Fun With KYDEX!!!


Introduction: Fun With KYDEX!!!

About: Carpenter, handyman, husband, dad, buddy...

Kydex, put simply, is a thermoplastic sheet which can be molded to form-fit nearly any shape. It comes in various colors, and is used to make custom holsters for firearms, knives, axes, and other tools & gear. One needs only to heat the sheet until soft, place it over or around the item to be contained, and press it all between a foam sandwich until cool.

I make all my own holsters and a few for friends and colleagues.

This is a rundown of the most basic style: the clamshell...

Step 1: Tools and Materials...

*razor knife
*oven/heat gun
*foam padding (medium stiff)
*large, flat, stiff object (book, board, etc.)
*Kydex sheet
*sharpie marker

Step 2: Preparation...

Get your oven plugged in and all your gear laid out and ready...

Okay...I'm making a new rig for my CCW piece. It's a small, stainless/polymer 9mm auto, which is nice and thin/light, so this'll just be a simple, single slot "clamshell" style belt rig.

First, make certain the weapon is SAFE! Remove the mag and clear the chamber. Lay out your tools & materials.

Step 3: Mock Up and Sizing....

Next, unless you're gonna be using an entire sheet at once, mock up your rig and cut what you're gonna need out of your sheet. Make sure you have plenty of overlap. I generally like my carry holsters to be speed-draws, so I opt for the tactical cover. For this style I only want the gun to fit into the holster far enough to cover the trigger guard. NEVER build a holster which leaves the trigger exposed to incidental contact, especially on a DAO auto, which is generally carried 4Lbs from BANG (chambered, cocked and ready to fire).

It's important that whatever you're making a sheath/holster for, you use a piece of material a bit larger than you need, so you don't end up with too little overlap.

Use a straight edge to DEEPLY score one side of the sheet w/a razor and snap it along the score. Then double check your work piece against the object you're molding.

Step 4: Pressing/Forming...

Now get your pressing materials together. I usually use a hinged press in the workshop, but I'm making this on the floor of my garage, so I'll give you the caveman method: Some mattress foam from an old crib bed, a 13" tile for my top press and the concrete floor for my bottom press (my big ass will provide clamping pressure).

If you're using an oven, preheat to about 275-300 and throw your Kydex in for about 3 minutes. If it's uber soft and flimsy when you pull it out, it's ready to go, and the race is gotta move FAST.

For this rig, hold the pistol level and drape the sheet over it, centered and positioned properly. Then lay the whole mess down flat on your bottom press, cover with the top foam, hard backer (tile here), and get on top 'n' mash the hell out of the whole thing. Keep pressure applied for about 2 minutes, then extract your shiznit from the press.

I couldn't take photos here 'cause I was planted on hands and knees on top of a damn 1sq ft tile for two minutes, so use your imagination here xD.

Step 5: The Rough Result...

Anyway, if you did anything right at all, you might come up with something like this:

As you can see, there's just enough overmold for me to draw my final desired profile w/a sharpie.

Step 6: Make It Pretty...

Now, head to the bandsaw, pick up your hacksaw, grinder or whatever and shape up the rig. Knock off the sharp edges with a fine sandpaper or just draw a razor at an angle, whatever suits you. I also cut this holster bikini style (muzzle exposed), and carved out the single belt slot with my dremel tool.

Step 7: Put It to Good Use...

I think that covers the basics. For a simple clamshell, at least. Paddle holsters and adjustable clips take a bit more work (and $material$), so I usually stick to monolithic designs like this for my own stuff, but if anyone needs tips for more complex rigs, just ask...

As you can see in these other pics, there's birtually no end to what can be stored in a nice, custom KYDEX rig....

You can get the material from eBay, Amazon, and just about anywhere on the web, in a variety of colors and thicknesses....the rest is up to your own ingenuity....

Have fun......'Saw.



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    33 Discussions

    Nice! Just one suggestion for people who aren't comfortable scoring with a razor knife: if you have a jigsaw the stuff cuts beautifully. Then you can put it in a vise (cut edge up) and use a block plane to get the edge perfectly straight.

    So do you know of any way to do a latch like on serpa holsters?

    Very nice, I really like the simplicity of the design. Can wait to try it out. Thanks for the 'structable.

    Just out of interest looking at making something similar to your fiskars axe head but wanting to put some eyelets in. Have you ever tried it and if so could you give me some pointers please?

    I see you aren't using any rivets or such as I've seen other places. Is there not any need for them?

    1 reply

    With this design, the belt provides more than level 2 extra hardware required...why I love em!

    Not sure if you can edit, but there in the last step:

    "there's birtually no end..."

    Other than that, great write up. Looking forward to working with kydex on some projects of my own here soon!

    1 reply

    That's actually an intentional typo...hopefully it gets at least a wry grin from most who catch it...there's one in every 'ible I make....xD

    Good eye, and cheers!

    I was going to make a simple rig for a custom karambit I picked up. With the forward curved blade are there any suggestions to ensure a smoother draw without sacrificing retention?

    1 reply

    I just made my first sheath for my esee candiru, when you do the eyes on the sheath it actually tightens it quite a bit. You still want it to be a good form but it shouldn't be a problem since karambits have a retention ring. Just finger in the hole and yank.

    Great presentation. I intend to make a high rise thumb break for a 4" revolver. Thanks for the lesson.

    I just discovered a faux Kydex plastic at Lowees! It works just like Kydex and is sooo inexpensive. See my latest instructable. Cheers. Triumphman.

    Nice work, kydex sounds cool! I have been making leather sheaths for knives. I would like to try this stuff. I see it comes in many colors, even camo (urban and desert). Carbon fiber too! Got to shop around and get best prices and shipping too.

    Does this work well if the end of the holster has a rounded tip? I am trying to make a holster prop for a SW costume and the holster is closed at the bottom and rounded.

    5 replies

    I have 6mm Sintra here that I used for another costume parts and it is much too thick for this. Does the Kydex work like Sintra?
    What thickness would do this job?


    Not familiar w/Sintra, but 6mm sounds pretty thick...I'd go with a .040 or thinner kydex for a costume piece, and a minimum of .060 for an actual working duty piece...


    That was a lot of redujndancy...sorry 'bout that...xD


    I'm assumming SW=star wars...

    Yes, you can form kydex into any configuration, provided you have the requisite form to clamp your material will form to virtually any shape.