Hardening Leather?

Joined
Apr 7, 2020
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Hey y’all! Hope your surviving quarantine all right. Anyways, I’m intent on making a sheath for a little karambit I made, So to help with retention, I was wondering if any of y’all know how to harden leather? Sorta like leather armor.
Any help would be greatly appreciated!
 
Joined
Dec 8, 2006
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Try searching on how to make leather armor. I think it involves boiling the leather, but it has been so long since I tried it that I don't remember the process. However, I think it was relatively easy to find the information. If I remember correctly, the process shrinks the leather, so getting the sheath the right size might be an interesting challenge.

You could consider doing leather over kydex as an alternative. That would make it easier to maintain the proper fit and retention when you harden the leather.
 
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Jun 29, 1999
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I treat all my leather sheaths with SnowSeal. It stiffens the leather while allowing some flexibility. Not sure if that's what you're looking for though -- it's not armor. Pirates in Henry Morgan's day would soak rawhide to make hard chest protective garments that could stop or at least soften the impact of some projectiles such as arrows or even edged weapons. This technique was likely used in many times and places.
 

duramax

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Hey y’all! Hope your surviving quarantine all right. Anyways, I’m intent on making a sheath for a little karambit I made, So to help with retention, I was wondering if any of y’all know how to harden leather? Sorta like leather armor.
Any help would be greatly appreciated!

I’m just curious , your asking about hardening leather for added retention ?
Like a molded sheath ?
 

duramax

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Pretty much, but I think hardening it might make to retention last longer

Ok , yeah hardening the leather will help that. Check out weaver leather vids. Weaver I believe sells a leather firmer product.
You can get good results with hot water, NOT boiling. Water hot enough that you’d wet your hand but not leave it there. Dunk the leather, I do like a 30 sec count. Then I mold the leather. If you can place it out in the sun to dry. This can all also very by the leather being used. Also note that as the leather drys during molding. If it becomes to dry the leather will start to burnish. So if your work time gets to long you may need to dampen the leather.

Hope this helps :)
 
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Years ago the late Custom Knife Maker, Wayne Goddard talked about taking about 65-70% beeswax combined with needs-foot oil, as a mixture he used on sheaths. I finally found enough beeswax at all place a taxidermist and tried it. Heated up the mixture in a double boiler type arrangement and immersed the sheath for a few minutes, then wiped of the excess, and let it dry. The sheath is hanging right next to me, is quite hard, and sheds water like off a ducks back. I would also think it needs to be a relatively thick piece of leather, as was the sheath I did. John
 

Horsewright

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Depending on the shape of your knife you will get more retention from how the welt is built than from the firmness of the leather. My sheaths come out pretty darn firm but its the welt shape that provides the retention.
 

duramax

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Horsewright has a good point. On knives where it will work, I add a loveless “cam lock” to my welts. On knives that it won’t do, I’ll adjust my welt to add tension to a small area.
 
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