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Pipe Maker Profiles: Skip Elliott

Posted by Joe S. Kimbrough II on 10/23/2020

Skip does things a bit differently. Usually people turn a passion into a business. Bill Gates started on computers in his parents' basement before Microsoft. Before Frank Stitt was an award-winning chef, he got a degree in philosophy. Skip, on the other hand, founded a successful tobacco shop and then made his own smoking pipes.

            In 2000, changes abounded around The Briary. The shop moved from its original location in Brookwood Mall. Gus Elliott, Skip's dad, opened a Tinder Box franchise in 1974. That franchise was one of the first shops in the mall. When Skip took the reins, he transformed the Tinder Box into The Briary. From the beginning, you could find all your pipe tobacco needs with personalized customer service.

            Skip moved his shop to its present location in Homewood, AL. We operate from a farmhouse built in 1899. Skip wanted the new location for its history. The front porch and lounge were an ideal place to relax with an enjoyable smoking pipe. Plus, the shop's location took people from the rush of the mall. Customers could truly take a smoke break.

            Moving the shop was not the only inspiration that struck Skip. After 26 years of selling pipes, the thing to do was to carve his own. Pipe making would rekindle an old love with woodshop from his teenage years. His first attempts, reportedly, lacked the quality level of Skip's precise standards.

            So, Skip called his buddies from the years of selling pipes. Eric Nording has a unique style of shaping tobacco pipes. For Eric, the briar’s grain pattern dictates the smoking pipe’s shape. Nording advised Skip on this process. Then, Mark Tinsky was the guide for drilling tobacco pipes. 

The instruction was indispensable. Still, Skip does his own thing.

            Classic smoking pipe shapes sold the best in the shop, so Skip began with those shapes. Traditional shapes flow smoothly from the briar’s grain. Skip must carefully select each piece of wood for the best shape. Aged briar highlights that grain pattern, so Skip ages the briar as long as possible. This way, the grain suggests its own shape A lathe is his tool of choice for the initial rough shaping before files and sandpaper get their turn. Skip's dedication to these details produce artisan tobacco pipes.

            An open draw is the benchmark for any quality tobacco pipe. If the briar pipe is hard to smoke, why would you waste your time? Skip puts most of his effort into drilling his smoking pipes. A variety of drill bits reduce the turbulence inside the draft hole. As a result, Skip's tobacco pipes smoke cool and dry. Plus, his pipes draw as easily as breathing. Skip's briar pipes are the smoothest smokers on the market.

            Check out our collection of Skip's pipes. Most are sold immediately, so you better act fast for those still here.

Skip's Pipes

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