Designed a Leather Flashlight Holster

I purchased a Leatherman holster a few years ago from a company called DeadSkin and I just love the look, functionality and durability of it. Seriously, I wear it every work day and it has some scuffs, but is otherwise good as new.

I also carry a flashlight, and the Nite-ize holster is. . . terrible.. I use my flashlight a lot. It is in and out of the holster 10 times or more a day. The nylon on the inside of the holster is shredded after a couple of months. The flashlight slowly sinks down into the holster over time, and the bottom of the flashlight is exposed. The on/off switch is on the tail-cap, so sometimes sitting down in a chair will cause the flashlight to turn on when it hits the arm of the chair.

I looked around and did not find a holster that really got my attention. I had specific requirements in mind, such as:

  • The holster has to extend below the end of the flashlight so it can’t be turned on accidentally
  • The holster has to cover the top edge of the flashlight so if I bump into anything painted (cars mainly, but also walls and door frames) the metal bezel doesn’t damage whatever my fat a** runs into.
  • The holster should not have a cover flap. I really like them on my Leatherman case, but for some reason I have never liked them on flashlight holsters.
  • The holster needs to have the chamfered corners and stitching and be black like the Leatherman holster.

Well, with a list like that, there seemed to be only one option at this point. Make my own holster. So, I decided to start by designing it in SolidWorks and see what happens.

After a couple of weeks of design, I ended up with this holster.[Short video of the holster rotating.]

So while designing it, I went online to figure out how to actually make it. I went with some veg tan leather that is about 0.1" (2.54mm) thick. I believe it is 6-7oz leather here in the US.

I 3D printed all of the parts and flashlight, and assembled them with CA glue to check fit. It all fit together nicely, so I went forward with the next step.

I thought I’d design and 3D print a positive and negative mold to shape the one piece that needs to be formed, so I did that as well. Here is the positive part of the mold.

Here is the positive part of the mold with the finished leather piece on it.

Then I used a 0.10" (2.54mm) offset for the thickness of the leather and made a negative mold to press the leather into the positive mold.

I printed those two mold halves - with too much infill I might add. They each weigh over 1 pound (0.5Kg)

And finally! I have the first piece of my holster. It was still wet, which is why it is discolored. Also, I need to re-wet it and smooth out the layer lines that were transferred to the leather.

And what does this have anything to do with a ShapeOko you ask? Well, up to this point, nothing. But here’s where it gets good (I hope). I picked up some drill bits to drill out the holes for the lacing. I didn’t want giant holes, since that would weaken the leather. I went with 0.0236" (.6mm) drill bits to punch the stitching holes in the leather pieces.

I cut a corner off of the side of leather I bought and put blue tape on the entire back surface of it, and CA glued it to a wasteboard.

Here is the first piece being cut out of the leather.[40s video of the first piece being cut out]

And here are the holes being drilled. This is the second time drilling them because for some reason I had them drilling only half way though the leather the first time.

And the piece after cutting out a bunch of test pieces and extras that I am sure I will need in this adventure.

It turns out that the 0.0236" (0.60mm) holes are too small, so I ordered some 0.0312" (.79mm) drills as well as some 0.0400" (1.02mm) drills to see what size works best without getting too big.

Also, I do not like the ragged edge of the leather pieces I cut out with a standard 2 flute upcut 0.0625" (1.59mm) bit, so I ordered a few 0.0625" (1.59mm) down cut bits to see if I can get a better edge.

I am designing a clamp to hold the shaped leather piece to trim it symmetrically, and drill the holes. So far, it is designed to be clamped with a small clamp to my SO3 bed and hold the formed leather in place while it is cut.

I just need to create an X, Y and Z zero point on it so I can locate it after it is jigged up and cut the leather accurately and repeatably. Not sure how many of these I am going to make.


Alright. After an overly long break, I am back with an update.

I printed the clamp that holds the leather lovingly named Fenix TK22UE Holster Part 02.SLDPRT

And cut it out. (YouTube video)

And hole punched it. (YouTube video)

Then cleaned up the rest of it - and I am proud to say I did not cut myself - yet.

The 0.0625" 2 flute downcut bit worked well for reducing the shredded edge of the leather. The 0.0400" drill appears to be the size I am looking for. I have been procrastinating the next step of dying / sealing and then stitching the pieces together. I am not sure why - probably just being afraid of screwing up after spending so much time on the individual pieces. I’ll get over it eventually.