Leather Sheaths

Discussion in 'Shop Talk - BladeSmith Questions and Answers' started by AustinS1234, May 13, 2020.

  1. AustinS1234

    AustinS1234

    98
    Jun 8, 2018
    I have been trying for a while to make my second leather sheath and I cant seem to get the hang of pricking the holes and stitching. I should start off by saying that all my leather working tools are from amazon and to my knowledge aren't the best but probably aren't the worst. My question is how do I create the holes with my pricking iron through 3 pieces of 4mm thick leather. I have tried pricking them in 1 layer at a time and matching the layers then gluing and stitching. I have tried pricking through the top layer and the welt at the same time then transferring these marks to the bottom layer. Any combination of these my pricking iron gets aggressively stuck in the leather even if I don't go the whole way through and bottom the stitching iron out. Nothing seems to work come stitching time. I need to use pliers to pull the needle out and an awl to enlarge the holes. The last sheath I attempted took me 4 hours to stitch... Someone please send help!
     
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  2. Robert Erickson

    Robert Erickson KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 2, 2014
    After sizing, cutting and gluing the sheath together I use a drill press to make the holes. I think it's a 1/16" bit.
     
  3. Hengelo_77

    Hengelo_77 Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 2, 2006
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  4. Cushing H.

    Cushing H. Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 3, 2019
    from one of the earlier threads here also, I picked up the recommendation of using a small nail in the bit of the drill press. it goes through the leather cleanly without leaving too large a hole.

    I also use pliers to pull the needle through the hole
     
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  5. AustinS1234

    AustinS1234

    98
    Jun 8, 2018
    Is there a technique to have the needle go though the leather without the use of pliers? Or due to the thickness of knife sheaths is this unavoidable?
     
  6. 12345678910

    12345678910

    Jul 13, 2009
    Try putting a needle in a drill press and using the running drill press to pierce all the holes first like that.
    Layers all glued together first.

    Try all of Paul Long's videos they are well well worth the cost
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2020
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  7. AustinS1234

    AustinS1234

    98
    Jun 8, 2018
    That is an interesting idea! I am going to try that when my leather order gets in.
     
  8. Natlek

    Natlek

    Jun 9, 2015
    Yes , there is...........I drill holes with 2mm dril bit :)
     
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  9. weo

    weo KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Sep 21, 2014
    This is what I do, too.

    You might need to get a stitching spacer to make sure the spaces are equal
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2020
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  10. Richard338

    Richard338 Gold Member Gold Member

    May 3, 2005
    I skip the videos and just mail the knife to Paul Long... perfect sheath every time.
     
  11. Cushing H.

    Cushing H. Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 3, 2019
    That is what I do :)

    horsewright (my wizard-mentor :). ) also mentioned using a fork to define the spacing.

    god .. I hope some day I am able to show up at that mans ranch with a couple bottles of bourbon in tow. I owe him that much for the experience and wisdom.
     
  12. Randydb

    Randydb Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 27, 2014
    I can't afford enough bourbon to pay off all the people I owe here!

    A lot of (most?) leather workers will tell you not to drill holes for a number of reasons. For a long time I drilled 1/16th" holes (I'm not a leather worker). Now I put a finishing nail in my drill press and just use it to press holes.
     
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  13. Cushing H.

    Cushing H. Gold Member Gold Member

    Jun 3, 2019
    I just went right to the nail. What does a drill do that is not-good?
     
  14. Randydb

    Randydb Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 27, 2014
    Basic idea of pressing a hole is that all of the leather is still there and it closes up and sort of grabs on the thread and helps hold things the most (remember I am not a leatherworker and this is a layman's interpretation of my readings...). When you drill you remove material and things can't close up as tight around the thread and it isn't as good a quality hold.
    I've read about 8-10 threads/discussions about this and there is some pretty heated views on all of it. Some people who drill holes make some amazing sheaths/leatherwork too and seem to have been doing it for a long time. But overall I would say the vast majority of the serious leatherwork people seem to punch rather than drill. Of course we are talking about people who hand stitch, not machine stitching.
     
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  15. Willie71

    Willie71 Warren J. Krywko. Part Time Knifemaker Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 23, 2013
    If you use a needle or nail, the hole burnishes, rather than tearing the leather. Much cleaner holes. I started with a twist drill, but someone years ago suggested the needle/nail, and it works quite well. I don’t just press the holes, the drill press is spinning as I press it through.
     
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  16. Hengelo_77

    Hengelo_77 Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 2, 2006
    If you need pliers to pull a needle trough it means the leather presses on the thread and holds it. If the thread tears or so the sheath will still hold the knife.
    I(like many others) actualy ty every stitch for more pressure.
    I've cut old sheats in two, it stays in shape, the thread doesn't go lose.
     
  17. Robert Erickson

    Robert Erickson KnifeMaker / Craftsman / Service Provider Knifemaker / Craftsman / Service Provider

    Feb 2, 2014
    Thanks guys for the nail suggestion, it makes good sense. I'll have to try that next time!
     
  18. Randydb

    Randydb Basic Member Basic Member

    Sep 27, 2014
    "Ty" as in a knot? I double stitch...needle through hole from both directions. What do you mean by tying every stitch? What is that called and do you have a few suggestions of websites where I can see it?

    Process/effort wise using a nail is as easy and quick as using the drill bit in the end and according to the experts it is a better method for setting up to stitch.
     
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  19. Hengelo_77

    Hengelo_77 Basic Member Basic Member

    Mar 2, 2006
    Hard to explain in words:
    Have one needle to the left, one to the right.
    Take the right needle, go trough the leather to the left. Don't pull tight, leave a loop.
    Take the other needle, go trough the leathet to the right. Now go trough the loop with the needle. I always go trough the loop twice.
    Now pull both threads.
    It gives more volume and the leather presses tight on the threat.
    I always take in threat 6 times the distance I want to sew plus 8" for handeling.
     
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  20. Ray van Vuuren

    Ray van Vuuren

    18
    Apr 16, 2020
    My 2cents I don't have one of those fancy cowboy heel tools to make my hole spacing even so I use a kitchen fork and press indents placing the first prong into the spot where the last prong left it's indentation and repeat. I will admit I also drill with a small drill bit.
     
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