Earlier this week I attended a fascinating exhibition…
It was full of CNC machines, water-jet cutters, lathes, robots and …well pretty much everything that can help in the making of awesome titanium products.
The show was in Auckland (New Zealand of course) and was called EMEX 2016 (I think it stands for Engineering, Machinery and Electronics Exhibition).
I put together and short video of my experience and highlight some of the stuff that was there:
Oh, and here’s something weird for you…
The hotel I stayed in when I was up in Auckland had this sign in the bathroom:
I’m sure you’ve seen a sign similar to this before (most hotels seem to have them now).
I like this sign because of the “psychological stuff” going on. The sign appeals to your ethics and in doing your bit to help our planet …which, possibly, you are.
But the real purpose behind the sign is to help save the hotel money. I mean, the hotel could say, “Hey, it’s cheaper if we don’t wash your towels every day… want to help us save some money?”
Yet both you and I know it just doesn’t come across as well (especially when you discover the mini-bar prices! :-P).
So, yeah, it’s kind of a win:win…
…the hotel lowers it’s running costs (and, possibly, the costs to stay there is cheaper)
…you get to feel good about “saving the environment”
The only real downside is that the sign is not accurate. I’m sure there is a creative way of getting people to use less towels …without having to play the “save our environment” card.
What do you think? 🙂
Last Saturday I wasn’t feeling that well (some sort of cold/flu thing I think).
So, just to get out the house (I was bored), I went to the workshop and made this:
Yes, these letters are made from titanium.
If you want to see the “behind the scenes”, then here’s the video:
Right, enough of that shenanigans, let’s be serious for a minute:
Progress is going slower than expected – but getting there for sure.
I had the concept in my head. But it takes a while to figure out if and how it can be machined.
Finally, after a lot of work and discussion and back-and-forth with my machinist – we reckon it’s possible to make the wallet out of a solid slab of titanium.
I wasn’t 100% sure it could be done (and still not sure to be honest as I won’t know until we actually try to machine it).
In my last blog post I showed a couple of cool photos of the “slab” of titanium the wallet it going to be made from.
Well, I must confess to you:
Things have taken a slightly different turn.
I very quickly realised I knew absolutely nothing about knives. And so I started reading, studying, watching and learning all about knives (yeah, I know, I was only planning on making a simple little key-chain knife …but my extremism and obsessive-compulsive traits took over as usual …*sigh*).
Not only that, but…
I bought a couple of knives (nothing fancy …just a couple of hundred dollars each) to get a feel for them. To see how they are made. That kind of thing.
Then a strange thing happened:
While carrying these knives with me to test how they functioned and how they felt …I discovered I actually used them loads of times each day!
I only carried one with me at a time – but I found I would use it multiple times per day. To the point where I wonder how the hell I did without it.
So, yeah, I am no longer interested in a key-chain knife for myself (right now at least). I want a proper, full-size folding knife.
And so for the last week or so I have been in full-on, Magnus-what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-you obsession mode.
I’ve even started doing some designing (just for fun as I am a long way from actually prototyping anything):
Ah hell, I’ve even started learning a new piece of CAD software from scratch (Solid Edge if you’re interested to know what software it is) JUST for the purpose of this whole knife obsession.
And, further still, I’ve even started doing some designs (only to figure out how to use this software – definitely not the knife I’m making) in CAD too:
Why can’t I just be “normal”?
Like… it would be good if I was maybe just a little bit obsessed with making a knife. Or if I could approach is strategically. Or, better yet, just say to myself, “Magnus, knives are something you know nothing about …just stick to other stuff.”
But, alas, my brain does not seem to be wired that way.
Still, look on the bright side, the result is probably going to be a horribly and disgustingly good knife. 😀
So, what’s going down at Cogent Industries today?
Well, a few things…
I’ve been continuing with the non-stop-and-over-the-top testing of surface finishes on my titanium products.
I naturally have an addictive and somewhat obsessive personality – which is both a good thing and, sometimes, a bad thing.
But I can confidently say that when it comes to getting a mind-blowing finish on titanium products …then my genetic flaws are really, REALLY helpful.
I tend to test …and test …and test …and test …and then test some more.
