Making a Pocket Sheath

By Ebbtide

Here's how I made a pocket/pack sheath for my R.O. Easler small hunter.

Please note: Iíve done this from the ďLook how easy this isĒ point of view. Iíve only done about 10 or 12 sheaths and my humble tutorial is not the end all instruction in sheathmaking. In fact I welcome all of the accomplished leather workers input on how to improve my work.

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Make a cardboard template by tracing your knife. Note the center line and how both sides of the knife butt up against it. Then add space around the edge side of the knife for the welt.

Cut the template out of the cardboard and transfer it to the leather. I traced the square shape with a black fine point marker. The sheath will be dyed black, so the marker wonít show. Note the new tactical black Olfa blade.

Do Remember that the template is the inside of the sheath.

Donít cut straight lines freehand, use a straight edge. It will save work later.

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Here the bottom and sides of the sheath have been trimmed. A strip of the trimmed leather has been measured and cut for the welt. The piece shown will be the bottom and another will be cut to size for the side.

The sheath is also marked where the welt will be glued in place. Mark this on both sides and the bottom.

Do Trace the actual welt leather that youíve cut. (Cut pieces can be larger or smaller than the template.)

Donít Forget to check the fit with the knife.

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After cutting the welt, it is time to test fit the knife. I have trimmed the top edge and test fit the knife.

The handle is thicker than the blade and will be in the sheath. To keep the sheath profile narrow, I decided to use wedges to build up the welt to accommodate the thickness of the handle. (The alternative is to make the pouch wider and use a thin welt. If you choose that route, make your template from heavy paper and wrap the template around your knife before you cut the leather).

Shown are the wedges and welt loosely held in place.

Do Test fit often.

Donít Wait until after it is glued.

Cutting the stitching groove comes next. Dampen the leather and use your cut welt to locate your groove. The groove should fall in the middle of the welt.

Do Wet the leather, itíll make the groover cut better lines.

Donít Get fingernail marks in the leather. When it is damp, the leather takes impressions and marks easily.

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Here the grooves are cut. The outer line is for the stitches and the inner line will be part of the decorative pattern. If the groover moves when you pick it up, always reset it at the point where you started.

Do Make the grooves deep and clean.

Donít Groove the back side until After the needle holes are in.

Donít Make the mistake I made here (grooving the back).

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Basket weave time. The leather is still damp. Strike the stamp firmly, one time for each impression.

Do Measure & count the number of impressions across so you wonít end up with 1/2 impressions on the ends.

Donít Make the first impressions crooked.

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Here the basket weave is 1/2 done. You can see how the initial crooked stamps have skewed the rest. If the first row isnít right, youíll be playing catch up the whole way through.

Do Take your time. Devote a lot of time to this step.

Do walk away from it if necessary.

Donít Let it get to you if it isnít perfect the first couple of tries. If itís a little off, it ain't the end of the world, as weíll see later.

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The inside of the sheath has been dyed and buffed with a towel. Allow to dry overnight, then mask with white tape (any tape will do) so the contact cement wonít make a huge mess in the sheath.


When brushing the cement on, work from the tape onto the leather. This way the glue wonít get under the tape. The wedges have been tapered, glued to the welt and covered in contact cement.

Do Open a window, go slow and thoroughly cover the surfaces to be joined.

Donít Gob the cement on or breathe the fumes.

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Carefully (you only get one try with contact cement) lay the welt in place. Then fold the sheath shut. If it was a large sheath you could use wax paper to Ďslipsheetí the pieces. That is, cover most of the glued area with a sheet of wax paper, start on one end and slip the paper out as you go along. Clamp shut and let sit over night. I used spring clamps, a vice would work too.

Do Cover the leather so the clamps donít leave marks.

Donít Rush!

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Mark the location of the needle holes. You could use a stitching wheel, thonging chisel or just a good old ruler. I made a mark every 1/4Ē. There are a lot of ways to put holes in leather. The real leather workers use a diamond awl.

Iíve made all of ten sheaths and had good results with my hand drill. This is the first sheath Iíve drilled using my brand spanking new drill press. Some use the drill press with a pointed nail and no power, just pushing the nail through the leather. I used a 1/16Ē bit. Larger than Iíve used in the past, because I wanted to try the heavy white waxed cord that I had on hand. Match the holes to the size of your needles and thread. The needles should need to be pushed through the holes, not fall through.

Pictured is the sheath with the holes drilled and the edges dampened & sanded. I started with 220 grit and worked my way up to 800. Dampen and sand. Dampen and sand. Youíll know youíre getting there when the leather takes a nice smooth shine.

Do Test holes on scraps first.

Do Learn about your new tools before doing a tutorial example.

Donít Despair if the hole arenít perfect from side to side. The stitching will hide a lot. This is why waiting to groove the back is important. You can make the groove fit the holes and it will look like you meant it all along.

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Next, dampen the sheath and flood on the dye. I used Fiebings leather dye and an old, clean paint brush.
Stick a pencil in the sheath so you have something to hold on to. This will take a couple of coats. Use a clamp on the pencil to stand it up between coats. After it all looks evenly dyed, let it dry a couple of hours and buff with a towel.

Saddle stitch with 2 needles. Measure your thread by covering the area to be stitched 6x. You could probably do 5, but it stinks when you run short. Thread is cheap and you wonít waste more than a couple of inches.

One needle on each end of your thread, insert one needle in the sheath and pull through to the center of the thread. From now on each needle goes through the same hole, from opposite sides.

Start 2 holes from an end, go to the nearest end then double back to the other end and double back again for 2 more holes. Trim and melt the ends with a lighter.

A coat of SnoSeal or your favorite leather product and youíre done!

Do Pull the stitches good and tight.

Do Tap them with your mallet when youíre done.

Donít End your stitches on the I did here... again!

Well, that's it. I've done a couple better and a bunch worse, but this will get you started.

Give it a try, if I can do it, so can you!





©2005 Ebbtide

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