Knives, especially older ones, will come without a sheath. This leaves the blade open to the elements and could cause it to dull or break. So how do you make a knife sheath without leather?
Making a knife sheath without leather seems like an uphill battle. There are many materials to choose from, and going with something besides leather could be out of your comfort zone. No worry! So read on and learn how to make a knife sheath without leather!
Let’s face it, using a leather sheath is one of the oldest and most trusted ways to protect your precious knife. Since the days of the hunter/gatherer, knives have been used to do everything from preparing food to taking down wild game. They were protected by leather and bark sheaths that were crudely made but set a standard for humanity going forward.
This isn’t necessarily a step if you only have one type of material, but if there’s a range of options knowing which one would serve your purpose is never bad info. There is a wide range of materials besides leather that can be used. We will treat this exercise like a home-based project but circle back to some items you can use in a pinch.
A few materials that make good knife sheaths are:
- Synthetic – Today, many different materials can be used as a knife sheath. Companies create weaves of different materials, like nylon and polymer, that are fantastic homes for your blade. These are often tactical-style sheaths and could come with hooks or carabiners.
- Plastic – Another great thing to make a sheath out of is plastic. While you might expect a plastic sheath to be susceptible to flex and cutting issues, they are surprisingly handy and often last longer than leather or synthetic sheaths. In addition, plastic works well in damp environments and could protect your edge from rusting.
Sheaths are an essential part of the knife. Sometimes a sheath goes missing, and cords and gear become nicked and sliced from impacts with the blade. Making a stand-in or replacement adds years of life to your equipment and yourself. Don’t underestimate an unsheathed edge, no matter how sharp you think it is.
Now that you know what kind of material you have handy, it is time to get to work. As always, the first thing to do is get your work area ready by cleaning and gathering a few items to help you on your mini-quest. Remember that safety is always the standard, and if you are dealing with sharp edges, you must have a first aid kit.
The steps to prepare your work for making a knife sheath are:
- Lighting – One thing that is often overlooked when prepping your area is light. Working in the dark with knives is a bad idea anyway, but the extra light will help you make some cuts to your material much easier. A knife sheath doesn’t have to be cut perfectly, but extra light keeps your hands and gear free from the cutting area.
- Marking Materials – The next thing to ensure you have is a way to mark your chosen material. For example, freehand cutting a sheath is a bad idea. Making some markings on the fabric creates the design and ensures that no material is wasted during the process.
- Cleaning – Now that you have a well-lit surface, preferably stable, with some marking materials ready, you should clean your area. Make sure there are no other blades or things that could hurt you. Also, ensure that there are no excess build-ups of dirt or grease. Chemicals in the sheath could harm the edge if not removed beforehand.
Once your area is ready, you can get to the creation portion of the sheath. You should always practice safety; you are ahead of the game if you have plastic covers for your knife blades. These covers aren’t sheaths as they have no way to connect to your belt or gear.
Design is a loose term here. To make the sheath functional, you must consider the blade’s shape and its uses. For example, a double-sided blade will need different things than a long slender blade, and marking lines out on your material before cutting is imperative; if you have lots of fabric, you can make a few different sketches to see what works.
The steps to design your knife sheath are:
- Measure – Now is the time to get out your trusty measuring tape and take some measurements of the blade and handle. First, measure the edge from tip to bolster or handle attachment. Then measure the handle from bolster to butt. Finally, get a measurement at the deepest point of the blade. Add an inch to length for best results.
- Mark the Measurements – Using a pen or marker, mark the material where the knife aligns. Be generous with the length, and make sure you don’t make the areas around the edges too wavy to be sewn or bound. Adding extra length for the handle is an option at this stage. The choice is yours on how you want the sheath to look.
- Flip It – Once all the measurements are made on one side, you must flip them over. Flipping the knife allows you to make a sheath for both sides of the blade. The flip also covers all your bases—the pur[pose here is to protect the edge from you and vice versa. Coverage and fitting are what matter the most.
- Check for Flaws – While some of the flaws of the sheath might be hard to see, there’s a way to check the major ones, like the opening and the fit. By laying the pieces on top of each other, check for any overlaps, and if there are odd shapes in the material, shear them off.
Now your design is free of flaws and should be laid out in two congruous pieces. Lay one on top of the other to ensure they match before moving on. If they match up, they have a much better chance of being bound together and keeping the knife secured on the inside. Binding the sheath is the next step in the process and is vital to its success.
Binding is an integral part of the process because it enables the blade to move without harming anything or anyone. It also impacts how the knife is carried if it is on your belt or must be packed away in your rucksack.
A few things you can bind your material with are:
- Glue – Something that is often a gamble with binding sheaths is glue. The material and cement must make a strong bond when making a sheath. There are some powerful glues these days, and using a hot glue gun with an approved material will form a bond that is hard to sever. Adhesives work well with the appropriate base.
- Paracord – Preppers can always come up with a use for paracord, and binding is one of its best attributes. By creating holes in your material, use a drill or an awl, and you can thread the cord through the holes. Work on making the threads tight and leaving no gaps. The tightness of the cable will have an impact on the tightness on the inside.
- Sewing – If you are nifty with a needle, you can sew around the edges of the sheath. Sewing creates a bond that could be there for the life of the sheath. It creates a strong bond that won’t break until the thread is severed.
By weaving any of the materials around the edge of the sheath, you make the two pieces into one. The knife should slide into the slit easily and stay secure. If it does not, you should work to close the opening at the top of the sheath. The knife should remain in the sheath without falling by sewing a few more seams or making a few more threads.
A sheath is vital to the knife. It not only protects you from the blade, but it also keeps the blade sharp by protecting it. If a blade has good material besides leather, it will last much longer and always keep a sharp edge when needed. Materials are essential as they could help provide cover and camo.
Nylon is an excellent material because it is durable and easy to find. Nylon is thermoplastic that is made from strands of oil-based materials. These strands are woven together to make fibers for rope, clothing, and other accessories.
A few reasons that a knife sheath should be made from nylon are:
- Weather – Your weather conditions are an important reason that nylon is an option for a sheath. If you are in a colder climate having a sheath made of leather could cause it to get wet. Nylon stays drier in the damp air than a leather sheath can.
- Adaptability – Nylon is a fabric that is adaptable to other materials. That means you can find ways to attach it to other equipment. Molle systems and velcro straps are always needed to improve your portability with your gear.
- Changeability – If there’s anything that people like to do, it is to change the look of the gear to meet their environment. Nylon allows you to use different colors and even paint if needed. So you can make the sheath changeable for any environment by painting and changing the colors.
Nylon is a versatile material that provides not only safety measures but stylistic ones as well. Being in a bug-out situation could force you to blend your gear and use things you never thought about as camouflage. Changing the colors and positions of your sheath could help you hide or escape pursuers.
Working with plastic is an easy and stiff option for a sheath. Plastic is everywhere; chances are, if you have a store-bought sheath, there’s a plastic coating or insert on the inside. Plastic is versatile but comes with a few shortcomings that you must know before beginning. It is toxic when burned or melted, which makes forming it a chore.
A few reasons to use plastic as a knife sheath are:
- Safety – A plastic sheath is the safest option if you have a knife that keeps a sharp blade. Your protection and the protection of those with you could hinge on the knife being unsecured. A blade in a thick plastic sheath will resist all types of force.
- Water Resistance – Using rubber and plastic gives you the option of submersing your knife. However, knives that can be in the elements and still bounce back with a sharp edge must be protected against water. Plastic can seal the blade off entirely from water, depending on the design of your sheath.
- Portability – You can expect rigidity from a knife sheath, but it is a trade-off for portability. Knives with plastic sheaths can be carried in rougher positions that could be dropped or placed deep into your gear.
Plastic is hard to work with but makes one of the best platforms for a knife sheath. It protects the user and can be placed anywhere on your pack or equipment. It also takes a licking from wet weather and could keep the blade completely dry.
Making a knife sheath without leather is an easy and creative task. Using materials like plastic and nylon means more protection than leather. This protection extends to the elements and your means of travel. Don’t sleep on nylon and plastic as viable alternatives to leather sheaths.
Creating a sheath is a fun exercise that survivalists and preppers of all stages can enjoy. Using your bush smarts, you can add and remove bits until you have a perfect sheath for you and your situation.