The SheathNess Monster (pic heavy)This is a very long account of my afternoon. A while ago I modded some Old Hickory Skinners into something a bit more NessmukĖlike, and never got round to sheathing them. Well today was the day. While I was at it I thought Iíd photograph every step.
This is not a tutorial by a leatherworker Ėthis is more an encouragement along the lines of ďIf I can do it, so can you!Ē
Two apologies up front ĖIím an untidy worker and Iím a lousy photographer, but Iíve tried to show the design process and construction of an ambidextrous cross-draw sheath for this little knife. At the start I really didnít know the detail of the sheath I was going to make for this oddly shaped blade.
I started with a blank sheet of paper (literally) and ended up with the useable sheath.
Hereís the knife: On a blank sheet of paper like I said.
First step was to draw round the knife
Now to think about the shape of the sheath. The hump of the Nessie has to be able to get all the way down the sheath, so defines the minimum width.
And Iíll need a weldt in front of the cutting edge and the point, The spine width line gives a curve, but itís close enough to a straight line to let me use a folded piece of leather rather than a stitched-all-round construction. Iíve also checked that the balance poinit of the knife will hold it in the sheath.
Design choice now for the length of the sheath. Itís a trade off between security and accessibility.
Middle option I think. While thinking this through I realised the weight of the sheath itself would help hold everything the right way up.
Now to choose the angle I want the sheath to lie at. Horizontal would be attractive, but Iím not going to have any restraint over and above the push-fit, so Iíll angle the sheath a little. Ten minutes moving a ruler around on the sketch, gave me this:
So a loop of leather will get stitched on to give me that configuration.
I decided the right hand side (on sketch) of the loop should be ďhorizontalĒ in the real world. It looks right and it means the sheath opening is presented clear of the belt loop to avoid mistakes re-sheathing. I can also cut belt slots for a conventional vertical carry if I want to, and the loop will look reasonable.
So much for design. Now Iíve traced and cut out the main sheath shape in paper and test wrap it round the knife
And transfer the pattern to leather. Iím using 3mm German Half-tanned (veg) I bought from Brisa a while ago. Iíve cut a groove down the inside of the fold line with the grooving tool you can see in the pic.
In this shot Iíve folded the leather (after running warm water down the fold line and Ėwhich made all the ink run Ėbut no worries as this is on the inside of the sheath, on which the eye of man will never set foot). Iím also laying out the weldt pieces Ėquite coarsely cut at this stage as everything gets neatened up at the very end on a sander. Slightly oversize is the order of the day at this stage.
The handle width (side to side) is such that I think I need an extra weldt piece at the handle end. Iíve skived this into a wedge shape to smoothly transition when itís glued in place. Skiving leather (reducing its thickness) is one of these things thatís much easier than it should be: just go for it!
I kid you not, I found a 20 year old tube of Woolworths Polyurethane glue when I was rummaging around looking for something to tack all the bits in place before stitching!
Glued shut (the dark stain is just water from getting a good fold on the spine of the sheath) the next job is to run a grooving tool round the stitch line. This isnít strictly necessary, but I like the way the stitches disappear into the groove and I think it offers some protection against abrasion. Iíve only done one side just now ĖIíll wait until Iíve made all the holes through before I groove the back. If I get some misaligned holes some judicious grooving can mask the errors. If I groove the other side first it highlights them.
Then I mark the position for the stitch holes. Iíve used a stitchwheel, some folk go freehand, others use pricking irons. This is 6 holes per inch ( I think! Itís just the biggest I have). The main advantage of the stitchwheel for this design is that I know the holes in two separate pieces of leather -the sheath proper and the belt loop -will line up when I stitch them together.
Iím still trying to decide the stitching sequence for the sheath and the belt loop, so meantime Iíll cut out and prep the belt loop. First make the paper pattern from the sketch:
Check the paper pattern makes sense
Cut out the leather version
Grooves for folding as it will be a tight curve and I donít want an ugly crease
Right, thatís the belt loop cut, checked, grooved, marked and punched. I used a bradawl and a pin-vice with a 1.5mm drill bit. Keeping the holes vertical through 4 thicknesses of 3mm leather was tough. I must get a decent pillar drill Ėand a workbench bigger than 7Ē square
I realised in time that I wouldnít be able to wet form or burnish the sheath under the belt loop if I sewed them all up in a oner, so Iíve done that now. My burnishing tool is the modded end of the Opinel that sneaked into an earlier photo.
Iíve also died the leather of the sheath (quick and dirty with dark tan shoe polish), really just so the bits under the belt loop have some cover. Iíll go over this quite a bit in the next few days but thisíll do for now. Here Iím stitching along the weldt and stitching in the belt loop as I go. Saddle stitch with two needles. Iíll go up and down the belt loop twice Ėsince there are 6 thickness of leather there!
The stitching is pretty straightforward, Tiffers has a tutorial in the Leatherwork forum if your new to it.
And you can even laugh when SWMBO says something about ďThe days before BBĒ.
Right, functionally finished Ėhereís a test fit to see how it sits on the belt. Since itís ambidextrous and a cross-draw sheath, in homage to Rapidboy Iím wearing it on the wrong side in this photoÖand getting polish stains on tí T-shirtÖ
SoÖFrom blank paper to design sketch to all stitched up was about 4 hours.
Iíve still to sand the edges flat, round the corners and properly wax finish it. The only deviation from the design sketch was the squared off top of the sheath, which suited the weldt construction better.
I kind of like the distressed look the rough shoe polish has given it, it suits the Nessie and has a very period feelÖjust wonder if I could get away with inscribing ď1910Ē on it.
This morning I found this old thing, looks like it was my grandfathers...but you can see it better in the sunlight.
Before I give it a final buff and sand all the seams (or will I? ), here's two shots that show construction detail that might not have come across in the first posts....
From the top end, so you can see the shape adopted to clear the handle, and the rollover belt loop:
And the underside, below the belt loop
One advantage of making the sheath ambidextrous is that even for a purely right handed cross-draw, a small-of-your-back position and left hip position require opposite-handed sheaths. With this loop your belt can go either side.
Another observation I didn't write down at the time was that if there's any doubt about the strength of the stitching for the belt loop to the weldt seam, two rivets would look quite natural there and remove any doubt.
Thanks for reading, Folks
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