Step-by-Step Guide to Making a Leather Rifle Scabbard - Ghost 13

Step-by-Step Guide to Making a Leather Rifle Scabbard

Quick Guide to Crafting a Leather Rifle Scabbard:

  1. Select High-Quality Materials: Use 8/10 oz Wicket and Craig russet saddle leather for durability and aesthetic.
  2. Prepare the Leather: Cut a straight edge to start and dampen for easier folding.
  3. Design Your Pattern: Adjust for specific rifle sizes, including barrel length and lever loops.
  4. Cut and Shape: Be precise in trimming and folding. Add your maker’s mark.
  5. Stitch Together: Focus on even stitching grooves and add rivets for strength.
  6. Finish Up: Dry thoroughly, apply finishing touches, and perform a quality check.

In this Step-by-Step Guide to Making a Leather Rifle Scabbard, we're delving deep into the blend of art and utility unique to the craft of leatherworking. When it comes to crafting a bespoke leather rifle scabbard, the allure lies in simplicity married with function. Whether you’re a seasoned craftsman or a curious newcomer, there’s something profoundly satisfying in creating something with your hands that’s both beautiful and practical.

At its core, the process involves selecting the right materials—emphasizing why Wicket and Craig russet saddle leather stands out for its quality and durability. The preparation stage requires attention to detail, ensuring the leather is properly cut and prepared for shaping. The design phase brings your custom scabbard to life, tailoring it to the specific needs of your rifle. With precision cutting, meticulous shaping, and careful stitching, your scabbard begins to take form. This journey from raw materials to a finished product not only imbues your scabbard with personal significance but also guarantees its utility and longevity.

Creating a leather rifle scabbard is more than just a project; it's a testimonial to the craftsman's skills and the rifle's history. Follow this guide to add your chapter to this legacy.

Step-by-step infographic on crafting a leather rifle scabbard - how to make a leather rifle scabbard infographic pillar-3-steps

Choosing the Right Materials

When embarking on the journey of how to make a leather rifle scabbard, selecting the right materials is paramount. This choice not only determines the durability and functionality of your scabbard but also its aesthetic appeal. Let's dive into the essentials: Wicket and Craig leather, double shoulders, and russet saddle leather. Each of these materials brings something unique to the table.

Wicket and Craig Leather

Wicket and Craig have been known for their high-quality leather since 1867. This leather is not just any material; it's a testament to traditional tanning methods combined with modern technology. What makes it stand out is its durability and rich patina that develops over time. For a rifle scabbard, which is both a protective gear and a statement piece, Wicket and Craig's leather offers the perfect blend of strength and elegance.

Double Shoulders

Opting for double shoulders refers to a specific cut of leather that includes the two shoulder pieces of a hide. This cut is particularly versatile and economical, offering a large area of usable material with minimal waste. Its consistency in thickness makes it ideal for crafting a rifle scabbard, ensuring uniform protection and wear resistance across its length.

Russet Saddle Leather

Russet saddle leather is a top choice for projects that demand a rugged yet refined finish. Its natural, untreated surface is open to a world of possibilities, allowing you to dye, stamp, or tool the leather according to your vision. This leather's inherent toughness and ability to weather the elements gracefully make it an excellent candidate for a rifle scabbard that will stand the test of time.

Why These Materials?

Choosing Wicket and Craig leather, double shoulders, and russet saddle leather for your rifle scabbard project comes down to three key factors: durability, aesthetics, and workability. These materials ensure that your scabbard will not only protect your firearm in style but will also become more beautiful with age. They represent a blend of craftsmanship and heritage, aligning with the ethos of making something that lasts and tells its own story.

By selecting these materials, you're laying the foundation for a scabbard that is as functional as it is symbolic. Whether it's the resilient Wicket and Craig leather, the versatile double shoulders, or the rustic charm of russet saddle leather, your choice will reflect your commitment to quality and tradition.

For further inspiration on the role of materials in crafting limited-release rifle bags and scabbards, consider exploring Ghost 13's approach to materials, where the selection of premium full grain leather and waxed canvas speaks to the importance of choosing the right materials for your project.

Preparing the Leather

Before you dive into how to make a leather rifle scabbard, it's crucial to prepare the leather properly. This preparation sets the foundation for a high-quality, durable scabbard that looks as good as it functions. Here's how to get started:

Cutting a Straight Edge

First things first, you need to cut a straight edge on your leather. This ensures your scabbard has clean, sharp lines, giving it a professional look. To do this:

  1. Lay your leather flat on a sturdy work surface.
  2. Use a ruler or straight edge tool to mark a straight line along the top of the leather piece.
  3. With a sharp utility knife, carefully cut along the line you marked. Make sure your cuts are smooth and steady for the best results.

Strap Cutting

Next, you'll cut the straps needed for your scabbard. These straps will secure the scabbard to the rifle, so precision is key:

  1. Determine the width of the straps you need—usually about 1 inch.
  2. Using a strap cutter, adjust it to the correct width.
  3. Guide the leather through the cutter, holding it steady to ensure an even cut.

Dampening for Folding

Lastly, before folding the leather in preparation for the next steps, you need to dampen it. This makes the leather more pliable and easier to work with:

  1. Lightly mist the leather with water using a spray bottle. Be cautious not to over-wet it; you're aiming for damp, not soaked.
  2. Gently fold the leather in half, aligning the edges carefully.
  3. Press down along the fold to establish a crease, then leave the leather to dry slightly before moving on to the next steps.

By following these steps, you're ensuring that your leather is prepared correctly, which is vital for making a high-quality leather rifle scabbard. The attention to detail in these early stages can make a significant difference in the final product.

For more detailed guides on leatherworking techniques and projects, Ghost 13 offers a wealth of information and inspiration, such as their exploration of materials and craftsmanship. ( Leatherworking Projects - how to make a leather rifle scabbard )

Designing the Scabbard Pattern

When you're learning how to make a leather rifle scabbard, one of the key steps is designing the right pattern. This is where your project really starts to take shape. Let’s dive into how you can do this, focusing on lever-action rifles, and how to adjust for different barrel lengths and lever types.

Lever-Action Rifles

Lever-action rifles are popular and have a distinct shape that your scabbard must accommodate. The standard barrel length for most lever-action rifles is 20 inches. However, there are variations, and your scabbard pattern needs to reflect this.

Adjusting for Barrel Length

If the rifle you're making the scabbard for has a barrel longer or shorter than the standard 20 inches, you'll need to adjust your pattern accordingly. For instance, if you're crafting a scabbard for a rifle with a 24-inch barrel, you'll extend the pattern by 4 inches. This ensures that the scabbard will fit the rifle snugly and securely.

To do this, simply lay out your initial pattern, mark the standard length, and then measure and mark the additional length needed. It’s crucial to maintain the scabbard's shape and balance the proportions as you adjust.

Large Loop Lever Adjustments

Some lever-action rifles come with a large loop lever, which is bulkier than the standard lever. This requires another adjustment to your pattern. Specifically, you need to add about an inch of width from the throat (the opening where the rifle slides into the scabbard) and taper it down to the first bump where the straps will be attached. This ensures there's enough room to accommodate the larger lever without straining or misshaping the scabbard.

Remember, the goal here is to create a custom fit for the rifle. Each adjustment ensures that the scabbard not only protects the rifle but also complements its design and function.

With your pattern designed, you're ready to move on to the next steps: cutting, shaping, and eventually assembling your leather rifle scabbard. It’s a process that requires patience and precision, but the result is a bespoke accessory that enhances the beauty and functionality of the rifle.

For those looking to delve deeper into crafting high-quality leather goods, like rifle scabbards, Ghost 13 is an excellent resource. They cover everything from selecting the right materials to the finishing touches that elevate your project. Check out their comprehensive guide for more insights and inspiration .

As we proceed, we’ll cover the crucial steps of cutting and shaping the leather, ensuring your scabbard is not just functional but also aesthetically pleasing.

Cutting and Shaping the Leather

Crafting a leather rifle scabbard requires precision and attention to detail. In this section, we'll go through the steps of trimming, folding, edging, and adding a maker's mark to your leather, turning it from a simple material into a beautiful, functional piece.


After selecting your leather, the first step is to cut a straight edge along the top. This provides a clean, even starting point for your scabbard. Using a sharp knife, trim along the edges of your pattern. Accuracy here is key to ensuring a snug fit for your rifle.


The next step involves folding the leather. Before folding, it's crucial to dampen the leather slightly. This makes it more pliable and easier to work with. When folding, align the edges carefully and press down to create a sharp fold. This fold is the backbone of your scabbard's shape, so take your time to get it right.

