Introduction: Sheath From a Leather Belt

I got a knife that had been blacksmithed from a railroad tie, but it didn't come with a sheath! If you have an old belt lying around that you're never going to wear, this is an excellent way to give new life to it.

It turns out a belt was the perfect thing to use for making the sheath I needed! The design was heavily inspired by the sheath I have on my KA-BAR knife.

Here's how I made mine.

Step 1: Materials

Leatherwork can require a few tools, but you can get away with the tools you [probably] already have. Here's what I was able to get away with using:

  • Leather belt
  • Good scissors
  • Awl -- (or a hammer and some thin nails)
  • Twine -- (make sure it's strong. I used waxed twine for leather sewing.)
  • Sewing Needle
  • Ruler
  • Your knife that needs a sheath!

Step 2: Plan Your Pattern

Unfortunately at this stage I hadn't started taking photos yet, but it's pretty straightforward. Here's a pattern of the belt. As you can see, almost all of the belt is used, so be thoughtful when you're planning where to cut. This belt even had snaps on the end for changing out belt buckles. The snaps ended up being super useful for holding the handle at the top of the sheath.

My pattern has essentially 3 parts:

  • FRONT (covers the blade)
  • BACK (provides the back, and also makes the loop to hang on your belt)
  • BUCKLE (buckles around the handle to keep knife securely in the sheath. Otherwise it may flop around while it's hanging on your belt.)

You might consider making a paper pattern first, then cutting it out and taping it together. That way you can see how it fits and make changes before actually cutting the leather.

The important part is leaving a seam allowance. There should be enough room around the knife to allow for you to poke holes and sew. Keep in mind if you have a thick knife, there should be a little extra room for the thickness as well. You want the knife to be snug in the sheath, but to have enough room that the blade won't accidentally cut your stitches from the inside. You also don't want it to be so tight that you shove the knife in and break the twine.

I allowed for about 1.5cm allowance around the knife. IF IN DOUBT, GIVE YOURSELF EXTRA SEAM ALLOWANCE! You can always cut material away.

Step 3: Cut Pieces

Measure twice. Cut once.

Be sure about your cuts before you make them.

Step 4: Poke Holes

I used an awl to poke the holes for a while, but eventually my awl (which was very cheap) bent, and I switched over to using a hammer and nail to poke the holes.

Take care to make your holes line up on both sides of the pattern. You can either measure them out on both pieces, or if you prefer you can line up the two pieces of the pattern and poke the holes through both pieces at once. Either way, be careful that the holes line up.

I found it helpful to make holes on all the corners and then sew each corner and tie a knot. This allowed me to see [roughly] how the knife fit in the pattern.

Once I'd poked holes on the straights, I stitched the pieces together roughly - only sewing into every 2 or 3 holes. This held the pieces together correctly while I poked holes around the curve.

Step 5: Sew Front and Back

Sew using strong twine. I had to re-poke each hole with my awl before feeding the needle through. It takes longer than sewing fabric for sure, but it's worth the effort.

Stitch the sides together roughly again (every 2-3 holes should do) to check the fit of the knife in the sheath before you make your final stitches through every hole.

The free end of the loop (for hanging on your belt) should be concealed inside the sheath. I sewed it into the sheath 3 stitches deep, and double stitched the last couple holes on the end. The opening of the sheath sees the most stress, so this should be where the strongest stitching is done.

At this point, the sheath is fully functional! You can call it done here. However, adding a buckle to secure the knife handle makes it much more functional, and also makes it look better. The handle buckle keeps the knife from flopping around when you wear the sheath on your belt. Trust me, it makes a big difference.

Step 6: Add Buckle for Handle (optional)

The belt I used had snaps on it for changing out belt buckles, and I was able to use these snaps to make my handle buckle. If your belt doesn't have this, consider making something similar out of webbing or something similar.

Cut two vertical slits in the belt loop, and feed your handle buckle through them. If it's loose, you might consider affixing it by stitching or installing a grommet.

Step 7: Done!

Put it on your belt! Wear it around! Take it out and put it in again! Have fun with your new sheath. The leather will stretch and conform to the knife over time, so if it feels a little tight now that's okay.

Post ones you made in the comments! I'd love to see other people's ideas and craftsmanship!