Monthly Archives: April 2013

LJ Perretti Straight Grain Rejuvenated

I picked up a seven pipe lot on EBay all because there were at least two of the pipes that were stamped LJ Perretti. One of them is the little pot/billiard pictured in this article. I say pot/billiard because the proportion of the bowl and shank more accurately fit a billiard but the height of the bowl is more like a pot. Ah well whatever it is it showed promise even in the seller’s photos on EBay. I bid and won. There is another Perretti that I will write about as I rework it but this one is stamped L.J. PERRETTI over IMPORTED BRIAR on the right side. It is stamped Straight Grain on the left side of the shank. The grain is quite nice and there are no fills in the briar that are visible. It was a dirty pipe – the finish was darkened and grit and oils were ground into the outside of the bowl. The rim had a serious cake of lava on it and the bowl was packed with a cake. The inside of the shank was so dirty and gritty that the stem would not sit all the way in the mortise. The stem was oxidized and had a rubber softy bit guard that was stuck on the stem. There was a cursive P on the left side of the stem. The Perretti pipes are shop pipes that may have been made by a variety of carvers or by Robert Perretti himself. These are old enough that they may well be done by Perretti. The stamping on the side of the shank that says Imported Briar seems to point to the pipe being American made. The first series of three photos shows the state of the pipe when I took it to my work table.


I cut off the rubber softie bit guard with a knife and peeled it free of the stem. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer to remove the buildup of carbon. I cleaned out the stem and the shank with pipe cleaners and Everclear until the pipe cleaners came out as clean as they went in. It never ceases to amaze me how many pipe cleaners it takes to clean out the inside of the pipe and stem. Once the internals were clean the stem fit into the shank with no interference.

I wiped won the outside of the bowl with acetone on a cotton pad (Photo 1 below). I wiped down the rim with acetone as well and then decided to lightly top the bowl (Photos 2 – 5). I used a medium grit sanding sponge to top the bowl on this one. I just wanted to remove the carbon build up on the rim and leave as much of the stain intact as I could. Once finished I wiped it a second time with acetone. I also used the drill bit from the Kleen Reem reamer to clean out the airway from the mortise to the bowl. I recleaned the shank with pipe cleaners and Everclear afterwards (Photo 6 below).





I set the bowl aside and then worked on the stem. I inserted it in the ebony block that I drilled as a mortise to work on the oxidation. I sanded it with 320 grit sandpaper to break up the oxidation and remove the calcium buildup that was under the softee bit. There were also some tooth chatter and marks that needed to be worked out. These were not deep so all I did was sand them with the 320 grit sandpaper. The next two photos show the work on the stem.

I reinserted the stem on the pipe and then continued to work on the stem and clean up the oxidation. I sanded around the edge of the stem/shank junction. I used 320 grit sandpaper and a medium grit sanding sponge.
I wet sanded the stem with 1500 and 1800 grit micromesh sanding pads. I dry sanded with 2400-12,000 grit micromesh sanding pads. The next three photos show the progress of the sanding with the pads. I selected three to show the progress but could easily have shown the lot. The main idea is to show the development of the shine on the stem. I finished sanding with 12,000 grit and then wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil and buffed it by hand with some carnauba wax.


I restained the pipe with dark brown aniline stain thinned 2:1 with isopropyl alcohol. I flamed the stain and then restained it and reflamed it. I applied a third coat of the stain to the rim and flamed that again as well (Photos 1 & 2 below). I then sanded the bowl and the stem with the 6000, 8000 and 12,000 grit micromesh sanding pads (Photo 3 below) and then took it to the buffer and buffed it with White Diamond (Photos 4 – 6).





I finished by buffing the pipe with multiple coats of carnauba wax and then polished with a soft flannel buff on the buffer. The final series of four photos below show the finished pipe.




A No Name Bulldog Born Anew – New Look and New Stem

This little bent bulldog is the last of the briar stummels in the EBay lot I picked up. It is a nice little dog and I saved it for last as I find that the diamond shank stems are a bear to fit correctly. Bent diamond shanks are even harder in my opinion. I had quite a few stems to choose from in my can of stems so a new stem was not a problem. The issue really was getting all the sides and angles to line up and look right. Restemming these is a tricky proposition. This one had crosshatched stamping on the left side of the shank that obliterated the stamping of the name on it. On the right side it is stamped Imported Briar which I am assuming makes it an American made pipe. It had some nice grain under the dark stain and varnish coat. The bowl had a very poorly formed cake with many chunks missing. The rim was thick with a tar and oil build up but surprisingly was not dented or damaged by burns or over reaming. The end of the shank which would butt up against the stem was pristine with no damage or cracks. I love it when I can work on a pipe that does not need banding. It is a challenge to get a good clean fit on the stem. This would thus be a double challenge.

I chose a diamond shank tapered stem for the pipe. I had saddle stem galore and only two of these tapered stems. I love the look of a tapered stem on a bulldog so I decided to go with that one. It would not require too much of a bend in it so it would work well and look classy. I drilled out the airway to fit the pin on the Pimo Tenon Turning Tool and then turned the tenon to a close fit on the stem. I had to reduce the length of the new tenon as it was longer than the mortise on the pipe. I hand sanded the tenon to get a good clean fit on the shank and inserted it in place. Externally, it would need to be reduced on all sides to match the flow of the shank so there was work to do in fitting the stem.

I used my Dremel with a sanding drum to bring the sides of the stem down to almost match the shank. This was a bit tricky in that I did not want to cause dips in the surface of the stem but reduce each side until it was a close fit to the shank. It takes a light touch on the sanding drum to keep it horizontal to the stem and also keep it from hitting the shank and doing damage to the briar. I held the bowl in hand and worked the sanding drum both vertically and horizontally to the stem to remove the excess vulcanite. I worked on one side at a time until the fit was close then turned the stem and did the next side. I began on the top side of the stem and worked both top sides before turning the stem over and doing the underside. The next three photos show the shaping done by the Dremel. After doing this initial work on the stem it was time to take to the table and do the rest by hand.


I began sanding with medium grit emery paper to remove the deep scratches left by the Dremel and to even out the surfaces of the stem. I sanded each side until they were smooth. I also sanded the peak of the stem on each side to make sure the peak matched the one on the shank of the pipe. The next seven photos show the progress of evening out the stem sides. When I finished with the emery paper I would go on to use various other grades of sandpaper and continue the process.






As the rim of the bowl was chamfered into the bowl I worked on it with a folded piece of medium grit emery paper first followed by 320 grit sandpaper. I wanted to keep the chamfer clean and even so I held the paper to the angle of the chamfer on the cleanest part of the rim toward to the front of the bowl. The next two photos show the cleaned rim.

I went on to sand the stem with a fine grit emery paper to continue to bring the size down to meet the shank on the pipe (Photos 1 & 2). After I had the stem fairly close I switched to 320 grit sandpaper and sanded down the stem, the shank and the bowl. I decided to remove the cross hatching on the shank and clean up the finish. I wiped it down with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the finish and sanded until the finish was stripped and the shank and stem was smooth. The flow between the stem and the shank was a good match when I finished with this part of the work (Photos 3, 4, 5, & 6). An amazing grain was beginning to break out on the bowl and shank.





Once I had finished the fit of the stem to the shank and cleaned off the bowl with the sandpaper I wiped it down a second time with acetone to remove the remaining remnants of stain and to clean off the dust of the sanding (Photos 1 & 2). The remaining photos show the pipe after it was cleaned and ready to stain (Photos 3, 4, 5 & 6).





At this point I decided to bend the stem to the angle I wanted on the finished pipe. I set up my heat gun and turned it on to the lowest setting and held the stem above the heat until it was pliable. I have a wooden rolling pin that I use as a guide to bend the stem evenly so once it was soft I bent it over the rolling pin until the angle of the stem bend aligned with the curve of the bowl. I wanted the bowl to be level when held in the hand. Once the angle was right I cooled the pipe stem in cool water to set the bend. The next four photos show the stem after it was bent according to the angles I was aiming for. The grain on this pipe was calling out to me to come up with a stain colour and process that highlighted the grain.



