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Pipe shapes & various tobaccos

I just started smoking a pipe this week & was curious to know if pipe shapes lend themselves to being better for certain types of tobacco.
I have a Drew Estate/Tsuge Robusto & like it for it's small size, but I'm wondering if there's something better for the aromatics I'm currently sampling.
For my next pipe I'm looking at a bent billiard and maybe a straight billiard to follow.
Does anyone have any thoughts on pipe shapes that work well with certain tobaccos?
 

Mike H

Moderator Emeritus
I am no expert, but here are some observations.
There are a dozen or so bowl shapes (apple, billiard, bulldog, etc.).
There is also the bend; straight, 1/4 bent, 1/2 bent and full bent.
Most any combination can be made from these.
Then there is the matter of the tobacco chamber. The tobacco chamber can be U shaped, V shaped, or a mix of the two called a parabola. This is a function of the drill bit used to make the chamber.

I smoke any tobacco from any pipe, and find them all enjoyable. However, some report that they experience a better smoke when pairing a single blend (like straight Virginia) in a V shaped tobacco chamber. And complex blends using a U shaped chamber. Bowl depth also comes into play as well, but I find that has more to do with the smoking characteristics than the flavor.

There are more experience smokers here,who have a much more refined palette than mine, who hopefully weigh in.
 
I am no expert, but here are some observations.
There are a dozen or so bowl shapes (apple, billiard, bulldog, etc.).
There is also the bend; straight, 1/4 bent, 1/2 bent and full bent.
Most any combination can be made from these.
Then there is the matter of the tobacco chamber. The tobacco chamber can be U shaped, V shaped, or a mix of the two called a parabola. This is a function of the drill bit used to make the chamber.

I smoke any tobacco from any pipe, and find them all enjoyable. However, some report that they experience a better smoke when pairing a single blend (like straight Virginia) in a V shaped tobacco chamber. And complex blends using a U shaped chamber. Bowl depth also comes into play as well, but I find that has more to do with the smoking characteristics than the flavor.

There are more experience smokers here,who have a much more refined palette than mine, who hopefully weigh in.
Mike,
Thanks for the info. Looks like I may have to buy a few more pipes and experiment some.
What's the worst that could happen!?
 
SWMBO has pretty much told me that I will not be collecting pipes and tobacco like I did razors, but I think I'd be happy with 6 or so.
Just bought a Peterson Emerald 65 & a GBD Virgin 9436. That, for now, gives me a straight & a bent to get used to until I start to understand this addiction a little more clearly.
 
My experience says different bowl shapes do better with different packing. Straight sided bowl pack tighter. Then too the draw and pace may be different in curved vs straight stems. Some curved stems narrow at the bend restricting the draw a touch. That is the pipe shape influence.

Tobacco type, blend, moisture, and humidity also require changes in packing. Experience is a good teacher.
 
SWMBO has pretty much told me that I will not be collecting pipes and tobacco like I did razors, but I think I'd be happy with 6 or so.
Just bought a Peterson Emerald 65 & a GBD Virgin 9436. That, for now, gives me a straight & a bent to get used to until I start to understand this addiction a little more clearly.
Six or seven is a perfect rotation for a daily pipe smoker. If you don't plan on smoking regularly, you can get by on fewer. But you don't want to over smoke just a couple, as they need time to dry out. Wet pipes just smoke badly. And when you have too many, it takes a mighty long time to season the newer ones in. A good pipe will smoke far better and cooler once it has broken in. That can sometimes take 30-40 smokes, depending on the tobacco and the habits of the individual. Don't waste premium tobacco to season a new one. Use something modest. I'll use a pouch or two of PA until the bowl cools down a little. Then you can move on to the better leafs.

If you mess with flavored/strong aromatic blends, then that is what that pipe should stick with. A strong blend can spoil the pipe for more delicate natural blends. That is neither good or bad. There are some lovely stronger blends that I reserve certain pipes for. For instance, Mrs. Columbo loves the aroma of a beautiful custom Dutch Treat blend I order from a small Pennsylvania shop.

And don't be afraid of estate pipes. A good shop will make sure they are absolutely sanitary, and someone has already done the hard work of seasoning it for you. Of course, some, like me, enjoy breaking in a new pipe. But a great deal on an estate model that is no longer made, or costs nearly four figures new, is sometimes hard to pass up.

We are just reaching prime pipe season here. It's going down to 19F tonight, so no cigars for me. I only have a 7 pipe rotation, but it has served me well for decades. My favorite remains my first one, $15 French special with a slightly chew-marked vulcanite stem, bought a very long time ago, when $15 was a lot of money to me. The others smoke better. But it holds like an old pair of slippers and is predictable as the sunrise at this point.

Good luck in your new hobby. I hope you find it as relaxing a pastime as I do.
 
