New Life for a Kaywoodie Super Grain Zulu


Blog by Steve Laug

I wrote in the blog just previous to this one – the restoration of the Selected Straight Grain bent billiard – how I had been contacted by Jim in the South Eastern US regarding some pipes that he had found (https://rebornpipes.com/2017/09/22/cleaning-up-a-beautiful-comoys-made-selected-straight-grain-bent-billiard/). He called to tell me about a group of six pipes that he purchased on one of his own pipe hunts. He wanted to know if I could help him identifying what he had found. There were two older Kaywoodies (a bent meerschaum lined billiard and a Super Grain Zulu), a Selected Straight Grain bent billiard, a GBD Sauvage Bulldog, a Henley Club Apple (made by Sasieni), and the last one a Medico Crest Prince.

In our conversation he told me he was going to box up the lot and mail them to me to have a look. When they arrived he said we could talk and make an arrangement regarding the pipes that he wanted to have restored from the lot. He wanted my opinion on the others as well. The box arrived last week and I opened it to have a good look at what Jim had sent to me. As I mentioned in the previous blog, I went through them making notes on what I saw regarding the condition of each pipe. I sent Jim my notes on the pipes and he replied noting the two pipes that he wanted me to work on for him in the lot – the first one was a large Bent Selected Straight Grain Billiard and the second was the Kaywoodie Super Grain Zulu. We fired several emails back and forth talking about the pipes and the decision was made. I would restore the two pipes for him.

When I finished the Selected Straight Grain, I turned my attention to the Kaywoodie Super Grain Zulu. It is a nice piece of briar with straight grain on the front and back of the bowl and birdseye grain on the sides of each bowl. The pipe is stamped on the top of the oval shank with the brand name Kaywoodie over Super Grain over Imported Briar. On the right side of the shank the shape number 01 is stamped. The shape is Zulu with an oval shank and stem with a 1/8th bend to the stem. Like the Selected Straight Grain the Kaywoodie was a nice pipe that showed some nice grain underneath the grime.

The pipe was a typical Kaywoodie sized pipe. There was a flaw in the briar on the left back side of the bowl just above the shank/bowl junction. There was another flaw on the front right toward the bottom of the bowl. Other than these two spot on the bowl, there were no other sandpits or fills in the briar. The bowl had a thick cake in it and there was a thick overflow of lava on the top of the rim. It was not possible to know if there was damage to the inner edge and the top of the rim. The finish was worn and tired but should clean up easily. The stem was lightly oxidized and there was tooth chatter on both sides at the button, but no deep tooth marks. The stem was slightly underturned and when I removed it there was a paper gasket that was glued to the end of the stem to correct the issue. The classic Kaywoodie metal stinger apparatus had been cut off and the airway in the remaining metal tenon was damaged.

I took a series of photos of the pipe to record the condition it was in when it arrived.I took a close up photo of the bowl and rim top to show the condition of the cake in the bowl and the overflow of lava on top of the bowl. The rim and bowl were in rough condition. The photos of the stem show the condition of the vulcanite. The oxidized surface of the rubber was pitted and worn. The light tooth chatter on both sides can be seen in the photos. I unscrewed the stem from the shank and took the following photo. It shows the paper washer that had been glued to the end of the stem to help the alignment of the stem. The clipped stinger is also shown in the photo. I scraped off the glued on gasket with a sharp pen knife and cleaned off the surface with alcohol and cotton swabs. I used a needle file to open up the end of the tenon and remove the damaged edges that had been caused when the stinger was clipped off. I cleaned out the airway with pipe cleaners and alcohol. I heated the tenon with a Bic lighter to soften the glue and put the stem back on the end of the shank and turned it until the stem and the shank were aligned. The photo below shows the newly aligned stem and shank. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer starting with the smallest cutting head and working up to the second cutting head. I took the cake back to bare briar. I cleaned it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I scraped the top of the rim with the pen knife to take as much of the lava off as possible. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper and a 1500 grit micromesh sanding pad. I used clear super glue to repair the damage on the back and the front of the bowl. I filled in the areas with the glue and set the bowl aside to dry. When the repairs had cured I sanded the areas with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the briar. I polished the areas with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust.I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on a cotton pad to remove the dust in preparation for staining the briar. I stained it with a dark brown aniline stain and flamed it with a lighter. I repeated the process until the coverage was even around the bowl.I wiped the bowl down with alcohol and cotton pads to remove the stain and make the coverage more transparent. I wanted the grain to pop so that finish stood out.The saturation of the stain was perfect for what I wanted to do with the finish next. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads to polish the briar and bring the grain to the surface. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. After polishing it with the 12000 grit pads I really liked the look of the polished briar. The grain really shows clearly.I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth chatter and the scratches in the vulcanite. I smoothed out the surface of the stem with the sandpaper and then polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down after each pad with some Obsidian Oil. After the final 12000 grit pad I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry.I buffed the pipe on the wheel using Blue Diamond Polish and worked over the stem and bowl to remove any remaining scratches. I was careful around the stamping so as not to buff it out and soften it. I gave the pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It really is a beauty. The black of the polished vulcanite and the polished briar work well together to present a beautiful pipe. Now Jim’s second pipe is finished. In the week ahead the pair will go in the mail. I can’t wait to hear what he thinks of this second one when he has it in hand and fires it up for the first time. Thanks for looking.

