Introduction: Making a Simple Leather Sheath: Fold-over Western Holster Style.
Runner Up in the
Tandy Leather Contest 2016
I just got an Opinel No. 6 and I wanted a belt sheath for ease of carry...so I made one. Leather work is a new hobby for me so I take advantage of every opportunity to practice. This is my first Instructable photographed, written and uploaded completely via the Instructables App for Android so please forgive any mis-swypes and if you don't mind...give me a heads up in the comments if something is amiss. Here it goes...
Step 1: Materials and Tools
Nail Clippers or Scissors
Swivel Knife or Razor Knife
Speedy Stitcher or Large Eye Sewing Needle
Snap Setting Pliers or Snap Setting Die
Cotton Dye Applicator or Cotton Ball
Protective Gloves ( like latex )
Small trash bag or paper towels ( to protect surfaces from dye )
Rotary Hole Punch or 4-in-1 Leather punch
Stamping Tools ( optional )
Quartz or Granite Slab ( optional )
Step 2: Draw Up the Template
Here is the template...and you'll see more of how this sheath works in later steps.
Start with the knife pocket. The easiest method I've found to estimate the width the leather of the sheath pocket needs to be is to set the closed knife on its side like this is (see image). Visualize how much space you'll need to the right to make holes, stitch, and have some leather to the right of the stitching. Maybe add a little more to be on the safe side. Mark that.
Next...roll your knife left onto its edge, then continue rolling it left until it is laying on its other side. Again, visualize how much space you'll need to the left to make holes, stitch, and have some leather to the of the stitching. Perhaps add a little more to be on the safe side. Mark that.
Decide how much of your knife you want to stick out of the top of the sheath. Keep in mind that the holes and stitching will take up some of the bottom of the leather and work that into your figuring.
At this point you should have a pretty good idea how much leather you're going to need for the pocket of the sheath. If this is your first sheath of this type...in my opinion it is best to use an even rectangle for the pocket leather.
Step 3: Deciding on the Width of the Belt Loop.
How wide do you want the belt loop? This is personal preference...but it should be wide enough to be stout...but narrower than half the total width of the unfolded pocket.
The belt loop should be centered behind the knife when it is in the sheath. A good way to accomplish this is mark the exact center of your rectangle. Center your closed knife on its edge over your mark, then roll it right to its side. That is approximately where it will be when the sheath is complete.
Step 4: The Loop-around Band...
The leather for the loop-around band needs to be long enough to wrap completely around the sheath with the knife inside plus a little overlap to rivet together.
Step 5: Cut Out the Pattern
Step 6: Fold the Paper Pattern
Fold the paper pattern around your knife to insure that the dimensions are correct. The belt loop section folds straight back...then wrap the securing band around The knife & paper "sheath" template.
Step 7: Transfer the Pattern to Your Leather & Cut It Out
I used some thin veg tanned leather for this project...one centimeter thick...but this is a very small, very light knife. You may need thicker leather to support a larger, heavier knife. I've used 3 cm when making a riveted holster in a modified form of this style for a heavy firearm with no issues.
Step 8: Make Stitching Holes
Fold the leather around your knife just like it will be after it is stitched. Line up the edges of the leather. Mark a line for your stitches down the right side and across the bottom. Using a hole punch...punch appropriate sized (small) holes down on your marked line. I use a four hole punch I picked up at Tandy in Springfield, Mo ( pictured).
Starting in the top right corner, I punch four holes on my marked line by striking the puncher with my mallet. Then I place the first hole punch in the bottom hole I just punched and align the other three hole punchers with my marked line and make my mallet strike.
When you get to the end of the row and only need one more hole...put the other three punchers in the holes you just punched. This gives you perfect spacing when doing long rows of stitching.
Step 9: (Optional) Tooling/stamping a Pattern
If you wish to embellish your sheath with a pattern...do it now. Check out my Granite Stamping Slab Instructable for a cheap easy beginners stamping slab.
Step 10: (Optional) Dye Your Sheath
You can dye later in the process...but I wanted my thread to remain tan...so I dyed the leather before stitching.
Use your protective gloves and trash bag or paper towel stack to keep the dye off your hands and work surface. I dampen the leather before applying the dye. Apply with a cotton dye applicator or cotton ball. This is Fiebings mahogany. The dark coloring masks my tooling mistakes ;)
Follow the manufacturers directions.
Step 11: (Optional) Add a Snap
If you want a top closure flap, it is easier to install the snap base mechanism now, before sewing. Place your knife on the leather and fold it over to where it will be after you sew it. Fold the belt loop down and wrap the securing band around. Your snap can go above or below the band...but not under. Mark the position you want the center of your snap to be. Punch an appropriate size hole for your snap base and set it with the snap setter and a mallet...or snap setting pliers.
Step 12: Stitching
I used a Speedy Stitcher...which I find very handy for this kind of sewing...but a large eye needle will work too. Line up your holes and make nice tight stitches. Start at the top right and stitch to the bottom left so you can hide your end knot down there. I stitch to the end and then back one hole...then tie my end knot (a square knot), cut my thread with a pair of fingernail clippers and tuck the knot into the hole as best I can.
Need help with stitching? User GoldBarkLeather has a great Instructable on hand leather stitching. I don't know how to add a link from the Instructables App yet...but I'll add one ASAP.
EDIT 10/14 - Here's that link I promised then promptly forgot to add. Apologies.
Step 13: ( Optional) Add Top Closure Flap
If you installed a snap for the flap earlier...This is a good time add the flap. I dyed mine before hand. You may recognize it as my practice strip from my Granite Tooling Slab Instructable. Waste not...want not.
The flap width should be equal to (or less than, if that is what you prefer) the width of the belt loop. Line up the strip for the flap with the belt loop and the snap base you previously installed. Punch holes in through the flap and belt loop...then sew on. With the knife inside the sheath, measure and install the other component of the snap.
Step 14: Trim Excess Leather
Using a straight edge, trim away any excess leather. Don't trim so close to your stitching that you risk nicking a hole or slicing your thread. A little buffer looks good. If you have a beveling tool or brandishing tool, feel free to dress the edges.
Step 15: Rivet the Securing Band
Slide your knife into the sheath pocket. Wrap the securing band around the sheath and trim any excess you desire as long as you have an overlap wide enough to rivet. Punch holes the appropriate size for your rivets and using a rivet setter...set your rivets. I used two small brass rivets. Don't have rivets or a rivet setter? You can also punch holes and sew the band together, or set a snap instead.
Step 16: Touch Up Your Dye.
The edges you've cut will need some dye. As you can see, my plan to keep the thread tan was thwarted at this point by a wayward brush of misapplied dye...so I dyed all the threading.
Step 17: And...you're Done!
After your dye is cured...your sheath is complete. I hope you enjoyed this Instructable. Questions, comments and criticism are always welcome. Be safe and keep making.
We have a be nice policy.
Please be positive and constructive.