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 Predicting Grain from the Ebauchon

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alfredo_buscatti

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Age : 63
Location : Piedmont, North Carolina
Registration date : 2007-12-17

PostSubject: Predicting Grain from the Ebauchon   Tue Jul 09, 2013 6:30 am

Why can't this be done? The surfaces of the ebauchon must give clues, but why are they insufficient to predict accurately what grain to expect when it is shaped? At some point the grain is known and the maker cuts them to deploy the grain as he wishes, for that pipe, a typical presentation being straight grain vertical to the bowl and on the sides of the shank, birdseye to the rim and bottom. Thus, by extension, the grain present on the surface "should" stay the same, and the grain of the interior is known; or so I would think.
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PostSubject: Re: Predicting Grain from the Ebauchon   Tue Jul 09, 2013 8:29 am

Mother Nature isn't noted for duplication; at least not at the macro level.  There is a ton of quarter sawed oak out there with no two exactly alike.  If you see identical grain, it'd be a veneer and even there you'll see some variation in a high boy.

I bought tiger maple stock wood and reviewing wood from the single tree showed a huge variety of graining.  That is a broad variation you can see.  When, you shape it you get changes for better or worse just like adjoining planks very.  

From what I can tell, briar resembles burls more than planks. So the variation is more intense.  You get a sense of what is there but you need to approach final shape to confirm a guess.  You can get to shape and find you hit punky wood that isn't what the outside showed.  Grain can get better or fade.  That chunk doesn't revel the final grain but you get an educated guess.

Briar carries the process further by growing underground which leads to encapsulating solids.  You see a lot of pipes with fill.

You generally know the grain that you're looking for you don't know if it gets better or worse as you enter the wood and approach final shape.  Usually you'll be close to what you expected but not always.  

Pipes are shaped with sanding and not chisel work so it is different wood working from what I attempted.  What I really respect are classic shapes executed well.  That indicates craftsmanship at expert levels and goes beyond the wood.  Free-form is more attention to detail and artistry than actual craftsmanship and that too is laudable.  But when Growley, Rad or another fine maker here can show you a perfectly executed classic shape, it goes beyond the wood. But when the wood cooperates, its a thing of nature's joy.

The old hand made pipes of the classic era used a lot of tooling.  The fixtures are hard to duplicate.  If you look at the old Charatan newsreel, it looks pretty mechanized for a lot of the production.  When our guys here execute those shapes it with a lot more true hand work.

That's how I see it, anyway.
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Ocelot55

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Location : Columbus, OH
Registration date : 2012-03-28

PostSubject: Re: Predicting Grain from the Ebauchon   Tue Jul 09, 2013 9:18 am

Ok, I'll throw in my two cents here. Ebauchon blocks are cut closer to the center of the burl. That means the straight grain can fan out widely emanating from the center of the burl. The smaller the burl the wider the grain is fanned out. The grain also seems a bit more irregular on ebauchon blocks. The plateau, on the other hand, typically don't fan out so widely and can have more regular grain patterns. This makes it much easier to orient a shape that matches the grain on a piece of plateau than ebauchon briar. That is not to say it can't be done, but it is much easier with plateau.

For these reasons it is logical to use ebauchon blocks for classic shapes that do not rely on grain to dictate form. In those instances where you want a straight grained classic shape, you usually have to use a piece of plateau to create it.

As far as "reading" an ebauchon to maximize the grain, I personally see very little need to do so. That is not to say it isn't possible. I've done it. My first (and only) blowfish was cut from a piece of ebauchon. When you prep the block for work and sand down all the sides it's pretty easy to see what the grain is doing. But why try and go through all the trouble to read grain on a ebauchon when plateau is so much better for that kind of exercise.

In addition, I would add that in many instances it is not the carver that has the toughest time orienting the grain, but rather the briar cutter. A good cutter can maximize even the ebauchons to deliver phenomenal grain. I have multiple ebauchons that I bought from Mimmo that are darn near straight grain. He was able to cut the blocks in such a way to deliver that, and that takes much more talent than carving a pipe. So a good cutter can do all the hard work of orienting the grain. All the pipemaker has to do is carve.  

Now I don't have near as much experience as some of the more seasoned carvers out here, but this has been my view. My opinions fluctuate on a practically daily basis depending on evidence so take what I'm saying with a grain of salt.


How is that for straight grain? This is a random ebauchon I got from Mimmo.


Here is my blowfish fashioned from a piece of ebauchon. This is just to show you that you can follow the grain of such a block if need be.
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pepesdad1

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Age : 75
Location : Tallahassee, Florida
Registration date : 2013-03-03

PostSubject: Predicting Grain from the Ebauchon   Tue Jul 09, 2013 12:54 pm

Beautiful pipes..style and grace.
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scotties22

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Age : 37
Location : Missouri
Registration date : 2012-06-10

PostSubject: Re: Predicting Grain from the Ebauchon   Tue Jul 09, 2013 1:36 pm

+1 for everything Jesse said.
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alfredo_buscatti

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Age : 63
Location : Piedmont, North Carolina
Registration date : 2007-12-17

PostSubject: Re: Predicting Grain from the Ebauchon   Tue Jul 09, 2013 2:23 pm

Thanks to all respondents. I learned a lot!
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Kyle Weiss

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

PostSubject: Re: Predicting Grain from the Ebauchon   Tue Jul 09, 2013 2:59 pm

Agreed, this has been a question I've pondered a lot--great answers.

It's luck of the draw with the way the burl grew, and how it was cut up, then shaped. This is why my jaw will never cease to drop when a real master (or talented young upstart) manages to truly carve away anything that didn't make the pipe world-class. Not to mention, the respect of frustration that comes about when everything goes right with a pipe mid-carve, until something rears its ugly head--a huge gash, a crack, or something else that means hours of work get chucked into the fireplace or thrown against a wall. Which happens probably more often than a stunning example of pipehood that gets completed. Laughing
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Smoker99

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Age : 72
Location : Florissant, Mo
Registration date : 2010-08-23

PostSubject: Re: Predicting Grain from the Ebauchon   Fri Jul 12, 2013 1:53 am

Experienced pipe makers can predict, but there are exceptions.
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Wayne_Teipen

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Location : Indiana
Registration date : 2009-03-22

PostSubject: Re: Predicting Grain from the Ebauchon   Tue Jul 16, 2013 12:48 am

Actually, grain from an ebauchon is pretty easy to predict.  In fact, shapes like the eskimo and blowfish were invented to maximize the grain on ebauchon blocks.  Here's a pipe that I made from an ebauchon block:



The blowfish and discus shapes are perfect examples of a maker reading the grain on an ebauchon block. Now, for many factory made pipes, ebauchon blocks are used because they are significanlty cheaper than plateaux blocks and the orientation of the grain isn't given a whole lot of consideration. You end up with whatever grain pattern is left after the pipe is fraised on a CNC machine.
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