Pipes have been used for smoking tobacco and herbs since about 1500 B.C. The first pipes often were made of clay and were used by Native Americans for religious ceremonies. Smoking tobacco out of a pipe has the fewest health risks of any form of tobacco use, though it can still lead to health problems. Pipes made out of clay, briar, corncob and wood are available for purchase in many types of stores. If you wish to take a more rustic approach to pipe smoking, consider making your own smoking piece.
Things You'll Need
Select cherry limb for your pipe bowl. Make sure the limb is thick enough to function as the bowl for your pipe. Usually, a 1-1/2 to 2 inches in diameter is a good size. Season the wood for at least two months by keeping it dry and allowing it to harden completely.
Cut a section from the cherry limb about 6 inches long. Mark how long you want the bowl to be, keeping in mind that the stem will take up about 1/2 inch. If you decide to leave the bark on the outside of the bowl, make your markings with a sharp knife or saw.
Use the tip of a sharp knife or an ice pick to start the hole for the pipe bowl. Keep the starter hole in the center of the wood.
Use a small drill bit to begin drilling the hole in the center of the bowl piece. Do not drill into the bottom 1/2 inch, as this is reserved for the stem portion of the pipe. Place a small piece of tape on the drill bit to mark how deep you drilled.
Secure the section below the bowl in a vice. Use larger drill bits to widen the bowl to your preferred size. Measure the length from the tip of the first drill bit you used to the tape and place another piece of tape on the larger bits you use to keep the depth even.
Use an elderberry, ash or catalpa branch for the pipe stem. Cut the branch to the desired length, and use a stiff wire to remove the softer center portion. Measure the diameter of the branch, so you know how big to drill your pipe stem hole.
Start a hole for the pipe stem with a knife or ice pick about 1/4 inch higher than the bottom of the bowl. Drill a hole the same diameter as your pipe stem branch for the pipe stem, being careful to stop drilling before you reach the opposite side of the bowl.
Saw the bowl portion out of the limb, leaving at least an inch of wood below the pipe stem hole for a grip and to keep the pipe strong. Sand the top of the bowl smooth and make carvings on the outside of the bowl if you wish. For a more rustic look, leave the bowl as it is. Fit the pipe stem into the hole, sanding down the sides slightly if it will not fit in the hole.
Do not smoke your pipe too often if you use an elderberry branch for the pipe stem, as it can cause health problems. The branches can contain small amounts of toxins that can cause gastrointestinal problems if you smoke the pipe frequently.