Watch a master leathersmith make an elegant sheath for axe

See how a leather axe sheath is made from start to finish.
Christopher McFadden

There is nothing nicer than a handcrafted tool like a master-crafted axe. But, unless great care is taken to protect them, then even the sharpest axe blade will blunt over the years. 

The best thing to help prevent this is to make a matching sheath for your most prized blades. This is a very skilled craft in and of itself, so let's watch another skilled tradesman apply their trade. 

leather axe sheath complete
Source: Interesting Engineering

Step 1: Sketch out the design of the sheath

The very first task is to take the axe in question and trace out the shape and size of the blade on a piece of paper. With that done, the main sheath design can be mocked up around the blade, ensuring enough room is given to sheath and unsheath the blade safely and efficiently. 

axe sheath design
Source: Interesting Engineering

With that done, the design is then transferred by hand to a sheet of ready leather. Where needed a metal ruler is then used to reinforce any straight lines prior to cutting the leather.

Step 2: Cutting the leather and starting the sheath construction

Once the craftsman is happy, he then cuts out the piece of leather using a very sharp blade. The cutting action needs to be smooth and confident to prevent damaging the leather or slipping with the blade.

With that, the second piece of leather is cut to form the other half of the sheath to make a sort of axe-head-shaped wallet.

leather axe sheath sandwich
Source: Interesting Engineering

With the leather pieces now cut, the next step is to begin the process of making the sheath proper. The first step is to use special leather glue to glue the two halves of the axe head holder together. 

Once stuck together, excess leather is then trimmed off around the leather sandwich to ensure a clean, matching, and flush edge.

With that done, the craftsman then cleans up the cut edges using a Dremel tool. Next, the edges of the leather are then trimmed down using a special leather bevelling fork.

leather axe sheath bevel
Source: Interesting Engineering

Step 3: Add some decorative features

Next, the craftsman begins to add some decorative features to the outside surface of the leather using special cutting tools. The first is a series of channels to form a border parallel to the edges of the leather.

Holes are also punched in strategic places ready to receive the rivets. Other decorations are then added across the main exposed surfaces of the sheath too - in this case, a wicker pattern.

handcrafted axe sheath decoration
Source: Interesting Engineering

Step 4: Complete the piece

Once the artisan is happy, the leather is then treated with leather dye. This is to help protect the leather over time and provide a darker, richer color to the piece.

Next, another special tool is used to puncture a series of holes around the perimeter of the leather piece. These will be used to add the main stitching.

With the holes pressed, the next step is to use a leather cord to stitch the main pieces of the leather sheath together. Like the rest of the work, this is another highly skilled practice that takes years of practice to master.

leather axe sheath sewing
Source: Interesting Engineering

With the stitching partially complete, the sheath is tested against the axe blade to ensure it fits. Adjustments can then be made if needed.

Once happy, the artisan can then complete the piece. Holes are made in the made restraining strap to house the snap buttons to hold the sheath on the blade.

Once ready, the two halves of the clip buttons are added to the main sheath and restraining strap as needed. With that, the leather axe sheath is then complete and ready for delivery to its new lucky owner.

If you enjoyed this guide on how to make an axe sheath, you might be interested in watching some other master craftsmen complete their tasks? How about, for example, making our own longbow from a piece of a fallen tree?

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