There's nothing more relaxing than quietly puffing away on your tobacco pipe. That is, unless you've made the pipe yourself. In that case, smoking your pipe is even more satisfying. There are many different types of wood that you can use to make a tobacco pipe, so know which kind you want before whittling begins.
The highest quality pipes are made of briar wood. This wood is usually aged at least 100 years, often 200 years. It is virtually impenetrable to heat, and makes for a perfect bowl for your tobacco. It is hard to find, though, which is why briar pipes usually cost a little more.
Cherry tree wood is often used for homemade pipes; it has a stove pipe appearance and usually retains the bark of the tree on the outside of the bowl. These pipes look less refined, but are fun to create with hand tools.
Maple is a wood that is easier to find and work with. If you have a workman's shop, you can make a beautiful pipe out of maple wood. But most of the work on maple pipes must be done with power tools.
Plum has a rich, dark finish similar to cherry. If you cannot find maple or cherry wood, plum wood is an adequate substitute. But go for maple or cherry first, as those woods are more affordable.
This is a very small wood, but this is perfect for handmade pipe stems. Especially if you're making a bowl out of cherry, try to use elderberry wood for a long, sturdy stem.
For a long, wizard-like pipe, ash is the wood you're looking for. Native Americans also used this wood for their peace pipes. Bottom line: if you want a long pipe, look for ash wood.
Ulmer is the name of the style, not the wood. These pipes are usually either made out of boxwood or walnut. Ulmer pipes are those that contain much ornamentation. If you want to get frilly and eccentric with your pipe, ulmer is the way to go.
Ron Augustine is a rookie freelance writer and producer who has worked primarily in radio and print media for Chicago Public Radio's Sound Opinions, Relevant Magazine, WMBI Chicago and the Burnside Writers Collective. He graduated Moody College in 2007 with a degree in Communications.