Monthly Archives: August 2012

Another Bakelite Pipe Gadget – Tobacco Jar


Blog by Steve Laug

I seem to be drawn to Bakelite Pipe Gadgets. When this one came up on EBay I could not pass it up. I put in the bid that I was willing to live with and “won” this piece with no other bidders on the table. I have no idea what the age is on it but it is in great shape. The threads on the lid and the jar are undamaged. The Bakelite is a nice dark, mottled finish – almost the colour of a stoved Virginia leaf. The script on the lid looks great and the rusticated surface surround the script is really a nice touch. I believe that it was done to provide a surface to strike a match on once the pipe was loaded with the tobacco. There is a cast pattern of tobacco leaves that form a border on the lid and on the bottom of the jar. There are no dents or cracks in the bowl and it is flawless. I polished it with White Diamond and gave it a light buff with carnauba wax. The jar purports to be airtight but is not. It keeps tobacco fairly well for about a week and then it begins to dry out. It holds a place in my pipe cupboard and is a nice piece of tobacciana. ImageImage

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Two men and Pipe Restoration via Skype – Part 2


Blog by Steve Laug

A month ago I posted the first part of this blog entry and you read through the interaction of Carl and me as we worked on a nice little billiard and brought it back to life. We did this through interacting on Skype and posting on Pipe Smokers Unleashed Forums as we did the work. It was a great experience and one that is worth repeating should anyone want to give this a try.

This is part 2 of that restoration via Skype. It will also be published in Pipe Smokers Unleashed Magazine in the September issue.

Carl and I ended our evening of work on the billiard with these last few comments.

SL – Nicely done. It looks like a “new” pipe. Fire up a good bowl of something and enjoy it. Tomorrow is sanding and staining day for the Dublin. Let’s see if we can get her looking as nice.

CH – Yeh, I’ll let the tea steep overnight so it is really dark.

SL – Do you have superglue there? We will need it on the fills tomorrow. If not we will be creative.

CH – This is the DR mate LOL.  Superglue is too technical for these people. I have the wood filler though and the tea LOL.

SL – We will make it work. I will check with you tomorrow when I have a bit of time to walk you through the other one. You can sand it some more if you like. Keep the stem on so you do not change the shape of the shank on it. Enjoy it. Once you have it ready we will look and see what we are dealing with. Enjoy the “new” pipe.

The next morning we reconnected on Skype to work on the Dublin. Carl had posted the following on the forum describing his work in prepping the pipe for the next lesson on staining.

CH – Ok guys, Dublin on the table today to carry on. This pipe requires a bit more in terms of restoration as I really wanted to try a re-stain and do more work on it. Here is a picture of what it looks like right now.

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First thing I did this morning was fire up the billiard with a bowl of CH and thought about what I wanted to do. I was intending to try and get a more contemporary look to the pipe with a pale stain but a couple of things are working against that at the moment. The first is the number of fills on the pipe and I only have access to my mahogany wood filler. The second is that when you wipe the bowl down with Isopropyl the briar color is quite dark and will actually make a good match to the filler I have.

Ok work done so far this morning while sipping away at the billiard.
– Sanding of bowl with 220 to remove all traces of previous finish.
– Next I wanted to remove as much of the chipping on the rim as possible so I took a piece of 220 and laid it on a glass desk that I have and sanded the rim in circular motions, alternating between clockwise and anticlockwise to keep the profile of the bowl intact. I did this for about 20 minutes or so and removed all chips apart from one that has about 1mm left on it and is hardly noticeable. The rim has a nice crisp sharp edge and when we stain I will look again to see if I need to push to remove that last tiny bit.
– I then looked at the fills on the pipe and as I am going to refill these I used a small flathead screwdriver take out the old filler.
– All sanding was done with the stem in place to ensure that the profile of shank to stem is not lost.

That is the stage where we are at the moment and the image above shows the current status of the Dublin. It looks very good. I will wash the bowl down with Isopropyl alcohol to remove any of the sanding grit and filler grit that may be left. Once that is done I will work on those fills. Then re-sand the bowl to blend in the fills. Glad to see that they match the colour of the wet briar. Hopefully they can disappear a bit into the briar.

As I didn’t have an old toothbrush (going to have to start saving them) I used an old 9mm pistol brush to clean the bowl with Isopropyl. When I was sure that all traces of the old filler were out and that the bowl was clean I then filled the holes with mahogany wood filler. I used a piece of cardboard from an old battery packaging that was fairly strong but flexible. This allowed me to push the putty right into the holes. I then tamped the putty with the flat edge of a screwdriver to ensure that it was really packed in.
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As you can see I really overdid the filler. This will ensure that all gaps are filled and I can sand down to the bowl profile evenly.

SL – Looking really good. Once it is dry sand it down to the bowl surface. I think the putty will dry lighter than the briar but it is better than the pink filler that was there.

CH – Once I have sanded it down we will want to do some work to highlight the beautiful grain that is on that one. I would like to see if we can make it pop a bit. It will also help to hide the fills and make them a bit less obvious.

SL – That is what we are going to want to highlight with our staining. Hopefully we can make it pop. I usually use black stain to do that. But we will make do.

After sanding the filler Carl took these photos to show me the pipe. The fills are very visible as the putty dried much lighter in colour than it was when wet. We will have to do a bit of work to hide the fills under the stain. This will not be a light tan coloured pipe at this rate.

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SL – Use the tea to paint the grain lines. Then follow it up with the medium brown stain applied with a brush on the grain lines, flame it and then buff it. When you are done send me a photo to see where we stand.

CH – Here is the pipe with the tea and then medium brown stain on one side to test how the filler shows.

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SL – It is looking really good. Put some stain on the shank near the stem. We will then use a black permanent marking pen to follow the grain lines through the fills. This will help hide them under the stain. Continue to re-stain the pipe until it is all brown and evenly stained. Then buff with Tripoli then White Diamond and finally carnauba wax.

Carl went on to use the marker on the fills and then re-stained the pipe several times. He flamed it after each stain and then buffed the pipe.

CH – I have done it and here is the final result is not too bad for a beginner I think……
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SL – Fills covered pretty well Carl. If I did not know they were there I would not see them. They are hidden quite well. Nicely done for sure. You have two “new” ones you can be proud of. Well done. Got the bug now?

CH – Best fun I’ve had with my clothes on LOL. Now where is that damned lathe and band saw.
If it is as much fun to carve as it is to refurbish then I’m hooked and can’t wait to get back to the UK and make a little workshop.

SL – As the voice guide in the process I have got to say I had a great time as well. The final product tells the story. Working through the process via Skype and reporting it here was very cool. Enjoy your new pipes!

A Unique Piece of Pipe History – A Royden Meer-Tone


Blog by Steve Laug

I picked this old Royden Meer-Tone up in a sale on EBay where a friend wanted the tobacco pouch that came with it. I won the bid and the result was he got the pouch and I got to keep this unique little pipe. It is different than any I have seen. I have done some research trying to find information on it and cannot find much at all. I have seen several on EBay that are unsmoked, some on Etsy that are also unsmoked, one even in a box. But there is not any information on the manufacturer that I can find. Anyone know anything about this brand and maker? Let us know.

The stem is a yellow nylon, the bowl is a white plastic (maybe Bakelite) and the lining of the bowl is a meerschaum cup inserted into the bowl and drilled on the side like a regular pipe. The meer cup is fit tight to the bottom of the bowl with no airspace between it and the bottom of the bowl. When it arrived the meer was dirty – possibly smoked just a few times as the bottom of the bowl was still clean. The top half of the bowl and the rim were darkened. The shank had a fine crack in it.

I used 1500 grit micromesh to clean up the rim of the insert and the outer edge of the bowl. I also used the micromesh to polish the plastic bowl that the insert sat in. There were rub marks and some scratches that the micromesh took care of. The nylon stem was dirty on the inside and stained with tobacco oils. I cleaned that with some alcohol on pipe cleaners and a shank brush until it was clean. The inside of the shank was also dirty and I cleaned it as well. I repaired the crack in the shank with a little superglue and then banded the shank with a pressure fit nickel band. The stem had tooth marks (fortunately not deep). I am not sure about heating a nylon stem to raise the marks so in this case I sanded them with 240 grit sandpaper until they were gone. I used 400 and 600 grit wet dry (you probably have gotten the pattern by this point in my stem refurbishing) and then used micromesh pads 1500-12,000 grit. I find that the 8000 and the 12,000 add a noticeable shine to the stem.

The pictures below give you a good idea of what the pipe looks like. It is a small pipe – roughly 5 inches in length.

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Refurbished Stanwell 89


Blog by Steve Laug

The day I decided to work on this one turned out to be my day for Danish pipes. The first one I chose to refurbish was this nice little Stanwell sandblast shape 89 – one of my favourite shapes with a flat oval shank and stem. It was very dirty and the finish was in rough shape. The bowl was heavily caked and the tars had run over the rim and down the edges. The sand blast was nicely done but almost smooth from the grime that filled the grooves. The stem was stamped hand cut and was oxidized. It also looked like it had worn a softie bit at one time as there was a hard line of calcified grit across the stem in front of the button. The pipe is stamped Stanwell Hand Made. It is a comfortable pipe to hold in the hand.

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I reamed the bowl and scrubbed the inside of the bowl and shank with isopropyl alcohol and pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and a shank brush to clean out the grime. It took many pipe cleaners and cotton swabs before they came out clean and white. To clean the outside of the bowl I washed it with Murphy’s Oil Soap and wiped clean. I scoured the crevices of the blast with a brass bristle tire brush to get grime out of the grooves. I honestly did not care if it took of some of the stain and colour as I planned on restaining it anyway. Once it was clean I dropped it in my alcohol bath to let it soak and finish removing the finish.

I worked on the stem while the bowl soaked. I buffed it with Tripoli to knock off the oxidation as it was not a deep brown. This was an easy stem to clean as the oxidation was on the surface. I used 1500-6000 grit micromesh pads after the buffing. I buffed it carefully as I wanted to preserve the logo and the sharp edges of the stem where it met the shank. Once the bowl was finished I would put it on the pipe to give it a final buff with White Diamond.

I took the bowl out of the alcohol bath and dried it off. I then cleaned off any remaining grime and finish with a cotton pad and clean alcohol. Once dry I stained it with a medium brown aniline stain and flamed it to set the stain. I then put the stem on the pipe and took it to the buffer. I buffed it lightly with Tripoli to take remove some of the stain from the high spots on the blast and then buffed the whole pipe with White Diamond. I used a light touch on the bowl as I did not want to blur the edges of the blast. Once finished I coated it with multiple coats of Halcyon wax.

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A Bewlay Thirty Prince Reborn


Blog by Steve Laug

This pipe grabbed my eye because of the classic prince shape. The bowl was dirty and caked. The rim is tarred and caked as well. The finish was scuffed and dirty, but there looked to be some nice grain underneath. The stem had tooth dents that were quite deep and the oxidation was odd in that it was streaked more than solid. The tenon was stainless steel and quite long. It can be seen in the first picture below. The alignment of the stem to the shank was slightly off as the tenon was inserted into the stem a bit high. In pictures 4 and 5 you can see that the stem is lower than the edge of the shank. ImageImageImageImageImage I reamed the bowl and cleaned the shank. The shank was plugged so I used a straightened piece of wire to push through the clog into the bowl. I repeated the push with the wire until I had cleaned out the shank. I finished cleaning it with many pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and a shank brush and isopropyl alcohol. Once I had finished the bowl I sanded the top with micromesh fibre pads from 1500-2400 grit. I wiped it down with cotton pads soaked with acetone to clean off the finish. Then I put the bowl in the alcohol bath and let it soak while I worked on the stem.

