“Drive for show, putt for dough” is a well-known observation in golf and has a similar maxim when it comes to pipe carving: “A great shape will find a hand, but it’s stem work which creates a fan”. From a pure smoking perspective, it makes a ton of sense. The mouth is amazingly finicky about what goes in it (have any of us not noticed
how even the smallest particle of food near the tooth & gum will drive us a bit batty, until we eliminate it?), and the same holds true about stems. Even if we just choose to ignore it, a slightly thick, less-than-ideal stem becomes part of the smoke. The mark of great stem/bit work is to be so thin, so comfortable and present such remarkable flow that we forget it’s even there. Clearly, this lesson was not lost on Abe Herbaugh. His handcrafted (right down to the hand turned, chamfered tenon) ebonite/cumberland bits are deliciously thin, slotted to perfection and already considered as some of the finest in pipedom.
5.31” stem-to-stern and 1.91” amidships, Mr. Herbaugh does a yeoman’s job in the creation of a beloved American classic: the muscular Billiard. The smooth, birdseye rim finds a solid complement within the ring of cocobolo on the mount, and the blast follows the Danish tradition of minimizing wood removal, while maximizing the fine display of interlocking ring and fan grain, which circumnavigates all 360 degrees on the bowl.
R. ‘Bear’ Graves