Axes, adzes and drawknifes #1: Making a leather sheath for a axe or adze.

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Blog entry by mafe posted 04-08-2011 07:13 PM 27036 reads 8 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
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Axes, Adzes and Drawknife’s
making a leather sheath for an axe or adze.

This is first part of a little series where I will go through the types of, making sheaths, and handles for axes, adzes and drawknife’s, it will not be a general teaching, just me telling of how I do what I learned, and the types I have.

Making a leather sheath:

First you need some good leather, I personally use a thick hard pressured front piece cowhide app. 2 mm (I believe you call it harness leather in US), this type gives a stabile sheath, and can also be used for making sheaths that are formed and pressed wet (several of my knife sheaths are made like so).

The axe, a piece of paper, pen and a knife.

Make a fold at the center of the paper, then fold the paper over the axe.

Like so.

I use my fingers to press the transfer the shape of the axe to the paper, and then I draw it after.

Make an offset line app. 10-15 mm, this area will be where the stitching will be.

Time to make some design, here I end up choosing sweet curves and an open sheath type.
(Ass you can see my first attempt was not what I wanted).

Cut out the drawing so you get a template.

Now test fit on the axe.
I also looked at design ideas for the closing strap.

Find a suitable place on the leathers rough side, place the template and then draw the pattern there.

Now cut it out.

Test fit again.

Here a simple version for an English axe type, this is the fastest sheath you can make from leather.
You simply draw the axe shape on the backside of the leather, then make an offset line and cut after this one through two leather pieces front to front.

With leather glue you glue together the offset area. Since this is where the stitching will be.

Now trim the edges with an edge beveler you you can sand it later if you do not have one of these.

With a adjustable groover make the hollow for the sewing.
Alternative is to just draw a thin line and leave the stitches on top.

Mark the stitch distance with a spacer, a pounch or again you can just make marks with a pen.

Here with the spacer it’s so fast.

Now time for holes, here there are two ways, either the awl like here.

Or the easy way, with a drill press and a 1mm drill.
I always use the drill press due to my arm neck problem.

Just follow the marking and drill.

Here a handful of sheaths ready for sewing.

Some links about knife sheath making:

I will break up the blog here for those with slow internet connections, and continue on next page.

I hope this blog will be an answer to those who asked, and an inspiration to care for your tools, but most of all that some of you will make some sheaths.

Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

11 comments so far

View stefang's profile


15881 posts in 3328 days

#1 posted 04-08-2011 07:36 PM

So simple when you do it Mads. I like the idea about using the drillpress to make the holes. The design on these are really nice.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Bricofleur's profile


1440 posts in 3187 days

#2 posted 04-08-2011 07:50 PM

Too bad we are thousands kilometers away!!! Great job and a great tutorial.

Question: Do you really own a shoemaker’s drill press? ¦:-)



-- Learn from yesterday, work today and enjoy success tomorrow. --

View Schwieb's profile


1857 posts in 3455 days

#3 posted 04-08-2011 07:58 PM

Nice work Mads. Next you will teach us how to carve wooden soles and make custom leather uppers for shoes, perhaps. LOL Leather work is something that I liked doing as a Boy Scout but have not done since. I love the smell of new leather. Looking forward to seeing how you stitch these.

Best wishes

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View mafe's profile


11725 posts in 3083 days

#4 posted 04-08-2011 07:59 PM

Mike, I try to make it simple, trust me my own learning curve is not as high.
Serge, yes we would have plenty of fun. No I use a ordinary drill press.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View mafe's profile


11725 posts in 3083 days

#5 posted 04-08-2011 08:39 PM

Ken it’s on it’s way now…

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View twokidsnosleep's profile


1106 posts in 2967 days

#6 posted 04-09-2011 06:32 AM

Thanks for taking the time for showing us this. I love the drill press trick…waaaaaaayy cleaner than stabbing like a maniac with an awl.

-- Scott "Some days you are the big dog, some days you are the fire hydrant"

View Moron's profile


5032 posts in 3887 days

#7 posted 04-09-2011 06:35 AM

the holster is nice

the new ergonomically designed handle isn’t.

: )

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View mafe's profile


11725 posts in 3083 days

#8 posted 04-09-2011 11:49 AM

Moron, I laugh, yes this is a try to make a handle that are nice for me to use, that can give support in many angels, so the thought is to make it almost hang from the hand. It is nice to use, but I have not had the chance really to test it in detail work, what it is meant for. (I have had a neck operation the made me retire due to pain in neck and arms).
I acually like the design, even I must admit it is not at all what we expect on a axe.
Scott, yes the drill press part makes it so much easier. Don’t make the holes too big, then the strength will be lost, so you still need a tight fit with the needle.
Best thoughts,

-- MAD F, the fanatical rhykenologist and vintage architect. Democraticwoodworking.

View docholladay's profile


1287 posts in 3052 days

#9 posted 04-10-2011 01:31 PM


Really nice tutorial. I’ve been thinking of making some leather chisel holders and plus I recently got a hatchet that, once I got it nice and sharp, it needs something like this to protect “ME” from that edge. You have provided some very simple step by step instructions that anyone could follow to do something like this. Now to figure out where to get some leather.


-- Hey, woodworking ain't brain surgery. Just do something and keep trying till you get it. Doc

View Sodabowski's profile


2374 posts in 2827 days

#10 posted 04-12-2011 05:04 PM

Okay so I’m a bit late commenting here, but wow, that’s very nice work. BTW I’m stock-pileing tons of leather cutoffs these days :D

-- Thomas - Pondering the inclusion of woodworking into physics and chemistry classes...

View rivergirl's profile


3201 posts in 2832 days

#11 posted 04-16-2011 08:48 PM

This is a really informative and easy to follow tutorial Mads. Nice work! You come up with the most creative projects! :)

-- Homer : "Oh, and how is education supposed to make me feel smarter? Besides, every time I learn something new, it pushes some old stuff out of my brain."

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