Monthly Archives: December 2013

Refurbishing a Comoy’s Tradition Shape 4 Bulldog

When hunting for estate pipes I always am on the lookout for certain brands that feel like a win when I find them. I have found a few of them over the years. Some of those brands are Dunhill, Comoy’s, GBD and BBB. Added to that are a few older American brands such as CPF and GFB. On a current hunt I did exceptionally well and found four GBD pipes and two Comoy’s pipes. The first one I have been working on is stamped Comoy’s Tradition and is a shape 4 bulldog. In my mind Comoy’s knew how to make the quintessential bulldog so I was glad to find this one. However, the previous owner had modified the shape dramatically and made it almost unrecognizable due to his changes. I bought it anyway and went back to the books to see what the original shape must have looked like. In the brochure photo below it is the third pipe down labeled Tradition.

Now for the modifications. The next set of four photos show the pipe’s condition when I bought it. The briar is a beautiful piece with no fills or flaws in it. The grain is very nice with a mix of flame, straight and birdseye. The stain is the typical two stage stain that is present on the Tradition pipes that I have seen – a dark understain with a walnut brown stain over that. The bowl when I received it was slightly caked with a small build up of tars and cake that overflowed on the back edge of the top of the rim. There was a slight series of marks on the bevel above the rings where the pipe must have been dropped on concrete or gravel. I don’t believe the stem is an original as the shape is a bit different from the ones I have seen and it is missing the logo. It is also missing the step down tenon that I have come to associate with these pipes. The stamping is weak on the left side though visible. It is not present at all on the right side of the shank. The bottom of the bowl, shank and stem have been sanded flat to make the pipe a sitter. It appeared that the owner merely laid the pipe on a flat sander and never bothered to smooth out the scratches or refinish the bottom of the pipe. He knew what he was doing because he left just enough briar on the bottom of the shank to not go through into the airway and on the bottom of the bowl to leave it still thick enough to protect it from burning out.




The photo below shows the flattened underside of the pipe and the scratches that are visible in the briar and the vulcanite stem.

I reamed out the bowl with a PipNet reaming set beginning with the smallest cutting head and progressing to the one that fit the bowl. I cut back the cake to the bare wood so that I could build it up again evenly. It had tended to be thick around the top of the bowl and about half way down the bowl thinned out. I cleaned out the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and Everclear

I heated the surface of the stem with a lighter to lift the bite marks on the stem surface. The ones on the topside of the stem lifted quite well and a little sanding repaired them. The ones on the underside were deeper and required more work. Several of them lifted but one in particular was very deep and the fibers of the vulcanite were broken. This required a patch with black superglue. There was also a small divot out of the button on the top side that I repaired with the black superglue. I set the stem aside to dry while I worked on the bowl.


I wiped down the bowl and rim with a cotton pad and saliva. I scrubbed the tars and carbon on the rim with the cotton pad and saliva until it was gone. It took a bit of scraping and a lot of elbow grease to remove the buildup but once it was clean the stain was still in very good shape. I also scrubbed the bevel of the inner edge of the rim to clean it and polish it as well.



Once the superglue was dry I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the excess and smooth out the surface of the patch. I sanded it until it was well blended into the surface of the stem. The next two photos show the patch after sanding with 220 grit sandpaper and then with a medium grit sanding pad.


I sanded and stained the flattened bottom of the pipe with a medium walnut stain to blend it in with the rest of the pipe. I sanded the stem with my usual regimen of micromesh sanding pads from 1500-12,000 grit pads. I buffed the entire pipe with White Diamond and then rubbed in a coat of Obsidian Oil into the stem.




I buffed the pipe and stem with multiple coats of carnauba wax and finished with a clean flannel buff to bring out the shine. The next series of four photos show the finished pipe. Though the previous owner’s modification certainly changed the profile of this old pipe, I think the finished product still looks very good and should continue to provide a good smoke.




After reading Al’s comment below, I did a bit more comparison work with Tradition colours both on line and in my own collection. They tended to be slightly more red than the walnut colour of this bulldog. Armed with that information I decided to give it a coat of Minwax red mahogany stain to bring out the reds a bit more in the briar. Below are the updated pictures of the pipe. In real time the addition of red brings the colour into the same spectrum as the other Traditions in my collection. Thanks Al for the nudge.




2013 in review

Yesterday on December 31st I received this year end report from WordPress. I wanted to pass it on so that others who may be interested in stats and such might have a look. Thanks to the many followers of the blog and the contributors who continue to provide valuable articles on the pipes that they refurbish. I look forward to a great year ahead. Thank you.

Steve Laug

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 130,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 6 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Restoring A Craft Briar Volcano/Poker

Finding this old pipe comes with a tale that is just too good not to tell. I have written it up here for your reading and also to help me remember the tale.

Yesterday I paid a visit to the Vancouver Flea Market to see if I could add any more pipes to my stock of pipes to refurbish. I generally have had some good luck there picking up older pipes at a good price. There is one seller at the market that has some pipes that have always caught my eye but her prices have been unreasonable. She would not negotiate on prices at all so I generally walked away from her and bought from other sellers. However, this time I decided to play a bit of her game. I looked at the various pipes and asked her prices. She walked away so I did as well. I made a loop around the market and then came back to her. She had a twinkle in her eye when I came back and she asked, “Are you serious to buy or do you just look?” I laughed and said, “That my dear lady depends solely upon you!” Again she had that same look and she responded, “Which pipe are you wanting?” I started with the one furthest away from the one I wanted and asked her price. It was a Savinelli Autograph in very nice shape. She took it from the case and waxed eloquent about its beauty. Now I knew her price was based on how beautiful the pipe was to her. She spoke of how her father had smoked a pipe in the old country and she had prepared his tobacco for him. She got a faraway look in her eye.

That did not last long and she was back to business. “You want it?” she asked. I asked her price which was far more than I was willing to pay. So I moved her on to the other pipes in her display case. These she said were less beautiful and were priced accordingly. I carefully went over each pipe talking about how I restore them to their original beauty because I was a pipeman. I loved pipes and everything about them. I enjoyed the process of restoration. She was hooked! I finally got around to the pipe that I had had my eye one for quite a while over the past trips I have made to the market. I asked her the price. She replied that it was $49 but the other one she had shown was way better. She said I should not wait and think too long as opportunities move quickly in our world and who knew if it would be there the next time I came back.

While she spoke I checked out the pipe I wanted. It was stamped on the bottom of its triangular shank, Craft in a Germanic Script and next to that Briar. Stamped above Briar was the number 386. It had an unusual rustication patter on it, a smooth rim and smooth lines on the edges of the triangular shank, the end of the shank and around the rounded bowl bottom. The bottom of the shank was smooth as well. The stem was clean and well fit, with slight oxidation around the shank. There were deep tooth marks on the top and bottom of the stem. The bowl was quite clean with a slight cake and the rim was relatively clean as well – a little tarry buildup at the back of the rim. There was no charring or burning. All of this was taken in while she waxed on about taking every opportunity to by the Savinelli.

When she paused for a breath I asked her the price on the pipe in my hands, knowing full well that there was a price tag on the underside of the stem. Without missing a beat she said, “You want that one? I will make a deal”. Ah, now I knew I could make an offer for the pipe. Too low an offer and she would be insulted but too little a variation from her price would insult her. What to do. I quickly came to a price in my mind and spoke it out, “I will pay you $40 cash right now. No tax and no more for this pipe of less beauty than the one you love so much.” She smiled and nodded her head. “We have a deal,” she said and held out her hand for the cash. I was ready and had two brand new $20’s in hand and laid them on her upturned palm. She smiled and told me to enjoy the new pipe but to not let the beautiful one pass without taking it home too.

I walked away and went to the coffee shop. I sipped a coffee while I did a bit of searching on the web regarding the Craft brand of pipes. Somewhere in the recesses of my memory it was a familiar name to me. The “o” logo on the stem looked familiar as well. I had a hunch the pipe was made by Julius Vesz, a Toronto pipemaker selling out of the York Hotel. I found a notation on the web that confirmed that the pipe was made in Toronto and sold out of a shop at the York Hotel. The address given on the site matched Vesz’ shop there. I was fairly certain that my hunch was correct. Another site stated that the Craft Briar Pipe Company’s principal was Julius Vesz. The identity of the carver was certified by the web.

I still wanted to take one further step in confirming that the pipe did indeed come from Julius Vesz. I googled his website and sent an email via the website to the webmaster. I also emailed him directly from the contact information given on the site. Here is the web address should you want to check out some of his pipes:

I have included our correspondence about the pipe in full below.

On Dec 29, 2013, at 6:44 PM, Steve Laug wrote:

Good evening Mr. Vesz
I came across a pipe that I believe came from your shop if my research is correct. It is stamped Craft Briar and 3B6 and has a white o on the triangular stem. I was wondering if you could confirm that it is indeed one of your pipes. I have several of yours and thoroughly enjoy them and was caught by the “o” logo on the stem and the great shape of this one. Thank you for your time.
Kind regards
Steve Laug

On Dec 30, 2013 Rob Vesz wrote:

Hello Steve
This is Rob Vesz, Julius’ son replying. I take care of my father’s email and website. Thanks for your message and kind words.

Yes, Craft is the name Julius stamped on his very early pipes. It is in fact still the name of his company, but he operates under “Julius Vesz”. That pipe would be around 50 years old. My father stopped stamping Craft around the mid 1960’s.

It would be interesting to see a photo if you don’t mind emailing one.

Thanks again.

Rob Vesz

There is was – the web confirmation was confirmed by Rob Vesz that the pipe was indeed crafted by Julius Vesz and gave a date when the stamping on the pipes changed from Craft Briar in the mid 1960’s. I wrote back to Rob and sent the requested photos of the pipe and asked for clarification on the number stamp on the shank of the pipe. I wondered if it was not a date stamp. Below is that correspondence.

On Dec 30, 2013, at 12:37 PM, Steve Laug wrote:

Hi Rob
Thank you for your prompt reply. I appreciate the information. I am in the process of restoring the pipe now. Soon I will write it up for the rebornpipes blog – a blog I run for refurbishing of pipes.

I have attached three photos of the pipe. It is in pretty good shape other than some deep bite marks on the stem, top and bottom near the button.

One more question – can you interpret the stamping for me? The number on it is 386 – does that give me date information?

On Dec 30, 2013 Rob Vesz wrote:

The 386 should be a style # that my father used. Will speak to him to see if he has any further thoughts on that.


Below are three more photos of the pipe showing what it looked like when I brought it home to refurbish.



I took several photos of the end of the stem to show the tooth mark damage that was present. It truly was the only thing wrong with this pipe. The first photo shows the underside of the stem but does not show the size or the depth of the bite mark at the top of the photo.


I heated the stem with a heat gun to try to lift the tooth marks. The ones on the top of the stem lifted almost to the surface and a little sanding took care of the remnants there (Photos 1 and 2 below). The ones on the underside were deeper. Two of them lifted to the surface and with sanding disappeared. The one on the left side of Photo 3 was very deep and the surface of the vulcanite was broken so that it did not lift. It left a pit in the surface of the stem. I picked it clean with a dental pick.



I wiped the sanded area of the stem down with Everclear on a cotton pad to clean the surface before using black superglue to repair the deepest bite mark and to also fix a small one to the right of it. The next two photos below show the drops of superglue on the surface of the stem. I set the stem aside for the glue to cure and went on to clean the bowl and rim.


I scrubbed the tars on the rim with saliva on a cotton pad until they were gone. The photo below shows some of the buildup still remaining that took a bit more elbow grease to remove. I also wiped down the rest of the bowl with a damp cotton pad to remove grime and dust.





I cleaned out the shank with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and Everclear to remove tars and oils left behind by smoking. I reinserted the stem in the shank and set the pipe down to continue to dry. There were two small marks left behind after I had sanded the top of the stem so I used the black superglue on them as well and set the pipe to rest on a dental pick while the glue on both sides of the stem dried.





Once it was dry I sanded the excess with 220 grit sandpaper, a medium grit sanding sponge and then micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanded with 3200-12,000 grit pads. After sanding with each group of three grits I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil and went on to sand with the next group of three.






When I had completed the sanding with the micromesh pads I wiped the stem down a final time with the oil and then buffed the bowl and stem with White Diamond on the buffing wheel. I completed the refurbishing with repeated coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel applied to the stem and Halcyon II wax hand applied to the bowl. I buffed the bowl and stem with a clean soft flannel buff for a final shine. It is nice to have a bit of history on an old pipe. The added story of the purchase is something that adds colour to the pipe and makes it unique in my collection.




I received an email from Rob on New Years afternoon giving some more detail on the date and stamping of the pipe. I include Rob’s note in full.

Hello Steve. Happy New Year!

I spoke to my father and have some more information for you. The “386” represents two things. The “3” is the price category. At that time Julius had 1 through 6 for pricing. Your pipe would have been in the middle. The “86” represents the style. I asked my father about the style associated with that number WITHOUT showing him the photos. He was able to describe it in detail, triangular shank/stem and all. He hasn’t made an “86” in a long time. It was his own custom shape. It looks somewhat like “poker” to me. Also, some other interesting bits of trivia- typically the “3” would would have been within a circle (ie- his pipes have been known as Circle 3’s, Circle 4’s etc., and continue to be known as such based on price). Your pipe is very old. Julius only made 200-300 “Craft” stamped pipes. Those that didn’t have circle around price number are even fewer and older. For awhile he didn’t have a circular stamp and that’s where yours fits in. So, you have a real gem and rarity! It looks great in the pictures. My father doesn’t use a computer, so next time I see him I’ll be sure to show him on my iPhone or iPad. He will enjoy seeing it and be glad that it’s in the hands of someone who appreciates it!

Hope this information had been helpful.

Rob Vesz

Reworking a Couple of Pipes with my Son in Law on a Grey Vancouver Day

On a recent pipe hunt my son in law went with me and picked up a couple of pipes of his own. The first one was an interesting little Medico VFQ apple with a red stem. The stem was not too badly damaged. It was a filter pipe and still had the old paper Medico tube in the shank. The bowl was a mess. The rim had been burned and chipped and the bowl was badly caked and it looked as if the previous owner had smoked gooey aromatics in it that left behind a heavy residue of tar in the bottom of the bowl. It had hardened into lava like material. He liked the stem colour and the shape of the old pipe so I said to go ahead and pick it up and the two of us could work on it and bring it back for him. So he shelled out the $12.50 for the pipe and it became his first estate purchase of the trip.



This old pipe took every trick I had up my sleeves to refurbish. The stem was nylon not rubber so it was fussy to clean up. Every scratch shows in nylon and it cannot be buffed except with a very gentle hand. Everything had to be done by hand. I worked on the stem while Lance worked on the bowl. I sanded the stem from the button up the stem for about an inch to remove the calcification on the end and remove the tooth chatter on the top of the stem. On the underside there were a couple of deeper tooth marks that needed attention. I heated the nylon carefully with a lighter to try to raise the dents in the stem. I moved quickly across the surface so as not to melt the nylon. All but one of them lifted nicely – it remained a stubborn part of the sanding process. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and then with a medium grit sanding sponge. I finished by sanding the stem with micromesh sanding pads from 1500-12,000 grit – wet sanding with the first three grits and then dry sanding with the remaining grits. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I also sanded the aluminum tenon with the 2400 grit micromesh pad to remove the oxidation on it. I polished it with a silver polishing cloth.

In the mean I had Lance top the bowl and flatten out the rim surface. Then he beveled the outer edge to give the pipe a rounded look like it had previously. He gave the inner edge a slight bevel as well. There were three flaws in the rim surface where the fills were missing. I had him repair these with briar dust and super glue. He then topped the bowl lightly a second time to smooth out the fill repairs. He wiped the bowl down with acetone and sanded it with the sanding sponge. He gave it a quick sand with 1500-2400 grit micromesh as well and then stained it with a black undercoat making sure that the stain went into the grooves that were carved in the bowl surface. He then wiped it down with acetone and sanded it again to remove the black stain from the surface of the bowl leaving it deep in the grooves and around the rim. The black feathered out down the bowl sides and at the tenon shank union. He sanded the aluminum band with a 3200 grit micromesh sanding pad to polish it and then restained the bowl with a red mahogany Miniwax stain. We buffed the pipe with White Diamond and then gave the stem very lightly making sure to not let it heat up. We gave the entirety several coats of carnauba wax. Here is the first pipe he had ever refurbished after it was finished.




The second pipe was less of a challenge and it was found second on the hunt. It is a Kirsten SX. With a little research we found out that the X designation added to the shape and size S usually meant Brass but that during the 1960’s there was a brief period of time where the SX was an antiqued black and silver finish. That is what he had! Thus we were able to date the pipe a bit for him. The bowl was unsmoked new stock and was probably a replacement. The stem was oxidized and covered with tooth chatter. The barrel was oxidized and much of the antiquing had worn of the finish. The valve at the end was stuck in place. The ramrod was oxidized and dirty. It would be a very easy refurbishing job. Considering the pipe cost him $15 it was well worth the effort.




Lance took the pipe apart unscrewing the bowl and removing the stem and ramrod from the barrel. The valve at the end was stuck so we had to drive it out with piece of rod I have here. Once it was apart we each went to work cleaning the parts. Lance worked on the barrel and the valve cleaning the outside and the inside of the parts. I worked on the ramrod and the stem. He cleaned out the valve with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and Everclear and also cleaned out the inside of the barrel with the same. He polished the barrel with silver polish to remove the oxidation and then we washed the barrel with a wash of black aniline stain to give it a bit of an antique look. I sanded out the tooth marks on the stem and polished the ramrod. Lance then sanded the stem with micromesh sanding pads from 1500-12,000 grit. Once the stem was polished he rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil and then we gave the stem a quick buff with White Diamond on the buffer. We rubbed Vaseline into the O-rings on the valve and the stem/ramrod then reassembled the pipe. We gave the entire pipe a light buff with carnauba wax and a soft flannel pad to polish it. Here is the finished pipe.





When we finished we filled a bowl with well aged Balkan Sobranie Virginian No. 10 and retired to the porch to have a bowl and a visit. It was a great way to spend a grey Vancouver day and get to know my son in law a bit better. We are already planning more hunts and pipe refurbishing sessions. It is great to have someone working with me who is interested in learning the tricks of the hobby living so close by.

Reclaiming a Digby Conquest Canadian

Blog by Steve Laug

On the weekend I went pipe hunting to refill my box of pipes for refurbishing. I found some nice ones to add to the box. The first one that I took on was odd looking when I picked it up. The stem on it was an aftermarket replacement that proportionally was all wrong. The addition of the stem made the pipe over seven inches long. The stem was also a twin bore which was not standard on GBD line pipes. The stamping on the bottom of the shank is Conquest in script followed by Digby over London Made. That is followed by London England and the shape number 9519. Digby is a GBD second line. It has the same blast as a GBD Prehistoric which lends one more question mark to what makes a pipe a second. In checking the GBD shape numbers there is no shape #9519 listed on the GBD shape site.

The blast on the bowl was quite nice while the shank was rusticated. The person who added the new stem to the pipe changed the shank to fit the new stem rather than the other way around. In doing so they sanded the shank and removed the blast/rustication on the end of the shank. They also tapered both sides and top and bottom to meet the new stem. While both of these “errors” in fitting a stem are a pain to deal with they are not irreparable. It just means that any new stem must follow the new lines of the pipe and that the rustication pattern needs to be repaired as well. The bowl itself was thickly caked and the rim dirty and with a slight buildup of tars. The finish was spotty and the reddish brown stain was worn.




I went through my can of stems to find one that would properly fit a GBD style Canadian with an oval shank and found several. I chose the acrylic one in the photo below and used the PIMO Tenon Turning tool to reduce the diameter of the tenon. I also used the Dremel and sanding drum and hand sanding to further fit the tenon to the shank.


With the tenon fitting well, the overall diameter of the stem needed to be reduced to fit the shank diameter. It was just slightly bigger so the work on it would not be difficult. The excess is visible in the four photos below. Note also the smoothing of the shank that had been done in the previous repair.




I used a Dremel with a sanding drum to remove the excess acrylic material and bring the stem into line with the shank. I took care to not nick the shank even though I later planned to rework the rustication on it.




With the fit roughed in I took it back to the work table to hand sand the stem and make fit seamless. To begin the process I used 220 grit sandpaper to do the hand work. On the right side bottom of the shank I noted that the oval was slightly out of round with the stem removed and gave the new tapered stem a bulge in that area. I sanded the shank and the stem together at that point to correct the previous damage.




With the fit nearly finished on the stem I reamed the bowl of the pipe with a PipNet reaming set. I began with the smallest cutting head and then ended with the proper sized head for the bowl. I cut the cake back to bare wood.



I worked some more on the stem shank junction with a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the scratches in the briar and the stem. I was more concerned with the briar as I wanted to give it a coat of stain.




Staining would be a complicated process of using a variety of stains to match the original stain colour on the prehistoric. For the first stain colour I used an oxblood aniline stain. I would use other stains later in the process to get the colour I was aiming for.


As I put the newly fitted stem in place so that I could lay it down to dry the tenon snapped on the new stem. As I examined it I could see the many small fractures in the acrylic. This is one of the frustrations of pipe repair. You get a pipe on its way to the finish line only to have something like this happen and have to begin again. I took another stem out of my can of stems. I once again had to go through the process of turning the tenon, using the Dremel and sanding drum and finally hand sanding to fit the tenon in the shank. I also had to trim back the diameter of the new stem to match the shank with the Dremel. One good thing is that doing it the second time everything is set up to do it again more quickly the second time.



Once I had a good fit on the stem it was time to re-rusticate the shank using an etching head on the Dremel. In the next two photos the cutting tool is visible and the rustication of the shank is completed. I did both sides of the shank and the top to match the pattern on the upper portion of the shank. On the underside I brought the pattern around the flattened oval stamping area of the shank and matched the pattern around that area.


I stained the newly rusticated shank area with the oxblood stain. The stained rustication is visible in the next four photos. I am pleased with the match on the pattern of the rustication on the shank that I was able to achieve with the tool.




I still needed to use several more colours of stain to achieve a match to the bowl. I used aniline black and an aniline dark brown stain to approximate the mix of stains to blend the repaired portion with the remainder of the pipe. I would still need to do a top coat of oxblood to truly blend in the repair.

I sanded the stem with the usual regimen of micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12,000 grit pads.

I gave the shank a final coat of the oxblood stain and lightly buffed the shank with White Diamond to blend the wear of the older portion with the new rustication. I rubbed down the stem with Obsidian Oil and then buffed the stem with White Diamond as well. Once the buffing was done I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba on the wheel and then buffed it with a soft flannel buff. I rubbed in Halcyon II wax on the bowl and shank and then lightly buffed the bowl with a soft flannel buff. The “new” Digby Canadian is now ready for its inaugural smoke. It is shown below in the final four photos.




Restemming and Repairing a Meerschaum Lined Lancaster Billiard

I have had this old meerschaum lined bowl for many years now. It has been sitting in a cupboard and should have rightly been pitched several times over. For some reason I could not bring myself to throw it away. I kind of figured that one day when I had nothing else to do I would experiment on a repair of the meerschaum lining. I had read of several repairs in the past and experimented with one of them previously. The two methods I had read of involved a non-acrylic tile grout without sand while the other one involved Plaster of Paris. I had used the tile grout on a pipe many years ago and still smoke it. The bowl has long since look repaired and you would be hard pressed to see where the repair was in the bowl. This old bowl had much the same damage as that one so I decided to experiment with the Plaster of Paris method. The pipe did not have a stem so I would also need to restem it once the patch was finished. The bowl is stamped Lancaster over Imported Briar on the left side of the shank and has no stamping on the right side. There were small fills present on the bowl – almost like small pin pricks that had been filled in the manufacture of the pipe. The finish on the bowl was virtually not present except for a few spots where the stain had held on stubbornly over the years.


I mixed a small batch of Plaster of Paris and water and stirred it with a dental pick. I also had some sanding dust from a meer bowl that I had save so I mixed it in with the Plaster of Paris mixture. I inserted a pipe cleaner into the airway to keep it open when I packed in the mixture to the bowl bottom and side. Once I had a good paste mixed up I used the dental pick to put pieces of it into the bowl. I used the head of a tamper to pack the Plaster of Paris into the bowl bottom. I also pushed the Plaster mixture into the side of the bowl and used the spoon end of the tamper to push it into place. I used the dental pick to carve the airway open at the bottom of the bowl and then a wetted pipe cleaner to smooth out the bowl wall and shape the bottom of the bowl in a slight cup shape. Once that was completed I smoothed out the whole bowl with the wetted pipe cleaner and feathered the edges of the patch into the existing meerschaum material.






I cleaned up the top of the bowl and the tools and set the bowl aside to dry. After one hour the Plaster of Paris set and I removed the pipe cleaner from the shank. I used the dental pick to shape the airway after removing the pipe cleaner. The bowl was ready to restem. I went through my can of stems and found an old stem that was the right length and close to the correct diameter of the shank. It had a brass stem band that would look great on the old pipe bowl. When I cleaned it up I found that it had a Delrin tenon. I used the tenon tool to turn the tenon down enough to fit the shank snugly. When I cleaned out the end of the tenon after turning it I found that it was set up for a nine millimeter filter.


I fit it into the shank and used the Dremel with a sanding drum to sand down the diameter of the brass band and stem to fit the shank. I nicked the shank a couple of times lightly with the drum as I worked on the brass band. The nicks were not deep but merely surface so they would clean up when I sanded the stem and shank for a smooth transition.




I took the pipe back to the work table and sanded the stem and shank with 220 grit sandpaper to make a smooth transition between the shank and the stem. I also sanded off the calcification that had built up around the button at the same time.








I sanded the bowl with the 220 grit sandpaper and then the stem and the bowl with a medium grit sanding sponge to smooth out the scratches left behind by the sandpaper. I wet sanded the bowl with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to smooth out the finish before I stained it. I then wiped the bowl and shank down with acetone on a cotton pad to clean off the sanding dust.




I stained the bowl with a black aniline stain, flamed it and repeated the process until the coverage was even. I heated the bowl with a lighter to set the stain into the grain of the pipe. I wiped the freshly stained bowl with Everclear to remove the top coat of stain and reduce the black stain. The next series of three photos shows the bowl after the wash.



I sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper and then a medium grit sanding sponge to further remove the black stain. The next four photos show the pipe after I had sanded it and wiped it down with Everclear.




I dry sanded it again with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and then stained it with a coat of Minwax red mahogany stain. I rubbed it on the bowl and rubbed off again to give a contrast look to the briar and to hide some of the fills that were present. I sanded it with 3200-4000 grit micromesh to polish the remaining scratches in the briar.




I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh and then dry sanded it with 3200-12,000 grit micromesh sanding pads.



I finished the bowl by giving it a final coat of Minwax medium walnut stain. I rubbed it into the bowl and wiped it off and then hand buffed the pipe with a shoe brush. The rich red brown stain on the bowl turned out well with a variety of highlights.




I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and then buffed the whole pipe with White Diamond to polish it. I finished by giving it multiple coats of carnauba wax to build a shine and protect the finish. The completed pipe is visible in the next four photos.




I also sanded the top of the rim and the inner bevel of meerschaum with the 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pad to polish the meerschaum edge. I gave this top edge a final coat of carnauba wax and buffed it to a shine. The Plaster of Paris patch is drying and needs to cure for 24 hours before it is good to go. The box says that it does not shrink as it dries and so far it is good to its promise. I will have to see if it holds true tomorrow after it has cured a full 24 hours. If so, then it is time to fire it up and check out if it holds as well as the tile grout patch has held up over all these years.


1938 Parker Bulldog Restored

Blog by Al Jones

One of my pipe buddies, Dave, sent me this 1938 Parker bulldog to restore. I had not yet worked on a Parker yet, but know they have a loyal following of collectors. Dave always seems to chose interesting pipes to send me and this one was no exception.

Dave had determined the pipe was made in 1938 but after looking over the Parker page in Pipepedia, I wasn’t sure. This pipe was stamped “Parker” and not the possesive “Parker’s”. Pipepedia says this about the stamping:

Prior to World War II, the possessive PARKER’S stamp was used. However, at least some pipes were stamped with the non-possessive as early as 1936.

I confirmed with a Parker collector that the singular “Parker” was indeed used before WWII. The pipe is stamped 15, which is added to 1925 (starting with 2), so the date of manufacture is indeed 1938.

The briar was a bit worn but some heavy tar build-up on the bowl top. The stem had some curious striations and the button looked odd.

Parker_109_Restore (3)


Parker_109_Restore (2)

I reamed the bowl and filled it with isopropyl alcohol and sea salt. After soaking for several hours, I cleaned the build-up off the bowl top, which was quite stubborn. Some of the stain on the bowl edge was lightened in this process, but the bowl top was relative undamaged by use. I used some Medium Brown stain to darken the lightened areas and it blended in quite well. I applied some carnuba wax with a loose cotton wheel, then a coat of Halycon wax by hand.

When working on the stem, I discovered someone had “colored” it black with a permanent marker or similar. Thankfully, they worked around the “P” stem logo. I used 600 and then 800 grit paper to remove the black and some of the rough marks and scrapes on the stem. The button looks very odd and has been carved a little. Perhaps it was damaged and someone cut out the damaged areas? Or, are older Parker buttons shaped this way? Surprisingly, I did not find much Parker information on the web. The pipe also appears to be drilled for a filter or possibly a Dunhill-like innertube? The stem has a Patent Number stamped on it: 116989/17

Parker_109_Restore (5)

A member on the forum, MisterLowerCase, posted this picture of a Parker innertube, which matches the Patent Number.



After the wet sandpaper, I used 8,000 and then 12,000 grit paper to bring up the shine. The stem was then buffed lightly with white diamond.

Parker_109_Finished (4)

Parker_109_Finished (5)

Parker_109_Finished (6)

Parker_109_Finished (2)

Parker_109_Finished (3)

Kaywoodie Drinkless Apple Repurposed and Refurbished

Blog by Steve Laug

I was gifted this old Kaywoodie Apple in an exchange recently. It is the last of the box of pipes that I have to refurbish. I left it to last as it had some serious problems. The stem was overturned and had deep tooth marks at the button. The bowl had some deep scoring on the left side of the bowl. Those issues might not seem too serious at first glance but they were more so than I had expected. I inspected the stinger apparatus and saw that it had been reglued in the stem. I heated the stinger with a heat gun and turned it back into the shank of the pipe. As I turned it carefully the stem fell off in my hand. I looked and saw that it was corroded through and the heat had softened the glue and the piece literally fell out of the stem. I tried to epoxy it back into the stem and connect the two pieces but it would not stay. Each time I put it back into the shank it fell out – no matter how much curing time I gave it. That was the first issue. In looking at the tooth marks they were repairable but with the broken stinger and threaded tenon I wondered whether it was worth fixing it. The grooves on the bowl and the dip in the rim above them could be repaired and would be a simple fix if I decided to keep the pipe. Those were the issues that caused me to lay the pipe aside for a bit and work on other pipes. That is why it is the last pipe in the bottom of the box.




Because of the extent of damage to this pipe it was unlikely that it would ever be truly collectible again. Though to some my next decisions will appear to have desecrated an older Kaywoodie I decided to use this pipe to experiment with a few repair ideas. I topped the bowl with my usual method to remove the rim damage. I removed the damaged portion of the bowl and flattened the rim against the sandpaper. When I was finished topping the bowl the rim was flat again however the inner edge of the rim needed to be repaired. It was missing a large chunk of briar.




The missing chunk matched the twin scoring marks on the outside of the bowl and made me wonder how the previous pipeman had caused that kind of damage to the bowl. The divot on the rim was not a burn mark but a divot that had been caused in the same moment the scoring occurred on the outside of the bowl. I sanded down the scored areas and cleaned the bowl with acetone. I then patched the score marks with superglue and briar dust. I also built up the top of the rim in the divot area with the same mixture. I kept the mix on the top of the rim as much as possible with very little of it on the inside edge. I did not want to use it inside the bowl.

I sanded the bowl to remove the excess of the glue and briar dust mix and then wiped the entire bowl down with acetone on cotton pads. The three photos below show the state of the bowl and the repairs down with the briar dust and superglue. The third photo shows the top patch.



Because the stem was not functional I had a decision to make. I could drill out the disintegrated end of the stinger and put a new replacement tenon in place or I could remove the metal shank insert and make a new push stem for the pipe. The faintness of the stamping on the shank and the extent of damage that I had repaired on the bowl made me take the second choice. I removed the metal shank insert from the shank. This is not as hard as it sounds. I have heard of others drilling it out and leaving it in place. I have opted to remove it. It is threaded and can be unscrewed from the shank with a small pair of needle nose pliers. The next two photos show the process. I sorted through my stem can and found a stem that could be repurposed to fit this shank and then be adapted to fit the diameter of the shank.


Before I could properly fit the tenon in the shank I needed to drill the mortise deeper. The current depth of the mortise was the same length as the threaded portion of the metal shank attachment in the photo. I wanted the tenon to be longer so I drilled out the mortise to double the length of the current depth. I would need to remove some of the tenon length on the stem to make a good fit but that is a simple task.

With the drilling done, I used the PIMO Tenon Turning Tool to remove some of the excess diameter of the tenon and also shortened the tenon slightly to get a good tight fit in the shank and clean joint at the tenon shank union. The larger diameter of the stem is visible in the photo below.

I used the Dremel with the sanding drum and carefully reduced the diameter of the stem while it was in place on the shank. I run the Dremel at a speed that allows me to carefully and steadily control it as I work close to the shank of the pipe.





Once I had it roughed in to fit with the Dremel it was time to take it back to the work table and do the hand work with sandpaper to make the fit seamless. Since I was going to restain the pipe anyway I sanded the shank as I sanded the stem to make the transition smooth. In the first two photos the stamping is visible in the light of the flash. In real life it is quite a bit fainter and shallow. I also use some superglue and briar dust to repair some of the deeper dings and marks on the bowl to ready it for staining. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper and then with a medium grit sanding sponge to smooth out the surface and remove the scratches left behind by the sandpaper.




I wiped the bowl down with Everclear to remove the sanding dust and give it a last cleaning before I started giving it a new stain coat. I have also included two photos of the new stem with the older KW stem and broken parts for comparison sake. I really like the way the new stem fit the shank and the look of the pipe after the repairs.



I wanted to continue to experiment with contrast staining so I gave the pipe a first coat of stain with black aniline stain. I applied the stain and flamed it and repeated the process until the coverage was even. I then heated the entire bowl by passing over it with the flame of a Bic lighter to warm the briar and set the stain.




The black aniline stain is transparent enough that the brown of the briar actually makes the stain appear to be a dark brown. It also covers the repairs on the bowl and blends them into the grain in way that makes them less visible. This was especially important with the repair I had made to the two deep scoring marks on the left side of the bowl. Once the stain dried I wiped it down with acetone to remove the top coat and leave only the grain darkened with the black. After doing that the bowl was still do dark for my liking. Though the grain patterns are very visible I wanted it to be lighter so that when I put the contrast stain coat on it would really pop to the surface.



I sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper and then with a medium grit sanding sponge to further remove the black stain. I finished the sanding by wet sanding the bowl with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. Sanding with the micromesh pads removed the scratching left behind by the other sandpapers and prepared it for the next coat of stain that I wanted to give it. I stained the bowl a second time with a coat of Minwax Water based stain. I chose a red mahogany stain for this coat. I like the contrast the reddish colour of the mahogany with the black undercoat. I applied the stain and then wiped it off with a soft cotton cloth.




I finished the contrast staining with a third colour – a Minwax medium walnut stain for the finish coat. I applied the stain and wiped it down using a soft cotton cloth and then hand buffed it with a shoe shine brush. The next series of four photos show the finish after the application of the three stains and a hand buffing. I really like the contrast finish that the three stains gave the pipe.




I sanded the bowl and stem with micromesh sanding pads to bring out the shine. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit pads and then dry sanded the bowl and stem with 3200- 4,000 grit pads. At that point I made a decision that some will like and others will hate.


I took out my box of nickel bands and found one that would fit the shank. I took the photo below with the band next to the pipe to symbolize the thinking process that went into this decision. I put the band against the shank and the stem next to it to see how it looked. I looked at the faint stamping and the fact that is was a non-collectible pipe anyway due to my stem modifications and decided to give it a go.

I put the band on the end of the shank. For those banding a pipe shank pay attention to the diameter of the band – the end that goes on the shank is slightly larger than the end the faces the stem. I took the pipe and heated the band with a heat gun and then pressed it into place on the shank.


I took it back to the work table and finished sanding the stem and bowl with 6,000, 8,000 and 12,000 grit micromesh sanding pads. In the photo below the newly banded shank is visible. The band is solely cosmetic as the shank was not cracked and the fit of the stem was perfect. I liked the added bling on this pipe quite a bit.

I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil and rubbed it into the surface of the vulcanite and then buffed the pipe with White Diamond. I avoid buffing the band as much as possible because it discolors the stem and the shank with the black residue caused by buffing the nickel. I then buffed the pipe with multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect and give a rich finish to the pipe. The finished pipe is shown below in the last four photos. The contrast stain worked well on this pipe. The flaws are there and visible but do not detract from the finish. The stem has a good glow with the lines of the pipe and the nickel band gives a nice polished look to the old pipe. Overall this experiment in repairs ended well. I like the finished look of the pipe and I learned a few new tricks along the way.




The Old Ropp Billiard That Only Wanted a Joyeux Noël – Robert Boughton

I received this article from Robert on Christmas day. I appreciate Robert’s willingness to write for the blog and to post about what he is learning as he works on pipes that he is refurbishing. He has an inimitable style of writing that is a pleasure to read. Thanks again Robert. With no further ado here is the article.

About a well-used, unassuming Ropp billiard that I bought from the talented pipe maker and restorer, Victor Rimkus, for $5, and the immediate odd wariness that something serious must be wrong with my perception of beauty in the grimy, almost blackened specimen of French craftsmanship and the conflicting fear of taking advantage of Victor’s generosity.

Guest Blog by Robert M. Boughton

“…Above all
Were re-established now those watchful thoughts
Which, seeing little worthy or sublime
In what the Historian’s pen so much delights
To blazon–power and energy detached
From moral purpose–early tutored me
To look with feelings of fraternal love
Upon the unassuming things that hold
A silent station in this beauteous world.”

William Wordsworth, “The Prelude,” Book 13 (1850)

Wordsworth had a righteous beef with that haughty society of humans, known as the upper class,which thrives in the rarefied heights of self-idolatry and therefore revels in the delusion of Divine Right over the so-called common man. The notion of only those fortunate enough to possess large amounts of money and property being capable of appreciating the little things in life, on the absurdity of the premise alone, rankled the 18th to 19th century English poet, who not only admired the many qualities of the “common man” but advocated incorporating the more relaxed, informal speech and other idiosyncrasies of the commoner throughout his life as a writer – most of which encompassed a time when epic poems were still more in vogue than Wordsworth’s new lyrical, Romantic style.

Pipes, their crafting from raw materials, the countless possible final results of forming and finishing, the often elusive pursuit of the history behind a given sample(whether of high class or more common origin) and, at my particular phase of development in the whole grand learning process, the choices that are made when restoring one of these wondrous innovations of relaxation and contemplation, are all aspects of the trade, art and, above all, pleasure of the sometimes overwhelming experience. Put another way, regardless of the fact that the poet himself never made this connection in so many words, Wordsworth’s view that there is no more such a thing as a common man than there is common sense reflects my passion for all things related to pipes, which of course includes the myriad types and blends of tobaccos used in their smoking.

In such a state of mind did I find myself at the monthly meeting of my pipe club some time past, glancing through Victor’s large selection of $5 pipes in varied conditions, from unblemished and ready to smoke to one or two with nearly burned out bowls. Now and then I gave one with nice curves more than a once over, even caressing a few, but all of these I spurned based on whatever uncertain reasoning guided me. I only had eyes for something new, special; something not yet tried, but only imagined. What poet can accurately describe the fickle laws of attraction? Suddenly, on that enchanted evening, as if across a crowded room, I saw her – a stranger, yet somehow familiar, when I got beyond the initial wild, unkempt look. I picked up the dark, full-bodied billiard and right away noted the total blackening of the bowl rim and a few dings here and there, as well as the lack of luster. The briar and stem were rough to the touch. But none of these signs of extreme use deterred me. On the contrary, they were exciting. They showed experience, character. Someone had loved that pipe, and for a long time.

And so I pushed my Dollar Store 3X glasses backward from the tip of my nose to take a closer look, for birth marks, as it were… and was not surprised that the shank was stained with substances not part of the pipe-making craft and the words there mostly obscured, but indeed jolted enough by what I read on the stem to let out a little grunt of dismay:

rob1Why, Ropp was on my actual mental list of new experiences I wanted to have! Still not convinced it could be a real Ropp, but considering the possibility which in my near-fevered engrossment then presented the viable alternative that someone had switched the stem, I peered again at the shank, still unable to make out the murky engraving there. So I moved away from the darkness of the back bar at the Moose Lodge where we have our monthly meeting and closer to Victor, who was sitting and talking with other members. Standing there, I thought I could at least read “opp” on the shank. During a pause in the conversation, I handed Victor the pipe and asked if it was in fact a Ropp, to which he shrugged and asked, “What does it say it is?” Much like Chuck, Victor can be blunt that way. I was nonplussed. Fortunately for me, Victor broke the silence by getting out his own eyeglasses and giving the pipe a quick closer exam before pronouncing it a real Ropp after all. That was good enough for me, and I handed him $5. Considering the loopy grin of satisfaction on my face, Victor must have thought I was a little touched.

Victor Rimkus. Photo © the Author

Victor Rimkus. Photo © the Author

Cleaning the Pipe
As I noted already, the pipe was dirty. How dirty was it? There was so much dirt, finger oil and other unwanted growth that the bowl and shank were almost blackened, and the main nomenclature all but illegible. See for yourselves:




An alcohol cleansing was in order, so I dug out some cotton and Isopropyl I happened to have in my mobile pipe shop box in the motel room where my roommate and I were staying between apartments. Although I never over-pack clothes and personal hygiene products, I am like a woman when it comes to my pipes and accessories: they go everywhere with me. More or less saturating the cotton, I let the excess drip back into the bottle before applying it quickly but evenly around the outside of the bowl, rim and shank. I was gratified and horrified to see the accretion of filth disappear from the wood and ruin the first piece of cotton in no time. Already I could observe the fine grain I knew was down there, but another swab was needed to finish the process, this time applying a little pressure, in particular around the rim which was pretty well charred. To complete the rim, I switched to a bristly pipe cleaner dipped in the alcohol and gently moved it around the top of the bowl, watching as I did so the buildup of black burns transfer to the cleaner and rotating the thin bristles as needed until they, too, were a nasty dark brown. Again, a second bristle cleaner was needed, but when I was done the rim was like new.

In these photos we can see not only the improvement as far as the uncovering of the grain is concerned but also the flaws – the pits that are obvious in places.

“Eug. Ropp,” underlined, is clearly visible, marking this seemingly unassuming billiard an actual Eugene Ropp Signature pipe. As Eugene Ropp was the second master pipe-maker in the French dynasty, and lived from 1859-1937, I date this billiard to the 1930s.

Eug. Ropp signature, underlined

Eug. Ropp signature, underlined

Made in France, R10

Made in France, R10

The Restoration
By now, it should go without saying that I consulted my friend and mentor, Chuck Richards, before beginning the restoration of this pipe. Rather, I should say I did so in a round-about fashion. After all, I merely needed to hand him the pipe and tell him I was about to begin work to get his advice! Chuck is very generous and loquacious that way, and I am grateful, for I soak it all up and would be nowhere now without his invaluable input. For example, I would not have known to clean the pipe with alcohol without Chuck’s input. He also saw, as had I, the pits in the wood, but suggested an ingenious solution to the problem: using brown and black markers to fill in the holes before applying small amounts of Super Glue, then gently buffing away the rough parts. I must say, that seemed a perfect solution as well as one I would enjoy describing in this blog.

However… upon completion of the alcohol cleaning, I saw that the old stain on the wood was still too dark for my taste and would, therefore, require removal. I suspected that in the process the pits would be eliminated. Thus began the stage of restoration that for me, before this pipe, was always the first: sanding. Besides, I have always found that part of the job necessary for the pipes I have restored due to the severe build-up of coloration from over-staining or even varnishing in the first place or previous restores upon restores. Whatever the causes, I find the sanding a relaxing, contemplative process that also gives special meaning to the term full restoration. I used an 80-grit paper, careful to avoid obliterating the nomenclature with one fell swipe.





This time I remembered my old habit of following the sanding with a gentle buff using grade 0000 steel wool and, with a very damp soft cloth, clearing away and leftover shavings. Then I commenced a regimen of micro-meshing, starting with a vigorous circular buff with 2400 grain, which improved the looks nicely, then what turned out to be a final round using 8000. Together they left a beautiful pre-finish sheen.



Other than the stem – which, although the photos of its two unrestored sides make it look in foul shape, really presented no great difficulty sanding, waxing and buffing back into pre-chomping condition – all that was left was the carnauba waxing. I ended up giving it two coats, and this was the end result:





I know, I know: I admit I overdid the sanding just a wee bit, if I may couch the offense in such nice terms by ways of saving face. Chuck was first and no doubt not last to point out this gaff of mine, for which I am sure I will lose countless nights of sleep. Nevertheless, I was and remain rather proud, despite the sin of that reaction in certain circles, of my efforts to take that which was not even recognizable as an antique Ropp signature pipe and, rather than restoring it, as a purist might have done, to its more-or-less original condition, instead cleaning off the approximately 80 years of crud and giving it a somewhat newer, fresher appearance without detracting from the classic 1930s French lines and curves that remain unmistakable. Of course, I am as always grateful to Chuck and others who continue to guide me through this magnificent course I have only just begun, even when the constructive criticism is not of the glowing type. Chuck being the natural born leader and teacher he is did not leave his comments at that, by the way. He explained the simple use of the wheel that could have been employed to remove the old coloring. Another day, another lesson learned.

Anything any of you can add as far as information about this antique Eug. Ropp Signature R10 Billiard would be appreciated. I am somewhat talented at searching the Internet but have no books on the subjects, and so far my efforts have disappointed me, except for the basic determination of its approximate age. So I look forward to hearing from you!

I will close with photos of two other Ropps I own, one that I acquired in good condition on eBay and might make part of a future blog on pipes of that variety, and the other a second I have had for a few years and just learned is derived from Ropps.

Deluxe Cherrywood

Deluxe Cherrywood

Grande Morez #15 Second

Grande Morez #15 Second

Happy holidays!

Reworking a No Name Brand Italian Billiard

I am definitely getting to the bottom of the refurbishing box – this pipe and one other left before it is empty and I need to start hunting again for more. This old-timer is only stamped on the left side of the shank with IMPORTED BRIAR over ITALY. There is no other stamping on the right side of the shank. The bowl was in pretty decent shape – no real dents or scratches other than around the rim. The edges of the rim were rounded over. The left side showed some nice birdseye grain and the front and the back of the bowl were cross grain. The right side of the bowl was a mess. There were at least a dozen putty fills in various states of coming out of the briar. There were two on the rim that took a bite out of the outer edge of the rim. The finish was gone and the stain had faded. The bowl did not come with a stem so I hunted through my can of stems and found one that would do the trick. It took very little work to get the tenon to fit into the shank. It was a wide blade stem that previously had been on a George Jensen pipe at sometime in its life but that pipe bowl had long since disappeared. With some minor adjustments to the diameter of the stem it would make a great stem for the Italian billiard.





I decided to top the bowl to clean up the rounded edges on the outer rim and to minimize the damage from the two fills on the right edge. I set up my sandpaper on the flat board and turned the bowl top into the sandpaper. I work at this slowly and turn and sand and then tip the briar dust into a container that I have saved for repairs to fills. The first photo below shows the set up as well as the condition of the rim before I worked on it.



I took the top down until the outer edges of the rim were sharp and clean. The damage from the fills is still visible but I stopped before I changed the overall shape of the bowl. I used a Dremel with a sanding drum to reduce the diameter of the stem to match the shank. I take it down as far as possible with the Dremel and then do the finish shaping by hand with sandpaper.




I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation and to finish shaping the area around the shank and stem junction.




I wiped down the bowl with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the remaining finish.




I dropped the bowl in an alcohol bath to soften the putty fills to make them easier to remove. It also removed the remaining finish to the bowl. The dark colour of the alcohol bath adds a patina to the bowl that is something that I appreciate. (I continue to use the bath and filter out the grit and grime from the alcohol every other month. The filtering removes the impurities but leaves the alcohol the colour of the stain that has been removed from the bowl. It is a uniform dark brown colour. I rarely change the bath, just refill it as the alcohol evaporates over time.)

When I removed it from the bath I picked out the softened putty fills with a dental pick and lightly sanded the bowl and shank with a fine grit sanding sponge.




I am continuing to experiment with wood glue and briar dust combined to replace the fills. I am finding that the mixture gives virtually the same darkening of the fill as the mixture of briar dust and superglue so I am not convinced. The drawback to using the wood glue is the slow drying time. That probably is not an issue for some of you but if the result is the same I will opt for the quick results of the superglue. I packed in the briar dust, dribbled the glue into the fills and then added more dust to the mixture. When it dried I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the buildup and smooth out the surface of the bowl. I then sanded the bowl with a fine grit sanding block to remove the scratches.








I am also continuing to experiment with the contrast staining process so I used it again on this bowl. I wanted to highlight the beautiful birdseye grain and cross grain on the bowl and hide the repaired fills as much as possible. I used a black aniline stain for the first coat of stain. I applied it and flamed it and repeated the process until I had good coverage on the bowl.



I wiped down the bowl with Everclear on a cotton pad to remove the heavy black stain from the surface of the bowl while leaving it deep in the grain. I notice in the process that the stain did not soak into the areas around the fills where there was remnant of wood glue on the surface of the briar. It left a shiny spot of unstained briar. To remedy that I would need to sand those areas of the bowl before applying the second coat of stain.




I sanded the bowl with a fine grit sanding sponge and also with micromesh sanding pads from 1500-2400 grit. I wet sanded with these grits as they work well to remove scratches in the surface and also to remove the remaining glue on the surface. Once I had the bowl sanded smooth I wiped it down with a damp alcohol pad to remove surface dust and then restained the bowl with an oxblood aniline stain. The next series of photos show the freshly stained bowl before I flamed it. The undercoat of black comes through and highlights the grain very nicely. Once the bowl was dry I buffed it lightly with White Diamond.




I sanded the bowl and stem with micromesh sanding pads to polish it further. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit and then dry sanded with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I find that the higher grit pads add a deeper level of shine with each successive grit. The next three photos show the stem and bowl after polishing with three grits of micromesh. The first photo shows 1500, 1800 and 2400 grit pads. The second photo shows 3200, 3600 and 4000 grit pads. The third photo shows 6000, 8000 and 12,000 grit pads.



I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and when it was dry I buffed the stem and bowl with White Diamond. I gave the pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect the finish and give it a shine. The contrast stain worked well with this pipe. The birdseye grain really pops and the cross grain is also highlighted. The black undercoat also minimizes the eyesore of the fills on the right side of the bowl and the small one on the left side has virtually disappeared. The final four photos below show the finished pipe. I am happy with the way it turned out – far better than I expected when I took it out of the box to refurbish.