Six or seven is a perfect rotation for a daily pipe smoker. If you don't plan on smoking regularly, you can get by on fewer. But you don't want to over smoke just a couple, as they need time to dry out. Wet pipes just smoke badly. And when you have too many, it takes a mighty long time to season the newer ones in. A good pipe will smoke far better and cooler once it has broken in. That can sometimes take 30-40 smokes, depending on the tobacco and the habits of the individual. Don't waste premium tobacco to season a new one. Use something modest. I'll use a pouch or two of PA until the bowl cools down a little. Then you can move on to the better leafs.

If you mess with flavored/strong aromatic blends, then that is what that pipe should stick with. A strong blend can spoil the pipe for more delicate natural blends. That is neither good or bad. There are some lovely stronger blends that I reserve certain pipes for. For instance, Mrs. Columbo loves the aroma of a beautiful custom Dutch Treat blend I order from a small Pennsylvania shop.

And don't be afraid of estate pipes. A good shop will make sure they are absolutely sanitary, and someone has already done the hard work of seasoning it for you. Of course, some, like me, enjoy breaking in a new pipe. But a great deal on an estate model that is no longer made, or costs nearly four figures new, is sometimes hard to pass up.

We are just reaching prime pipe season here. It's going down to 19F tonight, so no cigars for me. I only have a 7 pipe rotation, but it has served me well for decades. My favorite remains my first one, $15 French special with a slightly chew-marked vulcanite stem, bought a very long time ago, when $15 was a lot of money to me. The others smoke better. But it holds like an old pair of slippers and is predictable as the sunrise at this point.

Good luck in your new hobby. I hope you find it as relaxing a pastime as I do.
I wish it were prime pipe season for me. SWMBO won't allow smoking in the house & it's just too cold to enjoy much of anything at 24 degrees.
I appreciate the heads up on using certain pipes for my aromatics. I'd like to try other blends, so that helps to know to keep certain pipes away from certain blends. That gives me a really good reason to buy a few more pipes too!
I've been looking at estate pipes almost exclusively, mostly to save a few dollars, but now that I know it can save time on the seasoning, I may look a little more closely at what's out there. Then again, I do find satisfaction in doing things from beginning to end, so another new pipe may be warranted.
I hope I can find that "one" perfect pipe, especially at a great price point. Who knows, the "one" may be in the mail as I type this.
Thanks for the advice, and thus far, I definitely find it a relaxing pastime!
 

Kentos

Moderator Emeritus
Good luck! If you have the collector’s personality you are a goner when it comes to pipes and tobacco. :)
 
My experience says different bowl shapes do better with different packing. Straight sided bowl pack tighter. Then too the draw and pace may be different in curved vs straight stems. Some curved stems narrow at the bend restricting the draw a touch. That is the pipe shape influence.

Tobacco type, blend, moisture, and humidity also require changes in packing. Experience is a good teacher.
I think a lot of experimentation is what will ultimately get me to where I need to be, and I'm happy to make some mistakes along the way. Experience certainly is a good teacher!
I'm excited to walk this path!!
 
Good luck! If you have the collector’s personality you are a goner when it comes to pipes and tobacco. :)
Oh, I have the collector's personality. My wife knows it too. I think that's why she's putting her foot down on the collecting. I think I'll buy a large pipe rack & stop collecting once I fill it up. Yeah, that's probably not going to happen!
 

Kentos

Moderator Emeritus
Oh, I have the collector's personality. My wife knows it too. I think that's why she's putting her foot down on the collecting. I think I'll buy a large pipe rack & stop collecting once I fill it up. Yeah, that's probably not going to happen!
I keep mine in drawers so no one knows how many pipes I have. Even me!
 
That's not a bad idea at all! I may even have an empty drawer in my toolbox too. She'd probably never look in there.
Just another word for you. Apparently, you are hiding this from the Mrs. for now. It's ok to store pipes in a drawer or smaller confined space. But just make sure they are dry when you do. You don't want to drop a wet, freshly smoked pipe, especially a new one, in a confined space. You may be promoting some unwanted things to take up residence if you do. Let them breathe and dry out first. Depending on conditions, that can take a few days.

Keeping pipes is the exact opposite of keeping cigars. Where with cigars, you keep a close eye primarily on a minimum RH (especially in winter), with pipes it's the opposite. You want to stow them in a place that is relatively dry. For the tobaccos, once you seal them in a suitable Bell jar, you can stow them in the Sahara desert or the Amazon jungle, and they will keep fine and age perfectly. But not the pipes. 99% of keeping cigars is all about the tobacco. 99% of the maintenance with pipes is not the tobacco, but the pipe itself.

I open rack mine, but keep them in a large dust-free cabinet with plenty of airflow. If you do decide to keep yours in a drawer, just make sure they are not too loose and unsecured. You can dent or mar the bowls if they slam around with all that drawer opening and closing.

About bites. Everyone holds their pipes in their mouth a little differently. Some of us are biters. Over time, that can develop a nice set of bite marks on the stems. Especially on the softer vulcanite ones. Unless you are prepared to replace the stems as they wear, be prepared for that possibility. If you want to mitigate that, or you like a softer mouth feel, buy a bag of rubber pipe bites. It will save the ends of the stems if that is an issue to you. I'm a biter, and I keep bites on a couple of mine for that reason.

