Making your own gear is not as difficult as you may think. The gear depicted above was made using a Swiss Army Knife, a ruler, an Ice Pick and leather mallet, leather glue, wooden clothespins, sewing needle and kite string. The steps are simple:
- I make a full-sized cardboard or paper grocery bag pattern of the pouch or belt bag I wish to make.
- I go to a leather store and dig through their scrap bin and select inexpensive leather for the project I have in mind [Usually costs no more than $5.00 for leather]. I take the cardboard pattern along with me to be certain I get the right size leather for the job.
- I cut the leather pieces out; I advance sew any difficult inside seams before gluing and sewing main body together.
- Bag/Pouch is glued together and allowed to dry overnight using the clothespins to hold pieces together.
- Next day I use the ruler to mark sewing holes, then punch them with ice pick.
- Pieces are sewn together using polyester kit string [cheap and very strong] using a large needle.
As a final touch I sometimes use a wood burning tool to smooth/fire burnish edges and to add petroglyph art, like the snake, which holds special meaning for me, as you will see in the following photos [I will also show close-up's of how I assembled these projects].
In the next three photo's I've shown my self-made Elk hide belt pouch. The hide was a gift from an old friend. It was sewn inside out then turn right side out to hide stitching. I used an old coin to make the button, using a ball peen hammer to concave the coin.
Elk hide belt pouch - exterior
Elk hide pouch - interior
Finally, here is the rear of the pouch showing the belt loop details:
Elk hide pouch - rear
In the next photo, my PSK [Personal Survival Kit] pouch (left) and Firemaking porch (right) are shown:
PSK and Firemaking pouches - front view
Rear view of pouches
Inside view of pouches
And here's a gear dump of the contents:
The PSK is a tin that's been "Japan'ed"...held over a gas flame to produce a color-case hardened effect. the red pouch is a laminated glass U.S.N. MK III signal mirror, one of the best ever made. Firemaking pouch holds a match safe with waterproof and Storm matches, a lighter, tinder stick and swatches of cotton cloth.
I also carry a LEATHERMAN "SUPER TOOL 200":
Incidentally, I didn't make this knife sheath. My Dad made it around 1974 and wore it every day of his life, carrying his CASE folding hunter in it. I inherited it when he passed, and so he goes along in spirit when I go out woods trekking.
Some people like ornately tool leathercrafted work. I do not. I like my gear simple and rugged. I don't want to be afraid to use it or to get a scratch on it. I also like my leather gear to be simple and primitive in appearance...like it came right off a Mountain Man or Native Americans belt.
To conclude, I have attempted to show here that you don't need fancy leather crafting tools to make pouches and bags that are rugged and will serve your needs. A few simple tools, your imagination, and your time is all that is necessary. I think you will find making your own belt pouches personally satisfying and a means of enriching your outdoor experiences. Don't be afraid to try and if you make a mistake, big deal, learn from it and use it anyways!
© 2014, MANNY SILVA, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED