Do-it-your­self

Leather and a few ba­sic tools yield cus­tom re­sults

Modern Pioneer - - Contents - By Dar­ryl Quidort

Cre­ate your own knife sheath

Ev­ery sharp or pointy metal tool needs a sheath, a good leather cov­er­ing that pro­tects the finely honed edge and pro­vides safety for the op­er­a­tor and by­s­tanders. Mak­ing a cus­tom sheath for your fa­vorite knife is a worth­while pro­ject that can be com­pleted in a sin­gle evening us­ing the right tools and sup­plies.

Ar­range Your Sup­plies

Be­sides the knife, you’ll need a few other tools and ma­te­ri­als, with leather, of course, be­ing the most im­por­tant. It must be thick enough to hold its shape, but still bend pli­ably with­out crack­ing. Six- to 8-ounce veg­etable-tanned cowhide works well.

Of course, the amount of leather needed de­pends on the knife’s size and shape. Af­ter mak­ing a pat­tern, you’ll know how much leather you need. You’ll also need heavy scis­sors for cut­ting the leather, a leather punch or awl, ink pen, two nee­dles and false sinew or heavy waxed thread. You’ll also need some heavy pa­per for mak­ing a pat­tern.

De­ter­mine Dex­ter­ity

The first step in mak­ing a cus­tom knife sheath is de­cid­ing on which side of your belt you want to wear your knife. The ac­com­pa­ny­ing pho­tos show a knife sheath that’s meant to be worn on the right side. For wear­ing on the left side, the pat­tern must be re­versed.

Cre­ate a Pat­tern

Mak­ing a good pat­tern is the most im­por­tant part of this pro­ject. Be pa­tient, be­cause it may take sev­eral at­tempts to achieve a per­fect pat­tern for a cus­tom fit with your knife. To make the pat­tern, lay the knife flat on a piece of pa­per and draw around the blade. Leave a 3/8-inch bar­rier all the way around to al­low for fold­ing and stitch­ing. Above the pat­tern’s blade por­tion, leave a long strip about 1 ½ inches wide to form a belt loop. This strip will be folded down and sewn to it­self, cre­at­ing a loop large enough to ac­com­mo­date a 2-inch-wide belt. Fold the pat­tern up and sta­ple the edges to check the fit.

I like to mea­sure the stitches on the pa­per pat­tern just to make sure every­thing is even.

Mark and Cut the Leather

Once you have the pa­per pat­tern per­fected, trace it onto the leather with an ink pen. Mark it out on the back­side of the leather, be­cause ink on the front side tends to show up on the fin­ished work. Stop and think about this: Since you’re mark­ing it out on the back of the leather, you must turn your pa­per pat­tern over. It’s easy to do this back­wards and end up wear­ing the knife on the side op­po­site from planned. Of course, I learned this les­son the hard way.

Use heavy scis­sors to cut out the shape from the leather. From the same leather, cut a 3/8-inch-wide curved piece to use as a welt to be sewn into the sheath on the sharp side of the blade. This welt, or spacer, keeps the blade from cut­ting the stitches when the knife is re­turned to the sheath.

Put it all To­gether

To as­sem­ble the knife sheath, sew the belt loop first. Af­ter fold­ing the strip down, mea­sure out the stitches and punch the holes with a leather punch or awl. Pre­pare a length of false sinew or heavy waxed thread with a nee­dle on each end. Sew by pass­ing each nee­dle through the same hole from op­po­site di­rec­tions be­fore ad­vanc­ing to the next hole. This sad­dle stitch forms a strong, at­trac­tive seam. Hide the end knot in­side the belt loop.

Next, mea­sure and punch the holes along one side of the sheath. Glue the welt piece tem­po­rar­ily in place along the other side of the sheath. This will hold it se­curely in place as you fold the sheath closed. Next, line up every­thing and punch holes all the way through the welt and the other side of the leather. Pre­pare a long length of thread with a nee­dle on each end, and be­gin­ning at the tip, sad­dle stitch the sheath closed. Hide the end knot in­side of the belt loop for a pro­fes­sional, fin­ished look.

Dye it for a Cus­tom Look

To fin­ish the knife sheath, you may want to color it with leather dye or boot pol­ish. Then, give it a good buff­ing with a boot brush to bring the leather to a strik­ing shine.

Wear your belt knife proudly. When peo­ple ad­mire your cus­tom sheath, you can tell them, “I made it my­self.”

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2 1 The au­thor’s belt knife is ly­ing on the pa­per pat­tern. The left-side strip will be folded on the dashed line and sewn down to make the belt loop. The top part will fold down over the blade. 2 The pat­tern is marked on the back­side of the leather...

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