I want to acquaint you with the disease called scrapitis. It’s a chronic condition that manifests itself most commonly in the idle woodworker who is short on funds but long on imagination. It’s chief symptom is an inability to look at a pile of lumber scraps without dreaming up some sort of knickknack or thingamajig to conjure out of the assorted detritus. Sadly, scrapitis is incurable, but it can be treated by the application of tool to wood. I suffer from scrapitis, which has lately driven me to pipe making.
I’m sure most woodworkers don’t immediately glance at a pile of scraps and think “Hmm, that would make a nice pipe.” But, along with crippling scrapitis I also suffer from facial hirsuteness. Yes, I’m afflicted with a beard. And not only a beard, but a handlebar moustache to boot. Indeed, if I were a foot shorter and a wee bit hairier, I’d basically be a hobbit (Lord knows I already eat like one). Of course, any reader of Tolkien will know that hobbits are fond of smoking pipe weed. I live in a college town, so numerous botanical substances spring to mind, but for the sake of not committing any felonies let’s assume Tolkien meant tobacco. With that frame of mind, I set to designing my hobbit pipe.
Let me start out by saying I’m no expert at pipe making. In fact, this is my first one. It’s also my first attempt at carving, turning, or steam bending. Pipes are generally made in two pieces: the stummel, which is where the tobacco bowl is, and the stem, which goes in your mouth. Confuse the two at your peril. The basic design of the stereotypical hobbit pipe is known as a churchwarden. This has an elongated stem, usually bent to a wide radius.
I’m not the kind of woodworker who can create a project entirely in their mind. At some point, I have to commit a basic outline to paper or computer screen. More often, it’s the latter, since my manual drawing skills are more Rothko than Rembrandt. So, I fired up Inventor, and banged out a quick model. I made it about a foot long, with a 3/4” by 1.25” bowl inside of an 1.5” diameter stummel. This was just a rough guide for proportioning and knowing what size scraps to choose. Good thing too, since much would change as I started working.