Members Section

Untitled document


Pipemaking information


The Society Has a quantity of pipemaking materials for Sale. See Stock List for details and prices. There are Guidance Notes for using these materials.


Cocks and BryanThe Northumbrian Bagpipes

A pdf of the book by W.A. Cocks and J.F. Bryan published by the Northumbrian Pipers' Society in 1967. Copyright belongs to the NPS.

NB For people with slow internet connections This Document is over 3MB


Bellows - Description and Technique.


NPS Reedmaking Book  by George Wallace, Colin Ross and David Bailey


Professional Pipe Drawings

For those looking to make pipes with proper engineering drawings, better than Cocks and Bryan

Comprehensive drawings and other info can be found Mike Nelson's excellent site at


John Liestman's book The Northumbrian Smallpipes Tutor can now be found free at


Reedmaking Video

Colin Ross making a reed, courtesy of Stephen Douglass


Part One

Part Two

Part Three

Part Four

Links to 15 shorter clips with better quality video can be found at



More Pipemaking information to be added


Pipemaking Supplies

This list has been compiled as a guide to members.    Reference to any commercial product or supplier should not be considered an endorsement. It should not  be regarded as complete or definitive.  Any additional information or corrections are welcome and should be sent to  either, or Julia Say (see below).


Prospective pipemakers should make use of the various search engines (e.g. Google) to find suppliers.  Local model shops can supply brass tubing and rods for ferrules, drone valves, square section tubing for composite reed bodies and aluminium alloy tubing for reed staples.  Aeromodelling shops also supply silicone-plastic tubing (16-20mm i.d) for bellows pipes.  NB commercial brass rod from model shops may not be strong enough for  keys.  See Metal below.


Traditionally, the pipes have been made from either ivory, or tropical hardwoods such as African Blackwood, Ebony, Lignum vitae. Most of these materials are listed in Appendix II of CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) as potentially endangered species. Pipes can be made from boxwood, and other non-tropical hardwoods.  Prospective pipemakers are asked to take great care when sourcing these materials, to ensure that they have been obtained from ethical suppliers, in countries where trade in such items is better regulated than in others, such as Somalia or Sudan (ivory), or Madagasgar (woods) where there is little or no control.

Bellows plates can be made from almost any true hardwood: walnut, oak, beech or maple, for example. See Boddy’s of Boroughbridge :

Imitation ivory NB this is used for chanter and drone ends; most pipemakers will tell you that it is not considered strong enough for entire chanters or drones.  However, the supplier GPS Agencies Ltd website states that  “Col. 849/TM, a specially cast polyester with the full and varied characteristics of real ivory. Perfect for machining, drilling, threading, boring and specialised turning”. Supplied in various diameter rods up to a metre long. GPS also supply horn, for drone/chanter ends, Tortoiseshell, Ebony, Mother of Pearl,  Abalone for bellows inlay.


Bags: Boyce see Several ‘styles’ of bags relating to templates held in  the name of makers of Northumbrian smallpipes. This company will also make a bag to your own paper template.


Bag covers, threads etc: any decent haberdashery.


Beeswax: furniture shops, honey merchants.


Bellows: Boyce also make bellows for the Northumbrian smallpipes. See


Cork (tuning bead seats): Haworth of London:,
Windplus Ltd.


Leather: Le Provo see Charlotte Square, Newcastle.  Also good for tools for leatherworking and punches for keypads.


Metal for keys: Nickel Silver  (1/4 x 1/8” for keys)  Smiths: .  Also brass rod and wire.
Silver  and tools including soldering supplies from


Reed Cane: Haworth of London: Also sell reedmaking kit for oboe and bassoon that can be adapted to our uses.


To repeat the note above, any additional information or corrections should be sent to  either, or the Secretary.


For those interested in making their own pipes (i.e. a single set):

Making a set of pipes is an excellent way of finding out how the pipes work, how reeds work, and how the pipes are maintained

it has been suggested that instead of investing in a significant amount of materials, individuals could approach pipemakers for a ‘pipemaking kit’ containing all the materials to make a set.  The individual suggesting this did not recommend which pipemaker(s) might be persuaded to offer this service, or the extent of the protective clothing required by persons approaching pipemakers to directly request such a service.


For those who are not skilled with the lathe, and who do not possess the equipment, the costs of buying the equipment and learning to use it far outweigh the costs of a set of pipes from even the best makers.  Also the time necessary to acquire the skills of pipemaking, and the time to make a successful functioning set might be better spent practising the pipes and becoming a better piper.





If  you experience any difficulties please contact Julia Say, Park House, Lynemouth, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE61 5XQ or