Introduction: Tomahawk Sheath, Haft Wrap, and Belt Holster
I don't know about you, but I think the tomahawk is probably the best tool ever made. You can chop wood, take down a buffalo (He's coming right for us!!!), or claim that scalp. I don't have one....yet, but when I do I will make the same kind of sheath I made for a good friend of mine. The idea started with a simple leather wrap under the axe head that turned into a sheath and holster as well.
Step 1: Handle Wrap
The first step in this series is the handle wrap. You start with the tomahawk of your choice. IN this case it is a nice hand forged piece with a hammer head. You can find them in various shapes and sizes depending on the size of the buffalo (or scalp) you wish to claim. Some "Hawks" have a straight spike on the back end (ouch). Some have a twisted spike on the back end (double ouch). There are even some Hawks that have two twisted spikes on the back end for those "Because F you! That's Why" moments. Regardless of the style and configuration of your hawk, it does play a role in how the sheath is ultimately designed. In this case, do the the rather flat and blunt hammer end there is not a whole lot of junk in the trunk. This means that a high grip under the blade would be possible without the severing of (your own) flesh and limb in the process. I took a 5" piece of 2 oz veg tanned cow hide and cut it to fit around the haft of the Hawk.
A good fit means that the edges of the leather are separated by about 1/8" when you wrap it around the haft. This will allow for a tighter lacing once it is all done and less (i.e No) chance it will slide around on you whilst swinging this thing in defense of your life. Once I have a good length then I cut two 1" wide strips at the same length to make the top and bottom caps. Now I could just fold them over and stitch them down, but I wanted to have the grain (smooth) side of the leather showing so unless anyone can tell me a better way to do this with a single piece of uncut leather, this is the only way that made sense to me. Once my leather was cut to size I stained everything with an Antique Brown Gel that already has the sealer in it and let dry. I buffed to a high shine and set about punching holes for stitching.
The easiest way to do the end caps is to glue them with a high tack adhesive (leather weld works great, but since it is so thin you could use a light sheen of rubber cement) and fold them over the top and bottom edges of your panel. Make sure you glued the dark side, not the shiny side, or you will find that you just wasted about 30 minutes of your life. Press them down for a few minutes with something heavy ( I place my 12"x12" granite slab on top of that and then sit a 50lb dumbbell on the slab). A few minutes of weighted pressure is enough to keep the caps in place and start poking holes through all three layers of leather. If you have a stitching awl that's great, but an ice pick will do just as well. You can go native on this and just start stabbing holes in the thing, but do try to line them up. You'll thank yourself when it doesn't look like your 3 year old niece did it for you. Start by stitching the caps to the top and bottom edge. As always I use a braided waxed nylon thread and two harness needles in a figure 8 stitch. very strong and not likely to break under normal or extreme circumstances. After the caps are stitched then stitch up the main body of the wrap in whatever configuration you like. You can do little X's or the baseball stitch, or little hearts and smiley faces. That would definitely strike fear in the heart of your enemy as that axe head comes swinging in their direction, even if it is a buffalo.
Step 2: Axe Head Cover
Because of the overall design, the owner wanted to keep it simple and just have the cover wrap only around the blade. With all of the panels and straps and rivets and snaps this can start to add a lot of weight, which makes normal movements awkward. To minimize weight and complexity I designed a one piece cover out of 6oz veg tanned cow hide. I started by laying the axe head on the flesh (rough) side of the leather and traced the profile of the head. Keeping the blade on the leather I rotated the haft until the Hawk was facing its own outline and traced the profile of the blade again. When cut, these two profiles fold together to create the body of the sheath. Some knife makers, aficionados, and enthusiasts will tell you about welt strips are needed to keep the blade from cutting the stitching/lacing, but because we are folding this we don't need one. On the same sheet of leather I drew out the flap and the straps that will hold it all together. I added 1/2" border all the way around to give it some room, but that turned out to be unnecessary. Draw the flap extending straight up from the top of the axe head and then draw out two straps from the bottom of the axe head profile. You can play around with the angles of the straps but this layout worked well enough for this Hawk. Next you cut it all out in one piece, keeping the flap and the straps connected to the body of the sheath. Wrap it around the blade, drop the flap down and then bring the straps up to where you want them to sit. Punch a small marker hole through the strap into the flap and body and then you know where to set your snaps for closure. I created a little edge going around the whole thing for a little bit of style and stained it Antique Brown to match the haft wrap. Set your snaps and wrap that rascal.
Step 3: Holster It Up
The last piece of this awesome puzzle is the holster. It is simple, but it literally holds everything together. I took a 12" x 2" strip and folded it in half to make the belt loop. I then took another 2" strip and cut it long enough to allow the cuff of the haft wrap to slide through freely. I brought the edges of the holster strip together and placed the ring on the belt loop about a half in ch from the bottom. I marked the holes on the inside of the strip where I will rivet the assembly to the belt loop. I punched the holes in the ends of the holster strap and their corresponding location on the belt loop. From there I marked the stitch line on the ends of the belt loop strap, right below the holster ring location so that after I stain and rivet the holster loop to the belt loop I just need to stitch the ends of the belt loop strap together and we are ready to go native. break out your doe skin breeches and loin cloth, slather yourself up with war paint, and walk into Walgreen's looking for diapers and formula like a boss.
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