Pipes Magazine » Pipe Talk

Search Forums  
   
Tags:  No tags yet. 

Some Artisan Pipe Reviews

(17 posts)
  • Started 3 years ago by samcoffeeman
  • Latest reply from samcoffeeman
  1. samcoffeeman

    samcoffeeman

    Senior Member
    Joined: Apr 2015
    Posts: 451

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    Just wanted to share some experiences with artisan pipes I own. Note I purchased all of these as estates, so I cannot comment on commission experiences. You can use this for info or share your own experiences.

    In no particular order:

    Grant Batson:

    The shaping/aesthetic is excellent. The blast is good but not especially deep. Draw is open and passes a cleaner. Smoke is very good. This is one of his typical stems, with wide saturn ring. My one complaint about this pipe is the stem is difficult to remove. The tenon is huge and needs a lot of force to be turned/twisted out. The rest of the stem is great, button is very comfortable(3.8mm thickness) and the slot is a well cut deep flared oval.

    Ryan Quagliata:

    Note that Ryan may no longer be making pipes at this time. I fell in love with this pipe, having always wanted a briar calabash. So far though, this pipe has been a bit of a disappointment. I wouldn't necessarily count this one against the rest of his work, which is said to be excellent and great smokers. This may have just been a difficult shape or chalk it up to inexperience. The ebonite ring on the removable bowl came loose within the first couple of smokes. I sent it out to be repaired which really didn't cost much, I just wanted it done professionally. The pipe also smokes wet, most likely an engineering issue, but the pipe passes a cleaner so can be fixed during the smoke. Blast is very good, nice ring grain although still not super crag. Draw is open. Stemwork is very good, although not a clenchable weight pipe. Button is a little thick at 4.5mm but slot is well cut flared oval and deep.

    Ruthenberg:

    Brian is well known for having a super open draw in his pipes. His stem slot is the largest I have seen, a full oval deep cut slot. His blast work varies a bit. The larger pipe has a great blast, with a unique texture/hand feel unlike any other. He sometimes equates this with a needle-like quality in his own descriptions, when the grain sticks out the side like a stack of needles(not with the points out). It really is a thing to be held when done well. He doesn't achieve this with every pipe though. The lower one the blast is decent but significantly less deep and without the needle-like quality. The shaping is excellent, although his aesthetics sometimes are a bit off IMO. The smoke quality is great, although because the airway is so large, chunks can fly through toward the end of the bowl so be prepared. Stemwork is good, note the larger pipe, the mortise is a little off-center you can tell when the stem isn't turned correctly, the other one it is centered. His tenons are particularly long(11/16" and 13/16" for these two), which can make for difficult stem removal. Button thickness is good(4.1mm to 4.25mm), although I have never found his pipes to be very clenchable/comfortable. This is fine if you want a nice large pipe you don't plan on clenching anyway, and all the better to be a hand pipe if you get the textured blast.

    Talbert:

    Ok so this is a Ligne Bretagne Collector pipe, and an older one(2007) from before he moved back to the US, for whatever all that is worth. One thing to note is the horn stem, I'm really not sure how this would compare to other stem materials he uses. I love Trever's work, and may get a Goblin someday. Funny enough, his Talbert line of pipes are my least favorite aesthetically. On to this pipe, which has an absolutely fantastic blast. Very craggy deep blast ring grain. Open draw, slot is a rounded rectangle, although I believe his horn stems are purchased pre-made and then he fits them to the pipes. I love horn stems, FYI. This one is a little thick at the button(5.6mm), but funny enough I find this easier to clench than my lighter Ruthenberg. I attribute this to the width of the stem, this one is 1/2" wide and the Ruthenberg is 5/8" at the button. This pipe smokes great, open draw, absolutely no complaints. On a side note, I have another more recent Ligne Bretagne grade 4, and the button thickness is 4.2mm. This pipe also smokes well, but not as well as my Collector, it tends to get a little hot.

    Rad Davis:

    First ballot hall of fame pipe maker Rad Davis is up the the plate. Fit/finish/aesthetics/stemwork are all excellent. Button are both 3.8mm thickness and very comfortable. Blast is very good. Note the second pipe is an older Rad, before he started dating the pipes. It was a smooth finish that had a flaw in it. It always kinda bothered me so I sent it to him to get blasted. I think I have bad luck with Rads though, for as perfect as they are in every way, these two never wowed me in smoke quality, but I only have two and many people champion the smoking quality of his pipes.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  2. samcoffeeman

    samcoffeeman

    Senior Member
    Joined: Apr 2015
    Posts: 451

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    Post fail.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  3. samcoffeeman

    samcoffeeman

    Senior Member
    Joined: Apr 2015
    Posts: 451

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    Max Capps

    Max is a relatively new pipe maker. He has a long history of pipe restoration in his background. His shaping is excellent. Although the blast on this is not as deep as the Talbert/King, it is excellent. I love that this is not just your typical ring grain, and the blasted birdseye is really awesome. He resources some unique materials and this one has a spalted redwood shank extension which is really neat. The stemwork is very good, mortise is perfectly centered. In his first year he was making thicker buttons, and this is from that time(4.75mm thickness). I'm fine with this as a hand pipe but it is not a clencher. Note that with feedback, he has adjusted and thinned his buttons a bit, although I'm not sure the current dimensions. He tends to make wide stems, this one is 11/12" wide at the button. He likes to make a very wide, deep slot for open draw and cool smoke. Pipe smokes very well.

