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The Sheath/Holster Makers Forum This is the place to discuss all forms of sheath and holster making.

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Old 09-05-2007, 02:49 AM
Dave Kelly Dave Kelly is offline
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 494
Learning to Carve Leather

Hi you guys
Seems like a very long time since I was here, hope everyone is well.

I"ve always admired the beautiful carved sheaths that some of you guys make and ever since I started making sheaths I've wanted to learn. I was getting ready to make a sheath for a forum friend and wanted to give him a choice of tooling or carving. He was nice and patient enough to wait for his sheath until I felt comfortable enough with my carving, almost there but hopefully just a couple more practice pieces.

I started with smaller sheath size patterns but found them to be very difficult to learn so I would recommend anyone starting out to use larger patterns to learn on. Anyway, here's a few of the sheath size practice pieces: I have to tell you it took me a long time and had to build up a lot of courage to show you guys this stuff

Another one similar to the above

A modified pattern Paul sent

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Old 09-05-2007, 03:00 AM
Dave Kelly Dave Kelly is offline
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 494
I changed to larger patterns because it allowed me more time to work with each tool, understand what I was carving better and better understand the flow of a pattern.

This practice piece is very similar to the first large pattern, I used it to make my first notebook cover.

All tips, advice, critique, questions most welcome,
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Old 09-05-2007, 03:03 AM
lanemoore lanemoore is offline
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Posts: 15

Absolutely awesome work!! Thank you for sharing.
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Old 09-05-2007, 03:07 AM
Dave Kelly Dave Kelly is offline
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 494
Thank you!!
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Old 09-05-2007, 07:03 AM
moon moon is offline
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Old 09-05-2007, 07:26 AM
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Robert Dark Robert Dark is offline
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Oxford, Alabama
Posts: 725

That is truly some beautiful work. Some folk just seem to be born with natural talent in certain areas. You sir, are one of those people.

I have wanted to try some carvings, but I wouldn't have a clue as to what tools to purchase.

I have been wanting to take a little trip north to spend some time with my friend Sandy, but things just haven't worked out for me so far.

Thanks for sharing, and if you ever get the time or inclination, I would be interested in a few shots of your tools used for that type work.

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Old 09-05-2007, 07:38 AM
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jhn cohea jhn cohea is offline
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Posts: 115
Nothing to be ashamed of there Dave !!! Very nice work!!
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Old 09-05-2007, 07:38 AM
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tmickley tmickley is offline
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: North Mankato, MN
Posts: 0
Dave, you've out done your self. Those are excellent study pieces.
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Old 09-05-2007, 08:41 AM
Hot&CoaledForge Hot&CoaledForge is offline
Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: NW Arkansas
Posts: 317
Thumbs up The Dave Kelly Style

You know how I feel about these, Dave -

Folks, I've had the pleasure of seeing a couple of these "practice" pieces in person, and the pics just don't do them justice. Absolutely amazing stuff!

- Jim

Hey - what's that knife handle sticking out?
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Old 09-05-2007, 10:39 AM
Chris Meyer Chris Meyer is offline
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Location: Connecticut
Posts: 263
My word! Is there anything you're not great at? That is some beautiful carving!

We salute you!

Christopher Meyer, Shenipsit Forge
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Old 09-05-2007, 12:21 PM
Sandy Morrissey Sandy Morrissey is offline
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Blairsville--in the beautiful Appalachian mountains of North Georgia.
Posts: 1,918
Dave, my friend, about a year ago I made a prophecy suggesting that people keep an eye on your work as you were meteoric in your rising skill level. You have more than borne out that prophecy---like the square of the root! For me to critique your work would be unseemly---as the student critiqueing his teacher. Nevertheless, I can accentuate the positive--which is plentiful! Your incised lines, borders, and decoratve cuts are clean, uniform in depth, no furrowed edges, and taper out nicely. Your decortive cuts are properly comma shaped, deep start to gentle taper out. Your bevels are smooth which indicates you are "walking" the beveler. This is where your practice shows! Your pear shading accentuates the petals and leaves with the shading causing the rounding of the edges with shading tapering out gracefully. Camouflage stamping follows stem curves and is not choppy or too deep thus softening the appearance. Your mule foot placement is accurate around the stop, but IMO could be less in number. Backgrounding is uniform and not choppy and overworked. The dyes and finishes and related items shown here are self evident in their attention to detail.

I very seldom do work as intricate as you have shown here for a number of reasons. I do 99% of my work on sporting equipment (holsters, sheaths, gun belts, etc) where intricate design is rarely called for and is cost prohibitive as a rule. Most sportsmen seem to rebel when their leatherwork starts to rival the price of the equipment stored therein!!! I am not a fan of the "Sheridan" style of carving as I find it a little too ornate, almost to the point of being gaudy. But, then, I am rather conservative in makeup and action--- (stick in the mud)!!!

Now that I have thoroughly trashed your work, I think I will retire to my shop and get some "practice" time in----I think I can use it!! ---Sandy---

Martin (Sandy) Morrissey Master Leather Craftsman 1105 Stephens Road Blairsville, GA 30512 706-379-1621
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Old 09-05-2007, 01:01 PM
Dave Kelly Dave Kelly is offline
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 494
Thanks very much you guys!!

Robert, I'll be happy to try taking pics. of the main tools I use but at the very least I'll list a less expensive line of tools (both stock and modified) and my dream set of tools

Jim, that handle sticking out is another thread

Thank you for the critique Sandy! As far as the Sheridan style being too ornate or gaudy I thought it best to learn on a more intricate style first to help understand the different uses of each tool and help me understand which carving style direction I want to go. Your beautiful carved sheath that Mike gave me is the main reason I'm learning this stuff!!

Thanks again,
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Old 09-05-2007, 01:35 PM
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sheathmaker sheathmaker is offline
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Kerrville, Texas
Posts: 628
David, you already know what I think and now you have "the rest of the story". Just keep on keepin" on.


Basic Pouch Sheaths and Advanced Blade sheaths DVDs are available at ***New third DVD available at the same web site***

Paul Long-- 108 Briarwood Ln. W.-- Kerrville, Texas 78028-- Ph. 830 367 5536---
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Old 09-05-2007, 03:36 PM
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Txcwboy Txcwboy is offline
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Location: Melissa TX
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Awesome work ! Not too ornate for me ! I have been doing leatherwork for a long time and I can basketweave ok but just didnt have the time to learn to carve well. Nice work !
Too many hobbies !
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Old 09-05-2007, 06:22 PM
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Satellite Beach, Fl.
Posts: 1,119
Dave, it's nice to see you back.You have been busy and the result is great.Just beautiful work.Dave
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