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noob   

great tutorial, how do you get the leather to be form fitted, where you can see the lines of the gun in the leather?

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mattsh   

noob - to accomplish this you have to 'bone' the leather to the gun.

After you 'case' the leather by putting it in warm water you put your gun or dummy in the holster and press the leather to form around the gun. Then use a smooth tool of some sort to press into the leather the outlines of the gun.

The more 'professional' way to do this is to use a press to fit the leather around the gun. This is done by having two pieces of 40 durometer gum rubber about 12" x 12" x 1.5" and putting steel plates on the outsides and putting the holster inbetween the two pieces of rubber and then 'squishing' it with a press. What this accomplishes is that it compresses the leather which helps with rigidity and also does a decent job at forming the holster to the gun. You would then remove the holster and use a smooth tool to 'bone' the leather to the lines of the gun. This means using the smooth tool to basically draw into the leather the lines of the gun. This helps with retention.

It is personal preference as to how much 'boning' you do. Some makers like to put alot of gun detail onto the leather and others just do a basic outline.

Edited by mattsh

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Tnoisaw   

Thanks so much for that. I was struggling in my holster design and you simplified it so much.

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GunNut   

I am new here so please accept my comment with that in mind. I have been making holsters for a few years now and only found this website recently. I felt your tutorial was excellent. It hit on all the points that you don't learn from the patterns you can order. I wish I would have had this when I started. It would have made my life much easier. One thing I do when using an exotic leather with a leather liner is reverse them. I leave the exotic the way you have it but turn the rough side of the leather to the rough side of the exotic. The glue holds much better and you don't have to rough the glue patch. It also leaves a smooth surface for the gun to ride on. I have just recently moved up to a Boss machine from hand stitching so I'm in learning mode again. Thanks for the great article and the pictures!

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Billsotx   

I am new here so please accept my comment with that in mind. I have been making holsters for a few years now and only found this website recently. I felt your tutorial was excellent. It hit on all the points that you don't learn from the patterns you can order. I wish I would have had this when I started. It would have made my life much easier. One thing I do when using an exotic leather with a leather liner is reverse them. I leave the exotic the way you have it but turn the rough side of the leather to the rough side of the exotic. The glue holds much better and you don't have to rough the glue patch. It also leaves a smooth surface for the gun to ride on. I have just recently moved up to a Boss machine from hand stitching so I'm in learning mode again. Thanks for the great article and the pictures!

13. This picture shows a couple steps later. Pictures would not have shown much. I have

cut out the elephant and glued it to the flesh side of the cow hide so the smooth side is

inside. I have also cut out the mouth/belt loop support piece and glued it together.

My understanding is that roughside and flesh side are the same. Maybe I'm missing something .... Smooth is grain from what I've read.

Edited by Billsotx

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GunNut   

13. This picture shows a couple steps later. Pictures would not have shown much. I have

cut out the elephant and glued it to the flesh side of the cow hide so the smooth side is

inside. I have also cut out the mouth/belt loop support piece and glued it together.

My understanding is that roughside and flesh side are the same. Maybe I'm missing something .... Smooth is grain from what I've read.

Nope I just missed it the first time I read it.

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While it is a fairly long process you go through it does get you there. When I first started making holsters I used a like process. After a couple of years building I figured out some short cuts and things start to speed up. Stay after it.

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johnggrg   

I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time to to make this. I am a beginer and it explained alot I did not understand before. And also thanks to everyone else who added their knoledge to it to. For a beginer it was very easy to understand with all the pictures and details. Again just wanted to say thank you!! John

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mattsh   

Your welcome John, from all of us here on the forum. That is the reason we are here, to show off our stuff, vent our frustrations and help each other with knowledge sharing. Good luck on your project.

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Question about the boning process.

is the only way to get the nice detailed outline of the weapon into the leather, is to use a press with the rubber pads? what can an amateur at home without an equipped "leatherworking shop" do? Can you use a bag and a vacuum pump? or does that only mold the inside of the leather to the weapon, and the outside details are left "blurry"?

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[Thought that I would at least get the text instructions posted out here. I am working on getting the pictures uploaded.]

I have been on this forum for quite some time. I haven't posted much but I have seen

several people ask about how a holster is made. I am not a professional. I pretty much do

this as a very part time hobby. I thought that I would share the steps I take to design

and make a holster. This particular model is my take on several makers. It is similar to

Alessi's DOJ model. It has a slightly forward cant. I owe all I have learned through

careful study of existing makers and many conversations with Lou Alessi. He has been a

great mentor and friend in sharing his wealth of knowledge on holsters. The following are

the steps I take in design and construction of a holster.

