Friday, April 11, 2014

Black and Neon Green Micarta Card Wallet

minimalist wallet, micarta front pocket wallet
Today we have a black and neon green Micarta Card Wallet made entirely from paper. I am liking working with paper right now. It's got some advantages from a working perspective but it also offers pretty limitless color combinations so it's likely that I won't be doing many fabric units in the future. In my mind fabric offers better strength and toughness but I'm not sure that it's actually true or just theory. As I am making the paper micarta I have been making sure each sheet of paper is pretty well soaked through with resin. My theory is that paper will act more like wood grain where it could be split along the grain since one sheet is laying up against the next without any real texture to give it sheering strength. Fabric has the weaved texture to lock two layers together and because it is more loosely "woven" than paper is, it seems that the resin more fully permeates it to create a better bond. As spacers are concerned I don't think it matters at all considering that the spacers are sandwiched between the plates and there is no chance of anything moving. But the plates themselves are exposed to drops or other damage. On the flip side, how much damage is a wallet really likely to encounter? The paper micarta is hard as a rock and I know it's not going to crack or dent, but it's that splitting action that concerns me. Only time will tell but as I made this unit things looked solid so I'm optimistic. Additionally I am using construction paper to make it. Compared to something like card stock, construction paper is very fibrous and sucks up resin like a sponge. It's a cool material, what can I say.

black and neon green paper micarta
That brings me to something else. There are buckets of videos on youtube for making micarta and as many or more forum threads discussing it as well. I've dug through a fair amount of this information, certainly not all of it, but I haven't run across any criticism for garage micarta except in one place. That alone discredits the criticism all by itself because let's face it, it works for its intended purpose as far as the record of success goes. I think everyone who is somewhat familiar with knife handle materials knows that Micarta with a capital "M" is a commercial product, what I didn't realize was that it is a brand name for a particular product. Does it have a patent? Is that patent licensed by other manufacturers? I have no idea. It doesn't strike me as a particularly proprietary process that couldn't just as easily be "accidentally" replicated by someone else. But that's not important. The criticism boils down to, actual Micarta is made with tremendous heat and pressure using what they call thermosetting plastic which results in very tough, dense material. One specific point was that it's significantly different from 5 minute epoxy and an old pair of jeans. If you will notice, no one that I've seen has suggested using 5 minute epoxy to make garage micarta so it's difficult to take criticism from someone who is out of touch with what's actually going on. Micarta is expensive, thems just the facts. I don't really know why, other than the expensive processes used to make it. But that brings us to it's intended purpose. It wasn't meant to be sold in 1 or 2 inch sheets. It was meant for industrial use, hence the industrial processes. A knife is not going to survive the kinds of temperatures or abuse it would require to destroy a Micarta handle. If heat is the problem you will take the temper out of the steel before the handle burns away and the knife is ruined anyway. So when you need to justify the price of a $500 knife, then it makes sense to me that you use materials that will live through anything the steel will live through. But, there is no call to criticize other materials, particularly when no one is claiming that they are equivalent or attempting to pass them off as equivalent. My point in all this is transparency for one thing - I specifically say that it's homemade micarta because the whole idea is that I made it. But I think that it's worth pointing out, we're not making custom knives here. I've got a useful material, and it's plenty tough enough for the job it's got to do here.
heat-colored screws, acid washed pocket clip, paper micarta brass inserts
We've got the brass inserts on the back plate here. You can see the openings in the bottom to let pocket debris escape.

Slim at roughly 1/2 inch thick with a pocket clip to hold that money!

I've got 6 cards in this one but there is room for another one. Everything is protected and tucked in with a hidden retention system inside to keep the cards from falling out.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

More Micarta!

minimalist wallet everyday carry card holder front pocket wallet
Dark Gray fabric with Light Green spacers today. Get it on etsy! Sorry, it's sold. I can only seem to find time to get one or two of them made each week. If you're looking to get one, have patience. I have to go to a "job" everyday which sucks up far too much of my time!!!

