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Which Pipe Should I Buy?

Choosing options for Pipes and Punties


Choosing body material – Steel or Stainless steel?

We offer pipes and punties with both stainless and steel bodies. All steel pipes, sizes 3/4" and above, are made with chromoly steel. Here are some of the key differences between these materials

  1. Steel bodies rust. Many professionals prefer this because the rust creates tiny pits in the surface of the steel, which gives the pipe body a natural grippy feel.
  2. Steel pipes will begin to form scale when the steel above the head joint is heated to 1,400°F or more.
  3. Steel bodies are much stiffer than stainless. One measure of stiffness is the yield strength of the material.
Check out these different yield strengths:
  • Standard “cold rolled” steel - yield strength of about 60,000 psi
  • 4130 steel (AKA – Chromoly) - yield strength of about 75,000 psi
  • 316 stainless steel - yield strength of about 45,000 psi

Characteristic Stainless steel Carbon steel
Less likely to bend  
More scale resistant  
Better grip  
Body will rust  
Best for beginners  
Better for production shops  
Better for cup work  
Great for your personal work  

What is a “section” and why does Spiral Arts use them?
In all of our steel pipes, 3/4" and larger use 4130 chromoly steel for the body, we have welded in a 5" section of stainless tubing between the head and the pipe body. Not only will this help prevent scaling, but it also eliminates problems with the steel near the head cracking or deforming when it is overheated. This design offers the best aspects of both the stainless steel body (low scale) and the steel body (high strength and grip).

How do I choose a wall thickness?
We build most of our standard stainless steel pipes with thicker walled tubing than our competitors. This makes our tools the straightest and most durable on the market. We believe that you will find our tools to be well balanced when you have a piece of glass on them. For those who prefer lighter weight pipes and punties, we make several sizes with thin wall tubing – we call these our “Ultra-light” tools.

What are the heads made from and why does it matter?
The material the head is made from will determine how long your pipe or punty will last. All of our pipe heads are made from either 309 or 310 stainless steel. The 310 is more durable and more expensive (for us) than the 309 although not as available. We almost always make our heads from 310 and will substitute 309 if 310 is not available. Pipe or punty heads made with 304 or 316 stainless steel will begin to experience carbon segregation, cracking, and scaling within a few months if they are used daily.

Plastic or Stainless mouthpiece?
The plastic mouth piece appears on American pipes, not so much because it saves teeth, but rather because it is much cheaper to manufacture than a stainless steel or brass mouthpiece. Nearly the entire history of blown glass has been made on pipes with metal mouthpieces. It was not until the studio glass movement in the US that blowpipes with plastic mouthpieces appeared. Plastic mouthpieces can now be found in nearly every glass shop in the US. The following are some things to remember when choosing a plastic mouthpiece:

  • Plastic mouthpieces will melt if they get too hot or lean up against something that’s hot.
  • Plastic mouthpieces have an extremely easy to scratch surface that holds dirt and germs better than stainless.
  • Polished stainless is the most antiseptic material for a mouthpiece, it can easily be cleaned with disinfectant and heat.
  • Stainless lasts for the life of your pipe. Plastic mouthpieces may need to be replaced periodically.
  • While it is debatable, it may be that in an accident, stainless steel is more likely to chip a tooth where plastic is more likely to knock it out.
Does Spiral Arts make pipes with plastic mouthpieces?
In an effort to make the best possible plastic mouthpiece, we use a white Ensinger Acetal (also known as Delrin) that we machine and then hand polish for resistance to getting dirty. We never use colored plastics since they tend to hide dirt and wear.