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A typical pipe tool consists of a pick, a reamer, and a tamper:
- The pick is a narrow rod or pin that can be used to clear the shank of debris, or to aerate tightly packed tobacco. Because it is sharp it may scratch the bowl of a pipe, and so should not be used for scraping.
- The reamer is a flat instrument shaped like a dull pen-knife blade or a flattened spoon, used to scrape ash and unburned tobacco (dottle) off the sides and bottom of a pipe.
- The tamper is a blunt instrument, either a simple dowel or shaped like the top of a nail, with a flat end for tamping down the tobacco when the bowl is being packed, and for crushing the ash together to aid relighting.