When I bought my Leatherman years ago, I was rather disappointed to discover that the included leather sheath wasn't actually that useful. It had no way to attach to a belt, and was hard to get the tool in and out of. I've been meaning to make a belt sheath for it for quite some time, but never got around to doing anything until recently. I'd initially wanted to make a paracord sheath, but found that it didn't work as well as expected.
I decided to make a sheath out of webbing, but found that the webbing I had available to me wasn't wide enough to fit around the tool. If only there was some way to make a sheath out of both paracord and webbing. A Google search didn't give any results, so I decided to have a go myself, and document the build here.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
The materials needed for this project are:
- Strong thread (I believe the thread I used is waxed leather worker's thread)
- Magnets to keep the pouch closed.
- Super glue
I used these tools:
- My Leatherman
- A thick needle (A darning needle might work, I don't have one, so I made a needle from a nail)
- Needle nose pliers
- A Lighter
- An awl (also home made, from a nail and random iPad opening tool)
Step 2: Measure the Webbing
I wrapped the webbing around the tool to work out what length it needed to be. I allowed a generous overlap so I could sew on some velcro to keep it closed (I didn't end up doing this, it's a funny story...). After measuring, I cut the webbing to length, and used the lighter to seal the cut end so it wouldn't fray. One end of the webbing had been doubled over and sewn, so I decided to use that as the closure flap.
Step 3: Measure the Sides
The sides of the pouch will be made from paracord tied in a cobra knot. There are plenty of tutorials on how to tie this knot on Instructables, Most of them use two different strands to tie, but I wanted to use a single length on each side. I'd worked out a way to do that to make a key fob, so I measured one, then took it apart to work out how much paracord I'd need.
My method of tying the cobra knot required a length of paracord 10 times longer than the final length. In my case, the sides needed to be 80mm long, so I cut two lengths of paracord a bit over 800mm long. It's better to cut a bit longer than you need, because you can always trim off excess length, you can't add it back on.
Step 4: Starting the Cobra Knot
Take a length of paracord, and fold it exactly in the middle. Measure about 10mm longer than the final length required, and hold the paracord at the point (see photo 2). Take the end on the left, and make a loop behind the two strands (photo 3). Take the right hand strand and loop it behind the strand from the left (photo 4). Now bring the right hand strand across the front of the strands, and through the loop in the left hand strand (photo 5)
Gently pull on the two strands (it's easiest to do this alternately) to tighten the knot. It's important not to let the strands slip between your fingers as you do this. Also check to make sure that both strands are about the same length. Double check that the loop is the right length (photo 6). I had to redo this step a couple of times to get it right. If the length isn't quite right it's an easy matter at this stage to loosen the knot and adjust it. Now tie a cobra knot down the length of the loop.
Step 5: Finishing the Cobra Knot
Once the cobra knot is almost complete, the easiest way to finish it off that I found is to simply tuck the tag ends through the loop, and melt them with the lighter to stop them pulling back through. If the loop is particularly small you might need to push the second end through using an awl (or other thin item). Tie the second cobra knot for the other side and you're ready to start assembling.
Step 6: Attach the First Side.
Having made the two sides I did a test fit before attaching them to the webbing, just to make sure they fit. I then sewed them to the webbing using strong leather working thread. I started at the front, and worked around to the back.
When sewing the webbing I kept my stitches about a millimetre from the edge to reduce the chance of them tearing out. On the cobra knot I came up between the strands (photo 2), and back down again on the next part of the knot (photo 3). To stop the end pulling through I tucked it into the stitching (photo 5). I then stitched through the webbing near where I would be stitching through the cobra knot again (photo 6). The last two photos show how it looks after several stitches.
After completing the stitching around the full length of the cobra knot I stitched on the belt loop. Ideally I would have done this first, but I wasn't exactly certain where I wanted it to go. Stitching it on between attaching the two sides allowed me to determine the best position, without making it overly difficult to attach.
Step 7: Attach the Belt Loop
I used a small loop of webbing taken off the waist belt I made the pouch from for the belt loop. Using a length of the same webbing as the pouch would also have worked. I used the lighter to melt the ends of the webbing, and my awl to fold them over before the webbing set again. This stops the ends from fraying and looks neat.
I sewed the top on first, with the end attached so that it would be inside the loop once it was fully attached (photo 1). I kept the stitches loose to give me room to sew without having to push the needle through two pieces of webbing at once (sewing through 1 piece was hard enough...). I used 4 stitches to hold it on, pulled the stitches tight and tied the thread off inside the pouch. I added a small drop of super glue to the knots to stop them from coming undone.
To keep things simple at the bottom of the belt loop I didn't sew the bottom inside the loop. Doing that would have been incredibly fiddly, and was more trouble that it was worth. I used 2 stitches, and tied the thread off inside the pouch, using super glue on the knots.
Step 8: Attach the Last Side
With the belt loop attached I could then sew on the last side piece. The process was exactly the same as the first side, but was a bit fiddlier due to having less space inside the pouch to move the needle. I worked around this by keeping the paracord flat against the webbing, and pivoted them to give me access where I needed to sew (photo 2). Once I finished attaching the second side piece I tried out my tool, and was happy to find it was a perfect fit.
Step 9: The Clasp
Having finished sewing the sides on, I remembered I needed a way to keep the flap closed. My intention was to use velcro for this, but I realised I had two problems. First, I really should have attached the velcro before attaching the sides. Secondly, I didn't have any velcro, anyway.
What I did have was a ready supply of small neodymium magnets. I thought I could put a length of metal in the end of the flap(I found a nail that fit nicely inside the loop at the end), and attach the magnets to the body of the pouch to have a magnetic closure. The idea worked, just not very well. Even with magnets across the full width of the pouch it was only held very loosely.
I took the metal out of the flap, and decided to see if I could fit the magnets in there. They fit, with some gentle persuasion, and held the flap closed much more securely. All I needed was a way to attach the magnets to the body of the pouch. A short length of paracord with the internal thread removed was the perfect way to attach them.
To stop the magnets moving inside the paracord I cut a small length of plastic tubing (from a cotton wool bud) to put between them (photos 3 & 4). I tied a constrictor knot on the ends to keep everything in place (photo 5). The tag ends of the constrictor knots were used to attach the magnets to the pouch (photos 6 & 7).
Step 10: The Complete Pouch
With the magnetic closure sorted, the pouch was finished. I gave it a test run, and found it fit perfectly on my belt. The flap is easy to open, and closes without fuss. I found getting the tool in and out to be a very simple matter.
All up I think I probably spent 5 or 6 hours working on this, and spent exactly $0 on making it, as I had all the materials lying around already. Given that I didn't really sit down and plan this build, and pretty much made it up as I went along, I'm very happy with the result. The most important thing I took away from this is to plan things out better. I would have had an easier time if I'd thought about what order to do things.