Getting started

Pipemaking, reedmaking & maintanence. Expert pipemakers are eager to answer your questions

Getting started

Postby Dally » Thu Sep 05, 2013 7:49 pm

What does it take to get started making (simple) pipes?
Last year about this time I spent a pipe-making holiday with Ray Sloan ( What an inspiration! I learned a great deal, and caught the bug.
I have spent a lot of time this summer cleaning up and making my shed into a useful workshop. My goal is to someday make pipes as a hobby. Professional makers shouldn't be concerned because I'll never reach your level of expertise. I just want to have fun and don't expect to ever sell anything.
Anyway, what do you recommend for the basic set up of a pipe making workshop? Ray has several Myford machine lathes. They seem to be completely unavailable around here. I was in a wood craft shop and one of the clerks, who happens to be English and knows Myford lathes very well, said I should be able to do what I described on a basic wood lathe. Your thoughts?
Do you have to be able to turn brass, or can you use tubing?
What other tools are required: table saw, band saw, drill press, reamers?
Where does one find specialty tools?
Keep in mind, I'll be paying off my kids' university educations for many years so I don't have a lot of money to spend.
"The problem with the French is that they don't have a word for entrepreneur." - George W. Bush
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Joined: Fri May 27, 2011 11:21 pm
Location: Vashon Island, Washington State, USA
Full Name: John Dally

Re: Getting started

Postby pipemakermike » Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:26 pm

Hi John

You don't need very much. A lathe is a must and I would recommend one with about 3.5" center height (also called a 7" lathe) I personally use a Myford ML7 I think that Ray has a Myford super 7. Myfords are not made anymore so the cost of getting one is growing
One possibility is one of the chinese lathes:-
There are likely to be a lot more suppliers over there in the colonies<G> If possible make sure that the headstock has a bore through it at least 20mm diameter.
you will need some files - buy good ones - a set of drills, some digital calipers, rulers, scalpel and no 11 blades.
There are a few more tools but I am sure that others will add their favourite tools.
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Joined: Mon May 23, 2011 5:05 pm
Location: Cambridge England
Full Name: Mike Nelson

Re: Getting started

Postby Richard Evans » Fri Sep 06, 2013 3:28 pm

These Chinese lathes are really excellent value for money. You would also need access to some sort of bench or pillar drill and ideally also a bandsaw. And access to a bench grinder for tool sharpening/making.

You need to make a few special drills for long boring and tone hole drilling.

My first lathe was a Zyto as described here:

I paid 180 pounds for a well-used very basic machine in 1980. That is the equivalent of 650 pounds now, which would buy a very decent used machine of far higher spec. The bore through the headstock of the old Zyto was about 12mm, and it was only just possible to fit a 7 key chanter in terms of length, which made life very difficult.
However the lathe came with a collection of miscellaneous stuff including a square foot of inch-thick cast iron plate which I still use as an anvil for key making, and a vertical slide for the lathe which sees a lot of use- I mount a router on it in place of the lathe tool post for chanter shaping.

My current manual lathe is a Boxford BUD, but I also have a Denford Orac CNC lathe and a Denford Triac CNC milling machine, and they all get a lot of use.
Richard Evans
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Joined: Fri May 27, 2011 8:00 pm

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