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Please Help, Very Frustrated

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  • Started 6 months ago by jason64
  • Latest reply from judcasper
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    jason64

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    Hi folks,

    After a few years I decided to go back on pipe smoking. At the time I started I read about how to break in a new pipe, how to pack etc but still I am struggling.
    Here are some issues I have now and I greatly appreciate any input:

    1) my pip immediately goes off regardless of the pipe or tobacco that I use. some of my tobaccos were dry as bone and I restored them, I tend to smoke the tobacco drier but still, immediately goes off. Not sure if my packing (famous 3 step approach) is the culprit or what.

    2) I have very nice brand new pipes and I want to break in them, but I am not sure what the best way is. Ironically, I think I still I dont have a clear concept of the cake!

    Again, thank you very much for your time

    Posted 6 months ago #
  2. milehighpiper

    milehighpiper

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    So I don't know much about cake and how to build it up (simply because I do not want it on my pipes). However, one trick that helped me obtain longer lights, barring any long winded speeches, was to pack my bowl and start off with a charring light. The charring light should be (based on what I was showed and my experience), when you light for a few seconds and puff until the embers go out. Once the charring light goes out, you tamp the drier tobacco down and "re-light" the true light. As you continue to smoke, tamp down while puffing. As opposed to tamping with the pipe in your hands and away from your face.

    This technique has helped me go through full bowls without a relight. Maybe a second relight towards the bottom of the bowl.

    Hope this helps!

    Posted 6 months ago #
  3. ashdigger

    ashdigger

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    First off, I'm glad you found the caps lock key.

    You state that you rehydrate your tobacco. Smoke it dry.

    What are you smoking? Try something simple like Prince Albert.

    The three step pack is crap. Load your pipe....compress a little with a finger. Light. Puff. Light again. Puff.

    Ubi Ignis Est?
    Posted 6 months ago #
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    jason64

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    thank you, I do charring light all the time, it doesn't stay lit after I re-light it

    Posted 6 months ago #
  5. ashdigger

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    Your tobacco is too wet.

    Posted 6 months ago #
  6. verporchting

    verporchting

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    Buy some Prince Albert or Carter Hall, something that is simple to keep lit and easy to smoke and still tastes good.

    Pack the pipe about 1/2 full without thinking too much about it - with one of those burley blends it will probably not matter too much even if your packing isn't perfect. Light up and enjoy it. Don't worry about relights or keeping it lit or cake or breaking in your pipe or anything else. Just enjoy the moment. If it goes out relight it.

    The cake will take care of itself. The pipe will be broken in by the time you finish the pouch and you won't have frustrated yourself.

    Repeat with full bowls and any tobacco you like after that. You've got the rest of your life to perfect the technique.

    Just my two cents worth.

    Posted 6 months ago #
  7. bassbug

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    Don't overthink the cake thing. If you find it gets too thick, ream it out, but don't go back to bare wood. Some guys like a cake, some don't and from the very many discussions I've seen here as well as my own experience, there's no definitive right or wrong.

    It's almost impossible to say why your pipe goes out immediately. Maybe the packing, maybe you're being TOO gentle with puffing, maybe you're just simply not lighting it well enough. Change one variable at a time and you'll get a handle on it soon enough. I know a lot of people will chime in and say it takes years to get it right, but I will respectfully disagree. Just relax and enjoy the process. If you're not having fun, chances are you're not going to be long for pipe smoking.

    I don't care who you are, you're not walking on the water while I'm fishing
    Posted 6 months ago #
  8. olkofri

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    Packing too loosely? There's too much air between the strands of tobacco and the cherry will not come down and puff itself out.

    Packing too tightly? There's not enough air pockets for the cherry to get oxygen from and it will be invariably extinguished.

    Cake is overrated. Don't worry about 'breaking in'. The best way to 'break in' a pipe is to pack it and smoke it.

    Not the sweet, new grass with flowers is this harvesting of mine;
    Not the upland clover bloom...
    Posted 6 months ago #
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    jason64

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    I have Carter Hall, its kind of ok. My problem is with my Boswell blends, FVF, Connoisseur's choice, etc. I thought over hydration is the reason but I let them dry and still they dont burn as they should. I kind of struggle with packing. How do you guys pack if not the 3 step?

