Shop's Log #8: Two More Pipes

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Blog entry by terryR posted 04-05-2014 05:01 PM 2947 reads 0 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 7: Gramercy Rasp Gets New Handle Part 8 of Shop's Log series Part 9: Split Nut Driver »

Hi everyone, another short blog in an attempt to get caught up with shop activities…

First, for those who don’t know me, I have an addictive personality. So, when I create something in the shop that turns out better than I anticipated, or was more fun than I expected…I just HAVE to make another one. LOL.

...wooden arrows, pine needle baskets, and wood-burned gourds come to mind. This month it’s wooden tobacco pipes! :)

I learned a ton from my first attempt, and after JimtheCarver posted a couple of his one-piece pipes on the Pipe Swap Forum, I had to try one. A pretty 2×2“ section of Cherry was close at hand, so cherry it is…

The most difficult part IMO seemed to be turning the outer section of the bowl… you can see the blue-taped section swings in an awkward way when the machine is on. In fact, it’s very difficult to even see at 400 rpm, that’s why I added the blue tape. I got my knuckles tapped a few dozen times while shaping this part. Not good.

Also, as a side note…notice my little Jet with a supposed 5“ of clearance over the bed (giving the 10” swing). However, since I’m using a 4-jaw chuck to hold the workpiece, some of that distance is used up by tooling, so a 5“ long stem wouldn’t clear the bed…Sorry for the math, just something to remember when buying a lathe. You won’t be able to use the maximum stated swing for some projects.

And, notice also how little space there is left for the tool rest support…not to mention the tool rest itself. This is exactly where a metal working lathe excels over a wood turner. Not saying this cannot be done…keep watching…but it takes more skill and attention with this tool.

Once the tobacco chamber is turned, the pipe is re-chucked on the lathe in this position. Much easier to shape since there’s more room! But, I still use the blue tape to remind my brain to keep the chisels away from that section.

Oh, I completely forgot…the blank has already been drilled on the lathe for the air hole and the tobacco chamber. 3/4“ Forstner bit for the chamber since I don’t have a proper rounded bit yet, and a 3/16“ air hole…gotta get photos next time!

After shaping at the lathe, there’s still some stock removal which has to be done with rasps or power carving tools. I used both. A carbide cutter in the Dremel is nice for fast removal, but the rasp is better for precision work IMO.

In the above photo, I’ve already used the carbide cutter, and have progressed to a worn flap sander. An extremely noisy tool, but very effective nonetheless. Above, you can also see the old handle which came off my Gramercy rasp…bummer. See previous blog for repairs. Told you I’m behind on posting stuff. :)

After power sanding a ton of cherry dust into the shop’s air, I had to leave for a while just to breathe! Guess I’ve been playing with hand tools too much lately and have gotten out of practice with the power sanders. Must have shop vac nearby!

Eventually sanded to 600 grit by hand, then subjected to the 3 buff system on the lathe. Simple wax for a finish…

Again, the cherry is sorta bland, but not a bad pipe for my 2nd attempt. It draws quite well despite the flat tobacco chamber! Overall length of 6“. Was such a blast to make…

I cut another blank of wood immediately. I wanted something with more grain and color, so chose some Spalted Alder…

No, no, no, I’m not gonna smoke out of this pipe…I just wanted a pretty piece of wood. I still failed to get photos of drilling the air holes, but in the photo above you can see the careful layout and transfer of lines all the way around the blank. You can also see I like to play with sharp knives and colored pencils. LOL.

I followed the exact same steps as the cherry pipe above…used the lathe to turn the bowl, then the stem…

Here’s a good shot of what the pipe looks like after all the lathe work, and before the handwork…

And, I used the Dremel, then rasps, then sandpaper, blah, blah, blah. Who’s even reading by now? Just show us the eye candy! :)

Came out pretty nice for pipe no.3, short and stubby at 5.5“ long. Definitely a wall-hanger, but on this one I learned to hold my lathe chisels left-handed…keeping my tender knuckles further from the rotating evil wood. So, not a waste of time at all IMO. :)

In fact, I’m feeling confident about working that Apple and expensive Briar now! AND, I’m hooked on making pipes…

Comments and Suggestions are always welcomed!

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

16 comments so far

View SASmith               's profile


1850 posts in 3161 days

#1 posted 04-05-2014 05:14 PM

Great blog.
Thanks for sharing.

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

View Slyy's profile


2840 posts in 1830 days

#2 posted 04-05-2014 05:58 PM

Terry, I’m seriously impressed with the pipes I’ve seen you turn out. Great way to practice your skillz: just make more of ‘em!!!!

-- Jake -- "Not only do we live among the stars, the stars live within us." - Neil Degrasse Tyson

View Philzoel's profile


303 posts in 2517 days

#3 posted 04-05-2014 08:22 PM

Curved stem next, rirgt.

-- Phil Zoeller louisville, KY

View Don W's profile

Don W

18989 posts in 2742 days

#4 posted 04-05-2014 09:17 PM

Pretty nice Terry.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View Hybridwoodworker's profile


28 posts in 2306 days

#5 posted 04-06-2014 01:18 AM

Turn an 8” to 10” cone extension. Cone on one end and smal derpession or hole on the other end. Use it between the pipe bowl and the tail stock cone. Now you have room to the right of the pipe handle for the tool rest banjo.


-- Life is hard, it is harder if you are stupid.

View AnthonyReed's profile


10040 posts in 2614 days

#6 posted 04-06-2014 04:17 AM

Very nice Terry. Thanks for sharing.

-- ~Tony

View BigRedKnothead's profile


8542 posts in 2156 days

#7 posted 04-06-2014 01:36 PM

I like watching you work;-)

-- "At the end of the day, try and make it beautiful....because the world is full of ugly." Konrad Sauer

View terryR's profile


7396 posts in 2483 days

#8 posted 04-06-2014 02:53 PM

Thanks for the kind words, ya’ll.

Thanks, Bruce, I will try that! I’ve turned a 3” long cone before, but it was green oak, and split the first week. Will try again with some beech! 10”, huh? sounds long…but will give it a go! :)

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View Hybridwoodworker's profile


28 posts in 2306 days

#9 posted 04-06-2014 03:18 PM

Terry, they to use dry wood and even pine will work. I would aim for a minimum of 3/4” diameter. At the speed you are turning and off center weighted piece, you should not have a lot of vibration.


-- Life is hard, it is harder if you are stupid.

View terryR's profile


7396 posts in 2483 days

#10 posted 04-06-2014 03:55 PM

Thanks, again, BRuce…was just searching google images, and see a lot of pine colored jigs!

I think a wooden pipe mandrel is coming up. :) Thank you for helping me see the obvious…

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View Hybridwoodworker's profile


28 posts in 2306 days

#11 posted 04-06-2014 06:40 PM

You are welcome. I’ve been turning for a while and solving theses types of issues are the fun part .

-- Life is hard, it is harder if you are stupid.

View terryR's profile


7396 posts in 2483 days

#12 posted 04-06-2014 10:59 PM

Bruce, just to prove you are not wasting your time… new pipe mandrel. :)

About 8” long, made from pine, works great!

Yes, I agree that solving shop ‘problems’ is 1/2 the fun sometimes…sounds like I need YOU in the shop more often. LOL.

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

View Hybridwoodworker's profile


28 posts in 2306 days

#13 posted 04-07-2014 12:36 AM

I’m around most of the time now so either post a question or send a private email. I’ve never turned a pipe but may have to give it a try since it has different mounting problems. It would be an interesting piece to display. I never feel it is a waste of time to post a response, someone will benefit. Your lathe looks like a Jet but I can’t see enought of it to tell.


-- Life is hard, it is harder if you are stupid.

View Brit's profile


7522 posts in 3017 days

#14 posted 04-18-2014 08:28 PM

Don’t know how I missed this Terry. Those pipes are great. I wouldn’t know where to start with a project like that, so thanks for such a detailed and amusing blog. Great read.

-- - Andy - Old Chinese proverb says: "If you think something can't be done, don't interrupt man who is doing it."

View terryR's profile


7396 posts in 2483 days

#15 posted 04-19-2014 02:52 PM

Thanks for the kind words, Andy.

Your 3mx3m shop would look nice with a midi-lathe! LOL. And, I bet your wifey could think of lots of holiday stuff for you to turn for the up-coming carnivals! I KNOW it isn’t a hand tool…but…it can make hand tools! :)

-- tr ...see one, do one, teach one...

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