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Old 02-27-2017, 09:24 AM
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I'm gonna try making my own holster for my shield 45.
Does anyone have a gun blank for a shield45 that I can rent or borrow?.
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Old 02-27-2017, 01:43 PM
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I do not, but why can't you use your gun?
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Old 02-27-2017, 03:05 PM
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When you form the leather against the gun it's suggested to place the whole thing in an oven at 125* for an hour. I don't think that's good for my soon to be EDC.
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Old 02-27-2017, 03:55 PM
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125 degrees f or even C won't hurt your gun one bit. Might dry out the oil a little bit.
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Old 02-27-2017, 04:12 PM
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Search for molding props for leatherworking. There are several sites out there that sell them.
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Old 02-27-2017, 05:11 PM
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I make a lot of sheaths. Once the are done I oil up the knife, wrap it in saran wrap and stick it in the wet sheath hard and work the leather with my hand till it fits well then either stick it over a heater vent or in the summer in the sun and let it dry well. Remove knife, wipe it down and lightly oil it, let sheath dry some more empty, then start oiling it. If you want to speed things up wet the leather well with alcohol while you form it. Gets just as pliable and drys much faster.
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Old 02-27-2017, 06:30 PM
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I use a small wooden cabinet with a 100 watt light bulb in it. After it's been on a while it will keep the cabinet around 125 degrees. Wrap the gun and stick it in the holster and put it in the cabinet. I usually leave it in 30 minutes to a hour. Take the gun out and put the holster back in for a while.
In the summer you can put them in a closed vehicle, just like a oven.
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Old 02-27-2017, 08:19 PM
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I wet holster in warm water for 30 seconds,oil gun,wipe gun with dry rag, plastic wrap gun then form. I place it in front of a space heater with grips farthest away about ten minutes till leather starts to change color. then take gun out and re-oil just to be safe. Put in front of fan over night.
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Old 02-27-2017, 08:32 PM
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Hello, I guess I'm the only one that uses a blow dryer? That's all I've used for years!
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Old 02-27-2017, 09:05 PM
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Hello, I guess I'm the only one that uses a blow dryer? That's all I've used for years!
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Old 02-27-2017, 09:42 PM
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As the old saying goes, there's more than one way to skin a cat.
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Old 02-27-2017, 09:44 PM
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I found a few blanks for sale but with shipping I'm close to the price of decent holster already made. I spent most of last night watching utube vids so I'm itching to make something. I ordered a basic leather working kit but *** leather ain't cheap so I'm shopping around til my kit shows up.
I have a food saver so I'm gonna try to bag my pistol and see how tight it is so I won't need to lube it up prior to forming.
Where is a good place to get leather and what thickness is preferred?
I found some cool stamps but they are $40+ for the better ones,saw a nice snakeskin pattern for $58. Shame I didn't find my new hobby prior to Xmas.
I'm still a bit un easy about baking my new plastic gun.
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Old 02-27-2017, 09:52 PM
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my father just put the gun in a plastic baggie and wet the leather rubbed it into form and just let it air dry or put it in a black plastic back (open) and put it on the dash of his car in the sun... worked every time... it would shrink a tad more when he dyed the leather for a perfect snug fit...
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Old 02-27-2017, 10:15 PM
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Lay your gun on a piece of 2"x6".....Trace with marker.......Cut out with jigsaw.........Sand & round edges as needed........Instant gun blank.......
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Old 02-28-2017, 10:07 AM
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Where is a good place to get leather and what thickness is preferred?

I'm still a bit un easy about baking my new plastic gun.
Tandy Leather is probably the most known, if you have one close you can go there and pick your leather.
Google vegetable tanned leather for sale and you'll find different places you can order from.
I use 8 to 9 oz. leather for most my holsters and only vegetable tanned. Any chrome tanned can remove gun finishes.

As I mentioned before, the inside of a closed vehicle here in Bama in the summer time can exceed 125 degrees and unfortunately guns are left in them all the time. I say unfortunately because they get stolen from those vehicles. A co-workers was stolen last week.
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Old 02-28-2017, 04:43 PM
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I have a 2.5" 66 that came with a holster that was a bit loose.
I wet it with alcohol, took the grips off the gun, inserted it into the holster and put it all in a vacuum seal bag for 24 hours.
I don't know if it will form a new holster, but it's harmless to any gun and form fitted this one to the gun perfectly.
I suppose you could apply a little heat from a light bulb, etc. to enhance things without hurting a polymer gun.

