Daily Archives: January 27, 2013

Restored Golf Old Briar Billiard


This Golf Old Briar Billiard is the fourth pipe of the six that a friend from Smokers Forums sent my way. This one was the kind of challenge I enjoy. The briar was in pretty good shape under all the dirt and paint and black tarry deposits on the rim and the sides of the bowl. The pipe is stamped Golf in script over Old Briar in block type. On the underside of the shank near the stem it is also stamped with the shape number 1304. I am not sure who made the Golf brand of pipes but I saw several on Pipephil’s site with the name and different logos. It is an interesting piece and quite hefty. It is not large in terms of length or height but in terms of bulk. The finish was shot as you can see and would take some work to remove all the stains and paint flecks on the bowl. There were also some very visible fills on the bowl sides. The stem was very oxidized and had some odd oil like patterns on it that remain a mystery to me as to the cause. There was also a script G on the stem but it was merely applied to the surface rather than stamped into the stem material.

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In the photo below I wanted to show the unique stinger apparatus in the stem. It was removable but seems very tiny in proportion to the size of the pipe. It is a needle point with a slot in the top surface that the smoke is drawn through. There is not much surface area to collect the moisture so I am not altogether sure of the effectiveness of the stinger. The stem was stuck so I had to put it in the freezer for several hours before I could remove it from the shank without breaking things. Once I took it out of the freezer it was fairly easy to remove.

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I put the stem in the Oxyclean bath with the one from the figural pipe. I also put the two bowls in the alcohol bath overnight before giving them a once over. The two photos below show the pipe after I took it out of the bath to begin working on it. You can see that some of the grime was removed but the paint flecks remained as did the black stains on the bowl. These would take more work.

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I used some acetone on a cotton pad to scrub down the bowl. The next series of two photos show how well the acetone removed the finish. It made short work of the paint and dark stains on the briar. I scrubbed it until the surface was clean. You can also see the presence of the fills that I spoke of earlier.

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The rim of the bowl was rough so I decided to top it a slight amount to remove the damage and to clean up the surface. Since I was staining the pipe anyway there would be no problem in trying to match bowl and rim. I used my normal sandpaper on a board system and sanded the bowl in a clockwise motion to smooth out the surface. I first used a fine grit emery cloth and then followed that with 320 grit sandpaper. The first two photos below show that process and the effectiveness of it.

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The next series of four photos show the bowl after I wiped it down with acetone again after the topping of the rim. The cotton pads show the sanding dust and surface grit that still remained on the surface of the bowl. I wanted to give it a final wash before staining it. I decided to not remove the fills on this bowl. I wanted to see if I could blend them in with the stain coat rather than replace them with the superglue briar dust patches that I generally use.

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I chose to restain this pipe with a dark brown aniline stain thinned 2:1 with isopropyl alcohol. It is the same stain I used on the figural pipe that I posted about earlier. The next series of four photos show the process of the staining. I had my daughter help me with the photos and she was able to capture the flaming process in the last photo in this series. The flame burns quickly and blue. It burns off the alcohol and sets the stain in the grain of the briar. I love the way that flame dances on the surface of the pipe.

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I set the bowl aside once the flame had died and worked on the stem. The next series of photos show the stem as it appeared after I removed it from the Oxyclean bath. It needed a lot of work. I had to sacrifice the painted G script as it would not survive the clean up. I used my Bic lighter technique to burn the oxidation. The process is very simple as I just move the flame over the surface of the stem never letting it stay in one place too long. I repeat the process until the surface is clean and black. I then polished the stem with the Maguiar’s Scratch X2.0 scrubbed on by hand then polished off with cotton pads. I repeated that process twice and then sanded the stem with the micromesh sanding pads 1500-12,000 grit. I finished by once again applying the Maguiar’s before putting the stem back on the pipe and taking it to my buffer to buff with White Diamond.

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The next four photos show the finished pipe. It has several coats of carnauba wax applied by my buffer and buffed out to a shine with soft flannel buffing pads. The stain is a bit lighter than it appears in the photos and you can see the grain through the finish. The fills are all but invisible at a quick glance. Before I stained the fills I drew over them with a black permanent marker and then stained them. They covered very well with the marker and the dark stain.

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Restored a Carved Figural


I received this figural pipe in the lot of six that came to me from a friend on Smokers Forums. It is a tiny pipe – measuring just over 3 ½ inches in length. It is stamped only Real Briar in a band around the shank. The carving of a First Nations Leader (as we call them here in Canada) or Native American (US) is nicely done. The bowl was cake with a rough layer of cake. The finish was dirty and some of the top coat was damaged. The rustication around the bowl rim inside the head dress was almost smooth with tars. The grooves in the feathers and facial features were dirty as well. The stem was rough and badly oxidized. There were no tooth marks or chatter on the stem. The button was very tight and I could not put a pipe cleaner through it to clean it out. Pushing a cleaner in from the tenon end only let me get about ¾ of the way up the stem. The first series of four pictures show the pipe as it arrived to my work table.

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I removed the stem and put the bowl in an alcohol bath overnight and the stem in a bath of Oxyclean for the same duration. When I took the bowl out the next morning it was definitely cleaner however I needed to scrub it with a soft bristle toothbrush to remove the grime from deep in the grooves in the face and feathers. I also wiped the bowl down with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the remaining finish on the bowl. I reamed the bowl with my T handle PipNet reamer to get the bowl cleaned out. I also cleaned the shank with cotton swabs and Everclear and then pipe cleaners as well. I used the drill bit on the handle of my KleenReem reamer to remove the build up from the airway between the mortise and the bowl. Once the pipe was cleaned inside and out it was ready to be stained. The next series of three photos show the pipe ready to be restained.

