Need help upping my hand sewn game

Discussion in 'Sheaths & Such' started by kossetx, Oct 9, 2019.

  1. kossetx

    kossetx Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 11, 2017
    Morning Folks,

    I made my second sheath yesterday. The first didn't come out so great. I used a 4 pin punch to make the holes and getting it out of this 9/10 leather was a chore. On this sheath I decided I would drill the holes. They came out OK, but needs to be better. The back side isn't so strait. I also am not entirely happy with the thread set. I tried to make sure I evenly tensioned the thread but they are slightly different in depth.

    I knowledge I'm missing or do I need to just shut up and build more sheaths?

    Thanks, Pete

    Getting older likes this.
  2. rtmind


    Mar 8, 2013
    Pete, After 5 years of strictly hand stitching, I have come to the realization that there will always be some variation on the back side. When we compare our work to Dave or Paul, who are using machines, it won't ever look as great. Just keep practicing. Remember to always start from the same side, ensure you have a good stitching groove on the front, ensure even tension, then last of all tap down the threads at the end to even stuff out. To me, that stitching looks pretty good. rtmind/randy
  3. bonafide

    bonafide Leather Sheathmaker, JouFuu Leathers Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jul 20, 2013
    You just need more practice.

    Machine stitching is for convenience .. it does not look better than a well done hand stitch.
  4. Bigfattyt

    Bigfattyt Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 23, 2007
    I tend to groove the leather on each side. I hand stitch with an round awl punch. One hole at a time. Punch from front to back. I punch into a cutting board, or other firm backing. Make sure to check the hole placement before enlarging the back side. If the hole alignment is a bit off, you can back the punch out, and adjust angle.

    I'm no pro.
    Hengelo_77 and Alberta Ed like this.
  5. kossetx

    kossetx Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 11, 2017
    Randy, thanks for the affirmation. With what do I tap the threads down?

    Bona, the plan is I'll practice more...

    BFT, I did go FTB into a piece of pine so I have that part right. I guess I need to make sheaths for knives that don't need them. Making one or two a year for knives I do isn't enough.

  6. rtmind


    Mar 8, 2013
    Pete, The ideal thing for tapping down the threads is a polished hammer, for a long time I just used my plastic "bone creaser" from Tandy to protect the leather from my maul. rtmind/randy
  7. Horsewright

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

    Oct 4, 2011
    Might consider an overstitch wheel too.
  8. kossetx

    kossetx Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 11, 2017
    Ouch..phew...I didn't think someone of your talent would hit below the belt like that. I used a pair of high quality dividers to set spacing. IMO I don't see any problem with my front side spacing. It was the back I didn't like.

    Oh well, It takes all sorts...
  9. Redmeadow Knives

    Redmeadow Knives John Conner Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 29, 2010
    Are you here for affirmation or advice? Horsewright gave sound advice, based on your own comment about your stitches being at different depths, a wheel would help.
    duramax likes this.
  10. kossetx

    kossetx Gold Member Gold Member

    Apr 11, 2017
    Perhaps an explanation of how a wheel would help set depth would help instead of just saying "consider one". I understood an overstitch wheel sets spacing. By different depths, I meant some stitches are a little deeper than others. Doesn't tension set that?

    I really saw no sound advice. It was a statement. No explanation. No reasoning. You know... just like your response. I, was asking for help.

    ...and ya, what's wrong with a little affirmation? Randy felt like doing it.

    Thanks again Randy...
  11. Redmeadow Knives

    Redmeadow Knives John Conner Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Aug 29, 2010
    If I answered these two questions, would you listen or would you rather I just agree with you?
    Salolan and duramax like this.
  12. Horsewright

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

    Oct 4, 2011

    An overstitch wheel can be used two ways. Its the second way that I thought would help ya some. Most folks think about an overstitch wheel as only being used to mark the spacing. But thats not really its true purpose. Consider its name. After you are done stitching, run the wheel back over the stitching, (overstitch). It uniforms your stitching, gives it a very finished look and will help with the tension some by placing each cross of thread in the center if done from both sides. With care this can be done on the back side too, particularly with your sheath as its very even and straight on the back side. If done from the top only it will still help set your depth uniformly. They are available in different sizes such as a #5, #6 and #7 which corresponds to how many stitches per inch. For sheath work a 5 or 6 would probably be bout right. Honestly I think your stitching looks pretty darn good, in fact, particularly the backside. Especially since its only your second sheath. Yeah do lots more.

    I do apologize, I was not intending to be short and I should of explained an overstitch wheel and its use. As someone else mentioned I don't handstitch and haven't for 25-30 years. Back then it was all needle and awl and there are better ways now, particularly for sheath work. I have no experience in these methods. So I don't generally comment much in these handstitching threads and leave that for others who do have more to share. If ya want to up your game on the rest of the sheath I can sure help ya with that.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2019
  13. Macan


    Apr 7, 2014
  14. Salolan


    Feb 27, 2013
    Dave, my hat is off to you. Your graciousness and dedication to helping others is commendable. Especially when it is shown to those being less than appreciative. We could all stand to learn more from you than just leather. Thank you.
    Dave owed you no such thing, or me, or anyone for that matter. He gives as freely of his time to help others on this forum as anyone, likely even more so. He gave a short and specific response that directly answered your question. Nothing harsh, beligerant or even a critique at all. Instead of being so hasty to get offended, maybe you could have taken 2 minutes to research his suggestion, let alone to deduce the definition of "overstitch".
    Frankly the response more than just annoyed me, I was mad by the time I had finished reading this post. I have seen masters of their craft quit sharing and participating in groups and forums altogether for situations similar to this. Run off by individuals who have yet to even learn enough to know what they don't know.
    In the last 2 days, I've written a response 3 times only to decide them heated and largely unproductive and to delete. My apologies to those who still deem this unproductive.
    Thank you again Dave, Paul, Dwayne and the rest of you who have helped us all along the way.

  15. Lorien

    Lorien KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 5, 2005
    I've been following this thread for my own education as well, and will echo the disappointment expressed by others. These threads can be informative and super helpful. I was going to add a few hard fought amateur leatherworker tips and hacks of my own, but can't see that being worth even the time it took to type this out
  16. i4Marc


    Oct 19, 2011
    Look through my Instagram gallery for clues. Holes can line up on the back with a little care.


    Southern Gent and Hengelo_77 like this.
  17. Hengelo_77

    Hengelo_77 Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 2, 2006
    That stiching looks good.
    I also like the way you constructed the beltloop
  18. Horsewright

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

    Oct 4, 2011
    Bout dang perfect my friend!
  19. i4Marc


    Oct 19, 2011
    Thanks guys. I've shown this one before.

    For the OP, a few thoughts. Your sheath looks fine. Don't alienate people who are trying to help you. If an answer is too short, simply ask if they can elaborate in greater detail. Guys like Dave are a wealth of information and do more leather work in one week than the rest of us will do in 10 years. So be friendly. Ok....about the sheath....The difference between hobby level work and professional work is often the details. You don't have to use a lot of tooling and inlays to make very clean and professional looking sheaths. These following thoughts are from my own perspective and I'm sure others will have their own ideas but these help me get the results I want:

    Start by making sure your pattern is cut accurately. Make an effort to ensure your edge lines are smooth and graceful. If you have a bobble or kink in an edge it will duplicate itself when you use tools that reference the edge, like a stitch groover that cuts a groove parallel to the edge. If you end up with a crooked groove you will end up with crooked stitches.

    Use thinner thread. This is an aesthetic thing and a maker preference. If you like thick thread and it looks right to your eye for that project, it's all good. To my own eye, and for my projects, a thinner thread has a finer, more elegant look.

    Use more stitches per inch. This is another preference point. I'm talking about the difference between something like 5 per inch and 6 per inch. Less stitches per inch is less work and has a more bold look to it. Again, I think a higher stitch count gives my projects a more elegant and quality look. But I vary stitch per inch counts often based on the length of the groove it is fitting in. Again, this is a details matter thing. If your stitch spacing leaves you with a partial stitch at the end of the groove your eye will catch that. Strive to make sure your stitch spacing matches the groove, or vice versa, whenever possible. Sometimes it isn't.

    Speaking of stitches.....try to pull them at a consistent depth. Pull the stitch until it is snug and well-seated. Don't pull it so deep that it is cutting into the leather and burying itself.

    Edges are one of the biggest differences between hobby work and pro work. Take a look at Dave's edges or Paul's edges or any of the folks here who do top quality work. Their edges are beautiful. This is often the finishing touch that elevates a piece from pretty good to spot on. It's hard to tell from your pictures but your edges seem to be beveled or at least sanded and that's good! To bring it up a notch, sand your edges to 400 or 600 grit and using a product like Gum Tragacanth, burnish them smooth. This can be done with or without dying the edge but dying looks nice.

    Dying or toning your sheath helps to take it away from it's raw material look and ties it in with your knife. You don't want a sheath to look like an afterthought. It should look like it belongs to your knife.

    This brings me back to the beginning, design. When you make a sheath for a knife you have an opportunity to make the knife and sheath package more than the sum of it's parts by making the set a unified expression of your creativity and design vision. This will come in time as you develop your own style but it also takes effort. You must think about it. Try to envision the sheath that will go with the knife while you are designing the knife. Or if you don't think about the sheath until the knife is done, at least design the lines of the sheath to compliment the knife. Observe angles and curves on the knife and play off those lines in your sheath design. These are called analogous relationships. They help to bring the two parts together into a matched set that says to the viewer/user/buyer that every detail was thought through with artistic intent. This is how style develops and sets you apart from others.

    You are doing fine and better than many. Just keep an eye on the small details because they add up quickly.
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2019
  20. Horsewright

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

    Oct 4, 2011
    Wow well thought out and very well written. Just wow!
    i4Marc likes this.

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