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How to Make Tidy, Slick Holes for Sheath Stitching?

Discussion in 'Sheaths & Such' started by The Mighty Ginsu, Jul 13, 2019.

  1. The Mighty Ginsu

    The Mighty Ginsu

    196
    Aug 11, 2016
    Making leather sheaths has turned out to be pretty easy, so I plan to continue to do it. I have questions, however.

    I make sheaths with 7-8-ounce leather. I use punches with multiple diamond-shaped tines to make the holes first. I am finding the friction between the thread or awl and the leather to be a pain in the butt. I have to push very hard, and it causes problems. It's really bad when I'm stitching three layers.

    Am I better off using the drill press? I saw someone on Youtube saying the results would look crappy because presses tear up leather. I have a 25000-RPM Dumore drill press. Maybe it wouldn't rip the leather up the way slower ones do. I could try making the holes with a punch, which is fast, and then opening them a little with the drill press.

    Another question. I'm using something called "artificial sinew" because I saw other people using it. Is there a better choice? It's like greasy dental floss, and my guess is that it's made from nylon, because you can fuse it with a lighter.
     
  2. bike4fun919

    bike4fun919

    423
    May 5, 2014
    I'm a novice leather sheath maker but I use the drill press on occasion. It is better not to use a twist drill bit as it will tear up leather if not careful. which is from my experience. I use a small finishing nail chucked into the drill press. This works really well when you have two or three layers of leather to punch through.
    To me it's the same as using an awl but you have the mechanical advantage of the drill press. This is just my experience, others may do something differently.
    I've used artificial sinew and it worked fine however, I prefer the waxed string (I get from Tandy's leather).
     
  3. Wowbagger

    Wowbagger Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 20, 2015
    Round tines ?
    [​IMG]
    Larger Tines ?
    Candle wax on the thread and needle rather than Bee's wax ?
     
    John F. likes this.
  4. effenoam

    effenoam Gold Member Gold Member

    142
    Mar 19, 2013
    I use a 1/16 inch drill bit in a hand held drill.....
     
  5. Wowbagger

    Wowbagger Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 20, 2015
    Speaking of hand drill I use these bits when I don't want the drill bit to screw it's self in which twist drills would twist up the leather more.
    [​IMG]

    and use a push drill like this
    It spirals the bit when you push down.
    [​IMG]

    The nail in the drill press sounds like a good time though because it would burnish the leather.
    Maybe lube the nail with candle wax every couple of holes.
     
  6. Bigfattyt

    Bigfattyt Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 23, 2007
    I use a round awl, not my diamond or square punches.

    I have punches with 4 tines, but never use them because the holes are not near as clean as a round hole.

    I also have diamond awls, but again, never use them because my polished sharp round awl makes cleaner holes.

    I hand punch and hand stitch. My next holster, I plan on using my new drill press, with a round awl chucked up. Should speed up the process a bit.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2019
  7. Hengelo_77

    Hengelo_77 Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 2, 2006
    Go one layer at the time, making your holes.
    Cut the holes, glue the weld, punch again trough each hole, repeat as aften as needed. More work, better result
     
  8. The Mighty Ginsu

    The Mighty Ginsu

    196
    Aug 11, 2016
    Sounds like I should punch the holes and then open them with the drill press. It would be a nightmare trying to get perfect 4mm spacing without the punch.
     
  9. Hengelo_77

    Hengelo_77 Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 2, 2006
    no drill press, a drill removes leather, an awl cuts it and pushes it aside. It will press back on the thread making the stiching stronger.
    I use a ruler and a pencil to mark where I want to have holes. It also leaves you more flexible on where you have your holes if you need to smuggle away half a stich and you can decide exactly where your stiching starts and ends.
    Good leatherwork takes time
     
  10. The Mighty Ginsu

    The Mighty Ginsu

    196
    Aug 11, 2016
    I have already tried punching the leather twice, and it doesn't actually make the stitching easier. The leather closes up again.
     
  11. Hengelo_77

    Hengelo_77 Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 2, 2006
    I always pull the needle trough with a pliers
     
    duramax likes this.
  12. rtmind

    rtmind

    112
    Mar 8, 2013
    I first use my diamond multi prong punches to set my holes in the top layer, then finish with a round awl in my drill press. This gives me the good looking angled holes and if I have too thick of material, the round punch finishes for me. If I want it to really look good, I will go over the back with the diamond awl just before stitching.
     
  13. fergy

    fergy Gold Member Gold Member

    15
    Jun 17, 2019
    Lots of ideas and no wrong answers. I've had problems especially with anything but a flat piece or two flat pieces of leather drilling with my drill press getting the holes and stitching to be straight and uniform especially on the back of the item being drilled. It might be my drill press having some slop in the bearings or something cause my holes never line up on the back. I've always used a stitch groover and the spiked wheel to roll in the groove to mark my stitch holes and used 1/16" bit or a finishing nail to do most of my leather work until the last 6 months when I started punching holes with a diamond punch set and hand stitching with an awl. I have always used pliers to pull the needles. A few months ago I started wearing rubber nitrile gloves to give a better grip on the needles and it works pretty good, much quicker than having to fumble with pliers and I bought a cheapo stitching pony off Amazon that, after gluing some leather on the jaws, works really well as a third hand. My stitching has straightened out in an amazing way front and back and looks so much better.

    In something extra thick, multi layered, I agree that punching the holes, gluing next layer and using the holes in the previous layer as your pilot holes to punch the next layer is the way to go. Your mileage may vary!
     
  14. ty_higg

    ty_higg KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 16, 2011
    I use a drill press for my sheaths but I don't use drill bits. I use a larger sized needle than what I hand stitch with to essentially make a big ole Awl. I haven't had any problems with my leather getting tore up doing it this way. I'll also run the needle into beeswax to help it pass through the leather and give the inside of the holes some wax, and I use a balsa wood chunk behind the sheath. I've noticed its easier pulling a needle through after waxing it before punching.

    For the thread I use tiger thread now but started with sinew. For hand stitching the Tiger Thread is my absolute favorite it doesn't tangle and lays flat with a lot of colors for the customer to choose from.
     
    jorasco312 likes this.
  15. The Mighty Ginsu

    The Mighty Ginsu

    196
    Aug 11, 2016
    That sounds like a good way to go. I was considering putting a fat needle in the drill press. What size thread do you use?
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2019
  16. fergy

    fergy Gold Member Gold Member

    15
    Jun 17, 2019
    I'm going to have to try something like that. I guess a finish nail polished up with a good sharp point might mimic that fat needle. Obviously on a wedge or other irregular shaped piece, keeping the angle the same is my problem. Practice and planning.
     
  17. The Mighty Ginsu

    The Mighty Ginsu

    196
    Aug 11, 2016
    Started working on a sheath for a Benchmade Bushcrafter today, and I got fingernail marks on it. Some Youtube guy has a video showing how to use a bone folder to remove the marks. One more thing to order from Amazon.
     
  18. Hengelo_77

    Hengelo_77 Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 2, 2006
    You can use the confex side of a teaspoon untull you have a folder
     
  19. ty_higg

    ty_higg KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Dec 16, 2011
    I use 1.0 mm Tiger Thread for sheaths and I'm usually working with 7-9 oz leather

    I struggled a lot at the begging keeping the sheath flat and pretty much all of my holes were coming out crooked on the back side. But after a lot of trial and error I've got it down pretty good now and only takes me a minute or two.
     
  20. fergy

    fergy Gold Member Gold Member

    15
    Jun 17, 2019
    I will be practicing on some scrap pieces.
     

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