Airway “Opening”

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This modification has found great favor with many smokers. The pipe's draft hole is enlarged in diameter over its full length in order to increase the amount of oxygen reaching the tobacco, and transitions in the airway are made more gradual to decrease the condensation caused by turbulence and unnecessary pressure reductions.

Most pipes are made with airways at or near the small end of the spectrum partly out of blind tradition, and partly because the manufacturers feel they must allow for the hardest-puffing smokers. They are concerned that high volume airflow combined with “hard smoking” can result in bowl temperatures higher than are safe for the pipe. While theoretically true, real-world experience has shown such concerns to be unfounded in all but the most extreme cases.

The best indication that a pipe's airway is too constricted for your smoking style is if it smokes wet or goes out frequently. Both problems are often caused by insufficient oxygen. If your bowl filling technique is sound — meaning at least a some of your pipes smoke well — consider getting the airway of the poor performers opened. For many, it is the, “Wow! THIS is what I've been looking for!” modification that transformed a frustrating pipe into a satisfying one. The following email is typical:

“ Well, George, I'm a believer!

The Dunhill was waiting for me when I got home tonight, so I Ioaded it with Pease Piccadilly mixture and fired up. I was astounded at the difference your work made. Absolutely perfect puffing from start to finish with nary a gurgle or protest. It is so smooth I can't believe it's the same pipe at all. Draw, combustion and flavor are spot on. I also admired the beautiful precision and attention to detail of your work on the pipe, right through the opening and rounding of the button orifice. Now this pipe is really performing as it should. Very well done sir, and thank you - I am absolutely delighted. ”

Because every pipe, tobacco, and smoker combination is different, such results cannot be guaranteed, of course. Only the competence and precision of the work performed on the pipe itself can be, not whether a given smoker will benefit from it. For that reason, an initial trial with a non-precious pipe is recommended.