Introduction: Handmade Tobacco Pipe

About: I love using my hands to create, anything with woodworking or beer making.

This instructable is a guide to creating you're own tobacco pipe. Remember there are many designs and ways of doing so therefore I would recommend to use whatever tools you're comfortable with. This pipe is to be used for tobacco only.

Step 1: Tools

Again there are many tools you can use so use what's easiest for you.

Handsaw (or bandsaw if you have)
Small chisel tool
Rubber mallet
Carving knife(optional if you have bandsaw)
Drill & bits
Orbital sander
Sandpaper((180 optional) 220, 400, 600, 800)
Mineral Oil(or butcher block oil)

Alcohol soluble dye
Denatured alcohol
Beeswax (or other non toxic wax)

Step 2: Choose the Wood

A couple types of hardwood are good for making tobacco pipes. Briar is the most common but there are pipe makers who use walnut, almond, cherry, and so on, just make sure that the wood you are using does not release harmful chemicals when burned. For this pipe I decided to go with cherry wood.

Step 3: Choose the Stem

Stems come in all different styles and materials. For this design I used an ebonite bent stem. You can buy stems from online pipemakers or Amazon.

Step 4: Shape and Size

Shape and size is a preferential part of pipe making, there are many shapes and sizes you can use for your pipe, I used a simple bowl with an angled stem base.

Cut the wood into a rectangular block slightly bigger than the design of your pipe, if it isn't the size you want already. This can be done with a hand saw, but is much easier with a band saw because, as I learned, hardwood is very hard to cut.

Once you have a good size of wood make some measurements and trace the bowl and stem on both sides of the block, remember to give yourself some space in the design because most likely the pipe is going to be smaller than what you drew on the block. Then you are going to mark where your stem and bowl are going to be drilled out.

Step 5: Drilling Out Bowl & Stem

There are specific tools for drilling out the bowl, but seeing as pipe making websites aren't so user friendly and I don't like waiting for things to ship I used a 3/4 drill bit for the bowl(the size of bowl varies by taste and style). For the stem I used a 5/16 drill bit because that was the size of the stem insert but again it varies.

Drill the stem so that it ends under the center of the bowl.(doesn't really matter how far under, just give yourself space to carve and sand out the shape). Then get one of the smallest drill bits you have, I used a 1.2 drill bit, and drill from the bottom of the bowl to the stem chamber which should be directly below the bowl.

If you are making a straight pipe, you would drill the stem chamber into the bottom corner of the bowl stopping about 1/3in before reaching the bowl. Then you would take a small drill bit, about a 2.8 or 2.6 and drill from the bottom corner of the bowl, slightly angled downward into the bottom of the stem chamber.

Make sure the stem chamber and bowl connect by blowing through both sides. Do not suck in unless you want sawdust in your mouth.

If you used a drill bit for the bowl and not a special pipe tool you want to take a Dremel tool and indent the bowl so that there is a dip in the bottom or the bowl. You don't want a bowl with a flat bottom.

Step 6: Cutting Out Shape

This step requires a lot of patience and time unless you are using a bandsaw.

There are many ways to cut off the excess wood. The easiest way is using a bandsaw. But if you, like myself, do not have a bandsaw you can either use a handsaw if you have time and patience or using a carving tool and chiseling out the bigger chunks. If you want a perfectly round bowl and stem you must cut at angles which is hard especially without a bandsaw.

Step 7: Sanding

Once the rough shape has been carved/cut out take your orbital sander and 180 or 220 grit, either is good to start with.

Hold the sander in your non-dominant hand upside down, either in your lap or on a workbench.

*(If you have a way to hold it upside down without using your hand I would recommend that way because your hand gets very numb.)

With your dominant hand hold the pipe (use gloves for safety) and begin to sand the pipe making sure to roll it and keep it round.

Once you have a good round pipe step up the grit.

Once you get to 400grit and above it is hard to find sandpaper for your orbital sander. Home Depot sells adhesive pads that can be used to attach any type of sandpaper to either hoop lock or adhesive sanders.

Sand it until it is smooth and has no noticeable flaws and is to your liking.

Step 8: Finishing

To finish your pipe you can either stain the pipe or just oil it.

If you want to stain the pipe buy alcohol soluble dye in your color of choice. Pipe making websites and Amazon sell dyes of many colors. Follow the instructions on the dye and let it dry

Once your pipe is dry or you've finished sanding it and wiping off any residual sawdust with a wet clean cloth and drying it, oil the pipe.

Take a clean, dry, cloth and pour some mineral oil or butcher block oil on it and rub the pipe with the grain. Let it dry for about 20min, repeat 3-4 times (3-4 coats). After letting it dry for 20min on the last coat take a clean dry cloth and wipe off the residual oil.

Step 9: Smoking

There are different ways to season your pipe. If you are going to be smoking mainly sweeter tobaccos such as aromatics and flavored tobacco you can take some honey on your finger and coat the bottom of the bowl.

If you're smoking other tobaccos the best would be to smoke half bowls the first 3-4 times then gradually fill up the bowl more each time until you are at a full bowl.

Enjoy your handmade pipe!

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