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The Native American tradition of smoking the peace pipe has long fascinated many people. Few people know that this gesture of welcome and respect was not given the title of smoking the peace pipe by Native Americans. English settlers, who feared the Native Americans, believing they were savages saw this as a gesture of promised peace and thus dubbed it so.
Making your own peace pipe can be a rewarding project for anyone who views the Native American traditions with respect. Done in your spare time, this project should take about a week to finish the product. Begin by gathering a 1 inch X 1 inch X 16 inch piece of white ash and a nice size chunk of soap stone. The size of your soap stone will depend on how large and ornate you want the bowl of your pipe to be. Next you will need a skewer at least 18 inches long, preferably round and small in diameter. You can find these in the barbecue section of your local hardware or department store. Since you will using this to burn the hole in your pipe be sure the skewer isn't too large. If you cannot find a suitable skewer for this job you can also use a coat hanger or even a drill. If you use a drill be sure and burn out the hole by inserting a hot coat hanger into the hole. For carving the wood and bowl you can use carving tools or even sharp sturdy knives.
Begin by measuring each end of the wood to find the center. After marking the center you will need to heat the skewer until it is glowing red. Place the end of the skewer on the mark you have made and apply downward pressure. The heated skewer will burn the ash as you push. You will have to repeat this step each time the skewer cools. Be sure you are keeping the hole you are burning straight by checking it often. When you reach the center of the wood, begin working from the other end of the ash. When the hole is burned completely through the wood run heavy wire through it and work around to remove any excess charred wood. Now you are ready to begin carving the wood. White ash is a hard wood and can be difficult to carve. Using various gauge rasp and other such tools can aid you with this. Choose the pattern you wish to carve and mark it on your pipe stem to make your carving easier.
Once your pipe stem is complete, you are ready to begin on your bowl. Start by deciding the shape you would prefer. It will be necessary to make sure your bowl is deep enough to insert the stem on one side and still allow room for your smoking product at the top. Use the stem to mark the circumference. Next, mark the circumference of the area where the top of your bowl will be. Then, if you are planning to make special designs on the bowl, mark these. Begin carving your bowl by going over any designs and the circumference markings with your knife are carving tool. This will ensure that none of your markings are lost. Soap stone is soft and relatively easy to carve but be careful in areas you have weakened not to break the stone. When you have completed carving your bowl you are ready to join it with the stem. Gently press the stem piece into the hole you have carved in your bowl. If you have done this correctly you shouldn't need a bonding agent. Add a pipe screen to the inside of your bowl and you are ready to smoke your own peace pipe. Decorate your pipe with feathers attached to strips of leather or inlaid pieces of stones such as turquoise.