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The art of pipe smoking

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The art of pipe smoking

Select a fine pipe. If you are not an experienced pipe smoker, let yourself be advised by an expert, like the proprietor of a pipe shop. He has a large assortment and can, in consulting with you, determine which pipe would suit you.

Which standards should a pipe initially meet?
That depends on the circumstances in which you intend to smoke.
If, for example, you work with your hands and want to smoke a pipe at the same time, you would need a short, rather lightweight pipe. A curved stem is the easiest to hold with your teeth and is best to work with.
Should you on the other hand only be an armchair smoker, the pipe had better be somewhat heavier and longer. And if you are a fervent reader, you may want an extra long stemmed pipe, so the smoke doesn't get into your eyes.

     The lighter the pipe and thus, the easier in the mouth, the less likely it is to taste the full flavour of the tobacco: the more likely it is to smoke "hot".
The balance between weight and comfort is crucial. This judicious decision is very presonal and the choice should be in character for each individual pipe smoker.
A beginning pipe smoker should opt for a medium sized bowl, not an extravagant one. Furthermore have a look at the rim of the bowl. It should be rather thick-rimmed for longlasting enjoyment.

 Try the "draw". It should be very easy.

Take a look at the bore hole. If it is not deep enough, it will not be possible to smoke the tobacco completely.

 When you enter a pipe shop with these points in mind, select a number of pipes, and then make it easy on yourself by just taking the pipe that appeals to tyou.

Breaking-in a new pipe

     A wooden pipe should be brooken-in by its owner. That is to say, on the inside of the bowl a coat of char should gradually by built up. This layer of carbon protects the pipe, keeps it burning, and at the same time creates pleasant aroma.
Nowadays many pipe manufacturers themselves apply this layer of carbon, yet, we would advise new pipe owners to break-in their own pipe.
This strengthens the layer applied by the manufacturer.
A new briar should only be half-filled on the first half dozen occasions; and should never be fiercely smoked
- firstly, to allow the charring process to begin gradually;
- secondly, to allow the virgin pipe to finally harden in the intense heat of combustion.
The idea behind this is that it will assist the fast formation of a coin-thick layer of char and improve the "flavour" of the pipe in the initial stages.
Pipes with a meerschaum bowl and pipes of clay need not undergo this treatment.

The ten golden rules of pipe smoking

1. Select a pipe that suits you:
- The width of the mouth piece should give a satisfactory grip;
- The pipe should have the right weight for you.
- For the beginner, a medium sized bowl.

2. Fill your pipe bit by bit, pressing the tobacco slightly, firmer as the pipe gradually fills up, keeping in mind that the tobacco maintains its resilience. A pipe filled too tightly, will require strong pulling power, and a pipe filled too loosely, will result in fiercely burning tobacco and a hot bowl. (A consequence may be wet smoking and an irritated tongue.)

3. Care for an even burning pipe, Bring, after lighting, the curling tobacco back into the bowl, press lightly and, if necessary, relight. Should your pipe be extinguished during smoking, just remove the layer of ash, and relight the tobacco. Tobacco does not quickly lose its flavour. Use long matches so you have plenty of time to light the tobacco evenly.

 4. Smoke in piece and quiet. Fierceful and rapid draws cause a restless fast burning pipe that does not taste nearly as good. Pipe smoking should become a natural extension of the breathing rhythm - unhurried and gentle. This might explain the pipe's mystique. Peace of mind and relaxation are to be transferred to you.

 5. Maintain a coin-thick layer of carbon in the bowl. From its first smoke a briar begins to form a coat of carbon within the bowl which will thicken, almost impreceptibly with each subsequent fill. The carbon should not be more than a coin-thick or otherwise you risk cracing the bowl.

6. Use pipe cleaners to keep the pipe clean and dry. Put the pipe aside with the stem upwards. When your pipe is empty, it is better to clean it right away with a cleaner, and set it aside for some hours with a cleaner in the stem. In this way much moistures is absorbed by the cleaner (On the other hand the cleaner should not be left permanently in the stem; a pipe benefits from ventilation.)

7. Re-use the pipe only when it is completely dry. This will explain why regular smokers have a selection of pipes at their disposal; they smoke pipes in rotation.

8. Do not smoke a hot pipe or re-fill one that is still warm. If you need to relight halfway through a pipe, first remove all ash and tamp the remaining tobacco down gently and the light up. But do not to up with new, until you have smoked or emptied out the remaining tobacco.

9. Beyond regular cleaning, a point demanding attention is the occasional need to clear the bowl of excess char. The best method is to use a pipe reamer or smoker's knife. Insert it in the bowl and turn, slowly, stripping off the layer of carbon to the required depth.

10. Moisturising a new pipe is strictly speaking not required, yet is not advised against. A pipe can be moisturised by honey, syrup, rum, whisky, or another flavour you might prefer. Let this soak overnight into the pipe.

How to select a tobacco

Initially a couple of points are well worth bearing in mind; that the lighter and more fine-cut the tobacco, the easier it will burn and stay alight . For that reason it is suited for the beginning pipe smoker.
The more moist, heavy and coarse the mix, the slower it is to burn and the more it relies on expertise to keep alight. Between these clearly different types, there is a wide range of choice and it is possibly better for the new pipesmoker to select one of the blander varieties before experimenting with any of the more exotic, rarefied brands..
We would advise him to start with a medium strength tobacco. Tobacco from Holland, and in particular those from Niemeyer are mild, mellow, and pleasantly flavoured, with the additional advantage of staying alight easily.

We list the main types of tobacco.


As the name implies, various light and dark tobaccos are mixed according to a proprietary recipe. Types of Mixtures are:

1. Unpressed and cut.
This smooth burning, fine-cut and long threaded tobacco, in the Niemeyer brands CLAN and FLYING DUTCHMAN, is smoked best in a medium sized bowl. 

2. Pressed and cut. Called Cavendish Mixtures
Cavendish Mixtures, like Niemeyer's SAIL and HOLLAND HOUSE are popular the world over. They are mild tasting and slow burning. A smaller bowl will do best.

All Niemeyer Cavendish Mixtures are Ready Rubbed. This in contrast to Flake Cut brands, which have to be rubbed by the smoker himself.

Cavendish Mixtures.

Double fermented (a maturing process), cut after pressing. Soft, with varying aromas. From SAIL Natural to Aromatic. Cut semicoarse; cool smoking.

Black Cavendish

When the greater part of the Mixtures consists of dark fermented tobaccos, like Niemeyer's SAIL Black Cavendish. Increasingly in demand. 

Flake Cut

Tobacco that under a very high pressuer is made into a cake form, and cut into slices. Is to be rubbed loose before use.

Ready Rubbed

Like Flake Cut, but rubbed loose by a manufacturing process.


Like Flake Cut, but due to cross cutting (along the length and breadth), small, dicelike pieces of tobacco result, each consisting of a number of pressed leaf parts. 

Crimp Cut

Lightly pressed and short cut tobacco varieties, curled by drying and heating.

Curly Cut

Alternately, dark and light tobacco leaves are rolled into a string, usually enclosed by an extra light leaf. The pipe smoker cuts a small piece from the string, putting it into his pipe, either rubbed or unrubbed.

Navy Cut

Presssed tobacco, cit imtop this slices, which are to be crumbled before use.

Bibliography: Royal Theodorus Niemeyer B.V. Holland - ,,Blenders of fine Pipe Tobaccos"