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...