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Old June 25, 2013, 04:11 PM   #1
WV_gunner
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Making Holsters

Anyone make their own holsters? I've been doing some research. I'm pretty sure I'm capable of doing it, but I got one question. Will lacing and glue work ok? Seems like it would be the easiest to do compared to stitching. I considered rivets but I'm not sure I'd like the way it would look. I like the idea of lacing, less tools, less time, and I think it would look the best. But how will it hold up?
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Old June 25, 2013, 05:50 PM   #2
Old Stony
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If you get yourself a good pickle fork hole punch and an awl, you can do all kinds of stuff with leather. Do a little research and you will be surprised at how easy it is...I think easier than lacing and you get a better product.
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Old June 25, 2013, 07:48 PM   #3
Crusty Deary Ol'Coot
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Yes, I have made a number of my own holsters, and as we speak have an ankle holster on which has been an almost constant companion for quite awhile.

I use rivets at many stress points as I have no desire to have a failure and then need to redo.

I find that I may make a couple before I really like the result. I use hand stitching, with a hand awl that has the thread in the small bobbin.

I usually use a lacing punch to make the holes because it is hard and dangerous to try and push the needle through 2 or more layers of leather thick enough to make good holsters.

I usually double and triple stitch in stress areas.

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Old June 26, 2013, 04:20 AM   #4
oldandslow
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wvg, 6/26/13

I started making my own leather holsters about four years ago when it became almost impossible to get a quality holster in a decent time frame. As well I have a bunch of old alloy framed pistols that I like to carry and finding a maker that still made holsters for that model was difficult.

Check out www.leatherworker.net. They have a dedicated holster subforum which is great. There are also a few tutorials on holster making that I used, one being www.jdlawhon.com/beltslide.

There is a learning curve so the first one or two may look a bit rough but it gets easier quickly. Good luck.

best wishes- oldandslow
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Old June 28, 2013, 01:14 PM   #5
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Anyone know where I can purchase small quantities of leather? My first project is going to be a knife sheath for a really long bladed Case I have, it came with a cheap nylon one and I've always hated it. I figure if I can handle that project without getting frustrated I'd like to try a holster for my RG .22 SAA revolver. Then I'd like to make one for my Baby Eagle. I don't want to invest alot of money in leather just to make these 3 things. And for all I know it won't work out. So I'm looking for some that enough for just one project till I get better. I don't want to spend over $100 just to start.
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Old June 28, 2013, 02:05 PM   #6
Crusty Deary Ol'Coot
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Tandy used to have leather, but haven't seen the name for quite awhile.

I get my supplies from Zack White. Find em on the net.

Your cost will depend on how much leather you buy and the thickness.

I think I bought a half a hide a few years back and am still working on that after a number of holsters, including a shoulder rig for a scoped RUGER Mark II Slab Side and a few that took a couple to get what I wanted.

Good luck.

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Old June 28, 2013, 03:57 PM   #7
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Thanks for the site, I hadn't heard of it. They have more what I'm looking for. Is 6-7oz strong enough? The price sounds nice at $4.55 a foot. It's $64 for a double shoulder.
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Old June 28, 2013, 05:25 PM   #8
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Is 6-7oz strong enough?
I prefer at least 8 oz- 9 oz. Any heavier and it is hard to wet form around the gun. 6 oz. is a little light for holsters.
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Old June 28, 2013, 05:27 PM   #9
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Tandy used to have leather, but haven't seen the name for quite awhile.
Do a search on: "Tandy Leather Factory". They are in business, selling leather, tools, and leather working supplies. Leather "stuff" can also be found on Ebay.
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Old June 28, 2013, 05:35 PM   #10
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Will lacing and glue work ok?
Glue is not needed. As for lacing, if you look at current brand-name holster offerings, few if any are offered that are laced. However, I am sure some would-be holster makers are selling their wears on Ebay that are laced...and rivited. Rivets and lacing are the mark of cheap, poorly-made holsters, fit only for a boy's cap pistols.
Using proper tools and saddle stitching, one can make a quality holster that is strong and will compare with a brand-name, commercial product...but your first one will not look that good.
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Old June 28, 2013, 10:24 PM   #11
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Zack White sells practice leather for $15 for 3 pounds. Ranges from 6-9oz. I think I might get 2 orders of that.
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Old June 29, 2013, 07:41 AM   #12
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Zack White sells practice leather for $15 for 3 pounds. Ranges from 6-9oz. I think I might get 2 orders of that.
Scraps are used for learning to do leather tooling and stamping (Basket stamping, for example). Scraps do not do much for learning to make an actual holster. would suggest buying one of the pre-cut kits for a holster from Tandy. Actually tooling, stitching, etc. would be more beneficial. After doing the kit, then you can experiment making a pattern from light cardboard (cereal box, etc.). and cutting your own leather. Use the cardboard pattern to draw with a pencil on the leather, cut out with a utility knife with a sharp blade. Pay attention as to which side of the leather to draw the pattern on...smooth or rough-out.
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Sometimes you get what you pay for, sometimes you only pay more for what you get.
Three shots are not a "group"...they are a "few".

