Introduction: Leather IWB Holster
Hello. This is my first instructable (and started photographing it late because i didn't think about making an instructable until i was a few steps in, so some of the pictures are staged retroactively), and my second (successful) holster. I have been playing with leather for a few years now on occasion, mostly making bracelets, sheaths, or simple wallets. So i am by no means a professional leather-smith (or whatever their called) and i'm sure there are many mistakes in my build, but whatever. Oh ya, and guns are dangerous (especially in the wrong hands); they should always be handled with respect and assumed loaded. I take no responsibility for your injuries or death as a result of my instructions, in other words DON'T BE STUPID! For this instructable I made an inside the waistband (IWB) leather holster (the folded over one, my other somewhat successful holster is the other sandwich style one in the picture) for my Springfield 40cal, 3.8" barrel XDM. Another warning... this will not be grammatically correct, use of proper terminology, maybe even incorrect spellings, and probably run on sentences...
Step 1: Sketch Basic Design and Cut
There are many designs similar to this. I just refer to them as the folded over style, but i'm sure that's wrong. Anyways, I just kinda stuck the pistol in my waistband on the back of my right hip and found a spot that seemed comfortable. Then sketched out a flat 2D rough pattern of what I though would work based off of other holsters I have seen, with the hopes of making a comfortable, secure, and discreet holster. After I liked the sketch i cut it out.
Step 2: Finalize Pattern and Cut Out
After i had the rough sketch pattern cut out i folded it over the pistol and realized it was going to be too small (Ive made this mistake before without correction and after days of work finding out the gun is too big for the holster is frustrating, like i said i'm not a pro) So i placed the cut out sketch on another paper and expanded the perimeter and made modifications i though were needed. it helped to lay the pistol in its spine (handle up) and roll it back and fourth, then overcompensate the pattern perimeter assuming it will shrink a little when its molded and leaving room for stitching. Then cut out the final pattern and double checked it with the gun.
Step 3: From Paper to Leather
Next I taped the pattern to a piece of leather using masking tape, trying to use minimal tape and not press too hard to leave adhesive or remove hide. I traced the pattern with a pencil (i know, big no no), removed it from the leather and cut out the pattern using first a swivel knife on the surface then some kind of leather knife (i got from my grand-mother-in-law...Thanks Betty) to cut the rest of the way through.
Step 4: Check to See How It Will Fit...
pretty self explanitory... what the title said. Make any modification to basic shell now, it will be much harder later on.
Step 5: Make and Attach Belt Loop With Glue
In the first rough sketch I made a note (mostly mental) of how and where the belt loop would go. Its a really simple rectangle about 2 inches wide long enough to wrap around my belt with extra room for snaps and stitching area for attaching it to shell. From the rectangle I cut a small piece off to match the width perfectly that will serve as a spacer to sit on top of the pants in between the belt loop and shell. I position it at a slight angle perpendicular to the spine of the pistol so it would ride where I wanted when worn. Then glued the spacer to the shell and the one side of the belt loop to the spacer.
Step 6: Oh Snap(s) for Belt Loop and Stitching
The placement of the snaps could wait until later, but I wanted to see if it was going to fit the way I was hoping. So using a hole punching device I cut holes and set the snaps. At this point I folded the shell together a glued the seem (only about 1/4" wide along edge of inside seem) using "Barge - all purpose cement", holding it together for about an hour with some lightweight clamps (clothes line clips work sometimes). Then stitched it all together after it (mostly) dried using a "speedy stitcher awl". The way I stitch is first lay out a line (I use a very faint pencil) along the path of the stitching, then using a ruler and make dots about every 1/4" along the line. I use a 3/8 hand drill and chuck up a awl needle that has a small rubber stopper pierced though the needle pushed up to the chuck side (to prevent marks) and drill the dots through (if you use a regular drill bit it will shred the leather) being extra careful to stay at a straight vertical 90 degree angle from work piece as i can and not drill into anything important on the other side (like my hand). Then before actually stitching a use a gouging tool (thanks again Betty) to gouge out a line to inset the thread to prevent rub and wear of the thread.
Step 7: Prepare Pistol for Molding
I don't really know if this is that important since most modern pistols have polymer frames and the slide is coated in some kind of anti corrosive protective coating and some manufactures even boast how their guns can be ran over, filled with sand and go underwater then still function correctly, but i just don't like to see my firearms get wet unless they have to so I wrapped it in saran wrap and secured it with electrical tape. However it is important to add something to the to slide where the the sights are to help it go in and out of the holster without getting snagged up once the shell shrinks around the gun in molding process. I used a bamboo BBQ skewer and a couple popsickle sticks also secured with electrical tape to create the void.
Step 8: Molding, Shrinking, and Drying
Some people say you shouldn't get the whole piece of leather completely saturated, but as I already stated in the disclaimer, i'm not a professional and probably not doing this right. Anyways before I prepped the gun with the plastic and wood I ran some water over the holster until it was soaking wet. Then kinda shook off the excess water and let it dry a little while a did the last step. After I prepped the gun I pushed it into the holster and just kinda worked the leather around it massaging, pushing and squeezing it with my hands while it started drying a bit. When I was satisfied I let it sit while it continued to mostly dry. Then before it was completely dry I removed the pistol (and the plastic and wood form the pistol, and cleaned it up) I let it sit overnight to fully dry and shrink a little more.
Step 9: Dying (to Finish This Project)
After cutting the holes and setting the final snap for securing the gun in the holster and final trim to round corners it was ready for dye. I like black, so that's what I chose. Using old old rag I dabbed and rubbed the dye around making sure to get the edges and using a small brush to get under the snaps around the stitching. Then let it dry and applied some carnauba wax, buffed it a little, and finished it off with burnishing the edges.
Step 10: Done
Bada bing, bada boom... and done. Thanks for looking.
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