Introduction: How to Make a Kiseru Pipe From a 9mm Shell.
A bit of an americanized touch to the traditional kiseru pipe, for the discerning Japanophilie that is a bit of a redneck at heart. A bit of warning, I'm not a good craftsman by any means so if any improvements or criticism can be suggested in the comments than please don't hesitate.
The traditional koiki tobacco for that extra piece of authenticity can be purchased https://medwakh.com/koiki-kizami.html, but any mild, fine cut tobacco may be used (my friend's grandfather's choice was Dutch Masters Palma cigars cut hair fine with a razor ).
Step 1: Things You'll Need
Copper tubing ( Can't vouch for any other caliber, but 1/4 tubing worked fine for 9mm)
A spent, deprimed brass shell ( I used 9mm, but any will do. Brownie points for the first who uses .50 BMG.)
Piece of bamboo, reed or a dowel
Cigarette tip holder (I used a plastic one from a Black and Mild cigarette because I had it lying around, but a wood tipped one would have looked better.)
A mini file handle or dowel about 2x the size of the shell case
Coat hanger or similar gauge wire
Vinegar ( any acid will do like lemon juice, citric acid, pickle juice, etc.)
Non-toxic flux ( I used pine sap in alcohol solution from my back yard.)
Step 2: Annealing and Cleaning the Copper and Brass
This step is simple, just heat the pipes and shell cherry red and chuck them into a cup full of vinigar or acid of choice overnight.
Step 3: Mark and Cut Out the Tubing
Trace the shell onto pipe the using it as a template to mark it and cut it out . For this its better to err on the side of too small than too large, because in the next step we'll be beating the pipe to into shape anyway.
Step 4: Work the Tubing to Make the Angle
This is a bit hard to explain, take a screw that is a bit smaller than the shell and clamp it down, then hammer the pipe to make a lip on the edge, working with a downward motion. Fit the base of the shell to it and adjust accordingly, filing away the excess or beating at an increased angle.
Step 5: Making the Die for the Bowl
Take a mini file handle or anything that is about two times wider than the shell and slope the sides by attaching it to a drill with a snapped off wood screw, whittle it down with a saw and than file or sand it smooth.
Step 6: Forming the Bowl
Take the needle nose pliers, put them in the case mouth and slowly open them until the case is as wide as you can make it. Be sure to do so evenly and slowly. Then hammer it as centered as possible, occasionally checking to make sure the distribution is even. If it gets lopsided hit where the mold is lower to fix the problem. To make a lip to prevent the edges from deforming carefully face the case mouth down on a smooth surface and gently hammer it until the outer edges flare out flat. Fold it into itself by either tapping it or use non marring pliers.
Step 7: Soldering the Pipe Pieces
Sand the shell and the inside of the pipe and apply the flux (if you don't have access to a non toxic flux use denatured alcohol that is at least 90% or better yet the 100% alcohol for stripping paint and dissolve 1 part ground pine sap to 3 parts alcohol) and solder the the shell and pipe together, using extra to ensure a good seal. I had to use a stove because I can't have nice things without running them over with my car.
I couldn't take pictures of the process but what I learned <s>in boating school</s> is that I really suck at soldering (brazing?) and that the best policy for me was to just glob it on and file the excess off later.
Step 8: About the Stem
The stem can be either made from a reed or bamboo or a piece of wood. For making a reed stem it is as simple as going out, finding a piece that fits the pipe fittings, curing it somewhere dry and shaded and fitting it on the pipe pieces maybe sanding down to fit.
This isn't practical for anyone not near a source of reed or bamboo so to make one from a dowel or a branch slightly larger than the pipes. If your using a branch make sure that it is either completely dry or just cure it somewhere dry for a week or two.
Step 9: Burning Out the Dowel or Branch Stem
Get a coat hanger and cut it at an angle so it has a sharp tip. Heat it red hot with a stove or propane torch and slowly burn your way through (wrap it in a cloth, the wood get very hot) I used a dowel but in retrospect it would have been better to use a branch. This will take time just go with slow and even pressure, being mindful of where the grain goes on the wood or else you will pop it out through the sides like mine. I just cut it down and used it anyway.
Step 10: Finishing
To color the stem a nice brown hold it over a flame until you reach the desired color and seal with beeswax. You can leave the pipe bits work darkened for the effect or you can polish it with some emery cloth. After that just attach the pipe bowl and mouthpiece to the ends of your hollowed out dowel/ stick/ reed, sanding down if necessary to fit.
Congratulations! You now have a classy pipe that can be flaunted at a shooting range or a comic con. Just be careful of where the bowl is, it can burn you pretty bad and char through clothes, but it will cool down in a couple seconds after smoking.