Wooden Smoking Pipes

May 19, 2016

Wooden Smoking Pipes come in several varieties, the most popular being those made from Briar, the most widely used material for over two hundred years! It all began in the 1820’s, when  artisans from the French town of St. Claude, renowned for their wood carving skills, began to produce pipes with bowls made from the burl (or root) of the white heath tree which grows on the side of  mountains in the Mediterranean. These roots, harvested at the age of 30 to 100 years, are baked for several hours, after which they are dried for several months before being further processed. The wood is light brown to reddish brown in color, often beautifully textured, very hard, and heat-resistant, and does not affect the aroma of pipe tobacco smoke. Briar is beautiful when left either natural, sandblasted, or polished.

Sandblasted wooden smoking pipes begin their lives as partially unfinished and generally flawed pieces of briar.  To create this Sandblast look, the pipe is carved into a preferred shape and design, then, it’s exposed to high pressure blasting of sand, glass, or metal particles that creates an abrasive finish and a harder surface. It also gives the pipe a unique layered look that many wooden smoking pipe enthusiasts find very attractive. These pipes functionally tend to smoke cooler than other styles because the aerated wood actually distributes heat more evenly. A classic example of this process can be found on some of our best-selling wooden smoking pipes such as our Molina #102 Milano, James Norman Olde World Brown Sandblast , and the  P&K Everyman Pipes Straight Rustic #11, to name a few.

Moving up the food chain, pieces of briar with no visible flaws are stained various hues to provide a desirable range of colors, and are priced according to the quality and age of the briar, the artistry that goes into the making of the pipe, and the natural grain. Collectability is ultimately set by how these factors marry into the final product. A perfect straight or Birdseye grain can fetch upwards of thousands of dollars, even though it has no effect on the quality of the smoke. Some of our most prized unblemished wooden smoking pipes (along with Sandblast varieties) come from such famous manufactures as Peterson, Rossi, and Savinelli.

Another category of wooden smoking pipes is the “Freehand”. These wooden smoking pipes are true works of art that don’t fall into any machine made category or shape. Only the designers unique concept comes into play as classical freehand shapes can take on any form, including that of animals, former presidents and just about anything else that can be carved out of wood. Erik Nording of Nording Pipes is one of the most popular designers of this type of wooden smoking pipe. Hand-carved of top-quality Corsican and Grecian briarwood, no two Erik Nording wooden smoking pipes are identical, making them a one-of-a-kind gift for the premium smoker, and a treasure to behold in every briar enthusiasts collection.





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