I decided to stain the pipe with an oxblood aniline stain. I like it because it sets deeply in the grain of the pipe and when it is buffed off it still allows the grain to be seen. I also planned on sanding the finish with micromesh sanding pads to further highlight the grain patterns on the bowl. The next five photos show the stained bowl. I still needed to buff the pipe and lift the stain a bit from the briar.




I reinserted the stem at this point in the process and hand buffed the bowl to get a good feel for the opacity of the stain (Photos 1 & 2). I then began to sand the stem and the bowl with the micromesh sanding pads. I began with 1500 and 1800 grit micromesh first. I wet sanded with these grits of micromesh (Photos 3, 4, & 5). The finish on the stem is smoothing out and the bowl finish is really beginning to show the grain and highlight the beauty of the piece of briar.




I continued wet sanding with 2400 and 3200 grit micromesh sanding pads (Photos 1 & 2) and the grain began to pop and the stem began to shine nicely. I dry sanded with 3600 and 4000 grit micromesh sanding pads as I sought to polish the finish and the stem more fully. Photos 3 & 4 give an idea of the polish work that had been done by this point in the process. I finished sanding the bowl and stem with the remaining micromesh dry sanding pads 6000, 8000 and 12,000 grits. The resultant effect on the stain of the bowl was exactly what I had hoped for. The grain stood out clearly on the sides and shanks. On the left side of the bowl there is a nice birdseye pattern that is not as visible in the photos as it is in person. The pipe came out very nicely. Photos 5 & 6 show where things stood after the final polishing with the micromesh pads.





I buffed the pipe with White Diamond and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax to finish it. The finish came out nicely in my opinion and the feel of the pipe in the hand was perfect. I had to load a bowl of tobacco and give it a new inaugural smoke. I chose to load it with some 2009 Barclay-Rex Barclay Slice. I packed the bowl, picked up a tamper and lighter and headed outside into the yard with my spaniel. While he ran around and chased sticks and chewed them I relaxed and had a bowl. It is a great smoking little pipe. It is comfortable in the mouth and has an open draught. I like it. Now I need to decide whether to keep it or pass it on.




Reworking and Reshaping an Old French Briar (CPF?) Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

This old timer was one of the pipe bowls that I picked up in that EBay lot that had others with the French Briar stamping. The others had the same stamping but also had been stamped CPF on the shank or on the end cap. This one was missing the end cap so it remains a bit of a mystery as to its maker. It was also stemless. From the photos below you can see that at one point in its life it also had a rim cap that was also missing. What was left was the line around the top of the bowl and a darkened rim where the silver cap had covered it. The end of the shank was in pretty good shape but the likelihood of finding another end cap that fit or in making one was pretty low for me. The four photos below show the general state of the pipe when it came to my desk top. The finish was gone. There were several visible fills that stood out. It was one that I had to give a little thought about how I was going to tackle it. I knew that I would have to modify the shank and rework the bowl. I would also have to redrill the mortise way and fit a stem for the newly formed pipe. Ah well… let’s begin the work.



After many failed attempts over the years to get a good straight cut on the shank and end up with a smooth and even mortise I finally figured out a way with my limited tools to accomplish that. I slip a nickel band on the shank to the place that I want to cut it off. I use the band as a guide for my hacksaw to follow. So far this method has worked for me and left me with some nice evenly cut shanks. The next three photos show the process from start to finish.


After cutting off the shank I sanded the area where the new band would be fitted. I used my Dremel with a sanding drum to begin the process of cutting back the shank to receive the band and finished by hand sanding it with medium grit emery cloth. I set up my heat gun on it end stand, slipped the band in place and set the heat on low to warm the band so that I could press it into place. The next two photos show that process.

With the band in place I wiped down the bowl with acetone on a cotton pad to clean off the grit and the remnants of the finish on the pipe. After I had cleaned the bowl I topped the rim with a medium and fine grit sanding pad to remove the damage to the rim edges. The next four photos show that process. During that time I also used superglue and briar dust to fill the obvious sand pits on the bowl (at the back of the bowl near the shank and on the underside). I sanded them once they were dry and was able to blend them into the bowl quite well. In the first photo below you can see the first large sand pit clearly. It was quite long and fortunately flowed with the grain so that it was easy to blend in with the briar dust and superglue. The one on the bowl bottom was a bit more difficult to blend in. In either case both are now smooth surfaces that the finish sanding would blend in as much as possible.



