Pipemaking: Tools

Iíve received a number of emails from different sources over the years asking what kind of tools does one need to make pipes. My answer is that that you can make a pipe with a hand drill and sandpaper if you want, but it probably wonít be a fast or very accurate process. Every pipe maker is different and uses different tools and processes to get to the end product.

Tools can either make your job easy or can make it a burden. Iíve learned the hard way that you generally get what you pay for. While itís fascinating watching a drill press shake itself apart into its component pieces, cheap tools are still mostly sources of frustration for those using them. If I have any advice to give to those who are looking to buy tools it is this: ďBuy the very best you can afford and if necessary save up for good tools.Ē It has taken me a few years to build up the tools I have and Iím glad I took the route I did. Spending an extra few hundred dollars to get a better piece of equipment will often pay dividends from ease of use, accuracy, and repair bills. Even shelling out an extra few bucks for good sharp high-speed steel drill bits will save a lot of aggravation in the long run. So, without further preamble these are the tools I use to make my pipes:

First off these are my spoon bits for drilling the tobacco chamber. I also have my old spade bits and twist bits, but in the last year Iíve used these nearly exclusively. I was lucky enough to get on the list when Brad Pohlmann was making them last year and havenít looked back.

Here are some of my precision Forstner bits next to my spoon bits. Just a quick word on drill bits: Accurate, good quality, and sharp drill bits are essential parts of the pipe makerís workshop. They will drill true, stay sharp and make your life a lot easier. In any given pipe it is well within the realms of possibility to use 10 or more drill bits. Brad point, standard twist bits, forestner bits, pilot bits, spoon bits, auger bits and tapered bits are all important words in the pipe makerís vocabulary.


Organization has never really been my forte. With pipe making Iíve had to change my ways. When I first started out I was forever looking for missing drill bits and chuck keys. Misplacing these small, but vital tools would eat up unacceptable amounts of time. So Iíve gotten into the habit of making sure I put things back in their place. This Magnetic strip is great for holding drill bits, callipers, lathe tools- metal and wood, stainless steel rulers, squares, important Allen keys, and various bits of the Taig Microlathe that arenít in use.

This is my Drill Press and Micro lathe. While I no longer use the drill press for drilling my pipes it does come in handy for a variety of different tasks. The Micro Lathe is a great tool for drilling and shaping stems.

More Pictures coming soon!