Galileo Smoking Pipe

Introduction: Galileo Smoking Pipe

Although smoking is a bad habit and no one should ever start, I was challenged by my father (who refuses to quit) to make a futuristic smoking pipe.
The goal of this project is to build a high quality pipe that is more of a sculpture than a working utensil. The design was inspired by Galileo Galilei and hopefully look like it might have sat on his desk. At the same time, I want it to look at home in a Star Trek episode.
I will call this project the Galileo. It will be a Christmas present to my father although I will encourage him not to use it. He collects tobacco items and it will look nice in his collection.
The finished weight is 2.2 pounds and stands a little over 6 inches tall.


A suitable metal base
2 inch diameter brass rod
3/4 inch diameter brass rod
5/16 inch diameter brass rod
1/4 inch heavy wall brass tubing
Tap and die set
Drill bits
Metal lathe
Drill press
Small piece of exotic wood
Various grits of sandpaper
Metal files (fairly aggressive)

Step 1: A Suitable Base

Just about anything can be used for a nice looking base. A base can be machined or you can use something you already have. I had these 2 stainless steel cage halves from an old project that will work fine. One has an inside diameter of 2 inches and will house the brass ball. The other cage is slightly larger and will be used for the bottom.
Each has to have its hole bored out to 3/8 inch to allow the main fastener to pass through.

Step 2: Machining a Brass Spacer

A 1 inch diameter brass spacer is needed to give the cages some separation and to allow for optional parts. Drill a 3/8 diameter through hole and machine the inside concave to sit properly on the round cage. Do this to each side.
Drill a hole on the spacers edge and tap 10-32 threads. This will be used for a non functional thumb wheel.

Step 3: Machining a Brass Ball

Large brass balls generally don't come rolling your way so now one has to be machined. This is actually a fairly easy task on a metal lathe.
First drill a hole in the 2 inch round brass rod and cut 3/8-24 threads about 3/4 inch deep. After the hole is tapped, begin to round one side. No measuring is really needed for this step. Just keep machining and filing till the side looks round. If it looks good to your naked eye, it's good enough for this project.
Now screw in your fastener and repeat the process for the other side. The screwed in fastener allows it to be chucked in and the other side rounded.
This 2 inch ball took about 20 minutes to make.

Step 4: Assembling the Base

Assemble the 2 cage halves, brass spacer and 2 inch ball with a temporary 1.5 inch long 3/8-24 fastener. This step will allow you to decide the placement of the bowl and stem.

Step 5: Finishing the Ball

Drill a 1.5 inch diameter shallow hole with a forstner or spade bit in a plank of wood to create a pocket to hold the ball while drilling. Drill an "I" or 17/64 inch hole to the center of the ball. Drill a smaller 1/4 inch or E hole on the opposite side for the stem. Tap the 17/64 inch hole with 5/16-24 threads to accept the bowl.
Hold the ball firmly while drilling and go slow! Each hole has to reach the center to allow for proper airflow.

Step 6: Machining a Bowl

Machine a 1-1/8 inch long bowl from 3/4 inch brass rod. Drill a 1/2 inch hole about 5/8 of an inch deep. Then drill an "I" or a 17/64 inch through hole and tap 5/16-24 threads. Machine the threaded end with a 2 inch concave to match the diameter of the main ball. This will allow for a nice tight fit.

Step 7: Machining the Bowl Coupling

A 1 inch long brass coupling needs to be machined to connect the bowl to the main ball. Use a 5/16 inch diameter brass rod and cut 5/16-24 threads. Then drill a 3/16 inch through hole and file each end smooth.

Step 8: Machining the Stem

The stem has a finished length of 5 inches but a total length of 9 inches is used to allow a good grip on one end for bending a curve.
Now machine a brass ball about a 1/2 inch in diameter. First drill a through hole with a 1/4 inch or E drill bit. Then round over one side. Cut off the half rounded blank and tap firmly onto the 1/4 stem tube. The fit should be very tight to allow for machining the other side. Once rounded and sanded, tap the ball further down on the stem shaft. Allow about 3/4 of an inch protruding out.
Once the stem and brass ball are tapped into place, use the extra length and firmly bend into a pleasing curve. Then cut off the 4 extra inches and the stem is completed.

Step 9: Making the Stem Ball

There is no need to change to a 4 jaw chuck for this step. I had a large enough piece of blood wood to be held with 3 jaws.
Drill a 1/4 inch through hole, round the blank and shape into a pleasing sphere.

Step 10: Machining a Thumb Wheel

Machine a small wheel from 3/4 inch brass. Create a recessed front or leave flat. Machine away the backside and knurl the edge if desired. Continue machining the backside to create a stem. Drill and tap 10-32 threads into the stem and spacer and attach the wheel tightly. Although non functional, the wheel gives a nice finished look.

Step 11: A Finished Galileo Pipe

While the finished Galileo looks clean with a decent fit, there is actually quite a lot time and effort to get it looking that way. It's now Christmas eve and I'm on my way to deliver this hand made present.
Now gather up some items and brass stock and make your own Galileo....or something close to it.

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    2 years ago

    Amazing work!!👏👏👏


    Reply 2 years ago

    Thank you very much AnandM54. It actually took more time than I anticipated to make it look clean and simple.