Last edited by Jessie; 02-28-2017 at 04:46 PM.
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Old 02-28-2017, 05:20 PM
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Here's a picture of that holster after form fitting..
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Old 03-04-2017, 09:47 PM
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Old 03-05-2017, 02:45 AM
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When you form the leather against the gun it's suggested to place the whole thing in an oven at 125* for an hour. I don't think that's good for my soon to be EDC.
Yeah, you're not meant to leave the pistol in the holster while you dry it! And the oven needs to be fan force, and the oven door needs to be open. The science is to use the heat to soften the collagen in the leather, and the fan to move the wet air away from the leather as it dries. Takes about half-hour.

Wetting the leather for only perhaps 5-10 seconds in hot water (as hot as your hand will tolerate) is better than over-wetting by a long shot. Mould with hands alone, or better yet, use a 'boning' tool which can be a round-tipped paint brush, for example; this method will intentionally discolour the leather to accent the pistol's shape.

If you use a real pistol for this hand moulding, you won't need the plastic bag; the holster won't be very wet when the pistol's inserted, so just wipe off the pistol when it's removed and re-lubricate as if you'd shot it.

It's not rocket science -- but it IS science.
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Old 03-05-2017, 03:16 AM
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Yeah, you're not meant to leave the pistol in the holster while you dry it! And the oven needs to be fan force, and the oven door needs to be open. The science is to use the heat to soften the collagen in the leather, and the fan to move the wet air away from the leather as it dries. Takes about half-hour.

Wetting the leather for only perhaps 5-10 seconds in hot water (as hot as your hand will tolerate) is better than over-wetting by a long shot. Mould with hands alone, or better yet, use a 'boning' tool which can be a round-tipped paint brush, for example; this method will intentionally discolour the leather to accent the pistol's shape.

If you use a real pistol for this hand moulding, you won't need the plastic bag; the holster won't be very wet when the pistol's inserted, so just wipe off the pistol when it's removed and re-lubricate as if you'd shot it.

It's not rocket science -- but it IS science.
An example of holsters moulded and dried this way:

Gun blank-beat-devil-1-jpg funny that the pic is upside down :-)
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Old 03-05-2017, 11:10 AM
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Leather quality will vary considerably. Be careful of your sources. Two of the best US tanneries are Hermann Oak and Wickett & Craig. Neither of these generally sell direct to individuals, and minimum orders are usually in the 200-400 sq. ft. range (or about 300-500 holsters!). Contact Springfield Leather Company (google search for the website), a very good supplier usually having Hermann Oak vegetable-tanned cowhide in stock, and they will sell by the square foot for small orders. You will want either shoulders or sides, and you should avoid bellies. For small and lightweight handguns leather as light as 6-7 oz. can be used. For large and heavy handguns 9/10 oz. is a good choice. For most common holster work 7/8 oz. can be used with good results. Needless to say, the heavier the leather the more difficult it can be to cut, stitch, form, etc.

Leathers provided by hobby shops and many distributors is usually imported. There is no way to know what tanning processes were used, but the use of excrement and urine (animal and human) remains common in many countries. We want good vegetable-tanned leather produced with tannins from tree bark, reduced to a fine powder so that it dissolves easily in water; an expensive and time-consuming process, but the best for our purposes.

Leather is a fibrous material produced from the skins of animals. The fibers are bound together by a substance known as collagen. When veg-tanned leather is wet-formed the fibers will be stretched considerably as the leather is forced into and around the contours of the handgun. As the leather dries the stretched fibers will tend to contract and shrink. One of the challenges for the holster maker is to use these qualities to advantage. In large production facilities the degrees of stretching and shrinkage are calculated into the patterning, cutting, assembly, stitching and other operations, and holsters are formed on dummy gun under high pressure in a press. In small shops and for hobbyists the forming work is generally done by hand and with the aid of a few tools (a process known as "boning" because the tools were traditionally made of bone, antler, or ivory in varying forms and shapes), and I will concentrate my further comments on that approach.

The pattern used must allow for the handgun to be forced into the dampened leather after assembly and stitching have been completed. This means that there are practical limits to how closely the holster "pocket" can be fitted to the contours of the handgun. Too close and it will be impossible to fit the handgun into the holster. Too loose and it will be impossible for the holster to function without repeated flexing in use resulting in a sloppy fit. A simple rule of thumb (not entirely precise, but sufficient for most applications) is to use the dimensions of the handgun plus 1/2 the thickness of the handgun, then add the thickness of the leather in use (leather is gauged by thickness, referred to as weight in ounces, with each 1 oz. of leather weight equaling approx. 1/64" thickness; hence leather of 8 oz. weight is approx. 1/8" in thickness). This will vary depending on the handgun, but will usually get you into the ball park. (By the way, the first holster produced from a new pattern will seldom be perfect, and some adjustment of the pattern will usually be required, and this process may need repeating more than once before the end product meets all expectations).

After assembly and stitching the holster may be wet-formed. I recommend using water at room temperature to luke warm. A couple of drops of dishwashing soap can be added to a gallon of clean water, and this can ease the forming process a bit. I like to dip the leather into the water, allowing one second per ounce of leather weight (7-8 seconds for 7/8 oz. leather). The leather will then be quite supple and easily worked. Force the handgun (or dummy gun) into the holster pocket, carefully aligning edges all around. Basic contours of the handgun can then be formed by impressing the leather with fingers and/or a smooth rounded forming tool (polished wood, plastic, bone, antler, etc, and no steel or other metal). The piece is then ready to begin the drying process and continue forming and boning.

I like to use a small convection oven with a piece of smooth wood over the metal rack, set on the lowest setting and having the door propped open about an inch (keeping the interior temperature at about 120-130 degrees, use an oven thermometer). The wet holster goes in (no gun or dummy) for 8 to 10 minutes (use a timer). The leather will then be taking its shape and damp to the touch. The gun or dummy can be reinserted and forming can be continued, again using fingers and/or smooth rounded tool, and any needed contouring (belt loops, etc) can be started. Then the holster goes back into the oven for a second 8-10 minutes. The leather will then be moderately damp to the touch and final shape will be starting to set up. Time for close fitting and boning to final form. Then the holster goes back into the oven for a third 8-10 minutes. The leather will then be nearly dry to the touch, with little remaining moisture in the fibers. Final boning can be done at that point. Then the holster goes into the drying cabinet (constant 105-108F interior temperature) where two to four hours are required for complete drying.

What has been accomplished so far is to bring the holster to final form while also releasing the hold of the collagen to the stretched and formed leather fibers and allowing the collagen to reset everything to the desired forms. This manipulation of the collagen has been accomplished by holding the leather at a temperature in the range of 120-130F as the initial drying takes place.

The holster can then be sealed and finished. These processes usually involve applying moisture to the leather, and this can result in some shrinkage. So, after the sealants and finishes have completely set up (12 to 24 hours) you may find that the holster's fit to the handgun is tighter than desired. A good fix for that is to place your handgun into a plastic bag (shopping bag, sandwich bag, etc), then force it into the holster and leave it for several hours (or overnight), which will usually stretch the leather sufficiently for break-in use to proceed.

I recommend against drying the newly formed holster with the handgun in place. Why? As the holster dries the water is evaporating into the air, and that moisture-laden air will penetrate into every nook and cranny of the handgun's internal parts. This could result in corrosion to springs, pins, and other critical parts over time, and could only be corrected by a complete detail-stripping down to the smallest part for cleaning and removal of all moisture. Some folks think that stainless steel won't rust, which is not correct; it is more corrosion resistant than carbon steel, but not corrosion proof. Some folks think that aluminum won't oxidize, which is also incorrect. Why take unnecessary chances?

Also, drying the leather completely with the handgun in place could result in the handgun being impossible to remove without cutting the leather off, which is not quite the end result you are seeking.
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Old 03-05-2017, 02:01 PM
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i have found that air soft guns are a good match for some pistols and a lot
cheaper than blue guns. have used them for 1911 and 92f to a good end.
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Old 03-05-2017, 04:12 PM
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Darn, Lobo, that's sure a complicated methodology you use :-). Hopefully all that intermediate boning yields a spectacular result; how about a pic?
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Old 03-06-2017, 12:13 AM
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Darn, Lobo, that's sure a complicated methodology you use :-). Hopefully all that intermediate boning yields a spectacular result; how about a pic?
Hi, Red. My methodology probably sounds a bit complicated to some. I know that your background includes years of experience in developing holster designs for some of the best known manufacturers, most of whom produce many thousands of products using "clicker" die presses to cut dozens of pieces at a time and multiple skilled workers in the assembly and finishing operations, each turning out dozens and dozens of pieces per shift. Forming is usually done on a press (hydraulic or pneumatic), and drying is done in large lots within spaces closely controlled for temperature and humidity.

