DIY leather holster?


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Ukraine Train
April 5, 2005, 08:51 PM
I was checking out Eric's work and thought it would be cool to try it out myself since he's the only one that makes custom fit holsters for an Arcus, but it's out of range of my college budget. I'm handy enough with a needle and my parents even have a sewing machine I could use. Are there any good leatherworking sites? I think the thing that stumps me the most is how to get the leather to mold in the shape of the gun.

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Joey2
April 5, 2005, 09:45 PM
About 10 yrs. ago I bought leather and all the necessary needles and thread to make a holster from Tandy Leather.

Sorry I don't have an address. Do a Google, if they are still in business.

Joey2
April 5, 2005, 09:49 PM
Got it they're still in business.

www.tandyleather.com

Use their search and put in holster.

theCZ
April 5, 2005, 10:33 PM
Here's mine that I made at a friend's saddle shop:
http://www.hunewill.com/blairs_holster.jpg
I made it for USPSA pistol (production class) since I didn't feel like shelling out 75 bucks for a lefty holster that was nice.

Hypnogator
April 5, 2005, 10:34 PM
Ukraine Train -- Tandy is a good source for leather, and also for info on holster making. They have a holster making book by Al Stohlman, although I generally just pattern my holsters on other designs.

Lay out your weapon on the leather and draw a line 1/2" outside the outline of the weapon. That's where you'll need to sew. BTW, you'll need leather sewing materials -- no cloth sewing machine will hack it. They're available from Tandy also.

To get your weapon to fit, soak the leather in water until it's thoroughly pliable. Oil your weapon thoroughly, then put it in a plastic bag (such as a bread wrapper) and mould the leather around it. Allow it to air dry overnight, then remove the weapon and clean/oil it again. Allow the holster to thoroughly air dry.

Good luck! :)

Ukraine Train
April 5, 2005, 10:53 PM
When you sew the two halves together do you first need to make holes with an awl or will the right needle go through the leather?

theCZ
April 5, 2005, 11:13 PM
If you have access to a leather sewing machine like I did, then you don't need to make holes, otherwise you do.

rms/pa
April 6, 2005, 06:24 PM
all good stuff,
keep in mind. leathter has a rough and a smooth side. if you want a finished look all over. use half weight leather and sew/glue it rough to rough ,rubber contact cement works.
also look in the yellow pages for leather shops tandy is good but often a franchise so your milage may vary.
there is a great tool for hand sewing, looks like a fork with chisel tips punches four holes at once with a mallet hit.

get a roll of artifical sniew if you can, wears like iron and your thread never rots.

make patterns with plastic milk bottle sides for cutting out. (cheap to free) if leather expense is mindful make a tryout out of milk jug material. molding as before but put tinfoil over your gun and use a heat gun.

skiving your edges makes a much more finished look also.

have fun show us some pictures of the trials and finished result.

rms/pa

azrael
April 6, 2005, 08:18 PM
Dude a nail punch thingy works well for making nice holes in leather...Learn to love Saddle stitching...Lock stitching is best left for machines..

+1 on the Stohlman book...mostly old school but still a valuable resource...

+1 rms/pa

Tandy is a bit high, but they have pretty good stuff...instead of an "edger" you can get by nicely with a decent belt sander..

Holla if ya got any questions...I started out the same way seveal years ago, and now I make HUNDREDS of dollers a year making holsters :D

Ukraine Train
April 7, 2005, 12:35 AM
Lo and behold I found a leather shop only a few miles away and took a trip down. The guy makes gun holsters so he was pretty helpful. I ended up with a roll of 5/6 oz rawhide to make about 8 holsters, dye, carnuaba, some stuff to put on the inside of the holster to protect it (can't remember what it's called), sheepskin to buff it, a needle, one of those four prong diamond punches, a single punch, couple different saddlemaker's groovers, and wax thread. I've already started on a pancake holster. Pretty cool to be doing things the same way they have for hundreds of years.

Ukraine Train
April 7, 2005, 03:49 AM
A few progress pics... I just finished forming the leather and it's now drying overnight. Aside from a few cosmetic imperfections I think it's coming out pretty well. I was afraid it would be too tight when the gun wouldn't fit after I finished sewing but after soaking, the leather became much more pliable and it's now a good fit.
http://www.fabiens.net/albums/album65/P4060161.sized.jpg
http://www.fabiens.net/albums/album65/P4070163.sized.jpg
http://www.fabiens.net/albums/album65/P4070165.sized.jpg
http://www.fabiens.net/albums/album65/P4070166.sized.jpg

rms/pa
April 7, 2005, 01:58 PM
EXCELLENT,
keep up the good work. leather work is very satisfying.
like any hand work project the point you have reached is 1/2 of the job.
keep looking at your work with a question in your mind. "what can/could i do better?"
just like an essay, review, edit, revise, repeat.

take joy in your work.

rms/pa

Ukraine Train
April 8, 2005, 12:01 AM
Almost finished. I got dark brown dye and when I put it on it went from light brown to really dark pretty quick, it came out a little darker than I wanted. Hopefully it'll lighten up as it dries. Now I just need to buff it with some carnauba after it dries and she'll be good to go. The fit and retention came out great.

http://www.fabiens.net/albums/album65/P4070172.sized.jpg

http://www.fabiens.net/albums/album65/P4070174.sized.jpg

sheepdip
April 8, 2005, 01:07 AM
If this is your first try you have done a great job !!
Did you "bone" the wet leather around the gun for the tight fit ?
I think the dark looks better that the lighter color.

I'm impressed.

Ukraine Train
April 8, 2005, 01:34 AM
Yep, first time, thanks for the compliment. I used the handle of a butter knife for the "boning."

stealthmode
April 8, 2005, 02:18 AM
i like the bag trick when you formed the leather to your gun. good work i would like to give that a try one day.

K-Man
April 8, 2005, 06:18 AM
Nice job, Ukraine. If you're not careful, it'll be addicting. Before you know it, you'll be buying this tool, then that tool, and that tool over there. :) I've always said that the neat thing about doing leathercraft/holster-making is you're only limited by your own imagination.

ulflyer
April 8, 2005, 07:49 AM
Great job...looks really good.

I live in N.C. and theres a large leather supply house in Ramseur not far from Asheboro. Called Zack's Leather. they sell leather and all the stuff that goes with it. Once or twice a year I ride over just to walk around, look, feel, and smell the wonderful smell of leather. Haven't tried my hand at holster making, but have made some moc's and other small items. May have to give it a try.
I don't think they do internet, but haven't looked.

Shorts
April 8, 2005, 01:00 PM
UT, that's a great job on that holster :) What size needle did you go with?

Tinkerer
April 8, 2005, 04:11 PM
UT, I do leather crafting myself, mostly for the cowboy action shooting crowd http://www.eightbitsleather.com . When I was doing my sewing by hand, I used an overstitch wheel to mark where the stitches should go in the groove, then used a Dremel tool with a 1/6" bit to drill the holes. Then, just run your stitches through the holes. As the leather absorbes moisture it will swell and close off the holes and make your stitches tight. Great work on that holster! BTW, my carry holster for my Para P-10 is very similar to what you created. Now that you've got the knack, you'll be making all kinds of variations for your pistols.

