Tag Archives: Frankenpipe

It is about time to Breath Life into a new Frankenpipe


Blog by Steve Laug

I have not created a Frankenpipe for a long time. I call them Frankenpipes with a tip of the hat to Mary Shelley’s grand creation Frankenstein. These remind me of her story what with the gathering of parts, “stitching” them together and breathing life into them. It is a thoroughly creative process I enjoy and I suppose there is always the possibility of crafting of a monster. Over the years I have crafted quite a few of these pipes and they tend to stay in my collection. You can search on the blog and see the variety of Frankenpipes that have come together. I find them incredibly enjoyable because they are very different from a restoration. Truly it is looking at a bunch of parts and imagining combining them into something that reflects the parts but as a whole it very different from any of them.

This afternoon I had an urge to make a Frankenpipe so after work I went through my parts. I found some parts that with some imagination could make an interesting looking pipe – at least in my mind’s eye. The parts for this Frankenpipe have all been around for a long time. The bowl is one I have had in a box here that had a snapped tenon in the shank. The stem had disappeared a long time ago and I did not have a stem for it that interested me. It is a large magnum sized “Malaga” bowl. It is far from a perfect piece of briar with a bald spot on the front left of the bowl. The rim top has burn marks and the bowl is out of round – thicker on the front side of the bowl than either side of the back of the bowl. The inner edge had a burned in “bevel” on the back right. The finish was worn and tired with black streaks over the bald spot on the left front of the bowl. It needed some serious TLC to bring life to it. Jeff had done his thorough clean up on the bowl so it was ready to work on. Here is what I saw with the bowl! As I stared at the bowl I thought that a band might look interesting on it. Don’t ask me why because as yet I had not chosen a stem for the bowl. I just thought a band would work. I went through my box of bands and nothing turned my crank or caught my eye. Then I remembered a bag of parts that I have from the mid to late 1800s. In that bag were several unique and original bands. There was one that caught my eye and I really thought it had promise. I took it out of the bag and found that it was in excellent condition and was probably never used. Here are some pictures of the decorative brass band.At that point I had an aha moment. I remembered an odd stem that I had in my collection of stems that just might be the thing that I was looking for on this Frankenpipe. It was unique and one that Jeff had picked up and save for me. I had never found a use for it but now I thought I might have. The two knuckle bamboo shank and acrylic stem is a single that has bend bonded together. The stem is thus a unit with the bamboo and the Delrin tenon on the other end is also integrated. It is drilled for a filter so I found a repair tenon that I could craft into an adapter to convert the tenon to a regular pipe sans filter. It would be removable if needed. Here is what it looked like with and without the tenon adapter. (The adapter would need to be shortened but you get the idea.)All of the parts have been here for quite a while. All of them give silent testimony to my crazy propensity to collect parts!! And all of them would finally come together to form a new Frankenpipe that was more than the sum of its parts. Read along as I walk through my process.

I began the work by addressing the issues with the bowl. I tried to pull the broken tenon with a screw. It was stuck so I put the bowl in the freezer for a little while. After about 10 minutes I tried again and was successful pulling the tenon out of the shank.With that finished I need to address the shank of the pipe to fit the conical ferrule/band that I had chosen. In the next photos you can see that I have chosen to shape the shank end to match the flow of the band. I did this with a Dremel and sanding drum and smooth it out with files and sandpaper. I was careful to leave the original Malaga stamp intact. I was not as concerned with the Imported Briar stamp on the right side of the shank. Progress is being made.I did a bit more shaping on the shank end. The decorative band now fit it quite well. I put the parts side by side and took some photos of the parts of the pipe. I took photos from various angles and sides. Can you begin to see what I am seeing with this pipe? I think it is going to work. Do you? Now back to work on the bowl! I decided to deal with the rim top damage by topping the bowl. It was in rough shape so I used 150 grit sandpaper on a topping board and remove the damaged parts of the rim top. It looked better. I worked over the inner edge of the rim with a folded piece of 150 sandpaper to give it all a bevel to match the burn damage at the back of the bowl. At this point I wanted to try the fit of the band on the shank. I heated it slightly with a lighter and pressed in place. I like what I am seeing. I removed the band once it cooled and went to work some more on the bowl. It needed to be polished and stained before I set the band in place but I wanted to have a look. Didn’t you? I wiped the bowl and shank down with acetone on a cotton pad to try to remove the dark patches and the remnants of the stain. All of this was in preparation for the future staining of the bowl. I polished the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads to prepare it for staining. I wiped it down with a damp cloth to remove the debris after each pad. I stained the polished bowl with Fiebings Light Brown aniline stain. I applied the stain, flamed it and repeated the process until I was happy with the coverage. I set it aside to dry.Once the stain dried I wiped the bowl down with alcohol to make the stain more transparent. I buffed the pipe on the buffer with both Red Tripoli and Blue Diamond to further reduce the heaviness of the colour. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my finger tips. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let it sit on the briar for 10 minutes then buffed it off with a soft cloth. With the bowl finished and the stain cured it was time to press the band in place. I gave it a thin layer of white all purpose glue on the inside of the band and pressed it onto the shank end. It looks quite fetching to me. I set it aside to let the glue cure but I like it! I set the bowl aside and worked on the tenon adapter and the stem surface. I used the Dremel and sanding drum to shorten the adapter until the fit in the tenon allowed the shank to fit snug against the shank end.With the internals finished it was time to work on the tooth marks and chatter on the surface of the acrylic stem. I sanded them smooth with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I started polishing the stem surface with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I dry sanded the stem with the pads and wiped it down with a damp cloth after each pad. I finished the polishing with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final buff with a cloth and Obsidian Oil. I put the parts of the Frankenpipe together and took the pipe to the buffer. I buffed it with Blue Diamond and really like the way the brass and bamboo polished up. They looked great after buffing. The bowl and stem also shone but I expected that really. The combination of the darker stain on the bowl, the antique brass band, the 2 knuckle bamboo with developing patina and the black acrylic stem came together even better than expected. I gave the pipe several coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe really shone with rich hues. The dimensions of this Frankenpipe are Length: 5 ½ inches from the front of the bowl to tip of the stem, Height: 2 inches, Outer diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 69 grams/ 2.47 ounces. It really surprised me as it looks to be a much bigger pipe than it is. I would say it is Dunhill Group 5 pipe at least in terms of bowl size. It really is a beautiful pipe in person and it will be staying with me along with the other Frankenpipes I have crafted. I am looking forward to enjoying a bowl shortly. It was a fun pipe to work on. I hope you enjoyed the process as you read about it. Thank you for taking time to read about it. As Paresh says – Stay safe/Stay healthy.

Cleaning up an Old Frankpipe Meerschaum


Blog by Steve Laug

I don’t know if you agree with me or for that matter do I really care, as to me there is something that is attractive about the sheer ugliness of this old pipe. I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder but truly this one called my name. My brother Jeff saw it on eBay and sent me the link. Both of us were drawn to its uniqueness. You have to admit that it is ugly but, come on, don’t you think it has some charm.frank1Once it arrived in Idaho my brother took some photos of the pipe. You can see how it was cobbed together out of a variety of old parts. The acorn shaped meerschaum bowl is scarred with the marks of a long hard life. There is a patina to the bowl that covers over and flows into the gouges and scars of the stone. The pointed meerschaum shank that terminates under the bowl appears to be glued onto the bowl to provide and entrance for the metal shank. I am still trying to figure out where that piece of metal came from. It is stepped down and cut at an angle before someone epoxied it onto the meerschaum shank. Inside of the metal there is a centered tube that runs to the bottom of the bowl. Carved down by hand and inserted into the end of the metal shank/mortise is a piece of Cherrywood branch that is split on the left side in the above photo. A one inch piece of horn is glued to the top of the carved branch and a vulcanite stem is screwed into the horn extension.

My brother took a series of photos of the bowl and shank contraption to show how it is cobbed together. Too me some of the charm of this pipe can be seen in the next series of photos. You can see the gouges in the bowl and the abundance of epoxy and glue that flows out of the joints in the shank and the metal tenon. It makes you wonder why the crafter of this Frankenpipe could not wipe the excess glue off the metal and the meerschaum. It is rock hard at this point in the pipe’s life. You can also see the mottled patina that has developed over time on the surface of the bowl.frank2 frank3 frank4It appears that the bowl was carved to receive a metal capped cup that is glued into the meerschaum bowl. At first glance it seemed that the cup filled the entire interior of the bowl. However, once I inspected the pipe firsthand the cup covered the rim and extended about ¼ inch into the bowl. The interior walls below the metal appear to be meerschaum.frank5 frank6 frank7The last pair of photos my brother sent shows the split in the side of the Cherrywood extension. It runs the length of the insert. You can also see the hand carved nature of the extension. It is carved poorly in terms of the fit in the mortise and also the fit against the horn extension on the other end. There is a large gap in the fit but the horn piece is glued solidly on the wooden extension and I think removing it would allow the wood to fall apart. The tenon end of the wood is notched to accommodate the tube that sits on the bottom half of the mortise and extends to the bottom of the bowl. Even that point in the carved wood is splintering and looks very tenuous.frank8From the photos it looked like I had my work cut out for me. This “charming” and ugly old meerschaum Frankenpipe deserved at least another chance at life. It seemed like just the kind of challenge that would break up my ongoing cleaning and restoration of pipes. I was looking forward to its arrival in Vancouver. My brother did a cursory clean up on the pipe because he did not want to damage any of the parts.

Last evening I decided I was in the mood to work on this monstrosity. I took it to the work table and filled in the gap between the horn and the Cherrywood extension with some all-purpose white glue. I was in a rust to get started so I forgot to take photos before I put the glue in place. I stopped the process long enough to take some photos before I went any further in the cleanup.frank9 frank10 frank11 frank12I used an awl to push the white glue into the gap between the parts of the extension and fill in the crooked looking space. The glue would dry clear and give the look of a space between the horn and the wood. At this point I had no idea if the stem would come off or if it too had been glued in place on the shank. I took a photo of the parts of the pipe at this point in my disassembly.frank13I took a close up photo of the rim cap and bowl. The bowl had been reamed by my brother and the cap wiped clean. I tried to suck air through the metal shank and found that air came out on the left side at the glued joint but it did not come out of the bowl. I plugged the left side joint with my hand and tried again. No such luck. The airway into the bowl was non-operative.frank14I took some close up photos of the vulcanite stem. There were two small tooth marks – one on the top and bottom sides of the stem near the button. They are barely visible in the photos below. Otherwise the stem was lightly oxidized.frank15I decided to see how far the metal bowl insert extended into the meerschaum. I was wondering if it was not like a calabash cup. I scraped out the last of the cake with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and then sanded it with a rolled piece of 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around my finger. Once I had sanded a bit and removed the light cake that was still on the inner edge of the metal I could see that it extended into the bowl only about ¼ inch and that the rest of the bowl was meerschaum. The third photo below shows the extent of the metal cap. The lower edge of the cap is pitted and worn but it has been sanded smooth.frank16 frank17Once I had the bowl reamed and cleaned I used a small drill bit to open the end of the metal tube in the bottom of the bowl. I pushed a piece of wire through the airway to open it up. The small tube was opened and I was able to blow air through the bowl.

I repaired the left side of the meerschaum shank joint to the bowl with clear super glue to seal off the opening that let air escape. I used a clear super glue to fill in the crack on the side of the wooden shank extension and then used white glue to fill in the gaps. I also filled in the joint between the wood and the horn extension on the shank. I gave it a thick coat of white glue, wiped off the excess glue with a dental spatula and set it aside to dry.frank18Once the glue had dried I used a small file to smooth out the joint between the two parts of the shank extension and made the transition smooth. While I was working on it I found out that the stem was not glued in place so I unscrewed it from extension making it easier to work on the repaired shank. I sanded the repairs to the wood and the connection to the horn with 220 grit sandpaper until it was smooth to the touch. I also used the file and sandpaper to clean up the notched end of the tenon. I stabilized the exterior of the tenon wood at that point with some clear super glue and let it dry.frank19Once the glue had dried on the tenon I cleaned out the interior of the stem and extension with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol.frank20I sanded the stem to remove the tooth marks and the oxidation. I reshaped the button at the same time with 220 grit sandpaper. Notice the stamped K on the underside of the stem near the saddle. I have no idea what that signifies but I am guessing came from one of the donor pipes that gave its life to become this one.frank21I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper until I had removed the oxidation and cleaned up the button edges. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil to see whether there were any stubborn spots of oxidation that needed more attention. I sanded the Cherrywood insert and the horn insert to finish smoothing them out. I polished the stem and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem and horn down with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads and gave it a final coat of oil after the last set. I set the stem aside to let the oil dry.frank22 frank23 frank24I polished the meerschaum and the metal with the same grits of micromesh sanding pads from 1500-12000 to raise a shine on the mottled and marked old bowl. The shine came back and with it all the marks of its age and its story seemed to soften.frank25I am sure that by now some of you are thinking I spent too much time bringing this ugly duckling back to life but I had a good time doing so. I put the finishing touches on the pipe before taking the final photos. I gave the tenon end on the Cherrywood shank a light coating of clear fingernail polish to protect the wood and ensure a snug fit in the metal mortise. I buffed the shank and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to raise a shine and gave the whole shank several coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the shank and stem with a clean buffing pad to protect the finished parts. I buffed the bowl and metal shank with the Blue Diamond polish and gave it a buff with a clean pad. I hand buffed the whole pipe with a microfibre cloth. The photos below show the finished pipe. When restoring these old pipes it is always a fine balance between restoration and going too far. On this one I have left the nicks and dents and even some of the overflow of epoxy so it can speak to the history of the pipe. I have only one wish regarding this old pipe – that it could speak even for a few moments and tell its story and the passion of the crafter of this Frankenpipe. Thanks for walking with me on the journey of its restoration.frank26 frank27 frank28 frank29 frank30 frank31 frank32 frank33

Crafting another Frankenpipe – one plus one equals three


Blog by Steve Laug

I have wanted to do some more experimenting and learning new ways of doing things for a while now. That is why I love refurbishing, there is always something new to learn. I was sent some pipes as a gift to either scrap out or clean up. In this lot was an Israeli Anderson freehand pipe. The bowl had been cut off and what was left was not much different from a Falcon base. There was no way it would hold any tobacco that would even make it worth smoking and it was in pretty rough shape. The stem was great the base was solid but the finish was done. I also had a pipe that I had cut the shank off of and repurpose on another project so the bowl was left. It had a lot of large fills on the side that were full of pink putty. I thought maybe with a little imagination I could join the two parts together and get a workable pipe. Let’s see what I can do with the parts.Franken1

Franken2 I don’t have a table saw or a band saw so any kind of cutting briar needs to be done by hand. In this case I used a hacksaw to cut the bottom of the bowl off so that I could splice the bowl and the base together. I figured it would work and I might get a half way decent pipe out of the blend.Franken3

Franken4

Franken5 I used a small drill bit to place six small holes around the base and the bowl. I stabilized the small cracks with wood glue and briar dust. I planned on putting a bowl coating on the interior so I was not too concerned with the walls of the base. I had some small stainless steel pins that I had found that would work well to join the two parts together.Franken6 I inserted the pins in the holes in the base and glued them in place. When the glue had set I put glue on the top of the base and the bottom of the bowl portion and set it on the pins as well.Franken7

Franken8 I pressed the bowl onto the pins in the base until the two surfaces connected. I clamped it in place until the glue dried. Once it was dry I put a ring of super glue around the joint on the two and pressed briar dust into the remaining crevices in the joint.Franken9

Franken10

Franken11

Franken12 I used a Dremel and sanding drum to remove the excess briar on the front of the base and bring it into alignment with the bowl. I did the same on the sides and back of the bowl.Franken13

Franken14

Franken15

Franken16 I sanded the bowl and base union with a medium grit emery paper and then with 180 grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface of the two parts and to work on making the junction smooth between the two. I followed that by sanding it with 220 grit sandpaper to further smooth out the walls of the new pipe. The photos below show the new “Stack” that had been fashioned from the two parts – one plus one did in this case render a third.Franken17

Franken18

Franken19

Franken20 I sanded the exterior of the bowl and base with a coarse grit sanding block and then with a medium grit block. The photos below show the state of the bowl after much sanding with the blocks. The surface of the bowl and base junction is smooth to touch. The large fills on the side of the bowl and the dark ring of the glue and briar dust patch around the middle were going to take some work to make them “disappear”.Franken21

Franken22

Franken23

Franken24 I sanded the bowl with a fine grit sanding sponge to further smooth things out while I decide on how to proceed next with the finish on the bowl.Franken25

