Monthly Archives: September 2013

Another Piece of Tobacciana – A Silver Match and Stamp Safe

Blog by Steve Laug

I have always been on the lookout for unique pieces of tobacciana that come from a time in history when pipes and tobacco were not just hobby items but items of a quieter and more reflective life style. I love adding them to my collection. These have included interesting pieces of Bakelite and trench art that were fashioned into objects of use. When I came across the listing for this little silver piece I could not pass it up. It is a little match safe for Swan Vestas that can hang on a key chain for easy access. It is a silver book shaped item and loved the look of it when I saw it. It combines two of my hobbies in one – books and tobacciana.

Match case

Match case2

The match safe arrived and I examined it carefully. It was shaped like a book. The front and the back cover were originally painted with a red paint and remnants of that remained on the centre portion inside the corners. On the spine of the book the smooth portions also show remnants of red paint. The notched spine and the page area of the book were striker areas on the book. The book itself measures 1 7/8 inches tall by 1 3/8 inches wide. The closed book is ½ inches thick. The front and back covers are spring loaded. The front cover when opened contains the area to store the matches. I filled it with some wooden matches to enable you to have an idea of what it looked like. The back cover when opened contains two spots for stamps to be stored.



I have polished the match safe with silver polish and cleaned up the dust and buildup from the years. It is now on display with my other tobacciana in my pipe cabinet. It fits nicely with other pieces of pipe and tobacco history that reside there. Do you collect pipe and tobacco pieces besides your pipes? How about posting a response about your collection here?

A Unique Vertical Oval Shank Meerschaum Reborn

I saw this old Meerschaum pipe bowl on Ebay and decided to put a low bid on it. I was not surprised to have won it and paid for it quickly. The seller packed it very well and shipped it off to Vancouver, Canada. Below are the Ebay photos that caught my attention. I think the thing that intrigued me the most was the vertical oval shank on the pipe. To restem that pipe would be a great challenge – find a stem large enough to work with and shape it until it fit. I thought I had just the stem in my box – a gift from a friend on Pipesmokers Unleashed Forum, Robert.

From the photos it looked to be in rough shape. The pipe case said it was a WDC but I have no way of knowing if that is true. The gold filigree on the band looks like the old WDC pipes of the late 1890s but I am still uncertain as to the maker. It was in rough shape as can be seen from the photos. There were many scratches and gouges around the outside of the bowl. The shank had marks on the top that looked like someone had taken a file to it. The rim was probably the worst. With the rough edges on the back right side of the bowl the rim/top appeared to be angled to the right side and worn down. The tar build up was heavy in the bowl and on the rim. The tenon was broken off in the shank. It appeared to be an old bone tenon and a bone insert in the mortise that was threaded to take the screw in tenon. I am assuming the pipe probably had an amber stem in its first appearance in the shop but that was long since broken and lost. The WDC case was also very rough – the edges were worn away, the wood broken and a hinge dangling unused. The inside was badly stained.





Yesterday afternoon I came home from work early and found a package awaiting me – I knew that the meer had arrived. I had to laugh when I cut open the box – it had a previous label a Funeral Home in Ohio. I don’t know if that was a commentary on the pipe bowl that resided inside the box or if a funny coincidence. I cut the tape and opened the box. The pipe inside was both in worse shape than I had imagined from the seller’s excellent pictures and in better shape. The meer under the band was cracked as can be seen in the photo above and that was as it was when it arrived. The scratches in the surface of the bowl were not as deep as they appeared in the photos and the pipe when place on the rim on a flat board was actually not slanted to the right – the damage to the outer edges of the right back side made it appear worse than it actually was in reality. The next photos show the pipe on the work table just out of the box.






After examining it carefully with my lens and a dental pick I decided to begin the clean up by trying to remove the tenon. I used the screw that I generally use to remove a tenon to no avail. The threads in the mortise were locked tight around the tenon. I picked at it with the dental pick and was unable to remove it that way either. I decided to drill out the old tenon. So I set up a cordless drill with a drill bit slightly larger than the airway in the broken tenon. I slowly drilled the airway with the bit and exchanged it for increasingly larger bits until I had the airway cleared of the debris. I then used a ¼ inch bit to open the mortise and clear out the remaining debris of the mortise and tenon. The second photo below shows the mortise after I opened it up. I used a dental pick to clean out the remaining pieces and hand turned the quarter-inch drill bit into the mortise to smooth out the walls of the airway and open it to receive a new tenon.



I took the pipe bowl back to the work table and set up a coarse sanding block on my worktable to top the bowl of the meer. I have used this block in the past with good success on the softer meerschaum material. I placed the bowl, rim down on the surface of the block and sanded it in a clockwise direction (no reason for that other than I am right-handed). I sanded it, checking often to see how the rim was cleaning up until the surface was clear and the top of the bowl once again level. Surprisingly I did not have to remove too much material from the rim to clean up the surface.





