Sheathmaking: tips and tricks and getting started

Discussion in 'Knife Sheaths' started by leatherman, Sep 7, 2009.

  1. pjkozy

    pjkozy Guest

    I use a product I concocted that I call SheathCoat (tm) to harden the sheath. It is a hot dip application and is a combination of waxes and oils. The end product is a sheath that keeps out water and forms a hard sheath around the contours of the knife. Look at my site if you have interest in this process
    .......... Pete
  2. Sandy Morrissey

    Sandy Morrissey Well-Known Member

    Stiffening leather sheaths

    I find that by dyeing the inside of the sheath as well as the outside, and then sealing inside and out, that the sheath has adequate stiffness. A sheath that is too hard, such as a pouch style, will lose a great amount of retention friction. I always use Feibings Professional Oil Dyes and steer clear of the so called Eco and water based dyes.
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2009

    HELLGAP Dealer - Purveyor

    I like the idea of using a food dehydrator to heat the leather and in doing so will harden the sheath . DONT DO THIS ,I took a sheath put it in the oven at 300 for 6 min and shrunk it up from 7 inches long to 5 inches long LMAO . Here are some things I do that have improved my stitching and durabilaty. I use 35 lb waxed polyester thread. I pull it tight when the leather is damp and I can pull so tight it looks as if I used a grooving tool . I also only use a saddle stitch its the best stitch known for hand stitching used by more makers than any other stitch.
  4. whiteeugene

    whiteeugene Well-Known Member

    I use a bras burnishing rod in my drill press run it slow make sure the end of the rod sticks through the bottom of the table. Also use a finish nail and my drill press to make my holes. You can find good tools for sale on Ebay.
    I do have a question about tooling what type of a surface works best for good tooling.
  5. franklin

    franklin Well-Known Member

  6. Chef Niloc

    Chef Niloc Well-Known Member

    vacuum packer

    I use a foodsaver vacuum packer for wet forming & casing. It makes a very even case quickley, & prevents mold growth. When wet forming on only one side I put the leather on a wood bord then vac-it. This keeps the edges flat & strght and the wood suck's the water out giving you a almost dry piece of formed leather. You can also give lether a wood texture (or other) this way.
  7. Paul Long

    Paul Long Well-Known Member

    I prefer 2 inch MINIMUM thick marble slab. 3"....even better. 4" even better than that. Polished or at least VERY smooth. 12"X18" is a good size.

  8. Denny Eller

    Denny Eller Well-Known Member

    Paul, I am a big fan of your work. I hope you don't have to move that 4" marble slab too many times so that you can keep on working.
  9. Mike Jones

    Mike Jones Google Master

    I have one of the 4 prong chisels to get my holes, and I also have a 1/8" flat head screw driver to help around curves.

    One thing that has helped me a TON is to use my wood band saw to cut the leather pieces (already cemented) to the right shape. I have cut 3 pieces cemented together as if it were 1/4" wood.
  10. Ironwolf

    Ironwolf The Knife Poet

    After reading in Wayne Goddard's book regarding his granite primitive style anvil, I contacted a local cemetery (as he did) and discovered there were 2 polished granite tombstones that they had misspelled, and which were free for the taking. Apparently they make a great surface for leatherwork.
    (I'll wait until I move and find another one once I'm settled)
  11. Roy Miller

    Roy Miller Well-Known Member

    Hey Mike, I have tried all the punches Tandy sells and even made my own, lately I've been using the drill press, but i haven't ever gotten straight lines on the back. I am going to go find my ice pick. thanks Roy
  12. mike miller

    mike miller KNIFE MAKER

    If you do just a paper pattern for the sheath, one way to get straight back lines, is to space your holes in the folded pattern. Unfold your pattern and lay it on the cut out sheath and mark your holes. When you have the holes marked , glue your welt only to one side of the sheath, drill your hole pattern all the way around the sheath. you should be able to use pins etc to lineup the holes and finish gluing the sheath together. Lined up holes that are drilled from the outside to the inside. Before I got a stitcher, I used a drywall nail to drill the holes. It as it spun would burnish the hole as it went through. Rerun you stitching spacer wheel over the holes to help depress the leather down into the holes and sew.
  13. gaelic forge

    gaelic forge Well-Known Member

    O.K., some tips of my own:
    I use a small hardwood dowel chucked into my small bench drill press to burnish. I think I will try the brass rod and see how that works, or maybe a piece of SS. The nice thing about the dowel is that I can cut grooves in it to match the profile of whatever I am burnishing.
    For finish burnishing on the edge of sheaths I use Yankee wax in black or brown. Comes in a unusual triangular stick and imported from Germany. Better than gum imho.
    For dyeing leather do not use the applicators. Use a piece of cheap sponge. Use rubbing alcohol to soak the leather then apply will penetrate better. For big pieces use a spray bottle from the garden supply shop.
    For good black finish use Fiebrings USMC black dye.
    For good shiny finish I use Chicago or Butchers wax and work it into the stitching, then buff out. For leather preservation, dressing and maintenance I use nothing but Obenaufs out of Idaho. Used by wildland firefighters to preserve their boots and gear. Awesome stuff. Nothing better. Don't use neatsfoot oil.
    For an awesome assortment of every sort of leather hardware imaginable go to Chicago Luggage on the net.
    Use the heavy paper used in lining briefcases for patterns. Much stiffer and more durable than manila folders and can be kept for patterns. Keep all your patterns! This heavy paper is available at Springfield Leather in Springfield, MO. They are on-line and great folks to deal with.
    Don't buy an antique sewing machine. Don't buy the Boss from Tandy. Hand stitching is great, but when several sheaths have to get out the door nothing beats a machine! If you do hand stitch buy or build a stitching pony.
    Don't buy Barge cement from leather supply rubber contact cement at the hardware store. Same stuff and much cheaper. Buy small or med. can as it will dry out.
    Use bulldog paper clamps as mini-vises to hold leather while it dries. Apply painters tape to jaws to prevent staining leather.
    Use the large size xacto knives, not the small pen sized and your hands will thank you. Don't be afraid to sharpen the blades on a diamond stone.
    For heavy leather use a good leather round head knife. Worth their weight in gold. Keep it sharp and make a sheath for the knife.
    A small bench sized drill press is your very good friend.
    Better to buy a few good tools and add to them every month than buy cheap crap. Don't ask why I know this. Osborne tools ....made in the U.S.....good stuff. Not cheap.
    It is old school, but I wet sheaths and place knives inside after wrapping in saran wrap for an absolute shrink fit. Custom fit.
    I use my contact wheel on knifemakers grinder to contour and smooth edges of sheaths. Use it to round over edges.
  14. jrmysell

    jrmysell Member

    For the straighter punching of holes with an awl, put the awl blade in your drill press and punch them that way. You don't actually turn the press on, but it holds it 90° to the leather and you can punch the holes quicker that way too.

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