Daily Archives: April 15, 2013

Shaping a Diamond Shaped Stem from a Round One


Blog by Steve Laug

This morning I found myself in need of a diamond shaped stem – a short Lovat style stem for a long shanked pipe I was restemming. I did not have any diamond shaped stems in my can of stems so I decided to craft one. I took a round stem that had the same diameter as the high points on the diamond shank and turned the tenon to fit. It was a tiny diameter mortise so I did a lot of work on it with my dremel and with files and sandpaper. Once I had the fit on the mortise I inserted it in place and used the Dremel to reduce the round sides of the stem to match the diamond shank.

Figure 1 WDC base in need of a diamond shaped stem. Necessity is the mother of invention. I used a round Lovat stem.

Figure 1 WDC base in need of a diamond shaped stem. Necessity is the mother of invention. I used a round Lovat stem.

Figure 2 I turned the tenon to fit the mortise and then inserted the stem against the shank.

Figure 2 I turned the tenon to fit the mortise and then inserted the stem against the shank.

I worked on one side at a time with the sanding drum on the Dremel running at medium speed. I worked holding the pipe bowl and shank in hand and holding the Dremel with the sanding drum perpendicular to the stem. I worked it the length of the saddle until each side was set at the same angle as the shank of the pipe. This took care so as not to damage the Bakelite of the shank and base.

Figure 3 I used a Dremel to shape the stem to match the diamond angles of the shank. I worked on one side at a time.

Figure 3 I used a Dremel to shape the stem to match the diamond angles of the shank. I worked on one side at a time.

Figure 4 Pipe resting against the Dremel with a sanding drum. Shaping progressed quite quickly. This picture shows one side beginning to take shape.

Figure 4 Pipe resting against the Dremel with a sanding drum. Shaping progressed quite quickly. This picture shows one side beginning to take shape.

5 Top view of the shank. Both sides of the round stem are beginning to take on the shape of the shank.

5 Top view of the shank. Both sides of the round stem are beginning to take on the shape of the shank.

I finished the top side of the stem with the Dremel before going on to the underside. I worked the Dremel so as to leave a relatively straight line down the centre of the stem. The goal was to align the line with the line of the shank on each side. I eye balled it at this point and would fine tune it when I worked it with sandpaper.

Figure 6 Top view after more shaping with the Dremel.

Figure 6 Top view after more shaping with the Dremel.

Figure 7 Bottom view before the Dremel did its work.

Figure 7 Bottom view before the Dremel did its work.

Figure 8 Left side view after the first side has begun to take shape.

Figure 8 Left side view after the first side has begun to take shape.

Figure 9 Bottom view after both sides have begun to take shape.

Figure 9 Bottom view after both sides have begun to take shape.

Figure 10 Right side view of the stem after it began to take shape.

Figure 10 Right side view of the stem after it began to take shape.

From this point in the process all the work was done by hand with a variety of sandpapers from medium grit emery paper through 220 grit sandpaper. I wanted to smooth out the angles and align the edges with the straight line of the shank.

Figure 11 Back to the worktable and the hand sanding.

Figure 11 Back to the worktable and the hand sanding.

Figure 12 Hand sanding continues.

Figure 12 Hand sanding continues.

Figure 13 Hand sanding continues.

Figure 13 Hand sanding continues.

Figure 14 View from the tenon end of the diamond stem at this point in the process.

Figure 14 View from the tenon end of the diamond stem at this point in the process.

Originally the Bakelite base had a band on it. I used an older complete one I have here for an example so that I could get the feel for it. The original was more of a brass/gold coloured ornamental band. I have none of those bands so I used a nickel band. After fitting the band I needed to reduce the tenon slightly for a snug fit and also work on the angles of the sides and corners of the diamond to match the banded shank.

Figure 15 Top view after more hand sanding with a medium grit sanding sponge.

Figure 15 Top view after more hand sanding with a medium grit sanding sponge.

Figure 16 Bottom view after more hand sanding with a medium grit sanding sponge.

Figure 16 Bottom view after more hand sanding with a medium grit sanding sponge.

At this point in the process I removed the stem from the shank and worked on the sides with a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the scratches and marks from the previous grits of sandpaper. Once I was finished with this portion I cleaned off the stem with a soft cotton pad and Everclear so I could see the scratches that were left before I moved on to sanding with the micromesh sanding pads.

Figure 17 Top view. Shape is finished. Now to sand out the scratches and polish the stem.

Figure 17 Top view. Shape is finished. Now to sand out the scratches and polish the stem.

Figure 18 Side view. Shape matches the shank perfectly. Need to remove scratches and polish.

Figure 18 Side view. Shape matches the shank perfectly. Need to remove scratches and polish.

Figure 19 Bottom view. Need to remove scratches and polish.

Figure 19 Bottom view. Need to remove scratches and polish.

Figure 20 Tenon end view of the diamond shape of the shank. The hardest part of shaping a diamond stem on an old pipe shank like this one is that all sides of the shank were slightly different measurements so that all sides of the stem would have to be as well to match the angles.

Figure 20 Tenon end view of the diamond shape of the shank. The hardest part of shaping a diamond stem on an old pipe shank like this one is that all sides of the shank were slightly different measurements so that all sides of the stem would have to be as well to match the angles.

Once I saw the scratches that remained I worked over the stem with 320 grit sandpaper to remove the scratches and clean up the surface so that when I sanded with the micromesh the deeper scratches would be gone.

Figure 21 Left side after sanding with 320 grit sandpaper.

Figure 21 Left side after sanding with 320 grit sandpaper.

Figure 22 Right side after sanding with 320 grit sandpaper.

