Daily Archives: August 4, 2012

Reshaping a button and stem on a Bewlay Bulldog


I picked up this nice older Bewlay Bulldog in a group of pipes I got off of Ebay. It was part of a lot that included two other Bewlay’s and two Barlings as well as quite a few other older pipes. This one is a nice little Bulldog – 4 ¾ inches long. When it arrived the stem was really a bit of a mess. The previous owner seemed to have cut off a portion of the stem and cut a groove on the top of the stem and the bottom as well to form some sort of new button. You can see from the first two photos below what the stem looked like. There were channels on the top and bottom of the stem that were about a ¼ inch wide and went the width of the stem. The stem was a bit oxidized and the bowl was dirty and tars and carbon were built up on the rim.

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The next two photos show the stem in profile and you can see the channels if you look closely at the button area of the stem. The button had no real profile or shape to it. The briar was very nice on this one so I really wanted to rework the stem and keep the original stem intact.

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I used needle files to begin to reshape the stem and the button. There was a lot of material to remove to even out the slope of the stem to the button. I also needed to reshape the button to make it truly a button. The slot needed to be cut in the button as well as there was only the end of the airway and it was very close to the top of the button. The next series of four photos show the work of the needle file in reshaping the stem. The groove on the top of the stem is shown in the first photo and you can see that it was not too deep. The angle of the blade to the saddle however was very steep and the stem was thick. While the groove is gone there still was a lot of work to do in reshaping the angles of the stem. In the second photo you can see the work done on the underside of the stem. This groove was very deep and there was a lot of work to do to smooth the surface to remove the groove and reshape the angles on the blade of the stem. All the work done at this point was done with flat blade needle files to smooth the grooves, flatten the stem and shape the button. The third and fourth photos in the series show the stem in profile so that you can see the button begin to take shape and the grooves begin to be blended into the surface of the stem blade.

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I decided at this point to use my Dremel with the sanding drum to thin the stem down and to work out the groove on the underside of the stem. The next series of five photos show the stem after the sanding with the Dremel. I was careful to not cut too deeply in the top of the stem as the airway seemed very close to the surface of the stem. I thinned the upper portion of the stem just before the saddle. I wanted the slope from the saddle to the button to be gentler and to make the bit thinner. The first two photos show the stem after sanding the top of the stem with the Dremel. The third photo shows the underside of the stem where I sanded to thin the stem and to remove the groove. At this point the groove is just a simple line that is cut in the stem. The groove is gone. The rest I decided to remove with sandpaper and hand sanding. The last two photos in the series show the stem in profile to give an idea of the slope from the saddle to the button and how the shape is beginning to develop. There was still much sanding to do.

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From this point on I used sandpaper to shape the stem. The next series of four photos were taken after I sanded the stem with 240 grit sandpaper to remove the marks and scratches from the Dremel sanding drum. The shape is beginning to get close to what I am aiming for in terms of thickness and slope of the stem from saddle to the newly formed button. You will note that the top edge of the button is still pretty shallow – that is because the airway is pretty close to the surface at this point and I do not want to sand through it. The groove on the top and the line that was left in the above photos of the bottom of the stem are gone.

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I then switched to a finer grit sanding pad. The pad is pictured in the photos below. It is pink foam with fine grit sandpaper attached. It allows me to follow the bends of the stem and to get in close to the button and smooth the scratches out even more. I also used it to sand the saddle to remove the oxidation on the flat parts. The next series of two photos show the new look to the stem and button. They are close ups of the stem in profile. I wanted you to see the slope of the stem and the shape of the button. The sanding foam worked great to be able to smooth out the lines and the edges of the stem so that the edge of the diamond saddle follow to the end of the button in a nice smooth slope. The last four photos show the stem once it has been wiped down with some Isopropyl alcohol after finishing with the sanding foam. There is still a bit of oxidation on the stem but the angles and flow of the stem look natural and the button is clearly visible.

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I restained the bowl at this point just for a change of pace. The next series of photos show the bowl of the pipe after I had wiped it down with acetone. From that point I went on to restain it with some oxblood aniline stain.
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This series of photos show the restained bowl and the remaining oxidation that needed to be dealt with on the stem.

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In the next photos the pipe is finished. Before it got to this point I sanded the bowl and the stem with micromesh sanding pads from 1500-6000 grit to polish the bowl and rim and to finish polishing the stem. The 1500 grit micromesh worked well to remove the remaining oxidation on the saddle and the remaining scratches on the stem. From there each course of sanding with the different grits of micromesh added more and more shine to the stem. The biggest change in the polishing comes with the shift to 4000 and 6000 grit. I then took the pipe to the buffer and used White Diamond to finish the polishing of the entire pipe and then gave it several coats of carnauba wax to make it shine.

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