Brian Says You Can Smoke Grain

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cigrmaster

Preferred Member
May 26, 2012
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171
United States
I was listening to the radio show and Brian was discussing the different finishes on pipes and he explained the theory about how straight and cross grained pipes will smoke better than ones without good straight or cross grain ones. I am not sure how I feel about this one. All of the straight or cross grained pipes I have owned were good smokers except 3 but those had drilling issues. I have never bought a smooth pipe that did not have really nice grain so I cannot compare it to one that did not.
I do know that my sandblasted pipes in my American artisan collection all smoke as good if not better than any of my really nice straight or cross grained pipes I have or had. For example, the following 2 pipes from Former had incredible straight grain yet neither one smoked better than my current American artisan blasted pipes.




Now these Formers would retail for over 1200.00 in today's market yet do not smoke better than a 375.00 Rad. What are your guys experience on this subject? Do you feel your blasted and rusticated pipes smoke better than your straight grains or do your really nice straight grains smoke better than ones not as straight? Do you buy straight grain pipes believing they will smoke better because of the grain?

 

cigrmaster

Preferred Member
May 26, 2012
13,547
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United States
roth, it was not said tongue in cheek, he really believes that as do many others. It is not the first time I have heard this. When I began smoking a pipe, I was told by many people that the straighter the grain or the better the cross cut, the better a pipe will smoke. You should listen to the show it was episode 16 in the beginning of it.

 

gmwolford

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Jul 26, 2012
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WV, USA
Unless I mis-remember the show, Brian started by saying that cross grain was once considered a better quality, better smoking briar because it was thought to hold up better to the heat stress. Then came straight grain for looks, and it gained more popularity with time. But he did say, as he does with most everything, this was in his experience and his opinion and that he"is the leading expert on his own opinion".
He mentioned blasts and rusticated, too, as having more surface area and thereby smoking cooler/ better.
Personally, I agree with what Roth quote about aesthetics: If I don't like the look and feel of it I don't enjoy it nearly as much.
EDIT And I too am the leading expert in my opinion! :puffy:

 

batdemon

Preferred Member
Dec 20, 2011
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I heard the show and have to agree with rothnh. The quality of the briar and the drilling have much more to do with smoking quality than the grain. Just my opinion though.

 

numbersix

Preferred Member
Jul 27, 2012
5,452
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A very interesting argument. Unfortunately I do not have enough experience or pipes to test this theory. I would think that someone would have to smoke many pipes, possibly hundreds, before being able to make an educated statement like that.
In the beginning of my smoking hobby I found it hard to believe that a $300-500 briar was significantly better than a $70 briar. So I guess I will have to keep an open mind on the grain idea.
If I really stretch my imagination, perhaps smoke and moisture is guided up and out of the bowl more efficiently by a straight grain pipe? I am sure if we viewed a straight grain pipe under a microscope, we would see fine pathways following up the bowl.

 

hurkman

New member
Nov 25, 2012
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I think Brian was not trying to tell the listeners "these ones are the ones you want" I think he was going for "if your pipes arnt smoking the way you like then maybe try these cuts and finishes"

 

cigrmaster

Preferred Member
May 26, 2012
13,547
171
United States
What I took from Brian's explanation is that a cross grain or really good straight grain will smoke better than pipes that do not have good grain. He did say that he believes rusticated and sandblasted pipes will smoke cooler because of the surface area being more.I think I am understanding what he is trying to say, maybe others who listened to the show will let me know if I am understanding this like he intended to present it.

 

sergemoat

Senior Member
Oct 15, 2011
340
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I would think that a pipe made from briar that had straight grain would be of inherrent higher quality then one with mediocre grain but I could be mistaken.I suppose both blocks could be cut from the same burl. However I think that drilling and craftsmanship is far more important. A well drilled pipe of mediocre briar would smoke better than a poorly drilled pipe of the finest briar.