Wingshooter
April 8, 2005, 05:11 PM
If you think you're addicted now, wait until you make the jump into carving leather. An initially frustrating hobby that quickly becomes pleasing as you improve.

Here's a bible cover I did for my wife a couple of years ago:



http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=23565&stc=1

One of my first big projects at leather carving. I've been hooked ever since.

K-Man
April 8, 2005, 05:26 PM
That's awesome work, Wingshooter. I love to tool a design also. There's not much demand in the holster-making aspect, except in the cowboy action shooting forum. Here's some of my favorites that I've done though:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v107/Leathercrafter/Vaquero_Holster_1a.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v107/Leathercrafter/STI-Lawman1a.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v107/Leathercrafter/EagleHolster1b.jpg

And a little bit of laser combined with tooling:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v107/Leathercrafter/CowboyFlask.jpg

azrael
April 8, 2005, 06:45 PM
ulflyer,
Zack Whites is prolly 7-8 minutes from my house...Good people to deal with and there prices arent bad either...

K-man....you da man bro


UT that is some sweet work...I wish I could say that my first holster looked that good

Parke1
April 8, 2005, 09:46 PM
UT,

Where is the leather shop? I live in BG (I actually was in your CCW class, I believe. I was the one Jeff kept referring to as Dirty Harry.), and I've been wanting to get some supplies for this sort of thing.

I can only hope that mine turn out that nicely!

Thanks,
-Parke1

Backwoods
April 8, 2005, 10:04 PM
Just a short note.

When wetting out a holster to prepare it for fitting/boning, if you use rubbing alcohol instead of water, it dries quicker. That way you don't need the bag to stave off any rust problems stemming from the gun being in the watersoaked holster.

Plus, with it drying quicker, you get to play with it sooner(Nearly always a GOOD thing) :)

Ukraine Train
April 8, 2005, 11:13 PM
Hmm that's good advice, Backwoods. Parke, I'm in Flint, MI right now for school, the shop is here. I just did a search in yahoo yellow pages for leather, maybe try it down around BG.

Wingshooter
April 8, 2005, 11:33 PM
K-Man, I really like the floral pattern you put on that holster. I'm trying to get into floral and Sheridan style carving, but lately I just haven't had the time.

UT, your holster looks great. I also think the color you chose makes the detail stand out well. Like another said, I wish my first holster turned out as well as yours did.

Third_Rail
April 9, 2005, 01:19 AM
How the heck do you tool leather like that?? Amazingly nice.

K-Man
April 9, 2005, 05:32 AM
Thanks, Wingshooter. The floral/Sheridan tooling is becoming popular once again. It's a very time-consuming process. Basketweave is my favorite tooling style. I'd like to learn how to do more of the figure carving and be able to do pictures, landscape scenes, etc.

lwsimon
April 9, 2005, 08:45 AM
What does it cost to get into that? I'd like to have a pancake holster similar to the one you made, but for my CZ52. Any web tutorials on DIY leathercraft?

Ukraine Train
April 9, 2005, 02:47 PM
I paid $60 for the 5-6oz hide, about 1.5ftx4ft in size and another 70 for the tools, dyes, wax, etc.

Third_Rail
April 9, 2005, 03:11 PM
You paid way too much for that leather...

http://www.brettunsvillage.com/leather/sides.htm

azrael
April 9, 2005, 03:43 PM
Third Rail,
Me had a look see at that webpage...ty

Bummer they dont sell exotics...Gotta get me some elephant hide real soon before it gets banned again...

Third_Rail
April 9, 2005, 04:34 PM
The man that runs that business, Churchill, is about the nicest person you can hope for in terms of doing business.

svtruth
April 9, 2005, 04:55 PM
I have a belt and a checkbook cover beautifully tooled by my late father in law.
Admittedly he was a craftsman, but he made his tools by filing the designs into the heads of 10 penny nails and cutting the points flush.

Andrew Rothman
April 9, 2005, 07:47 PM
UT has inspired me.

I went to Tandy Leather. They have odd shapes of 8/10 for $10 each - looks like enough to make maybe two or three holsters.

I also got this: http://www.tandyleather.com/prodinfo.asp?number=1118900&variation=&aitem=1&mitem=7

http://www.tandyleather.com/images/11189-00-L.JPG
Learn dozens of hand-stitching techniques. Includes: Overstitch wheel, stitching awl, groover, needles, thread, wax and The Art of Hand Sewing Leather, by Al Stohlman.

Good deal, I hope. The guys in the (Minneapolis) store were very knowledgable and helpful.

I also got some black thread (I want to dye my holster black eventually).

I didn't get dye or clear finish (wax?) yet. I figure if I mess up or give up, I won't need it! If I do make a decent holster, I 'll go back and get it.

So, azrael, now that you're a pro, about how many hours does it take you to complete a basic belt slide holster?

I'm guessing that quality handmade holsters are a labor of love -- it looks too danged labor intensive to be a real profit center!

K-man -- Do you send out the laser engraving, or can an individual afford the equipment?

azrael
April 9, 2005, 08:50 PM
Matt,
A "real" pro?? Not hardly...I consider myself a "talented amateur" or an "apprentice shoe cobbler" and nothing more...Thanks though :D

Labor of love?? yea in a way BUT you get to meet and chat with the best people on earth and that counts for alot AND you get to handle some of the new firearms that companies have available on the companies dime<~~I LOVEEEE that part!!!

How long?? hmm for an "average" belt slide prolly 30-45 minutes to an hour total "handson" time, but remember I am more or less doing this one handed for part of that, so me having a messed up wing adds a few minutes...

lemme break it down for ya...

for a $30-$45 belt slide...
handson..30 minutes to an hour
drying time...24 hours total for drying (wet molding, dye's, polishes)
Apply Sealant....12-24 hours of drying time
Final check and give it to swmbo for shipping...15 minutes

The boring part of making holsters is waiting for them to dry...That is why I watch so many horror movies while crafting holsters.. :D

Stohlman is a good one to learn stitching from...however I would suggest you concentrate on "saddle stitching" and learning to love ibuprofen :evil:

Shorts
April 9, 2005, 09:06 PM
What types of leather are you guys getting? Straight rawhide? I read on a site that Veg tanned is good for sheaths and holsters. Can someone clarify this a bit for me please?

azrael
April 9, 2005, 09:12 PM
Shorts,
Knife sheaths and gun holster's are made using "Vegetable" tanned leather (soft)
Boots soles ETC are made from "Chromium tanned" leather (hard)...

I use imported vegetable tanned double shoulders in 6-7oz and 7-8oz weights for almost all of my handgun holster's...

And yup you can "cut your own" from a cow and tan it yourself...Nope, ya dont wanna do it, but ya can :neener:
'

Norm357
April 9, 2005, 09:20 PM
UT, I really wish I could see your pics. All I am getting are red X's.

K-Man, you sir are an artist!

Shorts
April 9, 2005, 09:27 PM
Shorts,
Knife sheaths and gun holster's are made using "Vegetable" tanned leather (soft)
Boots soles ETC are made from "Chromium tanned" leather (hard)...

I use imported vegetable tanned double shoulders in 6-7oz and 7-8oz weights for almost all of my handgun holster's...

And yup you can "cut your own" from a cow and tan it yourself...Nope, ya dont wanna do it, but ya can

Ok. Is the thickness of the leather what gives it the ability to be worked and waterformed? And stay that way? I've seen the reference to "temper". What is that? I'm reading too much new info I'm going into crazy :o

K-Man
April 9, 2005, 10:13 PM
Matt:

You may want to sit down for the price of the laser engraver - the least expensive is about 10k. Mine, with all the attachments, and doodads, would cost about 22k-25k. I had been wanting one for 2+ years, ever since the first day I saw what it could do on leather. Here's some more examples:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v107/Leathercrafter/NascarClock1a.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v107/Leathercrafter/StockWrap1.jpg

It's kind of hard to see in the pic of the clock, but you have the detail there that could never be achieved by traditional tooling.The neat thing about it also is that you can put a design/image onto other types of leather such as oil-tanned (like vests) or chrome-tanned (like some of the ladies purses). There previously was not really a way to go direct onto those types of leather. You can't tool on them like on the veg-tanned leather. The only other way would be to paint/airbrush or attach a piece of veg-tanned. So...the sky is the limit as to what you can do with the laser engraver.

Norm357:

Thanks for the kind words. I love doing the leathercraft and making holsters, and I feel blessed to be able to make a living at it.

K-Man
April 9, 2005, 10:27 PM
Shorts:

Thickness of leather is guaged in ounces. One ounce = 1/64" in thickness. So, 5/6 oz weight is approx 3/32" thick. The thinner the leather, the easier to mold. Depending on the holster you make would generally determine the ounce weight needed. For example, most pocket holsters are 5-7 oz, IWB holsters are 6-8 oz, OWB are 7-9 oz. Generally, the larger/heavier the gun you're toting, the heavier the weight of leather. Western/cowboy action shooting holsters are in the 11-14 oz weight/thickness. Part of determining the proper thickness is based on the design of the holster, too. So, are you more confused now? :) And then if you add in the factor of an exotic leather/skin such as shark, stingray, elephant, etc., it can get even more perplexing. :D But for the general rule of thumb, the number above are the basics.

Shorts
April 9, 2005, 10:38 PM
Not too confused. I had your info counterbalanced 'cause I was getting pretty cozy with the way thickness was measured ;) I guess I'm just confused as to how certain leathers will stay in a certain molded form. The softer (thinner) leathers for upholstery or clothing are flimsy and don't really stand on their own. Does that depend on the oiling treatments they recieved? Would that same cut of leather behave differently if it wasn't treated? Would it be able to be molded and stay molded when it dried? Now I'm just asking too many questions. I need to just go to a tannery (word?) or a leather supply house and check things out for myself.

K-Man
April 9, 2005, 11:33 PM
Right, the leather's ability to mold/shape is based on how it was tanned - be it vegetable tanned, oil tanned, or chrome tanned. Your upholstery leathers for the most part are chrome-tanned. You can stiffen/mold with a chrome-tanned leather if it's attached to some veg-tanned. I've used a camo-print leather, which was chrome-tanned, and adhered it to a veg-tanned to make knife sheaths. That's what I did here:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v107/Leathercrafter/KnifeSheath.jpg

The majority of your suede leather is chrome-tanned, which makes it very harmful if put in touch with a blued gun. It essentially will take the bluing off. Even though there is some veg-tanned suede available, I'm very suspect of a holster that is suede-lined.

Shorts
April 9, 2005, 11:38 PM
Got it, that cleared things up for me (and all you other lurkers that didn't post Qs) :p

My husband keeps giving me funny looks and asking, "Sweetie, you're not going to be disappointed if your first one comes out crappy are you??" :o If my skill isn't going to cut it the first time, I gotta get the materials that are going to "shoot better than I do", so to speak.

That's nice work on that sheath. I've seen some of that camoed leather, it was interesting, and tempting to say the least.

Andrew Rothman
April 10, 2005, 04:07 AM
UT, did you freehand the pattern? Or was it based on something?

And, anyone, how do you know exactly how far from the gun to put the stitches? Or will molding the leather to the gun render that less important for retention?

K-Man
April 10, 2005, 07:09 AM
The camo printed leather is interesting in its appearance. I've used both the mossy oak print and the advantage print to make rifle slings:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v107/Leathercrafter/RifleSlings.jpg

K-Man
April 10, 2005, 08:12 AM
Matt:

With respect to how far away to put the stitches from the gun, this is how I do it in general:

I cut out the overall shape of the holster. I then place the gun inside of it and press the front and back pieces of leather together around the gun. Where the two pieces touch is generally where the stitches go. I do that all around the gun. How easy it will be is dependent on how thick the leather is, too. I trace that outline and glue with contact cement the two pieces together. I then sew along the line I've traced. Once the holster is essentially together, I wrap the gun in saran wrap, and wet the leather with warm water, and slide the gun down into it. The leather is very flexible when it's wet so the gun should go in fairly easily. I then mold the outline of the gun with a couple of tools. There certainly have been times when I've been off in my tracing of the outline and had to redo it. Most of the time I had gotten too close to the gun :banghead: and when sewn, it caused the gun to sit up higher out of the holster than intended.

Shorts
April 10, 2005, 11:00 AM
Orthe other option that was posted:

Hypnogator:...

Lay out your weapon on the leather and draw a line 1/2" outside the outline of the weapon. That's where you'll need to sew. BTW, you'll need leather sewing materials -- no cloth sewing machine will hack it. They're available from Tandy also.

To get your weapon to fit, soak the leather in water until it's thoroughly pliable. Oil your weapon thoroughly, then put it in a plastic bag (such as a bread wrapper) and mould the leather around it. Allow it to air dry overnight, then remove the weapon and clean/oil it again. Allow the holster to thoroughly air dry.

Ukraine Train
April 10, 2005, 12:26 PM
I just layed the gun on the leather and drew a line 1/2" out from it all the way around, as suggested earlier. I modeled my design after one of Eric's holsters that I got a pic of from his site, but I didn't have a template or anything like that.

How do you guys tie off the thread when you start and stop? I just make big knots that won't fit through the holes, but they look kinda ugly.

K-Man
April 10, 2005, 12:43 PM
Ukraine:

You back stitch a couple of stitches, kind of like putting the sewing machine in reverse, and then come forward again. Then snip off the excess. That locks the thread and keeps it in place. Then you don't have to worry about knot-tying.

azrael
April 10, 2005, 01:14 PM
UT,
Back stitch stress points as well...Other than that...What K-man said! :D

azrael
April 10, 2005, 01:27 PM
BTw.

For those that are contemplating a sojourne into holster making...Deer hunters are your best friend as far as tools go...Deer antler makes a VERY good edge slicker...And if you are cheap like me, that comes in handy! :D

The above is for information purposes only...I do not condone nor do I engage in the hunting of deer for sport or food...The deer antlers I use were given to me BY a deer that didnt need them anymore :evil:

Andrew Rothman
April 10, 2005, 07:53 PM
Orthe other option that was posted:

Yup, I read that. But it sure seems like a big fat double-stack will need more leather than a skinny little single-stack. That's why I asked.

azrael
April 10, 2005, 09:29 PM
Weight is everything mah friend...As a rule 8oz leather was used in crafting holster's...Now that we have really lightweight pistols to play with, it is more or less silly to have a holster that weigh's more than the pistol...Some will say that it gives it "strength", however I am not so sure of that...To each his own I say..lol

What K-man said about the weight's is pretty much how I do it as well..he just says it alot prettier than I do :neener:

...learning how to reenforce a stress point is a good habit to learn as it will save you considerable time and money..trust me on this one I know ALLL about trying to save time!.. :D

Andrew Rothman
April 11, 2005, 12:41 AM
I was actually referring to width, azrael. It seems like you'd need to stitch closer to a flat pistol like a Kahr and farther from a fat pistol like my Ruger P95 in order to get a tight fit in the end. Or am I missing something?

And while I'm shamelessly asking for free advice, do you need to clamp or weigh down the leather while it dries?

K-Man
April 11, 2005, 07:11 AM
Matt:

If you have the same size of holster design, and two different sizes of gun, then the stitching line is going to be placed differently. For example, I use the same size of my Pocket Defender holster when making it for the Kel-Tec P32, P3AT, and the Rohrbaugh R-9. Those three are similar in size, yet different. It just becomes a matter of where the glue, stitching, and rivets are placed respectively. And there's even a slight difference in the molding of the P32 versus the P3AT.

There's no need to clamp or place weight on the leather as it dries. The leather contracts as it's drying, so it basically stays in place on its own.

azrael
April 11, 2005, 06:33 PM
Matt...Sorry dude, I misunderstood ya...Please be advised I am heavily medicated! :neener:


When it comes to stitch lines, what K-man said..

Easiest way for me to decide where the stitching is gonna go is this...OHH yea it works for me so dont laugh.. :D

Cut and trim holster and glue..

Wet holster hmm.. "lightly" and stick the pattern inside...Use that as a reference to where ya gonna put the stitches...Me I use an ink pin to mark the interior stitch around the triggerguard...The rest is pretty much evident...Takes more time, but it has been many a moon since I scrapped a holster for having the stitches in to far..

Unlike Kevin I use something to press down on the holster after I have it formed...I have several old hardcover books I use...I place them on top of the holster (laying flat) with the pattern inside of course and let it dry...Works for me

Advice is kewl, just dont complain if I bug ya for advice on web design :evil:

Andrew Rothman
April 11, 2005, 07:51 PM
I think this could be the start of a valuable barter!

Andrew Rothman
April 17, 2005, 06:15 PM
Okay, experts, one quick question.

My kit (see picture) came with an stitching awl handle with four bits.
http://www.tandyleather.com/images/11189-00-L.JPG

One is round and comes to a point, two are "diamond" points, and one is v-shaped at the bottom, but not sharp: the bottom has depth instead of coming to a point.

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=23805

the diamonds both make really big holes in the 8-10 leather -- much bigger than I need for hand sewing.

What's going on here? Is #4 supposed to come to a cleaner point? Should I just grind it down? Or do I need a smaller diamond tip, not provided?

Oh, and while I'm asking, how exactly do you finish the edges of a holster?

And UT, how are you liking your first effort? What lessons did you learn?

Thanks for any help!

azrael
April 17, 2005, 07:16 PM
Matt,
Cant help ya with the Stitching Awl question...never have used one...When I did hand sew I used a drill bit chucked into my dremel...Regular drills go slowww and tear the leather and make it ragged looking...Dremel's make a nice clean hole...

Several ways to "edge" a leather holster...Quickest way is a dremel and some fine grit sandpaper or a belt sander...I use a peice of deer antler to finish the edgeing...Takes no time and looks great...takes practice to keep the edges even..

Kevin can prolly give you a more precise answer than the one I have given ya...

Wait till ya wanna play with exotics...that is when the REALLL fun begins! :D

rwc
April 17, 2005, 08:00 PM
I've not attempted anything like this since boy scouts, but I've had a "Speedy Stitcher" for 20+ years and it has paid for itself many times over fixing busted suitcases, ski bags, pack straps, etc. A very handy tool, but it won't give you a finished look. Buy a spool of nylon upholstery thread and you'll be set for the next twenty years too. And your buddies get to buy the beer when you fix their stuff...

Shorts
April 17, 2005, 08:07 PM
Matt, I haven't figured out the awls yet either. I did use it to mess around with some leather grips. I used one of the sharp, angled awl bits, the one with the narrower lead angle on the left side of the blade. But looking at the sewn line, the key to nice looking stitches is the angle of the holbladee in the groove. If you make them too perpedicular to the groove, you get a "slash" type look. So you need to make them on the parallel side of "angled" in the groove. The stitches wil set when you tighten them down and they fill in the edges of the hole. Anyway, I attached the pic, one mostly finished, the other still early on. Just making the first "project", even on this first grip, I've figured out what to do and what not too do. I've counted many screw ups and what-I'll-do-different-on-the-next-one. So, it's a whole learning process, just basic knowledge of how to do it, to gaining skill and figuring out tricks.

Before I start my holster, I'm going to try out all the awl bits side by side and see which one gets the better pattern. The biggest factor is my "skill" in punching good holes. The stitch wheel that came with the kit is 5 per inch, so, at least the large stitch holes are not too close together from the larger awl bit.

Take a close look at the two angled bits. You'll notice the trailing and leading angles on them are different. I'm also contemplating using the Dremel and drilling 1/16" (or smaller..is there smaller?) holes for my stitches.

#1 is the scratch blade, good for poking and transfering images for tooling.

#2 and #3, the difference is the angles and possibly the width of the blade.

#4 is the "square" thick one, not sure what that is used for.


Just a quick question, is mink oil bad for gun finishes?

K-Man
April 17, 2005, 08:51 PM
Sorry for the delay in getting to a response. I wanted to look at the kit in the catalog in order to see what actually was included, as well as my copy of the book. If I understand correctly it looks like you’ve got three blades with the awl handle, as well as the other stuff. I’m not quite sure what #4 is above. I’ll have to get out to the store and take a look at it before I can tell you what that is.

Let me ask a couple of questions. When you use either #2 or #3 above, how far are you pushing the blade through? You want to only push through where the tip is sticking about 1/8” out of the bottom. Basically you want to have the smallest hole possible. Are you wiggling the awl at all, either after it’s through the leather or while it’s going through? You don’t want to wiggle the awl around in the hole, as that will make the hole larger. You want to achieve a single straight through punching, kind of like driving a nail through the wood.

I would start with the #2 above, and just go slow. You might try setting the leather on top of a cutting board, and lay that on a table/work bench when you’re getting ready to punch the holes. That way there’s enough support for when you punch through, as well as protecting the surface of the table/work bench. You most likely will have to go back over the holes again in order to get them to be the right size. But it will be a lot easier to control the size of the hole. If you do it as it’s shown in the book, or similar, you’re going to end up punching larger holes, especially if you do not have a stitching pony.

It’s unclear what size thread you may have, as it comes in different sizes. I suspect it’s 138, which is somewhat lightweight. But I think that’s generally what they put in those kits. If the thread were thicker, then you would want to push through a little farther or go to the larger diamond blade.

With respect to finishing the edges, there are a lot of ways to accomplish a nice finished edge, but this is what I currently do. The first step is really when you’re cutting out the holster. You want to ensure that wherever the edges are going to match up with one another, you want the same curve or angle, so one does not stick out unevenly from the other. By doing this, it will save a lot of labor/time when you’re getting ready to finish the edges. If you ever get into making a number of holsters, my recommendation would be to buy a clicker and dies for the patterns – mucho time saver.

