Quantcast

I've made another holster.

Discussion in 'Handguns: Accessories, Holsters, and Optics' started by BCRider, May 13, 2014.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. BCRider

    BCRider Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2008
    Messages:
    7,839
    Location:
    Pacific North"Wet" Coast of Canada
    This time it's for my 1911's. It's a outside the belt waist holster intended to be used in my IDPA matches.

    Picture one is of the two slabs cut to the template I made up and with one side stitched and the other punched and ready for stitching. The two pieces are held together at this point with solvent based "old style" contact cement. And you can see the edge rounding tool and wormies it leaves in rounding over the edges of the leather plates.

    P1020001.jpg

    Next up is the holster with the completed stitching and showing the clamping cauls made from 1/4 inch plywood that will be used during the molding process along with some sleeping mat foam to squeeze the portions around the trigger guard inwards. This snug fit around the trigger guard does much for gripping the gun securely in the holster and holding it in a consistent position.

    P1020003.jpg

    Picture 3 is all the goodies staged for the hot water soak and insertion of the gun protected by the plastic bag. I soak the leather in near boiling water for about a minute and a half to ensure the leather is limp and pliable and able to easily stretch to shape. But not so long that it begins to swell. This length of hot water soak also aids in hardening and toughening the leather.

    P1020004.jpg

    Next we see the gun in place and the trigger guard area cauls and foam lightly clamped by my bench vise. The pressure is so light that I needed to support the butt of the gun with the scrap wood and old scuba weight as shown to prevent it rolling and falling out of the vise. Notice that I've angled the belt flaps so they are closer to the final shape that they'll have when I'm wearing the holster.

    P1020005.jpg


    Number 5 is the dried leather with gun in place and the belt slots half way through cutting and finishing the edges. Note how the trigger guard area is molded thanks to the use of the sleeping mat foam and clamping cauls.

    P1020006.jpg

    And finally two shots of the finished holster after dyeing the leather and applying some protective neutral shoe wax inside and out.

    Sharp eyes will note now the back plate shape has changed. I'd originally left this rather high and rounded with the idea being to guide the muzzle more easily into the opening and also to somewhat protect the thumb safety from being accidentally moved. But the shape proved to be in the way of my hand when reaching in to get a proper grip for the draw. As shown it now does not get in my way for obtaining a secure grip. But it still helps me with getting the muzzle into the opening and it's still high enough in the right place to protect the safety.

    In this first shot it's shown with my CZ75 and holster that I made about 4 years back and which has served me well for my IDPA shooting.

    P1020007.jpg

    And here it is showing the modified rear plate. If I do another I'm going to play with this one and try to make the back plate shape even a little more extreme to aid with holstering and protection for the safety while not hindering the attaining of a solid grip before drawing.

    P1020008.jpg

    The holster I made for my CZ was the first leather work project I have ever done. I hope this description will inspire and encourage more of you into making your own firearms gear of this sort. If not in leather than perhaps in Kydex.
     
  2. Hometeached1

    Hometeached1 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2013
    Messages:
    1,178
    Location:
    Where ever the good LORD puts me.
    Very nice. :)
     
  3. CraigC
    • Contributing Member

    CraigC Sixgun Nut

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2006
    Messages:
    19,871
    Location:
    West Tennessee
    Looks great!
     
  4. BCRider

    BCRider Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2008
    Messages:
    7,839
    Location:
    Pacific North"Wet" Coast of Canada
    Thanks guys. Hopefully this inspires others to have a go.

    Craig, I've got a LONG way to go before I can aspire to leather working at your level. But I'm hoping to get there.... :D
     
  5. egyas

    egyas Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2011
    Messages:
    63
    That's really nice work BCRider! Looks really sweet. :)
     
  6. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2010
    Messages:
    8,633
    Location:
    South Eastern Illinois
    Way to go BC!
    Those are lookin' good.
    I have a belt box for my cap 'n ball revolvers about half-done. Too much rain here to farm.
     
  7. CraigC
    • Contributing Member

    CraigC Sixgun Nut

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2006
    Messages:
    19,871
    Location:
    West Tennessee
    Don't be silly, you're doing a fine job!
     
  8. Hometeached1

    Hometeached1 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2013
    Messages:
    1,178
    Location:
    Where ever the good LORD puts me.
    Yes, you are doing WAY better than my best "work". :banghead:
     
  9. BCRider

    BCRider Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2008
    Messages:
    7,839
    Location:
    Pacific North"Wet" Coast of Canada
    Thanks guys.

    I'm going to go with this one for now but I'm looking at trying another to work more with the idea of the taller body side panel that both aids in re-holstering by funneling the gun into the holster and also protecting the safety from being caught up in my shirt. But that's the sort of thing that only comes from trying it out.

