Step 1: Pieces
The friend who gave me the idea to build this in the first place said he knew of a way to make a bowl, but then described some pretty sketchy sounding engineering involving clay pots and hemp thread. I bought my bowl for 5 dollars from a faux hippie store in the mall. It was the most expensive part I paid for. You'll also need a rubber nipple, termed a "sleeve" that is sold either online or at a smoke shop, that serves as a seal between glass hole and nylon tube. You'll also need a plumbing piece found near the nylon tubing called a brass hose barb or hose mender, if you want your mouthpiece to look like mine. You'll also need a roll of electrical tape. Here's all that in list form.
-(1) Glass bottle
-(1) length of copper pipe that fits into the bottle snugly.
-(1) length of 1/3 inch nylon tube
-(1) rubber hookah sleeve
-(1) ceramic hookah bowl
-(1) roll of electrical tape
-(1) 1/3 inch brass hose barb
-(1) corded drill
-(1) 1/2 inch glass cutting carbide drill bit
Step 2: Drilling a Dangerous Hole
Step 3: Fit Sleeve/hose Into Bottle
Step 4: Fabricate Bowl Piece
Mark on the pipe where the bottom of the bowl comes to and grab some electrical tape, god's perfect gift to the DIYer. Wrap the copper tube in tape with the bottom edge running along the top of where you marked. This will serve as a seal between the clay bowl and the coper pipe. This amount will be variable depending on the diameters of the bowl and tube, but you should wrap loosely to increase grip. Press the bowl onto the tape/pipe combo and make sure it fits. Then, drop the pipe down into the bottle until the bottom end of the pipe is about half an inch away from the bottom of the bottle. Mark on the copper pipe where the top of the bottle meets the pipe. Once again, take your electrical tape and wrap the copper tube until it fits snugly into the mouth of the bottle. Now is a good time to put water into the bottle up to about half way below the hose. Assemble the whole thing and draw some air through the tube, covering the top of the bowl with your hand. If any suction is lost, there is a leak somewhere. You can test for leaks similar to the way way you find holes in a bicycle tube. Fill your bathtub up deeply enough to completely cover the hookah, submerging everything except the end of the hose. Reach into the water and cover the bowl again, and draw air. Wherever you see a bubble, there is a leak. If bubbles come from the bowl and you know your seal is good, you may just have oddly shaped hands, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. If bubbles come from around the hose sleeve, check and see which side of the sleeve they are coming from. If it's between the sleeve and the hole, you may have chipped the hole while drilling and need to either epoxy and try again in a different place, or trash the bottle.
Step 5: How to Do It Better/ Disclaimation
When you drill with a half inch drill bit, starting the hole takes time. A long, long time. They sell sets of four or five incrementally-sized bits for 20-30 dollars that would make the whole thing go a lot more smoothly. My half-inch bit is still usable, but a lot of the carbide coating that's on it to as a very slight abrasive has been worn off now. I would definitely recommend stepping the hole up if not in 3 stages, then at least in two. making a starter hole first will make finishing the hole happen a lot more quickly and do much less damage to the bit. That said, you will also need to adjust the amount of pressure you put on the bit. A smaller bit has a smaller surface area, exponentially increasing the pressure/area glass. If you press too hard with a tiny bit, the thing will probably shatter. Be careful. I really lucked out to not have cut myself up at all. The fact that my drilling went so smoothly, though is in part due to the structural integrity inherent in a curved surface. Drilling a flat pane of glass is a completely different ballgame. Bottles are thick and curved, which works to your advantage.
I would also recommend trying some silicone tape. I found it while perusing home depot after I'd already finished sealing my hookah. The problem with silicone tape is that it's 6 dollars a roll. I'm not down to have a majority of the price of this project be in the tape that shoddily seals the bowl and bottle, plus I assume that silicone has a lower melting point than electrical tape, which brings me to my next point.
There's a lot of buzz online about how dangerous it is to smoke through copper. People talk about lock jaw and Alzheimer's and things that copper tubing can help create. I'm pretty sketched out smoking through aluminum cans and scrap brass piping like I did in high school and with good reason. The difference hear is that when smoking a pipe, you're actively burning something with a butane lighter that is making contact with your dangerous metal of choice. This design puts about an inch deep chamber of air, as well as a pretty thick wall of ceramic and an aluminum tray (not mentioned previously) between the burning coal and any metal tubing. I'm no scientist, nor am I interested in drawing conclusions about metal poisoning or ethics of smoking for you, but I am using this thing without fear. I ran a few test runs without any tobacco to absorb heat, sucking air directly from the coal to make the entire thing as hot as possible, then removed the bowl from the pipe and touched it with the back of my hand, and it stays cooler than room temperature. I can't see how any toxins in copper could be released without a substantial amount of heat hitting the pipe first, and I can tell you that the coal doesn't heat the pipe anywhere near as hot as the hot water in my bathroom sink, that runs exclusively through copper tubing. I haven't had lock jaw drinking hot water from the tap to make tea in the two years I've had my apartment and am not worried at all about getting it, from water or hookah. That said, Hookah smoking is really really bad for you.