How To Make Your Own Cross Draw Knife Sheath

By Paul Pinkerton
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How To Make Your Own Cross Draw Knife Sheath

Paul Pinkerton
 
 
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I’ll start off by showing you everything I’ll need, tools & gizmos wise. From left to right;
Impact adhesive, polishing brush, artificial sinew, small paintbrush, shoe polish, scalpel, edge-beveller, stitch marker, ball point pen, small clamps, Edge Kote, dying bobbin, dye, embossing punch, homemade liner/burnisher, sharp punch, hammer, needle, Knives for the sheaths!

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As you can see, that’s a lot of stuff! If you’re just starting out, you can make a lot of this stuff yourself. The 2 tools I would say that everyone doing any leatherwork should buy are the Edge beveller & a stitch marker. Finished edges & neat sewing make all the difference!

First job then. I lay the knife out on a suitable piece of leather (3/32″ Veg Tan Side) & draw around the blade, leaving 1/2″ or so. *Don’t forget at this point, the widest part of the knife HAS to correspond with the widest part of the sheath.*

 

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Roll the knife over & do the same for the other side.

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At this point, rather than cutting out the whole shape, I like to cut down one side only, sit the knife into the leather, fold over & re-mark the second half.

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You see why?

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I learned a while ago, never trust my first mark! It’s hard to judge & allow for the thickness of the handle & this is the best way I’ve found to get around the issue.

More to follow…..

 

Once you have the final outline marked, carefully cut out the shape to the lines. You may be left with the top-line of the sheath at a funny angle, just square this off & you’re ready for the next part.

On my crossdraws I like to keep the top of the open end slightly recessed back, to make access to the knife easier.
Here’s how I lay it out. I draw a centreline down the sheath (All this marking is done on the inside, by the way) & a horizontal line across what will be the open end. I mark 1″ into the sheath on the centreline from this horizontal line & draw out a nice sweeping curve from edge to edge, through my mark. Like so…

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Cut this out & test fit the knife again…

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If you clamp it at this point, you’ll be able to get a feel for how tight the knife will be in the sheath. You can trim down the sides of the sheath at this point, if you think your knife will be too loose. Just be really careful! 1/8″ can make a huge difference!

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Now I can start to lay out the belt loop. This is FAR easier to explain with pictures than words!

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Clamp it again for a further test fit…

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The last thing to cut out is the welt. I like to leave mine so that it protrudes from the edge of the sheath to start with. I’ll explain that better as we go.

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That’s it, all the parts cut & ready for the hard work.

 

First off is to dye them all. I use Feibings dyes for this. They’re really easy to use, you can mix your own colors & it dries in around an hour.

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I would imagine you would be able to get this through Tandy in the US.

Using the bobbin, I apply the dye in even, slightly overlapping strokes which gives a nice (to my eye!) streaked effect. This looks a bit harsh now, but as you work through the remaining stages it will blend a little bit.

 

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Don’t forget to dye inside the sheath & belt loop too! I also dye the top inch or two of the welt & this is easily visible in a crossdraw.

Back in a bit when it’s all dry

Okay, once the dye is all dried up it’s time to bevel those edges! I always do this after dying, because the dye will stiffen the leather & this makes shaving the edges that much easier. You don’t need too much pressure on the tool, just a nice light pass will do. Don’t try to take too much off, all you’re doing is knocking back the top edge…

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And finished…

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Now we can start marking out for the stitching. I find it helps to dampen the leather slightly for the rest of the build. NO WET, just dampen with a nearly dry cloth is enough.
Mark out where you want your stitches to run, not too close to the edge, but close enough that you’ll be stitching through the welt & not inside of it. Follow the profile of the sheath down the front side only (The side that will end up away from your body)…

 

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Next, you’ll need to mark out the belt loop…

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We want 2 lines of stitching through this; A) to keep it straight & solid & B) for strength. I like to alternate my stitches. Punch through the marks on the loop…

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Then lay the loop on top of the sheath, in the correct position & punch through both layers of leather on the top row of stitching only…

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Next, fold your loop exactly in half & punch through the top holes…

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Once that’s done, dampen the edges of the loop & the top edge of the sheath & give a quick coat of Edge Kote with a fine brush. Make sure you come up the sides of the bevel you cut…

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Next up is to sew the loop to the sheath. Again we’re only interested in the upper line of stitches at the moment. I use a doubled running stitch for all my work. To simplify, you stitch all the way from the first hole to last in one direction, then when you reach the last hole, reverse your stitches & run back up the opposite way. It’ll end up looking like this…

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Do both sides of the loop to give you this…

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One minor mistake I’ve made here, I forgot to do my embossing before attaching the loop * If you’ve got any engraving, stamping or embossing to do, do it before you attach the loop!*

Simply done but it looks fantastic if it’s done right. Just dampen the leather & use your choice of embossing stamp to create your design. I like to keep mine simple, just a scallop inside a line. For straight lines I have a home-made tool, but a teaspoon handle works admirably! …

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The next job is to punch out our marked stitching holes. I tend to cheat here & made a stainless pin I can use in the drill press. It helps to stop my hands cramping up & keeps all my stitches nicely in line through the layers of leather…

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Next, we glue on the welt. I use impact adhesive for this. Make sure you glue to the line & leave a little overhang on the outside of sheath…

 

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Then it’s back to the drill press & go through your previous holes & through the welt.
You can leave all your drilling/punching until you have everything glued up, but I’ve found that the holes tend to migrate & wander a little from one side of the sheath to the other…

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Now I trim the welt to match the outside of the sheath…

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Fold the sheath over, so that you can see how everything is matching up, from back to front, so far. If you’re happy, apply more glue to the welt & sheath & fold the whole thing over & clamp…

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You should now have a sheath, pretty much ready to use with just the stitching& final finishing to go!
Back into the work cave, I now sand all my edges smooth & flat (along the welt seam) with a 240grit belt on the belt sander…

crossdraw048crossdraw049*NOTE this is a great way to do it, but the sander can really, really move leather. Go VERY slowly & carefully applying virtually NO pressure.

 

Back to the needlework we go!

I use 70# artificial sinew for all my sewing these days. I just find it easier to work with than cotton, but YMMV. I split the sinew into 1/3 it’s size for sheaths.

So, we now sew the sheath up. Take your time, keep your stitches tidy & hide your knots! I start & finish my stitching between the welt & the back layer of the sheath. It’s fiddly, but I have no visible knots …

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Once we’re all sewn up, I like to burnish the edge. All this is doing is smoothing the tiny little whisps of leather down & putting a polish on the edge. You’ll need to dampen the edge. I find that licking it works best (The enzymes in human saliva will actually ‘glue’ the leather to a certain extent & leave a hard finished surface)
Then briskly, using moderate pressure, rub a piece of polished antler up & down the edge…

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You’ll actually see the edge start to shine after a few passes. Once you’re happy with your edge, we can give a final finish with the Edge-Kote…

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That’s it! Brush on a really light coat of clear shoe polish, buff to a nice glowing sheen & you’re done (In a lot less time that it takes to photograph & describe, believe me!)

Here it is, being sported by my beautiful assistant, The Wife…

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Thanks to Uke and ©BritishBlades for allowing us to use this article

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