Pipes are not only used for smoking tobacco, but they make great collectable items as well. Pipes handmade from wood and other materials are works of art. A pipe can be carved into any shape and can be just about any size and still retain its basic functionality. Pipes are a favourite project for amateur and professional woodcarvers alike because of their versatility and the relative ease by which they can be produced. A well-crafted wood pipe can sell to a collector for a fair price and can put extra money in your pocket. Learn how you can make a pipe from wood for your own collection or to sell to an avid pipe collector.
Start with a block of wood. Briar is the preferred wood because it is hard to burn and very hard. Boil the Briar to remove sap and other impurities you don't want coming through when you smoke your pipe. Your best bet is to purchase pre-bored Briar that's already been processed and is ready for carving (see resources).
Decide on a straight-stemmed pipe or a bent-stem pipe. You want to use a block of Briar labled EM for straight stems or a block of Briar labled ER for bent-stem pipes. These blocks of Briar are called Ebauchons. You can purchase a variety of these Briar blocks at a pipe shop or online (see resources).
Carve your Briar block with a cutting knife. You can use a wood lathe to make cutting your pipes easier, but handmade pipes are worth more money. Be creative in your designs. A detailed face or a wild animal face makes a unique, highly collectable design. If you are working from a pre-bored piece of Briar, you already know the area you have to work with. If you need to bore the block of Briar yourself, you should make the bore before you begin carving your design. Use a hand bore scraping tool to fashion the bore size to your liking, depending upon the size of bowl you want.
Drill the hole for your stem after you've carved your pipe bowl. If you are using a pre-bored block of Briar, the smoke hole will already be drilled. If you're working with a raw block of Briar, you'll need to drill the hole where you'll fit the stem of the pipe at the back of the bowl base. The size of the hole you drill depends upon how much smoke you want to draw from your bowl. The larger the hole, the more smoke you will get from each puff. Purchase a vulcanite or lucite stem from a pipe making shop (see resources). They come in several shapes and can be fitted to your custom wood pipe.
Sand, Wax, and polish your finished pipe. Don't use varnish or lacquer. The heat from your pipe will bubble off the finish fairly quickly. Use heavy-grit sandpaper to smooth your wooden pipe, then use Carnauba wax or a similar substance. Apply this to your wipe and then buff it out. You can purchase the wax and buffing tools at a local pipe shop or online (see resources).