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Thread: How Important Is The Button?

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    PSU Member BillyPM's Avatar
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    How Important Is The Button?

    Over the years I've been mainly concerned with bowl shape and size, the weight of a pipe, the feel of the draw, the balance of the clench. But I never have paid much attention to the size and shape of the button until lately. The two cutties I have from BriarWorks (No affiliation- however they are here in Nashville and I have visited their shop and like the guys. But this was AFTER I fell in love with my first cutty) have been such a pleasure to smoke and are so comfy in my mouth that I've been paying attention to buttons lately.

    Some of my pipes have thick ones like a couple of my Petersons. Some are very thin like my birth year Dunhill. Some are wide like my Barling quaint. Some are narrow like my '84 Dunhill Canadian. Basically my pipes are all over the map but they all are comfortable in my teeth and clench well. If they weren't I wouldn't reach for them and they likely wouldn't stay in my stable.

    So it turns out that the button is more important to me than I once thought.

    You?
    Billy
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  2. #2
    PSU Member coalsmoke's Avatar
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    I find that a solid button is essential to keeping a pipe in my mouth and that buttons are made in proportion to the size and shape of the stem. I'm a clencher, so a good sized button allows me to go lunting with one hand using my cane and the other in my pocket. Most all of my pipes have large enough buttons to sit right behind my teeth in a "hanging clench" when I'm lounging with my feet up while resting the pipe's bowl on my chest. The Don Carlos in the rotation has a thinner stem and narrower button that's good for sitting, but not for lunting as it isn't as stable in my mouth and tends to bounce around. The Petes and Savs are just right with larger buttons and stems. Broad stems and buttons are great for clenching, but tend to take up a bit of space in my mouth. I depend on a good sized button in order to keep me from biting into the stem just to keep the pipe from falling into my lap or onto the ground. What would pipe smoking be like without a button on the end of a stem?
    Russ

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    PSU Member BillyPM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by coalsmoke View Post
    What would pipe smoking be like without a button on the end of a stem?
    A lot messier.
    Billy
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    PSU Member Rockbass's Avatar
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    Not a "clincher", so as long as air gets through, the button is good.
    I can resist anything but temptation--Oscar Wilde

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    PSU Member Slowroll's Avatar
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    I like a reasonably sized button also for the above reasons. But I do like the stem to be as thin as possible just in front of the button.

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    PSU Member Piffyr's Avatar
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    I think I've admitted it here before, but I have a thing for buttons and slots (yeah, I know exactly how dirty that sounds). The button is the tactile, business end of the pipe. It's the part of the pipe that the smoker interacts the most with. So, the feel of it is as important as the steering wheel of an automobile or the trigger of a firearm.

    That said, I don't think there is a one-size-fits-all, perfect button design. We all have our preferences and I think most of us can get used to anything if we stick with it long enough. Certainly, many of the early clay pipes don't have buttons at all (not that they were likely to be clenched anyway), but, like the ovular slot, the idea was picked up quickly and became ubiquitous once it was put out there.

    Personally, I like a button that's tall enough to rest behind the teeth comfortably and without danger of slipping while still allowing my jaw to remain somewhat slack. The depth of the button is important too. I don't want a bulbous hunk of vulcanite/acrylic behind my teeth, The button should be thick enough to do the job that it's meant to do without interfering with my tongue. The edges at the back of the button should be crisp but not sharp. Who wants to put sharp things in their mouths?
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    PSU Member Piffyr's Avatar
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    Billy, if you like the way that WDC that I restemmed for you clenches, that's largely attributable to the design of the button. It's a little taller than average and the bitezone was kept thin. The idea was to make the pipe uberclenchable, so that you could pay attention to the strings and not the pipe while you're strumming.
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  8. #8
    Moderator Brooklin Bill's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rockbass View Post
    Not a "clincher", so as long as air gets through, the button is good.
    I agree lol. I'm not a clencher either although I did like the feel of the lip at the back of my teeth when I had them. My preference is for a a larger size because it feels more secure, I guess. Plus I use the rubber ends for two reasons, to protect the button from teeth marks and to add more 'bulk' comfort. I think I can honestly say that I've never picked up a pipe because of the button but I've had a few pipes in the past where stem and bit were drawbacks.
    "The box with the least amount of matches makes the most noise." MWB

  9. #9
    PSU Member BillyPM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Piffyr View Post
    Billy, if you like the way that WDC that I restemmed for you clenches, that's largely attributable to the design of the button. It's a little taller than average and the bitezone was kept thin. The idea was to make the pipe uberclenchable, so that you could pay attention to the strings and not the pipe while you're strumming.
    Like? LOVE is more like it. I have no pipe that's easier or more comfy to clench. You certainly guessed right on that one!
    Billy
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  10. #10
    Super Moderator HCraven's Avatar
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    As many of my friends here know, I am a dedicated softie bit guy, so at this point, the button is not as critical to my enjoyment of a pipe as it is to some people. In fact, to this day I have a Dunhill Tanshell and a GBD Rockroot (with a Perspex bit) that both have chips in the top of the buttons, but with a softie in place I don't even notice.

    However, I got into softie bits because of an unsatisfactory button: my Dr. Bob Kiess Patriot has a beautifully slick black acrylic bit, but the transition to the button is just too smooth and undefined. I couldn't slack-clench it, and when I bite down on it, it easily shoots right out of my mouth and into my lap. I was pretty disappointed with that aspect of it, but I love the pipe, so I went searching for a solution that didn't rely on my nonexistent skills as a pipe repairman. I wound up really appreciating the rubber bite guards for a number of reasons.

    By the way, I consider this defect an anomaly. I've never heard similar complaints about Dr. Bob's pipes, and having met him at the show during which I bought this pipe, I remain convinced that he is a consummate craftsman who strives for quality and smokability in his creations.

    Herb

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