News, Articles, and More

  • 2014 at Jones Pipes

    Happy late new year from Jones Pipes! Those of you who frequent my website might be speculating about my recent inactivity. Let me assure you that I’ve been far from dormant. In fact, I’ve been so busy filling commissions I have not had any time to post new product on the website since Halloween. I’ve made about 10 pipes since October all of which have been spoken for. For the most part I have kept the pictures updated but have neglected to post on this blog for quite some time. I hope to change that this year. There are a plethora of topics about which I could speak. On my mind lately has been the increasing number of fads in the pipe community (the reverse calabash and the nose warmer being two of them), the dramatic increase in artisan carvers, what it would really take to make pipes full-time, and whether or not there is a so-called “pipe bubble.” My plan is to speak about each of these subjects at some length on this blog. That should engage those of you who require the constant stimuli of the digital age if there are any extended periods of time in which I have no pipes to offer.

    Other than posting in the blog more frequently I have other big plans this year as well. My goal is to participate in the Kansas City pipe carving contest again this year. The theme for 2014 is the billiard. Because I pride myself in my classic designs I really hope I have a shot of placing in the contest this year. I also have a goal of attending several more pipe shows throughout the year, including Kansas. Meeting with fellow pipe smokers and building relationships with them is something I can do easily at pipe shows and it is also something I truly enjoy. Finally, I’ll have an important announcement to make sometime in February so make sure you watch your emails for my newsletter.

    If you absolutely cannot wait for the next blog post or the next newsletter, you can always follow me on Instagram @jessejonespipes. There I post photos several times a week of what I’m currently working on. You’ll have the opportunity to view works in progress, offer comments on designs, and maybe even reserve products before they hit the website. To give you an example of the kinds of things I post, here’s a photo I put up in late December.

    Thanks to all of you who helped make 2013 a great pipe making year for me. I know 2014 will be even better, and I hope to serve you in the future.

  • Happy Halloween from Jones Pipes!

    Happy Halloween to all. I hope you have been enjoying the changing of the seasons. I personally love autumn and winter. Time seems to slow down from the rapid bustle of the summer. It gives one time to sit, contemplate, and enjoy a good pipe while nature goes into hibernation.

    And speaking of pipes, I have quite an update for you all this evening. I have been very prolific this last week and so I have added a bevy of new Jones pipes to the website. And we have variety as well: a squat bulldog, a bent diamond shanked billiard, and how could I forget the first Jones Halloween pipe, which just so happened to be the 31st pipe I completed in 2013. In total there have been five new pipes added to the site, although several are reserved for customers.

    I'd also like you guys to notice the improving quality in my product. I've started dailing in my stem work, improving my polish, and creating more balanced yet classic compositions. I really am trying to get you guys the absolute best pipe on the market for your money. So if you've been on the fence about a Jones pipe, now would be a great time to jump in.

    2013 Jones Halloween Pipe

  • 2013 GKCP Show Recap

    It has been quite some time since I last sent out a newsletter. No fear; I assure you that does not mean I have gone dormant. In fact, quite the opposite.

    Several weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending the Greater Kansas City Pipe Show. While I have attended this show in the past, this was the first time I have ever decided to split a table and try to sell some of my pipes. I brought 11 pipes total, including the one I entered into the carving contest that the show sponsors.

    Here is me at the show setting up. Yup, I'm tired already.

    Well, long story short, I had a blast at the show. I got to catch up with some friends, had tons of nice tobacco, and saw more pipes than I could shake a stick at. I wound up coming away with five pipes I purchased at the show: a J. Alan apple, an Abe Herbaugh egg, a Todd Johnson cutty, a Sebastian Beo canadian, and a Growley sandblasted billiard. Quite a haul!

    My haul from the GKCP show!

    Those of you who are active in the pipe community may recognize these carvers as rockstars in the field. How did I afford them you ask? Well, that brings us to the most exciting news of the show. Out of the 11 pipes I brought with me I sold ALL of them. This was absolutely splendid and unexpected news for me, and it validates much of my hard work progressing in this hobby. All that extra loot pretty much financed my expenses for the trip and bought me some really nice pipes.

