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Old April 30, 2010, 10:48 AM   #1
Magnum Wheel Man
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Holster making for a hobby ??? show off your work... offer suggestions to a newbie...

So... I'm a handgun collector, live on a farm & like to carry a reasonable "varmint" gun with while working out in the yard & grounds, have a permit to carry, & do most all the time, & since MN is a permit to carry, not conceiled, I have / want a couple BBQ rigs for barn dances etc.

I've been in a couple discussions with some holster makers here, & I hope they join in & post...

I'm a busy guy, & winter is likely my best season to "get into" making holsters from scratch... but I've got a few projects I'm getting my feet wet with beforehand...

one... is this old Heiser holster... the lacing was damaged, & all cracked, so I'm in the process of re-lacing it... ( the one on the left )


since it's a keeper / that I plan on using, I'm doing a few things differently... the original lacing looked tan / buckskin, & I'm re-lacing it with black leather... think that will look nice... I'm still trying to think what to do with the strap... which I've already hydrated, but has some cracks... I'd like to keep the embosed snap, which still works fine... I thought about sandwiching the strap with thin "glove type" leather on both sides, maybe in black also to keep the strap servicable for a longer period of time, but want to do something better visually than something that looks like an obvious repair... open for suggestions here...

for the "carrying the gun around the farm" holster... I've bought 6-8 vintage military / police swivel holsters, & several old flap holsters... I'm wanting to do some swapping of tops & bottoms on these swivel holsters, & I haven't been able to find replacement swivel rivets, so I've come up with a plan... for dressier holsters, I picked up some period silver 50 cent pieces, & also some ( sorry... don't know what they are called ) stamped out nuts... they are a flat thick sheet metal circle with sharp points stamped in on the outer edge, & a threaded body in like a short tube... I think if I mill in the 50 cent piece a circle the thickness of this sheet metal nut, & either solder or glue the nut to the 50 cent piece... the stamped in "darts" on the nut will keep the "eagle" in the upright position, the threaded tube piece is the same diameter as the swivel rivet body, & a little Locktight on a short button head allen bolt & a small stainless fender washer & I think I'm in business for the swivels... could just use a stainless disk thread most of the way through & a short piece of tube on ones that are either not visible or on non fancy rigs again... open for suggestions here...

... anyway, for beating around the farm, I think I want a tough & plainer flap holster... like this one I bought recently...



the swivel would be nice, or a higher ride... on this particular holster, the swivel is not plainly visible... personally I'd like to have a top that is like two of these with a belt loop space in between to make it as heavy duty, & spread the weight out ( I could be chainsawing lumber or ??? ) but also some of the "old guns" I've collected were vintage police guns, & I'd like to put together a couple "fancier police drop type" swivel holsters... an old police badge or replica bage or sheriff's star could replace the 50 cent piece, if I wanted ( hough I kinda like the eagle on the back of the old 50 cent peices )... on this particular holster, I want to keep the flap holster & I have a couple of them, that don't have the flap bottom, but have cartridge loops on the top part, combining these is what I'm looking for...



so... I'm hoping that by playing with these old holsters 1st, that by winter, I'll be ready to start cutting my own patterns, either based on existing holsters or trying a few eye deers I have ( I have a couple vintage Bucheimer conceiled holsters that I like ) these particular holsters seem to incorporate some aluminum pieces, which I think I could incorporate into more traditional looking holsters that could ride higher & be kept in close to the body... I'm also concerned about spreading out the weight ( a wider top than is often traditional, & sometimes it's nice to be able to put a belt loop in the middle )

so... post a few pics of your work... & offer a newbie some suggestions... or just post if you're interesting in restoring, repairing or starting to make some holsters yourself... Thanks
Attached Images
File Type: jpg farm type holster... front.jpg (28.2 KB, 1490 views)
File Type: jpg farm type holster... back.jpg (14.6 KB, 1457 views)
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Old April 30, 2010, 10:19 PM   #2
swcr
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I've been making holsters for 10 or 12 years now. I originally started making holsters when I wanted a holster and cartridge belt for a Ruger single action to use while working on a cattle ranch.



