Memories of building my own hookah.
I’m sure some post of youtube video long ago I covered the “HoboHookah creation story”, but I thought I’d retread on that ground and give you Hobo Heroes a few tips in building your own.
A long time ago, 2005, I was holed up in a small lofted studio apartment in Hoboken, NJ. All of my stuff from Wisconsin was making its slow trek through the wild of the interstate system, and that included my cherished all stainless, rotator hookah that was my treasured prize from my summer in Egypt and trusted companion throughout my senior campaign on the UW-Madison campus.
Alone, and relatively idle (save a soul sucking job at a Fortune 500), I needed a project and more importantly, I needed to fill my hookah fix. Sure I could have just hopped off the PATH in the West Village or gone deep into the NJ wild to score a cheap, hold-over hookah, but building something myself solved both of the hookah and the idle hands problems I was facing.
So I went down to Home Depot one evening, after looking up some rudimentary specs on hookah construction, scouting for materials to make my own hookah. That’s when I scored a hand full of important items:
- 3ft of Copper Tubing
- Cheap pipe cutter
- 1 four pack of large leg tips
- 1 Four pack of small leg tips
- 10 ft of rubber tubing
- 1 2-liter of soda
I already had a bowl and hookah tobacco (thanks to a nice care package!). Also, the apartment had a small toolbox with a drill. You’d need either a drill or a screw driver to punch some holes in the leg tips.
From there, I emptied the 2-liter, punched two separate holes in the top of the large leg tips, one hole in the center of a small leg tip, I cut one 24 inch section of copper tubing and then another 2 inch section. I inserted the 24 inch section into one hole on the large leg tip, and the 2 inch section in the other. On the top of the 24 inch section I placed the small leg tip, for the bowl to sit on. Its important that the holes in the leg tips are smaller than the actual tubing so that there is a tight seal. Next I filled the 2-liter about half full so that the 24 inch section of tubing would be submerged when I put the large leg “cap” on to the 2-liter bottle. Last thing was to place the packed bowl and attach a switch of about 3-ft of dubber tubing on the 2 in section of tubing, and BAM I was in business. A glue gun might helped for some of the seals, but if you punch the holes right, you should be fine without.
I later upgraded the vase to a 1.75 of Bombay Saphire gin. The versatility of using either the liquor bottle or the 2-liter soda bottle gave me the initial concept for the HoboHookah.
Here are a five hookah building tips if you were in the same situation as myself, and somehow didn’t have your HoboHookah handy:
- Use copper tubing or pipe: Its much easier to mold and to cut. Steal can be a real problem.
- Large leg tips work as a great malleable seal for most bottles, like 2-liters and 1.75 liquor bottles.
- If you don’t have a bowl, I recommend cutting a firm apple into a bowl. They work great in a pinch, but only use each apple for 1 bowl. The fruit deteriorates quickly.
- Use a pipe cutter if you can, instead of a pair of tin shears or other crimping implements. The cuttter is clean, and it keeps the pipe from getting restricted.
- If you can, use a glass vase. They are much more sturdy and pulling hard on a plastic vase can compromise the bottle.
Picture courtesy of Rastatu at Devian Art. Enjoy!