As to keeping your tobacco, invest in a couple sizes of Bell jars. The larger 16oz ones, and for each, a smaller 4 oz one. As you collect your tobaccos, put the bulk of it in the larger containers. Even if it arrived in a cardboard can or tin, get it right into those glass jars ASAP. But you don't want to be opening and closing the entire large container every time you want a smoke. Every time you open it, you are exchanging the air with likely drier outside air. Over time, that can dry out the tobacco, especially in winter. Leave the bulk of it sealed long-term in the larger Bell jar, and fill the little 4oz jar with your smoke supply. You then smoke off the smaller jar, refilling it from the larger one as you go. The little jars also fit neatly in your hand as you pinch out your fills.

Sometimes when I walk into a tobacco shop I cringe, as the bad ones will store large quantities of tobacco in poorly sealed large jars with ill-fitting metal lids, usually right next to a space heater. You have to dig down three or four inches to avoid what are now dried out weeds. I now order mine custom-blended and delivered. For the same reason, unless you plan to smoke it quickly (a day or two), never keep your good leafs in a pouch -- it will quickly dry out. Either stuff it in a jar or put it in a zip lock bag. As all tobaccos dry out, they lose some of their flavor and aroma with their oils, sometimes for good. For tobacco that might have lost a little moisture, you can drop a small 69% Bovida pouch into the Bell jar to try and revive it. But as I said, keeping pipe tobacco is child's play compared to cigars.

Just like with cigars, pipe tobacco gets better with age. That is what those large Bell jars are for. Keep them sealed in a cool location, and after a few years they will smoke even better. I have some tobaccos that are now aged over 25 years, and they are an absolute delight to light.

___________________

One last tip: If you want to break the Mrs.' resistance to your new hobby, she has to SMELL it. Women are creatures of smell and odors. And if you don't believe me, go read some of the after shave reviews around here. She's going to smell it eventually. But unlike cigars and cigarettes, pipe tobacco smells GOOD. When the Mrs. is home, go just outside the door, not too far from her, and light up on the porch, making sure a little wafts into the house. Just a little. Try it with a really good aromatic. Once she smells it, she will wander over and be pleasantly interested. And there's your opening.

If she has an issue with second-hand smoke, let her know that it is only a very small quantity, is all-natural, and is no more harmful than any other form of aromatherapy oil or burning incense. And pipe smoke will not penetrate into the walls and soft furnishings like the other tobaccos do. Your home will not smell like an ashtray or nicotine factory with a pipe. She pumps more noxious smoke into your home the next time she burns your dinner than with a year of pipe smoking. And unlike a burned dinner, your pipe (if handled responsibly) will never set off the smoke detectors.

Before you know it, she will be asking you to light up in the living room or den with HER favorite tobaccos. Just like Mrs. Columbo does. And that's how these things go.

All this typing to you has made my mouth dry. So I think it's time for a light.
 
Oh, one last thing.

Don’t fall for that Spencer Tracy scene in Father of the Bride, and think it’s ok to bang out a hot, freshly smoked pipe. Maybe that was a tolerable practice with a $1 Grabow. But it is also a good way to permanently loosen a stem or dent up a bowl lip. When a pipe heats up, that joint is at its most fragile. Handle it with the most care at that time: no excessive twisting or removing, and most of all, don’t use the stem as a handle.

I know the old vintage pipe ashtrays have those knobs. But just resist them. I know it looked cool for dear old Spencer to whack away on it, but it’s not cool for a hot pipe. When emptying out a hot bowl, handle it only by the bowl, and gently spoon it empty. Whatever you do, don’t scrape off the developing ash wall. That’s what you are building up on a new pipe. You then can bend your cleaner after stem wiping into a V or U and give the bowl one last wipe with it.
 
Oh, one last thing.

I misspoke above. I meant to say Ball jars, not Bell jars. The kind that Mrs. Columbo will use for canning and preserving.

I've had them so long, I forgot their names, and they are not too readable in clear glass, especially with the labels I slap on 'em. I know the lids also have the name, but I really don't stare too much at them, either. Sorry about that.

Ball jars. I think you can find them at the grocery and home goods stores around town.
 
Wow! That's some great info!
I was just looking at the ashtrays with the knobs. I likely would've made the mistake of tapping a hot bowl into one at some point too.
I may open up the back door in the laundry room to try my luck back there with my wife. It will be a tough go at trying to convince her to let me smoke inside, but it will be worth a try. I think she views all tobacco equally, and not in a very good light. Her grandmother developed throat cancer from second hand smoke (possibly), and that continues to be her driving force behind her outlook on smoking. Time will tell.....
My wife likes to can, so large jars aren't going to be a problem, although I will have to invest in some smaller ones.
I think I'm going to add a shelf or two in my "junk" room & slowly fill them up. I think that may be the way to go!
 
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