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Kydex vs leather for a chef knife

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by Ken H>, Mar 17, 2019.

  1. Ken H>

    Ken H>

    Dec 31, 2011
    Hello all, I'd like to see a bit of discussion about Kydex vs leather for a European style chef knife. The Saya is a wooden sheath that is traditional for Japanese style chef knives - is that correct?

    We use a wooden butcher's block to hold all our kitchen knives, but I've noticed many other folks just toss knives in a drawer (horrors!!). I'm thinking I'd like to include a "sheath" of some type with my chef knives that I gift to friends and relatives. (I don't sell much at all).

    While I like leather, it seems kydex might be better for folks who just toss knife into drawer. Comments would be appreciated.

    Ken H>
  2. Big Chris

    Big Chris SAHD/Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Apr 1, 2010
    I put them kydex.
    Mainly because it so much more cut resistant and I feel provides better protection for both the knife and user.
  3. Ken H>

    Ken H>

    Dec 31, 2011
    Thank you for the input - your thinking is the same as my thinking about use of Kydex. I wanted to determine how many other follks used Kydex. Would you mind posting a photos of your kydex sheaths?
  4. HSC ///

    HSC ///

    Nov 7, 2012
    since you asked for a discussion (opinion :D) I don't think kydex is appropriate for kitchen knife...
    I use kydex for outdoor neck knives but I don't think it looks good in the kitchen at all.
    When asked I suggest a magnetic wood block and that's how I store my kitchen knives.
    Between leather and kydex for the kitchen, I would go with leather.

    One time I messed around with a kitchen sheath and it looks like this, wet formed leather, with cloth wrapped around, dipped/coated with fabric starch to make it rigid.


  5. Danke42


    Feb 10, 2015
    For kitchen use leather could retain moisture.
  6. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
  7. Ken H>

    Ken H>

    Dec 31, 2011
    Harbeer, that's a good looking sheath you've got there. It really has a nice "kitchen" look to it. My concern about leather is what Danke and Chris have mentioned, absorbing moisture and and other stuff from the kitchen.

    Remember, I'm not talking about how to store knives in the kitchen, but how to present kitchen knives to folk for them to use when they don't have a decent knife storage.

    Stacy just posted while I was writing this and I LIKE those! I think I'll order a 2 pack. $5 each vs the must less price of the full 8 pack but will give me a chance to try them. I like the felt lined, but then think of moisture absorption of felt. I'll try a couple and see how they work.

    Thanks to all that posted. I'm still interested in Kydex sheaths for chef knife and shape of them.

    I just found this: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B005P0OSTO for $3 shipped - it's got a rubberized type liner. I'm ordering a pair of Stacy's link as well.

    Shucks, at $3 each that's less than cost of making a Kydex sheath!

    Ken H>
    Last edited: Mar 17, 2019
  8. Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

    Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith ilmarinen - MODERATOR Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 20, 2004
    You can get them in less fancy types than the ones I linked. They start at just over a buck each. For $2-$3 you get the kydex looking ones. A five piece knife set that sells for $400-500 deserves a $20 set of pants.
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2019
    Teppojutsu, daizee and Ken H> like this.
  9. Justin Schmidt

    Justin Schmidt Schmidt Forge Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 18, 2016
    Chef knives to go has covers that are like 3 bucks a piece its what I've used and had zero complaints
  10. Horsewright

    Horsewright KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 4, 2011
    I have used leather for many, (probably a couple hundred, not really sure how many kitchen knives I've made), kitchen knives and it has worked very well. We have personal ones including, high carbon blades, and gasp, they live in a drawer and some have for over a decade. No issues. Can leather attract moisture? Sure if ya put your knives away wet? At our rancho, a kitchen knife is used and then washed and dried and then left on a counter for a bit before being put back in its sheath.

    I would take Stay's point a step further:


    Leather even on damascus blades:



    AEB-L too:


    This set went to Norway a couple of Christmas's ago:


    And one of the chef knives was being used when this years Christmas order showed up.


    Each of my sheaths is made for an individual knife and I use the blade of that knife as a pattern.
    Ken H> likes this.
  11. Ken H>

    Ken H>

    Dec 31, 2011
    Interesting Dave - here I've always read/heard never store a knife (especially carbon steel) in a leather sheath because the moisture/chemicals/dyes in leather will corrode the blade. I'd always wondered about that, but reading your posts over the years it seems you have blades living in leather for years with no issues.

    I'm glad I started this thread, been lots of good points made, and I've learned a good bit. For more years than I can remember I've always had wooden knife block for kitchen knife storage I'd never really considered how other folks stored knives. Then, visiting friends and relatives I've seen the knives I've made just "tossed" in the silverware drawer.
  12. Kevin McGovern

    Kevin McGovern KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jul 31, 2015
    I love making wooden saya, especially compared to leather or kydex. It's the easiest blade cover, short of a card stock slip cover, that I make. I use 3"x 18"x 1/8" stock from bell forest products. And construct them using the mortice method. IMG_20170829_102211242.jpg IMG_20171022_173712651.jpg
    Nasty knives Noonan and Danke42 like this.
  13. Randydb

    Randydb Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 27, 2014
    I like making a saya because it looks good. I have a few pieces of spalted maple from my wood pile that I cut a few thin pieces from and make the saya. Takes me about an hour to make one. It's a cool touch too to make the saya from wood that is meaningful to the owner. This maple is from Anvil Island where our family has owned a cabin since the 50s. IMG_1389.jpg

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