 

assaad

Senior Member
Apr 4, 2011
339
0
I think what Brian was saying was the tightness of grain was key. Everyone will agree that engineering is very important but so is good wood. Brian thinks that the tightness of grain is a good indication of the quality of wood. His question was towards cross grain vs straight grain, both are the same quality as far as smoking. If there are large bald spots he figures it is not good quality wood. I'm looking at my Dunhill shell, I can tell that if it was left to be a smooth pipe the grain quality would be very nice, very tight grain. If it was blasted so that there would be a large smooth spot, because the soft wood accumulated as a bald spot before blasting, it wouldn't be a nice blast, nor would it have been a good quality block. Brian mentioned the prior thoughts on grain patterns and told of contemporary makers, and some of old that were "in the know", using blocks with nice grain to blast as well, rather than aesthetically unpleasing blocks being the only ones used. I have pipes with nice grain and flaws, some would say that they should be blasted or rusticated, either way they have nice grain regardless of finish. Under the finish of a rusticated/blasted pipe that smokes well there is probably tight grain. Of course, the term expert only goes so far with most men's hobbies.

 

admin

Smoking a Pipe Right Now
Staff member
Nov 16, 2008
7,917
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St. Petersburg, FL
The most accurate post in this thread as far as what Brian actually said on the show came from Greg -
Unless I mis-remember the show, Brian started by saying that cross grain was once considered a better quality, better smoking briar because it was thought to hold up better to the heat stress. Then came straight grain for looks, and it gained more popularity with time. But he did say, as he does with most everything, this was in his experience and his opinion and that he"is the leading expert on his own opinion".
He mentioned blasts and rusticated, too, as having more surface area and thereby smoking cooler/ better.
It's 3 minutes and 25 seconds in -
http://pipesmagazine.com/blog/radio-talk-show/the-pipes-magazine-radio-show-episode-16/
"Go back 100 years, and the smooth pipes are what we would now consider to be cross-grains. The idea was that the wood was stronger if the expansion of the bowl would go against the grain, so they would cut all the bowls to be cross-grains."
"In the old days, they weren't that concerned with what the grain looked like ..."
"The straight grain ... we started to see that show up in the late 30s - early 40s ... we think it looks a whole lot better."
"Does the amount of grain really mean anything to the smoking quality of the pipe? That's a big argument that people have gone back and forth over. I can tell you that I think that a pipe that is well grained, whether it be a cross-grain or a straight-grain, if its got a ton of birds-eye on the sides and top, those tend to smoke better for me, than a less grained or a more bland piece of wood."
"In my opinion, the grain helps dissipate the heat out easier, it helps make the pipe more breathable. It definitely means that the tighter the grains are, the older that piece of wood is, and the bigger the burl was to start off with, so you definitely want to look for better grained pieces, whether it be a cross-grain or a straight-grain."
"The pipes that bother me appearance-wise are the pipes that have no grain at all, it's just kind of washed out."

 

freakiefrog

Preferred Member
Dec 26, 2012
745
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Mississippi
I own both straight and cross grain briar and after 10 years of smoking them I can tell you that I can't tell the different in the two for smoking reasons, maybe my pallet just isn't that sensitive or that I just don't own the variety of pipes that others do to be able to tell with certainty that there makes a difference. I will tell you that I can tell in my smoking experience with how tight the grain is things like tight grain seems to hold bowl heat in better and thus (to me anyway) requires fewer relights the outside of the pipe stays warm or cool to the touch but the tobacco seems to stay smoldered even when set down or not drawn on for a few minutes. In turn I own a few pipes that have visible looser grain and those seem to smoke hotter and require more relights and will even depending on the blend smoke wet when the same blend in another pipe of the same style might not.. Just my two cents. It doesn't effect the taste or quality of the smoke just the amount of fiddling I have to do to keep a light going .. below are some examples.
here are two very good smokers that are of the first described type tight grain of bout straight and cross grain


cross grain one of my best smokers with or with out the balsa insert

http://pipesmagazine.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/album/6710/dsc_2173-600x401.jpg
More tight grain that is an great smoke


A much hotter smoking pipe with looser grain.


another loose grain one



 

jah76

Preferred Member
Jun 27, 2012
1,608
4
Dunno about all that.
But Baron you made me laugh out loud. I play a totally killer air guitar in your direction.

 

foggymountain

Preferred Member
Aug 14, 2012
2,862
0
Tight is important, as in the old jazz song "Daddy, it's tight like that." Cross, straight or erratic does not matter. This is based on both experience, yes I have smoked close to 200 pipes, and common sense. Whoever says otherwise, if a part of the pipe business, is suspect. That person may be trying to keep the prices up. And I challenge them to a duel, at the local pipe club, with pipecleaners.