Pipes With Horn Stems

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FredS
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Pipes With Horn Stems

Post by FredS » Tue Nov 20, 2018 10:08 am

UB recently posted a picture on another thread of an attractive pipe with an acrylic stem that looks like horn. Judging by what I see at smokingpipes.com, horn is the new bamboo but I've never owned a pipe with a horn stem. Knowing a thing or two about what horns are made of, I like the idea of faux horn better than real, but the real ones seem to be very popular. I've put water buffalo horn scales on a few knives and the material really moves with changes in humidity so that would also be a concern.

Do you have one?
Do you like it?
If yes, why?
If not, why?
Does it smoke/feel different?
Is it more fiddly than other materials?
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Re: Pipes With Horn Stems

Post by JMG » Tue Nov 20, 2018 10:30 am

The only thing I don't like about them is that they tend to be a good bit thicker than ebonite or acrylic to make up for the hardness difference.
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Re: Pipes With Horn Stems

Post by Cleon » Tue Nov 20, 2018 10:42 am

Do they split and start to stink like those cow hooves the dog chews on?
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Re: Pipes With Horn Stems

Post by JimVH » Tue Nov 20, 2018 11:10 am

I have one, but it sits still in the box. I tend to gnaw on a stem with near constant clenching and I haven't found the confidence to try it, yet.

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Re: Pipes With Horn Stems

Post by Bloodhound » Tue Nov 20, 2018 11:20 am

I had a rifle once with a horn trigger guard, It was big and bulky even if it did look nice and was a cool custom feature, but I was always afraid I would damage it.

I am not likely to get a pipe with a horn stem...also not real interested in the wood stem pipes I have seen...although beautiful horn and wood...I like the tuffness of the ebonite or acrylic.
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Re: Pipes With Horn Stems

Post by UncleBob » Tue Nov 20, 2018 11:35 am

As I understand it, horn stems are an attempt to have the good features of vulcanite (ie. comfort) without the oxidation. For some "old-timers", acrylic/lucite stems can be painful on the teeth. But not many folks smoke that much any more so I imagine that isn't as much of a factor.

I have had a couple of horn stem pipes but I am hard on stems and they didn't fare well. One of them I bit through--and I have never done than before or since with any other pipe--and the other had the stem split in half. If you are one of those folks that doesn't like teeth marks on your stem, you may want to try a different stem material. I think if I found one that I just loved I would have a lucite stem made for it to smoke and use the horn stem for display.

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Re: Pipes With Horn Stems

Post by FredS » Tue Nov 20, 2018 1:14 pm

Yikes Bob.

As I've considered this, I suppose - aside from the Ropps - what I've really seen lately are pipes with horn adornments or extensions, not necessarily entire stems. Basically like bamboo. This eliminates the clunky button required to accommodate the materials drawbacks but still provides the 'look' of natural horn. It appears most of the artisans add a metal ring around the mortise but I'd still worry that differential expansion/contraction would lead to cracks. They sure look nice though.

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Re: Pipes With Horn Stems

Post by UncleBob » Tue Nov 20, 2018 1:23 pm

Stanwell had some horn shanks in the '70's through the '90's. They were pretty but most of the ones I saw developed hairline cracks over time. I don't know that much about making pipes but durability would concern me. Can you use some kind of resin or epoxy?
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Re: Pipes With Horn Stems

Post by FredS » Tue Nov 20, 2018 1:42 pm

UncleBob wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 1:23 pm
. . .Can you use some kind of resin or epoxy?
Now that you mention it, yes. It's common for knife makers and pen turners to use 'stabilized' wood. You basically use a vacuum chamber to infuse the pores with resin that hardens and makes the natural material more or less like hard plastic. A quick google search turns up a little bit about folks doing the same thing with horn. Perhaps that's the trick.
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Re: Pipes With Horn Stems

Post by hugodrax » Tue Nov 20, 2018 2:21 pm

UncleBob wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 11:35 am
As I understand it, horn stems are an attempt to have the good features of vulcanite (ie. comfort) without the oxidation. For some "old-timers", acrylic/lucite stems can be painful on the teeth. But not many folks smoke that much any more so I imagine that isn't as much of a factor.

I have had a couple of horn stem pipes but I am hard on stems and they didn't fare well. One of them I bit through--and I have never done than before or since with any other pipe--and the other had the stem split in half. If you are one of those folks that doesn't like teeth marks on your stem, you may want to try a different stem material. I think if I found one that I just loved I would have a lucite stem made for it to smoke and use the horn stem for display.

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I can see that. They're built for comfort, not durability; I'd bet a stem chewer would go through one in record time. That said, I'd put a horn stem on every pipe I owned if the cost was reasonable. I like how they look. I like how they feel. I love how they hold the flavor of the tobacco and become part of the experience.

But they'd have to be really cheap to make it worth while and that isnt likely to happen. If I were a maker of artisanal pipes, I surely wouldnt use them.
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Re: Pipes With Horn Stems

Post by Jocose » Tue Nov 20, 2018 5:17 pm

FredS wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 10:08 am
... but I've never owned a pipe with a horn stem.
I thought that you took the Ropp Bulldog that I put in the box pass a few years ago?

I like horn stems. They're good looking, comfortable and durable IMO.
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Re: Pipes With Horn Stems

Post by durangopipe » Tue Nov 20, 2018 9:44 pm

I have two horn stem Ropps. I smoke them, and I like them very much.
But I rarely clench so the durability issue is not a concern for me.
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Re: Pipes With Horn Stems

Post by joegoat » Thu Nov 29, 2018 11:57 pm

I've played with horn mounts, but never stems. It turns nicely and polishes beautifully. I wouldn't consider using it on anything that takes wear and tear. I've had knives with horn scales and, though pretty, they all split.
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Re: Pipes With Horn Stems

Post by FredS » Fri Nov 30, 2018 9:49 am

Jocose wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 5:17 pm
FredS wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 10:08 am
... but I've never owned a pipe with a horn stem.
I thought that you took the Ropp Bulldog that I put in the box pass a few years ago?

I like horn stems. They're good looking, comfortable and durable IMO.
Now that you mention it, I think I did. I still have one box of pipes I need to unpack from the move. I bet it's in there. I'll report back later.
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Re: Pipes With Horn Stems

Post by Joshoowah » Fri Nov 30, 2018 11:17 am

I don't, but I sure do like those Ropp belge pipes that have horn stems. I just haven't bought one yet.
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Re: Pipes With Horn Stems

Post by Gabriel » Fri Nov 30, 2018 12:42 pm

I have a short Ropp billiard with a horn stem that I enjoy a lot. It is a bit softer than vulcanite. I find it to be very comfortable and have used it as my go-to pipe for fly tying for a couple years. I need a light weight, comfortable pipe for that, as it stays in my mouth the whole time. Recently it has been sharing time with a small, rusticated pipe from JMG, but it saw regular use for a couple years and still sees regular use, though not as much.

I am starting be to a little more careful with stem, as I don't want to go through it eventually, and it is showing some discoloration from moisture and whatnot. I'll take pics next time I think about it. My experience with this one, though, has been so positive that I wouldn't hesitate to pick up another horn stem, particularly for a lighter pipe.
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Re: Pipes With Horn Stems

Post by Jocose » Sat Dec 01, 2018 4:15 am

FredS wrote:
Fri Nov 30, 2018 9:49 am
Jocose wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 5:17 pm
FredS wrote:
Tue Nov 20, 2018 10:08 am
... but I've never owned a pipe with a horn stem.
I thought that you took the Ropp Bulldog that I put in the box pass a few years ago?

I like horn stems. They're good looking, comfortable and durable IMO.
Now that you mention it, I think I did. I still have one box of pipes I need to unpack from the move. I bet it's in there. I'll report back later.
That's what I thought...
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