Monday, March 31, 2008

New Acquisition for 3/31/08

I just purchased this new Viprati nosewarmer pipe to bring with me on a cruise I am taking in two weeks. I have a suite booked with a private deck so I plan to kick back, order up some coffee from the ship's room service and smoke a nice bowl of a Rattray blend while watching the sun set over the sea. I wonder if my Blackberry will get service out there...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Gorgeous Pipes from Idskov!

Mr. Carsten Idskov has been making fine smoking pipes by hand since 2001. His pipes are beautiful works of art. I recently contacted Mr. Idskov to inquire about purchasing some of his work and he sent me these pictures of some incredible pipes he is currently offering. These pipes are much too good to keep a secret so, with kind permission of Mr. Idskov, I am sharing these with all of you here at Straight Grain. If you would like to purchase one of these pipes, please contact Mr. Idskov directly at or you can visit his site at

Monday, March 17, 2008

My First Old Boy

Today I took the plunge and ordered my very first Old Boy pipe lighter. I have heard so many things about how good they are. they also have been redesigned and improved so how could I resist?

I have several pipe lighters by Collibri, Prometheus, Vector and other brands but for some reason they never seem to work well after the first weeks. I got one no-name that was great but one day it, literally, fell apart. Hopefully this Old Boy will mark the start of a whole new trend of good working pipe lighters for me.

Now I just have to figure out how to add fuel, change the flint, etc.

Monday, March 10, 2008

My Review of Stanwell Vanilla

Do you like tobacco? If so, you will not like this! This is identical to Skandinavik Vanilla in appearance, smell and flavor. It is a bit sticky, overwhelmingly sweet and the casing tastes almost unnatural like diesel exhaust. I love a good quality aromatic now and then. This is not one of them. This is generic fruit flavored candy with some salt, habanero pepper, lots of sugar, bus fumes and maybe a drop of butterscotch. Enjoy!

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Building and Maintaing Cake Part 2

In the previous part of this article we discussed using the "Orange Ring" technique to burn tobacco directly up against the wood of the chamber walls to build a good carbon cake. In this article we go over proper cake maintenance and the cake-building method known as "Ashing".

When one is about halfway through a bowl of tobacco there is usually a good bed of ashes on top of the burning embers. One popular method of building cake is to spread some of the excess ash over the inside of the tobacco chamber. This is known as "Ashing".

The way this is done is to place one hand over the bowl of the pipe then gently shake the pipe and allow the fine ash to coat the exposed wood of the tobacco chamber. After doing this you can dump the remaining excess ash then gently tamp and continue smoking the second half of the bowl. Once the bowl is finished, repeat the ashing process one more time then dump the remaining ash. What this does is leave a good coating of tobacco ash along the interior of the bowl. This promotes the building of a good even carbon cake. Some folks will wipe out the shank with a pipe cleaner then smoke the pipe again (once cooled down) with the ash still coating the bowl walls. Doing this helps to "fuse" the ash and tobacco to the wood and therefore provides an excellent base for a good healthy cake.

Once you have built up a respectable cake, proper maintenance is necessasry to avoid the problems that can come from having too much cake. If a pipe has too much cake it can make the bowl heat up to the point where the bowl can crack open and end up as firewood. To avoid this you need to periodically ream the cake. This can be done with sandpaper or a pipe reamer.

The proper thickness for cake is equal to the thickness of a dime. When you cut the cake you should slowly and gently ream the bowl and remove the cake evenly and without creating a crack in the cake. Doing so will cause the cake to split and fall off in a large chunk leaving some exposed wood and an uneven cake. Dump the excess carbon powder from the bowl then whisk out the bowl with a bent pipe cleaner. Check the cake for proper thickness and uniform surface. Continue reaming as necessary.

With proper care and maintenance, you should have a pipe that smokes well and will last for many years.