DSC04907copy.jpg

1. First I lay out the belt line. In this case it is for a 1.25" belt and therefore

I lay out two parallel lines that are 1.5" apart. This allows for the belt loops to

have sufficient room to allow the belt to fit.

DSC04908copy.jpg

2. I lay the gun on the paper and situate it so that the weight of the gun is balanced on

the belt [not too much below the belt and not too much above the belt]. This usually

equates to the belt running across the trigger guard and part of the breech of the barrel

(as seen in the picture).

DSC04909copy.jpg

3. I trace the outline of the gun onto the paper.

DSC04910copy.jpg

4. I lay out the design of the holster and allow "margins" for the space of

stitching and allowance for the thickness of the leather. In this case, being an OWB, I

am using 7/8 oz leather with an exotic overlay that is 2/3 oz. (This was a learning curve

as I have never used exotic before, next time I will use 4/5 oz with the exotic).

Typically I will allow about a 1/4" around the edges of the gun and the belt loops.

The belt loop needs to be far enough away from the gun so that it can be used, yet not

too far away that it wont pull the butt of the gun into your side for concealability (if

that is what you are looking for). One other consideration is that the holster should

provide adequate coverage of the trigger area and the mag release but yet not interfere

with the ability to grip the gun to remove it from the holster. As for the sweat guard, I

like to make mine cover the back end of the slide and be forward enough to cover the

edges of the rear sight.

DSC04911copy.jpg

5. Here I have cut out the pattern and will trace onto another sheet to make a mirror of

the pattern so it will be 3D.

DSC04912copy.jpg

6. Here I have flipped the pattern. In laying this out I allow about a 1/2" space at

the bottom and will overlap the patter where the mouth of the holster will wrap around

the gun (which will be at the base of the sweat guard).

DSC04913copy.jpg

7. Here is the full pattern.

DSC04914copy.jpg

8. I trace the full pattern onto cardboard. Any typical cardboard box will do. The

cardboard comes in handy because it is a pretty good simulator of leather in thickness

and will give you a good idea of how your holster is going to fit.

DSC04915copy.jpg

9. The cardboard pattern cut out. After cutting out the pattern I will take a blunt

object and "breakdown" the honeycomb of the cardboard so that it is more

flexible and I can see how the holster is going to fit.

DSC04916copy.jpg

10. This picture shows how the holster is going to fit.

DSC04917copy.jpg

11. Now that I have seen how the cardboard holster fits, I lay out the mouth reinforcement

and the belt loop again allowing for the 1.25” belt the stitching marks (which are the inside lines)

are about 2” apart.

DSC04921copy.jpg

12. I trace the cardboard pattern onto the leather and cut it out with shears. Make sure

that you lay the pattern on the leather correctly for right/left hand use and whether you

want the rough [flesh] side inside or outside. In the past I used a razor knife, but I

have found that shears work better for me. In the tight curves though I still have to use

a razor knife. Also, the shears I use are a pair of straight cut (yellow handle) aluminum

shears, I find that they have better leverage and make cutting very easy.

DSC04924copy.jpg

13. This picture shows a couple steps later. Pictures would not have shown much. I have

cut out the elephant and glued it to the flesh side of the cow hide so the smooth side is

inside. I have also cut out the mouth/belt loop support piece and glued it together. Also

in this picture you can see that I have laid out the stiching and drilled the holes. The spacing

of the stitches is laid out using a stitch spacer wheel tool with the 5 stitch per inch spacer.

I hand stitch with a saddle stitch. I have found that drilling holes is easier and more uniform

than punching the holes. The stitching is laid out on an 1/8" from the edge. I drilled the holes

with an 5/64" drill bit because it fits my needle.

14. The next step is waxing and slicking the edges that are not stitched, the mouth and muzzle

area of the holster. To wax the edges I melt and use hot parafin wax and use a small brush to

appy the hot wax to the edges. I then use a slicker chucked in a homemade belt driven mandrel.

(Sorry, I could not get a good picture of the edge)

DSC04931copy.jpg

15. I have prepared the inside edges of the belt loop area for gluing. I use a rasp to

rough up the surface to make it better for the adhering of the surfaces. I have died

the inside of the holster leather now with Angelus Pro Dye using a dauber.

