What Woods Are Good for Making a Tobacco Pipe?

Written by alan faeorin-cruich
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What Woods Are Good for Making a Tobacco Pipe?
Pipes come in a range of sizes, styles and woods. (tobacco pipe image by Petrov from Fotolia.com)

Whether you are looking for the Shire or Victorian aesthetic, smoking a tobacco pipe can be very relaxing. Often reserved for after dinner in the parlour, pipes are traditionally carved from wood. The type of wood used to make a pipe can have a large impact on the shape and durability and can even affect the taste of the tobacco smoke itself. Carvers use several types of wood to make modern pipes.

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Briarwood comes from the root of Erica arborea. This shrub grows throughout the Mediterranean. Briarwood is a very dense material and so is fire resistant. This makes it a very good choice for pipe making. The wood also has absorbent qualities, allowing it to suck moisture from the tobacco leaves, giving the smoke a cleaner taste. Being a hardwood, briarwood is strong and long lasting. It will not lose its shape over time. The colour of briarwood is a light brown, but you can treat it with varnishes and waxes to produce a range of shades.


Morta is a common material for manufacturing pipes. It is a semi-fossilised wood which forms when wood falls into peat or clay. Unable to rot and decay, the wood becomes fossilised stone. Morta is found all over the world and depending on the original wood can be of varying qualities. Good quality morta makes an excellent material for making pipes, as it is readily available and easy to work with. You can leave morta rough, polish it for a more finished look. As the wood is semi-fossilised it is resistant to heat and will last a long time.

Cherry Wood

Cherry wood is a hardwood that carvers commonly use in pipes for its dark red and burgundy colour. Due to its rigidity, cherry wood is excellent for making pipes that stand, and manufacturers often consider this when designing the shape of the pipe. They can leave the bark of the cherry wood intact to make the pipe more rustic. Removing the bark and polishing the wood highlights the red veins within the wood.

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