By Kurt Huhn

[When Kurt approached me about writing a series of articles on his experiences as a pipe maker, I thought at once that it was a great idea. I'm sure we're all learn a lot over the coming issues as Kurt chronicles his experiences, and I'm sure as well that many of our pipe-making members will have thoughts and knowledge to contribute as they read what Kurt has to say.--Ed]

       In the Winter, 2005 issue of Pipes and Tobaccos, Ben Rappaport was lamenting the fact that there are no modern compendiums on the art, science, and alchemy of pipe making. This is true to a large extent. Small bits of information can be found here and there while reading any newsletter or magazine devoted to pipe making, but there's no modern compilation on the subject. The Internet is a wealth of information, though finding anything worthwhile can prove to be a daunting and frustrating task.

       There is one book that will be mentioned whenever pipe making is concerned, and that's PIMO's Guide To Pipe Crafting At Home. This book is a great piece of reading for anyone interested in pipes and provides a good introduction to the craft of pipe making. However, it is largely aimed at folks who may make around a half-dozen pipes a year, not for someone interested in pursuing the hobby as a second career or retirement income.

       So, to counter this lack of information, I decided that I would like to write a collection of articles that cover everything I've learned about making pipes and everything that I continue to learn about it. The only question was where to publish them. I could put them on my web site, but most folks don't go to to a pipe maker's website to learn how to make pipes, only to see what that maker has to offer. That's when I approached Bill Unger about donating them to the NASPC newsletter. It seemed like a great way to get the information out there to a large and interested audience and available to anyone who needs it. I hope that these articles can save everyone from the same frustrations, mistakes, and comedy of errors that I've endured.

       To begin, I suppose an introduction is in order. My name is Kurt Huhn, and I've been making pipes for somewhere around three years now. I got started in pipe making largely by accident. My day job was as a Systems Administrator for a small startup, and I wanted something to do in my spare time. I have friends interested in knives and knife making, and I've been an admirer of well-designed knives my entire life. A good friend of mine suggested that I take up knife making as a hobby, since the entry into that is fairly inexpensive, and I had just bought myself a good belt grinder. Come to find out, I'm not a great knife maker. In fact, I'm not good at it at all. So, what do I do with a belt grinder and a hodgepodge collection of tools? I went to my garage with a favorite pipe in my mouth and sat down to rethink my hobby.

       I suppose the rest would be history, but it's not over yet. And hopefully it won't be relegated to history, since these articles will document my journey and help all aspiring makers get started on theirs. In the coming articles, I'll explore the breadth and depth of pipe making as encountered by a beginner, with topics such as where to source your wood, what tools to use, construction methods to employ, and even a discussion on aesthetics. I hope you'll enjoy reading the articles as much as I will enjoy writing them.