Sewing machine for sheaths. What do you use?

Joined
Apr 16, 2004
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Been making knives about 39 years and all my sheaths are hand sewn. Arthritis about to kill me as a result and I’m considering a machine. I see a few in the $3500 range and I couldn’t justify that kind of expense right now. From talking with buddies and also leather suppliers the Tippman stitcher is not well liked for some reason.

got any ideas? Much appreciated and Merry Christmas folks!
 

wkfl

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Oct 28, 2011
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I use the Tippman, but make few fixed blades these days. It works just fine for that scenario, if I was making a bunch, regularly... I’d be having a real one.
 
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Feb 24, 2000
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I have the "Cowboy CB-4500" It is sold out of Toledo OH. The phone # as printed on the machine is 1-866-362-7397.
It looks like the "Cobra" sewing machine.
I like it a lot. I have sewed hundreds of sheaths on it. I think it cost maybe $2,500.00 ten or twelve years ago.
You probably could go to U-tube and find out more information on the Cowboy or the Cobra.
 
Joined
Feb 4, 2013
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I use a cobra class 3 bought from industrialsewingmachineman. It is perfect for sheaths, but once you get one you may start to make other, larger stuff like bags, etc. And therefore if I were to do it all over again, I’d probably buy the cobra class 4 as the deeper throat would really help with items larger than sheaths.

I found that the Cobra machines are excellent.
 

Horsewright

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Cobra Class 4 all day long. Bout $2855 ish and worth every penny. We have two of their machines a Cobra Class 18 too for lighter stuff, wallets, belts, chaps, purses notebooks etc but the sheaths are done on the Class 4 as well as holsters, rifle scabbards, horse tack etc. Some work from the 4:

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A little vid of the wife using the 4 to sew up a sheath:

https://www.instagram.com/p/B5t6Fx_pOJ5/

It has variable speed too so ya can cook with gas If ya want. Here I'm sewing an 8 foot rein so I turned the speed up some:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BsmBQ71jcKj/

If you were to go over and ask this question at Sheaths and Such, you would get an overwhelming response of Cobra 4 for sheaths. We make a good part of our living with these machines and they are humming away for hours at a time. I do not hesitate to recommend this machine wholeheartedly. The after sales service from The Leather Machine Co is beyond compare and not just my experience, they are known throughout the leather industry for it. Not just me, Paul Long uses both a Cobra 4 and an 18 too, heck he's in their ads!

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I'll sew sixteen sheaths on it today.
 
Joined
May 4, 2011
Messages
65
Dave, if you're using a machine like that to stitch a sheath, are you punching the holes for the stitches ahead of time, or is that not necessary?
 

Horsewright

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Nope just sew away. No prepunching. Check the second link of me sewing the rein. It’s a little video.
 

Busto

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The Old Sayings "Right Tool For The Job" and "Time is Money" is where the Cobra Class 4 really covers both sayings! Takes 3 minutes to sew a sheath not an hour.
 

Horsewright

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You do some wonderful work, makes me so envious. Well done.

Thanks!

Thanks Dave!

Ya bet!

The Old Sayings "Right Tool For The Job" and "Time is Money" is where the Cobra Class 4 really covers both sayings! Takes 3 minutes to sew a sheath not an hour.

So absolutely true, Even one of those rifle scabbards is 4 or 5 mninutes, which is good cause I have 3 to sew up and 16 sheaths (didn't get to them yesterday) and 2 holsters. Gotta cut out and tool the holsters first though.
 

kuraki

Fimbulvetr Knifeworks
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Jun 17, 2016
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I have a Tippman. I don't particularly like it, but I do like it better than hand stitching. The bobbin thread tension adjustment is horrible, and in order to get stitches where the loops are properly buried I have to run top thread tension ridiculously high. It doesn't do well with anything but bonded nylon thread, and running such high of tension will often "unbond" the thread as it's pulled through the eyelet. I cannot make it run anything smaller than #277 thread no matter what I try, so I gave up on attempting to do anything like inlays or the like that would look nicer with finer stitching.

The only reason I don't own a Cobra at this point is that I'm afraid my shop environment would ruin the investment.

That said, for the ~$900 I have into it, and a little effort learning how to make it work well enough, I wouldn't go back to hand stitching.
 

J. Keeton

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Nov 15, 2005
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962
I know it's not even close to the same caliber of machine, but I was contemplating trying out something like this guy a while back -


@ about 4:00 in that video he's sewing 3 pieces of leather together. Thought that was decent for what it was.

I'd be curious on your thoughts Horsewright Horsewright
 
Joined
Nov 3, 2007
Messages
146
I know it's not even close to the same caliber of machine, but I was contemplating trying out something like this guy a while back -


@ about 4:00 in that video he's sewing 3 pieces of leather together. Thought that was decent for what it was.

I'd be curious on your thoughts Horsewright Horsewright
This is a patcher, similar to the Adler 30-1 and the like. Not suitable for sheaths (insufficient capacity in terms of stack height, thread size and needle size).
 

Horsewright

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This is a patcher, similar to the Adler 30-1 and the like. Not suitable for sheaths (insufficient capacity in terms of stack height, thread size and needle size).

I'd agree. Might work on wallets, belts etc and patching shoes whats its designed for but not on sheath work. I have a water buffalo overlay sheath sitting here on the desk ready to ship out this morning. Two layers of 7/8 oz leather, a 4/5 oz water buffalo overlay and on the edge side a welt of 7/8 oz leather. I just put a ruler against it and looks like 13.5 MM to me. The Cobra 18 won't sew it, we've tried, let alone this little guy.
 

Stacy E. Apelt - Bladesmith

ilmarinen - MODERATOR
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When I was about 14 I was walking behind a shoe repair shop. Behind it was a huge foot powered sewing machine. It worked and I thought it was neat. I went in and asked why it was outside and the old gent said it was an antique machine for sewing shoe soles, and he never used it. He said I could have it if i could move it. He even gave me some papers on threading it and a big roll of heavy black thread.
I got a friend's dad who had a truck and a couple guys, and we managed to get it in the truck bed. It probably weighed 1000 pounds. We got it on my back porch and I kept a tarp over it. I stitched some leather on it. It was crazy heavy duty. I figure it would have stitched 1" of stacked leather. Obviously I had no use for it at that time. I eventually sold it through the Trading Post (a buy/sell/trader paper before the internet) for $100, which was a lot of money in the 1960's. Wish that kind of find would happen again today.
 
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May 21, 2020
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I know it's not even close to the same caliber of machine, but I was contemplating trying out something like this guy a while back -


@ about 4:00 in that video he's sewing 3 pieces of leather together. Thought that was decent for what it was.

I'd be curious on your thoughts Horsewright Horsewright


My initial thought is stay away...far, far away. I bought one off eBay and got the heaviest thread that would work without doing the modification that allows the use of heavier needles and thread. 3 layers would be a stretch without the mod and I have never gotten mine to work on 3 layers for more than a couple of stitches before the upper line breaks.

Had I known about them, I would have spoken with and purchased (if recommended) from Bantam Saddle and Tack, www.bantamsaddletack.com. They are a small USA company that gets the machines and sets them up to work properly and then resells them. That's where I got my heavier thread and found the owner to be especially helpful.

There's a Facebook group for the patcher, as well.
 
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