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 Simple Leather Holster Tutorial.

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Jare Hasan


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Simple Leather Holster Tutorial.
« on: May 24, 2011, 01:34 PM »
Okay, here’s how to build a simple holster out of leather.

Leather crafters charge some outrageous prices for their goods, because bulk leather is expensive, not necessarily because it’s super duper hard to do. (Apologies to the real leather craft guys.)  Stuff like making saddles or tooled leather is really difficult and takes a ton of talent and time, but regular un-tooled holsters and belts are a snap.  There is no real reason a Jango holster set should cost over two hundred dollars.  I made mine for about $25.  That’s like a jillion percent markup, but then, I’m not making them in bulk, nor did I make mine screen-accurate.

This tutorial will be for a leather tactical-style drop holster for an Airsoft Colt 1911, but the principles are all the same.


Step One: Go buy some supplies!
I went to Hobby Lobby to get all my supplies except two things for finishing.  There are places like Tandy Leather where you can get the same supplies, but it’s an hour drive for me to the closest Tandy.  For the purposes of this tutorial, I will be using Hobby Lobby stuff.

What you need is a bag of leather scraps.  They call it a Farmer’s Leather Bundle (sku# 474155).  It’s a 3 pound bag of basically ends and pieces of various sizes and colors, it costs $5.99.  I bought two bags and got enough leather for a Han Solo holster and belt, a Jango rig, and two more simple belt and holster rigs, plus some smaller things like pouches and smaller holsters.  Unless you plan on making thirty or forty rigs, spending over a hundred bucks on a half hide is not necessary.
You’ll also need heavy duty snaps (I buy these at Wal-Mart, they’re a lot cheaper there), a bag of Medium Rivets (sku# 328567), a pack of Stitching Needles (sku# 710830), and some Waxed Thread (sku# 710814).
For finishing edges, get whatever color of powdered dye best matches the color of leather you’re going to use (and a package of Black) and a can of Denatured Alcohol.  Denatured Alcohol can be found at Home Depot or Lowe’s in the Paint section.
There are a few other things that I’m going to assume you already have, like a Sharpie, a hammer, a drill, a 1/8” drill bit, sandpaper, glue, scissors, a utility knife, and pliers.


Step Two: Patterning!
There are two types of holsters we can do: you can do a simple wrap holster (one piece of leather that wraps around the gun) and a fully-stitched holster (two pieces of leather that are sewn together front and back).  We’re doing the fully-stitched one.

Choose your leather and make sure it’s larger than the gun you’re using.   Decide what kind of rig you want, and pattern accordingly.  If you want a holster that hangs from your existing belt, you’ll need to make the back piece long enough to include the loop.  If you’re doing a Solo or Jango rig, add an inch or so the back piece at the top, because those holsters have a separate piece for the “drop” and just need enough leather to rivet the holster to the drop.

Lay the gun on the leather and trace around it with your Sharpie.  Make sure to trace about a half-inch bigger all the way around than your gun is.  When you shape the holster, you’ll need that extra space, trust me.   If you’re using a gun that’s particularly thick, you’ll need even more space.  For my EE-2s, I had to add almost an inch to accommodate the lightsaber bodies.
IMPORTANT! Make sure your patterns for front and back are mirror images.  The sueded (rough) surfaces of the pieces need to be in the middle.  I trace and cut my front piece first, then flip it over (suede side up) and trace it on the finished side of the back piece.

Once your pieces are traced, cut them out.  You can use a good strong pair of scissors or a sharp utility knife.  Cut as close the center of your Sharpie line as you can. 

Take whatever glue you’re going to use (I use Mighty Mendit, but any glue that is NOT water-soluble will work.  Contact cement works well, Super Glue does not.  Super Glue is too thin and will just soak into the leather.) and run a small bead around the edge of the sueded side of your front piece.  IMPORTANT!  DO NOT GLUE THE TOP OF THE HOLSTER SHUT!  You need to get your gun in and out, don’t you?

Line up the back piece (suede side in) with the front piece and stick em together.  Put a couple of books or something heavy on them to keep them together until the glue dries.  Mighty Mendit takes about an hour to dry enough to continue.


