Aged Imported Briar Poker with Red Dot

Blog by Dal Stanton

My wife and I were on Interstate 24 nearing Manchester, Tennessee, returning to the Atlanta area after the wedding of our daughter in Nashville.  The billboard beckoned and, of course, I responded by taking the next exit!  Madeline’s Antiques & Uniques had the look of a classic pipe picker’s paradise and I was not disappointed! I’m thankful for my wife’s patience and her eagle eye.  She helped ferret out hidden pipes in need of help and a new home.dal1 dal2 dal3In Palmetto, Georgia, I laid out the haul and recorded the picture above – including the six-pipe pipe stand!  The poker on the lower end is before me now on my work table back in Sofia, Bulgaria.  The left side of the shank has Aged over Imported Briar in a cursive script.  The other remarkable characteristics of this Poker are the red dot on the stem and the screw in tenon with a metal mortise receiver.  Always hopeful of identifying a pipe’s heritage I landed on a thread written in 2013 in (Link) of someone seeking information about a pipe with the exact nomenclature, dot and screw in stem, just a different shape, an Author shape instead of the Poker before me.  While pedigree is still inconclusive, one helpful comment in the thread summed up well the possibilities:

The “Aged Imported Briar” stamp suggests this is made in the U.S. The screw-in stem is typical of
Kaywoodie and perhaps Jobey which was made for a few years in the U.S. However the design and
shape of this pipe is not Jobey-like. I don’t know Reiss-Premier, but if it is a U.S. outfit, that could
be it. If I understand correctly, the “imported briar” stamp was typical of U.S. pipes at a certain period
when other woods were being used for pipe bowls and there was some misgiving about some of the
woods used. This was a reassurance that the pipe was good quality and safe.

The best guess is the US company, Reiss-Premier, as the source of this Poker because of the dot (See identification.  Reiss-Premier had a factory in Chicago from 1930-1959 and was responsible for the term “Drinkless” which was well known with many Kaywoodie pipes (See Pipedia) which Reiss-Premier also produced.  If the clue about the authenticity verification of briar stated above is accurate, this Poker possibly dates back to WW II days (40s and 50s) when briar supply from Europe was scarce.  Notwithstanding, there is little doubt that this Aged Imported Briar Poker has seen better days and those days are many days ago.  On my work table I take some additional pictures to get a better idea of the challenges with this pipe.dal4 dal5 dal6 dal7 dal9 dal10 dal11The poker is an iconic shape – the name comes from the flat bottomed cylindrical shape of the stummel.  While men dealt hands of poker they could put their pipes on the table without fear of dumping ash on the winnings.  This Poker has heavy cake in the bowl and the rim is in rough shape – I’ll need to remove some valuable briar real estate to reestablish a flat top look, hopefully the Poker won’t turn into a Poker Pot shape in the process!  The stummel heel has some dents and scratches from doing what it was intended to do – sit.  The briar is all but concealed by the old clouded finish – but there is nice looking briar underneath!  I detect a small root branch knot in the grain pattern that will add to the ‘old school’ quaintness of the Poker.  There are signs of wear on the stummel, but I’ll not remove them all – signs of the paths and stewards this Poker has served along the way!  The stem has oxidation and the upper button lip looks like a 9 iron took a divot out of it.  The button will need rebuilding.

