Sheath Making September 2011 - Topic of the Month
Posted 01 September 2011 - 07:34 AM
Please share your tips and techniques, as well as the materials that you use. All types of sheath construction are welcome for discussion.
Posted 01 September 2011 - 08:39 PM
I did a Sheath Demo at the ABS 7Th Mid-America Bladesmithing Symposium, I was asked how I determine thread length for hand stitching a sheath. While I cannot get an excel file on the web, this is a screen shot of what the program looks like.
Thread length Excel file
Type the words in cells A1, A2, A3, A5, C5 and C6. Type the formulas into B5 and B6. Leave the " " marks off when you type in the formulas.
To use, simply type in your measurements in cells B1, B2, and B3 and it will tell you how much thread you need.
The thickness makes the assumption that the sheath is the same thickness over its length. My sheaths taper so I pick a midpoint or average thickness. you may also use the thickest point to make sure you have enough.
If you have problems with the program, email me and I will send you a copy.
Posted 01 September 2011 - 11:12 PM
Put cheap duct tape on the blade to add a little clearance and reduce scratching. Notice I said cheap, as in if you use the good stuff you will be cleaning tape residue off the blade for a while.
Use a very worn 60 grit belt to do the last bit of shaping on the edges. It builds up heat and melts the two pieces enough to blend them together visually.
Use a Scotch-Brite belt to smooth the edges.
Put on some leather gloves and use a heat gun for tweaking things.
Posted 04 September 2011 - 04:15 PM
I needed to make some type of rigid liner for the sheath and decided to try making it out of Kydex. I made a wood pattern of the blade and then used an electric heat gun to form the Kydex around it. I first heated the Kydex down the center to fold it over and then formed it around the pattern, wearing leather gloves. I was able to heat the Kydex in small areas that needed additional shaping and then work those areas with my fingers to get it where I wanted it. I left about 5/16" of Kydex outside the pattern to serve as a welt area.
I lined the Kydex with adhesive backed felt, leaving about ½" of felt sticking out over the top of the Kydex liner. I then turned the protruding felt back, over the top of the liner, sticking it to the outside of the liner and hiding the top of the Kydex. This gave a nice finished look to the mouth of the sheath after the N/S throat piece was attached. I put a leather welt between the edges of the Kydex liner and then hand saddle stitched the edge of the liner.
I covered the Kydex liner with 3 to 4 oz. leather. The liner was so thin that I was able to use the thicker leather and the finished sheath still came out nice and thin.
Posted 04 September 2011 - 05:24 PM
-Using card stock to make a pattern for the sheath has proved very helpful. Lin Rhea preaches making a good drawing of the knife you want to make and I find making the pattern for a sheath an easy way to not waste leather. Since card stock a bit stronger than regular paper and still good and cheap, if the pattern doesn't work out, you can just start over. Also being stronger than paper, it's easier to transfer the pattern to my leather once I have it how I want it. I can keep the patterns to re-use, as well.
-For a foldover style of sheath, removing some of the leather near the tip (on the inside) makes the folding much easier and it doesn't have the tendency to pucker when sewn. An easy way to thin that area is to bend the sheath backward and put that spot on your belt grinder.
These are probably redundant for you experienced guys, but for anyone new like me, it seems like these little things can tend to make a big difference in how it looks and frustration levels as you go..... .
Posted 08 September 2011 - 08:12 AM
My personal preference for leather is 8-9oz for hunter size knives, and 9-10oz leather for larger knives.
A couple of tips for leather...as Jeremy mentioned, gouging a line where a fold it made, works very well. Also, I use acetone to "wet" any folds...it works well, and dries in just a few minutes.
When it comes to kydex, I have found that in many ways, a knife must be designed with a kydex sheath in mind, for the sheath to function well. Where leather "grips" the entire knife, kydex works on "pinch points" and so the profile of the knife is very important. All too often I have people show up at my shop wanting me to make a kydex sheath for a Bowie, or other knife with a large protruding guard. I can do it, but they won't be happy with how it works.
I see a lot of kydex sheaths that I feel are just plain "cheesy". Mainly because the maker used what I consider kydex that is too thin, and then molded it poorly. Personally, I like .093" kydex.....anything lighter is too light for me.
Finally, a note about purchasing kydex. Rather than pay the $2-$4 markup per square foot that most knife supply outfit charge, it's much more economical to purchase kydex in full 4'x8' sheets. I just checked with Port Plastics a couple of days ago.....093" kydex 100 in Black is $141 per sheet (That's $4.40 per square foot) When you break it down cost wise, for one of my EBKs, a kydex sheath costs me about $13 including a Tek-Lok.
Posted 15 September 2011 - 02:45 PM
Posted 28 September 2011 - 07:47 AM
Posted 08 May 2012 - 09:48 AM
Posted 09 May 2012 - 10:40 AM
Kydex sheath making demo by Jeff Crowner (made 3 sheaths at the meeting):
Wayne Goddard's sheath making tips:
Some examples of Sami sheaths and Ray Richard's sculpted sheath process:
Ed - Ray is another guy who always hated sheath making - - - until he developed his sculpted sheath process - now he loves it - and he has taken it further since he shared with the 5160 club - check out Mr. Wizard:
Posted 22 May 2012 - 12:31 PM
I make my own sheaths and you can see an example on my knife that is up for the ABS Auction. Like others I never really like that part of the business. MOstly I did not like it because I never invested the time in it to feel really good about the product. Then I remembered how much I liked Bill Moran's sheaths, so about 15 years ago I started making them with wood liners. Now personally I like to keep to natural materials in everything and that includes sheaths. A wood liner seemed right. Note that I said right and not necessarily better. There is nothing wrong about kydex, I just prefer wood. So I use maple and sometimes basswood. I trace out the blade on the two pieces of wood I am going to use as halves for the liner. I then go to a band saw and cut the wood to the outline of the knives leaving about a 1/4 inche thickness all around. I use wood carving tools to cut and then plane away the wood until it is about 1/16 wider than the thickness of the blade. I sand the insides and then clean them of any residue. I then clamp the halves together and make sure the knife blade fits. I glue on to one or both sides a piece of leather or a piece of cork. The cork works well since it will compress and grab the blade. The blade should slide in with a small amount of force and then after short wait (seconds) I want the knife to stay in place even when it is upside down. I take the blade out and I then glue the halves together with epoxy. I then grind and shape the wood sanding to about 150 grit. I then trace the wood liner onto a piece of leather. It it is a large knife I may add an additional piece of leather to form a collar on either the outside or inside. I then sow the collar in place. On a pouch sheath I fold back the leather at the top of the sheath forming a collar like effect but this butts up nicely with the top of the wood liner. Glue it all in place and do the final stitching. I then grind the edges first with 60 grit belt and then with a 400 grit belt. The four hundred grit belt buffs the edges. Then I stain and oil the leather. Similar to kydex the knife can be stored in the wood lined sheath.
Posted 27 May 2012 - 05:47 AM
1) use only vegetable tanned cowhide (some tanning processes can be corrosive)
2) add a gusset (match thickness to that of the blade) to the outside so the blade never touches the stitches
3) use a saddle stitch (two needle locking stitch)
4) if a securing strap is needed use a post rather than a snap (post to go through an overlay and not main sheath material)
5) add a softer leather liner to the sheath