Figure 22 Right side after sanding with 320 grit sandpaper.

Figure 23 End view showing the diamond shape after sanding with 320 grit sandpaper.

Figure 23 End view showing the diamond shape after sanding with 320 grit sandpaper.

Finally with the scratches removed it was time to move on to the micromesh sanding pads. Photos 1 & 2 show the stem after sanding with 1500 and 1800 grit micromesh. It should clean up nicely with each successive grit of micromesh. Photo 3 shows the stem after sanding with the 2400 grit micromesh. With all three of these grits I wet sanded the stem.

Figure 24 Left side after sanding with 1500 and 1800 grit micromesh sanding pads

Figure 24 Left side after sanding with 1500 and 1800 grit micromesh sanding pads

Figure 25 Right side after sanding with 1500 and 1800 grit micromesh sanding pads.

Figure 25 Right side after sanding with 1500 and 1800 grit micromesh sanding pads.

Figure 26 Right side after sanding with 2400 grit sanding pads

Figure 26 Right side after sanding with 2400 grit sanding pads

I moved on to the higher grits of micromesh. The next five photos below show the 3600 and 4000 grit micromesh. I dry sanded with these pads. The scratches have pretty much disappeared and the higher grits will give the stem a deep shine.

Figure 27 Sanding with 3600 and 4000 grit micromesh.

Figure 27 Sanding with 3600 and 4000 grit micromesh.

Figure 28 Right side sanded with 3600 and 4000 grit micromesh pads.

Figure 28 Right side sanded with 3600 and 4000 grit micromesh pads.

Figure 29 left side of the stem - sanding with 600 and 4000 grit micromesh.

Figure 29 left side of the stem – sanding with 600 and 4000 grit micromesh.

Figure 30 Top view of the stem after sanding with 3600 and 4000 grit micromesh.

Figure 30 Top view of the stem after sanding with 3600 and 4000 grit micromesh.

Figure 31 Bottom view of the stem after sanding with 3600 and 4000 grit micromesh

Figure 31 Bottom view of the stem after sanding with 3600 and 4000 grit micromesh

The next photo shows the view of the stem from the tenon end. The diamond shape is complete and the remnants of it being a round stem are gone. More polishing will bring this to life.
IMG_1027
From this point on in the process I dry sanded with 6000, 8000 and 12,000 grit micromesh to finish the polishing. Once finished I buffed it with White Diamond and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax to preserve the stem. The next four photos show the finished stem.

Figure 33 Right side view of the finished stem.

Figure 33 Right side view of the finished stem.

Figure 34 Left side view of the finished stem.

Figure 34 Left side view of the finished stem.

Figure 35 Top view of the finished stem.

Figure 35 Top view of the finished stem.

Figure 36 View of the stem from the tenon end.

Figure 36 View of the stem from the tenon end.

At this point the stem is finished and ready to be added to the WDC pipe that I was restemming. This process proved a point I have held forever – within in every stem resides another smaller stem or at least one of a different shape. That is why I rarely get rid of a stem. They can be reshaped, the button added on a second time a new tenon added… you get the picture.

Shaping a Round Metal Band to Fit a Square or Diamond Shank


I have been working on refining the process of shaping the nickel bands that I use in repairing cracked shanks. The pressure fitting of round or oval bands is relatively easy. The round bands merely need to be heated and then pressed into place. The oval bands need to be “squashed” to size. This is a bit trickier in that you need to figure out the diameter of the “unsquashed” circle of the shank and match that with the band size that will be used. Doing this has been a bit of an experimental process for me. I am getting to where I can estimate the size and when it is shaped accordingly it fits well. But that took time. I have no special tools to help with the measurements other than a tape measure that enables me to get close to the size I want to begin with.

Tools of the trade

Tools of the trade


The starting point - a round band

The starting point – a round band


But when it comes to shaping a diamond shanked band or a square shanked band that is a different matter altogether. I begin with a band that has the same diameter as the shank of the pipe I am going to work on. I squeeze it to an oval and try to pinch both ends to get a fold. I then squeeze it into an oval the other direction and pinch the ends. This gives me a band that is in essence a square with a bulge on each side.
Squashed to an oval - step 1

Squashed to an oval – step 1

Squashed to an oval the other direction - leaving an odd shaped almost square

Squashed to an oval the other direction – leaving an odd shaped almost square


Once I have the basic shape squared as it appears above, I use a flat blade screwdriver to square up the corners. I place the blade of the screwdriver flat against the inside edge from one side to the other and then push the outside edge with my fingertips working my way around the square on both sides. With this process I have roughly squared up the band and it is ready to be placed on the shank of the pipe.
IMG_0983
I slide it on the shank of the pipe as far as it will go without binding and then use a small furniture hammer (picture above) to square the edges of the band. I then reverse the band and do the same thing a second time. I am very careful with the hammer as I do not want to crack the shank. I merely want to get the band as square as possible before I heat it and pressure fit it on the shank. The next two photos show the squared band after it had been put on the shank and tapped into shape with the hammer. I finished by reinserting the screwdriver and squaring off the corners.
The square is done

The square is done

The band is squared and ready to be pressure fitted.

The band is squared and ready to be pressure fitted.

The new band is in place on the shank.

The new band is in place on the shank.


That is the journey in photos and words from a round to a diamond/square band. As you work with bands and improve upon my method keep us posted. I am always open to learning better and more efficient ways of working. One thought I have had is to get square blocks of various sizes of either hardwood or metal and use these inserted in the band to allow me to flatten the band more thoroughly and sharpen the corners. But until then what you see in this article is what I do and so far it works for me.