    Posted 6 months ago #
  10. olkofri

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    Although some here will swear by the Dry, Dry, Dry motto, your tobacco doesn't really need to be crumbling dry in order to burn. As a matter of facts, aromatics shouldn't be dried to the point of bone dry: they'll lose flavour.

    Relights are a fact of life. Only in pipe contests do pipers get disqualified if their pipe goes out. This is not a contest. I relight my pipe like 20 times. Of course, I'm still doing something wrong, so I feel your pain, but a few relights per bowl is nothing to get yourself kaflustered about.

    There are several packing methods. The Codger Pack isn't too complicated: just pinch tobacco into the chamber with your finger and gently press on it; repeat till it's full.

    There's also the Frank Method. Don't let the derision it gets from some here deter you from trying it. Heck, if it works for you, who cares how others pack their pipes.

    Here's a packing primer for three different cuts of toby, by one of our piping veterans: Packing: Three Methods.

    Posted 6 months ago #
  11. bassbug

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    How do you guys pack if not the 3 step?

    It's hard to quantify, I just kinda stuff the tobacco in the pipe. Not too loose, not too tight. Just keep a mental note of what you did the previous time and how it worked out. Do it 10-20 times and you'll get the hang of it.

    Posted 6 months ago #
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    lestrout

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    Yo Jas

    Are you located in the Northeast? I'm thinking, within range of a pipe club with folks who could observe and show you various techniques.

    hp
    les

    Posted 6 months ago #
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    jason64

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    yes I am in CT. thats a great idea. Do you happen to know any place?

    Posted 6 months ago #
  14. hoosierpipeguy

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    How many bowls per day are you smoking? Pipe smoking isn't rocket science. Try getting it right with something simple like the Carter Hall. If you can pack, light and smoke it fine, that's a good indication you're smoking the other stuff too wet. Error on the side of packing too loose, you can make that up with tamping. The make up for too tight is to dump the bowl. When you're lighting, use a long, slow, deep draw to get it going good. If you do pack it loose, dry drawing lightly while you're tamping to try to achieve the right draw. I can feel the draw get better as I tamp down when I've packed too loose. Don't be afraid to tamp it down good. If you screw one up, no big deal. Empty it out and start over.

    Aside from that, smoke more. In other words, practice. If you get your tobacco dry enough, it really shouldn't take long to figure it out. If you're smoking 1 or 2 bowls per week, it may take awhile. If you smoke a couple of bowls per day for a couple of weeks, I would bet you'll be doing reasonably well.

    Posted 6 months ago #
  15. judcole

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    I think these gents are correct that it is your packing technique. I tend to do a sorta modified three step method (modified because it is sometimes four steps), but I have been doing it so long I do not even think about it.
    My current break in technique is: smoke a bowl of Lane Ready Rubbed every day for about two weeks. Let the pipe sit for two weeks. Then move it into the rotation.

    Thought in the early morning, solace in time of woes,
    Peace in the hush of the twilight, balm ere my eyelids close
    Rudyard Kipling
    Posted 6 months ago #
  16. pipesmoker30

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    I had a brand new pipe and to break mine in a went up in states, quarter full smoke all the way to the bottom/to a fine ash, I done this for about 5 bowls, then half full again slow smoke all the way to the bottom and to a fine ash, then 3quarters the same. Once you have done that you should have a nice build up of cake like I have then you can go to full bowls. Pack it, light it, puff a few times, tap it down so you have a crusted layer on top then relight and enjoy. It takes time but tbh now my pipe is a dream to smoke, very rarely goes out, a nice build up of cake and smokes cool and slow.

    Posted 6 months ago #
  17. dadosaurusrex

    dadosaurusrex

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    I agree with what the others have said about Carter Hall and Prince Albert. Those are very forgiving blends, as far as packing goes, and they really helped me out, because I always had issues packing too tight. I also agree about not over thinking packing. Just keep trying different things until you find something that works for you. I used to religiously try the three step thing and it never really worked for me, and I didn't get the hang of packing until I just practiced more (smoked more bowls). Just hang in there and practice and you'll get it!

