Thursday, June 11, 2009

Long time, no post...

Jeez it's been a long time with no posts. What can I tell you - I got busy, then forgot all about this blogging thing. I guess I ought to make up for lost time by showing a little of what I've been up to.

Here's some snaps of a few pipes that have escaped from the shop recently. The first is a nice apple that's sporting a swirled vulcanite stem. This isn't the traditional cumberland that most folks think of when you say "swirled ebonite", but a new pattern in a new color. In this case, the color is a light brown, and does a great job of matching the lighter colors in the pipe itself. In addition, it also has a shank end-cap made of briar - just a little piece of interest that I thought the pipe needed.

Second is a chubby billiard. It's short, but not so short that smoke will be going up your nose the entire time you're smoking it. Pipes of this kind have enjoyed a renewed interest for reasons that aren't entirely clear. Maybe it's because they're just so darned comfortable. I don't know, but whatever the reason, I think it's great because I've been making pipes like this for myself for about three years now. If you haven't tried a pipe of this size and proportions, you definitely should. I'm sure you'l love it.

Last pipe to show off is a first for me. This is a longshank acorn that I've been dying to make for about four years now, but never really had the courage to attempt until now. The problem is with the way that these are drilled. While shaping the shank, you need to be incredibly cognizant of the location of the mortis and airway. If you don't know exactly where they are, you're going to sand right through and into the airway. It's not a lot of work, but it is an exercise in courage, and does require a high level of comittment to the shape. Without a doubt, this is one of my greatest personal triumphs.

And there's no pictures yet, because it's not finished, but I've been putting a lot of time into building a swingset for the kids. The basic frame is up, and the special bolts for the swings arrived this afternoon. I still need to frame in the clubhouse area, attach the slides (oh yes, plural), erect the rock climbing wall, and figure where to put the monkey bars. And later this year, when I get new tires for the truck, I'll take one of the old ones home with me, and put a tire swing on it. This is going to be the best swingset EVER!!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sanding pads and new pipes

Now that the forum pipes are all on their way to their new owners, it's back to letting the briar tell me what shape is inside it. I've got several pipes in the works right now, and in the image on the left you can see a dublin, bulldog, a short little apple, a big billiard, a blowfish (not a discus), and even an ukelele (aka eskimo). Of these, the blowfish and ukelele are going to be firsts for me. The blowfish is a more strict version of the blowfish, and while it will be cross-grained, it won't be a discus similar to some pipes I've made in the past. I will try to accentuate the birdseye however. Of these, the bulldog is already spoken for.

In other news, I've started carrying the backup pads for the motor arbor I introduced here a while back. No longer do you need to hunt down the right kind at an autobody shop, or pay shipping from somewhere else to get them. They've got their own page - click here.

I've also got ideas for a few other tools, but I need to find time to create some prototypes and test them out. Since I'm one of these people that really needs to make sure something actually works well, that could be a couple months. More here as things develop.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What does a pipe maker do to relax?

So, what does he do? If the pipe maker is me, he makes other things aside from pipes. On the left is a pen I made with absolutely no kit parts at all. And below to the left is another. I made both of these after some particularly trying days in the workshop - one after a day of sandblasting, and one after I messed up one stem after another.

These were a lot of fun to make, and you can bet I'll enjoy using them. The one made from ebonite is already a daily use pen. I've already had an idea floated past me for a pair in that style - one made of ebonite, and one bone white. I think I could play with the design a little and create a Yin and Yang pair that play off of each other.

And today I manage to make a couple really good copies of some brass pins that will be going into an antique chandelier owned by my parents. The originals were lost by the moving company that moved them from California to Massachusetts, and being an antique, you can't just walk into Lowes and get replacements. At elbow's distance, they're indistinguishable from the original, and once a patina develops, they'll be even harder to pick out. They won't stand up to an antiquarian or art historian, but that's not really the point. The point was to make them invisible to 99.blah% of the population out there. I am quite pleased with the results of my efforts - hopefully they pass muster once they're installed in the chandelier as well.