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Sheath making sigh

Discussion in 'Sheaths & Such' started by Maineiac1, Dec 10, 2018.

  1. Maineiac1

    Maineiac1

    339
    May 3, 2017
    I started getting into leather sheaths because I was having scratching issues with kydex. Well I figured out kydex finally and no longer have an issue. Kydex I can make a sheath for a blade in a couple hours and be done with very good results. I've been doing leather for a while now and think I understand how to do it, then when I think I'm done I have to throw it away and start over! A sheath recently I made that wet formed perfectly then when dried shrunk way too much and it wouldn't fit the knife. Another was designed wrong for a trailing point and the knife tip poked through the sheath. Another one I made, when I was done it was good but the edge looked like they were separating where the layers were glued/stiched together. Maybe I need to stop drying the sheaths in the oven at 170..?

    I've watched a lot of videos on making leather sheaths and holsters but can never seem to make one and have it work so easily as it looks.

    Does anyone have any quick tips or a simple order of operation for leather?
     
  2. leatherman

    leatherman leathermoderator Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Nov 30, 2001
    Might be leaving the leather in the oven a bit too long, I cant say much about that process as I either leave my wet molded sheaths alone on my bench till they dry, or I have a little box fan heater that I sit them in front of till they are somewhat dry then let them finish slowly. In my thoughts, the oven is a bit harsh, but some (like Dave here) have great success with it so what do I know. :p
    Might try a bit of neatsfoot oil after drying (again, with less time) to feed that leather
    The edges pulling apart could either be the shrinking, and/or not quite enough contact cement.

    I think there is a tutorial on making pouch sheaths in the tips section above in the stickies. That thread is a great resource.
     
  3. Maineiac1

    Maineiac1

    339
    May 3, 2017
    Thank you! I’ve read a lot on Dave’s threads and he really makes it look easy haha.
     
  4. Robber58

    Robber58

    138
    Oct 9, 2008
    The separating edges could also be indicative of using leather from the belly of the hide. If the separation is not right at the glue joint but offset slightly then that may be the case.
     
  5. rtmind

    rtmind

    112
    Mar 8, 2013
    I recommend you re-read Horsewrights posts on this, I suspect you are getting way to hot, I use 125-140 deg f. Low and slow,no problems to date.
     
  6. Maineiac1

    Maineiac1

    339
    May 3, 2017
    Oh good tip I didn’t know about... it is at the glue joint though.

    I feel I’m trying too hard to get a solid retention using the welt and this makes it fit spine to edge very tightly.. maybe I need more or a gap between the welt and finger choil..
     
  7. Maineiac1

    Maineiac1

    339
    May 3, 2017
    Yeah I’ll flip back through some of the good ol readings and try to relearn some. Maybe I’ll back off on the oven and see how being patient works
     
  8. Horsewright

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

    Oct 4, 2011
    I'll see what I can do to help shortly. Neck deep in alligators and paddling like a mad dog right now.
     
  9. Maineiac1

    Maineiac1

    339
    May 3, 2017
    Haha no hurry, just used the last of the dye I need . I’ll get some pictures this evening..
     
  10. Maineiac1

    Maineiac1

    339
    May 3, 2017
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Oh and it split! Never had this happen before.. I did use pure neatsfoot oil after the oven drying. Split on the outside where the handle was pushing outward trying to insert.
     
  11. Busto

    Busto KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Jul 26, 2011
    What method are you using to "Burnish" the edges? From the last photo it appears all edges are rough and open not burnished. Burnishing is a method of closing all the loose fibers and should be used on exposed edges.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2018
    mitch4ging likes this.
  12. leatherman

    leatherman leathermoderator Moderator Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Nov 30, 2001
    Those cracks are indicative of very dry leather, I'm fairly confident that the oven is your issue in that respect. Overly cooked leather wont flex properly, its simply too stiff. If your wanting hardened leather there are methods, like dipping in heated beeswax/oil, that will attain a good stiffness while still retaining flexibility. I think there is a thread on that here as well.
     
  13. Maineiac1

    Maineiac1

    339
    May 3, 2017
    I havnt actually burnished the edge here yet, I dyed then did a quick slick which made it look okay and closed up. I then wet formed then dried in the oven, from there I will wet and slick the edges which I didn't do yet because of my issues.
     
