Making A Pipe Rack

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bentmike

Preferred Member
Jan 25, 2012
2,423
0

I'm a little ashamed to admit it but I don't have a pipe rack. Over the past few years I've gathered a nice collection of burners but I had nothing to rest and display my usual rotation on. I've been wanting to get started on a pipe rack for myself so come on out to my workshop and follow along on my latest project.

So many table top pipe racks are made from spindly low quality wood like pine and stained the usual dark colors. As a woodworking hobbyist that stuff drives me nuts. In my wood supply I have a bunch of solid mahogany that I salvaged from the scraps from a pattern shop. This wood is mostly thick slabs of the beautiful tropical wood but shorter pieces sawn off the ends of huge boards. Not good for much but smaller projects so there was no question of what wood to use for my pipe rack.
After sawing the pieces to rough size on the table saw I ran them through the planer to reduce them to the thickness I wanted.

After cutting and planing all the pieces the next step is laying out the dowel holes. I like using wooden dowel pins in my projects. The pins allow precise fit of the pieces, add more glue surface and let me dry fit the pieces together to make sure everything looks right before the final assembly with glue makes things permanent.

One of my favorite tools is the "Dowel-It" doweling jig. It's basically a steel block with a built in clamp. The block has threaded holes that accept different sized inserts that guide a drill bit. The clamp centers the block on the material holds it dead square so a perfect hole can be drilled.

For bigger pieces that won't fit in the doweling jig the drill press does the job.
Here's the pieces drilled and pinned:


Now we're getting to the fun part. The upper piece that the stems of the pipes will rest against needs cutouts that will center and hold the pipes in place. To do this I carefully laid out the centers and used a Forstner bit to cut half rounds in the face of the top piece. In the photo a strip of scrap pine is shown clamped to the mahogany top piece. I did this to prevent tear-out of the wood during the drilling.

Stem rests perfectly spaced and drilled.
Moving on to the base of the pipe rack a row of flat bottomed holes need to be laid out that match the stem rests machined into the top piece. I accomplished this with a bigger 1-3/8" diameter Forstner bit and set the depth stop on the drill press so the holes will only be deep enough to receive a felt pad and provide a small step to hold the pipe bowls in place.


With all the machining done its on to sanding. This is the stage where I really start to get excited to see the project completed and momentum builds. Even so this is the part where patience is very important and corners cannot be cut.

For flat surfaces a sanding block works fine but other areas some creativity is required. To sand a small radius onto the stem rest cutouts I rolled up some sandpaper around a piece of dowel and carefully worked the edges. When I sand a project typically I'll work a couple hours then put it down and come back the next day and continue on. Taking a break then coming back with fresh enthusiasm keeps me focused on doing the best job I can.
After about six hours of sanding working from 120 grit through 220, 320, 400 and finally 600 grit paper I was ready for the glue up.

Later I removed the rack from the clamps and wiped it down with low gloss tung oil using a soft cotton cloth. After drying overnight I popped some brown felt pads into the flat bottom holes in the base and headed to the backyard for some photos taken in bright full sun to really show off the beauty of the wood.


Now my pipes are happy and I have a fine rack worthy of my favorite smokers. My vision for this rack was to create a simple and plain design with a monolithic look. I have router bits that I could have used to cut a decorative edge around the base but I chose just a small radius on all the edges. I didn't want the rack to be too ornate. I want the pipes to be the center of attention. The mahogany wood in and of itself brings plenty of class to the table.


 

tbradsim1

Preferred Member
Jan 14, 2012
7,442
10
That rack just says CLASS, thank you for this, and your pipes are really stunning.

 

cmdrmcbragg

Preferred Member
Jul 29, 2013
1,741
0
Fantastic work. As an amateur wood worker myself I appreciate the detail of the post and the pictures. Love it and I think you may have given me the inspiration (and guidance) to tackle this project. Though I plan on incorporating pipe into mine.

 

buffalopat

New member
Jul 15, 2014
47
0
Nice work. Wish I had more mechanical aptitude, so I could put together something like this. Until then, I will pick up the occasional deal on the bay.

 

johnnyreb

Preferred Member
Aug 21, 2014
1,786
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Fantastic report bentmike! The mahogany looks beautiful contrasting with the pipes. You're obviously a skilled woodworker and pretty good at photography as well! I like what you have done.

 

bentmike

Preferred Member
Jan 25, 2012
2,423
0
Thanks fellas for the nice compliments I appreciate it. I really enjoy seeing shop photos on the forum here and in my opinion we don't see enough. I decided to take a few along the way from the start and share them with you all.
Cmdr you say incorporating pipe? That small diameter brass pipe and fittings like the steam punkers use comes to mind.

 

allan

Preferred Member
Dec 5, 2012
2,429
0
Bronx, NY
Mike
Really enjoyed the detailed explanations along with photos
Clever to use the scrap pine to drill the 1/2 holes

 

allan

Preferred Member
Dec 5, 2012
2,429
0
Bronx, NY
Cortez
All this time I thought it was Harris that came up with cube cut
Well, I stand corrected!
Thank you, Mike

 

cmdrmcbragg

Preferred Member
Jul 29, 2013
1,741
0
@bentmike, yeah like that. I would not be affixing gears and wires though. I just like an industrial feel and I haven't seen anyone use iron pipes in a stand. I would be using it as support for the top.

 

thebadkitty

Member
Feb 29, 2012
271
0
Albany, Oregon
That is a beautiful pipe rack. I still do the cube cut too, and to this day I carry a magnifying glass in my pocket because of Mike's cool-ass post about using it as a windproof pipe lighter. Thanks for sharing Mike!
http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/a-one-pipe-question

 

newbroom

Preferred Member
Jul 11, 2014
5,493
3
That is a beaut! I had the 'sudden' realization that my growing inventory of pipes needed to have some kind of sensible storage and began to look at racks instead of pipes.

I saw a simple, clean, walnut with a buy it now price and did. When I got it, I found that the stem holes were so small they only cleared one or two stems. I don't have a garage or a shop. That's one of my great regrets. However, I think I can manage to modify this to something more useful.
I've been so enthusiastic about my new pipe hobby that I've been proselytizing to smokers and non smokers alike. I'm trying to interest my kid brother in building some racks and maybe 'making' some pipes. He is currently making Duck Decoys and taking them to craft shows as a hobby. I have sent him pics of hand crafted pipes to whet his whistle.
When I go to softball, I bring a pipe and usually have a few conversations about pipes before that game is over.

One of the guys brought me an old pipe lighter and said he wasn't using it anymore. It's a fluid drive that looks like a large nut and bolt. It's called a Nimrod Pipe Lighter. I haven't been able to clear the path for the flint yet, to use it, but I will.
Now that you've built your first pipe rack, and it is quite a looker, (Simplicity and utility are where form and function find perfect harmony.)

what have you learned?
Woodworking is one of the more appealing activities a man can undertake.