    Thought in the early morning, solace in time of woes,
    Peace in the hush of the twilight, balm ere my eyelids close
    -Rudyard Kipling
    Posted 6 months ago #
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    jason64

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    thank you all for your input. So if I pack too loose I can tamp it, what if I pack too tight? what can I do then?
    also if I dump a whole bowl after charring light and a few puffs, can I use the same tobacco to pack again or I should toss it?

    Posted 6 months ago #
  19. olkofri

    Olkofri

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    If you pack too tight you can use the pick in your pipe tool to punch a few holes in the tobacco to create air channels. Be gentle, so that you don't scratch the bowl.

    Posted 6 months ago #
  20. carolinachurchwarden

    carolinachurchwarden

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    what if I pack too tight? what can I do then?

    You should test the draw after filling your bowl before you ever light it up. It should draw like sucking on a straw in a cup of water. If it's like sucking on a milkshake, you should dump it and refill.

    If it gets tight from tamping, you could try to use your poker and poke some holes through the top and make it'll open some.

    if I dump a whole bowl after charring light and a few puffs, can I use the same tobacco to pack again or I should toss it?

    Why would you want to do that? If you start a bowl, you can just set it to the side. If you needed to do that, for some reason, I'd scrape the ash off, dump that, then empty the bowl into somewhere else, but you could do what you're saying if you wanted to.

    "If you can't send money, send tobacco." - George Washington

    Posted 6 months ago #
  21. jpmcwjr

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    You should test the draw after filling your bowl before you ever light it up. It should draw like sucking on a straw in a cup of water. If it's like sucking on a milkshake, you should dump it and refill.

    And learn to dry the tobacco more before loading. (You really have to bear down to overpack when the tobacco isn't too moist)

    I know that you believe you understood what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
    Posted 6 months ago #
  22. btwes7

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    I cube cut flakes, let dry overnight then gravity fill. Light tamp, one good charring light and I’m good to go. Never really got too worked up over Cake. It just happens.

    Posted 6 months ago #
  23. rdavid

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    Just keep adjusting your technique and soon you’ll start experiencing those magical “perfect” bowls. It takes awhile and you will certainly develop your own methods with practice. I’m still fairly new and it seems like just yesterday I was experiencing the same frustrations. It’s the path we all take in the beginning.

    This is probably the reason a lot of folks who try the pipe give up when they struggle through this stage. So much easier to light a cigarette and keep on going. Me, I like the methodology, the fiddling, packing etc. Experimenting with different techniques is always fun especially when the outcome is positive given the infinite variables.

    As far as packing goes, I too got wrapped around the axle with all the different methods but now, I just fill the bowl and press on it with a finger until it just “feels right”. Again, that comes with practice and experience. Best advice was given above as the OTC blends are the most forgiving and makes things much easier. You’re definitely in the right place for great info and I certainly believe this forum has shaved years off the learning curve for me personally.

    Welcome and enjoy.

    "May my last breath be drawn through a pipe, and exhaled in a jest." Charles Lamb
    Posted 6 months ago #
  24. craiginthecorn

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    The funny thing about packing is it sounds so simple, but then turns out to be so perplexingly difficult. Then after a time, it seems like it’s the easiest thing in the world and you can’t imagine why you found it so difficult to start. Have patience and stay determined.

    When properly packed, ribbon-cut tobacco should feel spongy — something like a marshmallow. Aromatics can prove difficult to pack because of their tendency to stick together tightly. To start, easy burning tobaccos will prove less frustrating. In general, the cross-cut codger burley blends are easy to pack, so the Carter Hall suggestions are sound. Half and Half isn’t half bad either. They also have a reputation for being good tobaccos for building cake. Honestly, I don’t worry much about it. Most new briars have bowl coatings to protect the briar from the start anyway.

    If the draw is hard, try sticking a pipecleaner all the way down the stem and into the bottom of the bowl to clear the draft hole. That can happen during your initial packing or during the smoke when tamping. Some pipers routinely insert a pipecleaner while packing.

