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Why is Briar the Wood of Choice?

(25 posts)
  • Started 2 years ago by sparrowhawk
  • Latest reply from anthonyrosenthal74
  1. sparrowhawk

    sparrowhawk

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    Strange that after 4 years of smoking, I've never asked this question, but just why is the briar the wood of choice for making pipes? Is it because it is especially heat resistant (and what makes it so?), other reasons?

    There is no beauty without some strangeness in proportion.
    Posted 2 years ago #
  2. chasingembers

    Embers

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    Porous, lightweight, and hard to burn.

    Damnation seize my soul if I give you quarters, or take any from you.
    -Edward Teach
    Posted 2 years ago #
  3. anthonyrosenthal74

    anthonyrosenthal74

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    It's a very dense, hard, heat resistant wood. It doesn't give off toxic fumes when burning. And it looks fantastic.

    Edit to add: I've always thought it was quite dense, but as Duane said above, I've heard it's quite porous. Is it possible for it to be both?

    Arrrrr, shiver me timbers! International Talk Like a Pirate Day is September the 19th!!!
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    Posted 2 years ago #
  4. ashdigger

    ashdigger

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    Duane, not porous.

    Ubi Ignis Est?
    Posted 2 years ago #
  5. anthonyrosenthal74

    anthonyrosenthal74

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    Duane, not porous.
    Duane is indeed not porous... I've heard he's quite dense.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  6. ashdigger

    ashdigger

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    Duane = Briar?

    Posted 2 years ago #
  7. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    Is it because it is especially heat resistant (and what makes it so?)

    The silicate content in the wood provides heat resistance. Briar varies both in density and porousness.

    It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt. - Mark Twain

    It is pointless to argue with a fanatic since a dim bulb can't be converted into a searchlight. - Jesse Silver
    Posted 2 years ago #
  8. chasingembers

    Embers

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    Duane is indeed not porous... I've heard he's quite dense

    I blame the Viagra. Ha!

    Posted 2 years ago #
  9. chasingembers

    Embers

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    Duane = Briar?

    Just call me "Woody".

    Posted 2 years ago #
  10. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    Briar varies both in density and porousness.

    And so do some of the members here...

    Posted 2 years ago #
  11. anthonyrosenthal74

    anthonyrosenthal74

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    I blame the Viagra. Ha!

    Just call me "Woody".

    I laughed at the first one, and then I choked on some cheese.... you do NOT want cheese stuck in your nose.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  12. chasingembers

    Embers

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    Posted 2 years ago #
  13. brian64

    brian64

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    Why is Briar the Wood of Choice?

    Because if you don't have meerschaum, it's the next best thing.

    “Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out.” – George Carlin
    Posted 2 years ago #
  14. aquadoc

    aquadoc

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    I have read good things about maple bowls but not here. Any maple pipe owners here?

    "If you resolve to give up smoking, drinking and sex, you don't actually live longer; it just seems that way."
    Posted 2 years ago #
  15. misterrogers

    misterrogers

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    Before the discovery of briar, cherry wood was used sometimes. Alfred Dunhill in "The Pipe Book" said this about it.

    Cherry-wood has many of the required qualities, and is especially sweet-smoking, even for the first, but the interior of the bowl will never carbonize well and the wood lends itself only to a rough shaping.

    He goes on to mention a few other woods.

    A certain amount of Australian Myall-wood is used in France and some hard "Congo wood" at Vienna, but neither of these is widely popular. In Germany, before the coming the meerschaum, the wooden pipes carved by the peasents of the Black Forest had a consierable vogue. These were made from close-grained and gnarled root of the dwarf-oak, the wood being hard enough to resist fire, and the charring very slowly. Such a use of a root anticipates the wooden briar, as does, in a cruder fashion, the countryman's gorse-root pipe...

    Now, I've noticed a tendency for this forum to get rather silly.
    Posted 2 years ago #
  16. mortonbriar

    mortonbriar

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    Briar is also a burl, growing above ground on the roots of the tree. It grows on the coast of the Mediterranean for 40-100 years before being harvested, which means 40-100 years of being sandblasted and exposed to hot dry climate which is a good way to encourage a piece of wood to become fire retardant. The fact that it is a burl also means the grain is circular, that means less weak points than a straight grained piece of wood (imagine pipe snapping easily between bowl and shank if grain is vertical).

    I don't really care if the cup is half full or half empty, I just want something to sip on.
    Posted 2 years ago #
  17. cosmicfolklore

    Cosmic

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    I was going to add aroma to the list of reasons, but it looks like Alfred did that already.

    Michael
    Posted 2 years ago #
  18. pitchfork

    pitchfork

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    "It doesn't give off toxic fumes when burning. And it looks fantastic."

    Posted 2 years ago #
  19. anthonyrosenthal74

    anthonyrosenthal74

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    Posted 2 years ago #
  20. mso489

    mso489

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    Maple, Mountain Laurel, Olive, Stawberry, Meerschaum, Morta, corn cobs, clay, Cocobolo and many other materials do a pretty good job as pipe stummels. I won't mention Brylon here; that's another post. But briar is just about ideal. You may like something else better, but for most of us, even those who enjoy the various other options, briar is the king.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  21. toobfreak

    toobfreak

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    I agree with Brian--- briar is the best thing out there most close to how meerschaum smokes, plus it has the natural deep beauty of the grain and you don't have to worry about dropping it! No one can say one is better, but we are so lucky to have both materials to choose from.

    To Master Po: Is it not being able to see that makes you tire of life?
    Master Po: No! It is being able to hear!
    Posted 2 years ago #
  22. theloniousmonkfish

    theloniousmonkfish

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    Meer and Briar are great but I have owned and smoked out of all kinds of wooden pipes. During the war American manufacturers used native Briar(laurel and manzanita) and, if I recall correctly, Stanwell used Beech. There are probably more examples. Hickory is fine, White Oak, Cherry, Olive, most nut and fruit woods... I have an Apple pipe which provides an excellent smoke, but it doesn't look as good as Briar, smoke as nice as Meer, and is less likely to hit the century mark than those two materials.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  23. deathmetal

    deathmetal

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    Briar trees don't vote.

    "My own experience has been that the tools I need for my trade are paper, tobacco, food, and a little whiskey." -- William Faulkner

    The Metal Mixtures
    Posted 2 years ago #
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    rapskar

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    I may not know about pipes, but I know about plants, and heath (the plant where briar comes from) is native to my homeland.

    It belongs to a group of plants called pyrophytes which are adapted to survive fire in different forms. Some have seeds that will only come out after strong heat, some have a very resistant bark to retard ignition (that's where cork comes from) and others have roots that are incredibly hard to burn and are able to resprout after fire, that's heath's strategy.

    Plants are amazing.

    Posted 2 years ago #
  25. anthonyrosenthal74

    anthonyrosenthal74

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    I think the pipe fairies have something to do with it. Perhaps they sprinkle some of their magic dust on the heath tree which helps with the heat resistance and how well it produce such lovely grain. I've mentioned pipe fairies a few times... in my post here... http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/why-do-pipes-have-a-personality ... I go into a bit more detail on these wonderful beings that help us so much in our favorite past time.

    Posted 2 years ago #

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