Rawhide Sheath Tutorial *80 PICTURES!*

Discussion in 'Badger Claw Leatherworks' started by badger claw, Sep 29, 2013.

  1. badger claw

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    Tutorial: Rawhide sheath construction

    Thought I would share the process I go through to create a primitive looking rawhide sheath.

    PART ONE: making the inner leather sheath:

    To start the materials you will need are:
    -Cutting board
    -Scissors
    -Pencil
    -Box cutter knife
    -Piece of heavy cardstock paper
    -Leather
    -Glue
    -Large clamps
    -Awl
    -Skiving tool
    -The knife you are making the sheath for

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    For the purpose of this tutorial I will be making a sheath for my Idaho Knife Works (Mike Mann) Nessmuk with stag scales.

    First trace the knife on the cardstock. Set the knife aside and outline what you did coming out about ¼ to 3/8 of an inch. Then again about ½ an inch from that line. Now shade in that outer tracing. Cut out the pattern.

    [​IMG]

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    Trace this pattern 3 times on your piece of leather (flesh side up). The first two will be the same. One will be the back (label this with your pencil), one will be your welt. (label this with your pencil) Flip the pattern over, trace and cut this third one will be the front. (label with your pencil)

    Then cut the shaded area out of your cardstock pattern, trace on the leather pattern you labeled “welt” and cut this out. Now you should have three parts like this:

    [​IMG]

    -continued-
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2013
  2. badger claw

    badger claw Guide Vendor

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    With the extra scrap of leather cut two additional pieces the width of your welt with the length being from the top edge of the sheath pattern down to about where the hilt of the knife is.

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    Next I use a skiving tool to taper down the bottom end of these strips.

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    Glue the welt and these additional strips to the pattern you labeled as the back.

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    Once this is dry it’s a good idea to check your fit. Using two large clamps see how much room you have with the knife inserted.

    [​IMG]

    I also use the skiving tool to take the edge off the outside of pattern. Later when you wrap the rawhide over to stitch it you wont have a “blocky” look to your sheath, it will flow nicely.

    [​IMG]

    -continued-
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2013
  3. badger claw

    badger claw Guide Vendor

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    Now you need to use your awl to put some holes along the top edge of both front and back pieces. Make sure these go all the way through, especially the ones through the thick part of the welt.

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    -continued-
     
  4. badger claw

    badger claw Guide Vendor

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    PART TWO: Making and dyeing the rawhide patterns

    For this part you need the following materials:
    -Bowl
    -Tap water NOT HOT :)
    -Pencil
    -Latex gloves
    -Scissors
    -Selection of dyes
    -Dye applicators
    -2 large ziploc freezer bags
    -Towel
    -Rawhide

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]



    For this tutorial I am using basic cow rawhide instead of deer. Cow rawhide is easily available in small quantities from stores like Tandy, and I figure for most of you out there going to try this it will be the most economical way to practice. Cow rawhide is about 1/3 the cost of deer rawhide. Its about twice as thick as deer and a little tougher to manipulate with but makes a bulletproof sheath.

    First trace your front and back patterns on the rawhide. Make sure your trace on the smooth side, which will put the flesh side as the outside of your sheath. The flesh side has all the character to it when the dye is applied. After you trace your patterns make another outline about ½ inch out. On the “back” pattern give yourself an additional ½ inch along the top…so a total of 1 inch taller then your “back” leather pattern. Cut the patterns out and label them with your pencil.

    [​IMG]

    The next part we need to cut out is the belt loop. I trace about a 4 ½ inch by 1 inch rectangle. Then trace another ¼ inch on each side as shown in the picture. We will fold these edges under and stitch them down later.

    [​IMG]

    -continued-
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2013
  5. badger claw

    badger claw Guide Vendor

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    For this particular sheath I’m going to do a simple band of rawhide along the top edge on the front. To cut this pattern trace a rectangle the width of your front leather pattern with an extra 3/8 inch on each side. Just like belt loop trace an additional ¼ inch on top and bottom that will be folded up later and stitched.

