How to Whittle a Tobacco Pipe

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Whittling is a craft that goes back for generations, conjuring images of the old man on his front porch with a whittler's knife and a piece of wood. One popular craft item in those days was a good old fashioned smoking pipe. Whittling a smoking pipe is simple enough for even a beginning whittler to accomplish. All it takes is a little patience and practice, and you can carve a decorative pipe suitable for your favorite tobacco.

Things You'll Need

  • Whittler's knife
  • Wood
  • Gloves
  • Wire
  • Sandpaper
  • Choose the wood you want to use for your pipe. Keep it simple. You can use just about any type of wood, but briar, cherry, and maple are ideal. You can even use suitable tree wood from your backyard.

  • Start with a block of wood suitable to carve the size bowl you want for your pipe. Use the tip of your whittling knife to dig away from the top of your wood piece, starting in the center and working your way out. A bowl height of 2" with a 1 3/8" diameter and a 7/8" smoking chamber is ideal. Dig out enough wood to get started, then cup the wood in your hand and hold it steady as you widen the smoking chamber with careful cutting around the inner diameter of the bowl.

  • Rough carve the outside of your bowl, then use a 300 grit sandpaper to remove as much wood as you can. When you've reached a rough shape for your pipe bowl, finish it with 80 grit sandpaper. Carve the air filter hole in the back of the bowl and use a boring tool or a red-hot wire to fashion the shank, which will allow smoke to be drawn from the pipe. Keep the size of the hole just slightly smaller than your pipe stem to ensure a tight fit.

  • Carve the stem of your pipe next, to a length that suits your comfort level. Taper the end of the stem that will go in your mouth. Heat a piece of wire (a coat hanger will do) until it is red hot and burn through the stem starting at the end you will fit into your pipe bowl. You'll need to do this several times, burning all the way through to the tapered end of the stem. Use your knife to carve a slit on the tapered end of the stem until you break through the air channel.

  • Fit the two pieces of your pipe together and use a very fine grit sandpaper (40 grit) to fine sand your pipe. Don't add varnish, which may bubble when heated. Use Carnuba wax or another similar wax to add a lustrous shine to your homemade whittled pipe.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wear gloves when heating and handling hot metal wire.

References

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