Instructables
Picture of Leather/Kydex holster
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Making your own holster for whatever you need is an easy and forgiving process.  This instructable will show you how to make a holster out of a sheet of Kydex plastic and a piece of backing leather (usually called a hybrid holster). 

By learning this technique, you can make a holster for your replica of Han Solo's blaster, your own pistol for competitions such as IDPA, or whatever you want to have at your side at all times.  By using a combination of heat-formed kydex and leather, you end up with a holster that will grip your item well, but not need precise tensioning like an all-kydex holster.

The most innovative part of this instructable is how to do the kydex molding without a vacuum former or other difficult or expensive press.  I discovered this technique on Old Faithful Holster's website: http://www.oldfaithfulholsters.com.  My holster design is different from theirs, but I learned the technique for forming from their videos.

Safety: Unload and clear any weapon.  Because you will need to use the gun as a mold and will be unable to maintain a safe direction of the muzzle, more stringent safety requirements are needed.  Remove any and all live ammunition from your work area and completely relocate ammunition to a locked drawer, safe, or other place it cannot be accidentally combined with the gun in any manner.  If possible, render the gun inert.  If there is a magazine safety, remove the magazine.  If possible, remove the firing pin.  Do not remove the barrel as it can change the gun's profile and the holster may not fit once it is replaced.

Materials:
1 sheet of Kydex - either .060" or .093" thick.  The example holster is made with .093", but I have made holsters with .060" and it works just fine.

1 piece of leather - You need something fairly stiff and thick.  5-6 oz or thicker is best, and stiff leather will work better than more supple leather.  You can stiffen leather if it comes too soft by either wetting it in warm water and letting it dry in the sun, or using a leather thickener, either commercial or a 5-1 mix of water and Elmer's glue (the intarwebs describe this process well).

Eyelets or Rivets - I use Tandy Double Cap Rivets.  I have also used eyelets, but they don't have as much surface area after they are expanded and may allow the leather to pull out.

Tools
Rivet/Eyelet Setter - just get it when and where you get your rivets or eyelets so that the tool will match your attachment pieces.

Scroll Saw - You may be able to do this with other tools, but this is the one tool that seems to be a must for me.  I use a Ryobi Variable Speed Scroll Saw.  Variable speed is a must for working in Kydex.

Sharp Knife - used to cut leather

Drill - used to make the holes for the rivets.  A drill press would work even better.

Scrap wood and closed cell foam.

Heat gun or hair dryer.

Optional:
Leather Beveling Tool
CNC Router, or Plunge Router, or dremel
Kydex press (from knifekits.com)
Rivet Press (I prefer the hand set tools)

The steps to make this holster are:
1. Cut the template
2. Cut off a piece of Kydex
3. Form the kydex
4. Shape the kydex
5. Rough-cut the leather
6. Attach the leather
7. Trim the leather
8. Bend the wings
9. Cut the belt slots

If you make this holster, please take a picture and post it in the comments.

The pictured holster is a high-ride pancake design that secures the item above the belt line for easy concealment.  You can use the same techniques with just a different cut to create inside the waistband designs (see Old Faithful Holsters above for a great tutorial on how to do that).  You can also just raise the wings and belt slots to make an outside-the-waistband holster that doesn't ride as high.
 
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I just happened upon this tutorial and wanted to say that I think you did a great job putting it together. Good pictures and clear instructions. I am going to start buying my Kydex in 4X8 sheets from curbellplastics.com I think. You will save quite a bit per sq. ft. but of course you have to be willing to buy that much. If you are, check them out. They will even cut it in half for you so it can ship UPS. Call Renee at 734-513-0531 ext 6412
Thanks for the pointer! I will give them a shot. I have a backlog of holsters to make and I can probably consume another 4x8 sheet now.
gavinc21 year ago
There is no leather involved but this post helped me in my kydex holster crafting. I made this for my sig p250. Used the scraps for the belt loops. Had to cut of the piece that covered the "famous" sig take down lever because it kept getting stuck.
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UrbanSurvival (author)  gavinc21 year ago
That looks great! Very Raven Concealment-esque. I have been planning to do something similar for my M&P and the attached Streamlight TLR-2. As for the take-down lever, I have had good luck using some coffee stir sticks from Starbucks as spacers. You build up as many as you need, then tape them in place between the takedown lever and the slide stop. When the kydex forms around it, you have a nice channel for the lever to slide out.
rustygray2 years ago
I have been making holsters for about 7 years. Kydex and Leather. There is no right way or wrong way. Trial and error will guide your efforts. Also reading these instructables and searching Google for images and tutorials.

