Making a handcut stems

Making a handcut stems

Tools you will need:

–         sandpaper (different grit’s from)

–         files (different kind – bigger and needle files)

–         drillbits (sizes 1.5mm, 3,5mm (standard length and a longer one (*) (150mm is usually enough), 4mm, 6.8 or 7.8mm (depending on the diameter of your tenon))

–         endmill or Forstner bit with a center point (i am using a Forstner bit 30mm in diameter)

–         hand saw for cutting metal

–         drillpress with drillpress vice or cross vice

–         dremel tool (optional)

–         small saw blade for a dremel tool (optional)

Material we will need:

–         piece of rod (acrylic or ebonite)

–         delrin tenon (premade or cut from a delrin rod)

–         epoxy glue (i like to use the strongest i find)

Process of making:

1. First we need to cut the rod material to the length we would like to have. This size is the size of the mouthpiece without the tenon. Add 2mm more on that size – you will loose those 2mm when facing the rod with Forstner (so, if your mouthpiece has to be 100mm long, you will want to cut 102mm of rod material).

2. Clamp your rod into the vice really good (this is essential as we do not want our rod to move while facing the rod and drilling it).

Check that the rod is holding really vertical (I am using the column of the drillpress, behind the rod, to visually check if the rod is vertical).

Check if everything else is tight and not moving (drill press table, drill press itself, vice etc.).

Check that you can drill the hole with 1.5mm drill bit like in step 4. and use Forstner bit without changing the position of the drill press table.

3. Use a Forstner bit to face of the rod.

4. Use 1.5mm drill bit and drill a hole around 25mm deep (the speed of the drill press has to be between 500 and 1000rpm’s).

Make sure that you drill this in several passes. This is especially important in order to get the hole that really has 1.5mm in diameter.

5. Remove the rod from the vice and turn it on the other side.

Check that you can use Forstner bit, 7.8mm (or 6.8mm)and 3.5mm drill bit without changing the position of the drill press table.

6. Use Forstner bit again to face the rod.

7. Use 7.8mm (or 6.8mm)drill bit to drill a hole 8-15mm deep (depending on the shape of the mouthpiece and length of the tenon – deeper is better). This drilling has to be done in a single pass so that the hole stays really sharp and tight to the diameter of the drill bit.

8. Use your 3.5mm standard length drill bit and drill the hole into the mortise previously made in step 7.

Be careful not to drill all the way through the 1.5mm hole but at least 10mm shorter (on longer mouthpieces the standard length of the drill bit will not be enough so you will have to drill more using a longer 3.5mmdrillbit).

Also, be careful to drill this in several passes in order to have a clean and tight hole that is tight to the diameter of the drill bit.

9. Remove the rod from the vice and change the standard drill bit to a longer one and drill the rest of the draft hole until it intersect with a 1.5mmhole from the other side. You can drill this by hand or from a vice.

10. We will assume here that you will use a premade delrin tenon.

One side of the tenon (the one that goes into the mouthpiece) has to be grooved using a needle file or a saw (I use dremel tool for the same purpose). Make several grooves in different angles/directions to ensure that the tenon will hold to the mouthpiece really good after applying glue. Also, the same side of the tenon has to have a squared end. It can also be helpful to make a few grooves in the mortise of the mouthpiece using a modified metal saw blade

After doing this, chamfer the end of the tenon in order to match the angle of the 7.8mm drill bit that made the mortise. This is important because we would like to have a single hole that is 3.5mm in diameter with no cracks/gaps on it’s “walls” or anything else that will allow smoke to swirl and make condensation.

The other end of the tenon has to stay clean with no grooves on it.

11. Glue the tenon and a mouthpiece together using epoxy glue.

Be careful not to apply to much glue in order to have a clean draft hole after gluing parts together (recently I use a bit more glue for this (allowing it to penetrate the draft hole a bit) and later, when the glue is hard, I drill the draft hole with 4mm drill bit again (holding the mouthpiece in hand) – this way i insure that my draft hole is really with no connection gaps between the tenon and the rest of the mouthpiece – this seems to work very good for me).

12. Now it is time to cut the slot in the bit side of the mouthpiece.

You can use a dremel circular saw blade to mark the position of the slot (no need to have a dremel tool for that – you can use a drill press to rotate the saw).

After marking the position of the slot use a 1.5mm drill bit and enlarge the slot to form a V shape (or better say Y) opening (with dremel tool it is easier to enlarge it).

When this has been done, use files to make the slot look nice and clean

13. Use files and sandpaper to shape the mouthpiece to it’s final look.

(be careful to sand the mouthpiece while connected to the head of the pipe in order to have a smooth transition from the mouthpiece to the head of the pipe).

(*) 3.5mm drillbit has to be prepared to have a tip more like a pin point – you can do that using a standard bench grinder. This is important to remove the bump where 1.5mm dia hole meet 3.5mm hole. The transition from one dia to another is smoother.