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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2015 12:28 pm 
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How much work do you think would go into a churchwarden like this? I find myself really ONLY wanting churchwardens, for some reason any other style doesn't attract me, although I may see the light someday.

it's easier to make a straight stem, instead of a curved one, right?

This actually looks like it might not technically be a churchwarden, just a pipe with a long stem.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2015 1:30 pm 
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Blinkyrocket wrote:
How much work do you think would go into a churchwarden like this? I find myself really ONLY wanting churchwardens, for some reason any other style doesn't attract me, although I may see the light someday.

it's easier to make a straight stem, instead of a curved one, right?

This actually looks like it might not technically be a churchwarden, just a pipe with a long stem.


I would consider this a churchwarden, though technically the longest part is the shank, not the stem. It's hard to say how long something takes, because there are too many variables. What might take a beginner 30 hours can be done by a pro in 5. If you're going to make pipes, you need to adjust your expectations from "This project will take me X number of hours" to "I'm going to take as long as I need to make this look right" and don't stop until you've achieved the desired result.

As for whether it's easier to make a bent (curved isn't usually the word we use) stem or a straight one, it's initially more difficult to do a bent stem, but with practice, bending a stem can be a matter of a couple of minutes extra. The harder part is doing a bent stem properly by making the mortise and airway at different angles from each other. Beginners also tend to struggle to keep their lines straight when shaping stems and shanks. Churchwardens will emphasize those tendencies.

If you're only interested in churchwardens, by all means go ahead and try it. But I think you may find the learning process less frustrating if you start with something simple and work your way up to churchwardens once you're confident in the basics. The other alternative would be to grab yourself some churchwarden stem blanks where you don't have to worry about the drilling.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2015 1:49 pm 
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sandahlpipe wrote:
Blinkyrocket wrote:
How much work do you think would go into a churchwarden like this? I find myself really ONLY wanting churchwardens, for some reason any other style doesn't attract me, although I may see the light someday.

it's easier to make a straight stem, instead of a curved one, right?

This actually looks like it might not technically be a churchwarden, just a pipe with a long stem.


I would consider this a churchwarden, though technically the longest part is the shank, not the stem. It's hard to say how long something takes, because there are too many variables. What might take a beginner 30 hours can be done by a pro in 5. If you're going to make pipes, you need to adjust your expectations from "This project will take me X number of hours" to "I'm going to take as long as I need to make this look right" and don't stop until you've achieved the desired result.

As for whether it's easier to make a bent (curved isn't usually the word we use) stem or a straight one, it's initially more difficult to do a bent stem, but with practice, bending a stem can be a matter of a couple of minutes extra. The harder part is doing a bent stem properly by making the mortise and airway at different angles from each other. Beginners also tend to struggle to keep their lines straight when shaping stems and shanks. Churchwardens will emphasize those tendencies.

If you're only interested in churchwardens, by all means go ahead and try it. But I think you may find the learning process less frustrating if you start with something simple and work your way up to churchwardens once you're confident in the basics. The other alternative would be to grab yourself some churchwarden stem blanks where you don't have to worry about the drilling.


Im mainly wondering what the potential problems with drilling the airway would be. I'm kinda confused about how you would drill it in a bent stem, or shank. I have absolutely NO woodworking experience....


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2015 1:59 pm 
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Blinkyrocket wrote:
Im mainly wondering what the potential problems with drilling the airway would be. I'm kinda confused about how you would drill it in a bent stem, or shank. I have absolutely NO woodworking experience....


Ok. Well you drill a bent stem the same way you drill a straight stem. Then you heat and bend it. You want to make sure and heat the stem evenly so you don't get kinks.

If you don't have woodworking experience, your learning curve is going to be long like mine. Tooling isn't generally set up for pipe making, so you've got to buy or make custom tools for many of the operations. The good news is that learning how to work with wood isn't terribly difficult. You can often visit local woodworking supply stores and take classes on working with various machines from lathes to jigsaws.

The other thing you may want to do is figure out which pipe makers live near you and see if you can set up a shop day to come watch them make a pipe. If nothing else, it will give you a framework for when you read things on the forum.

