I have begun working on my second pipe, a bent acorn. Got a promising piece of briar from which to shape its form!! I am 2 days into it now and so far so good! The block showed approximately 75% straight grain in its raw form. It has kept fairly true as I have made dust out of it.
Had Friday off, so traveled out to Wayne’s shop at about 9 in the morning. Shot the breeze a bit when I got there, talked about restorations I was doing, stems I was making/refitting, and looked at new pipe projects. I had been discussing this particular pipe with Wayne for a few weeks now and dove right in! Made my template and transfered the shape to the untouched briar block, making a couple corrections to my original design. Drilled the draught hole, and I was committed now! Faced and drilled the mortise to accept the stem, yet to be made.
Next step was to drill the tobacco chamber, and for this shape a conical bit must be used. I had previously purchased 2 spade bits and ambitiously ground them to a conical shape and checked their hole-making ability on a good ‘ol 2X4. Worked like a champ on the soft 2X4, but as I began to drill the briar, it wasn’t looking as nice. I could see on the bit where it was cutting and where it wasn’t. So, over to the disc/belt sander to ‘touch-up’ my ‘Nate-Made’ bit. Just a little touch here, and one there. Back in the drill press, and fired it up. Worked perfectly! Made a really nice, smooth chamber! Only thing left is to get the depth of the chamber right. I grabbed the air nozzle and applied pressure to the mortise/draught hole, a tip made known to me by Wayne. This is done so you don’t ‘over-drill’ the chamber too deep and is a big help! Air pressure applied, I removed more briar and as I was pulling out the bit to remove a bunch of briar shavings, I heard a horrible sound…the sound of the bit tearing the wood away from the top of the chamber! Turns out I don’t know my own strength. I had pushed hard enough on the block with the nozzle I had tipped it slightly in the vise. Fortunately, the damage was small and will be easily fixed later. I finished the chamber drilling, starting with a puff of dust, to the last pass perfectly lined up with the draught hole and at the proper depth. I am pretty sure I did the happy dance after that process was complete!
Now to the lathe. Cut off a chunk of ebonite rod and chucked it in the meaty jaws of the Rikon lathe. Next I drilled the draught hole with a tapered bit and finished with a straight 1/16″ bit. Next in the process is cutting the tenon. Wayne had recently purchased a high quality turning chisel for use with his Rikon and this process. I messed around on with the procedure a bit, fiddling with spindle speeds. I found the right speed where the chisel cut nicely and began. Unfortunately, the razor sharp chisel cut too nicely and I turned the tenon on a taper and far too small. Okay, start over. This time with more caution. Tada!! A nicely cut tenon. And fortunately, Wayne was able to use the chunk I had ruined for my pipe. He removed the junk tenon and made a new one, and voila, a stem for the rhodesian he was making!
So now, drilled stummel and fitted stem, next is rough shaping. To the belt disc sander I traveled. First section to be removed was the forward of the bowl. Then I roughed in the shank. Bowl sides up next and some fine tuning (if you can call it that) of the rough shape. Done with that, I needed to shorten the tenon as I had made it slightly on the long side, so I buzzed a little off. Still too long, buzzed a little more. I’m not sure when I realized the tenon was getting pretty short compared to its origin, but I soon realized I had ‘buzzed’ too much off. Arrggghhh!!! Well, I will just shorten the shank a bit, easy enough right? In theory on paper it’s easy, but in practice it takes forever and if you want a nice stem/shank fit, it can be painful to accomplish. But I persevered and re-attained a nice stem/shank fit with the proper mortise/tenon fit internally. One for the books and never to do again! I was done for the night.
On Saturday I went back in the afternoon. More conversations, discussions of pipes and the like and nearly every other subject in between. More shaping to Coachman and more work on the replacement stem I was making. I think I left around 9:30PM and I am sure Wayne was happy to get rid of me! I can’t wait to get back and work on more epic pipes! Until then, happy piping!