Crafting a Leather Sheath for an Axe

A sheath is important for an axe. If you get your axe sharp, you can slice yourself open just like you can with a knife. I’m really cautious with my two camp axes. They’re so sharp that I’ve sliced open my knuckles with just a graze. My larger axes aren’t quite as sharp and that’s okay – I use them more for splitting.

I became interested in leather working a few years ago. My nephew, L.J., was reading  My Side of the Mountain and we were discussing the part of the book where the main character, Sam, made buckskin clothing. Very cool. I picked up some scrap leather at the hobby shop and got it into my head that I was going to make L.J. a sheath for an axe and another for a saw I was going to give him. It was easy. I had waxed string that I picked up at a yard sale for a buck. I made my holes and went to work. I didn’t know how to sew, but I just did what made sense and it worked. Since then I’ve made a few game bags, bandoleers, axe sheaths, and shoes (miserable failure). Leatherworking is fun, fairly affordable and somewhat easy. My stuff doesn’t look that great. It’s pretty primitive in form. I could probably make it look better if I didn’t use the faux sinew, but it is easy to work with and durable.  I think most people that make their own sheaths would suggest rivets over waxed string.  I’d agree with that.

Anyway, here is the process of making the sheath for my 3 1/4 lb. Snow and Nealley head.

First, the tools.  Left to right is a hole punch, scissors that I don’t really care about, but are sharp enough to cut leather, and the role of waxed string.
I don’t like leatherworking needles.  I use a darning needle.  It is sturdy with a big eye.
Then, choose your piece of leather.  Pink leather never looks good on an axe head.  Unless you’re a chick.
Next, trace your outline.  Make is slightly bigger than the head itself.  When you sew the two pieces together, the head will need room to slide into the sheath.  Giving it an extra inch for sewing helps with this.  Ask me how I know.
Cut the leather.
Match it up to the other side and repeat.
Punch holes in three sides of the leather.  If you punch holes on the fourth side, you’re a moron.  Try to space the holes evenly.  They sell a doohickey that’ll do it for you, but I’m too cheap to spend the seven bucks on it.
After you punch all holes in one piece, hold the other piece up next to it.  I mark the sides with a pen before punching the next batch of holes, so I know the two pieces will line up.
Commence sewing.  I don’t really know how to explain this part.  Okay, I’ll try.  The rabbit (needle) goes down through hole one and back up through hole two.  The rabbit then goes back down hole one and again out through hole two.  The rabbit then moves onto hole three.  Repeat.
And to think they don’t teach Home Ec. anymore!  Shame!  I honestly think I may have been one of the last kids in America to have Home Ec. class.  I looked hawt in a pink apron.
Try it out.  See how it fits.  If it doesn’t fit, don’t blame me.  I get enough blame.
Next, cut yourself a piece for the strap.  I’m using a snap on this one, but you don’t have to.  If you make the strap with a tiny bit of slack, you can just slide it up over the head.
I like to mark where the the strap is going to be sewn in, so it’ll be even on both sides.
Sew it.
Next comes the snap.  I bought a kit at Hobby Lobby that incldes what I’ll call a hammer and an anvil.  It basically allows you to put two pieces together and squish.
Give it a smack and you’ve got a snap!
Do the same for the receiving end of the snap inside the sheath pocket.
End result:
Add a little mink oil to keep the water off and presto, you have a sheath.

Any questions?

Mike, Oscar, Hotel…….out.

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7 thoughts on “Crafting a Leather Sheath for an Axe

  1. Pingback: Crafting a Leather Sheath for an Axe | Rifleman III Journal

  2. About 9 ounce to 10 ounce leather.
    If you do use pink, soak it in hot water, and after squeegee out excess, then dye it in any tan shade, and the pink under coat after two or three coats of tan dye, will look like a setting sun.
    Of course.., A pink sheath will also keep people from touching your axe. (Know what I mean?)

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  3. Never made an axe sheath but have tried my hand a a couple knife sheaths that have held up quite well. I want to try making a holster for the J-frame Rossi 38spl next. The artificial sinew is nice for bindings because you can draw it tight and it will stay put while you do the next wrap. But It is not always the best for sewing in tight needle holes. It is just waxed polyester twine. I used a lot of it when I built a few skin-on-frame kayaks. Superb stuff for lashing the frame together. It is easy to make your own using the “free” white poly binding twine they have on the flag and string cart at the “contractor” door at Home Depot. Snag as much as you dare and run it across a wax toilet ring, and you’ll have a life time supply. Not many know it but your generic $1.50 toilet rings are made of real bees wax.
    PS: Snagged another H&R single shot last week, this one a model 058 in 44 mag.

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    1. I expect pictures! I didn’t know that about toilet rings. Why they’d use beeswax as opposed to….paraffin? I guess it naturally stays more gooey. I might pick a few up to store…..just in case. I actually wrote this article a long time ago, but I thought it worth revisiting. Now, I swear by the faux sinew. I’ve made a lot of things with it, including holsters. Holds forever. I’ll surf through my files and see if I can find my old how-to articles for the holsters I’ve made.

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  4. Fun stuff. I love working with leather, it must be some long lost DNA coding that makes it so rewarding. On your next axe mask (sheath) you may want to try running your strap around at an angle so it goes just under the pall (back) and the handle, and then snaps the same way as you’ve done. That way the back of the axe can still be used for all kinds of pounding tasks while leaving the sheath strapped on… lots safer and protects the blade. OR, just forget all that and do what ever you like, I’ll still be a fanboy.

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