This is one of my favorite stages of a project. The shape is roughed out, and there are tool marks scattered over the surface like craters on a distant planet. Yet the form is evident, and I can finally see the finished article in my mind’s eye.
However, this stage is followed immediately by my least favorite step in the process: sanding.
I don’t do a lot of sanding since I figured out how to sharpen and use card scrapers. Sometimes, though, sanding is a necessary evil. On an object this small, and with so many delicate contours, scrapers are not very practical.
Good work holding helps. Clamping a hand screw upright in a vise makes it possible to work without hunching over too much, and it gives ample access to the workpiece from multiple angles.
I began with 220 sandpaper and finished up with 600 grit.
Bending the stem requires heat. A good lucite stem requires a lot more heat than the cheaper vulcanite stems. I use a piece of 1″ iron pipe as a bending form. This stem needs only a slight bend.
A good finish for a pipe should bring out the grain, but it should also feel good in the hand. Many modern pipe makers use film finishes that make the pipe look (and feel) like plastic. I prefer a simple oil finish. It’s the same homemade finish I use on most of my furniture projects: one part each safflower oil, mineral spirits, and polyurethane. Flood the surface, wait about 15 minutes, and repeat. Buff dry with a clean cloth. The oil pops the grain, while the polyurethane allows the finish to dry fully. The mineral spirits are just a thinner.
If I’m happy with the end result, then the recipient will be, too.
Happy retirement, Uncle John!