WIP - Sheath for Seionage

tedinatl

Well-Known Member
Let me start this thread by stating that I am still very new at making sheaths (it will become VERY apparent throughout this WIP). So I think instead of this as an opportunity for people to critique/comment and help improve my process for making a sheath, than for me to try and tech anyone anything. This is by no means the only or necessarily the correct way to make a simple sheath, but it's how I figured it out for myself. YMMV.

Ok, now that we have the expectation setting out of the way, let me set some context around this sheath, and the WIP.

Seionage recently completed his first knife, a true beauty, but does not have any experience nor the tools to make a sheath. So I volunteered to make him one. He then took the liberty of asking me to do this as a WIP - no problem. You can read all about how he made it here:
http://KnifeDogs.com/showthread.php?13956-WIP-1st-knife-from-scratch

And here is a pic of the knife he made:

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One more thing to level set before we dive in - the sheath is already done. I took a lot of pics as I went along, but wanted to complete it while I had momentum, and then do this WIP afterwards.

So, without any further ado, lets get started.
 

tedinatl

Well-Known Member
Seionage sent me a pretty accurate template of the knife made from wood. We both thought it was a good idea to avoid trusting his knife to USPS if we didn't need to.

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I start by making a cardboard template of the sheath. First, I trace the knife profile onto cardboard:

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Next, draw the profile of the sheath:

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I'll spare you the boring details of tracing the profile to the other side of the cardboard and cutting it out (yes, I actually do have picture of this :) ). But you basically end up with this:

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Next, trace the profile onto the leather pice, and cut it out:

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I try to leave enough room so that I can cut the welt out of the cutoff of the sheath leather (less cutting and less waste :) - win-win). I then trace onto the leather, and cut out the welt:

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tedinatl

Well-Known Member
Seionage sent me a few samples of sheaths that he liked, and we agreed to a basket-weave stamping pattern on it. So, lets get stamping!

Make sure the leather is damp, and stays damp throughout the stamping process - it's much easier, and leaves much better impressions, IMHO.:

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Start by tracing out the border and the centerline on the leather:

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I then make very light impressions with my border stamping tool to give me a starting point for the basket weave stamp. I wanted to do a diagonal weave patter, and the easiest way for me to make sure I keep a straight line when stamping is to start on the centerline, and work my way down to either edge. To get the diagonal pattern, I put the one corner of the stamp on the line, and the opposite corner on the other end (I can;t really explain it - look at the pic):

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The end of the stamp then goes next to the end of the previous impression, and so on and so forth. Row 1 complete:

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Row 2 started, you can see the weaving pattern starting to emerge:

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Row 2 complete:

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Row 3 complete:

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More to follow...
 

tedinatl

Well-Known Member
It starts getting a little tricky when you get to the edges . You have to angle the stamp so that you don't visibly stamp over the border:

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One half complete:

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Remember to keep the leather damp while you stamp! Other half complete:

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Edges stamped:

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I then wet the fold line for the belt loop, and fold it over. My 20lb granite block is a nice weight to make sure it gets squished nice and flat! I could probably have waited until after I stained the leather, but I got new stain, and I didn't know how the water was going to affect it - turns out it doesn't :) I also cut the line for the welt stitching with my stitching groover. I also trace this on the welt to make sure the spacing is the same.

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Next up - mark where the stitching holes will be. I start at a point where I know the stitching needs to go through (the center of the v in this case), and use my 4-prong stitching chisel to determine the spacing for the stitching:

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Next, I stamp the stitching holes. I know there are people who say that you should only stamp it after everything is glued up, but I don't like doing this for two reasons. 1 - It's hard work. 2 - It makes too much noise (I don't like working in my cold basement workshop if I can help it, and I have a 2 year old and an 8 week old, so I cant make too much noise).

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I also stamp the holes in the welt, by using the sheath holes as a template:

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tedinatl

Well-Known Member
Next, I stamp the holes in the belt loop, but first marking the location of the holes with the stitching groover, and then stamping them with the chisel.

