Pipe Carving Questions

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carolinachurchwarden

Preferred Member
May 9, 2018
1,682
2
Raleigh, NC
I'm planning to carve another pipe as soon as my pipe kit arrives. I've carved a couple from some cherry wood a month or two ago and it gave me a little practice, but I never got into some things like I have planned for this one, such as staining, and I wondered if any of you carvers could help give me a little insight.
I'm unsure of what shapes I can really make from my block, since I won't know for sure what it looks like until it arrives, but are there any shapes that work best, or can you make pretty much any shape you want?
When it comes to staining, I'm thinking of something sort of two-tone, one darker, one lighter, but what type of stains work best with briar, and what methods seem to work best for application?
I wish I could actually provide some sandblasting methods, but I don't own one or know anyone that does. How you feel about a dremel tool to provide rustication? Is there some better method out there?
Thanks in advance for any tips or tricks you might feel like passing along. I'm going to be practicing my rustication techniques in the time I have before it gets here on another block of cherry I have, maybe even practice staining it if I can figure out what stains work best and where to buy them.

 

weezell

Preferred Member
Oct 12, 2011
9,634
894
https://rebornpipes.com/2018/05/19/peterson-rocky-donegal-999-restoration/ this is where I would go if I were you...

 

sasquatch

Preferred Member
Jul 16, 2012
981
24
For sure there are limitations with a pre-drilled kit - you will be able to modify the size and shape of the bowl, but not the length of the shank, for example, or the basic orientation of the stem - if it's a straight kit, you make a straight pipe (or maybe at most something like a zulu), if it's a bent kit, you make a bent pipe of some sort because .... more or less that is HOW you decide that stuff. The drilling and geometry of the shank/stem.
So, yeah, see the kit, see what the stem looks like, size, all that good stuff, and then you can draw some ideas on paper and transfer them to the block and make sure they work.
Stain on briar reqires dye, alcohol based. Ordinary wood stains (carried in oil) just won't do a thing. Most of us use leather dye, Feibing's being the most common brand. There are also dyes you can buy and dissolve in alcohol, available at hobby stores etc.
Dremel rustication almost always looks just like that - like a spinning tool was applied in a "tap tap tap" fashion, like Peterson's current rustication. Nicer textures can be achieved with a dremel if you have lots of cutting heads or are willing to experiment with wire brushes etc. But the best stuff is still hand done, with carving tools or sharpened screwdrivers or cluster tools, or all three.

 

carolinachurchwarden

Preferred Member
May 9, 2018
1,682
2
Raleigh, NC
Alright, awesome! I've been to reborn pipes, but only a few times when I've wanted to see what certain pipes took to restore, but never really checked to see if they have the info I'm looking for. Hadn't really thought about that site for it.
@squatch, really good info there, and I highly appreciate it! Never really thought about the different types of stain out there before. I had heard of some sort of aniline stain that comes in a powder and you mix it somehow, just hadn't gotten into it yet as I am a tad bit unsure of my capabilities there, so was hoping to find something already mixed. I think you gave me what I might need in the comment about using leather dye. Never thought that could work and always thought the stains used were just general wood stains, so even if I practiced with those on my cherry wood, it would be totally different. Saved me some heartache there on trying to figure out why it wouldn't work.
I'll also have to experiment with my screwdrivers and carving tools that I do have to see what I can make happen. The dremel has worked fine for removing wood and carving a design, but haven't really attempted it with a basic rustication before. The design I have in mind doesn't really have the room for me to use some other means, as I plan to have recessed areas of the pipe that I want rusticated while leaving the non-recessed areas smooth, but I can give the screwdriver and carving tools a try. Thanks for your comments on this.

 

pianopuffer

Senior Member
Jul 3, 2017
464
25
NYC
Check out the Castello YouTube videos; these guys have their own sort of rustication tool fashioned from what looks to be nails arranged in a circular pattern that are fixed by a small wooden handle. They make their Sea Rock finishes this way I believe.
Wouldn't be too hard to make one yourself I imagine. Here's the video, around the 6:45 mark.
Castello Factory

 

carolinachurchwarden

Preferred Member
May 9, 2018
1,682
2
Raleigh, NC
That was a great insightful video. I think my favorite part had to be the awesome orchestral 80's music accompaniment. Too good, but the main takeaways are that I think I could create something like that tool they used for my rustication. My only issue to figure out is how to make it so that I don't accidentally chew up the areas I want to remain flat and smooth on the design I have in my head.
Another thought I just had, having watched the video provided, if I do decide to go with a two-tone sort of finish, what would be the best process? Dye it all the darker color and then sand away the areas I want in a lighter shade? Will that even work? Just how deep will the dye penetrate into the briar?
What would you say would be the best colors to try on the briar to make a nice color contrast? Looking at Vermont Freehand's Fiebing list of colors seems daunting to know what shades I should pick up. I'm just looking for something darker for the insets, followed by something lighter on the non-recessed areas. This sea rock is almost perfectly displaying the look I want when it's done, as far as contrasts:

Now I have seen before, that roughened wood takes stain darker than smooth, sanded surfaces, is that what this is? Is it the same color and just the finished surface it's applied too that makes it appear "darker" and "lighter" or is that two different stains?
Sorry for all the questions, but I get excited thinking about carving anything, especially pipes now.

 

sasquatch

Preferred Member
Jul 16, 2012
981
24
Stain doesn't mostly penetrate a lot, like 1 mm kinda thing - it will run more into pores (endgrain/birdseye) and yes it will soak into rusticated areas more. The pipe you show is two stain colors, probably a cordovan and a tan. If you sand or buff after staining, yes, the tops of the peaks will be lighter than the lowest areas of carving.
You can get a lot of color variation out of a single stain though... back through my own archives, here's a "carved" texture with a little buffing....

And here's a cluster-tool, sea-rock type....

And what you are seeing is how much stain the cut areas take, and how much you can sand back on the smooth areas for a visual pop, if you are so inclined.

 

carolinachurchwarden

Preferred Member
May 9, 2018
1,682
2
Raleigh, NC
That's not a bad combo either. Maybe that's what I'll try first, pick up some Cordorvan and use that on the whole thing. I like that shade best, I think. Then buff the outside until it's a little lighter. Could pull off the look I want with one stain. Thanks for the help! Hopefully I'll have pictures as I go along.

 

crashthegrey

Preferred Member
Dec 18, 2015
2,810
5
To make that sea rock you want to google a pipe nail rustication tool. It's a few or many nails that you twist and push where you want rustication. You can make one from a phillips head screwdriver as well. Stain the rusticated parts with black. The smooth part is lightly stained with one of the lighter browns. If you want the grain to show more than that early, do the black stain and wet sand it off to get the grains darker before the light stain. You'll probably want light shellac over the rustication and buffing wheel with carnauba wax on the smooth sections, but everyone has their own method. A drop or two of oxblood in the black can give it a more interesting color, but is not necessary.

 

wayneteipen

Senior Member
May 7, 2012
382
0
Lot's of good advice already given here. I would just add that you might want to check out www.pipemakersforum.com and read through the archives. The sight isn't as active as it used to be (mostly because there's not much more to say since just about every topic has already been discussed ad infinitum) but it's a superb repository of pipemaking wisdom including lots of info from some of the industries finest makers and repairmen.

 

jaytex969

Preferred Member
Jun 6, 2017
4,383
735
I have found that the broad surface of the dining room table provides a large and ample canvas for the practice exercises of carving and rustication.
Does anyone know a good web site for quick delivery of flowers and chocolates?


 

lawdawg

Preferred Member
Aug 25, 2016
811
290
Please post pics when you're done, Carolina. I enjoy seeing people's self-made pipes.

 

sumusfumus

Senior Member
Jul 20, 2017
352
7
Carolina.....
If I were you, the first thing I would do is contact some briar suppliers and ask them to send you a box of briar scraps, cut-off, and rejects. I'd use this junk briar for experiments with staining, finishing, waxing, Dremel carving, and rustication techniques. At least you'll have a better idea of how briar reacts to your various treatments, and what you need to do to achieve the end results that you expect.
This forum is wonderful. Just look at how many guys posted information that will help you get that "professional" look on your pipes. I hope you get happy results from you pipe-making endeavors.
BTW, having access to metal-lathes, milling machines, belt-sanders, etc, I once decided to try to make a few pipes from exotic hard woods, e.g Bocote, Marblewood, Coccobolo......don't do it. You'll spend a fortune buying these woods that inevitably split, check, have grain problems, and may very well be toxic to lungs, when charred and smoked. I was thick-headed, and was warned not to use exotic woods for pipe-making. The experienced pipe-making guys were right! Stick with Briar. Cherry is OK, but you'll need to be concerned with grain direction and shank location in relation to grain direction. Briar has no such limitations.
Good luck.
Frank

NYC

 

carolinachurchwarden

Preferred Member
May 9, 2018
1,682
2
Raleigh, NC
@crash, Yeah, I was thinking of something like that and will likely make one. What I'm going for looks wise is something very similar to the Northern Briars Oriental panel pipe. I really love that look, but instead of random cutouts, I'm thinking of making the raised portion spell out my initials, which fortunately for me, MW is easy to break up in the sides. This kind of leaves me curious about how to rusticate the depressed areas, where the corners could be tighter. Maybe a screwdriver made into a carving tool will help, but I'm thinking I'll need some precision in the tight areas, and maybe all over the rusticated portions, since they look really small and tight.
@wayneteipen, Very cool resource, thank you for that. I'll give that site a very good look before I get started and see what tips and tricks I can glean from it.
@Jay, I believe that would be www.helpiaminthedoghouse.com. They specialize in all sorts of maneuvers and gifts that will have you off the couch and back in her good graces in no time!
@lawdawg, Will do!
@lordofthepiperings, I have done a couple already, but that was strictly cherry wood, which turned out nicely, I think. This would be my first venture into actually dying the wood. Thanks for the luck, sure I'll need all I can get.
@sumusfumus, I hadn't really thought of that avenue before, but thanks for that. I'll definitely send a few a message and see if I can lay my hands on some scraps and rejects. It would be great to actually be able to test out my ideas on that before I try to carve the actual kit I receive. I do love how helpful the crowd here is and I'm always super appreciative for any help that I get along the way.
I never experimented with anything other than Cherry wood for mine, since I did look up the pipedia page about the best woods other than briar that was good for pipe making. I saw where some woods should really never be used as they can release toxins in the air. I first started on Cherry when I couldn't figure out where to buy briar or what type when I finally found a supply site. It really does get a little cumbersome with all the options and it makes it worse when you're afraid of screwing up a piece of briar you just paid $30 for. Thanks Frank!

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
26,245
450
You must have started out as a wood carver. You obviously know what you're doing. That is so unique and distinctive. How did you start out getting the basic shape before you did the carved design? I'd keep the finish about as natural as that; it shows off the carving. It looks like some of the medieval wood sculptures of religious figures. If I could do that, I'd be insufferably proud of myself!