A corncob pipe is a symbol of simpler times, thrift and self-sufficiency. Ask any old timer if he bought his pipe at the “gettin’ place” and he’ll look you up and down, assess you for your city ways and huff a condescending “Nope.” If you imagine yourself rocking on your rustic front porch, puffing on a corncob pipe, you will need to learn how to make one.
1. Find a firm ear of corn that has thick enough pith so you can hollow the ear. Cut several ears and look at the cross sections. Gauge which cob feels just right in your hand. Once you have selected the appropriate ear of corn, allow it to dry.
2. Determine the end that fits your hand. Cut or snap off a length that will work for the size of bowl you prefer. Generally, 3/4 to 2 inches is fine. If you want, trim the bowl evenly. Don’t shave the outer area of the bowl. This gives a soft touch and looks rustic.
3. Use a pocket knife to scrape the center to about 2 inches deep. Do not go deeper into the woody part of the cob that gives the pipe strength. Aim for a final diameter of about 1/2 to 3/4 inch.
4. Fashion the pipe stem. Use the corn stalk, cutting the thinnest part that is closest to the plant’s top. Using a pot holder, heat a metal coat hanger over a flame. When the metal is hot, but not so hot as to break off, hollow out the stalk. Once you have hollowed the stem, blow to clear debris.
5. Cut the mouth piece and opposite end just above a joint. Hollow the mouth piece and cut a flat slice from one side to form a U-shape opening.
6. Cut a hole in the bowl positioned just above where the bottom of the hollow begins. Use a twist drill, carefully maintaining a right angle to the bowl. Bore a full twist in one direction and a half-twist in the opposite direction. Take care not to make the opening too large for the stem. Insert stem with U-shaped opening facing upward.
7. Smoke. The first smokes will burn any pith in the bowl and will season the woody area. New pipes are harder to keep lit. After only a few smokes, though, you should be easily rocking on your front porch, teeth clenched around a homemade corncob pipe.
If you don’t feel like making your own; you can always purchase a Missouri Meerschaum Corncob pipe!