Making Your Own Sheaths or Not: Questions

Discussion in 'Hammer & Tongs' started by redsquid2, Feb 10, 2017.

  1. redsquid2

    redsquid2 Добрая Росомаха

    Aug 31, 2011
    Did you ever at some point say, "I'm done with leather. It's just kydex from here on out." Kydex seems to be growing in popularity, and there is always the option of kydex sheaths that have leather belt loops or frogs.

    Did you at some point stop making sheaths and just sell the knives?

    Did you at some point stop making sheaths, and outsource all your sheaths to a specialist?

    I am just about ready to give up on leather. I like the look and feel of leather, but it seems like there is no end to skill building and better tools and better materials, incurring more cost, for this craft. I don't have the money for a leather sewing machine, so it might be better to leave it to the specialists.
  2. john april

    john april KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 27, 2006
    i do not have a sewing machine either. i drill all the holes on a drill press and stitch by hand. i do not like kydex, it scratches the blades and guards. i have always made my own sheaths, so i am used to it and enjoy it.
  3. Hengelo_77

    Hengelo_77 Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 2, 2006
    To me personaly the leather work is something I realy enjoy
    (and I don't understand why so many guys seem te hate it)
    You don't need many tools to get in to sheath making, app. $20,- worth to start with and you're fine.
    You do need patience to do leatherwork and work leather wet
  4. Robert Erickson

    Robert Erickson KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 2, 2014
    I know what you're saying about leatherwork. It's another skill to learn, which takes time and is a cost to incur.
    As for me, I don't hate it, but it does take time away from making knives, which I enjoy more. I realized it can add value to the "package" that I offer and so it's just something that has to be done. I also don't have a leather sewing machine and like John April use a drill press and then hand sew.
    I think there's still plenty of guys who like leather and so going completely Kydex will shrink your buyer pool. The same for selling knives without sheaths too. Most guys expect a fixed blade to come with a sheath of some sort. There are a few makers selling without sheaths (Fiddleback and AA Forge off the top of my head) but they've been doing this a long time and built up great reputations. To outsource leatherwork costs quite a bit per knife so I opted for investing that money in a moderate leatherwork kit. I think you'll find that once you get a system down it won't be so bad. Just my 2 cents.
  5. Daado

    Daado KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Apr 5, 2015
    I use drill press for holes too.
    I like to work with leather. It's interesting and fun.
    It's a good thing to do at evening, for the end of the day.
  6. 3fifty7

    3fifty7 Gold Member Gold Member

    Dec 24, 2016
    I just finished my first leather sheath. It's crude to say the least, and boy did I learn a whole lot of what not to do !

    Sent via telegraph with the same fingers I use to sip whiskey.
    GABaus likes this.
  7. AF

    AF Gold Member Gold Member

    Jan 14, 2000
    I really enjoy making leather sheaths.
  8. wkfl

    wkfl KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 28, 2011
    For me, I think it is part of the package for a sheath knife... to provide a sheath. I have always hand sewed them, and I hated the process. When kydex came into play, I thought this was the grail. Well, for me, not true. It's got no soul. I know it has it's place, just not for me after tooling around with it for a spell. Filet knives being the exception. Back to farkin leather. I have a whole new attitude for it now, as well as a Tippman:welcoming:.
  9. Jrmysell


    May 18, 2014
    One tip, if you have an awl for the stitching holes for hand stitching, you can use a drill press, just don't turn it on and use it to punch the holes. Makes that go a lot quicker and still have a "diamond" hole.
  10. i4Marc


    Oct 19, 2011
    I really like the idea of sole authorship. I prefer to do everything from making the blade, doing the HT, the guards/handles, and the sheaths. I don't make sheaths as an afterthought or because I have to. I design every sheath to suit the specific knife it will carry. Since the design of the knife /sheath package is my concept I must be the one to do it. Like learning to make knives, it is a struggle in the beginning but the more information and experience you accumulate the quicker and easier it gets. I don't have a lot of leather tools. Everything I need fits in a tackle box. I haven't gotten into tooling yet. I do basic but (I think) well built and finished sheaths. You don't need a big investment to do that. I made my own stitching pony. That's probably the fanciest leather tool I have. I don't use a sewing machine. Like the others I use a sewing needle in my drill press (spinning) to make the holes then hand stitch. But the thing is, I work very slowly. I have the time to make sheaths the way I want. The guys who work much faster than I do have to think about the value of their time and whether it's better spent making knives or sheaths. Do you spend a couple of hours making a $500 knife or a $50 sheath? The figures are pulled out of my can but you get the idea. If you like leather then don't give up on it. Don't think you have to make very fancy sheaths. Start with more modest designs and work on fit and finish. You can add complexity down the road. There will be times when Kydex is the better choice and times when leather is the way to go. Become comfortable doing both. Here are a couple of my recent sheaths to show what you can do with some cheap tools from Tandy.








