Concern about drill press sheath technique

Mark Barone

Well-Known Member
Having some hand strength issues I will most likely use the drill press for the holes in the sheath. I was watching a tutorial yesterday and the maker was using the all. He said he doesn't like using the press because he finds that sometimes the drill bit misses the cut grove on the opposite side made by the " grooving tool". I want to avoid that. Does that tend to happen?

J. Doyle

Dealer - Purveyor
Using a drill press with a standard drill bit can make a mess of the holes sometimes. Things can grab and twist and pull and wander.....often leaving ragged holes. That's what I used to do.

You can make your own hole making bit from a drill bit that works wonderfully. Here's how:

Take a drill bit, whatever size you need for your needle and thread to fit through (I think I used 3/32") and chuck it in a cordless drill so that the smooth back end of the shank sticks out. You're going to use the smooth end to make a new cutter, not the original drilling end of the bit.

Spin the bit in the drill against a running belt on your grinder and taper it to a long sharp point. So give it a long gradual taper. I think mine is 1" from where the taper starts to the point.

Then take it out of the drill and take it to a 120 grit belt. Holding the bit perpendicular to the belt (horizontal) against your flat platen, grind a nice even flat halfway through the long point you just turned.

This will leave you with a cutter that's shaped like half a long cone on the backside with a long flat triangle on the front side. A nice crisp flat will leave two sharp edges that do the cutting.

It should look like a glass drilling drill bit except with a longer sharper point with straight taper sides. It cuts holes in leather beautifully clean.

Hope that all makes sense.

Mark Barone

Well-Known Member more tip. Groove the front side only. Drill your holes. THEN flip the sheath over and groove the backside wherever your holes end up so that they're always in the groove.
That's the tip I needed. Gruff explained the same process above to me. I will do that. Perfect, that will work for me. I am taking a month to complete this project because of the research to avoid mistakes. It is like I am virtually making the mistakes and correcting them before I begin. There will be a post of my project when I am done. Next time I will do a WIP.

BossDog & Owner
Staff member
I have used a drill bit and a polished awl in a drill press and prefer a polished awl. It burnishes the hole and will shrink back down to tighten up around the thread. Basically it is just a small diameter rod that you grind and polish to a point. Getting the work off the table rest helps to line up the entrance and exit holes away from the edge. Use a small step up block (of anything really) with a hole for the awl to go through.


Well-Known Member
I have used an awl but in my drill press with wonderful results.
Another tip, once you have your holes drilled and your grooving the back side, I start with a V-shaped notched and make a shallow groove and then go back over it with my stitch groover. It makes it much easier to connect the dots.


Well-Known Member
I just use a big leather sewing needle and put it in my drill press. It's the right size, doesn't remove material, and burnishes the hole


Well-Known Member
I use a buffed up smooth finishing nail thats tapered with a triangular sharpened point,it doesn't tear or cut a hole it pierces and stretches the hole.


Well-Known Member
Also those with hand problems you can use your drill press as a sewing machine. I stitch my stuff using the two needle method and a stitching pony,but I have used my drill press in the past when my hands were sore.If you have ever used a speedy stitcher it's the exact same method only your drill press replaces the speedy stitcher and hold the needle. It creates a lock stitch just like the speedy stitcher does.
I also use the tip of an awl in my drill press. I also swing the table and drill an 1/8" hole in the table, about 3/8" of an inch from the edge. This allows the tip of the awl to pass through the leather and through the table. The table keeps the sheath square to the awl so the back side line of the stitches are straight. Also, I use the diamond chisel tools to mark the holes before drilling. I grove the stitch line after drilling to set the stitches flush. I think using an awl point and not removing material allows the hole to tighten back up on the thread after stitching, if you tap the seam lightly. This method allows me to use blunt needles, and not struggle to pull the needle through. If you have a tight hole, just use a hand awl to open it up a little. Also, being able to use the blunt needles (from Tandy), no more bloody holes in my fingers!!!