First off tell me a little about yourself David.
I am 74 years old and in good health. I fell in love with the pipe when I was 13 years old. My Dad had a country grocery store/gas station on US Highway 82 east of DeKalb, Texas. An old gentleman would walk through the woods to buy his Prince Albert at our store. I was intrigued by the aroma of his pipe.
I served in the US Army in Korea (after the war). I had begun smoking a pipe while in Korea.
I am retired from a 42 year career in Procurement for a US Government Prime Contractor. I retired in 2004. I had begun making pipes in 1986. I purchased lots of plateau briar while I was employed full time and making pipes on weekends. I attended pipe shows around the US and won a number of awards.
Today, I make pipes full time in a shop that I had built in 1993. I make 4 or 5 pipes per week; selling them on eBay and making quite a number of custom orders from individuals.
It’s strange how aromas can stir up old memories, in your case over 60 years ago. I bet you still think of the old man from the woods when you smell some PA burning. I think that many people are drawn to pipes from comforting and nostalgic memories of the great role models from a bygone era. I know quite often when I’m smoking in public I’m approached by passersby that want me to know that my room note reminds them of their father or grandfather.
Can you tell me a little about the Briar that you have in stock and perhaps what makes it special?
I purchased several thousand blocks of Briar from 1986 through 2005. This was “Extra” and “Extra Extra” quality plateau cut, in order to always have seasoned briar on hand. These were Grecian, Algerian, Calabria and Corsican. This briar has aged and seasoned in my climate-controlled shop.
I found early on that certain specialized equipment was necessary to make precision pipes. At a pipe show in Philadelphia in 1989, I met a pipe maker who had acquired some surplus, used, pipe-making equipment. I purchased all of this equipment, which was delivered in 1989. Without this equipment, which is difficult to find, I would not be making pipes today.
My hope is to live long enough to use all of the briar that I have on hand, and to perhaps sell the equipment.
That’s an impressive cache of briar David and I’m sure you will be around for many years to come, all while turning out great pipes.
What are some of your favorite shapes of pipes to make?
My favorite shape to smoke would be a bent Billiard or bent Apple. My favorite shape to make is a bent Stubby Poker, smooth top and bottom. This is also my best-selling shape. I get a lot of orders for this pipe; which I call a “stubby” Poker because it ranges from 4 7/8″ to 5 1/2″ in length.
Yes, it seems to me that the stubby Poker has become a very popular shape. That brings me to my next question. Have you seen an increase in pipe sales that mirrors the increase in the online pipe community? With YouTube literally having thousands of videos from pipe enthusiasts and tobacco reviews it seems it is on an upward swing.
I attended 16 pipe shows in major cities, coast to coast, from 1988 to 2004. I made the club pipe for the North American Society of Pipe Collectors (NASPC) in 2004. I designed the pipe and made 68 based on members’ pre-orders. I was always astounded at the crowds at these shows trading and buying pipes. I saw many female pipe smokers!
From my perspective, pipe demand seems to be quite strong. I stopped attending shows because flying became such a hassle.
You sound like a very busy man
Do you have a favorite tobacco and what do you smoke daily?
Do you have any advice for anyone who might be interested in getting into pipe carving?
I smoked Dunhill 965 for many years, but Dunhill no longer offers this in bulk (in the USA). So I now smoke Prince Albert (don’t laugh). Prince Albert is coarse cut (not for roll your own cigarettes). I think PA got away from offering cigarette tobacco and went to a coarse-cut pipe tobacco. I buy it in 14 ounce sealed plastic tubs at about $24 per tub. I love the Burley aroma.
On pipe making – I carved life-like waterfowl for many years. My early love for the pipe surfaced and I became immersed in pipe making. I don’t believe one can make a living carving pipes. It’s a labor of love for me. I retired well, but pipes permit me to expand my guitar collection!
HPC- Thanks for taking the time to talk a little with me and for sharing your obvious passion for what you do.
You can find Some of Davids work @ his site
or on his ebay store