Tobacco Pipe Making Tools

Written by erik devaney
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Tobacco Pipe Making Tools
Making your own tobacco pipe requires several different tools. (Pipe image by UKL from

A typical tobacco pipe consists of a long, oftentimes curved stem with a mouthpiece at one end and a bowl, or chamber, at the other. You place the tobacco in the bowl, light it, and draw the smoke through the stem via the mouthpiece. To make your own tobacco pipe, you will need a base material: two of the most common being briar wood and corncob. You will also need several tools to shape your base material, such as rustication tools, a drill, drill bits, a lathe, sandpaper and a buffer.

Rustication Tools

In masonry, rustication refers to the process of chiselling away chunks of stone to form rough-surfaced blocks. When applied to pipe making, the word has a similar connotation, referring to the chipping away of wood to create a rough block-shape, which will eventually become the pipe's bowl. According to the North American Society of Pipe Collectors, or NASPC, any implement that can effectively chew away bits of wood will make a good rustication tool. For example, you can use a rotary tool (also referred to by the brand name Dremel), a hammer and concrete nails, or a hammer and wood chisels. If you have the budget for it, try using an air-compression-powered sand blaster. According to the above source, sand blasters are well known in the pipe-making world for creating the most desired textures and finishes, and are the tools of choice amongst professional tobacco pipe makers.

Drill and Drill Bits

Once you have the rough shape of your pipe bowl, you will need to drill a large hole directly into its centre. To accomplish this, the NASPC recommends using a drill press equipped with one of the following bits: a standard bit, which will require several passes to create a substantially-sized hole; a Forstner bit, which, unlike a standard bit, uses its outside edges to create large holes; or a rounded tobacco chamber bit, which is specifically tailored to the task.


A lathe is shaping device that rotates blocks of material against an interchangeable cutting tool. According to the NASPC, you will need a lathe equipped with a sanding disk to shape your pipe's stummel, which is the section connecting the bowl to the stem. You can also use the lathe to the shape the stem itself (alternatively you can revert back to your rustication tool).


Use sandpaper to smooth down your recently rusticated pipe. Of course, the degree to which you sand your pipe will depend on how rustic-looking you want it. According to, you should start by rubbing your pipe down with 180-grit sandpaper, and then keeping moving up to finer and finer grits (for example, moving up to 220-grit paper, then 320-grit, then 400, and then 600).


According to, the final step in the pipe-making process is applying a wax, oil or other finish, such as carnauba wax or rottenstone (a paste made from weathered limestone). You can apply these finishes using a hand-held, motorised buffer equipped with a flannel or linen buffing wheel.

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