I sanded the bowl with a medium grit sanding sponge to remove the damage caused by the rim cap and to remove the darkened line around the top of the bowl. The next series of three photos show how the bowl is shaping up after initial sanding. The wood is stamped French Briar but as I work it I am wondering. It is very hard, dense wood with interesting grain. It is very light weight and the feel of the sanding dust and the wood itself calls this into question for me. Maybe it is only a question of age on the pipe as it is probably from the late 1800’s or early 1900’s.


I inserted the stem and took it to the buffer to see what it looked like at this point after buffing. I buffed it with Tripoli. The next four photos show the pipe after buffing. There was a natural reddish colour to the wood that came out more and more as I sanded it.



After buffing the pipe I reamed it with my PipNet reamer to clean out the crumbling and broken cake that was on the surface of the bowl (Photo 1). I sanded it some more and then wiped it down with an alcohol dampened cotton pad and prepared tit for restaining (Photos 2 & 3).


I receive regular tweets from Grant Batson, pipemaker. In one of the latest he wrote of experimenting with Danish Oil in finish the bowl of a pipe. I have several cans of that around from my refinishing furniture days so I decided to use some medium walnut coloured Danish Oil on this bowl. The next four photos show the stained pipe. I had yet to buff it or polish it at this point in the process. I just rubbed on the Danish Oil and then rubbed it off.



I set the pipe aside for the evening so that the finish had a chance to dry well. This morning I worked on the stem and the bowl with the micromesh sanding pads. I used all grits that I have available from 1500 – 12,000 grit to sand both the bowl and the stem. The next series of six photos shows the progressively developing shine on both the stem and the bowl.





After finishing with the micromesh sanding pads I took it to my buffer and buffed it with White Diamond. I find that this buffing with a light touch really sets the shine to a glossy finish. The next four photos show the pipe after buffing. I still had to put on the wax but the shine is very evident.



The final series of four photos show the finished pipe. I gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a soft flannel buffing pad. I am pleased with the way it turned out. The pipe is ready for smoking and should provide service for many years to come.




An Interesting Old Piece of Dunhill Tobacciana – Dri-Pipe Tubes

Blog by Steve Laug

I have a full box of these Dunhill Dri-Pipe Tubes. I am not sure where I picked them up but I was going through some stuff in the drawer today and came across this piece of pipe history. Anyone have any ideas on the time frame for these? The box says: “This absorbent tube is designed to provide a clean dry smoke. It is ideal for wet smokers and should be changed frequently.” The box has 100 tubes in it. It is marked Alfred Dunhill Ltd. 30 Duke Street, St. James’s, London, S.W.1. I love old stuff like this and I am always keeping an eye for it. I believe these were to be inserted kind of like the more modern 9MM or 6MM filters or even the Medico or Dr. Grabow filters. I figured I would post them on the blog to see if anyone has seen them or has information on them. Just another interesting piece of tobacciana




Another Instruction Manual for Kleen Reem Pipe Reamers

As I was going through some of my collection of pamphlets and brochures in a drawer this afternoon I came across this Instruction Manual for Kleen Reem Pipe Reamers. It is the second one that I have. Both are very different in design and layout and seem to be from a different era. I enjoy looking at this kind of tobacciana so I thought I would pass it on to others who might also be interested in such things.






New Life to an Aarhus?? Unique

I have no idea what the final letters of the name on this pipe are supposed to be. The shank had been poorly cut off and there were two cracks, one on each side. It is stamped Aarhus over Made in France on the left side of the shank and the number 6 on the right side. The walls of the shank were quite thin. The bowl top was caked and dirt. The bowl was caked and needing cleaning. There was no stem on the bowl. The finish on the pipe was worn and dirty. There were two small sandpits that had been patched with white putty that had fallen out and left two white spots on the bowl. The shape of the pipe is what interested me. It has a pencil shank and the bowl tapers to a ridge on the front and the back. The bowl is also canted toward the front similar to a cutty and from the top is almond shaped. It is a uniquely interesting shape. The grain on this one is quite nice – birdseye front and back and cross grain on the sides. It does not quite align with the cut of the bowl but is very close. The pipe was a part of the lot that I have been working on lately – a purchase from EBay of 12+ pipe bowls that needed to be stemmed. The first series of four photos below show the state of the bowl when I began. The final photo of the four gives a closer look at the mortise and the thinness of the walls of the shank. Note the notches out of the end that give evidence of the shortening of the shank. In the photo I also included the stem that I took out of my can of stems and turned the tenon on.



The next three photos show the stamping on the shank and the angle of the cut of portion. It actually cut off the last letter or letters of Aarhus (pipe brand) and the E of France. The third photo shows the crack on the left side of the shank. There was a matching crack on the right side as well.


I reamed the pipe and then topped the bowl to remove the damage to the rim and smooth out the surface. I was intending to refinish the pipe anyway so I started with fine grit emery paper to clean off the thick tars on the surface (Photos 1 &2). I then used a medium grit sanding sponge to clean up the surface from the scratches of the emery paper (Photo 3).


I worked on the tenon in order to get a good smooth fit in the mortise. In Photo 1 below you can see how I used the stem to open the crack so I could repair it. I dripped in some superglue and squeezed it back together. You can see in Photos 1 and 2 the fit of the stem against the shank. The gap between stem and shank shows the angular cut that had been done on the shank. There were also small pieces of briar missing on the bottom edge of the shank. The end was rough and with the cracks left no choice but to band it. (In the photos there are some chunks of briar. These were inside of a band that I was cleaning up to reuse on the tenon of this pipe.)

I set up my heat gun and placed the band on the end of the shank. It was a tight band and I was able to just insert the edge in the band so that I could heat the band for pressure fitting it on the shank. The next four photos show the heating of the band and the metal plate that I use to press it into place on the shank. I heated it and pressed it on in three different increments as the band cooled before it would go all the way into place.



The next two photos show the newly banded shank. In the second photo you can also see the white putty fill about half way down the side of the bowl.

I finished fitting the stem on the pipe and sanded down the slag from the edges and end of the stem. I also wiped down the bowl with acetone. It had a coating of varnish on it that was crackling and also did not allow me to rework the fills properly. Once I had it wiped down I picked out the white putty in the two fills that were present with a dental pick and wiped down the bowl again with the acetone. The fills were on the right side mid bowl and on the left side at the bottom of the shank bowl junction.

I sanded the bowl and shank with 320 grit sandpaper and then a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the finish completely. The next three photos show the sanded bowl and shank. The grain was quite nice on the pipe. The dark stain had hidden it pretty well. I was beginning to think about not restaining the bowl but leaving it with the remaining colour and polishing and buffing it. Time would tell.


I packed briar dust into the clean sandpit areas on the pipe and then dripped superglue on top of the briar dust. The next two close up photos of the bowl show the patches before I sanded away the excess and cleaned them up to match the surface of the briar.

I used 320 grit sandpaper to remove the excess that was shown in the above photos and smooth out the surface. I followed that by sanding with a fine grit sanding sponge. The next four photos show the replaced fills. There were also some dark stains on the bowl that I wanted to work on. I continued to sand the bowl as a whole with the sanding sponge to minimize the dark stain marks on the briar. The colour of the briar is really starting to look great.



I then sanded the bowl and the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I wanted to remove the scratches and begin to develop a shine. I wet sanded with the 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and then went on to dry sand with the 3200-12,000 grit sanding pads. The next 9 photos show the developing shine on the bowl and the stem. I also sanded the nickel band with the micromesh pads.








By the time I finished sanding with the 12,000 grit micromesh sanding pad the bowl looked really good. I decided against restaining it and instead reinserted the stem and took the pipe to the buffer. I buffed the entirety lightly with White Diamond to remove any remaining light scratches and to brighten up the shine on both bowl and stem. I then wiped down the stem with Obsidian Oil, and buffed the pipe with carnauba and a soft flannel buff. The final five photos show the finished pipe. It is ready to use. The only remaining question is, “What is the brand? What letters follow Aarhus???” Can any of you help me with that information? It is an unfamiliar brand to me and I can find nothing on the Pipephil Logos and Stampings website or in Who Made that Pipe. Thanks ahead of time for your help.





A Review – A Fillenwarth Rusticated Apple

I don’t remember the exact date in 2009 when I purchase my Fillenwarth Apple from Tony Fillenwarth but I have been on his mailing list for quite a few years now. I love the signature rustication that Tony does and have been following his work for a long time. I am on his email list and so I get notification of any new pipes he puts up. Tony describes his pipes on the opening page of his website as follows: “A combination of precise engineering and a unique sense of design allow me to make pipes that are visually striking and that give a smoking experience second to none. All pipes are hand crafted from plateau briar of the finest quality that has been properly aged to provide a superb smoke. Stems are handmade from either top quality German vulcanite, cumberland, acrylic, or bakelite and feature a nice open draw that gives the best possible smoking characteristics.”

I am a sucker for apple shaped pipes so when this one came out on his email it met the bill for me – it had his unique rustication and it was an apple shaped pipe. The pipe is 5 1/2 inches long and weighs 52 grams. The tobacco chamber is 1 3/8 inches deep and 7/8 inch across. The shank band is sterling silver and adds a delicate and refined touch to the crater like rustication. It sports a handmade Cumberland stem with Delrin tenon and has a slight bend to it.
When the pipe arrived it was far more impressive than even Tony’s pictures led me to believe. I was stunned at the workmanship of the pipe and colour and feel of it in my hand. I remember just sitting at my desk after opening the package and sliding the pipe out of the sleeve that it came in and being speechless with the look and feel of this pipe. It was and is beautiful. No one even comes close to duplicating Tony’s rustication and the way in which his staining of the bowl highlights the rustication and gives it a special dimensionality that is almost uncanny. Holding his pipe in my hand is like holding a piece of lava rock with all of the nooks and crannies and colours emanating out of the crevices and holes and changing in the light that pipe is held in. The rustication is very sharp and rough in the hand but a very cool finish in terms of the feel in the hand when it heats up during smoking. The bowl is rusticated up and over the rim and ends in a craggy inner rim edge that looks great to me. The overall flow of the bowl and shank is brilliant and the colours are beautifully matched from rim to the end of the shank and on into the reds and blacks of the brindle/Cumberland stem. To separate the bowl and stem Tony handmade a sterling silver “wedding ring” band and gave it a high lustre polish. It adds a nice touch of bling to the look of the pipe and dresses it up.
Tony did a masterful job on the inner mechanics of the pipe with drilling that is perfectly executed from the shank and into the bowl – coming out exactly centre in the bottom of the bowl. The airway from the bowl into the mortise is centred. It is smooth in its entrance to the mortise and the mortise itself is also smooth with no rough spot left by drill bit. The bowl itself is U shaped and smooth from sides to bottom. The air way enters the bowl and is smooth and clean. There was no bowl treatment or coating just a good smooth briar.
The stem itself is hand cut out of a red and black Cumberland. It is well tapered with good even angles top and bottom progressing from the shank to the button. The portion of the stem that is put in the mouth is thin and comfortable. It has a slight bend to it that gives it a stylized look. Tony did a great job shaping the stem and capturing a shape that really works with this pipe. The way the silver band breaks up the flow is brilliant. I personally love the way the striations of black and red run the length of the stem. The choice of material for the stem matches the stain that Tony used on the bowl. The tenon is Delrin that has been inserted into the Cumberland stem for durability and ease of use. The airway is funneled slightly for a smooth transition from the mortise when it is in place. There is a very minimal gap between the end of the tenon and the base of the mortise. The transition where the Delrin meets the Cumberland of the stem is seamless. There is no lip or rough spot at that junction. The draught is unrestricted and open from the bowl to the tip of the stem. Draught is effortless. The fit of the stem to the tenon is very well done. The button is cut to my liking with a good sharp inner edge and tapered to the tip. The slot is opened and funneled to deliver a uniform airway from bowl to button.

The overall construction of this pipe is very well done. It is light in the hand and in the mouth. It is well balanced and has a great tactile feel when it is cool and as it warms up during the smoking of a bowl. I have smoked for over four years now and after breaking it in with some McClellands 5100 that had some age on it the pipe has become a good Virginia smoking pipe. It delivered a good smoke from the first smoke and continues to do so. It draws well; the lighting has never been a problem. It seemed to take very little time to break it in and continues to be an effortless smoke.

Thanks Tony Fillenwarth for delivering a well-made pipe that remains a very good smoking pipe to this day. Tony continues to make unique and interestingly shaped pipes – both smooth and rusticated that have a distinctive and readily recognizable look to them. They are available on his website at Stop by for a look, order one for yourself, you cannot go wrong with his work.

Restoring a Unique Edition of the Keyser Hygienic System Pipe

I picked up this Keyser Hygienic on EBay because it caught my eye. I have three other Keyser Hygienic pipes and they are all very similar in terms of the system. They are briar bowls and shanks with an aluminum mortise with a tube in the centre running to the airway in the bowl. This is matched with a military mount stem with a tube with a down turn on it that fits into the airway in the mortise. The swirling smoke rolls around the inside of the mortise where the moisture in the smoke condenses on the sides of the aluminum mortise. The cooled air is drawn into the down turned tube in the stem and it delivers a cool, dry smoke. The system is fairly straightforward and simple. The genius of the design is that any stem fits any pipe of the same size. Replacement stems are easily purchased and all that is necessary is the size of the pipe and the replacement will be a ready fit.
Keyser Pipes
But this new Keyser was unique in all ways. The system design seems like a prototype of the original or maybe a step toward the ones that I have. It is composed of a short shanked briar bowl and a metal tube that has a normal vulcanite tenon. This sits in the shortened shank. Inside the tube is a second tube that extends ¾ of the way up the barrel. The inner tube is the extension of the airway in the tenon. The stem is a short pressure fit stem with a shoulder that allows it to ride on the end of the outer tube. On the end of the stem is a down turned short tube that draws air in to the mouth piece from the condensing chamber of the tube. It is a fascinating design. It is that uniqueness that caught my eye – that and the stamping/engraving on the outer tube which reads as follows:

Made By
Keyser Manufacturing Co.
Brighton England
Pat Appns Brit 34B20/47
US 6067474/48
Can 581101

The next series of seven pictures shows the pipe as it appeared in the EBay webpage. The seller did a great job describing the current state of the pipe and the areas of concern. The seller notes some of the scratches on the outer tube and the darkening of the rim. He also noted the tooth chatter and scratch marks on both the top and underside of the stem.






When the pipe arrived I unpacked it and examined it. There were indeed tooth chatter/marks on both the top and bottom of the stem. There was a cigarette burn mark on the bottom of the shank where it meets the bowl. It was not a deep burn and there was no charred wood just a dark mark. The rim itself also had some issues. While the surface was not charred there was a burned area on the front inside of the bowl and on the front outside of the bowl. It looked to be damage from a lighter used in the same place repeatedly over time. The remainder of the finish was in pretty good shape but the entire pipe would need to be stripped in order to address the burn marks on the rim and the side of the shank. The inside of the bowl and shank were very clean. The pipe had not been reamed but there was a light cake that smelled like an aromatic. The barrel was tight on the shank but I carefully was able to remove it. The vulcanite tenon on the end of the barrel was undamaged but the airway was closed in with tars. The way the tenon was attached to the barrel was interesting. The end of the barrel was bonded to a circular plug of vulcanite with the tenon an integral piece of the part. The stem was frozen in the barrel and could not be removed. The button on the stem was unmarked and the tooth marks were actually mid stem on the top and bottom sides. The vulcanite stem was oxidized and would need to be cleaned. The next four photos show the items that I have pointed out in this paragraph.



I was able to remove the barrel and tenon from the shank of the pipe by carefully twisting the barrel free of the shank. I always hold tightly to the shank with one hand right next to the shank and then twist with the other hand. I try to maintain equal pressure on all points so that the shank is not strained or cracked in the process. The next photo shows the tenon on the barrel. It is almost the same length as the shank and the airway is lined up very closely to the airway in the bottom of the bowl. I cleaned out the mortise with cotton swabs and Everclear and found that it was quite clean. I also cleaned out the barrel from both ends but was not able to get a pipe cleaner to go all the way through the pipe from button to tenon.
The next three photos show the front of the bowl and the extent of the burn marks on the front outside of the bowl and the front inside of the rim. These were two areas that would need to be worked over to minimize the burn marks on the finished pipe.