Then I wanted a crossdraw holster for a Ruger Single Six to carry while hunting.



Then I started making concealment type holsters for myself and others.






Eugene
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Old May 1, 2010, 10:27 AM   #3
Magnum Wheel Man
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thanks for the post & the pics... I have a pretty tame lifestyle, & I have been looking for & looking to build a couple holsters for some top break snubbies I have to "carry" daily... maybe with with a traditional look, but maybe with some of those modern materials hidden inside...

to start my quest, I'm going to be looking to touch up a bunch of old but not really collectable holsters that I can gain some exprience doing some dye touch ups, & edge finishing, etc.... those I'll later sell at the gun show I sell at locally in March... if they don't fit anything I have...

so edge finishing, & dye touching up... anyone want to offer tips & things to avoid ???

also... I have one of those "hand stichers" that I've never used yet, but is it really practical to sew a holster with one of those ??? the re-lacing project I'm doing looks like a more prctical assembly method for someone without a sewing machine capable of sewing leather ???
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Old May 1, 2010, 11:29 AM   #4
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Here's a link to the best discussion I've seen on edge finishing and burnishing.
http://leatherworker.net/forum/index...howtopic=16609

This link is a tutorial on holster design.
http://leatherworker.net/forum/index.php?showtopic=5696

You don't need a sewing machine to sew holsters. You can hand sew your holsters and it will be as strong or stronger than a machine sewn holster and will look just as nice if well done. The top two holsters I posted pics of as well as the cartridge belt were hand sewn and still look like new after 10+ years of use.

Here's a hand stitching guide.
http://leatherworker.net/forum/index...howtopic=12259

Eugene
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Old May 1, 2010, 01:37 PM   #5
Magnum Wheel Man
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WOW... thanks for those links... I just had time for very little reading, over lunch ( I'm working outside today ) but already learned alot... might have to subscribe to that forum, so I can view the pics in those threads...

I see Tandy offers both water based & oil based dyes... is there a general preference for holsters ??? I assume the black leather gloves I used to wear that stained my hands black when the gloves got wet, were likely water based dyed ???
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Old May 1, 2010, 03:42 PM   #6
swcr
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I've never used the water based dyes so I don't know much about them. I prefer the Fiebing's Professional oil dyes. Any dye, especially black, will rub off onto clothes, hands, etc. if the excess pigments aren't buffed off after dying.
Tandy leather is convenient if they have a store near you. However, if you are ordering your supplies there are others that have a better selection and better prices.

http://springfieldleather.com/store/
http://www.zackwhite.com/home.php
http://www.midcontinentleather.com/

Eugene
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Old May 1, 2010, 04:59 PM   #7
aarondhgraham
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Hello Magnum Wheel Man,,,

So the holster threads will be here now,,,
That's cool.

That's some nice work Eugene,,,
You have the molding process down pat.

I love making unusual fun stuff like this one,,,
It's a $500.00 rig for two 20-buck Air-Soft pistols,,,
But a server at my favorite watering hole loves Lara Croft,,,
So I made this rig for her so she could enter the contest at the bar.

She won First Place.


When I was skinny and had a .45 Govt,,,
This is what I wore to the range.


Every year I make the gunbelts and holsters for Pistol Pete,,,
The Official Mascot for my Alma Mater,,,
Oklahoma State University


I rarely make anything for modern concealment,,,
I like to make the fancy stuff people will see.


Barbecue Holsters for Barbecue Guns is my specialty.
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Combat: "A Silent Cry"
Aarond is good,,, Aarond is wise,,, Always trust Aarond! (most of the time)
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Old May 1, 2010, 07:45 PM   #8
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Aarond... you know I love your work... but... that spalted maple grip in your OSU pic really caught my eye this time...

