For real tobacco enthusiasts, there is no better way to smoke than in a piece of fine craftsmanship like a hand-carved churchwarden pipe. You can purchase a high-quality pipe made of nearly any material of your choosing, or you can try your hand at carving your own.
Whatever your preference is, you just need a piece of equipment that will produce a nice, billowy smoke. A well-vented bowl and an elongated stem achieve this quite nicely while allowing the smoker to keep a distance from the smoke.
These pipes have recently found a resurgence in popularity within our modern culture thanks to their prominence in popular science fiction trilogies like Lord of the Rings. Today, you might be able to find a good selection of churchwardens in every pipe shop from one side of the country to the other.
What is a Churchwarden Pipe
Table of Contents
- 1 What is a Churchwarden Pipe
- 2 DIY Churchwarden Pipe Tutorial
- 3 Buying Guide
- 4 Let’s Review our Top Pick
- 5 Useful Accessories you May Need
- 6 History of Church Pipes
- 7 Related Questions
- 8 Conclusion
A churchwarden pipe a long-stemmed tobacco pipe. This type of pipe comes in a variety of shapes and sizes and is made from many different materials like clay or brass. The single factor used to identify a pipe as a churchwarden is stem length. (Source)
Churchwarden pipes are commonly 9 – 18 inches in length, with some measuring several feet in length. Originally popular in the late eighteenth century, churchwarden pipes have seen a recent spike in popularity thanks to their prominence in goth culture and popular Hollywood depictions like Lord of the Rings.
DIY Churchwarden Pipe Tutorial
If you are feeling inspired to tackle your own, rest assured that a churchwarden pipe is an achievable feat. Even if your woodworking skills are modest, you can create a custom piece of pipeware with a small block of cherry and a piece of spalted beech wood.
While churchwarden pipes can be made from many different materials, wood is likely the easiest. Cherry makes a good choice for the bowl because it can handle a high amount of heat, but is still abundant in nature and easy to carve. Beechwood makes a good stem because it is malleable, making it easy to shape and bend.
Buying a pipe is a lot like picking out the perfect accessory to compliment your personality. Even if you have already narrowed the playing field down to a churchwarden, there are so many more details to work out.
Best Material for a Churchwarden Pipe
Wood, clay, and metal are the most common materials for churchwarden pipes. Clay pipes are relatively inexpensive and often visually stunning, painted, and glazed in an endless variety of colors and patterns. However, clay pipes absorb heat easily and burn hot. They are also more fragile than wood or metal pipes.
Wood pipes are probably the most popular. They are durable, classic, and able to be detailed with carved designs. A good hardwood pipe conducts minimal heat and does not affect the taste of your tobacco. Pipes also come in brass and glass which each conducts more heat than wood. These materials have the advantage of being able to be molded in any shape.
Additional Details to Look for in a Quality Pipe
In addition to the material that the pipe and stem are made from, you may also want to watch for these details which could be signs of a low-quality pipe.
Avoid pipes with varnished or sealed finishes. Pipemakers use a variety of finishes to complete the look of their pieces and give them a nice sheen. The best choice is oil because it moisturizes the wood, but leaves a porous finish. Pipes heat up a lot, and the constant expanding and contracting can cause varnished finishes to crack and bubble.
Watch out for filler, pits, or poor alignment, all of which are generally indications of poor craftsmanship, you will want to avoid purchasing any pipe that shows obvious signs of poorly fitting parts or gaps that have been filled with putty and sanded down.
“I believe that pipe smoking contributes to a somewhat calm and objective judgment in all human affairs”– Albert Einstein(Source)
Let’s Review our Top Pick
Our favorite in the world of churchwarden pipes is the elegant 11” Churchwarden Diabolist Long Stem Tobacco Pipe has a straight, elongated stem and a stylish, scoop-shaped bowl. The entire piece has a rich, matte walnut finish and is made of wood which gives it a warm, classic look.
- Length - Approximately 11+ inches, Bowl Height: 1.85 in.Chamber Depth: 1.48 in Chamber Diameter: 0.82 in Outside Diameter: 1.45
It is made from deluxe pear wood and is hand-carved with impeccable craftsmanship. This pipe is easy to clean with a detachable bowl. The diabolist long stem pipe is both beautiful and functional! If you are brand new to the art of tobacco pipes or you are looking to purchase a quality gift for someone, this pipe is an excellent choice as it comes in a gift set paired with a one-of-a-kind hand-carved pipe stand.
What we like about it:
- Good quality at an affordable price point.
- Durable metal pipe fittings will stand up to regular use.
- The rich stained finish brings out the beauty of the pearwood.
- A detachable bowl allows for easier cleaning.
What to consider:
- Briarwood has long been considered the best wood to make a pipe out of. If you can afford a better quality pipe and you have to decide between pear and briar, the industry says briar is better.
Useful Accessories you May Need
There are two types of people, those who cautiously begin a new hobby with the bare bones in supplies and those who buy everything all at once. If you are the latter, here is an essentials shopping list to go along with your first pipe purchase.
- Pipe Stand
- Pipe Pouch
- Tobacco Pouch or Jar
- Pipe Cleaning Tools
- Pipe Polish, wax or oil
- Pipe Rack
Churchwarden Pipe Stands
If you buy nothing else with your first pipe purchase, spend some money on a nice pipe stand. It is as much for aesthetics as it is for function. First, your tobacco will leave a mess if you tip the pipe over or lay it on its side. Second, the pipe itself is a beautiful piece of craftsmanship and a nice stand allows you to display it and continually enjoy its beauty even when you are not smoking.
- This pipe stand is specifically designed for long stem tobacco pipes from 7inch - 14 inchs
- Tobacco Pipe Stand Holder Rack Holds 6 Pipes
- NEW EXCLUSIVE TOBACCO PIPE STAND Functional and elegant designed specially for Churchwarden pipes with long stem
Churchwarden Pipe Cleaners
With the elongated stems, you will need to purchase special churchwarden pipe cleaners. You could probably get away with a shorter pipe cleaner in a pinch, but the shorter ones seem to just push debris into the pipe and make it harder to remove. Cleaning your pipe regularly will allow you to taste the full flavor of your tobacco without clogging your pipe. Churchwarden pipe cleaners are typically around 12 inches in length compared to a standard 8-inch pipe cleaner.
- Churchwarden Tobacco Pipe Cleaners
- Each order is 2 bundles 24 count each, Total 48 count on each order
Churchwarden Pipe Pouches
A stand is nice to display your churchwarden at home, but if you will travel with your pipe a pouch is necessary. Most quality pipe pouches are made from leather and can fit one or two churchwarden pipes. The leather is durable, offers good protection for your pipe, and supplements a fine design aesthetic. As an added bonus, many pipe pouches include exterior pockets for lighters and cleaning tools.
- Beautiful Black Design with Detachable Carry Strap is Extremely Durable and Offers Exceptional Pipe Protection
- HANDMADE: Carved wooden tobacco smoking pipe. Classic churchwarden shape, polished to a high standard.
- Beautiful Black Design with Detachable Carry Strap is Extremely Durable and Offers Exceptional Pipe Protection
Glass Churchwarden Pipe
While wood is undeniably the most commonly preferred material for pipes, it is not the only choice. If you are looking for a statement piece or want something a little different then a glass pipe is a good option. You can get a nice glass pipe in any color, shape, or design that you want and many come with feet molded into the design so no pipe stand is needed.
- Length - Approximately 11+ inches, Bowl Height: 1.85 in.Chamber Depth: 1.48 in Chamber Diameter: 0.82 in Outside Diameter: 1.45 in
- Comes with a Gift Box
- Product Detail -- Material: wood and resin; Total length: approx. 410mm/ 16 inches
Churchwarden Pipe Kit
Getting started with your first churchwarden pipe is easy when you purchase a kit. Many pipe manufacturers have already packaged together with everything that you need, including a pipe, stand, pouch, and cleaning supplies. In some cases, you can even add a tobacco sampler to your pipe kit so you can try out different flavors and see what you like. The upside of buying a kit is that everything that you need is packaged economically and you can get the essentials for one upfront price.