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Transfer the holes to the sheath, and we're ready for stain:

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This was the first time I've used this stain, and I am VERY impressed. Goes on very easily, penetrates deep, and dries quickly. There's also almost no streaking, and you can't see any streaking after the second coat! I'll be using this stuff again:

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After three or so coats of stain, I stitched up the belt loop. I use the stitching method where you basically weave the thread through the stitching holes from both sides, which in essence means that you have two pieces of thread holding everything together, in stead of just one. I've been known to occasionally over-engineer things, so I double stitch all my stitches as well (i.e. I go around twice, which means I have 4 strands holding everything together). More on this a little later:

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Next up, gluing in the welt. I use Weldwood Contact glue. It's very easy to use (if you're careful) - spread it on both contact surfaces, wait at least 10 minutes, and stick them together - et voila! Extremely strong bond, even on leather. I use a few needles to make sure I have all the holes lined up correctly:

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After the glue-up:

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Next up - staining the inside of the sheath - I'm not a very big fan of sheaths that are unstained on the inside - it looks like a mass-produced product then to me. I do make sure that I don't get any stain where the glue for the welt needs to go. I'm not sure if it will compromise the integrity of the glue (it shouldn't, but I don't want to take any chances):

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tedinatl

Well-Known Member
Making sure everything lines up before I start glueing and stitching (yes, I know I use needles a lot):

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Glue applied - no turning back now:

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Have I mentioned that I use needles a lot during this phase of the build? :) I like to make sure everything is lined up correctly. The contact glue helps to keep the needles in while I start stitching. I want to end up with the stitching at the hilt, and I like to double-stitch (Actually quadruple stitch), so I'll end up here again.

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Making progress:

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One way complete - this was the easy part. Doubling back is the hard part, and I use a pair of needle-nose pliers to help me thread the cord back to the starting point:

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Back at the starting point! It took at least twice as long to come back with the stitching than going out... All done now!

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And this is the reason why you need lots of needles!

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Test fit with the knife template. It fits with a fair amount of effort, which is actually good, because as we all know leather stretches over time. I will also make everything wet so that I can form it around the template. I do this before I finish everything off, so that I ensure I get a consistent finish:

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Next up - cleaning up the welt, and finishing everything off:

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tedinatl

Well-Known Member
Now for cleaning up the welt. This is what the welt looks like after the stitching - nothing has been cleaned up yet.

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I turn the Craftsman 2 x 42" flat when I finish the welt. It makes it easier for me to get to the bottom wheel. With a fancy grinder, this would obviously not be required.

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I use a very worn out 180 grit belt to get everything flat:

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Close up:

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I then use a completely worn 400 grit belt to smooth everything down:

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I then use the edge beveler (read: utility knife) to trim off the edges. I try to get a uniform 45 degree angle that is about 1/16" wide on all the edges. It doesn't have to be perfect, because we'll smooth it all over in a few minutes.

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Next, I stain the welt and go over everything with an additional coat of stain:

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Close up:

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tedinatl

Well-Known Member
Almost time to wrap up this build! Only a few more steps - smooth over the edges and the welt and then apply the final finish!

I use gum tragacanth to smooth over the edges, as well as a small burnishing disc:

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I didn't take any pictures of actually burnishing the edges - nothing really to photograph. Its a very simple process - rub a small amount of gum tragacanth into the edge with your finger, wait about a minute, and then rub it briskly with the burnishing disc. Pretty quickly the edge becomes smooth and shiny - like the one below!

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I also use the gum tragacanth to smooth the leather on the belt loop.

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The edges are now all smoothed over, and I'm ready to apply the topcoat. There are a plethora of options for top coats. I personally like something waxy. Every article of leather that I own that might get exposed to water (hunting boots, etc) gets treated with this stuff. It's basically a beeswax and bear fat mix that I found on some obscure website a couple of years ago. I melt it first, and then rub it into the leather with a rag while it is still molten. It buffs up very nicely, doesn't soften the leather too much (I've been using this on my gun leather for a couple of years, and it's still very stiff), and does a great job of waterproofing. I'm sure acrylic resolene will probably do a better job of water proofing but I don't like using it too much - it feels a but plastic-ey to me.

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Finish applied (I'll apply one more coat tomorrow before shipping it to Seionage), and its all done!

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Any comments and critique are very welcomed. Please don't hold back. I'm a big boy and won't cry too much! I really want to learn and improve, so please comment.

Thanks for bearing with me through this WIP!
 
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Pieter

Well-Known Member
Wow Ted this is great thanks for posting this and just at the right time as I have to start making a couple of sheaths.
 
D

DC KNIVES

Guest
Looks like you did a pretty good job, not only with the sheath but with the WIP as well. I also have a pet peeve with makers that don't finish the inside of the sheath,but have to point out that even though you dyed the inside you didn't apply a finish coat on the inside which should be done.I would also suggest getting an edger for your edge corners instaed of a razor knife, it will improve the look and be more even.On your belt loop ,it looks a little long and I would suggest cutting a piece if scrap leather 2" wide to use for adjusting your loop length.Anything over , usually results in a sheath that moves around too much.For looks and strength I would round or taper your loop instead of squaring it off and a square stitch pattern weakens the loop at the top stitch line, better yet would be a round end and a "U" shaped stitch line.Dave
 

seionage

Well-Known Member
omg. I'm getting misty-eyed looking at this.

what a great WIP for sheaths. I'm going to try this for my next knife.

Can you post links to where you got the leather and tools from?

Thanks!
Dave
 

tedinatl

Well-Known Member
Hi Dave (Cole),

Thanks for your input. Some great points that you make. I already have an edge beveler on order. I was contemplating the finish on the inside, but didn't want to risk it transferring to the knife - I'll have to experiment with this a bit. Maybe use the acrylic resolene on the inside, and the other finish on the outside - IDK? The belt loop is a little long, but there was some method in my madness. I wanted to get the stitching in front of the knife's bolsters so that the wear is minimal on the stitching on the inside. In retrospect, though, I agree with you - it is maybe a tad too long. Interesting comments on the stitching pattern. I didn't realize it would weaken it there. The glue goes up higher than the stitches. Interesting.
 

tedinatl

Well-Known Member
seionage - you are more than welcome. I'm just glad you like the sheath! I'll drop it in the mail this evening on my way home from work.

Most of the tools I have I bought from either Tandy or Springfield leather. Springfield has better prices on leather than Tandy, so I don't buy any leather there anymore. They do have just about any conceivable tool for leather working, though so I get stuff from there if I can't find it anywhere else. Their sale prices on leather isn't too bad either. I'll post a short list of tools in a little while.
 
D

DC KNIVES

Guest
As far as finish on the inside, if your concerned about it getting on the outside at that point, just apply finish up say 2/3 rds of the way then apply the rest after the out side is done.The stitching pattern thing was taught to me many years ago by my mentor Sandy Morrissey.On stress areas like a belt loop,straight horizontal lines like that basically act like a perforated strip and the tear factor jumps way up.For protecting your stitching on the inside, either line the sheath, or get a grooving tool and groove the inside of the sheath to recess your thread.Dave
 

tedinatl

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the clarification, Dave. Point taken. I did groove the inside of the sheath before I stitched it, but I was still a little concerned about extended use wearing down the thread. The belt loop is only about 2 1/2" to 3" long, which is a little on the long side, but not overly.

going forward I am planning on using 4 oz leather, and doubling up on it so that I can have the smooth side of the leather on the inside and the outside. It makes for a better finish, IMO, and will also keep the stitching from rubbing against the handle. I'll keep the stitching vertical going forward, though.

Thanks again for the clarification!
 

wdtorque

Well-Known Member
Nice WIP. Dave made some good points that should only improve your considerable skills!
I really like the finish on the sheath.
Dozier
 

tedinatl

Well-Known Member
Thanks Dozier - I really appreciate any comments. As I stated in the beginning, I'm still very new at this and very keen to learn as much as I can from the seasoned dogs.
 

leatherman

Sheath Forum Moderator
To prove that the "Apple doesn't fall too far from the tree" I logged on to discover that Dave's advice mirrored my own advice over on BF pretty darn closely! :biggrin:

Guess you were a good teacher back then Dave! Between you, Sandy, and Gary I had an excellent pool of educators. Can you believe its been ten years plus already? Time flies.
 
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