Trever Talbert on Sawing and Shaping
I do a great deal of the shaping and styling of a pipe before any drilling is ever done, which is backward from what most pipemakers do. There is a reason for it, however.
Using a bandsaw and harsh sanding equipment, a stummel can be taken to a rough general shape in a short time. Most importantly, doing this prior to drilling means that any flaws in the block are exposed before the bowl shape is committed.
Many times in the past, I've drilled a good bowl and airhole only to find that a large hidden flaw came within millimeters of my bowl interior. This is tragic, because this means a sandpit fissure of 1/4" size could cause the waste of an entire block. By shaping first, I can identify any such flaws and re-work the bowl placement around them, even to the point of moving the bowl forward, backward, or sideways in the block. There's still a chance that the bowl interior will evidence some major flaw, but I'm able to get a good gauge of the likelihood of this by my observations in shaping the block. I leave a small flat area at the base of the bowl on each side, which is used for gripping by the jaws of the lathe chuck when drilling begins.
Here is the bandsaw from our Brittany shop, covered in dust and scraps as always.
I use my band saw to do some basic cutting and get rid of the largest chunks that aren't part of the pipe. I make a point to save the largest and best of these pieces for use in making briar rings and tamper descorations, and have a bucket full of them.
At this point I do a little more sawing on the bandsaw. I take off the thick sides of the shank and any other large chunks of wood that I'd rather not have become sawdust. Once I'm done with the bandsaw, I use a steel cutting wheel at high speed to rough shape the pipe. These wheels are extremely abrasive and can cut a large block to a pipe shape very quickly, though they are also hellishly dangerous to use..
The Rough Cutter
Here you see a rough-cutting shaping disk mounted at our sanding station.