Handmade Smoking Pipes

Bondarev Pipes are handmade briar smoking pipes from Latvian pipemaker Alexandr (Sasha) Bondarev. Best materials, perfect engineering, accurate making.

Acorn Nosewarmer
350 297€
1860 Acorn Nosewarmer
Bent Tomato
reserved
1851 Bent Tomato
Bark-finished Poker
260 221€
1850 Bark-finished Poker
Sandblasted Canadian
sold
1848 Sandblasted Canadian
Bent Egg
440 352€
1847 Bent Egg
Small Lovat
375 307€
1846 Small Lovat
Bent Apple
reserved
1844 Bent Apple
Bamboo Lovat
sold
1841 Bamboo Lovat
Sandblasted Lovat
sold
1840 Sandblasted Lovat
Paneled Bamboo Cherrywood
sold
1839 Paneled Bamboo Cherrywood
Sandblasted Buddha Apple
sold
1835 Sandblasted Buddha Apple
Long Sandblasted Canadian
sold
1834 Long Sandblasted Canadian

About Pipe Smoking

Smoking pipes are one of ways to use tobacco. In our days, when most smokers use cigarettes, a pipe became a delicacy for those, who is looking for taste and aesthetics, but not only appease nicotine hunger.

Stephen Fry
Stephen Fry with a pipe

This is absolutely different smoking, which has nothing simular to cigarettes. You cann't smoke a pipe in 10 minutes timeout at work. You cann't smoke a pipe while waiting for a bus. A pipe requires time and attention.

An evarage pipe smokes an hour or more. And you have to pause other activities for that hour. You can combine pipe smoking only with something automatic such as driving or garden working.

And, a pipe requires some care, and tobacco needs special store conditions. To get the best smoke with good taste you need some expirience. Some mistakes in filling the chamber and too fast smoking can ruine the taste. And, of course, pipe smoking takes some money, but not such a big money as some think.

But for your diligence, time and attention the pipe will pay with a really tasty smoke, which is absolutely unreachable with cigarettes. There are lots of tobaccos, which differ as strongly as, for example, alcohol drinks differ from each other. Some like whiskey, some prefer wine, some drink beer. Some smoke perique and hates latakia, some prefer latakia instead, some smoke only clear virginia, some prefer highly flavored mixtures. And, in any sort of mixtures there are lots of tobaccoes, which differ, for example, as cogniacs differ from each other.

Meanwhile, the drink taste doesn't depend on a glass, but tobacco taste does depend on a pipe. One tobacco from the same tin has different taste, if you smoke it in different pipes. The pipe is an important member of smoking proccess.

Smoking a pipe can become a new world of new impressions for you. If you have time and desire to explore that world, throw your cigarettes out and join us :) But, if you want just to get your nicotine dose once per hour, pipe smoking is not for you.

How pipes differ?

1. There are filtered and non-filtered pipes. This is the most important difference. Most of pipe smokers use only one sort of pipes. Usually that depends only on the first expirience. If you start pipe smoking from filtered pipe, you will probably use filters the whole life and will not change your decizion. If you start with non-filter pipe, you probably will never like filters.

Filer takes some taste notes from tobacco smoke — that's the price for theoretical health advantage. And, filtered pipes are more easy to smoke for beginners. I don't use filters. I want to get the maximum taste from my pipe.

2. Pipes are straight and bent. That's is mostly aesthetic factor, but straight pipes have simplier engineering, so they are easier to smoke and to clean. And, pipe makers have to make some compromises in engineering when they craft strongly bent pipe. So I prefer straight or slight bent pipes.

3. Some pipes are for teeth, some for a hand. If you have free time without other activities, you will keep a pipe in a hand. In that case it may be heavy and long. But if you smoke, for example, while driving, you shoud choose light or shot pipe. And, bents are more fomfortable in teeth whith the same weight and length.

I smoke mostly in a car or at work, so most of my pipes are light enough for keeping in teeth. But I don't like short pipes (nosewarmers), I prefer thin, but not too short pipes.

4. Pipes are classic and freehand. Classic pipe shapes were designed for lathe work. Freehand is a pipe shaping method, which was created by Danish pipe makers, searching for new ideas. They decided not to use lathe for pipe shaping, so they got there hands free to craft any shape they could imagine.

That does not affect the smoking. Just an aesthetic factor.

What about me, I love classic shapes and I see some magic aesthetics in them. But I make different pipes, and freehand too, of course.

5. Pipes are smooth, sandblasted, rusticated. Smooth pipes are often more expensive, because not any briar block can become a smooth pipe. Briar is a root, and it often has some flaws inside. If a big flaw appeares on the surface, craftsman throw the pipe to the fire place. If the flaw is not so big, craftsman uses sandblasting mashine — it gives an interesting relief, because wood year rings become grooves. Sometimes craftsmen use different tools to get other kinds of relief — that's rustication. And, only if the surface is clean of contains only very small sandpits, craftsman uses the smooth finish. He sands the pipe with sand papers and polish it.

About Chamber Sizes

The most important factor in pipe characteristics is the chamber size. I make pipes 18-24mm wide and 30-45mm deep. I prefer wider chambers for latakia and thinner for strong virginia flakes.

The depth affects the smoke taste less, but is important too. When the hot smoke goes through the tobacco in pipe chamber, it takes some notes from deeper layers and leave some substances there. So the taste of higher layers differs from deeper layers. I don't like deep chambers, 40mm is the maximum depth for me. I'd better smoke two small bowls than one deep.

If you are looking for your first smoking pipe, it's better to choose medium size chamber: 19-20 mm wide and 35-40mm deep.

What are pipes made from?

Most of smoking pipes are made of briar — a root bowl of a tree, which grows around Mediterian sea.

Before French craftsmen discovered briar, people had tried lots of materials to make pipes. But now all researches are finished — briar is absolutely the best material.

You can still find pipes made of other materials, but each of them has its own bad sides. There are meeschaum pipes made of wite fossil mineral. They smoke good, but the stuff is extracted in Turkey, and Turkish law prohibits to export raw meerschaum. So there is Turkish monopoly of such pipes, and they often use their monopoly to sell horribly made pipes, which are not worth the money. There are also morta pipes made of fossil wood, but nobody can offer stable supply of this rare stuff. One morta pipe gives perfect taste, another is disgusting. Because tree trunks layed in different conditions for thousands years.

Other materials are just compromises for a lower price. You pay less, you get worse smoke. But briar is not very expensive. The most affordable briar pipes cost about $50 — that's just few tins of good tobacco. I don't find any reason to use cheaper materials. If you have money for tobacco, you will find some money for a briar pipe too.

Meanwhile, there is one extremily cheap material, which is popular enough. That are corncob pipes. They cost just few dollars for a piece. Some smokers even don't clean them and treet them as expendable materials. It was interesting for me to try corncob pipes, but I didn't like them. They have some popcorn taste, and they are often horribly made. And they can't give that aetsthetic feelings, which I love pipe smoking for.

Pipe mouthpieces are made of two materials: ebonite (vulcanite) and acrylic. Ebonite is softer, so ebonite mouthpieces are more comfortable in teeth. But acrylic mouthpieces live longer.

Some think, acrylic is for cheap pipes and ebonite is for expensive handmade pipes. That's not truth. Indeed, affordable pipes manufaturers use mostly acrylic stems, and pipe craftsmen use mostly ebonite. But the reason is another. Acrylic is just more siutable for mass production, and ebonite is easier to work with files. But nobody forbids pipe makers to work with acrylic rods the same was as they work with ebonite.

I prefer acrylic for heavy pipes, because they will be smoked in hands. And I prefer ebonite for light or short pipes, because ebonite is more comfortable to keep the mouthpiece in teeth.

Aesthetically theese materials differ not so strongly. They both may be black. Acrylic may have many other colors, but now there is one German ebonite supplier, who offers very interesting colors of ebonite too.

The second popular color of ebonite after black is a cumberland. That's a common ebonite colored with black and red lines. Or some other colors instead of red and black.

I tried different colors of both materials, but it seems pipe smokers are too conservative for such expirements :) They prefer black mouthpieces, or red and black cumberland. Jamber-colored acrylic sells good too. But when I make pipes with red, yellow, green mouthpieces, they stay available for months. That's the only reason I stopped looking for other colors.

How Many Pipes You Need?

A smoking pipe has no life length. It can work for the whole your life. But you can't smoke it too often. Briar requires at least 24 hours to dry, it's even better to smoke one pipe not more than 4-5 times per week. That's why one pipe is usually not enough. And, it you smoke different tobaccoes, you'd better to get different pipes for them. And, sometimes you have time for a large bowl, and sometimes you want to smoke just half an hour.

That's why expirienced pipe smokers have many pipes in rotation. I think, if you try pipe smoking and love it, after years you will have a big stand full of pipes. But for the first time 2-3 different pipes will be enough.

Alexandr Bondarev

Sasha Bondarev Latvian pipemaker

I started making pipes in 2011, and now it's my only job. I make about 5-8 pipes per month, spending 2-3 working days on each one.

For my pipes I use Italian briar and German ebonite/acrylic rods. I pay special attention to pipe engineering: accurate drilling, fine stem fitting, confortable mouthpiece button, deep V-slot.

Every of my pipes gives a perfect smoke. Just try one of them, and I am sure, you will want to get the second soon.

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