I spent a long time looking for the right cutty. There aren't that many out there, and what I was looking for was fairly specific. The closest thing I found was Stanwell's 1992 Pipe of the Year:
However, I wanted something a little beefier, perhaps a nice oval shank, like my Castello #33:
After trying in vain to find the right pipe, I decided I may as well make exactly what I wanted. I got in touch with Mark Tinsky and asked him for a tapered bowl drilled at around 115° with an uncut 24mm vulcanite rod with drilled airway and turned tenon. He was very helpful, and for a few extra dollars happily and quickly fulfilled my order.
Here's the drilled block of briar he sent me, sanded and wetted on one side to show the grain:
I planned out the shape, going off a printout of the Stanwell pipe:
... and got to cutting:
After about six hours of rasping, filing and sanding, here's the stummel, starting to take shape (note the vulcanite rod in the background):
It took a whole bunch of sanding to get the shape uniform and everything smoothed out. I should add that this was all by hand. I had a Porter Cable belt/disc sander in my cart at Lowes, and my beautiful wife gave me that look: Where the hell are we going to keep that thing in our apartment? So hand sanding it was.
After getting the stummel into pretty decent shape, I threw on the stem, broke out the file, and started working at it:
After a few hours, I had something pretty close in appearance to a proper stem:
After a bunch of fine filing and sanding, the stem and button really started taking shape:
Then came the job of finish sanding: Getting the stem and shank even and smooth and getting every last nick, gouge, ridge and flat spot out of the stummel. Unfortunately, by the time I reached this stage, the sun had set, so no more photos. I will describe the following steps:
- Sand the stem and stummel with 120 grit until everything was smooth and uniform.
- Give it a once over with 320 grit, paying particularly close attention to the button.
- Wipe it down with alcohol to get rid of excess dust, and to highlight imperfections.
- More sanding with 320 grit, wiping down with alcohol, to get everything perfectly smooth.
- Apply a straight black leather stain and let dry.
- Sand down the entire pipe so that the only stain left is highlighting the grain.
- Apply a mixture of ~20 parts alcohol with 5 parts black, 1 part red and 1 part yellow stain.
- Work through an entire set of 3M Polishing Paper
- Hit it with a linen rag loaded with Tripoli compound, then white diamond, then carnauba.
- Fire up the heat gun, soften the stem and give it the proper bend.
All that was left was to bask in the glory of my very first pipe: