Pipe Smoking not Piping

I am usually a “to each their own” type of guy…. but enough is enough. Please…. spread the word…. there is no need to live in darkness any longer…

pipe smoking not piping please


The story of two pipes – Video

Today I depart from my general rule about sticking to talking about pipe tobacco write about a pipe in my collection. I am a pipe smoker not a pipe collector. That requires a collection of pipes. This can become confusing.

I admire the collections of the “real” collectors – the ones that go for the grain, the names, the perfection in every detail. I’ve observed the serious pipe collector from afar enough to understand there is a lot that goes into the collection value of a pipe. I respect that aspect of the hobby we share, its just not my cup o’ tea.

Admittedly, my tastes in pipes has crept up over the years. I’ve burned my tongue and fingers on a basket pipe or two early on. These days I’m willing to spend a lot more for confidence a pipe will smoke well – I just haven’t hit the point where I want to pay for much else.

Tobacco on the other hand – that is where I am a nut. I buy, open, and sample far too much tobacco – too much because I often don’t get around to smoking it all. That’s my compulsion and I’m keeping it. I could go the rest of my life without buying another pipe, but I don’t think I could refrain from buying new tobaccos. I tried to go a year and only made it six months.

That in mind, here is the story. I was deployed to Iraq. I had not brought my pipes with me. I had wasted too many tins on an earlier deployment to Afghanistan to an extremely dry climate and dust. That just wasn’t good smoking weather and wasn’t good for the tobacco.

I spent a good amount of my free time in Iraq window shopping on the internet. A pipe collector would have been looking at pipes, I was reading about tobacco. I made a list of all the tobaccos that caught my interest, prioritized them, and when I was almost done put in an order for them to be delivered to my home in time for my arrival. I ordered a crazy amount of tobacco and felt like the order wouldn’t be complete without a pipe so I went for a “cheapie.”

It was one of those lower end Savinellis with the balsa insert. No grain, factory cut, but I did and do like the shape. When I arrived home and settled down, I tore into my tobacco order. I had a lot of catching up to do. Here and there I’d throw a bowl in the new Sav and before long realized I was reaching for it a lot.

That pipe saw a lot of use in the following months. Eventually, it began creeping to the back of my rotation as I continued to add more pipes but its never been forgotten and every time I pull it off the rack I am surprised how well it smokes, how nice it feels in my hand or clenched comfortably in my jaw.

As good as it smokes, this will also always be my “Iraq pipe.” That ended up being my last deployment. I never had the chance to treat myself to a better pipe at the end of a deployment because I never got to go back before I retired. If I had to thin the herd down to my favorite dozen, that pipe would remain in my collection and I’d say goodbye to pipes I’d spent much more on.

One of the pipes to go would be my birth year Dunhill. This one is the exception to the rule. It smokes horribly – like a basket pipe. I keep it only for the fact it was made in my birth year and I wouldn’t want to push off a crappy smoker on someone else. Bad pipe purchases stop here.

If I could only keep 12, I’d keep the dozen that give me the best smokes. There may even be some tilt for pipes that have a story, that were given me by someone special etc. But the Dunhill has to go.

Tell me in the comments below about any pipes you have a special attachment to.

Tips on buying pipes and pipe tobacco online – Video

Back in the day, I’m sure most people didn’t have to go far to buy pipes and pipe tobacco. More and more, for most of us, if we want to take advantage of any kind of selection we need to go online.

I am often asked to suggest online retailers. I’ve dealt with quite a few and had a lot of good experiences. There are plenty of reliable business people out there keeping our hobby alive.

Rather that go down a list and possibly forget someone, I think it better to offer a few guidelines I employ when buying online. If you have never purchased from a particular business before, here is what I suggest:

1. Before you order, establish contact. Make sure they answer their phone or email. If they aren’t available to help you make a purchase, chances are they won’t be there to resolve any problems that may arise in a timely manner.

2. If you’re active on any pipe smoking discussion forums like Tamp and Puff, watch for good things being said. You can ask for suggestions, but know that on most forums, saying anything negative (no matter how true) is frowned upon so people will refrain from sharing bad experiences. On the other hand, one person’s gripe may be just that – an isolated situation.

3. When buying pipes, examine the pictures and description carefully. Online auctions should also list the measurements of a pipe – its length, chamber diameter, height, and outside bowl diameter. Without these measurements pictures alone can be deceiving.

4. Always ask questions. I like to ask sellers if a pipe will pass a pipe cleaner effortlessly and if the drilling is centered and at the bottom of the tobacco chamber.

5. Know ahead of time what their shipping options are. If a shipping option isn’t listed on their web site, call them and ask – they may be willing to be flexible.

6. Usually you receive a confirmation message of some sort when a purchase is made and the items are shipped. If not, its a good idea to call them the next day and ask if everything is good to go. Some merchants will hold your order if something is out, cancel it if they have a hard time with your credit card, etc. Any number of problems can come up. To avoid waiting for the shipment that never comes communicate.

Have any other tips? Please post them in the comments below and discuss.

How to re-hydrate pipe tobacco – Video demonstration

I like my pipe tobacco a little on the dry side, but there are those times the balance tips and a little dry becomes too dry. In this video I demonstrate what works well for me when bringing a little life back to tobacco in its way to becoming dust.

Cellaring Pipe Tobacco – Why and how to age or store tobacco

Cellaring Pipe Tobacco – Why and how to age or store tobacco

Cellaring pipe tobacco for the purposes of storage, aging, and insurance against blends going out of production, inflation in prices, and legislative restrictions on tobacco purchases is an important part of the hobby for me.

In this video I briefly discuss this aspect of enjoying pipe tobacco and provide a few tips on how to go about it.

Video Blog Entry: New Pipe and a little on breaking in new pipes

There is a great community of pipe smokers on YouTube. For a few months now, I have had a lot of fun with videos there – both making them and watching other peoples. Like you’ll see on this one, these aren’t big production projects – just a nice, informal way to share the hobby.

Also – a link to the Virtual Smoking Lounge where I bought the pipe. This was my first order and I’m happy to say everything was top notch from beginning to end.

I learned about his great reputation on YouTube. A lot of the pipe smokers there do business with him.

When I contacted Dave about some pipes, he helpfully responded immediately – that day.

He’s on the Mainland United States somewhere (Michigan I think) and I’m in Hawaii. I pulled the trigger received the shipping email Thursday night. Monday afternoon the pipe was filled with some Artisan’s Blend in my happy kisser.

The pipe was in perfect condition – he did a hell of a nice job carefully packing it and threw in a nice little gift.

I am a very happy customer and plan to do business with him again.