I just purchased an Ozark Trails Camp hatchet for $16 at my local Walmart.
It’s similar to a Fiskars or Gerber, but cost less. It came with a plastic thingy to protect the edge as it is very sharp. It covers the head and had a handle built in. Good for hanging on the wall but too bulky to put in a backpack or even a tool box. You needed to remove it, leaving the cutting edge exposed while using the back of the hatchet as a hammer to pound in tent stakes. This causes a dangerous condition.
- Protect the cutting edge (and me) for storage while being able to use the axe as a hammer without removing it.
- Minimize on size & weigh. This will used for camping and needs to pack small and light. This not designed to hang on a belt. For that I will make a ring harness that the handle slips through. That will be another project.
- Use Inexpensive materials and tools. Or materials and tools I already have.
- Follow the rule K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stoopid!)
Kydex – Looks Cool, never tried it, I don’t have any material.
Leather – Old School. I have most of the tools and leather scrap left over from a knife sheath project. Plus it will match the knife sheath I made previously. Leather it is!
Step 1: What You Need:
- Scrap Leather (About the thickness of your belt and big enough to fold over your axe head)
- Waxed Thread
- Rivets & Snaps
- Sewing Needle
- x-Acto / Utility Knife / Scissors
- Rivet & Snap Setting Tools
- Mink Oil (leather water proofer / conditioner)
- Leather Punch
- Stitching Punch or Fork & Drill Bit
- Paper & Pencil
- Masking Tape
- Pliers to grip the Sewing Needle if needed.
Step 2: Design.
Safety first, cover the axe blade with masking tape.
Layout some heavy paper, fold in half. Place the axe head on it
and trace out a pattern leaving room for the stitching and allowing room for thickness of the axe.
Cut out to use as a template. Place the template over the axe (use tape to hold in place). Trim where needed. Now throw it away and start over, because if you are like me, it didn’t look right. This is why you make a template out of paper and don’t start cutting the leather first.
Step 3: Cut It Out.
Ok now you got the template the way you want it. Take your template and trace it out on the leather.
You will also need a strip about 4” long x ½” wide, left over to make a strap to hold the sheath on. Use scissors or a knife to cut out your pattern and the strap.
Once the leather is cut out, fold the leather over your axe blade to check your fit. Again use tape to hold in place. If needed, use a leather conditioner like Mink Oil to soften the leather to make it easier to work with. Apply to both sides. Now it’s starting to look like something. Think about where you want to position the strap and mark where the rivets and snap will go. You could stitch on the strap but think it’s easier to use rivets and I already had them.
Note: If you want to do any leather work like stamping, dyeing, etc., do that prior to oiling the leather.
Step 4: Get to Work.
Lay the leather out and use a punch to make holes for the snap and rivets. Now punch the stitching holes. I didn’t have a punch small enough so I use a fork to create even marks and a small drill bit to drill the holes. Make sure the stitching holes match up when the leather is folded over.
Install the rivets and snaps following instructions that came with the tools. Install any other embellishments like decorative rivets, etc.
Fold the leather over and start stitching using waxed thread. There are different stitches you can use. Some use a Sewing Awl. I just used a heavy duty needle and use a simple straight stitch. Start your stitch so the knot gets trapped between the 2 layers of leather. Then stitch going down one hole through both layers and coming up through the next. Keep good tension on the stitch to keep it tight. When you get to the end, loop twice and stitch back to where you started. The stitches should look like this (-------). On the last hole make one loop going through both layers and a loop coming out in-between the layers knot the string as close as you can and tuck the knot back in-between the layers. I’m sure there is a better way to do this but that is how I did it.
Step 5: That Is It!
Now oil it again to waterproof it. It’s OK to oil the inside to as it helps keep the blade from rusting. Place it over your axe and admire it in all its glory! You now have a sheath worthy of a $100 axe.
If you have all the tools it can be done in an evening. The longest part was drilling the holes. I plan to get the right size punch next time.