    Finally, try lighting with wooden matches. I find it easier to get a good light than with butane or a zippo. Hold the match above, not touching the tobacco. You want to get a good ember going, but be careful not to puff too hard when lighting; otherwise, your tongue will pay a heavy price.

    Posted 6 months ago #
  25. brian64

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    You really have to bear down to overpack when the tobacco isn't too moist

    Good point. I've found that it helps to pack tighter with very dry tobacco.

    “Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out.” – George Carlin
    Posted 6 months ago #
  26. mechanic

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    I tried the 3 step method per youtube when i started few months ago quickly found out how varied peoples takes on how hard to pack and such can be. Since im a mechanic with a calibrated arm strength ratio i have found you get the feel for how your particular blends and pipes pack there are helpful tips but no set guidlines as everyone is diffrent keep trying till you get what works for you.

    "I'm a kind person, I'm kind to everyone, but if you are unkind to me, then kindness is not what you will remember me for." - Al Capone
    Posted 6 months ago #
  27. judcasper

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    I'm still struggling with keeping my pipe(s) lit, but then 95% of my (gifted) tobacco consists of plug, twist and flake which according to the guys here has a much steeper learning curve when it comes to preparation and keeping it lit.

    That said I still struggle - although not as much - with the ribbon (is that the right term?) stuff.

    Posted 6 months ago #
  28. jpmcwjr

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    Yes, ribbon and shag are two types of cuts. Many of the plugs, ropes and flakes retain moisture longer than the former. So, cutting up or rubbing out and then drying may be a good plan.

    Posted 6 months ago #
  29. judcasper

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    Many of the plugs, ropes and flakes retain moisture longer than the former. So, cutting up or rubbing out and then drying may be a good plan.

    I do this but I think impatience gets the better of me. What's a man to do with those lovely notes teasing you all the time? Maybe I need to dry it in a different room.

    Posted 6 months ago #
  30. olkofri

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    Haha. Leave it out to dry whilst you take your daily SSS (shit, shower, and shave).

    Posted 6 months ago #
  31. judcasper

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    Leave it out to dry whilst you take your daily SSS (shit, shower, and shave).

    People do those things daily?

    Posted 6 months ago #
  32. brian64

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    I do this but I think impatience gets the better of me. What's a man to do with those lovely notes teasing you all the time? Maybe I need to dry it in a different room.

    My suggestion would be leave at least a bowl full out to dry overnight, or however long it takes to get it really dry...so that you'll be able to tell the difference. And then you can decide how dry you normally want it.

    Posted 6 months ago #
  33. jpmcwjr

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    I do this but I think impatience gets the better of me. What's a man to do with those lovely notes teasing you all the time? Maybe I need to dry it in a different room.

    Me too. That's why I dry a boat load of tobacco well in advance. I have maybe 20 ounces in 6-7 blends that are ready to go. Using a hygrometer is the only way I can do it; others may be able to better sense the level of moisture.

    Posted 6 months ago #
  34. judcasper

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    My suggestion would be leave at least a bowl full out to dry overnight, or however long it takes to get it really dry

    I did actually do something similar yesterday evening. I had two plugs, maybe 1" wide by 2" long that I chopped up and put into a ziplock bag without the zip closed.

    Posted 6 months ago #
  35. ashdigger

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    Surely this is resolved now.

    Posted 6 months ago #
  36. mrenglish

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    If not resolved, we will be here for more.

    Michael
    Posted 6 months ago #
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    jason64

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    Thank you all very much, I tried to change my packing and smoke drier and results are promising so far. The only one I cant even lit is FVF, no matter how dry it is I cant even lit it!

    Posted 6 months ago #
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    Anonymous

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    Don't sweat it. FVF is probably one of the hardest straight Virginia flakes to keep lit. Here is what works for me: I rub it out and let is sit in the open over night or longer. That should bring it down in moisture. I find it very rewarding.

    Posted 6 months ago #
  39. tjsgarden

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    [quote]So I don't know much about cake and how to build it up (simply because I do not want it on my pipes)

    Milehighpiper, (or others)
    I am curious why you would not want a thin cake in the bowl?

