Affordable/Inexpensive Pipe Making Startup

PipesMagazine Approved Sponsor

.

.

qballrail

New member
Sep 10, 2014
15
0
WA
Rusticating that sitter really has me hooked! Thanks to all who contributed, the soapy water and sponge strip worked (with some "elbow-grease")! Now, I am interested in making pipes. While I have browsed YouTube videos and read a few articles, I still have some specific questions which I hope will be easily answered.
1. Already have a Dremel. I am hoping this is all I need for "power tools." Is my hope in vain or is it possible to do the tooling with mainly a Dremel plus a few attachments?
2. Where can I buy "bulk" stems? Is that even possible or advised?
3. Is Caranuba wax the best type of finish to use?
I need my setup to be portable and affordable since we will be moving out of state sometime this year.
Thanks!

 

qballrail

New member
Sep 10, 2014
15
0
WA
I forgot to add is briar the best wood to use or can one use oak, ash or something like that?

 

bienden

New member
Jan 5, 2019
11
5
Hanoi, Vietnam
1. Already have a Dremel. I am hoping this is all I need for "power tools." Is my hope in vain or is it possible to do the tooling with mainly a Dremel plus a few attachments?
2. Where can I buy "bulk" stems? Is that even possible or advised?
3. Is Caranuba wax the best type of finish to use?
1. The equipment you need most is not a drill. I started with a versatile grinder like this: Variable Speed Rotary Tool. It can drill holes, grind, polish ...



2. You can buy materials for stemming in Ebay. For example: https://www.ebay.com/itm/Ebonite-Rods-Hard-Rubber-Solid-black-10-Rods-lot-20-25-29-40-50-mm-dia-Rollers/152712932584 ? var = 452341300518

3. Carnauba wax is the best type of finish.

I forgot to add is briar the best wood to use or can one use oak, ash or something like that?
You can use many types of wood to carving a pipe. But the best, most popular, cheapest and also most easily processed is Briar.

 

sasquatch

Preferred Member
Jul 16, 2012
1,008
112
To make pipes, you have to solve one problem. How am I going to fit the stem to the stummel? You can use a tenon cutter and pre-made stems, you can use a drill press and get into delrin tenons (and make your own stems), or you can buy a lathe and get set up "properly". It really depends on your shop, your budget, and what you hope to accomplish. If you want to knock a few pipes together for yourself and have a little fun, you can do it on a really limited tool set. If you want to make something that's actually genuinely nice, something sale-able, you'll need a fairly intensive drilling, shaping, and finishing setup.
I tell guys who are getting into "serious" pipe making to start by taking 400 bucks just flush it down the toilet, because that feeling of "Oh man,that was really stupid, what have I done?" is pervasive. And I'm only half joking.

 

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
18,754
1,741
And, to add to what Sasquatch has said, it is less about the lathe, and more about how you are going to attach that block of wood to the lathe. You'll want to do some research on that.

 

carolinachurchwarden

Preferred Member
May 9, 2018
1,682
14
Raleigh, NC
Personally, I've cut, shaped and carved the few pipes I have made with a band saw, drill, Dremel and sanders...but man oh man, would I love to get my hands on a lathe one day. I have yet to make my own stems, but one day I might get into that one. I want a lathe for other purposes, but pipe making could be one of them.
I bought a pipe kit to make the last one and I might advise buying some of those first as they already come pre-drilled and you can work on your shaping/carving/dying/finishing techniques first. I enjoy those aspects of it a lot and want to get my methods at least decently learned before I start buying any briar. I drilled all of my holes using a simple drill, a work table and some good clamps, but I also want to get myself a drill press. I don't fancy I'll turn a pipe on a lathe, but who knows. I really enjoy shaping by hand.
If there are things I want for future use, then Vermont Freehand is likely the source I'll choose.

 

crashthegrey

Preferred Member
Dec 18, 2015
2,848
39
Before you worry too much, I agree with carlinachurchwarden, try a hobby block or pipe kit, one of those predrilled pipes with a stem. Maybe even a few of them. It is a good way to see how your tools work for you and gauge how interested you really are.

 

qballrail

New member
Sep 10, 2014
15
0
WA
Great advice all around. Since I do have the dremel kit, all I need are the attachments. Wish I could afford the lathe but it seems I will be limited to hand tools for now. Lathe and press will be down the road a bit, I suspect. I'll look into the kits as suggested. That would probably be my best option to start rather than simply diving in. Thank you!

 

qballrail

New member
Sep 10, 2014
15
0
WA
Files and other hand tools:
I'm a lifetime Craftsman tool man so the question that arises, is it worth the quality tools or will pieces from Harbor Freight work for these purposes?
What grit files should I invest in? As stated before, I have the Dremel but would like to try more "rustic" methods.
I appreciate all the input received here more than you know!

 

carolinachurchwarden

Preferred Member
May 9, 2018
1,682
14
Raleigh, NC
I ended up buying a cheap set of files from Home Depot. They weren't the most expensive set, but contained all of the files I felt like I could use, like the smaller triangular files, good for getting into those tight spaces, and several very good rasps for taking off a lot of material. It's slow going, but I haven't had any issues with my set and love it.
Multi-Purpose File Set (10-Piece)

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
27,041
1,819
I like to make things, but with pipes, I enjoy the miracle once someone else has made it happen. Get your feet wet and see if it is something to continue to do. Good luck. Some of the members on Forums do amazing work. I think one member does it entirely hand-carved, but that is rare.

 

qballrail

New member
Sep 10, 2014
15
0
WA
I think one member does it entirely hand-carved, but that is rare.
That's my goal, actually. One reason why the Dremel is as automated as I want to get. :)
I ended up buying a cheap set of files from Home Depot.
The only thing I'm really in a hurry for is to get started. I just went to HD today to see about a vice, files, and other tools. They must have been out of files because I didn't see many and what they had were small and very fine. I'll go back another day.

 

olkofri

Preferred Member
Sep 9, 2017
3,072
1,466
My interest about pipe making had been piqued shortly after I started pipe smoking. I was put off by the lathe thing, but if I can get to work with a Dremel, well I already have most of the rig Bienden posted a picture of. Guess I'll also need a vise of some sort. My problem is living in an apartment building. Guess I'll have to wait till late Spring so that I can work in the balcony, and hopefully I won't make too much noise.
@Carolina'warden: You've any pics of the pipes you've churned out, mate? I'd love to see them.
@Spartacus: thanks for that link to Vermont Freehand. Just ordered the PIMO Book to-day. We'll see if I can get something done or if pipe making is for me just another pipe dream.

 

qballrail

New member
Sep 10, 2014
15
0
WA
Being disabled, I have come to realize I desperately need something to keep me occupied. Artistry is in my blood as my mother was a porcelain artist, dad was a silversmith and my grandfather before him was a carpenter. Pipe making seemed like a viable option. So investing in the wood and a couple of tools (clamp, files)is actually the only obstacle. I have a table saw but dragging it out and setting it up is painful so cuts are not easy.
I do know this, if you live in an apartment, you can go with quiet options. All the power tools are not really necessary from what I've gathered. I understand one on these forums does all his pipemaking completely by hand! I'm not sure if he uses a Dremel. Also, just a thought, what got me really interested in this was rusticating a sitter I stripped. Perhaps rusticating and or full restoral of pipes may be a good start? Well, look at me, giving advice already and haven't even started yet... LOL

 

carolinachurchwarden

Preferred Member
May 9, 2018
1,682
14
Raleigh, NC
@qballrail, yeah, I can't remember for sure, but I think I bought mine at HD and they were in a plastic clamshell pack hanging on one of the walls as a set in the tool aisle.
@Olkofri, Sure do! I have a few running around here somewhere:


Those two were both made from $2 blocks of Cherry wood with a Maple stem. They were sort of a jumping off place for me, and I still need to work on my stem joining work as one of them pulls air around the connection a little, making it difficult to create a full draw.
This one was a kit I bought and carved:


That one won me an award for the best carved pipe contest.

 

crashthegrey

Preferred Member
Dec 18, 2015
2,848
39
Oddly, files are rare in stores these days. It is a peculiar thing to me. To answer your question, yes you can get by with cheap tools. But the craftsman tool guy in you will know, if you want to do good work, buy good tools.

 

qballrail

New member
Sep 10, 2014
15
0
WA
When on a beer budget, one cannot drink champagne. One must make the best of what he can get his hands on. I consider myself to have an old dermel. When power tools (e.g., band saws, routers, etc) are unobtainable, hand tools must make do. My grandad was a master carpenter who used primarily hand tools. Did great work too.