Yesterday I was fortunate enough to receive two fun boxes of toys in the mail – a box of samples from a German ebonite company, seeking to market their rod stock, and a box of goodies from a fellow European pipemaker friend. The rod stock looks beautiful and is some of the best I’ve seen, with a positively crystalline “tap” character. Even more intriguingly, the company makes a wide variety of colored, swirled rods, and they make them as small as 4mm – possibly giving me a new contender in the never-ending search for a simple and fun Ligne Bretagne stem logo. I’ve exchanged some interview questions with these folks regarding ebonite in general, and when I hear back from them, I will be posting an entire blog entry devoted to ebonite and including their address and contact info (So please wait for this before everybody emailing me wanting to get in touch with them immediately).

The other box was even more intriguing, containing a handful of tagua nuts (“Nature’s ivory”, a wood that I’ve never worked with and may never yet, as Emily almost immediately pounced upon them for potential jewelry use…). Also in the box were some microfine polishing compounds, a block of Bo Nordh’s preferred stem compound, and both Zapon and synthetic lacquers. I’ve been curious to try some Zapon for a few years, but the stuff was quite hard to find in the US. It’s a nitrocellulose lacquer that cures to a durable thin finish that looks stunning on smooth pipes and provides more durability and wear resistance than shellac to sandblasts. I don’t think I’ll be using it as a finish on smooths, however, due to the fact that it has the same problems as all lacquers I’ve tried thus far, evidenced here:

While application and buffing can produce an absolutely stunning, “liquid gloss” finish, it can also be rubbed, buffed, and chipped off… and even, in the case of the pipe in this photo, bubble when applied to a thinner-walled pipe which is then smoked quite hot. I’m sure it would be fine on a thicker-walled pipe, but I’m still reluctant to use a finish that doesn’t survive buffing – apply buffing compound and you instantly have a matte hole in your glossy surface. On the one hand, I’d love for the pipes to be glossier because buyers are always attracted to shiny objects (!) and it’s nice not to have to constantly polish pipes at shows to keep them shiny after handling.. but at the same time, I try to keep my pipes “user serviceable” insofar as avoiding things that will automatically fail under maintenance (such as painted-in letter logos that instantly buff out during stem polishing, for instance). I’ll keep playing with it and see what happens. One thing I have noticed is that it works marvelously on morta, and doesn’t seem to exhibit the same bubbling problems as with briar. It’s nice having a pile of readymade pipes to test things out on!

In other news – Ken Lamb has created a pipemaking Google group at I’m not sure where he’s planning to take this, but there it is, so go post!

Finally, here is a little preview pic of a couple of Talbert Briars I have here in house at the moment:

The snail was done for a special order, and may or may not end up available (I won’t know until I hear back from the fellow who made the request). The absolutely amazing monster poker (It’s huge) started out to be another order, but got rather diverted along the way. No less startling than the grain is the fact that it will sit upright on its base, despite being a straight. I’m not quite sure what to do with it, and may send it to Larry or post more pics in the next blog entry. Someone call Mike Natale, quick! 😉

Categories: Pipe Blog


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