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Jar Storage

Discuss or ask questions about pipe tobacco, pipe tobacco storage and aging, blending, etc.

Jar Storage

Postby Nomad » Sun Dec 10, 2017 4:57 pm

I decided that my random and unstable piles of baccy jars had gotten out of control, especially since recently picking up a few blends to try out. To get things better organised, I cleared out a shelf in my bookscase, took some measurements and made a couple of little shelves to fit inside...

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The space in the bookcase is 890mm wide by 335mm high. I had initially thought of making a single wide jar shelf to fit, but it occurred to me that I might want to move the jars somewhere else later, and something that wide might be a bit hard to fit into other spaces. One possible alternative space is about half the width in the bookcase, and I would probably make something taller for that. So, I made two shelves about half the width instead. If I decide to move them, I can stack them on top of each other (using a couple of brass pins to locate them to each other for stability).

The jar shelves are made of 12mm thick oak, finished with a coat of amber shellac. I went through a few design ideas to try to maximise the capacity, and worked out that I could have two layers with enough height for the small 250ml Kilner jars, with the top layer having enough room for the taller 500ml ones. Here they are in-situ...

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The big clip-top jars have already been replaced for the most part - I find the screw-top Kilners to be a better size (250ml holds 50g, 500ml holds 100g). I should mention that this is more the active part of the cellar - the tobaccos that I tend to smoke regularly, with some single jars that are ageing, plus (on the right), the various component tobaccos that I've been using for blending. There is also a stash of tins (mostly SLF, plus some IF and Nightcap) that still need to be organised.

I also need to come up with something for storing the pipe paraphernalia, like cleaners, pipe tools, matches, reamer, etc, as well as some sort of pipe rack. The idea at present is for these to occupy the front part of the shelf, probably on the right, and be slid around or lifted off to access the jars. That said, I do need to have a clear-out of books, so it's possible that another shelf could be given over to pipe stuff.

First time I've made something from the oak (it's American White Oak), and I'm pleased with it as a wood to work with - nice and solid, and machines and finishes well. I got a couple of lengths 95mm wide (which is what the jar shelves are made from), and one 145mm wide, which should give me plenty to work with for making more bits.

I'm really pleased with things so far - it's like having a mini tobacconist at home.
Last edited by Nomad on Wed Dec 13, 2017 1:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Jar Storage

Postby KevLa » Sun Dec 10, 2017 5:26 pm

Nice job, Nomad! :)
Funnily enough, I've just this moment opened my first jar in ages: Samuel Gawith Commonwealth, sealed since March, 2012. I use Douwe Egberts glass coffee jars, and they seem to do the job; this blend is perfect! :D_,~
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Re: Jar Srorage

Postby Nomad » Sun Dec 10, 2017 11:13 pm

Cheers, Kev. Ageing isn't something I've been into much so far, but it's something I'd look to take further. My first possible experience of the effects of ageing was just after I got into the pipe and found I really liked SLF. I had been reading about ageing in the tin, and found that one of my tins had some bloom on the baccy when I opened it, which made me wonder if it had been lying around for a long time before I bought it. I then stopped smoking the pipe for a year or so, before restarting and getting some more SLF. Those later tins didn't seem quite the same as that early batch, as if there was a mellowness or something missing. I also noticed that the wrapping paper was less stained from the tobacco juices. I came to the conclusion that the early batch probably was older in the tin than the later one, and decided to stash the remaining ones and get some more in.

