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PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2017 9:06 am 
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So after making my last billiard and learning a metric shittonne, I decided that for the foreseeable future I'll be building pipes in pairs: one billiard for learning and one 'fun' one to try to better satisfy my creative urges while I try to mimic the shapes I see online and in my head. I know that critiquing non-standard shapes is a pain in the ass and a slippery slope of 'I meant to do that', but I'm still appreciative of any feedback or tweaks to improve things that aren't right on this one.

Anyway, here's the fun one (for the billiard, please see '#19 - Second Billiard Attempt...'). I'll run through my self critique below and will then point out specifically the things that I know I struggled with but wasn't sure how to address. Hopefully this will let you guys know where I know I've missed the mark so you don't have to waste time repeating things. I'll follow the same format for the billiard post, and hopefully learn a lot from my mistakes on these. Apologies for the rough pictures, I'm still figuring out a way to take more effective photos, and need to run a light into the bowl next time.
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The Good:
1. The internals on the whole are probably the best I've ever done - drilling off by about 1/64" of center, but mortise/airway angle perfectly centered, and funnel in stem open and even. Passes a cleaner without a hitch.
2. I generally am pretty pleased with how the shape of the stummel turned out (particularly in profile), and the finish is also my best thus far.
3. Slot/button face also my best so far - this is the first button face that looked 'right' to me, so I'd be inclined to refine this and continue to use an evolved version of this moving forward.
4. Smokes very well. I know Mark Tinsky's briar isn't particularly in vogue on here, but this pipe tasted great immediately. It's very strange to be at a point where my best smoking and 'nicest' pipe is one that I made (but still see a ton of flaws in).

The Bad:
1. The tenon is short - really short. Need to adjust the angle differently or possibly keyhole a little bit in the future.
2. I completely whiffed on the grain orientation. I was trying to use a bit of the plateaux on the bottom, but then I remembered I wasn't a crypto-hominid savant and fucked it up - I couldn't get the bottom line to look like I wanted, so I ended up sanding it off until I liked the shape. End result being a patch on the bottom that just looks like a nasty flaw, and grain way off center of the chamber. Tried to shoot the moon and missed.
3. I don't like the way the hard lines end under the bowl, but wasn't sure how to approach them. I generally really like the sharp side of the shank of teardrop pipes, but don't love their continuation up the bowl - and I'm just not sure how to address that any differently.
4. I would have liked a bit more symmetry in the roundness over the top of the shank.
5. General cleanliness of polish on the stem is not yet where it needs to be.

The Ugly:
1. The airway countersinking on the tenon is an embarrassment. I really struggle with getting delrin to look clean - I chamfered the outside on the edge on the lathe, but ended up being a bit too long, so pulling it down and redoing the countersink was by hand and it just looks like shit. Seems like working it on the lathe gets a nice smooth finish, but any attempt to adjust it once it's off the lathe just results in a ghastly mess.
2. The button is huge - probably too big by at least half in both dimensions. Behind the button is right at ~3.8mm, but I haven't been able to find the same sort of near-absolute guidelines as far as "here's how big to make this" for button height/thickness.
3. The stem itself is a mess. I think I really needed to taper toward that final cross-section profile and 4mm point a whole lot sooner - it looked okay before I bent it, but it looks bad now - I've bent and re-bent it four or five times and it just looks bad - on top of that, it's uncomfortable to clench because it gets thicker so fast (I'm learning that there are such different things to consider on a short stem). This is another part I'm just not entirely sure how to approach... would it make the most sense to funnel through nearly the whole length of the stem so that I can get it thinner there?

Once when I was a kid, I got a fortune cookie with a fortune that had something about the 'glonous history of China' - in a lot of ways this pipe is sort of like that... if you don't read English, then the 'n' and an 'ri' look awfully close, but as soon as you know English it's embarrassingly wrong - and that's what I'm trying to improve. Hoping you guys can help, thanks as always.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:34 am 
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"Not once has a customer looked at one of my pipes and said, 'I like this pipe, but wish you had made the stem an hour faster'... I want every stem to be perfect" --- Adam Davidson


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PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2017 11:52 am 
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Perfect - in that last pic I think either the stem had just gotten a little bit twisted or the focus is kind of messing things up - I actually got things pretty decently flush this time.
Those lines would definitely improve the stem - part of the problem is that I was butting up against the maximum diameter of my rod - need to get that bigger stuff for my ODP anyway.
In terms of button thickness/height - are there measurements I need to be shooting for? I know you'd mentioned offhand in your crease videos that you'd do one on the rest of the button at some point - still hoping you'll actually put that one out.
Thanks so much as always!

