2) Mechanical Considerations: The pipe must be constructed in such a manner as to bring you pleasure from smoking it. It must not have design flaws that cause it to be impossible to keep clean, lit, or even together. The question, especially for beginning pipe smokers, is how to tell if a pipe is well made.
You need to know, then, what to look for in both a well-made, and a shoddily made pipe, so that you can tell the difference, and buy only those pipes that are well made.
First and foremost, a list of things to avoid. The presence of any one of the following should not be a cause for great concern. However, a pipe that has more than a few of these attributes might be one to take a pass on.
A) Poorly aligned parts - quality pipes have a precisely aligned and perfectly smooth airway from the draft hole in the bowl to the end of the mouthpiece. Any disruption in the smokestream (such as a misaligned mortise and tenon union) is going to cause turbulence and can cause the pipe to smoke loudly and wet. Be aware that some pipes are purposely designed with some type of moisture ‘trap‘ that does work well for some people.
B) ‘Fills‘ - large holes or pits in the pipe, filled in with putty. While these may not interefere with the actual smoking of the pipe, they may not color and age as gracefully as the rest of the briar and could cause a mottled appearance of the pipe. Briar is a natural product and you may not know how deep a fill actually is.
C) Metal filters - these inserts in the stems of some low grade pipes will cause condensation, resulting in a noisy, wet smoke.
D) Varnish - Pipe makers at all different levels use a dizzying array of finishes on their pipes. While most finishes will have no effect on a pipe, other than how long it stays shiny, it‘s best to avoid varnished finishes or ‘sealed‘ finishes because they might tend to flake or bubble. There are always exceptions to every rule and there are some very well made pipes that use heavy finishes and are quite deisrable, smokable, and collectable.
(...to be continued)
Prossimo articolo: How To Select The ‘Right‘ Pipe - part III