Put that in Your Pipe

Pipe Tools Part 1

Pipe ToolAs with any hobby or pastime when it comes to smoking a pipe there are tools and bits and pieces that you just can’t live without and we’re going to have a look at some of those right now and we’ll start off with the cheapest tool of all.

Perhaps the simplest tool of all is the humble pipe cleaner … that slim furry little critter that you slip into the stem of your pipe to keep it clean and free of build up that can really spoil your smoking experience. You can also use them to keep the stem dry while you’re still smoking your pipe.


Pipe cleaners are cheap so buy them in packets of 50 or more and make sure you always have them on hand. Pipe cleaners can also be used to keep small children amused and they can be twisted into all sorts of interesting shapes.

Pipe TampersPipe Tamper

In another article I suggested that the best tool to use to tamp down the tobacco in your pipe was your finger and that was certainly the tool of choice for most pipe smokers in years gone by … in fact that was the only tool available for many people. Today however there are dedicated pipe tampers that come in a variety of shapes and sizes. (View some interesting Pipe Tampers Here.)

You can even buy pipe tampers that come as part of a combination tool set and that’s certainly very convenient. Pipe tampers can range in price from a few dollars upwards but you have to realize that you’re not going to get anything fancy for just a few dollars. However, if you’re just starting out and you want to keep your investment in pipe tools to a minimum then the cheap tools will do the job just as well as the more expensive ones.

Pipe Nails or Picks

Again, this is quite a cheap tool and it’s designed to be used to scrap the bowl of your pipe. Even if you buy it as part of a combination tool you can get away with spending just a few dollars but do take care with a tool like this. It’s quite easy to damage the interior of your pipe bowl if you’re too eager with your scraping.

Pipe Reamer

This is definitely not a tool for the inexperienced pipe smoker. A pipe reamer is a tool that allows you to clean the bowl of your pipe … but once again, it’s easy to do more damage than good with a tool like this.

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Some pipe reamers are designed to expand to fit the diameter of any sized pipe bowl and once you have the size right it’s a simple matter to rotate the tool inside the bowl to remove carbon that has built up there. A tool like this can cost anything from $30.00 upwards and, because of the work it does, you really do need to buy a good quality reamer rather than something that’s cheap and lacks the fine adjustment that you will need.

For a beginner I really would suggest that you look for a pipe reamer that has a removable head. These ones come with heads of various sizes and it’s not so easy to damage the bowl of your pipe with one of these simpler pipe reamers.



Pipe Reamer Senior Pipe Reamer


Stem Bits, Wind Covers and Bowl Screens

I’m not sure whether the pipe smokers of old would have approved of any of these tools or not but for today’s pipe smoker they can be quite useful.

If you wear dentures or you have sensitive teeth … don’t laugh, people who suffer from sensitive teeth tell me that it’s something that can be quite painful … then something soft to go over the stem of your pipe can be a must-have accessory. They’re usually made of rubber that you can expand to slip over the stem and people who use them tell me that they make smoking a pipe a much more comfortable experience. They’re quite cheap and come in packs and start around $1.40 or so. Stem Bits – Click Here

Wind covers for the bowl of your pipe are an interesting accessory and I guess that they might almost be a necessity if you’re out for lobster in a Nantucket gale or shortening sail down in the Roaring Forties but they’re not what you would need if you’re kicking back at home. (Pipe Bowl Cover – Pipe Windscreen – Click Here)

However, if you do need them you will find that they are usually a snap-fit for most bowls and they do prevent overheating in strong winds and keep the ash in the pipe too.

If you have a pipe that allows small pieces of tobacco to move up the stem and into your mouth … and you find that unpleasant … then a fine-mesh bowl screen can prevent that. The sit in the bottom of your pipe bowl and provide some separation between the tobacco and the stem.

Even though these screens are usually made out of brass they do have a relatively short life and they do need to be replaced at regular intervals. You can buy them in packs of five or so and the price can be less than a dollar.

And that’s just the start of the accessories for pipe smokers. There are plenty of other accessories and we’ll look at those next time.

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