Bench-Built Wallets

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If you were to look into my top drawer of my dresser you would find some of the more personal items that I collect, such as wristwatches, pocket knives and wallets. Lately I’ve been in the market for a micro-wallet to carry in my front pocket. If you ride a motorcycle like I do, you already know the problems associated with a wallet in your back pocket. The bulge can give you the proverbial pain in the backside for any rides over an hour or so. Not that the bulge in my wallet has anything to do with the amount of cash I have folded up in it, that’s for sure. But like watches and pocket knives I can be a little picky about what I carry with me. For many years I have carried a Victorinox Swiss Army pocket knife because of the beauty and functionality it gives and after all, I am a creature of habit. The same goes for wristwatches.

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While looking for a wallet, I stumbled upon a small company in Cambridge Nebraska called Bench-Built. They sell handmade wooden money clips and wallets and a military grade composite wallet that holds up to five cards and cash. What caught my attention was the colors used in the military grade wallets that pulled my gaze away from the more traditional leather wallets. The handmade wooden wallets are absolutely beautiful but as I stated before, the thickness of my wallet isn’t from all the cash. As much as I admire their handmade quality and beauty, I needed affordable. I purchased the military grade and I must say I’m impressed. Simple and functional, it fits great in my front pocket with my keys and change. My other front pocket has my lip balm and pocket knife in it, so there isn’t much room without being uncomfortable. As a biker, it isn’t unusual to get caught in a brief shower and if this gets wet in my pocket the only thing that will stay wet is the cash clipped under the magnet. Again, in my case cash doesn’t seem to be my problem.

The quality is good and it is definitely durable. Also, holding it in your hand your fingers sense the medical grade Soft Touch giving it a leather-like feel. A strong magnet to hold your cash and enough space for 5-6 of your credit cards gives you everything you need in a small package. All of this backed with their lifetime guarantee – if it breaks it will be replaced. Hard to beat for about $25. Check them out if you are looking for something a little different or wanting a unique gift idea for the motorcyclist in your life.

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The Hands of Time and Leather

 

There was a time when things were handmade and built to last, and when you held quality in your hand and you could feel it. We’ve strayed far from quality and caring to somehow accepting a short life expectancy from what we purchase – so much for passing it on to our kids.

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As a kid growing up I was fascinated by my fathers watch. Something he wore daily, and that rare moment when he was standing still, I would look it over. It wasn’t anything special, but I remember looking at it and thinking how old it seemed even then. It was worn and hard to read but the best way to describe it is to say that this watch my father so dutifully wore was standing the test of time. It must have been a faithful watch, keeping the best of time or my dad wouldn’t have worn it. To this day, I still catch myself looking at my fathers watch.

What once was a land of handmade, no-two-the-same, can’t buy it just anywhere products – we’ve digressed into a mass-produced, everyone has it environment. But it’s not the artisans fault. What’s the old saying? Oh yeah, something about you get what you pay for. The hands that crafted have grown tired and retired and have been replaced with machines that have no creativity, no pride or heart.

So it was March of 2012 when I received an email from Stephen Berner. He was contacting me to write a blog for his website, and after checking it out, I wasn’t sure what I was writing was good enough. I was completely blown away by Steve’s angle on the American V-twin lifestyle and all that surrounds it, and me being a small town guy who can’t seem to get out of said small town, had doubts on my abilities. But he believed in me and there was nothing to say but “yes, I’ll do it.”

I’ve learned a lot from Steve. Without knowing, he pushed me to be more creative. He gave me an opportunity to think beyond the city limits I’ve grown comfortable with and to try harder, think harder, and look at things from a different angle. And for that I owe him a “thank you.”

Steve has a thing about closed and long-abandoned factories where men and women not only built these factories but everything that came out of them. They took pride in what they manufactured and it showed on their dusty clothes, dirty faces and callused hands. A symbol of America that is slowly being forgotten and left to die one brick at a time. The hopes and dreams of these workers forgotten when they were carried out the front door in their lunch pails for the last time.

Steve has taken his passion and his love for quality, hand-made-in-America, to crafting it into leather. With the effort of those who have paid their dues and rightfully passing on their skills and knowledge to someone who cares enough to carry on a tradition, Steve has taken it upon himself to produce what he so believes in. Beauty. Quality. Handmade.

You can’t rush this kind of work and mistakes can’t be covered. Do it right or don’t do it at all, I say. And what’s that old saying again? Right. Get what you pay for. To pick up the tools of a trade that has almost been forgotten is admirable. Not everyone can do it, and sadly so few even want to. It can’t be easy, as it requires creativity, patience, a steady hand and the ability to see the end result before you’ve picked up a tool. Slow and deliberate, but worth it.

I suggest you check out Steve’s goods and see for yourself. Support those who take the time to do it right, right here at home, and carry with you something that will only get better with age.

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