Not commercially but I've made several for myself. Models include lined pouch style belt holster for S&W M629, lined shoulder holster for scoped S&W M629 Classic, and lined belt holster with full flap for S&W M41 use in the field. All holsters are basket stamped and oil finished.
On my current holsters I lined them with soft suede leather and wet fitted/hand boned the holster to pistol wrapped in light wax paper. After fully dried, I used Neatsfoot Oil finish on the holsters. If I make any more, I plan to line them with smooth, thin (non-suede) leather and try a different, harder type finish. Will need to try some experiments on scrap leather to see what kind of stain and top finish works well. I normally like my leather goods with oil finish or stained a Cordovan color. Also use calfskin leather lacing and lace the holsters instead of sewing them.
Where/how do you make/get your patterns? I wrap old-style paper grocery bag around a gun and trim to desired shape. This becomes my pattern. This technique was the only way I could design a nice looking, practical holster shape for the scoped S&W M629 revolver. Early lesson: mark the inside and outside of paper pattern. Found out the hard way that you have to know which is inside or outside when you lay the paper pattern on a piece of leather for cutting. This can be especially tricky for smooth leather linings.
For my patterns, I use a manilla folder or cereal box to trace the lines of the gun (I have a pen and pencil taped side by side, each writing end on each side) and use that for my spacing for the stitch lines around the gun.
Once that is done, I freehand the overall shape of the holster around it, then cut out the pattern. I trace that pattern onto the rough side of my leather with a pen, then cut it out. (This is where you have to make sure you lay the pattern down so that the smooth side is out).
Once the leather is cut out, I take my pattern, place it on top and with my scratch awl, I prick each corner/curve of the gun's lines through the manilla onto the leather...make only a tiny hole on the leather! I then connect the straight lines with my groover using a flat edge. I freehand the curves. For outside edges of the holster, I just use the stitch groover spaced the thickness of the holster. I wet the grooves and run over them with the stitching wheel.
Then I glue the two pieces together, let them dry, and then punch the holes w/diamond shaped awl and sew it up.
This time around I think I'm going to dye the holster before molding.
You use Neatsfoot on the holsters. Have they retained their mold? I've read Neatsfoot will loosen up a molded holster.
I'm experimenting with finishes right now too. I don't have access to any Angelus leather dye so I'm trying the old vinegar and ___(anything) trick to get a dye. Also with this method, I need to be sure the neutralization in water/baking soda is enough that the acid in the dye solution does not eventually eat away at my blue gun. <-- but I guess if that happens, I'll be pulling out the ol' parkerizing setup and hitting that
Quote: "You use Neatsfoot on the holsters. Have they retained their mold? I've read Neatsfoot will loosen up a molded holster. "
I keep hearing this also but didn't know about such things when I made my first holster 38 years ago. Haven't seen any softening of my holsters yet but I don't fit them quite as tight as those by top modern holster makers. If I ever get around to making a field holster for my Marvel conversion unit on 1911 frame, I will probably not use Neatsfoot oil if I can find a good Cordovan dye/finish. Such finger intensive work is not as easy these days as it used to be. Fingers get tired/sore quicker and I have to space out the work.
I figured you wouldn't use it if it didn't work for you But great to hear your experience with it on your holsters.
I know what you mean about sire fingers. Only my right hand is good so doing any tedious work is really difficult. I would like to find a reasonable leather sewing machine. It would drastically reduce the pain (assuming I don't sew my fingers to the leather) and speed up production time.
On another note, dye - I'm trying to work out a brown dye from scratch. I don't have access to leather dyes around here so I'm trying to go about using the vinegar methods. Any ideas?
Longtooths, Nate does some fine work with the holsters. Oh and everybody loves a Marine
"Reasonable leather sewing machine?" The only time I tried checking on those, the answers were mostly laughter. Seemed that "reasonable" didn't fit with "leather sewing machine". Hope you have better luck than I did.
Sorry, I'm totally blank on dyes, home made or otherwise. That is one reason I used Neatsfoot Oil as it didn't require a separate dye. Have you tried searching the ubiquitous Internet for some recipes? Or is there any source available to you in Japan for leather dyes/finishes/info? I think they do such work there but don't know how to go about inquiring. A.G. Russell (of A.G. Russell Knives: http://www.agrussell.com/index.html has some contacts/sources in Japan for knives, leather knife sheaths, etc. Don't know if he would/could put you in touch with someone there or not but you could send him an e-mail at: email@example.com
From what I've seen, a grand for a setup does not seem completely unreasonable when compared to most guns these days can easily cost $800 out the door. So, a machine is right on the edge of practical I think. But it can be the top of the hill in deciding to go for more production type setup.
Prior to seeing the above site, I figured a sewing machine was out of the question.
Thanks for the contact info for Russell. I've got a few more experiments on dyes I'm running so if I don't find a satisfactory solution, I'll send him an email. I looked through JPN websites, found a couple good sites for supplies, the rest were focused on selling produced goods. Unfortunately dye selection on those sites was all Feibing's, which is what I did not want