Lathe recommendation for garage hobbyist?

Cramptholomew

It's, like, Phyllis Diller funny.
Sales
I’ll also throw this out though many will disagree: I think delrin tenons make life easy especially if you don’t have a metal lathe. A 5/16 delrin tenon fits perfectly in a hole and or mortise drilled with a 5/16 bit. There are tips and tricks to gluing them in the stem but that’s pretty easy to learn.
I like delrin because you don’t risk a broken integral tenon- which is a whole mess to deal with, and may require an entirely new hand cut stem. If, per chance, a delrin tenon becomes unglued, you just re-cut some grooves and reglue, or pop in a new one
 

DannoH

Disappointingly reasonable.
Patron
Very sound advice here, and lots of it from successful, working pipemakers. @N80 is also pretty modest about his abilities.

I'm at the beginner end of the pipemaking pool and I don't have much tooling, so I mostly do things the hard way. For the OP, if you haven't tried finishing a pipe kit, I would suggest doing so: it's a low-risk endeavor, and you get a sense of the process, which can be accomplished with very simple hand tools, some patience, and a good attitude. There is much to be learned simply in trying to shape a pipe kit.

If you want to buy a bunch of power tools, that's great, go at it. I don't think you need to do that right away, but everyone's journey will look differently. I have been extremely fortunate to have access to @Sasquatch for both mortal support and ridicule, and these have both helped me immeasurably. I have also benefitted from the advice of makers who have posted here. The community is pretty dang supportive, albeit with a finely tuned bullcarp meter.

Good luck!
 

Sasquatch

May Cause Drowsiness
Staff Member
I have been extremely fortunate to have access to @Sasquatch for both mortal support and ridicule,
Possibly the best Freudian slip I've ever seen.

Also, while I do not particularly appreciate the ridicule, it's kinda made up for by the single malt.


Pipe making is ridiculous. It's ridiculous when a gorgeous piece of wood has a crack in it. It's ridiculous when you are just about done a stem that took 6 hours and you notice a weird little inclusion in the ebonite, and you try to sand it out and it gets more apparent, and the stem is already only .170 and there's nowhere to go. It's ridiculous when the apprentice brings the master a potato-looking thing and says "Is this a billiard?' for the 10th time. And it's just as ridiculous when the master is spinning a piece of antler he paid 35 bucks for and it goes "spronk" and just flies into pieces. It's tragic comedy, truly.

It's actually like golf. You spend the whole day cursing, whacking and hacking, losing balls, getting your feet wet. And then you hit that one great shot and basically the whole day was worth it.

Nobody's laughing at the new guy, we've all been the new guy. We're laughing because the new guy is about to step on a rake and get it in the face and there's nothing we can do. Because we've all been hit in the face by the rake. I get hit just about every time I make a pipe. My wife has learned that while I love a day in the shop, it's no guarantee that I'm in a good mood after work. "How did your day go?" might get an answer of "Oh man, a piece I hoped would blast great came out awesome, and I drilled a super long Canadian and it came out perfect." and it just as often might get an answer of "Oh I dunno, I spent four hours on a stummel before I realized the chamber had a hole through it, and I wrecked a stem and I'm out of 25mm ebonite so now that pipe is like 3 weeks behind, but other than that JUST GREAT.' The ridicule amongst pipe makers is strong. It's probably strong amongst luthiers, gunsmiths, bricklayers, etc... anything really demanding.

I had a customer make a token complaint about a pipe I'd sold him, a complaint about the finish. He got the pipe out of the box and smoked it 4 times in a row and the finish went kinda gray. I asked a group of pipe makers in a private area what I should do, and the answer was, unanimously, "This guy sounds like a moron." Worse than that, by process of deduction, they also unanimously agreed that prima facie he was a moron, because he'd bought a pipe from me - that's all the evidence they needed.

They wouldn't say that kinda crap if they didn't hold me in such high esteem. Right? I mean, right? :bag:
 

JRobert

Administrator
Staff Member
@dwaugh made me a remarkable pipe using only hand tools. It can be done. As to the rest, I’ve read this story five thousand times at pipe makers forum. I know how it ends.
 

jpberg

Lifestyle Coach
Staff Member
Sales
Thanks JRobert.
An update, David has kept his word and made no more pipes.
He’s currently working on building a transmitter that emits mind control frequencies.

You think I’m joking.
 

SubComMarcos

Professional Relaxer
Patron
Sales
@dwaugh made me a remarkable pipe using only hand tools. It can be done.

