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How To Make Leather Part Of Sami Sheath

Discussion in 'How I Made It: Tutorials' started by Roman, Aug 12, 2015.

  1. Roman

    Roman Active Member

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    I did post a tutorial on making Sami knife. But lately I was asked a lot of questions about making leather part of the sheath. Luckily enough I'm making one right now and here is how I do it.

    First of all make an antler or wooden part. "Ribs" don't need to be very high. Just a couple of mm.
    [​IMG]

    Than I make a paper mock-up leaving about 25 mm (1 inch) for the seam.
    [​IMG]

    Transfer it to the leather and cut it out. I'm going to make a "folded" top, so I leave about 30 mm extra on the top. At this step it's very important to make a nice straight cut at the top and bottom of this piece of leather.
    [​IMG]

    This is what it looks like after I mark where to thin and taper. Bottom part needs to be tapered a bit, sides need to thinned a bit, and the top need to be tapered to almost 0.
    [​IMG]

    I start with this tool and try to get as even surface as I can. But it's never even... I finish with 80 grit sandpaper on a block of wood.
    [​IMG]

    Here is bottom side ready.
    [​IMG]

    And top is ready too.
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    Then I get antler part ready for sewing. Leather will be dyed and I don't want the dye to leave stains on my antler...
    Front.
    [​IMG]
    Back.
    [​IMG]
     
  2. Roman

    Roman Active Member

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    Wow... Photos appear to be much bigger than I expected...

    Anyways, next I get my knife ready. It will be wrapped in wet leather, so I want to protect it from water. So I wrap it in several layers of cling film. I also want it to sit in the antler part nicely. Not tight, but it should not fall out if I turn it upside down. This is why I put a piece of masking tape around the blade near handle. It holds the knife inside.
    [​IMG]

    Almost forgot - while I'm wrapping stuff, my leather is soaking in slightly warm water. I usually soak it for about 30 minutes.
    [​IMG]

    Then I cut a piece of braided fishing line. I do about 6 lengths of the seam and a bit more. Then I install needles.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    I use two needles technique.
    [​IMG]

    Then I take leather, remove excess of water with a paper towel, fold the top inside, and install leather using small clamps or just a paper clips. I have put some electric tape on the lips of these paper clips because they tend to leave black marks on leather.
    At this step I carefully mark the corners where leather bends.
    [​IMG]

    Then I take clips off and use marks to draw straight lines. This is where a seam is going to be. This tool I made myself and it is extremely useful for making long grooves on the leather. Then I carefully measure the first holes at 3 mm from the end on both sides.
    [​IMG]

    And mark the rest using this tool. I use 6 holes per inch wheel. Count the holes when rolling this wheel! You don't want to end up with an extra hole on one side...
    [​IMG]

    I install the leather again using clamps, but this time I put a bit of Titebond II glue on the antler. Be careful not to get glue on the fron surface of the leather - it won't dye properly.
    I start sewing on the third hole from the end and go backwards for two steps, then I turn around and go up. This way I have double thread at the end. First needle goes from right to left, second needle goes other way...
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I make a knot on every stitch in the beginning and on every other stitch after that.
    [​IMG]

    At the end I pull the thread between the leather, make a tight knot, and hide the ends inside the seam.
    [​IMG]

    Leather surface gets a bit dry by this time, so I wet it with the sponge again and use my finger tips to remove all the marks and make it nice and smooth. This way leather preserves it's natural surface texture. On the "ribs" I use back side of my tool to make grooves look nice and even. I also punch a hole for the hanger at this step, and form and adjust the leather.
    [​IMG]

    Here is a result. Now it needs to dry for 3-5 days. I plan to do 3 days as I need to finish and send out this knife before I leave for Toronto next week.
    [​IMG]

    To be continued... ;)
     
  3. dancom

    dancom Dust Maker

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    This is awesome! I like the thread and stitching technique.
    Do you leave the knife in for 3-5 days or do you remove the knife and let the leather shrink to slightly smaller than the knife?

    I can't wait to catch the rest. Thanks for posting.

    Dan
     
  4. Roman

    Roman Active Member

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    Thanks Dan!

    The knife needs to be in for the whole time while it's drying. Leather must take a shape of the knife handle.
     
  5. Slannesh

    Slannesh Active Member

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    Thanks for this series, I'm working on my first hidden tang knife and want to do a similar sheath. I was hoping you had done some tutorial stuff and here it is!
     
  6. Roman

    Roman Active Member

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  7. Roman

    Roman Active Member

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    Yesterday and today I made some progress...

    Time to cut excess leather. I cut it with exacto knife and then sand the seam with Dremel, and then manually with 220 grit sandpaper.
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Add decoration. I prefer Scandinavian minimalism on leather. Mainly because I can't master anything more complex than a few lines... :)
    To do that I wet the leather with a sponge. Then I draw a line with my self-made tool. At first I barely touch the leather, so if line goes wrong it would be easy to erase. Next I press just a bit harder, then again harder and finally I form a groove deep enough.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Cut off a hanger and add a couple of lines to it.
    [​IMG]

    All is ready for dyeing. I use Eco-Flo water based dyes. It is important to wet the leather before dyeing with a sponge.
    [​IMG]

    Tight places I dye using a small brush. Also add an extra dye to the seam making sure leather is soaked with dye pretty well.
    [​IMG]

    Now it needs to dry pretty well before finishing. I usually let it dry for a day or at least overnight.
    [​IMG]

    Stay tuned! :)
     
  8. Roman

    Roman Active Member

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    Small note on extracting knife after the leather is dry - be careful! If it is stuck well you may end up cutting the leather in the best case...

    Knife must sit in the sheath pretty tight. In the ideal case it should make a nice click when inserted. But it should be easy enough to take it out with one hand. If the knife falls out when you turn the sheath upside down and slightly shake it - you need to redo leather work. Sometimes knife doesn't fall out, but it feels a bit loose. In this case you may try to heat up the leather over stove until it feels a bit hot from inside. But be careful, don't burn the leather. Let it cool without inserting the knife. After that you can leave the sheath without knife for a couple of days, leather will shrink a bit. Also finish and heating for waxing will make it to shrink and grip the knife a bit tighter...
     
  9. dancom

    dancom Dust Maker

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    Looking good Roman!
     
  10. Icho-

    Icho- Staff Member

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    Great tutorial Roman!
     
  11. Roman

    Roman Active Member

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    Thank you guys! Very little work left - just apply the finish and install hanger. Will do it tonight.
     
  12. Roman

    Roman Active Member

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    I just finished this project and here are final photos.

    Everything is ready for the finish. I use satin shene as I don't want it to be shiny...
    [​IMG]

    Almost forgot - yesterday I saturated the seam with super glue and then sanded it with 220 and 400 grit sandpaper. First I apply finish to the belt loop and sheath, making sure to get it in all tight corners. Then I install the brass ring and belt loop.
    [​IMG]

    Secure the belt loop with my old trusty braided fishing line...
    [​IMG]

    And then install decorative leather lace.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    Done!
    Photos of the finished knife I will post in the separate topic as I make them.

    Thank you for watching!
     
  13. dancom

    dancom Dust Maker

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    Awesome job! I love the little tricks like adding superglue to the seam and the good old 50 pound braided line.

    Thanks for sharing.


    Dan
     
  14. Roman

    Roman Active Member

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