06 June 2012

Leather & Birch Bark Knife Sheath

I'll be the first to tell you I'm not an artisan, I can make arrows pretty well, outside of those I can make things that are durable and usable. I've made a few knife sheaths over the years, of utilitarian design, robust and rugged, just not overly easy on the eye.

Some things never change.  ;) My most recent knife which I am extremely happy with, came sans sheath. My favorite maker is currently backed up and he won't be getting to me until probably July or even August so I had to do something and I figured I'd try something I'd not seen before out of two of my favorite materials.

I've got a fondness for Birch bark, I live in the lower portion of the Boreal as it extends down into north east Minnesota, and we've got this miracle tree in abundance. Not to mention multiple different flavors, from River to Paper and all in betwixt. I'm a firm believer in the fact that this is a miracle tree as it just has so much to offer. Even fungus knows the usefulness of Birch both alive and dead. On living Birch I collect Chaga religiously, and from dead Birch I collect Birch Polypore, more commonly known as Razor Strop fungus because of it's use as such. Resins and bark both collected for multiple uses. I sometimes miss the hardwoods I grew up in, Oaks especially, but I've developed an appreciation for the varieties of trees in my North Woods, the Birch most especially.

It's not overly complicated, I simply collected a decent slab of bark, scraped it clean and cut a couple of scales. I decided to use the interior of the bark as the exterior of the sheath as it was quite a bit darker and had what I think is exceptional character as it were.

I assembled it just like you would a leather sheath, retention is a simple thong with a antler slip button. You slide the button out, then the thong off the handle, pull the knife, just slide the button back up the thong once you return the knife to the sheath and you're good to go. The fit is very tight and I like it.

I rubbed pure beeswax into the sheath, heavily, then used a piece of long deer hide to run it back and forth over the surface quickly, creating friction. This melted the wax into the material, water proofing and protecting the sheath.

It'll serve me just fine.

Here's how it came out.


  1. Very nice. A lot of character to that piece. Is the belt loop bark as well or was this sewn on to a piece of leather? What a great compliment for that knife too.

  2. Hey OE, thanks for the complements. The belt loop itself is a part of the entire sheath. I took a long piece and folded the top down to where it meets the bark and ran a stitch there, across and up, making a square. It's a single piece of leather through out.

    I stacked leather between the birch bark that was cut to the shape of the blade, glued and stitched it all together.

  3. Nice one!
    Very different from the ones one usually sees. How durable do you think the sheath will be?
    Did you treat the bark in any other way or is it just the beeswax?

    1. In this case not really.

      I put a lot of pure beeswax into it, then using friction made sure it was melted in and saturated with it but that treats the leather as well as the bark.

      It's really just two birch bark scales glued and stitched to leather slabs, it's really no different than a normal leather sheath, it just has some birch bark on it.