Edited to add:Hey y'all, Thanks so much for the wonderful comments and positive feedback on this tutorial! I was not expecting such a warm reception, and I'm very glad that people have found this useful and enjoyable. While I have to acknowledge that the pipes I've made and share in the following pictures are very nicely done, I need to point out that they pale in comparison to what professionals can do. Like most members of Instructables, I tend to learn hands-on on my own under a litany of limitations (a bare minimum of tools) that force me to know the art. I enjoy every minute of failure that goes along with it, and being pleasantly surprised to eventually succeed. With that said, I should mention that this tutorial is based on that "bare minimum" tool set. Can you make a better pipe with a wider variety of better tools and materials? Absolutely! What I've done is find a way to do the best I can with what I have on hand, without going all-in and spending money I don't have on fancy equipment I don't know how to use and refuse to believe I "need" anyway. At Instructables, I know I have an audience (and I have frequently been an audience member for other projects) of like-minded people who appreciate this stubborn resourcefulness. Now that I'm finally pleased with the grip I have on pipe making, I have absolutely no right to keep it to myself. Thanks again, and enjoy!

...Also, I mentioned a Part 2. Trust me, I have been working on it and it will be coming soon. I promise, I haven't forgotten. Just needs some more writing and a few pictures to make the details clear. -- 2/8/12

This is a step-by-step guide laying out the process and methods I've learned in making pipes. I don't do this professionally and I would discourage anyone from trying to make a living at it (save for those who are in fact professional pipe makers). I only do it because I enjoy carving and I've always admired the craftsmanship, variety, and beauty in pipes -- so I wanted to try my hand at it; even though I don't smoke. Most of my pipes go out to close friends as gifts and to others as favors.

Please note: I'm sharing instructions for tobacco pipes. I'm serious. That's not tongue-in-cheek. Both the work that goes into a decent tobacco pipe, and the demands imposed on its design (namely the fact that the chamber must withstand prolonged heating without cracking, burning through, or radiating that heat to the outside of the bowl) far exceed those used for weed.

For anyone who isn't familiar with the terminology of pipe anatomy (and believe it or not, I wasn't until I decided to sit down and write this guide for everyone to use), I included a crude sketch in this step. The general concept of the diagram was adapted from http://fujipub.com/ooops/anatomy.html, but I only included the parts that I'll be referring to.

And finally, note that this is part 1. This will take you through making the stummel. The reason I chose to split this guide is that the stem requires a lathe, and not everyone has a lathe. If you don't have one, and you don't know a friend willing to let you use his, don't fret: There are many businesses that specialize in pipemaking materials and tools, but more to the point, pre-formed stems. If you go this route, you'll just have to make sure your mortise is drilled to the right depth and diameter for the stem you order. A good variety of different pre-formed stems can be found at http://www.pimopipecraft.com/.

Step 1: What You'll Need

I'm covering wooden pipes. Traditionally, pipes are made from briar burl -- the dense ball of wood found just under the trunk (i.e. below the ground) of the Erica arborea bush that grows around the Mediterranean. However, this can be a little tricky to get: Since the briar bush only grows in specific habitats in a confined area of the Earth, harvesting activities are somewhat limited and professional manufacturers generally get the best wholesale deals. Translation: It can be pricey. Last time I checked, I think the typical rate was about $16/lb. I personally don't have any experience with briar, having never made a briar pipe to date.

The good news is, other wood species work just fine. Briar is the gold standard because as a material, it meets the heat tolerance demands, it's easy to carve, and it's pretty when finished. However, other woods can be just as heat tolerant as briar. As a rule of thumb, most any nonporous, relatively oil-free hardwood will work just fine. Cherry is a good example of something that works -- there are many professionally made cherry pipes sold in shops. Not to mention, it's good to have a suitable native species if you're inclined to harvest your own blocks! Oak is a good example of something that you shouldn't expect to work -- there are small pores running along the grain in oak that can cause problems in the chamber... You want air to be drawn into the chamber from the top, not from tiny holes in the bowl, because combustion will happen wherever oxygen is introduced to the already-working reaction (so the walls of the chamber will slowly burn away).

My personal favorites are olive, cherry, and argentine osage orange... in that order. As beautiful as osage is, it needs a lot of  "smoking in" to build up the char that blocks out the interfering flavors from the wood (which, unlike cherry, aren't very pleasant). Before I get to tools, I want to mention that although cocobolo would seem like a great pipe wood candidate, it can be risky. It's oily, and allergic reactions have been reported from its dust. The same holds for other rosewoods (or formally, species in the Dalbergia genus). You should always research a wood species you're curious about trying before you try it. Remember: Generally speaking, the only thing you want to draw is the byproducts of tobacco combustion, and nothing else. Although on the other hand, if you're smoking in the first place, you're probably not very concerned about health risks ;-)

OK, tools:
- A power drill (which would be useless without drill bits). It doesn't have to be a Milwaukee drill, but I personally love mine so I don't mind doing a little pro-bono advertising for Milwaukee here.
- A caliper (MUCH easier to use than a length of wire to guage depth)
- A compass (optional, but it can help with visual aids)
- A bandsaw
*If you don't have a bandsaw, a coping saw will actually work just fine. I've used one before when I didn't have access to a bandsaw and the only difference is that it takes a little longer to complete the cuts.
- At lease one knife suitable for carving. Pro bono advertising doesn't apply to Flexcut. I'd be happy to do some product placement for them here, but not without a check... or some more Flexcut knives.
- Sandpaper, from 80 to 400 grit.

Hello, <br>Thank you very much for your guide on how to create a Tobacco pipe. I am using it to make one myself. Among my tools is not a lathe. I consider purchasing a pre-made stem and creating a stummel. Do you think I can possibly shape the mortise of the stummel by hand to fit the pre-made stem tenon?
do you think polyurethanewould work?
polyurethane would not allow heat and moisture to escape and would kind of defeat the purpose of the wood. Just a small amount of bees wax from the hobby store would work or olive oil. <br>
Don't use olive oil as it does go rancid. I've read other places that mineral oil works. <br>Great Instructable!
The best way of which I know to prevent cracking is the same as used to prevent sprayed paint from bubbling: if you have a garage it will generally be quite cool and often will be more humid than another room whilst not being excessively humid.<br><br>Neat 'ible, I will try this once I have some time on my hands, got a spare piece of iroko from another project which is a hard wood that should do nicely.
Thanks -- as thorough as I thought I was, I think I forgot to mention that I keep most of the work in a non-climate controlled area (i.e. outdoor shed, garage, etc.) lol. But yes, you're absolutely right that humidity is your friend here.
Thank you, I wanted to make ceramic pipes for ages, but always missed the rough sketch. <br> <br>Thanks for sharing mate :)
Very cool. I have some maker friends that are into pipes that might enjoy this. I'll have to pass it on.
This is fantastic. Lots of great advice. :D

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More by shakezula:Making a Pipe (Part 2): The Stem Making a Pipe (Part 1): The Stummel 
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