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Lined Sheaths , Real benefits or added complication?

Discussion in 'Sheaths & Such' started by harronek, Jan 10, 2017.

  1. harronek

    harronek Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 29, 2013
    I have my own opinion about lined sheaths , but I'm interested in what others think .
    I would like to know what are the advantages of a lined sheath and are there any disadvantages .
    Does a lined sheath protect the knife better ?
    Are there performance benefits of lining a sheath ?
    Or is it just cosmetic and a show of maker skill and ability ?

    For the record , I've become a bit of a lined sheath fan , but not in a traditional way ( I'll explain that a bit better if a few others comment and contribute with their views )

  2. ANovinc

    ANovinc Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 21, 2016
    Hey, Ken. I'm not very experienced at sheath making yet, but love the look of a lined sheath. For me, at my skill level, it's definitely an added complication--but worth the effort when it turns out nice. I've yet to settle on what I think is the best material for lining....I haven't worked with enough leathers at this point to figure out my overall preference. I add lining more for aesthetics so I'm interested to see if the more experienced folk think it adds performance and protection.

  3. sheathmaker

    sheathmaker Custom Leather Sheaths Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    May 18, 2005
    This subject could easily go down the road of "hand stitching vs machine stitching" but I hope that is not the case. First we have to make some assumptions, one of which is that the best grade of materials is used in each case.

    It is generally accepted fact that many materials including leather when laminated are stronger than a single ply of the same thickness. Therefore if strength and durability is a desired factor lining could or would be considered a benefit.

    If the lining has a top grain and that grain is exposed on the interior, then the abrasive wear on the item contained is greatly reduced, hence another benefit.

    A nicely lined item has the edge when it comes to pure aesthetics so that is another benefit, perhaps small, but none the less a benefit.

    It has been a long standing practice with my work that I line everything I make. It has become somewhat of a trademark and as such is definitely a benefit for me as an individual.

    The foregoing expresses my personal opinion and should in no way be taken as disparaging on unlined work, because as shown on this board there are examples of beautifully done and certainly strong and durable unlined goods made by members who display here.

  4. Hengelo_77

    Hengelo_77 Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 2, 2006
    Just to understand it right, what kind of leather do you use as a liner?
    Soft, chrome tanned?

    I work a quite a bit with chrome tanned leather (shoes) and forsee wear on the liner if it is chrome tanned.
    I've made a double learther sheeth once with vegatable tanned smooth grain side inwards but it left small scratches on the brass hardware of the knife.
  5. sheathmaker

    sheathmaker Custom Leather Sheaths Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    May 18, 2005
    Hengelo_77, if your question was directed at me. I use mostly 2 oz. veg tan leather with the exception of Deer skin which I use on any integral loop pouch sheaths, because of the radical curve involved. The Deer skin has sufficient stretch to lay smoothly around the curve. The Deer skin does not wear as well as the veg. tan, but is generally acceptable for the purpose. It will show some fading from wear, but continues to function perfectly well. Deer skin is the only chrome tan I use.

    Regarding the veg. tan liner and scratches, any leather will scratch softer metal such as brass if it is allowed to become impregnated with minute foreign matter and not cleaned immediately. I have not encountered the problem personally.

  6. harronek

    harronek Gold Member Gold Member

    Nov 29, 2013
    Great post Paul and exactly the type of observation and discussion I had in mind when I started this thread .
    Your experience making sheaths sets you apart from most here , so your views hold a lot of weight .
    Even though I don't make fixed blade sheaths and what I do put together are at the other extreme of design from yours , I've really listened to and taken on the advice you give out here .
    For example double siding my leather by gluing to thinner pieces together like you suggested in a reply to one of my questions once really changed my sheath making
    Your post above covers most of the things I was going to mention , so you have taken the wind out of my sails a bit :)
    I have over the last couple of years really moved into chasing performance over aesthetics ( please don't get me wrong , looks are very important , but never at the cost of performance ) and for those reasons double siding or lining a sheath does have performance benefits exactly as you mention .
    Lately in my never ending quest to simplify I've moved over to just about exclusively making Roughout sheaths . Performance wise they meet my requirements in the most minimalistic way and one of the biggest byproducts of Roughout is you get an instant lined sheath which no one ever really mentions .
    I'm interested to here you think their is less abrasive wear on the knife when it's in contact with the smooth side of the leather . My brain says that this must be the chase , but I have no evidence really to back up that idea and I suppose that was some of the reason for this thread to see if others think that a lined sheath protects and performs better .

