There's something about woodworking that completely fascinates me. Once I made my first pipe from a stick, I couldn't stop and quickly made many more! After posting my original pipe to some online forums, and many requests, I would like to share my process with you!
Since this is a somewhat time consuming process, I will break it down into 4 parts:
Day 1: Pickup Sticks
Day 2: Preparation
Day 3: Drill Day!
Day 4: Finishing Touches
For this project you will need:
-Sanding paper/ Steel wool/ Printer paper
-Food grade oil
-Drill and drill bits
-Clamp and clothe
-1/4" Copper tubing (optional)
I hope that you find this instructable helpful in creating your own Gandalf-esque pipes. Enjoy!
Step 1: Day 1: Pickup Sticks
We're gunna start things off with a nice walk through the woods! Or if you're lucky enough, your front yard! I like to find branches that are about an inch thick and have some nice curves to them. I am still expirementing with different types of wood, so I don't know exactly which is best but in general you will want a hard wood.
Take a good hard look at branches and try to imagine where the bowl and mouth would be. I like to use knots in the wood for the bowl. If you can find a way to make the stick rest with the bowl sitting straight up, that adds another nice touch.
Once you have your branch(es) collected, go ahead and cut your pipe to size with a chop saw. Be careful to make a clean cut.
I also had good luck with ageing the branch for a few weeks by standing it up outside in the elements. The rain wetting and drying the bark of the branch over a couple weeks made it so that the bark peeled right off and gave my first piece a really nice finish. These are the three pieces pictured in the title of my instructable. This may only work for certain types of sticks though.
Step 2: Day 2: Preparation
At this point, we want to give a rough finish to the pipe by carving down the ends/branches and sanding it lightly. Depending on your stick, you may not want to carve the bark off. Sanding the bark lightly will give it a nice finish too. I really like round edges though, so go ahead and carve/sand down the edges of all the cuts we made earlier.
I recommend a non-serrated knife for carving since it doesn't leave teeth marks in the wood. I used a 60 grit sanding block for smoothing out my edges.
This step is not too complex, but make sure to take your time here because one slip of the knife could ruin your finish! Be sure to also wear protective gloves while making such intricate cuts. It would be very easy to accidentally cut a finger while carving such small pieces of wood.
Step 3: Day 3: Drill Day!
There's no turning back now, all holes are final! Be very careful to not drill too deep and extrude through the other end of the stick... (I made that mistake too many times).
Start by clamping the stick down with a piece of clothe so that you don't dent the wood. Line up your drill bit on a smooth surface so that you can slide the drill back and forth in a straight line.
For all holes, you will want to start with a small bit to make your initial cut and then work your way up to the final drill bit size. This will ensure that you don't split the wood.
There will be three holes drilled in total:
1. The main channel will be a 1/4" hole to fit the copper tubing.
2. I wanted an air intake to control the air flow with my finger, I found that an 1/8" hole is good for this. Start with a smaller bit and work your way up until you get the desired airflow.
3. If you want to use a 10mm male glass bowl to smoke out of, make a 23/64" hole. You could also make your bowl out of the wood itself by using whatever size bit you want and woodburning the inside of the bowl.
Once you have made all of your holes, drill them out again to make sure they are all cleared out. There is usually splinters left over from previous cuts.
Step 4: Day 4: Finishing
We're on the home stretch!
Cut your copper tubing so that it will not completely reach the bowl. We don't want to risk heating up the copper, this could potentially be a health hazard. The copper tubing is an optional touch, but it gives the pipe a really nice and hefty feeling. If you drilled your 1/4" hole out enough, the copper tubing should be able to slide right in with a few smacks on the concrete.
Lastly, we will sand down the branch with steel wool to make it smooth and then finish by sanding with printer paper. This will give it a silky smooth finish. Rub some cooking oil on it to bring out natural colors, and then smooth down again with printer paper. Make sure to blow all of the sawdust out of it and then we are done!
If you chose to make your bowl directly in the wood, I would recommend wood burning the inside of the bowl so that you don't inhale any smoke from the lighter burning wood.
Good luck with your pipe making and please post pictures in the comments if you make any yourself!
ProTip: If you chose a very curvy branch, the copper pipe can be used to make a straight path from the mouth to the bowl. It would look super cool if there was just a piece of copper sticking out in the middle of the branch.