Daily Archives: April 4, 2013

A Review – A Bill Boyle Small Bent Rustic Apple


I received my third Bill Boyle Pipe in the post from Bill several weeks ago. I have two other pipes that he made for me during the past several years and I have watched the progress in Bill’s craftsmanship and work in these pipes and through watching the variety of pipes that appear on his website and through the reviews others have made. Bill and I have talked about pipes since the days that he started making modified cob pipes. He has come a long way through the years and this new pipe reflects a huge step up in his work in my opinion. The previous two pipes are amazing smoking machines but his stem work was not perfected and was a bit too thick to my liking (See the comparative pictures below). The taper of the stems on the early ones was more abrupt while this one is very smooth and flowing. His internal mechanics have always been spot on but it was the finish work on the stem that needed to be refined. This new pipe is a step up in every way. It is a beauty to be sure. The length of the pipe is 5 inches and the bowl height is 1 5/8 inches. The chamber diameter is 3/4 inches and depth is 1 3/8 inches. It weighs 40 grams or 1.4 ounces. It is carved from Italian block according to Bill’s website and sports a hand cut Cumberland stem. The pipe is a small apple shape with a ¼ bent stem that fits well in the hand.The stamping reversed B and B and is one of the last of this stamping that will be used as Bill has stepped up his production and has a new stamp for Bill Boyle Pipes.
Bill Boyle 1
The finish on the outside of the pipe is rusticated in a finish that is quite different from the other two rusticated pipes I have purchased from Bill. It is not a heavy deep rustication on this pipe but more of a rustication pattern that has the appearance of strands of a rope. There is a still a very tactile feel to the rustication on the bowl and shank but it does not really have the look of randomness that was in his more heavy rustication. It is a nice variation and I think that it adds to the overall appearance.
Bill Boyle 5On the rim of the pipe Bill rusticated it over the curve and then almost countersunk the bowl. The rim thus forms two levels and a bit of step down from the rusticated edge to the smooth edge that is below and then drops into the bowl. The rustication where the shank and bowl meet is a bit heavier than what is on the rest of the bowl and a bit rougher but does not detract from the other rustication. It is merely a variation that makes me wonder if there is not a flaw or sandpit in this area of the pipe (indeed Bill confirmed this is so in a later email). The staining on the briar appears to be a blend of darker/medium brown/black with an oxblood over stain that is a nice contrast. In the light it appears to have a dark oxblood tinge that comes out well in contrast to the browns in the under stain. It really goes well with the Cumberland stem. Bill has matched the colour of the Cumberland stem with his choice and combination of stains. Great work on the finish Bill.
Bill Boyle 3
The stem itself is the best of the three stems my BB pipes. His stem work has really developed and this is by far the most well executed of the three. It is a nicely cut saddle stem. The saddle is well cut and the finish on the 90 degree angles of the saddle is smooth and polished. There are no machine or file marks. He has done a great job shaping this part of the stem. The blade of the stem is thin and has a good even tapered flow from the saddle to the button. It is matched in terms of angles on the top and the bottom and on the left and right side of the stem. The design along with the slight bend makes it fit very comfortably in the mouth. It also rests well enough that it can be clenched quite easily. The tenon is cut from the stem material and is funneled at the end for good mechanics. The button is exactly the way I like them – thinner on the edges with a gentle rise at the centre top and bottom. The edge of the button is a good sharp angle to the stem and looks sharp. It fits well behind the teeth for a comfortable feel. The draught hole/slot in the end of the button is also funneled to deliver a mouthpiece that has the same diameter from start to finish. Comfortable and well executed. A pipe cleaner passes easily through the pipe with no obstruction. I have posted photos below of my other two of Bill’s pipes so that you can see the progress and development in his stem work.

My first one is the Christmas pipe I had him make for me. The rustication is great and the shape is well done. Note the thickness of the stem from the saddle to the button and also the thick button on the end of the stem. I reworked this stem when I received it. I thinned it down, flattened it out and thinned the button as well. I worked it until it was comfortable for me.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The second is an apple that caught my eye on one of his email updates. It was made later than the first one. The stem work is definitely improved. Note that the stem is thinner than the one above but there is a definite crown on the stem. It is almost oval in shape from an end view with thin edges and a rise/crown toward the middle of the stem. There is also an abrupt drop from the stem to the button area. The angle is quite sharp. He has also thinned down the button and made it more comfortable. The stem work is getting better and the feel in the mouth is better but it is still not quite there.
Boylesmooth2
The next photo shows the same view of the newest (the third) Boyle pipe that is in my rack. Here the improvement on the stem is marked. Note the thinness of the stem from the saddle back to the button, the flatness of the stem from side to side and the improved shape of the button. To me the development and improvement can be traced in these three photos. All three pipes smoke exceptionally well. Each one is well made. But each one represents a step in Bill’s development as a pipemaker and particular in the way he fashions his stems.
Bill Boyle 4
The mechanics of this new pipe are well done. The bowl chamber came without a bowl coating and the wood was sanded very smooth. There were no pits or checking in the bowl. The countersunk inner edge of the rim gave a distinctive look to the pipe that I was not sure about at first. Since I have been smoking it the briar is darkening (not char or tar) just the natural darkening of heat and oils and it looks great.The draught hole is centered at the bottom of the bowl and seems to have a slight slope from the bottom to the top of the airhole. There is a very easy and open draw to the pipe. The fit of the stem to the shank is very good. Smooth and tight. The tenon sits deep in the mortise – if not exactly the same length then impressively close! The fit of the tenon is also smooth. The drilling of the draught in the shank is slightly high in the end of the mortise. It is not in the middle of the mortise. The tenon on the stem is drilled to match it and there is no misalignment to the two. The air pulls clearly through the pipe with no whistling at all. Using a light to shine through the various airways reveals smoothly executed airways on the inside. Very nice work on the drilling Bill. Your matching the airway in the mortise to the tenon end was well executed.
Bill Boyle 2
I have been smoking it since I received it and am very happy with it. I have smoked Virginia flake and broken flake tobaccos in it and it packs easily and stays lit. And I have to say that like all three of Bill’s pipes that I have the draught on the pipe is superb. Smoking it is a pleasure and is uncomplicated and effortless. I found that without exception Bill’s pipes smoke smooth from the get go with none of the new pipe break in woes. Thanks Bill for a well-made pipe that smokes as good as it looks! If you are interested in Bill’s work check out his website and look at the gallery – he does commissioned pipes as well. Here is the link: http://www.billboylepipes.com/

Irwin’s (GBD Second) 9448 Refurbished


Blog by Greg Wolford

I picked this Irwin’s 9448 up not too long ago expecting it to be an easy clean up, which was partly right and partly wrong, and knowing it was a GBD second it should be a great pipe for the money. From the seller’s photos I figured a little heat to lift the tooth dents, some light sanding and then micro meshing and the stem would be good to go. The stummel I figured would need to be cleaned, soaked in an alcohol bath and retained. Here are the photos from the seller:

Seller's Photo

Seller’s Photo

IMG_5457 (2) IMG_5458 (2) IMG_5459 (2) IMG_5460 (2) IMG_5461 (2) IMG_5462 (2)

I forgot to take my own photos when the pipe arrived and during the process so only the seller’s before and my after photos will be shown. The process went as follows though:

The stummel was in better shape than I anticipated: it was dirty and did have a few dents to raise but was in really good condition overall. The stem was another story: the tooth dents were much deeper than the photos showed or than I had expected. I knew that this stem was going to require filling the dents and thought over a few options, which I have more to say on later here. So, I decided to start with the stummel.

After reaming the bowl and cleaning the shank, I began by wiping the pipe down with acetone on disposable cotton pads, and went through many of them. After get most of the dirt and wax off, I took some cotton swabs dipped in 91% isopropyl alcohol and began to work off the heavy build up on the rim. It was a slow process but as the layers came off I could see the rim was in very nice shape and didn’t need topped. Once all the gunk was off, I took a few more passes over the entire stummel with a couple more cotton pads wet with alcohol to make sure all the finish and dirt was removed. I then turned my attention to the dents: one on the front of the bowl, two on the bottom near where the curve of the bowl met the flat “sitter” area, and a couple on the rim.

I used my heat gun to heat up the end of an old kitchen “butter knife” and a wet scrap rag to produce the steam to raise the dents. All of them came out fairly easily except for one on the “sitter” portion and it took several applications of steam to get it out. But it did finally raise.

At this point I went to the buffer to see what the stummel looked like. I buffed it with some Tripoli and then again my hand with an old t-shirt. I saw then that the pipe had good color under all the dirt, it had just been hidden. And the steam had done its job very nicely, too, giving me a pretty well smoothed out stummel. There was one fill on the left side of the bowl but not a large one and it didn’t really stand out to my eye so I decided to leave it alone. I wiped it down with one more alcohol pad to remove any trace left from the Tripoli and then decided to not sand or re-stain it; the color was really nice and the grain showed in a nice contrast. So I set the stummel aside to work on the stem.

I began by heating the stem, with a pipe cleaner inserted to make holding, moving and not damaging the airway easier. The dents lifted some but, as I expected, were too deep to come anywhere near level. So now it was time to try some patching or filling of the dents.

A while back Al, another contributor here on the blog, had mentioned he had used cigar ash to fill in a few dents but that they were still visible repairs. I have been experimenting with a couple of ideas that so far have not made any great improvements over just using super glue alone. I thought that on this one I would try to make a patch with carbon reamed from the pipe. The carbon is much darker, a real black, than ash so I thought this might make a better repair. I worked in layers, packing in the carbon, applying a drip of super glue, allowing it to dry, sanding it back down with an emery board and repeating; I think I did three rounds on each side of the stem, trying raise the dents slowly and make them stronger in the long run. After the last application on the underside, I began to work with my needle files, then emery boards, 320 grit wet sand and finally onto micro mesh, wet sanding 1500-2400. I then applied the Novus 2 plastic polish, rubbing it on and off with cotton pads. The remaining grits of micro mesh I used dry through 12,000. Finally I used the Novus 2 again, applied the Mother’s Back to Black with my fingers and let it dry before buffing it off with another cotton pad. The final step was to polish it with the Novus 1 plastic polish. Now it was time to reassemble the pipe and take it back to the buffer. At this point I knew the patch wasn’t as good as I’d hoped it would be: it was better, I think, but it was also still noticeable.

I buffed the stummel with Tripoli again before I reassembled the pipe and buffed the entire pipe with white diamond. I then applied several coats of carnauba wax to the pipe and buffed it out with a new soft cloth wheel. This is what the pipe looks like now, cleaned up (except for the fact I smoked it before I took the photos) but without any new staining done to it.

After

After

IMG_5493 IMG_5492 IMG_5491

The bit area does look a lot better and it is smooth, almost; apparently the layering technique wasn’t my best idea as a small piece of the top patch came off at some point, probably on the buffer. Next time I will not work in layers but more like a briar-dust fill and do it all at once, which be faster, too. I do wish it were less noticeable on the whole,though.

IMG_5494 IMG_5495

Before and After

Before and After

I have a few other ideas about trying to get a less visible patch that I may pursue. However, now that I know I can get black super glue, already made, that may be my future course. But the “can I do it myself ” part of me wants to keep experimenting so we shall see. If any of you readers have any ideas on making these repairs less visible I’d be most appreciative if you would share them in the comments section.