Bowie Sheath

Dennis Morland

In another WIP I did my best to make my very first Bowie knife. Or my interpretation of a Bowie knife.

The knife is almost complete, so it is time to make a sheath. For all that struggle with leather sheaths, I will do my best to chronicle this sheath build in a WIP/build along.

If anyone has a question or comment-post it. I like discussions. It shows me people are following along and staying interested in the build. So, please, just post it.
Let’s start by talking about leather. Like knife making there are thousands of ways to make a sheath. The way I do it is probably way different than how others build a sheath.

Like knives, trial and error was built into every sheath. Like knives, a little bit of creativity is built into every sheath.

I have only been making leather sheaths for about 5 years. I am still learning. I try to learn something new with every build.

Where can you learn? Youtube comes to mind. Leather makers and knife makers post stuff all the time. Just google whatever subject you are interested in and you will he overcome with information. Some is good, some not so good. But, it’s relatively free if you search for it.

One of my favorite YouTube channels is Weaver Leathercraft. Very informative and overly entertaining. Check it out. Hundreds of videos about general leather crafting.

I also belong to a couple of Facebook leather groups. One is called Knife Sheath Making. Strictly knife sheaths. Good place like Knife Dogs. The other is called Leather Work Patterns. General leather crafting but some awesome artists are on there. I just joined and have been a bit overwhelmed with the talent. Check them out.
Important tips to follow with leather.

1. Wash your hands. Warm water and soap. Keep them clean. Dirty knife making hands do not make good leather working hands. Hand oils, dirt, grime, metal dust, epoxy, glue, dust, etc. do bad things to clean leather.

2. Clean under your finger nails. All that nasty stuff under your nails stains your leather.

3. Clip your finger nails. Long nails can mark the leather. Just keep them clipped and be wary/careful.

As I think of other tips, I will post them up. If you have any to share. Post them up.

Choosing leather. What should you use and where should you get it from??

Better leather makes for a better end product. I get my leather from Wickett & Craig. I have used leather from Tandy. I pay a bit more for WC but I buy halves and in bulk so I save a bit on postage. And Tandy is a 4 hour round trip for me. So there is an expense for me in the travel. There are other places to get leather. Springfield leather, Weaver leather, and others. I have no experience with those providers. I avoid the great deals on the internet stuff. Not worth it!

What should you use. Vegetable tanned leather. I use 6-7 oz. for smaller knife sheaths. Larger knife sheaths I use 8-9 oz. With liners I use 2-3 oz. leather. Honestly, you cannot get liners too thin. If it gets too thin it will just disappear.

My suggestion-do not use chrome tanned leather for knife sheaths. My experience is that it will discolor your knives and handles over time. You can choose to use it. I choose not to use it. Just not worth it.

You may choose to use drummed dyed vegetable tanned leather. I have used it and really like the overall even colors it produces. Plain sheaths, without any stamping or carving look better to me if you choose drummed dyed leather. Just a preference.
My first son is going to graduate from high school in a couple of days. I will get started on the sheath as time allows. If anyone has questions or comments- now is a great time to post them up.
I’ve been following your Bowie knife WIP and enjoying it very much. It's turning out beautifully. Looking forward to the sheath build. Thanks for taking the time to post these. It's greatly appreciated!!.
Last edited:

Every build needs a plan. I take every finished knife and attempt to incorporate a theme into the sheath. This build is blue and copper. Hopefully it will be awesome.
I will be lacing the edge. So I need 3/4 of an inch to the outside of the blade. This allows enough room for the lace. If I were stitching instead, I would only need 1/2 inch outside the blade.

Time to add the belt loop. With a long handled knife, the loop can be a bit taller than usual. I am aiming for a 4 inch loop. Kind of large but should fit the knife just fine.


This will be the back side of the knife sheath. Honestly, when I saw Justin Presson’s Knife sheath I thought to myself that I could just use his pattern. This sheath will strongly resemble his sheath.

After I cut out the back side pattern, I will use it to make the front side of the pattern, the liner, and the welt. Tomorrow if I have time.
Cut out the pattern and lean towards the larger size. Once the leather is cut, it is hard to stretch it. But, you can always trim it down.

A couple of tools. First is a cut proof mat. This is the smaller size. About 12x18. Next time I get the bigger size. Love this thing!

Next, a strap maker or strap cutter. I just started using this tool. It makes/cuts straight lines. Awesome tool.


It has a measuring device on the edge that I set at 3.5 inches. I think you can see the replaceable blade??