Blocking / moulding leather holsters? - Pistolsmith

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Old 03-29-2004, 05:42 PM   #1
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Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Baja Oklahoma
Posts: 9
Blocking / moulding leather holsters?

I'm trying to make proper sized but loosely fitting holster fit a particular revolver more tightly. I understand that the holster is soaked and the weapon is inserted (w/ some sort of moisture barrier) to mould it. My questions are: does the immersion time/temperature matter AND should the weapon be left in the holster as it dries, or should it be removed after moulding it?
Thanks for looking!
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Old 03-29-2004, 06:21 PM   #2
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Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Willamete Valley Oregon
Posts: 27
Re-shaping a holster

I have built several holsters from the ground up. Leather is not a black art, it is easier than most people think. Luke warm water seems to work well. I just run my holster under the faucet until the leather is wet enough that when you pinch it between your fingers it is "squishy". I then apply a liberal (i.e. alot, not the bad meaning of the term) amount of gun oil to my pistol and wrap it in plastic wrap. I then use a spoon or other smooth object to shape the holster to the gun. I let the holster dry a hour or two and remove the pistol. Let the holster dry overnight and apply your finish of choice. This is my first post to this site. Hope it helps!
Old 03-29-2004, 09:12 PM   #3
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Join Date: Jun 2001
Posts: 1,691
Wetting the holster is known as "casing" the leather.
Here's the professional method:

Fill a sink with cool water, with a single drop of liquid soap as a "wetting agent".

Submerge the holster for a few seconds. You want the holster to absorb enough water to fully wet the leather but NOT SOAKING WET.
The leather should NOT be soaking wet, nor should water ooze out as you mold it.
If the leather is too wet, it won't mold properly, and the leather will stretch, making the holster too loose

Lay the dampened holster on a clean towel, (NOT newspaper, printed paper towel, or anything that might stain it), and allow to stand until the leather returns to it's natural color, but still feels "cool" to the touch.
Remember, anything that touches the leather while it's casing will either stain or leave marks on it.

Put the gun into the holster and use your fingers to gently form the leather to the gun. If you like the extreme molded look with all the details of the gun molded in, use smooth plastic or metal tool to press the leather into, and around the prominent details of the gun. Otherwise just use your fingers to form the leather around the gun's details.

After the holster is molded to your satisfaction, remove the gun IMMEDIATELY, and lube it. If you allow the leather to case properly, the gun will have little, or no moisture on it.
DO NOT leave the gun in the holster, the leather will stretch and the final fit will be too loose.

Place the gun on the towel in an area out of direct sun light, or heat and allow to dry completely. (Usually over night).

Apply a coat of your favorite leather dressing.
If you want a finish, many pro's use Fiebing's Resolene. The best way to apply this is with an airbrush, although a cloth does work.
Resolene can be force dried with a hair dryer.
Old 03-30-2004, 04:23 AM   #4
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Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 311
A couple of other tips to Molding/Boning a holster are.....warm water just enough to make it soft.....depending on what finish your going through it may take a while to do just keep checking as you wet it.

Wrap gun in saran wrap and use your thumbs to get the basic let it dry in front of moving air.....with NO HEAT! When about 50% dry, youll know as the leather will start to get its lighter color want to mold it more at this point. Let it dry a little more after will look dry but still have a "cold" feel to your finish molding boning at this point. You can use your thumbs or tools to accomidate your desired effect.....after this point take the gun out and let it dry the rest of the way in front of the moving air.

Let it dry for at least 6-12 hrs before you touch it with a Finish/Dressing of any kind.......including Resolene.

If done properly youll have a holster that will keep its shape for a bloody long time......

Shoot well.
Old 03-30-2004, 01:28 PM   #5
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Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: Willamete Valley Oregon
Posts: 27
correction of earlier comment

dferriswheel is right. I was wrong in how I described how to "wet" the holster. I had been up for 22 hours and found this web site while tending to a fussy baby in the middle of the night. I used the term squishy which was an error. The leather should only be damp. I also said "run it under the faucet", again I had my head up my A.... I fill my sink with water and dip it. However, I like to sew my holsters tight and let the leather stretch into the shape of my pistol. As an amateur I have found this works better to get a perfect fit on a specific gun. Using this method I don't get a holster that is too loose. I also use my fingers to do most of the shaping, but I have found that a childs size spoon works great for shaping the inside of the trigger guard. Here in the Northwest our biggest problem is RUST. Thus, I am always paranoid and would use the plastic wrap trick regardless of how short my gun was in a damp environment. Sorry for the bad advice, lucky there are people out here who know what the heck they are talking about. (Or at least describe it in a manner that is useful)

P.S. Did not know about the soap trick, what does it do besides provide a bit of lube?
Old 03-30-2004, 02:59 PM   #6
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Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: Altoona, PA
Posts: 130
Not to disagree, but you should use really hot water and submerge the holster in the water. Add a small amount to dishwasher detergent, not dish soap. Use something like Cascade. It will soften the water and allow the water to completely penetrate the leather. Leave the gun in the holster to dry if you want a perfect fit. If you cover the gun with a baggy the holster will be too loose when it is dry. I would suggest removing the gun as soon as you are done so that it does not rust.
Old 03-31-2004, 06:05 AM   #7
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Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: East Tennessee
Posts: 196
I'm with Josh - I use water that is warm enough to be uncomfortable to the touch, but not quite hot enough to burn you. This opens the leather's pores and makes for a MUCH better mold/bone.
Old 03-31-2004, 07:01 PM   #8
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Missouri
Posts: 70

Question...why do you let the leather dry a little before doing the final boning and molding?

In response to water temp, I too have found that about 125 degree water with a little detergent in it makes for easy molding and boning.
Old 04-01-2004, 04:43 AM   #9
Senior Member
Join Date: Feb 2002
Posts: 311
You can work with a wet holster and get Ok to good results. I give my holsters a general shape when wet....if you let them dry a bit the boning stays in the leather better. You dont have to work as hard and it will keep its shape better. It also smooths very very well.

You can shape it for 20-30 minutes when wet to get a good shape....but as the leather drys it will loosen/relax alittle, taking the detail away. If you let it dry a tad, it wont relax and you bone/shape it for 5-10 minutes and your done.

Try it..........youll like how it works. Just be careful.....marks put in it at this stage are very finicky to come out.

Shoot well.

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