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Guarantee yourself a good smoker

Sasquatch

Wizzard
Member
#81
Lots of this is budget-oriented (not wrongly so either). There are very few total dogs in certain brands (Castello, for example - anyone ever hear of a terrible smoking Castello?) but those brands also tend to be very expensive. Most single-artisan shops will produce a very good pipe, and a guy shouldn't have to worry about what he's buying from these types of carvers.

When you look online and you can't open up a pipe and look inside it is a bit of a gamble, but most retailers have very fair return policies for this reason.

Most pipes are all right, really. I'll smoke a stock 50 dollar Savinelli as often as a 400 dollar Castello. But there are pipes out there which are total losers, really frustrating to smoke, and there's ALWAYS a reason why they are crappy, and 99% of the time it's because they weren't put together with any care/aren't built well internally.
 

haikucub

Member
Member
#83
thanks for this post, sas. i haven't read through all the comments, so apologies if this has already been addressed, but do you have pics you can post of examples of pits and fills for those of us who aren't quite sure what we're looking for? also, how can one judge the quality of rusticated briar, particularly if the bowl is coated? what do you look for in that scenario?
 

DGErwin11

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
#84
Pits are exactly what they sound like. Small holes in the briar caused by the inclusion of sand grains or very small pebbles, which are almost inevitable given that briar comes from root burls.

There are 3 main ways to deal with them. 1) Rusticate or sandblast the stummel to disguise them. 2) Carve them out and fill with putty. This often results in football shaped spots on the pipe. 3) Ignore them if they do not affect the integrity of the pipe.

None of the above affect the quality of the briar as it relates to whether you have a good pipe or not. I am not aware of any evidence that grain appearance has any effect on the quality. What we usually mean about quality briar relates to how well it has been cut and cured. And there you have to trust someone. You trust the maker to select well and properly cured briar. The maker trusts the briar supplier to provide the proper briar.

Many makers swear by one supplier over another. This is mainly because they have trust in that supplier and much of their briar behaves consistently. Someone once said briar has no memory. Once it is cut, cured and carved it has no idea where it was born.
 
#85
I tend to trust pipes from BST... just sayin. This other guy makes some pretty great cobs and nose-warming briars; DGE, maybe y'all have heard of em?
 

Sasquatch

Wizzard
Member
#86
thanks for this post, sas. i haven't read through all the comments, so apologies if this has already been addressed, but do you have pics you can post of examples of pits and fills for those of us who aren't quite sure what we're looking for? also, how can one judge the quality of rusticated briar, particularly if the bowl is coated? what do you look for in that scenario?
IF you google "pipe, fills" and look in images, you'll see all kinds of good shots of filled-in holes and cracks.

You'll have a tough time assessing a rusticated pipe with a coated bowl, and really, if you want a guarantee that a pipe has no fills or isn't repaired with a huge gob of epoxy or something, you'd have to go to an individual maker and ask him for that. Briar's tough stuff and even spongey or pitty wood will probably smoke just fine a million times with no issues. If you buy a 70 dollar rusticated pipe and manage to eventually burn it out.... it's probably going to be due for a new stem etc anyhow. I'd worry way more about how the pipe is put together than what exact wood it's made from.
 

Mctavish

Member
Member
#88
Aye, very interesting, as a newbie I thought it best to stick to estate pipes for now, I bought a couple of cheep one on ebay, a rustic straght savineli and a rustic bent morreli, I did by a new straght meerschaun, but I darent try it yet ha ha.
 

DGErwin11

Moderator
Staff member
Moderator
#90
This is a lot of information and things to look for when holding a pipe (new or estate). Assuming the risks, do you ever buy pipes off the web?
Yes, I buy off the internet as all I can buy locally are Dr Grabows, which are not my cup of tea.

We have several individual pipe makers on this forum who have developed stellar reputations by dint of consistently turning out superb pipes. As to buying factory pipes, I have experience with Kaywoodie and Savinelli. You can buy either with a high degree of confidence.

The major on line pipe retailers are not mega conglomerates with the souls of stone. If you buy a substandard pipe, they will work with you to try to get things worked out.
 

Sasquatch

Wizzard
Member
#93
It's usually the big manufacturers that get pipes sent back, and sometimes they'll re work it, more likely just chuck it and send a new one out, that's more time-efficient for them.

Buying pipes on the web is a little difficult because you are working from pictures, and can't really judge the thing like you could at a shop. That said, almost every retailer has a very friendly return policy, and anyone who doesn't... just don't buy pipes from.

At a certain price point or maybe better said, at a certain reputation point, you are relying on the skills of the maker/brand and assuming that the pipe is going to pass muster. But that's a different bar for every smoker at every price point.
 
#94
The safe bet is buying from Sas, MADDIS, DGE, Reddog (@Basil Meadows ), Don Warren and other carvers who present their awesome work here on this forum. I've never been disappointed with any I've bought from those mentioned. All are great to work with, truly care about what they are making/what you're wanting, and the price point is extremely fair. I'd highly recommend any pipe any of these men are selling or commissioning them to carve up your dream pipe :D:snork:
 

Russell Hartman

Stay Silver
Member
#95
The safe bet is buying from Sas, MADDIS, DGE, Reddog (@Basil Meadows ), Don Warren and other carvers who present their awesome work here on this forum. I've never been disappointed with any I've bought from those mentioned. All are great to work with, truly care about what they are making/what you're wanting, and the price point is extremely fair. I'd highly recommend any pipe any of these men are selling or commissioning them to carve up your dream pipe :D:snork:
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