- 【ROSEWOOD TOBACCO PIPE】: Smoking pipe is made of classic rosewood, texture is clear and natural. 2 in 1 tobacco Pipe design.
- Churchwarden Briar Tobacco Pipe - Chruchwarden manual smoking pipe design, taste better. This pipe adopts superior briar material with high...
- Don’t Dream It - Make It
History of Church Pipes
Churchwarden pipes with their elongated stems are a marvel from the past. Once known as a ‘reading pipe,’ it favored in popularity in oriental and European cultures in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.
While folklore suggests that the primary benefit of the long stem on the churchwarden was to allow users to comfortably read while smoking, archaeological finds suggest other uses. In some cultures, the long stem may have been favorable because it was considered more sanitary.
A churchwarden pipe has grown in popularity among modern cultures as a preference because it produces a cooler smoke, and for aesthetics among those who enjoy the look. Churchwarden pipes are particularly influential in American goth culture and among science-fiction fans of the popular Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Why is it called a churchwarden pipe
A churchwarden pipe earns its namesake from historical church watchmen who often used longer pipes so that they could comfortably smoke while keeping a clean view of the surrounding area. The longer stem on a churchwarden pipe keeps the smoke out of the face and keeps the pipe itself from interfering with your view. In German culture, these were often referred to as ‘reading pipes’ for the very same reason.
How does a churchwarden pipe work
A churchwarden pipe is not significantly different in function than any other pipe. They are suitable for smoking tobacco or herbs by placing finely prepared, dried leaves in the bowl. A filter or screen is usually placed inside the bowl, under the tobacco to prevent small pieces from being sucked into the stem. The user can then light the tobacco with a flame and draw the smoke up the stem and into the mouth and lungs by placing their mouth on the stem and gently sucking as they inhale.
How to break in a churchwarden pipe
There is some debate about how to properly break in a churchwarden pipe. Many smokers prefer to build a thin layer of carbon throughout the entire chamber by smoking several smaller bowls all the way down. In reality, it doesn’t make much of a difference for anyone who does not routinely smoke an entire bowl at once. It is more important to smoke the first few bowls full of tobacco slow to allow the carbon resin to stick within the chamber.
How to clean a churchwarden pipe
Although a thin coating of resin carbon can be helpful to a well-seasoned pipe, the buildup will become too much over time and you will begin to clog the pipe. Regular cleaning of the bowl and stem are needed to keep the smoke flowing through the chamber.
Once your pipe is completely cool, break up the build-up in your bowl and turn over to dump in an ashtray. Then moisten a pipe cleaner and insert it through the stem of the pipe several times to remove excess build up there. Gently blow through the stem and into the bowl to remove anything loose. Wipe everything down with a damp cloth and then apply a small amount of conditioning oil to the wood pieces.
If you are cleaning your pipe regularly, this will be sufficient to remove excess build-up without removing the protective layer of cake that helps insulate your pipe and prolong its life.
Churchwarden pipes are as much of a statement piece as they are a functional way to enjoy smoking tobacco. These pipes are known for their characteristically elongated stems that produce a cool, gentle smoke while also keeping it out of the face of the smoker.
Churchwarden pipes can come in different shapes, including straight or curved stems, and are made from many different materials. Wood pipes, especially briarwood are the most popular. However, some prefer clay, brass, or even glass pipes. And some tobacco enthusiasts even have an impressive collection of churchwarden pipes on a display rack to fit any mood or occasion.
Beginner tobacco enthusiasts can begin with a good quality churchwarden pipe kit that includes everything that is needed to get started, including a pipe, stand, and cleaning utilities. Anyone can have a classic piece of quality craftsmanship with a hand-carved churchwarden pipe.