Do You Have Rotations? Do You Rotate Your Rotations? A Rotating Rumination

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Preferred Member
Aug 9, 2013
Helena, Alabama
I never would have guessed that smoking a pipe could be as difficult as folding a fitted sheet.
big time rush frustrated gif | WiffleGif


Preferred Member
Mar 1, 2014
Right now the rotation is determined by which pipes have been re-drilled for an open draft.
It's hard to resist smoking a pipe that just had the airway redone, it's practically a totally new pipe at that point.
Yesterday I got a four Churchwardens done, two Nordings and two Vauens.
One of the Vauen pipes is a beautiful red sandblast egg that was my first pipe purchase and still one of my favorite shapes, there is a euphoria of smoking my oldest pipe now with an easy draft and loaded with a newly perfected blend. That bowl of tobacco was multiple layers of success compounded into one experience.


Senior Member
May 16, 2021
Cowra, New South Wales, Australia.
I had a bad feeling that this rumination thing was contagious. :eek:
Is it serious? Does it go away or does one need to see a doctor?

I may have to ruminate on these questions . . . bugger . . . hope there's a cure that doesn't involve excessive amounts of alcohol.
When there's too much rumination, time to start the rum-ination


Preferred Member
Oct 22, 2013
I have a very detailed rotation that takes into account the tobacco that pipe smokes best, chamber size, date last smoked, country of origin (pipe), country of origin (tobacco), the season, relative humidity and the moon phase. It works like a Rolex on steroids and is locked safely in the part of my brain responsible for details and organization.

Unfortunately, that part of my brain is really pissed at me for never listening to it other than when I wanted to access my (its words) "damned silly pipe chart" and it has blocked me from accessing that rotation so perfect that it would make Euclid and Isaac Newton I just grab whatever pipe grabs my fancy and go.


Senior Member
Aug 29, 2019
Finger Lakes area, New York, USA
I only rotate against my will and when I can't help it, namely when three sheets to the wind. I once rotated into my pipe rack and sent the buggers flying all over the place. Ruminating at lightning speed, I ascertained that none of the better ones had been dented or otherwise fucked up, and proceeded to lie down on the couch, where I slipped into a restful coma. Awakening at noon the next day, I pondered, but did not ruminate on, my foolishness, and lit a cigar that had somehow got bent. So the answer is, generally speaking, no.


May 21, 2017
No, it's purely a function of what type of tobacco I feel like smoking and whether or not it's an out of production tobacco (those get smaller bowls).
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Junior Member
May 15, 2020
Please ruminate.

Ok. I'll ruminate some.

A pipe requires rest so that it can both dry out and rehydrate.

The bowl walls get dried out when the pipe is smoked, and perhaps the heel and the shank do, too, to some extent.

Inside the shank and in the bottom of the bowl, moisture collects. Sometimes a little. Sometimes a lot.

The briar needs time to come back to a state of equilibrium, both for taste and for longevity. The wood has to take on some moisture in order to match its environment, and the surface needs to dry so the smoke isn't too wet. Two things happening at once.

There are ways to mitigate both issues, of course. Smoke slowly. Use pipe cleaners.

But, the physics stay the same. It's just a matter of degree.

I like a dry pipe just like I like a dry guitar. A guitar sounds best when it's a little too dry. Some folks say it sounds best when it's so dry it's about to come apart at the seams. I don't know about that, because I live in SE Tennessee where we wrong our guitars out rather than humidify them...

Anyhow, the first bowl in a well-rested pipe is usually not the best bowl for me. The second, third, and fourth, and maybe fifth, are usually the best. Got to warm that briar up and drive some moisture out of it. Not too much moisture, obviously, or it would burn out.

I'm dealing in subtleties, here.

Today, I lit up a briar for breakfast. It was a bit harsh and acrid. The second smoke was divine. The next few were fine. The sixth, however, was somewhat less divine. I slowed down and focused some and got a few more good bowls out of it, alternating between that briar and one of my cobs.

They're smoking fine, but I just lit another briar, and it is smoking better. This one has been smoked heavily over the years, and it tends to get back in the swing of things faster after a rest, which brings me to my next point.

I believe it is possible that smoking a pipe heavily releases some of the bound water in the wood, effectively changing its equilibrium moisture content. It stays drier because some of the "permanent" water has been driven out. Some of the cells have been opened up, and it doesn't hold as much water when it tanks back up on humidity.

So, to sum it up, I believe that rest is important, but not too much rest, or too little.

There is a balance somewhere in the middle of two extremes.

Now, if a man were to find the perfect balance, one pipe could be smoked around the clock forever, I suppose.

But, nothing is perfect, so we rest them.

My thoughts are based on my own observations, mostly, over a period of about 20 years, plus what I've read about wood from woodworkers, pipe makers, luthiers, and the like. There's some crossover between instrument repairs I've done and pipes. Some home repair stuff comes into play, too. There's a lot of first-hand observation.

I know that pipes take on moisture when they are at rest because my stems get loose after a long rest. Sometimes, they get loose almost immediately after cooling down. We have high humidity here, and even with two dehumidifiers running, our humidity in the house hovers around 70%.

Anyhow, let them rest so they can both rehydrate and dry out.

It sounds contradictory on its face, but I don't think it is.

Rest is about restoring balance. It's about longevity.

It makes for a good smoke, and as far as burn out goes, it either prevents it or it perpetually kicks the can down the road.

That's my rumination, anyhow.
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Junior Member
May 15, 2020
I only rotate against my will and when I can't help it, namely when three sheets to the wind. I once rotated into my pipe rack and sent the buggers flying all over the place. Ruminating at lightning speed, I ascertained that none of the better ones had been dented or otherwise fucked up, and proceeded to lie down on the couch, where I slipped into a restful coma. Awakening at noon the next day, I pondered, but did not ruminate on, my foolishness, and lit a cigar that had somehow got bent. So the answer is, generally speaking, no.
I rotated down the back steps, ass over teakettle, a few times.

That's partly why I got good at fixing guitars.

Them steps are wily bastards when I've been drinking.


Preferred Member
Dec 8, 2020
East Coast USA
I have enough pipes to rotate, but without any thought, I always seem to have 3-4 in my cabinet that will suffice. — not the same 3-4.

But now having 26 to choose from, perhaps 3-4 are all I need? I didn’t acquire my PAD until this forum 🤨

— I now agree with many others who’ve said that if they had the money back that was spent on a larger collection of pipes, that purchasinga half dozen commissioned or really special pipes would’ve been the ticket.

I’d probably be well served and quite happy with a very nice 7 day collection. - less to think about.
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Briar Lee

Briar Lee Expert Extraordinaire
Sep 4, 2021
Humansville Missouri
Goodness no...I would never suggest that. I'm just saying he may have been mistaken.
Or, he have been right and didn’t realize why.

Bear with me a little, this morning.

There are 22 different species of oak trees in Missouri. Only one, the white oak, has commercial value for stave bolts for whiskey barrels.

I can remember asking why, and not only Harry Hosterman but every other expert logger said the same thing.

The acids in a white oak (tannic acids) taste good and “that white oak is the onliest one that breaths”.

There’s no debate that a briar pipe has to cool between smokes. Nobody will argue with me or anyone, that smoking a hot pipe causes it, to have an off taste and get soggy.

The only source in this world for bourbon whiskey barrels today is the Independent Stave Company in Lebanon Missouri. The only oak they’lll buy is white oak.

The alcohol that goes into a charred white oak whiskey barrel is clear. Harry was an old time Christian but others weren’t, and still made moonshine in Spout Spring Hollow until the sixties.

Bad moonshine can make you go blind, or kill you, because of fusel oils. But even good moonshine is hot, harsh, nasty stuff. Put that good moonshine in a charred white oak whisky barrel, let it age for a few years, and it comes out sweet, and amber colored. That barrel is sucking the booze in, adding the good taste of the charred white oak, and the exact same process must occur, with a briar pipe.

My ceramic and clay pipes smoke hot. They do not breath.

My meerschaum and cob pipes smoke cool, and there is no argument that those materials are naturally porous. Meerschaum is so porous the main object of owning one is to get the oils of the tobacco to color the pipe.

Harry Hosterman, had to be right about briar “breathing”.

He had to be right about his briar pipe “drawing moisture”.

My first smoke yesterday afternoon with my brand new Grade I Nording was hot and horrible. I’ve wiped the bowl out with Everclear after each smoke. The bowl is charred black, but it’s not caked.

Somebody with more knowledge about this should help me out, and chime in but this morning as the roosters are crowing, the exact same tobacco in my Nordihg that was bitter, and hot yesterday on the sixth smoke this morning is much cooler, it’s starting to taste good, and that Nording will just keep on getting cooler and sweeter,,,

Because there simply must be an exchange going on between the combustion and the briar walls, exactly like occurs between moonshine in a charred whiskey barrel and the white oak.

Why we love briars, is that water laden smoke is exchanging in and out of the briar, and taking on the sweet briar flavor.

Resting a pipe allows the briar to return to ordinary moisture content, and allows it to breathe, or on other words make an exchange again.

And if that’s not correct, what else explains it?
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New member
Nov 12, 2018
I have several dozen of the finest pipes that money can buy. Gloriously aged briars. Smoking machines. Dry, cool, wonders. So it doesn’t matter which pipe that I pick. I know that I will be in for an enjoyable treat. I also have a massive cellar of some of the greatest tobaccos of our generation. So I load up my top tier tobaccos in my expensive pipe. And off I go. I just can’t ever seem to keep my pipe lit.
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Preferred Member
Dec 14, 2015
After sufficient rumination, I am prepared to share my experience.

I only have maybe 15 to 20 briars, and maybe 10 or so cobs. I do believe in resting the pipe for a day or two between smokes, and when I first started, I did not have enough pipes to rotate. Bit by bit, I added more pipes. Once I got to around 15 or 20 briars, I no longer felt my enjoyment was hampered by a lack of pipes, and I have not bought another pipe since.

None of this has been intentional, and I do plan to buy more pipes. I just haven't gotten to it yet. The last time I bought a pipe was 2018. What I would really love is to have a limited collection of very nice pipes and to toss out most of my knockaround basket pipes that I still smoke.
That's exactly what I did. I now have 10 excellent pipes instead of 100, most of which were sub-par for me. I am much happier now.