Massis Pipes

In the workshop where the magic happens

The workshop

My workshop is a compact 10m². A lot of tools are packed into a small space. This requires careful planning, but it also means no tool is ever out of reach.


This short length of workbench is where most of my work is done. Whether drawing shapes, hand sanding, staining pipes or finetuning stems, it is done by the window with plenty of natural light.

On the bottom left is the main shaping motor, outfitted with a 60grit shaping wheel. Next to it is the second motor, which is used mainly for polishing or rusticating.

Detailed lighting

A closer look at the polishing motor and my ancient vice, which has over 20 years of active duty. Also note the overhead dental light, which moves throughout the shop to provide spot lighting where needed.

The lathe

The newest tool in my shop is an Optimum Tu2506 10x22 Lathe. After using a severely worn out MyFord Super 7 for several years - a beautiful machine, but in terrible condition - this Optimum Lathe replaced it in the spring of 2015.

All pipes are drilled by this machine, but it also helps in shaping stummels and shanks, drilling and shaping stems. Not to mention it's usefulness when creating adornments with exotic woods or metal. Last but not least the lathe is the perfect tool when experimenting or creating custom tooling.

The lathe - headstock

A close up of the headstock.

In contrast to my old lathe, this new machine comes fully equipped and sports an automatic feed which can also be used for thread cutting.

The lathe - QCTP

Any good lathe requires a Quick Change Tool Post (QCTP). To improve production speed and repeatability, this lathe was outfitted with a 40-position 'multifix' QCTP. There simply is no alternative that even comes close to the level of comfort this QCTP provides.

Watch your fingers

One of the earliest machines I acquired was an old Electra Beckum Bandsaw, built in 1995. It is in my opinion still the most dangerous machine in the shop. For removing a lot of material fast and with minimal dust however, this is still the best machine by far.

The belt/disc combination sander

This sander is mainly used to help quickly shape stems into their rough forms. While this can be done on a disc sander, I find it much easier to do precisely on a narrow belt with clearance on both sides.

Tool grinding

The dual grinder is simple machine with a simple purpose: shaping lathe tools and keeping them sharp.

The drill press

When a lathe is not an option, a drill press is the next best thing. When I originally started, this machine was all I had. Nowadays it is still used for drilling in rare cases and for projects other than pipemaking.

To be useable for pipemaking, a cross-vice is extremely helpful. This does however severely limit the useable height of the table, which is why I had the original 60cm pillar on this drill press replaced by a 90cm tall custom made one.

Dust extraction

Briar dust is extremely fine and will stay airborne for hours. Unless you like a layer of dust on everything (lungs included), dust extraction is a must. To catch most of the dust before it reaches the extraction motor, I built a 60L Thien Baffle Cyclone out of a resealable oil drum.

Dust extraction

The dust extraction motor was moved to the attic. This drasticly reduces the amount of noise in the shop but it also means that any microdust that passes through the system is expelled in the attic where it can settle without getting in my lungs.

The shelf

Not all pipes make it through the process. Some are tossed because of flaws in the wood, others because of flaws in the pipemaker. Some pipes will never be sellable, but still remain on the todo list because they are an experiment or because they might make a good shop pipe. These pipes end up on this shelf where they remain until I decide what to do with them.

Tools and pipes in progress

Some pipes I'm currently working on next to some of the finishing tools. Below it my set of polishing wheels is mounted to the wall for easy access when polishing.


If it doesn't have a better place in the shop, it will probably end up somewhere on this rack. The top shelf holds my briar supply. Being a hobbyist means that a supply of 50 blocks is more than enough to last me over a year, but that doesn't keep me from trying to stock up on high quality briar. Two layers down is my stock of exotic woods. Zebrano, Azobé, Maple, Purpleheart, Golden Rain, Ebony, the list of options is endless.


This panoramic shot makes it clear just how small ten square meters really is. A perfect excuse to claim our 8 by 5 meter garage for each and any large project I work on.