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    At this point you should have these 6 pieces:

    [​IMG]

    Next fill up a large bowl or container with tap water. Submerge your rawhide pieces. While these soak I recommend a hot cup of coffee or tea in a kuksa from Adahy….

    [​IMG]

    -continued-
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2013
  6. badger claw

    badger claw Guide Vendor

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    Once the rawhide is soft (so you can easily roll it up and even squish it into a ball) dry off any excess water and put your gloves on…its time to apply some dye. With an applicator rub on your first coat of dye. Here I’m starting with a dark brown.

    [​IMG]

    I let this sit for a few minutes then with my towel gently pat the rawhide soaking up any excess dye.

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    Then I soak another applicator with black dye and let it drip on the rawhide. When it hits it spread out into abstract patterns and soaks in past the brown color.

    [​IMG]

    Repeat this for all the other pieces and slide them into individual ziploc bags. This will keep them from drying out. Leave out the belt loop piece.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    -continued-
     
  7. badger claw

    badger claw Guide Vendor

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    Next is making the belt loop. Fold under the extra ¼ inch on each side. I use these clips to keep them under or you can set the whole thing under something heavy. For a more refined look you could shape it over something as wide as your belt and just weight down the ends so it dries with the exact shape of your belt. Leave it sit out over-night to dry. Put the other pieces in the refrigerator.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    -continued-
     
  8. badger claw

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    PART THREE: Making the belt loop and stitching the front and back panels to the leather patterns.

    For this part you need the following materials:
    -Awl
    -Bic lighter
    -Waxed thread
    -Stitching needle
    -Scissors
    -Contact cement

    Now that the belt loop is dry we can start punching holes to mount it the sheath and stitch the sides down. Remove the clips and punch your holes.

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    [​IMG]

    The belt loop will be stiff but you’ll still be able to shape it and bend it. The shape you’re looking for is something like this:

    [​IMG]

    Stitch the sides up and tie them off on the backside. I use the lighter to melt the ends and smash them down while still hot. These will ensure they never come untied and pull through. You can also add a drop or two of super glue to each knot. (No this is not “period specific” but most likely neither is the knife you’ll probably be putting in your completed sheath)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    -continued-
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2013
  9. badger claw

    badger claw Guide Vendor

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    Next take the piece of rawhide for the band and fold back the extra ¼ inch like you did on the belt loop. Starting in the dead center I punch 4-holes on the top and 4 on the bottom all the way through the top layer and the folded under layer. Then 4 more sets of 4 holes like this (for a total of 6 sets of 4 holes):

    [​IMG]

    With the waxed thread (im using black) stitch an X through each group of 4 holes. Once finished put the band back into the Ziploc and in the fridge for later.

    [​IMG]

    Now we move on to constructing the back panel and mounting the belt loop. Lay your dyed rawhide (labeled “back”) flesh side down. Place your leather “back” pattern on the rawhide and fold over the top. Form the rawhide tightly around the welts.

    [​IMG]

    Once you have it formed and somewhat creased along the top flip the leather over keeping the folded section together and punch your holes through the rawhide. The holes should NOT go through the part of the back that will be seen from the outside. ONLY through the 1 inch section you folded over that will be inside the sheath once its all out together.

    [​IMG]

    -continued-
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2013
  10. badger claw

    badger claw Guide Vendor

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    Fold it back over, make sure your holes line up and stitch it together.

    [​IMG]

    At this point you can stain the inside of the “back” leather panel.

    [​IMG]

    Now flip it back over and line up where you want the top of your belt loop on the back. You will need to be careful centering it as your rawhide pattern probably isn’t exactly the same shape on each side. I usually fold the edges under, use a ruler, whatever it takes to judge where the middle is. Punch your holes and stitch the top fold first.

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    [​IMG]

    Then do the same with the bottom. I do NOT stitch these through both rawhide and leather. JUST through the rawhide. Don’t worry, by the time its done there is no way this is coming apart.

