Fri. Nov 15th, 2019


Makes Wood Beautiful

Pipe making process

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Clean shop, ready for pipe making..

Woods to be used, Amboyna Burl, African Blackwood, Padauk, maybe some red palm…

Drawing the rough shape

Cutting it out with a fret saw

Some rough sanding

Putting it on the 4 jaw chuck and turning the bowl on the lathe

Putting the drill chuck on the lathe and drilling the bowl

Setting the boring tool, and boring the bowl out to the correct diameter

Turning the base of the stem

Drilling the mortise for the stem

Boring the mortise

Completed holes for eventual stem and bowl insert

Coffee break

Rough sanding with the 4 jaw self centering chuck, and padded sanding disc

Roughing the shape out some more with a detail rasp

Refining the shape with some detail files

Some Tools

Switching to a finer grit sanding disc to smooth out the shape a bit and get rid of scratches from the rasp

I lick the wood to check the grain pattern, lookin’ nice!

My hand, for scale

Another view of the mortises and partial air holes, with my safety glasses in the background

Rough block of African blackwood in the chuck, this will eventually be the bowl insert

Turning the outside diameter and the face

Drilling a hole to make it easier to turn the inside diameter with hand tools

Custom made turning tool for the inside of bowls

Bowl roughly turned

Drilling out the air hole at the bottom of the bowl

Cleaning up the inside

Special tool for cutting a groove on the inside of the bowl for the metal screen

Sanded down the bowl a bit on the disc sander to shorten it before fitting the bowl insert

Super fine amboyna sawdust

More tools

Measuring the bowl depth with a digital caliper

Measuring again to determine what the length of the bowl insert will be

Marking some guidelines

Using a parting tool for the rough shaping of the outside diameter

Determining the outside diameter that the bowl insert will be

More measuring and turning

Using the left hand cutting tool to square up the corners

Using a diamond point tool to turn the bowl details

Using the boring tool to turn the rim of the bowl that will eventually be fitted with a lid later on

This is how it looks after some fine sanding with 600 grit

Cutting the bowl insert off with a fret saw

Lookin’ pretty good, this block of African blackwood has a lot of nice gray tones that I like

It fits!

Now time for something stressful, connecting the air holes

First hole at 90 degrees

Drilling the air hole to the stem at an angle after lining it all up and clamping it down

Didn’t mess it up!

Drilling the air hole to the bowl

Perfect, the air hole is offset so that moisture buildup and resin in the bowl will drop down into the larger hole where it can easily be cleaned out with a pipe cleaner. This is also important for a pipe of this design, because without it your pipe would make a gurgling noise when you use it.

The air holes from the bottom

After cleaning it up with a detail file

Having some milk, haha

Cut out a piece of copper with a hacksaw, this will be a rim for the bowl, and also hold half of the lid hinge assembly

Hammering it out

Annealing the copper with propane torch to soften it again. Hammering will harden copper pretty quickly, so this is a necessary step when you’re cold working copper.

Letting the copper cool on a bed of sawdust, the copper will react with the carbon from the burnt sawdust to create some really nice colours

Hammering it out again

After sanding on the belt sander

After more hammering, annealing, and sanding

Final hammering, going for a nice consistent pattern

Final annealing

After a light sanding with 600 grit to bring out the pattern

Bent into a ring to fit the bowl insert

Some colour experiments, using sawdust and heat

Testing the colour, nope I like the first version better

Hammering and filing out the shape of the hinge

Ready for silver soldering

Acid flux is applied to the sanded surfaces, and then silver solder slices are placed on the joint. I prefer this method of soldering to the traditional method of holding the wire in your hand because I’m less likely to overheat the copper. If I overheat the copper the color that I worked so hard to get earlier will be ruined and I would have to start over again.

All melted

Letting it cool in sawdust for no real reason other than it feels a bit like archaeology when I take it out later, haha

Lookin’ good, but still rough

After some sanding and filing, I try out the fit

This angle shows the nice deep red coloring

Lookin’ good!

Turning the African blackwood plug for the bottom of the pipe

Drilling the hole for the inlay

Filling the base of the hole with packed sawdust

Juice break…

Quartz crushed with a hammer on the anvil

Placed the best quartz fragments into the inlay with tweezers, with a piece of mussel shell and added gold dust to fill the cracks

I put a drop of liquid glue onto the inlay, and let it dry

After sanding on the disc sander to reveal the inlay, then sanding up to 1200 grit. Used a micro file to shape the plug to fit seamlessly.

Turning and drilling the accent for the base of the stem

Drilling some padauk. A sharp drill bit is your best friend here.

After gluing and turning the padauk

Cut off with a handsaw, turned around, and clamped into the self centering chuck

After some work with some detail turning tools. High lathe speed and sharp tools get you a nice smooth surface without sanding.

Ready to be glued

I used wood glue, and then clamped it in the vice

While that dries I start working on the bowl lid

Here is the hot working process. I just heat it in the torch and hammer it out.

Drew an approximate circle on the copper, cut it out, and sanded it down on the disc sander

Hammered it out a bit, then drew another circle as a guide for sanding

Drilling the vent holes

Annealing the copper

Using a needle file to carve the vent holes

A little more hammering and filing

Using the vise to help hammer out a dome shape

Then refining the dome on the anvil

Another guideline for sanding

After some hand filing it fits

Sanding down the stem with sanding discs ranging from 100 grit to 400 grit

Using a hand cut rasp to fine tune the inside of the bend a bit

Sanded to 600 grit

Turning some red palm on the lathe for the stem

Turning it around and using the self centering chuck to turn the other end

Red palm is a very difficult wood to turn, to reduce chipping I coated it with glue that will soak into the wood fibers

Using a small parting tool to cut some decorative grooves

Checking the fit. After seeing it with the rest of the pipe I tossed this stem into the garbage because I thought it didn’t look quite right. Failure is a common part of the process, haha.

I decide to leave the crafting of that part of the stem for later. I start work on the bent part of the stem by cutting some African blackwood squares on the chop saw

Drawing a guide for the hole

I use a cutting bit on the drill press to cut a groove along my guide

Final groove, all cleaned up

After cutting out the rough shape

Refining the shape

I line up the grain patterns for a seamless look later on, and glue the two halves together

When dry, I roughly cut out the other half and then sand it down again

More refining of the shape, getting ready for turning

Some weird turning here. I used a wooden wedge which is temporarily glued onto my chuck to help securely hold the stem. Often I have to customize my tools slightly throughout the crafting process in order to adapt to difficult situations like this. An enjoyable aspect of making one of a kind pieces.

Carefully turning the stem in very small increments

Turned it around and did the same thing on the other end

Done, phew

After some rough sanding I added a padauk accent to the top of the stem

Using a couple files to round out the shape a bit more

Taking a look at what I’ve got so far, contemplating what to do for that stem

I decided that purple heart would be a nice compliment to the golden yellow/orange colour of the amboyna… and it also goes well with black

Cutting it out

Onto the lathe

Checking the fit, visualizing the shape

Sharp tools are essential for avoiding chipping while turning small details in purple heart

Coming along

Drilling the air hole

Drilling the mortise that will fit the bent part of the stem

Drilling a hole in vegetable ivory (tagua nut) for the stem accent

A bit of sanding for a perfect fit

Gluing it all together

After using a few files, and sandpaper wrapped around a foam block

Still needs a mouthpiece, hinge assembly, and a couple accents, but it’s coming along nicely I think!

African blackwood for the mouthpiece, roughly turned

I ramp up the lathe speed for using hand tools to define the final shape

After shaping with hand tools, I drill the mortise

Sanding smooth

Cutting the mouthpiece off with a fret saw

I use the disc sander to shape and smooth the end

Close up of the tenon and square hole, which I think looks pretty neat

This glue is inert when dry, and perfectly safe for using on the mouthpiece

While that dries, I plan out the hinge assembly

Here is half of the hinge, starting as a rough piece of copper

After a bit of initial hammering


Using some water to cool down the copper after Annealing

More hammering and filing

After annealing, the copper sometimes turns this bright pink colour if you quickly submerge it in water

More hammering and annealing

Using some files to refine the shape

Using a center punch to mark where I will drill a tiny hole for a saw blade

And the hole is drilled

After inserting the saw blade, I cut a groove for the hinge assembly

I use a flat piece of brass to hammer the groove flat on the inside, and get it to the correct width

Sanding down the other half of the hinge

After some filing and sanding, they are almost ready to be pinned together

Drilling the hole. It takes great care to get the hole just right, I tape the hinge onto the lid so that I know it will fit perfectly later on. There is no room for error in this step, If the hole is 1mm off, I would have to make the hinge assembly all over again…

Came out good!

I put a piece of music wire into the vice, and use a hammer to mushroom one end of it, this will be the hinge pin

I insert the rough pin, and make some marks with a sharpie so that I know where to solder the hinge to the lid

The glue had dried, so I took a quick break from metalworking to finish the mouthpiece

All the parts, ready for assembly

After some refining, it all fits together nicely, ready for soldering

This is a method that jewelers use for delicate soldering jobs. A sliver of solder is placed between the joint, and acid flux is applied to the copper surfaces

Here it is after I used a propane torch to evenly heat the two halves and melt the solder

A quick bath in acetone to clean off the acid flux

I used a hammer and anvil to delicately mushroom the other end of the hinge pin, this secures the pin in place so that it won’t fall out

And the bowl is done

Some final sanding on the amboyna wood, I intentionally left this rough earlier, because during the crafting process the wood picks up a lot of dirt and oil from your hands, and you would have to sand it at the end to get rid of that anyhow

Here it is after I sanded it to 1200 grit

Here is my buffing system, for this pipe I am only using two wheels with progressively finer polishing grits. The first wheel uses tripoli compound, and the second uses white diamond compound

First I use a coating of linseed oil to darken the wood and give the grain a more 3D look

Here is the pipe after the polishing wheels

Here is the bowl, ready to be glued in.

After gluing the bowl in, I heat up a bowl screen to darken it, and get rid of any residue from the manufacturing process

I insert the screen, and the pipe is complete!

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