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 Bending a stem

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Bobostro61

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Age : 56
Location : South Suburbs of Chicago
Registration date : 2012-10-28

PostSubject: Bending a stem   Sat Nov 17, 2012 7:14 pm

I want to bend the stem on the pipe I just finished. I haven't bent any before and wanted to make sure I do it right the first time. I don't have spare stems as the stem came with the pipe kit. It's a black acrylic stem. I was planning on heating it over a butane lighter. I've seen some videos where the stem is heated and the pipe maker just bends it with their thumb and index fingers. Looks easy enough to me, but I don't want to F*** up my pipe!! If anybody has a better/safer way feel free to chime in!

Thanks!

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Boulder&Briar

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Age : 37
Location : Oberlin, Ohio USA
Registration date : 2012-07-04

PostSubject: Re: Bending a stem   Sat Nov 17, 2012 9:35 pm

I'd be happy to help. What I do is take 2 or 3 pipe cleaners and cram them down the stem. Use a hair dryer on high or a heat gun on med or low. Butane lighter will work but is very uneven and will leave carbon and other marks on the stem. Heat the stem evenly, rorating it frequently. Bend it either using something round and smooth or use your thumb and index or thumb, first and second finger on either side of the button as to bend it evenly. Hold the bend and let cool. Wet sand up to 1500 grit, buff, and then polish.
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Bobostro61

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Age : 56
Location : South Suburbs of Chicago
Registration date : 2012-10-28

PostSubject: Re: Bending a stem   Sun Nov 18, 2012 10:57 am

Heat gun's a good idea. I believe we actually have one here. I don't know about the two or three pipe cleaners though. All my pipes have pretty small holes in the stems and even one is tight on some of them when cleaning the pipes. Ever drill the stems for a bigger hole (straight stems of course)?
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Boulder&Briar

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Age : 37
Location : Oberlin, Ohio USA
Registration date : 2012-07-04

PostSubject: Re: Bending a stem   Sun Nov 18, 2012 11:50 am

All of the stems I actually make, and I use 5/32 bit for the main airway. I usually cram 2 cleaner in them before bending. If you want to open up a preform stem you can but only drill from the mortise end and stop 1/2 inch before you get to the button or to may go through or thin the walls of the stem too much. You can do this with bent performs as well, you just have to heat them up and straighten them out first and then rebend when your done drilling.
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dshpipes

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Age : 33
Location : Durham, NC
Registration date : 2011-03-06

PostSubject: Re: Bending a stem   Sun Nov 18, 2012 2:56 pm

Boulder&Briar wrote:
All of the stems I actually make, and I use 5/32 bit for the main airway. I usually cram 2 cleaner in them before bending. If you want to open up a preform stem you can but only drill from the mortise end and stop 1/2 inch before you get to the button or to may go through or thin the walls of the stem too much. You can do this with bent performs as well, you just have to heat them up and straighten them out first and then rebend when your done drilling.

Yup! Once you redrill the stem, make sure that you flare the airway all the way to the button if you want it to smoke optimally.

When it comes to bending, you needn't worry too much about the airway unless you're going to do a dramatic bend. I use a candle flame to heat my stems before I bend them and haven't had any problems yet.
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Kyle Weiss

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Location : Reno, NV
Registration date : 2011-09-18

PostSubject: Re: Bending a stem   Sun Nov 18, 2012 3:06 pm

Being a glasses-wearer for a long time in my life, I eventually copied what optometrists would do in glasses shops, and have heated sand on hand for even heating, at the right temperature.

For pipes? Same as I adapted for glasses frames.

* Cast-iron pan
* Coarse beach sand (even grain is important)
* Stove

Heat sand up to about 210 - 220 F (make sure temperature holds steady in that range). Put 2 - 3 pipe cleaners in stem's airway. Place pipe stem in sand and cover. Let sit for 20 seconds. Take out carefully (I found chopsticks used in the obvious way work nicely). Test pliability. If too solid, more time in hot sand. Too loose, wait for a few seconds while holding and try again (though the pipe cleaners should keep the shape you intend as insurance).

I managed to blister and screw up a few stems with heat guns and lighter tricks. Maybe the Master Carvers can do it, but I sure as heck wasn't good enough at it with that kind of setup, so I adapted my own.

Cool
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