    [​IMG]

    Place the completed back with belt loop in its Ziploc back in the fridge while you work on the front next.

    -continued-
     
  11. badger claw

    badger claw Guide Vendor

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    Lay your front rawhide panel face down and align the front leather panel. Fold over the top edge. Flip both pieces over and punch and stitch the top edge.

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    Place your front and back pieces next to each other and trim them down evenly around the edges. Leave yourself about ¼ of an inch wider then the leather.

    [​IMG]

    -continued-
     
  12. badger claw

    badger claw Guide Vendor

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    At the top of the back piece trim the excess from the folded part. This will make it easier to stitch the top as the rawhide is pretty thick at this point with two folds coming together. Better to trim just a little as you can always take off more when you start stitching later.

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    The next step is to glue and clamp together the front and back.

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    *Don’t forget to dye the inside of the front panel and apply some type of sealant to the inside. I use a pine tar / beeswax mix. I did at the last minute before gluing them together and forgot to take a picture of this step.

    -continued-
     
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  13. badger claw

    badger claw Guide Vendor

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    Once this has dried I punch three holes at the top of the welt. Only through the leather NOT the rawhide. On mine two are below the horizontal stitch line, one above it.

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    Stitch this together tightly to ensure a strong welt and good retention. Remember to tie off your thread and melt your knots down.

    [​IMG]

    Once this is finished you can test the fit of the sheath with the knife. IF its not tight enough for you you can always add one more stitch from the underside just like in the last step and close up the top just a little. If you have to do this make sure you stitch through the front leather panel, the back panel AND the welt. You don’t want any exposed thread at the opening where the knife can slice through it.

    [​IMG]

    I like to use my scathing tool to shave down the edges again. Makes stitching easier as well as a nicer shape of the sheath.

    [​IMG]

    -continued-
     
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  14. badger claw

    badger claw Guide Vendor

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    Before final assembly we need to line up the rawhide band we made earlier. Choose how far down you want it to sit and punch holes with your awl from the top edge down the welt, through the band and a couple holes below the band.

    [​IMG]

    For these holes with the stitch I will be doing I make them just even to inside the outer edge of the leather sheath underneath. See below:

    [​IMG]

    With one side down line up and put your holes down the other side. At this time I only do a few holes past the bottom of the band to make sure I have it nice and straight across the sheath. Also these holes help with alignment when we glue the rawhide down. We will punch the other holes as we stitch once we are done with the next steps.

    [​IMG]

    Set the band aside and fold back the front rawhide panel. Apply contact cement to the leather and backside of the rawhide. Let it set up then evenly press them together. Use the holes you punched to align the rawhide.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Repeat this process with the back.

    -continued-
     
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  15. badger claw

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    When the contact cement has dried continue your stitch line down each side. Once all the holes are done if you have followed the outer edge of the leather underneath you can trim off any rawhide that’s outside the ¼ inch extra you left yourself.

    [​IMG]

    Depending on how thick of leather you used you may need to trim it down further. By this time the rawhide has probably dried quite a bit so you’ll need to re-wet the edges for stitching. Fill a pan with warm water and prop the sheath up so its submerged up to the line of holes you punched. Don’t worry about the leather getting wet…once all this has dried and set up it wont be coming apart. TRUST ME!

    [​IMG]

    After the edge of one side is soft from being soaked start your stitching. I always stitch from the back to the front. That way as you pull your stitch tight it will fold the front edge of rawhide over the back edge giving you a clean look from the front.

    [​IMG]

    -continued-
     
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  16. badger claw

    badger claw Guide Vendor

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    I usually do 4-5 stitches at a time, placing holes as I go. At the top you may have a little edge that sticks up. Trim it down for now and tuck it in. At the end you will run a stitch right over it.

    [​IMG]

    If your rawhide band is really thick you can trim back the inside fold about ¼ of an inch like you did at the top of the sheath earlier.

