Monday, January 19, 2015


I’ve never cared much for noise of any sort.  Things like the incessant beeping of trucks and heavy machinery backing up drives me crazy.  Loud motorcycles, blaring music, honking horns, jackhammers and all the other assorted assaults on the eardrums and nervous system reduce me to a state of shock.  Perhaps that’s one of the reasons I love the woods.  I enjoy the natural sounds of birds and other animals or the breeze blowing through the trees.  Every step is measured to ensure quiet.  We never talk above a whisper and try to keep from wearing anything that’s going to jingle or jangle or make scraping or grating sounds.  So we shy away from plastics, metal and nylon because that sort of stuff is often noisy and besides, rattling accouterments destroy the peace.  That’s why I prefer leather knife sheaths.  Granted, I’ve made temporary sheaths out of cardboard reinforced with duct tape and from tow straps folded over and strengthened with a strip of leather from a welder’s apron.  But those aren’t proper sheaths by any means because the knife sheath in its ultimate form is made of top grade leather.  Pictured here are a couple of knife sheaths I received a few days ago from a fellow out in California named Bob Patterson.  Bob and I have corresponded now and then and like most people who visit this blog he is a man of the woods.  The folks who come to this site are independent sorts who enjoy making their own gear and learning as much as they can about the land surrounding them.  Bob’s been making knife sheaths for a while and he said he wanted to build a proper sheath or two for my camp choppers.  I sent him the specs and a tracing of one of my knives and about ten days later the two sheaths arrived.

These are extremely well-made sheaths, robust and built for heavy use.  Made of top quality cowhide, the finish is pure beeswax so the leather can be touched up as needed.  Traditional in every sense of the word, these are the kind of sheaths that add a nostalgic element to woods roaming.  Bob told me he’s always enjoyed working with leather musing that his granddad was a shoemaker and though he never met him perhaps an affinity for leatherwork was passed down through the generations.

I decided to try out several of my knives using the two sheaths Bob sent me.  My son, Matthew, was looking on and said, “Dad, I think this one will be just about perfect for that little chopper you made a couple of months ago.”  So Matthew dug through one of the boxes containing some of my knives and found the chopper he was referring to and then tried it on for fit.  “This is just right,” he said.

Near sunset we set out down a trail packing the chopper in its sheath snug in my possibles bag.  The proper knife sheath serves two purposes: It protects the blade and it protects the man carrying the knife.  No problems in either department and in addition it provided me with the other thing I obsess over: It was absolutely quiet.

Above are three additional photos of other sheaths Bob made.

As we walked we discussed what knife to place in the second sheath.  Matthew said, “Dad, you know this just gives you an excuse to make a new knife.”  I smiled and replied, “I’ve got a couple of blanks in the barn I want to show you.”  So when we got back to the house we walked over to the barn, sheath in hand, and looked at the two blanks I’d given an initial forging a few months back.  “This one,” Matthew said.  So as time permits I’ll do something that is rarely done: I’ll build a knife for a sheath instead of the other way around.  As if I really needed an excuse to make another knife.

I seldom endorse products but in this case I’m going to make an exception.  These are damn fine knife sheaths and by the way, Bob is also into muzzle loading and sells all sorts of shooting supplies.  If you’d care to contact Bob here’s the info you need:
Bob Patterson
PO Box 35646
Monte Sereno, CA 95030

Phone: 408-256-1894

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