Things are a bit different in the smaller shops. Each pattern is produced by hand. Each piece is cut by hand. Every assembly is done by hand. Every step in forming and finishing is done by hand. If each holster were to be completed, one at a time, from start to finish the time involved would be prohibitive in any business sense. In my shop we did everything in batches of a dozen or more pieces at a time; cutting, dyeing, assembly, stitching, forming, etc, by the batch. Only after several production runs would we proceed to wet-forming, doing several dozen at a time during one day of the week (usually completing 4-6 per hour of bench time). Then, following thorough drying, finishing operations could be done, again in rather large quantities.

It might help to think of my processes as "taking baby steps", completing the same or similar operations one small step at a time with multiple orders in production. Fortunately, market acceptance of my products always provided me with several dozen orders each week, allowing me to schedule and complete those in an orderly fashion. A dozen or so per day over the course of 3 or 4 days, followed by a couple of days for forming and finishing, then a day or two for everything to cure out completely prior to packaging and delivery, and each week means another 35 to 50 orders filled. Over the course of a week's time we averaged one completed product per 47 minutes of production time.

For the hobbyist working on a single project at a time one of the easiest ways to get into trouble is to try to rush any single aspect of the work. Drying times are drying times, finishing times are finishing times, and the time required for sealants and finishes to fully cure cannot be rushed.

The OP wants to make a single holster for a single handgun. I wish him well, and the best advice I can offer is to proceed with "baby steps" and not try to rush through any part of the process. There will be several days of work involved, whether doing one single product or dozens at a time, and trying to jump ahead or shortcut any of the processes will invite disappointment.

By the way, and in direct response to the OP, there is really no reason not to use your pistol for forming your holster project.
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Old 03-06-2017, 04:36 AM
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Lobo, I agree with everything you've said, except, in your situation, I would've installed a big enough fan force dryer/oven to put lots more holsters in. And used hot water, which launches the drying process and brings the leather quickly to an ideal wetness for boning (to get the burnished effect). A single boning (without presses) and a single 30 minute drying, yields an optimall result.

Because of the science involved, the size of the operation is not relevant to the result. ALL holater manufacturers of any size -- Sparks with five employees comes to mind -- use presses to do the initial moulding. I've been inside the largest and the smallest, the American and the foreign, so that is an informed expert opinion.

I'm as little as they come, and build in batches, too. If my volume were to suddenly rise, I would immediately start die cutting -- dies are cheap -- get some kind of press for initial moulding, and a bloody great convection oven: and get exactly the same result that you and I do now.

Doing EVERY step by hand does not create a superior holster, except when (as I do) the holster design evolves with each build. Otherwise die-cutting, and press moulding, are actually better. Glue machines apply the glue more evenly, power hammers bond the leather more completely -- the list goes on and on.

One simply has to have had the exposure to other ways, to then choose the very best way that one's circumstances can justify. Certainly that was my experience training locals in Mexico (not holsters): they were happy to do things the hard way because they didn't (yet) know to demand the better way.
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Old 03-06-2017, 02:19 PM
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Thanks Lobo for all the great info. I was just going by some YouTube vids that show the first step to form then dry then stitch everything up. I'm just starting out so I'm gonna do some mag holders then a few knife sheaths then when I feel comphy I'll do my holster. I have a few handguns that I'll be making holsters for. Some will be IWB some OWB with and without cant some with belt loops some with clips. Thanks again to all
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Old 03-06-2017, 02:53 PM
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With the leather wet, wrap the gun in saran wrap or other thin plastic. Force the gun into the leather, stretching it to shape (I have a couple of wood pieces shipped to do the original stretch out) and let the holster dry overnight with the gun in the holster. You can shape the leather to the gun as it drys with a screwdriver handle, piece of bone or antler. If you want the leather stiffer, remove the gun and set in an oven with a pilot light for several hours. Seal the leather. I use Johnson paste wax on warm leather and it looks good. Wax the interior also. KISS method. Holster fails, I can make another that will be better.

Lots of methods will get you there, eventually you find one you like.

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