    Here's some more good news, I was fortunate enough to share a table right next to Premal Ccheda from Smoker's Haven, a tobacco shop owner and pipe maker from Ohio. Premal liked my pipes (for whatever reason!) and offered to start carrying Jones pipes at his shop. I was ecstatic to say the least. So if you missed out on scoring a Jones pipe head on over to Premal's site:

    Since coming back from the show I have been working hard to improve the quality of my pipes. After seeing some of the best high grade pipes and interacting with some of the best carvers I've resumed work with more perspective. I've produced three pipes since the show (almost four), and I can say that these are much better than my previous offerings in terms of the little details. I continue to be excited about pipe making and I look forward to what the future brings.

  • Making of a Jones Pipe

    Making of a Jones Pipe

    I've developed a little photo essay for all those interested in seeing the process I use to make a pipe. Just click on the picture above. You will be redirected to the complete process.

    I know I always enjoy seeing other pipe makers at work. I hope you will enjoy it. Keep in mind there are a ton of small steps I didn't document. I just hit the high points with this one.

    Happy Puffing!

  • The Big Debut Winner!!

    Well ladies and gentlemen, the day is here. It is time to announce the contest winner! First of all I would like to thank all of you who signed up for the mailing list. The response has exceeded everything I anticipated. I’m glad that my pipes have interested so many of you and I look forward to improving my craft in the future.

    Now, on to the actual drawing. There were a total of 90 entries. The selection was made using which uses atmospheric noise to produce results that are truly random in nature. It really is a cool website. I encourage you to check it out.

    And now, without further ado! Drum roll please. The winner is:

    Chris V.

    The winning party has been contacted. Hopefully we can cajole the winner in to posting acknowledgment in one of the many internet pipe forums. This lucky individual will receive a custom made pipe from me.

    Again, thanks to everyone who participated.  Happy smokes.

  • There is Morta Pipes than just Briar

    With this post I have successfully finished my first two pipes made out of semi-fossilized bog oak, otherwise known as morta. This is a charming yet fickle material. How morta became utilized and accepted in the pipe world I do not know, but its heat resistant properties make it a perfect candidate to create pipes.

    Now that I have some limited experience working with this unique material, I would like to offer some observations, the first of which is somewhat contradictory. Morta seems both harder and softer than briar. How can this be? First morta is extremely resistant to abrasion. Sandpaper, files, and the sanding disk all seemed to whittle away less at morta than a briar equivalent. Despite this toughness,  the soft grain in morta is very fragile. On the lathe it tends to chip and split, which is not something one would expect of briar. Morta is light. The two pipes I have made out of morta both weigh at just over one ounce. Considering their size, I’d say that briar is a denser material. Morta also expands and contracts more than briar. It can smoke a bit hotter as well, but it also seems much more absorbent than briar.

    Morta can also be more expensive than briar due to its rarity. This coupled with the unique aesthetic and working properties of morta make it difficult to find a morta pipe that is relatively inexpensive. I had been searching for a morta pipe to purchase until I saw the average selling price. I decided I would be better off making my own. After smoking my first morta pipe for about a week with little rest, I came to the conclusion that morta smokes just as well, albeit differently, than briar.

    So what is the bottom line? Why buy a morta pipe? There are several reasons. First morta pipes are lightweight for their size and while they can be more susecptible to expansion and contraction they will deliver a very dry smoke. Morta also possesses a unique aesthetic quality that is impossible to duplicate. The naturally black material (although it does range in colour from light brown to pitch black), is unique. The grain structure, especially when blasted, add a level of beauty and complexity that cannot be substituted for with briar. Finally, there is something soothing and awe inspiring smoking a pipe made out of a piece of wood that is in many cases many millennia old.  The particular blocks I’ve been working with are almost 5500 years old!

