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 The Truth About Cake...

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whiderwarde

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Location : KY
Registration date : 2011-01-08

PostSubject: The Truth About Cake...   Sun Oct 13, 2013 8:51 pm

I'm not sure if this is a comment or a question. I suppose it's a realization with an eye to engender further comments from my fellows.

I'm a finicky sort of person. Thus, when learning to smoke a pipe and hearing 1) cake build-up is essential to protect your briar and 2) the ole dime's-width rule, I developed a rather fussy approach to carbon cake. Nothing harsher than a folded pipe cleaner would ever touch the inside of the bowl. Maybe sandpaper when necessary, just so a tamper could fit down the bowl (I have small pipes, mostly Beos).

Result: lumpy cakes full of air holes like lava rock and very brittle. I had many instances of pieces breaking off and leaving a gap in the cake which seemed to go right down to the briar.

Then I saw the Smokingpipes.com estate restoration videos. The employees over there (trustworthy pipers all) scrape out the inside of the bowl with sharp metal objects and a surprisingly audible noise. Some serious wrist-torque was evident. So, I thought, maybe my kid gloves were ill-advised. The estate Beo I just received from them last week had no cake to speak of and smoked like all good Beos do--that is, well.
Off came the kid gloves and I took the spoon end of my pipe tool to one of my older Beos. I scraped it down to a very thin layer, and with no appearance of the damage I had previously imagined.

What do you all think? I can't imagine that carbon cake is supposed to be the brittle, pocked, and crusty stuff I was getting previously in my pipes.
Comments on kid gloves?
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MisterE
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Location : Mexico City
Registration date : 2009-08-24

PostSubject: Re: The Truth About Cake...   Sun Oct 13, 2013 9:20 pm

The cake that forms at high temperature will have a more brittle or chunky consistency. It will often come off in chunks leaving fairly deep pits. These can become potential char spots if you smoke too hot around those thinner areas, too. Low temerature cake, however, will be much finer and less porous. I think the trick is to smoke as cool as you can, and lightly scrape the bowl out after each smoke with one of those aluminium pipe nails. The idea is to get all the chunks and dottle out so the only thing that remains is a fine carbon layer. If you're good about doing this you won't have to ream very often and the cake will be extermely hard.

As for reaming, I just use a pocket knife with a rounded off tip when needed. I gently scrape off the cake, keeping the blade almost at 90º. It comes of as a fine dust very easily and requires very little effort. Some people like to use reamers. Both work, and both have their drawbacks.

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Many of the greatest pleasures in life are illegal, immoral, or smelly.

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Richard Burley

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Location : North Coast NY
Registration date : 2011-04-09

PostSubject: Re: The Truth About Cake...   Sun Oct 13, 2013 10:03 pm

I seldom ream; but when I do, I ream hard. Smile
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monbla256

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Age : 72
Location : DFW Metroplex, Texas
Registration date : 2012-01-15

PostSubject: Re: The Truth About Cake...   Sun Oct 13, 2013 11:03 pm

First off, briar was used as a pipe material because it was not as FRAGILE as the meer and clay pipes of a century ago. It's a VERY durable material and can really take a lot of abuse and still deliver a good smoke. I'm not advocating abusing a good briar, but don't be afraid of it as you really would have to work at ruining one as far as cake goes.
I only ream a pipe maybe once a year depending on how much cake develops during that time. Then I use an old Senior Reemer I've had for many years . As far as "daily" maintenance, Many times I "scrape the sides of the bowl with my tamper as I tamp knocking off those bits that aren't consumed in the burn. A sort of "active" scrape as I smoke so that when done with a bowl, the bowl sides are nice and even. A lot of this is dependent on the type of tobacco blend/mixture you smoke. For me, Va Flake blends/mixtures tend to smoke with more "bits" attaching to the sides than my ribbon cut English/Balkan/Va blends.
Mainly, just learn to relax and not try and get OCD about "cake" Twisted Evil Twisted Evil 
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RDPipes

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Age : 64
Location : East Texas
Registration date : 2011-12-15