    John
    "Two wrongs don't make a right."
    Posted 5 months ago #
  40. mso489

    mso489

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    One option is to not build cake. To do this, or not do it, scoop out the ash and then wipe out the bowl with a paper towel or napkin, then use a pipe cleaner and buff off the pipe. Wiping out the bowl will leave a thin carbon layer but no cake. This eliminates the need to ream a pipe and the possible damage a beginner can do with a reamer, and it also maintains the diameter of the chamber of the pipe for the life of the pipe, and maybe your lifetime as well. It works for me, and my 40-plus and thirty something year old pipes seem to like it too. Don't over-think breaking in your pipes. Pack 'em, smoke 'em, and learn as you go. Sip at the pipe, don't puff like a steam locomotive, and you will mostly do fine. Welcome aboard.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  41. skaukatt

    skaukatt

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    yes I am in CT. that's a great idea. Do you happen to know any place?

    Where in CT? If you are able, we'd (New York Pipe Club) be more than happy to meet you and help in any way. We meet on the second Tues. of every month at SoHo Cigar Bar 32 Watts Street in SoHo NYC. All the info you need can be found here:

    https://newyorkpipeclub.clubexpress.com/

    If you are available, another opportunity to met up would be at the NY Pipe Show, in Newark, NJ on March 9th - all of the info about it can be found at the link provided.

    I also found this thread here on the forum: http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/connecticut-pipe-smokers

    We'd be more than happy to help you in any way if you are able to get to one of our meetings or events.

    Stick with it and be patient, your perseverance will pay dividends in pleasure and relaxation!

    Lou

    Posted 5 months ago #
  42. skaukatt

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    One other piece of advice... Tamp, tamp, tamp! Very important component that sometimes gets overlooked - it can make or break the decision to stick with it or not, from what I have heard.

    I can't tell you how many times a new pipe smoker shows up at a meeting and shares the same issue about packing and keeping it lit. I ask, "Do you tamp?" and they look puzzled. I immediately provide them with a tamper and we show them how it's used and almost immediately their experience and enjoyment explodes! I'm sure you are tamping but thought I'd share this.

    Lou

    Posted 5 months ago #
  43. judcasper

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    One other piece of advice... Tamp, tamp, tamp! Very important component that sometimes gets overlooked

    I can vouch for this. I made the mistake of dismissing the tamp almost as a gimmick, because when I watched pipe smokers doing it I couldn't possibly see what good it could be doing. But then I decided to pay more attention to it and it's helped me go from 10+ re-lights per bowl to maybe 3. When I puff and tamp at the same time I get a really thick plume of smoke very easily. I think the secret is not tamping so hard that it kills the embers. You're kind of coaxing them down from the surface and into the nest of the backy.

    And don't bother buying one if you don't already have one. They're a breeze to make.

    Man I need to get me a better diet. My skin's falling off like a zombie's!

    Posted 5 months ago #
  44. rdavid

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    One other piece of advice... Tamp, tamp, tamp!

    Funny you mention that. I didn't understand the importance of tamping when I first started and I really struggled. Once I learned how to tamp, everything went much easier. Also, I didn't understand that the purpose of tamping is to gently ease the ember back down to the tobacco, which of course keeps it going. Now I can get through a bowl with only 1 or 2 relights and maybe 3 or 4 light tampings.

    Also, I can tell by the puffs of smoke starting to get a little "airy" which is my signal for a few quick, easy tamps.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  45. rdavid

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    puff and tamp at the same time

    Oh yeah... this too. Extremely helpful. Puff lightly while tamping.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  46. olkofri

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    My skin's falling off like a zombie's!

    Stop tamping with your fingers!!

    Posted 5 months ago #
  47. jpmcwjr

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    If you have a golfer nearby, ask for a handful of tees. Even broken ones work fine. Or a 1/2" branch cut into 2" lengths.

    When I tamp and puff, as well as lighting, my puffs tend to be stronger but shorter; several small bursts in a row. HTH.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  48. judcasper

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    Stop tamping with your fingers!! [:o]

    Ah! That's where I've been going wrong. I must admit I do do this when I can't be arsed to get up and get my tamper.

    Posted 5 months ago #

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