A BRIAR Pipe begins as a “Burl” (or growth) on the root system of the White Heath Tree, a squat, hearty, shrub-like plant which grows primarily in the dry, arid, rocky wastelands around the Mediterranean Sea. Of all woods, the BRIAR Burl is unique for making pipes; it’s tough, porous and nearly impervious to heat. Burls for fine quality pipes can often be 50 to 100 years old when harvested for pipe making.


Once harvested, the BRIAR burls are cut by skilled craftsmen using large, circular saws to remove the soft and cracked portions, leaving only close-grained, extremely hard BRIAR wood. This remaining BRIAR is then rough-cut into small blocks, called “ebauchons,” in sizes and shapes suitable for fashioning into standard shape pipes. Some particularly fine grained BRIAR is left uncut in larger pieces called “plates” which are used for larger freehand pipes.

When harvested, BRIAR contains considerable mois­ture, sap and resin. The ebauchons and plates are boiled in water for several hours to remove much of the sap and resin. This is followed by long periods of drying (up to 2 years) so that all traces of moisture are moved from the wood. This careful “curing and aging” process is of the utmost importance in bringing out the finest smoking qualities of a briar pipe. It allows the pipe “to breathe,” to absorb moisture and oil from the tobacco, assuring a cool, dry smoke.

Once the curing process is completed, the BRIAR is ready to be shaped into pipe bowls. A variety of hand and machine operations are necessary to complete this shaping process. Generally, the more handwork that goes into the carving of the pipe, the higher the price. Once the bowls are shaped, they are fitted with mouthpieces or stems (either vulcanite or lucite), hand finished, stained, polished and waxed. The new pipe is now ready to give many years of smoking enjoyment.


Due to the inconsistencies of Nature and the conditions under which BRIAR grows, only a small percentage of the thousands of pipes produced each year will have a uniformly fine grain pattern and perfection of finish upon which a manufacturer will stamp his name. These “perfect” pipes, which may cost $50 or more, are sometimes called “firsts” and represent the pinnacle of the pipe makers’ art. Serious pipe smokers and pipe collectors take great pride in owning and smoking these fine pipes.

The remaining BRIAR pipes may have tiny, natural surface flaws or sandpits, some of which are almost undetectable, some of which are large enough to warrant putty fills. While these tiny surface imperfec­tions affect the aesthetic appearance of the pipe, they have absolutely no effect on the smoking qualities of the pipe. These pipes, often referred to as “seconds,” are sold at more reasonable prices, under numerous brand names and represent the very best values in pipe smoking. Other bowls may be selected to be sand-blasted or carved to create a rugged, pleasingly rough texture. Most pipe smokers have several of these sandblast or hand carved pipes in their collections.

BRIAR pipes are available in a wide variety of standard shapes, well over a hundred in fact. The choice of shape is a matter of personal preference; some pipe smokers have a single favorite shape, others have dozens of different shapes in their collections. BRIAR pipes are also available in unique, one of a kind “Freehand” pipes. These extremely beautiful pipes follow no particular shape, but are carved according to the grain and size of the BRIAR.

We suggest that you heft a BRIAR pipe when considering it. The pipe should feel comfortable in your hand. A lightweight pipe is well-aged and cured and will offer a good tasting, cool smoke.

We also recommend that you choose a pipe that does not use any kind of filter or condensing system. These systems trap bitter moisture in the shank of your pipe and prevent the effective use of the pipe cleaners during the smoke.

Selecting the right pipe is an important factor in the true enjoyment of pipesmoking YourSirTom tobacconist is a knowledgeable, skilled professional. He can answer any questions you may have about BRIAR pipes and assist you in selecting the BRIAR pipe that’s just right for you.

SMOKING YOUR PIPE (this is the best part!)

Your greatest smoking pleasure will come from learning and practicing the basic techniques employed by pipe experts. A cool, dry, flavorful smoke time after time will be your reward. Once you know the secrets of loading, lighting and tamping your pipe, you will enjoy the full richness and flavor of your tobacco. Your pipe will stay lit longer and give you full smoking satisfaction.


“Breaking in” your new pipe simply means develop­ing a thin layer of carbon or “cake” on the inside wall and in the heel (bottom) of the bowl. The carbon cake acts like a grate in a fireplace to improve the draft and ensure complete combustion. It also serves as a barrier between the burning tobacco and the bare wood. Many pipes are pre-carbonized to assist you in the break-in process.

There are several methods of breaking in a new pipe. We recommend beginning with a full bowl of tobacco. The most important thing is to smoke the tobacco all the way to the bottom! SMOKE SLOWLY. Tamp and relight as often as necessary; do not be afraid of using too many matches. If your pipe gets too hot, let it rest awhile; then tamp the dead ashes and relight. You can test if the pipe is too hot by placing it against your cheek. If it is uncomfortably hot, set it aside and allow the pipe to cool.



Step 1: Gravity feed tobacco into the bowl of the pipe. Gently level off the excess with the top of the bowl. Press the tobacco down gently about 2/3 from the top.

Step 2: Again, gravity feed tobacco into the bowl; gently level off the excess with the top of the pipe. Press slightly harder, this time until the tobacco is about 1/3from the top.

Step 3: Once more gravity feed the tobacco into the pipe to overflowing. Press firmly. The tobacco should be slightly springy and level with the top of the pipe bowl.

NOTE: It is important to use fresh tobacco at all times; dry tobacco will “crunch” down and produce a hot smoke.


When lighting, puff with long, slow puffs. Move the match or lighter slowly around the outside edge of the tobacco. Puff as many times as necessary to completely light the top surface of the tobacco. This is called the “false” or “charring” light. This will assure an even burning load.

Next take the pipe out of your mouth, and tamp the ashes gently; pressing them down on the unburned portion of tobacco.

Now, relight and puff rhythmically. Blow lightly into the stem between puffs as though you were inflating a tiny balloon. This “balloon method” feeds air to the base of the pipe just as a bellows feeds a forge.

Again smoke s-l-o-w-l-y. Don’t let your new pipe get to hot. IMPORTANT NOTE: Don’t knock the ashes out of the first load of your pipe. Instead, just fluff the loose ash out gently.  If there is unburned tobacco mixed in with the ashes, you are not smoking far enough down. Make sure that you have only a grey ash residue in the bottom of the pipe. You should always cake the heel first; the top will gradually cake itself after a number of smokes.

As your carbon cake builds on the inside of the pipe, the cake may be uneven, or thicker at the top than at the bottom. Should this occur, use a conical shaped reamer to shape the cake thinner at the top and slightly thicker in the heel.


When cleaning a new pipe, use pipe cleaners fre­quently but cautiously. Running them all the way down into the bowl may peel away the new cake before it has a chance to set.

Rest your pipe at least a full day after smoking it. Give the accumulated oil and moisture a chance to dry out. After cleaning your pipe, it’s a good idea to leave a pipe cleaner in the stem and shank to absorb excess moisture. Be sure to set the pipe at the proper drainage angle, with the bowl lower than the stem. Your reward will be a dry pipe that smokes cooler and sweeter.

Rotate your pipes. Owning and smoking a number of different shapes and styles of pipes will put more variety and interest in your pipe smoking, and will give each pipe a chance to completely dry out.


Part of the joy of smoking a pipe is the relaxation it provides. Smoke your pipe slowly. Take time to enjoy the full flavor of the fine tobacco. No need to inhale; the enjoyment comes from the taste. Have a good supply of wooden matches (or butane lighter) and pipe cleaners nearby so that you won’t have to keep getting up from your chair.

Some of the most famous people in history have been pipe smokers: world leaders, military leaders, as well as leaders in business and entertainment. A good pipe creates contentment and harmony within yourself. It’s a way of relaxing, thinking, and enjoying the finer pleasures of life.


(The most common pipe smoking problem.)

Tongue bite, or an irritation of the tongue, is caused by one or more of the following reasons:

  1. Improper cake (or no cake) in the heel. This causes aBRIAR pipe to smoke hot, which results in tonguebite.
  2. A “drug store” quality pipe fitted with a filter systemwhich traps bitter fluids in the shank of your pipe.
  3. Tobacco too tightly packed in the heel. This leavesno air pockets for good combustion.
  4. Smoking low quality commercially packaged tobac­-cos containing preservatives and other artificialingredients.
  5. Not tamping evenly or often enough.
  6. Smoking or puffing your pipe too fast. Cigarettesmokers often have this habit when switching to apipe.

The Sir Toms Selection

Sir Toms is proud to provide you with a complete range of pipes in all shapes, finishes and prices. We handle the entire export production of several Euro­pean pipe makers and are thus able to offer you everything from magnificent freehand and standard shape perfect pipes to reasonably priced “seconds” . We also have a wide range of all the famous names in fine pipes.

Whether the pipe you buy costs $15 or $150, you will get more satisfaction by trading at Sir Toms. Sir Toms tobacconists are specialists, offering a full range of products and services for the pipe smoker. They can offer suggestions on pipes, tobacco and smoking techniques. Just ask, they will be delighted to help.