The first order of business is to clean the stummel starting with reaming the bowl and washing down the exterior with Murphy Soap to get a better perspective on the stummel condition.  I also plop the stem into an Oxi-Clean bath to start working on the oxidation.  I’m not sure what effects the bath will have on the red dot so I cover it with Vaseline before the plunge.  I take the Pipnet reaming kit and use 2 smaller of the 4 blades available.  I follow the reaming blades with the Savinelli pipe knife to fine-tune the ream and finish with wrapping 240 grit paper around a dowel rod and sand the chamber.  Using cotton pads and Murphy Oil Soap I scrub the exterior of the stummel and use a brass wire brush to work on the rim which loosens nicely the lava flow without scratching the wood.   The pictures show the progress. dal12 dal13 dal14 dal15I take another close-up of the rim damage from a lateral perspective to illustrate how much briar I will need to take off through topping to achieve a level lid to this Poker.  A bunch!  I take a chopping board covering it with 240 grit paper and carefully rotate the inverted stummel not leaning into the sloping angle of the damaged area.  I don’t want a slanted top!  I check the progress often and ‘free-stand’ the inverted stummel with the help of a right angle I try to keep things perpendicular.  The pictures show the progression of the topping. dal16 dal17 dal18 dal19 dal20When I arrive at a point where almost all damage is eradicated, I stop the topping with 240 grit paper and with 120 grit paper rolled up I shape a bevel on the inside and outside of the rim removing the remainder of rim damage.  After the 120 grit cuts the initial bevel I follow with 240 and 600 grit paper on the inside and outside of the rim.  Finally, I lightly top the stummel again but now with 600 grit paper over the chopping block.  I do this not only to smooth the rim surface, but it also serves to sharpen the circular bevel line around the circumference of the rim – inner and outer.  It gives the rim a very classy, finished look to me.  The pictures show the progress.dal21 dal22 dal23Since the heel of the stummel has scratches and edge damage as well, I repeat the process described above for the heel as well except for using only 600 grit paper to ‘top’ the bottom – not 240.  I only needed to clean and smooth the surface layer not remove real estate.  The bottom bevel utilized 120 then 240 then finally 600 grit sanding papers.  In the last picture of the set below, there remains a small damage spot that I fill with a superglue patch which I will smooth and blend later.  This Poker will be ready for any high-class card table!  The pictures tell the story!dal24 dal25 dal26 dal27 dal28With rim and heel repairs completed, I fish the stem out of the Oxi-Clean bath and it did the job of raising the oxidation out of the vulcanite.  I’ve started inserting a pipe cleaner into the stem before dropping it in the bath making it much easier to fish it out (picture 1 below).  I wet sand the stem with 600 grit sanding paper to take off the mother-load layer of oxidation raised on the stem, then I follow with 0000 steel wool.  After inspecting the stem, I see more oxidation around the button and shank areas – I use 240 grit paper on those more stubborn areas, then again 600, then 0000 steel wool.  In anticipation of doing the button rebuild, I want a clean stem so using pipe cleaners (bristled and non) dipped in isopropyl 95% I clean the stem internals.  It did not take much effort and now to the button repair.  The pictures show the progress.dal29 dal30 dal31I take a close-up of the upper button area to get another look.  It is apparent that the former steward of this Poker had a favorite hold to keep his (or her J) pipe in place while the cards were dealt and considered.  The dent on the button resembles compression damage more than biting or scissor action.  You can see just to the left of the button (up the stem) a bite mark.  My forensic opinion is that the bite is the eye tooth and the compression represents the work of the molar behind – the pipe being clamped on the side to keep the hands free for gathering new cards and tossing those less desirable aside.  I would guess the steward of this Poker was right handed, too – the compression being on the right side leaving most the stem toward the center of the mouth for puffing.  Nope, can’t tell how tall he was!  Yes, I do believe now it was a ‘he’ because a ‘she’ probably wouldn’t mouth-clamp the pipe but put in down on the table and then deal another round J.  Fun and forensics aside, I need to rebuild the upper button area.  First, I attempt to raise the ‘eye tooth’ bite with heat – I ‘paint’ the area with a candle flame.  It seems to have done the trick.  Then, taking 240 grit paper I rough up the button area and then clean the button area with a Q-tip dipped in alcohol.  I mix a batch of charcoal powder and ‘Extra Time Control’ super glue into a toothpaste thick consistency.  I put a mound of charcoal on an index card (so it can be tossed when done) and place a small puddle of super glue next to it and begin to mix – adding more charcoal a bit at a time until I reach the consistency needed to stay in place on the button.  I use a toothpick as a trowel and gradually build and mound over the button that later will be sanded and shaped with a needle file.dal32 dal33 dal34 dal35 dal36 dal37Setting the stem aside to allow the charcoal super glue putty to cure overnight, I turn back to the stummel.  I take medium and light weight sanding sponges and sand the surface, careful to avoid the Aged Imported Briar nomenclature on the shank.  The briar is beginning to emerge and the metal band/mortise is shining up nicely.  I realize that I was anxious to start on the external briar and forgot about the internal muck.  Taking pipe cleaners and Q-tips I clean the internals dipping them in isopropyl 95%.  Time to turn out the lights.dal38 dal39The next day has arrived and I’m anxious to work on the button rebuild that has cured overnight.  I take a picture to mark progress and using a flat needle file I file down the cured charcoal superglue gradually – patience.  The following pictures journal the shaping of the restored upper button that had the most compression damage.  I use the flat needle file to do the button shaping and then follow with 240 grit paper to fine tune and to remove the file marks from the vulcanite.  I’m pleased with the progress.dal40 dal41 dal42 dal43The lower button presented more challenges.  Pictured below I could detect two pockets in the charcoal superglue putty.  To avoid filing off too much of the new button build I elect to apply black superglue and charcoal mix to fill the pockets.  I’ll let these fills cure before sanding and finishing the button repair and then moving on to the stem restoration.dal44 dal45Putting the stem aside, I begin to micromesh the stummel in anticipation of applying a light brown stain.  I begin by wet sanding with micromesh pads 1500 to 2400.  I follow this with dry sanding using 3200 to 4000 then 6000 to 12000 – careful to avoid the Poker’s stampings on the side of the shank.  I enjoy watching the briar grain emerge.  The nickel (I think) band/mortise is shining up very well.  The pictures show the progress. dal46 dal47 dal48Oh my…here I go again.  I intended to apply Fiebing’s Light Brown Leather Dye to the Poker – I just brought it back to Bulgaria from the US and I wanted to give it a try.  The grain of this Poker bowl is very active with a mixture of dark and lighter grains.  I mentioned earlier a knot as well…. I’ll be thinking about this….  I thought and I will apply the light brown Leather Dye as originally planned.  I will see how it looks and I can use a cotton pad with alcohol to lighten the stain as needed.  This is one of the advantages of aniline stains and dyes – these I could not easily find here in Bulgaria.  I’m not sure if the staining will impact the metal band, but I decide to wrap it in masking tape just in case.  I wipe the stummel with a cotton pad and alcohol just to make sure the surface is clear of saw dust from sanding.  I use my air gun to warm the stummel before application of the dye.  I apply the dye with a folded pipe cleaner which I saw Steve do – it is much easier to use compared to a dauber that usually carries more dye than is needed and is messier.  At least this is my experience.  After applying the dye liberally over the entire bowl, I flame it by lighting it with a candle.  The alcohol base in the dye burns off very quickly and does not hurt the wood.  Then, I repeat the application again and flame it.  By doing this I assure that the entire surface has been covered.  I’ll wait until morning to unwrap the ‘package’ and look at the grain.  The picture shows the aftermath.dal49With the stain settling, the stem is ready for the home stretch.  The button super glue patch is cured, so I take 240 grip paper and finish smoothing and shaping the button.  I follow the 240 with 600 grit paper then 0000 steel wool over the entire surface of the stem.  Beginning with micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand the stem and follow with an application of Obsidian Oil to the vulcanite.  Then with micromesh pads 3200 to 4000 then 6000 to 12000 I dry sand the stem following each set of 3 pads with an application of Obsidian Oil.  I like the polished vulcanite pop and the red dot stands out nicely.  The pictures show the progress.dal50 dal51 dal52 dal53 dal54Now to unwrap the stummel!  After staining the stummel with Light Brown Leather Dye I take a cotton pad with alcohol on it and wipe down the surface.  This smooths the stain and lightens it slightly.dal55 dal56Reattaching the stem and stummel, with the Dremel felt wheel set at the slowest speed (RPMs) I use Tripoli compound to begin fine tune polishing the surface.  I follow Tripoli with applying Blue Diamond with felt wheel, rotating it methodically over the surface, allowing the high speed of the wheel and the compounds to do the work.  Following the compounds, I wipe/buff the stummel with a cotton cloth to remove the powder residue from the compounds.  Switching to a cotton wheel, and increasing the speed of the Dremel by one number, I apply several coats of carnauba wax to both stummel and stem and finish the restoration of the Aged Imported Briar Poker with a brisk buff with a micromesh cloth.  This old Poker is looking great.  I’m pleased with the button work and the briar makes me smile – it is very active and I enjoy the root knots here and there.  This Poker will again make the card table a more enjoyable experience for some new steward who gives him a home.  Thank you for joining me!dal57 dal58 dal59 dal60 dal61 dal62 dal63 dal64 dal65


