Refurbishing a Marble's Woodcraft Knife and Sheath Making



There are 13 pictures and corresponding directions in the Woodcraft sheath-making sequence described below:

The blade of this old Marble's Woodcraft (which I bought at a "flea market") had been beveled and chromed. During the process of making the sheath, I would also remove the chrome and reprofile the blade. The wood is Maple (curly Maple?). You will see "stripes", which I believe are from being "quarter-sawn" (i.e., at an angle to the grain) in the finished sheath.

The wood was clamped into my sliding miter-saw and cut down through the top without going all the way through…difficult, but made somewhat easier because the wood was so hard that the weight of the saw didn't cause it to go through the wood too easily. I would urge extreme caution (and good clamping) in using this technique. The only reason that I decided to try this was that the curve of the saw blade was a very good match to the curve of the knife blade and that would allow me to make the sides and bottom of the sheath in one piece. Once I got the depth I was looking for, I only had to make a short sliding motion with the saw, as there is very little straight section in the Woodcraft.

I then cut across the board to get close to the finished length. I will be adding a vertical piece on the end of the sheath and sanding to fit, so an exact fit wasn't needed. Because the blade of the knife is tapered, I tapered the insert for the top of the sheath so the blade would fit more snugly; which is now glued and clamped.

Here, you can see the rough-cut sheath with the top piece glued in place. I would use 150 grit paper with a finish sander to shape the sheath, and 220, 400 grit to smooth it out.

The sheath has been shaped and smoothed down to its nearly finished shape with 400 grit paper. Notice the extension of the top part of the sheath. This will be a "thumb rest" to use in pushing the sheath off the knife blade to overcome the friction fit of the knife in the sheath. I will also put a hole through this piece, and lace the belt loop and keeper to the wooden part of the sheath by wrapping (synthetic) sinew and leather lace over the sheath and through the hole. This extension of the top piece of the sheath also serves to strengthen the insert where the knife enters the sheath. I will add another (vertical) piece to fit between the guard and the sheath.

You may be able to see the hole cut in the extension of the top of the sheath. The end piece (where the knife will enter the sheath) is shown here being glued and clamped in place.

The end piece and the "eye" in the top of the sheath have been carved and sanded to fit. You can see the "stripes" beginning to show in the wood. This is the leather (Elk) that I will use for the belt loop and keeper.

I've also been working on the blade. The edge bevel has been removed using medium and fine diamond hones, then reprofiling with 320 and 400 grit wet-dry paper and oil (which also removed the chrome).

The leather has been cut to shape for the belt loop and keeper. I have put some glue on the leather where it will be attached to the back of the sheath and wrapped with synthetic sinew (passing through the "eye" on the top of the sheath).The belt loop portion of the leather will be folded toward the center line and "baseball stitched" to form a double thickness. This knife is "handle-heavy" (i.e., the balance point is about 1" into the handle measured from the guard). So the thicker, stiffer belt-loop will help to keep the knife from flopping over when carried on the belt.

This is a detail of the back of the sheath, showing how the belt loop is attached to the sheath. The leather strip shown in the above, was glued to the back of the sheath and then wrapped with synthetic sinew, followed by the leather lacing and copper wire.

Then the "tag end" of the leather strip was folded up and over the wrapping and stitched to the bottom end of the belt loop, which was folded to the center and stitched along its length with a "baseball stitch" to keep the seam flat.

The "keeper" part of the leather strip was folded and tacked to the other end of the belt loop with the top (i.e., nearer the pommel) "box stitch". Then the snaps were attached, and the edge of the keeper stitched. Finally, the "keeper" was stitched to the belt loop using the "box stitch" showing here at the bottom of the back of the "keeper".

This is a bit fuzzy, but it shows how the holes were made for stitching the leather. I marked the leather with a marking wheel, and used a needle mounted in the handle of a mini-screwdriver set. The block of wood has a small hole drilled through it (just slightly bigger than the diameter of the needle). By placing the needle on a mark (where I wanted a hole) and then placing that spot directly over the hole in the wood block, the wood around the hole in the block supported the leather and made it easier to push the needle through the tough Elk leather. The belt loop would then be folded to the inside and stitched with a "Baseball-stitch" to make it lie flat.

Some of the tools used include my wood-carving knife (made from an old fillet knife); snap setting tools; the wood block with needle mounted in micro-screwdriver handle; and rotating leather marker. You can see that the "male" part of the keeper snap is covered by the folded leather (on the short side of the keeper) to protect the knife handle from brass corrosion; while the "female" snap cap goes through both layers. You can also see the wrapping passing through the "eye" on the top of the sheath.

The finished sheath with the knife securely in place. I had placed the sheath in the sunlight for several hours to help bring out the stripes in the wood. Also, the leather (sheath and knife handle) has been hand rubbed with Fiebing's "Snow-Proof Weatherproofing".

The finished sheath and finished blade.

I wanted to include this top view of the sheath to show how the insert is tapered so it spreads the sides of the sheath wider in the back than at the front. That was done to accomodate the taper of the blade and so that the sheath itself would mirror the back-to-front and top-to-bottom taper of the blade. The front of the sheath was made thicker than the back so that it could be "convexed" as a design element. I was real pleased with the fit of the insert because I had to taper it by hand and sand it to fit smoothly.

If you have questions, criticisms, or things to add - email me please.


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