close up of the stitches.




    Before I sew a sheath on my machine I take a pair of wing dividers and very lightly make a line so that I have a reference to follow as I stitch. I have a roller guide on my sewing machine but around tight curves I take it slow and use the guide line.





    Here is a pic of the machine sewn sheath. The loose thread ends you see will be snipped close and I will met the ends of the thread with a lighter. I have one of those wood burning irons somewhere but I can't find it so a lighter will have to do.




    Here are closeups of the machine stitching front and back. Tapping the stitching front and back with my trusty cobbler's hammer will flatten things out and make them look cleaner.


    Two sheaths all sewn up next to each other.

    Looking to buy Aftershock Bolo #78 it is the knife my wife cut our wedding cake with. I had to sell it a few years back when times were tough and now I would like to buy it back.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Nov 1999
    Location
    "Kickin' ASH" way out in West Texas
    Posts
    1,847
    Next step is to burnish the edges. Burnishing the edge of leather goods can be done in many different ways. There are as many methods of edge burnishing as there are leather workers. Some people even use a burnishing machine or some just use paint (edge dressing) on the edges of their leather work. Some people, Paul Long and Sandy Morrisey especially, are able to get the edge of their sheaths to looks like glass. I normally go for a nice smooth waxed edge on my sheaths since I intend most of my work to be used outdoors. The only time I go for a really extra shiny edge is on a sheath that is overlaid with an exotic skin and is intended for gentler carry.

    So here is the method I use most often.

    First I dampen the top and bottom of the sheath and use a #2 edger to take the corner off the edge. Then I sand the edges with 120 grit sand paper to get everything all even and fairly smooth. When you are using sand paper on the edges of your sheath endure you always sand in only one direction. Sanding in one direction aids in getting the leather fibers to lie down. To keep everything simple when I am sanding I always sand towards the bottom tip of the sheath.


    This is what it looks like after I sand with the 120 grit. Once I have sanded with 120 grit I wet the edge of the sheath and wet sand with 120 grit again. One I have gotten the edge even smoother I progress to 300 grit, first dry then wet. Once I have sanded wet with the 300 grit.


    This is how things look after the 300 grit is all done.



    I then apply saddle soap to the edge and rub the bejeezus out it with a piece of rough canvas. For canvas I bought a big drop cloth from Harbor Freight for something like $8.00. I now have enough heavy canvas to last me a good long time.

    After application of saddle soap.


    Next I apply light coat of neatsfoot oil and let it dry.


    At this point you can actually go ahead and call it good but I take a few extra steps.

    Looking to buy Aftershock Bolo #78 it is the knife my wife cut our wedding cake with. I had to sell it a few years back when times were tough and now I would like to buy it back.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Nov 1999
    Location
    "Kickin' ASH" way out in West Texas
    Posts
    1,847
    While the sheath is drying and the color is evening out. It is time to work on the keeper straps.


    First I cut the straps and use a point punch on he end and punch a hole for the snap.




    Then using my drill press with the snap die chucked into it I install the snap.



    Next I install the keeper strap and determine where the corresponding snap goes.



    Now that the oil has been absorbed and the color evened out it is time to finish the edge of the sheath. I use bees wax for this. I apply the wax and use the canvas again to burnish everything. I follow up with another application of bee’s wax and burnish with a piece of cotton bed sheet. I am looking for a nice smooth shiny edge. I am not looking to achieve a glassy edge since I intend for this sheath to be used outdoors.



    Once I install the other snap I burnish the edges of the keeper strap to match the rest of the sheath. As you can see the oil has absorbed nicely and produced a very nice even color. This is by far my favorite color and look for leather goods. Western saddles, which see hard use outdoors, are finished and maintained solely with neatsfoot oil. I however like to use a good quality bees wax based treatment such as Montana Pitch Blend, in this case, or Obenauf's LP as a final finish.



    Here is a pic of the finished sheath after an application of Montana Pitch Blend and little time in the West Texas sun to help the finish absorb. Between the Montana Pitch Blend and all the leather in my shop, I must have the nicest smelling garage in Texas.


    I hope everyone enjoyed this tutorial. One again, this is only how I do things, many makers use different techniques, materials and methods. I hope I have been able to share some information and methods and help folks looking to make their own sheaths.

    Looking to buy Aftershock Bolo #78 it is the knife my wife cut our wedding cake with. I had to sell it a few years back when times were tough and now I would like to buy it back.

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Hillywood, The Netherlands
    Posts
    760
    Great Post! Sticky Worthy..

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Nov 2000
    Location
    Blairsville, Ga.,USA
    Posts
    456
    Well done, my friend!!!

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Location
    10,000 Lakes
    Posts
    4,093
    Nice work...Thanks for taking the time to do this....
    Dusty One

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Kansas
    Posts
    1,786
    Thank you for your time with this this tutorial. Very informative. I wasn't sure about the one elongated punched hole for the keeper strap. The hole looks off to one side. Was not sure how that works. Thanks for the efforts.

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Eyeing the Trough from Georgia
    Posts
    2,398
    Awesome job, Nick! Nice tutorial and leatherwork.
    _________________

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Nov 1999
    Location
    "Kickin' ASH" way out in West Texas
    Posts
    1,847
    Quote Originally Posted by Loosearrow View Post
    Thank you for your time with this this tutorial. Very informative. I wasn't sure about the one elongated punched hole for the keeper strap. The hole looks off to one side. Was not sure how that works. Thanks for the efforts.
    I always offset the hole for the keeper strap away from the edge of the knife. Doing this helps keep the strap away from the edge of the knife when drawing or sheathing the knife.



    Plus one hole makes it easier to remove the keeper strap if need be. For replacement or if the user likes the snap oriented a certain way.

    Looking to buy Aftershock Bolo #78 it is the knife my wife cut our wedding cake with. I had to sell it a few years back when times were tough and now I would like to buy it back.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Location
    San Antonio, Texas
    Posts
    11,618
    Well done!

    I especially like the "I blatantly stole that from Dwayne" I have to admit I felt really good about myself when I thought up that one.
    www.armoralleather.com Dwayne Puckett

    "Never push a loyal person to the point where they no longer care."

    I no longer care

    Armoralleather Forum on BF! click me!

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Eyeing the Trough from Georgia
    Posts
    2,398
    Nick, about how long does it take you to complete a sheath like that?
    _________________

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Nov 1999
    Location
    "Kickin' ASH" way out in West Texas
    Posts
    1,847
    Quote Originally Posted by Greg45 View Post
    Nick, about how long does it take you to complete a sheath like that?
    I can get a sheath like this done in a day, depending on how long it takes the back piece to dry. I can do several at the same time and take about the same amount of time. Generally I do the forming of the belt loop the night before and let it dry overnight.

    Looking to buy Aftershock Bolo #78 it is the knife my wife cut our wedding cake with. I had to sell it a few years back when times were tough and now I would like to buy it back.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    Eyeing the Trough from Georgia
    Posts
    2,398
    Thanks, Nick. That's pretty good time, being able to turn out several of these in a day or so. And I like the natural look you leave on many of your sheaths as well.

    I'm with Martin - This should be a sticky!!!
    _________________

Page 1 of 4 1234 LastLast

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •