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The Sheath/Holster Makers Forum This is the place to discuss all forms of sheath and holster making.

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  #1  
Old 01-01-2020, 10:28 PM
Tex65 Tex65 is online now
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How do I get started?

Any recommendations on starter tool kits? Good videos? Got around $200.00 to get started. Thanks for any advice and recommendations.
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  #2  
Old 01-02-2020, 08:55 AM
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rockhound rockhound is offline
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My first vid was "Custom Knife Sheaths with Chuck Burrows". Unfortunately Chuck has passed away but I still reference his vid occasionally... well worth the money. My online source for great tutorials would be Ian Atkinson on youtube. His vids have been exceptionally helpful to me regarding tools and processes. $200 is a really good start for leather tools.


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Last edited by rockhound; 01-02-2020 at 09:24 AM.
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  #3  
Old 01-06-2020, 08:13 AM
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Crex Crex is offline
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Try to avoid loading up on a bunch of fancy stamps. Pick a few basics and learn to use them, make most the rest (really not that hard to do).

Invest in a quality hole punch - going cheap on this will give you misery down the road.

Get or make a good solid cutting knife that the blade doesn't wobble or flex, but is thin and easily sharpened. Make sure the handle feels good when you cut - you'll be doing a lot.

Get a good poly or teflon cutting board. Don't cut on wood.

If/when you discover the usefulness of a skive, don't by the "Boat anchor" chrome deluxe. Most other longtime leather crafters like me wind up giving them away. The simple stamped metal curved one is a workhorse and gets the job done. You can also make your own bookbinder's skive from old saw blades that work very well.

Edgers, creasers, and groovers are good tools to have and do wonders for that "finished" look.

Bone folders - easy enough to make your own - smooth polished antler tip, polished slab of bone, slab of polished fine grained hardwood, etc. all work.

Take the time to learn about different leathers - sizing, classification, uses, quality, attributes, strengths and weaknesses. Makes a big difference in outcome of a project. Plan your cuts so as not to waste too much material but don't be stingy. Leave room for error and adjustments.

As mentioned above by Rockhound, you can't go wrong with Chuck's video(s) - watch his hands! As with any pro artist, lots going on with the hands that just don't make it to the spoken word.

And lastly - Don't hesitate to ask here. No dumb questions but lots of good answers. Plus - read the "Stickies", plenty of good info already printed.

Note: I only do sheaths and holsters, very seldom any other kind of leatherwork. So keep that in mind as to my answers and advice please.

Above all have fun!


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  #4  
Old 01-06-2020, 05:02 PM
jimmontg jimmontg is offline
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I presume you are wanting to learn how to make Sheaths?

About all I can add to what Carl said is if you're putting metal in a sheath make sure its 8 oz* or 1/8 inch thick veg tan leather. You don't want to use chrome tanned leather because chromic acid doesn't mix well even with stainless it can pit it. It really messes up high carbon steels like O1 or 1084 if it gets wet. BTW unless you soak your sheath in melted wax don't store your knife in it as the leather tends to absorb dampness from humid air.

I make belts mostly, key fobs, bags and sheaths, plus the odd journal cover or special wallet. Make a few padded and nicely tooled phone covers. Even made a suede vest once, I won't do that again, its a miracle it fit her and was a lot of hand cutting of tassels and hand sewing. I took me 4 times as long as I thought it would. If you know someone who knows how to make clothes go for it, but get a strong sewing machine. Otherwise leave clothes be.

*An ounce of leather is 1/64th of an inch at one square foot big. So 8 x 1/64th is 1/8 inch.

If you can pick out the leather by hand is best. If you have to order it online I suggest somebody who sells Hermann Oak leather or Wicket and Craig who you can buy from directly and they sell high quality veg tan, but are expensive when all you need is a single shoulder for sheaths and starting out. I ordinarily wouldn't recommend Tandy leather to buy from online, but their Oak Leaf single shoulders are good and I have never got a bad single shoulder and they are about $50, so are in your budget, I think they run about 7-8 oz thick which is good for most sheaths. Now I don't recommend using bellies usually, but Weaver leather supply has 10 oz Hermann Oak bellies for $30. The grain or weave of the leather on bellies isn't as dense as shoulders or the side, but at 10 oz thick it's good for a sheath, just don't make a belt out of it as the belt holes will probably stretch too much.
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  #5  
Old 01-07-2020, 06:42 AM
Tex65 Tex65 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crex View Post
Try to avoid loading up on a bunch of fancy stamps. Pick a few basics and learn to use them, make most the rest (really not that hard to do).

Invest in a quality hole punch - going cheap on this will give you misery down the road.

Get or make a good solid cutting knife that the blade doesn't wobble or flex, but is thin and easily sharpened. Make sure the handle feels good when you cut - you'll be doing a lot.

Get a good poly or teflon cutting board. Don't cut on wood.

If/when you discover the usefulness of a skive, don't by the "Boat anchor" chrome deluxe. Most other longtime leather crafters like me wind up giving them away. The simple stamped metal curved one is a workhorse and gets the job done. You can also make your own bookbinder's skive from old saw blades that work very well.

Edgers, creasers, and groovers are good tools to have and do wonders for that "finished" look.

Bone folders - easy enough to make your own - smooth polished antler tip, polished slab of bone, slab of polished fine grained hardwood, etc. all work.

Take the time to learn about different leathers - sizing, classification, uses, quality, attributes, strengths and weaknesses. Makes a big difference in outcome of a project. Plan your cuts so as not to waste too much material but don't be stingy. Leave room for error and adjustments.

As mentioned above by Rockhound, you can't go wrong with Chuck's video(s) - watch his hands! As with any pro artist, lots going on with the hands that just don't make it to the spoken word.

And lastly - Don't hesitate to ask here. No dumb questions but lots of good answers. Plus - read the "Stickies", plenty of good info already printed.

Note: I only do sheaths and holsters, very seldom any other kind of leatherwork. So keep that in mind as to my answers and advice please.

Above all have fun!
Thank you for the information. So itís best to buy quality tools individually instead of the kits I see? I will definitely start with Chucks videos. Iím sure Iíll have more questions down the line. Thanks again.
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  #6  
Old 01-07-2020, 06:46 AM
Tex65 Tex65 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmontg View Post
About all I can add to what Carl said is if you're putting metal in a sheath make sure its 8 oz* or 1/8 inch thick veg tan leather. You don't want to use chrome tanned leather because chromic acid doesn't mix well even with stainless it can pit it. It really messes up high carbon steels like O1 or 1084 if it gets wet. BTW unless you soak your sheath in melted wax don't store your knife in it as the leather tends to absorb dampness from humid air.

I make belts mostly, key fobs, bags and sheaths, plus the odd journal cover or special wallet. Make a few padded and nicely tooled phone covers. Even made a suede vest once, I won't do that again, its a miracle it fit her and was a lot of hand cutting of tassels and hand sewing. I took me 4 times as long as I thought it would. If you know someone who knows how to make clothes go for it, but get a strong sewing machine. Otherwise leave clothes be.

*An ounce of leather is 1/64th of an inch at one square foot big. So 8 x 1/64th is 1/8 inch.

If you can pick out the leather by hand is best. If you have to order it online I suggest somebody who sells Hermann Oak leather or Wicket and Craig who you can buy from directly and they sell high quality veg tan, but are expensive when all you need is a single shoulder for sheaths and starting out. I ordinarily wouldn't recommend Tandy leather to buy from online, but their Oak Leaf single shoulders are good and I have never got a bad single shoulder and they are about $50, so are in your budget, I think they run about 7-8 oz thick which is good for most sheaths. Now I don't recommend using bellies usually, but Weaver leather supply has 10 oz Hermann Oak bellies for $30. The grain or weave of the leather on bellies isn't as dense as shoulders or the side, but at 10 oz thick it's good for a sheath, just don't make a belt out of it as the belt holes will probably stretch too much.
Yes sir, looking to make sheaths. Thanks for the information. Recommendations on where to purchase tools? Thanks again for the help.
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  #7  
Old 01-07-2020, 07:01 AM
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Crex Crex is offline
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Agree with Jim on buying leather. I have gotten some very good leather from Tandy but I sorted through several stacks of sides to find them. Unless you are sure of what you are looking at and have the time it's a bit frustrating to go this route.
Tandy does offer a few beginner courses in most of their shops if you have one close and may be worth going for learning some of the simple basics of cutting and stamping. However, you'd probably be better served garnering a visit to a sheath/holster maker in your area and get a little hands on experience.
Yeah, bellies are stretchy and can get baggy or distorted when tooled. Best to leave them alone while you are learning your skills.
I would recommend getting Tandy's catalog and basic Leather Crafting book for quick in-shop reference. But, I'm old school and like hard copy.


__________________
Carl Rechsteiner, Bladesmith
Georgia Custom Knifemakers Guild, Charter Member
Knifemakers Guild, voting member
Registered Master Artist - GA Council for the Arts
C Rex Custom Knives

Blade Show Table 5-J
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  #8  
Old 01-08-2020, 10:36 AM
jimmontg jimmontg is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Now live in Las Cruces NM.
Posts: 1,236
Tools?

Like Crex said just get the cheap sheet metal handled skiver and a package of blades that go with it.
A few tooling stamps, I recommend you watch some YouTube videos by Tandy leather to get an idea, they have them on their web site of Tandy.com. Weaver Leather Supply also has some excellent beginners videos as well. Give them a look see. I presume your old enough to realize these videos are to sell you stuff, though Tandy less so.

