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Greeting, brothers of the leaf! Just letting you know I didn't fall off the face of the planet. In fact, I've been a bit busy as of late, and I present the results of my labors for your consideration (and probable amusement). Well, here goes my first carve-your-own post. This offering will be crude to the point of comedy, but I'm here for tough constructive criticism.
A little backstory on these abominations: Two weeks ago, my younger brother brought his MM Maple Great Dane to me and asked me to craft a replacement. It had burned through at the thin middle portion, and he wanted a sizeable replacement in a similarly "folkish" style. To that end, I decided to cannibalize what parts I could (he had fitted it with one of MM's freehand bits and had some extra metal rings). Now, what to use, what to use... Fortune smiled upon me. A few years ago, I had an apple tree die from sheer cold during a particularly brutal winter (I wasn't even aware that was possible
). It had been standing in my yard for three years now, as I had not had time to cut it down. Well, on one of my odd days off I finally took 'er down and saved some choicer bit for stummels and shanks. My process was crude, to be kind- carving was done completely by hand (rough shaping with a rasp and Buck knife, finer shaping with a 60-grit Dremel sanding drum). I bored the chamber and airways first, using spade bits for the chamber and a 5/16 conventional bit for the airway. For tenons I used 5/16 expansion collars from my local hardware store, then stained with Minwax oil-based stain after sanding with my finest grit (120, on the Dremel again). Finishing was beeswax, rough-buffed with a felt Dremel pad and given a final shine with an old sock. Being rather pleased with the end result (the barrel-shaped monster with a bark ring), I decided to use the rest of the branch to craft a few for myself. Using various finishing methods (including none at all and a blowtorch) and parts ordered from Missouri Meerschaum, I created what you now see. The chambers (except for the Dublin-ish looking one, which is 3/4 in diameter) are 1 1/4 inches in diameter.
Yes, you read that correctly; 1 1/4 inch bores. The interiors of the chambers where pre-coated with honey, thinned with a little Wild Turkey. I was quite proud of my first attempt, but I almost wet myself laughing at them when I looked at some of the previous posts in this thread. Oddly, they smoke quite well. The Dublin-ish is my designated navy flake pipe, the burned kinda-billiard does marvelous things with Lat/Oriental mixes, and the completely unsanded poker (which I have since dubbed "Thud") is reserved for aromatics. A friend who owns a woodworking store has given me a few scrap chunks of claro walnut, and I have some bamboo on order for shanks. So, now that you've read my novel, how about some not-so-pretty pictures? Please forgive my poor photo quality; my camera is almost ten years old and I'm no photo-hound.
The Mighty Thud
Scorch here had a close encounter with a blowtorch
The proverbial Ugly Dublin
The whole fam-damily, showing their innards.
Well boys, here goes my first attempt at a pipe that cannot also be described as a deadly weapon. By the standards of this thread (not to mention Blade Boy), it's still laughably crude, but I learned a lot in the process. It began life as a 2"x2"x2' hunk of claro walnut from a local woodworking supplier, which was then cut into 4" long blanks (and a few 2" cubes for testing dyes), then drilled. My drilling technique is slightly different than my initial attempt; airways were bored first with a 5/16 conventional bit, with an 11/32 mortise to hold a pre-fab acrylic bent bit from MM (I don't have a lathe, so turning my own stems is out of the question). The chamber was then drilled with a modified 3/4 spade bit (shoulders were ground down to a "leaf" shape, with the centering brad point left intact), drilled until the point met the airway. When properly marked and centered in the drill press, it yields a smooth conical chamber and dead-center draught hole in one stroke, every time. Me likey. "Primal cutting" into a blank was with a hand coping saw, and rough shaping was with a Dremel rotary cutting drum. I had intended it to be a billiard (even if I don't like them myself), but a hidden knot near the rim prompted me to go another way. "What the heck, why not a Rhodesian?". I always wanted one. I've read that it's impossible to do a proper cap ring without a lathe; that sounds like a challenge to me. Let's do this. I sketched it out, then etched it in with a burr bit. Well, it didn't come out very straight, so I tried to hide that by burning it with a wood-burning pen. The results were only moderately successful, but I like it. It was sanded up to 800, then stained with a dye recipe I've been playing around with. I call it "Senketsu" (Japanese for "fresh blood"). It fits, don't you think? Buffing with red Tripoli (the only one I have), then carnauba. Final polish with an old sock. It's far from professional, but I like it. Whaddya think?
Anyway, things I learned:
Walnut is UNHOLY hard, and resistant to heat. It took nearly an hour to burn the ring, even after cutting it in.
Fiebings should always be handled while wearing gloves. I got a little of the stain on my bare hands, and- true to it's name- it looks like fresh arterial blood. It was an awkward day at work.
Straight lines are a lot harder then you might think, when carved freehand with a Dremel drum.
Finally, and most importantly: this pipe smokes like a dream. I think my drilling process is spot-on. Be on the lookout for many siblings for this pipe.
In honor of my noble steed and mobile office, I've decided to name my maiden pipe "Medic 1".
Finished this one today, a partially rusticated Brown/black contrast Tobos style reverse Calabash with Bocote shank embellishment and Pistachio Swirl/black Acrylic saddle bit, the block had a lot of issues so it's a keeper... darn
Well, here's another one of my freshman attempts. I wouldn't ordinarily try to make (or smoke) something like this with so little practice under my belt, but this was a special gift. My little brother (also a pipe smoker) recently finished his Bachelor's in Music Education, so this was conceived as his graduation present. He had once told me how much he liked the Tsuge bamboo-shanked pipes, and wished he could find (or afford) a Volcano. Last spring he was sent as a part of a "Jazz Embassador" group to Japan, and got a nice picture of himself with Mt. Fuji in the background, cherry trees in full flower. Given such, here's my attempt to translate that memory into a pipe.
Things I learned:
Bamboo is an absolute booger to drill correctly. I went through nearly a foot of it before I got it right. The leftover nubbin got turned into a tamper/pick.
Airway extensions are tough, but doable. I used the same basic principle as my first pipes ("The Mighty Thud"), albeit with a little more precision and restraint.
I won't attempt a Volcano again until I can jury-rig a system to drill bent air channels and tenons. The swooped bottom looks kinda goofy.
Despite my misgivings on the finished product, he loved it and decided to have it's maiden smoke then and there. I'm just glad the draw was open enough and didn't leak. Now his girlfriend wants a bamboo-shanked blowfish. Oy vey.