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Old 09-19-2017, 10:14 AM
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Default Holster fab. No metal was harmed in this project.

Gonna be a pic filled journey (25 total). I've been asked a couple times to go through the process of how I make my holsters, so I slowed down enough to actually take pics. Mind you, I used easy projects that I'm not too worried about turning out nice. These are my personal guns, personal holsters, and my intention was to 'get it done' rather than 'make it perfect'. That's reserved for paying customers .

So we begin.

1) The victim. I've been carrying this daily since I was able to get it in my grubby little hands a couple weeks after release from HK. It's a P30SK, light LEM trigger, 10+1 capacity with aftermarket 'pinky' grip. I've had a light mounted to it since Christmas, and had made my previous holsters for it with that in mind. I've got a trip coming up where I need to change my carry strategy, so new holsters were in order. Making your own allows for easy changes like this when necessary.

2) First task is to block out the gun, and starting with the trigger is the best place. You have to fill in the hole in the trigger guard, or your trigger will get activated when you stab it in the holster. Pretty common sense stuff. I have a collection of aluminum plates I've made for this task. Every time I get a new gun to mold, I cut the aluminum plates to match. Eventually I will use them again. The front edge of the plates are tapered and don't completely fill the guard. The reason for this is retention. As the gun is placed into the holster, the plastic grabs that front edge and holds the gun down.

3) Another cheat. This is a chunk of hot glue. I tape up the ejection port on every gun and then slather it in hot glue. I wrap another piece of tape over the glue and smooth the glue as it sets. When it's done, I'm left with a flat port and a filler piece for the next time I need one. The tape underneath allows it to be pulled off freely and cleanly.

4) The glue filler in place. If the ejection port--or any hard edges--aren't smoothed out the holster will be locked in place. It is very easy to end up with too much retention. Also, wherever the plastic fills into a negative space, it'll rub somewhere else on the gun. Holster wear will happen, but it should be eliminated everywhere you can.

5) I have a collection of dowels that are cut in half. They're slotted in the front to sit around the front sight, and notched in back to cover the rear sights. Again, you have to leave a channel for the sights to run in and out of the holster. Lots of different opinions on this, and what shape it should be. I prefer the round stock because it's easier, more consistent, and actually allows you to begin tilting the gun as soon as it's unlocked from the holster's grip.


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  #2  
Old 09-19-2017, 10:15 AM
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6) After adding a little more tape, I pick the hardware and decide which type of mount is necessary. Some holsters have to have added blocking to allow the hardware to stand proud. This is a newer style to me, and it doesn't need anything extra. I just have to make sure it fits where I want it to go. Usually by this point, the entire gun is covered in tape and all the tape lines are straight and smooth. Sometimes I even pre-press the gun to make sure everything is nice. The plastic will pick up the small lines where the tape overlaps, and a shitty prep job will show. Again, these are for me so I didn't care to finish.

7) Next is picking the plastic. Lots of options, colors, patterns, and even textures.

8) Ahh... plain old black. 90% of the holsters I do are black. I go through a lot of it, and as such I get it cheaper by volume. Roughly $3/sq foot. It scores with a utility knife and then snaps like sheetrock. Easy. Measure out the size necessary and cut it up. Usually the pieces are 8x8", but ya never know.

9) I use a toaster oven (garage sale find $5) to heat the plastic to 300-350°. The plastic gets rotated in the oven a few times, and takes a while to heat up this way. Low and slow works best though. If the plastic heats unevenly, it can bend, warp, and melt.

10) Finally the plastic is hot enough, and it's removed and becomes floppy. I have a number of different presses that I use depending on the type of holster I'm making. The Flippin' Wilton project was done just to make this step possible. So really, I've been working on these holsters for 2 weeks...just nobody knew it but me. There is a special foam sold for this process and it comes in a number of high-temp varieties and densities. Harder or softer is used depending on the look you're going after. What I've got rigged up in the clamshell press is a basic high-grade with roughly 110% stretch. It gives good definition without too much effort. It gives a "jeans fit just right" appearance to the holster rather than "how'd she fit in them things?"


