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How to Make a Churchwarden Pipe

Handheld Pipes
How to Make a Churchwarden Pipe
Making a pipe is something you do from the heart. It’s a complex process, that is almost spiritual in its intricacy. Once you see the finished piece, the satisfaction is close to incomparable. Here’s how to make a churchwarden pipe through the use of a saw, grinder, and special wooden materials.

Create a pattern

Choosing the wood

There are many types of wood that you can use for your churchwarden pipe. What you need is something fire-resistant since you’ll be burning some herbs in it. You can use maple, cherry, rosewood, olive, mahogany, ebony, and beech to name a few. Briar is still the best, but it’s extremely scarce. Among the types of wood given, cherry is considered the best alternative to briar. A 4x2 size will be a good size for the bowl.

For the stem, a softer, non-toxic wood is okay. It should be hard enough to last long but has the right pliability for bending. Some use local wood for a cost-effective solution, or bamboo to eliminate the drilling part. A long dowel will also work. Since this is your first time to make one, use a 1” dowel to give you bigger room for error.

You can also purchase a DIY Pipe blank. It’s wood drilled with a pipe bowl that comes with a hollow, bent stem. All you have to do is to carve the bowl to any shape that you want and paint it. It does take away the essence of making a pipe, but it’s a great way to start, especially if you lack some of the tools below.

The tools you’re going to need

Here’s what you’ll need to make your churchwarden pipe.

  • Flat horseshoe rasp 12” x 1 1/2”. Fine-rough side needed

  • Woodworking saw

  • Dremel

  • Drill

  • Long drill bit, about the same length of your stem

  • Lathe for shaping your bowl and stem

  • Chisel or wood carving knife

  • A thick wire to help shape the stem.

  • Grinder

  • Steel rod

  • Non-toxic wood polish

You also need some safety gear like:

  • Glasses or goggles

  • Gloves

  • Earmuffs

  • Mask to be worn while grinding.


Here’s a video of the no-lathe method

Making your churchwarden pipe

  1. Get your dowel or piece of wood. If you got a “wet” wood fresh from a tree branch, you’re good. If your dowel is dry, you may want to soak it for a minute or two. Cut it to the length that you want for the stem.

  2. Using a long drill bit, bore a hole through the center. Take your time to keep the hole straight.

  3. Push the long wire through the hole and carefully bend the wood. Don’t use too much force. If you can’t bend it, you have to steam it or soak it again in water.

  4. Let the wood dry.

  5. Shape your block of wood by tracing the pattern of your pipe. Be sure to draw the chamber circle as well.

  6. Make the bowl first by drilling the center of the chamber circle. You can make the bowl by using a Dremel or a hole saw attached to a drill. If you don’t have a big working bench, a Dremel will give you better control. It will take longer, but it’s doable.

  7. Do this process slowly. Take your time with this as this is going to be the life of your pipe.

  8. Do the same for the mortise.

  9. Shape the bowl using a saw to take out the large pieces. Smoothen the edges using a chisel or the grinder with different grits of sandpaper for shaping.

  10. Take your drill and bore a draft hole at an angle to create a tunnel connecting the bowl and the mortise.

Assembling the pieces

  1. Using a lathe or your wood knife, thin down the dowel/branch to the diameter that you want.

  2. Create a tenon to help the stem fit inside the mortise.

  3. Sand all the pieces to create a fine finish.

  4. Use a food-grade wood dye to add some color to your pipe

  5. Glue the pieces together and wait for it to dry.

  6. Add a coat of Danish oil and you’ve got a lovely, shiny pipe

Knowing the process of how a pipe is made will help you appreciate the skill and craftsmanship used to create one. If you don’t have time to make your own, we’ve got a couple in store for you! Click here now and be a proud owner of an exquisite wooden pipe!


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