A New Leather Sheath!
Let’s Get Creative! Our current mission: Create a DIY (or… AIY? Assemble it yourself?) sheath option for each parang. Why? Let’s be honest: our parangs are great budget tools with not-so-great sheaths. They work, but they’re ugly. You won’t be getting compliments on a recycled PVC and Velcro sheath. In an effort to get a good steel blade and durable waterproof HDPE handles, we cut corners on the accessories. We’re still happy with the decision and excited we can bring folks a great tool for $40. But now we've got to create some solutions.
With that out of the way, let’s get creative! Last weekend we began another round of tinkering and settled on leather for the next prototype. We dug around the scrap bin and found the remnants of a “build your own leather vest” kit from a local leather store during a liquidation event years ago. Boy were they were some ugly vests…
Now we had leather. Some kind of veg tanned, 2oz or so scrap. Now to get the rest..
Cardboard – hands down the most convenient templating material for figuring out shapes and structure for sheaths. Also almost always free.
Rubber cement – we use barge cement. It works great. You’ll glue your leather together prior to punching and stitching.
Craft knife – We use an OLFA utility knife. Sharp blades cut leather, dull ones cut fingers.
Marker or Pen – something to trace, sketch, and modify your design.
Punches – for putting holes in leather prior to stitching. Cheaper folks can use an ice pick & mallet, more equipped folks can use a drill press.
Leather spacer – keep your holes evenly spaced. A ruler and a pencil could work, too.
Burnishing tool – a funky shaped stick for burnishing edges. Or deer antler. Or (in our case) a buffing/polishing wheel for the bench grinder.
Spray bottle – Fill it with water. You’ll use this to burnish your leather edges and maybe to shape your sheath.
Hardware - We used larger Brass Eyelets. You could also have added snaps, rivets, buckles, etc. Go wild!
In perhaps the least professional tutorial ever, here’s how it went down:
- Figure out what style you like. We wanted a taco-style sheath that would be ambidextrous. Southpaws shouldn’t be forced to pay extra fees for lefty sheaths. We punched and added a brass eyelet to the top of the sheath, adding a leather strap so the sheath can dangle for either Righties or Lefties.
- Sketch & Cut your template from cardboard. You can even do this part inside so you don't have to go out in the 95 degree hear! Here’s ours:
- Don’t forget the welt. This is the strip of leather that is between the sheath sides. It protects the stitches from being cut when the blade is stored.
- Glue it together, making sure everything lines up right. Probably confirm the blade fits as intended at this step… it’ll be a lot harder to fix screw-ups after you’ve stitched it.
- Use your spacing tool (or other spacing solution) to mark out your holes and get to punching. Our set of punches creates 1, 2, 4, or 6 holes at a time, so by aligning the 1 tooth into the last hole, we get even spacing without the need for the spacer or ruler
Take a break. It’s 90+ outside already and you’ve already made a mess in your garage. It is 10:00 am. Also, while letting the barge dry... feel free to begin playing around with more Kydex. It probably won't end up pretty, but you'll get more practice with it.
- Once your holes are punched, grab your needle and thread. As a rule of thumb, thread 4x the length of your piece should be plenty for a saddle stitch. This should give plenty of allowance for thickness of piece (2 leather sides + welt) and the double-stitch style of a saddle stitch
- Begin the stitching. Also maybe a grab a drink, it’s hot out here and you’ll be at it for a while. Or maybe go inside. We weren't that smart.
- Once the stitching is done trim up the excess outside the stitch so it’s flush and ready for burnishing. Mist the edge down with water from your sprayer and get to work burnishing. If you’re cheating like we did, the buffing wheel will work wonders.
- Seal your burnished edge. We used some old beeswax, rubbed down the edge we had just burnished, and then burnished it again. This creates a smooth, nice looking edge that should be pretty durable and hard by this point.
- Oil, wax, or in some other way treat your leather. We rubbed ours down with neatsfoot oil.
- Punch the hole for the brass eyelet. Add the eyelet with the little anvil kit provided. It’s not you, those little things just suck. Once the eyelet is installed, add your loop. We used more leather.
- Optional, but we then oiled ours down again. The leather we were using was pretty dry and old, so it easily took another coat without issue.
There you have it. The first leather prototype sheath for the Heavy Parang and a quick, marginally-effective tutorial on how to get creative and build your SFD (S***** First Draft) of a sheath. Ours turned out better than expected. It works, serves its purpose, and we learned some stuff.
We’ve added the amazon links to the brands of stuff we use or like here, if this project or something similar sounds like fun, give it a shot and @ us on Instagram! We love to see what other makers are up to!
Amazon Links to Items we Use:
Barge Cement. This stuff works great for all kinds of applications, but we mostly use it for Leather: https://amzn.to/3ik64CX
Craft Knife. A simple utility knife that cuts. Wohoo: https://amzn.to/3ftcb5Q
Fiebling's Neatsfoot Oil. Use it on everything leather: https://amzn.to/3ftcb5Q
For leatherworking, we've always used Tandy brand with no complaints:
Leather Needles: https://amzn.to/3A9Aeic
Stitch Groover: https://amzn.to/3ftfFWc
Artificial Senew: https://amzn.to/3jdSSyI
Waxes thread: https://amzn.to/2TY2Ag8
1/2/4/6 Lacing hole punch set. We like this set (it's not tandy, but it's cheap and works fine) for lighter oz of leather: https://amzn.to/3jjAAw2