Monthly Archives: March 2014

An Earl of Essex Apple Reborn


This Earl of Essex pipe bowl was in bad shape. I had received the bowl without a stem so I would need to restem it if I was going to refurbish it. The bowl rim was angled down toward the front and was worn and rough. It appeared to be thinner in the front than the back of the bowl and had burn marks and rough patches on the front. The finish was shot and the aluminum insert in the shank was oxidized. The bowl had an uneven cake and was crumbling. There were several red spots on the surface of the rustication. What interested me in this old bowl was the rustication. The top of the bowl had almost a wax drip look to it with rustication between the drips of “wax”. The drip pattern is smooth briar as was the rim at one time. The end of the shank and the high spots on the shank were also smooth.
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The aluminum inset mortise took a screw in tenon and I did not have any metal screw in tenon stems. I would have to drill it out to fit a new stem. I decided to try my hand at opening up the mortise with a drill. I started with a drill bit slightly larger than the mortise and then moved up with bigger drill bits until the mortise was smooth and open enough to take a new push stem.
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I started to top the bowl but stopped mid stream and reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer to clean out the cake. I wanted the bowl clean so that as I topped it I would be able to see how deep the damage to the bowl went.
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Once reamed, I took it back to the topping board and sandpaper. I used 220 grit sandpaper and twisted the bowl top into the sandpaper in a clockwise pattern. With the bowl topped and the shank opened the bowl was ready to clean up.
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I wiped down the bowl with acetone on cotton pads to remove the finish from the bowl and clean up the grime that was built up in the grooves of the rustication. There was a bright red pigment in the grooves on two sides of the bowl. I scraped at it with a dental pick to clean it up. At first I thought it might be putty but as I scraped it, it came off like a red pigment. I am not sure what the red material was. I wiped it down after scraping it.
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I decided to stain the bowl with a contrast to set off the rusticated portion from the smooth portion of the bowl. I used a cotton swab and black aniline stain to stain the rusticated portions of the bowl. I wanted the black to highlight the areas between the smooth drip portions of the bowl. I stained and flamed it and repeated the process until it was a good even colour around the bowl. I sanded the smooth areas of the bowl with a medium and a fine grit sanding block and sponge to remove scratches and clean them up for the next coat of stain that would be used on the smooth areas.
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I had several stems in my stem can that would fit the shank of the drilled out mortise. I tried a BBB stem first. It fit very well in the shank. The look was exactly what I wanted but I did not want to waste a BBB stem with the logo intact on an experiment.
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So I used the second stem I had from the can. It was a saddle stem with a bite through on the top of the stem. I decided to cut it back and then reshape the button until it was a new stem.
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I cut it back with a Dremel and a sanding drum until it was smooth, solid and straight across.
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Before working on cutting the new button in the stem I stained the top portion of the bowl with a light walnut stain on the smooth parts of the bowl. I buffed the bowl with White Diamond to give it a shine.
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I worked on the button with needle files cutting in the straight line of the inner edge of the button and then smoothed out the button itself with the files. I carved away the surface of the stem tapering it from the saddle to the button. Once it was cut with the files I sanded the new taper with 220 grit sandpaper and then with a medium and fine grit sanding sponge to remove the scratches on the vulcanite.
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I sanded the stem with my usual array of micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed down the stem with Obsidian Oil and buffed it with White Diamond.
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I buffed the bowl lightly with White Diamond and buffed the stem with it as well. I gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a soft flannel buff to give it a shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The bowl top is clean and new, the finish is redone and the wax drip look is highlighted with the stains. The new stem and the newly cut button fit the pipe well. The experiment of drilling out the aluminum shank insert to take a push stem was a success. The metal polished well and looks like a shank band. Overall the final product is nice looking pipe that will make a good addition to someone’s rack in the future.
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Repairing an Out of Round Bowl


On the recent post I made regarding the Dublin that I cut the shank off of and reworked I neglected to work on the out of round bowl. https://rebornpipes.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/cutting-back-a-broken-shank-and-reworking-a-no-name-dublin/ A friend on one of the online forums sent me a message and asked me why I had not bothered to rework the out of round bowl. My answer to him was that I had done minimal work on it and then turned my attention to the shank. His words niggled at me all day at work and I wrote him and told him I would work on the bowl when I got home this evening. So, I did and decided it was worth a write-up of its own. Many times in refurbishing pipes for myself or others I am face with a bowl that has suffered at the hands of a “mad reamer” who leaves the bowl with all kinds of nicks and dents in the inner rim of the bowl. Often the inner edge is so out of round that it almost appears to be oblong (at best) or ragged and jagged (at worst). Either way if left as it was the ragged inner rim detracts from the overall beauty of the refurbished pipe. I dedicate this post to Chiz, the friend who called me on my skipping of the inner rim. Thanks Chiz, without your urging I don’t know if I would have even given this a second thought.

The first photo below shows the bowl as it was when I received it. The inner rim edges are a mess. On the left side of the photo you can see the major cut and damage to the bowl and on the right side of the photo there is also major damage. The bowl is badly out of round on the inner rim.
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I scrubbed off the top of the bowl with acetone on cotton pads. Sometimes this is unnecessary as you will be topping the bowl anyway but I always want to know how deep the cuts and scarring goes into the surface of the rim. This gives me an idea of how much I will have to top the bowl to remove the damage.
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I topped the bowl on a hard surface that holds a piece of sandpaper flat. I place the bowl face down on the 220 grit sandpaper and sand it in a clockwise direction. If you were to ask me why clockwise, I would have to say I don’t honestly know! I suppose it is because I am right-handed and it seems that everything I turn goes that direction. The point however, is to keep the bowl flat against the sandpaper. Check it often to see if you have removed enough of the rim surface to deal with the problems.
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In the photo above the bowl has been topped but will need further topping to take care of the damage to the outer rim. I am always careful to not change the profile of the bowl when I am doing the topping. It is too easy to remove more briar than is necessary and it is impossible to put it back. I returned the bowl to the topping board and worked to remove more of the damage. You can also see the extent of the damage to the inner edge of the rim clearly. Once I had it finished, I sanded it with medium and fine grit sanding blocks and then with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to remove the scratches.

I stained the bowl with an aniline stain to highlight the great grain patterns on this particular block of briar and buffed it with red Tripoli to remove some of the black stain. I sanded and resanded with multiple grits of sandpaper, sanding blocks, and micromesh sanding pads to get a clean smooth finish on the rim. In the photo below you will still note the out of round bowl. I did minimal work in smoothing out the roughness but did not address the problem of the out of round bowl.
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I sanded the bowl with a small folded piece of sandpaper to even out the edge a bit more. I still did not address the major issue. I think at one level I was avoiding it. There is nothing that bugs me more than this kind of careless reaming that leaves a nice pipe in such a state. I have seen this in high-end pipes to Dr. Grabows and everywhere in between. The careless wielding of a reamer or knife knows no economic bounds.
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At this point in the process I buffed the pipe, gave it several coats of wax and set it aside. I posted it on the blog and on a pipe forum. That is the pipe as it was when Chiz saw the finished pipe and asked his “immortal question” WHY.
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When I got home from work today, with that WHY ringing in my ears I sat down at my work table and used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to work on the inner rim of the bowl. I proceeded carefully so as not to damage the finish on the rim itself. This would sure have been easier had I done it before I refinished the bowl! I sanded the inner edge of the rim to minimize the damage and give the bowl a slight bevel on the edge. The next photo shows the first step in the sanding process. Already the bowl is beginning to take a better shape.
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I continued to work on the inner edge with the folded piece of sand paper (approximately 1inch square). I wanted to not only smooth out the edges but I wanted to also bevel the inner edge to a point where the damage blended into the flow of the circle. This involved working the edge to get the distance between the inner and out diameter of the bowl the same/or close to the same the entire way around the bowl. The next three photos show the progressive reshaping of the inner rim. By the third photo the rim is almost finished.
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I finished the sanding with a small square of medium and fine grit sanding sponge to remove scratch marks on the bevel and get it ready for a buff. I did not intend to stain the inner rim at this point merely smooth it out.
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I took the pipe to the buffer and buffed it with White Diamond. I then polished it with carnauba wax to bring up the shine and give it some protection. The next two photos show the finished rim.
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Cutting Back a Broken Shank and Reworking a No Name Dublin


In keeping with the theme of my last few posts about my recent pipe restorations the pipe I took on in this repair/restoration was in fairly bad shape. The rim was damaged on the top and the outer edge had been beaten badly and was rough to the touch. The inner edge had been reamed out of round somewhere in the distant past of its life. The bowl finish was “finished”. It was in rough shape. The left side had many fills and divots on the surface. It looked as if it had been dropped on concrete or rocks. The shank was much the same but worse in that the end on the top right side had a large chunk of briar missing. It did not have a stem but that was the least of the concerns at the moment.
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I went through my can of stems and found one that would work. The diameter and length were correct for this size pipe. However I had to decide what to do with the missing chunk of briar. I could band it and cosmeticly hide the missing piece under the band or I could cut back the shank, shorten it and then band and restem the pipe.
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I removed the band – this is slightly harder than the simple words sound. It really involved cutting the metal and peeling it off the shank. I was not happy with the look so I decided to cut off the damaged end of the shank. What made this a happy solution to me was that the shank itself was not cracked. There were no cracks radiating from the area of the missing piece of briar.
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When cutting back a shank I use a small hack saw with a fine toothed blade to do the work. I am limited to hand tools as I do not have a shop. The problem with this method is that it is very difficult to get a good, clean, straight cut with a hand saw. I followed the scoring left behind by the band as I sawed around the shank.
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Even in being careful and working slowly the shank end was not perfectly square. That would have to be dealt with later.
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I needed to deepen the mortise area as I had removed a major piece of it by shortening the shank. I started with a drill bit that fit well in the existing mortise and turned it in by hand. I worked up to the correct size bit – each time anchoring the bit in my hand drill and turning the bowl onto the bit by hand. I did not want to risk using the power and having the bit go right through the bowl. I have a pin vise but it was not large enough to hold a bit this size so I improvised.
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Once I had the airway drilled in the shank I set up a topping board to sand down both the end of the shank and the rim. I started with the shank end hold the bowl against the sand paper and making sure that it was straight up and down vertically and sanded the end of the shank to face it. I also topped the damaged rim to remove the damage to the surface and the edges of the bowl. I sanded the bowl down with sandpaper in preparation for the topping. The shank needed to be re-tapered to match the diameter of the stem and to give it more of a flow from the bowl to the stem. I used 220 grit sandpaper to taper the shank and to sand the bowl.
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Once I had a good fit on the stem and the shank and the bowl was topped and the finish cleaned up I decided to put a band on the shank. I thought that the shiny bling of the band would be a nice contrast to the stain I intended to use. I heated the band and pressed it onto the shank.
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With the band in place and the stem fitting well it was time to address the finish of the briar. The left side damage needed to be cleaned up and repaired. I picked out the loose fill material with a dental pick. I washed down the surface of the bowl with acetone on cotton pads to remove dust and clean up any loose pieces of fill material. I roughened the edges of the divots and crevices on the briar and then filled them with briar dust and superglue.
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I sanded the repaired area with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the excess material and smooth out the surface of the bowl.
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I sanded the bowl with medium and fine grit sanding sponges to remove the scratches and prepare the surface for staining. I wiped it down with isopropyl alcohol on a cotton pad to pick up any surface dust before staining. I am continuing to experiment with contrast stains so I gave the bowl a heavy coat of black aniline stain. I flamed it and heated it to set the stain deep in the grain of the bowl. This particular bowl had some really stunning birdseye on the sides and great cross grain on the front and back and underside of the shank and bowl. I wanted to highlight that grain and make it pop.
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Once the stain was dried I wiped the bowl down with acetone on pads to remove the surface stain and then buffed the pipe with red Tripoli. I wanted to remove as much of the stain on the surface as possible while leaving it in the grain and around the birdseye. I sanded the bowl with medium and fine grit sanding blocks and sponges to get the surface down to the place the grain was highlighted. I then rubbed the bowl down with olive oil and buffed it with White Diamond to make the bowl shine.
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I was happy with the contrast on the contrast stain and the look of the bowl at this point but now needed to work on the stem and the band. I sanded the stem with medium and fine grit sanding sponges to remove the scratches. I sanded the band with a fine grit sanding sponge as well. I then sanded the stem, band and the bowl with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded the bowl with the same grit pads. I dry sanded the bowl and the stem with 3200-12,000 grit pads to finish polishing them both. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and then when dry I buffed the bowl and stem with White Diamond.
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The series of four photos below show the bowl and stem after sanding with the micromesh sanding pads. The finish on the bowl is exactly what I was aiming for. The translucency of the finish was perfect. The fills and damage on the left side of the bowl all but disappeared – not just hidden by the finish by smooth to touch as well.
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I buffed the pipe one last time with White Diamond and then gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax to polish and protect it. I finished by buffing with a clean flannel buff to lift the shine. The finished pipe is shown below and is ready for its inaugural smoke. The bowl and pipe came out well in my opinion and should last a long time in the hands of the person whose rack it eventually will grace.
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I just reworked the inner rim of the bowl. I did a write up on the process and posted it here: https://rebornpipes.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/repairing-an-out-of-round-bowl/

