Fills in Briar
I was asked:
>I have a Danish freehand that I bought in Denmark about ten years
ago. >It has a nice close straight grain and smokes wonderfully. After
a >few years of smoking I noticed three of four small fills on one side
>of the bowl. Obviously it is not fashioned from a flawless piece of
>briar. I wonder how common it is for fairly expensive pipes to have
such >flaws. I imagine that some finishes could hide them better than
others. >In this case they don't seem to affect the quality of the smoke.
Aside >from appearance, do such fills have any disadvantages?
As long as a plug is not too deep it will not effect the longevity
of the pipe. Fills in certain spots are more dangerous than others. Never
buy a pipe that has a fill near the end of the shank it will certainly crack
in the future. If a bowl is fairly thick, fills in the upper part will probably
be inconsequential as most of the heat is concentrated in the lower and
middle parts of the bowl.
As far as which of the major brands fill. Well... at the risk of getting
some people upset. I've seen fills in Larsen's, GBD Virgins, Briar Workshop
et al, Talamona to mention a few. Pipes I 've never seen fills in, referring
to smooth pipes only, sandblasts and rough finish pipes don't count as the
reason as they are finished in the fashion are flaws in the briar, are:
Dunhill, Charatan, Upshall,(old) Barling, Costello, Ser Jacapo, top of the
line Savinilli's, Ascorti, Cammineto, .I m not familiar with too many Danish,
but I never seen any in a Celius.
I 've never actually found a fill in a Radice but I 've seen some suspicious
looking spots that even under magnification I could' t be sure! As he s
such a great artisan I wonder if he hasn' t come up with a way to hide them.
Peterson fills baldly. As for American pipe makers, I 've never seen fills
in a Wiley, Butera, Tim West. I myself do not on my American pipes.
Please don t take this to mean anybody I 've left out does or doesn' t.
It also can mean I m wrong about some I 've absolved . This is what I 've
seen and observed. There are so many pipe makers and brands that to list
them all would take forever. Generally speaking any pipe under $100 is likely
to be filled. Any pipe made by machine is likely to be filled. There are
notable exceptions. There are some beautiful clean Kaywoodie's out there.
Weber made a great line of naturals that were marketed under other names.
So what's this all mean. The only metaphor/analogy I can make to explain
it would be; why not substitute cubic zirconium's for diamonds in all expensive
jewelry? They look and function the same. Why do many people insist upon
diamonds? There's something about owning a rare material, potentially flawed,
hardly ever pristine, fashioned by hand that appeals to most of us. If a
pipe is to be just a vehicle for burning tobacco, then little matter if
it has cosmetic flaws. If smoking is to be something special, a totem, an
art that transcends, what better way than a unique and flawless vessel to
contain it. Mark Tinsky
American Smoking Pipe Co.
HC 88 Box 223
Pocono Lake, Pa. 18347