How do Pipe Makers Obtain Outrageously Good Finshes?

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Searock Fan

Lifer
Oct 22, 2021
1,907
5,307
U.S.A.
As a few of you may have heard, I tent to like Searocks. With that finish shiny doesn't mean much to me. As a matter of fact, I tend to like them better as they get older and duller. It gives them character! I don't think I have a pipe in my collection (except a few I made that are unsmoked) that has ever been touched with any kind of polish, wax, etc.. To each his own. puffy
 
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Searock Fan

Lifer
Oct 22, 2021
1,907
5,307
U.S.A.
If you're really are serious about putting a shine on your pipes, the best way is with a buffing machine. Get one that is about a half horse and about 1,600 rpm. Don't get much faster than that or you risk burning. You'll need several brush wheels and some compound and carnauba. Buff the pipe bowl in this order using different wheels for different compounds and wax. Medium grit compound, Clean wheel, fine grit, clean wheel, wax, clean wheel and finish with a soft cloth.

Buffing machines can be dangerous. Putting a pipe bowl or anything else for that matter, against a running wheel needs to be done correctly. Don't put a sharp edge against the wheel. The wheel can catch it, rip it from your hand and send it flying like a bullet. After a few screw ups you'll get the idea.... if you survive. puffy

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Briar Lee

Lifer
Sep 4, 2021
4,836
13,904
Humansville Missouri
I like bordello gaudy glossy and I like sandblast. If it’s a pipe I love it.

But most of all I love unstained, but polished Algerian briar.

One day, about five smokes.

From the color of the bore hole I reamed out, to a glowing thing of beauty.

To get this finish in one day, apply beeswax while smoking.

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crowbait

Lurker
Dec 29, 2023
25
78
36
Alberta, Canada
^^^^^
Yup. Don't want my pipes looking like a polyurethaned floorboard 😁
Looks nice one the shelf though.
If you're really are serious about putting a shine on your pipes, the best way is with a buffing machine. Get one that is about a half horse and about 1,600 rpm. Don't get much faster than that or you risk burning. You'll need several brush wheels and some compound and carnauba. Buff the pipe bowl in this order using different wheels for different compounds and wax. Medium grit compound, Clean wheel, fine grit, clean wheel, wax, clean wheel and finish with a soft cloth.

If you have a lathe, grab a 3 set of buffing wheels and you can move through the compounds in no time.

Buffing machines can be dangerous. Putting a pipe bowl or anything else for that matter, against a running wheel needs to be done correctly. Don't put a sharp edge against the wheel. The wheel can catch it, rip it from your hand and send it flying like a bullet. After a few screw ups you'll get the idea.... if you survive. puffy




View attachment 276879
I call this the Pucker Polish. Its a risk reward thing. You can see how your getting on around the bowl but you can also watch your freshly crafted pipe get its own shop floor rustication....
 
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Searock Fan

Lifer
Oct 22, 2021
1,907
5,307
U.S.A.
I just took a look and there are several Utube videos on how to use a buffing machine. If you're going to try it for the first time you might want to take a peek at them. puffy
 
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sasquatch

Lifer
Jul 16, 2012
1,689
2,885
Bob Flexner's book "Understanding Wood Finishing" is your best basic resource for ... understanding wood finishing. It's a wonderful walkthrough and explains how different resins work, what you can acheive with each product and how to pick products that will work well for your application.

Making something shiny amounts to making something flat. Truly flat, not cellular in structure. So it's an iterative process of filling in micro-structure and grinding off excess.
 

georged

Lifer
Mar 7, 2013
5,537
14,225
I've known many top level carvers for many years, with technical stuff being the main topic when conversation gets serious.

I'm not sure if it'll inspire or depress you, but top-level finish work is largely proprietary.

It takes lots of experimentation and practice to figure out---years in most cases---and finishes tend to be seen by them as what makes otherwise similar pipes better than others. Meaning it's what makes a carver stand out from the crowd.