Some people prefer forms, others free hand it.

Either way, just make it. Go on eBay, get some scrap Kydex, some leather scrap, by the rivets, or get a grooving tool and punch. Spend some time and make your own. The make it again, and then again, once you like are used to working the leather, start giving them to your friends.

You can do it.
I'm a fan of your stuff.
UrbanSurvival (author)  rustygray2 years ago
Here here, Rusty! I think if people read this as the first tutorial on holster making, they should probably read a few more before they get started. I do one very particular technique, but there are many out there. Find one that fits your tools, workspace, and mindset, and start making!
jamess18052 years ago
All yo uhave to do is use a utility knife to score the kydex and bend. It will break cleanly. I only use the saw for complicated cuts.
UrbanSurvival (author)  jamess18052 years ago
Thanks James! I'll give that technique a try for the rough cuts. I don't know why I hadn't though to try that, just like drywall.
AMNunnally2 months ago

Hello. I realize I'm commenting on this a bit late but I was wondering what type of closed cell foam you used? How dense was it? Thanks!

rortiz65 months ago
Ive use your technic ... Made this iwb for my glock... Thanks for instructions !!!
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rortiz66 months ago
How long do you keep the kydex in the oven at 300 degrees... As an average
mistahkool1 year ago
thanks! awsam post.. would like to know if there is an alternative from using the MDF form? just a question
samick1 year ago
genial
hlamer261 year ago
what size rivets are the best? Large, medium, or small?
UrbanSurvival (author)  hlamer261 year ago
I use these rivets: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B003AP76TU/ref=asc_df_B003AP76TU2580501?smid=A1DOFKMTLCPOIO&tag=sdcbing584-20&linkCode=asn&creative=395105&creativeASIN=B003AP76TU
hlamer261 year ago
what size rivets are the best? Large, medium, or small?
hlamer261 year ago
what size rivets are the best? Large, medium, or small?
I made an IWB holster with similar steps to your instructable. When I did the molding process I didn't make the Kydex form around the pistol 100%. I made a 5 layer sandwich wood plank, foam, wood with gun cutout, foam, then lastly wood plank again. The gun will only be depressed around 60% into the Kydex. This way you can use some Chicago screws and rubber bushings between the leather and Kydex to change the holsters retention by tightening or loosening the screws.
UrbanSurvival (author)  CementTruck1 year ago
Hey CementTruck, If you can, I'd love to see some pics of the final result. I was going to move to screws/rubber rings at some point, but I ended up not really feeling like retention was an issue so I didn't try it.
Here is a top down pic of the holster showing the 45 degree slant on the left side of the pic. The slant is achieved by cutting the shape of the gun in the template a bit more generously above the slide.
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Pic of finished holster and image of rubber bushings as seen between the Kydex and Leather.
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Retention is only ever going to be an issue when you are getting the beating of your life "a la George Zimmerman" and your piece goes skittering into a drainage ditch because it fell out of your Kydex holster. Another way to add retention is to put the gun in the holster and use a heat gun to heat up the area inside the trigger guard. Once sufficiently warm mold the Kydex between the trigger and the front of the trigger guard. Be careful not to make this too deep as it might actuate the trigger when you holster your gun. You could also heat the Kydex up around the ejection port and indent it a little more, as well as all the other bumps and crevasses on your gun. What exactly did you need me to take pictures of on my holster? Closeups of a certain area? I did my holster to this sites specifications http://oldfaithfulholsters.com/. There are well made videos on how to make a holster. Also, check your front sight as it leaves the holster. Is it dragging all the way up? This is caused by making the holster too "form fitting" to the gun. There needs to be a little 45 degree slope away from the top of the slide so a pathway is automatically created for the front sight. Sooner or later that dragging on the front sight is going to wear something out. To fix this, tape a piece of a pencil between your front and rear sights, heat up your kydex and reholster the gun and mold the warm Kydex around the ejection port side of the slide.
Sorry, re read the last sentence and it should read:

To fix this, tape a piece of a pencil between your front and rear sights, heat up your kydex and reholster the gun and mold the warm Kydex around the pencil above the ejection port side of the slide.

If you're having the front sight dragging issue this will create the channel for the front sight. You can do this on the existing holster as you did a really good job of it and I'd hate to see you have to redo it because of that little issue. I only know this because I've gone through the pains of having to redo my holster after my OCD of trying to put hospital corners on my Kydex caused weapon drawing issues because the retention was "TOO GOOD". I couldn't draw because the front sight held the gun in place.
XaqFixx1 year ago
Great work!! I like that you based part of the build on the Old Faithful instructions/design. I built one of their kits for my IWB holster and love it. I did find my scrollsaw tended to glue the Kydex back together after cutting to some extent but nothing that couldn't be snapped barehanded.
Old Faithful Holsters rock! Love the rubber hose retention bushings.
Tacks2 years ago
Great I'ble. I will have to make a couple for Xmas presents this year. I'm sure that most people who go to these lengths to make their own holsters do their homework, but I hadn't read it anywhere so far and thought I should add that putting the temp up on the oven is a bad idea. When Kydex hits 400 degrees, thermal decomposition occurs and toxic gases(Hydrochloric for those who want to know the specifics). So keep the temp under 400 (as your I'ble clearly states) and don't leave it unattended and you should be fine, but if it starts smelling like almonds, turn the oven off, go outside and open the windows.
jamess18052 years ago
Making a template is a waste of time and if you're making numerous different holsters, you're NOT going to make templates for EVERY blue gun or actual gun you use. If you place the gun on the foam and use no foam on top and use the upper hard surface, you can get excellent molded kydex. You can then "tweek" the kydex later for any refinements such as relieving the ejection ports where most guns will hang-up.I use a heat to "GENTLY" re-heat the molded shell and use handmade jigs to do this (see my instructable for photos).
UrbanSurvival (author)  jamess18052 years ago
Actually, I DO make a template for EVERY type of gun I make. Takes about 3 minutes, is hard to screw up, and I find it makes me less error prone in the pressing. Also, many templates will work for a number of guns as they don't have to fit exactly. I use the same template for Glocks and S&W M&Ps. I like the results better when I use a template, so that is why I included it in the instructable. You definitely can free-hand it and come up with a nice finished product. Like Rusty says, there are probably as many ways as people, but the best thing is to just get started. Now that I can make my own kydex stuff, I save so much in holsters, mag carriers, etc. I just wish I could find a local source for 4x8 sheets of kydex now :)
Here is a good place to buy kydex sheeting. If you price it against Knifekits.com, you will find it is about 1/3 to 1/2 the costs.

http://www.interstateplastics.com/search.php?searchtext=kydex&kw=kydex&gclid=CO7TjeDvqbICFQcGnQodEzoAZA

James
UrbanSurvival (author)  jamess18052 years ago
Thanks James! Those prices do seem pretty good. I'll probably get some ordered from there in the next day or so.
ilpug2 years ago
Well done!
Thanks. One thing I left out was the edge finishing of the leather. I use a "slicker wheel". I apply gum tragacanth to the edge, let it dry, then use the slicker wheel to creat a nice smooth even edge..
hjjusa2 years ago
Tape a 3/16" dowel behind the front site to make a channel for the site to slide through. Worked for me on a Kahr CW 40.
Yea, I sand one side flat and tape it to the top of the gun.
UrbanSurvival (author)  hjjusa2 years ago
Thanks Hjjusa - I use the over-cut technique here just because it is so easy to do and it survives the later step of re-heating the kydex and bending the wings out very well. But with tall sights, like suppressor sights or similar, the dowel is fantastic idea.