leather shapes leather shapes



Moulding a case for a folding knife

An important characteristic of vegetable tanned leather is its ability to maintain a moulded shape. When it has been immersed in water, preferably warm, its fibres become soft and pliable, making it easy to manipulate. Thus the following is probably the easiest, certainly the simplest introduction to moulding leather I know of. The making of a case to hold a folding knife. The knife itself will act as the former, as the "cased" (wetted) leather is moulded around its shape. The leather to use is 6 - 7oz vegetable tanned cowhide. Use a wet (not soaking) sponge to dampen the grain side first, then the flesh, allowing time for the water to penetrate throughout its thickness.

Place the knife on a sheet of paper and draw its outline, as shown in Fig 1. Draw a line indicating where the top of the pocket will be. Mark the pattern outline A approximately 1" outside the knife outline, this distance is arrived at by the universal understanding of  using "twice the thickness of the object to the pattern edge".

Have already assembled the tools you are going to use, a wooden backing board, hammer, tacks (brass tacks are preferable to steel) and a bone folder. Next, cut out the pattern, transfer the outline to your leather and cut that out, then case the leather. When it's ready, place the knife (narrowest end, if it has one, to the bottom) wrapped tightly in clingfilm on the board and position the cased leather over it as shown in Fig 2.

Firmly hold the leather down against the sides of the knife. Start pushing the leather against the bottom of the knife using the bone folder as shown in Fig 3. Continue back and forth to crease around the end, pressing tightly against the knife under the leather. If you've cased the leather correctly then it will respond accordingly. As in Fig 4, tap a couple of tacks into the crease you are making in the leather, through into the board. Now begin to work around a corner, still pushing firmly against the knife.

Continuing to crease firmly add another tack, and start working at the next corner, as in Fig 5. If you are now beginning to find the leather is not forming as it should, it may be because it is too dry, or, even too wet! If  it is too dry then go over it  with your sponge again, conversely, if too wet, allow to dry a little, then continue working the leather until it responds. Add a tack at the corner while continuing to press and crease up the side, Fig 6, still holding the leather firmly in place as you push in with your folder. Don't forget that the case must not be narrower at the top than the bottom otherwise you'll not get the knife out of it. As can be seen in Fig 7 the tacks placed at the side helps to hold the case while you're finishing the near side. Only let the tacks touch the leather in the crease, if you are using steel tacks, and not any other part as they will leave a stain. Any marks they make in the crease will be covered by the stitching. Carry on shaping and tacking, see Fig 8, then remove the knife and permit the leather to dry completely.

When it is dry remove the tacks and burnish the edge of the pocket. Trim off the excess leather ¹/8" away from the crease, Fig 9,  as this is your sewing line. Next place the knife, covered by the pocket, on a sheet of paper and draw around it, Fig 10, with lines A ¹/8" outside the pocket. The B lines indicate the width of the belt loop which has to be narrower than the sewing lines of the case. Having done that, cut out your paper pattern which should appear as in Fig 11, turn over and fold for the belt loop (remember the previous instruction about its width) and trim the ends: line marked C.


Cut the back from the same weight of leather as the pocket, 6-7oz cowhide, being sure to follow the pattern. Burnish the edges as indicated, Fig 12, then moisten and fold the belt loop over a piece of scrap leather the same thickness as your belt, stick the arrow shaped part in place with some adhesive then sew it in place. Next place the knife and pocket on the back piece and mark around the pocket edge onto it. Apply adhesive and join together with the back piece edges protruding. (You can if you prefer trim the back piece flush with the pocket edge after sticking the two parts together. You could then create a sewing channel on the back side to recess the stitching.)  Finally place the sandwich (the knife remains inside still) in your stitching horse and sew together. Trim off the excess leather and burnish the edge.


previous Contents   Links   FAQ   BBCNews   Visitors Book
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133



leather shapes leather shapes