Are Wood Stems Better Than Plastic Stems

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naturesmokes

New member
Jul 5, 2014
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So I'm very new to pipe smoking and my absolute favorite time to smoke is when I'm out in the woods or on my back porch. Which hense the username. So I currently have 2 pipes. A 10 dollar corn cob and a decent briar pipe. One thing that really bothers me about my pipe is the fact that the stem is plastic. It would be cool to smoke out of a pipe with all natural materials. I've read that wood stems, the best being briar, filter out the bad tastes in tobacco smoke and alot of the moisture. Now if this is true, than why is it so hard to find pipes with wood stems? My favorite pipe tobacco is the Frog Morton blends tho :)

 

settersbrace

Preferred Member
Mar 20, 2014
1,565
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The closest briar pipe that I believe you are going to find that offers the most wood for smoke to travel through would be a Canadian or Lumberman shape. All conventional tobacco pipes have stems made of Vulcanite or Acrylic with the cob pipes being the exception as their stems are plastic. There may well be an artisan out there that incorporates wooden stems or bits into their pipes but I don't know of any. Welcome to the forums!

 

wayneteipen

Senior Member
May 7, 2012
382
0
I hear some pipemaker's are making stems out of briar these days. Ask misterlowercase. :wink:

 

misterlowercase

Preferred Member
May 31, 2012
4,296
2
:P

Indeed!
Wayne has been making me an allbriar billiard that I'm very excited about.
He has a way with making stems ultra-comfortable, a perfect bit with a perfect button, and I can't wait to see how he weaved his magic with this briar stem!
I'll be posting a full thread about it when it arrives, but here's a couple of photos he sent me the other day to induce my drooling

--- I'm an eager beaver!

:D





 

jimbo44

Junior Member
Aug 2, 2010
62
0
Vulcanite and acrylic are arguably more "chew proof".
Chris Askwith has made a few with briar stems though for careful smokers:


 

misterlowercase

Preferred Member
May 31, 2012
4,296
2
:D

Hey Jimbo!
Love that Askwith!
I think you're right about the "chew proof" aspect,

I've had a Genod allbriar for a couple of months now and the wood stem is suprisingly soft (and extremely comfortable to me) and the clenching indents come right off the bat, thankfully I'm not a chewer!
I've never been able to understand what the chewers are doing?

I've seen some old estates that look as if they were doggie toys!

 

wilson

Preferred Member
Apr 17, 2013
719
0
Old Dominion cobs have bamboo stems -- no vulcanite, acrylic or other plastics. Although not briar, this might satisfy your wish to have all natural materials?

 

bigvan

Preferred Member
Mar 22, 2011
2,193
0
Regarding the original post, "I've read that wood stems, the best being briar, filter out the bad tastes in tobacco smoke and alot of the moisture." Personally, I don't think that good quality tobacco has any "bad tastes", which is why I smoke it in the first place.
Just my opinion, but moisture in the stem is more about the engineering of the pipe and the technique of the smoker than it is about the materials used. But Brigham pipes has made its reputation on using an inner sleeve of rock maple, which it claims to do the very thing you describe. If you'd like to give it a try, I'd recommend a Brigham over an all-wood stemmed pipe. They're less expensive and FAR more hygenic.
But if this is another rationalization for wood-stemmed "hobbit pipes" (which seem to crop up every few weeks), I doubt anything I say will persuade you, so light up your prop pipe, head out to the woods and have a good time!

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
26,958
1,615
+1 on Old Dominion cobs. Wood stems are a pleasant idea, but I think they would not be durable and

would tend to show wear and get pretty ragged. Vulcanite is "natural," more or less. Old Dominion cobs

have bamboo stems and are fine smoking pipes. One or two would supplement any rotation, and being

bamboo, I think they are durable.

 

pipesinperu

Member
Apr 21, 2014
210
6
@misterlowercase Gorgeous-looking pipe there from Mr. Teipen! Be sure to report back to us once you get it.

 

misterlowercase

Preferred Member
May 31, 2012
4,296
2
If you really want one, you can get one of these brand new Genod pipes for an affordable price...

site sponsors SmokersHaven and Cup O Joes both have them in stock.

They have old timey style stems though, orific as they call 'em, meaning round,

I sanded mine down, making it more of an oval shape...


...or you can keep an eye out for a midcentury American pipe, like a Kaywoodie,

I put a variety of photos in this old thread...

:

http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/where-the-heck-can-i-find-a-completely-wooden-pipe

:






Tom Eltang will make one for you too!


They showed up in old British pipe catalogs too, from BBB and Loewe, and probably others, and might have actually been first made in France, along with bone stems, which is another option you have, or amber for that matter, but as said above, if you have a vulcanite stem it is natural rubber for the most part.

 

settersbrace

Preferred Member
Mar 20, 2014
1,565
0
Goes to show that rarely does a day go by here that you can't learn something new. Those all briar pipes are amazing.

 

necron99

Member
Mar 4, 2014
269
0
An age old question of epic veniality, whether it is better to gnaw the splintery naturalness of briar burl, or to clench the pliable and eternally land fills synthetic polymer. The answer my friend and good sir is a matter a introspect. So search your feelings and the labyrinth of your internal universe.

 

lraisch

Member
Jul 4, 2011
101
0
An interesting idea, but it seems to me that the wood, being permeable would absorb saliva and become soft and foul.

 

wayneteipen

Senior Member
May 7, 2012
382
0
There's a lot of anecdotal opinions on briar stems being shared. I'd love to hear from someone with first hand experience with them. The bowls of our pipes are made out of the same material so it stands to reason that a briar stem would be no less sanitary given that they are cared for in the same manner that we care for our other pipes. The fact that briar is a softer material is a valid concern whose pitfalls are easily avoided with a little extra care. There are also things that can be done in the making of the stem to make it more resistant to bite marks and saliva on the external surfaces. Briar stems aren't a new thing. It's been used as stem material for many years. I am genuinely interested to hear some first hand experiences of the pros and cons. This is a topic in our hobby that hasn't been discussed much.

 

cosmicfolklore

Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
18,639
1,552
I have a bulldog that I made with moose antler that I enjoy. It's soft enough on the teeth, but I can already tell that I'm removing tiny layers when I clench. I have one in horn that I don't smoke often. I just used natural cow horn. It feels good. It seems durable, but it has an ever faint barnyard odor to it. I also have boxes of early 20thc amber stems, but they are made from a mixture of tree resin and a plastic made from milk. So, it being natural isn't my issue as much as how dang hard they are to clean since they will dissolve in alcahol.
Overall, I prefer vulcanized rubber. No, it's not a naturally occurring material, but I prefer an awesome smoking experience, as opposed to following some granola ideal of natural. Just my opinion.

 

misterlowercase

Preferred Member
May 31, 2012
4,296
2
I'm also a little surprised about some of the opinions regarding briar stems.

:?:
But the same thing goes for acrylic vs. vulcanite, so here we are.
My only experience comes from the Genod allbriar which I've only had for 3 months,

I actually love it and I don't experience any negative aspect with the stem at all.
One of the most common ailments I've seen besides dental damage, is a slight discoloration in the briar,

and that's just an aesthetic issue and completely dependent upon the reaction from an individuals saliva,

some people have some strong stout spit it seems!

(that phenomena also occurs with vulcanite)
I think a briar stem will have no problems with longevity either,

look at the stems on these 60 year old pipes,

http://www.worthpoint.com/inventory/search?query=allbriar+pipe&categoryurl=

and most of them look better than vulcanite stems of a comparable age!
Some people are just bad on buttons regardless of what they're made of,

like this estate:


Here's another nice oldie,

an unsmoked Wally Frank estate that was sold by Smokers Haven,


I don't really see any cons,

but that's just me.
I'd never heard of A. Beck, but found one of his pipes on worthpoint,

the blurb is from pipedia.org

Aaron Beck created exceptionally fine pipes since the mid 1950's in Queens, New York. The hallmark of his work was his unique ability to combine bits of wood and other materials in a kind of sandwich manner to stems and / or shanks that added a very special dimension to the smoking instrument.

Here's an allbriar that he made:


...and another Tom Eltang,

just found this one while looking thru worthpoint,

you rarely see a sandblasted allbriar,

there are only a very few that've been made I think...


Chris Askwith has made one,


This wild Todd Johnson is a nifty eskimo variant,


What's really rare or scarce is a full-on allbriar in the traditional shapes,

they made them in the old old days, but they hardly ever surface on the collector market,

this one is a Seadog and it was made in France,



 
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