Adding a dangler to a knife sheath is one of the most common modifications that knife owners make to their equipment. Most people simply buy one, but danglers can also be easy and cheap to make yourself.
You can use materials that you probably already have to make a sturdy knife sheath dangler. An old leather belt and some rivets are really all that you need.
In this article, I’ll show you how I made a knife sheath dangler mostly out of stuff that I had laying around the house.
Materials that You Will Need
An Old Leather Belt
Leather belts can last for several years. They may still have plenty of strength even if they don’t look good enough to wear
A Rivet Kit
This is likely to be the only thing that you will actually have to go out and buy. I got mine for less than 10 dollars. Look for a kit that includes multiple sizes of rivets and the tools to set them. You can find them at your local arts and crafts store or by clicking here.
You can also use snaps if you want the dangler to be removable. This will make it more convenient to use but less secure.
This is what you will use to connect the dangler loop to your knife sheath. You can scavenge this off of an old piece of gear or buy one. You can also make one yourself out of a 3 1/2 inch nail or paracord.
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Drill or Leather Punch
Using rivets requires you to cut holes through the leather prior to setting them. You could buy a set of leather punches but I just used my drill and a 1/8 inch drill bit.
You will need a couple of pieces of scrap wood to protect the leather and your work surface. A small piece of plywood would work well for this.
Use the one that came with your knife or an aftermarket one.
Measure and Cut the Dangler Loop
You will want your knife sheath dangler to be the appropriate size for the belt that you will be using as well as for how low you want the sheath to hang. I want mine to be wide enough that I can slide it onto a surplus pistol belt.
In my case, I will need my piece of leather to be 8 1/2 inches long. This will allow me to form a properly-sized loop with enough material overlapping to rivet it together.
Since leather is pretty tough you will need to use a knife or some type of heavy-duty scissors or snips. I just used a sharp knife to carefully cut along the line that I measured.
Determine How You Will Secure the Dangler Loop to Your Knife Sheath
The next thing that you will need to do is figure out how you will secure the dangler to your sheath. You have a few options here.
When I made the dangler for my kukri’s sheath, I made a D-ring out of a 3 1/2 inch 16-penny nail. I cut off the ends and then used my vise and a hammer to bend it into the proper shape.
Having done that once, I probably wouldn’t do it again if I have a choice. I would probably just scavenge one off an unused piece of gear or buy one.
You can also use a carabiner or piece of paracord if you need the dangler to be easily removable. For this dangler, I am using a piece of paracord that has been tied into a loop using two double fisherman’s knots. It is a strong knot that is very unlikely to work itself loose.
The type of connector that you use will also determine if you need to connect it to the sheath and dangler before you rivet the leather together.
Create the Dangler Loop
After you have cut your leather to the proper length and figured out how you will connect the dangler and sheath, it is time to form the dangler loop.
For this one, I am going to create a loop that is held together with rivets on the side closest to my body. To do this, I will form the leather into a loop and allow the ends to double up for about an inch.
Next, you will need to create holes in the leather for your rivets to pass though. I was lazy and used my drill and a 1/8 inch drill bit. You could also use leather punches, an awl, or even a nail to do this.
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With the loop lined up the way that you want it, mark where you want the rivets to be located. I used a triangle pattern.
Next, drill a hole through both layers of the leather. I used a small piece of plywood to protect the other side of the loop.
Note: Only drill one hole for now. This will prevent you from potentially having to re-drill holes later if the loop’s alignment changes a little while setting the rivets.
Now run the main part of the rivet through the hole that you made. (This is the piece that has a rivet head and pin.) Place the small anvil that came with your rivet kit under it and place the rivet cap on top of the pin.
Use the punch that came with your kit and a hammer to secure the two pieces of the rivet together. Make sure that the loop stays aligned properly as you do this.
Now do the same thing for the next hole. Check alignment, drill, and set the rivet. Then finish up with the third rivet.
Add Finishing Touches
After you have set all of the rivets, assemble the rest of the dangler. Most of this may have been done in the previous step.
For mine, I added the paracord to the leather dangler loop before I set the rivets. Now all I have to do is attach the sheath to the paracord loop. The sheath’s belt loop snaps open and closed, so all I needed to do was run it through the paracord and snap it shut.