Stop the Noise- Opening Up a Pipe’s Draw


Blog by Greg Wolford

I have this German acorn basket pipe that I love; it was a gift from my son. I really like everything about it: the shape, the feel, everything except the gurgle. This morning I decided it was time to “open her up” a little and remembered to take a few photos of the process (finally) to share what I generally do and generally works really well for me.

This process takes only a few tools and a few minutes to do. But you can spend a lot more time and effort and use more tools to get better, more precise results if you so desire. The tools I used:Opening it up (1)

  • a round needle file
  • a straight “pick”
  • 5’32” drill bit
  • reamer (bought from Harbor Freight)
  • a quick change handle (all of the rest of the tools are Kobalt from Lowe’s)

I start by inserting the pick to check the angle of the air hole in the mortise. Sometimes the angle won’t let me re-drill the pipe without damaging the edge of the shank. In this case there was ample clearance so I changed the over to the drill bit. The drilling can be done by hand or with the use of a hobby/universal vice with cushioned jaws; I use one sometimes, depending on how I feel, the value of the pipe, the angle, etc. I do this slowly and evenly, with moderate to light pressure. When I see the tip of the bit peek into the bowl I begin to pull the bit out, continuing to “drill” as I go backwards; I think this cuts a more even hole. I usually repeat this process 2-3 times, as I feel needed by the resistance on the bit and material that comes out with each pass.Opening it up (4) Opening it up (8)

I now turn to the stem and the reamer. As you can see, this is drilled straight, with no funneling or chamber.  Most of the time the procedure I am going to talk about with fix draw/gurgle issues but sometimes the stem will need re-drilled, too; that is another post!Opening it up (5)I use the reamer to open up the tenon just like one would do with a drill; the difference is that we aren’t going in very far (less than 1/2″ generally speaking) and we are increasing the size of the hole in a funnel shape as we go. You can see the difference a little work makes.Opening it up (7)Opening it up (6)Opening it up (9)When you are satisfied with the size and shape of the end of the tenon the next step is filing. I use a round needle file to make sure the inside of the tenon is smooth and there are no sudden changes in diameter. After filing the tenon I then do the same procedure to the newly opened air hole, though I forgot to photograph that.

This quick and easy project will benefit almost any pipe that has a gurgle issue. In this case the drilling was off-center, to the right a bit, and the re-drilling brought the air hole almost dead centered. I do still need to raise the bottom of the bowl a bit when I have time but I anticipate this opening up if the airway will make smoking this loved pipe more enjoyable than it already is.

3 thoughts on “Stop the Noise- Opening Up a Pipe’s Draw

  1. Mark Domingues

    Great info, thanks for posting. I only have one gurgler, I might try this operation on it one day.

    Reply
  2. Greg Post author

    For those who see it, I apologize for the “goofy” post title and long link; I fixed the title as soon as I saw it.

    Reply

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