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Cleaning up a Beautiful Comoy’s Made Selected Straight Grain Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

A few months back I sold a nice older Wally Frank pipe to a fellow named Jim in the South Eastern US. Recently he called to tell me about a group of six pipes that he purchased on one of his own pipe hunts. He wanted to know if I could help him identifying what he had found. There were two older Kaywoodies (a bent meerschaum lined billiard and a  Super Grain Zulu), a Selected Straight Grain bent billiard, a GBD Sauvage Bulldog, a Henley Club Apple (made by Sasieni), and the last one a Medico Crest Prince.

In our conversation he told me he was going to box up the lot and mail them to me to have a look. When they arrived he said we could talk and make an arrangement regarding the pipes that he decided to have restored. But he wanted my opinion on the others as well. The box arrived last week and I opened it to have a good look at what Jim had sent to me. I went through them making notes on what I saw regarding the condition of each pipe. I sent Jim my notes on the pipes and he sent back the two pipes that he wanted me to work on for him in the lot – the first one was a large Bent Selected Straight Grain Billiard and the second was the Kaywoodie Super Grain Zulu. We fired several emails back and forth talking about the pipes and the decision was made. I would restore the two pipes for him.

I decided to work larger of the two pipes first. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Selected arched over Straight and Grain underneath that. On the right side of the shank it is stamped with the standard circular COM (Country of Manufacture) stamp – Made in London in a circle over England followed by the shape number 43. Both the COM stamp and the shape number led me to believe this was a Comoy’s made pipe but I was not certain at this point in the process. The shape is a half bent billiard. It was a nice pipe that showed some extraordinary grain underneath the grime.

The pipe was larger than I expected when Jim and I spoke and was a pretty nice looking piece of briar. There were a couple of issues with the bowl. There were some small sand pits on the bottom of the bowl and shank. There was a large flaw that looked like an X at the junction of the bowl and the shank on the left side near the top of the shank. The bowl had a thick cake in it and there were actually cobwebs in the bowl. The rim had a light coat of tars and lava that overflowed onto the beveled surface of the inner edge of the rim. There was a deep gouge on the rim top on the right side toward the back of the bowl. The finish was spotty and worn with shiny spots and scratches on the shank and on parts of the bowl sides. The stem was lightly oxidized and sported a lot of tooth chatter but no deep tooth marks. The stem did not fit tight against the shank with a small gap at the top that told me that the tenon was slightly bent.

I took a series of photos of the pipe to record the condition it was in when it arrived. The next photo show the top of the rim, the darkened and lava encrusted beveled inner edge, the thick cake and the cobwebs deep inside the bowl. You can also see the gouge on the right side of the rim top at the 1 o’clock position in the photo below. I have circled it in red for ease of reference. The pipe certainly had great bones but it was in dire need of a cleanup so that it could be passed on in the pipeman’s trust. This was going to be a fun pipe to work on.I took photos of the oxidized stem to show the general condition of the vulcanite. It looked pretty good. The button was clean and not damaged. There was tooth chatter but no deep tooth marks on either side of the stem. The stem was lightly oxidized but good quality vulcanite.I did a bit of hunting online and read on Pipedia that these pipes were made by Comoy’s and were essentially “Specimen Straight Grain” (exceptional line of Comoy’s pipes). The Selected Straight Grain pipes were seconds to the Specimen line that exhibited some small flaw or sand pit. They were listed in the 1965 catalogue at $15 or $17.50 in Extraordinaire size.

