Blog by Steve Laug
I have had quite a number of emails over the past years asking for a list of tools and supplies that I use for pipe refurbishing. I have made a list and broken it down into 4 parts – two dealing with the bowl and two dealing with the stem. The first in each category is what I call field dressing the pipe. It involves the initial breaking down of the pipe and stripping and cleaning it. The second in each category is the finishing.
1. For the stems – field dressing
– Oxyclean for soaking oxidized stems. I use it to soften the oxidation rather than remove it. It works great. It does not remove oxidation as some have suggested but it does soften it so it is more easily removed.
– a pint jar or container with a lid that can be used for soaking stems (I use an empty Oxyclean container for the alcohol bath and another for the Oxyclean wash.)
– Sanding pads – coarse, medium and fine pads – these are 2″x3″ and about an inch thick. I find that they are firm but flexible. The edges work great against the button.
– 400 and 600 grit wet dry sand paper
– Pipe cleaners – both bristle and fluffy
– Dental pick for getting the corners of the button, the slot and the tenon
– Pliers for removing stinger apparatus
– Small microwave bowl or heat gun to lift bite marks and dents from the stem
– Retort system – available on eBay or from Shield on Smokers Forums http://www.smokersforums.co.uk/
2. For the stems – Finishing
– Sanding pads (see above), 240 grit sand paper and 400, 600 wet dry sand paper and Micromesh pads in 1500, 1800, 2400, 3200, 4000, 6000 grits.
– Buffer with pads – Tripoli, then White Diamond and then Carnauba. These are used after the sanding process. I don’t use a Dremel for this as it can cause ripples in the Vulcanite stem.
– I just started using Obsidian Pipestem Oil on the stems and it is fantastic. I rub it into the stem, let it sit for 30 minutes, polish and repeat.
– I then wax the stem with either Carnuaba Wax, Renaissance Wax or Paragon Wax. The first I apply with a buffing wheel the latter two can be applied by hand. When the latter are used apply them, let them dry and then buff with a soft cotton cloth.
– Soft cloths for hand buffing
– Bright light to identify scratches in the bowls and in the stems
1. For the bowl – Field dressing
– Jewelers Loop to examine the hallmarks and stamping on the pipe before sanding
– Reamer (I use a Pipnet Reamer that is available from Synjeco. It is also made by Castleford. It is a ‘T’ handle with four different blade heads that fit in the bowl. Very easy to use and maintain roundness of the chamber. I also use a KleenReem or Senior Reamer as well. I have a review and comparison of the two on the blog.)
– Soft bristle tooth brush for scrubbing with the oil soap
– Brass bristle tire brush for use in scrubbing on plateau and in rustication
– 2×3 inch sanding pads of different grits (Coarse, Medium and Fine). I found these at a paint shop/hardware store as they are used in drywall patching and painting. Home Depot carries them as well. These are used to remove the tars and lava on the top of the bowls.
– Murphy’s Oil Soap
– Several soft rags for wiping and application of soap
– 100s of pipe cleaners – fluffy, bristle and thin
– Q-tips cotton swabs – I use these to clean out the mortise area of the shank as well as the sump in system pipes.
– Cotton boles that are used with the retort and also in using them for stuffing the bowl and adding isopropyl alcohol to draw out the tars a oils of old tobacco from the bowl.
– Silver polish for bands – both a liquid/paste application and a polishing cloth that is available through jewelry shops.
– A pint jar/container with a lid for the alcohol bath
– 99% isopropyl alcohol
2. For the bowl – Finishing
– 400 and 600 grit sand paper
– Micromesh pads in 1500,1800, 2400, 3200, 4000 and 6000 grit available online at Lee Valley Tools and other wood working suppliers.
– A knife that can be heated and a cloth that can be wet to use to steam dents from the bowls. You can use a knife – I heat the blade on my gas stove and then use a wet cloth on the dent and apply the hot knife to the dent and the steam lifts the dent. You can also use an iron to do the same with a damp cloth.
– Stains – I use Feibings Shoe dye – aniline based stains that are far cheaper than labeled wood stains. I use Medium and Dark Brown, Oxblood or Cordovan, and Black almost all the time but it is available in other colours as well. Those three match most of the older English and American pipes that I rework.
– Matches or lighter for flaming the stain once it applied
– Rubber gloves for applying stain unless you don’t mind wearing it for a while
– Q-tip cotton swabs or pipe cleaners bent in half for applying the stains
– Soft rags for wiping off stains and applying them
– You can get a polishing kit from Lee Valley that includes three buffer pads, and arbor and attachments for a bench grinder. That is what I have. It also comes with a bar of Tripoli, White Diamond and Carnauba wax in the kit. It will last a long time. I think it is about $70 or less for the kit.
– I also have a jar of Halcyon wax for use on blasts and rusticated. It is applied by hand and buffed off with a soft cloth. They also have Paragon wax for smooths. It is available on eBay for sale or you can Google it to get it – it comes from Fine Pipes.com
You can add other tools to the kit as you want to. I also have a specially cut screw driver for rusticating bowls, a tenon expander, a wood screw that I use to remove broken tenons, a battery terminal brush that fits the bowls, a plumbers 3/4″ wire brush for bowl reaming etc. Necessity is the mother of invention in the process of refurbishing. I am always looking for new tools and ideas.