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I have always had a love for fixed blade knives and enjoy carrying them while hunting , fishing and camping. Everywhere I go, I see less and less people carrying fixed blades. I decided to start asking people why they carried a folder instead of a fixed blade. The answer was almost always the same, "They get in my way". I started trying to look at fixed fixed blades from this stand point. I soon realized that it wasn't the knife but the sheath that caused it to get in the way. Most knife makers and knife companies make sheaths with the snap holding style or the fold over pouch style. Both of which hang very low on the hip, causing it to get in the way. Ahh...Here enters the stitch around style sheath, because of its design it rides much higher and less likely to get in the way. I think that if more people would try the stitch around sheath for their fixed blades, they would use and enjoy them more. I have three fixed blades that I use most of the time and have had to have new stitch around sheaths made for them. I think you should consider this style sheath for your fixed blade. Knife makers, if you want to sell more knives make it easier for your customer to use them. Just the thougths of an old CAJUN.

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Been out of town or would have replied sooner to Robt Burris and Jan Carter's request to see examples of my litany. But first a comment on Dave Cole's and Shlomo's inputs.    High-riding sheaths have one major drawback.   Drawing the knife is a bit difficult because you have to raise your elbow so high;  returning it to the sheath is a real exercise in gymnastics;  you almost have to tuck your head under your armpit to see the opening in the top of the sheath.  Add a heavy coat and it gets complicated.  Ideally, the sheath should ride such that the knife handle is right under your palm when your arm is "hanging" at your side.  But  this would make the sheath too long if attached to your belt.  Shlomo's Scandanavian approach will get the right position and height, but that "dangling" sheath will likely snag on brush and, if the knife is heavy, beat a bruise on your thigh if you have to run any distance.   Like Dave Cole, I have made many types of sheaths.  Like Dave, I am a disciple of the "high end" sheath --- I believe the sheath should compliment, but be just as attractive as the knife itself.    And the sheath should be secure (knife won't fall out) and safe (wearer won't get cut drawing or returning the knife).    I keep experimenting.  Some of the ideas get trashed when I finally complete the sheath and realize it doesn't meet the above two standards.  Here is an quick photo summary of my evolution in sheath making.


 The first pic is one of my earlier traditional sheath styles.  I didn't make many like this when I concluded that the "snap strap", while good for securing the knife in the sheath, gets in the way when you try to return the knife.


Okay, haven't figured out the mechanics for uploading pics and adding comments to the pics.  The first photo was the Eg3 (attachment) -  alligator sheath.   The second pic is the BasketI.   This sheath overcame the snap strap syndrome by making the securing strap with a magnetic catch in the closed (down) position and another magnet hidden under the leather in the up position.    A good solution to the snap strap problem but a bit complicated from a construction standpoint.   Next pic, please.

The above attached pic (zebra and elephant sheath) shows the  final evolution of my traditional (non-pouch) sheath design.  Although I have a few other designs for traditional flat sheaths that work well, this one is the easiest and most dependable.  The little tapered pin that projects out of the top of the sheath fits neatly and reliably into the lanyard hole in the knife handle.  To draw the knife you simply insert your fingers between the sheath and the handle and pull slightly outward and then up.   The outward motion separates the pin from the lanyard hole.  To put the knife back in the sheath you push the knife down 'tile in stops then tap the handle toward your hip and the pin engages in the lanyard hole.   The key is the precise alignment of the pin and the hole.  If interested in how to do this without trial and error, contact me.


I have always liked the look of pouch style sheaths but had to figure out how to overcome their negatives ---- if you have enough "coverage" to keep the knife securely in the sheath, you cover most of the knife handle.   That means the beautiful handle you made is hidden from view and you have a very limited (and I contend, unsafe) portion of the handle to grasp to draw the knife.   Here is my latest solution.   It utilizes a pin that runs through the welt of the sheath.   Pushed in, the pin (with decorative grasping button, if you like) laps over the blade guard [ no blade guard on your knife?  shame on you) and keeps the knife from falling out, even if you do a cartwheel down the hill.  Simply pull out the pin until it stops and draw the knife.  Return the knife and push the pin in.    Now we have a pouch sheath with enough handle exposed to see and grasp the handle.



What makes a sheath worn on the belt with a leather strap any less likely to get hung up in the bush then one worn on the belt with a thick leather/steel thong? Okay, the hunting coat covering your belt affords some protection to the knife but then does not lend itself to a quick draw.

What I don’t understand is where does it say that I have to be able to draw my knife in an instant (excluding military and then your OODA Loop didn’t work) from the sheath and that I have to be able to grasp the whole handle while doing so…What, I’m unarmed (rifle lying on the ground) and being attacked by a giant bear and have to take my 12” bladed Bowie out and fight it???

Most civilian pants today are worn not at the waistline but at the hips—either as a fashion statement (hip huggers) or because they don’t make pants (commercial) big enough to go over our protruding bellies (unless we outfit ourselves at a “Big & Tall Shop”) and produces the infamous “butt crack” every time we bend down...Military and LEO sheaths and requirements are another matter entirely and should have a separate discussion going.

When withdrawing anything from a holster or sheath or even your pants pockets—go ahead and try it now—you have to raise your arm up with the only difference is; by how high? The totally fictitious quick draw holsters of “B” grade cowboy movie fame which got translated into the tactical thigh worn combat rigs of today being the exception but unless we are a SWAT/HRT or Seal/Delta team member, rigs like that are not that necessary and c/would only be worn in one of the very few and far between open carry states.