  7. Diomedes Industries

    Diomedes Industries KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Mar 19, 2007
    I think Paul summed it up here.

  8. sheathmaker

    sheathmaker Custom Leather Sheaths Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    May 18, 2005
    Ken, The two lighter leathers cemented together will yield a stronger piece than a single of the same weight and thickness, and so when cut out yield an "instant lining" just as the rough out will do (without the extra strength of the lamination)...........BUT how much extra strength is needed???? In most cases almost anything we make relative to stress and strain and hard use is more than capable of handling the chore whether lined or not.

    This brings the focus to aesthetics and in my case the "trademark" value. I've done lining for so long that now it is sort expected of me.

    One other thing I forgot to mention earlier is that if you do happen to embellish your work with tooling, a piece is far less likely to stretch if it has been lined prior to the tooling, which for me is a significant benefit.

    One final off topic note. As Dave has shown, rough out with tooled embellishment is quite attractive and now days a little bit unique. Back in the 50's, when I started, tooled rough out was much more common. In fact Al Stohlman devoted a whole "how to" book* on the subject.

    Edit to add: * the book is "Inverted Leather Carving" and includes rough out. It is Tandy's stock number 6046-00

    Last edited: Jan 10, 2017
  9. kaizo


    Oct 17, 2014
    I don't know how much I could add here since we are in the company of seasoned experts but I've recently played around with the idea of fabric lined butterfly sheaths. After making one my conclusion was to reserve them for folding knife pouches (the kind that you use a snap to fasten and doesn't rely on friction to secure the knife), simply because of durability issues. So if the liner is going to experience a lot of pressure my choice of leather would be a nice beige kip side (the kind of leather you use to line fine shoes, although the one I use is a tad thicker than that). The contrast between the outer is very elegant to my eyes and I think it works for most major leather colours like black, tan, burgundy, brown etc...

    I know we are talking about leather here but a very nice chap called David Brown on this forum kindly made me an unusual kydex sheath that had a liner. It basically was double layered and the outer was cut in such a way that it exposed the white liner in the shape of my crest. I think that was a very interesting use of a liner as well.
  10. WhiteKnuckle


    Mar 9, 2016
    I was under the impression that chrome tanned leather should never be used for sheaths as it can have a negative effect on the blade?
  11. lowes48


    Jan 25, 2010
    While I'm no expert, the lined sheaths I've made seem to hold the knife better, due to the soft lining having a "cushion effect", which to me is another added benefit to the lining.
  12. leatherman

    leatherman leathermoderator Moderator

    Nov 30, 2001
    There was a thread on this a while back, we pretty much agreed that the modern processes make it much safer to use chrome tanned leathers. Now this does not mean its all safe, you really have to make sure you use quality tanned leather, the cheap stuff could still be dangerous for your knife. If those chrome salts are not completely removed your in for a world of trouble down the line.

    As far as lining, if it has a snap on the front or a rivet where it could touch the blade, I use 3 ounce veggie tanned to line about 1/3 down the sheath, skiving it at the end running a stitch line along the top. I havent lined a pouch sheath yet, but the idea does intrigue me.
  13. Horsewright

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

    Oct 4, 2011
    Very interesting thread guys. My own work and personal experience as a user kinda agrees with everyones opinion. Any sheath with foreign material down in there can scratch a knife and not just brass or nickel silver I've seen steel blades scratched by dust too. Lining doesn't make a difference in that respect as its not the lining or non lining causing the scratches. I do make a lot of roughout items and some I line others I don't. I think like Paul mentioned there is some uniqueness that from my standpoint might sell an item faster to roguhout. Roughout is certainly very durable almost bulletproof. It just shrugs off scratches and abrasions. In holsters there is a strong perception that lined is better for the finish of the gun. After a lifetime of caryying this is just not my opinion. There is gonna be holster wear whether a holster is lined or not. No difference. Also on the lining I have two of my lined Rangeflap holsters that have there revolvers in em 24/7. They are kept that way on purpose. They are lined with chrometan leather and there has been no adverse affect on the blueing of either gun. They have been kept that way for over 10 years.

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