Edge and Crease

Once folded, edge and crease the leather. This step involves using an edging tool to round off the edges, giving your scabbard a smoother, more finished look. Additionally, creasing along the fold and edges adds a level of sophistication and strength to the structure. It's these small details that elevate the craftsmanship of your scabbard.

Maker's Mark

Finally, adding a maker's mark is not just about branding; it's a signature of your craftsmanship. Whether you're making this scabbard for yourself, as a gift, or for sale, the maker's mark is a proud declaration of the work and passion that has gone into the project. Position your mark thoughtfully, as it's a reflection of your brand and identity as a craftsperson.

By following these steps, you’ve now shaped your leather into the basic form of a rifle scabbard. The process of trimming, folding, edging, and marking requires patience and precision, but the result is a personalized and durable accessory that stands out. The beauty of leatherwork lies in the details and the personal touches you bring to your project.

In the next section, we will dive into the intricacies of stitching and assembling the scabbard, bringing us one step closer to the final product.

Stitching and Assembling the Scabbard

After we've meticulously cut and shaped the leather for our scabbard, the next steps involve stitching and assembling the various components together. This phase can be quite rewarding as the scabbard begins to take its final shape. Let's walk through the process.

Stitching Grooves

First, we need to prepare the leather for stitching. This involves laying out the stitching grooves. A regular stitching groover is used to create a path for the thread along the edges of the scabbard. This is a crucial step for two reasons: it ensures that our stitches will be straight and uniform, and it helps to protect the thread from wear and tear by recessing it slightly into the leather.

Start about 3/4" from the fold at the top of the scabbard and continue along the edge towards the throat, stopping again about 3/4" from the end. This space is reserved for rivets, which we'll add later to reinforce the structure.


Once the stitching is done, it's time to reinforce the scabbard with rivets. Rivets are placed at strategic points where the leather is subject to stress and pulling, such as near the throat and along the side. This not only adds to the durability of the scabbard but also gives it a professional finish.

Buckles and Keepers

For the scabbard to be functional, it needs to be securely attached. This is where buckles and keepers come into play. Attach the buckles to one end of the straps you've prepared earlier, making sure they're fixed firmly in place. The keepers, which are also pre-bought, ensure that the strap stays aligned and doesn't flap around.

Edge Rubbing

Edge rubbing is a finishing technique that smoothens and rounds off the edges of the leather, giving your scabbard a polished look. For this, you can use a tool like an old wood lathe set at a high speed with a piece of rosewood. The friction created as the leather is rubbed against the wood heats and compresses the edges, resulting in a smooth, rounded finish.

The key to a successful leather project lies in patience and attention to detail. Take your time with each step, from carefully carving the stitching grooves to diligently fixing each rivet and buckle. These small touches not only add to the aesthetic appeal of your scabbard but also its functionality and durability.

By following these steps, you're well on your way to creating a beautiful, handcrafted leather rifle scabbard. This personalized accessory not only serves a practical purpose but also showcases your craftsmanship and attention to detail. Whether for personal use or as a gift, a leather rifle scabbard is a testament to the timeless appeal of handcrafted leather goods.

In the next section, we will explore the finishing touches that transform your scabbard from a work in progress to a masterpiece ready for use or display.

Finishing Touches

After diligently following the steps to craft your leather rifle scabbard, you're now at the final stage where your project truly comes to life. This phase is crucial as it ensures durability, functionality, and aesthetics. Let's dive into the essential finishing touches: drying, final assembly, and quality check.


Once you've completed the stitching and edge treatments, your scabbard needs to dry thoroughly. This is a step you can't rush. Place your scabbard in a cool, dry area away from direct sunlight or heat sources. Drying can take anywhere from a few hours to a day, depending on the humidity and temperature. Patience is key here. Proper drying ensures the leather retains its shape and strength, making it ready for the final assembly.

Final Assembly

With your scabbard dry, it's time to put all the pieces together. If your design includes straps, buckles, or keepers, attach these components now. Ensure everything fits snugly and functions as intended. This is also the time to add any decorative elements or personal touches you've planned. Every rivet, buckle, and keeper should not only add to the aesthetic appeal but also contribute to the scabbard's functionality and durability.

Quality Check

Before declaring your project complete, conduct a thorough quality check. Examine the stitching lines to ensure they're straight and strong with no loose threads. Check the fit by gently sliding a rifle (or a replica) into the scabbard. It should fit snugly without excessive force. Pay attention to the edges and the overall finish - they should be smooth and uniform. This quality check is your assurance that the scabbard not only looks good but will also stand the test of time and use.

