Pipe finish observation.

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Pappy

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#1
I got into a pipe cleaning and polishing frenzy for the past two days. Even my Falcons are shining better then new. But I digress. This post is in regard to my briar pipes. After polishing them I couldn't help but notice that the older pipes from the 1950's to midway in the 1980's have a noticeably smother and shinier finish then my pipes that were made in the later half of the 1980's to the present.

Looking at them I began to wonder why. It's obvious that something in the mass manufacturing of pipes have changed. Could it be that as crafting a pipe had gone from mostly done by hand to primarily the work of machines the is not sanded as smooth? I have no doubt that the finish used on more modern pipes is not the same, (at least in formula), that was used in the pipes of the past, but on the other hand is it the change in the finish or the way it's now applied that is making the difference? Perhaps the answer is a little of both.

I realize that this is far from a earth shattering observation, but after all this is a pipe forum and pondering about pipes seems appropriate here, and I'm curious to what those of you who know about such things may have to say.
 

t-bear

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#4
I think it's a combination of things. Yes, the process has changed over the years. Materials (briar, in this case) were different then. I had the opportunity to work with a few pieces of 50-60 yr old briar...that is, they were sitting on a carvers shelf that long. The quality seemed better than the newer briar I am buying at the present. Might be the briar was better then, or maybe it's just that it had set for so long after harvest. I'm no scientist, so I have no definitive way of knowing. Still, that wood made some beautifully grained pipes.
Then too, 50 years ago, ALL things manufactured got better care and attention than what we see coming to the market today. The processes we use have changed, more frazing machines and less hand-finishing. Looser Q/C standards. The finishing materials used then have changed too. Stains and finishes are of a different quality...for better or for worse.
Then there's the age and use of the pipes. A 50 year old pipe has been handled, turned in the hand, lovingly polished and cared for. The pipe has had innumerable bowls of tobacco burned in it, adding to the patina of the finish. All of this has added to the luster and finish that we see today.
Are yesterday's pipes *better* than today's? Yes, if properly cared for. They have grown in quality, merely from the years of after-manufacture care and attention that they received from their owners. Keep polishing and caring for those pipes...they are tomorrow's heirlooms.
 

dwaugh

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#7
polishes his 'Snap-On' wrench
So that's what you guys call it across the pond :p:

Buffing and waxing degrades the taste for a while.
I have not run into this, I don't buff or wax very often, but when I do I always fill the chamber with a paper towel so that no wax can get spun off into the chamber. If the chamber is not filled with something, wax can get in there, and I have been able to taste that.
 

Old Ted

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#8
So that's what you guys call it across the pond :p:


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Actually - no!, over here they are called spanners not wrenches!....but I often try to adapt the lingo - to avoid confusing the natives!;).......but I do have an old set called 'King Dick', don't know if they are still made - but are good tools!:ohyh:
OT
 

upinsmoke

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#9
I meant waxing the outside of a pipe. Maybe because the root is so porous the wax taste migrates through it. The taste of the stain too, of course. But some stains actually improve the taste of the smoke, though many ruin it.
 

dwaugh

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#10
Actually - no!, over here they are called spanners not wrenches!....but I often try to adapt the lingo - to avoid confusing the natives!;).......but I do have an old set called 'King Dick', don't know if they are still made - but are good tools!:ohyh:
OT
:D
I used some King Dick tools here in the States helping a friend with his BSA and Norton bikes from the 70's. These were of course 'Whitworth' King Dicks. ;)
 

Pappy

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#12
I think t-bear is pretty much right. But why do you polish your pipes? Buffing and waxing degrades the taste for a while.
I would agree that t-bear is on the right track. As far as why on occasion I wax the bowls and polish the stems of my pipes; simply its a personal preference, as is so many other things in pipe smoking. :puffy: For some reason I've yet to notice a difference in taste from waxing. Perhaps it's due to the tobacco I smoke, or it could be my taste buds :msty:.
maybe he's going to sell some?.....or perhaps just one of those guys that polishes his 'Snap-On' wrenches too!
:msty: OT
LOL...no Ted, the closest thing my hand tools get to a polishing is when detergent motor oil get on them during use and I need to wipe them off to get a good grip. Oh...and very few Snap-On tools...mostly Mac and Matco. :)
 
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