Showing posts with label Kydex. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kydex. Show all posts

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Wandering Thoughts

Let's go meandering!

I just had another person ask me if my Spydercos were real. 

I’m getting tired of this.  I am an honorable knife dealer and would not sell you a knife you didn’t want, just to make a sale.  Nor would I sell you a counterfeit or broken knife.  I buy from one of the largest wholesalers in the country and they buy directly from the knife makers.

I’m going start telling those asking me that question, “If you want to buy counterfeits, you’re going to have to go elsewhere.”

This is a growing problem.  Last January, Spyderco sued the Kittery Trading Post for selling counterfeit Military and Paramilitary identified by Kittery as Spyderco clones.  Now maybe you think it’s cool to own a counterfeit, after all you paid $35 for a $100+ knife.  Until it fails, breaks or you find you have to sharpen it all the time.  Maybe you trade that counterfeit to a buddy (who you really don’t like, otherwise why would you take advantage of him?) for something they have or to settle a loan.

But you know, you’re hurting the knife community.  You’re making a statement about what kind of person you are and what kind of people you want as friends…  I hope you eat shit and die on your birthday.

Thread Vs Tread
Thread means a fine cord made of two or more twisted fibers. 
Tread means to trample on or crush underfoot.  It’s also the part of the tire contacting the ground.
Language changes, so I looked  them up in the Encarta Dictionary just to make sure I knew the differences..

I just saw the back of his sweatshirt.  It had a very nice libertarian statement about being race, religion, and gender blind and emphasizing a true patriot loves his country but not necessary his government. 

I agree with many of the things sweatshirt stated.  It ended with the famous quote from the Gadsden Flag that even non-history buffs surely remember.

But the real quote is “   tread on me.” and not as his sweatshirt stated, “…thread on me.”
Perhaps it’s a quote from a historic group of embroiderers.

Kydex continues to rule in the knife sheath and gun holster world.  It has a lot of advantages and a few disadvantages.  It doesn’t stretch out of shape, rot from exposure to water or corrode brass fittings because it doesn’t have leather’s fatty acids and it’s strong and difficult to puncture.  I really like the puncture resistance aspect.  A fall in the outdoors can be dangerous enough, but cutting yourself because the knife split its leather sheath can be fatal.

Having said that, leather is quiet and doesn’t make a scratchy sound when brambles brush across it.

I saw a kydex worker at the last Medina gun show and he had an interesting partial solution to the holster/sheath dilemma.   You know what that dilemma is, don’t you?

The problem any holster seller has is never having the right holster or sheath and too many of the ones nobody wants.  Add the problem of color or design and it’s a small wonder anyone wants to sell holsters/sheaths. 

This maker had several large clamshell-like wooden crates on wheels containing his kydex press, sander, band-saw, buffing wheels, jig-saw and heat source.  It was like bringing your factory to the show.  Next to him he had a table with several previously made holsters for some of the more common guns.  He had just finished making a knife sheath when I came by.  He also did a very nice, compact holster for a Sig with a light on it.

I didn’t ask prices, but it can’t be cheap to make holsters/sheaths during the show and have to transport all that equipment.  Still it’s an interesting development.

I suspect the real answer to custom-fit holsters/sheaths will be a laser scanner interfaced to computer driven 3-D printer.  You read it here first!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Kydex and More

I spend some time working with kydex.  There always seems to be a knife or two that needs a sheath.  I have a very nice BK/Ka-Bar neck knife that has a sheath, but always seems too big to wear around my neck.  I realize most kydex fabricators buy features like belt loops and such.  I wanted to make on from scratch. 

The first one  (this implies I made two) look pretty good, but I wanted to fiddle around with giving it a polished edge and I thought a little heat would glaze the tool marks on the cut  and sanded surfaces.  A heat gun worked well for that and for deforming the delicate loops I had cut in the kydex to give access to the Chicago screws.  Well, if I can make one I can make another.  I found that isn’t exactly the case.  The second time through I started looking for shortcuts. It worked and I’m happy to have converted that neck knife to a belt knife.

kydex belt clip on knife sheath
My belt clip on the pre-molded sheath

Over the summer I picked up a 511 neck knife that needed a sheath.  I decided to go with a taco fold sheath and it worked quite nice.  I used a set of french curves to help me draw lines on the molded kydex.  Once I had the shape I wanted drawn on the kydex, I sat down with the band saw and cut out the pattern just outside the pencil marks.  From there a fine sanding belt and even finer hand sanding and I got a nice shape.  Unfortunately the 511 neck knife has asymmetric grooves in the handle and I’ve not been able to figure out a nice cord wrap to add a little needed grip friction.

The kydex sheath changes a $10 knife to a winner!

The Ohio Classic Knife show was last weekend Nov 4 and 5 in Cambridge, Ohio.  The show starts at noon on Friday, but I’m not sure why.  Everyone knows that Sundays are terrible days for shows, so I suspect promoters shift the show dates to Friday and Saturday in the hope of catching more traffic for the vendors.

It’s really about the attendance.  Every salesman knows that at the root, it’s about numbers.  More people mean more buyers.  More buyers mean more chances to sell.  You can figure out the rest.

Friday afternoons are pretty empty hours.  You pray that retirees, people who have taken Friday off or have Friday off will come and shop.  You hope the after work crowd will forgot drinky-poos with friends, dinner with family, or just being done with work and come out and shop.  That doesn’t always happen.  So despite it being early in the show and having the best selection, they are nervous to make a sale and vulnerable to negotiating.   At least that’s my current theory as seen from both sides of the aisle, as seller and purchaser.
Empty Friday morning
Low attendance one hour after opening on Friday.

I bought a nice little neck knife from Battle Horse.  What could be more masculine than wearing a knife around your neck?  Even a small knife at that!  It’s in kydex and the sheath utilizes a sliding lock to insure the knife doesn’t fall out.  I like it a lot.  It could become the nucleus of my Mr. T starter kit. 

Battle horse neck knife
I'm just crazy about neck knives, go figure.

Mickey Yurco sold me a gorgeous knife with an orange and black scale handles attached to a nice D-2 steel blade.  With his numbering system I know it’s his 3407th knife made.  That is very cool, too!  The knife came with a very nice leather sheath.  Mickey does his own leather work and recently purchased a pattern hammer which allows him to literary hammer a textured pattern into leather. 

My new Mickey Yurco knife
It's a nice little utility knife and after seeing Mickey work a knife, you don't need 16 inches to steel to be deadly.

Mickey and I talked about knife fighting.  Well actually, he talked and I tried to learn.  Mickey is one of these high speed guys with deep understanding of defense and offense with a knife.  After a few seconds with him, you can easily imagine how deadly a knife in the hands of someone trained can be.

I also ran into John and Dave from Shadow Tech at the show.  I got to see images of their new prototype folding knife.  It doesn’t have a name yet and it should be ready for the SHOT Show in Las Vegas Jan 17 -20 2017.  (God knows how much I miss that show!)  But if it’s not ready, you’ll see it at BLADE 2017 .

Stay sharp!

Sunday, October 13, 2013


I’ve been working on building a Kydex sheath for my little South African dagger.  I’m using two different colors to make a black and blue sheath. It isn’t that I like the colors, it’s the ease of molding I like.  The black Kydex is 0.06 inch thick and the blue checks in at 0.04 inch.  That small difference really lets the blue Kydex mold detail so much better.

Having played with these materials in the past I decided to mold the belt loop as a continuous part of the sheath.  I cut out a piece of each to the same width, giving myself a lot of extra room.  I made the black backing four inches longer to be folded later into the loop.  Surely that’s enough I thought.  The belt loop template was fabricated by cutting thin Masonite into strips 1.75 inches wide and 3 inches long.

I wanted a drain hole molded in the Kydex and I got the idea of cutting a groove down the center of a small dowel rod and taping it over the blade tip on the central axis to the blade.  It also occurred to me it would create a reference mark when I assembled the two sides of the sheath.  It worked well for those purposes.   

I taped the edges with blue painter’s masking tape and started molding.  The thinner blue Kydex took nice sharp impressions of the little dagger. The thicker black material provided a nice flat back with just a hint of the knife impression.

The Kydex pieces weren’t perfectly matched, but I had cut them oversized so I was able to line up the two halves.  Between the heat gun and the toaster oven I was able to wrap the excess Kydex around the Masonite without affecting the previous molding.  I used a couple of pop rivets and washers in the corners of the excess Kydex to align the two halves for drilling.  I wanted to use small black 0.3 inch eyelets to fasten the two sheets together.  They were the right diameter for the size of the sheath.

Everything went well until I was drilling my last hole.  The drill bit grabbed the Kydex, ripped it out of my hand and boogered the hole.  The eyelets would no longer fit.

Well.  I just decided to pretend I had that planned and used a Chicago screw and o-ring as a compression screw to alter the sheath tightness.
My first Kydex sheath for my South African dagger
The compression screw would work better higher up on the sheath, but it's hiding an oops!

Back: showing the belt loop as a continuous part of the thicker Kydex material
back of the sheath

But I knew what happened. 

I called the first one a prototype and then went to work on another one.  This time I decided I would mold the belt sheath separately so the under construction sheath would lie flat flatter on my drill press and have less chance of hanging up on the bit.

That worked.  With the aid of a set of French curves I trimmed the sheath with my band saw and fastened the belt loop.  A little sanding on the bench sander (that’s why I make everything a little bigger than I need) and I had a relatively nice sheath.

Second Kydex molded sheith.
This worked out nice.  The image is a little nicer than the actual Kydex sheath, but I'm happy with it.

What to do with the first one?  I had a can of textured tan paint from Rustoleum and thought ”Why not?”.  The paint took a while to dry but I like the effect.  The paint gives it sort of a desert sand/camo look.

The second one I decided to leave black and blue.  I’m learning to leave well enough alone!

Both sheaths
I'm not sure which shape I like more, the painted Kydex or the two-tone job.  I'll have to get some black or gray Kydex and repeat these sheaths.
Everything was great.  At least until I suited up with my new knife sheath.  The belt loop fit like a glove, but the loop is so tight the sheath can’t move up or down when I sit.  It also catches on jackets and long coats.

So now I’m thinking about attaching a larger belt loop with a pivot (most likely a Chicago screw) so the knife sheath can move on the belt as well as rotate.

Still, working with Kydex has been fun and I have more than a few knives I want to re-sheath.  I’ll keep you informed.

Monday, September 16, 2013

It’s Kydex Time!

I’ve started fooling around with Kydex again.  I bought some thicker Kydex at the Blade Show and made my first knife sheath out of it.

I’ve owned an original DPX HEST designed by Robert Young Pelton for several years.  I like the knife.  It’s a nice size fixed blade knife: a three-inch carbon steel blade with a four-inch handle.  The knife has a built-in bottle opener and pry bar as well as a small compartment in the handle for survival gear, like folded twenties or fish hooks.  Hey, you survive your way and I'll survive my way.

Kydex sheath that comes with DPX HEST
DPX HEST Original sheath.  Laughing skull in ball cap is Pelton's trademark. 

The original sheath doesn't have a belt loop.  What it has is paracord you use to lash the sheath to your belt.  I was never comfortable with that.  It’s better than simply slipping it in your pocket, 
Other side of knife
Reverse side of knife and sheath.  The washer is to undo the screws in the handle.  Clever, huh?
but it always seemed like an easy way to lose the knife.  Maybe that was the Pelton’s idea.

In the fictional world of Matt Helm, Matt explains to the readers that most undercover agents don’t carry a sidearm in a holster.  Why?  Because you can ditch a gun fast enough, but it might be a little hard explaining why someone claiming to be a harmless tourist is wearing an empty holster.

Maybe the same thing applies to this knife.  Imagine you’re traveling through areas of the world where every other mile another thug claims to be the Supreme Warlord and National President-Elect-for-Life and he has no use for the papers and visas you’re carrying.  If you have to, slip the paracord loose and the knife falls away from you and it becomes easier to convince this or the next warlord you are completely harmless.  No difficult sheath to explain.

Still, I need to hang on to my knife a little longer, so I got out the Kydex and spent a few hours re-learning how to do it.  It’s not perfect, far from it.  
My first attempt in Kydex this year
I got some thicker Kydex and started to work with it.  I just got all black Chicago screws that need to be cut to length and then I'll replace the bright aluminum screws.
The belt loop fits an impossibly thick belt.  I've got to get a thinner form.  Most of my rivets, grommets and Chicago screws are too short.  I just squeaked by with what I have.  The 0.1 inch thick Kydex has a larger radius of bending as compared to my thin blue stuff, so most of my forms don’t work.  It’s also a lot stiffer, so most of the methods I use to lock a knife in a sheath don’t work as well.

I need to work on a thinner belt loop
The thick kydex bends differently and I need a thinner form to shape my belt loops.
Still, I’m happy with the results.  The set of French curves I bought last year really helps in setting out the cut and grind lines as does my band saw and the new-to-me belt sander.  I’ll continue to make sheaths.  I’ve got a sweet little South African dagger that needs a sheath so I can carry it.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Man from Kydex

In spite of the stinkin’ hot weather, I’ve been working playing with Kydex.  I’m using the knife a friend gave me.  I really like this knife, but it might not be the best to learn about Kydex sheath skills.

The sheath I have in mind is asymmetric.  That is, the back is largely flat while the front takes the brunt of bulging and forms the blade and knife handle pocket.  I want the back as flat as possible to make attaching a belt clip easy and flat against the sheath so the knife is held in tight to the body.  This handle calls for a lot of Kydex flow.

I also want the sheath to be trim and smartly shaped.  I can already make sheaths that looks like two pieces of plywood nailed together.  I want an organic (I hate that word, but I’m actually working with organic materials, so….) look that suggests the sheath grew around the knife. 

I have quite a ways to go.

To facilitate reaching these goals I’ve bought two new tools.  The first is a small set of French curves.  I used to use them to help draw graphs in math and science.   For those of you who only know Excel or any of the other graphing software there was a time….

A time when a man would place a razor to his throat and he would slip and cry out in pain and blood would well up ….    Oops!  Wrong time!!

What you really did was plot points as x and y coordinates.  If you could connect them with a straight line great, but sometimes it wasn’t possible, so you got out a pack of French curves and found a section of the curves that matched your points and drew the line. 

I’m using the curves to help me trace lines on the Kydex to give my sheath a fluidness and shape that is functional, minimalist and attractive.  

Am I asking for TOO MUCH?

I don’t know, but there is an art, a creative side to sheath making.  Sherlock used to say "Art in the blood is liable to take the strangest forms” (The Greek Interpreter).  So true.

To help me trim the excess Kydex from the line I can now draw I bought a band saw.  I also bought it to do a little woodworking, but I had Kydex in mind when I purchased it.

kydex, knife
I went to Sears.  It's a Craftsman.  I wanted the 12 HP saw, but it was a little out of my league....

I was quite happy that my first band saw/Kydex sheath project was working out until for some reason, it took a jog sideways, hit a rivet and skittered away. 

blue kydex sheath
The second rivet down on the right shows were the band saw and I departed from the planned operation.

blue kydex sheath with belt loop
Back side.  This is the reason I want the back so flat.  I need the sheath to hug the body.  I've lost too many knives 'cause they canted out from my body and got snagged by a coat or sweater.


Well, practice makes perfect.  My big problem is spacing the rivets and leaving enough Kydex outboard of the rivet so I can cut, trim and polish. The curves don’t work so well on non-flat, irregularly shaped objects and I need a better way to draw on Kydex other than pencil.

I have been working on a Kydex neck sheath for a Delica Salt. 
neck sheath for spyderco kydex sheath
The screw is to control the tension.  I don't know if I need it, but I'd rather have it, set it and forget it than worry about losing the knife.  By the way --- those fingers are from a highly paid hand model.  I spare no expensive for this blog.....

It’s big and I tried it out in the salty Gulf of Mexico and the H1 steel didn’t rust, and more importantly, the knife didn’t fall out.  Now that I have a band saw, it’s time to revisit that project.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Working Kydex

My friend just showed me a silver-bladed Gerber Guardian Back-up he bought. It’s a nice knife. Actually it’s a dagger and while I like the lines, the lack of guards and its double-edged blade always make me a little nervous. Having sliced fingers open before, I would prefer to avoid it in the future.

He didn’t care that much for the original sheath and since he’s been working with Kydex, well, one thing led to another.

He did a nice job.

...And the award for clothing goes to .... Kydex!

The handle locks into the sheath with a positive click and stays there. You have to want to remove the Back-up. It isn’t going to fall out by itself. He mounted a belt loop so that the knife could be carried sideways, kidney position. The clip is also removable so other carry modes are possible.

It was nice to sit down at Thanksgiving and talk turkey with him about working with Kydex. I have at least one project stalled due to weather and ideas for a couple other projects. All I can say is nice work!