MAKING KNIFE SHEATHS



Making your template

We recommend getting some vinyl flooring offcuts or old sample books from your local carpet shop.

The vinyl is strong enough to hold a stitch and rivets so makes an inexpensive medium for test templates and designs. It comes in a range of thicknesses so find one that is closest to the leather you will be working with.

For a knife sheath take a piece of paper and fold it in half. Place the spine of the blade on the crease and then lay it flat to one side.

Draw around the full blade and decide on a seam allowance that takes the thickness of the leather into account (i.e. thicker leathers will need a wider seam allowance). Then draw that new line on the paper following the shape of the blade.

Fold the paper over and cut through both layers at the seam allowance line.

This gives you the basic shape for the knife part of the sheath. You can then decide what type of arrangement you want behind the handle and any retaining strap.

Transfer the design to the vinyl, cut that out and put a basting stitch along the seam.

Test the knife for fit and make any adjustments to the vinyl template shape as required.

Once you are happy with the template size and shape take out the basting stitch, lay it flat on your leather and draw round the template.

Then add your preferred belt loop and retention strap to the design.

Leather choice

Natural undyed veg leather is a popular choice for sheaths as it can easily be wet moulded and coloured with leather dyes or oiled / waxed.

For lighter weight sheaths and more detail when wet moulding our 147 shoulders fit the bill at 2 to 2.5 mm thick.

For heavier weight pieces the 134 shoulder is 3 to 3.5 mm thick.

If you prefer your leather already coloured, we have pre-dyed veg tan leather in 3 to 3.5 mm thickness available in Black, Brown & Tan colour (order code 033).

For a lighter weight pre-dyed option our 112 shoulders are 1.8 to 2 mm thick and available in Black, Brown, Tan, Whiskey & Tan as order code 112.

These leathers can be found on our hides page.

Small quantities of leather

If you're only making one or two sheaths you can minimize purchase cost by buying the leather as a belt strap (order code B004 or B007).

Belt straps are a minimum of 44 inches long and can be supplied in any width you require.

These can be found on our straps page.

Alternatively we sell some leathers by the square foot.

They can be found on our leather pieces page

Thread

The traditional thread choice is a 18/3 linen thread which we stock in 10 different colours of 150 m spools (order code TR14).

15 m spools of linen thread in 3 colours are available as order code TR1.

If you prefer an artificial thread we stock a range of braided waxed polyester threads (order codes TR32 & TR34), along with artificial sinew (order code TR15).

All these can be found on our threads page.

Rivets

These can be used to strengthen a stitched sheath or on their own to make a sheath without any stitching.

A suitable rivet will be 2 or 3 mm longer than the total thickness of the leather to be fastened.

Our range of rivets can be found here.

Protecting the stitching from the blade

The head of a rivet is much larger than the stem. This means that a rivet will stop a blade coming near the thread or the stem.

Another method is to cut a strip of leather about ¼" wide and sew this between the back and front of the sheath as a spacer.

For scabbards you can fold a suitable sized and shaped piece of leather in two and stitch it into a long tube. Then wet mould the sheath with the seam at the back.

Wet Moulding

For the best fit on a natural undyed veg-tan sheath dip the finished piece in cold clean water. The amount of time in the water determines how much liquid it will absorb and how flexible the leather will become.

Wrap your blade in cling film and push it in and out of the wet sheath a couple of times to ensure the leather is stretched to the right size for the blade. If you want a closer fitting sheath use your thumbs to push the wet leather into the shape of the blade. For a flatter seam you can rub the edges with a smooth piece of wood or scrap leather whilst wet.

Once you are happy with the fit and shape remove the blade and set the wet sheath aside to dry naturally at room temperature. The quicker the leather dries the more it will shrink and become brittle so do not rush this stage with artificial heat.

Once dry test fit the blade. It is a good idea to condition the leather after wet moulding to replace any oils or fats. Our range of aftercare treatments can be found here.

Books

A good book on general leatherworking is "Leathercraft Tools" which gives descriptions of most common tools and instructions about their use.

Our range of books and patterns can be found here.