Once I’ve got the holster together, I take it over to the bench grinder. I wet the edges and just lightly run them over the grinder, slowly bringing the edges flush/smooth. There will be some points, dependent on angles, which you’re probably not going to be able to get to. I then use one of those sandpaper sponges on the edges I could not reach. As mentioned above, some folks use a dremel tool. I then take an edge beveler, usually a number one or number three, and run them around both sides of the edges to knock down the excess leather. I use a number 3 where there’s two pieces of leather together and I use the number 1 where it’s just a single piece of leather. I wet the edges again and use the sandpaper sponge to smooth/round all the edges. I wet the edges again and use an edge slicker tool and run that all around the edges. It’s a multi-slotted tool for various thicknesses of the leather. In places where the edge slicker won’t work, I use either a piece of canvas or a folder/creaser to run along those edges. Once the edges are all smooth/rounded, I apply a coat of gum tragacanth. I then rub that into the edges with a piece of canvas. Once that’s dry, I then apply a coat or two of edge kote. Then I apply whatever sealant I’m using to the whole holster.

There’s some other steps/ways to get the edges really awesome looking, but what’s mentioned here should accomplish a nice finished edge for you.

Shorts
April 17, 2005, 09:06 PM
One thing I am doing, since I can't use my right hand, I set the leather on the table, on top of a flat piece of cardboard from a shipping box or something, then press my awl blade through, enough to get the tip out, not much more. I also don't wiggle the blade when I pull it out, that will make the hole bigger. It helps to put a little wax on the blade for smoother ins and outs.

The thread in the Tandy Kit, not sure what size it is, but it is "natural waxed thread".

For getting the edges even, I cut as close as possible. After things are glued and dried, I'll run the Dremel with the sandpaper edge to even the two pieces, or I'll do it by hand with a real sharp flat blade from my Leatherman. To burnish the edges, I'm still trying to get a technique down, but currently I have a flat wooden dowel (like a tongue depressor thing), and I dab a bit of water on the edge, enough just to damp the surface, the work it over with the wet end of the dowel. Once I get a flat finish, I switch to the dry end of the dowel and rub it and it gets warmed up and shiney and hardens up. I want to figure out how to do this with the Dremel and a bit, but I'm still unfamiliar with all the attachments. Dad always just had a big grinder...Dremel? What powre is that?! :o

azrael
April 17, 2005, 09:19 PM
Yo Kevin,
Got a source for that slicker for varying sizes?? The local deer population would appreciate it :D

5 sticthes per inch is a good comprimise wheel (also what I use)...Looks great and is very strong..


For thread I used heavy weight waxed Nyltex...Never had a problem...Cant remember the weight though, but I am sure it was a bit heavier than 138

Andrew Rothman
April 17, 2005, 09:24 PM
Thanks for the info, everyone.

I popped the bits on my flatbed scanner. Here they are.

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=23809

Both #2 and #3 look like they'd make way too big a hole, even going through two thicknesses of 8/10oz.

I also scanned a close-up of #4. Any guesses?

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=23810

The white smudges are wax from the thread on the scanner platen. Doh!

Shorts
April 17, 2005, 09:27 PM
Matt, I used the #3 in that scanned pic on my grips up there. When the holes are set nicely in the groove, the stitches are nice and clean. But when they are too angled in the groove, they look too big.

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=23812

K-Man
April 17, 2005, 10:28 PM
Shorts makes a very good point (no pun intended :) ). If you look on page 8 of the book, at the top, it shows how to stab/punch the holes. You basically place the awl at about a 45-degree angle within the grooved line. Place the "center" of the awl punch on the "dot" impression made by the overstitch wheel.


Dave:

The source is Hide Crafter Leather Company, 888-263-5277. They're located in Fort Worth. You want part/item #1272-03 on page 87 of their catalog. It's name is, "Slicker Creaser."

Shorts
April 18, 2005, 03:10 PM
I thought I'd piggy back my DIY leather holster on this thread, keeping things altogether here. These are pics of my current progress on my holster. It's an OWB belt holster, at the 1:00ish position there. I am female so I'm trying to design it to fit comfortably for me. Currently I carry weak side crossdraw at 9:00 with an Uncle Mike's belt slide and it has worked alright for the winter. My biggest con as to wearing this in the summer is that it sits low on the belt with the barrel and bottom of the holster sticking out, which without a long cover shirt or jacket, can be seen by the general masses if I don't do a hip check when I'm moving around. Another con is that the muzzle tilts outward because of the shape of my hips, which pushes the top end of the gun (hammer, safety, grip tail) into my side and bottom ribs. This is pretty uncomfortable sitting or moving around a lot, and if I'm not wearing an undershirt, it leaves nice surface scratches or bruises on my skin.

The design will bring the gun further up, as well as add a nice rearward cant that fits into the soft areas of my bones. It should be more comfortable to sit, as the barrel won't protrude into my lady bones, and the rear belt slot should pull the holster down against my waist which keeps the top of the gun from jamming my side. I'm also hoping that it will help rotate the grip a bit to point to the back, this preventing it from winging out and catching the inside of my elbow if I'm moving around. The forward belt loop is on the back of the holster.

My work station:
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=23828&stc=1

Templates of the gun and holster:
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=23824&stc=1

Mock up of the setup on my belt:
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=23825&stc=1

Sorry for the blurryness...stupid camera ;) Front and back templates are split, traced and cut leather, smooth side out. The bottom of the holster will be open. The back piece has the extension on the top half to protect the body against getting jammed with the slide stop and safety. The belt loop is cut and glued on and will be sewn onto the back piece before the front and back pieces are joined:
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=23826&stc=1

Close up of the front piece. The sewing grooves have been cut into the pattern. I will add another line of stitching under the main line of the trigger guard:
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=23827&stc=1

That's my progress for now. I'm letting the belt loop glue set pretty good under the pressure of David Eddings. After lunch I'll get started again on punching and sewing those together.

K-Man
April 18, 2005, 08:16 PM
Nice job, Shorts! well thought out plan. I sure would like to hear your results once you have it together and have had a chance to wear it/test it.

Matt:

The number 4 blade above is a Lacing Fid. It's used to enlarge and shape holes for lacing, especially for thick or many layers.

For the thickness that you're using for making your holster(s), it isn't necessary. If you were going through about 1/2" of leather, then you would be looking to use it.

jlwatts3
April 18, 2005, 09:24 PM
Shorts, it looks like you put a lot of thought into your design and how to customize it to best suit your needs. I hope it turns out great. You're off to a solid start.

Andrew Rothman
April 18, 2005, 10:19 PM
Aha. Thanks, K-Man.

I guess I'll try the cutting board thing to limit penetration depth.

Wingshooter
April 19, 2005, 12:26 PM
The one thing I'd pass along that I haven't heard anyone mention. For your awl, knife, or any other cutting type implement. I even use this with my needles.

The best advice I recieved was from a saddlemaker. No matter what you get, it's never sharp enough and the edge isn't smooth enough. Any toolmarks you see on the blade (and especially the awl) will drag and catch in the leather. Sharpen it and then run it across a razor strop. The needles and awl can especially benefit from the strop. Take the thinnest leather you can find and glue it down to a board. Rub some jewelers rouge on it and polish the tools. You'll know it's done right when you can't see any toolmarks on the edges at all. The difference is night and day with the needles and the awl. Makes stitching so much nicer. If it seems like too much work, just do it one evening in front of the TV. It goes by pretty quickly.

