Pipe Diagram and Description
Some of the differences between my pipes and traditional wood pipes
SITTER: Many traditional tobacco pipes are not designed to sit. They are personal and not typically shared so they are designed to be held comfortably in the hand or pocket. Because my pipes are designed for a variety of contemporary uses, all of my pipes are designed to be sitters. (or standers depending on the design)
BOWL: If a bowl is too deep the material at the bottom will get dirty as you smoke which will negatively effect the taste, too wide and it doesn't burn effectively. My bowls are typically between 3/4" and 7/8" in diameter and depth. The walls of the bowl angle inward and are straight, not rounded, allowing for a more even and complete burn.
CENTER DROUGHT HOLE: A traditional tobacco pipe will typically have the drought hole off to the side. For my designs, I believe a center drought hole allows for better airflow and a more even burn.
CARB: A small hole on the side that connects with the interior calabash chamber and allows the user to control airflow and clear the calabash chamber of smoke.
BIT: The bit on a traditional pipe will typically have a little lip or "button" on the end. This allows the user to clasp the pipe with their teeth so they can smoke hands free. This really isn’t a feature I feel is important for my style of pipes which smoke best when the bit is just touched to the lips.
CALABASH CHAMBER: Some traditional tobacco pipes are made with a calabash chamber. This chamber between the bowl and stem serves to cool and dry the smoke to improve taste. With my designs, the chamber serves the additional purpose of collecting all the resin that is produced while smoking. Easy access to the chamber makes cleaning simple. All of my pipes are designed with a calabash chamber.
I include a small pipe tool and some basic cleaning supplies with each pipe.
Prior to each use just run the rod from the pipe tool through the drought-hole. (The small hole at the bottom of the bowl) Be sure to pass the rod over a lighter flame first. If the rod is cold it could become stuck. Just a light warming is all that's needed.
One purpose of the calabash chamber is to collect all that gunk that is generated when smoking. When it starts to get full, just scoop all that out using either the wooden craft sticks or the spoon arm on the pipe cleaning tool (depending on the chamber size). The craft sticks can be obtained from any hobby/craft store. I like the ones with blunt ends so they scrape clean on the flat chamber bottom.
Use the pipe cleaners for the air-hole in the stem. If you just want to get it functional, just pass a few pipe cleaners through, if you want to make it brand-new clean, on the last few passes, dip half the pipe cleaner in a little denatured alcohol.
The interior of the bowl will eventually get gunk build-up. If the pipe is already warm from being recently used, then that’s a great time for cleaning, but if it’s cold, just turn the bowl upside down and carefully heat over a lighter. Don’t get too close, no burning, just warm it up. A heat gun works very well or even a hair dryer. Once you have the interior warmed up, just use the spoon arm of the pipe tool to scoop out the bowl. Heating the spoon is also helpful. Be careful not to bear down too hard, you don’t want to scrape off the carbon coating. All my pipes will come pre-seasoned with a carbon bowl coating which facilitates seasoning. If it’s nice and warm, the soft stuff will scoop right out.
The Bowl Rim:
The bowl rim will eventually get gunked up with resin. This really won’t mess with the function, but if you want to keep it looking nice, this goop is easily wiped off with a little heat. Again, I like the heat gun or hair dryer on this, but a lighter will also work as long as you don't get to close that it burns the wood. We just want to warm it up and wipe it off.
It should be noted that wood can contract in extreme cold conditions which may cause pipe fittings to loosen. However, once the pipe is brought back to standard room temperature, the fittings should become snug again.
Briar is a root burl from the heath tree that grows in various regions of the Mediterranean. Most traditional pipes are made with briar because of it’s very high heat tolerance, respiration, hardness, and beautiful grain. I mostly use briar but will occasionally make a pipe from olive wood.
ACRYLIC and POLY RESIN
Acrylic and Poly Resin are common stem materials and come in a variety of colors and patterns. I typically purchase acrylic in rod or block form but will occasionally pour my own stem material using poly resin.
Ebonite is vulcanized rubber and is probably the most common stem material for traditional wood pipes.
I use Delrin for my smaller tenons. Delrin is a brand name for acetal homopolymer and it’s ideal for pipe tenons because it’s self lubricating and it combines low-friction and high-wear resistance with high strength and stiffness.
Sometimes I will use other high grade woods for accents and bands. (I haven’t tried the bamboo yet but it could be awesome so it’s on my to-do list).
PIPE NAMING AND NUMBERING
My pipe design names generally follow traditional tobacco pipe naming, although I may add some clarification to the name if I deviate a bit from the traditional shape. If it’s my own unique design, such as the Wizard’s Rook, then I'll the name the design myself. I stamp every pipe with my name and a unique 4 digit number. The first two digits of the number represent the year it was made, the second two represent the sequential pipe number made that year. For example, pipe #2023 is the 23rd pipe of the year 2020.
WOOD PIPES V. GLASS OR METAL PIPES
Glass pipes can be very beautiful and the artisans that make them are clearly very talented. Glass pipes work well because they are hollow - which kind of serves as the calabash chamber in my designs. However, glass pipes are undoubtedly fragile and can be difficult to clean. With my wood pipes the calabash chamber serves the same function as being hollow except with easy access it's much easier to clean. Also, wood pipes smoke cooler and taste better because they hold heat more efficiently. In addition, wood pipes are completely natural and don’t pose the risk of toxic gases like their metallic counterparts. As with traditional tobacco pipes, with proper maintenance, my pipes will last a lifetime and will continue smoke and look great with age.
LEFT OR RIGHT SIDE CARB
It seems to me that most commercial pipes with carbs usually have them on the left side. As a lefty myself this has always been great for me because I can operate the carb with a finger instead of my thumb. With the carb on the left side I have a better hold because I’m not trying to both hold the pipe and operate the carb with my thumb. I believe the same could be true for a right-hander and a right sided carb. However, most people are probably conditioned for left side carbs - as I am, so I'll typically make the carb on the left side but will occasional make them on the right for special orders.