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January 04, 2007

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Why Good Knives Need Good Sheaths

For about 15 years now, I’ve been having knife sheaths made by a fellow named Chris Kravitt, who operates Treestump Leather in Ellsworth, Maine. I do this not because I am covetous of fine things (although I am that), but because a depressing number of cutlers turn out a fine knife and the sheath is an afterthought. This can get your knife lost, or you stuck in the ass, so it’s better to get a decent sheath.

My most recent sheath-needy knife is a Helle Futura (below), made in Sweden, an absolutely terrific working knife for $70 (darktimberdesigns.com) but with a sheath like linguini that was in the pot too long.


So I sent it to Chris (treestumpleather.com), who will make you a dead-plain sheath, or an ultra-fancy sheath utilizing the hides of not only cattle, but birds and reptiles. Because I believe that a snake is best appreciated while sighting down the barrel of a gun, I always send him a note asking that my sheath be made out of dead cows.


This morning, the knife sheath arrived with a note that reads:

“This sheath is made from the skin of a 100 % American steer that was 100% dead by the time they finished skinning it. It was tanned in [name of foreign country omitted here in the interests of political correctness] so that we didn’t pollute any of our American water. No animals were harmed during the construction of this sheath or the writing of this foolishness. Happy New Year, Chris”

If leatherwork doesn’t pan out for Mr. Kravitt, he can probably have my job.


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The Gun Nut, the sometimes brash and always opinionated blogger for Field and Stream, yesterday shared a little humor with his readers of which I appreciated for two reasons. One I have a sense of humor and two, the humor comes from Ellsworth, Maine of... [Read More]



Kristine Shreve

That's a beautiful sheath and a funny guy.

Gotta love people who have a sense of humor.

Also, I second you on the snake thing. The only good snake is a dead snake and preferably one that is no where near where I am.

Irving Stammreich

You guys probably wouldn't know a snake if it bit you in the a**. On the serious side, that's a nice sheath.

Ralph the Rifleman

100% cow hide..to save your hide.
Sounds like a fair deal to me.
If you don't mind mentioning it,Dave, what was the cost of that custom sheath?(Not to confuse cost with it's worth--if it saves your a** from injury, it's WORTH IT)


Very good point about sheath quality. I frequently partially gauge a knife's quality by the included sheath. Poor sheath=don't care about quality=poor quality knife=NO purchase by me.

PS. I like snakes, they eat rats!

Dave Petzal

To Ralph: The one we showed is fancier than what I got. Mine was $50, as are most of Chris' working sheaths. The fancier ones run about $100, with considerable tooling, and the really ornate ones, with dead serpents, reptiles, aardvark, cota-mundi, or poodle skin can go over that.

But for something just to carry a knife in, $50 will do it.


I'll donate him my neighbor's cairn terrier if he'll make me a sheath out of it.

Dave Petzal

To KJ: I believe there is an extra charge for step-on dogs.


Whatever the cost, removing this furry, yapping turd from the gene pool is well worth it.

Marvin Standley

I need a sheaf for a military issue K-Bar Knife. Nothing fancy, just a durable usable one. Can you help me? Thanks, Marvin Standley


i'm a wenger man myself. it can be carried in ones pocket, yet be many times more useful than an ordinary single blade knife.
my vote: snakes are more honest than most of those washington fellows

Ralph the Rifleman

I'll order a K-Bar sheath w/Marvin..the issued one is practical, of course, but it's like serving cappuccino in a santa cup!


I like those Norwegian Helle knives. (Viking blood). I bought one after reading Kieth McCafferty's knife test and write up in the November Field & Stream. I have a bunch of hunting knives (oh well) but the Helle is now my "go-to" knife.

Richard A. Smith

"poodle skin" LOL
The best use of a pooodle yet.

Roger E. Reeves,  Sr.

Today,cleaning my hunting gear, I ran across a knife I had forgotten I had. Can anyone tell me about this knife, good or bad. Stampd on the blade is Shapleigh's of St. Louis, MO. Thanks for any information you guys have. My old faithful is a 64 yr old,(yes I;m 72) Marbles, which I was given many yrs ago, and I have retired it now. Replaced it with a new Marbles in carbon steel. I;m not a fan of stainless steel in knives. Thanks for any help guys. Roger


To Roger Reeves: Try this link:
Hope this helps.

The knife is made in NORWAY Not Sweden

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