When I tumble the titanium the stuff I put the titanium into is called media. There are so many variables when doing surface finishing with a tumbler. There’s media type, media size, media quantity, water quantity, soap type, soap amount, time of tumbling, order of tumbling, speed of tumbling, …and so on.
And I have to keep track of what each process is doing as I test it.
Here’s an example:
In the above photo I have sacrificed a few dozen titanium HangKey pocket-clips as I search for the “Holy Grail” of surface finishes for my titanium products.
The cable-ties on each HangKey are used to help track which processes the HangKey has been through. Every HangKey in the above photos as been through a DIFFERENT process. No two HangKeys have had the same finish.
I am kind of obsessed with this …but, hand-on-heart, I believe it is a healthy obsession.
Now, what else has been going on… oh, yes, a little more progress on the titanium wallet.
I did a little cutting of some 10mm thick titanium plate today:
The wallet is going to be made from titanium and carbon fiber.
Believe it or not…
The solid block of titanium is going to be almost entirely machined away leaving virtually nothing left.
I mean, really. How depressing is that ladies and gentlemen? I import a big chunk of titanium …and then I go and machine almost all the titanium away until there is nothing left!
Is it a lot of work? …Yes.
Is it extreme? …Most definitely.
Is it obsessive? …Of course.
Is it going to create the world’s best wallet? …There isn’t a doubt in my mind! 😀
Here’s a little look at the titanium “chunk” before it is machined:
Now, here’s the thing…
This is as far as I am with this.
My machinist is still waiting for some tooling to come from overseas specifically for cnc-machining this titanium wallet (yes, we’ve got to import some super-specialized tools just for this wallet).
That’s pretty much it so far.
Actually, before I go, here’s a short video I did for you today:
I have two things for you today…
As I type this there is only around 38 hours left for you to grab your set of Titanium Tweezers V2 on Kickstarter – Click Here if you’re not yet aboard with the rest of us ( http://kck.st/1reE3PR ).
It’s about videos.
Maybe you’re not aware of this, but…
I’ve been recording and uploading a lot of videos recently (pretty much one a day for the last few weeks).
Now, truthfully, they’re not very good.
Actually, if I’m honest ….most of them I think are awful (compared to what I’d like them to be). But that’s okay – because I’m just starting out making these videos.
Eventually I’ll start figuring out what YOU want in a video from me (hopefully from no-holds-barred, open and honest feedback :-D).
In the meantime – here are some of the “less bad” videos I’ve done recently…
A fun video showing what goes on “behind closed doors” here (no talking in this video – just music):
The problems I’m currently having prototyping a knife (oh, and I find a random dog too!)
What I do on the weekend… (and some deep analysis of my childhood!):
Doing the “impossible” (titanium wallet and a new workshop!):
Click here to view my highly-active and steadily growing YouTube Channel (oh, and remember to subscribe :-P).
A few weeks ago a young fellow called Brad contacted me…
He was from South Africa and wanted to design a bottle-opener based on my Titanium Scalper Bottle Opener.
He said it was for a University project and so I said, “Sure thing!” …and it would be great if he could let me know the progress he makes.
Anyway, a few weeks go past and then I get an email with these photos attached:
How cool is that?
I asked him if it worked.
He said he currently did not have access to a method of cutting metal and this is why it was cut from Perspex.
And, worse still, the Perspex kept shattering whenever he tried to open a bottle-cap with it.
Now, I wouldn’t normally do this, but curiosity got the better of me …and I just had to see what it would be like in titanium. I did a video on it:
I had to make a couple of changes to some of the lines (because of the limitations of my water-jet cutter …can’t cut into a sharp corners).
But, apart from that, I left Brad’s concept exactly as he designed it. No changes.
Here are a few highlights of the process:
Here’s how it turned out:
Couple of final things:
#1 – I did not do any sort of finishing on it. It’s raw. I did this on purpose because I thought, if Brad want’s to finish it further, then I’m sure he’d want to do that.
#2 – I would usually not do something like this because there is usually something else trying to grab my attention and time. But, for some reason, I just felt compelled to do this as a one-off. Still not sure why. 🙂
Anyway, nice job Brad. Very cool.
It’s shocking really…
The last five products I’ve design and made have been:
Not a pocket-sized multi-tool in sight!
This normally would not be an issue – but I keep getting asked all the time for a multi-tool.