homemade micarta gray fabric and green paper
This shot demonstrates the simple internal retention system that keeps cards from falling out even when it's held upside down.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Micarta Minimalist / Front Pocket Wallets

minimalist wallets made of micarta
The first wallet from my previous post is gone but I've got a tan and turquoise unit up next and this afternoon I finished another one in dark gray and green that will go up tomorrow! I'm learning a lot about how they should be made, getting a little faster and finding out that even though I'd worked with micarta quite a bit already, I had much to discover. The fabric is difficult because I have so many ideas and I want to work with so many different colors that I end up working with a variety of fabrics. Of course those fabrics are all different weights and that makes it hard to tell how many layers to use to get the desired thickness material. Just four layers of denim can yield 1/8 inch sheets where as some other fabric may take five or six. On the other hand, paper is very forgiving and I am leaning toward working with it exclusively. Stay tuned because one of the next wallets is going to be made entirely of paper.

ultra slim card holder

One hurdle I'm finding is the resin doesn't really go very far given how much it costs, especially when I am in the learning stages and still wasting a fair amount of my material. Waste is frustrating more when all the material is made essentially from scratch. Every single process along the way can spell disaster if I screw it up because no matter where I am in that process, I've already put in a lot of time and work. As I keep moving forward I think one of the goals is going to be building up an inventory of material. I've got more screws coming in brass and black, I need to get more paper in more colors and I've got an almost endless list of combinations I want to try.
This one doesn't quite have the finish that I am looking for so it listed for a little less. Still learning, still getting the hang of the whole process and how things should be done. Making stupid mistakes, but having fun.

minimalist wallet o'dell studios etsy
Six cards with room to spare. This unit came in at 7/16ths thick so it's very slim.

You can see a little different style. I can hardly contain myself from moving on to other designs. I feel it's important to nail down one before I move on to others.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The O'Dell Studios Front Pocket Wallet is Born

micarta card holder o'dell studios
UPDATE: Get the first one on etsy today! Update to the update, this one is gone too. Sorry folks.
This whole Micarta project I've been on was bound to evolve and for some time I've wanted to produce some kind of everyday carry product of my own. Somewhere along the way, those two met in the tangled network I call a brain and the front pocket wallet was conceived. Everyone is in on the minimalist or front pocket wallet concept right now and of course they really always have been. I think the difference is, places like etsy and kickstarter have given regular people a place to put the generic slim wallet from the store to rest and turn it into what it's always wanted to be; a more personal handcrafted statement. For a long time I carried nothing more than a money clip with everything jammed in it. Over time though the edges of cards got worn and beaten. I switched to a simple leather card holder intended to be hung on a lanyard or key ring (in the pictures), but I used it in my front pocket. It's served me well ever since. But let's face it, you spend about five minutes on etsy and you've got five different versions of the same concept that you'd love to have. It's just like knives and flashlights - pretty soon you've got a collection. However, I haven't seen anything made of Micarta. And not just Micarta - DIY Micarta. Sure a couple pieces of some material cut by machine with an elastic band is cool and usable for $15. But what about something truly handmade. I could buy Micarta but I want to craft something and I think that's what it's all about.

homemade micarta jeans paper micarta front pocket wallet

So here they are, my first prototypes. I don't especially care for jean Micarta for knives. I don't know why exactly. But once I sanded this stuff I realized it's great for this project. It has a great distressed look and works with a million different spacer colors. Of course I will be doing canvas and black and whatever else I can get my hands on. These are going to go on etsy as they are made and we'll just see how it goes. Once I have my etsy page running I will do an update.

edc bill fold
One of my favorite things about Micarta is how it develops patina over time. In many ways it wears in like leather does and takes more character with time, yet at the same time is tough as nails. Here you're seeing brass inserts on the back plate. You will notices the center screw to the right is offset. This secures the internal retention which prevents cards from falling out.

o'dell studios wallet
I could fit 7 cards in this one but everyone will be unique. I am shooting for roughly 1/4 inch of space inside and the overall width of the wallet is just under 1/2 inch.

The unit on the right is my first prototype. Each one I product will have its own character and look - no two will ever be alike. I am experimenting with the pocket clips. The little one is very low profile while the larger one holds more. I can see different people wanting different set-ups so I will probably do a variety.

The paper I used for the spacers is a sort of faded green color.

This shot demonstrates the size a little better. It holds all the things I carried in my leather wallet, but in a thinner and smaller overall package.

Another look at the thickness. Of course for those who want super slim I have other plans and even this style could be made to hold fewer cards.
blue jean micarta wallet minimalist wallet
And the whole thing just looks right in one's EDC rotation.
So there it is folks. Every weekend I get, I will be cranking out more in all colors and combinations. I learned a lot making these two and will only get better and faster with time. Stay tuned as they begin to go up for sale.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Busy Month - Not for the Blog - Contributor?

March is coming to a close and I've got one whole post up - my apologies folks. There are a number of projects happening that I am waiting to introduce when the time is right. For now let's just say there could be t-shirts, there is micarta in the press cookin' away, a bench-top belt sander just took its place in my shop and a Shelby Daytona is in progress in the art department. With any luck this means that April will be a huge month for O'Dell Studios. The team has been glued to their desk chairs getting art done and in the mean time the blog is getting ignored.

Additionally, I got to thinking about the Mini Spitfire and the issues it had with the overall fit and finish. I thought it would be worth letting Buck have a look at it and decide if it could be better. It looks like they did and they are sending me a new one. When that arrives I will get an update put together for you guys.

With everything that goes on with the O'Dell Studios team it's hard for me to manage more than 4 or 5 posts a month anyway. I've done as many as 8 and I could do fluff like so much of the rest of the net has to offer - sometimes it's useful content - but I want to focus on high quality content as much as I can. This means photography and photography means Photoshop time, etc. You know how it goes. Bottom line is that I am warming up to the idea of a blog contributor. It's not going to be an easy task if for no other reason than I am asking the internet - though I'm not really. Let me start from the beginning so we don't get ahead of ourselves. You should notice that there are no ads on my blog. Spending that google money sounds appealing and I suppose I could control what ads appear, but there are a couple problems. First and foremost I don't get THAT many views. I doubt this is a money making venture at any rate. Second, that's just not how I want to do it. My content is free to my viewers, period. I fully advocate adblock plus and if you don't know about it you might wanna check it out if you don't want to see ads ever again. I also advocate advertising, so I'm that hypocrite your mom warned you about, but let me explain. The net is this open, vast conglomeration of essentially everything that exists and we're all here to enjoy it. The problem is, we're the ones who have to make it a safe, enjoyable experience for ourselves. You all know that viewing the infinite blue nowhere is dangerous anymore and it should be clear to the human race by now that there will always be someone out there who would rather just take from you than earn their way. To me, this forms a catch-22 situation. Advertising is a powerful tool that honest businesses can use to get their product to consumers. I am fine with seeing relevant ads but I'm not fine with the way relevancy is determined - it's manipulative to monitor our interests and advertise to us based on them. If I visit a gun website I expect to see gun ads. That is the correct way to gain relevancy. Adblock is virtual armor. Bottom line, when the ads get cleaned up, the armor comes off. This doesn't even get into the way malicious software is delivered through dishonest advertising and so called "anti-virus" software is typically laughable at best. So when I see messages saying something about my use of an ad blocker when I visit a website let me put it to you simply - find a different way, or do your part to facilitate change. If you walk into my house and turn on the TV, all you'll see is a blue screen. Advertising has ruined television so I just don't subscribe to it - and it would ruin the internet if it weren't for ad blocking software. Enter the mighty "review". When I want to know about something, I talk to consumers. I wouldn't even consider looking for an advertisement - I honestly don't even know how advertising works because it has little influence on me as a consumer. 

End rant. Let's get back on track. The point is, I have nothing or very little to offer a contributor - so this is really the big problem. I am happy to promote for whatever that person has going on in his or her world in anyway I can. Use the posts as promotional pieces for your own blog, your own space, business, whatever. Obviously I'm looking for that relevancy and quality - advertising done right. The deal is, I can't know if I don't ask and maybe someone out there would enjoy it. That's essentially why I do it. It would be ideal if we are already acquainted. I'd be open to alternatives too. Someone who'd like to do gear swaps or something - pass a knife around for testing and reviewing. I don't really know, there could be something I'm overlooking but I am putting up a promotional venue in trade for additional content. Additional content = more views. More views = better promotion for the contributor and myself of course. If you're thinking it sounds bunk, I fully understand. If you're thinking it sounds like a chance to score yourself some more traffic then let's talk.

Happy Thursday people. If you want to get into a conversation about web ads go for it in the comments or through google+. Sorry again for the quiet month. I am really looking forward to what is coming.