Just a little workshop update – in my free time I like to try and expand my skillset while making practical goods. In this case I spent several evenings prepping, carving, gluing, stitching, sanding, burnishing, and hot wax dipping this here leather sheath. The knife that it holds is called a Round Knife and is a more traditional style of knife used in leatherwork. It has quite the learning curve to use – mainly you need to learn how to properly sharpen its rounded edge. It had been sitting exposed on my workbench for some time and well being razor sharp – I was always hesitant to reach in that direction!
I decided to give a bit more of leather carving a go. This is a very simple design I came up with on the spot. A few errors here and there – but that’s how you learn! This sheath was built with 4 layers of leather – the front consists of the top piece that is carved from a 5/6 oz. hide. A lining glued to the back of it to cover the metal snaps from scratching the blade, about 3/4 oz. The welt then goes in between to help prevent the knife from cutting stitches. Then the back piece which is 8/9 oz. and contains the female part of the snaps. In the glue-up phase you want to spread thin and clamp as much as possible. Then let it dry a good 24 hours so it doesn’t tear open when you go to use the diamond awl.
Once fully glued up I held it in the stitching pony and used the diamond awl to punch the stitch holes. With this many layers of thick leather it is important to strop the heck out of the awl blade. You want the blade sliding fairly easily into the leather for smooth control and placement.
I chose a natural flax linen thread, and with any quality stitched item – I chose to hand wax the thread with my own recipe of beeswax and pine pitch. This helps lock the stitch in place and makes for an extra strong hold.
Stitching up the round knife sheath using the traditional saddle stitch is fairly easy at this point, but it can take a while. The thick layers of leather like to grab at the needle, so often I needed to use a pair of pliers to pull them through.
This side view shows the thin welt used in the middle. This piece protects all stitching from that razor sharp knife.
After everything was stitched up, I then sanded down the sides and burnished the edges. As a last step I hot wax dipped this sheath for maximum oil/wax penetration. Initially the leather will look fairly dark, but after a few days it will settle in and you will have one heck of a protected leather sheath. It’s an old-school method that should really be the only way to properly finish a leather sheath. No chemicals used after all!
I have one more sheath to build for another smaller round knife. I am just looking to find the time now as I have been spending some effort creating new items for the shop. Make sure to check out the shop home page where I list all the new designs that are now available.