Let’s not forget…
Making titanium pocket-tools is where I started out. 🙂
Remember the ViperFish?
Or the TiHawk?
Here’s some concepts I started – but never finished…
The thing is, personally, I’m not in the market for a pocket-sized, titanium multi-tool. But many of you are (the amount of emails in my inbox tells me so!).
So, here’s a fun thing (might work out or might be a disaster)…
I’ll throw up a list of multi-tool functions for you …and you can tell me in the comments below if “it MUST have that” or “it would be NICE to have that” or “it must NOT have that”.
Okay, so, functions:
— Bottle Opener
— Imperial Wrench
— Metric Wrench
— Prybar function
— Nail-Puller function
— Hex-Bit Holder (for holding those little hexagonal 1/4″ screwdriver bits)
— Pocket-Clip (for clipping onto pocket/bag)
— Flat-Head Screwdriver
— Philips-Head Screwdriver
— Gear-Tie function (for going camping and hiking I suppose)
— Carabiner clipping function (to clip on to belt-loop or bag)
— Blade (this would be a dull blade …nothing sharp)
Oh, and let us not forget, what SIZE should it be?
— 2″ long
— 3″ long
— 4″ long
— (I think any bigger than 4″ and it’s probably a tool …not a pocket tool …right? :-D)
A few assumptions:
— It will have a hole somewhere so you can attached to your key-chain or lanyard
— It won’t have any non-effective functions (like a saw-blade for example)
— It’s going to be made from Grade 5 Titanium
The funny thing is…
I’m certain I’m setting myself up to get a bunch of different answers from a bunch of different people. That’s fine.
It’s either that or I make the tool that I would personally use (which, in my not-at-all-humble opinion, would likely be a very clean and simple and practical solution :-).
If I have missed anything or you want something else – then let me know below!
Oh, and we can make more than one tool. Why limit ourselves, right? 🙂
I’m out of my depth…
But, to be fair, it’s not the first time.
I’m sure you’ve been out of your depth many times in your life too, right?
This is where we usually learn where our limits are (oh, wow, I sound a bit like like Tony Robbins there! :-P).
Anyway, the reason I’m so completely out of my depth is because I’m making a knife. And, to be honest, I’m a small fish in a big pond here.
And it gets worse:
As I’ve started to share this How To Make A Knife journey with you …I’ve come to realise that the raving fans and die-hard customers of Cogent Industries know waaaaaaay more about knives than I do.
But I’m not attached to my ego. And so it’s pretty damn cool to have others stand up and really help me out in this process.
I’ve been learning about “blade steel” …and “detents” …and “slip-joints” …and “galling” ….and a whole load of stuff I’ve never heard of. It’s fantastic to have over-the-top-helpful-knife-nuts commenting and emailing me to help me out. Very cool indeed.
Here’s the progress I’ve made so far…
It’s going to be a long road to learn this stuff – but that’s fine.
Believe it or not…
Three years ago I had barely heard of titanium (I still remember ordering my first 12″ x 12″ sheet of titanium from the USA …oh my god those were exciting times!). And now, a few years later, I somehow seem to be known as “the titanium guy”.
I’m confident these things can be learned. Just takes time.
For example (and this is an embarrassing personal story):
Nearly 10 years ago when I first travelled on my own (or travelled at all for that matter) …I came to New Zealand on a working holiday.
I was a fairly shy young fellow growing up (actually, that’s a lie, I was probably one of the shyest people you would even meet – seriously!). I was one of those people who would break out in a sweat and go red if I had to talk to someone new I didn’t know.
And I thought getting out into the world would make it easier for me and I’d be forced to get outside my “comfort zone”.
“I was probably one of the shyest people
you would even meet…”
But, dear lord, it just made it even worse. I don’t think I ever felt so alone when I first started travelling. Looking back on it now …it’s kinda funny. But at the time it was ….well …it was horrible.
I was so self conscious what I landed in New Zealand and found myself in the city of Auckland. I remember standing at the traffic lights and waiting to cross the road …and feeling like the entire city was staring at me (they weren’t of course – but it felt like that).
I REALLY needed to get this under control. I needed to get this shyness and inability to talk to people under control.
So here was my plan (a plan so cunning that even a fox would be forced to give me credit for it):
I needed a pair of shoes. And so… I decided I’d spend a few weeks “looking” for a pair of shoes.
