Daily Archives: July 8, 2012

Refinished Rims and Touch-Ups

Blog by Alan Chestnutt

Alan, aka Castana on SF, posted this recently and I found it extremely helpful so I asked and received his permission to post it here as well. I am ordering some of these as I speak. Nicely done Alan. I look forward to gving them a try. They are available on Ebay and also on Amazon.

When restoring pipes, I nearly always like to refinish the rim. I think a nice clean sharp rim always sets a pipe off. As well as this it is just as easy to sand and refinish a rim as to try to remove tar and staining to the old rim. One of the problems though in refinishing a rim is trying to match the stain to the rest of the bowl. I always shied away from getting leather dyes, simply because you would need to be artist to be able to correctly mix all the differing shades.

I always remember my grandfather staining shoes and the smell of the dye always lingered in my brain. In more recent times that memory was triggered when smelling a sharpie marker, so my thoughts were that it must contain a similar alcohol based dye. I used a sharpie a few years ago to restain a black sandblast bowl and it worked a treat. “If only they were available in shades of brown” I thought to myself.

So while walking through a local discount store a few months ago, I spied furniture repair markers. Exactly what I had been thinking of.


They come in 5 shades of brown plus black and cost £2 (about 3 bucks). I couldn’t wait to get home and try them. They are a chisel shape marker and apply a translucent stain exactly like an alcohol dye. Perfect! With the variety of shades a match can be made 99% of the time by application of a couple of coats or moving to the next darker shade. Simply cover the rim by wiping the marker over it and a few seconds later remove the excess with a soft cloth.


A refinished Tilshead rim.

They are excellent for touch ups on other areas of the pipe and I often use them to just refinish the whole pipe to brighten up the grain. Needless to say I acquired a few more packs, but I have refinished literally hundreds of pipes and I am still on my first pack. Simple to use, no mess, a variety of shades and cheap. I class them as my best purchase ever for restoring pipes, so keep your eyes open for them. Available on eBay too, but at a premium.


The Everyman Pipe from the 1920’s Era

Blog by Steve Laug

This featherweight cutty shaped pipe came from the 1920’s or earlier. I bought it in a lot of that era pipes on EBay and it arrived as pictured below. It is stamped The Everyman Pipe on the left side of the shank and Made in England in a Circle and shape number 195 on the right. When this arrived in the package of the other old timers it was pretty grimy. The bowl needed serious cleaning and the rim was dented and had rough spots. It needed to be topped as steaming it would not raise the broken spots that came from tapping it out. When the surface of the wood is actually broken and not just dented steaming will not raise the grain significantly and the only repair I know is to sand it off and make it smooth and crisp again. The challenge then is to match the stain so the bowl and rim blend.

I reamed and cleaned the bowl and the airway in the shank. The pipe cleaners came out very dark and tarry at the beginning. I decided to use a drill bit the same size as the airway to clean out the gunk before going back to the pipe cleaners. I use a T handle to turn the bit into the shank by hand to remove the tars and open the airway again. I finished cleaning the shank with fluffy pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol until they came out clean. I wiped down the bowl with acetone to remove the old wax and the grime from the bowl and then used my topping method – a hard, flat board and an anchored piece of 240 grit sandpaper – and topped the rim. (I have since learned from someone that a good way of doing it is to anchor the sandpaper on a Masonite clipboard and sand the rim that way. It works great.)


The stem needed the most work as it was a round tube of vulcanite. I wonder if it was not made to be like a clay tavern pipe. The previous owner had notched the top of the stem to make it easier to hold with his teeth and keep it from rolling. The notch was a fairly deep V cut that was only on the top of the stem. I used needle files to cut a new button on it and then my Dremel with a sanding drum to taper the stem back to the button. The original had a slight bend in the stem so I left that. The button I shaped for the stem is rounded and crowned to fit the orific airhole like those found on pipes of a similar age. After cutting the button and shaping it, the stem needed a lot of sanding to remove the scratches and oxidation. I used 240 grit sandpaper on the entirety to clean up the deeper scratches and remove the oxidation. I then progressed through the wet dry sandpapers and the micromesh pads until I had a good smooth finish on the stem and a good clean button.


I set the stem aside and restained the rim and bowl to match what appeared to be the original colour of the pipe. I used an oxblood undercoat and a dark brown top coat to get the richness of the original finish. I coated the stem with Obsidian Oil and then inserted it in the shank. Once it was dry I took the pipe to the buffer and used the White Diamond to give it a final buff before giving it several coats of carnauba wax.

The pictures below show the finished pipe with its newly shaped and polished stem: