School Me on Stem Making.

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Briar Lee

Lifer
Sep 4, 2021
4,836
13,904
Humansville Missouri
Now and again I get in a pipe with extraordinary stem, and my $15 French made Royal Ascot Supreme Chimney has among the best and fanciest of vulcanite stems I own.

For those who know, I’d like to know about extra fancy stem work.

IMG_6665.jpeg


What extra steps are needed to make an extra fancy stem?

The end shows mould marks, it’s a factory pipe, but it was beveled from the shank to tenon, then the tenon was stepped down, and the mortise drilled to mate up with all that.

Plus it’s chewy and soft and black and shiny as coal.

The pipe is not nearly, as fancy as the stem.

How much trouble is it to do that?
 
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OzPiper

Lifer
Nov 30, 2020
5,830
31,012
71
Sydney, Australia
I have posted previously of a good friend who is extremely happy drinking his $20 per case wines which he finds at auctions

He does not pretend that they are the best.
Nor does he try to justify his taste to anyone

Whatever float your boat.
But it is ingenious to keep harping that your $15 dollar finds are THE BEST
To you, maybe
But others ?

And repeating your opinion ad nauseum is NOT going to change that into a fact
 

Briar Lee

Lifer
Sep 4, 2021
4,836
13,904
Humansville Missouri
@Briar Lee

Look at any of @georged or @RustiePyles CPG posts

Stem making 101

Not much need to go further

I’ve read about the difference between moulded pre cut stems and the stems cut and shaped by hand from a rod.

What I’m curious about is the extra fancy stems.

Time is money and extra steps bring extra waste.

That was a Mastercraft import. But it was not just an Ascot or a Royal Ascot, but a full blown Royal Ascot Supreme.

There had to be several extra steps of fitting to get that fancy stem to fit the mortise.

My Marxman 400s have the same fancy stems plus the end is hollowed.

How much extra trouble is that?
 

Briar Lee

Lifer
Sep 4, 2021
4,836
13,904
Humansville Missouri
I have posted previously of a good friend who is extremely happy drinking his $20 per case wines which he finds at auctions

He does not pretend that they are the best.
Nor does he try to justify his taste to anyone

Whatever float your boat.
But it is ingenious to keep harping that your $15 dollar finds are THE BEST
To you, maybe
But others ?

And repeating your opinion ad nauseum is NOT going to change that into a fact

The pipe wasn’t a high priced hand made production.

But look at the stem.

The majority of actual, high dollar pipes dont come close to being so fancy stemmed.

Was that all hand done?

It looks it.
 

georged

Lifer
Mar 7, 2013
5,537
14,225
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The Algerian

Might Stick Around
Jul 6, 2022
65
390
Golden Valley, AZ
The pipe wasn’t a high priced hand made production.

But look at the stem.

The majority of actual, high dollar pipes dont come close to being so fancy stemmed.

Was that all hand done?

It looks it.
My friend. I was born in Algeria. Honestly, I don’t think you know what you are talking about. So typical of an American- you make big noises, but it really is because you eat too many beans.
 

alaskanpiper

Enabler in Chief
May 23, 2019
9,370
42,526
Alaska
The majority of actual, high dollar pipes dont come close to being so fancy stemmed.
This is, quite simply, factually incorrect.

Granted, what constitutes a good or comfortable stem is somewhat subjective, but artful stem WORK is not.

And I mean this with the utmost respect, and don’t mean it to be derogatory, but of the many many many pipes I have seen you post, which you have every right to collect and enjoy, I have not seen a single one that could possibly posses a stem even close to comparable in quality to a hand carved stem made by a skilled artisan.

It’s like comparing SPAM to a ribeye at a 5 star restaurant.

If you like SPAM better, that’s totally fine, more power to you, but it does put you in a significant minority, and nobody is going to argue that it was produced by a more skilled chef.
 

Briar Lee

Lifer
Sep 4, 2021
4,836
13,904
Humansville Missouri
My friend. I was born in Algeria. Honestly, I don’t think you know what you are talking about. So typical of an American- you make big noises, but it really is because you eat too many beans.

The pipe was stemmed in France.

In a factory in France.

There might have been a hundred million pipes made from Algerian briar but only a handful of pipes ever rated that fancy a stem.

Here are a couple of Marxman 400s made in 1940. At $25 they were the most expensive factory pipes on earth.

Look at the stem work.

IMG_6666.jpeg

The top one is a standard push stem. The end is rounded, but that’s the only fancy work on it.

The bottom one is a little fancier with a stepped tenon and hollowed end.

The stem on a factory varnished production pipe was a lot fancier.

IMG_6667.jpeg

The only other pipes I own that approach that are Upshalls.

How much extra time and trouble did they spend, doing that work?
 