I used my PipNet reamer to ream out the soft aromatic cake in the bowl and then recleaned the shank and the inside of the bowl with pipe cleaners and Everclear to remove the carbon dust that came from the reaming process (Photo 1 below). I wiped down the outside of the bowl and shank with a cotton pad and acetone to remove the finish on the pipe (Photo 2 below).

The next series of fourteen photos show the topping of the bowl to remove the burned area on the inside of the rim and the front outside edge. The burn had rounded the outside edge and made it appear out of round when looking at it from the top. I wanted to top the bowl enough to bring the top view back into round, minimize the wood damage in both spots and clean up the sharp edge of the bowl. I used two different sanding sponges – medium grit (black coloured sponge) and a fine grit sponge (yellow coloured sponge) both pictured below to start the process. I went on to use medium grit emery paper on the hard board to further top the bowl and ended with 320 grit sandpaper on the board. I polished the finish of the topped pipe bowl with the fine grit yellow sanding sponge. I also worked on the burned area that extended down the front of the bowl with the two sanding sponges.














While I was working on the bowl I put the barrel and stem unit in the freezer to try to break loose the stuck stem. I have found that the varying contraction time of the metal and vulcanite will often loosen the stem. Once it was in the freezer for 30 minutes I could easily remove the stem and give the inside of the barrel and the stem a thorough cleaning with pipe cleaners and cotton swabs dipped in Everclear. I cleaned them until both came out clear. The next five photos show the broken down stem and the tube on the end of the stem that I was talking about above. There is one photo of the barrel but it is too dark to see the inner tube.




Once the stem and barrel was clean it was time to deal with the tooth marks and chatter on the stem itself. I sanded the top and the bottom with 320 grit sandpaper to remove the marks and the chatter. None of them were too deep. They were more of a ripple like effect on the surface of the vulcanite. I sanded them flat to the surface of the stem and then went on to sand the stem with micromesh sanding pads from 1500-12,000 grits. The next four photos show the progress of the shine.



After shining the stem with the micromesh I took it to the buffer and buffed the stem with White Diamond and then rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil and finished it with a coat of carnauba wax. I put the stem back in the barrel and lined up the stem with the stamping on the side of the barrel. I gave the entire barrel and stem another coat of carnauba wax and hand buffed them. The next three photos show the assembled barrel and stem unit polished and ready to put on the bowl once it was restained and ready.


I sanded and resanded the bowl with fine grit sanding sponges and then sanded it with micromesh sanding pads from 1500-3200 grit. I wiped it down with acetone between sandings and again when I was finished to prepare it for staining. The next three photos show the prepared pipe ready for staining. The burn mark on the bottom of the shank is gone with very little sanding and no change to the shank surface itself. The one on the front of the is minimized and the one on the rim is also virtually gone. The bowl is ready for a new finish coat.


I restained the bowl with an oxblood aniline stain, flamed it and restained and reflamed it. I rubbed it down with a cotton terry cloth to smooth out the stain and then took it to the buffer. I always buff with my thumb in the bowl to ensure that the buffer does not grab the bowl from my hand and launch it against the wall. I rotate it slowly in my hand and with a light touch buff the shank. I am careful not to apply too much pressure and round the shoulders on the shank. I normally do not buff with the stem off the bowl but in this case I did not want to risk buffing off the black paint on the barrel so I chance the buffing on the bowl alone. The next three photos show the buffed bowl before polishing.


I reassembled the pipe and then hand buffed it with multiple coats of carnauba wax and polished it with a shoe brush. The stem and bowl have a great shine and the bowl has some beautiful grain on it. I look forward to smoking this one and comparing it with my other Keyser Hygienic pipes. The final four photos below show the finished pipe. I have yet to do the research on the patent information on the barrel but I am hoping to find out a bit of history on this piece.



From the photo of the bottom of the bowl and shank above you can see that the burn mark there is eliminated in its entirety. Also in the photo of the rim above and the one of the front of the bowl below you can see that the burn mark is gone and what remains is blended into the stain.

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.
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.
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:

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

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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.



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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.

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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.