I've been smoking from the more recent tins for a while, but have been thinking about how long to leave the earlier ones before opening them. I've got three tins dated Feb 2015, and one from the earlier batch (that seemed to be older in the tin), dated Dec 2013. (Dates are when I acquired them.) I suppose the thing to do is to try a 2015 one to see if the paper has become more stained, and whether any bloom has appeared. I think I'd like to see how they have fared before I open the 2013 - that one is currently the special reserve. If it turns out that the 2015s have moved closer to those exquisite 2013s, then I think I'll be putting a good few of the much bigger batch of 2016s aside.
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Re: Jar Storage

Postby KevLa » Mon Dec 11, 2017 12:11 am

Yeah, there is a certain amount of trial and error involved, I believe, and I know a lot of it has to do with the type of tobacco. Virginia, for example, is the best type of tobacco to age as it contains a lot of sugar.
From what I gather, between five and ten years is the sort of age to aim for. Commonwealth is a half Latakia, half Virginia blend, so I figured nigh six years was probably long enough to have left it, but I must admit that the chief reason for opening that jar was to see whether or not I could call my cellar a success, particularly with the tendency for people to claim that Mason or Kilner jars are the only way to go. Since the moistness is spot on, and the tobacco is still very full and very delicious, it would seem that I needn't have worried :)
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Re: Jar Srorage

Postby Geo3rge » Mon Dec 11, 2017 7:49 am

Well done to both of you with your projects. Quite inspiring. I wish i had those woodworking skills, but I don’t...great job here.
I have a few jars of blends here; the flip-tops sometimes don’t do their job but overall fine.
Good to read. Not sure that I’ve got twelve years for a wait, but I’m banking on five for one or two things here.

Enjoy those blends...
Moi, fumer une pipe, naturellement...
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Re: Jar Srorage

Postby Dodger » Tue Dec 12, 2017 8:39 pm

Beautiful solution ,wish I had your talent :mrgreen:
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Re: Jar Srorage

Postby Listener666 » Wed Dec 13, 2017 10:51 am

Nice.........very nice in fact.
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Re: Jar Storage

Postby Nomad » Thu Dec 14, 2017 10:19 pm

Thanks, chaps. I have to say, I'm surprised at how much difference it makes just having the baccys neatly arranged rather than having messy stacks of jars that are hard to deal with. It's as if being able to see everything leads me to think more about what I fancy smoking. Haven't thought much yet about the storage for the bits and bobs, other than an idea for a pipe cleaner holder. I'm in the middle of giving my workshop an overhaul, so I'm fitting little projects in around that.

On the subject of storage, when I was doing some blending a while back, I was putting left-overs and blends I wasn't keen in into a couple of those plastic clip-lid boxes with the sealing gasket. I've used these before and found them okay for a few weeks. When I opened these two boxes to have a sniff, I found that the contents of both were bone dry - the pinch test resulted in a rating of 'crispy'. So, those boxes are definitely not advisable for much more than short term storage.

When I first got into the pipe around 2012/2013, I went trawling the net for information and found a PDF book called the Pipeman's Handbook, which is mainly a collection of comments and articles gleaned from discussion forums and the like over the few years prior to its publication. Of particular note was a sizeable section on aging and storage. I had forgotten about this until a few days ago, when I found it in my folder of pipe stuff. I did some searching and found it online...

https://socalpipester.files.wordpress.c ... ndbook.pdf

Well worth a read for those that haven't seen it.
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Re: Jar Storage

Postby ratatosk » Fri Dec 15, 2017 2:05 am

I really need to get my act together about baccy, I have at least 50 pounds around here, but can never find anything and probably don't even remember half of what I have. Pipes are just as bad, I started wondering where the Becker Strawberry Wood that I paid $535 for was a couple of days ago and only found it tonight (in the same drawer that I had looked in repeatedly). That is beyond half-ass.

