Basic Sheath

My first attempt at making a sheath turned out pretty well, so I thought I would share the process with you. Everyone has slightly differing methods and designs, but this worked okay for me.

Note: Since 2013 I have made some more of this style of sheath with some refinements.
See the BC8 Bushcraft Knife Sheath post for a better example with some updated techniques.

I started by making a paper "wrap" to go over the blade and handle. This will also need a basic strip that will be folded over to become a belt loop. Make sure you understand the difference between a right-handed and left-handed sheath. Think about what the difference is between wearing it on your left side vs. right side. Mine is a righty.
My initial choice of leather was borderline too small, so I went with an 8-9oz  piece from a Tandy purse kit. (Thanks Rhonda)
I cut the shape and the welt with good sharp scissors and smoothed out the edges with a belt sander.
I lightly misted the main piece with a spray bottle and water.
As I didn't have a decent bordering stamp, I made my own from a piece of 3/8" round stainless. Some needle file work and I had a sort of "waffle iron" or "tire track" effect.

Using a compass and pencil set to about 5/8", I gently marked a border to follow. You don't have to press very hard. A faint pencil line is enough.
After the border stamp, I added some "camo" marks. The camo stamp is a crescent shape thing that comes with every basic leather tooling kit.

Now the piece is ready for dye.
My dye was called "Medium Brown" but came out quite dark. I was a bit worried, but it dried to more of a red-brown colour which became more agreeable as it dried.
Attached the belt loop with contact cement and then marking the holes with an awl.
Drilled out holes to 1/16th inch on the drill press and stitched with needle and sinew. I picked up a needle and a small roll of 'artificial sinew' from the craft store.

Cement the welt in place after stitching the belt loop. I used LePage contact cement.

Once the one side of the welt is dried and attached with contact cement. Use contact cement to attach the main fold back to the welt.
Mark and poke the stitch holes with an awl. I did these about 1/8" apart. Then drill on the drill press.
Stitched with artificial sinew and a needle. This sinew is more like waxed poly string, but looks good enough for what I am doing. Once the sheath is stitched together, I went around the welt edges with the belt sander on 120 grit, the touched up with some more dye.
Once the sheath is looking sweet, wrap the knife in food wrap and start to form the leather. A light misting of clean water and let it shrink around and form to the shape of the handle.

Ta da! All in a few hours work. A good rubbing of dubbin and we're ready to show.

After the shape is formed.

I found this link to a great sheath making tutorial:


Unknown said...

Have you tried a saddlers stitch before?
Put a needle on each end of your thread and pull through so the leather is in the middle of the thread with a needle on each side. Push both needles through the next hole together from they're respective sides and pull the thread tight. Keep repeating this figure of 8 motion till done. To lock your stitch go backwards through the last 3 holes after doing them in a forwards motion.
Sorry if you already know this, its the method I was taught when I first started making belts and is the only hand stitching method I use.

D. Comeau said...

Hi Andrew,

This page was covering my first and most basic sheath. I was pretty excited to make anything from leather. On the latest sheath I do something similar to what you mention where the two threads are going in opposite directions. I learned this as a hand stitch, but that may be just difference in nomenclature.

Thanks for your comments!


Unknown said...

Nice job, another note about the stitch would be to add a 1/4" wide strip of leather, slightly thinner than that of the sheath itself to run the length of the stitch area sandwiched between the layers of the main sheath. Then stitch all three layers together, doing so will add protection to the seam from the blade.

D. Comeau said...

Thanks for your comments.

This strip is called the "welt". Its always recommended to use a welt in the fold over style sheath. An improvement is to use some thin polycarbonate to protect the stitching from a razor sharp blade.


Unknown said...

I always thought a welt is what mama gave me upside the head when I was being disrespectful. Thanks for the education and I'll say it again, you make some very nice blades, I especially like the detail to the handles. Keep it up.