Does anybody?

Rick Otts

Well-Known Member
My wife does a lot of sewing making quilts and such.And last nite while watching tv I saw a woman make a leather purse.She was using a sewing machine made for leather.So my question is how many guys use this method for making sheaths?

Drew Riley

Well-Known Member
A lot of makers use a machine. That said, those machines are specifically made for leather and much more robust that your typical fabric machines. If you want to remain married, I'd advise AGAINST borrowing the wife's Singer for a test run... ;)


"The Montana Bladesmith"
The "standard" sewing machine simply won't work for leather of the thickness used for knife sheaths. As Andrew mentioned, there are machines made specifically for the task, but expect to pay thousands for any one of them that is decent. Personally I've tried machines in the past for sewing sheaths, but they are just not for me..... one of the things I demand in my sheaths is that the stitching be below the surface of the leather.....this means grooving/gouging prior to sewing, and its terribly difficult for a machine to accurately follow a groove/gouge line. I've also found that in order to purchase a machine that will reliably sew the thickness of leather I use (min 8-9oz) its a couple thousand on the low end.

Personally, leather work has always been my least favorite part of knifemaking.... I've attempted to "farm out" my leatherwork a few times.....but the results were simply not satisfactory for me. Either the leather used was cheesy, lightweight stuff, or worse, the sheath simple did not "go with" the knife. So, I've resigned myself to just suck it up and do it myself. :) Personally, I think that many knifemakers see sheaths as an "after thought", which I think is a major mistake. I can't count the number of times I've seen really nice knives for sale, laying beside a crummy sheath, and witnessed potential buyers walk away when they saw the sheath. Unless the knife is a collector piece, its going to spend more time in the sheath then anywhere it needs to meet or exceed the guality/workmanship of the knife it holds.

Doug Lester

Well-Known Member
The lady who was sewing a leather purse was not only using a sewing machine designed for leather but she was also by all probability using split leather that was thinner than anything that one would use to make a sheath from, except for inlays. Also a machine stitch is not all that durable. Start one thread going and it will zip apart. A good saddle stitch will hold even if the thread breaks somewhere along the line.

Personally I cut the groove front and back with a groover and lay out the holes in the groove with a stitching wheel. I then use a drapery needle chucked up in my drill press to punch the holes in the leather. I'm not drilling the needle through the drill's just pushing the needle through. I have a board with a hole near the edge clamped to the press table to allow the glued up sheath to lay flat so I don't get the holes at an angle. If I do get a hole wrong I straighten it out with an awl and work out the wrong hole with a carving spoon. (Any place the sells leather working tools should carry them) I then clamp the sheath up in my stitching pony (a wonderful contraption), wax my thread, thread my needles, tune into something mindless on the TV, and start working my way around the sheath in a saddle stitch. If you know the saddle stitch you won't need to know another.

Another thing that you could do is learn to lace the sheath. Punching holes in thicker leather sheaths can be a bit of a problem though but with the right tools lacing can add a bit of class to the sheath.



Sheath Forum Moderator
No stitching machines in this shop either. I tried two different models and wasn't happy with either one, the cost of purchase combined with the cost of operation far exceeded the time savings. The best thing I can remember about the machine stitched sheaths was they are a breeze to pull the stitching. In most cases to replace with hand stitching.


Well-Known Member
Most sewing machines marketed for leather these days are no more than glorified canvas sewing machines. A true leather stitcher is a needle feed machine without feed dogs. That way you don't mark the leather. I'm a saddle maker also. I have three different harness stitchers in my shop. All designs were patented in 1890's. These were made specifically for leather. Nothing can duplicate something that has been hand sewed. I have seen some beautiful knives with some sorry looking sheaths. I pretty sure many knife makers don't know the proper way to hand sew. It takes minimal time with minimal hand tools to do a beautiful job. Just need to know the proper technique. That being said my work horse is the Randall hook and awl harness stitcher located in the corner of the picture. Everything in my shop gets a stitch groove. Machine sewed or hand.


  • image.jpg
    105.7 KB · Views: 37