The Justification For Toys

There are a few toys that are on my “maybe I should get, but can’t quite justify the cost” list. The first is the graphic attached to this post. It’s a 1 watt laser that can do cool shit like light fires and cut through plastic. I could perhaps justify it as an important survival implement, since after all, being able to start fires is an important survival skill. Plus, it can double as a pretty good signal beacon. But the real justification? “A 1W handheld laser that can start fires? I just need to have it!”

In that same space, I’ve been watching my friend Jason run off a couple of un-papered firearms on his CNC mill (more posts to come there later tonight or tomorrow) and I’m thinking I could stand to have a few of these myself. I can’t exactly get him to run one off for me, because you get questionably legal when you’re not just making them for yourself, and I also would like the machining experience. So I’m looking at mills like this one. A hefty price tag for a toy, and I don’t really have the space for one in this house. I’d have to get my dad to play along and let me use his basement to house the mill. Fortunately, my dad moved back Pennsylvania, which conveniently eliminates one legal obstacle to being able to mill myself an AR lower in his basement.

Alas, I can’t justify spending that kind of money for a couple of guns. I’d have to have some other use for it. Jason uses his mill for other things. Maybe I need to follow Mr. C’s lead and come up with some kind of nifty gun accessory to turn out on a mill to justify the cost of buying and maintaining one of these things.

11 thoughts on “The Justification For Toys”

  1. I have that S3 Arctic blue and it is impressive but it doesn’t do any more than a good magnifying glass. It rocks at night however as a pointer for the stars but where I live, I have a flight path over me so I can only use it between 2 and 4 AM.

    1. That’s why I probably wouldn’t get it. The most fun could be derived by shining it up into the air. But this area is way to heavy with air traffic to do that.

  2. I’d love a powerful laser like that, but the dangers it could pose to my eyes worries me. I’d have to remember that anyone around it would need the safety glasses for whatever wavelength I’m using.

    1. They come with appropriate safety glasses and there is a 10% low power setting which is the default on state. You need a PhD in rocket science to key in the sequence of long and short button presses to get the thing to turn on and then to get it into it’s high power state. Despite being a taiwanese company, they really have the lawyer friendly safety thing down (to the extent a product like this can).

  3. It’s my understanding that 30mW is more than enough to damage your eyes with anything more than a quick glance, and 100mW can *instantly* blind you for life. You gotta be really careful with those things… like even more careful than with guns because lasers reflect off of all sorts of surfaces.

    An Infrared laser in the 100mW power class could be used as an almost undetectable and very powerful weapon. Go for the eyes!

    1. That was my concern, it’s not like you have to stare at these things for a while for there to be damage; it’s a laser, not simply a bright light. The reflection was what really bothers me, it’s one thing to mind the ‘muzzle’ direction, but if it unexpectedly bounced off of a surface I was aiming at it’ll all happen too quick to react.

      It seems like the only safe way to use these is for *everyone* nearby to have the appropriate eye protection. Really, I figure something like this is more akin to a firearm than a toy and shouldn’t be played with casually like a regular laser pointer.

  4. With regards to mills, you can look into Sherline’s miniature mill and lathe lines. They certainly won’t be up to “industrial strength” stuff, and would probably need special ingenuity for making full-fledged firearms, but they are also cheaper than the mill you linked to–indeed, $3000 will get you a mill, a lathe, and a lot of tools, if I recall correctly.

    And since these things are miniatures, you could even get a microscope to go with them. Just *imagine* doing lathe work, watching it through a microscope! How cool is that?

    Since these are miniture tools, they also fit in places where a full-scale mill won’t fit, such as a kitchen counter or a bedroom; thus, these are popular tools for hobbyists.

    If I could afford something, this is probably what I’d go for–but then, I’ve always been attracted to miniature things!

    1. If my shop area wasn’t already crowded, I’d start instead with something like a Proxxon lathe. Sure, milling the AR lower is awesome, but the building blocks of experience are invaluable in tuning bolt action receivers you pick up here and there. Classic Arms has Mosin receivers at 5 for $100.

      Something like would take up little room. Not cutting barrel profiles on it, but you could certainly clean up the barrel shoulders, fix a crown, etc. Well, reading the chuck specs, maybe not all of them, so probably not the ideal model. You get the idea.

      Beware. Down this path lies empty wallets and well thumbed Brownell’s catalogs. I’ve had a lot of fun tinkering with my Turk, though. I’ve just had to outsource the lathe work.

      Think about the days cutting your teeth on the .99 kernel way-back-when, the labor in getting it tuned just right, the joy when it was done. This will take you right back.

      EDIT: I thought the Sherline’s were bigger. Just checked, those might just fit the bill, even in my tight space.

  5. As for lasers, I don’t think I’d trust myself with a powerful “free-range” laser, like the one Sebastian pictured…but I’d love a powerful CNC carbon dioxide or oxygen laser! It’s my understanding, though, that an oxygen laser can cost as much as $8000, so it’s not a cheap toy.

  6. What’s with the “As is – No Warranty” on that mill?

    With all the “consumer rights” laws around now, is it even legal to sell a new item with no warranty?

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