Wood Pipes

      Wooden smoking pipes are some of the oldest known pipes used by man. Earlier versions of pipes were made from clay, but soon after, using different hand-carved wood forms to make pipes became widely adopted by many cultures across the world.

       In North America, Native Americans have traditionally used many different types of pipes for ceremonies. The most commonly referenced is the “peace pipe.” Lesser talked about pipes were war pipes and medicine pipes. All of these pipes had their place in different ceremonies, and they could differ in the materials they were made from. Clay was commonly used for many ceremonial pipes, but depending on the tribe, wooden smoking pipes were the pipe of choice.

      Europeans were exposed to wooden smoking pipes via their travels to America. They brought back the pipes and tobacco to Europe, where smoking tobacco pipes from wood pipes became all the rage. In the early 19th century, artisans from a french town in the Jura Mountains named St. Claude began to produce wood pipes with bowls made from the white heath tree's burl. This wood today is called briar.

      The different parts of a wooden pipe 

      Knowing the correct terminology when it comes to wood pipes is a must. It will help you make an informed decision when purchasing your next pipe. The following terms are commonly used words when describing the different parts of a wooden pipe.

      Bowl: this is where the smoking material is packed inside. When an individual is ready to smoke, they will pack the bowl with the appropriate amount of smokable material before lighting it.

      1. Chamber: the chamber is the larger portion of the bowl. Many people use the terms "bowl" and "chamber" to describe the pipe's same part. The only difference between the two is that the chamber is the pipe's interior portion, whereas the bowl is technically the exterior portion.

      2. Draught Hole: the draught hole in the hollow tunnel that connects the chamber to the shank.

      3. Shank: the long, narrow corridor where the smoke of a pipe travels when being used.

      4. Mortise: although you can't see it from the outside, the interior tunnel connecting the chamber to the mouthpiece contains a wide area that's known as the mortise. This is necessary to allow for bigger, heavier draws. Without the mortise, draws would be limited to small hits of smoke. It's also responsible for connecting the tenon.

      5. Tenon: the tenon is a notched part of the mouthpiece that fits into the mortise.

      6. Stem: the stem is a long portion of the mouthpiece that's usually made of a different material than the rest of the pipe.

      7. Bit: the part of the pipe where you place your lips is known as the bit.

      8. Lip: This is the very tip of the pipe.

      9. Bore: the bore is the interior tunnel at the tip of a pipe.

      Not all pipes will be the same, so some of the terms may not apply to the pipe you are interested in buying. However, knowing all of the terms will make you a more informed consumer that will ultimately become a happy user of your new wood pipe.


      Briar pipes are the type of wooden smoking pipes most people talk about when they speak of historical wooden smoking pipes. They dominated the wood pipe market for over a century and a half. Today briar pipes are lesser used by smokers as there are so many choices in today's market.


      What has not changed about wooden pipes is that most are hand-carved, finished by hand, and made one by one by skilled artisans. The manufacture of wooden pipes has become more of a niche market. With the growing popularity of vaporizers, fewer and fewer people use traditional wooden pipes. Pipes made today are made in many places around the world. From Turkey to India, and even a few places in the US, the manufacturing of wood pipes has become a worldwide endeavor.

      Depending on the style of the wooden pipe, the techniques to manufacture it can vary widely. They will all start with some local wood. If it is a briar style wooden pipe, then the bowl and stem can be carved from one piece of solid wood. The final shape will be formed either by hand or with small power tools. It will then be sanded down to a smooth finish, and then some stain may be applied to the pipe.

      Yes, wood pipes have a long history of use by many cultures, but they are still trendy to the surprise of some. Wooden smoking pipes have many advantages to things like glass pipes. The most obvious one is that a wood pipe will not break when it is dropped on the ground. You can also buy a wooden pipe with a built-in lid that makes transporting in your pocket or bag very easy. For those that want to be as natural as possible, it doesn't get much more natural than a wooden pipe. When transporting, a wooden pipe's weight is a great advantage as they tend to be lighter than other options sold at today's online headshops.

      In the headshop industry, consumers have become accustomed to seeing multi-colored wood hand smoking pipes. These pipes are made of layered wood, like how a piece of plywood is formed. The skilled artisans take sheets of locally sourced wood and form them into thick board like structures. Sometimes each layer may be colored a different color so that when they are all veneered together, it makes almost a rainbow-like design. Once the veneered sheets are firm enough to work with, the pipe's basic shape is cut out, and the manufacturing process begins. Similarly to how a briar pipe is made, you cut the basic design from the wooden sheet; then, you use either hand tools or small power tools to form the final shape. The finish sanding is typically done with a drum sander, and then the final product is a perfectly smooth usable wooden pipe or bamboo bong.

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