I'm honoured that beginning pipe makers see me as someone they'd like to learn from, and more than happy to pass on the little knowledge I've been able to pick up over the years. Before emailing me, please check if your answer is covered below.

Delrin:

What is Delrin?

The name Delrin refers to a class of acetal homopolymers from DuPont. Delrin offers high tensile strength, impact resistance and stiffness, and outstanding fatigue endurance. It is resistant to moisture, gasoline, solvents, and many other neutral chemicals. Delrin also maintains natural lubricity at a wide end-use temperature range. Delrin offers dimensional stability that is not found in common stem materials like Lucite, Vulcanite or Cumberland. This means that unlike these other materials Delrin is much less likely to shrink, stretch or expand causing a loose stem. Delrin is also much less brittle than conventional stem materials resulting in fewer snapped tenons.

How do I Glue Delrin?

Glue does not adhere to Delrin easily. In order to properly glue Delrin the surface must be scored to give the epoxy something to anchor to. I cut cross hatches into the delrin with a coping saw.

What diameter of Delrin do you use?

I use several diameters. I use 5/16th for my tenons, 3/8th for my regular mortise sleeves and 7/16th  for the mortise sleeve when I make a clear Lucite tenon.

Step by step how do you make a Delrin tenon and sleeve?

Tenon:

  1. Face the stem material on the lathe and drill a 5/16th hole into the face of the stem using the lathe.
  2. Measure and cut the 5/16th Delrin rod.
  3. Chuck the Delrin on the lathe and face it. Drill the Delrin half-way through. If you drill all the way through there is a good chance you’ll split the end.
  4. Turn the Delrin around and repeat step 3.
  5. Measure and cut grooves into the Delrin for the glue to adhere to.
  6. Apply the epoxy to the grooves and insert the Delrin into the stem material.    

Sleeve:

  1. Cut off as much 3/8th Delrin as your lathe will drill accurately. Use more than you need. If you drill through the end of the Delrin it will split.  
  2. Chuck the Delrin into your lathe and chuck a 516th twist bit into your lathe. Do not use a Brad point bit. It will wander and will more than likely split the Delrin.
  3. Drill the Delrin and cut off what you need. I usually leave it on the lathe and use a parting tool to cut it off.
  4. Cut grooves into the outside of the Delrin.
  5. Glue and insert the Delrin into the mortise.

Where do you get your Delrin from?

I buy my Delrin from Tim West.  He sells rod and pre-drilled Delrin. His rod is very accurate in diameter which is very important and frustrating when it isn't.

Glue

What kind of Glue do you use for your pipes and stems?

I use both 5min epoxy and a kind of Epoxy called G2. 5 min epoxy works well for gluing Delrin into the stem material or for non-oily woods. When I’m working with oily or dense woods I use G2 which penetrates much better. Both can be found at Lee Valley Tools.

Stem and Shank work.

How do you inlay different woods and materials on you stems and shanks?

I inlay woods on my stems and shanks pretty much the same way. First I chuck the first layer of wood, and face it on the lathe. From there I glue the next layer on without removing the first from the chuck, wait for the epoxy to cure, face that layer and repeat. Some shaping can be done on the lathe or done freehand once all the layers are built up. The last step on the lathe is to face and drill the material. From there I glue and insert a Delrin rod that will go through the layered wood and into the faced stem material if I’m adding wood to the end of the stem. The Delrin will go through the wood and into the faced shank if I’m adding a shank extension. The Delrin will be either a 5/16th tenon or 3/8th depending on if the material will go on the end of the shank or stem. 

Where do you get your exotic woods from?

I buy my woods mainly through R & K Wood Sales Rare and Exotic Woods. R&K Wood Sales

Ebonite, Cumberland, Lucite, Vulcanite, Brindle, Bakelite what’s the deal!?

One of the most confusing things about pipes is the number of interchangeable and subtle differences in stem material names and what they denote. Here’s a breakdown of the different materials.

Vulcanite: Vulcanite is a sulphur-hardened rubber. It is fairly soft on the teeth and is more flexible than Lucite. It will yellow and oxidize in sunlight and with time.

Ebonite: Ebonite is a sulphur-hardened rubber. It is fairly soft on the teeth and is more flexible than Lucite. It will yellow and oxidize in sunlight and with time. Déjà vu? You betcha! Ebonite and Vulcanite are very nearly the same deal. The difference being that in pipe-making terms Ebonite comes in rod form whereas Vulcanite usually means a pre-made stem. Ebonite tends to oxidize less quickly as there is a smaller sulphur content used in the curing process. Ebonite is generally considered to be a higher quality product than Vulcanite.

Cumberland: Cumberland is a sulphur-hardened rubber. It is fairly soft on the teeth and is more flexible than Lucite. It will yellow and oxidize in sunlight and with time. Do you see a recurring theme here? Cumberland is made the same way as Ebonite and Vulcanite, but has brown and red pigment added to give it a more interesting appearance. Despite claims to the contrary Cumberland will oxidize. It isn’t as fast as Vulcanite because like Ebonite less sulphur is used in its construction. Cumberland also has the added benefit of being a lighter colour than black and so does not show yellowing as quickly or as dramatically as black materials. Dunhill was the first to put Cumberland on the market.

Brindle: Brindle is a sulphur-hardened rubber. It is fairly soft on the teeth and is more flexible than Lucite. It will yellow and oxidize in sunlight and with time. Do you see a recurring theme here? Brindle is made the same way as Ebonite and Vulcanite, but has brown and red pigment added to give it a more interesting appearance. Despite claims to the contrary Brindle will oxidize. It isn’t as fast as Vulcanite because like Ebonite less sulphur is used in its construction. Brindle also has the added benefit of being a lighter colour than black and so does not show yellowing as quickly or as dramatically as black materials. If you’ve read this far you now know that Brindle is another name for Cumberland. The term has become more popular lately because people spontaneously took umbrage to the term “Cumberland.” I think that perhaps the whole shift was orchestrated by the Illuminati, or at least the Free Masons, in some global scheme of Brindle dominance.

Lucite: Polymethyl methacrylate… also known as Acrylic, Plexiglas, Perspex, Plazcryl, Acrylite, Acrylplast, Altuglas, R-Cast, Polycast. As mentioned earlier it’s harder than the hardened rubber stem materials and will not oxidize. It comes in as many colour combinations and swirls as your imagination can conjure up. It tends to be a bit more difficult and unforgiving to work with compared to the rubber materials, but hey, no oxidation! You can’t not like that!

Bakelite: Polyoxybenzylmethylenglycolanhydride. Say that fast 10 times! Heck try it once! Bakelite is fairly hard compared to the hardened rubbers, but softer than Lucite. It doesn’t oxidize like the hardened rubbers, though the colour can deepen over time. It comes in many different colours, though for the purposes of pipe making only a few shades of white / amber yellow seem to be popular or available to pipe makers.