Hand Stitching idea……

Daniel Macina

Well-Known Member
Just thinking out loud here. Has anyone ever modified an arbor press to punch holes for stitching a sheath?

I got a very cheap awl when I bought my leather tools and it’s an absolute pain to use so I’m either going to buy a better awl or figure out a different solution. I’m going to try a drill press but I don’t love the idea of actually removing leather from the area.

The arbor press idea popped into my head was just curious if anyone else had modified one?
 

Gliden07

Well-Known Member
Probably would work? Only problem is getting it out once you punch thru. That was the hardest part for me especially in thicker areas like where the welt is. But I am just starting with the leather sheaths so I could have been doing it wrong?
 

Alden Cole

Well-Known Member
I'm not an expert at all, but I just took a nail and ground it a little and then chucked it up into my drill press, turn the drill press on and start punching. Granted, there are probably better ways that I need to learn, but that's how I do it for now.
 

C Craft

Well-Known Member
Something to keep in mind! When you punch a hole on the front you are probably following a groove made by your leather grooving tool!! s-l1000.jpg When you punch true the sheath you need to be 90* to the sheath. Or the back side stitching will be all over the place and it looks like Do-Do!

It is easy to accomplish that on a drill press. I will often use a spacer to elevate the welt to whatever the thickness of the sheath is. The advantage to using a drill press is that if you get the spacer the right height, you are automatically 90* degrees to the sheath stitch line, and the holes on the backside come out where they are suppose to!! Plus the finish nail creates heat as it punches thru and it will burnish each hole as it is made!! If you try it with a small drill bit you will get a bit of fuzz at each hole.

Chuck Burrows used to use a diamond shaped awl and he did all his by hand. Search the net for his name and a diamond shaped awl. A lot of his stuff has become hard to find since his death. But he put out a tutorial with pics!!
 

Bruce McLeish

Well-Known Member
Just thinking out loud here. Has anyone ever modified an arbor press to punch holes for stitching a sheath?

I got a very cheap awl when I bought my leather tools and it’s an absolute pain to use so I’m either going to buy a better awl or figure out a different solution. I’m going to try a drill press but I don’t love the idea of actually removing leather from the area.

The arbor press idea popped into my head was just curious if anyone else had modified one?
I read (somewhere) that using dulled needle in the drillpress works to quickly "
 

Daniel Macina

Well-Known Member
Well it sounds like I’m over complicating things as usual. I will try these other methods before sinking any money into an arbor press.
 

mike miller

KNIFE MAKER
Before I got a machine I used to cut the head off of a dry wall nail and use that on my drill press. Spin the nail and it will spread and burnish the leather hole as it goes through. Groove front to drill into and afterwards use your groover on backside to connect the holes to bury the thread.
 

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
I use Gruff’s method and it works like an absolute champ. I was using a drill bit before. Once he shared his method I sharpened the shank end of that same drill bit and I’ve been using it ever since.
 

bladegrinder

Well-Known Member
I'm the oddball. still old school punching every hole with an awl. they come out perfect for me. it takes longer but I'm happy with the end results.
 
I also use a drill press with a cutoff ice pick. I first lightly scribe the line for the stitching, then use a set of diamond chisels just to mark the holes and provide the proper spacing. After I "drill" the holes, I use a gouge on the front and back to provide recess for the stitching. Since you haven't removed leather, after stitching, you can tap the stitch line and the holes close up, with the stitching recessed.
 

BossDog

KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
Staff member
I couldn't understand his bloody accent on what he was using but it appeared to be a carbide drill bit. I use a drill press with a sharpened point also on high speed. The point will burnish the hole a bit which is nice and close back up nicely if you use the right size rod. There is a learning curve. Just because you plunge in on top right where you want it, the exit is something else you want to pay attention to. The exit on the back should be just as nice and even as the front.


This is an old video I did but it shows the idea. Even a nail of the apropriate thickness with the tip ground on a long triangular taper works wonderfully well.
 

Von Gruff

KNIFE MAKER
I couldn't understand his bloody accent on what he was using but it appeared to be a carbide drill bit.
You dont have the franchise on not understanding accents. Yours is probably unintellible to a majority of the world. I wont be posting any more videos in that case.
 

Doug Lester

Well-Known Member
I'm another who use a drill press. I just chuck up a drapery need and use the press to push the needle through the leather. No reason to run the drill. I use a jig with it clamped down to the table that is no more than a board with two holes in it. One is in the middle that I use when I can lay the leather flat as when I'm punching the holes to sew a belt loop on. It also has a second hole near the edge that I can use to punch the holes in in the stitching groove after the sheath is glued up and wouldn't lay flat on the middle hole.

Occasionally you will still have a hole go off, especially on the stitching groove on the edge. Get a leather carving spoon and smooth out the hole where it came out in the wrong place. Then use a awl to adjust the hole where you want it.

Doug
 

BossDog

KnifeDogs.com & USAknifemaker.com Owner
Staff member
You dont have the franchise on not understanding accents. Yours is probably unintellible to a majority of the world. I wont be posting any more videos in that case.
relax Von, just a bit of fun. A poor attempt at humor on my part.
There was one word garbled I couldn't make out even after I wound it back twice.
 

Gliden07

Well-Known Member
I bought a tiny Core bit from another forum member Old Knife. I haven't tried it yet though? I did manage to get my Chinese Cobbler manual sewing machine to finally work with some consistency! I don't know how good it will work on sheaths? If you Wet mold the foot may get in the way or really mark it up? It is gonna be GREAT for the Gun Belts I want to make though. I did a test piece and put the stich grove in on both sides and the thing was dead on in the grove!!.
 
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