My plan for my music editing desk

OK, I think I’ve finally got what I want nailed down. I need an editing desk for my music room, something that brings the monitors (both visual and speakers) up to eye & ear level while also giving me tons of room for a 49 key keyboard, plus slide-out computer keyboard. I was going to do 4 legs, but the Mrs. reminded me I need some storage for stuff that seems to collect, so on the left I designed a basic, boxy shelf.

I know the Resolute Desk, and you're no Resolute Desk

This is what it would look like if the wood was naked
A non shaded version for a clearer vision

Overall dimensions – 80” wide, 29” tall (to main desk top), 28” deep.

The top & riser will be stained, maple butcher block, 1” thick. The computer keyboard tray and single shelf will be 3/4” thick maple, butcher block. The legs are 2 3/4” black metal and the risers will be 3/4” galvanized pipe painted a glossy black to match the shelf / legs.

For the riser pipes, I need to figure out the best way to attach them without flanges as those would take up an inordinate amount of space. I’d also like to drill holes above the rear poles to use them as conduit for cords & whatnot.

Thoughts? Tips? Warnings? Do I need to worry about sag at 80”?

posted by Robb Allen @ 12/28/2015 9:02:42 PM | Feedback (12)
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered

7 And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.


Let us celebrate His birth into this world with friends & family, remembering the true reason for the Christmas season.

Here at the Allen home, we wish all of you and yours the merriest of Christmas.

posted by Robb Allen @ 12/25/2015 11:01:00 AM | Feedback (2)
This weekend’s wood-venture

I finally got the storage bench & daughter’s bedside table done.

From this

Have a seat.

to this

Bench, please...

It's like a waiting room for the pool bathroom

and this

Made from recycled digital plywood

To this

Before it gets coated with My Little Pony & boy band stickers

Both of these projects were built using 3/4” birch plywood. The table had some birch veneer to the top edges so I could stain them, and the rest of the plywood edges were simply slathered in wood putty & sanded down.

My next major project is building a desk for my music room, followed up by replacing the eyesore of a laundry table we have. These will be made with hardwoods rather than plywood and hopefully have a bit more to them than just pocket screws & butt joints.


The 80's called. Said you could keep this thing I was going to build a washing machine out of plywood & oak, but time constraints prevented that

All in all, I’m having fun learning. I of course need more & more tools like a band saw, drill press, oscillating sander, etc. and I’ll get those eventually as needed.

posted by Robb Allen @ 12/21/2015 10:07:46 AM | Feedback (15)
Tag, you’re it

Was in Ft. Lauderdale yesterday, chaperoning for my eldest’s Marine Biology club while they did a shark tagging expedition. Way cool. We were told no cameras were allowed, but that turned out to be a miscommunication. Regardless, I didn’t get any pics myself but should have some from those who didn’t listen to the rules :)

I’m pooped. I’m surviving off of very, very little sleep & lots of caffeine.

posted by Robb Allen @ 12/11/2015 8:46:26 AM | Feedback (1)
The danger of words

I may be blogging less, not talking about guns as much, but believe me, I’m very aware of what’s going on.

One thing I want to point out is how those who want power over you (and this doesn’t just mean politicians. It can mean college professors, activists, etc.) will use words to hide their intent. Words crafted in such a way that unless you give it some thought, would seem benign.

For example, when politicians and anti-gunners say “We want to get weapons of war off the street”, what they actually mean is “We want to take your guns from you”. Guns don’t just lie in the street, waiting to be picked up (Well, ok, sometimes they are, but you can blame police for this). And any firearm is a weapon, the war part is just extra words to add fear.

They don’t care about ‘guns on the street’, they are worried about guns in the hands of the people they want to control. But they use phrases like ‘getting guns off the street’ because it’s a generalization that is mean to make you look like a horrible person if you disagree. If there were actually guns on the street, kids could pick them up and hurt themselves, why don’t you love children & puppies you knuckle dragging murderer?

Call them out on this. Every chance you get. Do not concede the language to them. Do not allow them to rewrite things in doublespeak. These words work on both the weak willed and the non-interested as lots of smart people hear dumb things they don’t generally care about and don’t put in the effort to untangle the words & their meanings.

The world is getting scary right now. Don’t let your guard down.

posted by Robb Allen @ 12/1/2015 8:21:01 AM | Feedback (6)
Finished cutting board

My first end grain cutting board was a pretty good success.