Shorts
April 19, 2005, 01:58 PM
While my glue was drying on the holster halves I've been fiddling with scrap leather and burnishing the edges. I put a wooden dowel in my drill and turned it on. Then I took my Dremel with a sandpaper bit, turned it on and applied it perpendicular to the spinning dowel so that I made a nice smooth curved indention all the way around the dowel. Now I have a nice rounded wooden tool to run over the edges of the leather.

I tried the drill-chucked dowel on a piece of scrap leather, with some good ol' spit as my fluid medium and I got some nice smooth edges. I'm sure this would work better on a drill press, but we don't have one and this is the closest thing to it. As for doing the whole holster with spit, I guess I could, but I think I'm going to try some wax instead ;)

Anyway, as far as burnishing the edges, should I dye the edges first and then burnish them? That would give a cleaner and deeper-colored look to them, won't it?

I made the mistake of gluing the halves together before doing the edges. I'm thinking next time I'll burnish the non-sewn edges before I glue them together so that I get nice full burnished edge (areas like the mouuth and open bottom of the holster).

I guess now that the edges are glued, I'll get them sewn and get the holster molded, then I will have some room to put a nice burnish on the open edges.

Progress on the holster, I have the rear belt loop sewn on and now the holster halves are drying together with rubber cement. Last night I glued the wing and bolt loops together and had it dry overnight. This morning I glued the rest of the holster down. I figured I'd glue a section at a time so that I could control where the glue went and what pieces stuck together. I was worried about the halves slipping around as I lay the books on top of them for weight. This way I'll have less area of edges to even out with the Dremel and the holster is still somewhat straight :o I'll hae more progress pics up later, maybe not today though as I really need the glue to dry and set befor I go poking around on it. Besides, my fingers hurt and are pretty cut up from my awl blade. Stupid thing keeps slipping out from the handle so I have to grab the blade to pull it from the leather :mad: But I did get to Superglue the slits in my fingers, which I haven't gotten to do in a while, so thats, uh,..neat :o I need to fix that blade problem.



Off hand for future projects, how is the leather molded and held together on holsters where the barrel edge is rounded (one whole piece of leather for the holster) instead of two halves cut and sewn? Do you wet the whole piece of leather, fold it over, mold it and glue it down then sew? or?? That way saves a row of stitches but I'm confused as to how the leather stays together while it dries at the fold.

K-Man
April 19, 2005, 04:26 PM
Well..hmmm...you may not want to use rubber cement in the future for gluing. My experience was that it does not hold the leather. You would want to use a contact cement. I use Barges, which is available in a tube form in most craft/hobby stores. You just want to make sure you have adequate ventilation when using it, as it presents a rather strong odor.

There is a tool available that's called a number 9 Leather Slicker that chucks into your drill. It's a multi-use tool for slicking the edges. It has three grooves, different sizes. You can also use it for slicking the interior edges of your belt slots. It's available in a durable plastic or wood form. The wood one costs more. The plastic version runs around $25-$30.

I'm somewhat confused (which ain't hard to do most days) with what you're asking in your last paragraph. Are you asking how to assemble the holster that is one whole piece or are you asking something else?

Wingshooter
April 19, 2005, 05:07 PM
Besides, my fingers hurt and are pretty cut up from my awl blade. Stupid thing keeps slipping out from the handle so I have to grab the blade to pull it from the leather


See my previous post about polishing your tools. Makes it slide in and out easier and can help prevent that problem.

I also second the Barge cement. Contact cement is your friend when you use it correctly. It will save you so much trouble if you don't get impatient.

K-Man, I think he's just talking about a simple fold. Like the one you have pictured for the SAA. Perhaps even a sight rail? I'm not sure. If that's the case you just cement it together and stitch it. You can get the leather wet, but for me it's easier if it's just a little damp.


p.s. Shorts, save your spit and invest in a damp sponge. To slick the edges you just want the leather damp, but not too wet or it'll never burnish right. I like to use cocobolo sticks, they work extremely well and are just a darn nice looking wood. Of course I guess you could use the dremel, but I like doing that last bit by hand. Not sure why, just more traditional. It's not like I'm churning out large quantities of leather goods so a little extra time doesn't hurt anything on my end.

K-Man
April 19, 2005, 05:32 PM
Wingshooter, I thought that might be what Shorts was referring to - just a fold over. They're easier to do for the most part, but it really depends on the design of the holster whether it turns out that way. :D

thorn726
April 19, 2005, 08:28 PM
wow guys, amazing work, that walk through was very cool.

i had been wondering about this stuff myself, i love DIY, for everything.
i was also wondering about the shaping part, and not only do we get the info here, but photos! .

im gonna find me some leather, and i will put the street punks to work sewing it= theyre always sewing leather junk!

Shorts
April 20, 2005, 12:20 AM
p.s. Shorts, save your spit and invest in a damp sponge.

It's not so much spit spit......I was in the garage doing testing, and it was easier to lick the piece of leather than to run in and get a sponge :o

Yes, the holsters in question were the fold overs. I just wasn't sure what the term was.

I'm just about done stitching up the holster. I'm hoping to get it finished tonight, but stitching has been slow around the rear looop. Holding it while I poke the needle through it has been tough because there is so little material to hold on to. But the good thing is my hole punch and stitch pattern is much more uniformed than my glorious trial run grips

Anyway, here's the current progress, my lines :D

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=23856&stc=1
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=23855&stc=1


Here's sewn together and the edges have had a once over with the Dremel. After this I took a piece of sandpaper too the edges for a final shaping since I'm burnishing with canvas, the edges are evened.

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=23879&stc=1

I have the pistol in the wet leather now. I wet the leather with warm/hot water and a drop of Dawn liquid dish soap. I generously oiled and wrapped my gun in saran wrap then stuck it in the leather. I also inserted a 3/16" dowel down for the front sight channel. On the backside I inserted flat wooden sticks to simulate shape through the rear belt loop. Depending on how that comes out I might modify that design. I have also shaped the leather a bit, but nothing detailed yet. I'm going to wait until the leather dries some more. The grooves I made for stitching are also closing up over the thread a bit, so I just used my overstitch wheel to open and shape them again:
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=23880&stc=1

Wingshooter
April 20, 2005, 12:33 AM
Well it looks good so far. If you find yourself getting serious, pick up, or make, a stitching pony. It's a lifesaver for saddlestitching. I made one myself for less than $10.00, although if you want you can pony up some serious dough and buy one already made. It's like a third hand. It's late now and mine's in the barn. I'll go out tomorrow and take a pic of mine to show you one. I like mine better than the commercial ones because it's stronger and the jaws open wider. Probably sounds confusing now, but it'll be clearer in the morning when I've slept.

