Tuesday, December 10, 2013

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Rex Walden





Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Processing Bamboo for Tobacco Pipes Inserts and Shank Extensions

I'm excited because I finally won a W.O. Larsen Pipe on eBay for a reasonable price.  It is a W.O. Larsen Double Black with a slight bend in it.  I was glad to see that is was in really nice shape, probably smoked just a few times.  Came with the original box, pipe sock, and pamphlet.

I have a sealed tin of W.O. Larsen Signature pipe tobacco in my cellar that I have been saving, maybe I will try it in my new Larsen pipe.  This fellow on YouTube says has the same plan with his W.O. Larsen Double Black Billiard.  The video shows a straight billiard and the pipe I bought was sort of a 1/4 prince- anyway very Danish looking and I am happy to finally have a pipe from such a famous shop.

This week I finished off a lightweight poker with a natural finish that is heavily rusticated and also a smooth poker sitter with some selective rustication.  Here are some pics of the pipes in progress.

This past weekend I also retrieved a bunch of running bamboo roots that I left outside under a cover for drying for a few months.  

As you can see, it is really kinda nasty stuff to pull out of the ground.  Anyway, this stuff was pretty dry and ready to be processed into smaller pieces for tobacco pipe stem inserts and shank extensions.

The next step is to cut off all the little roots from the main root to be used for pipes.

Then I used a new band saw to zip the bamboo pieces into 4 inch lengths.  Once the pieces were in similar size I used a belt sander to take off and smooth all of the smaller root sites on the bamboo.  When I got to use a piece for an actual pipe I will perform some more detailed cleanup and sanding.

Here is the end product.  I think I will be set for bamboo for a long time considering I do not use it a lot for pipes.  This of course is larger diameter bamboo than the Wangi bamboo from China that is small diameter with close set node sites that is most commonly used in pipe making.  

Monday, October 21, 2013

Rusticated Poker in Progress by Rex Walden 10/21/2013

What a difference a couple of weeks make.  It is nice and cool in my workshop now, and I suspect it will stay that way for a month or so before getting downright cold (at least in the morning and evenings).

Sunday, I spent the day drilling a piece of briar suitable for a straight shanked poker.  I turned it on a small woodworking lathe and then thought I would get crafty and removed the tailstock to square off the end of the shank and whew- the briar flew out of the chuck and hit the wall and the stem broke off.  So, for now I have a new pencil holder or a practice piece of briar for rustication or marking practice and experimentation.  I may use it later for a bamboo shanked pipe, but back it goes onto the shelf.

So, after a few cuss words I grabbed another block and went on my way creating another poker pipe.  The poker pipe not only seems very popular these days but just appears rugged.  I like the thick walls and over all comfort that the poker gives, though not a huge fan of the massively squat and fat pokers that I see- just too heavy for me I guess, though they look nice.  I like my pipes to be able to sit when I set them down.  This one does but tilts back with it's new stem a little, though I think it will sit up nicely with a loaded chamber.

2nd try- stem is my "in progress one" and not the final stem but rather a "working" one for reference.

I received a nice set of fine wood gouges from my wife who just returned from Japan.  While too light for lathe work they work very well for detailed shaping, rustication, and detailing.

Rusticating pipes by hand is fun.  In this case I just walked the wood gouge in a certain pattern all over.

Rustication done and looks more pronounced with light above pipe.

You can see that I was going for a diamond style of pattern for the shank, which required walking the tool in a very tight and repetitive fashion.
I taped off the end to stop myself- giving me a little break before the stem.

The finish is complete on this medium sized rustic gradient stained poker sitter, though I still have some work left to do on the stem.  I seem to gravitate to burnt oranges, deep reds, and browns.  This being October and nearly November fall is in the air and my pipes will probably reflect that for the next couple of weeks.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Tree Bark Rusticated Poker with Bamboo insert by Rex Walden 10/8/2013

Rusticated Poker with Bamboo Insert by Rex Walden

I try to make pipes that are inspired by places I have been or things that I see.  In the Texas Hill Country we sometimes have exotic game that fly through our properties.  One of these species is called the Blackbuck Antelope, a beautiful animal that we see often around here that is native to India.  This pipe is inspired by these creatures that bound around here like wild hellions.  I used a small piece of bamboo that worked to break-up up the grooved rustication from the all black ebonite stem.

Bamboo Pipe with Unique Shape Bowl with Burl Rex Walden 9/25/2013

This pipe was made from a unique piece of briar, so I decided to keep the small triangle of burl on the bottom and really get creative with the shape.  This pipe was certainly influenced by Japanese pipe makers.  At the time that I made this pipe, I was trying to shop online on Japanese pipe shop websites like lsando and have my wife pick up the pipe while she was in Tokyo.  

In the end, I decided the hand made Japanese pipes were too expensive, and that the next time I return to visit family in Japan I would try to trade or at least attend a pipe show and try to get a hand made pipe from an up and coming artist.  Anyway, here is an attempt at Japanese style briar smoking pipe.  Another one can be seen here.

Large Bent Egg Pipe Shape with Diamond Stem by Rex Walden 9/15/2013

This was a large block of briar that was suitable for a bent pipe, which I really like when reading or working on the computer.  I actually modeled it after a 70's Dunhill Bent Red Bark estate pipe that I own and really enjoy.  This pipe is much larger than the Dunhill, but has similar lines (minus the diamond stem and shank).  Also, this pipe is smooth versus the blasted Red Bark.

Bamboo and Briar Pipe by Rex Walden 10/1/2013

This pipe was made out of a block of briar that had a crack all along it's newly formed shank.  I heard it crack when I was filing and I had to take it all the way down until the block was square.  It sat on the shelf for awhile until I had the idea to use a piece of bamboo to create a shank.

I have a lot of bamboo and harvest it myself.  It is hard work, and bamboo, while beautiful is pretty nasty stuff to have in the yard- it runs everywhere.

I have sent photos of the pipe to my wife who is currently in Japan.  She and her family approve and say the pipe is very Japanese looking.  They are not pipe aficionados, but I appreciate the comment anyway.  My wife will be home soon and is bringing me two tins of Momoyama II, which I am looking forward to trying.  I wanted a handcrafted Japanese pipe from Arita or Tokutomi, but they are way too expensive for me at this time (and no discount can be had in Japan- of course).