    My next big project is to make up a full belt and pair of holsters to use with my cap&ball guns. It's got to fit both my pair of Uberti Remingtons as well as the pair of 1860 Colt clones. I'll be pulling out the stops for that project.
     
  10. Greg528iT

    Greg528iT Member

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2010
    Messages:
    1,220
    I've made a few holsters, been reading up here and another couple sites. Most of the advice is to soak it for WAY less time.. and they use room temp water. I've used warmish water, think moderate warm tap water that I hold the leather under the stream just long enough to wet it. I'd worry about damaging the leather in boiling water.
     
  11. CraigC
    • Contributing Member

    CraigC Sixgun Nut

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2006
    Messages:
    19,871
    Location:
    West Tennessee
    FWIW, I use tap water and only enough to dampen the leather. Most my stuff is stamped so getting it too wet runs the risk of losing the stamping.
     
  12. chains1240

    chains1240 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2010
    Messages:
    381
    Location:
    West Michigan
    The first picture and last picture look worlds different. I have never worked with leather. Love the look you ended up with. Very rich and almost vintage.
     
  13. BCRider

    BCRider Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2008
    Messages:
    7,839
    Location:
    Pacific North"Wet" Coast of Canada
    Yep, the metamorphosis is quite a eye opener.

    When I did my first one for the CZ I was SURE that it would never open up far enough to take the pistol. I was sure I was doomed to start over. But it's all but magical how the hot water softens the leather and lets it stretch around the gun to mold to the shape.

    The fact that between the hot water and then the alcohol based dye that the leather hardens and stiffens is yet another bit of magic.

    Anyhow guys, I posted all this not just to show off a bit but to hopefully inspire some of you to have a go at a holster of your own. If it'll help I'll scan in and post the panels showing the outlines and stitching lines to kick you lot in the backside and get you into motion.
     
  14. Valkman

    Valkman Member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2003
    Messages:
    9,002
    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV
    I'm getting very bored and cannot get back to knifemaking as I sold my equipment and can't afford the stuff all over again. I need something to do and leatherworking is one of the things I've been thinking of trying. I did it before long ago but nothing like holsters, and I may give it a try as I need a OWB for my XDS. Thanks for the thread.
     
  15. doubleh

    doubleh Member

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2007
    Messages:
    3,456
    Location:
    NM-south of I-40
    CraigC is right about not getting your leather too wet after stamping. I don't agree with using any heat at all on tooling leather. No hot water, no putting in an oven, just what Mother Nature supplies. A fan is ok. Heat and leatther do not do well together. Heat wins out every time. Ask any welder how how quickly he goes thru gloves.

    In Al Stholman's holster making book he says after finishing your holster to fill a bucket large enough to hold the holster with water. Submerge the holster and immediately remove it. This will wet it enough to mold it without damaging the tooling/stamping. Then insert your waxed paper wrapped gun into the holster and let the holster dry over night. This was written long before anyone had dreamed up saran wrap. :D The kitchen sink does just as good as a bucket but after doing a couple you will learn how wet it needs to be and can just run water on it.

    I've been doing leather for many years and haven't found ANYTHING Al wrote to disagree with.

    By the way, that's a nice holster, BC.
     
  16. GunNut

    GunNut Member

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2002
    Messages:
    2,084
    Location:
    Central Oregon
    I use warm tap water, but any water will really work. Watch out using to hot of water, it will ruin the leather if to hot.
     
  17. Valkman

    Valkman Member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2003
    Messages:
    9,002
    Location:
    Las Vegas, NV
    Please do - I want to try this with a little taller "shield" on the backside. I'm looking for all my old leatherworking tools and have found shears and 2 burnishing things. That's it. I hate to spend $300 to make a $50 holster but a trip to Tandy is needed.
     
  18. BHPshooter

    BHPshooter Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2002
    Messages:
    3,450
    Location:
    Utah
    BCRider - how do you apply your dye? Do you apply any other finish than shoe polish? I'm wondering if you get any dye rubbing off on your clothes.

    Leatherwork is fun, isn't it? :D
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2014
  19. BCRider

    BCRider Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2008
    Messages:
    7,839
    Location:
    Pacific North"Wet" Coast of Canada
    Sorry for letting this one get away for a while. I got really busy over the last couple of weeks with a local big cowboy action shoot.

    I'll scan in and post the layouts for the plates I've done a bit later today.

    As for the hot water here's a little more information.

    Leather "armor" is/was made by soaking the leather in boiling water then molding it to shape. The boiling water results in the leather hardening. But the guy at the leather store that told me about this also mentioned that they leave it in for long enough that it's almost too long. So yeah, hot or boiling water CAN be bad. But like many things if you do it just right it works just right.

