Anyone Ever Commissioned A Pipe That Turned Out To Be A Bad Smoker?

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mawnansmiff

Preferred Member
Oct 14, 2015
4,794
0
Sunny Cornwall, UK.
Having read many posts where members proudly show off their latest commissioned pipe I am struck by the fact that they all seem to be great smokers...often much better than anticipated and much praise is heaped upon the carver.
Now I don't doubt that most commissioned pipes do indeed smoke great but all of them? I can't help but wonder if some folks after lashing out much coin on such a pipe feel compelled to like it whether it smokes great or not. More of a psychological thing.
Has anyone commissioned a pipe that actually turned out to be a pig of a smoker? I'm not expecting names to be named, that would be unkind, but surely someone has commissioned a duffer.
Regards,
Jay.

 

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
17,914
98
There are no bad smokers, IMO, as the engineering is about as complicated as a pencil. As long as the holes line up, they should smoke well, once the pipe has been learned how it wants to be smoked. IMO, every pipe can be a great smoker if the smoker takes the time to learn how to smoke it. Sure, some pipes come easier to some people's styles. But, as we hear all the time, "it smoked terrible for me, so I traded it to someone who said it was their best pipe."

Sure, some pipes are easier to learn than others. And, it's especially easier when you start off with a freshly made pipe, so I can see where we would probably never hear anyone say that a brand new pipes was a dud for them. However, I have heard of newly commissioned pipes getting a burn-out. This is to be expected, as the carver doesn't have Xray vision into pits and such that might cause this, and most makers generally would make good on such a situation. YMMV

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
25,921
86
I haven't done any commissions, but all of my hand made pipes are good. The problems I've had were with factory-made pipes, often when they are more narrow in the shank. I had one that was just too restricted for pipe cleaners, and hard to clean anyway, and another great straight billiard that cracked at the shank and bowl juncture. Most hand made pipes receive enough individual attention and are enough of an ego investment by the carver to come up good. I'm sure there are clunkers, but not often.

 

clickklick

Preferred Member
May 5, 2014
1,673
0
The answer is yes. There are two things that happen.

1. The buyer feels invested both emotionally and monetarily. So instead of complaining, then put the pipe on the rack and only come back to it once in a while to see if things have changed. . . it mostly collects dust.

2. The buyer trades or sells it shortly after acquiring it.
I still own all of the pipes I've ever commissioned, and not all of them are knockouts!

 

disinformatique

Preferred Member
No complaints here yet. I have, however just sold my first "new" briar I ever commissioned. It's a Cherrywood made by Rick Black and is an amazing VaPer pipe. My smoking style just changed and I was lucky enough to sell it to another forum friend.
My ex took my second commissioned pipe and I have no idea how it smokes. It was a Trianglican Biliard, a signature pipe by Clark Layton.
My third commission is a Butera Bekler Collab Meer Cutty and I will report once I receive the package.
Cheers,

Chris

 

papipeguy

Preferred Member
Jul 31, 2010
15,800
2
Bethlehem, Pa.
I've been very lucky to date with my commissions. Now, I have bought pipes that I don't find to be satisfactory for the money spent so I tend to avoid those makes. Cosmic hit the nail on the head-a pipe has 2 holes and a stem. I'm boggled when something so seemingly simple is not accomplished with well known makes.

 

fitzy

Preferred Member
Nov 13, 2012
2,933
0
NY
I've read something recently about PH of the briar and the PH of the tobacco having an effect on whether or not it smokes that tobacco well (Ph of the smoker as well). Assuming the pipe is created correctly it could just be a matter of finding the right tobacco for that pipe.

 

bigpond

Preferred Member
Oct 14, 2014
2,024
0
Yep. Thrice.
One smokes so wet I typically have to cover the bowl and flick the stem three times over the course of a single bowl. Other than that, it's fine I guess.... Straight pipe, btw.
The other is fine mechanically but has an odd taste that it imparts to everything I put through it, even when smoking something as robust as 1792.
The last has amazing straight grain but arrived with a stem so tight I had to chuck it in to the freezer ir order to remove it. Additionally, it had an airway that was narrower than anything I've yet encountered and required redrilling in order to smoke properly.
The least expensive of the three was $350 and all were from veteran and well known carvers.

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
25,921
86
bigpond, that's really disheartening. Somehow I think a commissioned pipe would be a dream fulfilled. I guess sometimes not. One thing about estate pipes is that you can tell if they have been smoked often, and the ones that have usually smoke well. You have to wonder about the lightly smoked -- there might be reasons.

 

pipehunter

Member
Dec 20, 2016
212
0
[quote}

There are no bad smokers, IMO, as the engineering is about as complicated as a pencil. As long as the holes line up, they should smoke well, once the pipe has been learned how it wants to be smoked. IMO, every pipe can be a great smoker if the smoker takes the time to learn how to smoke it.

[/quote]
I'm not a pipemaker, but I think this is terribly oversimplified. Now, sure, once the holes line up a pipe can be smoked...but I think it takes more for it to be a good smoker. A key aspect is the airflow through the draft hole, negotiating the mortise/tenon joint, and especially moving from a round chamber at one end of the stem to a flattened opening at the other. At every transition, there is the possibility of unwanted turbulence, which can lead to the accumulation of moisture and a wet smoke. The engineering actually seems pretty complicated to me....

