Like many makers, I carry a measuring tape every day and use it until the tape becomes too brittle to use from pulling it out at a sharp 90° angle from where it is permanently holstered to my hip, a thousand times a day. Over the years, my EDC measuring tape of choice has changed from a 25’ tape, to a 20’ tape, to a 16’ tape, to a 12’ tape, to finally a 6’ tape. I’ve come to realize that in my current practice, I rarely need to measure anything longer than six feet. After having found what I consider to be one of the best 6’ measuring tapes on the market (no easy feat ), I decided to make a holster for it that allows for quick and simple removal of the measuring tape itself, increasing its lifespan.
My father has always carried his measuring tapes in a leather hip holster; naturally I decided to make my holster out of leather as it is durable, wears beautifully, and is comfortable to the touch.
Step 1: Paper Template
First, remove any key chain attachments on the measuring tape you’ll be using (the one I’m using had a small chain attached to a swivel clip ). Next, lay the measuring tape on a piece of paper and trace around it. Then, cut that piece of paper into a strip that is equal to the width of the measuring tape. Then, wrap the paper strip around the measuring tape (vertically ) and use a blunt soft pencil to take a rubbing of its exact shape. Next decide which pieces you would like to remove and remove them with scissors. You might also want to add additional pieces to the paper template to make straps that will help hold the measuring tape in place. Once you have a paper template, it’s a good idea to trace it onto a thicker piece of cardstock, this will make it easier to transfer the design onto the leather.
Step 2: Transferring Template and Cutting Out the Leather
Trace around your paper or cardstock template onto a piece of leather of medium to light weight. Ideally a piece of veg tan leather. You’ll want something that is robust enough to withstand daily use but supple enough to shape. Using a rotary cutter or utility knife, cut the pattern out of the piece of leather. *(A reminder that rotary cutters are scary sharp, please be mindful of finger placement.)
Step 3: Preparing the Leather
Start by skiving the pieces that will be overlapped to reduce their overall thickness. Depending on the thickness of your leather, it may be necessary to hog out a bit of material where you’ll be making your folds, I used small gouges to achieve this. I also used a leather rotary creaser to establish my fold lines. You can also wet the leather a bit to help make it supple enough to form around the measuring tape more easily. Habitually, I spend a lot of time working on the edges of my leather projects so that they are beautifully burnished (sign of quality leatherwork ), but as this holster is meant to be utilitarian, I decided to leave the edges unfinished.
Check the fit of the leather around the measuring tape and remove any excess material before proceeding with the next step. *I thought it worth mentioning that the thin chin strap on the front of the measuring tape in the original test fit was deemed redundant and omitted.
Step 4: Attaching the Leather to the Measuring Tape
There are a few ways to approach attaching leather to other things or itself. Again, because it is a utilitarian object, I opted for the quick and dirty method —contact cement (which should be plenty strong ). But you could also stitch the pieces together and add a snap to the top flap if you desire being able to replace the measuring tape.
If you’ve never used contact cement before, here’s how. Apply the cement to both surfaces you wish to adhere together, let each dry separately until the glue becomes tacky to the touch, then align both pieces carefully (you’ll most likely only have one shot at this ) before pressing them together with moderate to heavy pressure. This creates a bond that is nearly impossible to separate.
Using this method, I glued each piece of leather to the measuring tape, letting each piece dry before moving onto the next. I then put it aside to cure more fully, before gluing on the neodymium magnet.
Step 5: Making the Belt Loop
For the belt loop portion of the holster I decided to make something that didn’t require taking off my belt to attach it. I came up with a simple design which is essentially a rectangle with a pair of snaps on either end. I started by cutting a strip of leather roughly an inch wide and cut it to approximate length after having measured it against my belt. Then, using a pair of dividers, I scored the locations of the snaps. I used a specialty punch to attach the snaps but a hammer and snap setter would also work.
Step 6: Making the Belt Loop Continued
To embed the neodymium magnet into the leather, I traced around it and used a small gouge to hog out some of the thickness of the material. Observing proper magnetic orientation (polarity), I glued the magnet into the cavity created in the leather. I then glued a small piece of wool felt over the magnet to protect my belt from wear and tear. Fun Fact: I sourced the magnets for this project from a dead hard drive!
While the belt loop dries, glue the other neodymium magnet to the back of the measuring tape, again observing polarity.
Step 7: Everyday Use
Once everything is completely dry, loop it on your belt and test it out! I found that the magnets were strong enough to work through my shirts. As I don’t often tuck them in, this is a very useful feature. To test the strength of the magnet, I hung a hammer from the holster and it held it just fine! I really hope other makers make this or a variation of it as it is such an EDC maker luxury!