16. After applying the glue I place the glued area of the holster in a bench vise between

two pieces of wood while the glue dries overnight.

DSC04934copy.jpg

17. Here is a picture of the holster glued together.

DSC04936copy.jpg

18. Here I have placed some blue painters tape on the area of the holster where I am

going to lay out the stitching. I typically use a 1/4" margin around the form of the

gun to allow enough space for the gun inside the holster.

DSC04937copy.jpg

19. Here you can see that I have made a mark 1/4" from the edge of the trigger

guard.

20. I complete the layout of the stitching around the edge of the gun and mark the edge

stitching again 1/8" from the edge.

21. Now that the stitching is done, I mold the holster. I typically dunk the holster for

about 20-30 seconds in about a gallon of hot water (about 120 deg) with a drop of dish

soap (this helps break surface tension of the water and allows it to penetrate better).

The leather should not be saturated but should be "cased". To me this means

damp to the touch and will stretch or form with not much effort.

22. If the gun you are using is real for the molding I typically wrap the gun in plastic

wrap before placing it inside the holster. If you are using a dummy gun then just place

the gun inside the holster. I have just started using the rubber "plates" in a

press. I have not yet quite figured this out but it will get better in time. Also at this

time you will want to place a 'wedge' of sorts extending from the front sight back

towards the breech of the barrel to create a tunnel for the front sight so that it does

not pick up any leather as it is removed from the holster which would impede on the use

of the front sight. In this particular holster I did not use this as the natural bend in

the leather created its own tunnel. This is typically not the case and you will want to

create a tunnel for the front sight.

23. After molding the holster any 'boning' can be done. On this particular holster I did

not do any boning.

24. After boning remove the gun from the holster and let it dry overnight.

25. Now punch the belt loop holes. I punch a hole at each end of the slot and then use a

knife to cut between the two. I then use a dremel with a smooth grit sanding drum to

finish the edges.

26. Now finish all of the remaining edges with the wax and burnish.

27. Last step is to apply an acrylic finish. In this case I used a spray can of Leather

Sheen.

DSC04938copy.jpg

Well, there you have it. I think I covered everything. Like I said, I am no professional,

so hopefully this will conjure up some conversation and others will kick in their tips

and tricks. My main goal was to get a visual reference out here and somehow put it to

words.

As a novice just starting out building holsters I think the information you provided is very helpful, The photo illustratoins are excellent. I'm wondering if you would be able to put this into a pdf or word document so I could be printed out. I tried the cut and paste but the text becomes unreadable.... Dont want to impose further. Just dont have a computer on my bench to referr back... thanks DBP

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I've been lurking for a lil bit and learning alot, but with this post I realized that I need to contribute........... Since I know nothing, I paid for a "subscription" and Paypal'd it in.

Mattsh: Thank You for posting this great information. Your a Classy gent.

Ryan

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mattsh   

Ryan - thanks

DBP - I have not forgotten your request - gotta find time to put it all together

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Man, my first holster was done pretty much the exact same way. Except I made it too small the first time and I don't have a lining material...because I'm cheap. Here's a few photos. Forgive my stealing my own parts off the holster but I needed the clip on it. I never got around to finishing the edges all the way due to that fact. It's rough, I wanted to first and foremost see if I could make a holster to carry. I probably could if I left the clip on it. Either way, here are some photos:

A7EE33BC-F9CA-4FF0-B470-783EAA576EB9-5284-000004DEB27219A2.jpg

F9B8336F-85C2-4D5F-9C15-C7BD9EF43AF4-5734-000005A8B13D8DA2.jpg

A765E9C0-5EA2-4B73-9CB7-9949997B3EC6-5734-000005A8F1FEFFB2.jpg

Great tutorial.

Chris

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Gordon   

How much do you allow for the width of of gun. I'm looking at a Ruger Security Six it's 1.5.

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2 hours ago, Gordon said:

How much do you allow for the width of of gun. I'm looking at a Ruger Security Six it's 1.5.

The trick I learned, was to take a 1" strap of leather that is roughly the same thickness as what you will use. At one end, measure off a 1/2" (I use 3/4"), and draw a line across the width of the strap. Lay the pistol on top of the strap, with the bottom of the trigger guard on the line. Fold the strap over the pistol so that it hugs the curves, and mark the strap where it meets the bottom edge below your your half inch mark. Measure the distance between the second mark you made, and the bottom edge of the strap. That is how wide you need to make the holster pattern. You can also use this method for measuring the barrel.

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