CPF Best Make Bulldog with a Silver Rim Cap and Ferrule

Blog by Steve Laug

This is yet another great old pipe that my brother picked up on eBay. It is a classic CPF Best Make Bulldog with what I believed to be a Bakelite stem. It is stamped C.P.F. in an oval over Best Make in an unfurled banner on the left side of the shank in gold filigree. The silver rim cap and ferrule on the shank are ornate, both cast with birds and branches which seem to be doves and olive branches. The band and cap were tarnished and dirty. The top of the rim cap was dented, tarnished and had a buildup of tars and oils. The bowl had some great grain under the grime on the briar. The stem was had been broken off at some time in its long life and been repaired with a clear glue – epoxy maybe. The glue had hardened and was really a mess with it “globbed” all over all four sides of the diamond shaped stem. The button on the stem was missing a large chunk on the top side leaving the top of the airway exposed. There were also some chips missing on the stem at the joint of the shank and the stem. The tenon was a bone threaded tenon and screwed into the shank. The alignment was very good. My brother took the next set of photos to show the state of the pipe when it arrived in Idaho before he did the cleanup work on it.cpf1 cpf2My brother Jeff took a close up photo of the rim and the bowl. The photo shows the damage to the silver rim top as well as the cake that is in the bowl. The second photo shows the bowl of the bowl. The diamond shank carries through to the bottom of the bowl in classic bulldog fashion.cpf3 cpf4The next series of three photos show the cast birds and branches on the rim cap and the ferrule. You can see the look of the birds that I think are doves and the branches that I think are olive branches making this a bit of a “peace pipe”. The third photo shows the stamping on the left shank of the pipe.cpf5 cpf6The next series of photos show the repair to the stem and the damage to the button on the top side. It was a solid repair despite the ugliness of the finished look. The first two photos show the damage to the button top and the airway into the stem. You can also see the repair line where the stem was glued in the second photo. The third and fourth photos show the top and the underside of the stem and the repair can be clearly seen in both photos.cpf7 cpf8I have written about the CPF brand in previous blogs including a blog on the historical background of the brand. You can read the whole article at the link that follows. I have also included a short portion of the blog to give a brief summary of the brand.

CPF stands for Colossus Pipe Factory. There is not much known about the Colossus Pipe Factory. I learned that by the mid 1890’s CPF was owned by Kaufman Brothers & Bondy (KB&B). They operated the factory at 129 Grand Street, in New York City, New York. I had a faint memory of some connection between CPF and Kaufmann Brothers & Bondy. But was unsure where I had heard or read that. In the process of reading information I came across this post by Bill Feuerbach on the Kaywoodie Forum: “About 10 years ago I picked up two original invoices from KB&B. One is dated February 5, 1884 and the other December 9, 1898. Both have the address as 129-131 Grand Street, which is in Soho, adjacent to the Bowery in New York City. The 1898 invoice has in the upper left hand corner the initials CPF and Trademark. So by 1898 KB&B was making it known to the trade that they owned the CPF trademark. The 1884 invoice does not have CPF on it. Therefore I think we can assume KB&B acquired or started the CPF line sometime between 1884 and 1898.”

I have also included a link to the blog that shows and old CPF catalogue that links KB&B to CPF – or Kaufmann Brothers and Bondy with Colossus Pipe Factory.

My brother did his usual thorough clean up on the pipe. He scrubbed the silver with a tooth brush and some dish soap and was able to remove the tarnish in the deep grooves of the castings. He scrubbed the rim cap and removed the tars and oils in the dents on the surface of the cap. He cleaned the briar with soap and a brush and rinsed it off. He reamed the bowl and cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem. He cleaned up the threaded tenon and the threads in the shank. When it arrived in Vancouver I took photos of the pipe before I started to restore it.cpf9 cpf10I took close up photos of the rim cap, bowl and the stem to show the condition of the pipe when it arrived at my work table. The rim cap is dented but clean. The stem repair is visible and you can see the buildup of glue on the stem surface and the damage to the button and airway on the stem.cpf11 cpf12I sanded the stem repairs and stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the buildup of glue all around the stem. It took quite a bit of sanding to remove all of the thick dabs of glue. I worked on the chipped areas of the stem as well on the tenon end of the stem.cpf13I built up the chipped area on the top of the button with clear super glue until it was even with the rest of the button. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the excess and shape it. I used the topping board to flatten the end of the stem and a needle file to smooth out and shape the slot in the button.cpf14I filled in the small pits and crevices in the stem surface and the chips at the tenon end with clear super glue. I sanded the repaired areas on the surface of the stem to smooth it out blend it in with the rest of the stem. I shaped the button and rounded the edges of the button to slope it toward the slot on the stem end.cpf15I stained the briar with a dark brown aniline stain mixed 50/50 with isopropyl alcohol using a folded pipe cleaner to apply it around the rim cap and shank ferrule. I flamed the stain with a lighter and set it aside to dry.cpf16I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed the bowl with a shoe brush and then lightly with carnauba and a clean buffing pad to raise the shine.cpf17 cpf18I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads. I gave it a final coat of oil after the last set of three pads. I set the stem aside to dry.cpf19 cpf20 cpf21I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel, carefully avoiding the rim cap and the ferrule on the shank. I buffed the stem with the Blue Diamond to shine the finish on the stem. I gave the stem and bowl several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine on the pipe. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The old pipe has been given new life. The repaired stem has been smoothed out and though it still shows it is a solid repair and smooth to the touch. I really enjoy the look and the feel of these older CPF pipes and this one is no exception. Thanks for journeying with me in the process.cpf22 cpf23 cpf24 cpf25 cpf26 cpf27 cpf28 cpf29

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Reclaiming a Hard-Smoked 1969 Dunhill Tanshell “K” Apple

Charles has done a masterful job of bringing this old Dunnie back into shape. I thought I would share it as there are some great ideas that can be gleaned from his methods.


I stumbled across this Dunhill Tanshell on eBay near the end of the auction period. The (relatively) low bid price told me that there was probably something significantly wrong with the pipe, the auction listing, or both. Curious, I read through the auction description, which was almost ridiculously brief, but accurate as far as it went:

“Dunhill Tanshell Estate Pipe of the Apple “K” model with a date code for 1969.

The pipe is estate fresh and never been touched.    The white dot is a miss and the stem tip has marks, the bowl is pretty good, looks like it was held in the hand a lot. Wear to the Dunhill lettering though still visible on the right angle.”

The pictures included with the listing were not of the best quality, but were clear enough for me to see that the bowl wasn’t cracked and that the stem looked original though in…

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Polishing a Chair Leg/Fancy Stem

I have a GBD Tapestry that I am restoring, hopefully it will be done in the next day or so. I really like the Tapestry line; this makes my second one in different shapes. They have a fancy “chair leg” stem that while attractive are a pain to polish, especially if they are heavily oxidized, as this one was. 

You can see the “problem” areas in the photos. Unfortunately I forgot to take photos before beginning to remove the oxidation and calcification, which were quite thick. 

Remembering back to the first one I restored, I thought that sharing the method I use on this type of stem would be helpful to others. It’s not a fast process but it is pretty well foolproof because no machines are used, only “you power” and buffing compound on a piece of thin leather lace. 

I use 3/32″ lace but it also comes in 1/4″. I imagine other materials would work, too. I drag the lace across the bar of compound to load it after putting the stem in a hobby vise. (I use this table top vise with only my hand for holding the vise in place – it has rubbed coated jaws – so I don’t put too much stress on the stem and possibly break it.) I take one end of the lace in each hand and rub it using a “sawing” motion (pull the lace toward me with my right hand, then my left, repeat) in the crevices, reloading the compound as needed, until the oxidation is gone. 

It does require some time and effort but there’s almost no chance of getting the stem out of shape, ruining the graceful lines, or breaking it. 

Ria_io Selection Italy Full Bent Billiard

Blog by Dal Stanton

The pipe before me now was acquired from an eBay seller in Arkansas.  The full bent shape (billiard or egg?) as well as the reddish, highlighted rustification drew my attention to this pipe – the rustified bowl reminded me of a bee hive – the tree hangers that Winnie the Pooh greatly coveted.  Undoubtedly, a good choice for those pipe wielders who enjoy the tactile and sensory connection with the briar.  Overall, it looked like it would fit well in a new steward’s palm.  Information about the pipe was scant from the eBay seller, as is usually the case: Selection from Italy, was all.  The eBay pictures describe some of the strengths and needs of this beehive rustified bent billiard:rialto1 rialto2 rialto3 rialto4When I retrieved the pipe from the ‘Help me!’ basket and put it on my work table here in Sofia, Bulgaria, I took some additional pictures to fill the gaps and show some problem areas.  The rim of the bee hive bowl shows significant wear and some chips out of the briar.  The immediate question in my mind is, can the chips be repaired to maintain the rustified rim and the tight bowl crown or will I need to top the rim and loose some valuable real estate in the process of its repair?  AND to re-rustify the rim – a first for me.  The inner bowl appears to be in good shape – mild cake but I will ream it and bring it down to briar for a fresh start.  The stummel needs a thorough cleaning of the rustified mountains and valleys.  The bent stem is in good shape – mild oxidation and tooth chatter around the bit.  With a closer look at the nomenclature on the lower shank I discover a marking that is barely perceptible and due to a rustification canyon dissecting the middle of the word, a letter is missing of what appears to be a 6-letter name: RIA_IO over SELECTION with ITALY off to the right side.  Since the pipe is from Italy, I searched and and could not identify an origin.  I went to Google Translate’s Italian to English tool and inserted every potential letter in the #4 slot and only came up with two cogent, Italian words: 1) Riario: The name of a prominent Italian family in the 1400s from Savona, near Genoa, which had special ties with and enjoyed the favor of Pope sixtus iv.  This does not seem to be too helpful in establishing the credentials of this pipe.  The only other translate nibble was: 2) Riadio, English: Radio.  Therefore, Radio over Selection?  Maybe.  Does anyone recognize this name: RIA_IO??rialto5 rialto6 rialto7 rialto8I take a second and third look at the rim damage and put the brain in gear to come up with a plan.  The first order of business is to plop the stem in the Oxy-Clean bath to raise the oxidation in the vulcanite.  Following this I will ream the bowl down to the briar and then clean the exterior of the rim and stummel to get a better look at the briar surface – the canyons and crevices in the rustification can hide a lot of crud.  We need to clean things up.  Using the Pipnet reaming kit I use the two smallest blades to navigate the narrow fire chamber.  After these blades, I fine-tune the ream using the Savinelli pipe knife.  Then, I roll up 240 grit paper around a dowel rod and sand the bowl from top to bottom.  Finally, I wipe the bowl down with a cotton pad and a bit of alcohol.  The picture shows the reaming tools.rialto9With undiluted Murphy’s Soap I go to work cleaning the rim and stummel surface.  I use a bristle tooth brush to do the job.  I’m careful to keep the internals dry during the wash.  After scrubbed, I rinse the stummel in warm tap water.rialto10What the clean-up reveals is a lot of work I did not see before.  I’ve never tried my hand at the rustification process, but I will need to do that to bring this pipe back to its original condition.  The upper front of the stummel is almost completely flattened and void of the rustification patterns.  It looks as if this section was dragged across the pavement and skinned up.  This skinned up damage goes right up to the rim as chunks of the briar are missing.  This pipe has taken quite a beating.  Even though it wasn’t my desire, I’ll need to top the bowl to remove as much damage as possible while maintaining shape integrity.  I’ll need to read up on rustification techniques and give it a go.  The only redeeming aspect of the front bowl skin up is that shadows of the former patterns are detectable which can be followed.  Bringing a new finish to the skinned patch, blending the colors too, will be a challenge.  The next pictures show the damage but also serve to be a record of the appearance of the rim when I try to imitate it. rialto11 rialto12I begin this daunting project by topping the rim using a chopping board and 240 grit sanding paper.  I’m careful to let the inverted stummel ‘free stand’ to make sure I’m getting a level top.  I rotate the inverted stummel in a circular motion checking my progress often – I don’t want to take off more than is necessary. I’m careful to keep an eye on the full bend shank as well – there’s not a lot of clearance.  The rim does not need to be totally topped smooth because I will be re-applying rustification yet the topping restores a foundation of healthy briar.  rialto13 rialto14I need to reestablish the rustification patterns in the damaged area.  I’ve read about this but there’s nothing like doing….  I’ve chosen different Dremel wood chiseling tools which I hope will emulate the patterns already in place on the beehive bowl.  Easy does it!  Patience!  Prayer! The following pictures chronicle my slow, experimental approach reestablishing the rustification in this worthy pipe.rialto15 rialto16 rialto17 rialto18 rialto19 rialto20 rialto21 rialto22 rialto23Regarding the hurdle of refinishing the stummel surface in a way that hopefully blends with the native scheme, was a question that required a better mind than what I could bring to bear – an email off to Steve would hopefully remedy this novice’s paralysis.  While waiting for a reply from Steve in Canada, I went to work on the clean-up of the stem and stummel internals.  Fishing the stem out of the Oxy-Clean bath, I sanded the raised, classic olive green oxidation with 600 grit paper then with 0000 steel wool.  Now for the internals.  I use Q-tips and alcohol to run through the stem making sure that the primary gunk was moved.  I did the same with the stummel – it took some time to open the airway with pipe cleaners.  To loosen the clogging, I poured some isopropyl 95% down the mortise to let it soak.  I also gently employed a short piece of cut hanger to help push through the gunk.  With airway open, I reunite stummel and stem and utilize the retort to clean the internals.  After the retort did its work, I finish the internal cleaning job with Q-tips and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl.  The internals are clean!  The pictures show the progress.rialto24 rialto25 rialto26 rialto27The bit area of the stem is not in bad condition.  I use the heat of a candle to help raise the tooth dent on the lower bit and sand upper and lower with 240 grit paper to work out the very light chatter.  I redefine the button lips with a flat needle file. rialto28 rialto29 rialto30I continue with the micromesh phase of the stem restoration.  With micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 I wet sand followed by a coat of Obsidian Oil.  Then with micromesh pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000 I dry sand, following each set with an application of Obsidian Oil. The pictures show the progress.  I love the wet ‘pop’ look on polished vulcanite!rialto31 rialto32Steve’s email arrived and the plan is set.  Using Oxblood Leather Dye, I first stain the peaks of the rustified bare briar.  I use a folded pipe cleaner to apply the dye.  I also apply it to the rim – a splotch there and a splotch there – trying to vary the application.  I lightly flame the Oxblood to set it in the grain.  Then, taking a Sharpie black pen point, I highlight the deep crevices of the rustification and mark here and there on the rim – seeking to be random.  After this, I used Fiebing’s Dark Brown Dye and applied it over the entire repair area and the rim.  I lightly flamed it and then lightly rubbed the surface with a cotton cloth to soften the look.  Finally, I took a cotton pad with some alcohol – not much, and lightly rubbed the peaks of the rustification to release the Oxblood.  The result was not exactly emulating the red flecks over the stummel, but I grew to like the subtler interpretation of the new finish in contrast with the original.  I’m pleased with the finish.  The pictures tell the story.rialto33 rialto34 rialto35 rialto36 rialto37 rialto38The home stretch.  I apply Museum Wax to the stummel and buff it with a shoe brush to protect the rustification and bring out a nice shine.  Reattaching the stem, I apply coats of carnauba wax with the Dremel wheel to shine and protect the stem.  I know that carnauba is usually not applied to a rustified bowl but since I was using the Dremel wheel, I gave it a go.  I really liked the results.  I could angle and maneuver the wheel to work the carnauba over the rustified surface and I could easily detect the movement of the wax as I pushed it around with the Dremel wheel. It shined the stummel nicely.  I completed this project with a rigorous buff with a micromesh cloth.

I like the rugged looks and feel of this large fully bent bee hive billiard from Italy.  It fits the palm well!  I hope that it finds a good home with someone soon!  Thanks for joining me!rialto39 rialto40 rialto41 rialto42 rialto43 rialto44 rialto45 rialto46 rialto47 rialto48 rialto49

A Stanwell Danish Star 64

Blog by Steve Laug

My brother sent me a nice looking Stanwell shape 64 with a nice plateau top. The briar itself was in good shape. There were no dents of nicks in the briar. The finish was in great shape. The rim was decent but the plateau was clean and in decent shape. The high spots were the same brown as the bowl and the nooks and crannies were dark brown or black. It was stamped on the left side of the stem with the words Stanwell over Danish Star. On the right side it was stamped with the shape number 64. On the underside of the shank it is stamped Made in Denmark. The stem was lightly oxidized and there were tooth marks on the top and underside near the button. The bite marks on the underside were deep but the ones on the topside was a bite through into the airway.danish1 danish2I took a close up photo of the top of the bowl. It shows the grooves, crevices and the high spots on the plateau top. It was dirty and there was dust in the grooves of the rim.danish3I took close up photos of the stem to show the condition of the top and bottom side of the stem. The photo of the top shows the bite through and the tooth marks that were further down the stem top. The photo of the underside shows the tooth marks there as well. The tooth marks were deep and large. There were also bite marks on the top and the bottom of the button.danish4I sanded the surfaces of the stem and cleaned out the dents in the surface with alcohol and cotton swabs. I greased a pipe cleaner with Vaseline and inserted it into the airway of the stem. I mixed a putty of charcoal powder and black super glue with a piece of straightened paper clips. I filled in the bite through with putty and the paper clip until it was thickly covered. I filled in the dents in the surface of the stem and built up the worn spots on the button edge. I sprayed the repairs with the accelerator to harden the repair.danish5 danish6 danish7When the glue had hardened and cured I used a file to smooth out the repaired spots on both sides of the stem.danish8I sanded the repaired areas with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface and remove the scratches left by the file. It took some time but I was able to sand out the scratches.danish9I filled in some of the air holes in the repair with clear super glue and sanded the surface with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the stem.danish10I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set aside to dry.danish11 danish12 danish13The plateau top was in great shape. I used a black Sharpie pen to highlight the grooves and crevices in the rim top. I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to raise a shine and remove the last of the scratches on the vulcanite. I buffed the bowl surface to polish out the light scratches in the briar. The Blue Diamond gave the finish on both the bowl and the stem a high shine. I gave the pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The colour of the stain on the pipe really makes the grain stand out clearly on the pipe. Thanks for having a look.danish14 danish15 danish16 danish17 danish18 danish19 danish20 danish21

Calabash No Name from eBay

Blog by Dal Stanton

After celebrating our daughter’s wedding and family reunion in the US and returning to Bulgaria, I was anxious to begin a new restoration.  While in the US, I added a few pipes to the pool when my wife and I stopped at an antique store advertised on an interstate billboard between Nashville and Chattanooga – this story for the future.   I’ve developed a bit of an eBay purchases trove and I found in the ‘Help Me!’ basket what I believe is a Calabash shaped unmarked briar from a seller in New Mexico.  I was drawn by the shape and the lateral movement of grain – a very nice looking piece of briar with great potential.  I wasn’t sure on the shape and checked out Pipedia’s Pipe Shapes Chart (Link) and Calabash seems to be the best fit – please let me know if I missed!  The seller’s pictures provided a descent chronicle of the pipe’s strengths and needs.cal1 cal2 cal3The pictures reveal stummel externals in very good shape except for heavy oil and lava overflow on the rim.  The stem is heavily oxidized and has a tooth hole on the underside of the bit – definitely an eye tooth hanger!  Both upper and lower button areas have teeth bites and significant chatter.  The button lip will also need smoothing and redefinition.  By the looks of this pipe, it was someone’s well-loved and used partner in life.  When I put the Calabash on my worktable I take some additional close-ups to focus on the problem areas and I take a closer look.  In the bowl, I discover what appear to be cracks in the briar in the front and backsides.  At this point, I’m not sure if this is only superficial within the cake or if it presents other problems.  I also take a closer look at the stem hole after inserting a pipe cleaner.cal4 cal5 cal6Before I can make a clear assessment of the bowl and the cracks, I decide first to ream the bowl with the Pipnet reaming kit to reveal the wall’s condition and to clean up the rim.  I also remove the stem and plop it in a bath of Oxy-Clean to begin softening the heavy oxidation in the vulcanite.  I use 3 of the 4 blades available in the Pipnet kit.  The cake was light.  I finish the reaming process using the Savinelli pipe knife and clean the walls by sanding with 240 grit paper pinched with the Savinelli knife.cal7 inspect the cracks in the bowl and decide to shoot a question off and some pics to Steve to get his input.  I then use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and clean the stummel surface with cotton pads. In addition, to remove the thick lava on the rim, I utilize a brass brush which will not scratch the wood.cal8 cal9Putting the stummel aside, I retrieve the stem from the Oxyclean bath and wet sand the raised oxidation with 600 grit paper and follow dry sanding with 0000 steel wool.  In anticipation of working on the patch for the tooth hole I want to clean the internals of the stem.  I use several pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95% and things are cleaning up well.cal10With the stem cleaned up from I move to repair the tooth hole.  This is a first time for me so I fill my mental cup reading several different blogs regarding hole repair and techniques.  One of the necessary ingredients for a repair is activated charcoal powder mixed with superglue to create a putty for the hole patch.  Living in Bulgaria, I was not able locate activated charcoal in powder state but we do have pet stores and we do have aquariums which require charcoal for the filtering system.  The problem is that this charcoal comes in a granulated form.  This problem was solved with a technique and tool going back some millennia with the use of a pestle and mortar.  I pictured a comparison of before and after below.  My only concern is that the charcoal powder I am producing with the pestle and mortar is fine enough to form a smooth blended patch.  We will see.cal11With activated charcoal powder now in hand, I take another close-up of the damaged bit.  To provide a good bond between the patch and vulcanite I score and roughen the area with 240 grit sanding paper, working the paper around the hole and to loosen and remove debris in the hole itself.  I follow that with a Q-tip cleaning dipped in alcohol.  I want the area clean.  I cut a piece of an index card, fold it into a hard point that will fit in the button and wrap the end with tape and then put Vaseline over it to assure that the patch has a solid surface underneath so putty doesn’t leak into the airway and will easily slide out after the patch sets. I pour a small mound of charcoal on an index card then I drip a small puddle of Starbond Black Medium KE-150 glue next to the charcoal.  Using a toothpick, I begin to mix the glue and charcoal a bit at a time so that I can judge the viscosity of the emerging putty – I’m aiming for a honey-like thickness.  When the putty begins to thicken as I add charcoal, I arrive at what I hope is the accurate brew!  Using the toothpick as a trowel, I apply charcoal putty to the hole, tamping each application and making sure I reach the depths of the hole and over-cover the damaged area building a bit of a mound.  After the patch cures, I will remove the excess putty.  I’ll give it a full 48 hours before continuing the work to assure the patch is solid and good for years to come.  After the patch sets a bit, I flip the stem and apply drops of Starbond Black Medium KE-150 to the tooth dents on the upper bit area.  The pictures show the progress.cal12 cal13 cal14With the stem patches curing I return to the stummel.  Steve’s email arrived with his reply to my questions about dealing with the cracks in the inner bowl.  He described his method of applying a paste made from a mixture of cigar ash and water to the cracks and bowl wall.  Yes, I remember previously reading about this in one of his restores!  This will come later after I’m able to collect some cigar ash – Cubans are readily available in Bulgaria.  I want high quality ash!  I take another close-up of the stummel as I re-inspect the surface.  I find one small crevice which I will fill with clear super-glue.  First, using a cotton pad I clean the surface of the stummel with acetone to remove any residual finish.  I then apply a drop of super glue on the small crevice above the shank junction and put the stummel down for the night to let the superglue fill to cure.cal15 cal16The next day, ready to move forward, I strategically sand down the superglue fill with 240 grit paper removing the excess glue bringing the patch down to the briar surface assuring a good blend.cal17When I think of the classic Calabash look, the stummel shape is crowned with a distinct cap.  To enhance this look and to remove some damaged, colored briar around the inner rim, I want to enhance and augment the bevel already present.  Using a coarser 120 grit paper tightly rolled, I cut the fresh bevel then I follow using a rolled-up piece of 240 grit paper to smooth the new bevel.  Pictures show the progress.cal18 cal19Before continuing with the rim repair and the stummel finish, I want to clean the stummel internals with a retort but I’ll need to return to the stem bit repair and do the sanding on the patches first.  The retort’s rubber hose will not expand enough to attach directly to the shank so I need to utilize the stem.  I am anxious to see how my first attempt at a hole repair faired.  Utilizing a flat needle file and 240 grit paper I sand the patch down to the stem surface. The patch is blending well but I detect very small, what I assume are air pockets, emerge during the sanding.  From my reading, I found that this is normal, but these appear to be too small to treat with a bit of superglue. I’ll keep my eye on this during the stem finishing phase.  On the upper bit, I also sand the superglue patches of the tooth dents to the stem surface with 240 grit paper.  With a needle file, I redefine the button lip a bit smoothing out where there were tooth bites.  The pictures show the progress on both the underside and the upperside of the bit – I’m liking what I see.cal19a cal20I don’t want to proceed any further until cleaning the internals of the stummel.  I will use the retort to accomplish this.  With cotton ball in the bowl, alcohol boiling in the test tube I begin the process.  I take a couple of shots of the progressive dirtying of the alcohol.  I forgot to take the final where the used alcohol was almost clear.  After the pipe cools from the retort, I remove the stem and finish the internal cleaning with some Q-tips and pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol 95%.   Internals are clean!cal21 cal22 cal23Turning again to the stem, I begin the micromesh process.  I wet sand with micromesh pads 1500 to 2400. Before applying Obsidian Oil, I want to take a close look at the tooth hole patch on the underside of the bit.  I’m not happy with what I find. With the first set of micromesh sanding pads the pocketing in the patch is more pronounced.  Air pockets?  Or, perhaps my charcoal powder was too coarse?  I’m not satisfied with these results so, even though it is a detour, I want to try to rectify the problem.  I apply a thin coat of CA Instant Glue over the area.  I’m hoping that the glue will fill the pocket and allow a smoother surface to emerge – enhancing the blend with the native vulcanite.  I clean the area with a bit of alcohol on a cotton pad then I apply the CA Glue.  I’m hopeful that this will do the trick.cal24Turning now to the stummel externals, I first use a medium and then a light grade sanding sponge, focusing on the rim to work out pits and roughness left over from the lava clean up.  Following the sanding sponges, I wet sand the stummel using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, then dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  As I watched the beauty of the grain emerge, I made the decision not to apply a stain but to keep the natural briar – a rich, thick, swirl of honey.  This no name Calabash is dressing up nicely.cal25 cal26Time to return to the stem and complete the lower bit tooth hole patch and to prepare the stem for the waiting bowl.  I ‘gently’ approach the sanding with 240 grit paper to lightly smooth the re-superglued patch down to the stem surface.  The ‘gentleness’ is due to not wanting to sand deeper than the reapplication, increasing the potential of uncovering new pockets.  I also again apply the flat needle file to define the lower button lip and then remove the file marks with the 240 grit paper.  I follow with 600 grit sanding paper and finally, I finish with 0000 steel wool.  I think the hole patch is improved and now I’ll trust the rest of the finishing and polishing process to blend the patch as much as possible.  In the picture below one can still detect the patch boundaries but the surface is much smoother.cal27With tooth hole charcoal superglue putty patch officially completed, I restart the micromesh sanding process by wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400 followed by an application of Obsidian Oil to absorb into the vulcanite surface. Then dry sanding with micromesh pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000, completing each set with an application of Obsidian Oil.  The pictures show the progress.  The last picture in this set I flip the stem to show the hole repair.  I think it’s ok, and as they say, “It is what it is.”cal28 cal29I have two mini-projects left before I begin the final polishing and waxing processes with the Dremel.  I want to dress up this ‘No Name’ Calabash with a band.  The beauty of this pipe emerged along the way and the classy Calabash shape just cries out, “Band!”  So, band it is.  I think it will look great.  The other project is to fill the cracks in the bowl with ‘Pipe Mud’ per Steve’s email response to my questions earlier in the restoration. I recalled reading about ‘Pipe Mud’ before and it didn’t take long to find it in the vast archives.  Steve’s tutorial was helpful and to the point by point as usual (See: Link), but also of value for newbies to the hobby are the comments following – more links and practices to add to the mix!

Gary, my friend and colleague who lives in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, happily responded to my plea for ‘quality’ cigar ash.  I am now in possession of ash the byproduct of 2 Cubans – the second of which he smoked with me Thanksgiving Day evening as we gathered to celebrate together in Sofia – I smoked my favorite black Cavendish blend, Lane BCA, in the pipe I call, Ole Pot.  I take a couple close-ups to get a look at the cracks in the bowl. I’m not sure the source of these crevices but they appear to be grouped mid-way down the bowl both in the front and back of the bowl wall.  On a hunch, I look at the exterior and I think my hunch is correct.  The grain of the stummel moves horizontally though the bowl.  When I look at the front and back of the external grain patterns, I find birds eye grain pattern – which represent the cut through, perpendicular perspective of the grain.  The sides of the stummel reveal the side of the grain – the horizontal flow.  So, these cracks appear to me to be the grain splitting – it appears like dry split wood.  Not sure ‘why?’ but this is my theory.  The third and fourth pictures below show the external theory:cal30 cal31First, to prepare to make the pipe mud, I take the Cuban ash and crush it with the end of a pipe nail.  With tweezers, I picked out debris and make sure there are no large chunks.  The gray powder in the pictures is the aim.cal32Next, I use a dental probe to dig a bit in the cracks to make sure there is no loose debris.  Then I take a few bent pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl and clean the bowl wall.  I put the ash in a shot glass and slowly add water with an eyedropper and mix the mud with the pipe nail.  When the consistency of the mud is like paste, I use a bent pipe cleaner to paint the mud on the wall – careful to tamp in to fill the crevices.  I keep an eye on the areas with crevices as the mud dries in the bowl, making sure that it doesn’t shrink, but remains even with the bowl wall – as Steve’s tutorial instructed.  In about a half hour the mud is dry and forms a pretty hard surface.  The pipe mud will form a foundation for a cake to develop which provides a protective layer for the briar.  Until this happens, care is given to not ream or aggressively scrape the bowl wall.   The pictures show the progress.cal33The next project is adding a band to dress up the No Name Calabash – a touch of class.  The shank diameter is 17.5 millimeters in diameter and I fish out a 17.5 band to match the diameter.  Some months ago, I purchased an assortment of bands to have on hand from J. H. Lowe’s online store.   I’ve done one band previous to this, my first restoration which Steve published on rebornpipes (A Newbie Restore of a Dr. Plumb 9456) which went well.  The mantra I remember from Steve’s tutorial on banding (Link) was the need for patience in applying heat and micro-inching the band up the shank – a hot band could tear if forced to quickly. I set up a handy work station on a solid wooden stool that I can straddle.  I fold a towel and place it over a chopping block to provide a firm, but soft foundation to use as I press the stummel inching the heated band up the shank.  My air gun fits nicely on the platform as well.  About 1/10th of the band fit over the end of the shank at the beginning.  I heat the band rotating it, careful not to burn the wood then put it to the toweled surface and press – firmly but only a bit.  Repeating the process several times.  The pictures below show this.  The last in the set shows the progress of the band’s movement up the shank – almost home!cal34 cal35It was going so well, until it wasn’t!  With millimeters left before the band was flush with the shank, a press against the surface caused a portion of the band to crimp (pictured).  This was not part of the plan.  Different possible scenarios fill my mind for next steps to try to back out of the situation and to salvage the banding project.  I’m concerned that the band has torn at one of the crimp points because I can detect a sharp edge to the touch.  Time for an ‘SOS’ message to Steve with the picture below.cal36Steve’s response was helpful – to heat the band as before and with a small flat screw driver, straighten out the crimping and then continue again with the heating and pressing to bring the end of the band flush with the shank.  The following pictures show the salvage operation.  I begin by heating and bringing the bent edge back out using a small flat head screw driver.  As this progressed, I improvised, using the round head of a pipe nail to help reestablish the round of the band by heating and placing the head in the lip of the band and rolling it like a wheel while rotating the stummel.  Once things start regaining normal, I use a needle file gently filing the edge to remove sharp splinters.  I also filed a bit on the external ‘pucker points’ that help reestablish roundness and a smoother surface, but not perfect.cal37 cal38 cal39As I return now to heating and pressing to complete mounting the band on the shank, my concern is the weakened area of the band will simply crimp again with the process.  I decide to heat the band up a bit more than I did before, hopefully to enable the band expansion more economically and to add more towel padding between the band and the hard surface below.  I return to heating and pressing and thankfully, the result is a seated band with a few battle scars along the way!cal40 cal41When I attempt to rejoin the stem and new banded stummel, I find that increased compression on the shank from the new band has created a tighter mortise/tenon fit.  To release some of the tightness of this fit I wrap the tenon with 240 grit paper and rotate it to reduce the size of the tenon but keep it in round.  I rotate and test the new fit several times until I get it right.  I don’t want to take too much off the tenon and have a loose fit.  I get my first look at the reunited stummel and stem and I like what is before me! I take a close-up on the underside of the shank to show the area of the band crimp and repair.  I’m satisfied now with the repair job; I will see if I can improve it through the polishing process.cal42 cal43Now the fun begins!  With stem and stummel united, I begin the polishing phase using Tripoli over stummel and band.  I mount the Tripoli wheel in the Dremel’s hand-held extender and power it up at the lowest setting (RPMs) and after purging the wheel with the tightening tool, I light tap the wheel on the Tripoli bar and apply it to the surface.  With all the compounds, I do not apply too much vertical pressure to the wheel but allow the speed of the Dremel and compound to do the work.  After the Tripoli, I switch to the Blue Diamond wheel and repeat the process above but include the stem as well as stummel and band.  After this, I give the pipe a good rub down to remove powder left over from the compounds.  With the carnauba wheel mounted (after purging) I apply several applications of carnauba wax then change the Dremel to a clean wheel and buff the entire stem and stummel.   I complete the polishing with a brisk buff with a micromesh cloth to bring out the depth of the briar even more.

I learned three new skills to put in my tool box – making and applying Pipe Mud, rescuing a botched band mounting, and repairing a tooth hole using a charcoal super glue putty.  Not bad.  I’m very pleased with this ‘No Name Calabash’.  The honey-colored briar is stunning as it flows through the stummel – the depth of the grain almost appears 3-dimensional.  The band is a nice addition – it dresses it up, like putting on a tux. I trust that this pipe finds a good home.  Thank you for joining me!cal44 cal45 cal46 cal47 cal48 cal49 cal50 cal51