Franken26 The internal junction of the bowl and base needed some work as well. The bowl I had used was slightly conical on the base so the internal walls came in at an angle. The base walls were straight. I needed to sand the joint from the inside to smooth out the junction. I used the Dremel and the sanding drum to smooth out the junction. I proceeded slowly and carefully and was able to smooth out the walls. The photo below shows the inside of the bowl after the first work over with the Dremel and sanding drum. More needs to be done but you can see the progress.Franken27 When I got back from the office I decided to rusticate the new bowl with the same tree bark rustication pattern that the Anderson Freehand had. I used a pointed dental burr with striations through the shape of the cone. I held it like a pencil and worked on the surface of the briar. I followed the pattern on the lower portion of the pipe and worked to match it and continue it to the top of the rim.Franken28

Franken29

Franken30 As I got closer to the top of the bowl I wrapped the edge with several layers of cellophane tape and folded it over the rim as well. I continued to use the burr until I had carried the pattern all the way to the edge of the tape. The original bowl also had some smooth spots in the midst of the rustication. These looked like the ends of cut off branches. I put several of them on the sides of the new bowl as well to match the lower portion.Franken31

Franken32 The next two photos show the conical burr that I used for the rustication pattern.Franken33

Franken34 To highlight the barklike nature of the rustication I used a black Sharpie permanent marker to colour in the trails in the briar.Franken35

Franken36 I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on a cotton pad to even out the black and to set it in the bottoms of the lines.Franken37

Franken38

Franken39

Franken40 I stained over the black marker with a dark brown thinned 50% with alcohol. I applied the stain and then flamed it. I repeated the process until the coverage was even.Franken41

Franken42

Franken43 I then gave the bowl a coat of oxblood stain thinned 50/50 with alcohol and set it on the cork stand to dry.Franken44

Franken45

Franken46

Franken47 To protect the newly sanded bowl and the joint between the bowl and the base until a cake had a chance to form I mixed a batch of organic bowl coating that I have used for years. It sounds like it would smell and make things a mess but it does not. I use sour cream and activated charcoal powder. I put a dollop of sour cream in a bowl and empty the contents of three or more charcoal capsules into the sour cream. I mix it until it is a grey pasted. At this point there is very little smell to the mixture.Franken48

Franken49 I painted the inside of the bowl walls and bottom with a folded pipe cleaner. I want to give the bowl a coating on all sides. I insert a pipe cleaner in the airway so I do not get the mixture in the airway. I put on the coating in several layers letting the one underneath get a little set. I paid special attention to the area around the junction of the two parts.Franken50 I set the bowl aside to dry. When it dries the coating will be a charcoal black colour and provide a base for the formation of the cake. While it dried I worked on the stem. I sanded it with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge and then moved on to sanding with micromesh pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads, rubbed it down with oil again and then dry sanded with 6000-12000 grit pads. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and when it dried I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond.Franken51

Franken52

Franken53 I lightly buffed the stem and the bowl with carnauba – spending more time on the stem than on the bowl. I then took it back to the work table and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine. I did not want too much of a shine as I think the matte finish looks good on the tree bark rustication. The finished pipe is shown below. Once the bowl coating has dried for several days it will be ready to smoke. I am still mulling over what I will pack it with for the inaugural smoke. Thanks for looking.Franken54