Armed with that information I turned my attention to work on the pipe. It was dirty and sticky so I varied my usual habit of reaming the bowl first and scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap and cotton pads. I was able to remove all of the grime on the bowl sides and much of the grime and lava on the rim top and inner beveled edge of the bowl. I took photos of the bowl after scrubbing. You can see the amazing grain on the bowl and shank sides. You can also see the X shaped sandpit in the first photo. I have circled it in red to highlight the damage there. With the outside of the bowl clean it was easier to hold onto while I reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer. I started with the smallest cutting head and worked my way up to the third cutting head. I took the cake back to bare briar. I cleaned up the remnants of the cake with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I used a dental spatula to scrape out the buildup on the walls of the mortise. There was a thick coat of tars and oils that had hardened there and made the fit of the stem very tight in the shank. Once I had scraped out the hardened substances I cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with alcohol, cottons swabs and pipe cleaners.With the exterior and the interior of the bowl cleaned it was time to work on repairing the sandpits and gouges on the bowl. I wiped down the area of the X pit on the left side of the bowl at the shank bowl junction with alcohol.When it was dry I filled in the area with clear super glue and pressed it into the pit with a dental spatula. I repeated the process with the gouge on the right side of the rim top.  When the repair had cured I sanded it with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the surface of the briar. I also sanded the inner beveled edge of the bowl to clean up the darkening and damage at that point. I sanded the repair on the side of the shank and bowl with the same sandpaper until the spots were blended into the briar and smooth to touch.I polished the repaired areas with micromesh sanding pads – sanding with 1500-4000 grit pads to smooth out the sanding scratches. I stained the rim top and the repair on the shank and bowl with a light brown stain pen to match the stain on the rest of the bowl.Whenever I used the stain pens, regardless of colour, I blend the stain with the existing stain using Conservator’s Wax. I find that the microcrystalline wax polishes and blends the two areas together when I hand buff the bowl once the wax dries. I buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond to polish it a bit and see where I needed to do some work before the final buff. I hand polished the stem 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 clot after each buffing pad. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth after the 12000 grit pad. The pictures below show the progress of the polishing on the briar. I addressed the fit of the stem against the shank. The tenon was slightly bent downward causing a gap at the top of the shank stem union. I heated the tenon with a Bic lighter to soften it and inserted it in the shank and straightened it. I held it in place while the stem cooled and the fit was perfect against the shank.I sanded the light tooth chatter and the oxidation on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. I wanted to break up the oxidation on the surface of the vulcanite and that is the easiest way to do it. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down after each pad with Fine grit Before & After Pipe Polish. I buffed the pipe on the wheel using Blue Diamond Polish and worked over the stem and bowl to remove any remaining scratches. I was careful around the stamping so as not to buff it out and soften it. I gave the pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It really is a beauty. The flaws that I repaired really disappeared into the grain of the pipe. If you did not know where they were before they are hard to identify. The black of the polished vulcanite and the polished briar work well together to present a beautiful pipe. I have to finish Jim’s second pipe and then the pair will go in the mail. I can’t wait to hear what he thinks of this one once he has it in hand and fires it up for the first time. Thanks for looking.

ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS: What alcohol do you use to clean pipes and why


Blog by Steve Laug

I decided to write a few blogs to answer questions that different people have written or called me about. None of them will be long blogs; rather they will be short and to the point answers to the questions and some general rationale for why I do the things I do. The first of them addresses the question of what alcohol I use to clean the pipes that I work on. Some of the questions were direct and others were questioning my choice of alcohol. I chose to address both kinds of questions in this first blog. I will explain my choice and the reasons for that choice. My idea is not so much to justify my choices as to state them and explain the reasons for my choices. I don’t expect others to necessarily agree with me but I answer from my own best practices and preferences.

I have received so many private messages, emails or phone calls asking me about what kind of alcohol to use in cleaning pipes that I thought this would be a good place to start. The choice I have made is not based on ignorance. I have tried a lot of different alcohol products before settling in on the one that I now use all the time. I have read a lot of answers on the forums and different websites answering that same question. The answers are generally quite adamant in their claims to their preference of product. These answers have ranged from those who use Everclear to those who use Rum. The writers have argued their case for the alcohol of choice based on experience and preference. While some fit the gamut above there have been others who answered that they used their favorite Whiskeys, Bourbons and Scotches. I have even read of folks using moonshine and others using flavoured liqueurs to give their pipe a sweet taste. I have read those responses now for a long time and never bothered to answer or give my own opinion.

For me the answer is quite simple. I have chosen not to use an alcohol I would drink to clean out my pipe because I would rather drink it than waste it as a cleaning product. To me it has always seemed like a waste of a good drink to use it to clean my pipe. I am a bit of cheap skate so I hate to waste even a dram of something I enjoy on something it was not intended for. But beyond being cheap, I also don’t like cleaning my pipes with a product that has a high percentage of water in it. I want to use something that cleans and then evaporates without leaving behind moisture or a residual taste in either the stem or the shank of the pipe. When I smoke my pipe I do not want to taste some flavouring but I want to be able to taste various tobaccos that make up the blend that I am enjoying having to deal with the tastes of the product I cleaned the pipe with.

My decision was not made in a vacuum. I have tried each of the different alcohols I have mentioned above as well as various Pipe Sweeteners that have been sold over the years. After reading all of the much touted claims for Everclear I went to the US and purchased some to give it a try. It worked well and did leave a clean pipe, but it was not available here in Canada and I was not convinced that it was worth the effort to cross the border to purchase it. I tried a variety of high octane Rum and Whiskey (or Whisky) to clean out my pipes. It was okay but left the insides of the pipe wet for longer than I liked. It also did not do as good a job in my opinion as the Everclear did. I even tried some Maker’s Mark Bourbon because I had it here and happened to have been sipping it while working on pipes. I dipped a pipe cleaner in my glass even though it seemed like a real waste of good Bourbon and it did not work as well as the Everclear. It also left the internals wetter than I liked. I tried some Dewar’s Scotch and some other Scotch that I have enjoyed over the years and found the same issues. With each of the alcohols that I used above I had to follow up with a dry pipe cleaner to remove the moisture in the shank and airway. I was unsatisfied with the results and it seemed to make my work harder. I am not a big fan of flavoured liqueurs so I chose not to use them. They just seemed too sweet and sugary to my liking and I would have to clean out their taste to get a good smoke.  

There had to be something that would work as well as the Everclear, had a high percentage of alcohol versus water and was easy to obtain in Canada. I did some research online and talked with my pharmacist with regard to what I was looking for and the purposes I needed it. I have known her for quite a few years so I trust her recommendations. She suggested that I try using 99% isopropyl alcohol for thoroughly cleaning the pipes I was working on. It had a high percentage of alcohol so that it evaporated quickly and left behind no residue. It had a very low percentage of water, which meant it would not soak into the briar and leave behind moisture. It was flavourless, odorless and colourless so it would not leave behind a taste that would affect the tobacco. It sounded like the ticket. She said to make sure I purchased the 99% isopropyl, which was always stored behind the pharmacist’s counter, and not the one on the shelves which was 91%. With that recommendation, I figured it was worth a try. I picked up my first bottle of isopropyl and I have been using it ever since.

I have found that it works extremely well. I cleans deeply and evaporates quickly leaving behind no residue. I have used on pipes with extremely dirty mortises, shanks and airways and have been satisfied with its cleaning ability. I also use it in my retort and it boils quickly through the pipe and bowl without leaving behind any residue. It is a great universal cleaning agent and one I continually use for all the work that I do. That is what I use and what I recommend. Thanks for reading this.

