In this step we are going to wet-form the leather to fit the pistol. If you are using an airsoft gun or a blue gun to mold the holster you can do this at TechShop, but if you are going to use a real pistol, this step is best completed at home.

BEFORE YOU PROCEED: If you are using a real pistol, make sure that it is not loaded, and remove any ammunition from your work area.

Start by cutting a piece of square acrylic rod so that it just fits between the front and rear sights of your pistol. This rod will be used to form a sight channel in the holster, so go ahead and secure it in place with some waterproof tape. If you do not want to get your pistol wet, you can wrap it in cling wrap, but I didn't bother.

Test-fit your pistol in the holster and get a feel for how far into the holster the pistol should sit. It should be pretty loose at this stage. It will tighten up as you work.

Fill your bowl with enough water that you can completely submerge the holster. Use the microwave to heat the water to boiling, then remove it and place the candy thermometer in the water. Let the temperature drop to just below 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

When the water reaches the target temperature, submerge the holster completely and keep it below the surface for forty-five seconds, then withdraw it.

Holding the acrylic rod in place between the sights of the pistol, push the pistol all the way into the holster. This may take significant effort as the leather will have started to shrink.

Once the pistol is situated where you want it in the holster, use your burnishing tools (sharpy, spoon, etc.) to burnish the surface of the leather around the pistol. I start by using my thumb to push some leather into the trigger guard slightly (not enough that it will contact the trigger) and get good definition around the trigger guard and the overall shape of the pistol on both sides of the holster. Then I use the tools to push all of the leather as flat as possible against the pistol, paying special attention to getting creases along the bottom edge of the slide, the ejection port, and the acrylic rod forming the sight channel. I focus most of my attention on the outside of the holster, leaving a general shape on the inside, but trying to get some detail on the outside. As the leather cools and dries it will hold these details, which will help it to hold onto the pistol more effectively. This also helps give the finished holster a nice look. You need to work fast, as the leather is cooling, so get as much detail as you can in five minutes or so.

Insert a stiff belt through the slots of the holster as shown to give some shape to the belt slots and help maintain the holster's curvature.

Let the holster cool for forty minutes with the pistol and belt in place, then remove them and set the holster aside to air dry for twenty-four hours. Avoid the urge to handle it before it is completely dry.

Once the holster is dry you will be surprised at how hard and strong the leather has become.

You're finished. Enjoy your new holster! Once the holster is dry you can use it as is or you can try any number of finishing techniques, buffing with some bees wax and neet's foot oil will give it a really nice shine. I decided to stain mine with a little Fiebings Light Brown. A single light coat gave the holster a really attractive mottled look that you can see in the cover picture.

