Apple Poker

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craig61a

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Apr 29, 2017
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Over the last year or so, I’ve fashioned a few pipes on my own. So far I’ve used Lilac, Black Ash, Maple, and now Apple.

These are hardwoods that are easily accessible, since they are growing in my yard.

I have a few briar pipes in the works, but I need to get a sander set up for shaping as they will be more traditional shapes.

I cut down an Apple tree on my neighbor’s property a few years ago because she wanted it gone. I saved some thicker branches and the trunk for projects.

So the other day I was in my shop and sawed off a piece of branch. I had some Black Ash bits that I’ve used on similar pipes. I can drill a 1/8” draft hole the length of the stick easily in the Ash. I imagine Apple would be just as easy. But in this case I selected Ash, because I like the “flavor” it adds... Sort of like Brigham Maple filters I guess.

Stummel is Apple wood, shank is Ash. I sanded everything down to 320, and then buffer with White Diamond for a satin finish. Applied Tung Oil on the surfaces with the exception of the rim. I wanted to bring out some of the color of the wood and protect it from getting discolored from handling.

Chamber is 11/16” x 1 5/8” Overall length is 12”.

Relatively easy to make this style of pipe, should a good smoker...

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craig61a

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Apr 29, 2017
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So, I smoked a couple bowls of Redburn this morning. I wet the inside of the chamber with my finger so it wouldn’t burn.

I wiped out the chamber after the second smoke, and noticed it had cracked above the draft hole... no biggie. Perhaps the wood needs to dry a little more?

Anyway, the pipe smokes great. I’ll smoke it some more and see what happens. I guess I could fill the crack with mud if it doesn’t run anymore. Worst case - cut off the shank and drill a new bowl section, stick the shank on to the new bowl section.
I’ve got lots of material to work with.
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craig61a

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Apr 29, 2017
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The bit... it’s 12” long, 1/8”. And it’s flexible. More or less self centering. Follows the pith in the center of the wood. Once I have attached the two sections together, then I just drill into the chamber. Then hog out wood with a spade bit until I get the hole opened up.
 

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craig61a

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Apr 29, 2017
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I’ve read that Native Americans use a coat hanger wire, heat it red hot, and push it through Ash to make the draft hole for pipes. I tried that, but I think they must do that with green wood. The stuff I had was well dried, and I didn’t make a lot of headway.
 
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mso489

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Feb 21, 2013
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Interesting work! I like that tall poker in natural finish. During World War II, pipe makers in the U.S. and Europe struggled to find alternatives to briar, when the briar market was curtailed by war, which is why after the War, U.S. pipe makers almost all stamped their pipes "Imported Briar," to emphasize that they were back to the standard material. MM offers the maple pipes. The only carver I know who does a lot with non-briar material is Jerry Perry of Colfax, N.C., who does quite a few Mountain Laurel pipes, of which I have several. It works well and seems at durable as briar, since I bought the first one in 2002, and it is going strong. Keep us posted on these interesting pipes.
 
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craig61a

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Apr 29, 2017
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Thanks. As I remember reading, the Mountain Laurel is a species similiar to briar. Perhaps it was Kaywoodie that harvested and cultivated it during WWII? I don’t remember the specifics. It was pretty much abandoned after that time.

Anyways, it‘s a fun hobby for me.
 

craig61a

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Smoked another bowl. The crack has run up the bowl a bit, but hasn’t gotten any deeper. The top of the airway burned through also.

I had about 1/3 of a chamber full of ash when I got done, so I stirred it and shook the pipe to cover the chamber. Over time the crack will fill in if I keep doing this - maybe not completely, but enough to protect The wall of the chamber.

I've got an old Ropp Cherry Wood, a giant pipe. It has the same thing going on, only the crack is in the 5 o’clock position in relation to this one. The pipe is probably 60-70 years old, and smokes just great. At about 16”, it’s kind of unwieldy, so I don’t smoke it much.

I'm not going to fret much about it in any case. I’ll just keep smoking...F1F50299-297D-4912-B023-516434CFEA3B.jpeg
 

mso489

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Feb 21, 2013
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I haven't tried it myself, but pipe mud, made from pipe ash and water, is said to be a good filler for cracks inside the chamber, to stabilize it until cake fills in the gap. I think smoking will dry out the wood and keep the crack from becoming a process. It's a nifty pipe and may last decades, with luck always required.
 

craig61a

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Apr 29, 2017
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A few weeks ago I mudded up a terribly “alligatored” Savinelli 601 Churchwarden.

The chamber had been sanded and the walls were concave/convex (I can never remember which is which) i.e. not parallel.

So I built it up until I had the walls somewhat resembling parallel again.

I’ve run about 12 bowls of Sillem’s Commodore through it, and nothing has broken out. It’s a great little smoker too.

I've used mud on a number of estates. There’s a technique to doing it so that it holds up...
 

alexnc

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Oct 25, 2015
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The cracking is odd. Wonder if smoking it to ash and tamping the ash and then just letting it sit a few hours might make the ash settle in the crack sort of like the bottom of a cob rounds out around the stem?
 

craig61a

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Apr 29, 2017
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The cracking is odd. Wonder if smoking it to ash and tamping the ash and then just letting it sit a few hours might make the ash settle in the crack sort of like the bottom of a cob rounds out around the stem?

Not really, I have seen cracking like that before.

Now, I did some reading over the weekend, and it’s seems fruitwoods are notorious for cracking.

I have built things out of wood over the years, but I have only used the standard types of wood that you would normally find at a lumberyard.

So after doing some reading, it would seem the wood needed more drying that what I had allowed, even though it had been many months.

One thing that I came across was drying wood in the microwave... So I dried the second pipe by microwaving it several times. I don’t have any way to measure the moisture content, but I microwaved it until I couldn’t see any steam coming off it, and then a few more times for good measure.

I finished the first pipe with Formby’s Tung Oil, all but rim of the pipe. It looks great, but I think it held in whatever moisture was there forcing it to concentrate on the chamber of the pipe possibly exasperating the problem.

So with the second pipe I didn’t apply anything, except buckskin dye (wanted to see how it looked - kind of a funky early 80’s pastel yellow). Coated the chamber. I’ll give it few days to dry before trying it out.9F8F81A0-D17D-4A0C-BE1C-B5261BC34AF1.jpeg
 

alexnc

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Oct 25, 2015
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I like the buckskin color, it’s a fairly neutral base for mixing custom tints. I say, if it cracks, then smoke the heck out of it and dare it to crack some more.
 

craig61a

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Apr 29, 2017
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I’ve never had problems with ash, but it had dried for a considerably longer time too. Same with lilac.

These Apple wood pipes I’m making now are sort of an experiment. I’ll see what happens with the second one. I will just mud up the first one and keep smoking it.
 

craig61a

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Apr 29, 2017
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So, I ran 4 bowls of Sutliff Ready Rubbed through the yellow pipe today. I applied another bowl coating of activated charcoal and maple syrup before hand and let it sit for several days before smoking it.
There were some minor fine radial cracks that radiated out from the chamber on the first smoke, but they actually lessened as I progressed.

I noticed some charring at the rear of the chamber about midway down after the third bowl. I took a folded pipe cleaner and painted maple syrup onto the rear half of the bowl. I then positioned the pipe vertical and caramelized the maple syrup on the backside of the chamber with a single jet lighter. Worked pretty slick.

So what I’ve learned so far is that the wood needed to be drier than I thought it was, microwave sessions speed up the process. Apple is more susceptible to charring, so cake is important. Carmelizing the syrup builds a thick cake more or less instantly...
 

canucklehead

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Aug 1, 2018
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Alberta
Really cool pipes! I like seeing homemade pipes made from less common materials. I've made a few apple wood (crabapple wood to be specific) pipes, and the only one that cracked was chain smoked in heavy rain while drinking vodka at a funeral. It was also possibly a little wet still, as I've made other pipes out of the same piece of tree seasoned a year or so longer that didn't crack at all, I'm smoking some Ryback in one of them right now.

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I've also tried lilac, I like making stems from it. I find that if has an interesting distinctive floral spicy taste and aroma until it has a bit of cake, I didn't mind it but I can see how some people would find it unpleasant.
 

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