    I for one have sincerely enjoyed my foray into this intriguing material. I plan on making more morta pipes in the future, but rest assured, briar is my first love. So, keep checking out my site, for there is certainly morta come. (I couldn’t resist one more pun)

  • Why Buy a Jones Pipe?

    Why buy a Jones pipe? The first reason is quality. One reason I started making pipes was to fill a gap in what I perceived to be a lack of excellent value, excellent smoking, pipes with a classic shape.  Most classic shapes can only be found in machine made brands that can be executed rather sloppily. In addition to the hasty preparation of these factory pipes, they rarely posses the attention to detail that results in an excellent smoking pipe. Steps as simple as chamfering the tenon and widening the slot at the airway are overlooked. The result is usually an overweight, gurgling pipe, with a thick, cheap stem. Some companies do, however produce relatively good smoking pipes. Dunhill comes to mind, but most pipe smokers don’t have six hundred dollars to spend on a smooth straight billiard.

    Here is a shot of several tenons: Jones, Ashton, Peterson, Dunhill. Note the chamfering on the Jones tenon.

    This leads me to the second reason to buy a Jones pipe: value. Where else can you find a good smoking classic shape for under three hundred dollars? Jones pipes are crafted one by one and by hand. Once mastered, most artisan pipemakers quickly depart from the classic shapes to move on to blowfish, elephant’s feet, freehands, and other magnificent sculptural pipes. That is fine, but many of those shapes, while exceedingly beautiful, are not practical for regular smokers.  Jones pipes are made for regular use, wear and tear, and functionality.

    The final reason to purchase a Jones pipe is much more personal.  The world of quality briar and tobacco is a small one, and revolves around relationships. When you buy a Jones pipe you establish a relationship. I will bend over backwards to make sure you’re as happy with your purchase as I can. As I get to know more and more about this community I have begun to realize that our demographic is made up of good, honest, and generous people. I couldn’t think of a better group to associate with.  

  • The Big Debut: Win a Free Jones Pipe!

    Today is a big day in Jones Pipes history. Today I “hang out my shingle,” so to speak. I am announcing the existence of my website on the pipe forums of which I am a member, and am ready to showcase my work to the general public.

    In an effort to build up a good base of site followers I am announcing something special. Sign up for my newsletter and be entered to win a free pipe! You heard right, in one month one of my lucky subscribers will win a free Jones pipe crafted to your preferences. Here’s how it works, sign up for my mailing list, then stay tuned. The winner will be announced on Sunday, April 21st. That lucky individual will be able to request a pipe from me according to their tastes. The only catch is that the pipe I make needs to be a classic shape. No blowfish, elephant’s feet, speared cally lilies, or snail climbing Mount Fuji please.

    While signing up for my mailing list I hope you will browse my selection of fine, affordable, handcrafted pipes. I’ve tried to debut with enough variety to keep things interesting. Also be sure to check out my gallery section where I have posted some of my previous works, and my articles section.
    So let's get this party started!

    On a personal note, this journey of mine has been fascinating, fulfilling, challenging, and exciting. I have learned so much since I first put file to block, not just about how to make pipes, but about myself. The lessons I've learned and the relationships I've cultivated in this hobby are just about one of the most rewarding experiences I've ever had.

    Now that my work is starting to become more consistent, I feel more comfortable selling my product. I know that every pipe I send out the door was made to the best of my ability. The good news is, I keep getting better. I have a feeling that the best is yet to come, and I can't wait to see what is in store.

    Thank you all for taking the time to read my post. I hope you find viewing my website a positive experience. If you have any comments or suggestions, please feel free to let me know.

  • Introducing My New Grading Scale

    I've been thinking for a long time about grading my pipes in an effort to help the customer recognize what I believe are special pipes and also determine which pipe grades offer the best "value". To this end I am happy to introduce a grading system for my pipes.