    I have a Tim Thorpe on the way and when I get a few smokes in I'll add that one to this thread.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  4. samcoffeeman

    samcoffeeman

    Senior Member
    Joined: Apr 2015
    Posts: 451

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    Post edit fail on the Nate King, keep getting cut off at end for no reason. One more try: no matter what I do it will not past the rest of this paragraph...

    Nate King:

    I love the blast on this pipe. It is equivalent to the Talbert collector in quality and has a better hand feel. Shaping is excellent. Stemwork is also excellent. Mortise is perfectly centered, stem is easy to remove(just right), and this is the most comfortable button I have. I'm not even sure if this pipe is in my mouth when I am clenching it, it might as well not even be there. Button thickness is 3.8mm but also note the stem width, less than 1/2". I am shooting for pipes in this range from now on, with 1/2" width and

    Posted 3 years ago #
  5. samcoffeeman

    samcoffeeman

    Senior Member
    Joined: Apr 2015
    Posts: 451

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    @4mm thickness at the button. His button is also a bit unique, as the top and bottom come more to a point than to a square. The slot is a bit small but it is deep and doesn't affect the draw at all. The smoke quality is getting better and have hopes that this will be a great smoker in due time. My one complaint about this pipe, which was only smoked once when I bought it, was that he uses a bowl coating which imparted a strange flavor to the first few smokes. Now that I have gotten some cake over that, it seems to be a really good smoker and betting better every time.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  6. samcoffeeman

    samcoffeeman

    Senior Member
    Joined: Apr 2015
    Posts: 451

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    So if you put a [less than] sign in your post it makes everything behind it disappear. Like this

    Posted 3 years ago #
  7. samcoffeeman

    samcoffeeman

    Senior Member
    Joined: Apr 2015
    Posts: 451

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    There is a [less than sign] with words after it behind that I swear lol.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  8. User has not uploaded an avatar

    moriarty

    Member
    Joined: Feb 2012
    Posts: 149

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    Sam, great reviews. I found them very interesting and informative, and you know what you're talking about. We should do more of this kind of thing, and be prepared to evaluate pipes more critically. It's much easier if the owner of the pipe does this so there are no hurt feelings, but I find it a lot more valuable to read posts like this than ones where there are only positive comments.

    For what it's worth, the only one of these pipemakers I have direct experience of is Rad Davis. I have three from him. They all smoke notably well and are comfortable, but there are also slight disappointments with them. For one, a smooth, and one of his more expensive pipes, the stain comes off on my hand when smoking it. The second, a commissioned sandblast, was shaped exactly to specification but has a quite unattractive and grainless blast (luck of the draw - no fault of Rad's except perhaps that he didn't select a great block). The third, a partial-blast rhodesian, developed a small crack in the bowl after a few smokes (can't blame Rad for this), and I feel the stem design wasn't the best shape for the pipe. So, in a way, I had some bad luck with Rads as well, but I was delighted with the smoking qualities. Still, I stopped buying after those three. I don't have pictures with me at the moment, otherwise I'd have posted them - sorry.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  9. newbroom

    newbroom

    Preferred Member
    Joined: Jul 2014
    Posts: 5,597

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    Of those you've shown, I like the Nate King the best. I like the look and your description which suggests that this is a very special piece.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  10. User has not uploaded an avatar

    Anonymous

    Unregistered

    Posts: 716

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    Thanks for your input, Sam.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  11. pruss

    pruss

    Preferred Member
    Joined: Feb 2013
    Posts: 3,588

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    Nice post, Sam, and nice to see you posting. Whenever you get tired of that little Rad-desian. You just let me know, okay?

    Thanks for the reviews.

    -- Pat

    Posted 3 years ago #
  12. papipeguy

    papipeguy

    Preferred Member
    Joined: Jul 2010
    Posts: 16,209

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    Great post, Sam. I look forward to reading more of your impressions on artisan pipes.

    Blowin' smoke since 1970.
    Posted 3 years ago #
  13. jpmcwjr

    jpmcwjr

    Preferred Member
    Joined: May 2015
    Posts: 13,543

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    Nice find, and fine photos. Yes, there are a number of symbols that'll cut off whatever follows. I just try to stick to letters and numbers!

    Thanks for the posts.

    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 3 years ago #
  14. bigvan

    bigvan

    Preferred Member
    Joined: Mar 2011
    Posts: 2,316

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    Nice! Great pipes and I appreciate the reviews, too.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  15. ocpsdan

    Dan

    Senior Member
    Joined: May 2012
    Posts: 432

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    Great write-ups. You have a way of capturing criticism in a positive way, without coming off as a villain while still applauding the workmanship. It's clear you did your research beforehand as well. I often find myself a lurker and skimmer here, but reading your reviews felt a lot like we were sitting in the same room having a conversation and compelled me to make a comment. Well done! I'd be most interested to hear more reviews from you, or in others doing reviews of handmades in a similar fashion. Cheers.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  16. stanlaurel

    stanlaurel

    Preferred Member
    Joined: Jan 2015
    Posts: 706

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    Thanks Sam. You have great taste. I really, really like Ruthenbergs. I tried to commission a pipe from him but he does not respond. Is he active? I heard he was having health problems.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  17. samcoffeeman

    samcoffeeman

    Senior Member
    Joined: Apr 2015
    Posts: 451

    offline

    Login to Send PM

    Yes he is active. I don't usually commission work so I have no idea how he is with communication. He has a pipe available on his site now at briarart.com. I think his pipes are a good value/price point and the smoking experience is unique due to the widest draw of any pipe I have experienced.

    Posted 3 years ago #

Reply

You must log in to post.

 

 

    Back To Top  | Back to Forum Home Page

   Members Online Now
   bluegrassbrian, donjgiles, ben88, unkleyoda, newportpipe, danimalia