The rough blocks are packed in sacks containing 40 to 100 dozen each, and sent abroad, principally to France (St. Cloud), where they are finished into the famous G. B. D., or " Pipes de Bruyere," known to smokers in England under the' name of " Briar-root pipes." The production of this article is considerable, 4 hands turning out about 60 sacks per month. Consignments are also made to England and Germany. (Gard. Chron.)
(2) The root of the "Briar Ivy" is the substance most generally used in America for pipe making, it being selected for the purpose on account of durability, hardness, and the bright polish which it is capable of taking. It is found throughout the Southern States generally - the best qualities growing in Virginia - and is sent to the market in large pieces which vary in size from that of a man's fist to the dimensions of a good sized keg. It costs the manufacturer 6-8/. per ton, the price depending upon the quality of the wood.
The above information was imparted to us by one of the manufacturers of pipes in this city, while wending our way from his office to the cellar underneath the factory, where the rough briar-root was stored. As we entered the last mentioned apartment, we noticed, heaped against the walls, the odd shaped pieces of the wood. Some had just been received, for a workman was busily engaged in throwing them into an oven which, heated by steam pipes, served to dry out all sap and moisture the wood might contain. In the middle of the cellar a circular saw was in motion, cutting the dry pieces into slices about 2 in. thick, which as soon as finished were received by boys and piled in regular heaps. From this underground apartment, the slabs are sent to a drying room on one of the upper floors, where they are kept heated at a moderate temperature for 6 months, during which time the wood becomes thoroughly seasoned.
Following our guide, we next entered the workshop. Here the clatter of innumerable wheels and the buzzing of saws and lathes rendered speech out of the question. Picking our way over heaps of wood and edging between countless belts, we were at length arrested before a workman .who, sitting on a bench in which revolved a circular saw, had at his side a pile of the slabs which we had already seen cut, down in the cellar. Taking one piece at a time, he pressed it against the blade, and in a few seconds it was divided into several smaller blocks of the shape of Fig. 323.
The blocks vary in dimensions according to the size of pipe to be made. Very little of the wood is wasted, the odd pieces being all worked up into stems or small pipes.
The blocks as soon as cut are passed over to the turners. Standing beside one of the workmen, we watched .him as he placed the piece in the lathe chuck. A pressure of the boring tool, and the interior of the bowl of the pipe was excavated, then a part of the exterior was turned; and finally the block was reversed, and, in a few revolutions, the end for the stem completed. The entire operation did not occupy more than 10 seconds, the pipe, when thrown to one side, appearing as in Fig. 824. Still it was far from finished. It had to be carved into shape, and, to witness the process, we were conducted to another part of the room where the filers were at work. Each operative had before him a revolving disc, one side and the edges of which were cut coarse or fine, like files. This instrument removes the wood in either large or small quantities as may be desired. If the pipe is to be ornamented, the finer files are used to cut away minute portions. The workmen are all well skilled, and reproduce apparently intricate designs with wonderful accuracy.
The most delicate work, such as faces, flowers, etc, are cut by hand.
After the carving is completed and a hole is drilled for the stem, the pipe is thoroughly sandpapered by holding it against a revolving wheel covered with that material. This done, it is passed to the burnisher, where a brilliant polish is given to the wood by allowing it to rest against a rotary disc made of layers of chamois leather.
We next passed to the finishing room, where, seated at long tables, we found a number of workmen engaged in fastening to the pipes the pewter tops and covers, together with the small bits of chain and bands which hold the stems and mouthpieces in place. The latter are manufactured from the tips of horns which are bought from the comb makers for the purpose. These tips are turned to the shape desired, holes are drilled through their length, and then they are bent into shape by the action of heat, and finally coloured black by a peculiar kind of dye. When completed, they are carried to the finishing room and there attached to the pipes. Nothing further remains to be done but to pack the finished pipes in boxes, label and mark them, and they are ready for the market.
Briar pipe making.
The factory which we have described manufactures over 150 gross of pipes weekly. Other woods besides briar root are used, none, however, equalling it in durability and beauty. Among these are apple, cherry, mahogany and poplar, which are made into the cheaper pipes, which cost 36-48s. per gross. The most expensive articles are made from the briar root and curved by hand, costing some 48s. per dozen. (Scient. Amer.)
The use of charcoal in the preparation of pipe heads, a long time practised, has lately experienced many improvements, so that now pipes are produced remarkable for a deep black, lustrous appearance, and of very great durability. The material consists of a mixture of 2 parts best charcoal black and 1 part best black peaty earth, ground so finely that, when rubbed between the fingers no trace of granules is perceptible. Two parts of this mixture are then united with one part of an equally well pulverised residuum of distilled cannel coal, containing still 'a portion of its-bitumen, and the whole rubbed together thoroughly till all the three ingredients are uniformly combined. The mixture is then placed in iron boxes, in which are sunken moulds corresponding to the pipe heads, and while the boxes are then heated to the boiling point of water, stamps with rough surfaces are forced under hydraulic pressure into the openings of the heads, so that this process, united with the increased temperature, not only combines the carbonaceous mass into compact pipe heads, but also produces a smooth exterior, and at the same time a rough inner surface.