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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Finishing up the FdPs

Here they are, the last of the FdP pipes. I was able to find some different, slightly smaller horn stems to use, so all the rest will have horn stems after all. There are seven in process, though there's no guarantee all of them will finish OK - I've had a higher than usual discard rate for these pipes, so we'll see. It definitely exposes the waste in larger volume production, where pipe designs cannot be hand-shaped around a block's flaws, but instead must be tossed out if something nasty is exposed.

This is more pipes than I have remaining FdP requests, so there will probably be a couple (or more) remaining at the end, for general sale. If I've had any disappointments about the FdP pipe sales, it has been the number of drop outs (People who asked for a pipe and then never responded to email offers - I quickly reached the point where I began to cross non-responders totally off the list). With no way of knowing if the final members will actually purchase pipes or not, I've decided simply to make a few more than needed and then cease production and move on to other things.

At the moment, I have one very nice FdP variant pipe available - I posted it to the newsgroup late last night and it has not sold yet. It's different from the standard ones in being cut from a plateau block rather than an ebauchon. This allowed it to have a stacked ring grain sandblast pattern as well as a rough, natural plateau rim. Alas, rough tops don't seem as popular with the French, though I love the ultimate naturalism of their style.

Also visible in the photo today is one of the big two-jaw chucks I use on my lathe to hold briar blocks for drilling (even though I now use this technique quite rarely). A fellow emailed me asking for more information on this type of chuck, and I've had inquiries like this before. Unfortunately, I have no help to offer those looking for something similar - mine originally came from St. Claude and was purchased by the pipemaker who worked in this shop before me. All I can suggest is for interested individuals to try contacting the various St. Claude factories to see if they have anything similar to sell. Alternatively, Ken Lamb makes an excellent custom two-jaw chuck which also incorporates alignment pins for easier perfect drilling of the airhole and bowl. It's costly, but it's a serious tool for a serious pipemaker. I've often heard various amateurs and part-timers fussing about Ken's tools being "overpriced". Not to put too fine a point on it, but they're utterly FOS - I had a custom two-jaw chuck made in the past to my specs and it ran to $1000, making Ken's more complex creations a downright bargain. Good pipemaking tooling is expensive, no matter where you get it from.