Step Three: Make some holes!
Once your glue has dried, take that Sharpie and put a line of dots all along the glued edge (again, leave the top alone) about ¼” or so from the edge.  Make sure the dots are consistent and about ¼” apart.  I like to count them as I go.   :)

Now take your drill with the 1/8” drill bit and drill right through each of those dots.  This is one of my favorite parts of this business, it’s very Zen.
I messed up and forgot that I wasn’t using a 1/16” bit, so I just drilled about every other dot.  As long as the holes are about ¼” apart, you’re all good.


Got your holes drilled?  Great.  Let’s clamp the piece in a stitching pony or a vise or whatever you’re going to use.  Cut off a length of your waxed thread about twice as long as the row of holes and thread a needle on each end of the thread.  Trust me, I know it sounds odd.
Pass one needle through the starting hole, and pull the thread through until you have an equal amount on both sides.
Now here it gets tricky to explain.  The hand stitch is easy to do and it holds really well, and it’s the only kind of stitch I know for leather.  Here’s how you do it: put your right-hand needle through the next hole down and pull the thread tight.  Put your left-hand needle through the same hole and pull that thread tight.  Keep going like that.


When you get to the end of your holes, you can back-stitch a few times, or you can just tie a square knot around the edge of the piece.  I do the square knot a couple of times, it makes me feel more secure.


Step Four: Shaping!
You should now have a two pieces of flat leather sewn together.  Take that in the kitchen, along with your gun.
A lot of people boil leather, but unless you oil the heck out of it later, the leather will crack if you boil it.  Saturating the leather is not necessary, and neither is boiling water.  Just run your kitchen tap until the water is as hot as you can stand, and quickly run the holster under the water.  You don’t want to soak it, just get it damp.  As soon as the leather darkens up, it’s wet enough.
Take your gun and shove it in the holster.  Like magic, the leather will take the shape of the gun.  Use your fingers to further shape the leather to the gun, and let it dry (with the gun in it) for at least six hours.  Overnight is best, but I know how impatient we can get.  Six hours minimum or it won’t hold the shape.


That's it for right now.  My holster is still drying, should be another couple of hours before it's done.
I'll pick this up in the next post in a little bit.

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Jare Hasan


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Re: Simple Leather Holster Tutorial.
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2011, 03:57 PM »
Step Five:  Tiedowns and such!
For a fitted holster, you need to have a tiedown.  That’s a loop that goes around your thigh and keeps the holster from riding up when you draw your gun.  Measure around your thigh right in the middle between your crotch and your knee.  I have gigantic thighs (lots of hockey), so my tiedowns need to be at least 25 inches long.  Add an inch and a half to your thigh measurement for overlap and such.

Cut two one and one-half inch parallel slits in the back of your holster about a quarter of the way from the bottom.   The utility knife is the best for this.
Cut some long ¾” wide strips from your leftover leather.  If you’re lucky, you can get a full tiedown in one piece.  If you’re like me, you’ll have to piece a few strips together.  Make sure you keep a nice straight edge.
Pass your tiedown through the slits on the back of the holster and mark where it overlaps around your thigh.  If you measured right, you should have an inch of overlap.  Put a snap at the end there so you can snap it together to form a loop.
I’m using a single loop to go over an existing belt here.  Make a loop that’s long enough to go over the belt and to “drop” the holster so it sits comfortably in the middle of your thigh.  Rivet the loop to the back piece of your holster.




Step Six: Finishing!
If you have some wobbly edges on your holster, you can clean them up with your knife or a drum sander on low speed.  High speed will burn the leather, you don’t want that.  If you use a knife, don’t cut your stitches.
You’ll notice that the edges of your holster and all are white.  Leather dye doesn’t really penetrate like fabric does, so you need to dye those edges. 
Mix one tablespoon of whatever color dye you’re using to match the leather with a half-tablespoon of black dye in one and one-half cups of denatured alcohol.  DO NOT HEAT THIS MIXTURE, IT IS ALCOHOL!
Using a foam brush or a rag, “paint” the edges with your dye mixture.  It’s very very thin, so go carefully.
Let that dry for about an hour, then if you want, you can lightly sand the high spots of the holster to give it a weathered look.  100 grit is the roughest I would use.


