I don’t want to get your hopes up

But I’ve actually started writing down the outline for a book.

I’ve watched a few others put a few words together in their spare time & do pretty good. I can write good and stuff. Like really good. Plus I grammaticate real nice.

The interesting thing is that I’m packing more hours into my day by staying up later. I wake up ridiculously early, so it appears 7 hours is way too long to sleep for me anyway, so I can cram extra “things to do” in the later hours of the day, and when I’m tired, my mind seems to have an easier time of constructing ideas for stories. We’ll see if this actually works.

Still building a guitar.

Still playing in the Church Band.

Still coding.

I prefer being busy than not.

posted by Robb Allen @ 7/22/2017 5:45:53 PM | Feedback (0)
I miss this place

Last night, I had to look up a blog post I wrote a few years ago. As I am wont to do, I ended up reading back through some of my old posts.

Man, it wasn’t half bad, was it? I got myself thinking & even chuckling from time to time. I miss blogging.

Why don’t I do it more? Time. Time is my enemy. My job requires my full attention. I take breaks to do other tasks that are waiting. It’s ok, the pay is good, I like the people I work with, and sometimes the challenges are fun. I rarely want to stab a box of kittens when I get home. But to really blog is to spend time combing news, getting correct information, cross checking, and crafting the absolutely best fart joke you can to tie the whole thing up.

I miss doing all that. Seems like I have ideas for what to write, but never the time to really get it done.

Today, I’m doing something rare – I’m taking a lunch break. Usually I just heat up my lunch and plow through my work at my desk. Today, I needed a break (had a project that failed & was pulled. Not my fault, but to put as many hours as I did into a project to see it not work is depressing). So, I decided to write this.

Because I want this place to stay around. I don’t want to give up on it.

I miss my readers too. Looking back through those posts really made me happy with the conversations I fostered. I never cared about eyeballs, I cared about the comment section. To me, that was the caliber of the post.

I’m also pleasantly surprised that I’ve stayed consistent in my views over the years. Sure, I’ve changed my stance on all kinds of things (when I started this blog, I was a Republican! Talk about change!) but my foundations have remained solid. So, this really is like a diary and it’s fascinating to go through history like that.

Not shutting down any time soon. I keep telling myself I’m going to write Ansible 3 some day, but I tend to dream a lot.

posted by Robb Allen @ 5/31/2017 12:42:46 PM | Feedback (8)
A friend I never met

I’m not as active in the gun blogger world any more. My blog is a hobby and plenty of people were able to  turn theirs into careers, and from that, plenty of great gun-related websites sprung forth. There’s still a need for blogs, especially those of us who don’t run any ads, to provide information, but as I’ve moved forward in my career, the time necessary to write well informed pieces started becoming harder & harder to find.

So, when I found out this morning that Bob Owens of BearingArms.com took his own life, I was shaken.

Never met Bob IRL. Interacted with him plenty on his old blog and elsewhere. I didn’t always agree with him which is how life works, but I was glad he was a voice for our cause.

This really hits home for me because, if you’ve read my blog for any length of time, you know I battle with panic attacks.  I’m mildly bi-polar and never really had to fight heavy depression for too long (mostly the mania, which honestly is enjoyable), but the panic attacks that came with the whole affair are scary. Not soon after my youngest was born, I had a bad episode and remember holding her in my arms, not capable of feeling any emotion whatsoever. None. Not love, not anger, not fear. Nothing.

For me, I’m able to fight that. It’s not because I’m stronger than most people, it’s not because of my intelligence. It’s blind luck that I’ve been able to focus my mind away from the depression and lessen the effects of a panic attack as well as medication that helps keep the chemicals in my brain balanced. I live a very normal life. PAs are few & far between and I haven’t had to deal with crushing depression in over a decade. But I understand it and I know the hopelessness one feels when that happens.

I can’t agree with Bob’s assessment that he was a coward or wasn’t strong enough any more than I could agree with a diabetic whose blood sugar spikes even when they eat well. Depression is a health issue, where your mind doesn’t work like it’s supposed to. You might go to all the doctors and be on all the medications and nothing will help. Lord knows  it took several years before they were able to find the right medicine and the right dosage that worked for me. Again, I was lucky that I was able to battle through it all during that time, but I completely understand that feeling that nothing will ever be good again.

One of the best explanations of depression can be found here

And that's the most frustrating thing about depression. It isn't always something you can fight back against with hope. It isn't even something — it's nothing. And you can't combat nothing. You can't fill it up. You can't cover it. It's just there, pulling the meaning out of everything. That being the case, all the hopeful, proactive solutions start to sound completely insane in contrast to the scope of the problem.

When you’ve hit the bottom & cannot even comprehend that there is a way out, it’s hard. And sometimes people cannot take the pain (or complete lack of emotion) any more. We’re emotional beings, and when the largest part of your mental self is not working, death can feel welcome and at that point, any feeling is one you latch on.

Of course, this has nothing to do with guns. Nobody sits there and thinks happy thoughts, sees a gun, and then decides that they want to kill themselves. The responses on Twitter from the gun banners is to be expected. They are the compassionate ones, unless it’s someone who they don’t approve of, then the knives come out. It’s disgusting, but expected. Their emotions aren’t stunted, but unfortunately they’re stuck on hatred rather than compassion.

I’m sorry to see Bob go, I feel bad that he suffered so especially since I can relate. His suffering, however, has now passed to his family so if you can help, please do.

If you’re depressed, find help. It can be defeated and there are many, many ways that don’t involve ending your life & leaving your family behind. You’re not a coward, you’re not weak, you’re sick and sickness can be fixed.

And if you ever need a random ear to listen to, hit that contact button up top. I’m here for you.

posted by Robb Allen @ 5/9/2017 11:21:43 AM | Feedback (1)
80% lower & CNC?