My set up, worn over the coveralls, works for me and mine but then again we aren’t hunting in the thick hardwood forests of the Northeast, the huge treed and underbrush laden forest of the Pacific Northwest or the swamps of Southern fame but the Arctic tundra or the [treeless] grain fields of the Prairies…When we run the knife does not bounce against our hips due to the fact that a) it’s worn high and b) our knives aren’t long enough and they don’t get snagged up in the brush since there is hardly any of it around…But, that’s our situation, YMMV!

While I love looking at beautiful knives with fancy mammoth scales and Damascus blades and Mokume bolsters, in the bush I want all that beauty covered up with leather to protect it from any scrapes, bumps etc. and prying eyes…During the typical brag fests around the evening fire I’ll be happy to show it off; out in the field I want it covered…That sheath is there also to protect me, when bending, from not getting stabbed in the thigh with a blade that has cut through the stitching holding the pouch together—let me tell you it hurts! It is also there to make a convenient carry system but in none of the cases I encounter in the bush does it require a quick draw.

The first rule in the Arctic is not to sweat so when field dressing a caribou all we do is slit the jugular and then the belly and remove the intestines, sort out the good bits and leave the entrails for the ravens, foxes or Polar bears to eat…This can be accomplished quite readily while still clothed for the climate and hence why I wear my knife outside my coveralls…Also, it doesn’t stab me in the ribs when I’m sitting on the Ski-Doo or when paddling a canoe...If walking through scrub brush the systems also allows me to move the whole sheath either to a kidneys or an appendix carry position offering more protection.

The problem I’ve found with any of the strap holding systems (handle or hilt) is that when returning the blade to the sheath you require a second hand to keep the bugger away from getting sliced off which requires that you do have to contort your head and body to see what’s going on but with a pouch you don’t have that worry…Of course pouch systems won’t work that great with anything that has a protruding quillon(s) but then unless I’m in combat I don’t really require a double hilt and a single can be small enough that it will work in the sheath and still prevent your hand from sliding down the handle and getting sliced open by the blade, especially if you have to stab something.

I really like Bob Dozier as a knifemaker and have quite a number of his blades; all in their Kydex sheaths and almost all of them mounted horizontally on the belt—unless you request otherwise…I’ve started to get used to wearing them this way (usually just kept them in the backpack and took them out when needed) but I did order his KS-3 Pro Hunter 4.875” blade and the KS-7 Wilderness 5.0” blade (and my largest knife) in a vertical carry sheath for overalls wear…While Kydex is the boon to tactical makers it still isn’t the greatest for Arctic like conditions as I’ve had a few shatter off pieces when worn outdoors for five, six hours so what I’ve seen done a number of times is to cover it with either nylon or leather this way getting the best of both worlds; strong retention, good looks, excellent protection to blade and body, insulating properties but added cost.
Shlomo, I agree with most of what you say, in that:  (1) if I were wearing heavy clothing I would want my knife outside my top layer where I can get to it when I need it;  your solution seems ideal for that scenario (but would like to see a photo to better understand the attachment) (2) I never meant to imply that fast-draw was ever a consideration;  however  one-handed draw is important --- if your other arm/hand is preoccupied for any reason you should still be able to draw your knife if you need it;  I can think of dozens of circumstances but won't belabor it here;  (3) I was only referring to the sheath that hangs from the belt with a string, rope, cord, thong, chain (Scandanavian style) as more likely to get snagged going thru thick brush (come  now, I've pushed thru thick brush along the rivers in the tundra), and  this sheath requires using both hands to draw the knife ;  (4) strap retaining systems stink --- I'll never make another unless someone is adamant that is what he wants;  (5) the only place I can think of that a double-sided blade guard (hilt) makes sense is on a broadsword and I don't make those;  (6) the "tactical/fighter" BS is just that ---- BS;  if you want to "play soldier" why don't you just enlist;  (7) anyone who constructs a sheath in such a way that the blade can cut the stitching ought to be drawn and quartered (with the knife that cut through the stitching !).    I have made several knives with very plain sheaths and very plain handles --  skinners, capers, butchers, and machetes, for example.  But I don't wear them;  they stay in  or strapped to my pack until needed.  Bob Dozier makes very nice knives.

This is the type of sheath that I wear outside the overalls--Made by German leatherworker Fritz Schurts called his Nordish  pattern...As you can see it differs from a dangle sheath.












































His Standard Pouch style sheath - FRONT VIEW










































Showing the knife it retains.

This is another style of pouch (wet moulded) made by Canadian Vess Leatherworks for the SOG Pentagon







































A few others:

Pancake angled carry by Texan J.W. Smith & Sons Custom Knives & Leatherwork,





















Shown Worn, crossdraw

Retention of fitted pouch sheath






















I thought I would show y'all a picture of my shoulder rig for my large knife. I find it easier to carry a large blade and simple to take on an off. I have read that the frontiersmen of the 1800's wore shoulder rigs for their large knives and Bowies. I also like it as a cross draw set up, it leaves my right side free for a shoulder bag and smaller fixed blade.

Hey Kage...

Thanks for the info on hedge hog leather works.  I will contact them to see if they would like their work featured in a magazine article.


kage said:

Depending on the blade length, sometimes a horizontal carry might snug up the knife out of the way. Although I've stitched some sheaths for myself in the past, I prefer to let those with better skills do it for me. A pricey, but top quality place one might want to look into would be Hedgehog Leatherworks @ http://www.hedgehogleatherworks.com/


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