Welcome to my world of pipes. On these pages you will see some of what goes on in my workshop. A bit of work-in-progress, mess-ups (they do happen!) and also some other pipe-related posts.
I love talking about and discussing pipes, so feel free to contact me at charl.chillfactor@gmail.com.
Should you wish to have a look at my pipes, please drop in at my website (http://goussardpipes.com/).

June 13, 2011

A bad day at the office

I have been wanting to try my hand at "freehand" drilling for quite a while. Well, eventually got the courage together, shaped a pipe and tried.
The shaping is, I think, the main reason why pipemakers (especially Europeans) love this topsy-turvy way of making pipes. It gives way more leeway to get the best possible out of a block and also to work around the bad spots. So I shaped this pipe below.
Then came the difficult part: the drilling. I drew the lines for the airway, mortis and chamber. Even got the QC (the wife) to double check my lines. She's an interior designer with an incredible eye for detail and symmetry. First off was the mortis. I went a little too deep and a little offline, but nothing that couldn't be fixed. The result was a bit shorter shank and re-drilling with a slightly larger mortis bit. Wonderful!
Then I went for drilling the chamber, and immediately understood why the pros do not use spade bits like this. It chatters, is difficult to control and no matter how sharp, does not really cut the way it normally does when the block is fixed. Note to self: get spoon bits before trying this again.
The tobacco chamber chamber eventually got drilled more or less OK. Not to the standard that I normally do, but nothing that can't be fixed (heard that before?).
Then I started the air hole. Halfway through it still seemed fine.
And then I felt it. The tip of the bit coming through the shank.

If I was a woman I would have cried. Even Ounooi, my faithful workshop companion, did not feel great. So I did what a man can.
I packed up, went inside the house, and poured myself a stiff whisky...

A double....

OK, dammit, a couple of doubles!
PS - I will most definitely try this again, but only when I get hold of spoon bits. It really gives you wonderful freedom working with the grain and the flaws. And I will get this right, no matter how long it takes (or how many bottles of whisky!).

Watch this space!

June 3, 2011

The cleaning of Old Faithful

The pipes that I smoke is a running joke between my pipe smoking friends.
The sad fact is that they are always dirty and in dire need of TLC. I suppose it's sort of like a mechanic's car: they never have time to fix there own.
Like most pipe smokers that I know, I have an old favourite, not necessarily a looker, and not one that you would like to show off. But damn, does it smoke like a dream!
Mine I made years ago when somebody brought me a piece of African blackwood. Like with all new pipe making material, I made a pipe to try it out personally. And somehow it became my Monday to Friday "working" hours pipe. Except for smoking really well, I think part of the love is because it is just a pipe. It is no-nonsense, not particularly beautiful, is at home in dirty places and don't mind a bit of rough playing. Sort of like the girlfriends that you liked to hang out with in younger days, but definitely did not want to be the mother of your children.
So Old Faithful was getting really disgusting and I decided to give him a wash, so to speak. Here is a photo of the bowl. Lovely cake that I got started there, hey? You'll also see chipmarks on the rim, the result of dropping it on paving.
The stem doesn't look much better either. Lots of teeth marks. I'm a clencher you see (especially when the boss is in a bad mood!). It is the 3rd stem, by the way.

First off is reaming. For this sad case I don't use the reamer, but go straight to a bowl bit. Don't try this at home kids! African blackwood is extremely hard, and I've found that you can really leave the barest minimum thickness of cake in the bowl.

And here's a close-up of the tenon and mortise. Nasty stuff.

The top of the bowl I actually just sanded down a bit, to get rid of all the build-up and gunk. You'll probably see the sanding marks left on the rim in the photo below. The airhole was cleaned and sanitised with a pipecleaner dipped in alcohol. And then the pipe was waxed with tripoli and polished.

Here's the pipe ready to go for another 6 months or so.