Comoy’s Pebble Grain Billiard Restoration


By Al Jones

The Comoy’s “Pebble Grain” line was introduced in the 1970’s, and to my eye, is similar to the “Granitan” line from GBD. The finish is sandblasted and buffed down to give it a “worn” appearance, and perhaps a bit like stonewashed denim. This one is the shape 186, a classic straight billiard. It is described on a 1975 shape chart as “Largest Billiard – Tapered Stem”. The pipe sports the drilled, three piece, “C” stem logo of the pre-Cadogan era (prior to 1981). Another feature of the Pebble Grain line is the beveled, polished bowl top, which I find particularly appealing. Despite the size of the pipe, it only weighs 35 grams.

From the sellers photos, the pipe appeared to need only a minor clean-up. There was some build-up on the polished top and the stem was mildly oxidized with one small tooth mark.

Using heat from a lighter flame, I was able to lift the tooth dent, but only slightly. I put a dab of grease on the “C” soaked the stem in a mild Oxy-clean solution for several hours. While the stem was soaking, I turned my attention to the bowl. Using a worn piece of scotch-brite, I was able to remove all of the build-up on the polished bowl top. A piece of 2,000 grit wet paper removed most of the darkening that remained, without damaging the stain. I removed the mild cake with my Pipenet reamer set. The bowl was then filled with sea salt and alcohol to soak overnight.

Following the bowl soak, the polished top was buffed with White Diamond and several coats of Carnuba wax. The shank was cleaned and stem mounted. I attempted to fill the small tooth indention with black superglue, but it was too shallow to adhere well, so I left well-enough alone. I removed the heavy layer of oxidation with 800 grit wet paper, followed by 1,5000 and 2,000 grade paper. This was followed by 8,000 and 12,000 grade micromesh sheets. The stem was buffed with White Diamond rouge and Meguiars Plastic Polish. The bowl was hand polished with Halycon wax.

Below is the finished pipe.

Update:  After a few days, I was unhappy with the way the tooth indention looked.  I had been using a very old bottle of the Stew-Mac superglue and it definitely wasn’t as viscous as when it was new.  I opened up a new bottle and it worked 100% better.  So, if you have really old glue, my bottle was at least six years old, it might be time for an update.

Below is an updated stem picture.  The patch on the indention is now flush and it has only a slightly different sheen than the vulcanite.

Comoy's_186_Pebble_Grain_Finish6

One Seriously Frustrating Refurb – a Broken Down Hilson Fantasia 206 Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

The last of Steve’s pipes the remained for me to work on was a Hilson Fantasia. It is a Dublin shaped pipe made of resin with a meerschaum insert. It has a yellow coloured bowl and shank with swirls of green that are scattered throughout the pipe. When Steve sent me the box of pipes to work on I told him this one was not worth the effort to clean it up. It was in really rough shape on both the stem and the bowl insert. But in the end I decided to clean it and the Pipe just so he could see what these resin bowl pipes were like. I have cleaned a few of these up over the years that have almost psychedelic patterns in the resin. They are really a product of the 60s and 70s in my opinion. I took the following photos of the pipe before I started the clean up to show the general condition and give you some idea why I said the pipe was not worth cleaning up. The pipe really was in rough condition. The meerschaum bowl was not readily identifiable and there was major damage to the rim top. There chunks of the inner bowl missing from the top at the back edge of the bowl. There was a seriously thick cake in the bowl that was fuzzy with dust and debris. The outer resin bowl was covered with a layer of lava. The stem would not fit in the shank the way it was supposed to which signaled that the shank was cake with about as much debris and the bowl. The stem was oxidized and there were tooth marks on both the top and the underside at the button. The button itself was worn away and no longer clearly defined. The outer resin bowl was in pretty good shape with no deep scratches or gouges. I was hoping that once I reamed the bowl it would be intact lower down. I was basing that hope on the fact that Hilson used block meerschaum and not pressed meerschaum for their bowls. That made the quality of the lining far better and I have rarely seen a Hilson meerschaum lining cracked or broken.The next two photos show the stamping on the pipe. On the underside of the shank it is stamped Belgium and on the right side it is stamped with the shape number 206. The normal stamping on the stem was long gone. So it no longer read Hilson Fantasia. For the identity I am going with the stamping that is visible, the shape and material of the pipe for calling it a Hilson Fantasia.The photos of the stem show the condition of the oxidation and tooth marks on the surface as well as the worn condition of the button.I had previously researched the Hilson Fantasia for a blog I already did on a previous restoration. (https://rebornpipes.com/2016/07/05/is-it-really-a-plastic-smoking-pipe-what-is-a-hilson-fantasia/) On that blog I wrote of what I had found out about the brand. I had learned that the Hilson Fantasia was made in Belgium as this one was stamped. It originally came out as a meerschaum lined pipe with an outer bowl made of a new material that they called pipenite. From what I can find out about the material they call pipenite, it was a specially designed polyester resin. It was light weight and fairly indestructible. The block meerschaum insert was something that Hilson turned into a specialty. I had found a catalogue page on Chris’ Pipe pages, http://pipepages.com/hilson.htm that confirmed my guess regarding the 60s/70s look of the pipe. I have once again included a catalogue page from a 1962 Wally Frank Catalogue that was on the pipepages site. The write up on the Hilson Fantasia is entertaining to read in terms of the sales pitch that is delivered.I have also written about some of the history of the brand on a previous blog on Hilson Double Ecume pipes. If you are interested in reading about the history of the brand click on the following link: https://wordpress.com/post/rebornpipes.com/40547. In addition the following link on the Estervals Pipe House website gives a good summary of the history of the brand for those of you who want to read more: http://www.tecon-gmbh.de/info_pages.php?pages_id=70.

