The Cube Cut Method

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bentmike

Preferred Member
Jan 25, 2012
2,423
0

I love flake cut tobacco! In this post I'd like to talk about another way to prepare flakes for smoking different than I outlined in an earlier thread: http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/heres-the-rub-a-foolproof-flake-preparation
While tropical storm Isaac makes its way slow and steady into the Gulf of Mexico high pressure is firmly seated over the Ohio Valley. A picturesque blue sky, warm temperatures and a gentle breeze greeted me late Sunday morning as I got up from bed. I admit I am somewhat of a weather geek and the Weather Channel is my favorite TV channel especially when an intense meteorological event is unfolding. The pros have gotten very good at the forecasting game but I find it amazing and interesting how tropical storms continue to defy man's ability to predict the path and intensity of these violent weather patterns.
Anyway back to my story... As I prepared my coffee and looked out the window I decided the patio would be the perfect place to enjoy my wake-up brew and a pipe. I'm not usually a morning smoker but with nothing on the schedule at this time of day I find myself in a relaxed and contemplative state of mind. A condition that goes right along with the enjoyment of a fine tobacco, pipe and a cup of joe.
Lately I've been getting to know this wonderful new blend of hot pressed tobacco from Mac Baren -Old Dark Fired. I grabbed one of my new favorites, a little Stanwell Lovat and a flake while I waited for my coffee to brew. I've been experimenting with a new to me method of flake preparation called the "cube cut" and have really come to like it for several reasons. It's quick and easy; just start at one end and snip the flake across the grain with a sharp pair of scissors, load the resultant pieces into the bowl and light.
At the charring light the tobacco swells and easily takes the flame. Because the pieces are indeed square shaped blocks with gravity feed there is plenty of air space and the ember seems to burn more consistently without the hit or miss that I've experienced with the fold and stuff method. The draw also stays open with just a very light occasional tamp after throwing off the ash.
The third attribute of the cube cut is one shared with the fold and stuff method and probably the main reason why I love flake tobacco. Imagine a loose cut ribbon or even fully rubbed out flake tobacco stuffed into a pipe bowl. As the ember passes down the chamber smoke is continually drawn down through the lower layers of leaf. The tobacco acts as a filter absorbing oils, moisture and other byproducts of combustion that can influence the second half of the smoke and in my opinion not always in a good way. The cubes lying in the bottom of the chamber are certainly exposed to the smoke flow but because they are in fact tightly packed layers of leaf these little nuggets hold their true flavor and essence inside while the passing smoke only affects the outer surfaces of the cube. Eventually the ember reaches the unburnt cubes and unlocks the rich, pure flavors I enjoy without the steamy, harsh or burnt characteristics I sometimes get with loose cut nearing the end of the bowl.
And so I sat in a comfy chair enjoying my coffee and slowly sipping the amazing Old Dark Fired letting the pipe go out once in while to keep the briar cool. I know I don't always practice what I preach but it bears repeating: Smoke slowly and just sip aiming to just keep the ember going. I did that this morning and discovered new flavors from this incredibly great Mac Baren blend that I've not noticed before and can't even begin to describe with words.
If you've made this far through my ramblings I thank you! And if your down south and happen to be in the path of the storm take care and be safe.

 

sixmp

Senior Member
Jan 19, 2012
421
0
An enjoyable read.
Just loaded up with this method. here goes *dramatic music*

 

shawn622

Preferred Member
Jul 22, 2012
1,082
0
Mount Sterling, Ohio
+1 lLawrence. I have some dark fire cured whole leave on the way from leafonly.com along with a pound of mixed virginia flue cured and some Yenidje oriental leaves to play around with. Great post man. I'm an Ohioan too!!!!!!

 

cigrmaster

Preferred Member
May 26, 2012
13,543
151
United States
Great post Mike, and thanks for reminding me not too be so lazy. I also enjoy the cube method but find myself just breaking up flakes with my fingers into smaller chunks because I don't feel like grabbing the scissors that are not at my counter where I always break up my flakes. I am going to put my scissors where they belong now to remind me.
It sounds like you have a great couple of days ahead of you watching the weather. All of my kids schools have been cancelled and I am getting ready to put my outdoor cushions and umbrella away for the storm. It should be a good one. My two boys are at the beach as I type hoping to catch some big waves to body surf on.

 

bentmike

Preferred Member
Jan 25, 2012
2,423
0
Thanks guys for kind words -Much appreciated.
cigrmaster -Boy the ocean can sure be a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde character. I love your state. My Dad has a summer place in Placida in Charlotte County. His sister lives there year round. Spent a few days at Hollywood Beach on the Atlantic side last week. The water was so peaceful and calm in the mornings.
I've got a tiny pair of shears with a plastic cover that slides over the closed blades. I think it will fit in my pipe case. I'm stuck on the cubes!

 

sixmp

Senior Member
Jan 19, 2012
421
0
I am now a convert to the cube cut method. I am having the best smoke of 1792 i have ever had. Thank you.

 

will

Junior Member
Jul 8, 2012
98
0
Flake is such a wonderful form of tobacco.

When time comes for a smoke flakes offer quite the variety in terms of preparation.

The different ways also bring out different nuances of the smoke depending on the type of tobacco.

I usually cut cubes with a sharp knife using the lid of an old tin.

Next bowl I think I will cube it up then rub out half the cubes and see how that goes.

The Old Dark Fired is fantastic stuff too!

 

cigrmaster

Preferred Member
May 26, 2012
13,543
151
United States
Mike,I am with you, ever since I was a kid my goal was to live here one day. I started coming here in the late 50's when I was a little one. It took a while but moved here full time in 03 and have loved every minute. I do not miss the cold of Boston that is for sure. Charlotte county is nice, I was dating a woman who lived there for a bit and it was fun hanging out there. Make sure you get in touch next time you visit there, I am only 45 minutes away.

 

bentmike

Preferred Member
Jan 25, 2012
2,423
0
Will do. Might make a trip down over the winter after the snow is blowin here in Ohio.

 

morlader

Senior Member
Mar 2, 2011
485
0
Cornwall UK
Good post Mike.I smoke mostly flakes but I've not tried the cube cut method,up to now it's been stuff and puff but I am definitely going to have a go,thanks for that.
Tom

 

morlader

Senior Member
Mar 2, 2011
485
0
Cornwall UK
I have just smoked some SG Navy Flake using the Cube Cut method and it works a treat.Ideal for Sam Gawiths flakes as some of them can be rather thick and definitely lend themselves to this method.I use the scissors on my Swiss Army knife that is always in my pocket.I am sure I'm tasting the baccy better as well.Who says you can't teach old dogs new tricks,Mike just taught this old dog a new trick. Thanks Mike :clap:
Tom

 

pstlpkr

Preferred Member
Dec 14, 2009
9,739
0
Birmingham, AL
Copy/Paste from "What'cha Smokin'".
I'm taking Bentmike's suggestion and smoking cube cut Erinmore Flake in my Sabastien Beo (My prize for the Caption Contest).
This is great! Why haven't I tried this before. Rubbed out was my prefered method before. Never had any luck with roll or fold and stuff... I do believe that Rubbed-out has been "rubbed out". :D
:worship: Thank you Bentmike!
 

bentmike

Preferred Member
Jan 25, 2012
2,423
0
I wish I could claim it as my own idea but I'm sure the practice has been around for centuries. Can't remember where I first saw reference to the cube. On this website or maybe the writings of Mr. Pease? But like some of you guys I was blown away when I first tried it. I knew I had a winner when I cut some Vanilla Cream to cubes. The sweet vanilla taste stayed strong clear to the bottom.
I'm always messing around trying to enhance my enjoyment of this great hobby and it's icing on the cake to see I'm helping out other pipers too. Thanks again fellas!

 

cigrmaster

Preferred Member
May 26, 2012
13,543
151
United States
Mike, I finally put my scissors where they belong and cut up some John Ayelsbury Luxury Flake and it is performing very nicely. Thanks again for starting this thread, it really is a great way to smoke flake.

 

mick

Senior Member
Aug 13, 2012
344
0
I tried this for the first time with Solani 656 Aged Burley Flake and failed . . . miserably! I couldn't get it to stay lit for the life of me. I'm not sure if I packed it wrong or not. I just loaded/packed my pipe like normal, using my finger to pack it in a little. Was that wrong? Should I just leave it super loose in there? :oops:

 

cigrmaster

Preferred Member
May 26, 2012
13,543
151
United States
bulldog, it sounds as if you packed it too loose. Before you light it, make sure there is resistance when you draw. Too loose is difficult to keep lit, too tight is easy to keep lit but it will burn your tongue. Also when you do your charring light, are you getting it lit real well, then tamping and then firing it up big time? You should see the embers glowing red along the entire top of the bowl and big clouds of smoke should be exhaled. Also is your tobacco dry enough? I wouldn't think the Solani would be too wet, they usually come ready to go.
Since the start of this thread I have done nothing but use the cube method with my flakes with great results.

 

bentmike

Preferred Member
Jan 25, 2012
2,423
0
I am at a loss for what the cause may be bulldog. I just use a very light press with my thumb once the cubes have reached the rim during the fill. Maybe cigrmaster is right and a little tamping at the char is a good idea. When I first light the tobacco will swell nearly .125" out the bowl and I just lightly tamp it back down while puffing. I too have been cubing everything since I first tried it out and tonight I cube cut University flakes for the first time and it is amazing. I had to put the pipe down to let the bowl cool and come back inside for bit.
Another thing I have noticed is the cube cut method seems to work good with moist tobacco. I rarely let mine dry at all just load it up and go and it burns very well.

 

mick

Senior Member
Aug 13, 2012
344
0
Thanks guys, I'll keep at it. I think those ambiguous terms "too loose", "too tight", "too wet", etc. are the bane of novice pipers everywhere! :rofl: