Well done! Patience and perseverance paid off. Great job on the bowl walls, very symmetrical.
Please report back on how it smokes!?
Fantastic looking pipe. I have been looking at those DIY butt have been hesitant about it. Care too share more on how the process went? How diid you get sides so matched? Design style?
I appreciate any inf.
Thanks for all of the positive comments - I am NOT an artist, so this was all about the math. Here's how it went down:
I purchased the pre-drilled block on ebay from Vermont Freehand at http://stores.ebay.com/Vermont-Freeh...p2047675.l2563
, which came with a cheap black stem. I picked up two block - one straight (this one) and one bent that I will begin work on soon. All I have for tools is a dremel and some files and sandpaper. I figured that a poker/sitter/cherrywood shape would be basically the easiest to try for my first outing, so off I went. I got an initial shape with the dremel - slow and steady being the watchword here, lest you char the pipe. Also be very careful that you don't mess up the end of the shank, or you will have a lot of work to do matching the stem to it.
For the walls, I started with calipers and a t-square. I used calipers to ensure that the thickness of the walls was uniform across the top of the pipe, and then I worked my way down with wood files, using the t-square to slowly bring the stummel in line with a 90 degree angle all around the pipe. The hardest part of this was the "back" of the pipe if you will, leading down to where it meets the shank. Once I had the top of the pipe uniform all around, I double checked everything with calipers to fine tune the wall thickness at the top. I took material away all the way down to the base of the pipe across about a 60 degree arc on the bottom. Then I made a template with paper from the top of the pipe by tracing the circle - again checking to ensure that it was uniform. I used the template to match the arc at the bottom of the pipe to that of the top by lining it up with the finished arc, traced it so that I had a circle on the bottom, then went back to work with t-square and files to get everything round. The closer that I got to the shank, the harder this became. Roughing it out with files and then switching to 40-grit sandpaper helped, along with staying away from the dremel at that point.
Once I got things good and round, I researched pipes of this shape on smokingpipes.com to find a representative bowl height, and then used a hacksaw to take it down to that height. The trick is to ensure the walls are square before doing any of this so that the t-square is at a true 90 degree angle for the walls. I used 40-grit to sand down the top a bit more, putting the angle to the top of the bowl, and then did the same for the bottom. I canted the bowl slightly forward - like a sitter - just because it looked cool. This pipe will not sit as such because the stem is a bit too heavy, at least for the angle that I wanted. There is a slight angle dropping the top off to the left on the top of the bowl because I am left handed and it keeps things from blowing into my face when using the pipe in the wind.
I finished out the back wall of the pipe and the bottom where it meets the shank using round files and a lot of quality time with some 120 grit paper, then smoothed it out the rest of the way. I traced a round stem (not the one I ended out with, obviously) to get the shank nice and round, then put a slight divot into it where my thumb sits for comfort. I then sanded the pipe down using up to 1400 grit paper. This last step really brought out the grain, and took the most time.
Once I had things sanded down well to my liking, I wet the stummel with a soaked washcloth and then went at it with a soft charcoal pencil. I let the stummel dry with the charcoal, which pulled it into the lighter/darker grain of the pipe. After that I went back to 800 grain and then 1400 grain to take the excess charcoal off of the lighter/harder grain, leaving the charcoal in the softer grain of the pipe. That left polishing (again - there is no stain on this), which was done with a dremel and polishing wheel and a cake of carnauba wax. The key here is to put LIGHT coats of wax on the stummel, leaving it for a while between coats to let them set. This would have been a lot easier on a grinder with a polishing wheel since it would be slower, but careful work with the dremel on its lowest setting did the trick. I put about four coats of wax on the pipe.
The last part was the part I was looking forward to the least - fitting the stem to the shank. I just kept reminding myself that it was only $4.
The stem was machined by the folks (or folk - don't know how many people there are in this operation) to fit the basic dimensions of the shank, but it was way too tight. I was worried about taking too much material off of the stem and having to toss it. Anyway, I used 800 grit on the end of the stem, then 1400 grit (again) to put a polish on the machined bit and make it easy to fit the stummel. I had to take a bit off the end of the stem so that it fully seated into the shank then - got this done with 140 grit and a lot of patience.
The pipe smokes like a champ - dry and cool - and passes a pipe cleaner with ease. It had its inaugural run this morning with an Edgeworth clone from Lil Brown, which I quite like.
Now for some lunch, a run, and then work on my thesis. Have a great day, gents!