knife sheath

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knife sheath

Postby rico lighthouse » Fri Apr 13, 2012 4:52 am

ok folks, just trying to get some more opinions on this one... i recently ordered a couple of carving knives from del stubbs of pinewood forge, made my own sheath from chrome tanned leather for one of th' knives and sent del a picture of it... he let me know that chrome tanned leather would rust th' blade and that i needed to use veg tanned leather... he then suggested i take th' knife out immediately and wash it... now i trust del- but it seems to me that i've seen a number of knife sheaths out there that were made from leathers other than veg tanned, so i'm just trying to get th' scoop on what will rust a knife blade, in this case high carbon, and what will not, thanks for any suggestions
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Re: knife sheath

Postby jarrod stonedahl » Fri Apr 13, 2012 5:13 am

chrome tanned will rust the blade..i've seen it too. veg tan is the way to go...which is bark tan, in some places. del is right. the chrome salts which are still in the leather fiber structure reacts with the iron.
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Re: knife sheath

Postby rico lighthouse » Fri Apr 13, 2012 5:14 am

jarrod, i think you're right there, but what about, say latigo leather, or brain tanned?
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Re: knife sheath

Postby jarrod stonedahl » Fri Apr 13, 2012 6:04 am

latigo is tanned with chrome and then treated with natural tannins, then treated with oils.... i would not use it on metal, due to the chrome..but brain tan is fine, the tanning agent is emulsified oil (brain or egg) any leather tanned with natural agent should work....veg tan is tanned with qubercho bark, bark tanned leather would be fine too, which is veg tan, just different name. veg tan leather is awesome, cause you wet it and then shape it to your intended purpose...sew it up,dry it, and oil it....
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Re: knife sheath

Postby steve tomlin » Fri Apr 13, 2012 7:51 am

i'm no expert on this at all but i made a roll for my turning tools out of what i'm pretty sure was chrome-tanned leather (horrible sort of blue colour) and it was fine, no rusting at all.
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Re: knife sheath

Postby ToneWood » Fri Apr 13, 2012 1:29 pm

The thread on "cleaning old tools" references some articles on cleaning by electrolysis. You can use iron, steel or stainless steel as an electrode but stainless steel is apparently rather controversial because chrome is liberated from the stainless steel which (1) forms poisonous/carcinogenic chromates* (the state of California is pretty picky about such things) and (2) chrome deposited on the tool can end up causing premature re-rusting. Rather ironic as chrome is added to steel to make it stainless and so prevent rust.

Veg tanning sounds like it might be better/safer/greener/more sustainable/less polluting,... Looks good too.

*Did you see the movie Erin Brokovich?
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Re: knife sheath

Postby rico lighthouse » Fri Apr 13, 2012 9:08 pm

ok tone, what's erin brokovich got to do with it?

Steve, you're one of a few folks i've talked to that have not had any problems with chrome tan- maybe we've got a case of if you don't know it won't rust? Steve, if your knives rust after you read this i'm sorry- :D Or maybe there's more going on here... say, blades will rust in chrome tan, but it's not th' leather specifically that causes it... and perhaps veg tan is not just safe, but actually prevents rust? While researching online i've come across answers all across th' board, which is no surprise on the internet, but still...
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Re: knife sheath

Postby JonnyP » Fri Apr 13, 2012 10:22 pm

I spent many evenings last year, making me a tool roll (from chrome tanned leather) for all my carving kit. No problems at all so far but I will be watching out for rust..
I am going to stiffen the leather with pva anyway, so that should keep a barrier between the leather and the blades..
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Re: knife sheath

Postby jarrod stonedahl » Sat Apr 14, 2012 4:59 am

well i've seen it first hand with chrome tanned on hook/spoon knives....maybe the sheaths design was so form fitting...in comparison to a tool roll? just a guess....whatever works....but i'd use veg tan it's easy enough to find. i'm always loving that it's never really as simple as yes or no. maybe different batches of leather have different amounts of chrome left over in it? I do trust both Del and Steve.hmmmm
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Re: knife sheath

Postby rico lighthouse » Sat Apr 14, 2012 6:41 am

well, bein th' youngin that i am, i'm gonna make my new one in veg tan, not willing to risk one of del's knives... he is truly a gifted craftsman, though i think i'll experiment with cheaper knives, just to get an answer from my own experience, thanks you guys for your thoughts, and i agree with you jarrod, i like it when the answer is not crystal clear, but takes a bit of searching for... any other opinions are very welcome....
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Re: knife sheath