And, over the next few weeks, I went into a few shoe shops every day and tried to just “chit chat” and have fun with whichever salesperson was trying to help me with my search for shoes (the reason I “needed” to have salespeople to talk to was that, to my mind, they were likely to be nice, helpful and not scared away by my weirdness …which was perfect for trying to overcome my shyness).
At first it was awful. Then it wasn’t so bad. Then it was kinda fun.
After a couple of weeks I’d be making jokes (bad jokes of course …but jokes nonetheless) with people I had only met 10 seconds ago. Something I’d never done in my entire life (because I’d usually just be wondering how the hell I could get out of the conversation …because I was so shy).
“At first it was awful.
Then it wasn’t so bad.
Then it was kinda fun.”
From there I made slow and steady progress over the years. Even as far as to join Toastmasters a few years ago to learn public speaking. I can now fairly comfortably speak in front of a crowd of people …which, to be honest, I still find myself surprised I can do this.
I’m still massively flawed and far from being the life and soul of the party. But, for sure, I’ve made some progress.
Why am I telling you this story?
Two reasons I think:
Firstly, because I think it helps get my point across to you about being “out of my depth” in making a knife …and that it’s just a matter of learning the skills and putting in the effort.
Secondly, I think I just wanted to share this story with you …for my own amusement. Shaking off that “shy guy” thing was a long, slow road and something I wanted to get rid of for years. I did it (from my own point of view at least). And so, I believe I can do other things …like making a knife. 🙂
So, I was driving into work this morning…
Actually, when I say “work”, I mean the-cafe-where-I-work-online-from-and-drink-way-too-much-coffee. 🙂
I was thinking about you (yes, you). That’s not quite true. I was thinking about everyone. I was thinking about everyone who comments on the blog, writes emails to me, buys my stuff, and so on.
And it’s really weird:
When I look at the emails, comments, messages, and so on… there seems to be a bunch of really common traits that stick out.
It’s not 100% accurate – but here are some of the things I’ve noticed…
— Extremely practical thinking (with functionality pretty much at the top of the list)
— You don’t want any “frills” or “fancy bits” (just simple and designed for the purpose it’s meant to)
— You’re very reasonable and rational in your approach to life (there is very little drama like others seem to have)
— Other “normal” people don’t quite understand your purchases (they think they’re “excessive”)
— You typically buy the best product or service for your needs (you don’t go “cheap”)
— Price is not the most important issue (the solution to the problem is the important thing)
Do you recognize yourself in any (or all) of the above? 🙂
Now this is what I find strange:
I can identify myself in every one of the these things. Why is that? What is going on here?
Well, I have a hypothesis…
I reckon the above traits are something I personally have… and these things come through in the products I design and make.
So it somewhat makes sense that you’re attracted to products that are produced with such considerations.
But maybe that’s not what it is. Maybe I’m able to get across to you in my writing and emails (and sometimes videos) what I’m trying to achieve with my designs …and that’s what makes sense to you.
Or, quite possibly, I’m talking absolute poppycock (that’s English slang for bullsh*t).
I have no idea.
In fact, feel free to tell me why you buy my stuff (or don’t buy it as the case may be).
Here’s a random picture of a random “experimental” bottle opener from a while back (I’ll be honest… I really wasn’t sure what I was trying t achieve with this):
I may have shown you this before – but I’m going to show you anyway. 🙂
Here’s a butt-ugly prototype carabiner I made some time ago.
The whole point of it was to test the concept of the “spring” functions (on the bottom-left of the carabiner).
It seemed such a great idea in theory – but failed fantastically in practice. The reason for this is there is too much “side-play”.
It is possible to add a bit of a “frame” to stop the side-play …but, honestly, that goes totally against everything I stand for. I want to take away stuff and make it simpler …not add more just to get a concept to work!
But here’s the thing…
I’m convinced there is a way to get this to work. I’m not sure how exactly. No idea. But something tells me it’s possible.
A larger “wobbly bit” to reduce side-play perhaps? An internal “pin” maybe? Or…?
I’ve not worked on this for a while – but kind of wanting to think a bit more about it now that I see how simply the design is.
I get requests all the time for stuff people want me to make.
Some cool …some super-cool …some less-than-cool …and some just a bit odd.
