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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


1 thought on “Restored a Carved Figural

Leave a Reply to Bill Withers Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.