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Thread: Making leather holsters (pictorial)

  1. #1
    Member Rancid Crabtree's Avatar
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    Default Making leather holsters (pictorial)

    I love working with leather. As a knife maker that makes my own sheaths Its a must-have skill set. Holdsters for sidearms are realy just sheaths (but for handguns) I will show the steps in making a holster for a revolver and a semi auto. This is a Taurus chambered in .357 magnum. I wear this on my side whenever Im bowhunting.



    It came without a holster so I needed to make one. Im not excited about having another thing to carry into the woods (especially something that weighs about 2 pounds when loaded). I've never made a holster before but it can't be too much different that a knife sheath.

    I started with a pattern I cut out of cereal box cardboard with approximate stitching lines.



    The holster will be made of two pieces of 8 Oz. tooling leather



    To hold the two pieces in place for working, I used rubber cement.



    Then added brass rivets in the stress areas and began punching lacing holes.



    I hand stitched it with a heavy , braided, brown, waxed, thread.



    I then added stitching around the outer edge.



    Then I wetted the leather for shaping to the contour of the gun.



    Here it is prior to molding the wet leather to the gun's details.



    Using a piece of bone and the back of a sharpie marker, I creased and molded the leather.



    After 10 minutes under a hair dryer, the shape is locked into the leather.



    Then it was time to cut belt loops. I punched holes at each end of the loops.



    And connected them with a razor knife.



    To smooth the lines, I used a sanding drum inside the slot.



    And then a larger sanding drum for the outside edge.



    Then I wetted the holster again and formed the hip curve and pre-shaped the belt loops as well and slicked the cut edges. Again a bit of time under a hair dryer locked in the shape.







    Despite rubbing the edge, its still a bit fuzzy, I will address this later.



    Then its time for a deep brown stain.



    After



    Now to address those fuzzy edges. Edge kote is used on belts and billfolds and anywhere you want to protect, waterproof and smooth the cut edge of leather.



    After 2 coats and a bit of slicking with a bone.



    The wetting and heat used for drying and the alcohol base stain has really dried out the leather and made it very hard. Neatsfoot oil will restore those lost oils and be the first step in water proofing the leather.



    This darkens the leather even more.



    After letting the neatsfoot oil soak in I further seal and waterproof and conditioned the leather with warmed mink oil.



    The finished product. I have about 6 hours into it.






  2. #2
    Member Rancid Crabtree's Avatar
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    A coworkers bought a sidearm but needed a holster and wanted to learn leatherworking. He asked that I teach him basic leatherworking. He wanted to do as much of the work himself as possible so I would show him on a portion of the project and he would complete each task. Here is his holset build along.

    We started by making a few patterns out of cereal box paperboard until we arrived at what he wanted.



    Once we settled on the pattern we cut some 8 Oz. tooling leather. We wetted the leather and wet formed it to shape and contours of the handgun. We use a hand dryer to dry and lock the shape into the leather.









    Then he cut out a more refined shape.



    A backing piece of the same thickness was cut and after stamping stitching holes, the two parts were hand stitched together. Then we cut belt loops







    He had a holster for a snub nosed revolver he brought along because it featured a quick snap feature for the thumb and he wanted that feature on this holster. After a little experimenting, this is how it looks.









    Then we gave the holster a deep dark black die job followed by a good soaking in neatsfoot oil to restore the oils lost during working the leather. Then we rubbed it down with warmed mink oil to waterproof. He (and I) are pleased with the results.









    In all he made 3 trips to my shop that were each 3 hours long for a total of 9 hours to construct but this was a hands on learning project and could be repeated in about 4 hours.




  3. #3
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    Neat work! Thanks for posting

  4. #4
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    Default Nice job

    Quote Originally Posted by Rancid Crabtree View Post
    A coworkers bought a sidearm but needed a holster and wanted to learn leatherworking. He asked that I teach him basic leatherworking. He wanted to do as much of the work himself as possible so I would show him on a portion of the project and he would complete each task. Here is his holset build along.

    We started by making a few patterns out of cereal box paperboard until we arrived at what he wanted.



    Once we settled on the pattern we cut some 8 Oz. tooling leather. We wetted the leather and wet formed it to shape and contours of the handgun. We use a hand dryer to dry and lock the shape into the leather.









    Then he cut out a more refined shape.



    A backing piece of the same thickness was cut and after stamping stitching holes, the two parts were hand stitched together. Then we cut belt loops







    He had a holster for a snub nosed revolver he brought along because it featured a quick snap feature for the thumb and he wanted that feature on this holster. After a little experimenting, this is how it looks.









    Then we gave the holster a deep dark black die job followed by a good soaking in neatsfoot oil to restore the oils lost during working the leather. Then we rubbed it down with warmed mink oil to waterproof. He (and I) are pleased with the results.









    In all he made 3 trips to my shop that were each 3 hours long for a total of 9 hours to construct but this was a hands on learning project and could be repeated in about 4 hours.



    When I make my holsters I wrap the pistols in plastic wrap so there is no chance of rust on blued guns

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    Ranc,

    You've motivated me...where do you get your leather?
    Somewhere along the way I have lost the ability to act politically correct. If you should find it, please feel free to keep it.

  6. #6
    Member Rancid Crabtree's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lowrider View Post
    Ranc,

    You've motivated me...where do you get your leather?
    Tandy leather. There are anot a lot of stores out there but you can go to tandy leather online to buy it.

  7. #7
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    A good way to shape your holster is to soak it like you normally do, wrap your gun in a zip lock bag and force it into the holster then put the entire thing in a vacuum seal bag to suck the air out and seal it. You can help form around the gun with your fingers but the machine does 99% of the work. I let mine sit over night before I remove the gun and let it air dry for as long as it takes.

    One thing to be away of is the vacuum bags are pleated on one side and will leave marks on that side of the holster. I found that out the hard way but I think it looks pretty cool

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