No Name Pot Brought Back to Life from the Brink


This bowl came to me with a batch of bowls needing different degrees of work. This old-timer needed cleaning as the buildup of grime and grit that was ground into the bowl was thick. The surface was coated with a greasy black substance all around the top of the bowl and the sides. The bowl/shank junction was incredibly grimy. The inner rim was out of round and the outer rim and the top of the rim were in rough shape. The outer edge had been hammered around the sides and the top had dents and cuts in the surface. The shank looked to be slightly shorter than I have come to expect on this shape of pipe; though the drilling and the mortise were original. The shank had definitely not been shortened. The bowl was caked and the buildup thickest around mid bowl. There were quite a few small pink fills around the bowl sides. There was no stamping or identifying marks on the pipe. There had been some sanding done around he shank and it had left behind some fairly deep scratches.
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I went through my can of stems and found one that fit quite well. It did not need work on the tenon diameter as the fit was snug. The stem was bent and would need to be straightened to give it a proper fit to the bowl. Once the stem was in place it was clear that the shank was out of round. The bottom edge of the shank was somewhat thicker than the stem at the same spot. I would need to work on the flow of the shank from the bowl to the stem union to insure that the fit was smooth and the transition seamless.
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The stem was badly oxidized so I figured heating it to straighten it would actually soften the oxidation and bring it to the surface. I used a heat gun on the low setting to heat the stem. I generally hold it about 4 or more inches above the heat source and hold so it bends in the correct direction as it softens. In this case it did not take long for the vulcanite to heat and the stem to return to the original straight position. I decided to leave a slight bend in the stem as I like the look of on the pipe.
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The next two photos show the stem after heating and straightening. The variation in the diameter of the shank and the stem is also clearly visible in these two photos.
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Since the shank had no stamping to preserve I decided to sand the shank and the stem to even things out and to bring the shank into round. I used 220 grit sandpaper to remove the excess briar and to shape the taper on the stem. I sanded the stem as well to remove the softened oxidation and make the cleanup simpler.
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I set up a topping board and anchored a piece of 220 grit sandpaper on the surface to provide a flat straight surface to sand the top on. I twisted the top into the sandpaper in a clockwise motion to remove the tars and rim damage on the bowl.
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I wiped down the surface of the bowl with acetone on cotton pads to remove the grimy buildup on the finish. The black tarry substance took some elbow grease and hard scrubbing to remove. The inner rim would need some work to bring it back into round but that would wait until after I reamed the pipe.
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I sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper and medium and fine grit sanding sponges to further remove the finish and the grime. I worked on the inner edge of the rim with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to bevel the inner edge into the bowl. This minimizes the appearance of the bowl being out of round. It also removes burn damage and smooths the look of the rim as a whole.
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I decided to try something different on this bowl in terms of stain. It had some great cross grain and some nice birdseye grain that I wanted to highlight. It also had some ugly pink fills that I did not want to pick out and refill. This led me to try a black aniline stain. Before I stained it I used a black permanent marker – a sharpie to line through the pink fills. I blended them into the grain of the wood with the pen. I heated the bowl with the heat gun to open the grain and then applied several coats of black aniline stain, flaming the stain between each application. Once the stain was dry I wiped the bowl down with isopropyl alcohol on cotton pads and then sanded the bowl with a medium grit sanding block. I wanted to remove the black stain from the higher/harder areas of the briar while leaving it in the grain patterns.
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I sanded the bowl with a medium grit sanding sponge and then wiped it down with isopropyl alcohol to remove the dust. I remarked the fills with the black Sharpie. In the four photos below the marked fills are visible and the finish has about all the black removed that I wanted to take off.
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I rubbed the bowl down with Olive oil on a paper towel and rubbed it into the finish. I sanded the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-2400 grit, while the oil was wet as the oil gives the pads a bit more bite. I worked on the marked areas to blend them in with the sanding pads. I also sanded the stem with the micromesh sanding pads and the Olive oil at the same time. The next four photos show the finish after it had dried over night. I then buffed it on my buffer with White Diamond and gave the bowl several coats of carnauba wax. You can see how well the black sharpie blended into the finish. The pink fills have all but disappeared in the finish.
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I sanded the stem with my usual array of micromesh – the difference this time was all pads were used to dry sand the stem – 1500-12,000 grit. In between each grit I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and rubbed it into the vulcanite before sanding with the next grit pad. Once I had finished with all grits I gave the stem a final rub down with the Obsidian Oil.
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I gave the pipe several more coats of carnauba wax on the buffer and then buffed it with a soft flannel buff to bring out the shine. I was aiming for a stem shape similar to what I had seen on the Castello 55 shape and wanted that slight bend downward in the final look. While the pipe is certainly no Castello, I like the final look of the stem and the bowl. It certainly has come a long way from the bowl that came in the lot I received in the mail. This one should make a good addition to someone’s rack once it leaves here. The next four photos show the finished pipe.
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It looked like someone took a saw to the bowl on this one – A Bruyere Garantie Lovat Restored


This bowl came to me showing a lot of promise but also a lot of damage. It was like someone had sawed at the bowl on the side near the shank. The cuts were more than mere flaws in the briar as they were very jagged and broken inside the cuts. There were what looked like tooth marks in the grooves. I debated on rusticating it but there was something about the challenge that made we work at ways to make it smooth once again. The inside of the bowl was in great shape. There was one damaged spot on the inside edge of the rim on the right side of the bowl. The bowl had tobacco still in it and the top of the rim was tarred and caked. There were multiple nicks in the finish all the way around the bowl but the majority of those were in line with the deep grooves. The bowl came without a stem and the shank had a nick out of the end making a clean fit almost impossible. There were no cracks in the shank so no damage in that way. The stamping on the pipe is Bruyere in a curved banner – unfurled in an arch on the left side of the shank and underneath it is stamped Garantie. The banner also seems to go across a three pointed crown that is visible underneath the banner.
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I found a precast stem in my can of stems that was close to the right diameter to the shank and turned the tenon with a PIMO Tenon Turner and then fit it in the shank. I used a Dremel to remove the excess rubber along the edges and end of the cast.
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I sanded the stem and the shank to achieve a good smooth transition between the two. In the process I was curious as to what the shank would look like with a band so I slid a band part way on and fit the stem in place to have a look.
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I liked the look of the band so I removed it and sanded the stem to fit smoothly against the shank. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper. (I have found that lower grits, courser sandpaper just makes for more scratches and is counterproductive when I am working toward refinishing the bowl.
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Once I had the fit right and the transition smooth I cleaned off the shank with isopropyl alcohol and then rubbed on some white glue I heated the band and pressed it in place. With the band in place I took the bowl back to my work table and did a light topping as the outer edges of the bowl were more damaged than I thought. I wanted a good clean rim to go with the pipe once I had stripped and refinished it.
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I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and took it back to bare wood all the way to the bottom of the bowl.
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I wiped down the bowl with acetone on cotton pads to remove the finish. I wanted it clean of debris and grime as well as stain so that I could do the repair. I used the dental pick to clean out the edges of the two large cut marks and the smaller chatter in the briar as well. None of them actually were fills but rather gouges in the briar. I roughened the edges and wiped it down a final time with the acetone and cotton pads.
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I packed the cuts and nicks with briar dust and tamped it into place with the curved head or a pipe nail and also with the dental pick. Once they were full I dripped super glue into the grooves. I then packed more briar dust into the grooves, over filling them. I always put far more briar dust in the grooves than necessary to get good tight fills in the holes. I figure I can pack once and sand it back to the surface of the bowl instead of doing the pack two or three times. At this point in the process the photos show the pipe as a serious mess. I always wonder if I will be able to clean it up or if I had just made it a mess for nothing.
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I sanded the repairs and the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the excess material on the surface of the bowl. I followed that by sanding with a medium grit sanding block. The repairs are visible in the photos below as a solid dark brown/black coloured fill.
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I sanded the bowl further with medium and fine grit sanding sponges to remove the scratches in the surface of the bowl. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to smooth things out even more. I wanted the surface of the repairs to be smooth with the rest of the briar on the bowl. Once the sanding was finished I wiped the bowl down with some isopropyl alcohol on a cotton pad to clean off the dust.
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I decided to give the bowl several coats of an oxblood stain that was slightly more opaque than my normal aniline stain. It is a stain that is used on kitchen cabinets and surfaces that food comes into contact with so I believe it is safe once it is dry.
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I wiped the bowl down with a soft cotton cloth to remove the excess stain and then restained it a second time. I repeated the staining until the coverage was even and clear.
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I worked on the stem some more with medium and fine grit sanding sponges and then with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200- 12,000 grit pads.
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I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and let it soak in. I looked over the bowl again and decided to give it a top coat of a walnut brown stain. I felt that it might add some darker highlights to the repaired areas and make them less noticeable. I applied the stain, flamed it, restain and reflamed it and then buffed the bowl and the stem with White Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the whole pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax and then a final buff with a soft flannel buff to add a polish. The next four photos show the finished pipe. While the flaws/cuts are still visible they are no longer deep gashes in the wood. Rather they give a sense of character to the pipe and overall it is ready to go and last a long time delivering a quality smoke.
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I took the final photo to give a close up view of the repaired gashes on the bowl. Though visible they are now smooth to the touch and solid and unmovable.
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Looking Over My Metal, Nylon and Bakelite Pipes with Threaded Bowls


