Blog by Steve Laug
I am getting close to the bottom of the box of pipes to refurbish so I pulled out this Dr. Grabow bowl to restem and to refinish. It is stamped Royal Duke over Dr. Grabow on the left side of the shank and Imported Briar on the right side. I like taking the sealer coat of varnish off of these old Grabows and seeing what they look like refinished. I reamed the bowl with the PipNet reamer and cutting heads. I found a stem blank in my box and turned the tenon with a Pimo Tenon Turning Tool until it was close and then finnished the fit by hand. I ran a Dremel with a sanding drum on it down the sides where the overflow from the casting of the stem blanks left the sides and end rough. The next six photos show the fit of the new stem and the look of the pipe with its new stem.
I wiped the bowl down with acetone to remove the finish (photos 1-3 below). I then sanded the smooth surface of the bowl with a medium grit sanding sponge to break up the varnish finish on the rim and sides. I then wiped it down with acetone a second time and was more successful removing the varnish coat (photos 4-9 below). As can be seen from the progress of the photos the finish came off nicely and the rim darkening and bubbled varnish was also removed.
I decided to stain the pipe with a medium walnut stain in a linseed oil mixture. I rubbed it on the bowl and rubbed it off until the colour was solid and even over the bowl. The next series of three photos show the freshly stained bowl of the pipe. I was able to get into the grooves of the rustication with the cotton pads dipped in stain so that all surfaces were covered.
I rubbed off the stain and took the pipe to the buffer. I buffed it with White Diamond to polish the surface of the bowl and rim. The fibres from the pad also polished the grooves of the rustication as well. I put the stem back on the bowl and sanded it down with 220 grit sandpaper and a medium grit sanding sponge to remove the scratches left behind by the Dremel. I particularly worked on the shank stem union to make sure it was a smooth transition. I sanded the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit and dry sanded with 3200-12,000 grit sanding pads. The progress of the sanding with micromesh pads is visible in the next series of three photos below. When I finished sanding the stem I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil and let it dry. I rubbed it down and buffed it with White Diamond on the buffing wheel.
The finished pipe is pictured below. I buffed the pipe with multiple coats of carnauba wax and then polished it with a clean flannel buff. This old timer is ready to go back into service and will be a nice addition to someone’s pipe rack.