Tiger McKee

Shootrite Firearms Academy

Fun With Kydex

I like to make my own gear, and the easiest way to construct holsters, magazine pouches, light holders and such – with minimal amounts of time, effort, and expense – is with Kydex.

For Kydex material and equipment I use Classic Knife Kits www.knifekits.com . They offer a one-stop shop for Kydex, in a variety of colors and thickness, supplies such as rivets, screws and pre-formed belt loops, and the tools you need. You need a heat gun to prep the kydex for shaping, preferably one with a high setting, for heating large pieces, and a low speed for heating smaller specific areas. I also recommend a molding press, available from Classic Knife Kits. The molding press forms the heated kydex around the object you’re working with. Although you can get away without the press it will save you a lot of time and improves the quality of your work.

Kydex is cut to shape by using a blade to score it, then bending the material until it breaks along the cut line. For cutting intricate shapes I’ll sometimes use a band saw or tin-snips, used for cutting sheet metal, will also work. A small belt sander is nice, but here again you can get by without one, using a sanding block or Dremel tool equipped with a sanding drum. Wide-lipped vise grip pliers are good to have on hand for forming crisp edges or sharp bends. To join seams or attach belt loops Chicago screws (which have a flat oval head) or rivets are used. Classic Knife Kits also has a DVD on working with kydex, which I found helpful in getting started.

Start your project by cutting out a rough template from cardstock, bending it and using masking tape to hold it together. This gives you an idea of what shape material you’ll need. Use this template as a guide cut the kydex to shape, leaving extra material so the finished piece can be trimmed as necessary to achieve the final shape. You can always remove material, but cut it too small and it’s trash. Once the “flat” is cut out take a piece of sandpaper to smooth out the edges.

Now heat the Kydex until it becomes floppy. Don’t get the heat gun too close, or keep it on one spot for too long. You don’t want to melt it, just get it to the temp where it’s flexible and can be easily bent and shaped. Wrap the kydex around the object, bending it and holding it until it cools and hardens into shape, using the press where necessary to get a good tight fit. Depending on your design you may heat, make one bend, let it cool, and then repeat the process for additional bends. Use rivets or screws as necessary to secure your seams.

After spending some time to work on various Kydex projects I highly recommend it. I still like my leather gear, but for range work, rolling around on the gravel where your leather is going to get scratched, and wet conditions, rain or those days where the humidity is 95 percent and everything gets soaked in sweat, you can’t beat kydex. It’s easy to work with, can be done by anyone, requires very little workspace, and it’s a cheap hobby to get into.

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September 19, 2010 - Posted by | AR-15, Auto Pistol, Concealed Carry, Gear

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