I just came in ( from trying ) to chronograph my Safety Police snubbie, & my little S&W spur trigger snubbie, with my latest ( stepping it up from my round ball loads ) these were Hunters Supply 76 grain LFP's with both 0.5 & 0.7 grains of Trailboss... BTW I'm still shooting roundballs out of the bulk of my old 32 S&W top breaks, but some of my stronger shooters, & of those, guns I could see carrying, I'm developing loads with those bullets... at 12ft both of these guns would be deadly as accurate as they are shooting

the setting sun & 30 mph cross winds made using the chrony tough... but both these guns shot both loads well... I have this holster ( which I was told fit a Colt 25 auto ) that fits my spur trigger snubbie to a "T"





if I continue to keep getting attached to it, it may find itself in line for some dressing up, & high end refinishing, & if that happens, I'm going to need to find a BBQ holster for that one

... but I still haven't found a holster I like enough to carry the Safety Police DAO snubbie... I found a vintage Bucheimer under cover police holster that fits it well & carrys pretty good, but it pinches the top latch with the latch style of the Safety Police, & I don't like drawing it & having it clear unlatched...



this gun would make a more practical carry piece, but by the time I stuff it into one of my J frame holsters, it's almost twice as big a package as the little spur trigger gun
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Old May 1, 2010, 08:03 PM   #9
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... & though I didn't make this holster this is still my current BBQ rig... a factory engraved Hopkins & Allen Safety Police in 32 S&W, & this "vintage" Heiser holster



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Old May 1, 2010, 11:36 PM   #10
Dave Cole
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I am also into one-off customs, and don't do many concealment holsters.Here's a few of mine.Dave







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Old May 3, 2010, 07:09 AM   #11
Magnum Wheel Man
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Dave... those look awesome ... love the look of the two tone croc look holster & your use of multiple kinds of leather in "the rig"
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Old May 3, 2010, 04:40 PM   #12
aarondhgraham
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Awesome work Dave,,,

You just proved that design is everything,,,

Love the silhouette work on the skull and flames rig.

Aarond
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Old May 3, 2010, 06:08 PM   #13
Magnum Wheel Man
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BTW.... SWCR... thanks for the Jack White's link... I placed an order there with my tax I.D. number & saved a bunch over the Tandy prices... they did not stock Dr. Jacksons Hide Rejuvenator ( which may be a Tandy exclusive ??? ) or the recommended Holster making book "How to make holsters" ( which might also be a Tandy exclusive ??? ) but I did pick up some Fieblings Care 4 - Way Conditioner, just because I'm nearly out of the ( I think it's Blackstone leather conditioner ) that I already had on hand

AAROND... others ... do you think the Dr. Jackspns conditioner is that much better, that I should get some coming at retail price ??? maybe Tandy will set me up with a business account, but their website has something screwed up in my info ( maybe I registered there a long time ago or ??? ) but I can't buy anything from them on line, until I get the previous e-mail registration info corrected...

... anyway... I have quite a few basic supplys coming... time to start wading in...
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Old May 4, 2010, 12:08 PM   #14
aarondhgraham
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About Dr. Jackson's Hide Rejuvenator,,,,,

I can't say if it is better than other products meant to rejuve dried out leather,,,
All I can say is that I know this stuff works.

O took an old piece of leather that was actually brittle it was so dried out,,,
The Dr. Jackson's made it fully pliable again.

It doesn't work on cracked leather,,,
Once cracks form there is no fixing it.

But if it's dried out hard but still intact,,,
This stuff works miracles.
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Caje: The coward dies a thousand times, the brave only once.
Kirby: That's about all it takes, ain't it?
Combat: "A Silent Cry"
Aarond is good,,, Aarond is wise,,, Always trust Aarond! (most of the time)
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Old May 6, 2010, 07:04 AM   #15
Magnum Wheel Man
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Well... I wrecked me some holsters last night

... er I hope not "wrecked"

my stuff hasn't gotten here yet to re-lace that Heiser, but I guess I was feeling either brave or stupid or a little of both... the straps on that Heiser have some condition issues... the one that contains "that" embossed snap is cracked pretty badly, if I was going to use it, it would only be a matter of a short time before before it broke off, without some major ( & probably ugly ) type of repair... also the strap that goes around the body of the holster looks to have had some initials scratched into it at some time in the past...

