A Visit to Pipemaker Tim Hynick
By Nelson Pidgeon
In last month's newsletter I neglected to mention that club member Tim Hynick had entered a pipe into the P&T Pipe Carving Contest. Although his pipe wasn't chosen as one of the top 10 finalists, the constellation of having your name and work appear in the pages of the world's most prominent pipe smoking magazine is reward enough (well, for now anyway). When my copy of P&T arrived in the mail, like most of us, I took a quick glance though the pages. I had forgotten that the pipe carving contest article would be in this issue so when I came across it and saw Tim's pipe there, I immediately picked up the phone and called to congratulate him. Tim was unaware that all of the pipes entered into the contest would be shown in the magazine so you can just imagine his excitement when I told him. He hadn't got his copy yet and it was too late to buy one, so I scanned the article and emailed it to him so he could sleep that night.
Tim has been carving pipes for 2 years now but you'd be hard pressed to distinguish his pipes from those made by a more seasoned carver. Even the pipes he showed me a year ago looked to be of professional quality. Although he was happy with the results of his first few pipes he knew he could do even better. He sought help from well known pipe maker JM Boswell of Chambersburg, PA. Under Boswell's instruction, Tim learned new ways to hone his already proficient skills and since then we have seen a refinement in his work. He gets the briar for his pipes from JM Boswell and Paul Bonaquisti, and if you've smoked a pipe made by either of them you know it's great briar. Most of Tim's pipes are Danish style freehands but with his recent purchase of a lathe we may soon see some new shapes and styles emerge. To get a feel for using a lathe, Tim has started by making his own stems with the help and guidance of Joe Skoda, pipemaker and member of the Hudson Valley Pipe Club. I've seen some of the stems he's made already and I have to say... I think he definitely has it down to a science.
Tim is a stickler for detail and you can definitely see it in his work. What might be good enough for some, may not be good enough for Tim. Not long ago, he showed me a pipe that he had just recently finished. I looked at it and remarked at how beautiful it was while Tim shook his head in dissatisfaction. "The epoxy oozed a little, it doesn't look right." He tried to show me what he was talking about, but the harder I looked at the pipe, the nicer it became. "Your nuts!" I said. "I can't see anything." And neither could the three other people we showed. It just has to be perfect or Tim's not satisfied.
During the holidays, I along with Rick Frederics and Tim's friend Mark, had a chance to visit Tim at home and check out his operation. Tim lives in a beautiful three story Victorian style home loaded with lots of character and old time charm. There's a working fireplace in the kitchen with an ornately designed metal enclosure. There are two sets of stairs to the second floor, the main set having a beautiful wrap around bannister which was nicely decorated for the holidays by Tim's wife Celeste. On the second floor was Tim's wife's office, two huge bedrooms and a walk-in closet that could have been a room all by itself. But the third floor is where I'd want to spend most of my time. Wainscoting covered every wall and the passageway and ceilings followed the contour of the roof giving it an interesting look. Bright and airy with a lofty view of Haverhill, MA., Tim's pipe room was the perfect place to just hang out and smoke. With over 100 pipes neatly and orderly displayed on shelves and in cabinets around the room it was easy to see that Tim takes pride in his hobby and craft.
After the grand tour and a delicious lunch (yes, Tim is also a bit crafty in the kitchen as well) we headed down to the workshop in the basement. Like the rest of the house, the basement was just as neat and orderly. We all took a seat, charged our bowls with the chosen leaf of the day and enjoyed an afternoon smoke. The work area was well lit and shop tools were all laid out in the order used in the pipe making process. Since there was not enough time to make a pipe, Tim went over the process of getting a piece of briar ready for production and explained how each of the tools are used. We discussed the making and fitting of stems and he showed us an interesting supply of the acrylic material he uses to make them. After our crash course in pipe making, we headed back to Tim's 3rd floor pipe room to finish our pipes before heading out to the Gold Leaf Tobacconist in Seabrook, NH. After all, Thursday night is pipe night at the Gold Leaf.
We entered to find the Gold Leaf's usual pipe crowd at the bottom of the usual pipe cloud. I found myself a comfortable chair and decided to be different and smoke a cigar first. But it wasn't long before I decided to fill my bowl with a sample of the Gold Leaf's 2004 Christmas blend. Owner Joe Noradaki says it's been a tradition of his each Christmas to head over to the shop after Christmas Mass and create a new Christmas Blend. This year's was cubed Burley and cubed Virginia with just a hint of coffee flavor tobacco added. A minutely aromatic blend with an enjoyable spiciness. I smoked a bowl in the shop and one on the way home and found it to be a nice change of pace from usual Latakia blends. I bought two ounces to take home and have them marrying a bit more under a pile of books.
But as I say in so many of my narratives, all good things must come to end and so did this singular day. Tim and his wife Celeste were excellent hosts and I thank Celeste for putting up with 4 pipes smokers in her home at once, talking about nothing other than pipes. But since she's married to Tim, I'm pretty sure she's used to that by now. For those of you who get P&T Magazine, Tim's pipe can be found on page 16. Tim hopes to have a few of his pipes on Ebay in the near future so keep your eyes open. He also hopes be at the New York Pipe Show this March so if you're in the neighborhood stop by and say hello.
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