Leather Working

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Working with leather can be very satisfying and you can produce things that could be passed down to other generations.  Leather, if taken care of, can last a long time.  There are companies out there, like Tandy Leather, that sell leather kits to make things like wallets, knife sheaths, belts, coasters and bookmarks. 

 Each project requires the same basic steps to complete the project.  We are going to start out with building the Small Knife Pouch, using a basket weave stamp on the leather.  The project will take about 4 ½ hours of time to complete for the boys.  You will need a very sturdy table or a concrete floor to do the leather stamping.  You will also need drop clothes to protect any table, chairs and or the floor from the stain and sealer. 

You will need to go to a Tandy Leather store or on the internet at:  http://www.tandyleatherfactory.com

Purchase the Small Folding Knife Pouch Kit Item #4104-00

Basket Weave Instructions for Tandy Small Knife Pouch

To begin, dampen grain (smooth) of leather and scribe a line in the center of each part of the sheath.

A straight edge and nail can be used to accomplish this. Press the nail into the leather with enough pressure to make a slight groove in the leather. Too little pressure and the line will not be visible, too much and the line will be deeper than the stamping impressions.  

On the large back piece, use the center stitching holes as a guide and scribe the line from snap button to the bottom stitch hole.

Scribe the line on the front piece from the bottom of the snap to the center stitch hole at the bottom. Then continue line on other side of the snap to the top. Try to keep the line straight. It should appear as if the line is going through the snap.

On the belt loop, scribe the line between the center stitching holes.

Stamping the Leather

Tools: Craft tool  X511

            Small hammer


           Hard stable surface

           Container of water

Starting with the back piece, dampen the leather and then stamp basket toll in center of project on top edge of the line. On the back piece, this will be at the center stitching holes for the top of the belt loop. Stamp this area hard enough to leave an impression, but not hard enough that you cut through the stitching holes.

Stamp second and third impressions below the line. Slightly overlap ends of the tool impressions to the left and right of the first stamping.

Continue stamping to the right of first stamping going from top to bottom of line. Repeat to left of first impression.

The stamping impressions should have a slight burn look. This indicates that the stamp is being struck with the right amount of force. If the impressions seem be fading after stamping, re-dampen the leather.

Now fill in the upper portion of the sheath body, starting at the left and move right. Overlap the tool ends as you stamp. When reaching the end at the snap button, tilt tool slightly.  Start again at the left and stamp to the right. Do this row by row until the upper portion is filled.

Repeat the process to fill in the bottom portion.

The stamping process described is the same for the front piece and the belt loop.

After stamping, you may want to burnish the edges. This will give the project a professional look. To do this, wet the edge with water and then using a piece of hardwood, edge slicker, or roller, rub the edge hard until it becomes smooth. (This step is optional). 

Let the project dry for 48 hours before dyeing or staining.

Staining or Dyeing

If using dye, apply with a dampened wool dauber. Apply the dye to edges first and then to the stamped areas covering all impressions. Do not worry if dye gets on the snaps. It can be cleaned off. Let the first coat dry 15 minutes and then apply a thin second coat, covering any missed spots.

Let all pieces dry for at least 24 hours.

If using antique stain, apply with a dampened wool dauber staining all edges first. Apply a generous amount to the stamped leather, making sure all impressions are filled.

Let stand for 5-10 minutes, but not more than 15. Using a damp sponge, start removing stain until desired depth of color is obtained. Rinse sponge as often as necessary while removing stain.

Let all parts dry at least 24 hours.

This step is optional.  After all stained parts are completely dry, you may apply Super Sheen.

Using a wool dauber, apply a coat of Super Sheen to the dyed or stained leather. Apply as if you are applying polyurethane to wood, keeping the bubbles low.
Allow the first coat to dry for 10 minutes. This first coat will soak into the pores of the leather, sealing them.

After 10 minutes, apply thin second coat again keeping the bubbles to a minimum. Let all parts dry at least 24 hours,


You will need 2 lengths of thread 18 inches long and 1 length of thread 34 inches long. You will also need 6 sewing needles.

To thread the needles, push end of thread through eye about 1 inch.

Pierce thread in middle with needle point and push thread up on needle to eye.

Pull end of thread through eye as far as it will go. Hold needle and pull thread over eye to lock the end of thread. Repeat this process with the other end of the needle and with remaining needles and thread. When finished, you will have 2 needles on each length thread.

Start Sewing with the belt loop and 18 inch thread.  Place the finish sides together starting with the top set of holes on back piece.  Insert needle through first hole and pull through both pieces until you have even lengths on both sides.

Place needle in right hand through next hole, and then push thread through.  Insert needle in left hand through same hole on other side.  Try to put threads nest to each other, do not pierce thread.

After thread has been pushed through wrap third and fourth fingers around thread and pull stitch tight.  Do not pull with needles.

Repeat this process with all holes going around twice.  Holes will become tight with second round of stitching so be careful and do not pierce thread.  The belt loop is a stress point.  The double stitching helps ensure a strong hold.

After reaching last hole, insert left needle into last hole so both needles and thread are on the inside (rough) of the back piece.

Tie off with square knot.  Cut thread as close to knot as possible and tap knot down.

Fold belt loop down and repeat above process with other 18” length of thread.

Sewing Front Piece to Back Piece

Using 30” length of thread start in the second hole from the top push needle through both parts and pull through till there are even lengths of thread on both sides.

Bring the needle on the right back up through the top hole and pull thread through.  Using the needle on left, push through other side of top hole being careful not to pierce thread.  Wrap thread around third and fourth fingers and pull stitch tight.  Do not pull tight with needles.

Bring the needles back down through the second hole.  This will be very tight.  Be extra careful not to pierce the threads. This procedure will put a double stitch on the top hole which is a stress point.

Continue sewing around the sheath as normal, bringing needle and thread through the holes and pulling each stitch tight.

After sewing through the last hole, backstitch one hole with needle and thread that is on front side of sheath.  This puts a double stitch on the opposite stress point.  Tie off with square knot on the back. Cut threads and tap knot down.

Knife sheath is now complete.

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