I had been thinking, that with a little luck, I could remove & re-use that embossed Heiser snap... I swallowed hard, & with a small screwdriver & a fine point needle nosed pliers, I was able to remove the snap from the damaged strap... I think if I make a new strap, & put the right size hole in it, I can re-install the embossed snap onto the new strap... I think I'm going to have one of my machinist buddys make me a snap seater to fit these old snaps that will go into my vice, so after I unfold the brass petals of the snap, I can apply some leather glue, & press the petals flat onto the strap in the vice, & let the glue dry... I think this will work to give me a servicable strap with the old embossed Heiser snap on it..

replacing the riveted on strap that goes around the body should be easier, & I'm still leaning towards using black straps & black lacing on this brown tooled holster ( pictured earlier )... I think the combo of black & brown will look good...

has anyone ever tried to re-use / replace one of these embossed snaps ??? any suggestions... other than don't do it ???

on to the next (2) projects...

I went through my "box" of cheap holsters, ( I've reciently bought several boxes of 6-8 holsters for like $20.00 for the whole box ) & found one that fits my Dan Wesson 44 mag snubbie ( with the comp nut... acts / looks like a 3" barrel with the compnut ) like a glove... what that means, is an old Hunter brand holster I'd modified 10-15 years ago for that gun, can now be altered to fit my 454 Alaskan... I'm looking at removing the folded flap & wrap- around body strap for the belt loop, & adding an "FBI cant", as well as raising the belt position an inch or so, to both holsters, & spreading the weight out, since these are bolth very heavy guns, by adding a band of leather that will be as wide as the flap jack / pancake style holsters belt loops, but will be more like 2 of the normal fold over belt loops, but with a pants belt loop slot in the middle... ( don't know if I explained that well or not ) I'm thinking of lacing over the top to join the new piece with the old holster, then about 1/2" below the lacing, sewing across at the new canted angle & again at the bottom, for the slot for the belt to pass through...

I had just bought an old police belt flap holster that looks to fit my 32 S&W 4" barrel top break, the old leather is not in too bad a shape, but the stitching was rotted out... this is a very interesting 100+ year old piece, & after ripping out all the stitching, it lays flat... I think I want to trace that one out to use for a pattern... I figured since I have way more 3" barrels than 4", but love the design & fit, I could use the basic tracing to make shorter barreled 32 holsters, & or look at cutting a 1/4" or so outside the line, & have a nice pattern, that would fit my 38 top breaks ???
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Old May 7, 2010, 10:09 AM   #16
Magnum Wheel Man
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got my leather lace, glue, dye, conditioner, & lacing needles today... if it continues to rain... I might get some lacing done this weekend on that old Heiser... if I had ordered a punch & a sqaure ft of heavy leather... I'd be practicing on one of my big bore rebuild holsters 1st... but looks like I'll be using the directions that Aarond copied off for me & starting on that Heiser...
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Old May 8, 2010, 02:58 PM   #17
aarondhgraham
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You'll do fine MWM,,,

Just keep the lace damp with a bit of saddle soap,,,
That way it will glide through the old holes.

Later,,,
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Kirby: That's about all it takes, ain't it?
Combat: "A Silent Cry"
Aarond is good,,, Aarond is wise,,, Always trust Aarond! (most of the time)
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Old May 10, 2010, 07:43 AM   #18
Magnum Wheel Man
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re-laced that old Heiser holster last night... wasted a little lace, as you have to guess how much you need... I used math about 3/8" wide times pie times the amount of loops... anyway... had almost twice what I needed to finish, which was Ok, since I broke the lace the 1st attempt ( too dry )... added a little more lubricant, & the lacing went well

here is a pic of it re-laced, & with a scrap of black strap that had the proper sized hole to slip the cleaned & ready to install Heiser snap... I think it's going to look good in black & brown... now I'm thinking about doing some tooling ( something simple ) on the straps ( I don't like that the plain strap crosses over all the floral tooling ) I'm thinking a simple braided rope stamp on the new black straps would add to it a bit ???

Before...



1/2 way through reconditioning...

Attached Images
File Type: jpg Heiser Holster before.JPG (44.4 KB, 1117 views)
File Type: jpg Guns 329.jpg (38.2 KB, 1115 views)
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Old May 10, 2010, 07:48 AM   #19
Magnum Wheel Man
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BTW... this looks to fit my little Hopkins & Allen Range Model like it was made for it... I think I'm going to pair them up...