PostSubject: Re: The Truth About Cake...   Mon Oct 14, 2013 11:27 am

This is what I do, when I get a estate pipe in I ream it down very close to the wood maybe leaving a 1/16th of an inch of cake or less with a Kleen-Reem pipe reamer (a lot like a senior reamer). Each time after I smoke it a wipe the bowl out with a twisted up paper towel. At the end of the month when I do a through cleaning I might take a bit of 600 sandpaper and smooth out any rough spots (bumps and such) from the cake. My cake forms uniformly and has never chipped or cracked and I have never had burn out. Either I'm doing something right or I'm very lucky. It works for me, is all I can say.
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Hawker

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Age : 53
Location : Alberta
Registration date : 2012-05-15

PostSubject: Re: The Truth About Cake...   Mon Oct 14, 2013 1:17 pm

I have a friend who smokes 2-3 bowls a day out of his old faithfull Brebbia and when I look at his pipe I wonder how he even has any room to put any tobacco in it due to the cake thats formed. He just keeps on using it untill it gets to the point he has to get his jack knife out and whittle away at the cake and when the stem and mouth piece gets to restricted he forces what ever is handy thru it to open it up. I know he's been using this pipe for the last 15 years and it replaced his "old" pipe which he lost. I'll have to ask him how many years he got out of it.

For myself I'm just the opposite, I have over 50 pipes and only smoke a bowl a day. I don't let the cake build up in any of them as I try to use as many as I can but there always seems to be a top 5-10 that get alot more use than others. I clean them quickly after every use before i go to bed, takes a whole 2 minutes but for me that's part of the enjoyment I get with the hobby.

To each there own & do what you feel is right for you. Cake or no cake just don't eat it too.Laughing
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Kyle Weiss

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Location : Reno, NV
Registration date : 2011-09-18

PostSubject: Re: The Truth About Cake...   Mon Oct 14, 2013 2:45 pm

Keep cake even, whether abundant or thin...I never suggest anyone go to bare wood. You might not like what you see, or be able to recover. Especially on an older estate.

Those larger "chunks" that leave a chasm if cake is mucked-with can be filled with some pipe mud, and a few days to dry, followed by gentle smoking to "set" the mix. Often times, the chunks of cake, when reamed, are at the bottom of the bowl. Not surprisingly, as that's the area that's gotten the most moisture, constant heat and constricted airflow due to ash cover, even if the smoker is mindful of heat and speed of smoking.

Cobs have taught me to really get good at shoring up soft spots with ash and bolstering potential problem areas--it works for older briars quite nicely.

Cool
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Thomas Porculo



Location : Grand Rapids, MI
Registration date : 2013-10-02

PostSubject: Re: The Truth About Cake...   Wed Oct 16, 2013 12:50 pm

I have noticed the brittle cake only in two pipes I have dedicated to aromatics, so I wonder if the syrups/casings are to blame. I really haven't had any trouble with the wood being charred. After you smoke that pipe so long it just gets cake everywhere.

With other non-aromatic blends, I get a smoother, more even cake, tougher too.

I don't really ream very often, but when I do, I use a senior reamer.

I think too many people treat their pipes with a lot more care than they need to. Nothing wrong with being careful, but babying a pipe too much kind of interferes with enjoyment, at least in my case. A lot has to do with how you see pipe smoking and what kind of pipe you have. Some people will insist that you should only smoke a pipe once a month, other people once a week, other people smoke the same pipe day in and day out.

I am careful with some pipes I have that are expensive, but most of my pipes, while nice, I would not consider a work of art, just a smoking pipe. I am careful to properly light my pipe so I don't scorch it, I keep them clean so I Can have a sweet smoke, and I ream them when needed with no more force than needed.

Putting on gloves not to touch the pipe, completely polishing it and spending hours cleaning it after one smoke, or reaming after every smoke is, to me, unnecessary and defeats the purpose of pipe smoking (relaxation).

Also, here's one thing to consider. Collecting pipes is fine (I do) and having expensive pipes in your collection is fine too (I do). However, there is a difference between a smoking pipe and a collectible pipe. The difference between those two may vary from person to person, but this is how I see it: If I am going to sit down to smoke and I am going to be with my panties in a bunch about the pipe showing signs of wear, then it is NOT a smoking pipe, but a collectible. If I can smoke my pipe without a care in the world, and don't mind having to replace it (and can afford it) then it is a smoking pipe.

