A New Briar Pipe

An excellent commentary from Eric Whitaker, our Contributing Writer:


Your comfort with the shape, style, finish, weight and balance, and “feel” of your pipe will determine, in most cases what pipe you will like the best. There are many factors that you may consider, to help you with your choice, but please do not feel overwhelmed, because if it’s the right pipe, you’ll probably feel very good about it to begin with, if you know WHAT to look for:

–Look for a good quality pipe that you can afford.

–Look for a pipe that has enough wood on it to absorb heat and moisture, but is balanced well, and has a comfortable bit.

–Look for a pipe free of shellacs, varnishes, filters, or large “putty-fills”, and wood that has no “grain pattern”.

–Your new pipe should be well balanced, comfortable in your mouth as well as your hand, have a fine grain pattern around the bowl, with a minimum amount of flaws, no filters or varnish, and have either a smooth, sandblast or rusticated finish.

A tip: A smooth naturally finished pipe with a fine grain all around the bowl, with a minimum of flaws will cost more.

Another tip: There is a group of pipe shapes that are called “classic”, which include Bents, Billiards, Bulldogs, Dublins, Pots, Princes, Apples, Pokers, Canadians, Churchwardens, Lovats. Each of these ancient shapes has a history to it’s name, so thus are they deemed “classics” from the old days. Today, we call them standard shapes. There are also “Freehand” pipes of great beauty,created one of a kind, one at a time, by the imaginations of very talented pipemakers—of which, you may be interested. Variety is one of life’s pleasures, and so it is with pipes!


Eric Whitaker

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