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Old May 10, 2010, 08:09 AM   #20
Magnum Wheel Man
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some of the material I've been reading talks about color dyeing the tooling... I don't think I want to start "painting" my leather, but I could see shading with black, or shading some of the tooling on black, with a lighter color... I might have to learn some more about this ??? I'm curious if any of you guys have dyed parts of your tooling ( Aarond... I assume your Laura Croft holster hast tooling died in a contrasting color & the OSU patch appears to be "painted in" with black dye ) anyone used colors & care to show some of your work off ???
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Old May 10, 2010, 12:00 PM   #21
aarondhgraham
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Hey MWM,,,

Nice job re-lacing that holster,,,
'twasn't anywhere near as hard as you imagined.

I do a lot of dye work on my rigs,,,
Mostly, I prefer using the Fiebings Oil Dyes.

Saddle Tan is my favorite color by far,,,
Black is a good contrast for dying background areas.

I use Light Brown as well,,,
Dark brown as the background contrast color.

Medium Brown is just,,,
Well, too medium.

I really miss the "Buckskin" color they used to make,,,
That was the richest "yellow without being yellow" there ever was.

That Laura Croft rig was given an overall coat of Saddle Tan,,,
Then I used a fine brush and dyed the silhouette carving with Black oil dye.

The main thing to remember is this,,,
You must give the lighter color oil dye at least a day (48 hours is better) to dry.
If you apply the black dye before the lighter dye has had time to "travel" through the leather grain and settle completely,,,
You will get a lot of bleed into the lighter dye color area.

Tandy makes a water-based stain in several colors,,,
It provides a good light to dark contrast,,,
But it must be coated with a finish,,,
I hate this for holsters,,,
Doesn't oil well.

This isn't so much of a problem with alcohol or water based dyes,,,
They literally dry in a matter of hours,,,
But their colors aren't as strong.

The EPA is killing all the good penetrating leather dyes,,,
Seems the best stuff for the leather working craft,,,
Is a real nightmare for the environment.

About that strap,,,
You really can't "carve" leather after it's been dyed,,,
The most you can do to it is try and stamp it,,,
But it won't stamp very deep or crisp.
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Caje: The coward dies a thousand times, the brave only once.
Kirby: That's about all it takes, ain't it?
Combat: "A Silent Cry"
Aarond is good,,, Aarond is wise,,, Always trust Aarond! (most of the time)
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Old May 10, 2010, 12:15 PM   #22
Magnum Wheel Man
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"that" strap is just a scrap that was black, & had the right sized hole, that I cut off a donar holster...

... I'm looking at buying some 1/2" strapping... so I need to buy "natural", then stamp it, then dye it, then buff / finish the strap ???

still haven't got any reference materials yet

can you buff / polish the strap edges or does this make them more prone to cracking... seems most of my "box o holsters" have straps with visible fuzz ( can't spell "sweade" ) on the back side & no finish on the edges...

I also want to do some work yet on the bottom of that Heiser, where it was damaged... I assume there is some product I can apply, that can buff out the worn spot to help hide it a bit ???
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Old May 10, 2010, 02:48 PM   #23
aarondhgraham
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leather,,, confusin' stuff it is,,,

For tooling and all holster applications you want Vegetable Tanned Leather,,,
That is leather that will absorb water and accept deep tooling,,,
It's also called Oak Tanned by some folk.

The smooth side of leather is called the Grain side,,,
It's often referred to as the Top Grain side
The fuzzy side is called the Flesh side.

Suede leather is leather that has had the Grain side sanded,,,
Do not confuse true Suede with a Split of leather.

Suede leather is also almost always tanned using a chromium salt solution,,,
Don't even think about lining a holster with anything other than vegetable tanned leather,,,
The chromium salts in suede leather may (not always but more often than not) react badly with blued steel.

Leather comes off of a cow up to 3/8's or 1/2 inch thick in some places,,,
It is run through a "splitter" that shaves en even thickness of grain side.

