Monday, April 28, 2014

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Micarta Front Pocket Card Wallets

Sorry, this one is off to its new home but I've got material on the bench ready to make more! Dark gray fabric for the plates and dark green spacer with bright green pin stripes.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

DIY Micarta Card Wallet Black and Neon Green

card wallet, money clip, EDC wallet, every day carry
I made my press in such a way that if I make two sheets I can make 3 wallets. So some day when I'm not experimenting and wasting part of those sheets you will probably see the wallets happen in batches of 3. At any rate, I used more of the black and neon green paper micarta that I made for the last unit. This time I started snooping around, always looking for ways to make them as nice or nicer, faster. Blasting micarta is pretty common in the knife world and I started thinking, how hard could it be to make a blasting cabinet? Eventually the only cost would be media - and I had no idea what the cost involved there might be - but it would be worth the time it would save and the quality it would add. So I plugged into the Matrix to learn something new and came across DIY soda blasting. Baking soda is dirt cheap, easy to get, and doesn't carry any health hazards - or at least none that can't be avoided with a respirator if there are any. No need for a cabinet right away (if ever) because it takes very little media to finish up the wallet plates, it's cheap, and possibly not even reusable. Like anything I put virtually no effort into the initial trial and while it wasn't amazing, it does work. I gave it a couple days to ferment in my mind and I was convinced that I could improve the technique. I got a nice plastic food storage container, drilled a hole, spent $2.00 on some plastic fittings to attach my hose down toward the bottom, and BAM, I was all set up with a gravity fed hopper of sorts. I adapted the fittings down to an eighth inch opening but my hose - in order to fit onto my compressor nozzle, is 3/8 inner diameter. What happens is, no matter how small the opening is to bring in media, it still fills the hose up with the same amount of media so I'm not actually conserving any. However, I have realized that my hose is long enough - or some other kind of science that I can't articulate in writing is happening - that I can regulate the flow with gravity by spraying at different angles. The closer to level, the less media that flows. I'd love to take credit for this ... so I will. It was totally planned. I shot a couple pounds of baking soda all over my yard getting it figured out, but spent essentially nothing and got satisfactory results. Youtube can tell you all about it if you want to set yourself up. My issue with blasting is that I was not seeking some special texture or finish that might typically be desired. I didn't want to remove material. I just wanted a way to achieve an EVEN finish. I don't have the equipment to sand the plates in an even way other than by hand, and even then it's difficult to really get it nice without spending an enormous amount of time. So at first I sought out the gentlest media available. Well let me say that soda is mild. It works quickly, but doesn't blow material away faster than I can control. In fact, now I can quickly sand the surface down to remove the imperfections, then blast it smooth. It came out nice, and in much less time.
If you dig it, go grab it on etsy today!

DIY micarta, everyday carry card wallet, minimalist wallet, card holder
Got some black oxide screws just for a different look and left off the pocket/money clip. My original design didn't have the clip and after making several with one, I thought it was time to see what it was like without.
handmade minimalist wallet
Neon Green pin stripes and black paper, beveled by hand.
As always, 1/4 inch of interior space accommodates 7 cards or so.
Brass on the back, openings at the bottom to let pocket debris pass through.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Black and Neon Green Micarta Card Wallet

minimalist wallet, micarta front pocket wallet
SOLD. 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
SOLD! 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.