I wonder if it’s feasible? Never really bothered with 80% lowers, but it’d kind of be interesting to see if I could do it.

Anyone have any experience?

posted by Robb Allen @ 5/8/2017 9:18:15 PM | Feedback (6)
New home

If you’re reading this, then you’re seeing the blog on a new server. Hopefully this one won’t die every few hours like the dilapidated box it used to run on.

posted by Robb Allen @ 4/29/2017 2:35:47 PM | Feedback (3)
Padauk 1911 Grips for sale

As promised, here are my first for sale grips. Get in on a piece of history with Serial number 0000000000000000001 (I left enough 0’s just in case this takes off!).


Like usual, pictures can't really do them justice as the orange color is *deep*, something you really need 2 eyes to appreciate. They are for full sized 1911s and have a tough-as-nails gunstock finish on them that will endure for years to come.

Only $45 + shipping.

posted by Robb Allen @ 4/26/2017 8:17:33 AM | Feedback (1)
Snobbery exists everywhere.

I got a rather snotty comment today on a woodworker's forum regarding the pistol grips I was making.

"I love CNC's it helps people believe they are skilled woodworkers"

The condescension practically stained my monitor. My only reply was "Never made that claim" as the last thing I wanted to do was get in (yet another) pissing match with some keyboard jockey on the interweb tubes. However, it did rub me the wrong way as it's just another form of snobbery. It's like saying "I love compilers. It helps people believe the are skilled programmers" (quote stolen from a Twitter friend).

$5 says the guy who made this comment uses power tools rather than gnawing the wood down with his teeth and sanding it using nothing but the stubble from his 5 o’clock shadow like a true woodworker would!! It’s practically a sawdust covered version of the “No True Scotsman” fallacy.

I get it. The CNC automates tasks. There’s a difference between a painting and a mass produced print of the painting. The original tends to have more value, however I didn’t just download a file, turn on the CNC, hit ‘Print’ and walk away. No, I spent many hours and many failed chunks of wood trying to get the system set up correctly. I may not have made the original model out of wood, but I sure as heck put the same amount of effort “carving” the item digitally - a skill in and of itself. I had to track down specifications to turn this



into this



And eventually into this

18034034_10154558713416347_5157648969460965413_n 18058028_10154558713321347_9000349253825741181_n 18056980_10154558713326347_1655241753579870292_n 17991255_10154559387061347_2979087059101424881_n

Which ended up costing a lot more than I was hoping for as I ate through a lot of lacewood with screwing things up from time to time. But learning those kinds of things isn’t a “real” woodworker and doesn’t require skill I guess. Or maybe it is, and I just take a different approach.

Oh, those will be for sale too. And guess what? Because I can easily reproduce them, they’re not going to be $800 “bespoke, hand crafted 1911 grips from virgin mother-of-toilet-seat” grips. The lacewood will be $65. Walnut or maple would be probably $30. Might try some Wenge, and those would be $65 as well. Eventually, I should be able to do inlays which can be custom done for a little more. Once I learn how to get the checkering applied, that’d probably be a $5 upcharge. This is less than a fully handcrafted set of grips made by blind monks living in the backwaters of Jeffcooperstan.

I'm not making things on the CNC and calling them "hand made". In fact, I jokingly am calling it "hand-ish made". There is a level of art involved in fine detail work, and as someone who spent what some people pay for a used car on a custom guitar, I get that. But this is a hobby, one I enjoy thoroughly and if I can have fun making stuff that makes other people happy too, well that’s a bonus.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I hear the CNC calling me.

posted by Robb Allen @ 4/24/2017 7:48:02 PM | Feedback (21)
If you can dream it

You can build it!

This past weekend, I spent a few hours running a test to see if I could model something like this


Into this


And I did!

That’s a rough prototype. I only used a 1/16” flat down-cut bit which leaves a pretty rough surface. I had to hit it on the sander just to get rid of a lot of the wood shavings, but other than that this is what pops out of the machine in a single pass. Took about 40 minutes to rout, but the information gleaned was invaluable.

First thing I learned is how to navigate around Autodesk Fusion 360 (which is free for hobbyists!) and create the grip from specs. This is actually much easier in a 3D program like fusion 360 than anything I could do in Illustrator, not to mention that this is dimensional, not just a 2d outline. There’s also the fact that the program handles distances & whatnot for you much better (e.g. I need the center of this hole to be .36” from this edge. It will always be .36”, even if you move the edge). Much fun. Very cool.

Second, I can visualize how to make some really, really, really nice grips, even some with inlays. I have some highly figured walnut that I’m dying to turn into a set of grips with ebony & maple outlines and make a matching pen & pencil set out of. Part of the trick is learning how to swap out pieces without getting misaligned (the XCarve is a hobby machine, not a NASA engineered precision system, so things can get slightly off track if you’re not careful). Once I can successfully remove parts and / or change bits without losing precision, it will give me so many new options for cool things.

There’s also order of operations. For a scale, I need to drill very small holes for alignment on the top & bottom so I can flip them without them getting offset. The bottom holes have a slightly larger radius to allow for a flange and the tops have something similar for the screw head. Manually doing this with a drill is… let’s just say I’ve yet to have success with that. I can use my drill press now, but all three holes are not common sizes & require special bits. At least with the CNC, I can rout out those pockets with pretty good accuracy although holes tend to be a bit wonky (gotta figure out why).

Once I have the holes drilled, I can put it back on the jig and carve out the pockets for any inlays, carve out the inlays themselves, glue them together, then back on the jig for basic shaping. I need to add on about .01” to the overall thickness to allow for sanding and final whatnots.

Stay tuned! Exciting things are coming!

posted by Robb Allen @ 3/28/2017 8:39:29 AM | Feedback (23)