I have a couple of weeks of vacation coming up and will try to sort out this chaos a bit. But, to revisit the tobacco side, it's actually kind of nice to discover that you have something from 5 years ago that you had completely forgotten about, so there is an upside to being disorganized. :)
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Re: Jar Storage

Postby Geo3rge » Fri Dec 15, 2017 2:16 pm

You could do with a pipe butler, Richard. Just tug the bell rope in your living room and said butler will happily go down to the cellar for your tobaciana needs.
That or, as you said, spend some time on things...we are all like that. A couple of months ago, I got fed up with trying to find tobacco samples that I’d placed here and there, so I did a good clean out, organised jars, labelled them and shelved them. Much better now, I think.
Good luck with it all. I think this particular problem comes with the pastime...
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Re: Jar Storage

Postby Nomad » Sat Dec 16, 2017 12:41 pm

I think the key is to start by choosing your storage containers. By that, I mean picking from a range and sticking to them. As noted earlier, the 250ml and 500ml Kilner jars in the UK are just the right size for 50g and 100g of loose baccy. If I had larger quantities of bulk tobacco, I'd look for bigger jars again. My bulk is predominantly tins of SLF which won't be jarred (until each one is opened for smoking), so I I'll probably come up with some sort of box on the bottom shelf of the bookcase for them (along with other 'stock' stuff like bags of pipe cleaners).

Once you've chosen your containers, you should have a consistent set of sizes to deal with - widths/diameters, and heights. With that information, along with the expected number of each size (enough to cover what you have, plus a few extra), it should be possible to work out how much space you need, whether it's little shelves like I made, or drawers, boxes, etc. With storage space chosen that works with the storage containers, sticking to one set of container sizes makes it easier to move stuff around into sensible groupings, and to add more.

I would suggest drawing a distinction between stuff that's in your rotation, and stuff that's in the cellar, proper. It's the rotation that benefits from being quite orderly, because that's the stuff that you're regularly picking and choosing from. You only need to deal with the cellar occasionally, to add more to it, or transfer something into the rotation. It doesn't need to be visually accessible or nicely displayed - just reasonably organised in terms of having containers grouped so that they're easy to count. If you have a smaller cellar, a single box/drawer/shelf holding tins/jars can be more than sufficient.

I would say that labelling and dating is quite important. I date every tin when it comes in (in a year-month format: 2013-02 for February 2013) by writing on the side in permanent marker. If I hadn't done this, I wouldn't know now which tins of SLF are the oldest and thus have the potential to become Special Reserve candidates if my thoughts on its ageing turn out to be true. By the same token, the much bigger stash of 2016 tins can be managed more easily and potentially become Special Reserve as time goes on. Same goes with jars, either bulk or rotation - label them all and include the date they were jarred. That way, anything that's ageing or melding in the jars is easier to keep track of, as is anything that's opened regularly for smoking (eg, how long does a regularly, but infrequently, opened jar keep the baccy moist?).

So, with the stuff on the little shelves, it's easy to see directly what's there, and easy to pick up a jar, have a sniff and decide if I fancy smoking some of it. It's primarily the rotation: favourites, baccys being tried out, and the blending components. Also has some jars that are being left to age a bit (like Elizabethan Mixture) to see if they improve, and a couple of jars of stuff that I'm not sore sure about (some Mac Baren flakes, and some twists). I don't have a spreadsheet tracking anything, or keep any records. Managing the cellar consists of no more than dating each tin and having a rough idea of how many there are of each.

Having said all that, I think a pipe butler is an excellent idea. He should be called Jeeves, be an expert on everything that's in the cellar, maintain a tobacco menu, and say "very good, Sir/Ma'am" each time you tell him which baccy you want to smoke.
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Re: Jar Storage

Postby ratatosk » Tue Dec 19, 2017 1:34 am

I like the pipe butler idea, but unfortunately my circumstances do not permit that option without a nice lottery win. Even if money was not a problem, I suppose that recognizing some degree of personal responsibility should be a goal.

I've been thinking about some of these self-inflicted First World problems that are just annoyances rather than real problems some lately. I reckon I'm just getting more reflective with age, but there are damn few real problems in my life and lost pipes/tobacco are not among them. ;)
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Re: Jar Storage

Postby KevLa » Tue Dec 19, 2017 12:13 pm

The path to happiness is in realising when one is already there :)_,~
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