Shop's Log #11: Pipes 4 and 5

  • Advertise with us
Blog entry by terryR posted 06-09-2014 06:37 PM 3442 reads 0 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 10: Red Oak Cat Shelf Part 11 of Shop's Log series Part 12: Pipe for LJ Swap »

Hello everyone…still trying to get caught up with shop activities…

I’ve managed to become quite addicted to Pipe Craft, and still blame it on the recent Pipe Swap. The exactness required for the airflow, and the contrast of non-conforming exterior shapes just pulls me in.

To make a good pipe, it seems you need good calipers, and artistic imagination. A metal turning lathe would be nice, but only a drill press and hand tools are required. Your mileage may vary. LOL.

Before I wandered into my stash of expensive Algerian Briar, I thought one more pipe from cherry might be a good idea. And let me experiment with some recently purchased acrylic pen blanks for a stem?

The camera must have been across the road and in the house, because I failed to get and shots of the cherry being turned into a pipe stummel. But, it looked very similar to this piece of cherry…note the long extension recently added so my 10 thumbs have more room to control the chisels at 1,000 rpm.

Of course, I use a standard 60 degree cone in the tail stock to center the pipe blank first, then switch to this extension for the shaping of the bowl section once drilled.

And, since I mentioned how important the airflow is, how about a web image of the goal since I failed to get any photos this time around…

Not the best example, but much faster than I could re-produce in Photoshop. At least, you can see how the TOP of the air flow hole intersects the exact BOTTOM of a rounded tobacco chamber bore. That’s important from the reading I’ve done on the web. Plus, the little mortise for the stem to friction fit into. Another small challenge…

Hoping to save a bit of money, I had a go at modding a 3/4” spade bit into a rounded profile…

But, you can see by the hole I bored with it, I failed at making it symmetric. Even had it spinning on the lathe for a while with a hand held grinding stone, but didn’t get it right. Oh well, the tobacco chamber is usually drilled to a diameter of 7/8”, I was just practicing. LOL.

I took the failure back to the grinding wheel, and removed material from the sides of the bit, making it about 5/8” in width. That way I could drill my current pipe with the 7/8” Fortsner bit, then round over the bottom of the chamber in hopes of improving airflow.

Then, I went inside to the computer and ordered a properly ground 7/8” round bit for the future! LOL.

Here’s what my attempt created…

Not perfect, but probably smokable. It does whistle a bit when drawn through. No big deal…it’s a wall hanger anyway.

I shaped the cherry with a combination of power tools and hand held rasps. Of course, sandpaper provides the final shape.

As mentioned, I had planned to make the stem from an acrylic pen blank. Again, no photos, but it went easily with this brand of blank. Since this, I have turned a few different brands of acrylic on the lathe, and some require more skill than others! Because I have so much to learn, I really don’t want to sway anyone’s opinion of a brand name…yet…especially since I’m making pipe stems out of them! (or trying)

I DID make the mistake while drilling the stem of boring all the way through. Usually, the pros drill 90% of the way with a 3/16th or similar bit, then drill from the ‘bit’ end with as tiny a drill bit as they dare to help create a sexy bit that is easily held ‘tween the teeth. That’s why this pipe has a big ole honking bit at the end. :)

Guess I may as well just show ya the finished pipe…I managed to get photos of that!

I colored the cherry with one coat of light red dye, which made it look quite pink! So, I covered that with 2 coats of light brown dye, and onto the buffing wheels with simple wax as a finish. Not my best pipe, but I learned, and that was the purpose.

Now…for the briar pipes!

I purchased this pre-drilled pipe kit off fleaBay some months ago, but didn’t really want to work it. I wanted to prove I could make a pipe without a kit. And did!

But, now, I wanted to make a pipe with a sexy stem and beautiful grain. Time for that kit! LOL.

I paid about $35 for the pre-drilled piece you see above. Which seems a lot, but if you want to make a nice pipe, and don’t have the tooling, this is a decent option IMO. Proper airway, nice stem, and a gold-plated ring. Actually, you could use it as is, and as long as you don’t carve into the airway, you cannot ruin this piece.

So, all there was to do…

...was imagine a final exterior shape and remove the excess briar. Simple,huh? Oh, damn, I had no idea this stuff was so hard! And the grain swirls like your typical burl, so it’s impossible to work with the grain for more than a split second. I had read online forums where beginners commented on how hard the briar was, but thought they were just wimps that hadn’t seen Cocobolo or a dense rosewood. Nope! This briar is another league of hardness.

