This WIP was inspired by a post on a local forum here in Australia a couple of days ago about a pocket slip a chap bought on EBay for 10 Pounds out of the UK – just under $20 Australian – that’s each!!!!

The inner Jewish/Scotsman in me I thought I’d do a simple step by step WIP on how they can be made with everyday tools on the kitchen table, at next to no cost. Most people looking at leather work for the first time are put off, by the specialist tools … so I have deliberately used just common tools found in every home.

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Tools used … a knife (the one I am making the slip for)…  Chopping board… Hammer and nail… pencil & ruler… … some cardboard … Two needles & some thread. (I have used a white pencil so it shows better in the photos.)

Optional … contact cement … 120-sandpaper… scissors… T-Spoon

For our design I am using the One out of the UK– which is really a copy of the Knivesshipfree  style of slip.

Leather: pretty much any leather you can scrounge will do…  8 to 9 cm wide and a tad over twice the length of the knife; in this case the knife is 10cm so the piece of leather is around 22 cm.

Think outside the square … if you haven’t got any leather go to an OP Shop and buy a pair of women’s high topped boots for $10 … which would easy give you enough leather for 4 knife slips.

Don’t worry about this...” it isn’t Veggie tanned BS” for a start. The main thing is you are having a go.

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Step one make you template and check for size. Slightly bigger is better than too small, it can always be trimmed down later.  The final width I settled on for this knife is 7 cm.

Gluing the edges is optional but it does make life easier when you are stitching and the final appearance of the edge is more pleasing. I just use this clear contact cement … remember to let it almost dry before bringing the two sides together and tap the join down to ensure a good bond.

Mark out the corners and trim them off. If you want a rounded look just use whatever you have on hand to mark out the radius. Again here I have kept it simple with straight corners, note the top is a slightly different angle to the bottom. (Just my personal preference)

Use a pencil to mark where you want the stitching to go, I am going to use 5 mm spacing so made the length of the stitching (in this case 75 mm) so it ends up even.

This is optional … I like to form a small stitching groove (‘trench/channel’) where the stiches will go it keeps everything  tidy and makes it much easier to keep your line of stitching straight. Here I used the handle of a T-spoon. Sorry the pic of this is not very clear.

Set out your stitching holes with your sharp nail… or you can get really fancy with a nail hammered into a dowel and sharpened to make an awl. Important!!! Do not make your holes at this point simply mark where they need to go. If you try and punch the holes as you mark them you will stuff it up. (Trust me – I used to be a sales rep)

Now punch your holes and then     …   poke the nail/awl in from the opposite side to enlarge the holes.

Here I am using two leather working needles and some waxed thread – most places will have a saddlery,  boot maker, barber or haberdashery shop where you can buy these – but really any strong thread and a couple of normal needles will do the job.

Tip: as a rule of thumb you need 5 x the length of thread to the length of stitching. Here the stitching will be 75 mm so I’ve used around 380 mm of thread, this will be a bit more than is required but you need enough thread at the end so you can still swing your needles.

Start at the bottom, pull your needle through so you have an even length of thread on each side then start your stitching with both needles going through the hole – in turn – from opposite sides.

This pic show the start of the stitching and I have left it loose so you can see what is going on.

Tighten your thread and you can see the start of the line of stitching taking shape.

Continue the stitching all the way up … then stitch back 3 or 4 holes and trim off.

Tip: a small pair of pliers will help with pulling the needles through especially on the back stitches which will be tighter.

Once all the stitching is done trim of any excess leather on each side.

Basically the slip is now finished … but a few refinements will tidy the job up even more.

With some 120 sand-paper and a small backing wood block … sand all the edges flat then sand a small bevel down each edge.

Using a normal household candle, wax the edges and then ‘burnish’ them by rubbing vigorously with your block of wood.

And that’s about it

The finished article here with a couple of other slips – very early attempts – which look a bit rough and amateurish now in hindsight … but they are perfectly serviceable.

I hope some will be inspired to have a crack at this – it’ not like US/Chinese diplomatic relations– this is really easy to figure out and master on a rainy afternoon at the kitchen table.

Thank you for posting this , Derek.

I always wondered about the stitching & figured it required some "special" sewing machine specific to leather.

What you've shown .. I can do.

!!! .. Thank you .. !!!

D ale


Well done both the article and the pouch!  Thank you so much for sharing it with us

Great explanation and pics Derek.I do have a few tools that make it easier, but you really don't need a lot of fancy tools to work with leather. I have had a lot of fun so far with the few projects I have done with leather so far. Thanks for sharing.

Good job, Derek.
I like to make my pouches on the small side, and wet form them for a more custom fit.

Thanks for your kind comments folks I just see the leather work as an extension of my knife collecting/using interests which grew out of using knives on my hunting trips. What I like best about the leather work is it can be done in the house without requiring a big work area. Although I no longer use the kitchen table - I now have a writing desk with fold-down door set up in our living room... when I am finished leather working for the day all I need to do is close up the door and everything is tidy.

J J Thanks ... and I too have been doing the wet -formed sheaths/pouches lately ... another skill and a lot of fun.

That is THE main reason I have avoided it to date .. the other one being available time ..BUT.. that is exactly the majority of the reason I have not done this in the past. I especially thank you for the .. "so I have deliberately used just common tools found in every home." approach you've posted here. And ..of course .. the ample pics are alway a big plus.


A heartfelt THANK YOU for posting this.



D ale

Derek Wells said: "Most people looking at leather work for the first time are put off, by the specialist tools … so I have deliberately used just common tools found in every home."

Oh, I see some commercial punches, on the bench; gone is the hammer and nail? LOL

Some of my earliest attempts, at making holes, in leather, involved a drill and drill bits. Proper punches do make the task so much easier.

"Proper punches do make the task so much easier."  They certainly do J J and speed the process up ... lots!

The punches I use now are very old, I inherited from an old retired harness maker. The first set though I got of Ebay out of China for I think about $3 including post ... and they were perfectly Okay.


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