Daily Archives: January 3, 2013

Restemming and Refurbishing an Italian No Name Dublin


This is the fourth pipe of the six I picked up recently on a visit to some antique malls in the US. The stamping was not present on the top or bottom of the shank. The bowl had an interesting shape to me when I saw it on the shelf of pipes in the shop. It did not have a stem. The grain on it was very nice looking. The stain was spotty and the finish damaged – it had a coat of varnish or something over the finish that was broken and spotty. Where the varnish remained the colour was rich and where the varnish was gone the finish was lighter and soiled. The rim had been damaged on the outer edge of the bowl to the point that it was round on the front. There was a lighter burn on the inside edge of the bowl toward the front of the bowl. Once I got it home and cleaned it up a bit I found that the shank had a long ½ inch crack that followed the grain on the bottom of the shank. The first two photos below show the bowl before I worked on it. I used my PIMO tenon turner to fit a stem to the pipe before I did any work on the bowl. The new stem is visible in the first two pictures as well. The stem needed to be worked on for a good fit but I did not want to push it into the mortise as I had to deal with the crack before working on the tenon for a snug fit.

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The next photo shows the crack in the shank. I used a dental pick to open it up so that I could drip super glue into the crack. I dripped the glue in and then clamped it until it was set and dry. There was some minimal excess of the glue that I removed by sanding the shank with 320 grit sandpaper to remove the drops. Once that was done I fit the stem to the shank by hand sanding the tenon until it was a snug fit. I knew from previous experience that once I banded the shank I would need to remove a bit more material from the tenon in order to make it fit snugly. The second photo below shows the fit of the stem. I used my Dremel with a sanding drum to remove the excess vulcanite from the stem so that the flow would be smooth between the shank and the stem. I also sanded the seams on the stem and the button and faced the surface of the button to remove the excess vulcanite.

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I heated a nickel band with my heat gun and then pressure fitted it on the shank at this point. I wanted the fit to be tight and to draw in the crack further. Once the pipe was banded I needed to remove more vulcanite from the stem to make it fit against the band. The photos below show the band after it has been pressure fitted and the stem after I used the Dremel to remove more of the excess vulcanite to make it fit. The main feature of the photos though is the process I used in topping the bowl. The first photo shows the bowl with the rim flat against some 220 grit sandpaper on a flat board that I use as a sanding surface for topping bowls. The second photo shows the bowl after I have been topping it in a circular motion on the sandpaper for quite a while. You can clearly see the burn mark and the damage to the back and the front of the bowl. The third photo shows the bowl when I am finished topping it. I finished the sanding with a fine grit sanding block (the yellow sanding sponge in the final photo). The damage to the back and front edges of the rim is gone. The burn has been minimized and the briar under the darkened spot is solid and smooth. The staining will minimize the damage even more once it is done.

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The next two photos show the bowl after I wiped it down with acetone to break up the remaining varnish on the outside of the bowl. It took quite a bit of scrubbing with acetone on cotton pads to remove the remnants of that coating. I also sanded the bowl with 340 grit sandpaper to further remove the coating and wiped it down a final time with acetone. I also sanded the stem with medium grit Emery paper to remove the deep scratches from the sanding drum and followed that up with 240 and 320 grit sandpaper. The fit of the stem can be seen in the two photos as well.

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At this point in the process I stained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain that I had diluted with isopropyl alcohol in a 3:1 ratio. I wanted the stain to be slightly opaque to hide the remaining darkening of the burn but I still wanted to highlight the grain in the briar. The four photos below show the stain after it has been applied, flamed, reapplied and stained a second time. I applied it with the dauber that comes with the stains and as soon as the bowl was covered I lit it on fire to set the stain and burn off the alcohol.

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The next three photos, though out of focus, give an idea of what the pipe looked like after I buffed it with Tripoli and White Diamond. The colour is strong throughout, the rim has an opacity that is what I was aiming for and the bowl still shows the grain patterns very clearly. I am pleased with the overall look of the pipe at this point. I also buffed the stem with Tripoli and White Diamond as well as I wanted to get a clear idea of the status of the scratching. After buffing the stem I set up my heat gun and heated the stem in order to give it a quarter bend. Once it was heated I used a round dowel to bend it evenly and then held it in place until it was cool. I ran cool water over the stem to set the bend and then took it back to my desk work on it further.

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I took the pipe back to the work table and worked on the stem. I used micromesh sanding disks and wet sanded the stem with 1500, 1800 and 2400 grits. When that was finished I polished the stem with Maguiar’s Scratch X 2.0 rubbed on by hand and polished off with a cotton pad.  I then dry sanded with micromesh sanding pads using 3200, 3600, 4000 grit. I gave the stem a coat of Obsidian Oil and rubbed it into the stem. Once dry I finished sanding with 6000, 8000 and 12,000 grit micromesh pads. I took the pipe to the buffer for a final buff with White Diamond and then gave the entirety several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a soft, clean flannel buffing pad. The next series of photos show the finished pipe.

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