What is a Fill?

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jimbo44

Junior Member
Aug 2, 2010
62
0
A fill is a pit or cavity in the briar that has been stopped up by the pipemaker to try and conceal the flaw - somtimes with briar dust and glue but more usually with putty; stained over, they are not always obvious when new but appear later when the pipe has been smoked.

All briar has flaws but the better carvers work round or discard flawed stummels.

 

captainsousie

Preferred Member
Aug 1, 2012
2,514
57
Unless it is in the bowl, a fill is usually only a cosmetic thing. It used to not bug me but it does now as it's a sloppy way of covering for something.

 

mattsem

Junior Member
Oct 14, 2014
74
0
well i bought a new mastro geppeto and there are few spots on the bowls surface that look dodgy to me. since i don't really know whats a fill i can't tell whether its a fill or not but whatever it is, its bothering me

 

warren

Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
7,590
499
Do the spots have well defined edges? Are the spots a bit lighter than the surrounding area? The filling material will not take stain as well as wood because of the binder (glue). Well executed fills are acceptable to the majority of pipers, except in upper end pipes, and should not have any effect on the pipe's performance. High quality pipes should not have fills. That's one of the reasons people spend big money for Dunhills, etc. High priced pipes should not have blemishes.

 

mattsem

Junior Member
Oct 14, 2014
74
0
so it is acceptable in a 100$ pipe?

I will try and capture it in the photo and see what you guys think

its bothering me because the seller didnt mention it. Aren't they supposed to say something about a fill or blemishes ?

 

warren

Preferred Member
Sep 13, 2013
7,590
499
In this day and age, I would say yes. Today's $100.00 pipe is the 60's $30-50 pipe. So, yes. Again, a well filled pit should be very discreet, not a glaringly, big area readily discernible to the eye. You should have to look closely to see it. No bigger than the head of a straight pin, in my opinion, and well blended into the neighboring surface.

 

northernneil

Preferred Member
Jun 1, 2013
1,390
0

This is a fill. They are very common, especially in pipes that cost $100 or less.
Personally, small fills do not bother me. On the other hand, gaping wounds in the briar that has been patched with putty is unacceptable. Everyone has their own opinion on the topic, as with every aspect of pipe smoking.

 

okiescout

Preferred Member
Jan 27, 2013
1,530
0
That is why they sand blast and carve some pipes to get rid of the rock and sand that was trapped into the briar as it was formed.
Picture the maker buying a choice piece of block, spending all the time to make the pipe, then just in the final stage of cutting or sanding ..... a blemish shows up! :evil: So he takes it out with carving or blasting. Cheaper pipes they just putty up. As the pipe ages the color in the putty becomes noticeably different from the rest of the wood.These techniques can be used for other reasons as well.
One of my favorite smokers, an Irish quarter bent with a wide narrow bit, has 5 or 6 fills. I bought it as a cheap estate pipe.

I love the pipe. Fills are all about esthetics . There are briars which do not have any. These are expensive even in there class.

Like has been stated, everyone has there own take. I would not buy them on a pipe which was very expensive , but that is just me being anal. :D

 

okiescout

Preferred Member
Jan 27, 2013
1,530
0
That is why they sand blast and carve some pipes to get rid of the rock and sand that was trapped into the briar as it was formed.
Picture the maker buying a choice piece of block, spending all the time to make the pipe, then just in the final stage of cutting or sanding ..... a blemish shows up! :evil: So he takes it out with carving or blasting. Cheaper pipes they just putty up. As the pipe ages the color in the putty becomes noticeably different from the rest of the wood.These techniques can be used for other reasons as well.
One of my favorite smokers, an Irish quarter bent with a wide narrow bit, has 5 or 6 fills. I bought it as a cheap estate pipe.

I love the pipe. Fills are all about esthetics . There are briars which do not have any. These are expensive even in there class.

Like has been stated, everyone has there own take. I would not buy them on a pipe which was very expensive , but that is just me being anal. :D

 

jjjarhead

Junior Member
Nov 14, 2014
66
0
Also I found out that a fill may take some time to be noticed. I have a peterson aran, when I first got it I didn't see fills but now I do. I think it's because that the wax protected it from dust or whatever but when the wax wears off the putty and the brair don't change in the same way thus the difference is exaggerated and produce the more visible flaws like in northernneil's pic. Just my two cents.

 

ravkesef

Preferred Member
Aug 10, 2010
2,531
14
Cheshire, CT
I wouldn't be too stressed out about a fill in a less expensive pipe, but I wouldn't expect to find one in a pipe costing over $100. Remember, you can't taste a fill--it's merely an appearance blemish, provided that there aren't too many of them.

 

jparker

Member
Jun 22, 2014
119
0
A fill is something that I don't do. If there is a flaw, I generally leave it because I'd rather show what was naturally in the wood than hide it.

 

saltedplug

Preferred Member
Aug 20, 2013
2,954
7
Why do they put non-color-matched putty in fills? It's like they have no respect for the appearance of the pipe if they have to sell it with fills. Why not put nothing in the fill and let mother nature come through? Recently I bought a Hardcastle LB, and I love it! But, it has about a dozen fills, all with putty much lighter than the stain on the bowl.

 
Nov 27, 2014
248
0
I have a bent Barling that has beautiful grain with 3 or 4 small fills that is a wonderful smoker. I think I paid about 40 or 50 dollars for it maybe 17 or 18 years ago. The fills don't bother me at all because they are small and you have to look for them to see them. That said, I have some expensive customs that do not have fills and if they did I would have a problem with it because of what I paid for them.
IMHO, pipes costing more than $100 should not have fills. I just inquired about 2 Peterson flame grain pipes at Smoking Pipes that are in the $150 range and Mark at Smoking Pipes looked them over for me and assured me they are both free of fills. That's what I like about a vendor like Smoking Pipes which pictures the pipe you get on their website and will look it over for you if you have questions.

 

dieseltech

Junior Member
Nov 18, 2010
68
0
The glue or putty used doesn't allow the fill material to take stain. It's like trying to stain a glass bowl. You can do it but it's extremely difficult. so they stain the pipe and wax it and make it look nice and uniform. Oxidation then takes over and because glue unlike wood is not porous so the stain oxidizes out of it very quickly. Why do they use fills? No offence to any pipe maker that may come thru here, but I believe it's so their smooth lower end pipes have a smooth appearance and can bring a better profit. As for mother nature...if pipe making was left to natural finish pits, no stain, pipes would pretty much look all the same there wouldn't be much of anything that would make it unique.
HAHA! Then people would find uniqueness in the pits and blemishes and then that could be used as a sign of prestige.

 
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