Thanks to Virgil of Virgil Guitars, I was able to borrow his drum sander. Had I not had that available, I’d still be sanding this puppy flat.

You're not board with this yet, are you?

Now that I have a routing table, I was able to put a round-over on the edges in literally seconds rather than the 30 minutes it used to take me trying to do it by clamping the board, routing an edge, unclamp, flip, rout, etc.

I sanded with 120, then 220. I went up to 600 with my first board, but it’s so polished that it doesn’t take oil very well. 220 is fine for a cutting board.

I also was able to use the table to make the handles on the ends. I wanted this to be a reversible board so I set the fence back so that the straight cut bit (1/2”) was dead center of the thickness of the board. I then put two blocks of wood to act as stops against the fence, 2 1/2” further than the edge of the centered board to give me a 5 inch hold. Finally, I slowly & carefully placed the board end down onto the bit, using the rightmost stop as a guide & moved the board to the left stop. Flip & repeat.

A little oil (ok, I lied – a LOT of friggin’ mineral oil. End grain is thirsty) and voila! My first end grain. And last. Unless I can get a drum sander.

Oiling my wood. Sadly, not a euphemism

Looking sharp, looking for love. Or tomatoes. Get a grip

posted by Robb Allen @ 12/1/2015 8:10:07 AM | Feedback (3)
More cutting board action

I can’t put all the cutting boards I’m working on online because some of them are gifts, but this particular one is for us so it’s safe. It’s also my first end-grain (butcher block) style board which has its own set of challenges.

My original design turned out to be a bit more ambitious than my skill set would allow (you can see an illustration in this post). Trying to figure out how to get the inlay look was feasible, but I realized it was more than I could do as I ended up burning through some expensive walnut trying to get the blocks laid out right. Plus, I was having bad tearout issues on my table saw with the walnut forcing me to use some more hard maple to make a full size block as well as building a new cross cut sled.

Unfortunately, the plans for the cross country sled fell through

This one is ‘accurate enough’ in the fact that a single cut was good enough to clean up with a quick run through the planer or the jointer & left the edges much, much cleaner.

My daughter helped me last night cut the strips for the board.

The Wood Glitter Fairy

Then I glued them together once again using a neat trick I saw on the Interweb tubes where you put down PVC pipe to rest the boards on & let the pipe clamps sit slightly below. Keeps the wood level & out of contact of the black pipe which can stain the wood. I also put some cauls on the top to prevent vertical shifting & it worked fantastically. The wax paper between the cauls prevented me from gluing them to the board :)

Wood sandwich anyone?

After the glue dried, I scraped off most of the drips & did my best to wipe off as much as I could so that it wouldn’t gum up the planer & fed it through to level the whole thing out. Then it was off to the crosscut sled to slice them into 1.25” thick strips.

Unfortunately, the plans for the cross country sled... wait, did I already use that joke?

You can see in the image I have a block of wood clamped to the sled. Is is a ‘stop’ so I could just slide the wood over until it hit, push the sled through, pull back, take off the 1.25” piece that was just cut, slide the block over & repeat. It almost worked perfectly, there seems to be about 1/16” variance in the new strips, but that’ll get taken care of with sanding.

I really butchered this one. Get it? Butchered? Fine, don't laugh.

The end result is stunning. I can’t believe it looks this good & it’s not even glued together. The joints appear to be very tight & I’ll start gluing them up tonight, but only 3 or 4 at a time so I can ensure they stay perfectly aligned. The slightest offset will be visible & my OCD won’t be happy about that. Then, I’ll either run it through a borrowed drum sander or just start working it with a sanding block & 60 grit to level out the height differences before I attack it with 120 & 220 on the random orbital sander plus round over the edges.

This is gonna be amazing!

posted by Robb Allen @ 11/25/2015 9:39:48 AM | Feedback (5)
In celebration of Dan Rather being attacked by a crazy guy

Tonight, I was able to strum along to REM's "What's the Frequency, Kenneth?" and "Find the River", back to back.

It wasn't easy, nor completely painless, but I did it, which is an achievement.

The finger is gnarly with rivulets of scar tissue on the pad, and where there's scar tissue, there's very little feeling. Immediately outside the scars it hurts. A lot.

It's getting better, and being able to play La Pistola, even if only for a bit, brings me happiness. Hopefully within a few months I'll either have healed enough or otherwise gotten used to the nerve damage sensation enough to play back to my old level.

posted by Robb Allen @ 11/19/2015 8:26:54 PM | Feedback (1)