Monday, April 05, 2010

Remedial holster making part 2

When we left off, we had 2 pieces of leather sewn together. I finished that holster without taking more pictures, so I will continue with a different holster, this time for a Keltec P3AT, a simpler design than my first attempt. I'm still experimenting, and this time I tried pre-dying the pocket area of the holster back before assembly. I also used a smaller pocket on this holster, since the last one was far too big. I may have gone a little too small, the pocket was barely big enough.

The next step is molding and boning. Get the leather wet--not sopping wet, just run it under warm water, making sure you get inside the pocket. Blot it dry, and set it on a towel for 15 minutes or so.

Unload the gun, make sure it is unloaded, then assume that every time you turn your back, someone might come and load your gun so you have to check again. You will be handling your gun in odd ways, it will be very easy to violate Rule 2, so it is doubly important to make sure it is empty. 

Put the gun in the holster, wiggle it around until you have the depth and angle right. The professional, high-volume makers have presses with rubber that does the initial rough shaping.

Although it is not necessary, I have had good luck with doing the initial shaping in a Foodsaver vacuum bag--not only does the vacuum begin the process, the bag protects the leather during boning. The Foodsaver brand bags have texture on one side which can get transfered to the leather, although it rubs out fairly easily. I put a paper towel around the holster, both to avoid the bag texture and to absorb some of the moisture. I also make sure I put the back side of the holster against the textured side of the bag.  I may leave the texture on a future holster.   

The front of the trigger guard on all guns, and the ejection port on a semiauto are two of the critical areas--these details help hold the gun in place firmly but without excess friction, so they should be deeply and crisply boned.   Make sure you do NOT mold to the trigger itself.

Push the leather into these spots with whatever smooth, rounded tools work--old pens, knife handles, clay working tools--I did a lot of the boning for this holster with a sharpie marker and a butter knife handle.  Ideally you will follow creases and contours, so the inside of the holster is a close match to the gun.

If you use a vacuum bag, touch up the details outside the bag, with the gun still in place.  Remove the gun and dry it off.   Let the holster dry in a warm, dry place.

Once the leather is dry, touch up the edges--make sure they are properly beveled, sand off any burn marks and loose bits.  Once the edges are good, burnish.  I use a 3/8 dowel chucked into my drill press at a medium speed.  Rub the edges along the spinning dowel. I've sanded the tip of the dowel to a rounded point that lets me get into the belt loops.

I'm not going to cover dyeing--I'm not that good, I basically rub leather dye on until I get a reasonably even coat, then wipe it off and let it dry.  Q tips for the belt slots.  If I keep this up, I'll likely get enough dye to dip.

This holster was designed for my wife.  She doesn't like gunbelts, so the belt loops are sized for the biggest belt she's willing to wear.  I don't think a gunbelt is necessary with small guns It was too tight initially--the stitching along the top of the trigger guard should be 1/8-1/4 inch wider.   I put the pistol in a baggie, holstered it overnight belted to a range bag.  If I were re-doing it, I would also make the front leather match the shape of the back near the rear sight.

I had her put it on to test it.  She forgot to take it off. I consider that success.

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