Introduction: Leather Rifle Shoulder Sling

About: I am a missionary living and working in Namibia. In my spare time I like to hunt, fish, birdwatch, do leather work, wood work, or metal work...among a few other things.

Hello and welcome to my first EVER instructable.

I have decided to make a new leather sling for a rifle. I hope you find this instructable...instructable.

The supplies you will need is a piece of veg tan leather for the main piece of the sling, as well as a thinner softer leather for an overlay we will do later. You will need a ruler or some way of measuring (this will also help with drawing/cutting straight lines). Two needles, some small rivets, a button stud, a chicago screw, a sharp blade (I use a new box cutting blade), an edge beveler, an awl, a marker or pen, screw driver, glue, a hole punch, some wax thread, a drill (or you can use the awl for making stitching holes), and a small hammer. All in all you don't really need any specialised tools except maybe for the hole punch.

Lets get to it!

Step 1: Step 1: Draw Outline of Sling on Back of Leather 1.0

Start by putting a ruler down as a temporary middle line. Make marks at 0cm (0"), 6cm (2.4"), 11cm (4.3"), 60cm (23.6"), and 115cm (45.3") which is the total length of the sling. Your marks are now in a straight line and form the imaginary middle line of the sling. Then from the 0cm-6cm mark, with the marks as a centre guide, draw two parallel lines 25mm (1") apart (13mm or 1/2" on either side of the marks).

Then at the 11cm (4.3") mark, make two dots on either side of it exactly 3cm (1.2") to either side of the mark. You can use anything that is round (even freehand) to then connect the dots on either side of the 11cm mark to where your parallel lines ended (at the 6cm mark) preferably not in a straight line but slightly rounded. Your belt has now gone from 2.5cmm (1") wide to roughly 6cm (2.4") wide.

Step 2: Step 2: Finish Drawing Sling Outline on Back of Leather

Now go to your 60cm (23.6") mark and again make two small marks approximately 1.3cm (1/2") on either side so that the two new marks are 2.6cm (1") apart. Now connect in a straight line these marks at the 60cm (23.6") mark with the lines which you have drawn upto 11cm (4.3") mark in step 1.

And finally from the 60cm (23.6") mark, using your centre points as the centre line, draw parallel lines 2.6cm (1") apart upto the 115cm (45.3") mark. And then cut out your sling using your blade/cutter.

Step 3: Step 3 (optional): Add a Foam Layer to Underside of Shoulder Part

Lay your belt from the 6cm (2.4") mark downwards onto a piece of thin foam 30cm (11.8") long. Cut out the shape of the belt onto the foam and glue it to the underside of your belt.

Hint: You can use another piece of leather if you don't have foam.

Step 4: Step 4: Cut Out and Glue the Overlay Piece of Leather.

Start by laying your sling onto the piece of softer leather to be used for an "overlay". Make the outline to start roughly 2.6cm (1") above the 6cm (2.4") mark and end 2.6cm (1") below where the foam ends (or if you skipped that step, upto roughly 38.5cm (15.2") from the top of the sling).

After marking the outline you need to draw lines on the INSIDE of the outline which run parallel to the outline itself at a width of 0.5cm (0.2"). I made dots by continually measuring the distance with a ruler and then I just connected those dots.

After making parallel lines on the INSIDE of the outline at a width of 0.5cm (0.2") you now need to draw parallel lines on the OUTSIDE of the outline at a width of 1.5cm (0.6").

Then start but cutting out along the OUTSIDE parallel lines. Then measure 4cm (1.6") along the centre line from the top and bottom of the sling and make a mark at both ends. Connect these centre marks with the INSIDE parallel lines using something round or your free hand. After doing this, cut out all along the INSIDE parallel lines. You should be left with a piece that overlaps with the top side of the belt by 0.5cm (0.2") and after being glued and folded over the edges to the underside of the belt (where the foam would be) it will also overlap there with 0.5cm (0.2").

If you put foam or leather on the underside of the belt, I also cut two small strips of leather to lay over the edges of where the foam ends and glued them on.

Step 5: Step 5: Making the Stitching Holes.

After having glued the overlay piece of leather onto the sling itself, it should look something like this. I then used a ruler to make a mark every 0.5cm (0.2") all along the edge of the leather on the top side (the side which will be visible when the sling is in use).

Hint: I always make my stitching holes from the side which is going to be visible because I can more neatly draw and make the lines/holes in a straight line and well spaced. Inevitably the holes do not come out at the bottom in as neat of a straight line, but since this is then not visible, it doesn't bother me too much.

I used a drill but you can also use an awl, or if you have stitching punches (which I don't) you can use these.

Step 6: Step 6: Stitching the Pieces Together.

Hint: I'll start this step with a trick that I recently saw in a Youtube video. I start here because for too long I did not know this trick and since finding it I have really enjoyed it.

When threading your needles with the wax thread, pull the thread through the eye far enough to push the point (sharp end) of the needle through the middle of the thread about 3cm (1.2") from the end. Then pull the short end of the thread down the length of the needle. Then pull the main thread until the whole thing cinches upto the eye of the needle. This will mean that when you pull the needle through the leather, the thread cannot pull out of the eye of the needle. A useful trick indeed!

I usually measure the total length of stitching holes that will need to be stitched and then I take twice this length in thread. After adding a needle to both end of my thread using the trick above, I simply chose a starting hole and thread one needle through it. I then take both needles in one hand and pull until the thread is centred and both ends or lengths of thread are roughly the same length.

I then use the "saddle stitching" method to stitch through all the holes I've made. Essentially you pass each needle through he next stitching hole from either side and pull tight...then just repeat for each hole all the way around.

Step 7: Step 7 (Optional): Add Decorative Rivets

These rivets actually don't have a specific job other than looking cool (in my opinion). Punch holes of an appropriate size and set the rivets. I added two rivets on the bottom end of the overlay piece of leather and two at the top end.

Step 8: Step 8: Add Chicago Screw to the Top End

Measure down the centre line of the top piece and punch a hole at both 1cm (0.4") and 5cm (2") respectively. Fold this over and putt the chicago screw through both holes. This finishes the top part of the sling where it will attach to the barrel end of a rifle.

Step 9: Step 9: Attaching Button Stud at the Bottom End

Measure 20 cm (7.9") from the bottom end or the 115cm (45.3") mark which we made at the very beginning and punch a hole to attach the button stud along the centre line. Now attach the button stud with the screw side on the top side of the leather and the stud itself protruding along the bottom or "under side" of the sling.

Now measure from the bottom end again and make another hole along the centre line at 7cm (2.8"). This hole will need to have a small cut made from its centre, along the centre line about 0.5cm (0.2") in length in the direction of the button stud.

Now fold the leather over in the direction of the button stud which is protruding along the bottom and push the hole with the incision over the top of the button stud head.

Step 10: Step 10: Add Two Leather Loops on Either Side of Button Stud

I now cut two leather loops and put them around the sling which is doubled at the button stud. This holds the leather down so that it cannot slip off of the button stud head. I punched two holes and set two small rivets in each loop to keep the leather loops in place.

Step 11: Step 11: Attach to Your Rifle and Smile!

This concluded the process and after attaching the sling to my rifle I can really say this was one of the more fun leather projects I have taken on!

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