The final stop on our weekend of maker visits was a company called American Bench Craft.
Jason and Chris Angelini, two brothers, make up the company. Jason has the hands-on maker experience, while Chris is the marketing/creative type. The brothers got their start on Kickstarter with the successful funding of a minimalist wallet made with rivets but no stitches.
Jason had decided to leave his job as an Engineer one Friday and, on the following Monday, was shopping for a wallet. He didn’t have a lot of money to spend and he finally figured out he’d be better off making the wallet himself. Hence, the idea was born.
Chris and Jason (right) Angelini founders of American Bench Craft
The leather is sourced in the USA, but we will respect the guys’ wishes not to divulge the source. One of the challenges of being a small company, they said, is being able to purchase the high quality material – and they need to protect that.
One of the materials they use is a vegetable-tanned bridle leather with a rich feel and finish that is completed at the tannery. The other leather is a beautiful, full-grain hide. It is the top, dense part of the hide, so they sometimes have to work around imperfections like the marks a cow might get from grazing a barbed wire fence. The hardware for the belts is sourced from the Weaver company in Ohio.
The shop is low-tech but the fact is, they have all the equipment they need. That includes a manual click-press for cutting leather, a series of arbor presses for the rivets and a burnishing wheel.
Manual click Press.
A collection of arbor presses and the motorized burnishing wheel.
The wallet that Jason and Chris launched on Kickstarter was marketed as “the last wallet you will need to buy.” Afterward, they were faced with a unique problem: How do you get people to come back if they just bought the last wallet they’ll ever need? So now American Bench Craft has new products like a front-pocket wallet, dog collars, belts and key chains.
A selection of the goods on display in the workshop.
I bought some of their business card holders to use as gifts, but one only got as far as Kathy, who, after checking it out decided she needed one for her Americanologist business cards! I also purchased a Working Man’s Belt (below) which is breaking in nicely.
Jason asked me to test and review a product called Hide-drator, a leather conditioner that they helped develop. So far, I’ve applied it to my Wolverine Addison boots and an old leather attaché case, and both items look incredible. It’s different from anything I’ve used before (boot oil and standard leather conditioner) but I really like the results enough that I’m going to pay for my next tin.
The leather Hide-drator (these are not my boots!)
What’s next? Jason indicated he wants to make a billfold and possibly launch a joint venture with another premium (and still secret) American brand. Jason has joined Makers Row and is looking at other opportunities to expand the product offering. We wish them the best of luck.