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Trevor Makes a Pipe - #1

When I start a new project like this, it consumes me. I think about pipes when I should be working, I think about engineering when out for a run. I think about...

One summer back in 2007, we had a Vancouver Pipe Club meeting in Stephen Downie's back yard. Between the snacks, malty beverages and tobacco smoking, Stephen took interested parties on a tour of his pipe making workshop.  At the end of a great evening he gave an open invitation to anyone who had an interest in trying their hand at pipe making to come ov

er to his place, buy a block of briar, and with his aid, make their own pipe.  I took him up on the offer later that fall.

I selected a smaller block of cross cut briar from his stock. 

I prefer smaller pipes, and wanted something with a cross grain pattern and birdseye sides. I had no idea about what shape I was aiming for, but I thought for a start, something straight would be relatively easy.  Stephen had me draw some shape ideas on the block of briar, then he quickly removed some of the excess wood from the block using his band saw, and drilled the tobacco chamber, draft hole and mortise on his drill press.  He handed me my pipe stummel, and pointed to the disk sander.

I sat down at the wheel and started grinding away at the briar.  What evolved from that process was a slightly bent dublin shaped pipe. 

After a few evenings at Stephens, working with his power tools, I spent the next week of evenings at home, working away at the shape and details of the bowl with various grits of sandpaper, rolled over various implements (tooth brush handle, wooden block, jiffymarker) to refine the inside and outside curves.

The stem was carved from a solid rod of vulcanite, and a short piece of delrin was drilled and epoxied into the end to make a tennon.  

I turned the stem on a small table mounted lathe and performed the rough shaping on a belt sander and the disk sander.  The rest of the shaping was done slowly by hand using progressively finer sandpaper.

On my final visit to Stephen's shop I was able to buff and polish the stem and stain the bowl of the pipe. This piece turned out to be a great smoker (thanks to Stephen`s excellent drilling and quality briar) and the start of a new obsession - pipe making.


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