Laser-etched Leather Patches

Leather, patches, and laser beams—you couldn’t as for a better combination. For the past few months I have been experimenting with making laser etched leather patches. The first set I did was a gift to my teammates with our team logo that I designed.

It took a lot of testing with scrap pieces of leather to get the settings right for the laser. Finding the right balance of speed and power for each piece of artwork was the real challenge. It is easy to lose small details if the settings are not dialed in. Sometimes it takes multiple passes with lower power to achieve a dark enough image and sill keep the fine details. The second design that I worked on was the Join or Die political cartoon by Benjamin Franklin. The settings for burning the snake image were very challenging.

I am working on making the Join or Die patches available to buy soon.

I also did a few patches with my own logo on them as well as some luggage tags with contact information burned on the inside of the fold to keep it out of plain sight.

GORUCK’s leather patches sparked the idea for me to create these patches. I really liked the idea of a leather patch but wanted a way to have more intricate designs without the hassle of having a brand made. Then I got my hands on a laser engraver… I have a lot of other ideas in my head. We will see what is next.

August 19, 2013

550 Cord Spool

The other day I read about the new SpoolTool on Soldier Systems and the product really caught my attention. There is definitely a market for the product—I see it every day. I also really like the lighter holder as frayed ends on 550 cord is a huge pet peeve of mine at work. I have been toying with ideas of better ways to store all my my cordage and even have some crude spools cut from cardboard. After I saw the SpoolTool I decided to realize my ideas and see what I could come up with.

A few hours later I had put together some drawings, picked up some masonite/hardboard, and cut out some spools using a laser engraver.

I ended up designing two sizes, one for 550 cord and one for type I accessory cord.

I think the SpoolTool is a great product and will suit the needs of most people. I keep a lot of cordage on hand and for my needs my simple spools work better, but I may still grab a SpoolTool for situations on the go. For now I will probably just be cutting a small number of these for friends and my teammates, but we’ll see what happens.

August 12, 2013

"In the city always a refelection, in the woods always a sound.
What about the desert?
You don’t wanna go in the desert."

-Spartan (2004)

Exigent Circumstance Pack (ECP)

I recently started running with the Exigent Circumstance Pack (ECP) from First Spear. From the moment I got hands on this pack, I knew it was going to be great for lightweight load-outs.

For an assault pack it is the perfect size—if it’s too big, you will inevitably find things to fill it with. The ECP is big enough to accommodate what you need and force you to carefully think over your load-out and strip away unnecessary weight.

The included shoulder straps are perfect for this type of pack. With very minimal padding they easily pack into a pocket for emergency use. I keep the pack attached to my kit, but found the small attachment straps that were included did not work very well. I ended up taking some extra fastex buckles I had and using a dremel tool to make them split-bar buckles. You can buy split-bar buckles but I find the gap to be too big, increasing the chance that the buckle gets pulled off. If you cut the slot yourself with a Dremel tool you can make a smaller cut to get a tighter fit on the webbing. I also had some webbing sewn onto the shoulder pads of my LBT plate carrier. Using the fastex buckles keeps the pack snug on the plate carrier and also allows you to quickly get it off to access tools and gear. I also replaced the zipper pulls with some gutted 550 cord and heat shrink tubing.

Currently I carry the pack without the outer pouch attached and I keep my night gear in there (lights, chem lights, NVGs, etc).

Overall, a great assault pack with a lot of options for how to use and carry it. The only features I would change would be to include split-bar fastex buckles for use when attaching the bag to body armor/plate carrier and to have the zipper for the main compartment extend the length of the bag to allow you to splay the bag open to have full access to the inside.

August 8, 2013

Misfit Shine

My Misfit Shine was delivered! I helped fund the project on Indiegogo and have been eagerly awaiting the final product. The original release date was delayed but from what I am seeing now, it was worth the wait.
Misfit Shine
The attention to detail and the quality are fantastic. The packaging, beautiful and simple—very Apple like. The process for syncing and setting it up with your iPhone is extremely easy. I’ll test out the sleep tracking features tonight. Updates to come later this week.

August 4, 2013

1660 Pelican MOLLE Lid Organizer

The awesome people over at Vel-Tye here in Virginia Beach made me a custom lid organizer for my 1660 Pelican case to take advantage of extra MOLLE pouches and to give me a modular system for organizing smaller items in my load-out box.

If you are interested in one of these, contact Vel-Tye. They kept the drawings and measurements in my file in case anyone else ended up ordering one.

UPDATE (11/28/12)

After a bit of use the bottom three grommets began to tear through the fabric since the panel fits perfectly and is stretched taught. I took it back to Vel-Tye and they sewed on a piece of webbing to reinforce the grommets. No issues now.

April 22, 2012

Silent Zipper Pulls

It started with GORUCK bags, then I recently noticed that Arc’teryx has been using them on their LEAF line. Getting rid of the noisy and annoying metallic zipper pulls is the way to go. GORUCK uses core-less 550 cord with dual wall heat shrink tubing with an adhesive liner. The core-less 550 cord provides a meaty zipper pull and allows for a slimmer knot. On small items and clothing single wall heat shrink tubing and a small diameter accessory cord works well. On my Arc’teryx Beta AR and very well worn Gamma AR I used the existing cord and just cut the metal zipper pulls and retied them with the heat shrink tubing.

I have had a very hard time finding small diameter nylon cord with a tight weave that you normally find on the zipper pulls of many jackets, but 3/32 tether cord will also work. For heat shrink tubing you can find single wall tubing at any store that sells electronic components, for dual wall tubing try auto parts stores.

February 27, 2012