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Straightgrain briars

Discussion in 'Pipes' started by johnhwatson, Oct 22, 2011.

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  1. johnhwatson

    johnhwatson Member

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    Apart from being a real pleasure to the eye. The evenness and structure of the grain suffuses the tobacco juices evenly over the whole inner surface of the bowl thus producing a beatifully cool sweet smoke. There are many pipes whose grains may not be straight but give excellent sweet smoking; the straightgrain is however unique.
     
  2. 1stGenRex

    1stGenRex Member

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    I kind of have a hard time believing this, especially considering that, regardless of grain, you still have the cake between the briar and the tobacco. I do know that straight grain pipes are kind of the 4 leaf clover to pipe makers, as in, they are out there, and when they find one, they make VERY sure it's made properly (or at least I would assume so) because they can charge a premium for these.
     
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  3. user0003

    user0003 Well-Known Member

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    I think, maybe incorrectly, that straight grains spread the heat more evenly.
     
  4. yinyang

    yinyang Some rim charring is to be expected.

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    I've heard this before...until scientifically proven, though, I chalk it up to a smoker's rationalization on why he paid extra for grain.
     
  5. Mike Pomery

    Mike Pomery Active Member

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    Haha, sounds about right!
     
  6. furious

    furious Junque collector

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    Agree with yinyang here. Straight grain is pretty, but I don't think the grain pattern influences smoking qualities--the age of the briar and curing process affect smoking IMHO.
     
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  7. ruffinogold

    ruffinogold Ruffinogold-Mayor, I.R.G.E.--At Large. Mayor

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    I'm a fan of crossgrain , which is straight grain sideways [lol]. It allows a picture of birdseye on the side of a bowl as opposed to the rim of a bowl or heel . As far as straight grain [ either direction ] I think it's over rated ... I've got some super boring grained briars that smoke as well of better than straight grained ones . I've never understood the appeal of lines going up and down as being pretty . Anyway , it's a topic thats been hammered by greater brains than myself . I dont know what to make of it all , other than smoking a pipe and judgeing if it smokes well or not , whatever the grain . Throw into the mix , textured pipes . I'd imagine they smoke bad cause surely a straight grained pipe wouldnt be hacked away and dimminished of its potential value as a " high grade " or collector pipe . Yet , I've got textured pipes that are stellar . I really love a well done texture and think it's more of an accomplishment than just shape because it employs both shape and then the texture itself , and at times , grain . Mike Parks is a master of texture , shape and finish . if ya havent seen his stuff .. check it out .... The Master : http://www.parkspipes.com/gallery.htm :bow:
     
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  8. Sasquatch

    Sasquatch Sales Account

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    I ... I'm not sure, to be honest. There's other variables in this equation, if my experiences/experiments are anything to go by. Most pipe makers will say that grain orientation has absolutely no effect on how a pipe smokes. I tend to agree with this, but I am not of the "briar is briar" camp either. I have made and smoked pipes from every supplier I've used, and the end result is different. I always use a 7/8" bit and a 2" deep chamber on the testing pipes, and the smoking properties are, in my opinion, not the same from piece to piece.

    Without going into tremendous detail, I'm going to suggest that IF straightgrain pipes smoke better, it's because of how the briar grew, and that if you used the same piece of briar at 90 degrees, the pipe would smoke identically. Pipes that are manufactured as straight grain pipes are, naturally, superior piece of briar in terms of uniformity of grain and density of grain (and I am coming to think that this is the key). Given my choice, I'll take a really tightly grained piece of wood because I think the ability to isolate and return the heat of the burn is higher in these pieces - they "burn better" because the heat of the burn just goes right back into the tobacco, and the result is that you can just smolder at a very low temperature, which is exactly what you want in the first place.

    Or I could be totally wrong.
     
  9. HCraven

    HCraven Active Member

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    At the risk of sounding ignorant or derailing the thread for a moment, could you tell me the difference between straight grain and flame grain, Sas? I've got some idea, but it bears clarifying.

    I tend to agree that grain pattern, while to some degree indicative of the quality of the briar, is more aesthetic than functional.
     
  10. Arkie

    Arkie Active Member

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    Straight grain, flame grain, birds eye, it's all good.
     
  11. yinyang

    yinyang Some rim charring is to be expected.

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    Barring the insane amount of variables possible...including the smoker himself, I think a reason to argue straight grains tend to smoke better would simply be a larger ratio originate from pipe makers well versed in crafting superior smokers. This however makes engineering the prime factor.

    I won't argue personal experiences attesting to a straight grains superiority(including some evidence of my own)...but I believe it impossible to convincingly prove it as a truth independent of opinions.
     
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  12. 1stGenRex

    1stGenRex Member

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    I mean, even with "factory" pipes, such as Savinelli for example, I'd be willing to bet there there are MAYBE 2-3 people that get handed the exceptional piece of briar when it's found. I'm just assuming here, and have 0 proof of this, but it would make a bit of sense. I think the fact that more care is taken with pipes like these, would make them a better smoker than say, any other pipe from the same factory. BUT that's only assuming that, indeed, straight grain pipes smoke better. I don't own any, so I really can't say one way or the other...but if someone is willing to send me one, I'd gladly test out the theory :p
     
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  13. Sasquatch

    Sasquatch Sales Account

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    On a "nice" piece of briar, where the grain isn't just running all over the place (and briar is absolutely amazing for its abililty to have just about random grain), you can basically picture the grain as running vertically down from the bark of the block. If you align a pipe perfectly with this, you get a straight grain, which is to say, you are seeing the vertical runs of grain in the pipe shape. If you tilt the pipe or align it a little differently, you'll have the walls of the pipe hitting the vertical runs of grain at an angle. At a very acute angle this becomes flame grain - streaky, shorter straight runs of grain that terminate rather than running all the way up. At 90 degrees to the grain, you get birdseye (this is endgrain in woodworker speak, but in briar it presents as tight little eyes).

    Straight (or close):
    [​IMG]

    Flame:

    [​IMG]
     
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  14. HCraven

    HCraven Active Member

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    Thanks, Sas, that does clarify it more for me.
     
  15. Puff The Magic

    Puff The Magic Active Member

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    So, uhhh, where does kerneling come into the mix? :D

    Ed
    Puff
     
  16. dmkerr

    dmkerr PG- free since '83! Moderator

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    Ditto that. There is no real evidence to suggest such a thing, although as Sas says, it may indeed be true. But it can't be stated as unequivocal fact at this point.
     
  17. Fred

    Fred Member

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    Grain does not affect smoking quality, I am sorry to say. I am the only person that I know of, in all the pipe world, that collects highest level straight grains exclusively and if any one would support the idea that straight grain makes for the best smoke it would be me. But I simply do not believe it. I have smoked too many pipes to believe it.

    But engineering doesn't automatically guarantee a great smoke either. It's the quality and character of each piece of briar that matters most. Mother Nature rules.

    Smoking quality of a pipe is not the same as taste. A pipe can smoke perfectly and taste terrible.

    Fred
     
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  18. Stonewall

    Stonewall Active Member

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    Considering the way the briar grows, are you less likely with straight grains to find the pitting from trapped sand, rock, or water pockets in the wood? Or is this simply based on the raw specimen itself?
     
  19. Sasquatch

    Sasquatch Sales Account

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    I have seen briar with wonderful, wonderful grain, and just totally full of pits and garbage. I don't know if it changes the likelihood of defects. I've had blocks I thought would be perfect open up to be absolute garbage, and I've had blocks that I was suspicious of turn into perfect pipes.
     
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  20. Sasquatch

    Sasquatch Sales Account

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    Agreed.
     
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