Introduction: Protective Case for Compass

I have had this old Boy Scout compass for 60 years. It's neither expensive nor elegant, but it will get you back to your vehicle after a hunting trip or a walk in the forest, particularly when used in combination with a topographical map. I finally decided after 60 years to make a leather case for it to protect it from further scratches when riding in my pocket.


  • leather scraps (use vegetable tanned leather since it will be molded to shape)
  • stitching thread
  • some scrap wood for making the mold
  • leather dye
  • your preferred leather finishing product (I use Johnson's Floor Wax)

Step 1: Make the Wooden Mold

Since the front of the case will be molded to fit the compass, I began by making a two part mold for shaping the leather. One part of this mold (the male part) is a wood replica of the shape of the compass, and the other piece (female part) is made slightly over sized to allow for the thickness of the leather. You will see why in the next step.

Step 2: Mold the Leather

Wet the leather thoroughly, then place it in the mold as shown in the photos. Clamp the mold as shown to another piece of scrap wood. The idea here is to force the leather to take on the shape of the compass. Set this aside until the leather appears dry, Once dry, remove the clamps and set the molded leather aside for another hour or so until it is thoroughly dry, because the part that has been clamped and not exposed to the air will still be a little damp.

Step 3: Cut an Opening at the Top

Using a sharp knife, carefully cut an opening at the top where the compass will be inserted into the case (see the first photo). I could have simply trimmed the case straight across, but that would leave part of the compass exposed, and since the idea is to protect the compass from scratches, I wanted to leave the front fully intact.

Next, glue the 4 oz leather to the front, trim the excess leather, punch holes for stitching, and stitch the back to the front.

Step 4: Apply Stain and Protective Finish

Stain the cover and let the stain dry (it will lighten after it dries). After the stain is dry, I apply a heavy coat of Johnson's Floor Wax, let it dry, then buff thoroughly. I repeat this step two more times. If you wish to use a commercial leather finishing product, that is fine, but I've found this wax does a great job on leather.

Step 5: It's Finished!

As a final, but optional step, I braided a new fob on the compass.

Now I can toss the compass in my pocket and not worry about it being scratched by my car keys or pocket change. The compass fits snugly in the case, and should get me home for a long time to come!

Maps Challenge

Participated in the
Maps Challenge