If the Bible is the literal, infallible, unerring word of God...where are all those witches I am supposed to kill?
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Old June 29, 2013, 11:15 AM   #13
Pahoo
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A great hobby for you !!

WV
Lacing always looks pretty fancy and most applicable to a Western look. I would not discourage you from using it. I like it and use it often. However, it has it's weak points. Eventually, Leather lacing will dry wear out in one section or another and you will have to re-lace that section. If you use glue, it will be a latex based glue and even after you punch your holes, it will drag on your lacing. It also depends on what stitch you use and lacing.
Now, on the subject of cheap practice leather, what is it that you want to practice, tooling, lacing or both? ...
I always keep and eye out, for old quality leather belts and have made many knife sheaths using this old belts. You can't get much cheaper than old, wide leather belts. ...

If you "Bing" Leather Craft, you will come up with a bunch of sources.

Good luck and;
Be Safe !!!
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Old June 29, 2013, 01:50 PM   #14
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If you are going to get Tandy supplies, they also have holster kits available. They are great in getting started...you can see how they go together.
From there you can learn to cut your own patterns, etc.
Glue is very much needed in the process...it's another layer of bonding of the leather, it helps keep the work together as you stitch it...and if you don't glue, the edges will separate in time and look like do-do.
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Old June 29, 2013, 04:56 PM   #15
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Found to where I can get about 8 square feet at a time. Plenty to get started. If I'm any good at all I know I can make my money back on what I don't use making stuff for my friend.
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Old June 29, 2013, 05:08 PM   #16
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At Springfield Leather (Google) you can buy any weight leather you want by the sq. ft.
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Old June 30, 2013, 08:49 AM   #17
dahermit
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Here are some photos of holsters I have made. Notice the lack of lacing and no glue was used except in holster with the white lining (kangaroo). I do not care for retention straps...the copy of the "Askins Avenger" has a strap that is held on with a snap (as the original), and can be removed. If one must have a retention strap, a "Thumb Break" is more user friendly than one that must be un-snapped. I made the thumb-break straps integral to the holsters, they are not sewn in, or (perish the thought), riveted.





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Sometimes you get what you pay for, sometimes you only pay more for what you get.
Three shots are not a "group"...they are a "few".

If the Bible is the literal, infallible, unerring word of God...where are all those witches I am supposed to kill?

Last edited by dahermit; June 30, 2013 at 09:02 AM.
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Old June 30, 2013, 12:44 PM   #18
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Lacing is still offered by several custom makers and is rarely seen because it is expensive compared to stitching. El Paso Saddlery offers it and I think that rawhide whipped lacing is very attractive on a traditional holster.

Firstly, I recommend going to the Tandy website and watching ALL their free videos. You'll learn a lot just watching.

I would recommend a good awl and doing a saddle stitch, rather than lacing because it's easier to do. Good looking lacing takes practice but a straight stitch is easy. A stitching groover is recommended not only as a bed for your stitch but also to keep it straight and it provides protection for the thread. Make your stitch about 3/16" from the edge.

A good, sharp, diamond shaped awl is easy to use and unlike drilling, removes no material. The holes close up once completed and the stitching is much less obvious than even machine stitching.

