Trouble lining up holes...


Well-Known Member
I am a rank amateur at best when it comes to leather work. I’m starting to get better. Straighter lines, smoother edges, tighter fit. All those things are going fairly well. Where I am getting my behind kicked is lining up the holes through the front, welt, and back.
My normal MO is to get the pieces glued together, evened up and the groove and mark the top. Then I go to the drill press, and here’s where things get country. I’ve used drill bits, reamer, awl punches, finishing nails. Coated with wax, uncoated. It doesn’t matter. I get a giant burr sticking out the back of the sheath, and when I go to try and groove the same line it all goes south. Connecting the dots isn’t leaving a very clean line.
Any tips or tricks for a guy ready to pull his hair out??
First a question to think about...

How big of hole are you using? The smaller the hole, the smaller the potential burr (problem)...

And a possible solution. A trick I use would be to stop just short of breaking through the leather on the back side. Make it dimple but not cut all the way through. You avoid the burr altogether. When you cut your groove on the back side, you open up the hole with no burr to worry about. It has helped me with this very same problem.

C Craft

Well-Known Member
Well I am no expert but here is how I get thru the process. I will lightly sand and then lightly burnish the edge, (once the sheath is finished I put the final burnish on it) once glued up! It gives a better edge for the guide on the groover to run. Connecting the dots is gonna be the hard way to do it!!.

Groove first, front and back. The edge guide on the groover will make sure you are the same distance from the edge on both sides. I use a small finish nail, I have clipped the head off of, and let it burnish the hole as it goes through. You may still get some burr in the groove on the back side but if you do it should be covered with the stitching. Try this on some scrap and see how it works for you and then make appropriate adjustments to your process!! If your speed is adjustable on your drill press try slowing the speed down some, so the finish nails is burnishing the hole as it makes it. Don't force the nail thru let it, (for lack of a better way of saying it) let it burn its way. The hole will come out burnished, just like running the edge on a rod to burnish it!!

Another thing that may help you get lined up front to the back is the laying an elevated block on the table surface of the drill press. The block allows the edge that you are drilling to be square to the bit/nail. If you don't do the block on the edge, the thicker part of the sheath where the knife is actually holstered up, will create a wedge and you are no longer square with your work surface to the bit/nail!! Hope this helps.

John Wilson

Well-Known Member
I had this exact problem. Recently, Von Gruff provided the solution which has worked like an absolute champ for me:

Take your drill bit and sharpen the shank end of it. Chuck it up backwards and drill with the sharpened shank end, using a wood backer so that the wood supports the leather but has a tiny hole for the drill bit to plunge down into as it clears the backside of the leather.

No more burr at all. Now I can groove the backside and the groove line runs down the holes like magic. It was an amazing revelation for me.
When you have your holes drilled use an over stitch wheel to go over the holes on the backside. It will push the bur back into the hole. I have also used a metal ruler to line the holes up so the Grover will cut a straight line in back. Go slow and take your time even if it is from hole to hole.