Knife and Tool Discussion > Making Knives and Sheaths

Sheath design, layout and stitching.

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--- Quote --- EDIT 2-4-2018 Hushnel asked me to use the following link to the tutorial on Dropbox now that Photobucket has broken all of the image links, so the link below has the full tutorial available.
Knife Sheath tutorial on Dropbox

--- End quote ---

I figured I would put this together for you guys that want to work leather. Whether you guys have been at it for a week or twenty years there is always something to learn from both successes and failures. I hope to add to this knowledge base, at least in my failures if not my successes.

I did this whole project a couple of years ago. I don't normally point out my mistakes, after 25 years of working leather you would think they would be few and far between but I have to laugh, I totally screwed up this sheath and I'll point out how at the end of this :)

First thing I did was make the pattern for the knife. I fold a piece of paper to get the crease as a center line;

Mark center line;

Center knife on line and carefully roll it over on its side;

This gives you the space/leather you need for the back of the knife;

Trace the knife?s profile onto the patterns and draw the sheath, add 1/4"- 1/2" to the edge side of the knife for the welt and blade. Adjustments need to be made for the thickness of the leather and knife.

Cut this part of the pattern up to the center line and fold over.

Trace around the cut out part to mirror the pattern, decide what type of belt loop you want, on this pattern it's and integral belt loop, actually part of the leather, you can just as easily cut and stitch a separate piece for this.

The pattern on cardboard from a 12 pack of Coke, was actually done earlier, I wanted to show the process up to this point, I like this material for pattern making.

Dampen the leather so it can take the traced pattern.

Once the leather looks dry but is still cool to the touch you can trace the pattern to the leather.

Cut out the leather, I used the swivel knife so you can see the line, I often use this knife for cutting out leather, particularly filigree or complicated/tight patterns, then finished it with a razor knife or I'll use leather scissors.

These are the basic tools I use for stitching.

I slightly dampen the leather then I run the groover all the way around the pattern this will also be part of the stitch line, you can use a compass to make the referenced stitch line.

On the face and blade edge side of the sheath I start punching the stitching line with a three tined stitching chisel. One leg of the three goes in the last hole of the previous punch for even spacing. You can, over a long stitch line drift a little and the holes won't line up so try to keep an even technique for punching these holes. Using the awl is probably a better stitch since the blade shape of the awl doesn't cut the leather, it pushes the leather fibers apart. When using the awl you don't really want to punch more than 5 or so holes before stitching them up, the holes will start to close up on you.

I count the number of stitches, fold the sheath in half and mark the first stitch on the back near the hilt end of the knife, I punch the same number of holes. Then I punch the stitch holes for the belt loop.

I use a tool called an edger, it cuts the edge of the leather giving it a rounded softer edge, it really cleans up the look and feel of a leather project.

Here I'm cutting out welts using my strap cutter.

Before I dye and stitch I place my makers mark. On this sheath it will not be seen unless it's looked for.

I know, I know :)

I dye the leather and bevel a few of my welt pieces.

These are for the welt where the ferro rod loop will be stitched in.

The welts are glued on with the ferro rod loop and punched for stitching through the holes already punched.

Cut a piece of thread about 5 times the length of the stitching run, attach a needle to each end. Thread needle and pierce the short end, pull this end down and lock the thread to the needle.

The needle starts stitching at the second or third hole, in this picture it's the second hole, even up the length of thread so it's equal on each side of the hole. Now Push the needle through the first hole and pull through, the other needle goes in this same hole in the opposite direction, Tighten, now stitch back over the thread in the second hole and continue stitching. I always start each stitch from the face of the sheath, then I tighten up the thread pulling it slightly back toward the previous stitch and down or towards the center of the project, this makes a little space for the needle and thread coming from the back and aligns the stitch, it's kind of arbitrary but the effect is that each stitch is uniform because my technique doesn't vary from on stitch to the other.

I finish a stitch run by back stitching and bringing out the thread between the layers of leather, tie an overhand knot, apply a little contact cement, dry, set the knot and trim.

Basically done.

Now for the promised screw up identifications. In my own defense I must say I am not used to taking pictures of step by step projects and it might have been a distraction, not to mention the distractions, I am some what more accustomed to, the wife and kid and mother in law, my daughter is severely handicapped and the mother in-law has Alzheimer's.

The first thing wrong is it's a right handed sheath, my intention was for it to be left handed, I screw this up more often than you would imagine. The second screw up was the pattern was a little undersized do to the thickness of the leather I selected, choose the leather first "DOH", My stitching chisel has been resharpened so many times that I actually cut through the top layer of leather with the bottom of the tines trying to make it punch through the thick welt I used, I could see the tightness of the pattern after I cut it and tried to make it up by adding a little more thickness to the welt. I slightly misaligned the first stitching hole on the back side and had to pull the leather into shape. OK the knife I made it for doesn't fit, but my Scandi does :), it needed a sheath anyhow, well I'm used to left carry for right handed sheaths so I can deal with that. There are no catastrophic accident in construction though there may well be catastrophic thinking.

Awesome tut.

Awesome! I will study this more in depth when I have to more time, thank you!

I've seen this one before, and still love reading through it. Hush, you do such good work! Thanks for sharing your content here!

Yeah, I did this one a while ago, I didn't have the energy to redo the whole thing. It seems to stand the test of time.


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