Now for the cleanup of the Fantasia! I carefully reamed the bowl with the smallest cutting head of the PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the inside of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe knife. I say carefully because I did not want to damage the meerschaum insert in the bowl but I wanted to remove the rock hard cake in the bowl.I topped the bowl carefully using a medium and a fine grit sanding pad. I wanted to smooth out the surface of the rim and remove the lava that was on top. I wanted to remove the lip of lava that had formed on the top of the bowl. The second photo below shows the cleaned rim top and also the damage that was very evident at the back edge of the bowl and around the sides. I cleaned out the shank of the pipe with a thin pen knife to scrape away the hardened tars that lined the inside walls. I followed that with a sanding stick and many pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol before the shank was clean.The inner edge of the bowl was pitted and uneven so I sanded it with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it out and to clean up the damaged area at the back of the bowl. It was not perfect but it looked better than when I started.I took the stem out of the Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and wiped it down with a cotton pad. I cleaned out the inside of the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol to remove the left over deoxidizer. The photos below show that it removed most of the oxidation but there were some stubborn spots left. The tooth dents are also very clear in the next photos of the stem. I wiped the stem down with alcohol and filled in the dents with a black super glue. I set the stem aside to let the repairs cure. When the glue had cured I worked on the fit of the stem in the shank. The tenon was still too big for the stem to sit properly in the shank so I sanded it down with 220 grit sandpaper. There were some high spots on the tenon that needed to be rounded out and cleaned up. Once that was completed the stem fit perfectly.Once the fit of the stem was correct, I turned to work on the stem itself. I wanted to blend the patched areas into the surface of the stem and also recut and redefine the button with needle files. I used a knife-edge needle file to redefine the sharp edge of the button and give it form. I also used it to flatten out the repaired areas on both sides of the stem.I smoothed out the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper and worked to blend them into the surface of the stem. I was a little concerned in that the repairs seemed to look almost red against the surface of the still oxidized vulcanite. I would have to work that to see if I could blend it in more. At worse the repairs will show but the pipe will be smokable.Now the frustration heightened – I really should have listened to my initial thoughts on this pipe. It was not worth working on. But I did not listen and now one of the reasons became more apparent. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads. The more I polished them the more the two repaired spots on the top of the stem showed a red colour. I have never had that happen before. I cleaned the stems before patching them with alcohol and dried them off. I used black super glue for the repairs, like I have many times before. Yet this time the repairs show a red tint. I have no idea what is going on with this repair. Fortunately it is one that I am calling finished. It was just a quick clean up on a badly damaged pipe. The stem is functionally very good just those spots are irritating. I used micromesh sanding pads to polish the stem – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad and set it aside to dry after the 12000 grit pad. I was irritated with the way the pipe looked – both bowl and stem. They were ragged looking still and even though they were better they were not what I like to see in a finished pipe. I was finished though as I decided that more work would not improve the damaged pipe. I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I hoped that the buffing might blend the repairs into the surface of the stem. While they certainly looked better they still showed. The overall look of the pipe was much better than when I started. The damage to the back side top edge of the meerschaum bowl liner was significant but the pipe was still able to be smoked. It was clean and would certainly make a workable yard pipe. I have boxed the pipe with the rest of Steve’s pipes and have them packed and ready to send to Dawson Creek. I am hoping he enjoys the lot and gives them a good workout in the days ahead. Thanks for looking.