When I had finished the sanding, I used micromesh sanding pads to sand the top smooth once again and remove the scratches from the coarse sanding block. The micromesh sanding pads from 1500 – 12,000 grit bring a shine back to the surface of the meer and prepare it for rewaxing once the pipe is finished.


At this point in the process I decided to see if I could fit a new stem on the pipe. The diameter of the oval shank was quite large and would require a large diameter round stem. To make it an oval stem would require that much of the existing vulcanite of the stem would have to be removed in the shaping process. I had an old Brebbia stem that a friend on Pipe Smoker Unleashed Forum sent me for an old Peterson that I was restemming. The tenon was too small for the Pete but too large for the old meer. I used a Dremel with a sanding drum to remove the excess material from the tenon until the fit was very close. The remainder of the fitting was done with a wood rasp and sandpaper. Once the tenon was finished I pushed the stem into the old meer to check on the fit of the tenon in the newly opened mortise. As can be seen in the photo below, the fit was perfect. You can also see from that photo how much work would need to be done to fit the stem to match the shank of the pipe.


The stem had deep bite marks on the top and the bottom near the button. They did not break the surface of the vulcanite. I decided to heat the surface of the stem with a heat gun and try to lift the dents from both sides as much as possible. I also wanted to straighten the stem significantly to give a better profile to the pipe. The heat gun worked to achieve both aims. The tooth marks lifted quite a bit and would have to be filled with black superglue to finish the work and the bend straightened to the angle I wanted for the new stem.


I sanded the initial excess vulcanite off the diameter of the shank with the sanding drum on the Dremel. Once I had removed a large portion I took it back to the work table and used a rasp to continue to shape and reduce the stem to the right proportions. The next series of eight photos shows the effectiveness of the rasp in shaping the stem. (In the midst of the shaping my daughters brought down a bowl of popcorn for a snack while I worked – that appears in several of the photos.)









I removed the stem from the shank and cleaned up the tooth dents so that I could fill them with black superglue. The glue takes quite a bit of time to cure so I waited until I was finished for the evening and then filled the dents and set the stem aside to cure over night.



This morning I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and also sanded the superglue patch on the underside of the stem. The next four photos show the stem as it begins to take shape and the repaired spot on the underside of the stem. The oval is coming along nicely but there was still a lot of excess material that still needed to be removed.





I continued to sand the stem to further tune the shape of the oval to match the shank. I used 220 grit sandpaper to remove the excess and shape the stem. I worked on the superglue patch on the underside of the stem with the 220 grit sandpaper as well. In the next series of three photos you can see the shape I am aiming for with this stem. You can also see the size of the patch on the stem. The patch is still larger than the marks it covers so more sanding will need to be done on it to blend it into the vulcanite.




I cleaned up the bite marks on the top of the stem and applied the black superglue patch to that surface as well. I set it aside while I worked on the bowl. I wiped the bowl down with Murphy’s Oil Soap on a cotton pad to clean off the grime on the surface while leaving as much of the old patina as possible. The first photo below shows the superglue patch. I applied it and used a dental pick to push it around the surface and also build up a few tooth marks on the edge of the button. The second photo below shows the patch after it had dried and I had sanded the patch with 220 grit sandpaper.



While working on the stem I decided to open the button to make it simpler to insert a pipe cleaner. I used needle files to make the slot larger. The second photo shows the opened slot in the button. I sanded the inside of the slot with a folded piece of sandpaper to smooth the surface and polish the slot.



I took the pipe back to the Dremel and sanding drum to remove more of the excess vulcanite. I had the basic shape in hand and just wanted to get it closer to the size of the shank before doing the finish sanding. I brought it back to the work table and sanded with 220 grit sandpaper until the fit was right. The next four photos show the progress in the fitting of the stem.





I sanded the stem with a medium grit sponge backed sanding pad. It helped to remove the scratches left behind by the 200 grit sandpaper. Then I sanded the stem with micromesh sanding pads from 1500-12,000 grit to polish and shine the vulcanite and the patched areas. The white Lucite band that was a part of the stem began to take on a shine as well in the process. The next nine photos capture what took about an hour to achieve in the sanding process. I wet sanded with the 1500, 1800 and 2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanded with the remaining grits of micromesh.










I buffed the stem with White Diamond and a blue plastic polishing compound to bring out the final shine on the stem. I hand waxed the meerschaum with beeswax and hand buffed it with a shoe brush. The next four photos show the finished pipe with the new stem. I like the marks and scratches in the meer as they seem to speak of the long journey the pipe took to get to me. The white Lucite band on the stem fits nicely in my thinking against the gold of the filigree band. The slight bend it the stem works nicely for me. From the last two photos you can see the oval shape of the stem now that it is completed. It has come a long way from the round stem I received as a gift from Ron.





