A brass hinge for the Psilocybe Cubensis pipe being made. 

Here is 5-Axis milling machine I put together using old parts, aluminum plate, and custom hardware..

I used a NEWS Yamatokoki mfg. rotary table that was made in Japan, an English made Myford milling attachment, and American made Taig lathe parts… This machine was made in 4 countries! haha. 

Unlike conventional milling machines, the spindle moves side to side and back to front instead of the table. The entire column to raise and lower the spindle is rotatable to approach the rotary table from two different axis. 

It’s quite heavy, and in use has very little vibration because the spindle is driven by a flax shaft that dampens the vibration from the motor. 

To test the machine I milled tiny rings into maple that were less than a millimeter in diameter. That’s accurate enough for me. 

Concept drawing. 
A simple composition of sand eroded by wind, revealing a small cluster of pebbles.  

Concept drawing. 

A simple composition of sand eroded by wind, revealing a small cluster of pebbles.  

Took a short break from pipe work to make myself a hair/beard comb. 

Bamboo, verawood, padauk, purpleheart, cannary wood. These four hardwoods change colour with exposure to UV light and oxygen. It’ll be interesting to see how it looks in a year! 

The finished gills for the Psilocybe Cubensis pipe.

Each individual gill is hand cut from solid walnut, planed, shaped with files, and then sanded by hand to give the width a taper. 

A very time consuming process, but essential to the realism of the final piece. 

They will be glued into place later on in the build. 

Working away in the shop.

Finished case for the Pipe of the Wanderers No. 4 

The clasp is crafted from African blackwood. 

The bamboo clasp pin is shaped to fit the contours of the bowl so that it can also be used as a bowl scraper. 

The purpleheart nodules are each hand shaped with a file and sandpaper. Hand shaping creates minute variations in the shape of each nodule, giving the piece a more organic feel, opposed to shaping on the lathe. 

The corresponding holes are numbered in pencil so that each nodule can be custom fit. A paper template is used to make note of which hole each nodule is paired to.

The fit must be perfect for the press fitting because the bowl area is under repeated stress. The epoxy alone cannot be relied upon here.

Once the nodules are hammered into place they will never loosen.  

Working on the African blackwood bowl, using a paper template to help visualize the final piece. 

Lots of planning ahead here. All measurements need to be considered carefully.

The new mushroom cap in mahogany.

I’ve been working on a mushroom pipe and today It was time to work on the cap.

The inspiration for this pipe stems from the Psilocybe Cubensis mushroom. 

Usually the cap is a golden brown colour, sometimes with a gradient from orange/brown to tan/white around the outside edge. Other times the caps are solid in colour, with a minutely hairy texture and dots of white. 

I spent a while choosing this section of apple tree trunk to harvest my block from. After cutting it open and inspecting the grain, I attempted to find a suitable chunk of wood to turn my mushroom cap from. 

After trimming the block on the bandsaw I had a piece with a nice gradient of dark heartwood to light sapwood and the grain was oriented the way I wanted it.

I chucked it up in the metal lathe and turned the mushroom cap…. 

It didn’t come out as expected… The grain ran away on me, a large void was hidden in the middle of the block, and I realized that this dense apple wood lacked the appropriate surface texture. It was all wrong!

To more realistically reproduce the texture and colour of the psilocybe mushroom cap, I would have to start over with a different piece of wood.

This happens often when working with odd pieces of stock.. you just don’t know what you’re going to get before you cut it open and start your adventure between the wood fibers. 

I ended up going with mahogany, its surface texture appears somewhat hairy, and the iridescent grain will give the cap a golden glow… more on that tomorrow. 

I’ll be moving to a new workshop soon, so today I decided to test part of my new lighting setup in my current shop to see how it compared to my old lighting. 

All photographs were taken at the same settings, 200 ISO, 1/125, f2.8, 60mm. White balance was adjusted to most realistically render the scene. 

I chose this setting because it is the lowest shutter speed that I would use hand-held, before switching over to a tripod. Being able to shoot hand-held is a lot better in the shop when I want to quickly compose and document something. 

All of the images were manipulated in Adobe RAW and Photoshop so that they matched as closely as possible. 

The lighting was mounted on the ceiling, at a height of 8’. 

The top photograph was taken under my usual tungsten lighting, a 300w halogen bulb. This is the same lighting that I used for all of my photographs on the blog so far. Notice the more directional light, harsh shadows, and grain showing up in the darker tones.

The middle photograph was taken under fluorescent lighting, a 4’ T8 fixture holding two 32w bulbs rated at 4100k with a CRI of 85. The lighting here is good, but I still had to brighten up the exposure in post quite a bit, creating grain in the shadow areas. 

In the bottom photograph I added an additional 4’ T8, for a total of four 32w 4100k bulbs across two fixtures. Here the image needed almost no post processing, the grain in the shadow detail is no longer present. A much cleaner image. 

All in all I am happy with the new lighting, and look forward to seeing what all six fixtures are going to look like when they are installed in the new workshop! 

Just taking some close up photos around the shop to test the new fluorescent lighting in the shop.