 

Realizing my dream for a rebornpipes community


Blog by Steve Laug

Over the years of my dabbling in pipe restoration and refurbishing I have experienced many helpful individuals who took time to school me in the work that I do. Both repair people and pipe makers took time to answer my questions as they arose. They would do so by email, phone or in person. I never ran into a situation where they were not willing to be interrupted to help me out with what to me was an “urgent” question. They often would follow-up on what I had asked to see if it had worked out or if I had further questions. I experienced a great sense of community with them in our common love of the pipe. When I could visit them, I did so and enjoyed a bowl together. The comradery was unequaled to other experiences I have had both in the hobby and outside the hobby in my various jobs.

When I started dreaming and working on the concept for rebornpipes it was early in 2012. I knew that I wanted to create an online community of pipe refurbishers – both amateur and those who make a living at it. I wanted that community to be like the one I continue to experience to this day. When I run into questions and want some advice from someone who has already done the repair I just reach out with an email or a phone call. I wanted to create a place where folks who refurbish pipes could share their expertise and methods with one another and continue to learn new ways of working on the briar we love. I wanted it to be a judgmental free forum of methods and ideas of restoration. I wanted it to be a place were a beginner and a veteran refurbisher would find a forum of ideas and methods. What I am speaking of is quite simply an interactive community where there are no “dumb questions”. All of us can reach forward to someone who knows more than we do and back to someone who is just beginning. I was hoping that kind of place would be possible to start.

When I began the blog in May of 2012, I had no idea whether it would fly or whether I would be closing up shop soon after opening. I knew that I was putting together a repository of the methods of restoring pipes that I had collected over years of working on my own pipes. I have always recorded the process of restoration as I often posted them on the various pipe forums that I frequented at that time. I had a backlog of files with photos and step-by-step procedures that I had taken on each pipe I worked on. I established a template for the writing style and the form of each piece I had written. At that point in time, I could find no one who was doing anything remotely like I wanted to do, so I had to invent it myself.

I researched the web to find some kind of place to build the site I had in mind. I knew that I did not want a website or a forum. I wanted something that did not limit the number of photos or the number of words I wrote in a post. I wanted something that would grow with time and be able to incorporate the work of others, not just myself. I wanted the site to have the capacity for discussion and interaction on each post. I had a lot of ideas that needed to be available for the site to work for me. My youngest daughter, Sarah had started a blog on WordPress and suggested that a blog might be the right kind of format for what I wanted to do. I went on the WordPress site and read through everything they had on setting up a blog on their site.

I worked through the site and everything I looked at seemed like it was perfect for my demands. I took the plunge and registered for a free blog on WordPress. I knew next to nothing about setting up a blog and adding text or photos. I knew next to nothing about inviting others to use the blog. I had no idea how to monitor it and screen out the incessant spam that comes with any internet adventure. I was as green as could be with regard to the world of blogging. I knew how to write and I had a large backlog of pieces that I could post. The adventure began. I don’t remember how many posts I put online before I advertised it on Smokers Forums and other Forums – maybe 25 or so. I did not know at that time how to link it to Facebook or Twitter for a larger reach. I just dived in and went from there. Not long after I began, a friend from England on Smokers Forums drew a header image for the new blog. Kirk sent me the following piece that he had put together. I grace the top of every page of the site for several years. I have included it below, because even that was a foretaste of the community I was dreaming would form around rebornpipes.I will never forget the moment that Neill Archer Roan read a couple of pieces on the blog (maybe more) and recommended my blog on his Passion for Pipes site. That is where things really took off for rebornpipes. Traffic increased over time. I asked Al Jones (upshallfan) if he would consider writing for the blog about his restoration work. I started haunting the restoration and refurbishing sections on the forums and asking people to contribute to the blog. Slowly at first, then with increasing momentum, new contributors were added and the blog began to come alive. The one piece I had yet to unravel was how to get readers to interact with the writers of each blog. I invited them and emailed others to kind of seed the idea but nothing seemed to work. I laid that aside and hoped that one day it would just happen.

