Here are some photos from my Briar pipe build. When I say “Briar” pipe I am talking about my dog Briar. With my last dog I decided to making a carving of all future dogs as a tribute to them. When my Great Dane Dozer died I got a Boston Terrier Pugg mix and named her Briar.
This was the first time I had made a realistic carving that had to match something in real life. I started this project and glued the template to the block almost a year ago. It took me that long to build up the nerve to attempt the carving. During this time I justified putting off the build by making several other pipes but I finally decided to start on it. The worst thing that could happen is that I screw it up. It took me three weeks to finish the pipe once I started on it.
With this pipe I started out by taking side photos, a front photo and a top down photo. I then brought these photos into Adobe Photoshop and traced the major lines on a separate layer. I had a large block of plateau briar I was going to use. I measured the block and took a side photo of it to bring into Adobe Photoshop. Once I had the template lines of Briar I then brought them into the sized briar block in the Adobe Photoshop template and sized them down to fit within the lines of the block. In the photos below you will see the template of Briar that I glued to the briar block. I made additional copies of the template so that once the paper I glued on was carved away I could use carbon paper to transfer lines back on.
The first step in starting on the briar block was to drill the tobacco chamber, the air hole and the hole for the tenon. Once the holes were drilled I then cut out the profile with a band saw. This gave me the exact outline of Briar. Next would be to start shaping the pipe.
I took the majority of the wood off slowly with a Dremel tool (Dremel 4000) and a Dremel 177 high speed cutter. I worked slow and would take breaks so that I could relax and look at the carving I was doing with fresh eyes. The worst thing to do when working on a carving like this is to work too fast and take off more material than you need to. When ever I took off material I would work slow and take very little wood off with each pass.
Once I had the shape close I then started using Flexcut carving knives and gouges to shape the briar. As I would carve I would mark with a pencil where I needed to remove wood next. When carving I use a desk light off to the side of my carving so that I can better see the shape with the shadows on my carving.
The final stage of shaping was done with sandpaper. I started with 150 grit paper for actual shaping and then when through the higher grits as I finished the shaping. I finished with 1500 grit.
I dyed the pipe with brown and black leather dye for the contrast coat. I then used 1500 grit sandpaper to highlight areas that were not going to be black. To blend the black areas I would use a Q-Tip to add black dye and then quickly blend the dye with the surrounding area using a clean Q-Tip dipped in denatured alcohol. For the final dye coat I went over the briar with light brown dye with a little red dye added. To seal the dye I used a very thin coat of shellac.
The stem I used was a hand cut cumberland stem with a Delrin rod tenon.