    Each pipe is evaluated by me based on three criteria: craftsmanship, special features (such as an exotic wood insert, unique stem, or metal work), and the quality of the natural briar grain. There are two catagories with several outliers. With this in mind pipes will be evaluated in the following way:

    Textured Pipes (Rusticated or Sandblasted)

    D - Fully rusticated or sandblasted. Typically simple shapes. An excellent value pipe. ($175-$225)

    C - Rusticated or Sandblasted pipes with embellishments or more complicated shapes. ($200-$275)

    B - Mostly sandblasts demonstrating better grain patterns and more complicated shapes and embellishments. ($250-$350)

    A -Sandblasts that display very good partial or full ring grain. Can be highly embellished or be more complicated shapes. ($325-$425)

    Smooth Pipes

    D - No large fills or flaws, possibly sandpits. Typically darker stained and simple shapes. ($200-$250)

    C - Lighter or contrast stained with better grain. Some sandpits. May include some embelishments and more complicated shapes. ($225-$325)

    B - Pipes with good grain and high contrast or light staining. More complex shapes or embellishments.($275-$375)

    A -Smooth pipes with no pits or fills and display very good grain. Highly contrast stained, light, or virgin finishes. ($325-$425)

    In addition to the grades above, special or high grade pipes can be indicated with two more classifications.

    AA - Just about as good as it gets. Near perfect staight grains, sculptural pieces, or pipes that required especially complex methods to create. $500 and up.

    AAA - A masterpiece. Something truly special and unique. (Price to be determined) I don't anticipate making many of these.

    Each pipe will also be stamped with the last two digits of the year in which it was created. In other words a smooth pipe with good grain made in 2013 would be stamped: "B13."

    It's no secret that pricing and marketing is my least favorite part of making pipes. I have tried to establish a system that is easy on the smoker's wallet and still compensates me enough to continue making pipes. The prices parenthetically listed above are rough guidelines about what the smoker should expect to pay, but none of the pricing is set in stone.

    I hope this grading system will be another way to help you select your new Jesse Jones pipe!

  • What do Pipemakers Smoke?

    So it is typically assumed that pipe makers smoke only the finest pipes, be they ones he/she buys themselves or one they make. I cannot emphasize enough the inaccuracy of such an assumption. In reality a completed well finished pipe rarely winds up back in the hands of the maker unless he sets out to do so. The majority of the pipes I keep are rejects or pipes that I think do not meet the standard of quality that I want my work to reflect. I own six of my own pipes. Most of which are flawed, however I do like to keep pipes that represent milestones in my pipe making career: my first pipe, the pipe with my first hand cut stem, the first pipe with a stem insert, ect.

    In addition to my pipes, all of which smoke well, I have a relatively large collection of mid grade pipes. I own a lot of Petersons, a lot of Stanwells, a couple Savinellis; but the pipes I smoke most often are my Ashtons, Dunhills, and handful of other artisan pipes I own many of which were gifts from carvers struggling to get their name out just like me.

    In total I own about 100 briar pipes, 2 meers, and a couple of cobs. I have my favorites and I am getting to the point where I am thinking seriously about downsizing in order to purchase a couple of briars I really want.  What is on the short list? First off is a Rad Davis. Rad is just about as close to a rock star as one can get in the pipe world. I really admire his aesthetic and have been influenced a lot by his style. Some other notible carvers whose pipes I would like to own include Former, Benni Jorgensen and son Lasse Skovgaard, Peter Heeschen, and S. Bang. However first on my list are some underrated North American carvers I have a lot of respect for and whose work can easily rival the great Danish makers at a lower cost: Wayne Teipen, Andrew Staples, Nathan Armentrout, Tyler Beard, and Brian Rowley (I own several of Brian's earlier works, but he has gotten very good lately and I want a later production). 

    The one pipe maker who I really want, however, is Kurt Balleby. I have never seen a pipe maker consistently create such magnificent pipes that are still practical looking without being plain. Amazing stuff to be sure.

    Here's a shot of my collection as it stood a few months ago. Some things have changed as I am always trading and acquiring new pipes, but the bulk of it is the same as it is today.