Gosh, it's been a long time since I updated the bench section. I just finished and posted 5 new pipes (see Available Pipes . This is my most successful batch ever (I was 5 for 5). Normally there is at least one or more in any given batch that won't make the cut, and this time they all made it!

They comprise two Opus 1 Pokerbash Smooths, two Opus 2 smooth bulldogs, and a nice bulldog partial blast with a smooth top. It's amazing how nicely and quickly that blasted. Beautiful ring grain just popped right out this time! Anyway, I loved seeing this group of five on the bench as they were coming together.

Busily getting ready for the Kansas City show on November 3rd and 4th. Hope to get at least a couple more finished in addition to the five just off the bench.

I'm really enjoying some additions to the shop equipment.

Having finished the last batch (see available pipes), on the bench now is another batch of three for Chicago (Lord willing). Another Opus 1 (Pokerbash), an Opus 2 (Bulldog), and a squat, slightly more Danish Opus 2, that will be either a bulldog or a maybe a Rhodesian with a boxwood accent ring. Looks like I've finally found a good source for small quantities of exotic woods (stay tuned).
I've nearly finished three pipes from the new briar and it looks and feels great! On the bench is a smooth Opus 1 (Pokerbash) with beautiful grain. First smooth in this series. Also a long shanked freehand that will be a partial blast, and a large Calabash with very nice birdseye on the sides. 

This is the cleanest and best grained briar I've worked with to date. The freehand barely missed being a high grade smooth. Amazing grain, but I'm going to need to blast it except for the top due to a small flaw in the shank, and a few too many tiny sand spots. The PokerBash is very nicely grained. Two very small flaws, but I can live them to save the grain. The Calabash has been an allusive shape for me--this one comes closest to the graceful shape I'm after, and it's huge with beautiful birdseye over most of it!

It's here! I received my sample order of briar from Calabria Pipes and it looks fantastic! I'm going to make a couple of pipes from this batch to make sure the smoking qualities are as promising as the grain and over all appearance. If they are, I've got myself a new supplier!

This order has a variety of cuts so I could see the various offerings. The top grade Plateaux is stunning! Every bit as promising as what I've seen from the big name cutters. I also got some ebauchons, and they are really nice. The long M blocks look more like Plateaux in terms of the grain and cut--very nice, I'll certainly get more! The R blocks show some very nice birdseye on the sides. These all have the look and feel of very well cut, nicely cured, and well aged blocks. I'm really excited!

Dealing with these guys has been really interesting, and an amazing challenge.

I'm working on two Opus 2 pipes. A squat Rhodesian, and a bulldog. Also an Etude (trying to nail down a nicer Calabash interpretation). I've ordered sample briar from Calabria Pipes in Italy, but having a heck of a time wiring them the money for it!

IBAN numbers must be used for all wires from the US now (as of Feb1 07). And apparently this has confused Calabria Pipes, and perhaps their bank! Europeans who have been using IBAN for some time now, but not used to supplying IBANs when dealing with transfers from the US. It's been very frustrating to watch my briar supply dwindling while having my sample shipment of briar from Calabria Pipes delayed by failed wire attempts! Part of the problem is the 7 hour time difference between here and Italy, and then there is also the language barrier!. I suggested we try Western Union, at least I think that's what I suggested. It's a little hard to know what with the translation and all! Hopefully I'll have an E-mail from Mr. Carlino early tomorrow morning.

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.

Pipe: Freehand #217, Smooth Egg w/Pre-Ban Ivory, commissioned Fall of 2012:

"I got the pipe yesterday and I am blown away.  To my eye, there is not a defect to be found.  I absolutely love the shape and hand feel.  This pipe is far and away my best.  It smokes unbelievably cool, and after 5 bowls, I consistently burn to white ash.  I rarely do this with my other pipes.  I absolutely love it!"

"...On the pipe.  Man, I am so thoroughly blown away that I can’t even express it properly!  I have probably smoked 20 bowls so far and not a single smoke has been bad.  I have only been smoking for about 8 months, so I am still learning, but for some reason, I never get off flavors, never get acrid taste, and it always stays lit.  Maybe it is the extra care I take in packing and smoking a top quality pipe, or maybe it is the engineering of the pipe, but I will say this…  Nothing else I have even comes close to the pleasure I get from the one you made from me.  Miles ahead.  I always thought I liked wide bowls, but this pipe has changed my mind totally.  It smokes every tobacco very well.  I am so beyond thrilled."  Ken, Sugar Land, TX 

Pipe: Freehand #138, Blasted Poker with Celluloid Ivory, purchased March 2011 from the website:

To begin…………….No! you’re not getting the pipe back; ever. LOL   I have finished 3 bowls alternating between ribbon cut and flake vapers;  all were smoked with sublime satisfaction.  Initially I thought that the shank configuration was going to be problematic as to handling a pipe cleaner; with minimal effort the pipe took my tapered bristle cleaners satisfactorily.  The bowl rested easily in my palm for sipping what was an unobstructed effortless flow of smoke.  It wasn’t until the last bowl that I realized how deceptively light the pipe was in my hand as well as clenched.  It’s a beautiful piece.  My thanks for another fine addition.   Rich, Louisville, KY

Pipe:Freehand #118, Smooth Apple, purchased June 2010, at the Kansas City Pipe Show:

Neill Archer Roan wrote about this pipe on his blog, A Passion for Pipes,

"This Thile pipe surprised me in some ways. For example, I generally do not like square-shanked pipes, especially with billiard or apple bowl shapes; they seem clunky to me. However, the square shank on this pipe is elegant and creates an interesting geometrical counterpoint to the sweeping arc of the shank bottom and the bowl curvature. I quite like how Scott used the delicate boxwood floc to transition to the stem.

I am also very impressed by the exquisitely articulated transition from bowl to shank. Both the shank and bowl edges are sharply defined and the curved line marking the border between the bowl cheeks and the shank end is clean, sharp, and continuous. I understand from conversations with other artisans that this is not simple or easy to accomplish, and Thile got it right.

This pipe is a very good smoker–cool, dry, and flavorful.  The draw has that barely noticeable resistance that I personally prefer because I find it helps concentrate the smoke flavor to my palate. Obviously, its weight is amenable to clenching, and the hand feel is what one would expect from a bent apple; it is comfortable."

Click here to see the post in its entirety.

Pipe: Long Shanked Billiard #100, Commissioned October, 2009:

Spending a rainy Tuesday evening doing my "homework" for tomorrow's meetings, and effortlessly puffing away on my newest S.E. Thile arrival; #100.  Truly a pipe of double pleasures... Admiring it's beautiful ringed looks, and enjoying it's great smoking nature.

I now have four of your creations.  Four additional friends.  Thanks for the pleasure of getting to share the rewards of your craftmanship. M.H.

Pipe: Freehand Volcano Natural Blast #82, purchased September, 2009 from the website:

Got it today!!  How beautiful.  No wonder you were proud of it.  Couldn't be more my check. Will "test drive" it tomorrow, when I can relax and give it my undivided attention.  Will report back to you.  M.....

.... #82 is an instant member of my pipe family.  Smoking my 2nd bowl as I email you.  1st bowl was smooth and unbelievable for a new pipe. Smoked cool, and complete, with no typical, new pipe relighting issues.  Hangs from the mouth with comfort.  Pipe cleaners slide in unrestricted.  It's all good.  Best of all, I have a sense that it will become one of those "old friend" pipes that you really bond with.

Your craftmanship is appreciated and enjoyed.


Pipe: A.S.P. Pipe of the Year #88, purchased September, 2009 from the website:

It's a beautifully crafted piece, indeed. I very much enjoy its subtle sandblasting and its stain; very rich and full of surprises in the sunlight.  A wonderful companion for my belge #87 to be sure. I'm smoking it right now and, as with #87, it is smooth, light and well balanced. After all these years of collecting every other possible shape, I finally own not just one, but a pair of straights.

Pipe: A.S.P. Pipe of the Year #87, purchased September, 2009 from the website:

Received your pipe today. and I must say, i was not at all disappointed. A beautiful piece! I very much like the elegance of its design, and also the exceptional sandblast job which is very subtle like a dunhill but somehow much more appealing to the eye. it's also extremely light in the hand, which is refreshing since most of my pipes are on the heavier side. All in all, it's a wonderful addition to my collection, Scott, one that i'm sure I'll smoke more often than many of my others. I'm sure you'll hear from me again, possibly in the way of a commission piece if you're up to that sort of thing.

Sincerely, Casca

Pipe: Freehand Horn #47, purchased February 16, 2008, at the St. Louis pipe show:

Resisted my natural urge to leave (number) 47 unsmoked, and fulfilled my promise "to enjoy" it. Smoked it twice on the way home from St. Louis, and again this morning. Taste of the briar is really starting to come through. Lovely! Still remembering the nice feel of your Pokerbash, and also attracted to the looks of the Belge shape you are developing.

....Buying from you was a pleasurable experience.....
--Mark Hendrickson--

Pipe: A.S.P Pipe of the Year #1 (S.E.Thile #49), purchased February 10, 2008 from the website:

I got the Belge today, and as soon as I opened the box, I knew that I would love this pipe. It is so light and well balanced. The workmanship is as good as my best.... I have it loaded up with some aged PSLNF and it is smoking like an old friend. If this one is only the prototype, I can not see what you did to improve later models. This one is as perfect a pipe as I have had. It will be knocking my Bing's Favorites out of rotation for some time.

Thank you so very much for carving this pipe. the way, after almost a week, it is still my favorite pipe...
--"A satisfied customer"--

Pipe: Opus 1 PokerBash Blast #36, purchased May 2007 at the Chicago Pipe Show:

So, here's a pipe diary for you:

Delighted in seeing you at the show - had hoped you might be there. Thrilled to be able to purchase the pipe - so cool looking.

That evening we went to dinner with my family (those still living in the Chicago area).  When I get a new pipe I am attached to it obsessively.  I walk around dry smoking it when it is not lit.  It is quite the joke of my orchestras and family - one guy actually asked me if I ever smoked the damn thing.