A pipe with sentimental value (regardless of price) or a pipe that is waaaaaaaay out of my budget is a collectible.
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idbowman

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Age : 36
Location : Painesville, OH
Registration date : 2011-12-19

PostSubject: Re: The Truth About Cake...   Wed Oct 16, 2013 1:24 pm

Kyle Weiss wrote:
Keep cake even, whether abundant or thin...I never suggest anyone go to bare wood.   You might not like what you see, or be able to recover.
This.

I usually follow two simple rules -

1. Smoke as slow and cool as possible - as MrE said, it seems to promote a stronger, more even cake.
2. Ream as infrequently as possible...if its an estate that needs some major cake removal, or if you prefer not to "keep up" with the cake and cut it back only when it gets extreme. Otherwise, sandpaper (and an even hand) is your friend.

That usually works for me...YMMV.
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Guest
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PostSubject: Re: The Truth About Cake...   Wed Oct 16, 2013 2:03 pm

Same here except an old salami salesman's knife instead of reaming.

What a Face 
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KevinM



Age : 76
Location : Connecticut
Registration date : 2012-02-26

PostSubject: Re: The Truth About Cake...   Wed Oct 16, 2013 5:47 pm

I clean the bowl after each smoke with a folded pipe cleaner. If uneven cake develops, I'll take some sandpaper to it. If a chunk of cake comes loose, I try to smooth the edges with a little piece of sandpaper while trying to maintain unifom thickness of the surrounding cake when possible. If not possible, I smoke on and the problem has always resolved itself. I don't own a reamer and note some sellers of refurbed pipes will, noting condition, comment on damage from "over-enthusiastic reaming." I think a lot depends on how often a pipe is smoked and what is smoked in it. Don't worry about little things, especially if a pipe is performing to your satisfaction. Chances are your house isn't on the schedule of the photographer from P&T magazine.
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whiderwarde

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Location : KY
Registration date : 2011-01-08

PostSubject: Re: The Truth About Cake...   Fri Oct 18, 2013 6:29 pm

Helpful comments all, and much appreciated. Briar is one respectable plant, up there with the right honorable [i]Nicotiana tabacum.[i]
I've been smoking the one I reamed out. The first bowl carried a small taint of carbon flavor, I assume from the exposed and still dusty cake, but that has quickly vanished. So, success.

As a side note, I do enjoy the occasional maintenance required to ream and clean a well-used pipe. It's one of those things you see people doing in movies, like shining leather shoes or boots, and you say "that's just what life was like back then." Okay, maybe we don't see people reaming pipes in movies, but we ought to! Is there a petition somewhere to get smoking back on screen?
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smg913

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Age : 31
Location : New Jersey
Registration date : 2013-01-27

PostSubject: Re: The Truth About Cake...   Fri Oct 18, 2013 8:00 pm




sorry Shocked  there's only so many times I can read the word cake and not think about the band. which it happened right after I read the title of the post.  Embarassed
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mimefrog

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Location : NE VA
Registration date : 2013-07-10

PostSubject: Re: The Truth About Cake...   Sat Oct 19, 2013 12:35 pm

Cartaphilus wrote:
Each time after I smoke it a wipe the bowl out with a twisted up paper towel.
I second this. I find it spreads the carbon around evenly so I end up with a nice flat, well-portioned cake without any pits.
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Slartibartfast

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Age : 51
Location : California
Registration date : 2011-09-25

PostSubject: Re: The Truth About Cake...   Sat Oct 19, 2013 2:06 pm

mimefrog wrote:
Cartaphilus wrote:
Each time after I smoke it a wipe the bowl out with a twisted up paper towel.
I second this.  I find it spreads the carbon around evenly so I end up with a nice flat, well-portioned cake without any pits.
Ditto, except I'll often just take the pipe cleaner and fold it in half cleaning the stem and go around the chamber a few times. Seems to keep the cake down as well as smooth.
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gravel

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Age : 44
Location : Oregon
Registration date : 2011-12-07

PostSubject: Re: The Truth About Cake...   Sat Oct 19, 2013 10:30 pm

Slartibartfast wrote:
mimefrog wrote:
Cartaphilus wrote:
Each time after I smoke it a wipe the bowl out with a twisted up paper towel.
I second this.  I find it spreads the carbon around evenly so I end up with a nice flat, well-portioned cake without any pits.
Ditto, except I'll often just take the pipe cleaner and fold it in half cleaning the stem and go around the chamber a few times.  Seems to keep the cake down as well as smooth.
I do the same.
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RDPipes

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Age : 64
Location : East Texas
Registration date : 2011-12-15

PostSubject: Re: The Truth About Cake...   Sat Oct 26, 2013 10:21 am

gravel wrote:
Slartibartfast wrote:
mimefrog wrote:
Cartaphilus wrote:
Each time after I smoke it a wipe the bowl out with a twisted up paper towel.
I second this.  I find it spreads the carbon around evenly so I end up with a nice flat, well-portioned cake without any pits.
Ditto, except I'll often just take the pipe cleaner and fold it in half cleaning the stem and go around the chamber a few times.  Seems to keep the cake down as well as smooth.
I do the same.
That settles it then..........I'm not the only anal one here.
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mejoshee

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Age : 33
Location : Campbell, CA
Registration date : 2013-05-31

PostSubject: Re: The Truth About Cake...   Tue Oct 29, 2013 8:19 pm

Cartaphilus wrote:
gravel wrote:
Slartibartfast wrote:
mimefrog wrote:
Cartaphilus wrote:
Each time after I smoke it a wipe the bowl out with a twisted up paper towel.
I second this.  I find it spreads the carbon around evenly so I end up with a nice flat, well-portioned cake without any pits.
Ditto, except I'll often just take the pipe cleaner and fold it in half cleaning the stem and go around the chamber a few times.  Seems to keep the cake down as well as smooth.
I do the same.
That settles it then..........I'm not the only anal one here.
Been following the paper towel advice since I joined the board and read that on another of your posts (I think it was you, Cartaphilus?), so consider me a pupil.

That said, I haven't really felt like I've smoked enough to develop significant cake in any one pipe yet. Thankfully, I have lots of options that should build it up faster as they're estates not starting from raw briar. Paper towel has been the easiest for me so far, so I've kept a roll handy and I just tear the pipe-sized rectangular pieces each time I wipe one up. I'm really happy with the evenness of light cake I've been building up.

I haven't reamed anything except the uneven estate ones, which really needed it. Maybe I'll check back here in a year Razz
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RDPipes

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Age : 64
Location : East Texas
Registration date : 2011-12-15

PostSubject: Re: The Truth About Cake...   Tue Oct 29, 2013 8:38 pm

Quote :
Been following the paper towel advice since I joined the board and read that on another of your posts (I think it was you, Cartaphilus?), so consider me a pupil.

That said, I haven't really felt like I've smoked enough to develop significant cake in any one pipe yet. Thankfully, I have lots of options that should build it up faster as they're estates not starting from raw briar. Paper towel has been the easiest for me so far, so I've kept a roll handy and I just tear the pipe-sized rectangular pieces each time I wipe one up. I'm really happy with the evenness of light cake I've been building up.

I haven't reamed anything except the uneven estate ones, which really needed it. Maybe I'll check back here in a year Razz

I think you have me confused with somebody else. I would not in anyway call someone a pupil or the like when I myself have no great knowledge or claim to be a master of smoking a pipe or anything else for that matter.
At best I smoke a pipe using my limited experience and doing what works for me.
But, I'm glad that, that technique is working well for you.
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cigrmaster

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Age : 60
Registration date : 2012-06-15

PostSubject: Re: The Truth About Cake...   Mon Nov 04, 2013 1:58 pm

I have always used a pipe cleaner doubled over too wipe out the inside of my bowls, never a paper towel. When it is time to ream I used to use my Senior pipe reamer, but now use a pipe knife to gently scrap some cake away. I have never had cake chip off or break on my pipes. I smoke flake tobacco exclusively and that builds a nice hard cake. I also never mess with my pipes until they have cooled overnight which gives the cake time to harden.
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tslots

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Age : 61
Location : Idaho
Registration date : 2008-03-29

PostSubject: Re: The Truth About Cake...   Mon Apr 20, 2015 10:52 am

Hawker wrote:
I have a friend who smokes 2-3 bowls a day out of his old faithfull Brebbia and when I look at his pipe I wonder how he even has any room to put any tobacco in it due to the cake thats formed. He just keeps on using it untill it gets to the point he has to get his jack knife out and whittle away at the cake and when the stem and mouth piece gets to restricted he forces what ever is handy thru it to open it up. I know he's been using this pipe for the last 15 years and it replaced his "old" pipe which he lost.