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Last edited by dubby; 09-19-2017 at 10:32 AM.
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  #3  
Old 09-19-2017, 10:17 AM
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11) The gun is then pushed down between the sides of the press while trying to keep the plastic centered and sandwiched evenly. Gotta be quick about things, but you have a good couple minutes before the plastic starts cooling enough to make a difference.

12) Once you've got it set, clamp it down. This DW quick clamp is rated at 350# I believe. And I use every bit of it. The smaller Irwin clamps just don't have the guts to pull everything tight. It'll sit in the press for 10 or 15 minutes. Or while I go check the mail, or fix a sammich, play with the dogs--whatever. Just wait and leave it alone.

13) After pulling it from the press it's time to lay out the final shape. I use a fabric pencil to give a guideline for any cuts that need making. It washes off with water and holds up long enough to do the job.

14) Hardware time. I go ahead and lay out my hardware placement when I've still got the most plastic available to me. Once you cut it off, you can't add it back. Much like wood now. I drill the holes and make sure everything will line up before I cut anything.

15) I remove the hardware and use some temporary bolts to hold things together. I want everything to line up when I'm done, so I lock it down. It also keeps me from removing too much material around the bolts.
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Last edited by dubby; 09-19-2017 at 10:41 AM.
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  #4  
Old 09-19-2017, 10:18 AM
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16) First trim job is done with the bandsaw. Just hack off the extra.

17) Then sand the rest away with the belt sander and dremel. The gun goes in and out lots to make sure things fit the way I want them to. I leave the tape and blocking in place to eliminate unnecessarily scratching the gun. The little plastic edges are quite abrasive until smoothed out.

18) Machine tool time! I found a large buffing drum at the tool store that just works great for smoothing, polishing, and buffing the edges of the holster.

19) All finished up. Gun is cleaned of tape and any residue. If I need to, I'll toss them in the ultrasonic cleaner. Most times the gun is left cleaner than when it gets dropped off to me.

20) A bottom view to show some details. This belt clip really pushes the butt of the gun into your side once it's inside your waistband. It's still springy enough to not poke ya. You can tuck a shirt between it and the gun if you want to conceal it even more. This holster was made to sit low in the belt, tight against my side, and be completely concealed. Towards the muzzle of the gun you see a space that you can't see in the other views. I use a latex medical hose "washer" between the pieces to give myself a level of adjustment. When screwed completely down, the gun cannot be removed.


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Last edited by dubby; 09-19-2017 at 10:50 AM.
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  #5  
Old 09-19-2017, 10:19 AM
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And, since I removed the light from that gun, no need for it to sit around useless. I grabbed up my VP9 and mounted it to carry in my "go bag". It has a hidden pocket that is velcro lined just for this purpose.

21) Instead of using the actual gun, I use a dummy mold for this one. It takes out some of the effort.

22) It's still not perfect though because there is a gap where the light meets the gun. If left empty, the plastic would suck down in the trigger guard area. So, out come the plates again. This time it needs to completely fill the area and make a smooth transition.

23) All taped up and ready to go. The tape is just there to hold everything in place. Again, if I were doing it for a customer, the whole thing would be smooth and the tape lines would be well thought out. It's mine, and I don't really care. I think I'm the only one that ever pays that kind of attention to the little details anyway. Never have I had a customer mention it.

24) All molded, cut, sanded, and sealed up. The retention is actually all on the light--at the end of the gun. Tighten the screw, crushes the latex washer, locks gun in place. It's adjusted for an easy draw but extreme retention. I then glued the velcro on with Burge leather cement. It ain't coming off.

25) After the glue dries it can drop right down in the pouch and is secured in place. The gun goes in and out safely, and the holster can be removed if necessary. The velcro doesn't allow the gun to shift at all, which is a lot safer than just sticking a holster down into a pocket. It's always in the same position and can be grabbed with confidence.


Most likely I'll use these holsters for a couple weeks and then change things up again. We're headed to Houston soon to attend a wedding. We booked the hotel over two months ago and got a super rate by paying ahead of time. It's non-refundable. Our hotel is in one of the hardest hit areas of Houston, and while nice, it may well be over run with folks who just lost everything. I hope that we don't have any trouble but you honestly just never know. We're prepared either way.


The End.
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Last edited by dubby; 09-19-2017 at 11:10 AM.
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  #6  
Old 09-19-2017, 05:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dubby View Post

12) Once you've got it set, clamp it down. This DW quick clamp is rated at 350# I believe. And I use every bit of it.
Would a stouter clamp be an advantage? Wilson told me he knows a guy who might want to make you an offer.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dubby View Post
25) After the glue dries it can drop right down in the pouch and is secured in place. The gun goes in and out safely, and the holster can be removed if necessary. The velcro doesn't allow the gun to shift at all, which is a lot safer than just sticking a holster down into a pocket. It's always in the same position and can be grabbed with confidence.
Hmmm, Velcro, huh? We might have something to look at there too.
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Old 09-19-2017, 05:45 PM
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That was excellent. Good description of all the steps and great pics. By the way, I still need one for the missus for her LC9, if you ever come across one you can use as a mold for hers. Color not important.
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Old 09-19-2017, 06:04 PM
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Thank you Dubby for the tutorial. You mention common sense in your first post, but I think that only comes into play after you do a few. I don't think I would have that my first time doing one. But, you have my interest up though. Making some custom tool holsters for work belt. How well do you think it would work for a chipping hammer?


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Old 09-20-2017, 10:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cutter View Post
Would a stouter clamp be an advantage? Wilson told me he knows a guy who might want to make you an offer.


Hmmm, Velcro, huh? We might have something to look at there too.
I bought this one with the idea that it was much stouter than the little Irwins. Since then, I've proved to myself that it was a good idea. I've snapped the fixed end off two of the smalls. That blue plastic acts like safety glass when they go. My biggest complaint with the DW is that it's big, followed closely by the lack of it's ability to stop itself once released. It shoots forward with every bit of force that it applied. This leads to a situation where the press itself is left to flail around on it's own, and there's a serious risk of dropping whatever's held inside. At the same time, you don't want your hands anywhere near when it does go. I'm always open to offers! And velcro is some handy stuff that might just help.

Quote:
Originally Posted by milomilo View Post
That was excellent. Good description of all the steps and great pics. By the way, I still need one for the missus for her LC9, if you ever come across one you can use as a mold for hers. Color not important.
Doggone it! I knew there was something about that. I shall grab ours from down at the ranch in October. We're going down for a Coleman Lantern collectors meet-n-greet. Send me a PM and refresh me how she is gonna carry it if ya don't mind. I bet I've got it saved, but it's been a minute since we talked about it.

Also, if anybody trips along this little part of the thread...quite a few folks asked about holsters for the Shield 9/40. After LadyD acquired one for her own, I acquired the dummy mold. Sure does make it quick, easy, and cheap. Just sayin'

Quote:
Originally Posted by toprecycler View Post
Thank you Dubby for the tutorial. You mention common sense in your first post, but I think that only comes into play after you do a few. I don't think I would have that my first time doing one. But, you have my interest up though. Making some custom tool holsters for work belt. How well do you think it would work for a chipping hammer?
It'll work for just about anything with a little creativity. And for most small stuff like that all you really need is a couple of hotpads and a heat gun. Search Pinterest for kydex tool holders and you can see plenty of examples of how it's done. I grabbed one of the more elaborate pictures someone had done--not my work.
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Old 09-20-2017, 11:06 AM
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GREAT post, Dub!

HMMMMM.... You got me thinking about a couple OE Glock holsters I have kicking around, unused. They fit a Gen1 19 OK, but are just a little too tight on a Gen3 26. Maybe some heat and stretch? I'm not sure of what kind of plastic they use but it is worth a shot.

Does the blue tape become "gummy" with heat?

Does the plastic smell when cooked as I'll be borrowing the T.O in the kitchen... PS: I have a heat gun--maybe that would work for my uses...
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