Removing the Stem of a Warm Pipe

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craig61a

Senior Member
Apr 29, 2017
462
970
I have heard arguments in the past for and against removing the stem from a warm pipe. Internet folklore to you’ll wreck that thing...

I generally don’t remove a stem from my pipes unless it’s necessary to clear some obstruction. It’s not really necessary in the course of cleaning after each use.

I use graphite on the tenon in order to allow relatively easy removal and insertion of the stem.

In my opinion it is of benefit to clean out the mortise every 30-40 uses so that a buildup of tar doesn’t occur between the interface of the mortise and tenon, so that the fit doesn’t get so tight that it takes a lot of force to break it loose.

The moisture will wick and dry into the interface. So by keeping it relatively clean problems can be avoided.

Anybody who’s ever unfrozen a Kirsten can probably relate to that...
 

paulie66scandinavian

Preferred Member
Jul 28, 2016
3,676
638
Finland-Scandinavia-EU
I removed a stem while the pipe was warm once. The shank cracked and I had to have a repair band installed. I never did it again.
This has happened me twice,learning the hard way,furthermore ,I may think also It might be advisable to avoid removing those stems too much which have after-market'repaired tenons,be it acrylic or vulcanite
 

winton

Preferred Member
Oct 20, 2010
2,120
58
Every time I smoke in my garage / smoking lounge, I bring in a fresh pipe and smoke it. Then I run a pipe cleaner through the stem and around in the bowl.

Then I pick up the pipe, from the last time I smoked, and remove the stem and clean up whatever is needed.

Tomorrow, I will bring another pipe. . . .
 

warren

Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
7,590
499
I'm among those who cares not if the pipe is cool or warm. Never had a problem. I do pull the bit straight out as I turn it. Gently and straight are my key words.

I've broken a shank or two through misuse or abuse. A nice job put the pipe back into good smoking condition. Luckily only a cosmetic change.
 

davek

Senior Member
Mar 20, 2014
347
55
I thought that the problem with removing a stem from a hot pipe is that it would make it loose That's been my experience, actually.
 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
26,949
1,604
Not to sound fussy, but I think in removing stems, some of the success is in ones dexterity and touch. Some guys just have big strong hands and apply a high level of torque to nearly any task ... dandling a tea bag for that matter. Whereas others have a wide range of choice about the level of strength applied, from a watchmaker's touch to whatever their bench press capacity is. For those who don't know their own strength, letting a pipe cool may be a good idea. For watchmaker guys, they can probably do this with no problem. If you don't know your own strength, let it cool. For that matter, some women have uncommonly strong hands too.
 

paulie66scandinavian

Preferred Member
Jul 28, 2016
3,676
638
Finland-Scandinavia-EU
Not to sound fussy, but I think in removing stems, some of the success is in ones dexterity and touch. Some guys just have big strong hands and apply a high level of torque to nearly any task ... dandling a tea bag for that matter. Whereas others have a wide range of choice about the level of strength applied, from a watchmaker's touch to whatever their bench press capacity is. For those who don't know their own strength, letting a pipe cool may be a good idea. For watchmaker guys, they can probably do this with no problem. If you don't know your own strength, let it cool. For that matter, some women have uncommonly strong hands too.
You nailed it, this is more than true, the undersigned being a living proof to your assessment, Best Greets,Paul
 
Reactions: anotherbob

anotherbob

Preferred Member
Not to sound fussy, but I think in removing stems, some of the success is in ones dexterity and touch. Some guys just have big strong hands and apply a high level of torque to nearly any task ... dandling a tea bag for that matter. Whereas others have a wide range of choice about the level of strength applied, from a watchmaker's touch to whatever their bench press capacity is. For those who don't know their own strength, letting a pipe cool may be a good idea. For watchmaker guys, they can probably do this with no problem. If you don't know your own strength, let it cool. For that matter, some women have uncommonly strong hands too.
wait so you think they say this for the same people that need to be told that if they reamer a pipe without taking and passing a special course that they'll destroy their pipes and the lives of everyone they love?
 

chasingembers

Preferred Member
Nov 12, 2014
17,184
3,180
I thought that the problem with removing a stem from a hot pipe is that it would make it loose That's been my experience, actually.
That's more due to the 360° compression of mortise swelling when smoking. Applying heat to Vulcanite tenons reverses that.
 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
26,949
1,604
Some folks just shouldn't sit in or on delicate furniture. Even if they are fairly agile and nimble, a certain amount of weight shifting is just going to take grandma's frail rocker to heaven.
 
Reactions: anotherbob

David_Lawrence

Junior Member
Sep 25, 2019
51
63
Would the material of the pipe make any difference in this? I don't know whether the answer's simple or obvious, I don't really have a mind for these sort of 'heat expands shank, which direction does the pressure...' physics demonstrations but I did consider whether meerschaum might be less susceptible than wood?

My issue, aside from wanting to clean after use but also wanting to smoke before bed, is using a pipe cleaner to absorb moisture that quite often builds because I'm not the driest of smokers and favour bent pipes. I've been advised of that solution but I've also been advised not to remove the stem while it's warm.

Just hoping that perhaps meerschaum doesn't expand/contract like briar thus lessening the issue; definitely don't want to take chances with my meer though!
 

chasingembers

Preferred Member
Nov 12, 2014
17,184
3,180
Would the material of the pipe make any difference in this? I don't know whether the answer's simple or obvious, I don't really have a mind for these sort of 'heat expands shank, which direction does the pressure...' physics demonstrations but I did consider whether meerschaum might be less susceptible than wood?

My issue, aside from wanting to clean after use but also wanting to smoke before bed, is using a pipe cleaner to absorb moisture that quite often builds because I'm not the driest of smokers and favour bent pipes. I've been advised of that solution but I've also been advised not to remove the stem while it's warm.

Just hoping that perhaps meerschaum doesn't expand/contract like briar thus lessening the issue; definitely don't want to take chances with my meer though!
Meer softens from the moisture and if you have a threaded mortise insert you want to disassemble it as little as possible. If you have, like IMP uses, a permanent delrin mortise insert, disassemble, either warm or cold, will be no issue.
 

sablebrush52

Preferred Member
Jun 15, 2013
9,985
1,178
Not all briar acts the same. With some pipes I own the wood will swell a little more from the moisture released during smoking.
Why does one need to remove the stem when the pipe is still warm? What is the point of that?
I pull the stem after a days use to clean out the mortise. I have zero desire to smoke a dirty pipe.
So I wait till the pipe has cooled and remove the stem as part of the cleaning process. 48 years, no cracked shanks, no problems with the fit.
Why would I do it any other way?
 

saintpeter

Preferred Member
May 20, 2017
688
1,034
66
Arizona (Casa Grande)
Why would I do it any other way?
I don't know. Bored with doing it the same way for 48 years? You wish to live on the edge and flirt with danger? Seriously if after a half century with no problems I wouldn't change a thing. I am so paranoid of the process I only take mine apart once a month for deep cleaning. Wipe with paper towel after each day, regular pipe cleaner every day and bristle ever 7 days. I am clumsy and break things by looking at them, so I don't mess with them until they are definitely room temperature.