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Monday, January 22, 2007

Different Tricks

I've had this little Taig microlathe for years now, practically from when I started making pipes professionally, and it's a handy little beast. I find it much friendlier for really detailed work than the full-size metal lathe, which is hard to be precise with. Moreover, there are times that it is called upon to do something unusual that another tool can't.

When making pipes by shaping them first, and then drilling after, getting the drilling right requires a good bit more actual skill than just rotating the block in a self-centering chuck. Flattening the shank at 90 degrees to the mortise is another challenge, and usually I do this on the big lathe. However, some shapes it just can't handle - the tool carriage is too big to allow really tall bowls to rotate, and the size and bulk of the headstock and chuck prevent me from easily facing unusual shapes like this.

Fortunately, a little jury-rigging allows the Taig to handle the job easily - the stummel spins, the small cutter reaches inside the spinning bowl, and it's easy to face the mortise. People ask, "How do you make a pipe?", and the real answer is, "A hundred different ways, because sometimes it seems like every shape brings its own set of challenges to the job".

And here is the resulting pipe! It's an unusually-angled blast rather than the typical ring grain, and thus a wee bit less expensive than usual (I really like unexpected grain arrangements but collectors often don't share this quirk...). If anyone is interested in this pipe it is currently sold. It's a grade 2B Talbert Briar, and costs 330 € plus shipping.

One note about the pipe - It is a design utilizing a tall, narrow, conical bowl chamber. This sort of shape is ideal for a flake tobacco, but I don't really like ribbons in this sort of setup, so that's something to consider.

Christmas just keeps on coming here! With gifts from family and friends crisscrossing in international post, it makes the season last from mid-December through to February. I just got a box the other day from a friend in the states which contained some bottles of Sam Smith's Taddy Porter, and if this wasn't miraculous enough, another Christmas box brought me no less than THREE new pipes! So, I'll close this entry with a pic of my new arrivals - an LOTR pipe, a Rinaldo Collection, and an IMMENSE Ser Jacopo "Maxima Maxima".