Tuesday, September 23, 2014


As one of the big chef's knives was for a culinary arts student who would be taking it to school and home and occasional catering work, a need for some protection was in order. I basic stack sheath seemed like a logical solution. Here is how I went about making it.

I started with a piece of 9-10 oz. vegetable tanned leather and traced the basic blade shape on to the rough side. I trace outside the blade by about 5/16" or about 9mm. This will be enough for a welt and stitching.
I extended a strap off about 45° that will have a snap to keep the blade secure. This strap is about 3 inches long. Longer is better at this point as you can always cut it shorter later, but it's really hard to extend!

I use a brand new utility blade in the knife and it cuts leather very well.
Trace the blade portion of the back onto the smooth side of a piece of the same leather. This will be smooth side up remember.
Cut out with the utility knife.
Now to make the welt. I traced the back piece onto a scrap piece of 7 oz. leather. This leather will determine the fit of the blade inside, so try and match the leather thickness to the blade thickness. About 1/8" for this knife.
The welt is also about 5/16" wide and follows the shape of the blade.
Now apply contact cement (or barge cement) to the back and welt.
I did some very basic edge using my custom branch leather stamps that I made in the DIY Leather Stamps page. I think here we don't want anything too fancy as we want this easy to clean.
The welt is attached to the base. I test fitted the snap. Once happy with the location I used a leather punch and pressed the snap pieces together.

On the inside of the top I put some contact cement and prepared a small piece of felt. This will prevent the snap from scratching the blade in its way in and out of the sheath. I also put some contact cement around all the edges but the opening.

 Once the cement has set, carefully place the top on. The cement will stick right away and you don't have much opportunity to move the piece. I started at the tip and worked back until full contact was made.

Walk around the outside with a compass and very lightly pencil a mark about 3/16" in from the edge. This will be where the stitching goes.
With a guide line in place, I use the over-stitch wheel to mark the holes. I think my wheel is a 4mm and I end up using every other mark as a hole.
This is the slow part. With the drill press and 1/16" bit, drill each hole. Do this slowly and carefully. Do not force the bit, let it drill its own hole.
Some people reverse this and the above step, but I find it's easier to make the holes nice and straight before grooving. The groover takes a millimetre of leather off so the stitches have a place to sit nice and low profile.

I spool off 8 times the length of edging in synthetic sinew. In the stitching pony I go around alternating every other hole.

Hopefully this stitch diagram illustrates how the hand stitch looks from a profile view.

First pass of stitching is done.
Adding medium brown stain. I mixed a little bit of USMC black and walked around the edges to give it a sunburst effect.
Once dried a few hours, I popped a hole for the button part of the snap in the strap. As the leather is pretty thick here I had to press it down to get a good bite with the rivet.
This is the basic product. I will run the second stitch with black artificial sinew through every other hole to create a light/dark stitch pattern.

An application of antique finish and some burnishing on the edges will really add to that worn in look and feel.

 Nice and snug in its new home!

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