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PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2016 5:53 pm 
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So I was working on a pipe that I had high hopes of putting in the Gallery. It is perfectly drilled. It originally had a pre molded stem with a briar insert on it but I decided that that stem looked like the top of a bowling pin with a tongue depressor sticking out of it. Since my tapered 5/32" drill bits had arrived from Vermont Freehand, I decided to attempt my first hand cut stem. After ruining about 20" of nice German rod, I had a blank that I tried to fit to the shank. I was too impatient and the shank split (I believe that my wife heard me screaming expletives inside the house). I glued it with CA.Image
While I was sanding, I noticed a line of discoloration along the bottom of the stem and unfortunately, this buckled when I buffed it.
Image
I had lost track of that vent hole while shaping.
I have noted Latakia Lover's taping system as well as some other methods of keeping my reference and will be doing some very careful shaping when I replace this stem (it is still air tight).
Because it had so much potential and has come to such a less than desirable end through a series of unfortunate events, I have classified it as a "Lemony Snickett" or LS.(this is one of my new classification of "shop pipes")
I must say, however that this has been an opportunity for growth. I find that I enjoy the process of shaping the ebonite almost as much as shaping the briar. This was my first experience with filing any material other than snags on metal or the edge of a cutting tool and I really enjoyed it. I have ordered more rod and cumberland (Japanese this time), and will be doing (or attempting) hand cuts on my next group of pipes.
DocAitch

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 05, 2016 6:34 pm 
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You certainly set the bar high for yourself. That "Joura flip" style is chock full of gotchas.

I love it. :D A Perfection Chaser in the making.

Don't beat yourself up over the cut-through. Falling asleep at the wheel when thinning the bite zone is pretty much everyone's biggest problem at first.

The tape lines thing is always a good idea (I still use them), but a good extra trick/reminder for beginners is an airway diameter piece of white plastic rod inserted into the stem at the button end.

You go, Doc!

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2016 1:23 am 
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LL, thank you for the tip. I am also going to order some better files. I watch your work closely. You are one of my bars.
DocAitch

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 06, 2016 1:54 pm 
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You did the hard part, jumping in with both feet. I admire your enthusiasm!!!


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2016 12:23 pm 
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I have yet to successfully cut a stem though I have ruined some stock trying. I'm wondering if there's anything cheaper to practice on.
Rodney


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2016 3:56 pm 
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Rodneywt1180b wrote:
I have yet to successfully cut a stem though I have ruined some stock trying. I'm wondering if there's anything cheaper to practice on.
Rodney

The Japanese ebonite is pretty inexpensive and might be a good medium to practice on until you get good, then move on to the more expensive stuff. That's what I did. Although the Niko stuff is ok(imho) do be aware that it will not be as good as the German stuff. Hope this helps

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 08, 2016 7:56 pm 
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Doc, it looks good! In my very short span, I have found that I learn way faster by messing up. I started to use my caliper for sizing the button and bite zone to get it as thin as possible without weakening. I have been using 4mm on the bite zone and about 6mm for the total height of the button.
As for files, I had ordered some nut seat files from stewmac (thanks LL) that are a set with 4 different cuts and are pillar style about six inch long that work great and are not pricey and also of good quality.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 3:41 am 
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mightysmurf8201 wrote:
The Japanese ebonite is pretty inexpensive and might be a good medium to practice on until you get good, then move on to the more expensive stuff. That's what I did. Although the Niko stuff is ok(imho) do be aware that it will not be as good as the German stuff. Hope this helps


Although the German stuff might be better (don't know, never tried), there's absolutely nothing wrong with the Japanese stuff I've gotten from Steve @ VF. Polishes nicely, works nicely and no extraordinary sewer smell (so I don't have to send Kurt a sample to compare it...).

What's so much more special about the German stuff?

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 5:41 am 
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Massis wrote:
mightysmurf8201 wrote:
What's so much more special about the German stuff?


On average, NYH has the fewest inclusions/flaws.