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I restained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain that I thinned down 2:1 with isopropyl alcohol. I used the dauber that comes with the stain. I applied it heavily, flamed it and then restained it until the coverage was the way I wanted it. The next three photos show the bowl during the staining process.

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The stem needed a lot of work to get the roughened surface smooth again and the oxidation off of it. I began by working on the slot in the button. I could not get a pipe cleaner through it so it would need to be opened with my needle files before I could really clean the inside of the airway. The next four photos show the progress of the slot reshaping and opening from start to finish. Once the slot was the right openness and took a pipe cleaner easily I sanded it out inside with a folded piece of 320 grit sandpaper to smooth out the file marks.

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Once the slot was open I cleaned out the inside of the stem with Everclear and pipe cleaners and a shank brush. It took a lot of pipe cleaners as I don’t think the stem had ever been cleaned since it was first smoked. I then sanded the surface of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to loosen the remaining oxidation and smooth out the rough surface. I then used a medium grit sponge backed sandpaper to remove the scratches left behind by the sandpaper. I used the Bic lighter technique on the stem and then sanded it with micromesh sanding pads 1500-2400 grit and then polished it with Maguiar’s Scratch X2.0 applied and rubbed off with a cotton pad. I finished sanding the stem with the remaining micromesh pads from 3200-12,000 grit, buffed it with White Diamond on my buffer and then coated it with Obsidian Oil and then multiple coats of carnauba. I also gave the bowl a buff with carnauba.

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The finished pipe is pictured in its new finish in the next five photos. It is a proud figural that has interesting carving and a great feel in the hand. I am not much for figural pipes but this one has some endearing features for me. Thanks Bill for the gift and the opportunity to try my hand on this one.

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Some Observations on Briar by Country of Origin


I wrote this piece a while ago now but have since worked on many more refurbs. Many are made of briar that is unidentified in the stamping. But some of them are stamped as the lot below were. Here are some of my observations that I noted back then, today as I am reworking this piece I still find the thoughts of those days interesting and decided I would post it here on the rebornpipes blog and get feedback from all of you. Have you found any of these observations to be true or have you found other observations that you could write about? I know I am not alone in saying that I would appreciate the information and the insight that many of you could add to this discussion. Here is the piece I wrote about a year or more ago…

Yesterday and today I refurbed more than 20 pipes and all of them are made from briar that comes from different countries. The country of origin was stamped on them and that is what got me noticing. It was not something I had given much thought before today. Now I wonder about it. The observations that I note are things that were true of all the pipes that bore that country’s stamping. I am sure others may have things that could be added and some may even disagree with me but this is what I found in the process of the last two days.

The pipes that were made of Algerian briar – I found that this particular briar was hard and light weight. I hada reddish tint to it even under the stain. I know that the stain once applied is never removed totally but even as I topped the bowls the briar dust was reddish. I also picked out some fills in some of the bowls and under the putty the briar was also reddish in hue. That makes me at least question whether it is just the effect of the stain because even when the putty fills and the stain are removed the briar is still reddish coloured. When I restain the bowls a reddish hue always seems to come through regardless of whether I use a brown or black stain. One of my tricks, learned from a pipe making friend of mine is to lick the briar to see what the grain looks like. When I did that with these pipes the briar seems to have a sweetish taste to the tongue. I checked that observation by also tasting a bit of the briar dust itself and it was confirmed for me.

The pipes that were made of Spanish briar – I found that this briar has a different weight and density to it than the Algerian. It is heavier than the pipes made of that briar that I have worked on these past days. It seemed to be softer and scratched and dented more easily. I found that on this lot I had to steam out quite a few dents in the wood. I did not find any uniform colour to the stripped briar so I cannot comment on the look of the wood before staining. However, it also seemed to take stain differently as well. The stain soaked into the grainat a rate much more quickly than the other briars and the grain was highlighted differently than in the harder briars from Algeria or Italy. When I performed my taste test on this briar I found that its taste is not as sweet to the tongue. It is more subdued and flat tasting.

The pipes made of Italian briar – The pipes made of this briar were very hard and light weight. Once the finish was stripped off the briar its colour was more yellow or white. When stain is applied to the pipe it does not soak in as deeply and appears a much lighter hue. Even a cherry or oxblood coloured stain comes out lighter and the yellow softens the reddish hues. Using my taste test on this briar I found that the taste is a bit more bitter and sharp on the tongue than either of the other two briars.

These are the observations that I came to as I worked on pipes from these three countries these past two days. I don’t know if I am dreaming or if it truly different. Has anybody else noticed this as you have worked on pipes? I am only noticing because I have been working eight hours each day at these refurbs and noting differences.

In the year plus that has passed since I first wrote these observations, nothing has changed in terms of what I observed and experienced in the briar I worked on. Many of the observations have been confirmed through work on other pipes that have come across my work table. I continue to note the things that I see as I work on these old pipes. I want to one day add Israeli briar to the list and that found in other countries as well. Feel free to post your thoughts in response to this blog post. I look forward to reading what you all have to say. Thanks ahead of time for your contribution to the work.