A bunch of years ago I lost the sheath to my USMC Ka-Bar and went online looking to see where I could get a cheap replacement. I came across a web site with instructions on how to make a sheath without having to sew anything. Killer! So I looked at the pattern and fooled around with it until I made a passable sheath.
What you see in these photos is merely a demonstration, so don’t think this is the sheath I wear around with my proud Ka-Bar! My dad gave me some old leather for another project and I used the remains to pass on to ya’ll the way that I made a sheath for it.
What you’ll need.
You’ll need a few things to get started:
- A knife – obviously. Did I mention KA-BARs are great?
- Rule or tape measure.
- Rawhide material, heavy-duty canvas, or some similar material.
- Strips of rawhide or some other cordage.
It can be a little confusing, but I’ll to be as clear as I can. A picture is worth a thousand words, so don’t be afraid to study the pictures. Also, read all the way through first to get a better idea of how it all fits together. Let’s get started…
Note – I marked up the leather with a permanent marker as a demonstration. Don’t do this or your sheath will have ink marks all over it.
Step 1. Measurements.
Measure the length of the blade plus one inch and the length of the handle.
Below is the blade plus one inch.
Step 2. Drawing.
Draw a line around the blade giving yourself a little extra material. Flip the blade to it’s other side and do it again. The reason for this will become clear in a minute (see below).
Step 3. Measuring.
Measure the handle and then add a 1/2 length to it. This will be the belt loop (below). Then flip the knife to the other end and draw out the blade. Make this one a little wider. I’ll explain why in a bit.
Step 4. Connecting the dots.
Time to connect the dots and draw the outline of the sheath. Look at the example below.
Step 5. Cut it out.
This leather was thin enough that I was able to use a pair of scissors. In the picture I left more material on the left for reasons that will become clear shortly.
Step 6. Fold and trim.
Fold the big (folded) section in half and measure your knife against it. Trim off some of the excess.
Below you can see how I trimmed it.
Step 7. Lay out next piece.
Now you’ve got the folded half you just trimmed. Lay that over the other piece just to get a feel for how many slits you’ll need to cut.
Step 8. Making slits.
This is the tricky part. On the end that has the big piece you haven’t trimmed yet start making some slits like in the picture below. This is where the part that holds the knife will slip into. (This is the secret of not having to sew anything.) You’ll have to experiment to figure out how many slits you’ll need for your particular blade. I have my knife stuck through there, but you’ll need to make the slits a little bigger to fit the other piece through.
Step 9. Weaving.
Once you have the slits cut take the folded half, which I think of as the “sheath proper,” and weave it through the slits in the bigger piece. Again, you’ll have to play with this to get it just right.
Step 10. Cutting rawhide.
Cut a piece of rawhide to tie around the handle of the knife to keep it in place. In the other sheath I made I cut a slit for the handle-tie rawhide so I wouldn’t lose it when I was using the knife. (That’s not pictured here.) Below is a picture of the back of the sheath – the part that will ride against your leg.
Obviously this is just a sample sheath I whipped together for the purpose of this post. If you take your time and do it right you can really create a very nice sheath for next to nothing.
As cool as this is I’d love to claim all the credit for it, but you can see the original sheath and a pattern here. I found this when I was going through my debt reduction days and didn’t want to spend the money on a sheath. I also like it because you can tailor it to any knife at all.
The fit is very important. Too much space in the slits and the knife will fit loosely. Too tight and it won’t fit at all or you’ll cut the leather. I didn’t get it right until about the third time I tried it.
BTW: I know the knife in the picture is a little beat up, but that’s because I actually use my knives.