  14. Maineiac1

    Maineiac1

    339
    May 3, 2017
    Then that leads me to no more oven usage.. I figured oiling it after would have helped but I just loaded more oil to it and it still cracks when flexed. Not good. I don't really want it stiff so maybe I need to wetform with a lot less water? I usually soak the leather under warm water for a minute.. Maybe just a quick dip in water is all I need?
     
  15. v8r

    v8r

    559
    Mar 6, 2009
    If you wet form the sheath try letting it sit and dry naturally. Throw it on the dash of your vehicle for three days flipping it every few hours.
    That leather looks extremely dried out.
    Your edges could be due to shrinkage as well. I usually come back and touch the edges up on mine after the sheath is dry.
     
  16. darkmatter35

    darkmatter35

    388
    Aug 21, 2011
    Is it possible there is a leather quality issue?
    John
     
  17. Maineiac1

    Maineiac1

    339
    May 3, 2017
    I’ve made a few other sheaths with the same leather that came out perfect. I just think I left it in the oven waay too long.. I’m going to have to start letting it dry naturally..
     
  18. Horsewright

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

    Oct 4, 2011
    Definitely too dried out but probably not the oven. I've seen sheaths baked too much and that ain't them. I wiped out a batch of 30 one time and another batch of 10 another time. I simply forgot about them. I've also seen scorch marks. But not cracks. I'm running the oven these days at 178 and go for three hours flipping every hour. I set an alarm so that I do remember to flip and to take em out when done. Ya bake em too long and they turn like jerky, they don't crack, they shrivel down and misshape, like jerky. I did 14 sheaths yesterday following this formula and 30 the day before and probably another 25 or so today. Wasn't the oven. I get almost no shrinkage. A hint here and there but if it fits well wet molded it fits well after being baked. Are you using the same leather for the welt as the sheath? I have seen using different leathers where the welt will shrink back from the edge. I try to avoid using different leather for the welt. That may be part of your glueing problem but not the crack.

    To me just going off the pic and I've been thinking about it a while, that looks like a stress crack from shaping over an object when too dry or stretching the leather too far over the object, again while too dry. But its too dry for shaping or too dry for stretching not because the leather is dried out. I use to get those once in a while on my slotted sheaths which is a pouch type sheath. I'd just not have the leather cased enough to do the folding in half and get those cracks, usually down at the tip or sometimes at the throat. So rereading your post with the pic right now about the crack just sounds like mis measurement a little. The sheath was just too tight in that area for that knife. If I get that I use a rat tail file on the welt side. This will usually relieve it enough that I can get the knife in correctly. Sometimes I miss and end up filing into the stitches on the welt. Thats a pisser for sure. Once your leather is dry whether it sits on the bench, car dash, window sill, or in the oven, (don't try the microwave, I did once, with a pair of spur straps, spongy jerky), its not the right time to shape or stretch it and that looks like what happened here. As a side I've also seen leather crack/tear like that around a scar but I don't really see any scarring in the pic.

    Ya know on each batch of say 50 sheaths or so, its not unusual for me to miss one and usually because its too tight but sometimes too loose. I make that call when I'm wet forming the sheath to the knife most of the time but occasionally after baking. If I have one that doesn't work I keep it in a drawer. Sooner or later I'll find something that works with it, almost always. In my previous batch of knives (not the one I'm working on now) I had a Coyote model with an elk that I ended up making three sheaths for before I got it right. What happened? Who knows? I've made thousands of sheaths for my Coyote model, its our second biggest seller. But this one took me three times to get er right. Quien sabe? I think its gets to be kinda a feel thing with experience, whats too tight and whats too loose.

    I have in the past when having made one that was too tight but I thought it was still salvageable, re wet it and start all over on the molding. This has worked sometimes and sometimes the leather just didn't have that much stretch. Again it kinda becomes a judgement call and good judgement comes from experience and experience usually comes a little from bad judgement. Hope this helps some.
     
    DB_Cruiser and mitch4ging like this.
  19. Maineiac1

    Maineiac1

    339
    May 3, 2017
    Wow thanks for taking the time and really thinking about this for me! The welt was from the same leather just next to where the sheath leather came from. I did run the welt up into the finger choil about an 1/8" hoping to get some decent retention, maybe this was an error since I'm more of a kydex knowledge individual? When I attempted to put the knife in I could see where the ricasso was draggin on the welt, I've made this same sheath for 2 other knives that were similar but didn't have this issue. not to say I didn't luck out on the others. the rat tail file would have helped a lot if I knew it before hand so that great to know! The cracks happened as I tried to pursued the knife into the sheath, the outward force of the handle is right where the sheath cracked. I also did read in an older thread you mentioned weldwood green as a cement so I just picked some of that up instead of the tanner bond cement from tandy I used.. I believe is tanner bond.. Again thanks! I will try again with a new template after doing more research! I do like the craft and the learning :)
     
    Horsewright likes this.
  20. Horsewright

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

    Oct 4, 2011
    So been thinking on the glueing aspect. Glueing problems come down usually to three things. 1) glue 2) leather or 3) technique.

