a little place for me to write things down so I don't forget them

Pipa Numero Uno

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:

  1. Sand the stem and stummel with 120 grit until everything was smooth and uniform.
  2. Give it a once over with 320 grit, paying particularly close attention to the button.
  3. Wipe it down with alcohol to get rid of excess dust, and to highlight imperfections.
  4. More sanding with 320 grit, wiping down with alcohol, to get everything perfectly smooth.
  5. Apply a straight black leather stain and let dry.
  6. Sand down the entire pipe so that the only stain left is highlighting the grain.
  7. Apply a mixture of ~20 parts alcohol with 5 parts black, 1 part red and 1 part yellow stain.
  8. Work through an entire set of 3M Polishing Paper
  9. Hit it with a linen rag loaded with Tripoli compound, then white diamond, then carnauba.
  10. 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: