Tamp&Puff member-recommended eBay sellers →  bobus  •  great estate-pipes  •  Judd  •  irishlefty  •  knobby  •  pipestud  •  shiny pipes  •  secondhandsmoker

A Poker

For discussion about creating, restoring, modifying, or maintaining tobacco pipes

A Poker

Postby Nomad » Wed Dec 27, 2017 10:13 pm

Not long after I took up the pipe a few years ago, I ordered a hobby kit from Alexander Zavvos in Greece - basically a pre-drilled briar block and a ready-made stem, leaving only the shaping of the outside of the bowl and finishing to be done. I went for a poker shape with a fluted profile, all carved freehand...

Image

Since then, I've had a hankering to try making a pipe from scratch, so I recently ordered some ebauchons and moulded ebonite stems from the venerable House Of Zavvos, which arrived last week. I would have ordered ebonite rod, but it seems that they don't sell any.

I started with something very similar to these...

Image

(These are from the same order - the pipe was already being made by the time I thought about taking pictures.) The ebauchon is shaped for straight and semi-bent styles, and the stem is pretty rough, with obvious moulding flash and hard edges at the button, and is intended to be sanded and finished.

After spending some time drawing lines on the block, taking measurements, etc, I put the block into my lathe and did the drilling of the chamber, airway and mortise, as well as turning the round outer parts that can be reached by a lathe cutting tool...

Image

I had also done a bit of sanding on the stem. Then it was over to a couple of sanding machines to remove the waste that the lathe couldn't reach, followed by some work with hand tools to get to the final shape...

Image

After some fine sanding, the finish was applied to the stummel, and both it and the stem were polished up on buffing wheels to produce the finished pipe...

Image

Image

Image

It's quite a big pipe, which isn't obvious in the photos. It's 165mm long, and the bowl is 35mm outside diameter and 51mm high. The chamber is 18mm diameter and 37.5mm deep. The biggest concern I had was getting the drilling right - the critical part is where the draw hole meets the bottom of the chamber, and it can be tricky to get them to line up correctly because long thin drill bits can have a tendency to wander off course when drilling deep holes. In the end, it all worked out very well indeed...

Image

I was aiming to have the bottom of the draw hole graze the bottom of the chamber. In the end, it was a tiny bit lower (around 0.25 to 0.5mm), and maybe off-centre by about the same amount. That, in my book, is damn good shooting. The trick is to measure carefully, mark the drills for depth with tape, and particularly to take small bites with the thin drill - go in 5-6mm, back out to clear the waste, then another 5-6mm and so on, and then check where the drill tip is at just before it reaches depth (stop the machine and look down into the chamber), just in case the depth measurement was off.

With the pictures taken, I put a thin smear of honey round the chamber, packed it with Dunhill Navy Rolls, lit up... ...and it smoked like a champ. Nice, free draw which was easy to control. Got a bit of moisture at about a third of the way in (possibly puffing too much), but it smoked fine apart from that, and went all the way down with only a tiny bit of dottle. The airway in the stummel is 4mm diameter, and in the stem, it felt about 3mm diameter when I poked a 3mm drill in to see how it felt. The airway seems to flare quite nicely at the button which has a fairly long, narrow slot in it.

This was intended to be a practice run, mainly with regard to the drilling, and also with using the lathe and sanding machines for the main part of the shaping (the fluted poker from the hobby kit was shaped by hand with a dremel type tool and files). I'm really pleased with the result - it turned out far better than expected. Even so, there were some mistakes along the way, both in terms of the process and the dimensions/design. I had trouble holding it in the lathe for the airway and mortise drilling because I had removed some of the bulk beforehand on the bandsaw - I didn't leave corners for the lathe jaws to grip, which meant I had to reverse the jaws and put up with a poorer grip for that part. I also didn't think through some of the dimension properly - the diameter of the tenon is bigger than it should be, leading to thinner walls in the briar than I would like, and the overall length is a bit too much - I can just get a standard tapered pipe cleaner in to the bottom of the bowl with about 3mm left sticking out at the button. So, a few adjustments to make in terms of process and planning before doing another.

A few things that might be interesting...

It was mostly made on the lathe (a small metalworking lathe rather than a wood lathe - much easier to work with precision), with belt, disc and spindle sanders for shaping the bits that the lathe couldn't reach. After watching lots of YouTube videos on pipe-making, and distilling the methods shown down into something that I could implement using my particular equipment, I was a little surprised at how well everything went - much easier to be accurate than expected, especially considering that I don't have special lathe chuck jaws for pipe making, or special jigs or the like for holding things in predictably precise ways.

The moulded stem was quite tricky to work with because it has to be held in the lathe to turn the tenon down to the required diameter. This was compounded by the fact that it was too big to fit into the self-centring 3-jaw lathe chuck, meaning I had to manually centre it in a larger chuck with four independent jaws, all the while with virtually nothing to get a grip of because the stem quickly starts to taper. I'm on the lookout for some ebonite rod so that I can try making a stem from scratch.

The finish was three stages. First was a stain using water-based brown ink, which was a bit thick because it's about 25 years old (looks to have evaporated a bit in the bottle). This was left to dry for a bit, any excess wiped off with a paper towel, and then sanded back with a very worn foam sanding block - this helps to emphasise the grain a bit. It was then coated with my 'special stuff' that I use for finishing wood in a darker colour, which is a mixture of boiled linseed oil, pine tar and Burnt Sienna oil paint (a reddish brown transparent paint which dissolves in the linseed oil). Wiped on, left to absorb for about half an hour before buffing back with a paper towel. The final stage was carnauba wax on the buffing wheel. The stem went through three stages of polishing compounds on the buffer, before getting the carnauba treatment as well.

One of the things I wanted to try was a bowl with thick walls. On the fluted poker from the hobby kit, the walls are quite thin in the middle, and it can sometimes get quite hot. On the strength of one bowl so far, I would say that the thicker walls do stay cooler for the most part, but the heat still gets through after a while. For future pipes, I won't be bothering to make particularly thick walls unless I want that particular look.

So, overall, there are some refinements to make to my process, but I'm very happy with how what was a practice piece turned out. Not quite fully made from scratch due to the moulded stem, but valuable experience in making a stummel from a lump of briar.
Nomad
 
Posts: 80
Joined: Wed Mar 04, 2015 6:34 pm

Re: A Poker

Postby Dodger » Thu Dec 28, 2017 9:07 pm

Well done Sir .
Dodger
Supporting Member
Supporting Member
 
Posts: 7040
Joined: Thu Apr 12, 2012 9:31 am
Location: Bristol UK

Re: A Poker

Postby Geo3rge » Sun Dec 31, 2017 8:14 am

This is super work, N. Quite superb, in fact. Good on you for attempting this. I’ve only done it once with laughable results, I’m afraid. But this one is excellent.
As with Dodger, well done indeed.
Moi, fumer une pipe, naturellement...
Geo3rge
Moderator & Supporting Member
Moderator & Supporting Member
 
Posts: 3451
Joined: Mon Sep 30, 2013 9:05 pm
Location: NW England

Re: A Poker

Postby Nomad » Sun Jan 21, 2018 9:06 am

Thanks, chaps.

Haven't had many pipes lately, but have had a couple of bowls through this, and it seems to smoke nicely. That said, I think SLF might need a bit of drying time before lighting up (will try that next time).
Nomad
 
Posts: 80
Joined: Wed Mar 04, 2015 6:34 pm


Return to Pipe Making and Maintenance

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest