Leatherworkers Tool Holster

One thing I have not seen, apart from a tool roll, is a leatherworkers holder for tools, made from leather.  Kind of hard to find in a search, since leatherworkers make aprons, rolls, holsters, belts and pouches for everyone else.

In western woodworking, one of the common rites of passage is the manufacture of a tool box.  It is certainly a good test and demonstration of skill.   It is also a nice way to showcase your skills.

Because of these things, my fascination with tool containers, and my desperate need to organize my tools, I decided to make a leatherworker’s tool holder.    Of course I decided to try to be a bit artistic and to make the holder have a timeless sort of quality.

Tool Holster

It holds quite a range of tools convenient and ready to use.

Tools in Holster


From left to right, Top row, Head Knife made with O1 steel and osage.  Scissors, Fine Point Awl, Groover,  Spiral Punch, Overstitch Wheel, Overstitch Wheel, French Edger, Stitching Fid, Edger,  , Stitching Groover,  Sharpie, Pencil, Brad Pusher, Strike Awl, Marking Awl, Adjustable Groover, Awl Point Holder.  Bottom Row, Head Knife, 4 in 1 Punches, and Reading Glasses.

A much smaller set would work for occasional use,

Core set of leatherworking tools

I left out the Mallet, Square, Multipurpose Dividers, Canvas for Burnishing, Knife, Sandpaper and Needles that I find quite handy to have present.

Here are a few detail shots of the tool pouch,
Empty Top View
Bottom View Showing I had to stich through 7 layers of leather
Leaf Pattern
Pattern destined to be worn down by putting tools in and out of the pouch

There are so many things I would do differently if I made it again. Making this taught me a lot and that was really the point. I am still pretty new at leatherworking and I have a lot to learn.


9 comments to Leatherworkers Tool Holster

  • Skip J.

    Hello Bob;

    Interesting post I must say. I have been thinking about doing a small amount of leatherwork, and have found a used beginners book to start. Haven’t read it tho.

    What do you find different and interesting about leatherwork instead of doing woodworking????

    In particular, are there some useful handtool items that need to be made out of leather other than holsters???

    Do you have a machine to do the sewing, or do you stitch it by hand with your stitcher???? If so, the rows look so even they look machinemade….


  • A lot of hand tool skills carry over pretty well to leatherwork. The big difference is flexibility. Leather work is quite a bit more portable than woodworking. In general the tools are less expensive, and the materials are lighter. I can do a lot of my leatherwork while watching a movie with my darling wife.

    Portable containers call for wood and leather. The best classic designs use wood where stiffness is desired and leather where flexibility is needed. Chairs, saddles, couches, even tables of the finest quality often merge wood and leather. Combining the structure of wood and the ergonomics of leather has been a part of craftsmanship since the dawn of man. The slight stretch, flexibility and resilience of leather makes it great for grips, chisel butts, sheaths for point tools, and of course strops.

    I do hand stitching, and I cheat. As far as neat stitching goes the 4 in one punch gives me easy perfection. http://www.tandyleatherfactory.com/search/searchresults/3052-00.aspx?feature=Product_10&kw=punch

    First I put a rule down and scribe the leather where I want a line of stitches. Then I punch the first four holes using the 4 in 1 punch. Then I put two of the punch tools punches in two of the holes made and punch two more in a straight line using the previous holes as a guide.

    Since leather stretches a bit, a slow even arc can be made this way as well. If I want a tighter curve, I will remove one of the four punches from the tool, and then the arc can be punched with one new hole at a time much faster. For the most intricate detail, I reduce to two punches in the tool and make one new hole at a time. The stitching almost takes care of itself.

    The biggest problem to avoid is creating areas that need stitching where your hand can’t reach. It happens in almost all projects and needs serious planning to avoid.


  • Skip J.

    Ummmm…. Bob;

    I followed your link to Tandy, it looks like I’m going to be in trouble again… Yes, I had been thinking specifically about strops and chisel washers – how did you guess that? Anyway, once I was on the Tandy site; I went to the native American items and it just kept suggesting more and more stuff I need/want… mercy! I mean rabbit skins… who would ever have thought of buying rabbit skins??? Never did look at the leatherworking tools. I did save the link tho, so I will be going back.

    I need to think about leather grips on my bonsai tools now, I guess…

    Thanks again Bob!


    ps: I go any further down this road – I will be back here looking for help….

  • Nice holster. I’m not the best stitcher but have tried those awls and hate them. I really like this style Osbone. http://www.tandyleatherfactory.com/search/searchresults/31218-01.aspx?feature=Product_1&kw=osborne+awl

    Those multi-tip holders suck, IMO. The Osborne is easy to twirl in your fingers when you grab the threads and pull ’em tight. I’m not the best stitcher but do it like Al Stohlman teaches is his book. You should try the Osborne, the blade pierces the leather so much nicer than that multi-tip holder, IMO, which has a rounder awl tip. The Osborne is more chisel shaped.


  • Bob Strawn

    Al Stohlman’s method is superb. If however you try to use it doing something complex like this holster, you will give it up using his method quickly at least on this sort of project. I am trying to explore the entire range of methods and processes, so I find I have to switch out tools quite a bit. I do like my Osborn’s quite a bit, but since I tend to modify my tools as time goes by, the original shape is only a guide and is not set in stone.

    One strong preference that i have developed however is the use of the 4 in 1 punch. When trying to sew through seven layers of leather at once, the nice round evenly spaced holes made by the 4 in one punch are pretty much the only way to go. Trying to feed a needle through seven tight slits in leather is no fun at all.


  • Mari

    So you wear this on your belt? I’ve just started making holsters for 6 shooters and I was walking around my leather room with them on and the main issue I’ve had with them is that they stick out and get in the way, particularly of close-to-my-body arm movements at about table height. I imagine that would be even more of a problem with this design, it’s huge!
    It also looks like a bad bump might make the outer-most tools fall out. The only tools that look really secure are the head knife and the shears (which is good, you really don’t want blades flying about).
    It seems like something like this would be good for carrying the tools about from place to place, but then taking off and putting on a table when it’s time to work, in which case I’d imagine a top flap (to hold stuff in), a snap on the belt loop, and a flat bottom would be useful. Haha, now you’ve got me imagining! Anyway, the craftmanship looks good, the head knife (which is what got me to this blog) looks like it turned out well too

  • Bob Strawn

    I made it as an exercise, and I agree it is a bit bulky when moving around in a shop. It does show off some of what I can do, and it is a convenient container for tools, but when worn on a belt it is only convenient when sitting on a stool. On a strap/harness it is not terrible, but it is best when it is hanging on an empty chair. Perhaps there is a reason this is the only leatherworker’s tool holster that I have seen. 😉

    I really like portable tool kits. I am more fond of working under a shade tree than in a shop.


  • Mari

    Haha, yeah, I’ve been browsing your blog, so I’ve gathered you like portable tool kits. I like the bucket one the best of the ones I saw 😀

  • […] While the photos are terrible, I can now use my phone to record events. Now I need to make a case for it. This is a reasonable unique phone so I can’t just get a case on Amazon. Fortunately I do leather work. […]

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>