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2015 2:08 pm 
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sandahlpipe wrote:
Blinkyrocket wrote:
Im mainly wondering what the potential problems with drilling the airway would be. I'm kinda confused about how you would drill it in a bent stem, or shank. I have absolutely NO woodworking experience....


Ok. Well you drill a bent stem the same way you drill a straight stem. Then you heat and bend it. You want to make sure and heat the stem evenly so you don't get kinks.

If you don't have woodworking experience, your learning curve is going to be long like mine. Tooling isn't generally set up for pipe making, so you've got to buy or make custom tools for many of the operations. The good news is that learning how to work with wood isn't terribly difficult. You can often visit local woodworking supply stores and take classes on working with various machines from lathes to jigsaws.

The other thing you may want to do is figure out which pipe makers live near you and see if you can set up a shop day to come watch them make a pipe. If nothing else, it will give you a framework for when you read things on the forum.

Ahhhhhh! You bend it after you drill it, that makes so much sense that it makes me look stupid *facepalm* :?

Thanks for the info, hopefully I can get by on simple tools though for now.


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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2015 2:20 pm 
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Blinkyrocket wrote:
sandahlpipe wrote:
Blinkyrocket wrote:
Im mainly wondering what the potential problems with drilling the airway would be. I'm kinda confused about how you would drill it in a bent stem, or shank. I have absolutely NO woodworking experience....


Ok. Well you drill a bent stem the same way you drill a straight stem. Then you heat and bend it. You want to make sure and heat the stem evenly so you don't get kinks.

If you don't have woodworking experience, your learning curve is going to be long like mine. Tooling isn't generally set up for pipe making, so you've got to buy or make custom tools for many of the operations. The good news is that learning how to work with wood isn't terribly difficult. You can often visit local woodworking supply stores and take classes on working with various machines from lathes to jigsaws.

The other thing you may want to do is figure out which pipe makers live near you and see if you can set up a shop day to come watch them make a pipe. If nothing else, it will give you a framework for when you read things on the forum.

Ahhhhhh! You bend it after you drill it, that makes so much sense that it makes me look stupid *facepalm* :?

Thanks for the info, hopefully I can get by on simple tools though for now.


You can make a pipe with simple tools. Your best bet is to start with a pipe kit for the first one. If you contact Steve Norse (http://vermontfreehand.com) you can have him make you a pipe kit with a churchwarden stem on it. The tooling to turn a tenon and face the shank is where it gets dicey without investing in a drill press and tenon tool. A pipe kit, a couple of hand files and rasps (and maybe a coping saw) and sandpaper will be much more cost effective to start off.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2015 10:29 am 
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You can make a pipe with simple tools. Your best bet is to start with a pipe kit for the first one. If you contact Steve Norse (http://vermontfreehand.com) you can have him make you a pipe kit with a churchwarden stem on it. The tooling to turn a tenon and face the shank is where it gets dicey without investing in a drill press and tenon tool. A pipe kit, a couple of hand files and rasps (and maybe a coping saw) and sandpaper will be much more cost effective to start off.[/quote]
Oh cool, thanks, those are pretty cheap. Cant wait to get started :D


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2015 11:48 am 
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I just finished this one recently. 15" long, a major pain in the arse. I won't be doing another one for quite a while.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2015 2:00 pm 
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What material would I need to buy if I wanted to make a churchwarden with a completely wooden stem?


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PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2015 2:15 pm 
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Blinkyrocket wrote:
What material would I need to buy if I wanted to make a churchwarden with a completely wooden stem?


A couple of us guys have made stems from briar. The challenge with a wood stem is that it absorbs moisture unlike acrylic or vulkanite. It's also more prone to cracking. As you may read if you go through the "alternative materials" section of the forum, there have been several different kinds of wood suggested for pipes and pipe parts. Some of those wood types can cause allergic reactions, so be sure to google the toxicity of whatever type of wood you're working with. (Although you should keep in mind that many of those apply only to the dust, not necessarily the finished product.) I would think that a straight-grained piece of hardwood, such as oak, would not stand up well to clenching if used as a stem material. I would suspect that something with a more dense structure like briar or other types of burl would hold up better, but I haven't done any testing because the demand for wooden stems is minimal. Now if you're talking about shank extensions, you can probably use just about any kind of wood and if you're worried about the toxicity, line the shank extension with a stainless steel tube.

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