Introduction: How to Make Your Own Hybrid IWB Holster
This instructable will teach you how to make your own Inside the Waistband concealment holster just like the ones that sell for $70+.
You can see examples of what you can achieve by going to my Facebook page, Veteran Holster or www.veteranholster.com
-Method to measure the Kydex for Cutting
-Toaster Oven or home oven
-Hollow Punch set from Harbor Freight
-Press for molding the Kydex
-Misc. hardware for assembly of the holster
*Available from many sources on the web such as:
Any company that sells fastners
I buy my rubber washers for the belt clips from Home Depot they are less than $2 for package of ten.
I purchase my leather from Tandy Leather. Icomes in tan or black.
Make a decision on the overall shap of you holster. Remember, it must be appropriate to the size of your firearm. After seeing other examples on the web, I made patterns out of MDF board. I have six different patterns to match any particular firearm. I use only authentic "Blue Guns" (www.blueguns.com) to make my holsters. These plastic/silicon gems have one unique characteristic, they are exact copy dimensionally as the real thing. They are exact down to virtually every detail. I became a distributor because I make holsters, not one holster. The next important is obtaining leather for the backing. I purchase mine through Tandy Leather. I usually buy 9-11 oz. leather. It's thick...i.e. strudy stuff. Look under "tooling leather."
So, begin by placing your pattern on the leather. It's VERY important to determine if you're making a Left-hand or Right-hand holster. I position my leather finished side down and flip the pattern over and back again to ensure I'm cuttng it correctly.
The holster itself is made from a plastic called Kydex. It's a thermoform plastic. It comes in a variety of colors and patterns (See www.veteranholster.com). It has awesome characteristics since it is heat sensitive. Once hot, aproximately 335 degrees, it becomes very floppy, perfect for mold around objects. If you heat it too much, it will smoke and stick to the heating surface and become, well, worthless. Picking a color or pattern is completely an individual choice. I use three different camos, black, desert tan, hot pink...etc. It all depends on the look you want.
Now you're ready for some fun. I buy Kydex in 1'X2' sheets. Which means I have to cut it to the size I need for my particular application, i.e., gun size. So, I lay the blue gun on the kydex, textured side up, and using precision eyeballing, determine what I will need. I use a white marking pencil, available from any craft store, to draw out where it is I'm going to score. Simple, right? While at the craft store, I picked up the transparent ruler and rotary cutting mat. Makes measuring almost idiot proof...almost. I then cut lengthwise or across the width to get a smaller piece of kydex. Then the second cut finishes the job. I score my lines with a utility knife, then just bend and the kydex wil snap. All done. Don't worry about being precise with you cut as you will be doing sanding and finishing later.
With your leather finished side down, place your pattern on your leather ensuring it is positioned correctly for LH or RH carry. Then draw around the pattern on the leather. I use an ink pen. Then it is just a matter of using a Sharp utility knife blade to cut out the final shape of your leather. Always hold the blade straight up at a 90 degree angle to avoid a beveled edge. Cut smoothly in sections. And your done! Awesome job. One little thing I do while I'm busy with the kydex is I spray the leather with a good quality silicon spray and let sit for a few minutes (30 min or so). It soaks into the leather adding a layer of protection and also softens the leather a bit. Also it's easier to punch your holes with your hollow punches as it lubes the punch.
Now its time to play with your Kydex. Don't trust your toaster oven! If the dial reads 150 it probably 250 in reality. Remember, it's not your kitchen oven, smaller space=faster heat up! And NEVER preheat the oven. You will shock the kydex and you will end up with the toy we had as kids...Shrinky Dink! Slow is better. I start out with setting over 150 always watchful of my temp. I bought a Non-contact laser thermometer at Harbor Freight and use it to check my kydex temp. And I check it about every 90 to 120 seconds. Slowly increase temp. Once you hit 330 to 340 degrees, you're Done. You put in th eoven, a hard piece of plastic. Coming out of the oven however, is a floppy piece of plastic. You should probably wear some kind of glove like Mechanics, to handle the hot kydex.
Notice in the third pic, I have the top of my press sitting on top of the oven. I do this to warm it so I don't shock the kydex in the mold. I also, while the kydex is heating, use my heat gun to warm the bottom of the press for the same reason. I even warm my blue gun.
Also while the kydex is heating, I sometimes use a scrap piece of wood to create a "site channel" into kydex. That way the sight doesn't cause the actual pistol front sight to "catch" on the holster during your draw. Okay, now that your kydex is hot, you remove it from the oven and position it in the press. Hopefully, you had a plan for postioning everything before now! So, you lay the hot kydex in the press, then lay your blue gun on top in the postion you decided upon. I always place a scrap piece of MDF or wood on top of my blue gun for greater pressure for better definition in the kydex. then Quickly place the top of the press in place, and close tightly! I bought my press from Knifekits.com. However you can easily make a press on your own. I then use some wood in conjunction with good clamps to really add some pressure. Now, time to relax...for about 15 minutes while the kydex molds around your gun and cools and hardens.
Note!!!!!! If you use a real gun in your press, you need to be aware of a few things. First, SAFETY! Always make sure that the weapon is UNLOADED! Pull the magazine out and lock the slide open and inspect! If it's a revolver, swing out the cylinder to ensure there are NO live rounds in there. Also, if you own a polymer frame weapon, say, a Glock, HEAT + PRESSURE IS BAD!! There have been reports of dummies putting their polymer frame guns in the press, only to discover later that their magazines will NOTgo into the weapon any longer. DUH! In this situation go to your local sporting goods store or gunshop and buy some "snap caps" to load into your magazine. Then you can place that magazine into your weapon and it will protect your frame from warping. ----The warning has been issued.
Don't call me whinning if you're stupid. I can't fix that.
If need be, after removal from the press, you can use the heat gun to reheat the kydex to "tweak" the fit. Use the heat gun judiciously. As soon as the kydex starts to get floppy, STOP. using your GLOVED hands and any jigs that you made, see photos, you can apply changes like adding definition or relieving some detail for smoother in and out of the holster. Most semi-auto pistols will hang on the ejection port if too well defined.
Then, place the gun on the leather backing and decide where you need to trim/cut the kydex so it fits on the holster and looks good. It's all about your preference. Then draw your cut lines onto the kydex with that white pencil. remember to leave at least 3/4" to allow for sanding and drilling! Then it's off to the band/scroll saw and sander! Be creative with you design. As long as you have 1/2" or so around your gun, you will be able to drill your holes for mounting to the leather back.
After you do the rough cutting to your kydex, test fit it to your gun. Then it's on to sanding. I'm not going to instruct you on how to sand. However, Iwill tell you how I do it. I, wet-sand all of my holsters. I start with a 120 grit and smooth out any sharp edges left over from mechanical sanding and cutting on the saw. Then, again, I wet-sand with 340 grit for a baby-smooth edge. Then I use a simple "geenie" pad...stole from kitchen, to buff the edge till it's shiney. Takes like less than 10 minutes.
Now its off to the drill press, or hand drill. I use a ruler to make a straight line and use that as my alignment to drill my holes. Simple. After drilling, wash the kydex with soap and water to remove any debris or pencil marks....Done!
Now, lay the blue gun with the kydex shell over top onto your leather and position the way you want it. Then I take a philips-head screw driver and press down through the holes in the kydex into the leather to mark where you are going to punch your holes.
Since I use #8X32 hardware to marry my leather and kydex shell, I use a 5/32 hollow punch to punch holes in my leather backing. Just center the punch over the indentations you made with the screw driver. It's that easy! ***NOTE**** Always use a firm surface when punching holes in leather. And ALWAYS place scrap leather, I use two pieces, under your leather backing. This aids you in punch through the leather AND protects your hollow punch from damage. Now, stare at the wonder you have created.
To fasten your kydex to your leather, you can use many methods. I fasten mine with varying types of "Chicago screws or sometimes referred to as Sex Bolts." It's a bolt that is tube shaped with the second piece beng the screw itself. I use #8X32 1/4 inch Chicago screws. For the belt clips fasteners, I use a "T-Nut". See the photo of me holding one in my hand. Just like a Chicago bolt except this beauty has "teeth" to bite into the leather. I gently "hammer" those into the back of the leather. I say gently because it's more like allow your hammer to just fall on the to drive them into the leather. ****NOTE**** Always place scrap leather under your leather to protect it. And Always place a piece of leather with a hole in it under where you're placing that T-Nut. Otherwise you will end up with a leather plug inside of your T-Nut..a Great Pain to remove!
It may be difficult to push your hardware through the leather. I usually use a philips screwdriver to dialate the hole beore pushing screw into leather. Awesome tip, right?
Now that all of the hardware is in the right spots, we can now place the kydex shell on the leather, aligning the holes in the kydex shell with the hardware in the leather.I use a finishing washer with the mounting screws since they have a tapered head.Then for the T-Nuts, where the belt clips attach, I place a 3/8 rubber washer (from Home depot) over the posts. Then screw on the belt cips using the same #8X32X1/4 screws as the rest of the holster.
Now stand back and feast with your eyes at the most glorious of IWB holster ever made by human hands.
If you have questions, see me on Facebook at Veteran Holster.