Picture of Making a Pipe (Part 1): The Stummel
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/.
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.
nobe jlyvers7432 years ago
Don't use olive oil as it does go rancid. I've read other places that mineral oil works.
Great Instructable!
azbo13 years ago
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.

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.
shakezula (author)  azbo13 years ago
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.
capricorn3 years ago
Thank you, I wanted to make ceramic pipes for ages, but always missed the rough sketch.

Thanks for sharing mate :)
The Rambler3 years ago
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