That's where you get the terminology of Leather Weight,,,
8-9 ounce leather, 4-5 ounce leather, and so on,,,
That means one square foot of leather,,,
Will weigh 8-9 ounce, and so on.

Anyways, true suede is grain leather that has simply been sanded to give it the rough nap,,,
A split is the flesh side of leather left over after the Grain side has been shaved off,,,
Split leather (or splits as Tandy calls them) are not strong at all,,,
They are basically only good for kid camp crafts and such.

Anyways, leather suitable for holsters is always top vegetable tan Grain leather,,,
Some people say that 8-9 ounce is good, some go heavier to 9-10 or 10-11 ounce.

I like the heavier holsters but also like to line holsters,,,
If I am making a holster for a big pistol I want it to end up around 10-11 ounces,,,
I use an 8-9 ounce leather and line it with 2-3 ounce pigskin or calf skin,,,
That ends up to be around 10-12 ounce total thickness,,,
Lined holsters are also much stiffer than un-lined.

If I'm making for a smaller gun I will start with 6-7 ounce leather plus lining,,,
Or even two layers of 4-5 ounce leather.

I like Double Shoulders as I feel they have a more consistent thickness than a Side of leather,,,
There is less waste in that the Butt and Belly of a side are useless to me.

Do you have a belt sander?
On small pieces I have thinned heavy leather to thinner straps by sanding the flesh side,,,
It doesn't hurt he leather a bit and even though it's not traditional,,,
Every shoe/boot maker has an entire bank of sanders,,,
It ain't cheating, it's labor saving.

I'm going to recommend a book for you,,,
It's not a leathercraft book,,,
It's a book on leather tools.

I learned a tremendous amount about how to work leather from this $9.95 book,,,
My thinking is that this book shows you every leather tool known to man,,,
It also shows you "WHAT" the tool is used for in leatherwork,,,
If you know something can be done and why it's done,,,
You will figure out when to do it in your projects.
It's called the "Leather Craft Tool Book"

After you read this book and learn about "what" can be done to leather with the proper tools,,,
Then everything in this "How To Make Holsters" book will make more sense.

The tools book shows you what can be done with and to leather,,,
If you know what can be done,,, you will understand (or figure out) when to do it in your projects.

One $9.95 book will save you hundreds of hours in wasted materials and frustration induced errors.
__________________
Caje: The coward dies a thousand times, the brave only once.
Kirby: That's about all it takes, ain't it?
Combat: "A Silent Cry"
Aarond is good,,, Aarond is wise,,, Always trust Aarond! (most of the time)
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Old May 10, 2010, 03:11 PM   #24
Magnum Wheel Man
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Join Date: July 26, 2006
Location: Southern Minnesota
Posts: 8,371
Thanks again my freind...

one thing I noticed is the "jock strap" ( the strap that goes around the holster ) on several of my cheaper holsters, this strap is 2 pieces, with a snap in the front... on that Heiser, it's a one piece loop, that has the 2 ends tapered where they are joined, on the back side, making the strap an even thickness all the way around... I was trying to figure out the best way to taper the thickness on my new strap
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Old May 11, 2010, 09:07 AM   #25
aarondhgraham
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Join Date: December 1, 2009
Location: Stillwater, OKlahoma
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Tapering is called Skiving,,,

It rhymes with driving.

You can do it with a very sharp knife,,,
Or a belt sander if you have one.

I would never have though a sander was appropriate for leatherwork,,,
Until I attended the Shoe, Boot, and Saddle program at OSU Okmulgee.

In the shoe repair section and the boot making section,,,
Each room had an entire bank of belt, drum, and disk sanders.

I purchased a cheap 24" belt/disk sander from Harbor Freight,,,
Best $69.00 I ever spent besides my 1000 grit sharpening grinder.

Or you can lay a handheld belt sander on it's side,,,
It's somewhat clumsy but works well enough.

What used to take an hour with a round knife,,,
Now takes 5 minutes with a power sander.
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Combat: "A Silent Cry"
Aarond is good,,, Aarond is wise,,, Always trust Aarond! (most of the time)
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