Tuesday, 27 February 2007 23:24

On the Bench

What's on the bench? Well, I've got a few good blocks of briar left, but I'm running low. I'm working on importing briar direct from the cutter in Italy. If it works out, I should have better quality Plateaux that will yield more smooth straight grain high grade pipes, as well as better blasts.

The truth is that it's tough for a new pipe maker to get the best blocks of briar at a reasonable cost. Buying in small quantities limits one to buying from other pipemakers for the most part, and that means they have first crack at the best blocks for their own work. PipeMakers emporium has been the only other option, and thankfully I've received top Grade Algerian briar from them. It's expensive though, and still may not be as good as the best from Italy.

I've desperately wanted to try some top quality Plateaux from Italy, and I've come to think that means going direct to the cutter. Even when going direct, I suspect that the cutters with the big reps keep the best blocks for their best customers (more established pipe makers), and the very best for the super high grade makers.

So, what's an up and coming maker to do? I think I've found a cutter that is not exporting to the US yet, and I've heard that their blocks are as good as the best from the high rep cutters. I'm working on getting some samples. I would love to work my way up the briar food chain a notch or two. Stay tuned.