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Tobacconist University
Accoutrements College

Accoutrements College: Pipe Accessories

 
Pipe Making: Step 1

Pipe Making: Step 2

Pipe Making: Step 3
PIPE MAKING

Rough-Cut: The ebouchon or meerschaum block is rough-cut to resemble a pipe.

Drilling: The chamber and air hole are drilled out.

Shape Determination: The basic shape is determined, either by template or simply by eye. An outline can be transferred to the briar with chalk.

Trimming: The rough-cut and drilled briar/meerschaum is trimmed of excess wood/meerschaum.

Shaping: The briar is filed down to its final shape. Shaping takes place with the stem attached to the shank to ensure a complimentary design and fit. Meerschaums are usually intricately carved and detailed at this phase of production.

Sanding: The entire pipe is meticulously sanded, using finer and finer sandpaper grits.

Finishing: Buffing, staining, and waxing complete the finished briar pipe.

In brief, this is how a briar and meerschaum pipes are made. The extent to which human hands fashion the pipe, versus machinery, will have much to do with the artistic quality and value of the finished pipe. Each step in the pipe making process can potentially be done completely by hand, and many great pipe makers employ only their hands and hand tools when making a pipe. Most pipes however, have a high degree of mechanization involved in their creation. Lower-end pipes are typically cut and shaped on a lathe: whereby the machine traces a mold and creates multiple pipes at once. In lieu of a lathe, many artisanal pipe makers use a sanding wheel to shape their pipes. A sanding wheel can be used to remove excess briar and the "wheels" can be changed to sand and buff the pipe as well. Many contemporary pipe makers use hand held drills, like the popular Dremmel or Roto-zip brands, which provide maximum flexibility for crafting the briar.

The days of exclusively using non-mechanized hand tools, like knives and saws, are long gone. Ultimately, most pipes have some degree of mechanization involved in their creation. A powered saw can be used to rough-cut, a drill can be used to bore out the air hole and chamber, and a sanding wheel can be used for shaping, sanding, and buffing. Most high quality pipes have some machinery involved in their manufacture, yet no quality pipe can be made without some hand work. This is part of the allure and artistry of great pipe making: a machine can never duplicate the talent of skilled hands. To create an extraordinary pipe, a pipe maker must employ all of their senses to understand the natural characteristics of the briar and elicit its greatest potential.





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