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Some tips and thoughts on folder sheaths

Discussion in 'Sheaths & Such' started by Gary W. Graley, Jul 12, 2008.

  1. Gary W. Graley

    Gary W. Graley “Imagination is more important than knowledge" Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 2, 1999
    Since this has become a Sticky, thank the Mod's
    I'll edit this first post with a listing that was in the Good Bad And Ugly feed back area

    There be a lot of talented gents when it comes to leather here on the forums;
    Here is a list of those that are Recommended to choose from
    These guys, not in any particular order, all have a passion for leather work
    so this thread can be a handy reference for future folks when they search
    for someone to help with their leather needs...And please note, I only posted
    those that participate in BladeForums, there are others but are not active members
    so I limited the list to those in our town, so to speak

    Edited to add that Dwayne Puckett, aka Leatherman, started a new thread which is also a sticky
    that contains posts from leathersmiths seen Here

    Sandy Morrissey known on the forums as Swivelknife aka helmar45789
    His Email no web site that I know of

    Paul Long known on the forums as sheathmaker
    his Email no web site that I know of

    Mike Bartol known on the forums as MtMike
    his Email
    Mike has a foto time where you can view some of his work Here

    Dave Abramson known on the forums as Lifter4Him
    His Email
    His Web page

    Chuck Burrows, known on the forums as Wild Rose
    His Email
    His Web page

    Ken Collucci's Email,
    His Web page

    Dwayne, known on the forum as leatherman
    His Email
    His Web page

    Mike Tea, known on the forums as Zozzie
    (removed his old email addy)
    Mike's a citizen of Canada as well as a noted bicyclist
    Please note, Mike Tea's sheath making has stopped for a while, he replied
    on a thread on August 2, 2008, but you can search the various threads
    and see some of his fine work and that may inspire you to try your hands
    at his style of sheaths, very beautiful workmanship.

    Vess, known on the forums as Vess...he also hails from Canada...
    His Email
    His Web page

    Ed Alpern, known on the forums as fasteddie, Ed is an up and comer, keep an eye on this fella!
    His Email
    no web page yet, but soon.

    ***********************************************************************************
    And now back to the thread where it began;

    Hey folks, traveling a lot lately, but now home for a bit so figured I'd add some
    of what I do, there are many ways to skin a cow, this is just one of those stories ;)

    First you start with this;

    [​IMG]

    well, at least part of it I buy my leather from Wickett & Craig they are out of PA

    I buy what's called Shoulder leather, very tight grain, the good stuff

    For Vertical sheaths I use 7/8 oz leather, depending on the size
    if it's a very small knife, I'll use the 6/7 oz

    For the top sections of the horizontal sheaths, I use 6/7 oz leather

    for the layer beneath the knife and the belt loop section I use
    a little thicker, 7/8 oz leather

    And yes, it is a little thick to form, it is stubborn stuff and always wants
    to retract back to it's original flat shape, so you need to KEEP working the
    leather repeatedly as it goes from wet to it's dry state, that's key to making
    the leather retain it's shape.


    Tools, mostly from Tandy back in the day, now my tools are quite aged
    much like the user, but I hear tell that Tandy is making a come back in
    leather, but see this Link to Tandy for their current offerings.

    if you have a tax id number, Weaver Leather also provides nice leather as well as a host of tools.

    Tools;

    Knife, of course a knife, this one is a Custom by a friend, Tony Bose, I made
    a special request and he honored me with this gift of a small carving knife, I don't
    know of another knife maker that is as kind a man as he is, thanks again Tony!

    [​IMG]

    Sucker is Sharp! Link

    Bone folder, used to do the majority of my shaping around the knife
    I use the SQUARE end to do my shaping, there is a rounded piece that you pull off and
    it shows the square end, also if there are any maker marks on the tool, sand that down
    so it's VERY smooth, don't want that scratching your leather.
    The pointed end of the bone folder I use to burnish the crease that I put at the opening
    of the sheaths once it's about dry, I just run that along in the groove, VERY carefully as you
    can slip out of the thin groove pretty easily, and that tip will deepen and burnish the groove for you nicely.
    [​IMG]

    Stitching Prongs, I have three that I use, a 4 prong for long stretches
    3 prong for some curves and a 'custom' 2 prong for going into tight quarters
    [​IMG]

    Mallet for said stitching prongs and embossings
    [​IMG]

    Ruler and pencil, nuff said ;)
    [​IMG]

    Groover, I use this to place a groove near the openings of the sheath, to me it
    provides a more finished look to the sheath; Link

    Edge beveler/cutter, this takes off a sharp corner of the leather, comes in
    several sizes Link

    Awl and custom awl made from a small screwdriver, used to hammer through thick
    layers of leather to prepare for sewing, the regular awl I use to start the thread
    holes and to enlarge the last few holes for the ending of the sewing;
    Link

    Awl-n-Awl sewing tool, some guys use the two needle system, I like this method for my sheaths;
    [​IMG]
    Thread I use Link

    Gunk, well, sort of, Oil dye, Gum, and Atom balm wax EDITED to say that I NO LONGER use the Atom Balm wax but now use a leather preservative that is more like a paste, works better and protects a lot better!
    [​IMG]

    A shoe Brush to buff after the wax coating Link
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2015
  2. Gary W. Graley

    Gary W. Graley “Imagination is more important than knowledge" Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 2, 1999
    Limited on the number of images per post, so it will be broken up a little;
    I had to remove some of the images above, if you want to see what tools
    look like, I'll add links to the images;


    Vertical sheaths;
    I like the vertical sheath as it takes up less room on your belt, here is some of
    the things I do as I go about making one;

    Patterns, I recommend using the small bubble wrap plastic to figure out how you
    want the sheath to wrap around your knife, not all knives work well in all sheaths
    so the knife is key, I've turned down some work because of the knife, but that's
    just my style of sheath making, very tight to the contours of the knife.

    I wrap the knife up with saran wrap to prevent moisture from weeping onto the knife
    I wet my leather under HOT water until it's pliable, wrap the leather around the
    knife and then using the bone folder, start shaping along the spine until you
    get to the end of the knife, where it will make an indent;

    [​IMG]

    Where the leather dimples in, I cut down there, as you need to remove a
    small piece of leather so it will fold down tightly without puckering

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Then tightly form around the end of the knife
    [​IMG]

    Didn't have any other in process shots of this, but here is the finished sheath
    it's one that I do not take orders for, the old combo deal, sorry guys, but it may give you
    something to try your hand at doing; All one piece of leather with one exception
    inside the bottom area of the light side, I glued in a small strip of leather, this prevents
    the light from passing all the way through, easier and much cleaner than trying to squish
    it closed.

    [​IMG]

    Once the leather is dried, then I would emboss and dye as needed,
    I dye before gluing up as glue can mess up your project.
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2008
  3. Gary W. Graley

    Gary W. Graley “Imagination is more important than knowledge" Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 2, 1999
    Horizontal sheaths and embossing stuff;

    These sheaths take a bit more time and material to do, as they are
    not made from one piece of leather;

    Form the top section using the bone folder and then glue it down to
    another piece of piece of leather, then I put holes around the sheath
    and then trim to the final width along the top.
    those two will be glued onto a third piece of leather that will be a backing
    and belt loop.

    [​IMG]

    The leather needs to be ROUGHED up in order for the glue to adhere properly

    [​IMG]

    I use a small knife to rough up close to the line;

    [​IMG]

    EDITED to say that I've since changed from Barge to Weldwood contact cement, you can get
    it at Wally world pretty cheaply and it works VERY well too, wish I had tried it years ago!!!


    I use Barge Cement to glue things together, apply on both sides and let
    dry for 20 minutes or so, not TOO heavy, no big globs!


    [​IMG]
    both sides

    I then punch the rest of the way through the third layer of leather
    [​IMG]

    use the one awl to enlarge the first hole to start the thread
    [​IMG]

    Sew n Awl threaded
    [​IMG]

    I use a little more than double the length of the path around the sheath for thread
    and pull one side through the sheath so you have one half of the thread on
    each side of the sheath.

    Push the needle through and pull back to form a loop and insert the one thread
    through that loop

    [​IMG]

    Then pull tightly
    [​IMG]

    it'll come through on the other side, I then pull the knot back into the middle of
    the leather

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2009
  4. Gary W. Graley

    Gary W. Graley “Imagination is more important than knowledge" Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 2, 1999
    ending up with this
    [​IMG]

    I stitch around the sheath until I get almost to the end and stop in order
    to form the belt loop

    [​IMG]

    About 2" or so from the start of the sheath, I cut where the belt loop will be

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    and then smooth down that edge with part of the bone folder tool
    it allows you to snuggle up close
    [​IMG]

    Then I apply some dye under the belt loop, helps to make it fold easier and
    then bend it over to form the belt loop, using a piece of leather that is the
    size and thickness as what the fellow's belt is, good question to ask before
    you start making the belt loop section !

    [​IMG]

    While that's over, mark where the belt loop touches, this will show you where
    to glue the belt loop down, also mark along the side of the belt,

    [​IMG]

    Glue that down and punch holes the rest of the way around, you will notice that
    I enlarge two holes, thats so you have ROOM to back stitch which locks your
    sewing in place

    [​IMG]

    Snip tightly to the top side and then pull that little bit down into the hole
    and then snip the back side thread

    [​IMG]

    Trim along the edge, close but you will still need to sand so leave some room for that

    [​IMG]
     
  5. Gary W. Graley

    Gary W. Graley “Imagination is more important than knowledge" Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 2, 1999
    Sand down, dye and burnish the sides

    [​IMG]

    finished sheath

    [​IMG]

    When I do embossing, I use a heavy brick size piece of steel as an anvil
    and smaller pieces of scrap aluminum for smaller anvils that go under the
    leather.

