Who Makes Your Favorite Stems?

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Smoking In The Fast Lane

Starting to Get Obsessed
Sep 12, 2019
107
157
California
I'm curious what carvers make your favorite stem? Some artisans are known for great blast work, others their shapes, but what about exceptional stem work? I would love to learn more about whom other smokers prefer and why.
 

rogers

Part of the Furniture Now
Mar 9, 2012
738
2,072
I have only one artisan pipe, a Clark Layton blasted pear. Can't complain about the stem, very comfortable.
14381
 
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litup

Part of the Furniture Now
Oct 16, 2015
551
1,357
Sacramento, CA
I only have one of his pipes, but Bill Walther made the most comfortable stem on any of my pipes. It's thin enough to comfortably clench but the button is just big enough to help it feel secure.
 
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peregrinus

Lifer
Aug 4, 2019
1,207
3,680
Pacific Northwest
The most comfortable stem on a factory pipe I’ve owned is a 1938 Dunhill Shell Lovat.
The most comfortable stem of all the pipes I have ever owned is a early Jim Cooke pipe (J.T & D Cooke)). I am not particularly fond of the pipe’s aesthetics but hang onto it because it smokes well and I love that stem.
 

Smoking In The Fast Lane

Starting to Get Obsessed
Sep 12, 2019
107
157
California
It looks like I've some homework to do on the various suggestions. I appreciate the responses, thank you.
I should have mentioned in my original post, but I've found I prefer thin bits and taller lips. It sounds like Bill Walther may need looking into. Are there any other suggestions on thinner bits with taller/larger buttons?
 

kwg116

Starting to Get Obsessed
Dec 21, 2017
265
1,663
I have a few Gabrieli pipes (bluesmoke) and they are extremely comfortable. He models his stems on the French-style, more oval profile. Because of him I started collecting French-made GBD’s.
 
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Jun 9, 2018
2,946
9,657
121
England
I don't own any (yet!) but visually I love the Eldritch Pipes stems. Especially the ones they did for the Rattray's meerschaum 'candy edition.'
 

boston

Can't Leave
Jun 27, 2018
395
879
Boston
I can't say that I have sampled as many as some posters here. However, Peter Heeschen did very good work. I have only one pipe made by Larry roush, and it has excellent stemwork. Will Purdy made nice stems as well, very similar to those of Peter Heeschen. My criteria here relates to stems being unobtrusive...with smaller buttons.... yet easy to hold with teeth. This said, I have never been at all unhappy with stems from most of the boutique one person shop carvers, as well as some of the brand's that put out more pipes....such as Ardor.
 

americaman

Part of the Furniture Now
May 1, 2019
865
2,652
Los Angeles, CA
Can someone explain to me what makes the Dunhill stems superior? I have three Dunhills and they are great, but I am not keen on what makes a great stem.
 

sablebrush52

The Bard Of Barlings
Jun 15, 2013
15,878
27,910
SoCal
jrs457.wixsite.com
Can someone explain to me what makes the Dunhill stems superior?
I can't tell you what makes a Dunhill superior because what makes any stem superior is a subjective call by the smoker. I know what I like. Someone else may like something different. Dunhill stems were very well shaped and quite comfortable, but so are stems made by other makers. In the world of Britwood, Barling stems were very highly regarded, as were Dunhill, and pretty much all of the major makers, by fans of the particular make. Barling pioneered the thin flat bite zone, having received a design registration on it in 1930. Others followed suit in their own ways. Barling used the highest grade German made para rubber for their stems, which added to their comfort and longevity. Neither Sasieni, nor Charatan made stems with that same quality of material, but devotees of those pipes are completely satisfied with what they did. So ultimately it seems to be a subjective personal matter.
 
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Chasing Embers

Captain of the Black Frigate
Nov 12, 2014
34,801
66,932
Bruce Weaver, GBD, Weber, Savinelli, and the fellow that made my Santa pipe. He makes a curved surface in the transition from bit to button instead of a 90° angle. Makes clenching extra comfortable and cleaning easier.

14511
 

Smoking In The Fast Lane

Starting to Get Obsessed
Sep 12, 2019
107
157
California
Bruce Weaver, GBD, Weber, Savinelli, and the fellow that made my Santa pipe. He makes a curved surface in the transition from bit to button instead of a 90° angle. Makes clenching extra comfortable and cleaning easier.

View attachment 14511
I do not own a Bruce Weaver, yet. I have a taste for blasted pipes and his are near the top of my future purchase list. What about his stems makes them work great for you?
 

Smoking In The Fast Lane

Starting to Get Obsessed
Sep 12, 2019
107
157
California
I can't tell you what makes a Dunhill superior because what makes any stem superior is a subjective call by the smoker. I know what I like. Someone else may like something different. Dunhill stems were very well shaped and quite comfortable, but so are stems made by other makers. In the world of Britwood, Barling stems were very highly regarded, as were Dunhill, and pretty much all of the major makers, by fans of the particular make. Barling pioneered the thin flat bite zone, having received a design registration on it in 1930. Others followed suit in their own ways. Barling used the highest grade German made para rubber for their stems, which added to their comfort and longevity. Neither Sasieni, nor Charatan made stems with that same quality of material, but devotees of those pipes are completely satisfied with what they did. So ultimately it seems to be a subjective personal matter.
Thank you for the background info. Do you see a meaningful difference in Barling stems before/after 1930?
 

sablebrush52

The Bard Of Barlings
Jun 15, 2013
15,878
27,910
SoCal
jrs457.wixsite.com
Thank you for the background info. Do you see a meaningful difference in Barling stems before/after 1930?
Yes. Barling always made beautifully crafted stems, but the thin flat bite area wasn't a feature. The earlier Barling pipes that I own aren't clenchers, unless you are going to crush your tooth marks into the stem to make a sort of toe hold. There's too much of an ovoid profile to the bite zone, especially with the taper stems, to get a secure grip.

Generally stems of the period had a very slightly convex silhouette, whether a saddle or taper, all thru the bite zone, This can make the bite a little less secure.

In the 1930 design registration, in the illustrations provided, Barling specifies an absolutely flat bite zone and if I remember correctly, a thickness top to bottom of 4 mm at the bite zone.
Just keep in mind that 1930 is when the design was registered, doesn't mean they weren't producing pipes earlier while the application was getting processed.
 
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