Blog by Steve Laug

It is funny how the number of pipes one has seems to grow exponentially. It is almost as if they are breeding in the drawers I keep them stored in. This afternoon I thought I would take out assorted metal stemmed pipes and then added the Nylon and Bakelite pipes as well. All of them have threaded bowls that are interchangeable within the brand of pipes. None of them are interchangeable with each other.

The first photo below shows my two Dr. Grabow Vikings. I have two of them and one of them I restemmed. They do not have any stamping on them but the base and the design of the stems matches other Vikings that I have had.
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The next photo shows my three Falcon Bents. All of my Falcon pipes were made in England including the straight shank one in the second photo. The bowls are interchangeable among the Falcons but not on the Grabows. I have refinished all of the bowls. The second and third bowl below were unfinished when I bought them on Ebay so I sanded them and finished them.
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The next photo shows my only Falcon straight. I have had many of these over the years and sold or gave them away. I refinished the bowl on this pipe as well.
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The next photo shows a unique metal pipe – a Dr. Plumb Peacemaker – Made in England. This pipe has a very narrow shank from the top view but a wide shank from the side. The bowl is threaded and only fits the Peacemaker pipes.
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The next two pictured below were made by Kirsten in Seattle, Washington, USA. The top one was a silver barrel and stem I picked up on Ebay. I carved and fitted the meerschaum bowl to fit the barrel. The second one is a Kirsten Mandarin. I bought this pipe in the 80’s brand new. It is a lightweight pipe and has a large diameter bowl. The stem is a thick Lucite and not particularly comfortable.
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The next two photos show a two bowl Bryson metal pipe. I did a write up on the blog on refurbishing this old pipe. It was a challenge. The bowls are actually compressed briar dust – almost like particle board. The grain on the smooth one was a decal. The rustication on the other hides the nature of the material.
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The pipe pictured below has a Nylon stem and base. The bowl is not briar but an alternative wood. It has the appearance of maple but I am uncertain of the wood. It is extremely lightweight. I wrote a blog post on the refurbishing of this pipe as well. If you are interested do a search for Nylon pipes among the posts and you can read about it.
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The final photo shows some of my Bakelite Pipe stems and bases with interchangeable bowls. Three of them are made by WDC. I reworked the bowls and restemmed two of them. The Bakelite stem and base are hard and quite resilient. The bottom pipe in the photo has no name stamped on it and is a Bakelite bowl and stem. I have not seen one of these before and enjoyed refurbishing it.
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These pipes hold a unique place in my collection. I find that I do not smoke any of them that often. The Falcons and Grabows are kept for their uniqueness and their place in pipe and tobacco history. I enjoy working on them. They tend to pass through my collection quite often. Today I have the ones pictured but they may well be gone in the months ahead and replaced by others. The Brylon and the Peacemaker are kept for their uniqueness and will probably remain with me. The Kirstens I smoke and enjoy infrequently but find that I pick them up several times a year to have the dry smoke they offer. The final photo of the WDC pipes and the Bakelite bowled pipe pictures pipes that will remain with me and not be traded or sold unless I find better versions of them.

