Once I made my kydex press, I wanted to get started making sheaths, but being frugal (my wife calls it cheap), I did not want to waste Kydex practicing, so I searched for a DIY Kydex alternative that I could up cycle. I needed to find thermoplastic that could be heated without off gassing cyanide or other toxic compounds.
It also needed to become pliable upon heating without turning liquid (this left out soda bottles). I also wanted something that I could get from trash. I doubt I would be able to get Kydex sheet in a grid down situation. Additionally, it is not very high on my stockpile list.
Searching for a Kydex Substitute
ABS sheet is usable. However, I found that the ABS plastic from milk jugs and detergent bottles also work. Milk jugs are thin, so heating them in the oven isn’t always practical. Also they are not UV stabilized so they become brittle in the sun so they are not practical for holsters.
I did find that milk jugs do make great practice pieces, and I made sheaths for all my kitchen knives using milk jugs to practice. Thicker laundry soap bottles work great for knives. They form easier than milk jugs, and you can “weld” the edges together with heat so you do not have to use rivets as you do with actual Kydex sheet.
Whatever plastic you use, once it has cooled, its simple to open the press and trim the extra plastic away. I use aviator snips for most of my work, but a Dremel tool, bandsaw, bench grinder all would work as well.
Some very good concealment holsters are made using both leather and Kydex to utilize the advantages of both. If take a piece of plywood and cutout the center in the shape of your handgun so that only half or a little more is molded into the Kydex sheet, you can rivet the Kydex to a large piece of leather and attach whatever mounting brackets you desire to the leather making a very comfortable and secure inside the belt concealment holster that molds to your body, while still giving you a slick Kydex draw.
This is Not Pretty, but it Does Work
My first attempts at diy holsters were not pretty, and sometimes I overheated my plastic to the point of melting. While this works for “welding” the edges together, there were occasions where I pulled holes in the plastic while trying to form it around the blade.
The process is pretty simple though, and by being patient and careful with the heating, and letting it cool undisturbed, you will find that the process becomes much easier and the finished results rapidly become prettier.
DIY Kydex Alternative: The Basics
DIY Kydex Alternative: Milk Jug
DIY Kydex Alternative: Soap Bottle