Franken55

Franken56

Franken57

Franken58

Franken59

Franken60

Yet Another Frankenpipe – A pipe made from assorted pieces


Frankenpipes are born out of having no more pipes in the refurb box to work on. I have many in transit at the moment but none with which to sit and unwind. That always is a recipe for me to dig in the boxes of parts and see what I can come up with to keep the hands busy. The pipe that follows was born of fiddling with parts in my parts box. The part I started with was an old bowl that I received in a gift box recently that did not have a pipe to go with it. It was a pressure fit bowl that obviously sat on a base of some kind of system pipe. I searched the Metal Pipes website to see if I could find out any information but did not find any likely candidates for this mystery bowl. It had some nice grain on it so it seemed like a shame to just let it sit in the box and wait for a potential pipe for it. I also I had a cut off shank piece that I had made for another purpose, a stem that fit the shank nicely and a block of briar that was too tiny for a pipe. The small block is one that I have been scavenging pieces off of to make plugs for burnout repairs. As I looked at the pieces I had an idea for putting them together into an interesting pipe that had kind of art deco feel to it. Now it was time to bring the pipe together and actualize my vision. IMG_8072 I measured out the drilling areas for the block. I needed to drill the airway large enough to insert the briar shank. I would use the Missouri Meerschaum concept of inserting the shank into the briar block. I started by drilling the first hole in the end of the block. I drilled the mortise area first. I did this in stages as it needed to be big enough for the shank piece to be pressure fit into place. Afterward I drilled the rest of the airway in the block. I decided to drill it all the way through to the other side of the block so that I could put in a funky plug on the front end. I looked around for what I would use and had several ideas. Time would tell which I would choose in the end. IMG_8069 I moved through several drill bits until the bit that was the size of the shank piece. I drilled it deep enough to inset the shank quite deep in the hole. IMG_8070 I marked the airway exit on the top of the block with a permanent marker and drew a line to show the track of the airway. I marked my drill bit to the depth of the top of the airway and drilled the hole in the top of the block. I wanted the hole to be the size of the nipple on the bottom of the bowl so that it would pressure fit into the hole. I wanted the hole to go through to the top of the airway so that the nipple on the bowl would sit on top and create good airflow from bowl to stem. IMG_8071 I pressure fit the bowl in the top of the block and the shank in the end of the block for the next two photos. I wanted to see if the parts all fit together well. I gave the shank a slight angle upward and would later bend the stem if the look was correct. Everything worked well at this point. For the plug on the end of the block I decided to do something simple. I wanted a plug that would be like a coloured dot on the end of the base. I cut off a piece of knitting needle and inserted it in the airway at the end of the block that is not showing at this point. I glued it in place and used the Dremel to take the overage back flush with the block. IMG_8073 IMG_8074 The height of the block was too much so I wanted to cut it in half. I do not have power tools to do that kind of thing so a bit of sweat equity and a small hack saw did the job. I sliced off the bottom half of the block to be used in making bowl plugs at a later date and now the height was more suitable to this little sitter. IMG_8078 I glued the shank into place in the block with epoxy and angled it the way I wanted it to be when I finished the work on the base. IMG_8079 IMG_8080 IMG_8081 IMG_8082 I used the Dremel and a sanding drum to begin to shape the block into a base for the pipe. I wanted a slope upward to the bowl – the sides would also slope upward. My idea was to have the bowl sitting on top of a volcano like base. IMG_8088 IMG_8089 It took a lot of sanding to get the shape even close to what I had envisioned and in the process I ran into my first problem. The joint of the block and the shank could not be sanded smooth or the walls would be too thin and the shank would break too easily. I probably should have used a Delrin tenon to connect the two parts but as usual looking back is not overly helpful. So I had to improvise with this one. I had a small brass pressure fitting that would look kind of interesting on this little Frankenpipe so I worked the joint area to accommodate the brass fitting. The photos below show the pipe taking shape with the brass band high on the shank. (At the time of these photos I had not yet glued the band on the shank.) IMG_8090 IMG_8091 IMG_8092 IMG_8093 I filled in the openings around the edges of the fitting where the shank joined the block with briar dust and wood glue packed into place with a dental pick. I sanded the ridges on the fitting with 150 grit sandpaper to remove them. I would have to do more work on the look of the band as I worked out the details later. I took the following photos after I had done more shaping of the base and glued the band in place. While the band is not beautiful it certainly strengthens the joint on the shank of the pipe and makes up for my lack of planning! IMG_8094 IMG_8098 The photo below shows the base with the bowl removed. You can get a clear picture of the base without the bowl and how the bowl looks from the bottom. The hole in the base is the same size as the nipple on the bowl. IMG_8099 I sanded it for another hour before calling it a night and then wiped it down with some light olive oil to get an idea where the scratches were that I needed to do more work on and also to see the grain. The next four photos show the pipe at this point in the process. There is still more sanding to do on the base and shank as well as some minor shaping. The idea though is clear – and the pipe is smokeable. The draw is very good and there are no leaks around the joint where the bowl presses into the base. So far so good. IMG_8100 IMG_8103 IMG_8104 IMG_8106 I set up a heat gun and bent the stem over the rounded handle of the heat gun to get a slight bend in it. I set the bend with cool water. With the bend the pipe is a sitter. The bend pulls the weight backward and the pip sits nicely on the button and the flat bottom of the base. IMG_8108 IMG_8110 IMG_8111 I did quite a bit more sanding and shaping of the base with 150 and 220 grit sandpaper. Once I had the shape to where I wanted it I sanded it with medium and fine grit sanding sponges. I gave the bowl and shank a wipe down with a cloth that was dampened with olive oil. Other than that the bowl and shank are not stained. IMG_8118 IMG_8119 IMG_8120 IMG_8126 While the shaping was finished there was still a lot of sanding to do to remove the scratches that remain in the briar. I also want to do some sanding on the band to remove scratches and polish it as well. The vulcanite stem also needs sanding and polishing. I took the pipe apart and sanded all the pieces with micromesh sanding pads. I sanded all of them with 1500-2400 grit pads and then finished sanding them with a 6000 grit pad. I buffed the parts with red Tripoli and then White Diamond and gave each part of the bowl and base multiple coats of carnauba wax. IMG_8127 I sanded the stem with a fine grit sanding sponge and then with the various grits of micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I buffed the stem with White Diamond, rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil and finished by giving it a buff with carnauba wax. IMG_8128 IMG_8129 IMG_8130 I sanded the brass band with the micromesh pads to polish it as well. When I had finished I gave the pipe a final buff with White Diamond and then applied carnauba wax to each part. I buffed them with a soft flannel buff to finish the shine. IMG_8132 IMG_8133 IMG_8134 IMG_8135 The final photo is of the front of the pipe. The knitting needle plug that I used is a bright reddish orange circle that sits at the base of the pipe on the front. The colour of the pipe is the red of the previous four finished photos. The last photo was taken with my cell phone and is a bit washed out. photo 2

