So you're thinking about smoking a pipe but aren't sure what to do? You've stopped by your favorite smokeshop and found this old guy who only wants to sell you the same brand of pipe that he smokes. Everything else in the store is just for show. "The "Hairywon" Pipe is the only way to go, he tells you. It's got a big bowl to hold a ton of tobacco so you won't have to stop and fill it up every two hours. Never mind that you only want to smoke a couple of times a day. Not all day. He says it gets real hot which is good in the winter to keep your hands warm. And you'll love the little gurgling sound it makes when you get about half way down. That blocks out your wife yelling at you, "DO you have to smoke that stinking stuff all day?"
He tells you that your wife will buy you tobacco that she said will smell just like what her grandfather used to smoke, but you don't want to smoke that sissy stuff. You need to smoke something called latakia. Straight.
And don't worry about pipe cleaners, that's just a waste of money.
He tells you that you can smoke a "Hairywon" Pipe for months without ever having to clean it.
Yes sir...if you buy anything but a "Hairywon" you're just throwing your money away.
OK...so this is not how to buy a pipe. After 30 years of smoking a pipe, I've formed a few guidelines to buying a pipe for the first time.
First, is appearance. A pipe has to catch my eye. You know, makes me want to pick it up.
After I've found one that I think looks good, I start really going over it.
Next is the weight. A great pipe will be very light. This comes from how well the briar was cured. The better it's cured, the drier the pipe will smoke and the smoother it will smoke. (I'll get into more about curing a pipe in a later article.)
So it looks good, it's very light but how does it feel in your hand? It should be comfortable to hold. If it's not, it may end up in your rack to collect dust, and that is a waste of money.
The next thing I look at is the draft hole. It should be as close to the bottom of the bowl as possible. If there is too much room under the draft hole it will collect tobacco that can't be smoked. It's a waste of good tobacco. It will also collect moisture or cause what we call a wet heel. That's where you get that gurgling sound.
Something you may want to consider is the size of the pipe. If you're my size a large pipe looks a little silly. Although I do have a couple of very large pipes that just stay at home. They're great for watching football.
If you follow these guidelines, you'll end up with a pipe that looks good, feels good and should smoke great. Although there is no guarantee with any pipe that it will smoke great!
As you can tell, I'm not a writer, just a long time pipe smoker. I hope you've learned a little and I'll try to do better on my next article. If you have any questions, drop me a note and I'll get back to you just as soon as I can. If someone wants to sell you a "Hairywon" Pipe, just look them straight in the eye and ask him if it will smoke as good as your 1948 patent # Dunhill. That should make for a long night.
Happy Smoking, Larry McSpadden
Tinder Box Florissant