You also want an overstitch wheel and set it to 5-6 stitches per inch. This is a cogged wheel that sets your stitch marks.

Saddle stitching needles are blunt and will not cut the thread as you do your stitching.

Most holsters are made from 8-9oz vegetable tanned leather. Marketed as "tooling leather" at Tandy, which is still a good source for leather, tools and supplies. As you get more involved, you'll probably want better tools like those from Barry King, BearMauls or Osborne but the Tandy stuff is plenty good enough to get started. Avoid the cheap chrome tanned leather because it does not work well, hold its shape or finish as nicely. Don't be afraid to dye your own work.

Glue is not "necessary" but most commercial and professional makers use it for a reason. It makes for a stronger seam, a much neater looking seam and it makes it much easier to stitch. As noted, it also keeps your edges held together and won't separate over time. A well done, glued and stitched seam is a thing of beauty all by itself.

Rivets are certainly not a sign of cheap leather. They are very useful for reinforcing stress points but shouldn't really be necessary on the mainseam of a holster. They are, however, quite often used on belt loops, small pouches, belts and bags. I prefer to use traditional #12 copper rivets instead of the modern plated variety.
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Old July 1, 2013, 07:50 AM   #19
dahermit
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Rivets are certainly not a sign of cheap leather. They are very useful for reinforcing stress points but shouldn't really be necessary on the mainseam of a holster.
Cheap holsters (not "cheap leather"), as in Hunter brand holsters. Notice the straps are riveted to the back of the holster instead of being integral or sewn. Rivets have their places, but are often used as a manufacturing shortcut. A hobbyist should not need to resort to shortcuts. Hunter Brand = cheap holsters.

Glue...one of the problems with it, is if it is used before dying, the dye will not take uniformly. The best thing that can be said for glue, is that it can be used to hold the leather pieces together for sewing. However, the more experience one has with leather working, the less one needs glue.
Lacing: The purpose of lacing is purely decorative. If one wants a holster to attract attention, be on display, be gaudy as a 40's-'50's cinema cowboy (or as Patten would say: a New Orleans pimp), then by all means use lacing to attract attention to your holster. However, you will not see lacing for any serious application. Unless you are as the Gay Lt. Dangle on "Reno 911"...he would die for a two-gun Buscadero, black floral-carved holsters with contrasting White lacing and matching cowboy boots.
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Sometimes you get what you pay for, sometimes you only pay more for what you get.
Three shots are not a "group"...they are a "few".

If the Bible is the literal, infallible, unerring word of God...where are all those witches I am supposed to kill?

Last edited by dahermit; July 1, 2013 at 08:12 AM.
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Old July 1, 2013, 09:21 AM   #20
newfrontier45
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Cheap holsters (not "cheap leather"), as in Hunter brand holsters. Notice the straps are riveted to the back of the holster instead of being integral or sewn. Rivets have their places, but are often used as a manufacturing shortcut. A hobbyist should not need to resort to shortcuts. Hunter Brand = cheap holsters.
You said rivets are a sign of cheap leather (products, not materials ). I agree that cheap leather often has rivets but rivets do not always indicate cheap leather. I agree that rivets are used as a manufacturing shortcut by the lesser manufacturers but rivets do not indicate this all by themselves. As I stated, copper rivets are often used to reinforce stress points or to hold small straps in place. Freedom Arms holsters have a riveted retention strap but this is so the strap can swivel down out of the way when not in use. This is top grade leather.


Quote:
Glue...one of the problems with it, is if it is used before dying, the dye will not take uniformly. The best thing that can be said for glue, is that it can be used to hold the leather pieces together for sewing. However, the more experience one has with leather working, the less one needs glue.
As I, and rayban, have said, glue makes for a stronger mainseam and cleaner looking edge. There's no way around that. This is 100% positive with no negatives. An unglued mainseam will eventually separate and if you're okay with how that looks, then don't glue them. I want mine to look like a single piece of leather and well done, glued and slicked edge looks like one piece of leather. You make the comment about experience and glue, yet every professional leathermaker I know of uses glue. If you glue your mainseam, then stitch it, then sand it down so that the edge is even, dyeing is a non-issue. If done right, there should be no glue on the surface to affect the dyeing process.