 

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
17,914
98
but I think it takes more for it to be a good smoker
I have been on this forum for quite a while, and I have discussed this issue at some length, and yet I am unconvinced. However, if you wish to make a case, it'll just add hours to my "discussing this issue" time card.
All in all, if you'll come have a seat and watch the forum for a while, you will find one person giving away a pipe that smokes wet or hot, only to have the new owner to declare that it is the best pipe ever. This has led me to my "learning how the pipe wants to be smoked" theory. Some just want to be smoked closer to the style of some more than others. I could go on and on, but really... It just seems so obvious to me that skill would be the main player in this discussion. And, ego makes the smoker blame the pipe, which is really just one of the simplest tools in history.

 

pipehunter

Member
Dec 20, 2016
212
0
Probably best for me to just agree to disagree. As I'm not sure I have the time or skills to really play this discussion out.
I do think technique/style/skill/whatever plays a bigger role in the smoking experience than just about anything else, and you make a very good point about that. But I also think that some pipes are better engineered. It's possible (though I haven't tested it) that any aspect I might consider a "fault" in pipe making could be compensated for by some smoking technique...in which case, maybe "fault" isn't the perfect term, and you may be technically correct. But I think there are limits. For instance, wearing an asbestos glove and plugging a burnout with the meat of your thumb isn't quite the same as having a structurally sound briar, even if you can replicate the smoking experience.
Clearly, I haven't been on this forum very long, but I have been around pipes for 25 years or so and studied fluid dynamics early in my career. By no means am I an expert (hell, I've never even tried to make a pipe), but I am convinced there is something to a slightly greater complexity of engineering than what's required for a pencil. In my opinion, quality pipe makers, are doing something other than sprinkling pixie dust to account for their pipes smoking better than a scooped out pinecone with a straw stuck in the side.

 

toobfreak

Preferred Member
Dec 19, 2016
1,365
0
I had a couple of pipes back in the late '70's or early 1980's, a Pete and a Meer from Tanzania that both bit like hell and smoked wet, so I gave both to a friend for a song. A few years later I was over visiting and he was smoking one of them or I saw it sitting there and I tried it---- I could not believe it was the same pipe! I learned my lesson that day that there are few bad pipes (I suppose you can buy shit if you want shit) but mainly it is a matter of properly breaking in the pipe and break in needs vary widely, and the other factors are packing and smoking technique as well as maybe even marrying the right kind of tobacco to the pipe. Some pipes are very forgiving while others really excel at certain types. And sometimes it is even the smoker too.
And I sure wish I had the old Pete back I gave away, so I went out several years ago and bought a new Pete that was the closest thing they still make to that old one.

 

atjurhs

Member
Jan 19, 2017
199
0
I agree with clikklick
The answer is yes. There are two things that happen.

1. The buyer feels invested both emotionally and monetarily. So instead of complaining, then put the pipe on the rack and only come back to it once in a while to see if things have changed. . . it mostly collects dust.

2. The buyer trades or sells it shortly after acquiring it.
I've seen (and guilty of doing) this same behavior in other hobbies of mine.

 

toobfreak

Preferred Member
Dec 19, 2016
1,365
0
I have been around pipes for 25 years or so and studied fluid dynamics early in my career.
Hunter, I can totally relate to where you are coming from, but IMHO, I don't think a good pipe is anything that you can necessarily just totally measure with a static formula. A good formula might get you close but there will still be variation. There are OK pipes, good pipes, but some are just phenomenal. Pure magic. I don't think that happens totally by any formula, it is partly something in the briar and good pipe makers will often know how to recognize and tease the best from them. So it is partly an art-form as well. I think a certain intuition is involved. So a lot of what a pipe is I think depends on the initial briar used and the rest is on the art and skill of the maker in getting the mechanics down right as well as crafting fine balance and cosmetics so that the quality of the final pipe comes through to the smoker on three or four sensory levels and not just one or two.
That said, every handmade pipe is an individual, and their character differs for whatever reason in how they will smoke best, with whatever blends, etc. So I will agree with those people who say that most pipes which seem to have an initial bad disposition will, given the chance, smoke well once the right environment for them is found.
Smoking pipe tobacco is more than simply burning it and puffing the smoke; the pipe has a great hand in determining HOW the tobacco burns and how the smoke is delivered, and some cuts of tobacco will burn best differently than others, maybe different rate, different temperature, different area of draw--- something. That is why many serious smokers may own a hundred different pipes, each one presents some different quality they recognize for a certain need. So no, I don't think it is anything static like just getting a certain airflow, like cosmic said, on some basic level a pipe is a pretty simple thing but there can be a lot of factors that will affect how it best smokes. The pipe is not likely to ever change to suit you, the trick is in finding how best to suit it.

 

philobeddoe

Preferred Member
Oct 31, 2011
4,508
13
East Indiana
Sorry Cosmic, but there are bad pipes, you can try to adjust your smoking cadence etc., but some pipes are just shit. Whether it's bad briar, poor drilling, too narrow a draft, there are lots of possible reasons that a particular pipe might not smoke well. You can "learn to live with it", but why would you, pipes are plentiful and tobacco isn't getting any cheaper, why waste it on a soggy, hot pipe? BTW, I have been dissatisfied with a commission once, now it sits in my rack reminding me to be more diligent on my commissions, I've not bought another pipe from that carver because of it.

 

georged

Preferred Member
Mar 7, 2013
2,598
4
There are no bad smokers, IMO, as the engineering is about as complicated as a pencil.
True, but there absolutely are---though rarer today than in years past---funky blocks of wood from time to time. And whatever is up with them (no one knows for sure---some sort of outgassing when heated, probably) makes for a spectacularly terrible smoke. Like plastic-shavings-in-your-tobacco bad.
Such wood is not fault of anyone's though, anywhere in the supply chain, and shouldn't be laid at the feet of the carver.