Re: phunnel bowl
this is the way Eric (of Tangiers) taught me:
HEAP THAT SHIT ON, MAN!!
i'll tip the phunnel on its side and try to scoop as much tobacco into the bowl as humanly possible, without squishing it in there. i just let it all rest on top. then you should have as much tobacco raising up out of the bowl as you do inside the bowl. (i know; it seems weird, but it makes sense, trust me.) make sure it's all even, though.
then you corral the little pieces of tobacco inside so nothing is hanging over the edge. it is not totally necessary to clear tobacco completely from the hole in the middle, but i do.
once that is all set, and it appears that you've got twice as much tobacco as you need, set the foil on top, push down with your palm to compress the tobacco down. don't wrap the foil around the sides of the bowl yet. you might have to take it back off and add more or take some off.
keep pushing and rotating the bowl arround so everything gets compressed evenly. once you have compacted all the tobacco down with the foil, the ideal fill level should be a as high as a quarter's width from the edge of the bowl to the top of the foil.
Eric uses a srimp fork to poke holes in the foil. it seems to work pretty well. better than my silly toothpick meathod, that's for sure. when you are done, you'll have a ton of holes all over the top of the bowl. and don't worry about poking a hole in the middle or not poking holes; just poke holes accross the whole bowl evenly and it'll work out just fine.
i've only tried this method with Tangiers tobacco, though. and now that i know how, i never have a bad session due to poor packing. now, to try it with other tobaccos.