One Just for Fun: A New Frankenpipe – Combining a Few Parts to Craft a Rustic Pipe


In the box of gift bowls that came to me were a few that I could fiddle with and see what I could come up with. There were no stems for these items so it was a blank slate to work on. The first of these was an old rustic bowl. As I looked at it I could see some possibilities for this old bowl. The bowl had a decent cake on the walls and there were no cracks in the piece of wood. It was like an old branch of cherrywood. The bark had been peeled and the top roughly carved. The bottom of the bowl was rounded. Internally the bowl bottom was flat and sound. The airway entered the bowl precisely on the bottom. There was a drilled airway on the side of the bowl that looked like it probably had a long stick for a shank and stem – possibly a reed stem.
IMG_7394

IMG_7395
I did not have a reed stem or a wooden shank to insert in the bowl but I did have an old vulcanite long stem that would work. The tenon had been tapered down and it had a slight saddle that gave it a unique look.
IMG_7393
I sanded the taper and reduced the diameter of the end of the stem/tenon. I sanded it until it fit snug in the hole in the bowl. I sanded it with 150 and 220 sandpaper to shape the stem and clean up the fit. I sanded it with a medium and a fine grit sandpaper to remove the scratches left behind by the sandpaper.
IMG_7396
I have a briar shank piece left over from other work I had done and for a short time considered inserting that between the bowl and the stem. I laid it out to see what it would look like and did not like the look so I set it aside for a later project.
IMG_7397
I turned the stem directly into the bowl and checked on the fit. The short tenon end on the stem was the precise depth of the hole in the side of the bowl. That made the fit perfect.
IMG_7398
I decided to glue in the stem with wood glue rather than leaving it a pressure fit stem. I decided the look would be similar to a mini-church warden cob and the fixed stem would work well with this particular bowl. I put the glue on the tenon and pressed it into place. I wiped up the spill over and wiped it down with a cotton pad to clean the briar and vulcanite surfaces.
IMG_7399
I sanded the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12,000 grit pads. The look of the pipe was quite acceptable.
IMG_7401

IMG_7402
I gave the bowl a thin coat of medium brown aniline stain, flamed it and buffed it. The finished pipe is shown below. Now I need to get a straw hat and use it as a yard pipe. It should work well as a pipe that will not leave any worry when I am working in the garden or mowing the lawn. It will be a good pipe to smoke while sitting and reading on my front porch.
IMG_7414

IMG_7413

IMG_7411

IMG_7412