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.
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.
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.
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.
Step 1: Cut the Template
Get a piece of scrap MDF or plywood, about as thick as the item you want to form, or a little less. MDF works very well for this and 1" thick works great for most applications.
Place you object on the scrap and trace the outline with a thick-barreled pen. Hold the pen vertical so you end up with an outline that is about 1/4" or more out from where the outline actually lies. This is also the time to think about what might trap the item in the holster. For a pistol, the front sight is a common item that gets hung up. To fix this, give a more generous border to that part and continue all the way back to the mouth of the holster (see picture for front sight extra border).
Now cut out the outline of the object using your scroll saw. It is easier if you actually trace the entire object onto the scrap, unlike what is pictured where only part of the gun is cut out. I was trying to be economical on scrap, but it makes forming the item a little harder. If you don't have an edge to start on with the scroll saw, remove the scroll saw blade from the top attachment point. Drill a hole through your patter inside the outline of your item and then thread the saw back through the drill hole and re-attach. Now you can cut out your scrap wood template. You want to stay fairly close to the lines you drew, but you don't need to be exact for this part of the process.
Once you are done, your object should fit inside the cutout with room to spare.