Anyway, every so often I like to encourage you to share your thoughts.
What is is you would like to see?
Obviously titanium is where I specialize just now – but it doesn’t have to be that.
Oh, and I’m doing a little with carbon fiber just now and I’m kinda liking it …so definitely let me know if there is something you want that could use carbon fiber.
You will love me or hate me for this…
Actually, you might even love me and hate me 😛
I can’t keep this short today unfortunately (there is a little bit to explain) – so grab a coffee and I’ll wait here for you.
Okay, you’re back. Great! Let’s continue…
Just to make sure you’re up to speed (in case you’re brand new to what I do) – this post is about the titanium wallet I’ve been working on for a long time.
A titanium wallet is something I’ve been working on for, well, it seems like forever. As long as I can remember. Hell, it might even be longer than that. I’ve been asked for a titanium wallet more than any other product. People are hell-bent on it.
In fact – the last post I did on it received something like 130+ comments! So, yeah, serious stuff.
Truthfully, I’ve not been working on the titanium wallet for a year non-stop. It’s been on-and-off whenever I’ve had time to dedicate to it.
In the past I never could quite grasp why there was so much interest in a wallet from me.
When I mentioned above that people keep asking me for a titanium wallet …well, that’s a bit of an understatement. I get asked over and over and over. Which is awesome (I’m not complaining!).
The form it usually takes is something like, “Magnus, I want to see YOUR take on a wallet” …or something very close to that.
In fact, whenever I post a photo or make a comment about a new product I’ve just designed …almost always someone says, “That’s all well and good Magnus …but when are you going to make the titanium wallet?!!”
But now I get it.
I finally understand why people are so over-the-top hungry for a titanium wallet from me. And it’s because there is not a wallet out there that works for them.
The reason I’m sure it’s this is because I have the exact same problem.
I’ve spent somewhere between $500 and $1000 on wallets from Kickstarter. Some good. Some horrible. But none that are great.
I’ve lost count of the number of wallets I’ve tried. They’ve been titanium, carbon fiber, aluminum, leather, plastic, …or a combination of a few of these materials. Out of all the wallets I’ve tried only two (yes, just TWO!) have been good enough for me to even attempt to carry with me. And even then they’re far from perfect (for me at least).
And it’s not just me…
I recently had a guy email me asking when I was going to be launching my wallet. But what was interesting about this guy was he had already pledged for some ungodly number of wallets on Kickstarter already (I think it was somewhere around 60+ or 70+).
This may seem crazy. But when you think about it …it’s really not. A wallet is a very personal thing. You use it every day. I’ve bought tons of them and have not yet found one that works for me.
Long story short:
It seems the reason I keep getting asked again and again for my take on a wallet …is because there are a lot of people out there that have not yet found the right wallet for them.
The wallet I’m making (and which is almost ready) will not be for everyone.
Yes, it’s titanium. Yes, it’s minimalist. Yes, it’s had an obscene amount of development. And yes, it’s my personal “holy grail” wallet.
But it’s not going to be for everyone.
How do I know this?
Everyone wants something different and it’s impossible (yes, I really did just use that word!) to do that.
The feedback people have given me about what they want in a wallet varies like this:
“I need it to carry 12+ cards” Vs. “No more than 4 cards is what I need”
“Just cards – I don’t carry physical cash” Vs. “If it can’t carry coins then it’s no use to me”
“It has to have a money-clip” Vs. “I don’t want a place for paper-money. I don’t use it.”
So yeah, you get the idea.
I’m not going to be able to solve everyone’s “wallet issues”.
Most of my designs and solutions are made with the goal of satisfying my own needs first.
And so, if I’m heart-stoppingly-honest with you… this wallet is for me. And from past experience I have found that, if I come up with a solution I would personally use, it seems to work damn well for others too!
The wallet is not going to be 100% titanium.
It’s likely to be titanium and carbon fiber.
Here’s a “sneak peak” at part of the final prototyping process:
The wallet is going to be super-simple and for cards only for now.
This means you won’t be able to hold coins in it for sure.
But, possibly, you might be able to hold paper-money (still working on that).
Oh, actually, I lied. There is probably a third reason you might hate me…
The wallet is really, REALLY simple in terms of design.
You’ll almost certainly say, “Magnus, why the hell did it take you so long to come up that?”