A Gift Pipe Stand from Greg Wolford

I have looked at Greg’s leather work for quite a while now. If you follow the links from the bottom of his posts here on the blog you will see some of the work that he does. He also has an Etsy Store where he sells his leather goods . He always has a great assortment of pipe stands and pipe holsters that he fashions from leather that he shapes, stamps and stains. He also does custom leather work to order and has a website that has contact information . This week I was gifted a pipe stand by Greg. It is a generous piece of leather that Greg stamped with a cross made of nails and a Bible with a sword across it. It is stained a rich dark brown colour with silver/nickel snaps on the ends. The edges are beveled and the antiquing in the stamps and on the edges give the leather a rich aged look.


When the snap is connected the leather forms a tear drop shaped pipe stand. It fits easily in a pipe bag or a coat pocket and is readily accessible for a pipe stand on the go. Greg did a great job on it. The size of the stand is pretty much one size fits all as a variety of pipes of different sizes and shapes fit the stand with room to spare. The stand is snapped into place in the photo below.


In the last photos below I have my Churchill’s pipe resting in the stand. It is a wide bottomed pot shaped bowl and it fits easily in the rest. It is one I plan on keeping in my pipe bag for my travels as it is easy to pack, takes up little room and quickly provides a resting spot for my pipe.



Greg also included some care instructions with the stand that are very helpful and certainly something that I would not think of had he not included them in the package. I am including them in this post to show the craftsmanship and customer care that Greg provides with his leather products. In Greg’s words:

“I recommend that you wax it every few months, 2-6, depending on how you use it, with Kiwi shoe polish. This will help it to stay water resistant by protecting the top coat over the dye and the antiquing in the stamping. You can use neutral or brown if you want to add to/enhance the color. I have made a short YouTube video on the how, why and what to use for this process which can be viewed in the YouTube video below.

Thank you Greg for the great pipe stand. I am enjoying using it as a part of my pipe smoking routine. It sits on my desk where it is accessible when I am at home and goes in the pipe bag when I am traveling. It is a perfect accessory for me. I would encourage any interested pipemen to contact Greg about getting a custom made pipe stand from him. You will not regret your decision.

A Schulte deLuxe Reborn – by Joey Bruce

Blog by Joey Bruce

Joey has been a reader of the blog for a while now. Then about a month ago now I received and email from him with some questions on an old pipe he had picked up. It turned out to be a WDC bulldog that was in rough shape. We exchanged a few emails and over the course of reworking that old-timer I could see that Joey was hooked on this hobby! I invited him to do a write-up on some of his work and post it here for others to be encouraged and challenged. Last evening he sent me this article on an old Schulte deLuxe that through his efforts had been reborn. What follows is his article and photos. Thank you Joey for taking the time to write this up and send a copy to me. It is great to have you posting on the blog as a writer. Enjoy his work readers.

Hello all. Just dipping my toes into the pipe refurbishing world. I’ve been reading the posts here obsessively for a while now and couldn’t resist trying it for myself. I’ve always loved restoring things whether it’s, old bikes, cars or motorcycles. All the way to obscure things like pens and sewing machines. So it was a natural move into this. Hopefully I won’t bore you. At the very least you’ll be able to see the difference between and amateur like me and the real deal like Steve and Greg.

I recently bought a few estate pipes off eBay. Most were in such great shape they didn’t need anything more than a spit shine. A few I used as practice. Trying out different techniques I’ve read here and see what I like the best. This weekend I went to a flea market and grabbed a bunch of old cheapos that were laying in a box for a few bucks. Figured I’d get more practice and this time actually take pictures.



I grabbed the Schulte deLuxe first as that one seemed like it would be the easiest. First I soaked the stem in an Oxy Clean and water solution (no real ratio. Just about half a tbs to 3/4 water. But really just guessed) to bring out the oxidation. Then I wet sanded it with 1500 grit sandpaper (all I had. Would have been easier to work my way up to that but I just went with what was here) until all the oxidation was removed. After a little elbow grease I took it over to the polishing wheel (Ryobi bench grinder with two 6″ polishing wheels) and hit it up with some red rouge. Working it back and forth until it had a nice smooth shine. Then moved to the other wheel with Eastwood Supply’s version of White Diamond. Working it with a much gentler touch. Wiped off the residue and voila. Better than new.




I moved onto the bowl. This time I decided to try wet sanding the bowl just to see what would happen. I hypothesized that a quick wet sand might just remove the grit and grime. Turns out it quickly moved right past that and into the stain. I probably won’t do that again unless the bowl needs serious work but it was worth a shot. Wet sanding did work well on the top of the bowl to remove the tar. Much quicker than the spit shine method.



You can see how one turn on the bowl with the red rouge turns the wet sand into a nice shine. Probably my favorite part of this whole thing is when you break it all down to its base and start to rebuild it.





I did the same to the bowl as I did to the stem. Took about an hour on the wheel for both. And I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. I have yet to polish them with any wax to keep the shine up. I just haven’t picked any carnauba wax up and I’ve noticed the super bright shine dulls after a few days so I’ll be sure to grab some wax ASAP.

If you’re reading still thanks and I hope this helps anyone who is just getting started.


