Eureka! Proof That Pipes Breathe...

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zack24

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May 11, 2013
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Maybe not proof that they breathe, but it's definite proof that pipes can absorb a hell of a lot of water in a short period of time. I took one of my early pipes that I made 2 years ago that I've had hanging on the wall in my pipe cabinet. I tilted the bowl and filled it to the brim with water. This morning, the water level was down by a half inch. The pipe that weighed 63 grams yesterday weighted 67 grams today after drying for an hour. What it does show is that the conversation about Pipemakers who dry wood for 1 year or 10 years is pretty irrelevant. Briar, like any other wood will air dry to ambient moisture at a rate of about 1" per year...and after a couple of years, it won't gain or lose moisture unless you take it from a high humidity area like Florida to a dryer area like Arizona. No real surprise here- when briar cutters boil the briar for 24 hours, it weighs a ton and even after 3 months of drying, the surface can feel cool from the water evaporating...It will be interesting to see how many days it takes to return to the original 64 gram weight....



 

jpmcwjr

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May 12, 2015
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Monterey Peninsula
Sorry, Zack, but a scientific and accurate report such as this is out of place in some quarters! 8O :)
I'm taking off for Toronto shortly, so I can't do this for a week or so, but the same experiment with a moderately caked pipe could also be interesting.
Thank you.

 

lestrout

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Jan 28, 2010
1,639
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Chester County, PA
Yo Zack
Very perceptive. I stayed out of a lot of recent threads talking about briar's resistance to water (in the liquid state), overlooking the effect of moisture vapor. Think about Goretex, which is so hydrophobic that water beads up on it. But it lets water vapor through, via its clever tiny pores. In fact, my Goretex waders breathe moisture from my perspiration right through into the river, so that I stay dry and comfy.
Neat experiment that you done did there, sir!
hp

les

 

aldecaker

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Feb 13, 2015
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You oughta see how much a cob can hold! They can drink a briar right under the table.

 

clickklick

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May 5, 2014
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So, because the inside of the bowl seemed to "absorb" 3 or 4 grams of water, that means it breathes from the inside of the bowl to the outside? Were there small water droplets forming on the outside bowl walls?
Also, was the stem removed to ensure the mortise was not retaining water?

 

cossackjack

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Oct 31, 2014
838
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Evergreen, Colorado
Nice simple, elegant experiment.

Let us know how long it takes for the pipe to return to its baseline weight.

Was the bowl raw briar, or coated, or broken-in?

I wonder if & how much difference there would be between raw briar, or coated, or broken-in with a thin layer of cake?

 

tmb152

Senior Member
Apr 26, 2016
392
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the conversation about Pipemakers who dry wood for 1 year or 10 years is pretty irrelevant.
You might be quite right about that Zack, it would be interesting to hear reports from pipemakers who dry 10 years to see if there are specific reasons they do this. On the surface, I had always assumed that the reason for these longer dryings was to ensure plant oils and other things from the ground were fully out of there or dried, and for better insurance against warpage or splitting. Once well dried, the briar might be better at taking on water (capillary action) just as a chamois is much better once wet.

 

zack24

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May 11, 2013
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it would be interesting to hear reports from pipemakers who dry 10 years to see if there are specific reasons they do this. On the surface, I had always assumed that the reason for these longer dryings was to ensure plant oils and other things from the ground were fully out of there
I suspect most pipemakers are stretching the truth for the sake of marketing- - maybe some of the Danes have extensive stocks dried for 10-30 years and a few like myself have a handful of 30 year old blocks,but it's an extremely tiny minority. On the plant oils, that's why the briar cutters boil the freshly cut briar for 24 hours to remove resins- I was fortunate enough to visit my suppler Carlo Carlino with Calabria Pipes a few years ago -3rd generation cutter and they have the process figured out by this point.
because the inside of the bowl seemed to "absorb" 3 or 4 grams of water, that means it breathes from the inside of the bowl to the outside?
Actually both ways- wood moves moisture when it's alive- it moves moisture the same way after it's dead. Short of putting a waterproof coating on a pipe, it will always absorb moisture or dry further depending on the environment. Here's a pretty good article that explains it. - http://www.hardwooddistributors.org/blog/postings/why-does-dried-wood-absorb-moisture/

 

gloucesterman

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Jan 4, 2015
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Massachusetts
One also has to remember the what we call briar is actually a root stock and it will expand as will any root when subjected to water. I had a GBD several years ago that was left out in the rain one night. The bowl filled with water. The shank expanded to the point the bit would no longer stay in the mortise. It took several hot days before it returned to normal.

 

jpmcwjr

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May 12, 2015
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Monterey Peninsula
Generally, though, if a shank expands*, it will grip tighter on the tenon. Similarly, if it dries excessively, the tenon will often be loose.
* It would normally expand in both directions, making the mortise a tiny bit smaller, with a slight increase in the diameter of the shank. We've visited this before, and something else must have been going on to create that result in your case. One could be the moisture lubricated the mortise thus over coming any traction/friction that'd be there in a dry pipe.

 

clickklick

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May 5, 2014
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Thanks Zack!
If you continually keep the bowl filled with water, then eventually, in theory, the outside walls of the bowl should get noticeably damp or wet. . . correct?

 

gloucesterman

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Jan 4, 2015
1,860
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Massachusetts
I think I recall that root stock doesn't behave the same as sapwood. What you suggest would be true of sapwood but root stock expands outward from the center to absorb moisture. It would be true that how the original block was cut would have some influence but in this case if I turned the stummel shank down the bit fell out and that was the case for several days. The inside diameter of the mortise had expanded outward to the point where it would no longer hold the bit in place. I would have thought the mortis would tighten as you suggested but it didn't and then I remembered that root stock behaves differently than trunk wood.

 

zack24

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May 11, 2013
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If you continually keep the bowl filled with water, then eventually, in theory, the outside walls of the bowl should get noticeably damp or wet. . . correct?
Yep- Water vapor will raise moisture content to maybe 25%. Being soaked in water can completely the saturate wood- much in the same way that the moisture content of a sunken log can be over 100%-

 

prairiedruid

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Jun 30, 2015
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If you continually keep the bowl filled with water, then eventually, in theory, the outside walls of the bowl should get noticeably damp or wet. . . correct?
Actually maybe not. The pipe pictured looks like it's had some carnauba wax applied to it which would create a barrier to water movement. The wax may bubble up from beneath as the water reaches the outer surface of the pipe.

 

mso489

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Feb 21, 2013
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Hmmm. This illustrates the porosity, for intaking water, but not the permeability that would let air or water move through and outside gain. Just thinking out loud. I'm not sure what to make of this experiment, but I'm fascinated along with everyone else. I'll wait to hear how long it takes to return to its original weight, and maybe if this has any effect on the finish. Is that stain or just wax? Really nice looking pipe.

 

trevert

Member
Oct 11, 2009
116
0
NC
It will dry at a gram a day, or at least that's what I've recorded here in NC's weather. It's a pretty reliable count for me - After I boil something, if it gains 6 grams of moisture weight, I know it will be six days before it's back to normal.

 
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