    I remember many years ago I needed a new cup seal for a bicycle pump. I made one out of leather by molding the cup shape. The first one soaked in lukewarm water didn't want to produce a clean cup shape. So I tried hot water. It was better but still had wrinkles in the sides. Then I boiled the piece but left it too long. I had leather "soup" as it swelled out something crazy and got all gelatinous. Tried again and pulled it out after about two minutes before it swelled to thicker. This time the leather formed up like hot plastic and took a lovely cup shape. I used that pump for a few more years until the tube got bent in a tumble.

    On my original holster for the CZ I started with just lukewarm tap water but it wasn't allowing the leather to stretch enough. I was only able to get the gun about 3/4 of the way into the holster. So it was a case of "well, it's no good the way it is so I might as well try...." Remembering my leather cup molding I ran the water up to full hot and ran it over the leather for around a minute or until it was very easy to see that it had become very soft and limp. At that point the gun and bag slipped right in and I was able to form the details around the trigger guard. You can also see in the picture with the two holsters how it formed around the slide stop pin stub sticking out of the side and how it stretched across the ejection ports. Such details would simply not mold well if I'd limited myself to cooler water.

    I did go a little overboard on the water temperature and soak time for the 1911 holster. The gun actually slipped in farther than I wanted with almost no effort at all. So instead of pushing it in to where it just barely wanted to go I had to pull it back out a little and let the leather shrink back a bit. So next time it'll be hot but not as close to boiling. I'll likely try it with a thermometer. This time I got to where bubbles were forming on the pan but not coming up to the surface. Next time I'll hold it to where there's no bubbles beginning to form and go for a little shorter a soak.

    I also don't doubt that at this closer to boiling temperature that if I'd left it in for too long that the leather would have gone gummy like that old pump cup piece I did. But like with most things the material seems to be more durable than we give it credit for and no harm was done. But I did learn a little more about molding leather.

    And yes, this would not work at all on a piece of tooled leather. The details would swell out and be lost. If I were to try some tooling on a heat formed holster or item I'd need to pack the holster with a wooden "gun" to support the leather for the tooling after the leather was molded to shape.

    BHPshooter, the dye is just the basic alcohol based leather dye sold by Tandy. I brush it on generously then buff it off with paper towels to remove as much as the leather will give up. I leave it overnight to dry then rub on a fairly rich helping of the neutral non-coloured shoe polish. For this first coat I rub the polish waxes in with my fingers so I generate a little warmth. And if I were in a cool shop instead of the house I would likely use some gentle heat from a hair dryer on low to aid with this. The shoe polish is allowed to dry for a few minutes then I vigorously rub off the excess to produce the sheen. Between the vigorous rub down to remove the excess and overnight drying I don't find that I'm getting any dye bleed at all.
     
    Last edited: May 28, 2014
  20. aarondhgraham

    aarondhgraham Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2012
    Messages:
    2,175
    Location:
    Stillwater, Oklahoma
    About that hot water and leather,,,

    I used to be a member of a medieval re-enactment group,,,
    I can't tell you how many "suits" of leather armor I have made in the past,,,
    One thing they don't ever mention is that the "leather" they were using for boiled leather was actually rawhide.

    Vegetable tanned leather does dry to a good stiffness after hot/boiling water treatment,,,
    But it isn't necessary to make it mold to fit a gun's shape.

    I will tell you not to try hot water after you have done any floral carving,,,
    The hot water "loosens" the bonded fibers and your tooling will suffer.

    One old saddle maker I worked with said he only used hot/scalding water,,,
    When he had to stretch the leather around forks with extremely large swells.

    I personally use slightly warm water,,,
    But that's only because I don't like putting my hands in cold water. :eek:

    Someone mentioned earlier to ask 100 different makers a question,,,
    You will get 100 completely different answers,,,
    In most cases they will all be viable.

    BTW,,,
    Nice holster BC

    Aarond

    .
     
  21. BCRider

    BCRider Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2008
    Messages:
    7,839
    Location:
    Pacific North"Wet" Coast of Canada
    Yep, be it the leather work or my other crafts I've learned that there is more than one road to Rome. We've all got different methods of getting there.

    If I were to use a little more leather then a cooler water would likely let me get the gun in. Would the details around the trigger guard be as crisp? Would the leather shrink neatly around that slide stop pin? Would the gun "notch" cleanly and positively into position in the completed holster if the molding details were not quite as tight? I dunno. I'd have to try it.

    Maybe I got lucky the first time? Either way the hot water method for molding the leather in this style is working well for me. Next up is a set of magazine pouches to match with the holster for my IDPA set.

    It's interesting to note that you mentioned hot or scalding water being used by that saddle maker to get the leather to fit around difficult shapes. So using scalding water to soften the leather to a greater degree for molding isn't unheard of.

    When I do the belt and holster set for my black powder revolvers I'm looking to do some minimal tooling and engraving using Craig's examples as inspiration. And for those there won't be any hot water in the room. Different goals, different methods.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice