Why put Kydex inside Leather?
Leather used for knifesheaths is generally a soft material that easily gets cut. Liners out of wood, bone, rawhide and other natural materials were used for a long time to prevent the sharp knives and swords to cut through the sheats. Somewhere in the Wild West the tradition of lining sheaths got lost, and sheaths got made out of leather only. Often with rivets to protect the weld. These were cheap and easy to replace.
There are ways to make a more durable sheath by hardening the leather using heat and wax, but these are hard to clean from the inside once dirt gets in.
Modern sheaths often have a plastic liner to protect the inside of the sheath. This prevents the leather or even nylon from being cut, but they can potential dull your knife and they do nothing to hold the blade inside the sheath.
Now imagine the kydex being a modern version of the traditional liner. It protects the inside of the sheath, and because it is formed to the knife, it holds the knife in firmly without having drag on the blade. It makes the knife pop out, and ensures a very comfortable one-handed draw without the sheath riding up. This liner could be made removable from the leather sheath, so it can be cleaned and disinfected from the inside to modern hygiene standards, or just to get the jammed dust out.
The leather is there to keep it together, provide the carry options and make it look good!
This is what I have in mind when I make these sheaths.
Design Features & Options
The kydexlined leather sheaths are made of Halftanned leather with a shaped Kydex liner that has a positive retention on the knife. They are made to house a user knife, and suited for an all weather wilderness environment.
The opening of the sheath is wide and funnel-like, making sheathing the knife real easy.
A lot of sheaths have a small slit that easily gets cut when the knife gets sheathed the wrong way, or have on opening that will easy catch the edge or the tip of the knife. This could easily happen when you´re cold and tired, under low visibility etc..
These will also accidentely catch the edge, but it won't ever lead to massive damage to the sheath.
a Part of the sheath opening is shaped to provide a comfortable thumb-push to aid in controlled and silent drawing of the knife.
The cup is the actual funnel that guides the tip of the knife in the right direction. It’s also the part that provides the main retention.
The angles should be sloping down and have the corners not too sharp to prevent it from catching the blade tip.
The cup is also what prevents the opening of the sheath from being cut, when the knife is sheathed the wrong way.
I prefer the fold-over type, as it leaves a strong and stiff spine, and the stitching will be on one side only.
It could be fitted more tight, for a more or less ‘sucking’ kind of retention, or could be left more loose, to minimize the chances for scratches and to make ´dropping´ the knife in more easy. In this case retention will mainly be in the ricasso and guard area. Hollow pins low on the handle are excellent retention points too.
The stitching is done by hand using the saddlestitch method.
The holes are all punched by hand. I try to keep the holes as small as possible to make the waxed thread lock tighter, and to prevent dirt and moisture to enter. Drilling the holes will almost certainly make the holes much bigger. The thread is sunken into the leather everywhere to reduce the chances of abrasion.
The stiches on the beltloop are always covered by the liner on the inside, so the knife will never be able to touch thread anywhere inside the sheath. This prevents any abrasion on the thread.
Depends on the tightness of the cup.
(When doing double leather, the weld plays a very important role too)
The retention (without strap) should hold the knive in place while climbing trees and jumping streams, but should also make onehanded draw easy. When hold upside down and shaken, the knife shouldn't fall out.
With the main retention on the cup you’ll only need to draw the knife for 0.5” to have the main retention off, and let it slide out easily for the rest of the blade. Resheating means, dropping the knife in the cup, and mildly push the last bit till it locks. This prevents the kydex from touching the blade itself as much as possible, thus preventing kydex marks as much as possible.
When a strap is prefered it´s possible to fold it out of the way before resheating the knife. Lots of straps end up cut too many times, and this makes that impossible.
If the shape of the knife forces to make a strap round the handle, it´s easily replaceable by the user once it does get’s cut. I use heavy halftanned only for this kind of strap.
Straps higher on the handle are often made of more supple leather and will be made removable.
The sewn edge is glued before stitching or riveting for the obvious reasons. It´s burnished to make it hard and to give dirt and moisture less chance to enter. All other edges are sanded to a fine grid.
People sometimes worry that the glue on the riveted sheaths will let loose, and let me assure you, this won't happen. Glue offers a very strong bonding, just take a look at modern Mountaineering boots. Soles are glued on, no stitching whatsoever!
a sharp blade will cut through easily, hence the stitching or the eyelets.
Makes it possible to rinse the sheath under water, or blow dirt out.
I work with Fiebings Professional Oil Dye only.
I prefer sno seal for impregnation. It gives a deep protection, basically waterproofing the sheath for 98% during actual use, and makes maintainance real easy. Apply it under carefull applied heat to let the leather really suck it in. Scratches virtually disappear when treated with snoseal.
Very important thing is the fact that snoseal doesn’t eat-up the glue and/or the stitching (waxed synthetic Tiger Thread).
I prefer the combination of Fiebings, Snoseal, and Waxed Tiger Thread.
They won´t eat eachother up, and work splendidly together, The wax sealing it all up.
A liner adds to the stiffnes of the sheath, and prevents the sheath from being cut or pierced from the inside or the outside.
Kydex is very suited to do this. It´s extremely stable, and will hold it´s retention forever. It won´t wear out easily.
I preferably fold it over the spine of the blade to enhance stiffness, and to reduce the bulk of the sheath. This folding of the liner also prevents the edge to be in touch with the kydex, thus blunting the blade.
I always use halftanned for any type of sheath. It´s much, much better suited for a functional sheath then vegetable tanned leather only. It has a core of pure rawhide, and that makes it much more difficult to cut or pierce. It´s also stiffer, keeps it´s shape better and is much more resistant to weather influences. For a user sheath, I believe this should be the leather of choice always.
I prefer sewn on loops as they create a bit of room behind the handle, making drawing easier. They don't need to fit your belt excactly as the kydex liner makes sure the sheath doesn't ride up while drawing the knife out.
Ease of Draw
My experience is that I´m much more comfortable with a sheath that´s easy to draw from one handed, and that doesn´t take very much care and attention to resheath in. In order to optimize comfort as much as possible my sheaths tend to show a lot of handle. The beltloop is out of the way as much as possible when grabbing the handle fullhanded, and a push of the thumb releases the knife more safe and controlled then jerking alone. The sheath shouldn't ride up at all when pushing the knife out.
Ease of resheathing
The cup makes resheating the wrong way very forgiving. You will never be able to cut the sheath beyond functionality. It takes a hard cut to damage the leather top rim of the opening.
Will depend heavily on used kydex thickness and leather thickness, but is generaly about the same as the original sheath in vegetable tanned leather would be
There are a lot of choices and combinations possible, all resulting in a robust and comfortable sheathing solution. I think the thinner kydex works best for smaller blades up to 5”, and the thick kydex for the bigger blades and heavier blades.
Kydex thickness available: 0.05”, 0.08”, 0.93”, 0.125”. (1.6mm, 2mm, 2.4mm, 3mm)
O P T I O N S :
Basically I will do only “Natural”, “Dark Brown” and “Black”, but I do have some “Green Red & Yellow” available too J .
I also found a nice recipe to do woodland camo colours on leather.
White, Tan, Brown, Dark Brown, Black
I can dye white thread to be red, yellow or green
Leather Hardware Colours
(snaps, studs & D’s)
Nickel, Brass, Black
Pouch for a sharpening stone.
Dangler loop + ring.
Signal Red, Blood Red, Orange, Police Blue, Olive Drab, Infantry Green, Coyote Tan, Desert Tan, Silver Grey, Gunmetal Grey, Chocolate Brown, Black, Polar White, Ivory White.
Desert Digi Camo + Woodland Digi Camo + Urban Digi Camo
I also have some Concealex with a CF pattern in stock
For colour and pattern reference check:
Camo kydex or 0.125” kydex will add to the price.
Black, Brass, Gunmetal, Nickel
Additional Hardware Available
Large and Small Tek-Lok
Large and Small Molle-Lok
IWB-loops with ‘pull-the-dot’ snaps in rubber and leather
Maxpedition ‘Single Pouch’ in Tan, OD, Forest Green and Black
Paracord in OD, Coyote Tan, Safety Orange and Black
Maxpedition Tac Tie’s in Black, OD and Tan, 3” and 5”
I have an alphabet stamp set, two infact, a large and a small one, and I could stamp your name, the name of the knife, or whatever (as long as it’s short) into the sheath.