Of course, when I offered to light it up in front of him, he ran the other way.

Visuals reviews are in - everyone thinks the pipe is 'gorgeous'.

I smoked it for the first time that night after dinner.  Smoked perfectly and I love the stem - feels good between the teeth and the pipe is not too heavy that it strains my jaw.  Also the stem has no taste to it unlike the vulcanized rubber stuff that always tastes - rubbery.  Good choice.

I am currently on an Erinmore kick so it is only tobacco I have smoked in it with the exception of some Virginia flake from Mac Baren.

The pipe cleans easily and the stem as well.  I have noticed no wear when moving the stem in and out of the shaft.  Nice fit, by the way.

I am currently in Kiev, as I said - but, on the way over, I typically had my pipe in my mouth the entire three flights over here.  (It is always good to me to taste tobacco and briar - even when not lit!)

I was standing in customs in Amsterdam when a woman approached me and said:

"Nice pipe!"

I thanked her and we got to talking.  Seems her father smoked and had quite a collection.  She admired the pipe and seemed to know what she was doing and talking about. Turns out she is a soprano with the Bulgarian National Opera and was on her way there to perform.  Small world.

I also brought one of my favorite Savinelli's with me and a Jirsa that I picked up in Prague last month.

I might not have bothered as all I seem to want to smoke is my Thile!  I'm really enjoying the pipe - it may become my favorite.

Keep up the good work - I hope to see you at other shows and increase my collection!


Pipe: A commission made to specs, completed December, 2007:

Merry Christmas Scott:

I am sitting here smoking the pipe that you made for me and wanted to drop you a brief note of thanks again for your participation with my Personal Series. The pipe is coming along quite nicely and I find it very enjoyable.

I have dedicated this particular pipe to (aged) Mac Baren Navy Flake, the only non Virginia tobacco I smoke regularly and enjoy. This particular tobacco has fond memories for me as it was one of the only (and better) tobaccos that I could buy anywhere some thirty years ago when I befriended the pipe. Two other pipes from my Personal Series have also been dedicated to Mac Baren Navy Flake as well including those made by Mark Tinsky (novel in that Mark smokes Mac Baren Navy Flake near exclusively) and Peter Heeschen, so you can see your pipe will hold a special place.

My best wishes for a Prosperous 2008.

More feedback will be posted soon--we're waiting for permission.

IMG_4850-1In Summer and Fall 2011 I was able to make a lot of exciting improvements to the workshop. First I upgraded the electrical service adding three dedicated 220V circuits for my compressor, dust collector, and my long awaited lathe, a Precision Matthews PM1236, which arrived in November after a 6 month wait! Also added lots of 20A 110 circuits. No more running into the house after throwing a breaker! In preperation for the new tools I also did some painting, ran dust collection pipe and hose and compressed air lines to several different work stations. I also had to re-organize the shop to fit the new lathe and added a 2HP 3600 RPM motor for 36 grit wheel while retaining the 1750 motor for finer grits and buffing. I also built a seperate free standing briar rack.  

IMG_4855-1In March of 2010 I added the 36 grit wheel after visitin with Todd Johnson and Bruce Weaver for a few days. I now spend a great deal of my pipe making time at that station. The dust collection box is attached to my shop vac for now, but I have hopes of replacing that with a full blown dust collector soon. And I'd love to replace my 9x20 lathe with a Precision Matthews 1127VF sometime in 2011.

In Summer 2009 I reorganized after replacing the dilapidated garage door with a new insolated door that has a row of windows, so I have much more natural light. Included in the improvements was a new bench/cabinet, which was scrounged from one of the old science labs decommissioned at Murray State. I had to add a top, a side, and a back, but it's maple with dovetail joints so it should hold up well. I also made a rack and a new shelf for lathe tools.

Click on one of the pics bellow and start the slide show to see the current tooling and general shop set up:

Freehand Egg #83, Sandblast
Grade C.

Specs :
Grade: C
Height: 1.8" (46 mm)
Diameter: 1.37" (35 mm)
Overall Length: 5.4 " (138 mm)
Chamber Diameter: .75" (19 mm)
Chamber Depth: 1.5" (39 mm)
Weight: 1.0 oz (31 grams)

Made from Italian Plateaux with a hand cut German Ebonite stem and an integral tenon. Very graceful lines. An interesting blast with straight grain highlights showing through a beautiful ring grain blast. A very light pipe, small in size, but with a generious chamber and excellent balance.

Question about this pipe? Click question and fire away.

$195, Sold Summer 2007, thanks!

Grade D
Height: 1.85"
Overall Length: 6"
Chamber Diameter: 3/4"
Chamber Depth: 1.54"

Hand cut Ebonite Stem with a Delrin tenon. Beautiful birdseye on top, with some nice ring grain on the blast. One flaw on the shank blasted out a bit more than I wanted, otherwise this would have been a grade B and a lot more expensive! This is a nice light pipe with graceful lines.