Pipe School

/Pipe School
Pipe School 2017-05-10T09:52:40-04:00

So, you want to be a Pipe Maker?

My dad is a “doer”.  A “get’r done” kind of guy.  I grew up not knowing any other way to live.  We never had a service man come to the house.  Never took anything to the mechanic.  He did it all.  But he wasn’t just “handy.”  My dad was (still is) a “thinker.”  He always had that uncommon knack for understanding the simple principles and processes that laid beneath, and was, without fail, ever able to out-smart even the toughest of tasks.  He understood process.  He knew the right tools and tricks to use.  And he worked “smart” rather than “hard”.  Don’t get me wrong.  He was the hardest working man around… but he was efficient.

Though the years, I would often (still do) go to my dad for the complicated projects.  Not long ago, though, I realized, in my circle of friends, I am “the guy” everyone comes to when something needs to be made or fixed.  I’m good with that, now, but it took some time to settle into that role.  I most often felt a sense of “I don’t know what I’m doing,” largely for the simple fact that I’d never done whatever it was that was being presented.  In fact, I remember the first time I had to pull a toilet from it’s flange in the floor.  The thought of it was daunting, if not horrifying.  I vaguely remembered my dad doing it when I was young, but I had no idea what it would look like, nor did I know what I’d have to do once it was pulled.  All I knew was that there was a leak in the basement directly under that toilet.  My wife’s reasonable solution was, “Babe, please just call a plumber.”  In that moment, my knee-jerk response was, “If a guy with his crack hanging out of his pants can do it, how hard can it be?”  It came naturally.  That’s what Dad would do.  (Unfortunately, I now do all our plumbing… and that of many friends and family members.)

If you’re reading this, you are likely a doer.  You are someone who likes the challenge of making and fixing.  Like me, perhaps when presented a new challenge, rather than thinking “I don’t know how to do that”, you visualize that plumber’s crack and say to yourself, “how hard can it be?”  You’re obviously still reading, so I’m assuming that you probably think pipe making is a good idea, too.  I happen to agree with you.

Though it took me many years to discover the craft of pipe making, I have come to believe that it is one of the ultimate hobby-crafts. I have crafted many things, both professionally and recreationally, but in no other craft have I found such a beautiful balance of simplicity, challenge and design-freedom, and all in such a succinct matter of time, which ultimately culminates in a piece of work that will, itself, provide years of thoughtful relaxation to its owner.  

But, do you really need a class to learn pipe making?  Certainly not.  There are loads of ways to tackle most projects, and many people have defied many odds to prove it.  But not all have done so with effectiveness or efficiency, much less, both.  This class is designed to teach you to make a pipe, but what does that mean?  Making a pipe, or any craft for that matter, comes with inherent elements of challenge.  From design principles, to “how do I fix what I just screwed up?”, this class provides an ordered framework or “flow” that will free you to be more confident, more creative and more relaxed in your pipe making endeavor.   Simply put, its intent is to give you that ”I know what I’m doing” factor… to impart the “work smart, not hard” element.  To help you understand what lies beneath.  To give you an understanding of the principles, tools and process.  To make you efficient.

Since I began making pipes, many aspiring pipe makers have come to me for assistance. Desiring to help them all, the requests simply grew beyond my ability to respond.  So, I developed a hands-on instruction course (outlined below). The course is as much fun as it is informative and conveys the key elements that distinguish a great pipe, the steps in executing those elements and the modern efficiencies in tooling and process that give the hobby that “flow” that allows the mind the freedom to create.  With the course, the student will be provided a manual, detailing each process, and by course end, the student will have crafted, at least, one pipe, as well as have that “I know what I’m doing” sense.

Making Tobacco Pipes Like the Pros… in a “Nutshell”

3 day course: $3,200
This course is designed to demonstrate the basic pipe making techniques that I use to achieve the highest level of quality in aesthetics and engineering. Some of the things you will learn:
1. hand-shaping
2. hand-drilling
3. stem-making
4. pipe-turning
5. sandblasting
6. smooth finishing

5 day course: $5,200
This course covers items 1-6 of the 3 Day Course, but additionally will demonstrate:
7. Tool-making
8. Advanced methods (ie, shank extensions, brass rings, etc)

Some of the Details:

  • The course is a one-on-one experience, not multi-person
  • Course Hours 8:30am to 5:30pm
  • Classes are limited to only a handful each year
  • Meals, lodging and transportation are not included but can be coordinated at an extra cost, if desired.
  • If there any specific techniques that you particularly want covered, or if there is a particular piece you are working on that you need help with, please notify me in advance.

What you need to bring:

  • 5 blocks of briar
  • 12″ of ebonite
  • notebook and mechanical pencil
  • any accent materials you would like to add to your pipe (bamboo, wood, ivory, horn, etc.)
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