Sheathmaking

LEATHER

Here are some examples of leather sheaths I have made. All my sheaths are constructed of vegetable tanned 8-9 oz cow hide I purchase from a local tannery, saddle-stitched by hand with 5 and 7 cord linen thread and treated with a warm beeswax and neatsfoot oil formula.

For more details on how I make a leather sheaths, read my leather sheathmaking tutorial.

(to see a larger image, click on the picture)

This is a standard slab sheath I constructed for a large bowie I made. This is an older sheath I made from chrome tanned hide which I don’t use anymore. Chrome tanned leather is harder to decorate and wet form, plus I like the lighter color that the vegie tanned leather turns to when I oil it. I designed and made the tool I used to make the pattern in the center of the front of the sheath. This sheath features a brass stud for the keeper strap instead of a snap. It is a heavy sheath for a heavy knife.
This is a typical pouch sheath I made for a large drop point knife I made. I tend to keep my sheaths uncomplicated with only a little tooling for decoration. Beauty in simplicity.
Another pouch sheath, slightly different for a smaller integral-guard knife I made.
This is a sheath I designed for the ulus I make. I had a lot of fun figuring this one out and I think the design is a sound, and attractive, one. This particular sheath has no belt loop, but it would not be hard to add one.
This was a prototype I made along the lines of a Randall sheath, but with a short ceramic rod instead of a stone. This one was made to fit a Cold Steel Bushman (it also fits my modified Ka-bar or “Kar-Bar” quite well). It uses a section of 550 paracord as the keeper. I am not a big fan of keeper straps (like I have on the big bowie sheath above), as they often get cut off and can be hard to replace, but some knives really need them, mainly those with double guards. If I had to have a keeper strap I would use this design, as it is easy to replace when I gets cut.
Here is a custom sheath for an older Al Mar SOG style bowie. I patterned it after the sheaths that come with Randall knives, per the customer request.
This is one of my prototypes for a crossdraw sheath. I need to get back to work on the design for one; it is a very handy way to carry a fixed blade, especially if you are in and out of a vehicle and don’t enjoy replacing your seat upholstery every couple of weeks.

THERMOPLASTIC

I was slow to embrace thermoplastic as a sheath material.  Commonly referred to by the trade name Kydex, this material had all the appeal to me of, well, plastic.  But after I tried it on a knife I carried for almost three years in the field I found it did have some very tolerable values.  It is fairly easy to work with, is almost indestructible and generally makes a very secure/safe sheath.

The other nice thing about it is that positive retention can be easily built into a sheath eliminating the need for any keeper straps.

I now feel it is the perfect sheath material for tools or situations that include a lot of moisture or rough use.  It just takes a beating and keeps going.  It is kind of the micarta of sheath materials.

The one downside, since it is rather hard, is it often can facilitate scratches in the blade of a knife.  The plastic often rubs against the blade, at least somewhere.  So any dust or grit that gets trapped between the sheath material and the knife will abrade both to some extent.  For this reason I recommend thermoplastic sheaths only for working tools, ones you don’t mind a few scratches on anyway.  I will say that I have seen thermoplastic sheaths lined with leather or nylon fabric to cushion the contact with the knife, but I have not tried it myself.

Here are some examples of sheaths I have made using Kydex. All of my sheaths are constructed from 0.08 Kydex with ¼” rivets.

Check out my tutorial on constructing a Kydex Sheath.

(to see a larger image, click on the picture)