[GUEST BLOG]: Recently a friend asked me to make a leather sheath for his Leatherman Charge TTI. He was looking for something that he could wear to give his Leatherman a little extra class. Having some previous leatherworking experience under my belt, I agreed to give it a try.
My main goals were to make something compact and low-profile. After considering the pros and cons of various designs, we decided on a wet-molded leather sheath, which would grip the contours of the tool, and allow it to be held securely in place without the need for a retaining strap. We also decided on using a metal belt clip, so that the holster could be put on without having to unbuckle the belt. I used vegetable-tanned cowhide leather, which molds nicely, and also responds well to tooling/stamping. While I was at it, I decided to also make a similar sheath for my LED Lenser F1R flashlight.
Here’s a summary of how I did it…
6 Oz vegetable-tanned cowhide
Thin pigskin leather (optional, for lining interior of sheath)
Metal belt clip
X-small double cap rivet
Braided, waxed, nylon thread
Stapler or thumb tacks
Edge beveler (optional, to tidy edges of leather)
Awl or thonging chisel
Vice (optional, to hold leather during stitching)
2 Harness needles
- Molding The Leather - I wrapped the tools in plastic wrap to protect them, since they were going to be used as the “mold” to form the leather around. Then I cut a couple oversized pieces of leather, soaked them in hot water for about a minute, and patted them down with a towel. I placed the leather over the tools on a piece of wood, and began working it around the edges. The leather wanted to pucker around the corners, so I cut slits to help it conform to the shape of the tools. A bone creaser and modelling tool helped shape the leather around the edges, and I used pins to hold leather in place while working other portions. I let the leather dry completely before moving on.
- Tooling – To prepare the leather for tooling, it had to be “cased”. I dampened the area with a sponge and waited a few minutes until the leather returned to it’s normal color. Then I used some stamping tools and a plastic hammer to tool a tree design into the leather.
- Dying/Antiquing – I cut a piece of leather to use for the back of the sheath, and trimmed the excess leather from the front piece. I applied a black dye to the tree, and then used a gel antique to cover the entire surface of both pieces.
- Belt Clip and Liner – I cut a slit in the back piece to allow the belt clip to be attached, using a single rivet. Then I used contact cement to glue a thin lining of pig skin, just to prevent the clip or rivet from scratching the tools.
- Bringing Things Together – Using contact cement around the edge, I glued the two pieces together and did a test fit of the tools, before trimming the excess leather from the back piece. I cleaned up the edges using 400 grit sandpaper, applied some gel antique, and hand-burnished by dampening the edges and rubbing them with a piece of denim.
- Stitching - I used a hammer and thonging chisel to punch holes through the leather. After that, I used two harness needles and some braided nylon thread to stitch the two halves together, using a saddle stitch.
- Finish - The last step was to apply a finish. I used a homemade beeswax mixture to finish the sheaths. I warmed the leather with a heat gun, and kept applying the wax until the leather would no longer absorb it. After a quick buff with a towel, the sheaths were finished!
Cam Bergerman is a craftsman who embraces the DIY ethic, to create items ranging from longbows to sea kayaks, using natural materials such as leather and wood whenever possible. To see more of his work or to contact him, check out his facebook page at www.facebook.com/CamsStuff, or on Instagram @cams_stuff