Working on Paresh’s Grandfather’s Barling’s Make Ye Olde Wood Fossil 271


Blog by Steve Laug

As I mentioned in my previous blog, Paresh, my friend in India reached out to me over Whatsapp to talk about a few more of his Grandfather’s pipes. He was confident in working on many of them but there were a few that he wanted me to try my hand on. His wife Abha would ream and clean them for me so I would be able to start with a relatively clean pipe. The third pipe was a sandblast Barling’s Make billiard with a vulcanite stem. It was another pipe that was in rough condition when Paresh and Abha started working on it. They reamed the thick hard cake with a KleenReem pipe reamer and clean up the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap. They also cleaned the interior with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. The pipe was in very rough condition. There were cracks in the bowl on the front and the left side. The rim was beat up and out of round. It had been reamed with a knife sometime in its life. The stamping on the underside of the bowl and shank read Barling’s in an arch over Make over Ye Olde Wood. Next to that was the shape number 271. Further down the flattened shank it was stamped with an EL followed by Made In England, Fossil and T.V.F. The stem was lightly oxidized and had some tooth chatter and marks on both sides. It had a faint Barling’s cross logo on the top. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition when it arrived. I took some close up photos of the damage on the bowl to give a better idea of what I was working with on this pipe. The rim top was a real mess with nicks, chips and damage under a coat of tars. The bowl was out of round but workable. There were two cracked areas – one on the front of the bowl from the rim down and one on the left side from the rim down. Paresh and Abha had reamed the bowl for me so the inside was quite clean. The stem was in pretty decent shape with a few tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem near the button and some oxidation. The bowl was a real mess and it would be a challenge. I took photos of the stamping on the underside of the shank. As noted above it reads Barling’s in and arch over Make and the Ye Olde Wood over 271 on the bottom of the bowl. The shank is stamped EL followed by Made in England, Fossil and T.V.F.I decided to clean up the remaining thin cake in the bowl to get back to bare briar. I wanted to see the extent of the damage on the walls of the bowl interior before I addressed the damage on the outside of the bowl. I used a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to scrape away the remaining cake. Once it was clean, I sanded the inside of the bowl with a piece of dowel wrapped with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the bowl walls and the inner edge of the rim.To clean up the rim top and remove the serious damage on that portion of the pipe I topped it with 220 grit sandpaper on a topping board. I remove the damage portion and flattened the top of the rim. I would need to repair the cracks in the rim top and then rusticated it to match the finish on the bowl.I wiped down the surface of the briar with alcohol on a cotton pad to clean off the grime. I drilled tiny pin holes at the end of each crack on the exterior of the bowl in hopes of stopping the spread of the crack. I filled in the damaged areas around the bowl and on the rim with briar dust and clear super glue. At this point in the process the repairs appear quite crude. Lots of work still remains to blend them into the sandblast finish of the bowl. I used a brass bristle tire brush to work over the repaired areas on the front and side of the bowl. I wanted to clean up the rough edges of the repair and try to blend it into the finish around it. The bristles are stiff enough to remove the edges and I think works well to blend it into the surface of the surrounding sandblast. I lightly topped the bowl again to smooth out the roughness of the repairs on the rim surface.I used some small burrs on my Dremel running at a slow speed of 5 to try to recreate the look of the sandblast on the rim top. It took a bit of doing but I think it gives the rim top a better look than the smooth finish. I blended a walnut and a Maple stain pen to approximate the mottled finish on the rest of the bowl. It worked pretty well I think. I will show full photos shortly. To fill in the cracks on the inside of the bowl and to protect it from burn out or further cracking I mixed up some JB Weld. It dries hard, is heat resistant and when dry is inert and does not gas off or breakdown (according to all I have been able to read). I used a dental spatula to apply it to the inside of the bowl. Once it cures for a day I will sand it out and remove the majority of it other than what will remain in the damaged areas. I wiped off the rim top with a cotton pad and alcohol to remove the small drops of JB Weld that were on the surface and restained the rim top and the repaired areas on the side and front of the bowl. I will still need to buff the bowl and wax it but it is getting very close to the look I am aiming for with this repair. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the grooves and crevices of the sandblast finish with my fingers and a horsehair shoe brush. I want the product to go deep into the finish because it works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. Once I was confident that it was deeply worked into the blast I wiped it off and buffed it with a soft cloth to polish it. The pipe really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I set the bowl aside and went to work on the stem. I cleaned the inside of the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol. Once the stem was clean I checked it with a light for more potential problems inside. It was clear and spotless. I sanded the stem surface with worn 220 grit sandpaper to break up the oxidation (carefully avoiding the stamping on the top of the saddle).I filled in the tooth dent on the top of the button on the top side of the stem and the two tooth dents on the underside with clear super glue.Once the glue hardened and cured I filed the repairs flat and reshaped the button with 220 grit sandpaper. I worked over the surface of the stem again with the sandpaper to blend in the repairs.I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I rubbed the stem down with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to polish out the scratches. I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I avoided the stamping on the top of the saddle. There is still some oxidation there that I left because I did not want to damage the stamp. It is a nice looking stem nonetheless. I carefully polished bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and lightly buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The transparent mixed brown stain worked really well with the black vulcanite stem. The sandblast finish looked really good. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outer diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inches. This is the third of the three of Paresh’s Grandfather’s pipes that he sent me to finish. I will pack the pipes up and send them back to India this week after I give the bowl a bowl coating. I look forward to hearing what he thinks of them once he gets to load them with his favourite tobacco and carry on the pipe man’s legacy of his Grandfather. Thanks for walking through this restoration with me as I worked over this beauty. 

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Working on Paresh’s Grandfather’s Linkman’s Zulu


Blog by Steve Laug

As I mentioned in my previous blog, Paresh, my friend in India reached out to me over Whatsapp to talk about a few more of his Grandfather’s pipes. He was confident in working on many of them but there were a few that he wanted me to try my hand on. His wife Abha would ream and clean them for me so I would be able to start with a relatively clean pipe. The second pipe was a Linkman Zulu with a vulcanite stem. It was in rough condition when Paresh and Abha started working on it. They reamed the thick hard cake with a KleenReem pipe reamer and clean up the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap. They also cleaned the interior with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. The pipe was in very rough condition. The sides of the bowl, the rim top had been beaten up heavily. There were gouges all over the sides and rim top of the bowl. It was a mess and it was very dirty. The stamping on the shank read Linkman’s over Dr Grabow with a silver shield next to the stem/shank junction. On the underside of the shank it was stamped De Luxe over Bruyere with a shape number 9700. On the left side of the shank it was stamped PAT. No. 1896800. The stem was oxidized but in decent condition. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition when it arrived. The tenon is the patented threaded Linkman shovel stinger apparatus. It is a single unit rather than an inserted stinger as in later models. The top of the stem has a Linkman propeller logo.I took some close up photos of the damage on the bowl to give a better idea of what I was working with on this pipe. The rim top was a real mess with nicks, chips and damage under a coat of tars. Paresh and Abha had left the cake in the bowl to me to work on because of the other damage to the pipe. The stem was in pretty decent shape with a few tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem near the button and some oxidation. The bowl was a real mess and it would be a challenge. I took photos of the stamping on the top, bottom and left side of the shank.I checked some of my usual sources to get some information on the brand and how it fit into the Linkman/Grabow hierarchy. The first link I checked was the Pipephil logos and stampings site. I include the link as follows http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-l4.html. I quote as follows.