But let me tell you this:
If you look through my other products you’ll find (almost without exception) that the “simpler” a design is …the longer it’s taken me to design to that point. It’s just one of those freaky, paradoxical laws of design it seems.
There are no moving parts or mechanisms …and the wallet consists of only a few pieces.
I was prototyping like a madman over the weekend and doing stuff like this (this is just for prototyping and not how the finished product will be made):
At this point you’re probably either going to be annoyed or excited.
Either way I thought it was important to get this post to you and let you know where I am and what to expect with the wallet. 🙂
Oh, one last thing…
The reason I’m not showing the wallet prototype yet is that I’m considering filing a patent for a particular part of it.
I’ve not patented anything I’ve made so far. But thinking it might be worth doing so for part of this wallet.
So, until I decide if I should (or need) to, I’m keeping the design under wraps.
If you have any questions of comments then fire away in the comment section below.
I’m sitting in my usual cafe right now…
And, yes, I’m actually working. Online stuff of course (like answering emails, writing this blog post, etc). I mean… it would be a bit weird if I was sitting here in the cafe grinding away at sheets of titanium. The dust would end up in everyone’s coffee. I’d get kicked out.
I do have titanium with me though – and here’s my current key-chain right now:
The split-ring in the middle is a recent addition. I never made it. It was Sunny – he’s another guy who, like me, likes to have his Grade 5 Titanium screaming and begging for mercy on a daily basis!
In other news:
Remember the post I did a few days ago about making a knife (click here to check it out if you missed it).
Well, I asked for some comments from you with regards to steel to use, etc.
And by god did you deliver!
The number of comments I received and the quality of the information was incredible. I printed the whole lot out – 25 pages of them.
I realised a few things from those comments:
You are awesome (but you already knew that)
You are bend-over-backwards helpful (but I already knew that)
I know absolutely NOTHING about knives.
I initially thought I would just “make a knife”. A bit of steel here… a bit of grinding there… a little assembly… and voila, a knife.
But, um, it seems that this is now an impossibility for me.
If you already know a little about me, then you’ll already understand why I can’t just cobble-together a knife.
But, for those people out there who are not aware of my obsessive-compulsive tendencies and the genetically flawed nature of my personality – here’s some highlights (these are just some of my flaws from “Magnus’ Big Book Of Flaws”):
Flaw #327 –> When buying products… I find myself only be able to buy seemingly over-the-top and over-engineered. Getting the “next-best” version is never an option.
Flaw #328 –> When designing and making my own products… I either produce the exact concept I want …or I don’t make it at all. I won’t make any compromises on method, quality, material, and so on.
Flaw #130 –> There is a BIG box of “rejects” in my workshop. Most of it is just minor blemishes and scratches I am unable fix. People continue to ask me to sell them the rejects – but I just can’t allow sub-perfect products to go out in the world.
Actually, here’s some of the rejects I’m talking about:
Flaw #842 –> I do everything I can to not buy shoes that have laces (damn I hate tying laces …it seems so unnecessary in this modern world)
Flaw #76 –> I can’t sell titanium products that have “machining lines” on them. Other makers seem to be fine with this – but I just can’t get my head around it. There is something “unfinished” about it.
Here’s an example of my Scalper Titanium Bottle Opener with and without surface finishing to take the lines out and make it smoother to touch:
So, yeah, I’m probably more flawed than most.
On the plus side… it does mean that when I design, make and sell a product …then it’s pretty much the best.
Now that the die-hard, raving-fans have had an absolute field-day in the comments …I now well and truly have to completely re-think this knife concept.
Like I said…
I initially was going to just make a knife. Simple.
But now it’s not simple.
Because of the comments (and emails) I’ve received I am now forced to carefully consider:
— Blade design
— Blade material
— Blade edge
— Folding mechanism
— Left/Right handed
— Locking mechanism
— Etc, etc, etc.
I am now genetically pre-disposed to use the best steel for the job (which means researching it fully) …I have to get the blade design right (for this knife’s specific purpose) …and, well, pretty much everything.
Now that I’m aware that there are better options than I initially thought – I have to actually follow these better options so that I know I’m choosing the BEST option.
Man, I was so ignorant to knives three days ago. I’m still ignorant now… but I now KNOW I’m ignorant. 😛
More on the knife soon!