I found the above method quite effective in removing stock. Trying to hold the block of briar with one hand was removing too much skin. LOL. Note I covered the pretty section with blue tape so I didn’t have to work it again. Although, I still had to sand it lightly after a few errant rasp marks…

And everyone knows by now, I like to play with colored pencils…

Tons more rasping to get my desired shape…in fact…this was taken just before the handle came OFF that Gramercy rasp! (see earlier blog for that fix)

...hand sanded to 400 grit, then onto the buffing wheels…looking nice!

And the finished pipe…slightly asymmetric…but still my best so far.

Smokes great, no flavor at all from the briar. Now, I understand why it’s so highly sought after for pipes…doh! All I can is Daddy smokes from briar only from now on.

And I cannot wait to get into the blocks I have in wait…

Comments and suggestions are always welcomed.

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

25 comments so far

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 2657 days

#1 posted 06-09-2014 06:46 PM

Great looking work.

-- Brian Timmons -

View AnthonyReed's profile


10038 posts in 2613 days

#2 posted 06-09-2014 06:47 PM

Simply gorgeous results Terry. Wonderful job.

-- ~Tony

View mahdee's profile


4006 posts in 1940 days

#3 posted 06-09-2014 07:09 PM

Looks like a lot TLC to create one of these. Love the wood grain. I am about ready to do my first harvest.


View Brit's profile


7520 posts in 3015 days

#4 posted 06-09-2014 08:10 PM

Superb work Terry.

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

View Don W's profile

Don W

18988 posts in 2740 days

#5 posted 06-09-2014 10:56 PM

now that’s smoking!
what’s the fur. Alive or not so much?

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

View lysdexic's profile


5256 posts in 2795 days

#6 posted 06-09-2014 11:01 PM

I am impressed. Bravo.

-- "It's only wood. Use it." - Smitty || Instagram - out_of_focus1.618

View Buckethead's profile


3194 posts in 2041 days

#7 posted 06-09-2014 11:50 PM

I’m not a smoker, but I’m glad I read this. What you did with your spade/paddle bit is ingenious. I’m sad that I’ve thrown so many away.

-- Support woodworking hand models. Buy me a sawstop.

View terryR's profile


7389 posts in 2481 days

#8 posted 06-09-2014 11:51 PM

Thanks, guys!
Don, the white fur is rabbit, the fuzzy part is a ‘coon tail. northern ‘coon.
Oh, the antler is moose…

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

View CFrye's profile


10440 posts in 2012 days

#9 posted 06-10-2014 10:43 AM

This briar is another league of hardness.
Duly noted! I always learn something from you, Terry! Thanks for sharing. The finish is like glass.

-- God bless, Candy

View BigRedKnothead's profile


8542 posts in 2155 days

#10 posted 06-10-2014 01:01 PM

Good fun Terry. A deep down need to be creating with our hands…..we have that in common;-)

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

View terryR's profile


7389 posts in 2481 days

#11 posted 06-10-2014 02:16 PM

Don’t worry, Candy, the briar blocks are so expensive, and mostly sold by pipe supply companies, so you probably won’t come across a big chunk in the wild. Unless you move to the shores of the Mediterranean sea. :) THEN, send me a PM…

yes, Red, I have that disease badly. Need to create something every day or I feel empty. The Schwarz calls us artisans! LOL! For me, happiness comes in the form of completed baskets, spoons, bowls, knives, mallets from 8 pieces of wood…AND collecting the tools to make my play time more enjoyable!

But, I really need an online store, because the craft projects are taking over our house! I have baskets filled with knapped bats, lil spoons, replacement plane parts, now pipes!!! What in the world am I to do with a dozen tobacco pipes? hmmm…Etsy…

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

View jim65's profile


1007 posts in 2106 days

#12 posted 06-10-2014 03:13 PM

Excellent work! you have a new career Terry! Keep going!

-- Jim, Marostica Italy

View Brit's profile


7520 posts in 3015 days

#13 posted 06-10-2014 07:21 PM

Love to see a knapped bat Terry. Maybe you could put one in the background of one of your photos next time you take post some pics.

-- - 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


7389 posts in 2481 days

#14 posted 06-11-2014 12:53 AM

^ will do, Andy!

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

View ShaneA's profile


7044 posts in 2771 days

#15 posted 06-11-2014 12:57 AM

I think they look great Terry.

showing 1 through 15 of 25 comments

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics