Daily Archives: November 30, 2013

A New Look for an Italian Made Billiard – Restemmed and Reworked

This is yet another bowl from the bottom of the box of pipes for refurbishing. This one is an Italian made no name basket pipe. The stamping merely says Imported Briar Italy. The finish was spotty and peeling from the bowl. It almost looked like a dark brown opaque stain coat and then a thick varnish coat over that. The bowl was badly caked, the shank was filthy and the rim caked and peeling. There were some large fills on the left side of the bowl that were coming out of the holes and were peeling around the edges. The bowl did not have a stem so I found one in my box of stems that fit with a little adjustment to the tenon.




I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer to take the cake back to bare briar. The bowl and shank smelled heavily of aromatics with a fruity overtone and I wanted to remove that so that the new owner could form a cake of his/her own choice.

The stem was too large in diameter at the stem shank junction. So I sanded it back with a sanding drum on a Dremel. I have found that a Dremel run a medium speed can be carefully used to take back the diameter of a stem to almost match the shank with the stem in the shank. Care must be exercised so as not to nick the briar of the shank with the sanding drum.




I took the pipe back to the work table and sanded it until it fit well with 220 grit sandpaper. I also decided to sand the shank with the sandpaper as well to achieve a good flow from shank to stem. I also wanted to remove the heavy black/brown finish on the pipe so removing it from the shank was not problematic.





Once I had sanded the transition smooth I wiped the bowl down with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the remainder of the finish on the bowl.



After wiping it down I gave it a buff with red Tripoli on the buffing wheel to remove the remainder of the finish and give me an idea of what would still need to be done with the bowl.




I sanded the bowl with a medium grit sanding sponge and then picked out the large broken fills on the left side of the bowl. I wiped it with acetone to clean it one more time before packing the fills with briar dust. I packed in the briar dust with a dental pick and then tamped it down with flat head tamper to make sure the pack was good and tight. I dripped some superglue gel into the briar dust and then more briar dust on top of the glue. I tamped it another time to get a good solid fill. I sanded the excess briar dust superglue mixture with 220 grit sandpaper and then a medium grit sanding sponge.



I stained the pipe with a dark brown aniline stain thinned 2:1 with isopropyl alcohol as the undercoat on the pipe. I stained and flamed the stain repeatedly until the coverage was even and solid over the entire pipe. The patch on the side is still visible but in no longer flaking and falling out the fill. The surface remains slightly rough but I will continue to sand it before giving it another coat of stain.




I buffed the bowl with Red Tripoli and then with White Diamond in preparation for the next coat of stain. I sanded the fill area with a fine grit sanding sponge and then sanded the bowl with micromesh sanding pads 1500-2400 grit. I then restained the bowl with a oxblood stain as the second coat on the bowl. I applied it and flamed it until the coverage was even. Then buffed it with White Diamond.




During this second staining I removed the stem and examined the end of the shank and saw small hairline cracks in several places. They did not go through to the surface of the shank but they were troublesome enough to me that I decided to band the pipe. There were also several nicks in the outer edge of the shank that made a tight fit relatively impossible to attain. I heated a nickel band with a heat gun and pressure fit it in place on the shank. I had to reduce the tenon slightly to get a good fit on the stem. I also sanded the stem around the junction so that it would fit properly against the banded shank.




The fills still needed more work but for the time being I worked on the stem some more. I sanded it with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and I took it to the buffer and buffed it with White Diamond and gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax.



I decided to do some more work on the areas of the fills. I sanded the areas of the fills down with 220 grit sandpaper and then a medium grit sanding sponge. I then sanded the entire bowl and shank with a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the finish. I wiped it down with a cotton pad and Everclear to remove the last of the finish and also the sanding grit. I used superglue to refill the fills and even out the surface and dips that still remained after the first reworking. I then sanded the spots with 220 grit sandpaper, a medium grit and a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the scratches and blend the fills into the surface of the bowl.



I stained the bowl with a 2:1 mixture of aniline dark brown stain and isopropyl alcohol. I applied the stain with a cotton swab and flamed it. I reapplied and reflamed it several times until I had a good even coverage on the bowl and shank.


I buffed the pipe with White Diamond to smooth out the surface of the bowl and then gave it a top coat of oxblood stain. I wiped the stain on with a cotton pad and flamed it repeating the process until I was happy with the coverage on the bowl. I was much happier now with the fills as they were smooth to the touch and there were no more pits or divots in them.





I took the pipe to the buffer and buffed the bowl and stem with White Diamond one more time. It brought a deep rich shine to the bowl and the stem. I then gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect and polish the pipe. The four photos below show the finished pipe. It is ready for someone to load it and fire it up. It should provide a reliable and lightweight pipe for someone’s rack.