Fashion a Leather Knife Sheath

Sharpen your self-sufficiency skills by crafting a soft shell for your shiv. Learn how you can fashion your own knife sheath to keep everything secure.


No fixed blade is complete without a proper sheath. A sheath will prevent your knife from accidentally cutting or stabbing you or another object when it’s not in use. It’ll also protect the edge from damage, and cushion the knife from any impact that could occur from a drop. A sheath will help you take your knife wherever you want to go.

The natural feel and durability of leather makes it one of my favorite sheath materials. The following instructions from my book, A Modern Guide to Knifemaking, will show you how to make a simple and effective leather sheath.

Tools and Materials:

  • Scissors
  • Utility knife
  • Scratch compass
  • Drill press or awl                  
  • 1/16-inch drill bit 
  • Wood file
  • Pliers
  • Belt sander
  • Spacer set
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Graph paper
  • 7- to 8-ounce vegetable-tanned leather
  • Tape
  • Contact cement
  • Artificial sinew
  • Harness sewing needles
  • Matches
  • Sanding belts (60- and 200-grit)
  • Plastic wrap
  • Leather dressing

1. Draw the pattern

Using a ruler, draw a straight line the full length of the paper. This will be the leather fold of the sheath. Place the spine of your knife about 1/4 inch from the line and roughly parallel with it. Then, trace around the curve of the knife edge, leaving a bit of space between the actual edge of the blade and your pencil line. Extend this line up two-thirds of the length of the handle, and make a mark to designate the top of your sheath. Draw a second line running along the knife edge, but make this one about 1/2 inch out from the first line. The space between these two lines is where your welt will go. The welt is a strip of leather sewn between the two sides of the sheath that creates a buffer between the knife’s edge and the stitching.

At the top of the pattern, extend the two lines at least 5 inches past the top of your sheath to create the belt loop. I like the belt loop to be narrower than the sheath, so taper both sides so that the loop won’t be visible when you view your sheath from the front. Make sure you leave enough length so that when you fold the strap down and stitch it, you have a space that’s at least 2 inches wide for your belt. Fold the paper in half on the center seam and cut around your pattern through both sides of the paper to produce two identical sheath sides. Trim the sheath so only one side has a belt loop.

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