How to Make a Tobacco Pipe Out of Wood

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Hand carved wood pipe
Hand carved wood pipe (Image: ny-image2.etsy.com)

Carving a wood pipe for smoking tobacco is a time-honored practice, done by people all over the world for centuries. The advantage of the modern age provides power tools, and these will substantially reduce the amount of time it will take to make the pipe. The average pipe carver can make a fresh pipe in about three hours.

Things You'll Need

  • Drill
  • Long drill bits
  • Dremel tool
  • Wood stain
  • Small knife

Choose a style of pipe that will be possible with the wood, usually either a whole or two-piece design that can be disassembled for cleaning. The one piece is easier to make, but the two-part style can be paired with different stems and custom tailored for the maker's tastes. A fixed, one-piece pipe is hard to clean, more difficult to drill, and can show wear at the mouthpiece after extended use.

Shape the wood with the Dremel tool, creating the form of the design in your imagination. Any shape is possible, limited only by the size and thickness of the wood. If making a two-piece design, form the bowl section first by grinding with the Dremel, boring into the top (or plateau) of the bowl to make a deep, even hole. The hole should be about 2/3 of the depth of the whole bowl---making it too deep will cause it to heat up or even burn through the bottom when smoked. Core a small hole with the Dremel into the side of the bowl for the stem to fit into. This hole does not have to be exact, but the stem will need to fit snugly. The stem hole may puncture through to the bowl section, but it should be drilled to leave a smooth, round opening. A single piece pipe will require a long drill bit to reach the bowl from the mouth end of the pipe. These bits are hard to control unless a vice is used.

Create the stem by drilling a hole lengthwise through a long section of wood. If the stem is curved, then the stem may have to be cut and drilled in sections, then reassembled. The stem to bowl connection should be about a half inch wide, larger than the smoke channel, and should be relatively tight. This connection may loosen after use, so making it quite snug now will keep it from falling out later.

Sand the pipe with progressively finer grains of sandpaper until it reaches the desired finish. The inside of the bowl can be sanded also, but be careful when sanding the stem and stem hole. Sanding these can cause them to loosen.

Stain the outside of the pipe by brushing several coats of alcohol-based stain onto it, then allowing it to dry between coats. Do not brush the inside of the bowl with stain, it should remain unfinished.

Break in the pipe by coating the bowl's interior with a small amount of honey, then smoking a small amount of tobacco through it lightly. The honey will braze the bowl and add a delightful flavor, and covers up the taste of burning wood. The first few smokes will coat the bowl with a layer of carbon, and after it is broken in should give many years of dependable use.

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