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Smoking pipes shapes
Alexandr Bondarev
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Smoking pipes shapes

In this article I will talk about the main shapes of smoking pipes with examples of my work.

Canadian - one of smoking pipes shapes
Straight pipe (canadian)

I. Straight and bent pipes

Most pipes shapes were named from the form of the bowl and keep the name no matter is it straight or bent pipe. For example, on this photo is the bent egg. Bents have different degrees from nearly straight to a full bent. Full bent shank is bent so that the axis of mortise is parallel to the axis of the chamber. That is, the shank is bent at 90º. Intermediate variants are often referred to in fractions. For example, ½ bent has angle of 45°. The pipe on photo is approximately ¼ bent.

Straight pipes are easier to smoke and clean. Also straight pipes are easier to make, that's why such shapes have less drilling flaws. Buying cheap factory bent is always risky. Handmade bents from the maker with a good reputation are allways drilled correctly, but some compromises in engineering he in any case have to go. A typical bents problem is the sharp corner above the bore entrance into the chamber. This angle often burns. It's possible to avoid this problem while designing a pipe, but then big bend channel will be at the junction of the stem and shank, which can be a problem while cleaning the pipe with stem connected.

I don't make full bents, because the compromises I would have to go, are unacceptable for me anyway. It's technically possible to make pipe without any problems until about ½ bent.

Bent apple
Bent pipe (bent apple)

Rather, one little problem is still there: the sank bore of such pipe is closed with decoration ring, since its axis passes through the lower side of the shank. It does not cause any inconvenience while smoking, but you can't stick a drill bit in the bore. If you don't clean your pipe for a long time, you will be to redrill the bore again after few months. And you will be not able to do it if the bore is closed with decoration ring. But if you use to clean your pipes after every smoking, you will not meet that problem.

II. Classic shapes

Classic pipes shapes are initially adapted for manufacturing on a lathe. Generally cylindrical shanks, round in cross-section of the bowl. The differences are in the profiles of the bowls: some of the shapes of the bowl narrows towards the top (brandy, apple, egg), some tapers barely (billiard, pot), poker is not narrowed at all, and dublin is expanded towards the top.

Billiard - classic pipe shape
Classic billiard

Billiard - the most classical of classic shapes

One shape is worth mentioning separately is billiard. First, it is the most common shape. Such pipes are in the range probably each and every manufacturer and in the portfolio of each pipe maker. Second, the shape of the billiard bowl is used in lots of other shapes. This bowl in the most classic version is almost cylindrical, only barely narrowed towards the top. More modern versions of billiards have a noticeable narrowed bowl with a rounded profile, that is, the billiards evolution went in the direction of the apples.

Meanwhile a billiard has got its name not because of the bowl, but because of a shank and stem together looking like a pool cue. Despite the fact that billiards may have, for example, saddle stems, having absolutely nothing similar to a cue.

Billiard is the most standardized pipe shape. First, the shank length should be strictly equal to the length of stummel (wooden part). Secondly, the length of the shank should be equal to the height of the bowl. The angle between the bowl and the shank of a classic english billiard is strictly 90º. But now they often make a danish version with a barely tilted forward bowl. In my opinion, this innovation looks very nice.

Canadian - pipes with long oval shank
Classic canadian

Canadian family

There is a whole family of pipes shapes, derived from billiards. They all have a billiard bowl, but the elongated shank due to the shortened stem. They are: liverpool, lovat, canadian and lumberman. Liverpool has round shank and tappered stem. Lovat has round shank and saddle stem. Canadian has oval shank and tappered stem. And lumberman has oval shank and saddle stem.

Such pipe due to the long bore in briar is smoked noticeably drier and therefore more enjoyable when it's equal with billiard length. This shapes are my favorite. Especially canadians - I aesthetically like them the most, that's why in my portfolio I have more of them than pipes of any other shape. Although drilling such tubes, of course, is more complicated, and not any briar block has suitable length, that's why such pipes are a little bit more expensive than billiards.


Bulldogs, Rhodesians

Also it is necessary to mention such shapes as the bulldog and rhodesian. The bulldog is also very standardized form. Bulldogs have a bowl of high diamond-shaped profile, almost always notches therein, and a shank with a diamond-shaped cross-section. Bulldogs can be straight or bent.

Accurate description of rhodesian does not exist, various pipe makers and manufacturers call this name very different pipes. Most often they say that the difference between rhodesians and bulldogs is in the shank shape. Rhodesians may have round or oval shanks. Some people name rhodesians pipes with lower bowl than bulldogs have. In General, if you examine the names of the pipes of different artists and producers, it can be concluded that they name rhodesians everything that isn't strict bulldog canons.

Poker - a pipe shape for standing on a table
Classic poker

Poker, Cherrywood

Poker is a classic pipes shape, convenient to put it on the table. For example, during a card game - because this form got its name. Classic poker has a cylindrical bowl with a bottom perpendicular to the bowl axis, and a cylindrical shank that is perpendicular to the bowl. Very often, they make pokers with beveled bottom to make the pipe more stable by pushing the center of mass from the shank. Someone thinks that such pipe is not a poker, but a cherrywood. Again, the definitions you can find different. I call such pipes pokers, and often make pokers such way.

In old Dunhill catalogs can be found a poker, whith the low shank starting from the bowl bottom. Thus, the shank is not hanging over the table but lies on it. This gives a manufacturer the opportunity to make up the longer pipe which still doen't fall down, because the pipe relies not only on the bottom bottom, but also on the shank. I have made a couple of such pokers.

Cherrywood is a bent poker. In addition, cherrywood bowl is not to be strictly cylindrical. It can be like widening towards the top like dublin.



Dublin is a pipe shape with a bowl expanding to the top. Initially, this is lathe-turning shape, that is, the bowl is a strict cone. However, with the advent of straight grain fashion and freehand method of pipe making dublin bowls have become more artictic, fitting the natural texture of briar.

Engineering feature of many Dublin - cone chamber. Because of the shape of bowl they often have to do the chamber tapered to the bottom, to the walls of the bowl in the lower part are not too thin. I make a full cone rarely, but I use to use a drill bit turned on more sharp parabola than for other shapes pipes.


Other classic and not so form

Apple is a pipe with a round bowl. It doesn't have to be a ball, because apples themselves are usually a little stretched on one side. A special kind of apples - a prince is a pipe with apple bowl and a relatively long, usually just barely bent stem.

The egg bowl is more elongated, than the apple. Tomato bowl, on the contrary, is more flattened

Brandy is a pipe shape with bowl tapering with almost straight lines of the profile. This bowl is similar to a brandy glass.

Often they use other culinary and botanical names for different pipe shapes based on their bowls: figs, acorns, strawberries, etc. The boundaries between them are very fuzzy, and they are not strictly classic shapes.

Freehand pipe

III. Freehands

In the 60th years of XX century there is a new trend in smoking pipes making. This is a new method, which gave the opportunity to create more artistic shapes. The method consists in the rejection of the lathe for turning bowls. First the pipe is shaped with sanding disk, and then drilled manualy. A special spoon bit was developed for that.

The birthplace of this method and most of these shapes was Denmark. Often such pipes shapes are called Danish in contrast to the classical English lathe-turned shapes.


This method has literally "freed" artists hands, that's the reason of this name - freehands. With the advent of this method absolutely new shapes began to appear in larger quantities, many of which received a generally accepted name and have become almost classic. For example, a horn - a pipe shape similar to a cow horn.

Now, when most artists use both the method of pipe making, the line between freehand and classics is blurred. Many people call freenads only the most fancy shapes like works of russian pipe maker Andrey Savenko. And they call classic more common pipes regardless of the method they were made. Others call freehand any pipes whithout obviously lathe-turned bowls. That is, it may be friend-dublin ore friend-bulldog, if these shapes are amended by rejecting the lathe using.

IV. Nosewarmers

Special modern trend in smoking pipes making is nosewarmers - an extremely short pipes up to 12 cm length, sometimes even 8-9 cm. Now many, many pipe makers offer such short pipes. And I doubt very much that this trend is caused by market conditions. Rather, I think, the reason is in online trading. When you choose a pipe in your local tobacco shop, you will unlikely to pay attention to such a short pipe next to a full sized pipes. But while choosing a pipe in a webshop by photos, the buyer often can't estimate its size.

Nosewarmer pipe from Konstantin Shekita
Konstantin Shekita
Nosewarmer pipe

The photo is a work of ukrainian artist Konstantin Shekita.

Smoking nosewarmer is much more difficult. Such pipes require some experience. Because of a short bore the smoke has no time to cool down and to lose excess moisture. To get real pleasure of smoking such pipe you are to smoke very carefully and slowly. Even a small mistake in the tempo will spoil the whole smoking.

Since I smoke mostly at work or driving, I can't fully concentrate on the smoking process, often distract, can not withstand the tempo of smoking. That's why I don't like nosewarmers. And because I don't smoke them, I don't also make them, and refuse such orders. Or persuade the customer to increase the size to at least 13 cm. Among my works there are almost no nosewarmers. My pipes usually are larger than the average pipe in the market.

I absolutely do not understand the reason to buy nosewarmer. They are not good for smoking at work or driving, because require attention and concentration on smoking process. But when you smoke at home or outside, having no other businesses, large massive pipe is much better!

So I am the nosewarmerophobe. But connoisseurs of such pipes certainly exist. I guess I just don't know how to cook them.

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