    Last edited: May 20, 2019
    Lee Hester and cifac88 like this.
  11. PNWJimbo


    Sep 29, 2015
    I am not currently making knives yet, but when I do I will be focusing on that and providing kydex sheaths. I actually wish more fixed blades on the small/medium size came with IWB kydex sheaths.
  12. AVigil

    AVigil Adam Vigil knifemaker working the grind Platinum Member

    Feb 17, 2009
    I did a lot of leather work in the past and just got burned out on it.

    Fact is a really nice leather sheath is hard to beat, it is also hard to make the $$ it is worth as well for a knifemaker.

    I do like kydex, and if the kydex sheath is scratching the blade then it simply is being made incorrectly.

    But I do say " Fxxxx making sheaths". It is my least favorite part of knife making.

    I provide a "Free" kydex sheath, if they want a leather one then there are many sheath makers that can do that for them.
  13. harronek


    Nov 29, 2013

    The belt loop design of that sheath is very interesting , I've seen a few sheaths in my time but not one with that style of loop , great super clean work .

    I dont make fixed blade sheaths only folder sheaths / pouches / slips , but leatherwork doesnt have to be hard or overly complicated . Use the best leather and a few simple tools and the results will astound you .

  14. john april

    john april KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 27, 2006
    i agree harronek, every thing marc makes seems to have its own vibe and style, and a high level of craftsmanship. one good thing about making sheaths is that its not a big investment to start like it was making a knife. i think i have $70 worth of leather tools total.
  15. Horsewright

    Horsewright KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Oct 4, 2011
    Ken thats often referred too as a belt tunnel. Often used on an Askins holster and part of what makes an Askins holster an Askins style holster. Sheaths and loop extremely well executed by Marc here. If a guy wants to spend crazy money on leather tools they make special "irons" for wet forming belt loops or tunnels like that. They start at $100 and go up. Me I made a stick.
  16. zuluninja

    zuluninja boricua grinder

    Aug 25, 2009
    sometimes I feel like making a leather sheath, sometimes I prefer doing kydex; it all depends on the knife. I'm also always looking out for well made factory sheaths like the ka-bar eagles, and in the near future will send some knives with a decent sheath like that if I don't feel like making a sheath for it. But I hear you, it can be a PITA, but it can also be very rewarding. I'm working on a leather sheath right now, and will have to stop after tooling because I ran out of contact cement - so many steps to do to make a decent leather sheath. While kydex is easier, I still will make a leather sheath if I feel the knife deserves it.
  17. JeffreyFogleboch


    May 13, 2009
    I hate kydex.

    Leather takes a lot longer but in my opinion it's nicer and doesn't scratch your blades. Don't get me wrong kydex has its time and place but for me it's a big headache.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
  18. Alberta Ed

    Alberta Ed

    Jun 29, 1999
    As an absolute amateur, I enjoy making leather sheaths. Mine are functional and nowhere near the artistry others show on this forum, but they keep the blades safe. Usually I end up with a pouch style, if I'm making from scratch. I use latigo saddle leather impregnated with SnowSeal, waxed nylon thread and use a cobbler's stitch. I either use an awl to punch the holes or sometimes drill them through with a hand drill. Occasionally I've used sheaths that came with a knife as a pattern to make a new one from heavier leather -- Scandinavian sheaths are often made from pretty thin leather, in my experience (Helle, Roselli). Several of the Kydex sheaths I have used ended up scratching the blades, so I've moved away from those. I do like Kydex for a sheath liner, as on Roselli's sheaths.
  19. Lieblad


    Jul 24, 2015
    My knives, its blade is really a minor portion, at least 1/2 or better of the overall is the sheath.
    I dont do 'pics, but Google images of "samekniv" to see examples of my work.
    I am 'ok, but some guys are far better scrimshawers than metalworkers. Perhaps I should just make the knife & sheath, farm out the artwork to them...
  20. Willie71

    Willie71 Warren J. Krywko. Part Time Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 23, 2013
    I don't enjoy making the sheaths, and my leather skills are quite a bit behind my knifemaking skills. I just struck up a deal with a friend of mine who's wife has some time to kill, and is quite artistic. She planned to get into leathercraft years ago, but never got around to it. I gave her a bunch of supplies to get going, and we'll see where it goes.

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