As I stingy woodworker, I have always privately frowned on prototypes. From my perspective, they seemed such a waste of time and materials. After all, if you are an experienced woodworker, why can’t you just make it right the first time? And why waste all that pine and plywood on something that will have to be taken apart and trashed when the real project is complete?
Now I know.
I just bought some specialized drill bits to drill the tobacco chambers for the pipes I’ve been making. I had been using pre-bored material, but I want the flexibility that comes with doing it myself. I had to figure out how to use these bits, but I wanted to practice on something I could actually use to make a pipe if all went well with the drilling. I knew that cherry is sometimes used in place of briar, often for low-quality pipes, since cherry burns more easily than briar. I dug some 8/4 cherry offcuts out of the bin and went to work.
The pipe shown above is the result of my second attempt. My first attempt was used to grill chicken this evening. Instead of destroying a $15 block of imported briar burl, I destroyed a small scrap of wood that might have lain around for another decade. I’m pleased with the shape of this pipe and I think I’ll try to make a duplicate in briar now.
I don’t think I’ll be making prototypes on a regular basis, but I understand the rationale now. If I’m using a new technique or some irreplaceable material, I want to be sure I can do it right.