It looks like someone might have found your friend's old / lost pipe ...  clown

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-1950s-GRESHAM-GIANTS-w-awesome-cake-Estate-Pipe-/221747164030?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item33a129337e
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Jevverrett

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Age : 36
Location : Meriden, Ct
Registration date : 2014-12-13

PostSubject: Re: The Truth About Cake...   Sun May 24, 2015 9:14 am

whiderwarde wrote:
Okay, maybe we don't see people reaming pipes in movies, but we ought to!  Is there a petition somewhere to get smoking back on screen?

Harry in mad men was reaming his pipes in one episode with a pipe tool. Really going to town with that thing though. Not sure if he was educated in the process.

As for my own cake maintenance. I try to get any unburnt tobacco off the cake after a smoke. I only ream the pipes when I do a thorough cleaning once every few months. Even then, I just take it off to get it back to acceptable thickness and make sure it's even. I try not to get too nuts about it, as life presents too many thing to be ocd about to begin with.
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Dutch

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Age : 53
Location : On the road.......
Registration date : 2010-11-06

PostSubject: Re: The Truth About Cake...   Sun May 24, 2015 12:13 pm

I rarely allow any cake to build in most of my pipes. The exception would be an olivewood, strawberry wood, or a thin walled briar I had dedicated to flake tobacco.

I have found that my pipes will season over time, similar to a cast iron skillet or blackpowder muzzleloader barrel, giving them more protection than they had when being broken in during the first few bowls.

Another aspect that makes it very easy for me to keep minimal cake, is that I am usually focused on keeping my pipe barely lit for maximum flavor. As soon as I feel an uneven hotspot burning on one side of the bowl, or feel the heat transfer to the bottom center of the pipe, I will set it aside and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes.

When I first started pipe smoking, I failed to dry my tobacco to a low enough percentage, making it hard to keep it lit, encouraging me to puff furiously. One day I was trying to keep a Boswell poker going all the way to the bottom of the bowl, when a loud pop echoed through the room, and the cherry inside the pipe came rocketing out of the bowl, like a bottle rocket. This resulted in a spider webbed bowl bottom, which I ended up pipe mudding with some cigar ash. Luckily, the damage was not visible externally on that pipe, due to the fact that it was rather thick walled and on the heavy side.

Once I got the hang of drying my tobacco properly, and smoking my pipes as cool as possible, it became easy to break in and smoke a pipe with minimal damage.

It's actually a satisfying experience to smoke a pipe for hundreds of bowls with minimal damage, allowing to to be restored to almost like new condition at some point down the road.
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Ozark Wizard

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Age : 54
Location : Mark Twain National Forest, MO
Registration date : 2014-10-11

PostSubject: Re: The Truth About Cake...   Fri Jun 05, 2015 10:09 pm

Slartibartfast wrote:
mimefrog wrote:
Cartaphilus wrote:
Each time after I smoke it a wipe the bowl out with a twisted up paper towel.
I second this.  I find it spreads the carbon around evenly so I end up with a nice flat, well-portioned cake without any pits.
Ditto, except I'll often just take the pipe cleaner and fold it in half cleaning the stem and go around the chamber a few times.  Seems to keep the cake down as well as smooth.

Yup, paper towel twists work great......
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KevinM



Age : 76
Location : Connecticut
Registration date : 2012-02-26

PostSubject: Re: The Truth About Cake...   Mon Jun 08, 2015 10:22 pm

A fine rat-tail file is a handy little tool for a piper. It allows precise, controlled adjustment of problem cake spots and establishment of a symmetrical tobacco chamber. I only use it rarely and with a gentle touch, because if the cake is thick, especially up near the rim, it is possible to loosen a chip, leading to more filing. I think the rat tail gives more control than a reamer, though reamer owning friends dispute this. Otherwise, as said above, I'm a pipe cleaner and occasional sandpaper piper. Nota bene the above posts on smoking slowly and heeding hot spots as you become aware of them. Pipers tend to be wary of burnout, usually seeing it as caused by defective cake maintenance, but in 50 years of piping I've never had a burnout, even on a breezy day smoking and watching the tide come in, which is sometimes cited as high risk for burnout and charring. Not saying it can't happen .. . .
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