How to Make a Sheath

In case you hadn’t noticed (in which case you obviously haven’t seen most of the articles on this here blog), I like knives. Especially fixed-blade knives (that is, knives that don’t fold). But a fixed-blade is no good if you can’t toss it in a bag without ruining everything else you put in there. Solution? A sheath. But what if you don’t have the tools and materials to make one out of leather (because believe me, you need a ridiculous number of tools and materials to make anything out of leather)? Simple! Make one out of wood!

At first this may seem like a daunting task. After all, what if you don’t have sharp chisels to gouge out the wood because you bought the cheapest set you could find and they turned out to be made of mild steel so they don’t hold an edge and to top it all off you used them to knock your bathroom tiles into place and now they’re dull beyond repair for whatever reason?

Well, I have good news and bad news. The good news is that there is a way to make wooden sheaths without chisels. The bad news is that you’ll need a table saw. I know, I know, this blog was meant to be a “no power tools” blog, but unlike most of the other stuff on here, you need really straight, parallel cuts if you want any chance of success, so a table saw is a must.

Oh, or you could just buy 1/8 inch lumber or aluminium bar stock from the hardware store and use that instead. What? You didn’t think I’d make a project that could only be done with power tools, did you? 🙂 But I digress. You might not be able to get 1/8 inch lumber in any remotely decent condition, so you could use hardboard, which does come in 1/8 inch, but if you get an 18 TPI (Teeth Per Inch) blade for your hacksaw you can use aluminium bar too.

Note that I’m only saying 1/8 inch because that’s the thickness of all my steel.

So, let’s get started, shall we?

This sheath that you’ll see me make is for a prop sword, but the concept can be scaled however you need.

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First, you need your stock (material) to be a bit bigger than whatever you’re making the sheath for, but just as thick, i.e. if you have a knife blade that’s 1/8″ (thickness) x 1″ (depth) x 4″ (length) your stock needs to be 1/8″ x 1.5″-2″ x 4.5″-5″. A bit confusing, I know, but basically that means your stock needs to be half an inch to an inch oversized.

Next, get two pieces of wood the same width and length. These slats don’t need to be the same thickness as the first one; in fact, you’ll be better off if they’re thicker than it, because that gives you a decent margin of error. Just don’t make them too thick or you’ll have to saw/file/sand them off by hand later if you don’t have a table saw.

Here we see the three pieces we need to make this work: the one in the middle is 1, and the ones on the top and bottom are 2 and 3 in no particular order.

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The idea is that 1 is going to have a section cut out of it the size and shape of your blade, and the other two will sandwich it on either side, making it look like it was made with one piece of wood or metal. If you don’t understand, keep reading. It’ll make sense in a minute.

Now get your blade as centred as you can get it on the first slat, or the middle one as I’m going to be calling it from now on, and trace around it. Then take the blade off and cut the shape that you just drew out of the slat.

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Now you start to see the basic idea taking shape. All that’s left to do now is glue the two outer panels on.

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Now, if you do this, you don’t want to do what I did and make the slot too tight. Make sure the cavity is large enough for the blade to go into without sticking. I ended up having to sand the sword down to fit in the sheath. Refine the slot before gluing everything up.

Leave it to dry overnight. Shaping is tomorrow.


Suddenly, it’s tomorrow! If you have a table saw, you can do this part on there, but I decided to do it by hand. All you have to do is cut the excess wood off the sides and round all the corners. When I finished, mine had gone from this:

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To this:

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You can do all sorts of things to make it look better, but I decided that for such a crude prop I could just leave it unfinished. I think it looks pretty decent for a proof of concept. This can be refined and used for all kinds of things. For a big one like this, you probably don’t want to use aluminium, but you could get away with it for a small 3 or 4″ knife. Just remember: you probably shouldn’t use aluminium for the middle part, or it will dull your knife. You could, however, use some kind of wood, and the contrast would work quite well. Maybe something like this?image

Well, anyway, that’s all for this project, so I’ll you next time!

God bless!

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