Tag Archives: hand carved pipes

A Review – A Kevin Arthur Apple

Blog by Steve Laug

About a year ago now I contacted Kevin Skraboly of Kevin Arthur Pipes regarding a commission that I wanted him to make for me. My request was pretty simple in that what I wanted was an apple shaped pipe that had his rusticated finish. I did not specify colour or finish in terms of shank treatments of patterns. I also did not specify a shank extension or the wood that he would use in it. I pretty much left all of the artistry up to him to work his magic.

When the pipe arrived and I have to tell you the shape and finish were exactly what I had in mind when I commissioned it from Kevin. It was and is beautiful. The coral rustication reminds me of cut glass and the rustication of the Canadian carver Michael Parks. The rustication is very sharp and rough in the hand but a very cool finish in terms of the smoking. The bowl and the rim are almost totally rusticated with a thin band that is stained in a reddish stain that goes around the inner edge of the bowl. There is also a thin line of stained briar around the end of the shank. To complement the reddish stain on the smooth portions and the black matte stain on the rusticated bowl Kevin put on a shank extension of thin black Lucite then a nice piece of Box Elder that he stabilized. The overall flow of the bowl and shank is brilliant and the colours are beautifully matched from rim to the end of the shank. ImageImage

The stem is inset into the shank about 1/32 of an inch. The Box Elder shank extension is a tire like ring that rides on a briar shank that is cut to hold it. The Box Elder has an interesting marbled look to it that is really set off by the black of the Lucite band and the black stain on the pipe. Kevin did an excellent job on the inner mechanics of the pipe with drilling that is perfectly execute from the shank and into the bowl  – coming out exactly centre in the bottom of the bowl. The airway and the inside of the bowl were very smooth with no rough spots left by the drill bit in the bowl or shank. There was no bowl treatment or coating so just a good smooth briar.

The stem itself is hand cut out of a swirled red and black Cumberland like Lucite. It is thin and comfortable in the mouth. It has a slight bend to it that gives it a stylized look. It is a saddle stem with a bit of a step down from the ring at the saddle. Kevin did a great job shaping the stem and capturing a shape that really works with this pipe. The stem is nicely finished with the thin ring just behind the cylinder that provides a shift before the taper of the stem flows toward the button. It is a wide slablike stem that looks great with it striations of black that run through the red. The choice of material for the stem matches the red on the rim and the shank and the black on the bowl. The Box Elder breaks that colour flow up in an interesting way. The tenon is Delrin that has been inserted into the Lucite stem for durability and ease of use. The airway is funnelled slightly for a smooth transition from the mortise when it is in place. There is a very minimal gap between the end of the tenon and the base of the mortise. The airway is smooth even where the Delrin meets the Lucite of the stem. There is no lip or rough spot at that junction. The draught is unrestricted and open from the bowl to the tip of the stem. Draught is effortless. The fit of the stem to the tenon is very well done. The button is perfect to my liking and very comfortable in the mouth and teeth. The opening in the mouthpiece is fanned out nicely. The smoke is delivered smoothly to the mouth. ImageImage

The overall construction of this pipe is very well done. It is light in the hand and in the mouth. It is well balanced and has a great tactile feel when it is cool and as it warms up during the smoking of a bowl.

I have been smoking it for over a year now and after breaking it in with some Balkan blends that I have here it has become a good English/Balkan smoking pipe. It delivered a good smoke from the first smoke and continues to do so. It draws well; the lighting has never been a problem. It seemed to take very little time to break it in and continues to be an effortless smoke.

Thanks Kevin of Kevin Arthur Pipes for delivering a well made pipe that remains a very good smoking pipe even a year later. He continues to make interesting and well made pipes that are available on his website at http://www.kevinarthurpipes.com/  Stop by for a look, order one for yourself,  you cannot go wrong with his work.

Review of Crosby Pocket-sized Apple

Blog by Steve Laug

I received this pipe through the generosity of a good friend. I had been with him when John posted a pipe like this on his website for sale. When I went to purchase it someone had beat me to it. It turned out to have been my friend so he had John make a second one for me. When the pipes were completed he came by the house to drop my surprise gift off and to sit and smoke the two pipes together. I think of him and his generosity each time I look at this beauty.

In this review I want to look at the pipe from a more technical side and walk through its construction, feel and delivery of the smoke to me. I drew the pipe from the smooth black leather pipe sock, stamped with Crosby’s signature and USA in gold. Here is what I found.

In my hand the pipe is very light weight. I do not have a scale to weigh it in terms of grams or ounces but I can say that the weight is light. It is nicely made and roughly 4.5 inches long. The shape and weight make it easily a sitter even though it is not flattened on the bottom of the bowl or the shank. It is so light weight and balanced that, like the Morrisette I reviewed earlier, it is easy to leave in my mouth without clenching while I am driving home from work. The construction and eye to detail is very good. The finish is rusticated with a craggy tight rustication. John left a band at the end of the shank to facilitate the shank stem junction. The bottom of the shank also has a spot in which John stamped Crosby and the year of make – 09. In terms of stain and colour this is interesting. John seems to have stained it with a series of stains. It is almost matte black when viewed without a bright light. But with light there are hints of browns, reds and blacks. As I turn the pipe over in my hand the colours shift and are visible. The rim of the bowl is also rusticated with the same roughness as the bowl exterior. The rustication and finishing job on this pipe is very well done.

The stem work is nicely made. It is hand cut from acrylic but is soft in the mouth. It is a Cumberland like material in greens, yellows, olives, browns and blacks. The stem/shank joint is perfect – no gap whatsoever. It is a modified saddle stem – asymmetrical in shape. The slope on the top of the stem is at a sharper angle than that on the bottom of the stem. Both are cut with what looks like an eye for tree ring like striations in the acrylic. It is a fairly wide and flat stem that is very comfortable in the mouth. It has a nicely shaped button that is sharply cut and catches well on the back of my teeth. The slot in the button is a smooth V slot that facilitates the movement of smoke across the mouth. The colour on the end of the button is like a bulls eye – rings and rings that almost centre on the whole. The stem is polished with no scratches or file markings at all. Very clean. But the material is such that it goes very well with the matte finish of the bowl. Very nice feel in the hand.

Moving to the inside of the pipe – the mechanics of the pipe are very good. The angle of the drilling of the bowl takes advantage of maximum bowl thickness and depth. The draught hole was precisely where it should be. The bottom of the bowl is of relatively the same thickness as the walls of the pipe. Nicely laid out John!! The bowl was uncoated and very smooth. There are no rough spots where the draught hole entered the bowl. The inside of the airway in the shank and the bowl were very smooth with no extraneous roughness from the drilling. The same is true with the inside of the stem, which was also very smooth. Holding light to the bowl revealed a clean and smooth airway with no impediments. The drilling from the draught hole to the hole in the end of the shank is wide open and unimpeded. The tenon is delrin I believe and is open to draw the smoke through evenly. The opening airway in the end of the tenon is wide open and proceeds to the button in a smooth open path. There is no roughness or constriction where the delrin tenon ends and the stem material begins. This transition is smooth. The airway flattens out like a squeezed drinking straw so that the diameter does not change but is flattened and opened. The draw on this pipe is very smooth – no whistling sound and no sense of having to suck or work to get the air to move through. The draw on the pipe is effortless. From the first smoke it was a very easy pipe to smoke. Once lit it was effortless to smoke.  A pleasure to smoke, exactly what I have come to expect from the other Crosby pipe I have and what I hear others saying about his pipes.

JOHN CROSBY PIPES http://www.crosbypipes.com/


Review of Gabrieli Quarter Bent Brandy

Blog by Steve Laug

I wrote this review several years ago now and post it here as I wrote it then. Dan still makes great pipes and they are reasonable in price. Dan is one of the makers that I have learned much from in terms of staining and stem work. He has always been available to me when I have a question or need a tool. We have spent many hours communicating across the continent via Skype and for that I am thankful. I have two of Dan’s pipes and love them both.

Yesterday (11/5) I received my Gabrieli pipe in the post from Dan. I have been waiting anxiously to have it in hand since he posted it here on the forums as a piece in progress. It is a beauty to be sure. The length of the pipe is 6 inches and the bowl height is 2 inches. The chamber diameter is 7/8 inches and depth is 1 ¾ inches. When it first arrived I thought it seemed large but it is very nice in the hand and the largeness is more in terms of appearance than reality. The overall shape is a ¼ bent brandy bowl that is quite large with an elongated shank that is pencil like. The combination works for me quite well. The stamping is also unique. On the stem and shank junction it is hand stamped Bethlehem, PA. On the left side in a smooth circle it is stamped Gabrieli arched over USA. On the shank right side is a Moravian cross with the date and grade stamp.