    [​IMG]

    Skull is a neat embossing, a lot of detail in that, you need to strike hard
    and evenly, in order to get the detail, no bouncing, hence the steel brick!

    [​IMG]

    The fellow wanted this to be lighter than the sheath, so you have to dye carefully around
    the embossing;

    [​IMG]

    ending up with this;

    [​IMG]

    I use Fiebings HiLiter which brings out details in tooling, carefully dab some on
    let it dry a little and then also, carefully dab it off, leaving some of it to show
    the detail;

    [​IMG]

    Ending up with something like this, but I warn you, it doesn't always apply the
    same, so some experimenting should be done

    [​IMG]

    Here is one that was finished for a bloke in England a while back, using
    the Skull embossing;

    [​IMG]

    and that's about it, Give it a try, cut up some leather, just take your time
    the forming takes a long time, what I do is repeatedly work the leather over
    and over and over and over and over and over, as it is drying, this takes
    the GIVE out of the leather and makes the leather retain it's shape much
    longer, providing a secure fitup,

    Cheers folks,
    G2
     
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2008
  6. leatherman

    leatherman leathermoderator Moderator

    Nov 30, 2001
    Hey Gary! Good to see you peeking in here! :D

    You had a LOT of influence on my career, and I am glad to see you still bending that moo. :)
     
  7. trestle

    trestle Gold Member Gold Member

    Feb 2, 2008
    Incredible thread, thank you for the pics and information.
     
  8. popedandy

    popedandy Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 8, 2006
    Nice explanation, Gary. I've tried to make a few sheaths like yours and this tutorial answers some of my questions. Thanks!
     
  9. Gary W. Graley

    Gary W. Graley “Imagination is more important than knowledge" Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 2, 1999
    Thanks Dwayne, and yep, when I get the chance I try to keep with the leather
    traveling really cuts into any work that I may have.

    And crm and pope, glad to help, that's the intent to show some of what goes into
    making these types of sheaths, as I say, there are lots of ways, this is just how I
    go about doing it.

    G2
     
  10. sheathmaker

    sheathmaker KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    May 18, 2005
    Terrific post, Gary. This should definitely be "stuck" at the top of this forum, so if there is a moderator looking in......how about it?

    Paul
     
  11. nick681

    nick681 Platinum Member Platinum Member

    Nov 22, 1999
    Thanks for the info Gary! It is nice to see many of the things you have posted put together in one thread. I for one enjoy your posts and pics showing you methods.:thumbup::thumbup:
     
  12. Martin Swinkels

    Martin Swinkels Banned

    760
    Mar 6, 2005
    Great thread, gorgeous pouches!

    :thumbup:
     
  13. Frank Barron

    Frank Barron

    541
    Jan 31, 2006
    gary
    Good tutorial and great macro on your camera. What camera you using?

    FB
     
  14. Gary W. Graley

    Gary W. Graley “Imagination is more important than knowledge" Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 2, 1999
    Thanks Paul, we'll see if the mods' feel the same

    and thanks guys, as you know there is a bit of work, thought and passion in the leather world.

    Frank, the camera I used for a lot of those shots was the Canon G7 which I passed
    along to my daughter and now use the Canon G9, very handy, does a great job easily.
    G2
     
  15. Bastid

    Bastid Goat herding fool and resident vermin breeder. Staff Member Super Mod

    Feb 27, 2001
    Gary,

    Thank you. What a fantastic thread and gift.
    Gus
     
  16. Gary W. Graley

    Gary W. Graley “Imagination is more important than knowledge" Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 2, 1999
    Thanks Gus, I'll keep adding as I can, always like to share and encourage
    others to also take up knife, leather and needle and see what they
    can come up with.

    G2
     
  17. leatherman

    leatherman leathermoderator Moderator

    Nov 30, 2001
    Thanks for sticking this thread Bastid! :D
     
  18. rpaladin

    rpaladin

    260
    May 15, 2005
    Great thread man. Lots of good info here.. But I can't seem to find if you said..
    What size leather are you using here??? Looks very thick...

    tnx/ al
     
  19. Gary W. Graley

    Gary W. Graley “Imagination is more important than knowledge" Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 2, 1999
    Good question and an answer that I didn't put in there,

    Shoulder leather, very tight grain, the good stuff ;)

    For Vertical sheaths I use 7/8 oz leather, depending on the size
    if it's a very small knife, I'll use the 6/7 oz

    For the top sections of the horizontal sheaths, I use 6/7 oz leather

    for the layer beneath the knife and the belt loop section I use
    a little thicker, 7/8 oz leather

    And yes, it is a little thick to form, it is stubborn stuff and always wants
    to retract back to it's original flat shape, so you need to KEEP working the
    leather repeatedly as it goes from wet to it's dry state, that's key to making
    the leather retain it's shape.

    G2
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2008
  20. mitch13

    mitch13

    Nov 3, 2004
    Gary what a great thread:thumbup::thumbup:
    Cheers
    Mitch
     

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