Horizontal Sheath




This instructable will show you how you can make a cheap horizontal sheath using any of the all-purpose ones that are traditionally oriented vertically but have the holes and belt slots available. It will be stabilized on its own belt. If your sheath does not have these holes but has room, it seems like it would be easy to drill them out so long as you are certain that doing so will not make the sheath fall apart. However, this is beyond the scope of this project.

I began this project after seeing a few people wearing their survival knives against the small of their back in the horizontal position. It can sometimes be a nuisance when you are out camping or backpacking and you have a larger knife hanging vertically below your belt, flopping around and sometimes hitting your leg when you walk. This was especially the case with my newly purchased Ka-Bar. It has a 7" blade, full length over 12". Aside from this, it is a more natural motion to withdraw the knife in this position, as your hanging arms and hands are already comfortably aligned with how you take out the knife. These are all little details that can often make the difference between a so-so experience and an enjoyable one.

Step 1: Materials

You will need the following:
1) Sheath that has the holes around the edge
2) 40" x 3/4" Webbing Strap with side-release buckle ($2.50)
2) 40" of nylon cord or paracord ($4 for 50ft)

It would also help to have:
1) Lighter
2) Rubberband or twist-tie
3) Fork to undo and retry stopper knot

The nylon cord and strap can both be bought from REI or any other outdoor type store. 40" webbing strap because I am a size 32" waist. Go bigger if you will need a bit more to function as a belt.

The strap will be used as the knife's independent belt. I tried other designs where you could just feed the belt you were wearing through it, but the sheath would slide around, which made it difficult to locate the knife (a big no-no!) and made it difficult to both draw and resheath the knife reliably.

Step 2: Prepare Materials

1) Cut about 40" of nylon cord. Depending on the size of your knife, you will likely use about 1/2 of this but it can be hard to gauge just how much you'll need.
2) Use the lighter to melt the ends of the cordage. Do this on the now free piece and also on your bundle if you cut it from a larger source. This prevents the ends from fraying and coming apart.
3) Put your belt on and find where you want your knife to rest. I did this by first tightening the belt to a comfortable fit. I then placed the back of the sheath against my back with the handle sticking slightly out from my right side. This makes it easy for a right-handed draw. Switch sides if you would like a left-handed draw.
4) Mark a reference spot on the belt with the rubberband or twist tie. The single place I chose to mark was at the junction of the blade and handle. This is just for reference and is only useful in making sure you place your knife exactly where you want it.
5) Create stopper knot on one end of nylon cord. I used a simple overhand knot. It is more than sufficient to hold the weight of the sheath and blade. The pictures will show how, or you can look here for more pictures and steps on the overhand knot, or other more secure knots such as the double-overhand or the figure 8. Notice that I left a little extra at the end, this is intentional and is a good safety precaution. If you cut it to close the knot may unravel. We can clean up at the end!

Step 3: Thread Sheath for Horizontal Orientation

1) Look at the first picture. This is the goal. As long as you get here you should pretty much be ok.
2) Thread cord starting at the tip of the blade. Place your sheath with the top on top. Thread the unknotted end down into one hole and then across the gap perpendicular to the length of the blade. This is to create a loop for the belt.
3) Thread to the next hole parallel to the blade, then jump across again, creating another belt loop. See pictures if this seems confusing.
4) Rinse and repeat. Get in as many belt loops as you can, this will help to stabilize the blade, although attaching our belt in a special way will immobilize it, so it may be unnecessary to do more than a few.
5) Pull nylon cord tight and attach another stopper knot. This will keep our new loops in place and help to secure our sheath. Try to knot the last stopper as close to the sheath as possible to minimize slack. It can be tricky to get it close. Just take your time and maneuver the cord until you get it close. If you mess up, a fork can help you undo the knot to try again.

Step 4: Attach Sheath Securely to Belt

1) Figure out which way the belt should be going through. The first picture will show you how I set up mine so that I could visualize it and be sure it was right. If you do it wrong your buckle won't be right and you will have to flip part or all of the belt to clip it together. This can be very annoying and you will just have to fix it by redoing this entire section.
2) Take off the male part of the buckle. This will make it easier to attach the belt if you don't have to worry about a huge hunk of plastic.
3) Feed the loose strap through the first loop. Start at the tip of the blade.
4) Wrap strap around the second loop. We need to wrap the strap around two loops to immobilize it and prevent it from sliding around. I chose the second and fourth, and recommend you do the same, one at each end. This will distribute the weight of the knife and sheath evenly. I could not do the first loop because it is too small to wrap around. First pass under the second loop, then wrap it around and continue forward.
5) Keep it loose and keep moving forward under both the 3rd and 4th loops until your reference point is in position. Do not wrap around the 4th until you get that marker in line. I took off the rubber band and just held its spot as I moved it along.
6) Now wrap around the last loop and pull tight.
7) Reattach male part of buckle.

Step 5: Adjust, Clean Up, and Enjoy!

1) Try it on, see how it fits and check the knife's location.
2) Make any adjustments. Move the strap forward or backwards to get it just right. I like having about 1/2 of the handle hanging out the side. This way it is largely concealed yet still easily accessible.
3) Try on packs. If you are a backpacker or hiker, try on your equipment with the knife on. I had no problem with all 3 of my packs, small dayhike pack, an overnight pack, and my large osprey aether 70.
4) Cut off and melt any excess cord. Remember to leave at least a bit to ensure it doesn't come unraveled. Melt the ends with the lighter.
5) Draw your knife and resheath it a few times. Doesn't it feel nice? To put the blade away, you can just glance and put it back. I have gotten use to a sort of samurai thing where I use the flat part of the blade to feel the outside of the sheath and put it in.

6) Enjoy!



    • Remix Contest

      Remix Contest
    • Organization Contest

      Organization Contest
    • Build a Tool Contest

      Build a Tool Contest

    15 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Great 'ible! I like the joke in step one. Just don't try to put the KABAR away too fast. I have first hand experience with a factory sharp blade.


    how is the knife secured in the sheath though i cant tell from the pics.

    kabars are sexy i almost bought one today actually :)

    1 reply

    Sorry it took so long to reply, I didn't notice you had asked a question. The kabar sheath uses a friction lock, so basically the lip of the sheath keeps the knife held in place. When you give the knife a lil tug it comes out. There is a snap button for the handle, too, if you need to be sure it is 100% secured. I rarely use it though, as the friction lock works well. You can dangle it upside down and shake it and it won't fall out :P


    7 years ago on Step 5

    Just don't get too confident trying the not-looking-samurai-sheathing-and-it-gets-in-between-the-sheath-and-your-body

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Step 5

    To be honest, it's very easy to do. You don't 'stab' it in, hoping you aim right. You place the blade flat against the sheath, then slide it along til you reach the end and place it gently in. Sounds much crazier than it is. Be careful, but honestly you are doing it so slow and gently that there's no way to injure yourself.

    the gizmoman

    8 years ago on Introduction

    The Saxe knife was traditionally warn in this position though the placement was in the front instead of the back


    9 years ago on Introduction

    A number of people have carried handguns with the holster in the small of the back. This has turned out to be a rather risky form of carry. In a number of instances, having a pistol over a person's spine turned a simple fall into a crippling injury. I do not believe that a sheath knife would present the same risk. It's flat enough that it'd not put significant pressure on the spine in a fall. But it's something to keep in mind, when considering other items that you might carry in a similar manner.

    5 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    "In a number of instances, having a pistol over a person's spine turned a simple fall into a crippling injury." Can you point to even one instance let alone a number? This has been a topic of discussion on conceal carry forums for years, but no one has ever provided more evidence than "Well I heard" or "I read some where." -Justus


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Choosing a concealed-carry handgun with a functioning safety/firing pin block deals with that problem. If impact is going to set your gun off, it's time to think about a new gun.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    lol fail. Your point is valid jdege. you can basically put this anywhere but a kabar is pretty big so i think that was his only option


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    The issue isn't that the firearm will discharge, but that having a thic, solid object at the base of your spine can cause spinal injuries in the event of a fall.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    That is definitely something to be aware of. So if you guys are thinking of adapting this, be sure that you can't be injured should you fall and land on it, especially if it is near your spine! I think I will edit the instructable and let people know that they should keep the handle away from the spine.


    8 years ago on Step 5

    Thank you very much for these instructions.  I just finished a belt for my Becker BK2 and it works perfect.  Very simple to make from very common materials.  Thanks again.