Hardware, you want solid brass rivets and Line 24 snaps. Only Zach White Leather in NC sell them in small packages, a hundred line 24 snaps are expensive, Zach has 10 packs and Tandy has no solid brass snaps of any kind, I took a magnet to Tandy. I had a pretty irate customer bring back a rusty sheath as he was around saltwater with the filet knife I sold him. I had to throw out all my snaps and rivets. Tandy does have brass rivets in packages of 100. You don't need rivets to make a sheath btw, I just like them on the corners. I use stitching needles and Ritza Tiger thread in different sizes, for sheath you only need .8mm to 1mm thick thread. Weaver has the best prices I've seen on tiger thread. Why Tiger thread? It doesn't tangle. I do a lot of sewing. Made my son a crocodile belt and you have to line the croc by gluing and sewing the whole thing to an 8 oz belt strap. I also use 5mm spaced set of stitching chisels from Weaver (best price) to make my holes. Get a decent stitching groover, it will make sewing a lot easier than using dividers to make your stitch line. I have bought most of my tools from Tandy, but if you have a Hobby Lobby nearby they sell a pack of different tooling stamps and they're pretty good.


Oh and stay away from hairy leather on the flesh side cuz that's some cheap leather.

You don't need a lot of tools, but spend some on the knife you use. I use 3 knives, a boxing blade, a circular blade, you won't need that and a model knife with round edge blades and straight blades. Remember this, cheap leather is harder to cut, especially if it's all dried out. Bought one from Weaver and won't do that again no matter how good it looks. Had to dampen it to cut it. Strapped the whole double shoulder to belt straps and threw away the scraps. I usually make sheaths from the scraps from strapping shoulders, but not that stuff. Live and learn, it tools ok, but cutting was a chore. The tanning procedure dried those shoulders out.

Best you watch those videos, there's tons of them, but watch the beginner's first and Tandy's are probably the best at that. Watch Weaver's how-to on knife sheaths too. Btw, if you get an itch to make a belt, buy the belt straps from Zach White or Weaver supply. Don't go crazy like I did.

Last edited by jimmontg; 01-08-2020 at 11:08 AM.
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  #9  
Old 01-09-2020, 07:23 AM
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Crex Crex is offline
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Just an extra note - Use old manilla folders or cereal box panels to make you a pattern of your sheath before cutting up leather. Remember to be a bit liberal with the outside edges so you have a little room for truing up your edges. If making simple pouch style sheaths, remember that paper is much thinner than the leather so allow even more with these. The pattern will allow you to plot or arrange your leather cuts with the least amount of waste and avoid any unsightly blemishes in the leather's surface.

I usually trace the pattern on the flesh side so mis-marks don't show (it will happen). I learned from Chuck many many moons ago to use a red pen or orange sharpie to draw on leather. Most stains will shade out the marks and they disappear.

Always keep you leather working area as clean as possible and wash your hands well before starting. Damp leather will suck up every bit of dirt, oil and grime. You won't be able to get it off and will wind up using a lot of the darker dyes to cover up the finger prints, smudges, etc.

Finishes are a whole nuther animal. You'll have to find what works for you. Neat-Lac is glossy and makes leather look "plastic" (to me). I use a lot of Bag Kote - neutral/satin painting it on then wiping off excess (this takes practice to eliminate streaks). I also use a beeswax/neatsfoot oil mix for that oil soaked look - make sure the neatsfoot is the real thing, lot of fake stuff on the market.
There are a lot of finishes and techniques out there and everyone has their favorite. You will have to weed through them to find what does what you want and suits you.
Keep in mind that most finishes will darken the leather considerably, so test scrap first.


__________________
Carl Rechsteiner, Bladesmith
Georgia Custom Knifemakers Guild, Charter Member
Knifemakers Guild, voting member
Registered Master Artist - GA Council for the Arts
C Rex Custom Knives

Blade Show Table 5-J
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  #10  
Old 01-09-2020, 09:44 PM
Tex65 Tex65 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Crex View Post
Just an extra note - Use old manilla folders or cereal box panels to make you a pattern of your sheath before cutting up leather. Remember to be a bit liberal with the outside edges so you have a little room for truing up your edges. If making simple pouch style sheaths, remember that paper is much thinner than the leather so allow even more with these. The pattern will allow you to plot or arrange your leather cuts with the least amount of waste and avoid any unsightly blemishes in the leather's surface.

I usually trace the pattern on the flesh side so mis-marks don't show (it will happen). I learned from Chuck many many moons ago to use a red pen or orange sharpie to draw on leather. Most stains will shade out the marks and they disappear.

Always keep you leather working area as clean as possible and wash your hands well before starting. Damp leather will suck up every bit of dirt, oil and grime. You won't be able to get it off and will wind up using a lot of the darker dyes to cover up the finger prints, smudges, etc.

Finishes are a whole nuther animal. You'll have to find what works for you. Neat-Lac is glossy and makes leather look "plastic" (to me). I use a lot of Bag Kote - neutral/satin painting it on then wiping off excess (this takes practice to eliminate streaks). I also use a beeswax/neatsfoot oil mix for that oil soaked look - make sure the neatsfoot is the real thing, lot of fake stuff on the market.
There are a lot of finishes and techniques out there and everyone has their favorite. You will have to weed through them to find what does what you want and suits you.
Keep in mind that most finishes will darken the leather considerably, so test scrap first.
I really appreciate all the information and advice. Looking forward to getting started and see what happens. Gonna spend time this weekend checking some of the videos you recommended. Thanks again.
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  #11  
Old 01-09-2020, 09:46 PM
Tex65 Tex65 is online now
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Originally Posted by jimmontg View Post
Like Crex said just get the cheap sheet metal handled skiver and a package of blades that go with it.
A few tooling stamps, I recommend you watch some YouTube videos by Tandy leather to get an idea, they have them on their web site of Tandy.com. Weaver Leather Supply also has some excellent beginners videos as well. Give them a look see. I presume your old enough to realize these videos are to sell you stuff, though Tandy less so.

Hardware, you want solid brass rivets and Line 24 snaps. Only Zach White Leather in NC sell them in small packages, a hundred line 24 snaps are expensive, Zach has 10 packs and Tandy has no solid brass snaps of any kind, I took a magnet to Tandy. I had a pretty irate customer bring back a rusty sheath as he was around saltwater with the filet knife I sold him. I had to throw out all my snaps and rivets. Tandy does have brass rivets in packages of 100. You don't need rivets to make a sheath btw, I just like them on the corners. I use stitching needles and Ritza Tiger thread in different sizes, for sheath you only need .8mm to 1mm thick thread. Weaver has the best prices I've seen on tiger thread. Why Tiger thread? It doesn't tangle. I do a lot of sewing. Made my son a crocodile belt and you have to line the croc by gluing and sewing the whole thing to an 8 oz belt strap. I also use 5mm spaced set of stitching chisels from Weaver (best price) to make my holes. Get a decent stitching groover, it will make sewing a lot easier than using dividers to make your stitch line. I have bought most of my tools from Tandy, but if you have a Hobby Lobby nearby they sell a pack of different tooling stamps and they're pretty good.


Oh and stay away from hairy leather on the flesh side cuz that's some cheap leather.

You don't need a lot of tools, but spend some on the knife you use. I use 3 knives, a boxing blade, a circular blade, you won't need that and a model knife with round edge blades and straight blades. Remember this, cheap leather is harder to cut, especially if it's all dried out. Bought one from Weaver and won't do that again no matter how good it looks. Had to dampen it to cut it. Strapped the whole double shoulder to belt straps and threw away the scraps. I usually make sheaths from the scraps from strapping shoulders, but not that stuff. Live and learn, it tools ok, but cutting was a chore. The tanning procedure dried those shoulders out.

Best you watch those videos, there's tons of them, but watch the beginner's first and Tandy's are probably the best at that. Watch Weaver's how-to on knife sheaths too. Btw, if you get an itch to make a belt, buy the belt straps from Zach White or Weaver supply. Don't go crazy like I did.
Thanks for all the information. Planning on watching some videos this weekend and hopefully picking up some new toys.
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  #12  
Old 02-13-2020, 10:47 PM
oldfooter oldfooter is offline
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sheath

Joe Keeslar has an execlent book on making sheaths. I have used it for reference many times. Easy to follow with simple to more complex designs. Start to finish a good reference.
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  #13  
Old 02-14-2020, 07:02 PM
Tex65 Tex65 is online now
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Originally Posted by oldfooter View Post
Joe Keeslar has an execlent book on making sheaths. I have used it for reference many times. Easy to follow with simple to more complex designs. Start to finish a good reference.
Thanks. Iíll be sure to check it out.
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  #14  
Old 02-15-2020, 12:42 AM
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TexasJack TexasJack is offline
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You might take a look at leatherworker.net. Tons of info on leather stuff over there, and nice folks.

If you're really just beginning, I'd suggest finding a book called The Art of Hand Sewing Leather, by Al Stohlman. Cheap, short, but very, very useful.

Chuck Burrows was a friend of mine, and his DVD on sheath making is the very best. Even people who have made sheaths for years learn from it. You can still find copies floating around Ebay or other parts of the internet. Worth every penny. "Custom Knife Sheaths with Chuck Burrows". He also made a good one on holsters.

Paul Long is an absolute magician with sheaths. He produced a couple of very good DVDs. "Leather Tips From A Master", and "Advanced Blade Sheaths".

Look on Tandy leather's web site. They have a ton of books with patterns and such. Sometimes they have free stuff, too.


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