Making Another Tobacco Pipe

Not long ago, I carved my first tobacco pipe from a kit that my friend Doug provided.  Now mutual colleague of ours is retiring, so we have decided to make him a pipe as a going-away present.  Doug, who is a MUCH better photographer than I am, took all the pictures.

We began with this chunk of briar and an acrylic stem from American Smoking Pipe Company.  The pre-drilled blank has a lot fun figure underneath all those saw marks.

I took some time to lay out the profile of the pipe on the side of the blank.

I used dividers to make a few marks an equal distance from the center line of the bowl, and then connected the dots freehand with a pencil.

I find it easiest to do most of the rough shaping with a back saw and a turning saw.

Then I move to a chisel and spokeshave to rough out the shape.  Much of the shaping work is done without any clamping of the workpiece at all.  I hold it on the bench with one hand and hold the tool with the other.  It’s very important to watch how I’m cutting to avoid injury.

The shape will be further refined with a few half-round files.  Eventually I think I will get a hand-stitched rasp, which should speed up the shaping process considerably.

That’s not to say that I’m in a hurry.  This is a process that requires time and patience.

More on the shaping process next time.

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3 Responses to Making Another Tobacco Pipe

  1. ClaireElaine says:

    so cool!

  2. Konrad says:

    Hello Steve,

    Thanks for the post. I noticed it on Woodnet and followed it here. I have several pieces of very old Briar burl that I can only assume were destined for pipes. I have a few pipe smoking friends and several have asked if I had ever made one. Thanks to your tutorial – I may just try one. Have you ever made one from scratch – meaning without the pre-drilled holes? I will also check with your suggested supplier to see what they suggest.


    • Thanks, Konrad. I have not tried drilling the blanks myself. It’s something of a delicate operation, I understand. The bottom of the big hole must be either a shallow cone or (ideally) bowl shaped. Sounds like a job for a spoon bit to me. The small hole must intersect with the very bottom of the big one. Probably not hard to do with a good drill press setup, but I don’t have the time to make the necessary jigs just now.

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