Introduction: An Alternative Leatherman Sheath

Picture of An Alternative Leatherman Sheath

About a year ago, I bought a Leatherman Charge TTi multitool which came with a rather bad leather sheath. The famous inventor of multitools once produced very fine leather sheaths, like the beautiful brown one that came with my first Leatherman Wave in 2003. But for some  unknown reasons, their current sheaths (since 2004, actually) are either bulky, ugly or too stiff – and also do not really offer the space required for a Leatherman Charge TTi (or Wave 2004) and its bitholder. Everything fits inside but it takes a lot of force to pull the bitholder out. Also, there’s a hole at the bottom of the sheath which is supposed to be good + so that you can rest the opened tool inside the sheath. It's not that bad but I actually never used it.

I may not be the only one with this problem, and have in the past used a variety of other (+ nylon) sheaths to tackle this problem (tool & bitholder in one place). There seems to be a market for customized solutions, but I am based in Germany where it's very hard to find such ready-made sheaths, so I had to make my own. This time I wanted to make a sheath out of leather.


Step 1: Prepare Your Leather

Picture of Prepare Your Leather

First step was to surf around and check various online resources for inspirations. I actually already knew what I wanted to build – my first Leatherman Wave sheath from 2003 had set the standard for me. I wanted something like this…. but only bigger.

Next step: leather. Found a very nice & cheap offer for leather stripes (2-3 mm thickness) on eBay, which was exactly what I was looking for.

Ok, now how do I get this material into shape? Does it really require to be formed into shape? And when does this need to be done? Prior to or after sewing the parts together?

Sometimes you just have to do things your way. If it feels right, do it. So i dampened the leather, sealed the knife and bitholer in a plastic bag and placed it inside the leather which I then pressed into shape. Placed all of it on the heating in the bathroom and waited for it to dry up. Oh, and I used a stapler to hold it all together. This stapler method is rather primitive, but it gets the job done.

Step 2: Holes!

Picture of Holes!

Next step: holes. Lots of them. I think there’s a wheel to mark the correct pitch between the holes, but since I do not own such an advanced tool, I just marked everything by rule of thumb and punched holes with an awl.


Step 3: Stitching...

Picture of Stitching...

After the first stitches with special leather yarn, I realized that the one I used is too thin (2x, left), so I went for the only thicker one I had (3x, right).

I may not be a professional and my seams may show that I am a bloody beginner, but at least I am using two needles.

Step 4: Finishing

Picture of Finishing

I then dampened the leather again and used the wodden knob to flatten the edges of the leather. Again, I am no expert and maybe there’s a proper way for doing this (Dremel?), but I just looked at the old sheath and realized it had to work out somehow. Well, it did. Edges are smoothened now and quite shiny. Nice!

Step 5: Comparison

Picture of Comparison

You may note the nylon sheaths. These are also fine but (except for the SCHRADE TOOL sheath) only accommodate the tool itself, not the bitholder. Again, I don’t know why Leatherman does not produce proper sheaths. Something like the dark brown LM Wave sheath (which imo is the best) from 2003, but bigger. You will also notice my beginner’s style and how dumb my own sheaths (noticed the blue one? :-) actually look when compared to the professional solutions.

One possible solution would probably have been to further apply some wax on the new sheath and darken it. Well, I polished it with some special leather wax, but also applied this (a bit too) dark brown leather colour onto it. Looks ok, but I also know what to improve on next time. 

Comments

3366carlos (author)2017-02-04

very nice work. Recommend living more slack in the loop for wearing with thicker belts.

cody.lomas (author)2013-02-11

if you can find it artificial sinew is great for leather work its usualy cheap and its similar to dental floss its thicker and can be pulled apart if you need finer threads

Phil B (author)2011-03-07

Thank you for a very interesting Instructable. I have not done any leather work and you explained some things about which I had wondered.

reptilehead (author)Phil B2011-03-07

ive worked with leather for years, may i offer some suggestions to improve on your technique?
instead of dampening all the leather, only dampen the "front" piece, ok, dampen isnt right, i almost SOAK it so that i can do my next step.

instead of using staples, i clamp the dry back, knife (or MT) and front dampened leather onto a board with 3 pieces of scrap wood the clamping makes the stretch tighter and more form fitting, it also give you a beautiful square bottom for the sheath. (side, other side, then bottom)
NEVER PRECUT the leather, wait till after it dries completely, and you sew it around the edges.
round the leather edging ("dressing the leather") with a dressing knife, basically a fork with a knife edge in the "V" it will give you a professional look.
after you finish the stitching, dye it, then add leather conditioner to lightly soften it back up. then polish like you would a dress pair of boots, (wax, burnish buff correct color polish)) for a high luster.
youve done a good job, it reminds me of the ones i built back when i first started. I learned the information i gave to you over the years. youll be "ahead of the curve" in no time.
one last tip. eventually all your friends will want one, polish your skills, get knife "blanks" out of wood (folders or MT) or scrap metal (straight knives) so that you can easilly make a sheath without the knife (or MT)
get practiced with these tips and i cant WAIT to see how you progress!

jke (author)reptilehead2011-03-07

Yes, that's the correct wording: I soaked it in a bowl of water prior to fixing everything together. The clamps are a very good idea and make much more sense than my primitive stapler.
I am waiting to make another project like this one, so much fun and joy while working with leather. Especially the edging is addicitive - simple but efficient. I used the wodden end of my awl to flatten it out. I've seen the tool you've mentioned here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4c8_8wD_mnc

reptilehead (author)jke2011-03-08

yeah a dressing tool like that is worth its weight.... so is a beveler ( http://www.tandyleatherfactory.com/home/department/Tools/Knives-Cutters-Splitters/3001-00.aspx ) you can put a bevel on a piece of leather to make it less "sharp" on the edges. but be careful when staining, the beveled edge will get darker than the rest.
another great tool is a common spoon.... it can smooth out areas that are rough with lightly dampened tool grade leather (vegetable tanned)

jke (author)Phil B2011-03-07

Thx!

RedneckEngineer (author)2011-03-08

Very well done for a beginner! I also am a beginner and have been thinking of making simular items for myself for work, and play. You have got me inspired and I soon will be trying this. Can't wait to see more stuff you do.