I hope you've found this instructable informative. If you'd like to see some of the things I make, check out my Etsy store at: http://www.etsy.com/shop/HandmadeByDroids
<p>Very nice- I just pre ordered a glowforge to try cutting out my holster patterns with and this was my inspiration. I don't know if it will be any good or not- but the idea of just printing patterns is wonderful. If any one is looking at the glow forge- you can use my link to save $100 </p><p>http://glowforge.com/referred/?kid=7elsLk</p>
Made one for my dad's Glock 36 using my 19 as a model. How to make one for a friend's Springfield XDs once he 3D prints a blue gun
<p>I've added versions of the pattern file in other formats. Hope that helps.</p>
<p>I can't open your pattern file. Can you verify that it is not corrupted? Excellent write up. Very east to follow. Thanks for submitting.</p>
<p>Hi Jural<br><br>I am able to download and open the file in Corel Draw X6. For some reason, if I try to open it directly from the browser it fails, but if I save it and then drag and drop it into Corel it works fine.</p>
<p>I downloaded the trial of version 7 and it worked perfectly. I was able to save it as a PDF and print it out. I will let you know the results. Thanks again.</p>
<p>I have the exact gun and really wanted the patterns for mine. I have the leather and I am anxious to get started. I can use a PDF as well. If you get a chance to upload one it would be much appreciated. Thanks again for the great walkthrough.</p>
<p>I have a 50 Watt Epilog laser and I downloaded the files, but the they are unusable when I bring them up in Corel Draw X4. Any suggestions? Thanks, Lisa</p>
<p>Hi Lisa,</p><p>The files work in Corel Draw X6 ... not sure about X4. I will post an Illustrator PDF later today.</p>
Thanks, Lisa
I did this step exactly as you describe, but my leather did not shrink at all that I could detect. Do you know if there are differences in leather that would cause this? I tried soaking the leather in the 160f water again for longer, but still no shrinkage. Any ideas?
<p>Hey Dustin,</p><p>There are definitely different grades of leather. I have run into some that will not work, because of how they are cured / tanned. For good results you must use a vegetable tanned cow hide.</p>
This is beautiful.
I had trouble getting Inkscape to load the CDR file you have kindly provided. Any chance you could upload a PDF or SVG? I usually do kydex/leather combos, but I want to give an all leather holster a try.
I am a jewelry designer and I have been wanting to start a line using laser cut leather. However I dont have the equipment, and I hear it is very expensive. Where can I find a laser cutter that I can set up in my craft room? Can you advise?
Are you set up or willing to cut pieces for resale? I checked you Esty site but didn't see anything. I could use a couple of sets.
Hi Dutch56,<br> <br> Thanks for the interest!<br> <br> I was just setting up the <a href="http://www.etsy.com/shop/HandmadeByDroids" rel="nofollow">Etsy store</a>. I have kits (really just pre-cut leather pieces) available on Etsy now. If you are interested in reselling, feel free to contact me and we can talk about pricing and white-labeling.
Nice Esty site HBD- I have a couple of Springfield Armory XD 9's (3 in Subcompact and 4 inch model and the Bride has her own XD Sub compact so I was mainly interested in a couple of kits for our own use. Kydex and nylon has it's place but nothing feels as nice as good leather. <br> <br>Are you planning on doing anything in the future with Mag cases for single and double stack magazines?
Mag carriers are definitely in the works. I'm playing with a couple of different designs right now, trying to get them just right. They should show up on the Etsy store in a few days.
Nice Esty site HBD- I have a couple of Springfield Armory XD 9's (3 in Subcompact and 4 inch model and the Bride has her own XD Sub compact so I was mainly interested in a couple of kits for our own use. Kydex and nylon has it's place but nothing feels as nice as good leather. <br> <br>Are you planning on doing anything in the future with Mag cases for single and double stack magazines?
How 'bout a thumb break...
A holster fitted this way has much better retention than you might imagine. I can literally shake the holster upside down and the pistol will not fall out, no matter how hard I try. <br> <br>That said, I like a good retention holster too, and I'm thinking about some more complex designs with steel reinforced thumb breaks and adjustable tensioning. For now trying to keep things simple, though.
Two of my favorite activities: pistol sport and tech! I love the TechShop logo on the inside of the holster, a subtle details that do not go unappreciated. Have you seen the story circulating about someone who used a 3d printer to build an AR lower receiver?
The 3D printed lower receiver is very interesting. Interesting to see how technology effects government regulation, too. We live in a time when the boundary between knowledge (information) and material goods is starting to blur. It's much harder to control data than goods.
I too wish I had a laser cutter for this very purpose. Very nicely done!!!!!
This turned out really nicely. Makes me wish I had access to a laser cutter. Alas, no Tech Shop in GA yet. still, I might take a trip to the local Tandy and see what I can do.
Thanks for the comment. The laser cutter speeds things up, but there is no reason you can't cut the leather by hand using a swivel knife and punch the stitch holes with an awl. Doing things the &quot;old-fashioned&quot; way takes a little longer (but then I spent a lot of time on the computer getting the files right, so it might well balance out.<br><br>Working with leather is a lot of fun, and I suggest giving it a try.
Fantastic. I've been wanting to get something for my shockingly unpopular pistol and didn't realize that it really only takes a little time and pew-pew from the laser cutter to make something custom. Thanks!
Five stars. Great work!
wow looks great :) <br>nice job!