03 July 2011

JRE Industries sheath review

Yes folks- I know I've been gone for a while... haven't had much to say...

Well, boy do I now...

I picked up a SOG Powerlock multi-tool a few months back, because I was sick of dealing with the worn-out Leatherman Super Tool I'd been carrying for 20+ years. It was so worn-in that I could literally use it as a balisong- a few flicks of the wrist and out came the blades. Unfortunately this resulted in a deep gash in the back of my dominant hand as the drop-point blade went about a quarter-inch into my paw. Yeah... that hurt a bit...

( EDIT: Actually, the sheath I ordered was for a Victorinox Swisstool, since the nylon sheath that came with it had worn through and I was looking for a good, HD replacement. Sorry for confusion, I have too many EDC tools ;) . I bought the SOG Tool to carry while waiting for the Swisstool sheath to arrive, below. I'm gonna be lazy and leave the rest of this as originally posted, as I've been outside grilling most of the day and am feeling rather sun-baked... the Swisstool and SOG tool are the same size and both tools fit this sheath, just trying to prevent some confusion)

So I bought the SOG tool- great tool, but the sheath that came with it SUCKED. It's a folded leather affair, loosely riveted, and way, WAY oversized for the tool it ships with. I actually dropped the tool a few times without the snap coming undone. Granted, I was climbing over/under my Jeep and a few (errr.. slightly heavier ;) ) vehicles, but this is a problem I never had with the other multi-tools I've carried over the years. Something had to be done...

A quick Google search lead me to this gent, The American Woodsman. A quick visit of the JREIndustries site, I sent an email, and after waiting a week for their reply (money's knocking and they can't be bothered to reply faster than a week?), a deal was struck. I think the all-up charge was $42, with 12 weeks leadtime. A bit long, yes- but this is pretty standard for the custom leathercraft industry, so I had no problem with it.

I ordered the sheath on the 16th of April. The receipt of the order was acknowledged on the 17th (much faster than i expected, so a plus for them). I inquired about some custom features on the 18th, with the acknowledgement that if they'd already started, just build it as I ordered it. Received a reply on the 24th acknowledging my requests, and discussing at length some options I might have not considered. I immediately replied, nailing down what I wanted, and putting it in a list of requirements to make it clear to all parties. No reply to emails for acknowledgement of the changes made, sent on the 24th of April, 6th of May, 14th of May... on the 5th of June they responded, saying my last 2 emails had ended up in their Spam folder (odd, but I work in IT so I know strange things can happen) and I replied on the 19th (REALLY not sure what happened there- life's been nuts lately with training for a new certification so I can keep my job. Hey, I dropped the ball there, I admit it!), on the 26th of June he replied we have all the specifics of my sheath squared away and will be cutting leather on it soon. 2 days later, sheath is done and being shipped my way. Yay!!

I received the sheath on the 2nd of July (yesterday). The following is a cut/paste from my email to them...

***** Cut/paste of email to vendor follows *****
Unfortunately, I have to say, I am *massively* disappointed....

I asked for the following:

"Swisstool Pouch Sheath:
-black leather and black thread
-JRE logo on the outside
-folded-over leather belt loop - Rivet Back Up
-to fit a 2" ranger belt
-no loops, no clips
-snap closure"

You confirmed that. In fact, that is a direct quote from your second-to-last email, sent 05JUN11.

Additionally, I specified:

"Regarding the sheath- I'd called and spoken to someone weeks before you sent this. We decided to go with addition of a firesteel loop and purchase of one of your firesteels. I'll be wearing this on my offside (left hip) so would like the loop on the aft side of the sheath (looking at the sheath, on the observer's right)."

What I received was a black leather sheath with black thread. That's fine, it's what I wanted. Unfortunately, it's the ONLY requirement of my order that was met. The sheath has the cut-slot beltloop which I specifically did not want. I even expressed my concerns with other leather products built that way having ripped over time. It will probably fit a 2" gunbelt, but given that it's the cut-slot sort of arrangement it will be a huge pain to deal with.

Further, the slots were obviously cut after the leather was dyed, as there were raw edges in the cut.

Additionally, the metal belt clip which I didn't want, was included. That's one thing, but the way it was installed was, frankly, amateurish. The leather was cut with overlapping slices to the extent that they extend past each other- creating not a box cut but something very "hack".

The firesteel loop I requested was installed on the *left* side of the holster, not the right.

The JRE logo, which I specifically requested to be on the outside of the holster, is completely absent. I can't say I blame you, though- I wouldn't want to claim this work as mine, either.

All of the leather edges are crude, exhibiting no real effort at slicking them and creating a fused edge.

The border around the stitch line is uneven. I'm not referring to "let me get out my ruler and measure this" uneven- I'm referring to something that looks like a new leatherworker's effort.

Given that you folks do this professionally and have a long lead time, I would expect better on all accounts. I am not a professional, I only do leatherworking for my needs and friends, but I could have done much better. The only reason I didn't was because I needed a sheath to replace the crappy one that SOG sends out with their tools, and as I've a lot going on at work (IT), I don't have the free time.

I will be honest- this sheath is still *much* better than the one SOG sold with the tool- but if you've seen what a horrible piece of work that is (folded leather, riveted together loosely, massively oversized for the tool- I actually lost the tool out of the still-snapped sheath twice in the first few days I had it), that's not hard to accomplish. I don't feel it was worth the $40 I paid, however.

Please understand, I'm not a "complainer" type of person.. but I do believe in being honest, and receiving fair value for my money. With this in mind, I won't be recommending your leather goods to anyone, going forward.
***** end cut/paste *****

Now, don't get me wrong- I don't expect perfection, and I know that leather is a natural material and subject to imperfections. Hell, that's WHY I like leather!! However, all of my issues with this product have to do with shoddy worksmanship and inattention to detail. I went to lengths to point out what I wanted in this product, and was prepared to pay extra for it if need be. It should be noted I added the firesteel holder (and also one of their firesteels, so we made sure it fit, even though I have plenty already), and so I owe them $20 for those items. I had misgivings about ordering from them when it took so long to hear back the first time, and these were reinforced after long periods of no communication. I don't expect them to be sitting in front of their email all the time (when would they get anything done!), but I think 2 or 3 business days to reply is plenty of time.

I'll take pics and post them later, to illustrate my problems with this product. I imagine I'll have plenty of comments about how much I shouldn't bitch about a vendor. Well, to them I say- you know what, this is *my* blog, I can back up everything I've said, and I paid good money and was more than patient. "You pays your moneys and you expects to gets what you wants", you know?

I doubt I'll get a reply from JRE. If I do, it'll be in a few weeks, and they'll want me to ship it back to them so they can take a look and address any issues. Which means more money spent shipping the item, more time wasted without a decent sheath, and more time carrying the worn-out Leatherman. I'm just going to keep what I have here, throw it in the drawer of holsters I never use because I found something better (you 2A EDC sheepdogs know what I'm talking about), and call it a learning experience.

It all goes back to what granddad always told me... "you want something done right, do it yourself!" Lesson learned, again.. I shouldn't have been so lazy!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am glad I saw this...I was considering having a custom sheath made for a knife.
They say they offer all the options I want, but damn they are expensive.