Handcraft a Knife Sheath


Sheath making is a rewarding pastime and a invaluable talent for the outdoorsman. Sure knives belong in leather-based, and Kydex merely can’t evaluate to the pure appear and feel of leather-based. I realized leatherworking expertise from my former boss on the Wilderness Studying Heart, Marty Simon. He’s a grasp leather-worker with many years of expertise. The next strategies and steps are my very own variation based mostly on what I realized and what works for me. Different sources could prescribe totally different strategies or steps, and you can see your individual particular person model after making a couple of initiatives.

Instruments It Takes

Earlier than you start working with leather-based, you will want some fundamental instruments and supplies to create a easy pouch-style belt sheath. I’ve pared them right down to essentially the most fundamental and inexpensive. As you get higher within the craft, you may resolve to buy extra devoted leatherworking instruments. Accessing energy instruments hastens the method, however the steps I’ve outlined will be executed fully with out them.


  • 7/Eight oz. vegetable-tanned leather-based
  • Synthetic sinew thread
  • Saddle stitching needles
  • Dremel software or energy drill or axe
  • Contact cement
  • Utility knife and reducing board
  • One-handed leather-based punch
  • Compass or fork
  • Ball-peen hammer
  • Shot glass/ heavy glass bottle
  • Sandpaper of varied grits and wooden paint stirrer or belt sander
  • Plastic wrap or tape
  • Fiebings Leather-based Dye & Wool Daubers
  • Fiebings Tan Kote
  • Brush nylon cloth
  • Water
  • Pencil, pink pen, graph paper, manilla folders


knife sheath
A deep pouch sheath is a safe approach of carrying your blade. It supplies retention and safety for the sting and many of the deal with.


Step 1.

Choose high quality vegetable-tanned leather-based in an appropriate thickness. Most belt sheaths are executed in 7/Eight ounce leather-based. If potential, study your leather-based for any blemishes or marks from barbed wire or processing. Leather-based “single shoulders” will be bought for about $50-$75 from tandyleatherfactory.com—a number of sheaths will be constituted of one. Basically, heavier leather-based is nice for axe covers or heavier instruments and lighter leather-based for pouches.

Step 2.

Hint your knife on graph paper for a left-hand sample. Create a middle line and place the knife edge up on it, staying consistent with the tang. Roll it to at least one facet and hint the blade form. Hint the supposed sample for the leather-based and depart at the very least 0.375 inches from the sting. Upon getting one facet drawn, fold the paper and hint the opposite facet towards a window or vivid background. When folded over, this could offer you sufficient room to insert the knife with good retention. [Optional: Cut out this sketch and transfer it to the manila folder.]

Lower this out and switch it to the leather-based. Use a pink pen when drawing on the leather-based because it doesn’t present as soon as dyed. Ensure that to switch this to the completed facet of the leather-based. Because you traced it lefty, whenever you switch it onto the completed leather-based it is going to come out right-handed. In the event you plan on reusing the stencil you simply created, you must point out on it what facet is prime and what facet is backside. 

Step 3.

Lower your leather-based along with your utility knife rigorously. Take note of the angle of the blade to make sure that it’s reducing straight via and never leaving sharply angled edges. Additionally, attempt to not apply an excessive amount of strain with the end facet down. In case your reducing board has deep cuts in it they’ll switch to your leather-based. When you’re executed reducing it, dampen the leather-based with water to make it versatile.

Step 4.

Glue your belt loop first. Tough up the place the leather-based might be glued and apply your contact cement. Give your glue loads of time to turn out to be cheesy earlier than adhering the 2 sides collectively. Let it set earlier than shifting to the stitching. House your stitching roughly half of inches aside and 1/Four inches in from the sting to retain energy within the leather-based. I often create a “defend” sample and keep away from closing the highest, to maximise energy. Punch holes and sew twice via utilizing a saddle sew. Soften your ends after which hammer down the stitching. 

Step 5.

House the stitching on the physique of the sheath along with your compass or fork tines and punch holes from the highest. Identical to your belt loop, your stitching ought to be at the very least 0.125 inches in from the sting. A leathercrafting fork can be utilized to emboss the leather-based alongside the sew line. This implies urgent down on the highest of the completed facet to go away  indentations. I want embossing as an alternative of utilizing an edger that removes a skinny groove since this weakens the leather-based.

Step 6.

Use your sheath to create one other define on the leather-based for a welt/spacer. Hint this out roughly 0.5 inches vast. It’s OK in case your welt extends past the sting of the sheath physique for the reason that extra might be sanded flush later within the course of. While you make sure sorts of two-piece sheaths, your welt ought to be the thickness of the blade, or thicker. For this pouch model, nevertheless, it’s often the identical thickness as the primary physique. In the event you resolve to create a fire-steel loop (see sidebar) you will want to chop out a piece of your welt the place that can go. Be sure you place it in a location the place you should have clearance to place it in and take it out. Glue your welt to the within of the underside piece first after which glue the highest piece down to shut off your pouch. Ensure that to permit time for the glue to set.

Step 7.

Drill holes via the punched holes on the highest of the sheath utilizing a small drill bit and a Dremel software or energy drill. It helps to place your sheath on prime of a tough backer like a chunk of wooden. Forcing a uninteresting drill bit via the sheath will trigger it to stretch the leather-based and tear it on the opening, inflicting it to be ugly. Additionally, watch out placing the drill bit within the gap as it is going to run on you and mar the surface end of your sheath in case you’re not cautious. Drill holes as straight as potential to retain a straight stitching line on the again of your sheath. 

Step 8.

Measure out how a lot thread you will want by tracing the supposed path with a size of thread two occasions. As soon as that is executed, double the size. It’s all the time higher to have barely extra thread than not sufficient. Saddle sew the primary physique of the sheath with two needles getting into the identical stitching holes from reverse sides. I like to begin on the backside of the sheath and work my approach to the opening. This leaves the underside look tidy and the melted ends of the thread are much less noticeable on the prime. Burn the thread and mushroom over the melted finish. Hammer down the stitching.

Step 9.

End your edges by sanding. Work in a single route. Use heavy grit sandpaper to “hog off” the surplus, then finer sandpaper to take away the sanding scratches. Use a shot glass or a chunk of deer antler to burnish the sting of your sheath—it provides the welt and edges a easy, completed look. Burnishing is finished by flippantly wetting the perimeters and rubbing the shot glass over the leather-based to offer it a glazed look. Burnishing takes time and elbow grease, however the last product might be well worth the effort.

Step 10.

At this stage, you might be set to wet-mold your sheath. Coat your knife in oil and wrap it in plastic wrap or packaging tape. Insert your knife into the sheath after which dampen the leather-based with water. Use your fingers (keep away from scratching the leather-based along with your nails) to push the leather-based towards the contours of the blade and deal with. Particular molding instruments can be found if you wish to save your fingers. You too can mould your sheath and put it in a tender padded press/vice for extra definition. This may give your knife sheath a custom-fit look. I don’t depart my knife within the sheath because it dries. As a substitute, I let the leather-based take form and dry empty.

Step 11.

As soon as your sheath has dried, now you can dye it. Use a wool dauber to cowl it in a skinny layer of dye. Keep away from making use of an excessive amount of as it could bleed in your garments later. Additionally, apply the dye in a single route—away from you. It’s pointless and a waste of fine leather-based dye to dye the within of the sheath. Set your sheath apart or cling it by the belt loop to dry.

Step 12.

Apply a skinny layer of Tan Kote or one other leather-based protectant with a wool dauber or a scrap piece of cotton fabric. This may maintain the leather-based from bleeding dye and from choosing up stains. Buff to a desired sheen with a polyester or artificial fabric.

Pouch sheath
The writer’s BRK Fox River knife driving within the pouch sheath with helpful hearth metal.

Extra Steps

I’ve omitted different steps on this course of which are good refinements however not obligatory. It’s potential to pare (a.ok.a. skive) the perimeters of the belt loop and the within of the pouch, embrace a fire-steel loop, use stamps to frame your sheath, and do dual-color leather-based dying strategies for extra present. With the steps supplied, it is possible for you to to create a practical belt knife sheath. Upon getting these down, you may add these model components to your future initiatives. Earlier than you understand it, you’ll want to commerce in all of
your nylon and Kydex sheaths for these you craft out of leather-based.    

For the latest copy of Survivor’s Edge or American Frontiersman or to subscribe, go to OutdoorGroupStore.com


Latest posts