Pipe Maker’s Emporium Tenon Turning Tool

Blog by Greg Wolford

Several weeks ago I obtained a tenon turning tool from Pipe Maker’s Emporium (PME). I have been planning on writing my “review” of this tool since I mentioned it in the Big-Ben post but have put it off due to time and wanting to get better acquainted with the tool. Well, I think I am ready so here we go!

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The tool can be purchased from PME here and is, essentially, the same tool that PIMO sells and Steve has and uses. There is at least two differences that I can see: An extra adjusting screw )which is rarely used) and the price of the PME tool is about $9 less. (Having bought from both sources, I have a personal preference for PME: their S/H costs are a bit less and speed and service are better, again in my opinion; I have no affiliation with either company other than being a customer.) Both tools are used in the same way and they both have similar limitations on size. They also both lack precision measurements/adjustment mark, requiring one to go slowly and check often the tenon size so as to not over-turn it.

Steve describes the use and adjustment very well in an article he wrote nut I can’t find at the moment. He also compared the PME and PIMO tools in this article so I won’t go into a lof ground he has already covered, but try to add my impression of the PME tool,

I found the tool relatively easy to use overall. I experimented on a few old stems before re-stemming Big-Ben and have since turned several other stems for different stummels and corn cob pipes. I have had mostly good results but there have been a few massive failures, too.

As Steve has pointed out, the best use of this tool is gotten by turning the tenon very close to size and then finishing the job by hand sanding. I have also learned that the tool not only has no markings to gauge the amount of material to be removed by a single adjustment (you have to look at the cutter head relative to the tenon) but one cannot gauge the amount consistently by using a “formula” such as 1/4 turn of the adjusting screw has been giving me .5′ decrease in diameter so each 1/4 turn will continue to do so – I have over-turned two stems using that type of “formula”!

PME doesn’t sell the right size drill bit for the guide pin (a size #30 or .128″) so you will have to obtain it from another source (PIMO does sell it for $2.50) or make due with another size. At first I used an 1/8″ bit on the vulcanite stems which, while tight, worked okay. However, I had to move up to a 5/32″ bit for Lucite/acrylic and be careful to not get it out of round. I have since ordered the .128″ bit from PIMO and am happy with that.

The extra set screw on the PME tool is really not used except for turning multiple tenons of the same style to the same size: For instance if you needed to slightly turn several tenons for corn cob pipes you would use it. This second locking screw just really sets the cutter head to zero movement but the main locking screw is the one that is generally used since you will mostly be taking more and more material off of a tenon.

I find that using the tool at different speeds helps to get a nice, smooth tenon. I like to start out fairly slow and make my first pass, then increase the speed on subsequent passes. The final passes I will be at full speed and will slowly rotate the stem as I make the pass up then back down the tenon. Generally, this gives me a nice smooth tenon, without a lot of turning marks/lines.

As I mentioned above, the adjustments are not always equal so one has to watch carefully how much the cutter head advances with each movement of the adjusting screw. And in order to get a good, even result it is very important to lock the locking screw with each adjustment. I have found that my digital micrometer (bought very cheaply from Harbour Freight) is a good help in getting the size of the tenon down to where it needs to be. But due to the lack of real precision with the tool, I don’t think one can rely solely on the micrometer; when it is getting close I begin checking the tenon to mortise fit after every pass.

My analysis, then, would be something like this: If you wish to re-stem pipes you have to have one of these toolsI think that either the PME or PIMO tool would work as well as the other and which one you should purchase is simply a matter of preference or economics; the PME is cheaper but if you are ordering from one company or the other buying it with your order will save you on S/H costs. My personal recommendation would be (if you don’t already have some stems to experiment with) buy the tool from PME and order a dozen or two of whatever Carolyn has on sale that week to practice on (usually there are 2-3 styles of vulcanite stems on special for $4-$5) and maybe a couple of closeout acrylic ones, too, to get a feel for the difference (which is big!) in the two materials. The learning curve isn’t huge but it is there. But, if you are like me, learning a new skill to add to your arsenal of restoring these wonderful old pieces is a lot if fun and a big part of the draw of the hobby.

So what are you waiting for? Place your order and step into the next phase of the art of restoration.

Restoring on an Old Meerschaum Cutty with Amber Stem

Blog by Greg Wolford

I own two meerschaum pipes: an old African block estate pipe and a Turkish bulldog shape my son bought me for Christmas two years ago. Both of these pipes smoke well but they are also both quite large, for my evolving taste anyway, as a result, I don’t smoke either of them very often. So of late I have been on the lookout for a smaller ‘meer that was both affordable and appealing to my eye in local flea markets and antique shops. Most of what I find locally is priced too high, either in general or for my budget, and often they are in poor condition. But a couple of weeks ago I stumbled upon a little pipe that met all of my conditions and it became mine. I took it (and an old Kaywoodie that I’ve yet to touch) home and it waited in my “to do” basket until yesterday.

At first glance I saw that the pipe was dirty and likely had never been waxed. The screw in stinger was also out of time. But these were small things considering the price and my intended use: As a smoker not a show piece. The pipe also appeared to have a Bakelite stem that looked dirty but in good shape. Here are a few photos of it before I began:

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I knew that I wanted to re-clock the stem and also to even out the bigger chips on the bowl and rim. For the chips I remembered Steve’s post on the meerschaum bowl he modified to fit a Kirsten pipe. So I got out some wet/dry paper in about 400 grit and also some well-worn 1000 grit to sand/polish the bowl and rim. after setting the needed paper out, I removed the stem to clean it and the shank well before anything else.

The first thing I noticed was that the stem looked and felt different from I expected; at the antique mall I didn’t look too closely since I was hoping to score a better deal on the pari of pipes. The stem seemed heavier and just, well, different from the Bakelite stem on my African meer. Not owning a pipe with an amber stem I had nothing to compare it to so I messaged Steve and sent these photos:

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After a few exchanges, he directed me to a link to test to see if I had real amber. I started with the alcohol test: pass. Then I moved to the acetone test: pass again. In fact, after the tests and then cleaning the stem well with alcohol it was much shinier and better looking! The final test, which was inconsequential, was the taste test: Not only a pass but I could really feel a different in the mouthfeel of this stem versus any other I have. Now I was excited to get her cleaned up and tried out! As sort of a last test, I heated the stinger with my heat gun to see if I could loosen and straighten it; there were no bite marks to remove, thankfully. After a bit of heat the stinger did loosen but the stem didn’t soften like Bakelite or acrylic would. I began to adjust the stinger to find that the metal apparatus was a screw in tenon, threaded into the amber. So I removed it and dropped it (the tenon) into a bit os alcohol to loosen and dissolve the grime in the threads. While it soaked I began to clean the shank and stem with cotton swabs and pipe cleaners and alcohol. To my great surprise the shank and stem were very clean. I only used two pipe cleaners and two cotton swabs and they were not at all grimy:

After cleaning and drying everything I reassembled the pipe. I wasn’t able to get it 100% straight but it is better. I tested the draw now and it was open and clean tasting, though the air hole in the stem is not very large. There were, after the cleaning of the stem, some scratches and dings, all small, present. But the shine was pretty good and since I don’t feel comfortable with it I opted to not try to sand/remove them. I may at some point go back and wax it but I’m in no hurry for that. Time to move to the bowl.

I began by gently sanding at the deep chips, especially on the bowl.


This took some time with the 400 grit paper because I didn’t want to remove too much material. When it was close to what I wanted, I topped the bowl slightly to clean up and even the rim. I then moved to the well-worn 1000 grit to polish off the entire stummel, removing some stuck on pieces of tobacco and most of the dirt/grime. Then I tore off a piece of the 1000 grit paper and polished the bowl out a bit. There was some grime, some scratches and some “digging” marks in the bottom of the bowl. I wanted only to smooth it a bit as I thought it would remove too much material to attempt to fully even it out. Lastly I wiped the entire pipe down with a barely dampened with alcohol cotton pad to remove any dust that might have been remaining. This is the result:

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I let it dry out for a few hours and loaded it up with a rubbed out bowl of Peterson Irish flake last night and rubbed beeswax on it as I smoked it. I must say it smokes as well or better than either of my other ‘meers! Unfortunately, I accidentally grabbed up a non-lint free rag to polish it after it had cooled and now have some lint specks in the wax. But I’ll be re-waxing it soon anyway and will fix it then. I also may sand it a bit smoother with 800 grit paper; there are a few scratches still visible but not too irritating to me. This morning I triad a little Rattray’s Accountant’s Mixture in her as I was writing this article and she smoked equally well. This is a look at her after the first wax application.


All in all, I’m very pleased with my new no-name ‘meer. She is exactly the size I was hoping for, smokes great, looks pretty good and will look better with time and I got an amber stem that I’d not bargained for! The joys of the hunt and the rewards of the work: That’s why I love bringing these old pipes back to a useful, if not beautiful, state.

THANK YOU For an incredible year at rebornpipes

rebornpipes has been operating the blog since the end of May 2012. For the remainder of 2012 the site had 39,646 views. Since January of 2013 we have had double the views with 79,026 views. There are 492 different posts on the blog written by myself and 11 individuals who have posted about their refurbishing work. I have included the list of contributors from the Thanks to Contributor’s page. Have a look at their credentials and their posts. You can search the blog by author name now and select those you want to read. In addition there are guest articles written by another 7 individuals.

1. Al Jones – Al was the first to contribute his writings and photographs to the blog under the name upshallfan. Al does incredibly nice refurbs and adds a nice touch of class to the blog.

2. Fred Bass – Fred is the Meer Guru in my opinion and to have several of his pieces here on the blog is incredibly helpful. Fred brings a love of the meer and years of experience in cleaning, breaking them in and caring for them to the table.

3. Gan Barber– what can I say about Gan? Over the years we have fired emails back and forth with ideas and suggestions and insight into our joint hobby. I am thankful to have Gan posting here as in many ways he has been a mentor to me in this hobby.

4. Chuck Richards – Chuck, like Gan, has been someone with whom I bounce ideas and methods back and forth. Chuck also keeps the challenges in front of me and I learned much from him.

5. Kirk Fitzgerald – Kirk is a relative newcomer to the refurbishing craft but he has an amazing talent with a chisel and carving knife. His contributions on his method of rustication have been well received and it is a pleasure to have him contribute here as well.

6. Piet Binsbergen – I have corresponded with Piet for awhile now and we connected over Keyser Pipes. A mutual friend on the forums – Muddler – connected us when I was searching for Keyser stems. Piet is an artist at heart and by profession. His love of the briar and restoring it comes out in his work and his words. It is great to have added him to the pool of contributors.

7. James Gilliam– I asked James to contribute from the perspective of a pipe maker what it was like to do refurbishing. James makes some amazing pipes and has done a great article on his perspective on our craft. His website is JSEC Pipes at I appreciate James willingness to contribute to the blog and it is a pleasure to have him contribute.

8. Al Shinogle – I contacted Al Shinogle and received his permission to post his article on opening the airway on a pipe. Al continues to do some great refurbishing work on estate pipes that he revives and passes on to old timers. I look forward to future articles by Al.

9. Greg Wolford – is one of the blog’s readers and comments often on various posts. He contacted me with several articles on the pipes he has refurbished and the methods he has used. Greg writes well and is a fine photographer in his own right as well. I look forward to reading what he contributes in the days ahead.

10. Robert Boughton – Robert is one our newest contributors to the blog. He is a new practitioner of the refurbishing art being tutored by Chuck Richards in the finer points of refurbishing. It is a pleasure to have him writing for the blog and adding a new voice to the posts. His research and his work are well done. Thanks Robert.

11. Brian Devlin – Brian is a 62 year old retired electronic manufacture and design company owner living in Blairgowrie, Scotland. He is a stroke survivor (I like him already as I too am a stroke survivor) having survived 3 major strokes 7 years ago. He loves his new home, pet rabbit and morning ritual with pipe and rabbit in his garden. He frequents EBay to hunt for pipes that he buys and skillfully refurbishes to smoke. It is great to have Brian writing about some of his refurbs on the blog. Enjoy his work.

Added to that list of regular contributors there are also articles that have been written by the following individuals:

1. Bas Stevens – Bas is the go to person for information and history on Stanwell pipes. He has one of the most beautiful Stanwell collections that I have ever seen. I appreciate Bas’ willingness to have his piece on Stanwell shapes available on the blog.

2. Mark Domingues – Mark is another reader of the blog and has lately contributed some of his work. Mark collects Peterson pipes and his work is a pleasure to read about. Mark seems to never shy away from trying things that are daunting at best and certainly some that others would consider futile. Thanks you Mark for writing for us.

3. Eric Boehm – Over the years on the forums I have read Eric’s posts with interest. He has collated and collected some great information that it is our privilege to be able to share here on the blog. I thank Eric for his willingness to pass on his writing through the blog.

4. Les Sechler – Les graciously gave permission to put his article on Barling pipes on the blog. Les possesses a wealth of information on Barling’s and Dunhill pipes. He has always been gracious when I contact him for help on various projects. Thanks Les for being a willing and able correspondent.

5. Martin Farrent – Martin graciously gave permission to put his article on Dating Loewe Pipes by Period on the blog. I look forward to reading more of Martin’s work in the future. His knowledge of Loewes pipes is incredibly helpful and insightful. Thank you Martin.

6. Mike Leverette – Mike was a very good friend and the consummate pipeman. He was a fountainhead of information on all things Peterson and also one who shared a common interest with me regarding alternative woods used in pipes. He knew and loved the older historical alternative woods used by American pipe makers. All of Mike’s articles on the blog are published posthumously from pieces he sent to me over the years before his death. Mike I miss the chats and the ready wit that characterised you so much.

7. Alan Chestnutt – Alan is a professional pipe refurbisher doing work on the web as Reborn Briar ( ). His work is extremely well done and his website also has a wealth of information and some of the pipes he refurbishers are for sale through the site. Thanks Alan.

Including the articles that I post we thus have 19 different writers on the blog. I am so thankful for the willingness of others to add articles on their expertise and experiments in the art of refurbishing pipes.

The spread of the blog is quite extensive now, covering 150 different countries. It is remarkable to go to the various Referrers to the blog and read articles there that have been translated into other languages. I have also read newsletters, emails, forum posts from many of the different countries pipesmokers and found them referring favourably to the blog. All of this more than meets the expectation I had when I started rebornpipes. I wanted it to be a place to share our collective learning regarding the work we do as hobby refurbishers. It has been a pleasure to receive emails and also comments on the articles from many of you with your additions and helpful information that sits in the comments below each article and in some cases have been integrated into the material for a more complete compendium.

I think as we move into our second year at rebornpipes I would encourage others of you who read the blog and practice some of the tricks learned here to comment on the posts and to also submit articles and photos of the pipes you have been refurbishing. Share the tips and tools you have learned and developed as you have worked on the pipes at your table. Your articles are always welcome and the list of authors is wide open for additions.

Again I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to the pipe smoking community for your reception of the work of rebornpipes and your continued readership. I do not take it for granted in this busy world in which we live that you would take time to read the articles we post here and share them in your circles of pipesmokers. Thank you.

Steve Laug

’63 Dunhill 552 Restoration

Blog by Al Jones

I found this 1963 Dunhill shape 552 on Ebay last week. The auction ended early in the week at an odd time and it went largely unnoticed. It looked to be in pretty decent shape, but with some bite marks on the bottom of the stem. It is a Group 4 pipe in Bruyere finish (A = Bruyere) At first, I thought it was a Rhodesian, then later thought it looked more like a tomato. Neill Archer Roan commented that it had some Diplomat DNA.

The pipe was delivered today. It was pretty much as pictured, but I also discovered it is a 6 mm filter pipe. The briar was in great shape, with a little tar and rim darkening. There were no dings or bruises to deal with. The stem was also in decent shape and only lightly oxidized. There were a few light teeth marks on both sides of the stem, and all but one lifted out with some heat from a lighter flame.

Dunhill_522_Before (1)

Dunhill_522_Before (3)


dunhill_rhodesian-5dunhill_rhodesian-4Dunhill_522_Before (2)

The bowl had a fairly thick cake and I reamed it with my Castleford bit set. The bowl was then soaked with Everclear and sea salt.

I polished the stem with some 800 grit wet paper, followed by 1500 and 2000 grade. Then I moved to the micromesh, 8000 and 12000 grades were used. I gave the stem a light buff (mounted to the briar) with some White Diamond. I have a bar of jewelers “Red” rouge on order and I’m curious to see how it compares to the White Diamond for finish work. The stem has some odd marks in the vulcanite, almost like an imperfection. I could not remove them by sanding or buffing.

I polished briar lightly with some 8000 grade micromesh, keeping away from the weak nomenclature. I then buffed the bowl, again lightly with White diamond and then several coats of carnuba wax.

After searching online for several days, I couldn’t find out much about this shape. I found only one other shape 552, a shell finish pipe sold at an Ebay auction in 2007. The 552 is also not on any Dunhill shape chart (Loring, etc.). On the in the “Streets of London” social group, one member there, dmcmtk (Dave) said he has a shape 556 from 1963. He had heard Dunhill was experimenting with shape variations at this time and perhaps my 552 was part of that experimentation. I have emails out to several Dunhill collectors, but haven’t yet received a reply. If you know anything about this shape number, please comment.

Here’s the finished pipe.


Dunhill_522_Finished (3)

Dunhill_522_Finished (4)

Dunhill_522_Finished (5)

Dunhill_522_Finished (1)

Dunhill_522_Finished (2)

Adjusting a Misaligned Tenon

On the old Churchill’s bent pot I picked up on Ebay and wrote about in a previous article I spoke of adjusting a misaligned tenon to tighten up the gap between the shank and the stem. Al Jones commented in his reply to that blog post that he would like to hear more about the procedure I used to achieve the correction. I have written this article in response to Al’s question.

The Churchill’s pipe had a slight cant to the tenon. It did not allow the stem to line up correctly. It had a gap at either the top of the bottom of the shank and no matter how it was inserted you could see light in the gap. I have seen the mishaps, and experienced some firsthand, when the tenon is pressed after heating to try to expand it. The misalignment is often dramatic and hard to repair. In the past I have had to just start over with a different stem. I decided to experiment with a different fix on this old Churchill’s.

Churchill 2

Churchill 3

My first attempt at heating the tenon involved the boiling water method that is used to bend stems. I set a bowl of water in the microwave and heated it for two minutes and then dipped the pipe stem, tenon first, into the water to heat it. I repeated that several times until the tenon was pliable and then dried it and inserted into the mortise. I pressed it into place carefully and held it while I cooled it. The results of the first attempt are below – still a gap and the addition of an oxidized stem to remedy. As I thought about the process and the desired end I concluded that a possible issue was that I had not heated the tenon enough to truly get a flexible bend to it. The caution is to proceed very slowly in the process so that you do not snap the tenon and necessitate a different fix.



I put the tenon in the shank and left a gap of approximately a ¼ to a ½ inch. I then used heat gun with a tip that reduced the area of the heat to about an inch diameter circle. I held the pipe above the heat and rotated it quickly to evenly heat the gap, and thus heat the tenon. I apologize for the blurriness of the photos but the general set up is clear. Hold the pipe above the heat about three or four inches, rotate it quickly as you do not want to burn the vulcanite.




Once the stem was warm I carefully pushed it into the shank. You want the stem warm enough that the tenon is flexible and not stiff or it will break off as you work it. The tricky part is to slowly and evenly push the stem into place. A variation in the push to either side will only make the problem worse. Once it is tightly against the shank I gently moved it until the fit was tight between the shank and stem. I held it tightly in place with my thumb and fingers as I cooled the stem and shank under cold water to set the new adjustment. It took several attempts to get it to sit properly.