    1) Glue. Well Barge contact cement has been the standard in the leather craft industry for a very long time. Works on about any type of leather. It has several drawbacks but its been put up with because it works. Long time ago a buddy who is a professional leatherworker too, (makes mostly leggings) turned me onto the Weldwood in the green can (green can, not the red can, same maker different glues). He and his wife had a new baby. Because he stayed home and worked out of his home shop he was pretty much in charge of childcare. This was a problem as the wife didn't want the baby out in the shop because of the fumes of the Barge cement. So he's taking care of the baby 9 hours a day while mom's at work. Problem is he's not getting any work done as his shop is a separate building from the house. So he found the green Weldwood and after using it for a while turned me onto it. No fumes. Been using it ever since and that little baby just celebrated her eleventh birthday back in Oct. I believe the green Weldwood works better than the Barge. Better glue lines, no headaches and its hell taking something apart. You're gonna have leather fibers on one side or the other. It even works good on some of the really oily chap leathers and Barge wasn't the greatest there. The one thing I've found that it doesn't glue well is the ribbons on zippers. It just doesn't stick em to the leather. I use to keep a small bottle of the red Weldwood (fumes just as bad as Barge) just for zippers but have since gone to basking tape. Where has that stuff been all my life. I bought a bottle of that Tanners Bond years ago from Siegel Leather. They had a catalog the thickness of a Bible, things and leathers ya didn't even know ya needed in there. The inside cover was a picture of Bo Derek getting fitted for a pair of shotgun chaps. How could a guy go wrong ordering from them? Well didn't like that Tanners Bond at all. Threw it away. It dried hard. Bad on a zipper that runs down your leg. Walking around like the Tin Man. I buy the green Weldwood by the gallon at the Depot here locally, no shipping charges, no Calif Haz Mat charges like with Barge and if I run low I can get more right away don't have to wait ten days to order some in from some leather supplier. Heck the Depot is right across the freeway from the ranch, its not like I'm not going over that way.

    2) Leather comes down to a couple of things. Quality leather and stay away from bad belly leather even for welts. This hurts I know cause ya pay the same for that bad belly leather as ya did for that really nice stuff up there by the spine. But that is just how it is basically. So on belly leather if I would almost use it for a regular project I'll use it for a welt. Get past that and I won't use it. Be selective here. Spongy, wrinkles and very loose grain, no bueno in my casa.

    3) Technique. Its a common misconception in leatherwork that all the glue does is hold things in place while ya sew. While this is true its not all it does. Sheath work will always incorporate 2/3 or more layers of leather coming together in an exposed edge. A good glue job is what makes all those layers look like and act like one, which is your goal. Make sure you glue is evenly and completely spread, the edges being most important. When I glue something up I spread the glue out and then go back and make sure all the edges are really good. The little separation ya have in that pic looks like maybe the glue wasn't out all the way completely, or maybe wasn't completely dry when put together. A thought. Ya know before glueing check that all your pieces are flat and square. If ya'd cut one piece, say the welt slightly angled and not square ya can get that too. When putting all your parts together after the glue has set use some pressure. I keep a very smoothly dressed hammer on the work bench. It does nothing else but tap leather after glueing. I tap all exposed edges and all stitching lines. I then visually inspect the exposed edges and come back with more tapping if needed. Ya probably want to use a piece of scrap leather between the hammer and your project so you are not leaving hammer marks on your sheath. Once you've sewn your project I sand every exposed edge that has two or more layers. I use a belt sander with a 120 grit belt. I have a small 1/2" sanding wheel on a Dremel tool if I can't get to it on the belt sander. Sanding evens out your layers and removes any excess glue lines. While rubbing your edges and you still have some glue sticking out, sand more.
    Well I hope that helps ya some @Maineiac1 .
     
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2018
    DB_Cruiser and mitch4ging like this.

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