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The most common technique for packing a pipe is the "three layer" method. The objective is to end up with a bowl that is evenly packed from top to bottom; this is done by packing each layer progressively tighter. Trickle tobacco into the bowl until it is slightly overfull, then press very lightly with your finger until the bowl appears half full. Fill the pipe again and press down until the pipe is 2/3 to 3/4 full. Finally, overfill the pipe and press the top layer down fairly firmly. When finished the tobacco should feel "springy" to the touch. If it has no give at all, it's packed too tight. If a touch leaves an indentation, it is packed too loosely. Finally, test the "draw" by sucking air through the unlit pipe; the resistance should be about like that felt when sipping a soft drink through a straw. If the draw doesn't feel right, then empty the bowl and start over. A slightly different touch must be used depending on the size of the bowl and the cut and moisture level of the tobacco, but this will become second nature with experience. In fact, you will undoubtedly develop your own packing techniques with time, and you will find yourself loading your pipe without even thinking about it.
 
The most common technique for packing a pipe is the "three layer" method. The objective is to end up with a bowl that is evenly packed from top to bottom; this is done by packing each layer progressively tighter. Trickle tobacco into the bowl until it is slightly overfull, then press very lightly with your finger until the bowl appears half full. Fill the pipe again and press down until the pipe is 2/3 to 3/4 full. Finally, overfill the pipe and press the top layer down fairly firmly. When finished the tobacco should feel "springy" to the touch. If it has no give at all, it's packed too tight. If a touch leaves an indentation, it is packed too loosely. Finally, test the "draw" by sucking air through the unlit pipe; the resistance should be about like that felt when sipping a soft drink through a straw. If the draw doesn't feel right, then empty the bowl and start over. A slightly different touch must be used depending on the size of the bowl and the cut and moisture level of the tobacco, but this will become second nature with experience. In fact, you will undoubtedly develop your own packing techniques with time, and you will find yourself loading your pipe without even thinking about it.
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Frequently, the smoke hole may be clogged, when filling and packing the bowl, or during smoking, especially after tamping.  It is not necessary to empty the bowl to correct this. Just remove the tip, and then clear the smoke hole with the reamer tool, a thin steel rod.
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Frequently, the smoke hole may become clogged with tobacco, when filling and packing the bowl, or during smoking, especially after tamping.  It is not necessary to empty the bowl to correct this. Just remove the tip, and then clear the smoke hole with the reamer tool, a thin steel rod.
    
If you find yourself frustrated by the fact that you simply can't get the feel for packing your pipe, you might want to try a method suggested by Mike Butera. Mike recommends chopping the tobacco, reducing the ribbons into rectangles or squares about 1/4" long. The bowl is then packed as described above. Some people have found that this method can make the task of packing a bowl much easier.
 
If you find yourself frustrated by the fact that you simply can't get the feel for packing your pipe, you might want to try a method suggested by Mike Butera. Mike recommends chopping the tobacco, reducing the ribbons into rectangles or squares about 1/4" long. The bowl is then packed as described above. Some people have found that this method can make the task of packing a bowl much easier.
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