A Leatherman needs a leather case. And the ones supplied are sometimes lacking in features, namely a belt clip. Let's work on that.
Step 1: Tools and Supplies
The case I am using comes in a basic kit from Hobby Lobby. It came with everything needed to complete the case; pre-cut leather pieces, needle, and thread.
- Multi-Tool Leather Case Kit (Don't forget to use a 40% Off Hobby Lobby coupon for extra savings.)
- Leatherman Wave (mine was acquired on Ebay)
- Leather working tools
The kit comes in rebranded versions in different places. A search for Tandy Tool Case Kit 4180-00 should get you additional results.
Also found this kit at my local Scout Shop. Looks to be an identical kit, except the snap has the BSA logo.
Step 2: Ideas and Beginning
I made a similar case, using the same kit, for my Leatherman Rebar. I liked the case, but knew that I could make some improvements for the Wave. The Wave and Rebar are similar in size, so I was pretty sure the case would work with the Wave too.
I wanted to add the side loop, intended for a flashlight, to hold a pen. I also wanted to make it easier to grab the Leatherman out of the case. The Wave is also more wedge shaped and the knives extend farther than the stitch line. I decided to trim down the sides of the top leather and to invert the layout of the right side stitching (This will make more sense in the next steps.)
Step 3: Wetting, Creasing and Pre-shaping the Leather
The leather is pretty stiff while dry. I wet the flashlight/pen loop and clamped it with clothespins to dry in the correct shape. Then I dampened the leather pieces where the seems would be. I used a straight edge and a window screen roller (I'm limited on real leather tools) and put creases where the folds would be. I put a crease on top of the stitch holes and where the edge of the tops will be. On the top leather piece, I creased both the front and back, since it would be a compound bend.
I should have actually measured where the creases should be. I just eyeballed it and the results were, shall we say, "lacking."
Step 4: Cutting the Leather
Lay the Leatherman on the the top piece of leather. Determine the location of your cut and lightly draw the cut line in pencil. Cut one side, then use it as a template to cut the other. Lastly, now that the top leather shorter, I trimmed the flashlight loop to match.
Step 5: Leather Embellishment
This is the stage that you would use leather working tools to add decorations and embellishments. I skipped this part until the very end. I used my college class ring to stamp a simple design onto the top leather. Had I stamped it earlier, it would have come out cleaner.
Step 6: Stitching the Case - Iteration 1
Iteration 1 - FAIL
This was ultimately a FAIL, but we learn from our mistakes. Skip to Iteration 2 to see the final design that works for a Leatherman Wave.
Starting Stitching - Stock Instructions
The instructions in the kit tell you to start at the top left corner and work you way around the case. With leather working, you also want to use a "Saddle Stitch", so you work from the top left corner and work all the way around to the top right corner. Then you go back around all the way to top left corner. But, this will result in the starting and ending stitch in the top left corner. I like to start a few holes from the end, so that I can burry the ends of the thread in the middle.
Starting My Design
I wanted to invert the right side of the top leather. I also wanted the flashlight loop on the right side. The theory was that the Leatherman Wave is thicker and wider than the Rebar and I could use this inverted side and the extra layers to give me more room. The problem with the inverted side, is that you won't be able to access the stitching to saddle stitch once you fold the top over to stitch the bottom and left side.
So, I started in the bottom right corner and stitched my way up and then back down the entire right side. I left a long tail of thread when I started stitching, so that I could put the needle back on it and use it to saddle stitch into the middle of the bottom. It's a little tricky getting it all started because you need to layer all the leather together.
My layers from bottom to top:
- Belt Clip layer
- Button Flap layer
- Flashlight Loop layer (which is really 2 layers thick since it's folded over)
- Top Leather layer
Step 7: Shaping and Stretching the Leather
The leather is dry and VERY tight. I soaked the top leather piece and shoved the Leatherman Wave into the case. Typically, you leave it like this until the leather dries and sets in place.
This is where I discovered that, regardless of how much I shoved, the case will NOT snap closed. The Leatherman also sat in the case kind of wonky, so the inverted side idea would not work.
Step 8: Disassemble
The reason you saddle stitch leather is because it stays strong even if one of the threads is cut/damaged in one location. BUT, that means it's difficult to disassemble. Break out the sharp cutting tools; knife, scissors, razorblades, etc. Be careful not to cut into the leather.
I cut the entire top leather off. Then laid it flat to dry.
Step 9: Stitching the Case - Iteration 2
I stitched the left and right side in the traditional way (not inverted). They were also stitched separately. The bottom was left open and unstitched. I also discarded the flashlight loop.
I wet the leather again and shoved the Leatherman Wave into the case. With a little finesse I got the Leatherman in a place I liked and the case was able to close. I left it overnight to dry.
Trimming the Bottom
I had left the bottom unstitched, so that I could determine what to do with it once it was dried. In the end, I determined that I would not be able to stitch the bottom closed. So I cut off the flap and stitched the bottom layers together. Since the Leatherman Wave is slightly wedge shaped, I am NOT concerned that it will fall out of the bottom. And this leaves me good access to push the bottom up to better access the tool.
Step 10: Finished Product - Wave Vs Rebar
Here you can see the finished product of the new case for the Leatherman Wave and the old case for the Leatherman Rebar.
I need to burnish the edges of the leather. There is also a potential weak area in the stitching on the Wave case. I may need to rework the stitching on the upper parts, but time will tell.