In conclusion, the finishing touches are about paying attention to the details that matter. It's these details that transform a good scabbard into a great one. By ensuring your scabbard is properly dried, meticulously assembled, and passes a rigorous quality check, you're not just finishing a project. You're creating a lasting piece of craftsmanship that you can be proud of. The beauty of learning how to make a leather rifle scabbard lies in the journey as much as in the final product. So take pride in your work, and don't hesitate to showcase your masterpiece, whether in the field or as a piece of decor in your home.

Keep in mind the satisfaction that comes from creating something with your own hands. The skills you've developed in this process are invaluable and reflect the craftsmanship celebrated by Ghost 13. Whether for personal use or as a thoughtful, handcrafted gift, your leather rifle scabbard stands as a testament to quality and dedication.

Frequently Asked Questions about Making a Leather Rifle Scabbard

How do I adjust the pattern for different rifle sizes?

Adjusting the pattern for different rifle sizes is simpler than it might seem. Start with a basic pattern that fits most lever-action rifles, which typically have 20" barrels. If your rifle has a longer barrel, like a 24" or even a 28", you'll need to extend the pattern accordingly. To do this, measure the additional length required and extend the pattern at the bottom, ensuring you maintain the scabbard's shape. Some rifles have larger loop levers, necessitating an extra inch or so around the throat of the scabbard. This adjustment ensures a snug, secure fit for your specific rifle model.

What is the best type of leather for a rifle scabbard?

The best type of leather for a rifle scabbard is sturdy, high-quality leather that can withstand the elements and protect your firearm. Wickett and Craig russet saddle leather, especially in 8/10 oz weight, is highly recommended. This type of leather is durable, holds its shape well, and offers a classic, rugged look that complements the aesthetic of lever-action rifles. Purchasing double shoulders directly from the tannery is cost-effective and ensures you have enough material for your project with minimal waste.

Can I add personal touches to my scabbard design?

Absolutely! Adding personal touches to your scabbard design is a fantastic way to make it uniquely yours. Consider incorporating elements that reflect your personality or the intended use of the scabbard. This could be through tooling or carving intricate designs into the leather, dyeing the leather in a color that you love, or adding functional features like extra pockets or straps. Customizing your scabbard not only makes it more personal but also enhances its functionality and aesthetic appeal.

The process of learning how to make a leather rifle scabbard is as much about creativity and personal expression as it is about craftsmanship. Whether adjusting the size, choosing the right leather, or adding those unique personal touches, each step allows you to put a bit of yourself into the project. Embrace the opportunity to create something truly special that reflects your skills and passion for craftsmanship, as celebrated by Ghost 13.


We've journeyed together through the nuanced process of how to make a leather rifle scabbard. From selecting the robust Wicket and Craig leather to the meticulous stitching and final assembly, each step has been a testament to the dedication and precision required in leatherworking.

Let's briefly recap:

  • We started by choosing the right materials, emphasizing the importance of quality leather.
  • We prepared our leather, ensuring it was ready to be shaped into a scabbard.
  • Our design phase included adjustments for different rifle sizes and specific features like large loop levers.
  • Through cutting, shaping, and stitching, we turned our leather into a functioning rifle scabbard.
  • Finally, we applied the finishing touches, from edge rubbing to quality checks, ensuring our scabbard was not just functional but also aesthetically pleasing.

This journey showcases more than just the steps to create a scabbard; it highlights the craftsmanship and care that goes into each piece. At Ghost 13, we believe in the power of handmade goods, especially those that offer both functionality and a touch of personal flair.

We encourage you to give this project a try. Whether you're a seasoned leatherworker or new to the craft, making a leather rifle scabbard is a rewarding experience. It's an opportunity to challenge your skills, express your creativity, and create something that's not just useful but also carries a piece of your individuality.

Each scabbard tells a story — from the careful selection of materials to the final stitch. And when you create with Ghost 13, you're not just crafting; you're making history. Dive into leatherworking and let your craftsmanship shine. Who knows? Your next project could be the start of something legendary.

Embrace the craftsmanship celebrated by Ghost 13 and create your leather rifle scabbard today. Let's continue to innovate, create, and inspire one another with our creations. Explore our collection for more inspiration and to see the pinnacle of Ghost 13 craftsmanship in action.

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