OUTDOORS

How To Make A Knife Sheath: Step-By-Step Tutorial for Beginners

Sheath for knife DIY
Dennis Owens
Written by Dennis Owens

When you are out there in the open, all you want is to have your set of tools in the right place. Sometimes, it is easier to keep the most important tools where they can be easily reached instead of keeping them stacked inside the bag.

And, as we know the knife is one of the most important tools whenever we are out on an adventurous trip, learning how to make a knife sheath might prove to be extremely advantageous for you. But how do you go about making a leather knife sheath? We have some ideas that you could use together to keep your knife safe and handy with you.

Before we go into the various steps involved in making a knife sheath, let us first have an idea of the different types of sheaths available. For instance:

  • You could make one that can be strapped to your neck or your leg.
  • Another variety also allows you to attach it to your belt.

See also: Best Boot Knife: When Danger Strikes, Get Ready to Strike Back

Also, there are different kinds of sheaths based on the material. For instance, leather is the most conventional choice. This is chosen mainly because of its aesthetics. But, if you are looking for a more durable option, Kydex, a thermoplastic material, could work to your advantage.

Knife and sheath

It can work well when exposed to many different environments as well. Nylon would be the cheaper option but it might get worn out easily. You could also turn towards plastic for a knife sheath, but that is only for one trip or a few hours.

Tutorial On How To Make A Leather Knife Sheath

Overall, leather provides the best performance as a knife sheath. So, below are the steps involved in making a leather knife sheath. The process is simple and easy to carry out.  Maintaining caution and being careful throughout could be an important and useful suggestion at this stage.

Materials required

The most important piece of information which you would require before setting out to do any DIY project is the set of materials required. If you are aware of all this information, you can go ahead and make your own product. Here are some of the items you should have on your checklist before making the knife sheath:

  • Leather: clean leather with medium weight around 5 to 6 ounces.
  • Pencil
  • Rotary cutter
  • Pieces of cardboard
  • Rowel wheel
  • Fid
  • Groover tool
  • Artificial thread
  • Needles designed for stitching leather
  • Water
  • Spring clips
  • Tape
  • Saran towel
  • Dishtowel

Once you have all these items well stocked up with you, you can proceed into making the product yourself.

Check the above YouTube video.

How To Make the Sheath

Step 1: Drawing the pattern

First and foremost, we are required to trace out the pattern of the knife such that we can get a sheath that will be able to fit in the item. For this, gently keep the knife in question on a piece of cardboard and using a pencil, trace out the shape of the product.

This is going to be the first skeletal design that is going to aid you in building the sheath. Make sure that the blade end of the knife is traced out properly and then you could draw as much of the handle as you would like.

Drawing the pattern

Remember it is natural to have it slightly crooked since one end of the leather material is going to be simply folded over in order to tightly shut the sheath. There also has to be a loop through which the belt should be going in to keep it held in position while you are out on your trips. Also, the loop and the folded end of the sheath have no particular measurements, but you would rather keep them big than small.

Step 2: Cutting out the traced out pattern

Once you have the pattern of the knife on the cardboard, properly traced out, the next step involves cutting the design in order to move ahead with making the sheath. For this, use a pair of scissors and slowly cut along the edges. Once you are done with it, make sure the knife fits and looks good within the sheath. If you are not happy with the design, you can take another piece of cardboard and repeat the procedure in order to give it a smooth look.

If the cut-out looks good, fold the cardboard piece along the rim in order to give it a nice and clean fold. Once you have the cut-out, you can then try to push the knife inside and check if it fits.

Remember: making it too tight might not be the best option here. Since the stitching work and all can take up some space, it is best to leave enough space inside to make up for discrepancies.

Next, make use of some adhesive tape and seal the ends together such that you get the real shape for keeping your knife in.

Step 3: Tracing out the leather

The next step involves tracing out the pattern of the knife sheath onto the leather piece. In this situation, it is imperative to remember that you should draw the sheath on the wrong side of the leather. This ensures that the right side of the leather piece is actually facing outwards.

Tracing out the leather

Once the shape looks good, you can cut out the leather with the help of a rotary cutter. However, ensure that you do not bring the cutter towards the ends of the material such that it can tamper the firmness of leather. This keeps the quality of the sheath intact such that you do not get a weak and fragile piece of leather.

Step 4: Making the sheath

The knife you actually want to use in the sheath should be tied up in plastic wrap so that the item remains safe and protected. It is necessary to be generous about the plastic wrap and use enough of it such that the sharp portion of the knife does not get exposed to the delicate pieces of leather.

Next, in a pan of hot water, place the sheath portion of the leather. You’ll see that it will gradually change color and the water seeping into the leather will give rise to a few bubbles inside the pan of water. This step doesn’t require too much of your time; a few minutes will do the job.

Making the sheath

The dishtowel can be brought to use now. Use it to wrap around the blade in order to get rid of the extra water and squeeze it dry. Once it has been dried, you can then go on to placing the item on the leather cut-out and fold the material such that it takes the shape of the knife and thus the sheath.

Making use of some spring clips to keep the knife in position would be a good idea here. You could also make use of your fingers to keep the shape.

Once all of this is done, simply keep it aside to get it dried and keep checking it every few minutes to ensure that the leather is taking up the shape that you initially wanted it to take. After having it left it in this position for several minutes, the leather now takes up the appropriate shape and a sheath husk is formed.

Step 5: Stitching the sheath

Most of your work for making the sheath for the knife has already been done. Now you are left with tidying up the loose ends and giving it a finishing touch.

For that, first of all, using an ordinary rotary cutter, trim the ends and smooth out the rough edges. There is one thing to be borne in mind here. A lot of extra pressure will be required to cut it with the cutter since now you are dealing with 2 thickened layers of leather. Also, make sure that you do not make the ends uneven because of all the extra pressure.

So you must be very careful in this part of the making process. Taking the slower route would be the best idea here, especially when you have to ensure that you do not cut yourself in the process.

Stitching the sheath

Now, with the help of a leather gauge, simply make a shallow groove and then start marking the stitches with the help of a rowel tool. Ideally, if you want a solid enough sheath, making 6 holes of grooves per inch of the material would be sufficient.

This part of the process can also be carried out freehand in case you do not have a rowel tool.  You could make use of a fid in order to get deeper and well-organized grooves in the tight leather material. But, precaution is must here and one must be very careful while handling all of these tools together.

Step 6: Sewing the belt loop

As you work on this leather knife sheath, you will realize that it is always best to make the belt loop before you sew the leather pieces. First and foremost, fold the belt flap to meet the sheath in front. This ensures that you are able to attach it to the belt. Make sure that you keep it the correct size such that it is neither too loose nor too tight; both the situations defeat the purpose of a belt loop.

Sewing the belt loop

Now, the next step would include making a few holes on the sheath top and the belt loop. This is usually done with a four-prong punch. However, if you do not have the necessary tools, you can simply bring in a toothpick and get the job done.

Any extra leather should be strictly cut off from the sheath in order to smoothen the look. Thereafter, with the help of your needle, make the stitches in and out of the leather such that at least 3 stitches are made visible and it has a strong and tight hold.

Step 7: Sewing the seam

This is the last step in the whole process of making a knife sheath. With the help of a thick needle and sinew, start sewing the ends of the leather pieces together. It is advisable to start from the bottom end of it and go up by going up and down the holes in the material.

Once you are done sewing along one side of the piece, you can then go on to the other end of the material such that it is sealed tight from both ends. This ensures that the stitches will not undo themselves or ravel when you are outdoors for your adventures.

Also, since very deep grooves have been made of the leather pieces, what happens is that the stitches rest in a position that is well inside the material. This is one way of ensuring that the thread does not come out.

Once this process is done, it is imperative to make sure that the knots are tight and you can trust them for long and rigorous uses. Once the knot is made carefully and sewn distinctly such that it is tightly held in position, cut out the extra lace to ensure that none of the excess thread sticks out from the leather material.

Step 8: Putting in the knife

After you have carried out all the seven steps given above, you can use you new knife sheath. Initially, it might be a little tight, but once you start using it, the leather and the stitches will loosen up and the sheath will be more comfortable to use.

Putting in the knife

Also, at first, you should be careful while inserting the knife into the sheath since it might still be fragile. We wouldn’t know the strength the product until we have used it. So, in order to test its strength, it is essential to use it slowly at first. Gradually, it should be loose enough to use it normally and then all that is left is to put it on your belt and sport it as your very own DIY project!

Summing Up

The more you go out on a regular basis for those long adventurous trips, the more you will understand how important the knife sheath is. It not only gives you a convenient bag to store your knife, but also allows the knife edge to remain protected such that it is not exposed to the outer particles.

What this does is protect the users and the neighbours from getting hurt and also keeps the edge sharp and functioning such that it can be used for a long time.

Knife sheath making

With the readily available materials and the easy steps given above, it becomes rather simple to make a knife sheath of your own such that you can carry it out every time you go outdoors! However, it is essential to be extra careful at this stage such that you do not end up hurting your skin. Also don’t forget to check out our experts review of the best hunting knife for your survival needs, which is a must-read.

If you want the next adventurous trip to be a compilation of a number of different DIY items, the knife sheath could be a good start!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dennis Owens
Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens is a graduate of National Camping School and REI Outdoor School. He knows everything about what gear to take with you, how to plan your trip to stay safe and what to do if you get lost in the mountains. We are lucky to have Dennis with us as he is a ‘walking encyclopedia’ when it comes to the wilderness.

  • Christopher Mills

    This is good if the knife has a good factory sheath that meets the requirements imposed on them. And for those who don’t have this is a perfect manual. It is important that each knife will only fit its own sheath, universal models do not exist: the knife won’t be fixed and can fall out or even harm a hunter.
    I guess I’ll try to do my own next weekend using this guide. Thank you and good luck to all.

    • Dennis Owens

      We appreciate your comment, Christopher. Yes, there is no universal model for a sheath because this varies per model and requirement, as well as style. You really have to consider the dimensions and the design you have in mind when making a knife sheath.

  • Steve Robson

    Leather sheath, in my opinion, is a simple and reliable type of sheath that has sufficient versatility. This, of course, not the only type of convenient and practical sheath. For example, you can also google how to make a traditional Finnish sheath, allowing more and tested with cold climate.
    A knife in a sheath of this type is held by friction on the skin, therefore it is required to manufacture the individual sheath for each knife. The quality of leather is very important.

    • Dennis Owens

      The classic leather sheath is a great choice. I also think this type of sheath never gets old, and always has this stylistic appeal. I agree with you in not choosing just any other leather because of durability and quality reasons.

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