Deer skin knife sheath

The Mora knives with their robust build, inexpensiveness and brightly coloured handles making them easy to spot if you do ever drop one make them a solid choice for any bushcraft enthusiast. The same advantages do not stretch to the plastic sheaths they come in! The following photos and descriptions give a brief guide on how to fabricate a sheath from raw hide, buckskin and grain leather combined.The crucial tools to make this project a lot easier were a metal needle with a large eye, a leather strip cutting tool and a metal awl for making holes in the leather.

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The first step was to cut out a pattern of the sheath on a piece of card. Take your time here and make sure you are completely happy with the size, shape, belt loop style and leave a little extra width to account for the seams. It’s better to get a few card templates wrong than chop into your precious buckskins and raw hide!
Once you are happy draw around the card template on top of a piece of rawhide. This solid wear resistant material is readily flexible when wet but dries incredibly hard and will hold any shape you encourage it to take.
If you soak the rawhide in warm water for a few hours you can then form it around your knife and hold it in place with a few household pegs.

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I encouraged the belt loop to fold over at this stage also.

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Some people wrap the knife in Clingfilm before wrapping the wet rawhide around it to prevent any rusting while the rawhide dries. Leave the raw hide to set for a good 24 hours and then remove the knife – you should be left with a solid tube.

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The next step was to cut out a matching piece of buckskin to wrap around and cover the rawhide tube which will form the solid insert to your sheath. Again take your time and be as accurate as you can drawing around the card template – once more leave a few mm extra width to allow for the seams.

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Here you can see the top of the sheath where the knife will be inserted rawhide on the inside and buckskin on the outside. This style of sheath is designed to be worn around the neck inside the clothing and in summer that usually means next to the skin so although you could make a simple rawhide sheath and leave it at that, covering it with luxuriously soft buckskin is a good idea! Added to this smoked buckskin is more water resistant than rawhide and so will help prevent the insert from becoming flexible in wet weather unless you get really soaked

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Purely for decoration this sheath has a grain leather fringe sewn along the opening at the top. This was a piece of Muntjac hide tanned in oak bark for 3 months and then worked soft using a few eggs. The darker colour of this piece of deerskin is from the hide absorbing tannin from the oak bark solution which helps to preserve it.
The first stage here was to cut a small piece of this grain leather and sew it arund the top of the piece of buckskin BEFORE sewing the buckskin around the rawhide.

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Next the awl is used to create a row of neatly spaced holes through both sides of the raw hide tube along the seam edge. You would not be able to push a needle through this material on its own.

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You will then need to cut a long even strip of buckskin to lace up your seam with and the strip cutting tool shown above does a fantastic job of this. Having a buckskin lacing along the seam is again more comfortable than sinew stitches which can be annoyingly scratchy next to the skin and is also far more durable to wear and tear. A good source of leather making tools is Tandy Leather.

The buckskin lace needs to be at the very least 5 tmes the length of the seam you intend to stitch depending on your stitch pattern as some require far more than others. The style shown here is a simple over stich moving from one hole to the next sequentially down the seam.

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Once your stitches are tightened up down the seam you can then cut the piece of grain leather into nice thin even strips to create a decorative fringe around the top of the sheath.

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The final stages for the sheath was to create a strong loop at the back large enough for some lime bark cordage for the neck loop to pass through. Again the awl was used to punch a neat row of holes along the edges of the rawhide insert around the loop material and the rawhide was then stitched tightly to the outer buckskin wrapping using another buckskin thong.
This time a different stitch pattern was used where each stitch passes through the same hole twice before moving onto the next effectively forming a row of little v’s.

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Last but not least a row of running stitches locks the belt loop down.

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The completed neck sheath from entirely homemade leather products courtesy of one Muntjac and a Fallow!

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For anyone intending to make their own knife sheaths note this design does not include a welt of leather running along the main seam to protect the stitches from being cut by the knife as it enters and exits the sheath. As long as you leave 5mm of rawhide between the cutting edge and the stitches the blade will not cut your stitches.
The wet forming of the raw hide around the knife creates a very snug fit sheath and even if the sheath were inverted there would be no chance of the knife falling out.



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