Introduction: Make an Amazing Leather Sheath for a Knife! Beginner Friendly!
Runner Up in the
Tandy Leather Contest 2016
The video shows the entire process in 6 minutes! : )
I made a steak knife a while ago and now it was time to make a sheath for it. I build a lot of stuff in the past, but this was the first time I made anything from leather. If I can make this, so can you! Turns out that the leather can be quite forgiving.
Check out the video above to see how I made the sheath. I also made a video about how I made the knife itself.
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The products you need:
The leather was scraps from a friend. The pulleys in step 9 are optional and cost about 4$.
Step 1: Create a Paper Template!
Use some thick paper to mock up the sheath. This gives you a good feel for how the sheath is going to come out. Paper prototypes are usefull for all kinds of projects, not just leather work. You can attach the templates directly to the leather to cut out the pieces.
Step 2: Cut Out the Leather!
You need a really sharp blade to cut leather! I used a new utility knife, but even better would be a scalpel. I got the leather for free from a friend who makes belts. I recommend checking out a local shoe maker or upholsterer for some leather scraps. Remember there is nothing more hipster than upcycling scraps!
I used three layers of leather. The brown stuff for the top and bottom, and black leather as a spacer. The colour in the middle won´t be visible later.
Step 3: Time to Burnish the First Edge.
Burnishing smoothes out the edges and protects them from fraying. All you need to do is die the edge, wet it, add some candle wax and rub it for a long time. The rubbing creates heat which melts the wax into the fibres and rounds it over. There are special burnishing tools that you can buy or make yourself. I experimented with metal tools, wooden handles and plastic pens and they all kind of work. It just takes a bit of time. In Step 9 I show you how to speed up this process with a drill press.
Step 4: Assemble the First Two Pieces.
Now that the edge is burnished, you can glue together the front piece and the black spacer. I used special leather glue which is a type of contact cement. Apply the glue all the way to the edges and make sure the entire surface is covered. (Somehow I lost the footage and it looks as if I do the opposite. I didn´t.) Do that to both glue surfaces and let it vent for 5-10min. Then its time to press both pieces together and the glue will bond instantly with pressure. Great stuff!
Step 5: Make the Fastner That Secures the Blade.
Take a small piece of leather and thin it out a bit. You need a really sharp blade. I later used a razor blade for this. They only cost 10cent a piece. Use a paper template to get the shape you want and cut it out. Then you can burnish the edges and add a little snap fastner. The step fastners come with all the tools you need to punch the hole and fasten the rivet.
Step 6: Attach the Fastener to the Front of the Sheath.
Mark out the exact position of the fastner. The tip of a sharp pencil will leave a mark on the leather that won´t be visible later. I used leather glue and also a seam to bond the pieces. There are special hole punches that you can use to make it easier to insert the needle. The punches also create evenly spaced holes.
To protect the seam from the blade that will be sliding in and out I hollowed out the leather on the inside a little bit. That way the thread is flush. I also cut out a super thin piece of leather to cover up the seam. This worked much better than expected and gives piece of mind that this will hold up.
Step 7: Assemble the Sheath and Sand the Edges!
Now that the fastner is attached, you can glue together the two halves of the sheath. As always, cover the glue area all the way to the edge with contact cement and let it vent for a few minutes. Then bring both pieces into contact and apply a lot of pressure.
You can now insert the knife!
You want to sand the edges smooth because they probbably won´t end up flush. I used a disk sander, but you can also do this by hand or using an orbital sander.
Step 8: Dye the Edges!
I did not want to buy any special products to make this sheath, so I just used a black marker to dye the edges.
Step 9: Burnish All the Remaining Edges!
I went to the hardware store and bought these pullies. They make excelent burnishing tools when you put them inside the drill press. This really accelerated the process. Make sure to use plenty of candle wax, water and pressure to smooth out the edges!
The last picture shows how smooth you can get it.
Step 10: Add the Counterpart of the Fastner.
Now that the sheath is assembled, you can attach the other side of the snap fastner. Otherwise you won´t know where exactly to punch the hole.
Step 11: Create the Belt Loop!
I made the loop just by folding the end of the sheath and gluing it to itself. Use a razor blade to thin out the edge so it goes together flush with the rest of the material. Add glue...You know the drill by now.
Step 12: Sewing. Finally!
You want this seam to be perfectly straight, so you can use one of the punches to score a perimeter line. The punches only push the leather aside. I used the drill to remove material and make it easier to insert the needles. You really need to apply a lot of force to push through the needles, So I used a pair of pliers to push them in and pull them out.
I used two needles that crossover inside every hole. That can be easyer since the thread does not have to be very long. If you run out of thread, you can just attach some more with a knot and hide it inside one of the holes. The sheath is about 12mm thick, so there is a lot of space inside the hole.
At the end you should secure the threads to each others and add a dab of glue so they don´t come loose.
Step 13: Admire Your Work and Post That Stuff on Instagram!
Well done! If you enjoyed this project, make sure to subscribe to my youtube channel so you don´t miss out on my future projects!
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