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alaskanpiper

Enabler in Chief
May 23, 2019
9,370
42,526
Alaska
So typical of an American- you make big noises, but it really is because you eat too many beans.
Hmmmm. I wonder what sort of over generalized ignorant stereotypes would surface about Algerians if we were disrespectful enough to cast them about haphazardly on an otherwise respectful forum.

Hopefully, we won’t find out, or this thread will be closed down in a hurry.
 

Briar Lee

Lifer
Sep 4, 2021
4,836
13,904
Humansville Missouri
This is, quite simply, factually incorrect.

Granted, what constitutes a good or comfortable stem is somewhat subjective, but artful stem WORK is not.

And I mean this with the utmost respect, and don’t mean it to be derogatory, but of the many many many pipes I have seen you post, which you have every right to collect and enjoy, I have not seen a single one that could possibly posses a stem even close to comparable in quality to a hand carved stem made by a skilled artisan.

It’s like comparing SPAM to a ribeye at a 5 star restaurant.

If you like SPAM better, that’s totally fine, more power to you, but it does put you in a significant minority, and nobody is going to argue that it was produced by a more skilled chef.
I’m here to learn from people who know a lot more about pipes than me.

Most of my pipes are factory smokers, but I have a few nicer pipes like this Tilshead.

IMG_6668.jpeg

You can’t see it but the diameter of the stem is so irregular it about had to be hand cut and fitted.

It’s a standard push stem.

How does a French factory on a Mastercraft contract justify all that extra work on the fancy stem?

I can’t imagine a machine spitting out a stem that fancy, or could it?
 

The Algerian

Might Stick Around
Jul 6, 2022
65
390
Golden Valley, AZ
Hmmmm. I wonder what sort of over generalized ignorant stereotypes would surface about Algerians if we were disrespectful enough to cast them about haphazardly on an otherwise respectful forum.

Hopefully, we won’t find out, or this thread will be closed down in a hurry.
Algerians are disrespected everywhere. We get over it. All this talk about the coloring briar when really it is addition of other finishes, I have to laugh. Who else talks this crazy way about what they don’t know about? I think we know. I have been reading this nonsense about Algeria briar for long enough.
 

Briar Lee

Lifer
Sep 4, 2021
4,836
13,904
Humansville Missouri
Same here.



Now, that’s a better question! And the answer is……I have no idea 🤷‍♂️

Special editions, special occasions, just for the hell of it…..we may never know…😳😂

More ruminations on the French factory.

This pipe was not reamed, not burned out, and didn’t have much cake at all.

Look at the sloppy job of boring the bowl. How hard is it to drill a round hole?

IMG_6672.jpeg


And although it truly is a deluxe fancy grained piece of Algerian briar, they polshied it to the nines and slopped a cheap varnish on it.

IMG_6648.jpeg

Three smokes after removal

IMG_6664.jpeg

The stampings are deep and perfect, and not only is the stem fancy it is a perfect, flawless, seamless fit to the shank.
 
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alaskanpiper

Enabler in Chief
May 23, 2019
9,370
42,526
Alaska
More ruminations on the French factory.
Not entirely sure it came out of the factory that way, but who knows.

That being said, there have been, and still are today, many fine French factories that produce excellent pipes that don’t get half the credit they deserve, simply because they are affordable.
 
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georged

Lifer
Mar 7, 2013
5,537
14,225
All this talk about "fancy work."

rotf

The tenon end of a production stem is produced with a single push of a hollow mill. No human involvement at all.

The body, button, and slot of the stems you've shown, Mr. Lee, is straight out of a production mold. The only human involvement there was the guy who carved the initial wax blank to create the mold in the first place, decades earlier.

Except for some leveling---which in a factory setting takes about 20 seconds---and bending, which means removing the pipe from a oven designed for the task, bending the stem, and dunking it in some water to set it, there is/was no human input whatsoever.
 
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alaskanpiper

Enabler in Chief
May 23, 2019
9,370
42,526
Alaska
The rubber is all high dollar chewy like on a pre war Marxman or good British pipe, but that won’t photograph.

The bit is comfortable and well made, not extra fancy.

View attachment 278935
View attachment 278936View attachment 278937

See that’s one of the big differences I’ve noticed regarding stems. A skilled artisan would have a heart attack at the sight of that bit. The slot is way off center, it’s clunky, bulky, and has the squared off simplicity of a factory made pipe produced in a mold.

Which is perfectly fine for many people, myself included. That’s right, there’s a big hairy BUT coming! BUT! While “just fine” is one thing, extraordinary is another. And there are many artisans out there that can produce an extraordinary stem that produces a noticeable difference for the better, that’s all.

Edit: yeah, @georged beat me to it, and as usual, said it better than I could 😂