The years have actually flown by and I can hardly believe that five years have already passed. Much of what I dreamed would happen has happened. New people write regularly thanking me for starting this blog. Others post on Facebook, Twitter, and the forums referencing to rebornpipes and thanking the writers and contributors of blogs to the site. The interaction between readers and  writers grows every month and new followers are added daily. A growing and vibrant community of refurbishers provides the knowledge base to folks who are just beginning to explore the world of pipe refurbishing. Questions are asked, comments are made and recommendations are given through the comment feature on the blogs. A store, selling refurbished pipes is also available and links to other refurbishers who are selling their work are regularly provided in the pieces that they  write. I am thrilled with the life that rebornpipes has now as it is daily growing into the place that I dreamed it would be.

On June 1, 2017 I wrote a blog reflecting on rebornpipes fifth year in existence. You can read the entire blog at this link: https://rebornpipes.com/2017/06/01/rebornpipes-is-five-years-old-thank-you/. I want to quote just a part of it here as it illustrates how my original dream is being fulfilled. Today at the five-year mark, I look back and the blog has taken on a life of its own. It has grown from just my own posts to those of over 20 contributors. Al Jones (upshallfan) has been with me from the beginning and I am thankful for his support and friendship. Throughout the years, other contributors have come and gone and new ones are added regularly. Each one brings their own flavor and flair to the work of refurbishing. Their style and innovations leave me excited to read the next post… I thank each one of you who have contributed to the blog so far and remind the readers that the door is always open for you to make your own contributions to the hobby. Email me at slaug@uniserve.com for information on post formats and details.

What does the future hold for rebornpipes? To be honest it is just now coming to life in the way I had dreamed it would. Out of it, others have created their own blogs that contribute to the love of pipe restoration. Some of them certainly could speak for themselves how rebornpipes contributed or has not contributed to their own blog and I will leave that to them if they choose to do so. I have no idea where the blog will go or what its life expectancy will be but I am committed to continue to post and pay the bills to keep it going as long as I am able. It remains a major part of each day to read and do the housekeeping on the blog. I have the app on my iPad and my iPhone so I can do the work wherever I am at the moment. My morning begins with a cup of coffee and reading what others have posted and commented from around the world while I slept.

Once again I want to thank you all – those dreamers among you who contribute your own work, those of you who read and comment faithfully now, those of you who read and email to let me know how much you are enjoying the blog and all who are loyal readers and enjoy the blog on your own. Thank you to each of you who send questions and now contact me through the contact button on the front page for help in your own restorations. It is a pleasure to be able to help you as you work on your own restorations and repairs. It is a joy for me to see my dream coming to pass. It is a joy to be a part of the community that has formed around rebornpipes.

I raise my pipe to each of you who love the work of refurbishing, bringing old pipes back to life and passing on the trust that is symbolized in a briar that outlives each of us. It is because of that commonality that I continue to work and continue to post. Thank you all.

72. The New Arklow Custom Line from Smokingpipes


I like the looks of this new line of Peterson’s Pipes. May have to add one. Thanks Mark for keeping these in front of us!

peterson pipe notes

As we discuss in the book, Peterson has a long-standing tradition of customization and design collaboration that stretches back to the first decades of the company. This could be anything from a short run of a single pipe, like the 307 System sandblast currently available for pre-order from Cupojoes.com for the Pipe Smokers of Ireland Facebook club, to a commemorative like the 135 numbered pieces produced for the James Fox 135th Anniversary last year, to a full-fledged line for a large retailer like Laudisi (Smokingpipes.com). These special edition pipes are of great interest to Pete Nuts, and I always enjoy hearing about them and how they came about.

A few weeks back, one of the finest examples I’ve seen in a long time of a custom-line collaboration appeared at Smokingpipes, one that just begs to be seen all in one place. So I got in touch with Sykes Wilford at…

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