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Might Stick Around
Jan 4, 2020
Alberta, Canada
EDIT: Fixed Capitalization in Title (See Rule 9)

Hello all,

I have spent the past year getting back into pipe making and am looking for some guidance on pipe making tools.

I’m upgrading to the precision of a compound cross sled on my lathe verses free hand but have no idea what type of tools To mount to the tool holder I need to use for shaping as I’ve been using hand tools up until now.
Drilling the chamber and mortise are taken care of, it is the shaping of the bowl and mortise (over all pipe shape) where I need some suggestions on a tool/tip/blade.

I appreciate all and any guidance anyone can suggest.

Thank you for your thoughts and suggestions.
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Can't Leave
Sep 9, 2019
Fargo, ND
I have all the tools. I learned to make pipes when I worked at Diebel's Pipe shop in the 70s. The best way to learn equipment and techniques is to watch someone at work. I suggest you try YouTube. The tool list can be long and individualistic based on personal likes and dislikes and the way one is trained. I use a lathe for boring and drilling, although I also have a radial arm drill press and vice for doing bents. You need lathe chucks, both 3 and 4 jaws. You don't need a compound slide rest on the lathe, as I have, but it helps. IMO a band saw is necessary. I recommend carbide tip lathe chisels- spear point, round and square point. I use round bottom end mills 1/2" - 3/4" for bowl boring and a good scraper to taper the bore hole. A good set of drill bits, short and long shank is necessary. I bore my draw holes using a 4mm dia. - long shank bit. Reamer bits are helpful too, but not necessary. I like to polish the draw hole (cuts down on smoke turbulence and a wet pipe IMO, a finesse technique). A depth gage, micrometer and layout tools are necessary. Sanding disks are key, the most important being the French wheel. I have a 12" and 8" sanding disks too, and sand paper up to 1500 grit. A vertical belt sander, rifflers and various files of different cuts are necessary. A Dremil drill can help with rustication and shank to bowl transition. I wish I had a sand blaster, but it isn't necessary, but its good to have compressed air. Then there are polishing wheels, both felt and cloth for buffing and various compounds like pumice, red and white stick and carnuebia wax - all needed for finishing briar and bits.. You can see some of my equipment and pipes with several of my posts here. Beyond equipment, getting a feel or "touch" for doing it only comes with experience - doing it! I recommend practice on Maple blocks, or some other hardwood. Briar is so expensive it really hurts when you mess one up as I did recently with a $30 piece of plateau; I missed the bottom of the bowl with my draw hole ? - I hadn't turned a pipe in a while and had to get my muscle memory back again. So practice on some cheaper wood cut in the shape of a ebucheon or plateau briar. You might also start with a bored block of briar fit with bit that some pipe shops sell. In summary, a lathe, band saw, drill press; sanding equipment, various buffing wheels are a must and assorted tools for each. I also recommend a good vacuum- you don't want to breath the dust from briar, and especially lucite if you get to cutting your own bits. I've learned you have to just love woodworking and delicate machine work.
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