Quote:
The purpose of lacing is purely decorative. If one wants a holster to attract attention, be on display, be gaudy as a 40's-'50's cinema cowboy (or as Patten would say: a New Orleans pimp), then by all means use lacing to attract attention to your holster. However, you will not see lacing for any serious application.
This is purely matter of taste. A lot of top shelf, old school leather work was done with a laced edge and to me, it is usually very tastefully done and beautiful. The old man has a wonderful floral carved H.H. Heiser holster for his High Standard with a rawhide whip-laced edge.

Not unlike this Heiser on www.vintagegunleather.com:
http://www.vintagegunleather.com/sho...roducts_id=760



Quote:
Unless you are as the Gay Lt. Dangle on "Reno 911"...he would die for a two-gun Buscadero, black floral-carved holsters with contrasting White lacing and matching cowboy boots.
That was a rude and ignorant comment. I think your assessment was wrong, you're not too old or too experienced to learn something from me. Now if you like your leather plain and don't care for the laced edging, that is fine but to categorize it as "gay" or "pimp-like" is uncalled-for.
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Old July 1, 2013, 09:35 AM   #21
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Like I said, El Paso still offers laced edging. I would wager that most probably don't order laced mainseams because it costs $40 extra.

http://www.epsaddlery.com/c-46-lacing.aspx
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Old July 1, 2013, 10:47 AM   #22
rayban
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And since that lacing on the Heisers is rawhide, that will protect that holster to no end and outlive us all.
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Old July 1, 2013, 12:44 PM   #23
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I like the amazing carving done on some holsters, and lacing on holsters for older style guns looks nice. I think branding looks good too, as long as its done tastefully. I'll probably never get into carving, maybe lacing the holster for my RG.

I'm somewhat intrigued by leather cartridge holders. Might be something else I try.
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Old July 1, 2013, 03:14 PM   #24
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That was a rude and ignorant comment. I think your assessment was wrong, you're not too old or too experienced to learn something from me. Now if you like your leather plain and don't care for the laced edging, that is fine but to categorize it as "gay" or "pimp-like" is uncalled-for.
Yes, it was uncalled for and I apologize. Hey, along with holsters, did I show you how I apply sequins to my tennis shoes and rhinestones on my blue jeans?
__________________
Sometimes you get what you pay for, sometimes you only pay more for what you get.
Three shots are not a "group"...they are a "few".

If the Bible is the literal, infallible, unerring word of God...where are all those witches I am supposed to kill?
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Old July 1, 2013, 05:19 PM   #25
dahermit
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Anyone make their own holsters? I've been doing some research. I'm pretty sure I'm capable of doing it, but I got one question. Will lacing and glue work ok? Seems like it would be the easiest to do compared to stitching. I considered rivets but I'm not sure I'd like the way it would look. I like the idea of lacing, less tools, less time, and I think it would look the best. But how will it hold up?
Your question begs the question: What do you wish to accomplish from making your own holster? If you are looking for a satisfying Hobby, than leather work will provide that. If you are looking for a holster that is not in current production, you can likely accomplish that also. However, if you looking for a quality holster at a lesser price because you made it yourself, given the price of supplies (leather, thread, dye, etc.), and the price of tools, (needles, skiving tool, burnisher, awl, stamps, groove spacer, etc.), you will have more money in your project than what you would have paid for a top of the line, commercial holster.
If you want to make holsters for sale, you will find that there is too many man-hours involved and the stuff is too expensive to produce a holster at a price which people are willing to pay. I have sold a few on Gunbroker, and Ebay, but came nowhere near breaking even, let alone making a profit. I did not intend on making an enterprise out of it, but after making holsters for my own use, made others as more of a hobby.
However, the upside of working with leather is that, as you have already figured out, not all that hard, and there is a lot of satisfaction from making your own accouterments.
You can save on the costs somewhat by paying attention to the sale fliers that Tandy Leather sends out about once a month...they send the fliers once you have purchased something from them.
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Sometimes you get what you pay for, sometimes you only pay more for what you get.
Three shots are not a "group"...they are a "few".

If the Bible is the literal, infallible, unerring word of God...where are all those witches I am supposed to kill?
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