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'''Creating Pipes From Morta, by [[Trever Talbert]]'''
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'''Creating Pipes From Morta, by [[Trever Talbert]]''', from his [http://talbertpipes.com/mortacreation.shtml website], and used by permission.
 
== Finding and Harvesting Morta ==
 
== Finding and Harvesting Morta ==
 
[[Image:map1.jpg|thumb|250px|The Briere]][[Image:mortacreation-briere1.jpg|thumb|250px|]]The process of obtaining morta is one of the biggest differences between the creation of a morta pipe and the creation of a briar pipe. Briar is an active industry emplying legions of workers and large mills for the most efficient harvesting and cutting of the wood, and a pipemaker can simply order pre-cut briar blocks by the bag at highly competitive prices. Some pipemakers, myself included, pay additional costs for purchasing handpicked blocks or traveling to the mills to choose their own, but this is still a relatively simple affair by comparison to the procurement of usable morta. In the map below, the large green area represents the Briere parkland:
 
[[Image:map1.jpg|thumb|250px|The Briere]][[Image:mortacreation-briere1.jpg|thumb|250px|]]The process of obtaining morta is one of the biggest differences between the creation of a morta pipe and the creation of a briar pipe. Briar is an active industry emplying legions of workers and large mills for the most efficient harvesting and cutting of the wood, and a pipemaker can simply order pre-cut briar blocks by the bag at highly competitive prices. Some pipemakers, myself included, pay additional costs for purchasing handpicked blocks or traveling to the mills to choose their own, but this is still a relatively simple affair by comparison to the procurement of usable morta. In the map below, the large green area represents the Briere parkland:
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The morta is found by walking the soft earth and "poling" - driving a long iron spike into the peat in prospector-fashion, to see if it strikes the hard log of a tree. Once a tree has been located and identified by repeated spiking to confirm that it really is a tree and not a random rock, the area is marked and the search continues. Once several trees have been located, the digging begins and it is a hard and laborous process. The earth must be dug out to reveal the black logs and make it possible to remove them, and they must either be sawn into movable pieces or lifted out with a portable crane and chains. This requires the rental of a truck for transporting the large and heavy sections of wood, plus a lot of hours of labor carrying the stuff across the marshes.
 
The morta is found by walking the soft earth and "poling" - driving a long iron spike into the peat in prospector-fashion, to see if it strikes the hard log of a tree. Once a tree has been located and identified by repeated spiking to confirm that it really is a tree and not a random rock, the area is marked and the search continues. Once several trees have been located, the digging begins and it is a hard and laborous process. The earth must be dug out to reveal the black logs and make it possible to remove them, and they must either be sawn into movable pieces or lifted out with a portable crane and chains. This requires the rental of a truck for transporting the large and heavy sections of wood, plus a lot of hours of labor carrying the stuff across the marshes.
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[[Image:mortacreation-cutting2.jpg|thumb|255px|A morta block]]The cutting of the blocks will determine the layout of the radial grain, and blocks can also be cut specifically to allow for different tightness of rings. As with briar, each ring signifies a year's growth of the tree and tighter, more densely packed rings indicate wood that is the oldest within the tree. Below is a picture of a cut morta block with the sides sanded smooth in order to view the grain and plan the pipe design. Also visible is a small flaw. Morta is not prone to pits as briar, but does have its own share of defects including tiny splits and damaged areas.
 
[[Image:mortacreation-cutting2.jpg|thumb|255px|A morta block]]The cutting of the blocks will determine the layout of the radial grain, and blocks can also be cut specifically to allow for different tightness of rings. As with briar, each ring signifies a year's growth of the tree and tighter, more densely packed rings indicate wood that is the oldest within the tree. Below is a picture of a cut morta block with the sides sanded smooth in order to view the grain and plan the pipe design. Also visible is a small flaw. Morta is not prone to pits as briar, but does have its own share of defects including tiny splits and damaged areas.
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== Design Work ==
 
== Design Work ==
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[[Image:mortacreation-design.jpg|thumb|250|Morta design]]Finally I have a simple design that I think will look graceful, and I mark the drilling lines on the block and return to the bandsaw to make some pre-drilling cuts.
 
[[Image:mortacreation-design.jpg|thumb|250|Morta design]]Finally I have a simple design that I think will look graceful, and I mark the drilling lines on the block and return to the bandsaw to make some pre-drilling cuts.
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Once the block has been cut closer to shape, I inspect it again with a magnifying lens to see if there are any flaws visible, especially any splits which might run deeper into the wood and make the pipe unsmokable.
 
Once the block has been cut closer to shape, I inspect it again with a magnifying lens to see if there are any flaws visible, especially any splits which might run deeper into the wood and make the pipe unsmokable.
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== Drilling ==
 
== Drilling ==
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[[Image:mortacreation-drilling3.jpg|thumb|left|250px|Drilled and Ready]]Now, the chamber has now been drilled and checked for a good relationship with the airhole, and the pipe is ready for its detail shaping. The interior of the chamber is inspected with a magnifying lens once again to ensure that there are no hidden flaws which might compromise the durability of the material during smoking.
 