Postby ToneWood » Sat Apr 14, 2012 10:20 am

rico lighthouse wrote:ok tone, what's erin brokovich got to do with it?...
Just an excuse to show Julie Roberts in a skimpy top? No, the terrible mass poisoning that the film revolves around (based on a real case) is caused by a chrome compound, hexavalent chromium/chromium(VI).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erin_Brockovich_%28film%29
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erin_Brockovich
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hexavalent_chromium

e.g.
Hexavalent chromium (chromium VI) refers to chemical compounds that contain the element chromium in the +6 oxidation state. ... Hexavalent chromium is used for the production of stainless steel, textile dyes, wood preservation, leather tanning, and as anti-corrosion and conversion coatings as well as a variety of niche uses. .... Hexavalent chromium can also be formed when performing "hot work" such as welding on stainless steel or melting chromium metal. In these situations the chromium is not originally hexavalent, but the high temperatures involved in the process result in oxidation that converts the chromium to a hexavalent state.(29 CFR OSHA General Industry 1910)

Hexavalent chromium is recognized as a human carcinogen via inhalation.[2] Workers in many different occupations are exposed to hexavalent chromium. Problematic exposure is known to occur among workers who handle chromate-containing products as well as those who perform welding, grinding, or brazing on stainless steel.[2] Within the European Union, the use of hexavalent chromium in electronic equipment is largely prohibited by the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive.


I think in the movie some folk were exposed to it at work but it also got in the main water supply, affecting the wider community. In the movie there were early onset cancers, miscarriages, deformities - all manner of v. unpleasant ailments.

Veg tanning sounds like an easy choice by comparison - to me anyway.
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Re: knife sheath

Postby rico lighthouse » Sat Apr 14, 2012 2:50 pm

Ouch! That's nasty stuff- mind you i'll not be buyin any of this, just using left overs from a boot shop, i've got about six boxes of their throw away stuff in my garage, so many choices, th' things they consider unfit for a fancy boot are good for many other things...
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Re: knife sheath

Postby jrccaim » Mon Apr 16, 2012 3:29 am

Chrome tanned leather will probably damage carbon steel. However, it will take a long time to do so, because the amount of residual chrome is very small. The chrome content is parts per million. Takes maybe a year, or even more. I suspect (but have no experience) that some tanners use too much chrome. So it probably tanner-dependent. No proof. Speculation. Terrible :). That gives you plenty of time to replace the chrome-tan leather. You can further retard the process by oiling either the knife or the sheath (inside), or both.

On a personal note, my carving knives live a very sheltered life. All but the Frost knife I made myself. I keep them in fabric tool rools. Leather is pretty, but the name of the game is to protect the edge. I never take these babies outdoors, and I think fabric is just as good as leather for a carving knife. Were you to go hunting after the mighty elk, I might advise leather. But for a carving knife, a canvas sheath is much cheaper, will not react with your steel, and does just as good a job as leather. Of course you have to learn to sew a straight stich. I have a 1954 Singer sewing machine (from Canada,bought at a thrift store) and I spent about two weeks learning how to use it. Ruined many pieces. But now I can run up a sheath in five minutes with only a few curses. If you don't mind synthetics, the kind of nylon used to make backpacks makes fine sheaths. Or even naugahyde. If you do mind them, use the heaviest canvas you can find. Like blue jeans, or discarded Carharrt's :).
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Re: knife sheath

Postby rico lighthouse » Mon Apr 16, 2012 6:21 am

thanks for your thoughts folks, i remade th' sheath in veg tan immediately after del's suggestions, so i'm not really trying to figure out what to do/use so much as why? knowledge knowledge...
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Re: knife sheath

Postby ToneWood » Mon Apr 16, 2012 1:15 pm

jrccaim wrote:... All but the Frost knife I made myself. I keep them in fabric tool rools. Leather is pretty, but the name of the game is to protect the edge. I never take these babies outdoors, and I think fabric is just as good as leather for a carving knife...
Interesting. I use my old leather Faithful chisel roll, which has near ideal spacing for my carving tools: 2 broad bowl gouges, 2 sloyds, 2 spoon knives and 2 chisels (I only have 1 currently). They are reasonably priced on ebay but unfortunately the new ones have a very short, thin strap - "spoiling the ship for a ha'peth of tar" :(. As well as protecting the blades, I figure it protects me from the blades too. Perhaps a thick material would offer similar protection, like a heavy denim; I believe sail-cloth was traditionally used in Britain.
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