SEM tends toward bubbles, and some batches of Nikko have been truly horrible. I once saw a $3K "art piece" Tokutomi with over 30 surface flaws. Bluish specks, orange/red specks, and a scattering of silver metallic pieces.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 6:01 am 
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sounds like fun :-s

But therefore I also conclude then when I finish a stem with Japanese ebonite (I'm guessing Steve's is also from Nikko?) and it looks fine with no inclusions, it's perfectly fine?

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 6:11 am 
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Massis wrote:
sounds like fun :-s

But therefore I also conclude then when I finish a stem with Japanese ebonite (I'm guessing Steve's is also from Nikko?) and it looks fine with no inclusions, it's perfectly fine?


Not the case, unfortunately. That Toku didn't leave his shop looking like that, the colored spots "emerged" (developed?) over a couple years. Some sort of chemical reaction, I imagine. The metal specks appeared when someone tried to remove the spots by sanding/buffing.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 7:42 am 
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I'm a fan of the NYH Ebonite, with SEM coming in second.
The NYH does not eat tools as quickly as SEM and isn't as powdery when drilling.
I will say that the NYH is a "STINKY" Ebonite :D

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 9:26 am 
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I've worked with SEM ebonite consistently for 3 years+. I've never had any issues with the material in probably close to 6-7 meters. Maybe some people have had issues with inclusions, but that hasn't been my experience. I've also used some NYH (mainly their Cumberland) and that does smell worse, but I can't tell a difference in actually working with either material.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 10:24 am 
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sandahlpipe wrote:
I've worked with SEM ebonite consistently for 3 years+. I've never had any issues with the material in probably close to 6-7 meters. Maybe some people have had issues with inclusions, but that hasn't been my experience. I've also used some NYH (mainly their Cumberland) and that does smell worse, but I can't tell a difference in actually working with either material.

MALARKEY! I'm sorry Jeremiah, but there is a difference in the way they work.
Regarding the Cumberland, SEM v. NYH, there is a definite difference............and it's not just the smell!
I even believe George might concur!

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 11:20 am 
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baweaverpipes wrote:
I'm a fan of the NYH Ebonite, with SEM coming in second.
The NYH does not eat tools as quickly as SEM and isn't as powdery when drilling.
I will say that the NYH is a "STINKY" Ebonite :D


I must concur. NYH is all I'll use anymore. I have had problems with inclusions with SEM, and after trying out the Japanese stuff, I gave away what I had left of it.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 11:24 am 
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I didn't say there wasn't a difference. I just said I couldn't tell the difference. I've heard lots of people report the flaws and inclusions, but I haven't had any thus far. Again, this is my personal experience and your experience may vary.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 1:23 pm 
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Agree with you, Bruce. NYH is best by far. SEM 2nd. And it does have inclusions.
BUT, it's not to say that guys shouldn't use Japanese. Horses for courses etc..

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 2:53 pm 
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Sometimes I've had decent luck with black Niko, but on numerous occasions I would come across brownish spots and blotches showing up when I would get to the higher grits. I quit using it altogether. I like NYH, both black and various cumberland colors cut like butter and are easy to work. I just got my first rod of black SEM and haven't worked with it yet, so I can't pass judgment. I hate working with acrylic, but I put up with it because of the variety of patterns/colors. Not all acrylics are created equal.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 4:24 pm 
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I have a rod of 32mm SEM ebonite that I payed a pretty penny for that has about a half inch diameter of tiny air bubbles all the way through the center from end to end. I've also had some NYH rods with tons of inclusions in them. I think with either manufacturer there will be some bum rods.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 09, 2016 4:50 pm 
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wdteipen wrote:
I have a rod of 32mm SEM ebonite that I payed a pretty penny for that has about a half inch diameter of tiny air bubbles all the way through the center from end to end. I've also had some NYH rods with tons of inclusions in them. I think with either manufacturer there will be some bum rods.


Definitely. It's a dice roll for any brand. The odds are better for some than others, is all.

As for "determining those odds" (so to speak), I'd guess that the number of carvers who have commented in this thread multiplied by the number of stems they've made in their lifetime would make for a statistically valid sample size.

Something for the new guys here to consider if they haven't heard of it before: Juma

Premal has put it through its paces rigorously and given it a green light for pipe stems. It isn't perfect (nothing is), but sounds like a viable alternative in many cases. Especially smaller pipes.

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