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Getting ino the craft of Pipemaking

Posted: Sun Sep 09, 2018 6:31 pm
by CrouchingLiger
I discovered Uilleann Pipes only a week ago and although I don't have my own set nor will I for months to come, I'm extremely interested in learning how to make them. I live in California and I'm well aware that they're all hand crafted and best learned through apprenticeship so I guess my question boils down to where in America can one learn how to create these beautiful instruments?

Are there members here that normally offer to teach these skills or are there any clubs, organizations, or programs that I can get in touch with? I would probably enjoy making them as more of a hobby rather than a full time career since I'm not quite sure how I'd market the instrument here in the states or abroad. Overall, I'd appreciate any and all people who would take the time to answer these questions.

I do not have a background in any craft but I'm a good learner, hands on or otherwise. I tend to pick up on things at a decent pace and am all about details and giving the right amount of TLC to whatever I do. Thanks again for whatever help or direction can be provided.

Re: Getting ino the craft of Pipemaking

Posted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 10:01 am
by outofthebox8
I'd suggest that a good place to start would be to take a beginners' course in woodturning. Pipemakers aren't very common, but woodturning is a very popular hobby. Then if you find you have an aptitiude for this kind of work, you can progress from there - maybe there is a uilleann pipers club or association of some kind somewhere in California. I think that all 'genuine' pipe-makers start with the ability to play the things at some level, before even attempting to make them.

Re: Getting ino the craft of Pipemaking

Posted: Mon Sep 10, 2018 12:39 pm
by abhappy
Good advice from outofthebox8 above. I've recently started experimenting with pipemaking, so I understand the attraction. First of all, I echo that having a set and general knowledge of the instrument is paramount. And being able to make reeds before making pipes is also essential. The pipes are a crazy instrument, and there are a ton of eccentricities to the instrument. I've played a ton of instruments through the years, and the pipes were by far the hardest to learn. So I'd start with learning the instrument, even just with a practice set. Then have the goal of making reeds and building a practice set. Bellows and bags are relatively easy to build (I finished both recently). You still need a lathe to turn sockets and connectors for both, so the price of entry is relatively high. You can get quality bellows and bags for less than a good lathe, so keep that in mind. And I agree that general workworking/wordturning classes are helpful starting points. A couple years ago I took a beginning lathe class at the local Woodcraft.

Since you're in Cali you could try reaching out to Michael Hubbert. He's somewhere down there and makes beautiful pipes. That's the only maker I know of down there. Up here in the Pacific NW we have Brad Angus in Vancouver, WA. Those are the only makers I know about on this side of the country. The only place that has classes really is NPU in Ireland, and I've heard at least one maker over there considering small classes as well.

If you want to see measurements and some pipe making videos head over to NPU ( There are both free measurements and videos. The videos are just makers going over their process, and it's not a tutorial. Also consider supporting that club, as they are the biggest driving force in preserving the instrument.