I used a simple belt loop and drop for this one, but there are other types of drops and strapping methods to use.  Look at as many pictures of gunbelts you can find.  Use your imagination and good luck!



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Kel Toi


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Re: Simple Leather Holster Tutorial.
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2011, 05:45 PM »
Bookmarked , Cheer's Jare  ;)

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Jare Hasan


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Re: Simple Leather Holster Tutorial.
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2011, 06:05 PM »
Just doing my part to break the reliance on canvas gear.  ;)

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Re: Simple Leather Holster Tutorial.
« Reply #4 on: May 25, 2011, 01:29 AM »
bookmarked as well...... always great to see easy ways to make things

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Re: Simple Leather Holster Tutorial.
« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2011, 01:45 AM »
Great stuff vod, I'm glad you posted this, I was stumped on how I was going to make my bolsters but now I'm saved  ;D. Thank you for posting this.

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Jalen Irsei


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Re: Simple Leather Holster Tutorial.
« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2011, 08:20 PM »

Instead of cutting two pieces out, I usually cut one large piece. I also wrap my gun in plastic wrap to prevent any rusting, or use a blank in the shape of the gun. Helps if your going to put prop guns in the holster if it's not too snug, paint rub and all that. I usually soak the leather until air bubles stop coming out and only use cold water for non-detail shaping. If I  want to really toughen it up I'll use hot tap water.

For the edges I use a leather tool to cut the 90 degree angle on the outside of the leather of, giving it an angular shape instead of just a straight cut on the edge. That helps shape it for finishing the edge. I use some pretty rough sandpaper to smooth and round the edges  and then wet the edges and rub them down smooth with a plastic edging tool.

I've never been able to get away from leather dyes bleeding off onto other items, so I switched to use Extra Virgin Olive Oil and leaving it out in the sun to help darken it slowly.




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Jare Hasan


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Re: Simple Leather Holster Tutorial.
« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2011, 10:23 PM »
The one-piece wrap style is great, but only if you have a large enough single piece to do that.
It's near impossible to find a piece that large in the scrap bags from Hobby Lobby.

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Re: Simple Leather Holster Tutorial.
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2011, 10:33 PM »
Check the scarp bins at Tandy's. They are a lot cheaper. They have some really good sales too. Last month they had bull hide sides for $50.

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Re: Simple Leather Holster Tutorial.
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2011, 10:45 AM »
excellent job vod!



a hole puncher could be used. if you don't hold the leather down good it can get caught on the drill and start twisting all over.
you can also punch holes on the seam and used the Tandy rapid rivets. ( i did this, with out the glue).
I also used snaps for the loop so I can get it off without unfastening my belt.

I have to order online from various leather places since NYC only has super trendy expensive places , Michaels scrap bags have pieces large enough for a glove finger :P and the nearest Tandy is in Stamford Conn.

note; you can use old boot leather if you got a busted pair headed for the trash,might have to soften it up. old leather jackets, except the leather is usually thinner.

Just doing my part to break the reliance on canvas gear.  ;)

Can't agree more, some of these kits look way better with leather gear rather than the canvas gear.
I usually soak the leather
I did that as welI, then I wrap the gun in plastic and left it in the holster to dry overnight so it retaines the guns shape.


this needs to be put into the tutorial section or at least stickied.

 ;D

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Jare Hasan


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Re: Simple Leather Holster Tutorial.
« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2011, 11:33 AM »
Thanks, man.  That's high praise coming from you.

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Dion


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Re: Simple Leather Holster Tutorial.
« Reply #11 on: Jul 29, 2011, 09:53 PM »
IF you wrap your blaster/ gun well {I mean really well} and use hot almost boiling water you can get a molded holster by sandwiching it between 2 piece of thick foam overnight.

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Re: Simple Leather Holster Tutorial.
« Reply #12 on: Aug 29, 2011, 03:29 AM »
Creative and excellent work done...better to go with such creativity rather than searching and buying for the branded ones..

 


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