Introduction: Winchester 73 Leather Rifle Scabbard and Buttstock Cover
This is how I made a scabbard and buttstock cover for my husband's Winchester 73 rifle. I will break it up into two parts, with several steps each. Mistakes and fixes were made along the way, but overall I am pleased with how it turned out.
Step 1: Scabbard: Materials and Tools
8/9 ounce veg tan leather, roughly 4 square feet
3 ounce veg tan , ½ square foot
Latigo strip,thin, 2 feet by ½ inch, veg tan ok too
Leather dye in light brown and chocolate
Eco-Flo Super Sheen
Eco-Flo color paints
Cut up T Shirt for applying products
Al Stohlman Book “How to Carve Leather”
Oversized paper and tape
Craftool Stamps, "veiner, seeder and camo"
Ranger tab stamp
Copper Rivet setters
Nippers, strong ones
Spot setter with anvil
Lacing needle and punch
Note: I purchased most tools and materials from Tandy Leather
Step 2: Scabbard: Pattern and Cutting
First, I folded a large piece of paper in half and carefully placed the unloaded rifle about a quarter inch to the right of the fold, and carefully rolled it over to the right. Then I drew out my pattern, leaving about almost 2 inches past the edge of the rifle to allow for leather width, seam allowance and ease of rifle removal. I then folded the paper backwards and cut both sides at the same time, using the one side's lines. Well, in reality I did this, thought it might be too tight and taped on more paper to redraw the lines. When it looked good, I tried it on the weapon and make sure of the fit and ease of withdrawal. I also made a paper pattern for the two strips that will hold rings to the leather. I drew one quarter of the design,folded it and repeated it in order for all parts to match. I cut the leather out using a round knife, a box cutter and a cork backed steel ruler. The notches in the leather "shield strip" were cut with a v punch. A strip of fringe was cut from 3 ounce well oiled veg tan, but other types of leather may have also worked.
Step 3: Scabbard: Leather Stamping and Spots
For these steps I kept the leather moist. First, I used a stitching groover to carve a path so that the thread will lay in nicely. Then I used a wing divider to show where border lines should be carved. I stropped my swivel knife and tried to follow those lines closely. Tried, anyway. I beveled on either side of the lines with a mallet and border stamps. on one side of the line I stamped out a border design. Next, I put in some metal "spots" which are rounded,domed metal pieces with prongs on the back to keep them in the leather. I tapped them with my spot setter, but made the holes with a one prong chisel. Then I tapped them into place with the setter and the spot anvil on the underside. Afterwards I gave them a tap using the spot setter while the leather was on my granite slab in order to make the prongs were very flat.
Step 4: Scabbard: Lettering
For this step I used 3/4 inch letters, 1/4 block letters, an alphabet I traced from an Al Stohlman book, and a Ranger tab stamp. On moistened leather, I placed making tape to help guide in keeping the letters straight. For the letters traced on paper, I placed a piece of Saran Wrap between the leather and the paper in order to keep the paper from becoming wet and tearing. I then traced the letters with an old ball point pen, then cut the letters with a swivel knife and beveled around them. I almost ruined the project by botching the Ranger impression. The stamp should be used with a press larger than mine, so I used a rubber mallet, which jumped around. I did my best to fix it.
Step 5: Coloring and Treatment
I brushed on Neatsfoot oil on all the pieces and let them set over night. I painted the colored parts with Eco-Flo colors and then Super Sheen (3 coats) when dry. The straps were dyed chocolate with a wool dauber. The main body had light brown rubbed in with an old cut up cotton shirt in order to keep the color light and even. I painted up to and around the letters with a small paint brush with water diluted dye. When dry, I covered the whole project with Hi Liter and rubbed off the excess with paper towels. The edges were rubbed with bees wax before burnishing and painted with Edge Kote. Finally, everything was covered with a couple of coats of Super-Sheen.
Step 6: Rifle Scabbard: Assembly
Putting it all together was challenging. I used masking tape to try and find the proper placement for everything. I won't go into too much detail on the how to's. First, the anchoring straps were riveted and sewed on with O rings in place. Actually, I got in a hurry and bent the straps while dry and cracked the surface. That seemed like a weak point in an important place, so I remade them. Then I sewed on an infantry patch I made awhile back, and attached the conchos with a piece of leather underneath for stability with bleed knots and oiled leather for lace. Then I punched holes with stitching chisels in the two sides and the fringe piece, making sure to have the same number of holes on the end. I should have glued the fringe in place on one side and then punched the holes. Trying to sew the three pieces together was a real pain and very time consuming. It helped to use the sailor's palms I made to work the needle through the holes that had fringe. Then I burnished the edges again. After the whole project was done I decided the scabbard needed a retention strap, so that was sewed on with a line 20 snap closure. I made the snap strap to match the ones already in place.
Step 7: Part Two: Rifle Buttstock Cover: Cutting and Decoration
The project was cut out and I holes were punched for the eyelets. I was careful to set them just enough to lay flush without spreading on the backside, in order not to risk scratching the wooden stock of the rifle. Afterward the leather was decorated and colored in the same manner as the scabbard.
Step 8: Buttstock Cover: Sewing and Lacing
The bullet loop for .45's was sewn on while moist. I used a wing divider to mark every 5/8 inch on the cover, and every 1 3/8+ on the loop strap. This made for a tight fit. I sewed the pieces together, then flipped the strap back and sewed the single piece diagonally, flipped it back and so on. Bullets were placed in the loops while the strap was drying. I then laced the end on with Pro-Lace. Next, the bottom was laced with latigo though the eyelets. I thought a leather keeper would be nice. That was made with a leftover piece of the oiled leather, folded in thirds and sewn in the middle.