K-Man
April 20, 2005, 07:12 AM
Nice job, Shorts! I agree with Wingshooter that a stitching pony would be a great help in holding the holster while doing the stitching. You can find them on eBay for a fairly reasonable price ~$20-$30. http://search.ebay.com/stitching-pony_Leathercraft_W0QQcatrefZC3QQcatrefZC6QQcoactionZcompareQQcoentrypageZsearchQQcopagenumZ1QQfposZQ5AIPQ2fPostalQQfromZR2QQfsooZ2QQfsopZ2QQftrtZ1QQftrvZ1QQsacatZ28131QQsadisZ200QQsargnZQ2d1QQsaslcZ2QQsbrftogZ1QQsofocusZbs

Wingshooter
April 20, 2005, 11:12 AM
Ok,

I took some pics of my stitching pony. I made it several years ago but IIRC it only cost about $10.00 and it was assembled with a few woodscrews, scrap leather to pad the vise, a hinge, half of a ratcheting tie down, and 1 piece of red oak 1"x4" and probably 4 foot long. I used hand tools and a dremel because at that time I didn't have the woodshop I have now.

It's nice to have it, it truly is a third hand. Just place it on the chair you're working in (or attach it to your table with a vise) sit down and go to town. It really speeds up the stitching process.

Here it is in all it's glory:


http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=23858&stc=1

The ratcheting mechanism I just attached with a u-bolt on one side and cut a hole on the other side large enough to pass the strap:

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=23859&stc=1

I hinged the base so I could get stuff in and out, and so it could hold thicker projects easier:

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=23860&stc=1

I also padded the vise jaws with some scrap leather so I wouldn't damage any project, also to cover where I had countersunk the screw holes that held the jaws to the main part of the pony:

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=23861&stc=1


The main reason I made this one myself was that there was no intermediate size that I could find at that time. You either had a small one for holding wallets, or the monster made for saddles. Plus, I just couldn't spend $65.00 on something I knew I could make myself. I've had this one for about 6 years now and it was well worth the cost.

If you want more details just let me know.

Wingshooter
April 20, 2005, 11:17 AM
I forgot to add this.

If you want an idea of dimensions, that olfa cutting mat is 18 inches wide(olfa cutting mats and rotary cutters are a Godsend to cutting leather BTW). Also, I sanded the oak until it was silky smooth then put a good grade wax on the wood. I mainly did that because I like to throw it on the chair in the den and sit on it and stitch while I watch TV sometimes. Wax just seems easier to deal with than varnish.

Shorts
April 20, 2005, 12:23 PM
Thanks for the support guys :cool: I need to get it done now. I had a dream last night I was carjacked, but I wasn't carrying (because I had no holster), and the two dufuses easily got away with my truck :mad: :banghead:

Wingshooter, thanks for putting up the info and pics on your stitchin pony. You did a nice job on that. That will really help me out. I think I'm going to get tetanus from all the wounds on my hands and knees/thighs :o

I'd like to make a pony for myself, rather than buying one. It's just more satisfying that way. I figured that I'll have one for my next project should I decide I wanna keep poking around with leather. I didn't want to invest a wad of money right off the bat for a hobby I wasn't sure I'd get into. But so far so good.

Wingshooter
April 20, 2005, 02:55 PM
Glad I could help out with it. I hope you find some of that information useful. If you have any other questions let me know. I'll help out however I can.

Valkman
April 20, 2005, 05:13 PM
Great thread!

I just tried my first stitching pony and they're great! I have the cheap one from Tandy, and while it could be alot better it works at least. It was $14.99 I think.

I used a nail to make the stitiching holes then put it in the pony to sew. I need to learn to finish the edges better - I have some stuff called gum tragacanth but didn't try it because I don't know how to use it. I just buffed this on the belt grinder some.

http://img181.echo.cx/img181/7996/knifeinsheathgun9oc.jpg

Wingshooter
April 20, 2005, 06:28 PM
Valkman,

I like that knife sheath. The stitching is very nice. I know, it's odd the things I notice. For the edges, you could use the sander, just get the leather damp first. Helps bind it into one surface. Just don't burn the leather. It looks great though.

I need to make another knife sheath. I threw one together the other day for a new knife and got into a rush. Got my seam too close to the edge of the leather. When I slicked it the leather ran over the seam a little bit. I'll probably redo it later, but it works for now. I'm just not as happy with it as I could be:

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=23885&stc=1

K-Man
April 20, 2005, 08:31 PM
That's very nice work, Valkman and Wingshooter. Here's a few other knife sheaths that I've done over the last year.

This one has anaconda inlay with it. The knife was done by a custom knifemaker who only makes one of a kind knives. That's real ivory on the handle. (The knife/sheath combo sold for $900.)

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v107/Leathercrafter/DanKnife1a.jpg

This one I did the handle work on the knife and did the sheath.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v107/Leathercrafter/AntlerCustom1b.jpg

This one I also did the handle work on the knife and did the sheath.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v107/Leathercrafter/CustomKnife-blacksheath1.jpg

And this one holds a Randall knife and Surefire Aviator.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v107/Leathercrafter/KnifeSheathCombo1.jpg

Valkman
April 20, 2005, 08:39 PM
Man those are nice! I like the one with the star the best - I don't know why but anything that has a Texas star looks great to me, and I'm not even from Texas. Gonna have to buy some of those and put 'em on sheaths. :)

Wingshooter
April 20, 2005, 09:00 PM
That ivory knife is beautiful. Is the blade damascus? I also like the styling of the sheath, it has a unique shape to it and I like it.

I need to do more holster/sheath work. Most of my stuff has been along the line of carving and such. I enjoy the look of boned leather though. Just need to do more of it. That fire bucket in the background is something I've been working on off and on for a few years now. Not that it's that difficult, just always have something else come up.

Keep the pics coming everybody, they give me ideas to work with.

K-Man
April 20, 2005, 10:33 PM
Yep, that's a damascus blade. Wait until you see the next knife this guy did that I'll be making a sheath for. I saw it the other day and it was pure awesome. Cut from the same piece of damascus as the one above, and has mammoth ivory grips.

Whenever I make sheaths for him, the guy brings me the knife and basically tells me what color he wants and maybe a couple of other little things, and then let's me do the rest on my own. I thought on this one for a couple of weeks before doing it. I knew I wanted to incorporate some type of exotic skin with it, and that anaconda was a piece of scrap I had laying around.

Exotic skins are an interesting thing to work with. I've added gator, shark, stingray, ostrich, lizard, snake to various holsters. Sometimes it's used as an accent, sometimes it covers the whole holster. I've found stingray the hardest to use, primarily because it will literally tear up a sewing machine. I only rivet and glue it on now. Here's a pic of one I did last year:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v107/Leathercrafter/StingRay1.jpg

The contrasting white is the fin of the stingray. It, too, makes for a nice accent.

Here's one I did with shark:

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v107/Leathercrafter/SharkLeather75BD.jpg

Norm357
April 20, 2005, 10:39 PM
K Man, where do you get the gun blanks(I hope this is the right term) from?

K-Man
April 20, 2005, 10:52 PM
I've picked them up from a variety of sources. The aluminum casted ones come from Duncans Outdoors in Michigan. I've also used the Ring Blue Guns and ASP Red Guns. You can do a google search for those and come up with a variety of sources. The blue and red guns are generally law enforcement oriented. Some of the gun manufacturers themselves have dummy/non-functioning guns available. My experience has been that you have to provide proof that you're a bonafide holster-making business in order to get those. Usually a business license, tax certificate, or something similar suffices.