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2017 12:14 pm 
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I like this pipe but agree with your self critique in general.
I classify the flaws and grain as AON ( Acts of Nature), and write them off. There's more briar where that came from.
There is definitely some asymmetry and discontinuity of surface of the bowl, best seen in the top down view. My experience has been that this can generally be seen and dealt with by hand filing and viewing with good light from various directions as soon as it it is perceived. Dealing with this can be frustrating and can seem like it is taking forever, but it gets faster. I mark the high areas with a pencil and shave them off with the file. This kind of work goes better with a device that holds the stummel firmly so that the cutting is more efficient and smooth. I use an oak dowel held by a hole drilled in a block. Others use a dowel in a vise and vary the presentation by adjusting the vise.
As for the button, that is easily taken down with a file to a smaller size. Look at pipes which you like and take some dimension measurements. I believe that I've read 1 mm for button height above the bite area on this forum, but won't swear to it. I like about 2 mm front to back.
Similarly, the taper of the stem can be addressed even at this late date with files. Straighten it back out and put a piece of 1/16" rod in it to eyeball the position of your airway.
The chamfer in the tenon can be addressed by using the chamfer tool by hand. The single edge tools work best for me, and they can be kept sharp with a hone easily enough. Felt bobs in your rotary tool will polish the area.
The lateral aspects of the stem are convex. In most applications, concave looks better ( compare this to your shank). Again, easily addressed with a little filing.
Finally, the polish on the stem could be better. Technique, surface speed of the wheel, and polishing grits all play a role here. Surface speed can be varied with the motor speed ( 3450 rpm and 1725 rpm are common) and wheel diameter. A Foredom Bench Lathe is the cats meow for this process, with variable speed and a lot of choices in wheel diameter, consistency, and width. I also use 2 salvaged sump pump motors on home made cradles which turn at 1725rpm and use wheels at 4" and 8".
I have tried to condense 2 years of TIAFO into this note, so if you have questions, PM me.
I am impressed with this pipe and look forward to your development.
I notice that while I was writing this, George has addressed some of the more subtle aspects of shank and stem
DocAitch

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2017 12:50 pm 
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Thank you Doc- and yep at this point I need the practice doing finishing work, so I'm not worried about flaws. I do the big dowel in a vise tactic but did not do it quite enough on this pipe - partially because I'm trying to get myself more comfortable doing more and more on the disc and just didn't clean up as much as I should have. Your comments all make sense. Because I need to practice every part of pipe making, I'm generally less inclined to go back and fix things on this one, and will instead just try to be extra cognizant of improving these things in my next batch. Thank you again!

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2017 2:00 pm 
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George addressed the technical side spot on. From a design standpoint, I find it visually more appealing if the shank is not thinner at the bowl than at the stem. I try to make the diameter consistent or slightly tapered in the other direction. I think the eye is drawn towards the pinch point, which accentuates (in this case, the flaw, but) the wrong area of design: the bowl. As you design, the bowl is the primary and the shank the secondary part of the composition. There are times you can break the rules, but you should know where they are before breaking them. You don't want to draw unnecessary attention to a secondary part, but rather to the primary, or to the composition as a whole.

Along those lines, the rim is indistinct. Admittedly, that's challenging on a tomato shape, but you should try for a clear point where the rim starts and the bowl ends, and again where the rim ends and the chamber starts. Whether you do it by bevel or dome is less important than that it's a separate feature.

On the button height, what I did was spent time practicing on several stems until I found a design that felt comfortable in the mouth. I pushed the limits all the way down to 2.9mm behind the button and adjusted button height till it felt comfortable. I backed off that thin of a button when I bit through, so now I'm up around 3.5mm or so. Bottom line is try it out. Take off material till you think it feels comfortable in your mouth, then take off a bit more. Push the envelope too far so you know what it feels like in your mouth. Then smoke the pipe for yourself and see if you get fatigue in the jaw from clenching it. The time you invest in your button is well-spent. When you find a design you're happy with, stick to it religiously. Buyers will return to you if you have a comfortable pipe. I have a pipe from David Huber which has a very comfortable mouthpiece that is very different from my own, and I have two from Walt Cannoy that are very comfortable, but again different. My Davidson pipe has a different mouthpiece as well, but it's also comfortable. The mouthpiece doesn't have to be the same as anybody's, but you should definitely figure that part out by your own testing, rather than relying on particular measurements.

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PostPosted: Fri Sep 01, 2017 2:11 pm 
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Understood - and you're dead-on re: the rim, I'd meant to include that in "the ugly". I should have put the chamber about 2mm further forward to give myself more room to work there. I'll definitely push that button smaller and keep trying things out. Thanks so much!

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