The M. Linkman and Co. was established by Louis B. Linkman and August Fisher in 1898. The company closed down in the 1950s and the Dr Grabow branch was sold to Henry Leonard and Thomas Inc.

I then went to the Pipedia website to get some more details and information. There was also a photo of Linkman that I thought added a nice touch to the work I was going to do on this pipe. Here is the link from the site if you want to check it out in full. https://pipedia.org/wiki/M._Linkman_%26_Co.

The name is often said to stand for Mary Linkman & Company. Mary Linkman was the mother of Louis B. Linkman, originator of the Dr. Grabow pipe. This Chicago company produced meerschaums and briars both.

BACK IN 1898, two ambitious young men reached the momentous decision to go into business for themselves. They were Louis B. Linkman and August Fisher. From the time they were in knee pants they had worked for a pipe jobber in the mid-west.

Diligently saving a portion of their earnings, they accumulated a few hundred dollars, and in 1898 formed a partnership under the name of M. Linkman & Company. They opened a small shop on Lake Street, Chicago, employed two additional people, and started to manufacture pipes. {The article never mentions what the “M” stood for, or the reason for the name chosen.}

In 1890 {? — 1899, perhaps?} another young man, Anton Burger, who had also been employed by a pipe jobber in the mid-west, approached them and was taken in as a partner. M. Linkman & Company proceeded as a partnership; the business developed rapidly through the untiring efforts of these men in producing quality pipes and rendering good service to their customers.

The business continued to grow, and in 1907 M. Linkman & Company was incorporated with Louis B. Linkman as president, August Fisher, vice-president, and Anton Burger, secretary and treasurer. In 1914, Richard J. Dean, who had joined the firm in 1911 was appointed general sales manager.

The business was growing and expanding rapidly, and the executives soon realized the quarters in the Wells Street Bridge Building were inadequate, so in 1922 Linkman built a modern three-story reinforced concrete building at the corner of Fullerton Avenue and Racine, housing one of the most complete and modern pipe plants in America.

I finished by doing a Google search to find the US Patent Search site so that I could see if there was a patent document on file there for this patent number. http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/srchnum.htm. I entered the patent number and found a patent filed by L.B. Linkman for the pipe on April 11, 1932 and granted on February 7, 1933. I include that below. I decided to clean up the bowl interior before I addressed the damage on the outside of the bowl. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer starting with the smallest cutting head and working up to the second head which was the same size as the bowl. I reamed the cake back to bare briar to see if there was any internal damage to the bowl. I sanded the inside of the bowl with a piece of dowel wrapped with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the bowl walls and the inner edge of the rim. I sanded the rim top with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the damage and reshape the inward bevel on the rim. I wiped down the surface of the briar with alcohol on a cotton pad to clean off the grime. I filled in the damaged areas around the bowl and on the rim with briar dust and clear super glue. I sprayed it with an accelerator (that is why it appears white in the following photos). The extent of the damage is very clear in the photos below. I started to sand the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper to begin to smooth out the repairs. It would take a lot of sanding to smooth out the filled areas. The patches were rock hard. The photos that follow show the progress of the sanding. I polished the sanded briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cotton pad after each sanding pad. The briar took on a shine and the filled spots though dark were better than all of the damage present before. To help hide the repairs on the bowl I decided to stain it with a dark brown aniline stain. I applied the stain with a folded thick pipe cleaner, flamed it and repeated the process until I was pleased with the coverage on the bowl. The photos below tell the story. Once the stain had dried, I wiped the bowl down with alcohol to make it a bit more transparent without making the repairs stand out. It is a tricky balance to work out as too much transparency reveals all of the blemishes while not enough makes it opaque and lacklustre. Once I polish the pipe I will know if I did enough or too much… time will tell. I forgot to take a photo of the stem before I put it in the Before & After Deoxidizer overnight and forgot about it. Today after lunch I remembered it and took it out of the mix. I wiped off the excess and ran it under warm water to rinse off the mixture. I was unable to run water through the stem so I dried it off to have a look. It looked better but it was absolutely plugged tight. That generally means there is something like a pipe cleaner broken in the stem but I would need to take it apart to tell for sure.I tried several different ways of opening the airway. I tried to push stiff pipe cleaners through the stem from the button. By measuring the length of the pipe cleaner with the stem I could see that the blockage was in the stinger itself. I tried pushing a straightened paper clip through the blockage from both ends – the button and the airway in the stinger. Nothing worked. I heated the stinger and tried again with the paper clip and again no luck. It was time to move forward. I heated the stinger with a lighter to loosen the tars holding it in place. Since it was a 1930 era pipe I figured it would be a threaded end the stem. Sure enough, once it was heated I unscrewed from the stem.

The photo below shows the culprit – a really stinky broken off pipe cleaner jammed in the stinger. The pipe cleaner was almost the length of the stem as well so it was clear that I was merely sliding by the jam with the stinger in place. With a pipe cleaner that old and worn I was worried I would just break off more in the stinger. I heated the stinger with the lighter and then carefully wiggled the pipe cleaner free of the stinger. The second photo shows the culprit freed from the stinger. You can also see that some of the fluff on the cleaner had come off inside the stinger and left it plugged. I could still not blow air through the stinger. (I have circled the ‘fluffless’ pipe cleaner end in the second photo below.)I tried to push through the clog with the paper clip pictured above, twisting it into the threaded end but was not able to break through. That left only one option for me. I chucked a 1/16 inch drill bit in my Dremel, set the speed to 5 and slowly worked my way through the rock hard plug. It took some doing to work it through the plug but I worked it back and forth until the airway was clean and I could blow air through it. I ran pipe cleaners soaked in alcohol back and forth through the stinger and removed all of the grit and tar that had built up around the plug. It was pretty nasty stuff. But after it was said and done I had a clear and clean stinger. I cleaned out the inside of the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. Once the stem was clean I checked it with a light for more potential problems inside. It was clear and spotless.I lightly greased the threads on the stinger and turned it back into the cleaned stem. I aligned it with the mortise in the shank. The stem was getting there. I still needed to work on some oxidation but it looked a lot better and I could blow through it easily. I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. (I polished the metal stinger as well at the same time.) I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. After staining the briar and wiping it down with alcohol, I touched up the repaired areas with a Black Sharpie Pen and blended in by rubbing it. I have been using Before & After Restoration Balm after staining to further blend and clean the briar. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers, working it into the exterior of the pipe. I wiped it off and buffed it with a soft cloth to polish it. The pipe really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I carefully polished bowl with 3200-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I polished the stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and lightly buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The transparent dark brownish red stain worked really well with the black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outer diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inches. This is the second of the three of Paresh’s Grandfather’s pipes that he sent me to finish. I will set it aside and when the others are finished I will pack them up and send them back to India. I look forward to hearing what he thinks of it once he gets to load it with his favourite tobacco and carry on the pipe man’s legacy of his Grandfather. Thanks for walking through this restoration with me as I worked over this beauty. 

Working on another of Paresh’s Grandfather’s pipes


Blog by Steve Laug

Paresh, my friend in India reached out to me over Whatsapp to talk about a few more of his Grandfather’s pipes. He was confident in working on many of them but there were a few that he wanted me to try my hand on. His wife Abha would ream and clean them for me so I would be able to start with a relatively clean pipe. The first of these was a beautiful older WDC Bulldog with an amber coloured Bakelite stem. It was in rough condition when Paresh and Abha started working on it. They reamed the thick hard cake with a KleenReem pipe reamer and clean up the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap. They also cleaned the interior with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. The rim top had a thick over flow of lava that hid the briar that Paresh topped to smooth out. There was some darkening to the rim top and down the sides of the bowl cap. The briar was very dirty. There was a gold stamped WDC triangle on the left side of the shank and a brass decorative band that was loose. The stem was a mess. There was a large chunk of the Bakelite missing on the underside and deep tooth marks on the top and underside near and on the surface of the button. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition when it arrived.You can see the work that Paresh and Abha had done to the rim top to clean it up and remove the damage. He had also worked over the inner edge of the bowl to smooth out the damage to the edge. You can also see the extensive damage to the stem in these photos.I took some close up photos of the bowl and stem to give a better idea of what I was working with on this pipe. The rim top was clean but there was darkening down the edges of the cap for about a quarter of an inch. The stem was a mess. Paresh had tried to repair the damage and tooth marks with some clear super glue that he picked up in India. He found that it was inferior and did not harden quickly. Once it did the repair tended to fall out. It was very frustrating. He was able to patch the tooth marks on the stem but not the missing chunk at the stem/shank union.The bowl was the easiest part of the restoration on this old pipe so I started there. I worked on the darkening along the top edge of the cap and was able to remove it with micromesh sanding pads. I used 1500-2400 grit pads to remove the damage and then polished it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cotton pad after each pad to check out the progress. I polished the rim top at the same time. The photos tell the story. With the rim darkening removed and the rim and cap polished it was time to touch up the stain to blend it into the rest of the bowl. I used a Mahogany stain pen and stained the cap and the rim top. The match was a little darker than I wanted and not as transparent either. I wetted a cotton pad with alcohol and wiped down the cap to blend the stain and make it more transparent. This did the trick and I was happy with the finished colour. The photos show the process. I slipped the loose brass shank cap/band off the shank and used a tooth pick to put some all-purpose glue around the shank end. I pressed the band in place on the shank and wiped off the excess glue that squeezed out with a damp cotton pad.The briar was clean but dried out and in need of some deep cleaning. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the briar bowl and shank. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers, working it into the exterior of the pipe. I wiped it off and buffed it with a soft cloth to polish it. The pipe really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I used a needle file to clean up the edges of the button on both sides. I also used the file to smooth out the repairs that Paresh had made to the tooth marks on the surface of the stem. He had done a good job and now it was time to blend them into the surface of the stem.I sanded the file marks out of the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper and blended the repairs into the surface of the stem. I filled in the missing chunk of Bakelite with multiple layers of amber super glue. I could have used clear glue but I had the amber around and it is a thicker product so it used it. I use layers so that the repair does not get to thick. It makes the drying time shorter and I think it gives a better bond.I laid the stem aside and went to bed. I touched up the final layer of glue in the morning and went to work. The stem had the entire day to cure. When I returned in the evening I sanded the repaired area with 220 grit sandpaper and reshaped the entire stem surface to make the flow of the taper correct. I would need to add some more glue to the patch but progress was being made. Slowly but surely I was conquering this repair.I touched up the glue repairs and wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I took the next two photos to send on Whatsapp to Paresh and Abha. The stem is looking really good. There is still a lot of polishing to do but it is getting there.I polished the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the scratches and polish the Bakelite.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I carefully polished stem and bowl with Blue Diamond (using a soft touch) to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I gave the stem several coats of Conservator’s Wax and hand buffed it with a soft cloth. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The transparent medium brownish red stain worked really well with the golden/amber Bakelite stem. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 4 3/4 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outer diameter of the bowl: 1 inch, Chamber diameter: ¾ inches. This is the first of three of Paresh’s Grandfather’s pipes that he sent me to finish. I will set it aside and when the others are finished I will pack them up and send them back to India. I look forward to hearing what he thinks of it once he gets to load it with his favourite tobacco and carry on the pipe man’s legacy of his Grandfather. Thanks for walking through this restoration with me as I worked over this beauty.

Another L. J. Peretti Oom Paul Sitter Recommissioned


Blog by Dal Stanton

I’m almost finished working through the Peretti Lot of 10 I acquired off the eBay auction block.  I’m amazed at the interest in these pipes since I posted a picture of the Peretti Lot on several of my favorite Facebook pipe groups.  I also enjoy posting on Instagram and Facebook giving updates of the restorations on my worktable here in Sofia, Bulgaria.  One of the best things I enjoy about ‘Pipedom’ and social media are the relationships developed around the world with pipe men and women whose love of pipes – their names and their histories, trust people like me who restore these friends enabling them to be passed on to the next generation of pipe men and women.  That’s why I named my pipe space, The Pipe Steward.  We are stewards when we understand that we don’t own, but we merely take care of something special for a time, add our histories then pass it on.  I met Tim via social media when I posted the picture below.  He was drawn to the Oom Pauls and commissioned one of the Sitters potentially to add to his already large collection – I see the plethora of posts and pipes he has on Instagram!  So, adding this Peretti Oom Paul Sitter to his collection is special and appreciated.  When one of my pipes is commissioned, the final decision to keep it is made after its restored and I publish the write up and a price is set.  So, Tim has first dibs on this Oom Paul Sitter when it goes to The Pipe Steward Store.  As with the other Perettis, this Sitter will benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria – our work here in Bulgaria helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.

Of the Peretti Lot of 10, there are two Oom Pauls yet to be restored that have been commissioned.  Two other pipes above are joining my collection of Perettis when I finally get to restoring them!  The Calabash on the top, left, and the COLOSSUS Billiard on the bottom.  The Oom Paul Sitter before me now is distinctive and stands out even in the picture above – bottom right.  The vertical straight flame grain is distinctive even in its present state.  Here are pictures chronicling the Oom Paul Sitter’s condition and challenges. The condition of this Sitter resembles all his brother Oom Pauls and the cousins.  The former steward of these Perettis seemed to have a scorched earth policy.  All of them, this one included, have thick cake in the chamber and thick, crusty lava flowing over the rim. As with the others, the left side of the rim has taken the brunt of the tobacco lighting and the briar is charcoal where the flame was pulled over the side, burning the rim.  The unfortunate result of this is that when the charred wood is cleaned away, the rim/bowl is thinner on that edge and therefore out of round.  The stummel surface is dirty but will clean up well showing the beautiful vertical grain.  I see no fills in this briar.  The stem carries with it the bites and dents that all the other Perettis received as well.  The stem is moderately oxidized and has a little calcification on the bit.  The one critical observation I have made about the Peretti Oom Pauls is that the drilling of the mortises for the tenon/stem fit hasn’t been the best.  This Sitter’s stem does not sit evenly with the shank.  The shank has a lip over the upper part of the saddle stem and the stem has a lip over the lower shank.  The drilling has left something to be desired!  The tenon fit is also loose. I have plenty of hurdles to address as this Oom Paul Sitter is recommissioned!

Beginning with the stem, it joins 4 other stems in a bath of Before and After Deoxidizer.  The stem soaks for several hours and when I fish it out, I let it drain and then wipe it down with cotton pads and light paraffin oil – this removes the Deoxidizer and the raised oxidation which wipes off as a very nasty brown.  The Deoxidizer has done a good job.Before proceeding further with the stem, I turn to the stummel cleanup.  I start by reaming the thick, crusted cake in the chamber.  Using my Pipnet Reaming Kit, I start with the smallest blade – first laying paper towel down to minimize cleanup!  I use 3 of the 4 blades available in the Pipnet Kit. The cake is hard causing the reaming tool to seize at times and I’m careful not bear down through stops in the turning of the blades but draw out the blades and go at it again.  I follow the Pipnet blades by employing the Savinelli Fitsall Tool which scrapes the walls more closely giving me more control.  I remove more cake on the top rim charring.  The goal is to find solid, healthy briar – which I do, but I can see the narrowing of the rim a bit due to the removal of the damaged wood. I then sand the chamber with 240 paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen to give leverage.  This process clears the remnants of carbon cake and brings out a freshened briar to allow the new steward to restart a proper cake development – the thickness of an American dime is sufficient and helpful to protect the briar.  Thicker than that and the carbon cake can damage the bowl as the cake heats and expands. Finally, I wipe the chamber with cotton pads wetted with isopropyl 95% – ridding the chamber of the carbon dust.The bottom of the picture below represents the left side of the stummel where the rim damage is greatest.  You can see the narrowing of the rim on the bottom (left) compared to the opposite side.Now to attack the lava flow on the rim and to clean the stummel surface.  I take a few pictures of the stummel grime to show the progress.  I’m looking forward to seeing what Murphy’s will do!  Using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap, I go to work using cotton pads.  I also use a brass brush on the rim – brass brushes do not scratch the wood.  The hard crust is not easily moved.  I use the Savinelli Fitsall tool’s flat straight edge and carefully scrape the crust off the rim.  After getting the rim and stummel as clean as I can, I rinse the stummel with cool tap water and wow!  I’m not disappointed.  The beauty of this block of briar is shouting from the housetop!  I’m liking this a lot.  The downside is the rim.  As with all the other brothers and cousins, this stummel will be topped to restore fresh briar to the rim.  I love doing ‘before & after’ comparisons.  Who says that a good cleaning doesn’t help!? Now, to clean the internals of the stummel I use pipe cleaners and cotton buds dipped in isopropyl 95%.  I’m amazed that the internals, mortise and draft hole, are not terribly dirty.  With only a few pipe cleaners and cotton buds expended, I turn to the stealth approach.  To freshen the internals even more, I use the kosher salt and alcohol soak.  I fashion a wick using a cotton ball by pulling and twisting it.  I then push it down into the mortise into the draft hole using a straight hard wire.  I fill the bowl with kosher salt which will not leave an aftertaste as iodized salt and I cover the bowl and give the stummel a shake to displace the salt.  I then fill the bowl with isopropyl 95% until it surfaces over the salt.  In a few minutes the alcohol has been absorbed so I top if off again.  I put the stummel aside for the night, I turn out the light and my day is finished.The sun has risen on a new day in Bulgaria and the kosher salt and alcohol soak has done the job.  The salt and wick are discolored showing that the oils and tars were absorbed through the night.  I thump the stummel on my palm to dislodge the salt into the waste and I wipe the chamber out with paper towel as well as blowing through the mortise.  I dislodge any leftover salt crystals.  To make sure all is clean I run a pipe cleaner through the draft hole and a cotton bud in the mortise and all is clean and fresh.  I wonderful thing to behold!Before proceeding any further with stummel or stem restoration, I work on the issue of the junction between the two.  The upper half of the shank is extending over the stem so that when I run my fingers over the area there is an obvious ridge.  I take a close-up to show this.  Also, on the bottom of the shank, the stem extends over the shank – not as much, but I still detect a ridge in the opposite direction with the touch.  The mortise drilling was too low creating the offset.Leaving stem and stummel joined, I carefully sand the higher areas on both shank and stem to form a smooth transition from shank to saddle stem.  Of course, much care is given in the sanding so that I don’t inadvertently erase the ‘TI’ at the end of the L. J. Peretti nomenclature on the shank!  In the immediate picture below, you can see the sanded alignment transitioning into what has yet to be sanded on the top of the shank. The hope is to remove the ridge, but also to taper the sanding down the shank a bit to avoid the ‘stuffed pants’ look – a bulge of briar paralleling the ridge sanding.  The goal is a smooth, tapered transition. I like the results.  The ridges are removed and tapered.  Now, switching to 600 grade paper I erase the scratches left by the 240 sanding. After the 600 grade sanding is completed, I take a look at the junction.  Through the cleaning process, I have noticed that the stem has loosened in the mortise.  I’ll need to address the tenon/mortise junction. …AND IT WAS GOING SO WELL, until it wasn’t.  As I was surveying the stem, my eye caught sight of what looked like a hole on the upper side of the stem, mid-way through the bend.  Oh my!  Well, I first thought my eyes were not seeing what they were obviously seeing.  My initial reaction was, “How did I do that?”  Then, my next inclination was to look at earlier pictures of the stem to see if it was there and if so, how is it possible to have missed something so obvious?!?!  I’m glad you couldn’t hear the conversation floating through my mind at that point!  I found a picture before the restoration began, and yes, it was there.  The pictures reveal the source my current frustrations which is part and parcel of pipe restorations – and life….  I put a dental probe in the hole, and yes, it did go through. I then ran a pipe cleaner through to see how thin the vulcanite was at the stem’s bend where the hole broke through.  It appears thin, but salvageable.  To test the integrity of the surrounding vulcanite I pinch it hard to see if it would break.  It didn’t and that is good. I decide to patch it like a typical hole in a bit scenario but perhaps leave the patch a little ‘fat’ to add some reinforcement to the area.So, the projects are mounting for this stem.  First, to address the stem’s looseness – the tenon/mortise junction. Second, repair to the hole in the bend.  Third, repair the chewed bit and button – upper and lower.  Then, the sanding and preparations for the finishing phase.  I begin with the tenon expansion to tighten the stem’s fit.  I do this first because it’s the easiest and least time consuming.  I find a drill bit just a little larger than the existing tenon draft hole to act as the ‘expander’.  I use a Bic lighter and heat the vulcanite tenon by painting it with the lighter’s flame.  As the vulcanite heats, as a rubber composite, it softens and becomes pliable.  When heated sufficiently, gently I push the smooth end of the bit into the hole and the tenon expands as a result.  It works like a charm.  After heating the tenon, inserting the bit by twisting it, and retracting it, I test the fit.  It is good and snug, but not too tight that one is afraid of cracking the shank – which I’ve had experience in! I decide to do the prep work on the bit next so that at the conclusion, I can apply patch material to the bit area as needed as well as to the bend hole.  Looking at the bit and button first, I take a few more pictures to get a closer look.  I notice that there was something on the side of the draft hole and I began digging with a dental probe.  One hunk of something dislodged like it was hanging on for dear life.  I stuck the probe in deeper…there’s more….  I was incredulous!  How could so much stuff hide in the button draft hole!  I took pictures – it is an event!Addressing the dents first, I paint the dents with the flame of a Bic lighter to expand the vulcanite as it heats.  As it expands, the dents tend to dissipate in their severity.  Often, after flaming dents one is able simply to sand out the remaining damage – or much of it.  I also flame the button hoping to minimize the dents on the lip.  It did help, but sanding is still necessary. With a flat needle file and 240 grade sanding paper, I go to work on the upper and lower bit.  I use the file to refine the button and remove the dents where possible. The sanding removes much except for one dimple on the top and one on the lower bit. The button sanded out nicely.  I also employ a round sharp needle file to sharpen the edges of the draft hole. For the upper and lower dimples, I spot drop Special ‘T’ CA glue which is thicker. First, I clean off the areas with alcohol and cotton pads to clean it. I start with applying glue on the lower dimple and wait for an hour or so for the glue to set, and I flip the stem over and apply glue to the upper bit dimple. Now to the bend hole.  I use 240 grit paper and lightly rough up the area around the hole.  I then wipe it with isopropyl 95% to clean the area.  Instead of applying CA glue, I’ll use a putty created out of mixing CA glue and activated charcoal dust. I believe this will give me more texture for blending if I leave a larger area of patch to reinforce the area.  I don’t know if this will work in the end, but I can start with this intention and if it doesn’t work, I can always sand the excess.  First, I put petroleum jelly on the end of a pipe cleaner and I insert it to where I see it has reached the hole.  The pipe cleaner will hopefully keep the glue/charcoal in place and the petroleum jelly will keep the putty from sticking to the pipe cleaner, so I can pull it out!  Next, I place some charcoal dust on an index card.  I then place a bit of regular super glue next to the charcoal.  I use a tooth pick to draw the charcoal into the glue so that it’s gradually added.  In this way I can judge what the thickness should be – not too thin so it runs – not so thick that it doesn’t penetrate the hole. I mix the activated charcoal and superglue and when it seems to be the right consistency, I apply it to the hole using the toothpick as a trowel.  I tamp the putty down so that it fills the hole and I spread the patch around the surface.  I give a few movement tugs on the pipe cleaner and it is not stuck.  I put the stem aside to allow all the patches to cure. Turning again to the stummel, I focus on the rim repair.  I start by topping the Oom Paul Sitter.  Using 240 grade paper on a chopping board I rotate the inverted stummel on the paper in a circular motion.  I will remove enough on the rim trying to minimize the internal bevel which will remove the remainder of the charred wood.  I’ll have to be careful.  When placing the inverted stummel on the chopping block before putting the 240 paper down, I test how level the top is – the stummel rocks a bit.  This tells me that the rim is not level and most likely the left side, where most of the damaged wood is, has deteriorated.  Charred wood is softer and therefore probably dipped. I start topping and check often to see where things are going.  I also use a sanding block to help direct the topping to areas to try to bring about an evenly rounded rim – a challenge with the charring damage on the left side of the stummel – depicted on the bottom in the pictures below.  The pictures show the process. I’ve removed enough top briar real estate at this point and I will try to bring more balance to the rim as I remove the internal charring as I introduce a bevel.  Using a coarser 120 grade paper, I cut the initial bevel removing the charring.  I follow the 120 beveling using a rolled piece of 240 grade paper which smooths and continues to clean the char.  I then take the stummel back to the topping board again to reestablish the lines of the rim.  I do this a few more times, as I try to create a more balanced looking rim. I then top the stummel again with 600 grade paper and beveling as well.  The pictures show the rim cleaning and balancing process. One last step.  To soften the entire look of the rim, I introduce a gentle bevel on the external rim edge by cutting it with 120, following with 240 then 600 rolled pieces of sanding paper.  Considering from where we’ve come, I’m satisfied with the appearance of the rim!  It’s not perfect and this Peretti will carry the rim imbalance with it the ‘limp’ but he’s moving!Next, to prepare the stummel surface for the finishing phase, I use micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 to wet sand the stummel.  Then I follow this by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000, then 6000 to 12000. The grain on this Peretti Oom Paul Sitter is exceptional.  I watch it emerge through each micromesh cycle. This is going to be a beautiful pipe. With most of the Peretti Oom Paul restorations I have done (and the Peretti Half Bent Billiard) I was very pleased with the results of applying Before and After Restoration Balm on the stummels.  Keeping the light, natural original motifs of these Perettis has been my goal and the use of the Balm has helped maintain this desire.  I do the same with this Peretti.  I put some Balm on my finger and I work the Balm into the briar surface.  As I work it in, it starts as more liquid – with the consistency of light oil, but then gradually firms up until it is wax-like.  After I work it in thoroughly with my fingers, I set the stummel on the clothespin stand to allow the Balm to do what it does for a while. I take a picture of the Balm on the stummel.  After several minutes, I wipe the Balm off by buffing it out with a clean microfiber cloth.  It looks great – as I was expecting.With the Sitter’s stummel waiting in the wings for the stem to catch up, I pick up the stem.  Having had a night to thoroughly cure, the patches are ready to be filed and sanded down.  Before I forget it, since I had a pipe cleaner with petroleum jelly on it in the stem’s airway, I want to clean the airway so I run a pipe cleaner through the stem dipped with isopropyl 95%. Also, the thought in the back of my mind is the putty in the hole patch, did it push through and harden in the airway and form an obstruction.  Unfortunately, this was the case.  With the pipe cleaner coming from the tenon side, there seems to be a ridge at the patch site just entering the bend.  The pipe cleaner hung up there.  Coming from the button end, there is no problem with an obstruction.  As I test repeatedly, I discover that coming in from the tenon side, if I put a slight downward bend to the end of the pipe cleaner, the pipe cleaner would successfully navigate past the patch down to the button draft hole.  This is not a perfect situation, but it could be much worse with no passage through the airway.  Yet, the bright side of the scenario is that the patch is a bit stronger as a result, though the new steward will need to be aware of this bump in the road.  So, we move on. I begin the filing on the bend hole patch using a flat needle file.  I focus on keeping the file on the patch mound to not impact the vulcanite around the patch.To help me see what the patch would look like if I left it a bit ‘fat’ on the surface, I take a little detour.  My thinking is that it might help strengthen the area to leave the patch fatter on the surface.  To get a preview of the patch area, I ran the patch through the entire sanding process to get a better idea how visible it would be.  It didn’t take long to go from the filing to 240, 600 then 0000 steel wool focusing only on the patch area. Then I ran the patch spot through all the micromesh pads 1500 to 12000, applied Obsidian Oil and I look at the patch area. I take two pictures to show the future.  I decide I didn’t like the future!  Actually, the patch isn’t that bad, but I know it’s there and it seems unfinished….  I decide to continue to blend the patch by sanding.This is the bend patch after continuing with 240 and 600 grade papers.  That’s much better.I move on to the upper and then lower bit.  I use the flat needle file, 240 then 600 on both upper and lower sanding the patches and blending them.I follow by sanding/buffing the entire stem with 0000 steel wool before starting the micromesh pad process.Now to the fine-tuning sanding process.  I wet sand the stem using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400.  I then follow this by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 then 6000 to 12000.  After each set of three pads, I apply Obsidian Oil to revitalize the vulcanite.  The Peretti’s stem is looking good even with all the repairs that were done.  I love the glassy pop of the vulcanite!  The patch work blended well. Now the home stretch.  I reunite the Peretti Oom Paul Sitters stem and stummel and mount the felt buffing wheel to the Dremel, set it at the slowest speed and apply Tripoli compound to the stummel.  Tripoli is a coarser compound I apply using a circular pattern over the stummel in a methodical way to cover the entire stummel.  I do not put too much pressure on the wheel, but allow the speed, compound and the felt to do the work.  When the Tripoli is complete, I mount a cotton cloth wheel to the Dremel, remaining at the same speed and I apply Blue Diamond compound to both stummel and stem.  I do it in the same way as the Tripoli. Finally, I change cotton cloth buffing wheels and apply White Diamond compound to the stem alone.  When the compounds are completed, I buff the pipe with a felt cloth to remove the compound dust from the surface of the briar.  I mount yet another cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel, increase the speed to about 40% of full power and I apply a few coats of carnauba wax to stem and stummel.  Finally, I complete the restoration of this Peretti Oom Paul Sitter by giving it a brisk hand buffing using a microfiber cloth.

The vertical flame grain on this large Oom Paul Sitter stummel is striking and it is complemented by bird’s eye on the heel as well as the shank. It is unique in the Peretti Lot of 10 where the pipes showcased mainly horizontal and bird’s eye grain.  This Peretti will provide much visual pleasure to his new steward and with the size of the bowl, he will pack enough favorite blend for a nice long reflective time.  The stem and rim gave some challenges which I think have worked out well.  He carries with him some marks from his former life – as we all do!  Tim lives in Missouri and is the pipe man who commissioned this Oom Paul Sitter and has first dibs on the pipe when I put it in The Pipe Steward Store.  This pipe will benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

 

Simple Rebirth of a Morel Hand Made Freehand


Blog by Steve Laug

As mentioned in the last few blogs, Jeff picked up some amazing freehand pipes lately. When I was in Idaho for my mom’s funeral I packed and brought them to Canada. There was a Soren Hand Carved, Granhill Signature, Ben Wade Golden Walnut, Veeja 900 C6 and Viggo Nielsen Hand Finished. Along with that there were other Freehands that I am moving onto now. The first of these is an interesting one with a yellow/golden acrylic stem. It is hand crafted smooth finish with a plateau rim top and shank end. It is stamped on the underside of the shank Morel in script over Benzon- Italia over Fait Main France. My brother had done the entire cleanup – reaming, scrubbing the exterior and cleaning the interior. That left me the finishing work. The finish on the pipe was in excellent condition. The acrylic stem had very light tooth chatter and marks on the top and bottom at the button and was dull. Jeff had cleaned the rim top and removed the debris in the plateau. He had scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil soap and a tooth brush to remove the dust and grime that had accumulated there. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and touched it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He cleaned the interior of the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. It came to me clean and ready to touch up and polish. The stem was cleaned but had tooth chatter on the top and underside near the button and on the surface of the button. I took close up photos of the rim top and the shank end to show the condition of the plateau. There were some burned areas around the inside edge of the rim. It is darkened and burned. I also took photos of the stem to give a clear picture of what I had when I started.I took a photo of the underside of the shank to show the stamping there. It read Morel over Benzon-Italia over Fait Main over France. I will need to do some work on the maker. I have several Morel pipes and really like them so this was one I wanted to work on. There is a small twisted fill just above the Morel stamp. It is slightly shrunken and will need to be repaired and smoothed out. This is the only flaw on the otherwise beautifully grained briar.I needed to refresh my memory on the history and background of Morel. I knew from memory that he had made pipes for Chacom at one point in time but could not remember the details. I went to pipephil’s site and looked up the brand to see what I could find. The pipe that was included in the entry on the site was similar to the one I am working on. The one I have has a flattened bottom on the shank and bowl and a twist in the shank. It also has an acrylic stem. Here is the link http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-m7.html. I did a screen capture of the pertinent entry and the photo of Morel. They are included below.The stamping on the shank “Morel” is exactly as it is spelled out above. The “e” in Morel is the cursive letter. The Benzon – Italy stamp is the same so this helps to date the pipe to pre-1980 when Benzon ceased to be Morel’s Italian reseller.

I went on to read further on Pipedia to see if I could find more information. Here is the link. https://pipedia.org/wiki/Morel. I have included the pertinent information below as well as a photo of the carver.

In 1978, Pierre Morel, an independent free-hand pipe maker, was enlisted by Chacom to create a line of completely hand made pipes, called the Chacom Grand Cru. For this line he created the free-hand shapes Naja and “Fleur de Bruyère”. In 1987, Pierre Morel joined the team at Chapuis-Comoy full-time. (The above is an excerpt from the Chacom website)

Still employed at Chacom, Pierre Morel will be 60 in 2009 and must retire from the house that employs him.

When asked by “Pipe Gazette” in February of 2009, “If there should be a pipe of Pierre Morel, it would be what form?”, Mr. Morel responded, “Flower Morel, I’ve probably made hundreds.”

Pierre works now in his own shop. The new line is the result of over 40 years’ experience in free-hand high-grade pipe carving. His new High-grade line will be available online. Here is a link to his website, http://www.pierremorelpipes.fr/pipes-disponibles-pierre-morel-1.htm

Now I had a pretty good idea of the brand and the maker of this pipe as well a bit of clarity on the date is was carved. I decided to begin by working on the bowl so I removed the stem and turned my attention to the burned inside edge of the bowl. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the damaged edge and lightly bevel the edge inward toward the bowl.I filled in the shrunken fill with clear super glue. Once the glue had dried I sanded the repair smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to blend it in to the rest of the briar. I polished the repaired area with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I touched up the stain with  a stain pen to blend the colour into the rest of the finish. From that I knew that the pipe in my hands came from some time during the 1970s and before 1980. The briar was clean but dried out and lifeless. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the briar bowl and shank. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers, working it into the exterior of the pipe and working it into the plateau areas with a horsehair shoe brush. I wiped it off and buffed it with a soft cloth to polish it. The pipe really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth chatter out of both sides of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. I worked over the surface with sandpaper to remove the tooth marks and chatter.I polished the acrylic stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a damp cloth pad to remove the sanding dust. I buffed it with a soft cloth to polish it. I polished stem and bowl with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The plateau on the rim top and shank end and the medium brown stain with red contrasts work very well with the golden acrylic stem. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is the first of Morel’s Freehands that I have worked on and it was a pleasure. Like the Danes, he does great work and is quite innovative in terms of shapes, flow and finishes on his pipes. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outer diameter of the bowl: 1 7/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inches. This one is will be added to the rebornpipes store shortly. If you would like to add it to your collection send me an email to slaug@uniserve.com or a message on Facebook. Thanks for walking through this restoration with me as I worked over this beauty. I have other Freehands that I will be working on in a variety of shapes and sizes in upcoming blogs. 

 

 

 

Next on the table – A Soren Hand Carved 3 Freehand


Blog by Steve Laug

As mentioned in the last few blogs, Jeff picked up some amazing freehand pipes lately. When I was in Idaho for my mom’s funeral I packed and brought them to Canada. There was a Soren Hand Carved, Granhill Signature, Ben Wade Golden Walnut, Veeja 900 C6 and Viggo Nielsen Hand Finished. All were handcrafted and had interesting shapes and finishes. Some had full plateau rims, some partial plateau rim. Tonight I started working on them. The next pipe I chose was a Soren Hand Carved. My brother had done the entire cleanup – reaming, scrubbing the exterior and cleaning the interior. That left me the finishing work. The bowl has a smooth finish with plateau on the rim top and shank end. The pipe is a pick axe shape with an interesting collar then flares toward the plateau on the shank end. The finish on the pipe was in excellent condition. The vulcanite stem had very light tooth chatter on the top and bottom at the button and was lightly oxidized as well. Jeff had cleaned the rim top and removed the debris in the plateau. He had scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil soap and a tooth brush to remove the dust and grime that had accumulated there. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and touched it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He cleaned the interior of the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. It came to me clean and ready to touch up and polish. The stem was cleaned but had tooth chatter on the top and underside near the button and on the surface of the button. I took close up photos of the rim top and the shank end to show the condition of the plateau. I also took photos of the stem to give a clear picture of what I had when I started. I took photos of the underside of the shank to show the stamping there. It read Soren over Hand Carved over Copenhagen over Denmark. On the left side of the collar on the shank the number 3 was stamped. I am assuming that may well be a grade stamp.I needed to refresh my memory on the history and background of the Soren pipes so I went to a previous blog and reread what I had written. https://rebornpipes.com/2016/09/12/repairing-and-rejuvenating-a-soren-danish-freehand/. I quote from that blog post: I looked up the brand on pipephil (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-s10.html) and found that the brand was carved by Søren Refbjerg Rasmussen. Pipes that he made for the European market were mostly stamped “Refbjerg” while those made for the US market were stamped “Soren”. Thus I knew that one I was working on was imported into the US market.

It looked like I was once again working on a pipe made by Soren Refbjerg Rasmussen for the US market as it was stamped Soren. I continued to do reading on another of my go to websites, Pipedia. Here is the link for the article there. https://pipedia.org/wiki/Refbjerg. I quote some of the more pertinent information.

Søren Refbjerg Rasmussen founded a company in 1969, which employed an average of 8 – 12 craftsmen in the 1970’s. The semi-freehands they produced were traded under his prename Søren. Rasmussen himself finished only the very best pipes. So his way of pipemaking closely resembled the ways of Preben Holm, Karl Erik Ottendahl or Erik Nørding. Altogether more than 1,000,000 pipes were sold.

There was also a note from Soren himself regarding the Danbark line of pipes that he made. I think that it is interesting to note that even on these he used the finest Corsican and Grecian briars. I assume that is also true of his other lines as well. I quote the note in full.

“A note from the carver:

I am very proud to introduce my new (!) series of hand-carved Danbark Pipes by Søren. These pipes are crafted from the finest Corsican and Grecian briars. I take a great deal of pride in crafting the Danbark Pipes to be highly functional and so they will provide the smoker with many years of dedicated service. The Danbark Pipes by Søren are available in several different styles and finishes with my personal touch and inspirations. At this time I favor making classic shaped pipes with a slight touch of my own hands and feelings. I do not produce many pipes today but the pipes that I do make available are individually crafted from the finest Corsican and Grecian Briars available to me. I still make free-hand pipes but not as many as I once made. For the past 35 years I have always tried to make good smoking pipes in my workshop located near Copenhagen, Denmark. I have always tried to craft my pipes in such a way as they will be long lasting and best friends with the owners. I take great pride in the shape of my pipes, the drilling of the pipes, and the overall dimensions of the pipes. I enjoy spending my spare time on the very long, rugged coasts of Denmark. I derive much relaxation from being on the coast while angling for Sea Trout with my own hand-tied flies. I find this environment is a great inspiration to me for making pipes. Many times I think to myself, “Inspired by nature, made by me”.  — Happy puffing, Søren”

From that I knew that the pipe in my hands came from the 1970s. It bears the Soren signature stamp which also says that it was made for sale in the American pipe market. Armed with that information I turned my attention to restoring the pipe. I started with the clean bowl, I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the briar bowl and shank. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers, working it into the exterior of the pipe and working it into the plateau areas with a horsehair shoe brush. I wiped it off and buffed it with a soft cloth to polish it. The pipe really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth chatter out of both sides of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. I worked over the surface with sandpaper to remove the tooth chatter and the oxidation.I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil to protect and polish the stem. When I finished with the last pad I rubbed it down with Before & After Pipe Polish – both fine and extra fine. I gave it a final coat of oil and set aside to dry. I polished stem and bowl with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The plateau on the rim top and shank end and the smooth Dark and Medium brown contrast finish work very well with the black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I have worked on several Soren pipes by Soren Refbjerg Rasmussen and several Refbjerg pipes over the years and I have always been impressed by his craftsmanship and ability to work a pipe to follow the grain of the briar. He does great work and is quite innovative in terms of shapes, flow and finishes on his pipes. The dimensions of this one are quite large but delicate at the same time. The Length: 7 inches, Height: 3 1/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches wide and 2 inches long, Chamber diameter: 7/8 inches. This one is already sold to Paresh in India who always has an eye out for interesting freehand pipes. I am looking forward to hearing from him once he receives it. It is a beauty! Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this Soren Freehand. I have other Freehands that I will be working on in a variety of shapes and sizes in upcoming blogs.  

Next in line – A Ben Wade Golden Walnut Hand Made


Blog by Steve Laug

As I have mentioned in the last few blogs, Jeff picked up some amazing freehand pipes lately. When I was in Idaho for my mom’s funeral I packed them and brought them to Canada with me. There was a Soren Hand Carved, a Granhill Signature, a Ben Wade Golden Walnut, a Veeja 900 C6 and a Viggo Nielsen Hand Finished. All were hand crafted and had interesting shapes and finishes. Some had full plateau rim tops, some partial plateau rim. Tonight I started working on them. The next pipe I chose was a Ben Wade Golden Walnut Freehand. My brother had done the entire cleanup – reaming, scrubbing the exterior and cleaning the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem. That left me the finishing work on it. The bowl has a smooth finish with some plateau on the rim top and shank end. The pipe is a sitter. The shank flares toward the stem that is not the original but similar. The finish on the pipe was in excellent condition. The vulcanite stem had tooth chatter on the top and bottom at the button. Jeff had cleaned the rim top and removed the debris in the plateau. He had scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil soap and removed the dust and grime that had accumulated there. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and touched it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He cleaned the interior of the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. It came to me clean and ready to touch up and polish. The stem was cleaned but had tooth chatter on the top and underside near the button and on the surface of the button. I took close up photos of the rim top and the shank end to show the condition of the plateau. I also took photos of the stem to give a clear picture of what I had when I started. I took a photo of the underside of the shank to show the stamping there. It read Ben Wade over Golden Walnut. Under that was stamped Hand Made in Denmark. I refreshed my memory of the history of Ben Wade pipes. I remembered some, but had forgotten much. I looked on Pipedia to refresh myself. Here is the link, https://pipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Wade. I summarize in part below.

Young Copenhagen master pipemaker Preben Holm had made a meteoric career heading a pipe manufacture employing 45 people at the age of 22! But around the turn of 1970/71 he was in major financial difficulties. His US distributor, Snug Harbour Ltd. in New York City, left him in the lurch. Holm had three unpaid invoices on his desk and another large shipment was ready for the USA, when Snug Harbour’s manager told him on the phone that there was no money at all on the account to pay him.

So the Dane went to New York for an almost desperate search for a new distribution partner. He made contacts with Lane Ltd. and met Herman G. Lane in February 1971. Lane Ltd. had no interest in Holm’s serial pipes produced at that time but so much the more in the hand-carved freehands because the hype for Danish freehands and fancies in the States was still on it’s way to the climax then. The meeting resulted in an agreement to start a cooperation. Lane insisted to improve the quality considerably and in return he assured to be able to sell essentially larger quantities.

Holm went back home to work on new samples with all-new designs and altered finishes for Lane. Both, Lane and Holm, agreed that it would be unwise to sell the pipes under Preben Holm’s name as long as Snug Harbour had a considerable stock of Preben Holm pipes and might sell them pipes at very low prices just to bring in some money. So on Mr. Lane’s proposal it was determined to use the name Ben Wade belonging to Lane Ltd. Lane spend considerable amounts of money for advertising the new brand in the big magazines– the centerpiece being whole-page ads showing a very exclusive Seven Day’s Set.

The cooperation with Lane Ltd. proved to be an eminent business success for both partners. Within a very short time Ben Wade Handmade Denmark sold in much larger quantities and at higher prices than they had ever dreamed of. And the hype these freehands and fancy pipes caused went on unbroken long after Herman G. Lane deceased. Preben Holm – obviously much more brilliant in pipe making than in pipe business – was in major troubles again in 1986 and had to sack most of his staff. The Ben Wade production was significantly lowered but continued until his untimely death in June of 1989.

From that I knew that the pipe in my hands came from the period between 1971 and Preben Holm’s death in 1989. It bears the Ben Wade stamp which also says that it was made for the American pipe market under the direction of Herman Lane of Lane Ltd. Armed with that information I turned my attention to restoring the pipe. I started with the clean bowl, I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the briar bowl and shank. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers, working it into the exterior of the pipe. I wiped it off and buffed it with a soft cloth to polish it. The pipe really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth chatter out of both sides of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. I worked over the surface with sandpaper to remove the tooth chatter and the oxidation.I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil to protect and polish the stem. When I finished with the last pad I gave it a final coat of oil and set aside to dry. I polished stem and bowl with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The plateau on the rim top and shank end and the smooth black and brown contrast finish work very well with the black vulcante stem. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I have worked on quite a few Ben Wade pipes over the years and several of them have been Golden Walnut pipes. Preben Holm was an amazing innovator in terms of shapes, flow and finishes on his pipes. The dimensions are Length: 6 1/2 inches, Height: 2 1/2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches wide and 2 1/4 inches long, Chamber diameter: 7/8 inches. This one is already sold to a fellow in Kentucky who collects Ben Wade pipes. I am looking forward to hearing from him once he receives it. It is a beauty! Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this Ben Wade Golden Danish Freehand. I have other Freehands that I will be working on in a variety of shapes and sizes in upcoming blogs.