Reflecting on My Collection of Rad Davis Pipes


Blog by Steve Laug

In my ongoing cleanup of my pipes in the cupboard I decided to photograph and take time to revisit another group of pipes that I have. This group is made up of eight very unique and distinct shapes. They come from another American Pipe Maker that I have collected pipes from – Rad Davis. Rad is well-known to most people and is a very creative pipe maker who is also a great human being. I have spoken with Rad several times in Chicago when I have attended the pipe show there and had great conversations with him. He is a gentleman and a pleasure to talk with. I have a number of unique smooth finished pipes that Rad carved as well as sandblasts and one rusticated pipe. The shapes vary from classic shapes to some very uniquely Rad Davis pipes. I thought I would take time to show them here and give my history with these pipes and a few words on their finish and stamping.

The first pipe in the group is a classic Rad Davis shape – a squashed or flattened tomato. The finish is smooth and flawless. The bowl is proportionally quite large in comparison to the shank and stem. The grain is well laid out with birdseye on the bottom of the bowl and in the curve of the rim down to mid bowl and on the top and bottom of the shank. There is also some flame grain around the sides of the bowl and on the sides of the shank. The stem is a green Cumberland and is inset into the end of the shank. This is a very comfortable pipe to hold and to clench in the mouth while doing other things. It is very light weight.

This pipe was a gift to me from a friend of mine. It was one that I had admired over the years when we got together and traded stories and tobaccos. One day as we were visiting he was telling me he was downsizing his pipe collection. Not necessarily in terms of numbers but literally in terms of size. He was going for much smaller pipes – group 1 and 2 sized pipes. This Rad was too big for him so he handed it to me in its pipe bag. Each time I smoke it I remember the moment of its gifting and thank my friend as I light the bowl.
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The stamping shows that it was made in 2006. It is stamped as follows:
RAD DAVIS
Hand Made
USA
06
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The second pipe in my collection is another signature tomato shape. It is not as squashed and has a more rounded look to it. The finish is smooth and flawless. The bowl is proportionally quite large in comparison to the shank and stem. This one has a rounded shank rather than the flared shank in the above pipe. Again the grain is well laid out with birdseye on the bottom of the bowl and in the curve of the rim down to mid bowl and on the top and bottom of the shank. There is also some flame grain around the sides of the bowl and on the sides of the shank. The stem is a classic Cumberland and instead of an inset has more of a Danish style saddle look to it. Where the green one was straight from the saddle to the button this one has a definite flare. This is also very comfortable to hold and to clench in the mouth while doing other things. It is very light weight.

I bought this pipe from one of the tables at my first Chicago Pipe Show. I remember walking around the show floor, overwhelmed by the sheer number of pipes available and feeling in a daze when I saw this pipe on one of the sale tables as an estate I had to have it. I took out the cash I had brought with me and bought it. In doing so I had purchased my first Rad Davis pipe. Little did I know that I would purchase others over the years that followed. It is a great smoking pipe and the reason that I have added others to my collection.
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This pipe does not have a date stamp on it. It is stamped as follows:
RAD DAVIS
Hand Made
USA
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The third pipe in my collection is a nose warmer billiard. It has a definite cant to the bowl and is very Danish looking in terms of the execution of the billiard shape. The finish is the same colour brown as my other two smooth Rad pipes and is just as well done with no visible flaws. The grain on this one is different. If you put a pinpoint in the bottom of the bowl the grain flares out to all sides and along the shank flowing from that point on the bottom of the bowl. The rim is chamfered inward slightly and gives the pipe a classic look. The stem is a Cumberland taper and is straight from the sides of the shank to the end of the button. It is also light weight and is a great smoker.

