Cherrywood Troubleshooting

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Longshanks

Lurker
Jan 1, 2024
13
22
Virginia, USA
Hello and Happy New Year,

I am looking for troubleshooting advice regarding a set of cherrywood Churchwarden pipes I recently purchased from MacQueen. They are "Lord of the Rings" inspired designs and I was very excited to use them but I've been having issues with burnout and fissures which I am not used to. I was hoping someone with more experience or knowledge would be able to help me out. I apologize in advance for the amount of details but I'm trying to narrow my problem down to the root cause. If anyone would like more particulars to help answer please ask away.

I have owned a number of ordinary briarwood pipes over the years and while I've had the occasional issue with burning or charing, I've never had it to this extent. These are the first cherrywood pipes I've ever purchased so it could very well be user error but I'm not sure how.

Up to this point I feel like I've tried every trick in the book for breaking in a pipe, including smoking them as gently and coolly as possible, not smoking the tobacco all the way down to the bottom, applying honey to the bowls ahead of time and even using pipe mud to patch up any forming burns. I also try to not let them get too hot, which can be difficult because by the time I feel the heat through the bowl it's usually too late.

Is cherry that much more difficult to smoke than briar or am I truly just too dense to get this right? I've read advice from multiple sites where people say they just "smoke normally" and have never had any problems.

None of this is to besmirch MacQueen; they have very positive reviews for all their pipes and I was hoping to make these ones last a while but I'm basically at my wit's end.

If anyone has any insight into cherrywood pipes or even these particular ones I would love to hear what you have to say. Many thanks ahead of time.
 
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Reactions: kcghost
Aug 11, 2022
2,311
18,127
Cedar Rapids, IA
Were you holding the bowl continuously, or by the stem or clenching? IMO, people who tend to burn out pipes should hold onto the bowl at all times so they can feel it getting hot ASAP. That, or smelling burning wood should be a signal to stop puffing immediately and cover the top of the bowl to get things under control.
 

Longshanks

Lurker
Jan 1, 2024
13
22
Virginia, USA
Were you holding the bowl continuously, or by the stem or clenching? IMO, people who tend to burn out pipes should hold onto the bowl at all times so they can feel it getting hot ASAP. That, or smelling burning wood should be a signal to stop puffing immediately and cover the top of the bowl to get things under control.
I was being sure to hold them by the bowls precisely to keep tabs on the heat. It seems no matter how quickly I attempt to stop overheating or if there is even any overheating to the touch, I still end up with burn spots.
 
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Cherry Wood pipes are not common. There must be a reason why it is not commonly used. If I have to hazard a guess, I would guess it is less burn resistant than briar.

You mentioned you have some minor issues with briar as well. Possibly you prefer smoking your bowls hotter than most others, which briar would forgive but other woods may not.

Interestingly cherrywood is the name of a shape (Bent poker). I am having a discussion in another group on whether Cherrywood is a shape or a material. Most of us would equate cherrywood as a shape.
 
Aug 11, 2022
2,311
18,127
Cedar Rapids, IA
Cherry Wood pipes are not common. There must be a reason why it is not commonly used. If I have to hazard a guess, I would guess it is less burn resistant than briar.

You mentioned you have some minor issues with briar as well. Possibly you prefer smoking your bowls hotter than most others, which briar would forgive but other woods may not.

Interestingly cherrywood is the name of a shape (Bent poker). I am having a discussion in another group on whether Cherrywood is a shape or a material. Most of us would equate cherrywood as a shape.
I don't have much trouble believing that those old Ropps are real cherry wood. If permitted to speculate freely, I suspect that cherry wood branches that were of no use to the furniture industry were a cheap source of material for them. And the carvers at Ropp then decided it would be fun (also easier/cheaper) to make the pipes look like a section of a branch, bark and all. But either the stem joint or the weight precluded clenching, so a simple diagonal cut to make it a sitter was easy, and fit with the vibe of a branch that had been cut into pieces. From there, the shape endured, even if the material fell out of favor...

P.S. Just found this: Ropp Cherrywood pipes – rebornpipes - https://rebornpipes.com/tag/ropp-cherrywood-pipes/
 
Last edited:

OzPiper

Lifer
Nov 30, 2020
5,830
31,012
71
Sydney, Australia
Not too sure reading the OP if he was referring to the pipes made from cherry wood (commonly with bark still present) OR the Cherrywood shape.

My understanding is that the shape is derived from the pipes commonly made from cherry wood

I have/had pipes made from cherry wood and had absolutely NO issues with burnouts nor fissures

I have seen cherry wood (the material) pipes where the bowl had developed splits/cracks.
I put this down to the pipes being made from wood that had not been sufficiently seasoned or dried
 

Longshanks

Lurker
Jan 1, 2024
13
22
Virginia, USA
Cherry Wood pipes are not common. There must be a reason why it is not commonly used. If I have to hazard a guess, I would guess it is less burn resistant than briar.

You mentioned you have some minor issues with briar as well. Possibly you prefer smoking your bowls hotter than most others, which briar would forgive but other woods may not.

Interestingly cherrywood is the name of a shape (Bent poker). I am having a discussion in another group on whether Cherrywood is a shape or a material. Most of us would equate cherrywood as a shape.
I wouldn't say I "prefer" to smoke hotter bowls, I've just had my instances of carelessness where they burned hotter than I was intending. However with these cherry pipes, my issue is that I've intentionally been monitoring the heat of the bowls and have still ended up with burning, hence my frustration.
 
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captpat

Lifer
Dec 16, 2014
2,277
12,170
North Carolina
Interestingly cherrywood is the name of a shape (Bent poker). I am having a discussion in another group on whether Cherrywood is a shape or a material. Most of us would equate cherrywood as a shape.
I've found this to be confusing, I'd prefer to call the shape a bent poker. I can't think of another instance where the shape name and material are the same. What does one call a bent poker made of briar or meerschaum?
 
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Auxsender

Part of the Furniture Now
Jul 17, 2022
860
4,803
Nashville
Would you bet your life on the fact that these are in fact made out of cherrywood and not something even less ideal for pipe making? If not, I would investigate that angle.

Have you reached out to the retailer? I definitely would.

Can you add pictures here?
 

anotherbob

Lifer
Mar 30, 2019
15,788
29,615
45
In the semi-rural NorthEastern USA
This is correct; to clarify to anyone asking, I am referring to the material used, not the shape of the pipe. As I've said, I've never had this severe an issue with briar wood.
I had one cherrywood pipe and while I liked it. The thing was clearly not the same quality or durability as briar. It never broke but I could jab a finger nail into the wood. It costs next to nothing by the way.
 
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Longshanks

Lurker
Jan 1, 2024
13
22
Virginia, USA
Would you bet your life on the fact that these are in fact made out of cherrywood and not something even less ideal for pipe making? If not, I would investigate that angle.

Have you reached out to the retailer? I definitely would.

Can you add pictures here?
I certainly wouldn't bet my life on it but I don't have any evidence to prove otherwise. As I said, these are my first pipes made of cherry wood so I don't even have a good frame of reference for whether these are normal complications or not.

I actually have reached out and to their credit, they come with a 6 month warranty. They have offered to replace the set if I continue having issues and can't get them to build cake correctly.

I just finished patching them with pipe mud again so there's not much to see now but if they end up burning again I will post pics as reference. Even if I can't save these particular pipes, this could serve as a good learning experience for me :ROFLMAO:
 

Auxsender

Part of the Furniture Now
Jul 17, 2022
860
4,803
Nashville
I certainly wouldn't bet my life on it but I don't have any evidence to prove otherwise. As I said, these are my first pipes made of cherry wood so I don't even have a good frame of reference for whether these are normal complications or not.

I actually have reached out and to their credit, they come with a 6 month warranty. They have offered to replace the set if I continue having issues and can't get them to build cake correctly.

I just finished patching them with pipe mud again so there's not much to see now but if they end up burning again I will post pics as reference. Even if I can't save these particular pipes, this could serve as a good learning experience for me :ROFLMAO:
Right on.
I would absolutely make use of the warranty and I wouldn’t waste another second on those obviously subpar pipes but to each their own.