The whole thread is worth reading through, but for those living with end stage laziness like myself, here's the juicy stuff:
IMG_9044.jpg
IMG_9043.jpg
 

DocAitch

Well-known member
You can make pipes with a $750 8x12” metal lathe and a $200 drill press, there are ways to work around tasks. I have posts on this forum showing some of mine.
If I ever get a larger lathe, then I will be happier, but I pretty much do what I like. My mouth waters every time I see one of the PM lathes in operation.
One of my buffs is a salvaged sump pump motor. I do have a carp load of files.
I would like to have variable speed motors on my equipment, but the only one I have is on a Foredom Bench lathe (buffer).
My point being that you can get started with a cheaper lathe and drill press and develop your own work arounds.
DocAitch
15FC9E0A-81E5-40D8-974E-0C4C36241777.jpeg
5204807E-1AC7-45F8-9D22-9AB50506D2ED.jpeg
 

JamesM

Uninformed Expert
Patron
You can make pipes with a $750 8x12” metal lathe and a $200 drill press, there are ways to work around tasks. I have posts on this forum showing some of mine.
If I ever get a larger lathe, then I will be happier, but I pretty much do what I like. My mouth waters every time I see one of the PM lathes in operation.
One of my buffs is a salvaged sump pump motor. I do have a carp load of files.
I would like to have variable speed motors on my equipment, but the only one I have is on a Foredom Bench lathe (buffer).
My point being that you can get started with a cheaper lathe and drill press and develop your own work arounds.
DocAitch
View attachment 169495
View attachment 169496
Nice looking pipes on your make do set up!
 

Cramptholomew

It's, like, Phyllis Diller funny.
Sales
Nice looking pipes on your make do set up!
@DocAitch has taught me a lot, like drinking info from a fire hose a lot. I left his shop the first time I was there trying desperately to retain everything he’d thrown at me. Even though we have different methods at arriving at a similar expected outcome, he knows myriad techniques that apply for all of pipe making. His pipes are always done with an extreme attention to details, and his finish work is exceptional.
 

SwampWeed

Black Twist & Black Beer
Patron
Sales
I would like to have variable speed motors on my equipment, but the only one I have is on a Foredom Bench lathe (buffer).

Hey Doc you probably have considered these, but posting for posterity:

If you use (or find) salvage motors with brushes, you can use a cheap rheostat to vary the speed. It will eventually burn out the motor... But hey, old motors are pretty easy to find. Example rheostat:
For Router Fan Variable Speed Controller Electric Motor Rheostat AC 120V https://a.co/d/4Wqf35A
 

DocAitch

Well-known member
Hey Doc you probably have considered these, but posting for posterity:

If you use (or find) salvage motors with brushes, you can use a cheap rheostat to vary the speed. It will eventually burn out the motor... But hey, old motors are pretty easy to find. Example rheostat:
For Router Fan Variable Speed Controller Electric Motor Rheostat AC 120V https://a.co/d/4Wqf35A
Yes, I have considered that but at the moment, what I have works ok.
Thanks.
DocAitch
 

Mrm1775

Well-known member
Sales
It’s how frost pipes does it….

didn’t realize pipe makers feel so self entitled like no one else could attempt to try the craft my bad.
I'm very late to the party.
If you are looking to spend around $2000 all in you will need to look into a wood lathe. A small wood lathe and tooling can easily hit 2 grand.
If you have no experience on a wood lathe trying to make a pipe on one will kick your ever loving arse to the point that you wonder why you ever had the thought in the first place. There have been many that started with a wood lathe and it quickly became a secondary tool (most likely a buffing setup).
If you want to spend $3500 on just the lathe (PM10/30 highly recommended) you will get one that will do most anything you want and be much easier and better than a wood lathe.

The tools don't make the pipe maker, but they can make his job a bit easier.

Making stems by hand requires many hand tools, enduring hands and attitude along with a willingness to get carpal tunnel and arthritis. Not to mention an excellent big magnifying glass or really good eyes. Oh and a super mega dose of patience.

Yes a wood lathe and a few basic tools will get you started. If you go this route also order the biggest case of aspirin that you can afford. You might want to add a couple cases of scotch also.
You can make a pipe with very few tools IF you really have the desire.
Once again - the tools don't make the builder. A fine example is myself and @Cramptholomew. I have a bigger nicer lathe than he does yet he makes nicer pipes and has a better "eye" than I do.

You haven't been introduced to anyone self entitled on this forum, you haven't been spoken down to and I don't think anyone here thinks they are better than you.
You have just been given realistic answers and some good ones at that.
I agree with the thought of ordering a pipe kit or 2 and trying your hand before sinking a lot of money, unless you just want to spend money of endless tools.

Ive been building for about 2 years and Im still a total newb. Thank goodness my previous work experience gave a clue of how to go about it.

Be ready for many grey hairs, I wish you well with your endeavor.
 

DitchPig

Active member

Is there a reason people don’t use something like this instead of buying a drill press as well? It has 6 speeds but isn’t as easy a variable speed but.
 
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