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Storing Knives in Leather Sheaths a NO NO ...Why?

Discussion in 'Blade Discussion Forum Archive' started by Mark W Douglas, Mar 18, 2000.

  1. Mark W Douglas

    Mark W Douglas

    Nov 16, 1998
    Storing knives in leather sheaths for long periods of time can do what to the knife?

    Is it the blades, boltsters, or handles that the leather oils can ruin?

    Cordura would be the excellent choice then, so why do some still prefer leather sheaths if leather can damage a knife?

    Also, without mentioning any manufactures names, why then do some knives come packaged in the leather sheaths instead of packaging the knife seperate from the sheath. Some packages will sit on shelves at dealers for a long period of time with the knife stored in their sheaths. How about the damage being done to the knife while it is sitting on the shelf waiting to be sold?

    Just curious because ever since I was a little one, I was told to never store my knife in a leather sheath because the oils will harm the knife. Are we talking about rust?

    Mark

     
  2. Bill McWilliams

    Bill McWilliams

    811
    Oct 3, 1998
    Hi Mark
    I was always told that leather sheaths can pick up moisture and transfer it to the blade causing rust.
    Storage and undesirable humidity could also promote moisture.
    Bill
     
  3. not2sharp

    not2sharp Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 29, 1999
    Mark,

    Leather is treated with a series of harsh chemicals which can damage the blade over time. In addition it is an excellent medium for collecting moisture.

    They are excellent under most conditions especially in cold climates. I would usually prefer a well made leather sheath to plastic (kydex etc.) or cordura, unless I expect to use the knife in an extremely wet environment.

    Usually, the knives that are produced for inventory are shipped in cardboard sleaves; the leather sheath is packaged within a plastic envelope in the same box. Custom knife maker will probably send the knife to you in its sheath. However, the transit time is very short and the knives are usually well oiled to protect them during shipment.



    [This message has been edited by not2sharp (edited 03-18-2000).]
     
  4. MIKLE

    MIKLE

    57
    Jan 28, 2000
    I had such experience too with my Letherman "Wave". After couple month of storage in the leather sheath I discovered several stains. I removed them and now NEVER store it in leather sheath and try to carry it without sheath at all. Only I really need it I use the sheath.
    Regards,
    MKLE
     
  5. TomW

    TomW

    Oct 7, 1998
    Even though most of have seen knives that were stored for long periods of time in a leather sheath with no ill effects it's still a bad thing to do. Leather itself has chemicals that aren't good for a knife even excluding those used in the tanning process.
    As previously mentioned moisture can easily
    cause them to become a problem. Now you're sure to get a couple sheath makers that will go into the vegetable tanned story telling you that they're fine for storing knives.
    Not true. Most vegetable tanned leather is chrome tanned first anyway before being put through the veg. tanning process and is a crapshoot as to when the conditions are right
    to cause some damage. Most leather dealers claim to have 100% Veg. tanned leather and most smart leather workers don't take that as gospel. or trust veg. tanned leather to be 100% safe. I make pouches for some of the finest knives in the world and everything has a liner to keep the knife from coming in contact with leather. I've had knifemakers insist that isn't no problem for the knife to touch the leather and i tell them that i don't make that type of product. I'm not going to take the chance of the conditions being just right or risk getting a bad skin
    which can cause a problem on a knife that people have spent thousands of dollars for even if they are willing to risk it. I know who would be blamed for the problem.
     
  6. Gary W. Graley

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

    Mar 2, 1999
    It's a factor of how the leather was processed, veggy tanned leather is pretty much harmless to the steel where as chrome tanned leather has a high acid content and on one sheath I made for a short sword of A2 made by Larry Lunn a while back, the sword had spots on it almost as soon as it was in the sheath! I was most upset and went back to where I got the very thick leather and they just said uh, must have been chrome tanned, ya think! Now I get all my leather from Weaver Leather in Ohio.

    I've stored knives in sheaths for long periods of time with no visible damage to the steel, carbon steel knives that is. But as noted above leather can absorb moisture and it has always been a rule of thumb not to store the knives away in this fashion. Though thats how I store mine.

    I remember a thread a while back that spoke of this and someone speaking up for storing the knives in sheaths, I'm sure he will remind us as he had several other points that I can't remember right now.

    I have stopped making fixed bladed sheaths, and have focused on folders, as I like making them more.

    G2

    ------------------
    "The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions!"
    Take the time to read your Bible Now, don't be left behind...


    G2 LeatherWorks
     
  7. Gollnick

    Gollnick Musical Director

    Mar 22, 1999
    Don't forget that blades are often coated with oil or other products (Tuff Cloth, for example) which can possibly damage or discolor the leather with long-term exposure.

    Any sheath, leather, cloth, plastic, metal, whatever, can trap moisture around the blade.

    Sheaths are for carrying knives, not for storeing them.



    ------------------
    Chuck
    Balisongs -- because it don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing!
    http://www.balisongcollector.com
     
  8. MICKEY77

    MICKEY77

    760
    Nov 27, 1999
    You guys should do what I do......

    Store your knives in nylon sheaths [​IMG]
     
  9. carnifex

    carnifex

    189
    Dec 22, 1999
    Gary is right, it really depends a whole lot on the leather used. Quality leather that has been oak tanned or some other vegetable process is usually safe to store the knife in. The cheap, rinkydink quality stuff used by most production knife companies...Well, I honestly don't know what the stuff is, exact that it's pressed leather, possibly chrome tanned and I wouldn't dream of storing anything in them. I always have my dad do a new sheath for any knives I buy that doesn't come with a decent sheath.
    There is a product available called Ko-Cho-Line, a leather grease, that will not only prevent the leather from rotting, but also prevents rust on steel. This stuff could with good results be used on the inside of the sheath before it is assembled and will recoat the blade every time you insert it...Only drawback is that you will have a slight coating of grease on your blade...
    It all comes down to using the right materials. You get what you pay for, buy cheap leather and the entire process of manufacture is in doubt. Use the quality stuff and you should be fine.

    ------------------
    Regards
    Joshua "Kage" Calvert

    "Move like Water, strike like Thunder..."
     
  10. Blackdog

    Blackdog

    620
    Apr 27, 1999
    Mark,

    The posts above give you a good idea of why the bad things can happen when knives are stored in leather sheaths. Below is a pic of what the aftermath looks like. It's a Puma model 113584. It was a beautiful knife, a gift from my wife.

    A few years ago we moved and I left some of my stuff (including the Puma) at a friends place for safe keeping. One day his kids discovered the knife and were playing with it (as kids will do). It was in a wooden presentation box then, but my friend took the knife, put it in the sheath and tucked it away in the top of his closet for safe-keeping. I just got it back last month. Here's what it looked like.
    [​IMG]

    Blackdog
     
  11. Walt Welch

    Walt Welch

    Oct 7, 1998
    Ed Schott is a proponent of leather sheaths.
    I spoke to him about this one day, and he said that he puts the sheath in a vacuum oven to remove all the moisture, and then treats the leather with oil (I believe he said almond oil, but wouldn't swear to it). He has had good results with knives not rusting. Walt
     
  12. not2sharp

    not2sharp Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 29, 1999
    Sorry to see that Blackdog. Perhaps somebody here can resore its appearance?
     
  13. Blackdog

    Blackdog

    620
    Apr 27, 1999
    Not2sharp,

    Made me wanna cry when I pulled it out of the sheath. I'm gonna try to refinish it myself. It can't look any worse than it does now, and it'll be a good project for me. I might even surprise myself.

    Blackdog

    ------------------
    The GH Forum Photo Galleries & The Bowie Design Gallery
     
  14. Mark W Douglas

    Mark W Douglas

    Nov 16, 1998
    Thanks guys for the feedback. I had a feeling that was the reason, but never really knew for sure. You always hear are are told not to store knives in leather sheaths, but never why or what would happen. And, I never wanted to find out so I have never stored knives in them. I do like the appearance a sturdiness of leather over Cordura, but Cordura may be the ticket.

    That's a bumber Blackdog with that Puma Knife, would have had a sick stomach to see that happen to any of my knives!

    Thanks again guys for your info! [​IMG]

    Mark


    ------------------
    " Knife Collectors Are Sharp People - Most of the time that is! "
     
  15. harrydog

    harrydog

    332
    Feb 29, 2000
    It is erroneous to consider vegetable tanned leather higher quality than Chrome tanned. For boots, chrome tanned leather is actually preferred since it has better weather resistant qualities than vegetable tanned hides. For the purposes of knife sheaths, vegetable tanned is less damaging to the steel and therefor preferred.
     
  16. Normark

    Normark

    Nov 7, 1999
    Hey Guys...

    Don't forget old Concealex or Kydex!!!

    They Won't retain Any moisture,,and it won't happen with either products!!

    ttyle Eric....

    ------------------
    Eric E. Noeldechen
    On/Scene Tactical
    http://www.mnsi.net/~nbtnoel
    Custom made, High Quality
    Concealex Sheaths and Tool Holsters
    Canada's Only Custom Concealex Shop!

     
  17. Revvie

    Revvie

    420
    Dec 30, 1999
    Sheaths are to carry -not store .. Dad always kept his buck 112 in the hand tooled leather pouch I made for him -- It always turned green .. the corrosion stained the bolsters forever! I generally store knives with a light coat of oil on the blades if in their DRY sheaths... or wrap them in plastic wrap before putting them into the sheath. I
    learned that the hard way too ! [​IMG]

    ------------------
    knife Knuts are sharp people

    Jonesy!
     
  18. Gollnick

    Gollnick Musical Director

    Mar 22, 1999
    Leather, Nylon, Kydex, Cordura, cloth, plastic, metal, wood, it doesn't matter. They'll all trap and retain moisture which can lead to rust.

    Sheaths are for carrying knives. Knives should stored in a container that allows air to circulate.

    Poor Mr. Blackdog is a excellent example of this. It was probably a humid day when this happened (sometimes it can be humid in the house even if it's dry outside, for example if they'd boiled up a big pot of pasta for lunch). As a result, a film of water condensed on the blade. This would not be a dripping wet thing you could see. We're talking about a film just molecules thick. When the knife was put into the sheath, that water was trapped in there with the blade.

    There are three ways to prevent this: 1) seal the blade water-tight with, for example, a wax product. 2) Apply a thin film of some material to the blade that will keep the water from actually coming into contact with the blade -- oil, for example, or Tuff Cloth. 3) allow the water to evaporate back into the air when the local humidity drops. This means storing the knife in such a way that air can circulate around it a bit.



    Chuck


    [This message has been edited by Gollnick (edited 03-21-2000).]
     
  19. HJK

    HJK Moderator Moderator Gold Member

    Jun 30, 1999
    Some leather sheaths are wood lined. My KP puuko is like that, and I know other custom makers do the same. Usually this is said to be for safety, to prevent the blade from penetrating, but I always thought it was also for corrosion. No problems with corrosion on my KP, and also no problems with my Hayes knives [one is wood lined, the rest aren't, but I check them frequently], and I don't know what kind of leather he uses. I accidently stored a Gerber Magnum hunter in its leather sheath for about 15 years[it was lost]:not a spot on it. But my Carbon V trailmaster will rust in a week if left in its leather sheath, no matter what I treat it with.
     
  20. Normark

    Normark

    Nov 7, 1999
    Hi Guys....

    As long as you put your blade away Dry,, and the Concealex is dry inside,, you won't have a problem with it...

    Concealex will not retain moisture even when a knife is inside of it. It is not a sealed object,, any moisture will evaporate noramally through the seams and drain holes..

    Now,, However,, if your house or storage place is Very humid,, or you are dragging the knife from cold to warm all the time,, sure the blade will sweat,, as will Anything.

    If you are just storing the knife in a drawer,, or something of the sort,, your blade will be perfectly safe with a light coating of oil, and Stored in your Concealex sheath.

    Just make sure everything is properly dried before you put it away and there will be no problem,,Ever.

    ttyle Eric....

    ------------------
    Eric E. Noeldechen
    On/Scene Tactical
    http://www.mnsi.net/~nbtnoel
    Custom made, High Quality
    Concealex Sheaths and Tool Holsters
    Canada's Only Custom Concealex Shop!

     

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