Shop's Log #12: Pipe for LJ Swap

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Blog entry by terryR posted 06-23-2014 11:22 PM 4172 reads 2 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 11: Pipes 4 and 5 Part 12 of Shop's Log series Part 13: Bent Apple Pipe »

Hello everyone,‭ ‬another blog…another pipe.

Actually,‭ ‬this one isn’t just another pipe.‭ ‬This was my entry for the LJ Pipe Swap last month…another reason I’ve been practicing pipe craft‭! ‬This finished pipe went to jim65‭ ‬in Italy‭! ‬Very cool.‭

It all started out on paper,‭ ‬of course…here you can see my initial plans for the pipe which included a ring of antler.‭ ‬I had been practicing with antler on the lathe,‭ ‬as you can see on the small cherry piece at the top of the photo.

I later changed my mind on the added antler,‭ ‬but laying out the airway and final shape now is important before any shaping.‭ ‬Especially since that little chunk of Algerian Briar in the photo cost‭ ‬$8‭ ‬shipped‭! ‬No time for practice work now…

I marked the center of the top,‭ ‬and laid out the rough outline of the bowl using the trusty leg vise.‭ ‬Gotta find a way to get more of these in the shop…

Did the same for the air hole,‭ ‬and onto the lathe we go…using my custom wooden jaws this time.

After drilling the‭ ‬5/32‭” ‬air hole,‭ ‬I followed with a‭ ‬9/32‭” ‬mortise hole,‭ ‬then moved the‭ ‬60‭ ‬degree cone into position,‭ ‬and rounded off the shank of the pipe.‭ ‬Note the bright yellow tape…makes the square portion easier to see when spinning‭! ‬Very important for the knuckles to avoid those parts‭!

Next,‭ ‬the blank was rotated‭ ‬90‭ ‬degrees for drilling of the tobacco chamber…

After boring the‭ ‬7/8‭” ‬chamber,‭ ‬this extension is used so I have more room to work with the chisels.‭ ‬I also sanded this portion of the pipe briefly while spinning on the lathe,‭ ‬but not the stem since it will see rasps later.

This briar is some beautiful stuff,‭ ‬huh‭? ‬Got it from Vt.‭ ‬Freehand on eBay…a highly recommended source for briar and tooling.

At this point,‭ ‬I changed my mind about the antler,‭ ‬and decided to add a Nickle Silver band recently purchased online.

Most pros add these by heating the band to expand slightly,‭ ‬then press it onto the stem with a cool tool.‭ ‬I opted for sanding the stem to match the ID of the ring,‭ ‬and attach with‭ ‬5‭ ‬minute epoxy… for me.‭ ‬Should stay put for a lifetime‭! (‬lemme know on that one,‭ ‬jim‭!) ‬I like using these store bought bands,‭ ‬but need to learn to make them considering the asking price‭! ‬Ahh…so much to learn…

From this point forward,‭ ‬there are numerous ways to finish removing the excess briar.‭ ‬Most pros have a sweet French wheel set-up,‭ ‬and I’ll show you guys a photo of that when I get one‭! ‬LOL.‭ ‬Also,‭ ‬sanding belts and discs are used in a variety of combinations.

Here’s my quick set-up for power carving…

I clamp the business end of my Foredom flex carver to the bench as well as the vacuum hose.‭ ‬Insert the long cylindrical burr‭ (‬which is partially ruined in this photo,‭ ‬but being replaced soon‭)‬,‭ ‬and use the foot control to adjust the speed of the carver.‭ ‬That gives me both hands to hold onto the briar.

Works pretty well.

A quick trip to the big ole‭ ‬12‭” ‬disc sander to help smooth the shape…

This is an awesome tool…1‭ ‬hp directly drives the disc.‭ ‬Very flat,‭ ‬machined work surface.‭ ‬Grizzly did a good one with this tool,‭ ‬but it’s a bit large for pipes.‭ ‬Stay tuned for a French wheel…LOL…

From this point,‭ ‬it’s time for the hand tools.‭ ‬Expensive rasps,‭ ‬rifflers,‭ ‬and sandpaper.

A more experienced hand can finish these pipes with just power sanders and buffing wheels,‭ ‬but I like the feel of hand tools.‭ ‬They are slower,‭ ‬but sure give me more control over final shaping‭! ‬Love that Gramercy Tote Maker’s rasp for these pipes…now that the handle stays on.‭ ‬LOL.

After an hour or so of hand-sanding to‭ ‬400‭ ‬grit…

...this one’s ready for the buffing wheels,‭ ‬then stamping of the maker’s mark…

As soon as I get back to vending,‭ ‬and make a bit of profit,‭ ‬a customized stamp is in order for my maker’s mark‭!

So,‭ ‬that’s a finished pipe stummel.‭ ‬But,‭ ‬not much good without a stem,‭ ‬so…

Let’s make a stem.‭ ‬The photo above shows my approximate idea for the shape of the stem,‭ ‬and the black rod in the lower right is the‭ ‬7/8‭” ‬Delrin we’ll use.

Gotta start on the lathe…

...first by drilling the through hole for airflow.‭ ‬This is traditionally done with a‭ ‬5/32‭” ‬or similar sized bit for‭ ‬90%‭ ‬of the bore,‭ ‬then a tiny bit is used to complete the air way at the end which will become the bit for your teeth to bite.‭ ‬Here,‭ ‬I used a‭ ‬.101‭” ‬bit,‭ ‬and had no problems drilling this slippery Delrin.‭ ‬Acrylic needs much shorter strokes with the bit to allow for clearing the debris and cooling.

After turning the Delrin back around‭ ‬180‭ ‬degrees,‭ ‬I started to work the tenon which fits into the pipe’s shank.

This stuff is slippery,‭ ‬but a pain in the butt to turn on the lathe compared to wood‭! ‬The‭ ‬Delrin constantly wants to grab the sharp chisel,‭ ‬and can cause deep gouges when it does so.‭ ‬Also,‭ ‬the material wads up in long strands and gets in the way of progress,‭ ‬unlike wood which chips away and lands in my socks.‭ ‬LOL.

Upon more reading,‭ ‬I’ve learned that a little lube goes a long way to help this problem,‭ ‬and have been experimenting with lard‭! ‬Works for me…

When the tenon approaches its final diameter‭ (‬remember,‭ ‬it has to fit tight to the stem with only a friction joint‭)‬,‭ ‬I go ahead and use a Forstner bit to‭ ‘‬face off‭’ ‬the stem,‭ ‬or make the end completely square to the axis of rotation.‭ ‬Not as critical with this tenon,‭ ‬since it will be hidden inside the pipe’s shank,‭ ‬but this is how objects are treated on the lathe and later glue up seamlessly.‭

Actually,‭ ‬the tip of the tenon gets a slight chamfer,‭ ‬and the shoulders in this photo are what have to be square to the pipe’s shank for a tight joint.‭ ‬To ensure that,‭ ‬I simply use a square carbide tip on my chisel and carefully check when done.

To actually get the pipe to fit the stem,‭ ‬I use‭ ‬320‭ ‬grit sandpaper to remove Delrin,‭ ‬and gradually slide the pipe onto the stem…

Sweet,‭ ‬no gaps.‭

The remainder of the stem gets shaped off the lathe,‭ ‬again,‭ ‬using a multitude of potential tools.‭ ‬Power sanders,‭ ‬power carvers,‭ ‬or rasps and sandpaper.

I gave the belt sander a try…

...but a‭ ‬2‭” ‬belt would be more useful,‭ ‬especially without a platen behind it.‭ ‬Hmmm,‭ ‬must get serious about a‭ ‬2×72‭” ‬sander…

Back to the Foredom and a carbide burr.‭ ‬This yellow burr is fine grit and leaves a decent finish considering how quickly it removes material.

And,‭ ‬another secret tool in my shop…

...a flat piece of Beech that I can wrap sandpaper over‭! ‬LOL.‭ ‬Not very high-tech,‭ ‬but very effective at flattening areas the power tool couldn’t.‭ ‬Good thing I made that stem holding tool a few months ago,‭ ‬too‭! ‬Different sized mortices at each end for‭ ‬2‭ ‬sizes of stems.

Then a trip back to the lathe for a couple of flap sanders…

Love these sanding mops…great for removing heavy tool marks without changing the contours of the project piece.‭ ‬I only have flap sanders in‭ ‬120‭ ‬and‭ ‬180‭ ‬grits,‭ ‬so after a brief trip to the lathe,‭ ‬I was back at the bench,‭ ‬hand-sanding.

And,‭ ‬yes,‭ ‬that’s a holdfast holding my padding in place.‭ ‬Got tired of picking it up off the floor‭! ‬LOL.‭ ‬Told you guys I had a clamp fetish a few months ago‭!

Hand-sanded to‭ ‬400‭ ‬grit,‭ ‬then time for something completely different‭! ‬Time to bend the stem…

I had read about this step,‭ ‬and watched a few uTube videos,‭ ‬but no one had dealt with Delrin,‭ ‬so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect.

That’s a shot of my bending rig.‭ ‬Heat gun on low,‭ ‬black cherry mold clamped and ready,‭ ‬pipe cleaner in the stem so I can hold it,‭ ‬and a cup of cold water hiding someplace for cooling the bent stem…

Ahh,‭ ‬there’s the water…had to heat and attempt the bend twice.‭ ‬This stuff is hard to bend‭! ‬Or needs more heat,‭ ‬but it was starting to form a melt spot on the surface,‭ ‬so I went with this slight bend instead of risking breakage and starting completely over‭!

After a bit of buffing,‭ ‬the stem and pipe were ready to show off‭!

Came out pretty nice for pipe no.6‭! ‬I love the gorgeous briar…just a shame it’s so expensive‭!

To sweeten the package for the Pipe Swap,‭ ‬I intended to mail some pipe tobacco samplers I purchased off the internet.‭ ‬Jeez,‭ ‬I had no clue it was highly illegal.‭ ‬Gotta even get a special permit just to mail it to the next state…forget it‭! ‬I really don’t get along with the USPS out here anyway.

So,‭ ‬I decided to add a pipe tamp to my gift…find a scrap piece of Cocobolo please.‭

Grabbed a sweet piece,‭ ‬drilled a short hole of some diameter to hold the upcoming brass screw,‭ ‬and shaped it as above.

Used my favorite parting tool to remove the tamp from the excess…

...then proceeded to rasp and sand the base pretty.‭ ‬I won’t bore you guys with that process.‭ ‬I had an extra blank Medallion from brass that a fellow LJ made me to match some split nuts,‭ ‬and decided it was perfect for the tamping end of this tool…

Works for me.

And,‭ ‬when all was said and done,‭ ‬here’s my gift for jim65‭ ‬in Italy.‭ (‬minus the old saw‭)

As it turned out,‭ ‬Jim is also a pipe maker,‭ ‬but was very pleased with this briar pipe and tamp.

Hope you guys liked all the photos…comments and suggestions are always welcomed.

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

16 comments so far

View Buckethead's profile


3196 posts in 2923 days

#1 posted 06-23-2014 11:38 PM

Excellent work, Terry. If you keep making such beauties I’m gonna start smoking. It seems like some “Old Toby” (Finest pipe weed in the south farthing) would go well with some good old fashioned hand planing.

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

View CFrye's profile


11218 posts in 2894 days

#2 posted 06-24-2014 04:02 AM

Beautiful pipe and tamper, Terry! No surprise you went the extra mile and bent the stem. Great blog.

-- God bless, Candy

View Brit's profile


8308 posts in 3897 days

#3 posted 06-24-2014 06:02 AM

Great blog Terry and another beautiful pip. Lucky Jim. Thanks for sharing your method.

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

View chrisstef's profile


18129 posts in 4060 days

#4 posted 06-24-2014 11:40 AM

Quite the involved process along with all the shop made tooling Terry. It certainly appears to be worth all of the effort though, the pipe came out awesome bud.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View Don W's profile

Don W

19988 posts in 3622 days

#5 posted 06-24-2014 11:59 AM

well done Terry. you sure make them look inviting. If I still smoked a pipe, I’d place an order.

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

View terryR's profile


7642 posts in 3362 days

#6 posted 06-24-2014 01:36 PM

Thanks, everyone! One reason I’m drawn to pipe craft is the diffuculty and needed attention to detail.

Hoping to have a store on soon…can sell pipes there…and vintage tools, too!


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

View TerryDowning's profile


1149 posts in 3171 days

#7 posted 06-24-2014 03:17 PM

As a recipient of some of Terry’s work, I can vouch for its quality and craftsmanship.

Another great piece of work Terry.

One of these days, I’ll look into the pipe making thing. (You make it look so easy)

-- - Terry

View mahdee's profile


4291 posts in 2822 days

#8 posted 06-24-2014 03:45 PM

Great job there. Lot of work for sure. My first harvest is ready for the picking.


View Slyy's profile


2840 posts in 2709 days

#9 posted 06-24-2014 04:45 PM

That turned out exceptionally well Terry! Beautiful.

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

View Mauricio's profile


7166 posts in 4206 days

#10 posted 06-24-2014 06:47 PM

Great job Terry!

-- Mauricio - Woodstock, GA - "Confusion is the Womb of Learning, with utter conviction being it's Tomb" Prof. T.O. Nitsch

View fatandy2003's profile


262 posts in 3298 days

#11 posted 06-24-2014 10:26 PM

Great job on the pipe Terry. And of course a very detailed blog. Thanks for taking the time to do this.


-- -- Andy, “Those who expect to reap the blessings of liberty must undergo the fatigues of supporting it” - Thomas Paine

View jim65's profile


1020 posts in 2987 days

#12 posted 06-25-2014 01:07 PM

I can confirm as the lucky receiver of this awesome set, very we’ll done, the workmanship is excellent, the briar beautiful and the cocobolo tapper very nice. Again, thank you terry, I appreciate the work and enjoyed your blog of the project – awesome vise for the lathe I think I will try to make one of those :-)! Your buffing finish still shines! Cheers

-- Jim, Marostica Italy

View terryR's profile


7642 posts in 3362 days

#13 posted 06-25-2014 01:28 PM

Everyone, thanks for the encouragement to make more pipes! :)

I have an addictive personality anyway…after I complete a spoon…I gotta make another!

Thanks, Jim, your comments mean the most to me on this one! I hope she is a good user for many years to come…, a bent pipe with bent stem…

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

View AnthonyReed's profile


10165 posts in 3494 days

#14 posted 06-26-2014 07:17 PM

Echoing Stef here… It seems that is a very elaborate and process. It’s quite obvious that your studying and practice has paid off. The set came out beautifully.

You always do such fine work. Thanks for taking the time to write up such a great blog so that we have a better idea of your methods. Really great stuff, thanks Terry.

-- ~Tony

View widwotkma's profile


40 posts in 3446 days

#15 posted 12-25-2017 12:00 AM

Nice work. Question: Where did you source the sanding mop / flap sanding drum?

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