Wingshooter
April 20, 2005, 11:23 PM
Awesome, a few questions about the hide though. It the Ray skin really that tough to work with? I'm not using a machine obviously, and I'm guessing hand stitching would be a bit easier since I'd have holes already done. If it's that tough to work with I bet it last forever though.

Also, how hard is it to work with sharkskin? I'd love to try it someday. How thick is it? Equivalent to a 4/5 oz leather? Does it tool or shape well, or do you need to place it on another leather first to hold the shape?

So many new questions keep popping up for me.

K-Man
April 20, 2005, 11:46 PM
With respect to the stingray, those "bumps" are extremely hard. I have difficulty cutting through it with a pair of EMT scissors. I get it as close as I can to the shape of the holster, and once it's on the leather, I have to take it to the bench grinder to get it the rest of the way down. With hand sewing, you could probably pre-drill the holes, but it's going to be tough making it even spacing because there's no real way to mark the skin. Probably if you had a different and/or lighter color, you could use a marking pen where you want the holes made. I have a skin that's a peanut brittle, more rust color to me, that you could easily mark with a pen for placement of holes. But now that I think about it, you could probably use a silver or gold marking pen on the darker skins. Stingray is a very durable skin. I would rank it as being in the top 5 for sure, if not the top one.

With respect to the shark, I find it's a very easy skin to use. It's probably closer to a 5/6 oz thickness. Part of that will be dependent though on who's doing the skinning. All of the ones that I've received have been in the 5/6 oz range. It's easy to sew through. You definitely need to apply/adhere it to some veg tan in order to mold it. You cannot tool on it. I've done some laser engraving on it, but it needs to be a light color in order to get the contrast of the design, especially since there's deep texture on the shark.

Shorts
April 21, 2005, 11:21 AM
I've found the Blue guns for $40-$50 ea online. I wish Duncan's had a site, but I've heard their quality has dropped dramatically in recent times. Mainly the pistols have been rough and somewhat unfinished. For long term, the alunimums would last longer than the red and blue, especially for retaining the sharper edges of the gun, like around ejection ports and such.

Question on my holster, I don't have any dye yet. So I gotta order. But it is just about dry from molding and the leather is pretty hard. I was wondering if I should wait to condition the leather (w/ Lexol) until after the holster is dyed. If I condition then try to dye it, it would mess up the dye job, right? I'm also curious if I should use a finishing acrylic on it. If I do, will the leather still be able to be wiped with conditioner once in a while? Or would that even be a factor after the acrylic is on?

K-Man
April 21, 2005, 12:27 PM
Duncan's website is www.duncansoutdoor.com. However, I don't believe you can order the dummy guns through it. Their phone number is 989-894-6691, ask for Pat in the dummy gun section. The detail of the aluminum casted guns is less than you see on the blue/red guns. It depends on how much "boning" you intend to do with the holster as to whether or not more cleaning up of the gun is needed. The biggest frustration I have with them is when you call and try and order something off their list and find out that they don't have it in stock. They will not replenish it until they get another genuine version of the gun in to send to their maker. :what:

For blue/red guns, try www.elitetacticalsources.com. Their price is about $33/per plus shipping.

Wingshooter
April 21, 2005, 12:40 PM
Shorts, I've always done any dye and tooling before I mold. That was the way I was taught, seems to be easier to dye flat leather. I also prefer an oil based dye as opposed to the acrylic dyes. They seem to go deeper into the leather and last longer and buff up nicer. Unless I'm doing multiple colors on the same piece, which would be a mess with the oil based dyes.

When I finish molded leather (the few times I've done it) I prefer to finish with either beeswax that I buff out or atom wax (which doesn't finish as hard, but is easier to work with). I've never used Lexol so I can't comment on it, but I guess it would depend on what type dye you've chosen. I would suggest you avoid any type of conditioner that would soften the leather though. I'm guessing here, but I would think if you used any conditioner that softened the leather it cause your holster to lose the shape you've attainted by wetting the leather.

K-Man
April 21, 2005, 01:58 PM
Your finish is going to react differently on different qualities of veg tanned leather. As Wingshooter stated, oil based dyes penetrate into the leather better than the spirit or water based dyes. I use oil based dyes. When I used to use mineral spirit based dyes, I would apply one thin coat of neatsfoot oil. That ends up giving you a more consistent finish when you apply the dye.

More often than not, I apply the dye after I've assembled and molded the holster. If I'm doing multi-color pieces, then I dye before assembly/molding. I apply the dye by dipping it in the dye, which is contained in a plastic container. You end up with a much more even finish than you'll experience with applying the dye by a dauber or cloth. Oftentimes you'll see streaks, etc., if using a dauber. YMMV. After it's dry, I buff it lightly with a soft cloth, removing any residue. I then spray it with leather sheen, giving it a couple of coats. Any other type of finish would be appropriate, too.

Wingshooter
April 21, 2005, 04:45 PM
K-Man, where do you get your stingray hide? I've been mulling it overnight and I'd really like to try and do an inlay holster with some of it. I did a google search, but mostly turned up bags, wallets, and such. Of course, I could be looking it up the wrong way.

If it's a wholesale only type thing then I understand, but at least it would be a start for me.

Thanks,

Chris

K-Man
April 21, 2005, 05:01 PM
I have some I can get to you, dependent on how much you're wanting. Send me a pm or email and we can discuss details. :D

You can also find it on eBay.

If you like working with it, then I'd be more than happy to provide you the contact info to get more. :)

Wingshooter
April 21, 2005, 06:08 PM
Just sent you an e-mail!

Shorts
April 22, 2005, 10:31 PM
I have good news and bad news.

First, the good news: My holster is pretty much finished and I'm halfway ok with my first work of this kind. I only have to get a coat of wax on it and make it all pretty. I dyed it black, swabbed the color on. The tight spots were tough to get, but saturation can be a friend. The gun is very tight in there, so a little wear, maybe a touch of conditioner might help. But I'll wait on that and just focus on wear for now. It is pretty rigid too, which I guess is a good thing.

Now, the bad news: The functionality of the holster sucks :o While the thought of the design and comfort is excellent as I wear it, the gun is just a bit too big (length wise) and is top heavy. So the gun has a tendency to lean forward away from my body. Not cool. I think this design would work perfect for shorter barrels. The 86s barrel measures out to 4.4", so it's on the tall side for a "small gun". For a bit I thought I'd see if I could come up with a fix for this holster. But on second thought, chalk it up as lessons learned. But my first actual holster was made and came out, well, like a holster. I just have to do a design that functions :p

Anyhow, this means I must make a new holster. Oh no... the horror :D I'm starting on it tonight, at least getting the pattern cut out. Hopefully the next one turns out an all around better :cool:

http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=23934&stc=1
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=23935&stc=1
http://www.thehighroad.org/attachment.php?attachmentid=23936&stc=1

K-Man
April 22, 2005, 11:07 PM
Shorts, that's a very fine result for your first go at it. As I mentioned earlier, you're on the right track with thinking through how a holster/gun should be positioned on your body and how to make that happen. You obviously have the wherewithal to see it through and make it work. Many others would give it up and move onto something else.

Here's a link that may give you some other points of consideration:

http://www.womensholsters.com/choosing.html

It's mostly basic info, but it may provide some points to ponder.

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