Once the cooling was done I held the stem in place for a few minutes as I walked back to my work table. The finished fit was snug and no light shone through the stem shank union as it had previously. I have included the last three pictures below to show the finished fit of the stem to the shank. You can read about the restoration of the pipe in another blog post on the Churchill Bent Pot.




Churchill’s Bent Pot

Blog by Steve Laug

I saw this pipe come up on Ebay and love the shape. Some have called it a bent pot but I am not sure that the name captures the shape but I will call it that nonetheless. Churchill’s was not a brand I was familiar with but it looked very good. The stamping on the pipe is very simple on the left side of the shank it is stamped Churchill’s and on the right side it is stamped Matt Grain. The bowl had been reamed back by the seller before shipping and was well done. No damage to the roundness of the bowl. The inside of the shank was filled with chips of carbon from the reaming and they were stuck in the tar in the shank. The buildup was enough that the stem did not seat in the mortise and there was a gap in the fit of the stem and shank. The rim had some tarry buildup. The stem sat at an angle to the shank as if the tenon was bent slightly. There were three deep tooth marks on the top and the bottom of the stem near the button. The oxidation was present but not heavy at this point. The stem was also plugged with tars and the airflow was very constricted. There was an old English style C stamped on the stem. The first nine photos below were provided by the Ebay seller.

Churchill 1

Churchill 2

Churchill 3

Churchill 4

Churchill 5

Churchill 6

Churchill 7

Churchill 8

Churchill 10

Logo NEW Logo 2012 Small

I am fairly certain that the pipe came from Churchill’s Tobacco Shop in Norwich, England. I found the following information on the Pipes and Logos website On the site there is a small paragraph which I have copied as follows: “Churchill’s Tobacco shop is situated in St Andrew’s Street at the corner of Bridewell Alley in Norwich, England. The shop was next to a church and at the bottom of two hills, and that’s how it became “Churchill’s”. Former manager: John Elvin (retired on May, 31 2008). Current owner (2008): Keith Garrard.” I have included these pictures from that website as they show the stamping on both the shank and stem that is identical to the pipe that I have just refurbished.


According to the Churchill’s website it is the last remaining specialist tobacconist in Norwich, originally standing at 32 St Andrews Street for over 23 years. The site also notifies the shop’s clients that Keith Garrard, who had a wealth of knowledge and was an avid pipe and cigar smoker himself, passed away on 23rd March 2012. His wife Coral continues to maintain the business in his honor.

I decided to try to remedy the bent tenon on the pipe to begin with. I heated it in a cup of boiling water to try to adjust it and tighten the fit in the mortise. I was able to adjust the fit and get a good tight seat with no gap between the shank and the stem. However, in the process the water oxidized the stem badly. The four photos below show the adjusted fit of the stem and also clearly show the bite marks on the stem – top and bottom near the button.





I scrubbed the inside of the shank with Everclear and cotton swabs. I cleaned the airway with bristle pipe cleaners and then fluffy pipe cleaners. I continued to scrub it until the pipe cleaners and cotton swabs came out clean. I cleaned the rim of the bowl with saliva and a cotton pad until the grime was gone. It took a bit more than a cotton pad and saliva so I also used a very fine grit sanding block to knock off the remaining tar, being careful to not break the finish.IMG_1743



The stem took a bit of work as it was plugged with grit and tar. I used a dental pick to clean out the slot. To the right of the stem in the photo is some of tar and grit I picked out of the slot. I used a straightened end of the pick to clean deeply in the slot. I then used pipe cleaners soaked in Everclear and pushed them through the blockage. I also opened the slot with needle files to facilitate easy access with pipe cleaners. The slot was very narrow which also made the blockage hard to get at.


I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the surface around the bite marks. In the next three photos the bite marks are visible. I heated them to lift them as much as possible. The bite marks on the top were less troublesome than the ones on the underside. Fortunately the stem was quite thick so that the tooth marks did not go all the way through the vulcanite.




I picked the tooth marks clean with a dental pick and then used black super glue to patch the deep marks that remained. Once the glue had cured and was hard I sanded the patches with 220 grit sandpaper and then a medium grit sanding sponge to smooth out the surface and blend in the patch. The next three photos show the patch after it had been applied and after sanding.




I sanded the stem with micromesh sanding pads from 1500-12,000 grit to finish removing the oxidation and the scratches left behind by the various sandpapers I used. The next series of photos show the progress of the shine after each group of sanding pads.







I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil and rubbed it into the surface of the stem. Once it had dried I rubbed it and polished it with a shoe brush before taking the pipe to the buffer. I buffed it with White Diamond and then carnauba wax. I gave it a polish with a clean flannel buffing wheel. The next four photos show the finished pipe. I really like the way the matte finish came alive. The grain really pops. This was an easy refurbish as the finish was in very good shape under the top layer of grime.