Visiting Mark Tinsky is unlike visiting just about anyone else. For one, his basement consists of the greater part of lathes, lathes, lathes, drill presses, racks, stacks, and an otherwise mindboggling collection: all for making pipes.
It was enough for me merely to see the equipment, but one afternoon Mark suggested that I make a pipe. Actually, this was a form of fair play, because I had him working hard in Photoshop while I simply relaxed, smoked, and asked the usual questions that one usually asks, "Why did you want to do that?" But there are going to be no more relaxation for me!
After he had me select a choice bit of briar and I sketched a rough outline of a freehand pipe, Mark did the rough cutting and then drilled out the tobacco cavity and airhole. He demonstrated the use of a coarse lathe (along with a number of warning messages of what it could do to one's hand), and thus flew the briar dust as the pipe took shape.
Previously, I had set him up with a procedure for cleaning up his pipe photos. So we alternated: he visited me at the lathe with Photoshop questions and I visited him by his mac with pipe questions. Doubtlessly, I had a lot more questions for him since I started out with no idea about what I was doing.
However, let me tell you: It is a hell of a lot of fun to see a pipe previously existing only in imagination taking shape by the lathe.
Quickcam leaves much to be desired in terms of fine photography, but it's a good method for getting electronic copy. Yes! That's my pipe!
From the coarse wheel, Mark moved me on to a finer wheel, and then a finer one. In some respects I got carried away, and one part of the bowl became too thin. Well, it was my first pipe!
When the pipe was kind of finished came a fury of activity (with Mark's help) of final polishing and a few other small measures, but one could say that within a few hours of when I began, I was smoking my own pipe. Then came the sad dawn: the thin wall along one part of the bowl began to blacken: bummer. Burnout.
My pipe's rakish front view,
though a bit of the burn is showing.
Mark advised putting my pipe on a shelf and keeping it to look at, but every so often (and now it's a couple of weeks down the road), I smoke it. Eventually either the weak wall will burn through or I'll have something of cake protection. It is very hard to say at this point, but (1) it is my pipe and (2) it smokes pretty well.
Look Out! | Pipes & Tobacco