When it comes to pipe smoking knives there is only one name to look out for and that is Joseph Rodgers. With a history dating back to 1682, you won’t go far wrong.
And while the world famous cutler may be long gone his legacy remains. Egginton Bros Ltd, Sheffield, England, now manufacturers Rodgers famous “Star and Cross” brand supplying the military and civilian market with a multitude of exceptional quality cutlery in all shapes and sizes, including, of course, the pipe smokers pocket knife, which has been produced for many decades.
I have always used “cheap” pipe tools, in fact, my very first was the ubiquitous “Czech tool”, stamped “Made in Czechoslovakia”, which dates it back to the early 1980’s! These modestly priced pipe tools perform most daily pipe smoking chores, but when it comes to reaming the bowl, they just don’t cut it, literally! So I was in the market for a decent knife. Sure, I could have gone down the dedicated reamer route, but I prefer to carry just one handy tool, especially when out and about, and the Joseph Rodgers pipe smokers knife ticked all the boxes, as it includes a cast aluminium tobacco tamper, long spike and a renowned Sheffield steel blade.
I purchased the satin stainless steel version, though there are three colour options: red, blue and black. These are currently powder coated, whereas in the past they had plastic scales. In the hand, it oozes quality in terms of fit and finish and should last a lifetime even with moderate abuse – the spring action is firm, but not too tight and there is no lateral rocking movement in use. Being of solid stainless steel construction its quite heavy for its size (closed length 85mm x 12mm wide), weighing in at 36g. The knife doesn’t feature traditional scales, so the handle is uniformly flat and silky to the touch. Three flush fit brass rivets securely hold the springs, blade, spike and tamper assembly in place.
Open, the easi-grip blade extends 55mm from the handle and the cutting edge is 33mm in length – suitable for reaming most bowl depths. Its a non locking design and comes razor sharp – ideal for slicing plug tobacco or cutting cigars. Unlike conventional knives the tip of the blade is rounded so that it doesn’t damage the bottom of the bowl during reaming. I also use the blade to empty “dottle” – being careful not to gouge too deeply.
The 60mm long spike is designed to clear shank obstructions, but is equally at home as a poker during smoking. The base situated tamper is a welcome inclusion and means you can slip it in your pocket and know you have everything you need for a days pipe smoking.
I was keen to try it out on my caked up pipe collection. My Peterson 11FB had developed a more than healthy carbon deposit, so I carefully rotated the blade in a clockwise motion, maintaining a firm contact with the chamber walls. As the surgical grade steel blade is very sharp, it pretty much removed the build up in a few twists and that was that. Perfect.
The Rodgers Pipe Smokers Knife is a thoroughly recommended pipe smoking accessory. Its made in Sheffield, England, which is the undisputed hallmark of steel quality – the best out there by far, I’d say!
Update 26 March 2013. In response to the review I received further information from James Goodwin, Sales & Marketing Manager, Egginton Bros Ltd…
We inherited the design when we acquired the Rodgers name in the mid 1980s. The design at the time had clip-on covers in metal or plastic and was not really of a quality befitting of the Rodgers brand name.
Approx 10 years ago, we improved the design. We ditched the clip-on covers and opted for a stronger riveted handle instead. We used the satin finisher for the scales which gives the knife a really nice feel in the hand. We moved on to new powder-coated colours. We developed the easi-grip blade which enables the user to hold the blade itself by its base, reducing the stresses on the blade rivet in the process.