Natural or Synthetic? You decide.
I’m sometimes asked why I go to the extremes that I do when making sheaths. It’s widely known that many knife makers have experienced leather crafters make sheaths. Because these are expensive, however, many have learned how to manipulate synthetics to produce good sheaths that are easier and faster to make. My answer is simple: Why go to the trouble to make a decent knife if someone else does the leather work, forcing the maker to squeeze several knives into one style and size leather sheath? It doesn’t make sense to me. A well-made sheath is just as important as the knife is, and each should compliment its mate and protect the user. Trusting someone else with one half of the overall project doesn’t add up to 100% authenticity. Would you buy a chocolate bar if it came in a plain brown wrapper?
KYDEX® is a proprietary material designed to be molded by the application of heat and direct mechanical or pneumatic (suction) pressure to form the material around an item. It is widely used in automotive and aircraft manufacturing industries, luggage, and law enforcement and civilian holster and sheath-making. Now widely used by custom knife makers, KYDEX® is preferred instead of leather by many who appreciate its toughness, precise fit, and sanitary qualities. When soiled, just wash in warm water and a little dish soap then set aside to dry. Because its molded fit keeps anything wrapped in it secure, it can be carried upside-down from a para-cord lanyard worn around the neck under a light jacket or sweater. To remove the knife, simply pull it straight down smartly. When re-inserted, the knife will “click” in place. KYDEX® is available in many colors. Ask for your favorite.
A leather sheath is without question the preferred material for knives, and is perhaps man’s most useful materials. Certainly, it has been around since early man discovered the need for shoes and a warm coat and a suitcase to carry stuff in. Enter leather. While not the easiest material to use its, natural properties have no equal in terms of flexibility, toughness and softness, comfort, and undeniable reliability and beauty. All my leather sheaths are made entirely by hand, including stitching. Unfortunately, I’m one of a diminishing minority of knife makers who still makes leather sheaths one at a time, hand-fitted to each and every knife for which leather is specified. All leather is hand-selected by me personally then cut to form basic components. Glue is used to cement the parts in place during pre-assembly and shaping. The stitching is done using two blunted needles that guide waxed nylon thread through the leather until the belt loop, welt, and body are precisely joined. An alcohol-based dye is used to color and stiffen the leather as it is molded to the knife which is protected in kitchen wrap during fitting. Air dried, the sheath stiffens, retaining the specific characteristics of the knife visible from the outside. Raw edges are sanded smooth following which waterproof wax is liberally applied and heated to penetrate deep into the leather. Finally, the entire sheath is burnished by hand using special tools made for this purpose, followed by a brisk buffing with cotton wheels that shines the leather to a lovely patina. When finished to my satisfaction, then—and only then—is the knife sharpened.
Regardless your choice of sheath material, your satisfaction is a responsibility that I take very seriously.