    [​IMG]

    Continue stitching down to the bottom. If the edges dry out again wet as needed.

    [​IMG]

    Once at the bottom start back toward the top making your X pattern. (this is called a double whip stitch) At the top tie off your thread and melt the knot. To get that little top edge you trimmed off down, you may to add an extra hole at the top. Just depends on how far you spaced your holes.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    -continued-
     
  17. badger claw

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    Before repeating this whole stitching process on the other side I’m going to add some fringe pieces. I dyed some buckskin and cut them into 8 inch long pieces. First I flip the rawhide band over and put a hole on each side of the center X we stitched earlier. These two holes are ONLY through the inner fold of the band, so you don’t see them from the front.

    [​IMG]

    Put the buckskin fringe pieces through a loop of thread, tighten it down tie it off.

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    Fold the band back across and we now have 4 pieces of fringe hanging down we can add some beads to.

    [​IMG]

    Wet the edges and repeat the stitching on the opposite side.

    [​IMG]

    -continued-
     
  18. badger claw

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    Add some beads to the fringe, check your fit again, then you’re almost finished!

    [​IMG]

    Throughout the construction you’ll notice the dye job you did fading in spots or even rubbing off. You can see where I went back with fresh dye and touched up some spots. Let this dry thoroughly, until you cant smear it or lightly rub it off.

    To seal the sheath you can use satin polyurethane. Brush it on evenly. Oil your knife blade, wrap the blade and handle with plastic wrap to protect it. Put it in the sheath and let it sit overnight to dry and form to the knife.

    [​IMG]

    That’s it…you’re done! This is very basic rawhide sheath but fun to make. So the challenge is there…lets see what you guys can come up with!

    Thanks for following along, don’t hesitate to ask any questions or offer ideas. This is only the 4th or 5th one I’ve done with A LOT of learning from trial and error. I will need to proof read this several times so if you see something that doesn’t make sense let me know. Hopefully I didn’t forget too much…I did this over a few days time.

    Overall this sheath came out a little wider then it needed to be. But most of that is due to the cow rawhide being thicker then deer rawhide. Other then that I’m happy how it turned out for the purpose of a tutorial.

    After the polyurethane has dried I will add some completed pictures.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2013
  19. badger claw

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    Finished product:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2013
  20. roadend

    roadend Wandering Where I Can Supporter

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    That was really good. Thanks for the step by step. I just need to go get some rawhide and get started. No excuse not to with this tutorial.
     
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  21. Adam B

    Adam B Guide

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    Wow! that's cool.
     
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  22. Boston mtns.

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    You are one hell of a craftsman badgerclaw! Thanks for this. I've never done any leather work but you made that look easy.
     
  23. badger claw

    badger claw Guide Vendor

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    thanks! its really just like putting a puzzle together in the right order. Give it a try!
     
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  24. Infidel

    Infidel Guide Bushclass I

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    Great job on the tutorial. A lot of folks dont realize the time this adds to a project. Much appreciated here. With that said...you made one hell of a mess. This guy is gonna stick to not doing rawhide. Lol . Thanks again...well done.
     
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  25. OmegaMan73

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    Nicely done sir! Thanks for the tutorial. :dblthumb:
     
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  26. backwoodsamerican

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    This is awesome! Thank you for posting!

    Sent from my C771 using Tapatalk 2
     
  27. dRobinson

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    Thanks for taking us along!! That's real cool, I've always wondered how its done properly.
     
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  28. MJDavis

    MJDavis Supporter Supporter Bushclass I

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    well done, thanks for the tutorial.
     
  29. o.mykis

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    Awesome thread. Thanks for sharing.
     
  30. Skab

    Skab Staff Staff Member Administrator Super Moderator Vendor Lifetime Supporter Bushclass I Bushclass Instructor

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    Interesting take on the method. I must add something for you and anyone wanting to follow your tutorial. DO NOT USE hot water, or even warm water. This will break down the rawhide fibers and cause a couple of issues. 1) It starts to make hide glue, or gelatin and will make your hide slimy if it gets into humidity or wet again. Also once redried can be brittle. 2) Because it can even slightly get gelatinous you have instantly created a breeding ground for bacteria and mold will form. Even after you have made your sheath and sealed it. And not only a health risk, but will start to stink really badly. (I learned the hard way)

    So no matter how much you want to speed the process up by using hot or even warm water.............don't. It take longer but cold or cool water is the only way to go.
     
  31. badger claw

    badger claw Guide Vendor

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    Thanks Skab! I've been using luke warm tap water (which was shown to me by a "old timer") but what you're saying makes total sense. I can see the brittle issue with deer rawhide since its so thin comparably. I'll have to keep an eye on the couple I've done. Thanks for the insight!
     
  32. MysticFlight

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    Absolutely AWESOME tutorial!
     
  33. badger claw

    badger claw Guide Vendor

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    Did a little research on the potential bacteria issue mentioned by Skab...if your rawhide is going to stay wet for long period of time you can add a little bleach or pinesol to your soaking water. A simple step to add to the process!

    Some good info here on rawhide and tanning buffalo hides : http://absarokawesterndesign.com/tutorials/?p=19
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2013
  34. forester

    forester Scout

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    Amazing tutorial. Thanks for taking the time to put this information together.
     
  35. Paul Foreman

    Paul Foreman Supporter Supporter

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    what a fine tutorial ...
     
  36. wildernessRN

    wildernessRN Scout Bushclass I

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    Thank you very much for this post I have several knives I have been wanting to make a sheath for and several that I have tried to make one for but need to upgrade to better sheaths and this will help tremendously. I have very little experience in working with leather and the step by step pictures are very nice.
     
  37. JimBow

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    Very cool John...thanks for sharing your talent with us!
     
  38. badger claw

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    Page 2, post number 19 updated with final product pictures. Thanks for looking!
     
  39. Wilt

    Wilt Supporter Supporter

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    Wow, this thread was a huge undertaking on your part. Thank you for taking the time to do it and share with us your journey. The photos and text description are very well done. :)

    Mark
     
  40. Adahy

    Adahy Kuksaholic

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    This is so awesome John. I love seeing these projects come together.
     
  41. badger claw

    badger claw Guide Vendor

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    Thanks for the recognition Mark, it was my pleasure!
     
  42. Adahy

    Adahy Kuksaholic

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    I want to see a rawhide motorcycle jacket next!
     
  43. DarkXstar

    DarkXstar Guide

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    looks good bro as always
     
  44. bfmc23

    bfmc23 Tracker

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    This was an incredible tutorial... Knowing nothing about leather work, I love the look of rawhide and wondered what the process was to obtain that look. Thanks for posting this!
     
  45. crewhead05

    crewhead05 caffeine, nicotine, knives and nature. Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Thanks for the effort you put into sharing your hard earned knowledge with us. Your rawhide products are amazing. I know it takes forever to upload those pictures. Thank you!
     
  46. chris67

    chris67 Guide

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    I googled making a rawhide sheath and of course it took me here. Great post thanks for explaining in so much detail.
     
  47. Kevtykoski

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    Amazing step by step, thank you for taking the time to put this together.
     
  48. crewhead05

    crewhead05 caffeine, nicotine, knives and nature. Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    Still one of the best instruction threads here. Pure awesome
     
  49. crewhead05

    crewhead05 caffeine, nicotine, knives and nature. Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    bump for an epic thread... plus I was re-reading it for a future project.
     
  50. RandyTLawhorn

    RandyTLawhorn Scout

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    John,
    Thank you for sharing some of your knowledge. I have learned a great deal from you even though we are 1500 miles apart. I look very closely at every sheath I get from you and try to mimic that in the sheaths I make. No mine doesn't look like yours yet but they are considerably better. I look up to you as a mentor even though I am the one that's old enough to be your dad. HaHa!!!!
    Thank you for sharing,
    It means a lot to me.
     
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