[[Image:mortacreation-drilling3.jpg|thumb|left|250px|Drilled and Ready]]Now, the chamber has now been drilled and checked for a good relationship with the airhole, and the pipe is ready for its detail shaping. The interior of the chamber is inspected with a magnifying lens once again to ensure that there are no hidden flaws which might compromise the durability of the material during smoking.
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== Detail Shaping ==
 
== Detail Shaping ==
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From here, the stummel is shaped almost entirely by hand and eye using the sanding wheels, drums, files, and the rotary carvers. One interesting point about morta is that it must be sanded with care, as it heats up strikingly (and painfully) with friction on a sanding disc. Anyone accustomed to the sudden burn from working a piece of metal held in the fingers will know what I speak of - the sanding goes normally when suddenly your fingers are on fire! The morta will become extremely hot but cool back down quickly, so the process of sanding and shaping requires more care in avoiding too much sustained pressure against the wheel. Morta is also much harder on sanding wheels and discs than briar is, and it will very quickly turn a new disc into a piece of smooth fabric.
 
From here, the stummel is shaped almost entirely by hand and eye using the sanding wheels, drums, files, and the rotary carvers. One interesting point about morta is that it must be sanded with care, as it heats up strikingly (and painfully) with friction on a sanding disc. Anyone accustomed to the sudden burn from working a piece of metal held in the fingers will know what I speak of - the sanding goes normally when suddenly your fingers are on fire! The morta will become extremely hot but cool back down quickly, so the process of sanding and shaping requires more care in avoiding too much sustained pressure against the wheel. Morta is also much harder on sanding wheels and discs than briar is, and it will very quickly turn a new disc into a piece of smooth fabric.
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== Stem Work ==
 
== Stem Work ==
 
[[Image:mortacreation-stem.jpg|thumb|250px|Cutting the stem]]Stem work was one of my big debates at the beginning of the morta project, because it was obvious that if I made all the morta pipes with handcut stems the combined labor would make even the tiniest ones cost $300. Since no one wants to pay $350 for a thimble with a handcut stem, I chose to compromise and split the stem work according to the sizes/grades of the pipes themselves, thus keeping the smaller pieces relatively affordable while providing higher-end collectors with the quality of materials and workmanship that they expect. Classic-grade pipes use very good quality pre-shaped stems, while Signature-grade pipes use handcut stems. Even in the case of the molded stems, however, there is a good bit of stem work to do. The bits are filed thinner for comfort, and the airholes are carefully opened to match the size of the shank airhole in order to maintain the proper flow of smoke without inducing condensation problems. All bits, whether molded or handcut, are also sculpted at the buttons to open the interior and allow easier pipecleaner insertion. Here I am doing just that, using a jeweler's bit that performs this task well.
 
[[Image:mortacreation-stem.jpg|thumb|250px|Cutting the stem]]Stem work was one of my big debates at the beginning of the morta project, because it was obvious that if I made all the morta pipes with handcut stems the combined labor would make even the tiniest ones cost $300. Since no one wants to pay $350 for a thimble with a handcut stem, I chose to compromise and split the stem work according to the sizes/grades of the pipes themselves, thus keeping the smaller pieces relatively affordable while providing higher-end collectors with the quality of materials and workmanship that they expect. Classic-grade pipes use very good quality pre-shaped stems, while Signature-grade pipes use handcut stems. Even in the case of the molded stems, however, there is a good bit of stem work to do. The bits are filed thinner for comfort, and the airholes are carefully opened to match the size of the shank airhole in order to maintain the proper flow of smoke without inducing condensation problems. All bits, whether molded or handcut, are also sculpted at the buttons to open the interior and allow easier pipecleaner insertion. Here I am doing just that, using a jeweler's bit that performs this task well.
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[[Image:mortacreation-finish1.jpg|thumb|left|250px|Sanding]]
 
[[Image:mortacreation-finish1.jpg|thumb|left|250px|Sanding]]
 
The single advantage that morta pipes have over briar in terms of ease-of-creation is in finishing - the coloring is all in the wood and the pipes cannot be stained. The black (or brown, or greenish-black) is the natural color of the material. Also, morta is open-grained, meaning that the rings are actually open to the air, resembling a series of small dots on the surface rather than coloring in the wood. This can cause hassles in buffing because the open rings want to pack with buffing compound and the surface must be carefully polished with a fine bristle wheel to remove any embedded gunk. The first step is still sanding, however, and the pipe is normally sanded to 600 grit on the surface. I use higher grits on the higher grade mortas, but it's not entirely needed as the surface does not take a high gloss like briar and going into the extreme levels of sandpaper grit is more wasted effort than actual results. Here I am doing the basic sanding on one of the first grade 3's.
 
The single advantage that morta pipes have over briar in terms of ease-of-creation is in finishing - the coloring is all in the wood and the pipes cannot be stained. The black (or brown, or greenish-black) is the natural color of the material. Also, morta is open-grained, meaning that the rings are actually open to the air, resembling a series of small dots on the surface rather than coloring in the wood. This can cause hassles in buffing because the open rings want to pack with buffing compound and the surface must be carefully polished with a fine bristle wheel to remove any embedded gunk. The first step is still sanding, however, and the pipe is normally sanded to 600 grit on the surface. I use higher grits on the higher grade mortas, but it's not entirely needed as the surface does not take a high gloss like briar and going into the extreme levels of sandpaper grit is more wasted effort than actual results. Here I am doing the basic sanding on one of the first grade 3's.
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Once the stamping is done, the pipe receives a final wax and polish and a new morta pipe is ready for smoking!
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'''Once the stamping is done, the pipe receives a final wax and polish and a new morta pipe is ready for smoking!'''
    
[[Image:mortacreation-finish4.jpg|thumb|center|400px|The finished pipe!]]
 
[[Image:mortacreation-finish4.jpg|thumb|center|400px|The finished pipe!]]

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