News from the Pipemaking Workshop with the Funk.
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Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Preview of New Stuff

.....How's that for a highly sophisticated headline?  I haven't written much here lately because I've been busy round the clock in the new workshop, an activity that is divided equally between making new stock, customizing and modifying our shop setup, and running back and forth to the breaker box to reset tripped breakers (Must get that improved eventually, once we have money).  As the workshop goes, we're now in "Stage 2", where we actually use the setup and find all the things we don't like about it, or that seemed OK in theory but don't work very well in practice, and have to modify and tweak as we go.  The electrical load situation produces a very zen environment, where Em and I must constantly work in a state of careful balance - The mini lathe and the vac can be on, but not along with the sanding motors, or the bandsaw can be run, but not with the vac AND air cleaner, and the big lathe has the amusing habit of tripping its own breaker every time it is started, EXCEPT when its connected vacuum is switched on first.  Go figure. 

In any event, all electrical quirks aside, the new workshop is a very nice place to be.  I can't begin to describe how much more pleasant it is to work in than the Herbignac workshop, where looking out the windows usually presented us with a view of French teens starting in at us in fascination when they weren't loitering on the village pathway outside playing with their cell phones.  Here, it's just a nice enclosed back yard and the hundred birds that Emily is attracting thanks to her many feeders.  I've just finished my first audiobook in the shop while sanding the three new LBs pictured below (The book was "Into the Storm", a wonderfully cheesy SF/fantasy tale very much in the Edgar Rice Burroughs vein, about the crew of a US navy destroyer that accidentally slips dimensions and lands in a primitive alternate Earth.  I can recommend this if you grew up enjoying pulp entertainment of the "Land that Time Forgot" variety).  If progress seems slow, that's because a lot of this initial work is trial and error and tool adjustment.  But, we're accelerating already.  The first three Ligne Bretagnes took several days to get finished - the next three should take half that.  The pens are great fun to make, as well.  Most of the pens so far are hand-turned morta, with careful sandblasting to give them a nicely textured grip.  I wasn't sure I would like a non-smooth pen, but I've actually come to prefer these to my smooth ones, just for the way they feel.  In this work, our less-powerful US compressor is actually an advantage, because the one in Herbignac was strong enough to occasionally blast holes through the wood surface to the pen bodies, whereas this one's gentler output is more controllable. 

Here is a group photo of some of the newly-finished stock:

A few pens can be seen in the background - also, there is a morta tamper with a meerschaum tamping end, an idea I wish I'd had long ago.  The black and white materials go together nicely.  For this first set of LBs, I have sorted through all our stock to collect some of the best grained stummels I could find, so the majority will probably be smooth and pretty exceptional in grain.  These three could put many more expensive pipes to shame for their hundred dollar-ish pricetags.

Happily, the Oom-Paul will even pass a cleaner from bit to bowl!  Not always an easy or even possible task with this shape.  And I was quite happy to be able to work with these horn stems again, as well.


So, now it's on to work on more LBs - I plan to have at least six or eight available for the opening of the site, but may have a small show/sale at Pipe & Pint before then.  Outside of a possible P&P expo, these pipes are not for sale until the site opens, this is just for preview purposes.  As for when the site will be open, my only answer to that remains, "It will be open when it's open."  I want at least six LBs, six or more pens, some tampers, at least two or three Goblins, and I'd love to have five or six high-grade Talbert Briars to open the site with, so it's just a matter of time until I can get all those made. 

Back to the workshop....
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