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.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Gerber GDC Money Clip Review

gerber gear, gerber knives, gerber tools, poor quality gerber steel
I admit it, I'm usually the first to knock Gerber stuff. I think I want to like them because they sort of just do whatever they do and don't bother anybody in the process or try to be someone they aren't. On the other hand they are probably the most commercial knife company on Earth and my bottom line opinion is that they follow the standard American corporate marketing formula which is to mask mediocre products in marketing smoke. It seems that a large chunk of the American job force is tasked with selling products and spending every day trying to figure out how to sell products. Whereas American jobs used to be about designing useful products and making them. I am concerned for myself I have to say, because I might have fallen victim to some of this marketing magic when I ordered up this Gerber GDC Money Clip. But I think, only some. I still think it's a neat idea. If you look at the GDC Tool Belt it's pretty clear that they were looking for something to fit a catchy title, not create a useful product and give it a cool name. It's got marketing gimmick written all over it, pretty much like the rest of the GDC line and all the Bear Grylls crap before it. The tool belt isn't a bad idea either, but I'm willing to bet you'd get a relatively handy tool in a belt you never want to wear. And that pretty much sums up the failure of the GDC Money Clip. It's a good idea wrapped in Gerber delivery.

everyday carry money clip gear, front pocket
For my overall impression of what it is - which is apparently a money clip - it's fine. It works, it's a little bit heavy in my opinion though nothing terrible and it'll hold your cash - and lots of it if that's how you roll. It's a neat, good looking design and to be perfectly honest, the knife would make an ideal daily task beater knife. It's small, not especially convenient but it is discrete, and would suffice for the more mundane tasks. The knife itself has a perfectly useful blade shape and in many ways gives the user some grip options that may not be available with a regular folder. So for concept I'd call it a 70%, maybe 80% win. I like the splash of color and the way that it looks nothing like a knife when it's all together. My initial impression was, hey look, Gerber is waking up. A little style mixed in with utility in a discrete package disguised as something else.

But we can't ignore function, and that's where things start to come apart. You begin to realize that they used G10 probably because it's practically a catch word in the knife world. You begin to realize that they went with this particular shade of green less because it would appeal to the often colorful EDC crowd but because some people have been sucked into the zombie green nonsense. It all would have worked if it simply weren't Gerber behind it. The 7CR17MOV steel is terrible and there are relatively significant design flaws hidden beneath the surface. When I first opened the package I remember remarking that it was actually somewhat sharp. By the next day the blade edge had rolled along virtually the entire length if for no other reason than it apparently rubs when inserted to the sheath. It certainly never cut anything and just one day later isn't sharp enough to cut paper at all. Next, the blade has a small tab which locks it into place. No one wants a knife (even a dull Gerber knife) rolling around in their pocket unsheathed, so I understand the notion. Except that if the clip is full of cards and cash, the button to release it is blocked. Is that a big issue for something that wasn't necessarily intended to be quick access? Probably not, but it could have been done differently and we'll get into that with the pics.

Gerber GDC, 7CR17MOV blade steel
Here you're looking at the little tab which locks the blade in place. What you are also seeing is how that tab cannot be pushed back with this enormous load of 3 cards and 4 bills I have stuffed into the clip. You picked up on the sarcasm right? Just checking.

2014 Gerber knives, gear, EDC money clip
The Gerber GDC Money Clip is pretty compact I guess. It won't really protect the edges of your cards but regardless of the mention of cards on the packaging, it's really just a money clip. The edges of the clip are about as sharp as the blade and while that's not saying much, it easily scratched my cards up with just a few passes across the counter today at my favorite sandwich shop.

As you might be able to guess, there is a lot of metal on metal scraping going on as you remove and insert the blade. Playing with it for five minutes resulted in the wear spots you see here on the button.

gear testing, everyday carry reviews, o'dell studios
Remarkably the finish on the blade itself isn't too bad. That little locking tab didn't leave a single scratch on it yet. It leaves marks that can easily be rubbed off, but no actual scratches. I doubt it'll take long, but it's an area that was simply designed in such a way that it is going to wear and it's taking longer than I expected. For what it's worth I have medium sized hands and no, you will not be putting your finger though the loop on the blade. My ring finger fits, but I can't figure out what purpose it would serve.
So what's the deal and how could it be better? I still kinda like it just for the idea and the cool looks. The only problem is I run a front pocket wallet and there is no way this will hold, or protect what I typically carry - which isn't much. The blade, even made of steel that isn't suited to knives, would rip open boxes and envelopes and could serve as the boring tasks beater blade to compliment your real knife. Regardless of how much I want to bash it, it's not half bad. At least, not quite. How could it be better? Well if it has to be a knife, then make a real knife. Figure out something else for retention. The truth is the retention is good enough without the tab as it is right now. The safety Nazis would probably have fits so the best way to solve the problem is to forget the knife altogether. Put the little pry tool in there like the Tool Belt has and lose the retention tab. The whole unit could be smaller, lighter, the safety issue would be history and the steel would matter less. Another option would be to ditch the clip, use the internal retention to keep cards and make it two sided so the tool would be sheathed in the other side. If you're looking for a cool money clip and carry the rest of your stuff in a different pocket, the Gerber GDC Money Clip isn't a bad option and it's got respectable levels of cool factor.