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Why Are Freehand Stems Partially Inserted?

(62 posts)
  • Started 5 months ago by chasingembers
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  1. chasingembers

    chasingembers

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    I've had a number of Danish freehands come in and out of my collection, but why are the stems never fully inserted. I've seen them like that and received them as such, but all of the ones that I've had easily have a mortise large enough for the stem to fully seat.

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    Posted 5 months ago #
  2. jvnshr

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    Because of the aesthetic I guess. It gives them more natural look.

    Javan
    Posted 5 months ago #
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    Alex

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    Although very unlikely, this makes me wonder... if the bowl is super heavy with an acrylic (and therefore stiff) stem inserted in the aforementioned manner, could the stem snap into pieces upon regular clenching?

    Posted 5 months ago #
  4. chasingembers

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    I've never imagined that the big Danish freehands were ever intended to be clenched.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  5. anthonyrosenthal74

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    I think they have the stems already made up and ready to go on a new pipe. So when fitting a stem to pipe, they just fit the tenon's width to the pipe without worrying about cutting it down to a shorter length.

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    Posted 5 months ago #
  6. chasingembers

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    That's just it. Twist them in and they fit. The tenon usually isn't much longer than the exposed part and easily fits the rest of the way into the pipe.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  7. dmcmtk

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    It's more a function of the design of the stem (looks like a Preben Holm) where the final element wasn't turned down to the diameter ot the tenon part of the stem. These stems were molded, as opposed to hand turned, where there would be more attention paid to this detail.

    Dave
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    Posted 5 months ago #
  8. cosmicfolklore

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    I had a serious déjà vu reading through this. Have we ever had this come up before? I can't remember what the results were, but it seems like someone had posted a question like this before.

    I know that I would avoid buying a pipe pictured as above, even though that is a beautiful pipe stummel. Seeing that stem the way it is positioned, would be a serious turn off.

    Michael
    Posted 5 months ago #
  9. chasingembers

    chasingembers

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    Have we ever had this come up before?

    That was about the Peterson stems.

    I know that I would avoid buying a pipe pictured as above

    That one's not mine, just an example of a Ben Wade. Here's one of my Prebens.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  10. upnorth1

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    I hate these stems. It just looks too fragile to meand I find them unappealing to look at, which is unfortunate because they are on otherwise beautiful pipes. I can't bring myself to buy them.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  11. chasingembers

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    Just wandering why they are left out like that when most of the time they actually fit.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  12. fluffie666

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    I can't offer much as to why but I think dmcmtk hit it on the head. A lot of freehands were factory pipes put together assembly line style without much attention paid to detail. I believe they are sometimes called a Danish chair leg straw styled stem because of the shape and fit. I've been meaning to put a chucking reamer into one of my lesser freehands in an attempt to get the bottom of the tenon to seat up flush against the bottom of the mortise just to see if I can turn it into a better smoker. Not enough time to get into this lately though. I do love me a Danish freehand though.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  13. chasingembers

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    So if they do seat right but are not sold that way, will turning them all the way down crack the shank?

    Posted 5 months ago #
  14. upnorth1

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    Just wandering why they are left out like that when most of the time they actually fit.

    I assumed they didn't go any further in, having never actually handled one. I guess I could find one to my liking in the flesh, but I wouldn't buy one online unless I could see the stem fully inserted. I should try asking for a picture of the stem fully inserted.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  15. cosmicfolklore

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    Embers, you obviously have one, but do you have more? Just curious as to how sure you are that they all fit? I would think that the guys that take the pictures of the pipes for the online retailers would at least check them to see if they did go in further. But...

    Posted 5 months ago #
  16. chasingembers

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    I've had over 20 Ben Wades and Holm pipes. Several were unsmoked, and all listed with the stem like that, but when cleaned and reassembled, the stem actually fully seated. Curious if they are left out like that for a functionality reason.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  17. cosmicfolklore

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    Well, that's a pretty good sample size. I don't know. But, I do know that eBay-ers who leave their diamond-shanked pipes half cocked out of alignment drive me crazy.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  18. chasingembers

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    I know some pipe smokers will clock the stem a few degrees to make the pipe level when clenching.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  19. fluffie666

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    [So if they do seat right but are not sold that way, will turning them all the way down crack the shank?]
    I wouldn't try to seat it all the way without really inspecting it. I do mean getting a set of calipers on the tenon and the right sized pin gauge in the mortise. Especially on the older pipes because there are a lot of things to take into consideration on the older pipes (wood swelling, misshapen tenon, etc). A number of things could mess up the pipe if to much pressure is applied.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  20. chasingembers

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    So push in only with no turning?

    Posted 5 months ago #
  21. rdavid

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    Interesting. I've always wondered the same thing.

    Maybe a pipe maker will show up and answer the question. Just seems odd they would have the stem pulled partially out.

    "May my last breath be drawn through a pipe, and exhaled in a jest." Charles Lamb
    Posted 5 months ago #
  22. cosmicfolklore

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    Maybe the pipemaker anticipates the pipe to be a wet smoker, and the extra bit of tapered stem will ensure that the stem will fit when it swells??? just a guess.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  23. chasingembers

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    That is an interesting thought. I've also read that some smokers with slightly pull out the stem to prevent moisture build up. Not sure I buy into that one.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  24. fluffie666

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    So push in only with no turning?

    I would just seat it in without to much pressure as I would any other pipe I had. Turn it if you feel you need to without excessive pressure.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  25. jvnshr

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    I have a Nording billiard with the same thing.
    Michael no matter what, the stem won't go inside.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  26. chasingembers

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    That volcano actually appears on Prebens pipedia page. I have a famous pipe! Damnit, now I probably can't smoke it.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  27. chasingembers

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    I would just seat it in without to much pressure as I would any other pipe I had. Turn it if you feel you need to without excessive pressure.

    Will do.

    I have a Nording billiard with the same thing.
    Michael no matter what, the stem won't go inside.

    Might just be a Preben quirk.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  28. pappymac

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    I have two Ben Wade's, a Preben Holm and a Soren freehand. Admittedly I've bought all at junktique shops but all of them have the stems that are fully inserted.

    I am glad we have a good admin and responsible moderators.

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    Posted 5 months ago #
  29. rdavid

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    I have a famous pipe! Damnit, now I probably can't smoke it.

    Smoke it, smoke it, smoke it!

    Posted 5 months ago #
  30. chasingembers

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    According to Pipedia, it came from the Herbert Fadeley Collection.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  31. fluffie666

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    That volcano is cool for so many reasons Embers! And it's a freehand sitter? Winner!

    Posted 5 months ago #
  32. chasingembers

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    Admittedly I've bought all at junktique shops

    Mine are all eBay and SPC.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  33. cosmicfolklore

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    The whole "partial insertion" thing just doesn't work for me... six kids latter... :::sigh:::

    Posted 5 months ago #
  34. chasingembers

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    I had to stop at 3. More than enough.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  35. mso489

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    I just think of the difference between these stems that are only fitted to the hole in the shank and stems, artisan or factory made, that are carefully formed to fit the shank exactly, and I can only think this is a decision to cut the time to make the pipe and the cost to the maker. I see that some of the great freehand craftsmen did this, so I respect it as a design decision, but once they did that, why should anyone else take the time to do it the traditional carefully fitted way. I do note that whoever made my freehands did (seemingly) a better job than that.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  36. sablebrush52

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    On the few of these that I still have, I just twist them in until seated. With one of the Ben Wades, seated still leaves a section of straight tenon showing, which I just assumed was intentional. Some of these freehands feature a very raked plateau facing at the shank to stem join and were clearly never intended for a flush fit.

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    Posted 5 months ago #
  37. mso489

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    I still really like the several freehands I have, one with plateau both rim and shank by Johs, a sturdy signature version by Nording, and a no-name Thompson Cigar house pipe stamped West Germany, and one or two others. They do have a certain style and historical flourish.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  38. bnichols23

    Bill Nichols

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    just looks too fragile to meand I find them unappealing to look at, which is unfortunate because they are on otherwise beautiful pipes. I can't bring myself to buy them.

    Well can *I* have 'em?!?!?

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    Posted 5 months ago #
  39. bnichols23

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    [quote]I have a Nording billiard with the same thing.
    Michael no matter what, the stem won't go inside.

    Well, of COURSE not, Javan! Didn't you know those things were designed to be smoked in the rain??? }:)

    Bill

    Posted 5 months ago #
  40. dcon

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    I have a couple of Prebens and a Ben Wade. I do as Sable. I never had a desire to push them farther than they seat. I presumed it was always by design which, in fact, I like.

    Duane
    (Not Embers)
    Posted 5 months ago #
  41. cigrmaster

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    The only freehand I have ever owned was this Former. The stem looks like the rest of you guys freehands. The grain on this thing was insane, wish I had a better pic. I sold this thing a long time ago as it was big and heavy.

    Harris
    Posted 5 months ago #
  42. irishearl

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    As to the OP, now that you mention it, every freehand I've owned had stems where the tenon seemed to barely go into the shank. Have a couple consequently where the stem as a result falls out easily. Good thing I don't clench.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  43. anthonyrosenthal74

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    That volcano actually appears on Prebens pipedia page. I have a famous pipe! Damnit, now I probably can't smoke it.
    No you just can't smoke it next Christmas. You have to wait for the next Christmas after

    Posted 5 months ago #
  44. chasingembers

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    Don't know if I can bring myself to do it. My unsmoked Weaver may have a friend. Still have the Nording duck my wife got me though!

    Posted 5 months ago #
  45. zack24

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    That was back in the good old days when pipe makers could buy a premade acrylic stem for $3 instead of spending hours making a stem from rod stock....I've never liked the tenon sticking out of the mortise look...and I actually like making stems....:)

    Posted 5 months ago #
  46. skaukatt

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    I always found the design unappealing even though many stummels are really beautiful.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  47. mso489

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    I've seen this on non-freehand shape pipes, and own one or two, but it tends to look like the least labor-intensive (cheapest) way to do this. It's not terrible, and if the price is right, and you like the pipe otherwise, it's acceptable. But it is the drill and push, and don't look back, way of installing a stem. Okay but minimal. Usually the shank is drilled, and the stem is cut, so they look like they fit ... though some aren't. It's a design point that I notice and that requires a decision, yeah or nay.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  48. sasquatch

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    Really this is just a thing where you have a pipe shaped in 15 minutes, and a stem grabbed from the pile and jammed in, it's that simple. This was a way to save time and money, which is what factory pipe making is all about, usually.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  49. tschiraldi

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    I don't know if it was just mine, but I had a Preben that I fully inserted the stem on. The shank eventually cracked. It's the only pipe I ever had that happen to. My near worthless advice, proceed with caution.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  50. mso489

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    sas', it's true that factory pipes are done on an assembly lines, and any handcrafting is secondary to production. However, the push-bit pipes that fit only the drilled hole in the shank are quite different from most factory made pipes where the stem and shank are precisely matched, whether by cutting the stem to the shank, or trimming the shank to the stem. Most factory pipes are produced carefully with considerable precision, and if the line carvers are good and have experienced supervision, and there is quality control, you end up with beautiful pipes in most cases. So you can't put these plug-in stems off on factory pipes. I've seen artisan pipes with the same approach, some photographs of them on this thread. The original post here asks about the most basic matching of briar and stem, and this occurs with both artisan and factory pipes, but not on most pipes in general, where care is taken to match up the flow and design of shank and stem. White Spot and Dr. Grabow both do this, both often incredibly well.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  51. sasquatch

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    Sure. Just, that isn't happening with the pipes in question in this thread. I'm not disparaging factory pipes, I'm telling the truth about these Danish quickies. They take 15 minutes to make.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  52. chasingembers

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    The original post here asks about the most basic matching of briar and stem

    Mostly I was asking about why they are only partially inserted when some of the time they can be pushed all the way in.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  53. sasquatch

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    And the direct answer to that question is that these type of stems have a little bit of taper on them, the "lock" like a military mount. So you can drill out a pile of stummels with whatever drill size is fitting, and if you are .001" out on tolerance, it doesn't matter - the stems will insert and lock up whereever they choose to lock up. It's a can't-miss proposition (and it explains why if you jam and ram these stems in, you can crack the shank). And leaving some space on the stem makes sense on these plateau type shank ends - they aren't flat, there's nothing for a stem to sit against.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  54. mso489

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    It's true, some of the least "lovable" pipes I've come across at antique stores and flea markets are freehands knocked out during the craze in the 1970's and 80's following the crest of the original and often striking Danish versions in the 1960's and onward. Most of them, it's not just the stem. That's the least of it. The briar is barely worked at all, just enough that it isn't a block of wood.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  55. chasingembers

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    So now currently in my possesion, the stem on this one has a definite stopping point. Unlike my others, it cannot go any further. Must be a pipe to pipe thing.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  56. shikano53

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    My thought is that it is more of an aesthetic design statement by the artisan rather than a haphazard misfit.
    Personally, I like the look but I am also like freehand pipes.

    http://mkelaw-pipes.com/html/pipee4250.html

    http://mkelaw-pipes.com/html/pipee3520.html

    http://mkelaw-pipes.com/html/pipee4141.html

    https://www.smokingpipes.com/pipes/new/tokutomi/moreinfo.cfm?product_id=303488

    I realize Peterson makes quote 'factory' pipes but I have a number of Peterson's and they are great smokers. The vast majority of Peterson pipes have the stem flush with the shank, others I think are purpose built stem standoff.
    Just my ought two cents.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  57. mso489

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    Embers, that is an impressively original freehand. It strengthens my sense that the Danes and other freehand makers embraced this off-handed style of stems as a sort of flourish and rebellion against all the trimming and fitting of stems on most pipes. In this case, it looks especially cocky and in-your-face in a good way. The shaping on the briar dismisses any notion that this isn't a finely crafted pipe. I get the idea. Then the cheap, careless versions came along and made it look haphazard and shoddy. It's like all the high school kids who picked up e.e. cummings lack of capitalization and punctuation, but without his mastery, and just wrote poorly.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  58. tulsagentleman

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    I must be missing something. I thought that is the way a "military" bit was supposed to fit. Looks good to me.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  59. mso489

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    I thought the military bit was a metal to metal joint between shank and stem designed to make breaking down a pipe under fire less likely to crack the briar. The legend went that the original joints were made out of shell casings, in the long slow times between combat actions.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  60. didimauw

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    Duane, that's how the stem of my new block came too...partially inserted like that

    "I don't know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve."
    Posted 5 months ago #
  61. chasingembers

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    I must be missing something. I thought that is the way a "military" bit was supposed to fit. Looks good to me.

    Some do, but several in my collection, though sold like that, will actually go all the way to the base of the stem with no exposed tenon.

    Posted 5 months ago #
  62. chasingembers

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    I thought the military bit was a metal to metal joint between shank and stem

    In the case of a military fitment, you'd be right. Stems not made to fit the overall shape of the pipe, like freehand stems, are often called military stems just because they don't fit flush.

    Posted 5 months ago #

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