I remember when this one came up on Briar Blues website. I received the email notice that Mike had posted new pipes and went to have a look. I was taken by this little pipe and quickly made the deal. I have smoked it quite a bit since I purchase it and still reach for it.
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It is stamped as follows:
RAD DAVIS
Hand Made
USA
06
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The fourth Rad pipe I purchase was one of my favourite shapes. It seems that the ball/apple or Rhodesian has a big place in my collection. This beauty is the only rusticated Rad pipe that I have. It has a smooth band around the end of the shank, on the underside of the shank for the stamping and a smooth rim. The rustication while tactile and pebbly is also smooth. The two colour stain gives it a great look. The grain on the band and the rim just pops with the staining job. This one has a vulcanite stem that is a taper and very comfortable in the mouth. When the bowl warms as it is smoked it feels great in the hand. I purchase this one from a fellow on one of the online forums that I frequent. It is larger than the previous three pipes and is like Mark Tinsky’s size 4 pipes.
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It is stamped as follows:
RAD DAVIS
Hand Made
USA
06
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The thing that drew me to purchase this next pipe was the unique shape and finish. The shape is almost bulbous like the old seaweed bulbs that we used to use as whips when walking the Pacific coast beaches. There is something about the shape that grabbed me. The bowl almost sits on top of the shank. There is a ridge on the bottom of the bowl that goes up into the shank. The shank itself is round and quite delicate. The finish on this pipe is also varied. The majority of the bowl is finished in similar brown tones as my other smooth Rad pipes. It has cross-cut grain running along the sides of the shank running into a beautiful weblike sandblast on the bottom of the bowl revealing rings and grain radiating from the centre of the bottom. The rest of the bowl has marvelous birdseye grain from the top of the blast to the tip of the rim. The stem is Cumberland with a tapered saddle bit with a flare toward the button. I believe I purchased this one on EBay for a decent price. Its style, though not for everyone, certainly grabbed my attention and still does. I can easily get lost in the grain and the sandblast as I am smoking it. Thanks Rad for making this unique beauty. I have not seen another one like it!
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It is stamped as follows:
RAD DAVIS
Hand Made
USA
06
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The next pipe is a classic shape – a chubby shank pot. It has a marvelous sandblast finish that has been stained in such a way that the vertical grains in the blast are variegated while at the same time showing a ring grain that is highlighted by the blast and the stain. The blast is vertical on the bowl and the shank radiating from a birdseye blast on the bottom of the bowl. The rim is smooth with a slight bevel inward and there is a smooth band around the end of the shank and a patch for the stamping on the underside of the shank. The stem is Cumberland with a taper flowing out of a saddle. Well cut and comfortable in the mouth. I bought this one online through EBay as well and have enjoyed handling and studying the blast since the day it arrived. It is fascinating to look at and again I can get lost in the grain and patterns of the blast.
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It is stamped as follows:
RAD DAVIS
Hand Made
USA
07
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I don’t know what to call the shape of the next pipe. On one hand it is a brandy with an arched/domed shaped shank. On the other hand it could be an egg of some sort. Whatever the shape is called this one is a beauty. The blast is similar to the blast on the pot I spoke of above. The bottom is birdseye grain that has been blasted and looks like many tiny eyes looking out at you from the bottom of the bowl. These radiate out into straight grain up the side of the bowl and the shank. The ring grain is also visible across the bowl giving the blast a multidimensional look incorporating both vertical and horizontal patterns in the blast. There is a cocobolo end cap on the end of the shank that highlights the arched shape of the shank. It is sunk so that the Cumberland stem is inset into the cap. It look and feel is a lot like the green Cumberland stem on the squashed tomato above though it flares out from the saddle to the button. I bought this one on Ebay as well and could not wait until it arrived. It is just my size of pipe. It is just over 5 and ¼ inches in length with a slight bend to the stem. It sits well on the desk or table while I am working but is light enough to have in my mouth. The bowl is a group 4 sized bowl and holds a good amount of tobacco.
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It is stamped as follows:
RAD DAVIS
Hand Made
USA
07
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The last of my Rad pipes is one I bought directly from Rad as the Smokers Forums Pipe of the Year for 2008. It is a Poker/sitter with an angled base that holds it upright on whatever surface it is left on. The stem is vulcanite. The pipe is well-balanced and though I rock it –it always returns to the upright position. The sandblast on this one is just as well done as the rest of my Rad blasts. The rim and the bottom of the bowl are a blast birdseye while the sides of the bowl and shank incorporate the vertical and horizontal look to the blast that Rad achieves. It is a well made pipe with the taper stem fitting tightly against the shank and snuggly in the mortise. It has a stain that gives a variegated appearance in the light – red and brown hues seem almost to move in the light.
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The stamping on this one is unique as it is the Smokers Forum Pipe of the Year. It is stamped as follows:
Smokers Forums in an oval
RAD
USA
2008
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I have enjoyed Rad’s pipes since I smoked the first one many years ago now at the Chicago Pipe Show. I have added them over the years and from what I can see, will continue to add them as I am able. The only pipe of Rad’s in my collection that needs more attention is the Smokers Forum Pipe of the Year 2008. I have not smoked it as much as it deserves as it is not even broken in. I am going to have to remedy that.