I think it is really really hard for someone to make any money at making pipes in a one man, one shop all handmade set up. Even if demand is so high that you sell each one made as soon as it is made. You are just limited on how many pipes you can make in one year. And, wouldn't it suck to be chained to a lathe day in and day out every day of the year. Either they have to start getting Ivarsson's prices pretty quickly, or find a way to cut corners somewhere. Mark Tinsky uses casted stems for many of his pipes and hand turns the stummels.
There ain't no way that Erik Nording has been making his pipes all by his own hands in a long time. Oh, I am sure some of the pipes he has made, maybe all by hand also. But at less than $100 a pop, most of those.... uhn uh.
No, I'd estimate that at the artisan level, many are just doing it for the love of the art.
Walt has found some ways to cut corners. The ones who are actually making it a business have to.
There are CAD based machines that could easily make a whole pipe, and the technology is getting more and more affordable. But, if any pipemakers that are getting these machines, they are being tight lipped or lying about it. Oh, they make have to do a little sanding and staining, but that doesn't make them handmade.
So, either we have to suspend out disbelief at times when we see "handmade" or we have to feel sorry for that old man Erik Nording chained to a machine and cranking out thousands of pipes a year.
The one guy that I am baffled by is Ian Walker. How does he sell his pipes so cheap? Either he has helper elves on that barge of his, or some other secret... but he seems to sure make a hell of a lot of pipes by himself.