The french school of pipemakeing is the oldest method of pipemaking in the world.
relying heavily on automation the French makers have worked every bug out of the production process . The key word here is production. Nothing is wasted .All briar is cut and shaped regardless of outcome of quality and then the wheat is separated from the chaff so to speak
Pipes are made all over the world by people who follow the construction methods that
they were taught or that work for them. No one is better than the next however one might be better depending on the application or intent, I am going to try to describe each school of thought as I see them.
1. The English School. Although I have learned many ways of doing things from the different disciplines of pipemaking I always seem to be coming back to this school.
A simple wood lathe head stock and some sharp turning tools and its off to the races
for classic shape pipes, All classic shapes can be turned on a wood lathe as thats how they
were turned since there inception. Below is an example of what I've been saying with Barry Jones of
Charatan and James Upshall.
As simple as the wood lathe set up is it serves a great purpose, and that is the ability
of fast production with little or no set up time. With knowledge of a few turning tools
shapes can be made faster than they can be turned on a metal lathe by nature of the time needed to adjust tooling When you have to turn 3 or more pipes of different shapes It appears to be the commonsenseical approach Next week the French School.
Now that I have caught up with my sleep (I never sleep well away from home) I think
I can give one pipemakers review of the New York pipe show kinda (As many of you know
its in Newark New Jersey.Yes one can say its not really New York but having family all in
the real estate business I can see why 10 miles and an unimaginable amount of money for venue space makes complete sense. I was Very apprehensive to return to New York after
last years horrible performance.I figured I'd have to escape from New York once again.
After a long ride Rhode Island I arrived and saw no one familiar (here we go again) Things
started looking better however at breakfast.People from the past started to appear and when I went to the showroom things had a different beat. You could feel it. Well organized
and the club members sponsoring the show were very attentive and helpful. I believe there
were some who commented last year that they would be voting with there feet if things
were not made better.It costs time and money to come to these shows and people were
concerned. What ever happened someone listened. Attendance was brisk as was sales
from what I could gather many happy people set up there tables and got to it.Lots of people
stopping ,talking, introducing themselves. I got a really better feel for the pipe market this year based on comments and concerns and had opportunity to talk to the business people
that affect my trade. We'll see if the show was a success in a few weeks but I was glad I went
than staying home but I still missed my bed.
This is an article I write with a little trepidation as anyone who owns a business
wonders how to market it. Advertising costs a lot of money and some are better than others.
The one thing advertising shares is that it all takes your money. So how do I hit a home run
every time I go to a show? If I knew I wouldn't be writing this. I'm Thinking the bigger more established shows would be the safe bet, but what about the smaller shows? When your selling product you can gauge by what u sell right away,If your selling service (pipe repair) you don't see it till weeks or months later and they already got your money. I've been told by
my fellow friends who have been in the briar trade longer than myself you learn by losing.
That's a scary but probably real statement. However I wish I had more assurance's that a
plane ticket to pipe show X will at least pay for my trip. Well I guess that's the game we call advertising where everything is promised except guarantee.
I once remember reading a blog by Trevor Talbert on pipe repair. Although, I'm paraphrasing
he went on to say that pipe repair was a trap and went on to say that the law of diminishing returns, started to come into play. Expectation vs labor etc, to a large degree was spot on with his assessment. There is in my experience value in pipe repair and restoration if the owner follows these steps before sending a pipe out for repair.
1) Assess your you pipe:
We have all had a pipe we would like repaired but have we looked at it as a whole? What needs to be done beyond a stem. How clogged with cake is it? How dirty is it?
2) How much did you pay for your pipe:
Many times repairmen have heard "That cost more than I paid for it". You may be correct Sir. As many years in the fishing industry and in the trades have taught me labor has a price. If someone thought enough to send you their pipe the repairman is going to fix it. He will not put a stem on a broken shank or not ream out a bowl that's so clogged that the pipe will not smoke.
3) Always call ahead:
It never costs anything to call me or any repairman for advice. There are always circumstances that arise and I'm all too happy to help one make a decision.
A well cared for pipe will give its owner a lifetime of enjoyment that is well worth the price of repair and possibly increase the value and collectability in some cases. That's just one man's opinion.