The next series of pictures show the bowl after I took it out of the bath. I reinserted the stem so that I could work on the bowl a bit more. You can see from the pictures in this series of photos that I had buffed the stem with Tripoli and also done the initial sanding of the stem and removed most of the surface oxidation. ImageImageImageImage

At this point in the process I pressure fit a band on the stem to help with the alignment of the stem. There was enough give in the stainless steel tenon to hold it in place with the nickel band. The band also gives the little prince a classy look (at least in my opinion!). I then did a lot more work on the stem. I used a heat gun to raise the bite marks as much as possible. They came up significantly but not completely. I sanded the stem near the button with 240 grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface. The five pictures below show the sanding process. I used a medium grit sanding pad after the 240 and then also used a fine grit sanding pad. I was trying to minimize the dents and isolate the deeper dents. The fourth and fifth picture below shows the stem after sanding. I wiped both the top and the bottom of the stem down with alcohol to clean the surface and prepare it for the super glue patches. ImageImageImageImageImage

The next two photos show the super glue patches. I used clear super glue on these patches as the dents were black and I was hoping that the clear would allow the black from the vulcanite to show through the glue and make the patches blend in clearly and match. You will notice that I used drops of super glue and applied it by dropping the glue on the stem. Once one side was dry I dropped the glue on the other side. ImageImage

Once the super glue was dry I sanded it with 240 grit sandpaper and the fine grit sanding block.  The next two photos show the first stages of the sanding. The spots are still large and very visible in these photos. I continued to sand them until they were well blended. Once it was finished I used micromesh pads to sand it until it was smooth. ImageImage

The next two photos show the stem in its finished condition. I sanded it with micromesh pads – 1500, 1800, 2400, 3200, 3600, 4000, 6000, 8000, 12,000 grits to bring the stem to this final state. The patches are well blended into the finish of the stem and are virtually invisible to those who don’t know where to look. ImageImage

The next series of four photos show the pipe after buffing with several coats of carnauba wax and then a soft flannel buff. The finish came out very smooth and the patches are not visible. The stem looks new. In the light of the flash a hair on the underside of the stem is visible. The pipe is now ready to fire up with its inaugural bowl. ImageImageImage

Refurbished a Karl Erik Apple


I picked this beautiful older Karl Erik apple up on EBay. When it arrived I loved the looks of it and decided to work on it immediately upon opening the package. It had many dents in the sides of the bowl and front and back. The bowl had some darkening along the back side of the bowl near the rim. It was not charred or burned just darkly stained. The rim was clean of tars and oils and the bowl had been reamed already. It was a very clean pipe other than the darkening and the dents on the rim and bowl sides. The stem was oxidized minimally and had a few bite marks on it that were not too deep. There was not a lot of work to do on this one so I went to work. ImageImage

I took it into the kitchen and turned on one of the gas burners on the stove. I wet a dish cloth so and laid it on the counter next to the stove. I heated my old butter knife over the flame. I placed the folded wet dish cloth on the dents that are visible on the sides of the bowl to steam them out. The hiss of the hot knife on the damp cloth generated the steam that lifted the dents. I worked on the dents on both sides of the bowl and on the rim. When I was finished the dents were gone. I washed the exterior of the bowl down with some isopropyl alcohol to clean off the darkening along the top edges of the bowl on the back side and on both sides. It came off quite easily. Once that was done I sanded the bowl with micromesh pads to smooth out the finish and prepare it for restaining. I stained it with a medium brown stain. I buffed it with White Diamond and then gave it several coats of carnauba wax.

I used my heat gun to lift the tooth marks on the stem near the button and then sanded it with 240 grit sandpaper and also the usual 400 and 600 grit wet dry sandpaper and water. Once they were smoothed out I sanded it with micromesh 1500-6000 grit and then put it back on the bowl. I  buffed and polished the whole pipe and waxed it again. It is a beautiful little pipe that I will enjoy smoking.
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Opening the Slot in the Button with Needle Files – A Photo Essay


Blog by Steve Laug

This afternoon I was thinking it would be helpful to write up a tutorial on how I use needle files to open the slot on a pipe stem. In this photo essay I describe in a step by step breakdown the process I use to open the slot. I will describe it and illustrate it with pictures of the stem at each step and the files that I use to do the work. In the past I have just done the work but never documented it so this will be interesting for me as well as you.

The stem I have chosen to open the slot on is a Peterson 69 that has a replacement bit that was fit by Howard Schultie of Schulties Pipe Repair. Howard did an amazing job of fitting the stem with a great tight fit in the end cap of the older Peterson that I sent him. I topped the bowl and restained it when it arrived yesterday. I only had one issue with the stem when I examined it and that was that it came with a fairly small slot that made fitting a pipe cleaner a chore and the draught a bit tight as well. I removed the stem and blew air through the bowl and the airway was nice and open. I slid a round needle file into the stem from the tenon end up to the bend and it too appeared to be open. From that point on the airway narrowed as it moved toward the slot. The slot was narrow and the v shaped funnel at the slot was shallow. I like a more open slot and deeper v in the button and end of the stem so I went to work on it with the files.
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Picture of stem before opening the slot Image

The files that I use – (left to right) flat rectangle, rounded blade with point, flat blade, wedge blade, oval blade, round blade
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I do the filing with my right hand while holding the stem in my left hand. I probably could use a bench vise to hold the stem but I do not have one set up on my temporary worktable. I start the filing with the flat rectangular bladed file or a flat pointed file depending on which fits in the slot. In this case the flat rectangular blade was too thick so I used the pointed flat blade to begin. I filed the top and bottom edge of the slot to open it up wider. My preference for the slot is that is an elongated oval shape so I started by opening these top and bottom edges first. I also slanted the edges of the slot inward toward the airway. I have found that doing so allows me to use the thicker round and oval files to shape the ends of the slot.

The next series of four pictures show how the stem progressed as I used the pointed needle file to open the top and bottom of the slot and the slope of the edges inward. Each photo shows more progress until the fourth picture which shows how the slot looked when I was finished with the flat pointed blade.
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Once I had opened the top and bottom of the slot I could use the wedge file to deepen the v funnel in the airway. This takes a bit of work to keep the angles even on both side of the airway. The wedge file keeps the slot rectangular and really focuses the cutting of the file on the sides of airway and slot. Once I have the angles filed and the v deepened I change to the oval file and keep working both sides of the slot until I get the slot to the correct depth. The oval file also rounds the edges of the v on the inside of the slot and also rounds the corners of the outer edges of the slot. The next series of three photos show the progress of the rounding of the edges and the deepening of the v funnel. The last of the three shows the state of the slot when I had finished this step in the process.
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When the v funnel is completed I used the round file to round the edges of the slot on both ends. I also used it to widen the slot in the process so that it extends the equally to both sides of the button and the top and bottom. It is getting closer to the goal of the oval smooth slot.

At this point in the process I use the folded piece of sandpaper in the photo above to work on the inside of the slot to smooth out the roughness left by the filing. I used 240 grit sandpaper to work on the inside until it was smooth and then shifted to 400 and 600 wet dry to finish the sanding. The final picture below in this series of four photos shows the state of the slot after sanding.
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After finishing the basic shaping of the slot I decided to line up the files that I used to get the stem to this point. The next series of four photos show the files and the current appearance of the reshaped and opened slot. ImageImageImageImage

After taking these photos I did quite a bit more sanding on the internals of the slot. I used the folded sandpaper pictured above to open it up and smooth it out. The first photo shows the finished shape of the slot. From there I used fluffy pipe cleaners to clean out the sanding dust and vulcanite bits that were left in the stem and slot from the sanding. The second photo shows the finished slot after I had sanded it with the 240 grit, 400 and 600 grit sandpaper and water to get it smooth. ImageImage

The final photo below shows the finished slot. It is no longer the slight slot but is now a wide open and oval shaped slot. It easily takes a fluffy pipe cleaner with little effort. The draught is now very open. The internals are shaped in a wide open v shaped funnel that comes to a point ½ inch into the slot. Each side of the v is gradually sloped to the airway at the bottom. The whole process did not take too long. From start to finish I spent 45 minutes. I like the finished appearance of the slot far better than the original one. The feel in the mouth and the draw is comfortable. Image