WorkshopThe first step in making a pipe is to take a block of briar and sand each side of the block to expose the grain pattern. The block of briar dictates the style of pipe to be made. When I have an idea for a pipe, I will sketch a drawing of the pipe and then make an acetate template from the drawing. Over many years I have acquired a verity of templates. Next step is to find a pipe template that fits that size and shape of block and most important to capture the grain of the block. I will then take that template and trace the shape and lines for drilling the pipe.

WorkshopI will now go to the bandsaw and cut away the shape of the pipe being careful not to cut to close to the lines. This will leave me with a side profile of the pipe and the lines for drilling.

WorkshopThe next step is to take the block to my drillpress.I position the block so the bowl hole line is perpendicular. The block is locked in a vise and the depth of the bowl cutter is adjusted for proper bowl depth. I am now ready to cut the bowl chamber.

Workshop 4For this procedure I use my drill fixture to drill the air hole and tenon hole. I designed this fixture to guarantee precise drilling of every pipe. I am able to position the pipe on the fixture for alignment and depth and check where the drill will enter the bowl hole before I drill. This way all of my pipes are drilled exactly as intended.

WorkshopI am now ready to apply any extension on the pipe For this pipe I decided to use a staghorn extension. I turn a tenon on the piece of staghorn on my lathe. I will then secure the pipe in a vice, apply some epoxy to the pipe and secure the extension with a clamp.

Workshop 6While the extension is setting I will select a stem that will complement the size color and shape of the pipe. The next step is to secure the stem in the lathe and proceed to turn the tenon and style the stem.

WorkshopNow that the extension and stem are in place I am ready to start shaping the style of the pipe. This is the most demanding procedure. I do all of my styling of the pipe on this abrasive disk.This gives me the ability to create some very unique pipes, and insures each pipe will be one of a kind.

WorkshopThis is the most important step in making a beautiful pipe. I will insert the pipe on my drill fixture so the pipe is secure. I then begin hand sanding the pipe with very fine grades of sandpaper. It is important to remove all fine scratches and any ripples on the surface of the pipe. Now is the time to sharpen and define all the style lines of the pipe. This is a tedious job that is necessary for a glass like finish.

WorkshopThe part of making a pipe I like the best. I start with a coarse buffing compound and work down to a very fine. As soon as you start buffing, the grain in the pipe just pops out. When you have a pipe with a grain like this one it gets exciting! It is important to remain patient.and apply a gentle steady pressure against the buffing wheel. After buffing it is time to stain the pipe or in this case leave it natural. I then apply the carnuba wax finish and admire the beauty of this pipe.

WorkshopI hope you found my workshop presentation interesting and informative. I really do enjoy making pipes. If you have any questions or would like me to make a pipe for you please contact me. I thought you might like to see the finished pipe we built step by step.

ws-11After spending the day in my workshop, nothing is more relaxing than smoking a pipe full of my favorite English Blend tobacco from Cornell & Diehl. This is when I contemplate some “Creative” ideas for my next pipe, or possibly your next pipe.

Best Regards,
Al Perkowski