The finish on the outside of the pipe is rusticated in a finish not unlike the sea rock rustication on some of the Castellos I have seen or other brands that have a similar pattern of rustication. There is a deep craggy feel and look to the rustication on the bowl with a randomness to it that adds to the overall appearance. On the shank the rustication changes appearance a bit to more vertical striations and patterns. The variation between the bowl and the shank is actually very nice and they blend together well. On the rim of the pipe Dan left a bit of plateau on the right rear rim but the way it is in appearance carries through the rustication pattern from the bowl but a bit deeper. The rest of the rim is smooth with a slight edge protruding onto the bowl all the way around the pipe forming a smooth band around the outer rim that matches the smooth band at the shank stem junction.  The staining on this appears to be a blend of darker/medium brown with a red undertone that is interesting. It really goes well with the shank stem extension of Masur Birch set into the stem between a band of Cumberland and a Cumberland stem. The colour of the pipe is a beautiful match to the Cumberland stem colours. Nicely done Dan. The stem itself is a well made half saddle stem. The top of the stem is saddle shaped and the underside a gentle taper. The design along with the slight bend makes it fit very comfortably in the mouth. It also rests well enough that it can be clenched quite easily. The tenon is delrin and is funneled at the end for good mechanics. The button is exactly the way I like them – thinner on the edges with a gentle rise at the centre top and bottom. It fits well behind the teeth for a comfortable feel. The draught hole in the end of the button is also funneled to deliver a mouthpiece that has the same diameter from start to finish. Comfortable and well executed. A pipe cleaner passes easily through the pipe with no obstruction.

The mechanics of the pipe are nicely done as well. The bowl chamber is fairly large with a slight chamfering around the inner edge of the bowl. It is coated with some kind or precarb coating that has no flavour attached to it. (Whew!) The draught hole is centered at the bottom of the bowl and seems to have a slight funnel as well – like a shallow Y- leading into the shank and stem. There is a very easy and open draw to the pipe. The fit of the stem to the shank is very good. Smooth and tight. The tenon sits deep in the mortise – if  not exactly the same length then impressively close! The fit of the tenon is also smooth. The drilling of the draught in the shank is straight but to accommodate the bend in the pipe it has the small u at the bottom of the mortise that is barely noticeable but present. The air pulls clearly through the pipe with no whistling at all. Using a light to shine through the various airways reveals smoothly executed airways on the inside. Very nice mechanics.

Today I gave it the inaugural smoke. I loaded a bowl of Red Ribbon (1983) and took a long walk at work. It packed very easily and lit well. The draught on the pipe was superb. The smoke was uncomplicated and effortless. It was smooth from the get go with none of the new pipe break in woes. The bowl coating is tasteless and does not change the taste of the tobacco. I am looking forward to another bowl on my drive home from work.

Thanks Dan for a well made pipe that smokes as good as it looks!

Some of the pipes I have carved over the years

I thought I would post some pictures of the pipes I have carved over the years. Some are better than others and many are no longer in my collection as I have given them to friends. I post them here on the blog to show some of the possibilities with finishes – smooth, rusticated and semi rusticated – and with various stains and also as naturals.

Pipe #1 (only in terms of pictures not in terms of creation). A quarter bent ball or apple with a chamfered rim. The stains include a black under stain and a medium brown over stain.ImageImage

Pipe #2 – A ¼ bent tadpole. This is a great smoker and very light weight. The stains are a contrast of reds and browns.


Pipe #3 – A saddle stem Dublin with a Medium Brown stain


Pipe #4 – a ¼ bent Tomato. This one is rusticated to look like old leather. The undercoat is black stain then it is buffed and given a top coat of Medium Brown stain.Image

Pipe #5 – A semi rusticated apple. The bottom of this pipe is plateau briar and the rustication carries that theme upward to mid bowl. The rustication has a black understain and a medium Brown top coat. The smooth portion is medium brown. Image

Pipe #6 – A Canadian with a leaf pattern carved over a flaw in the briar. The stain is a Medium Brown.Image

Pipe #7 –a bent Dublin. On this one I used a medium brown stain. I had Stephen Downie help me with the shank extension and work on this one. Image

Pipe #8 – Volcano shape with plateau on the bottom. This one has a black understain to highlight the beautiful grain and then a medium Brown overstain. The stem is a modified saddle.ImageImage

Pipe #9 – ¼ bent egg. This one is stained with a black understain and then a tan overstain. The grain is very interesting on it.Image

Pipe #10 is a natural Dublin with no stain. Many coats of carnauba wax were applied. The band is a brass pressure fitting that I shaped to give it character. Image

Pipe #11 is a poker with a mix of rustication and smooth. It was stained with a medium brown stain. And waxed with carnauba. Image

Pipe #12 is a fanciful freehand that I did to highlight the amazing grain that flows along the pattern. This one is also natural in terms of finish – no stains were used. Just wax.Image