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.

Reflecting on my Dunhill Collection


Blog by Steve Laug

I am currently in the mode of cleaning up pipes in my collection. I have been polishing and giving them attention as well as taking the time to enjoy them by looking at them and handling each one. I have shown my John Calich and my Mark Tinsky pipes. This morning I am working through my Dunhills. As I went through them I have to say I am a bit surprised that I have so many of them. I figured there were a half-dozen or so but have never really looked at them all in one place. Laid out together there are eleven of them. I used to have a dozen I guess, but I sold one to a friend’s wife for her husband’s birthday – a 1973 Tanshell. So here are my eleven pipes.

The first group is the Shell or Shell Briars – I have five of them. They are beautiful sandblast pipes with a two-tone finish of dark and medium brown (or maybe dark brown with the high portions buffed lighter). The first of them is an old-timer. It is a bent billiard whose blast has been worn smooth over the years. I have had it dated to various times from mid 30’s to 1943.
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The stamping is quite weak but under a bright light with a lense it reads as follows:
DUNHILL SHELL Made in England 3 (this three is the questionable issue – overstamped)
N52 PATENT NO. 417574/34
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It is in good shape regardless of the age. The blast on the rim is worn but the stem is in good shape with minor tooth marks on the stem and the button surface. The white spot is darkened and appears to possibly be ivory though I am not sure.

The next two are Birth Year Pipes for me. They are both made in 1954. The first one is a Canadian that I picked up on EBay. I had been looking for a birth year pipe for quite a while and contacted Mike Hagley regarding one. I had heard he might have one that I could purchase. He sent me the link to this one on EBay. It was not in good shape and had a stem with a missing white spot. I bid and won the auction. I sent it to Dave Wolf at Walker Briarworks for cleaning and repair. Dave did a great job cleaning it up and repairing the stem for me. I have had it for quite a few years now and enjoyed smoking it on my birthday. The ultimate pleasure was smoking this 1954 Dunhill Canadian with some 1954 Dobie Four Square Green on my 54th birthday a few years ago.
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The stamping on this one is:
EC F/T DUNHILL Made in England 4 with a 4 in a circle and an S
SHELL BRIAR Patent No. 417574/34
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It is in great shape since Dave worked on it. The finish is beautiful and the blast has a mix of birdseye and cross grain. There are some deep craggy places in the blast and the blast on the oval shank is also well done. It is one of my favourite pipes in the collection.

The second birth year pipe is a billiard. I bought this one on EBay as well. Its condition is good. The finish on the bowl and shank is excellent and the blast is deep and craggy. Somewhere along the way I believe someone topped this pipe so it has a smooth, restained rim. One day I may send it out and have the rim reworked to match the rest of the pipe. Or maybe one day I will attempt it myself. The time just has not been right for me to do either one. The stem is in good shape with a few small tooth marks on the surface. It is also a pleasure to smoke. I find though that the smooth rim just makes me reach for it less than my other birth year pipe.
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The stamping on this is:
K F/T DUNHILL SHELL Made in England 4 with a 4 in a circle
Patent No. 417574/34
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The fourth Shell in my collection is moving into another decade. I have two Shells from the 1960 era. The first one is a Billiard that is in good shape. The finish on the bowl and shank is excellent though this pipe is nowhere near as craggy as the 1954 billiard. The blast is nice but not deep. Like the 1954 billiard this one has seen some work on the rim. It appears to have been lightly topped so much of the blast on the rim is gone leaving behind a few deeper spots. I found this pipe in a Value Village Thrift Shop (Rummage Shop) in a display case and bought it for the paltry sum of $12 CNDN. It has some ripples on the top of the vulcanite stem and some tooth marks on the underside.
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The stamping on this one reads:
60 DUNHILL Made In 4 in a circle and S
SHELL BRIAR England 1
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The last Shell is bent bulldog shaped pipe from 1966. It is actually one of my favourite Dunhill shapes. I have one in almost the exact shape that is stamped Parker. This pipe has an amazing deep blast that hearkens back to the earlier blasts on the Shells. The finish is in excellent shape with even the rim showing the blast. The diamond shank with a flattened bottom transitions nicely into the stem. The stem was in excellent shape, or at least I thought it was when I bought it off of Ebay. When I received it the top and sides of the stem were oxidized and there was a light tooth mark on top. When I turned it over there was a bite through on the underside next to the button. I cleaned it up and repaired it with a black superglue patch. The pipe stem looks quite clean and new now and there are not any bite through marks or tooth marks.
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The stamping on this one reads:
P DUNHILL Made in 4 in a circle and S
SHELL BRIAR England 6
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I have one Tan Shell in my collection. It is a little group 1 sized billiard with a saddle stem. I picked this up in an Antique Mall in Washington State. It was hidden stem down in a jar of old Dr. Grabows that were in rough shape and a few old corn cobs. I saw the sand blast and the shape and colour and could not believe it. I took the pipe out of the jar and sure enough it was a Dunhill. The price on it was $10 – an unbelievable deal. It was clean and the finish was slightly soiled. The rim had some darkening but the bowl was clean. The stem has a great fish tail look to it and was only oxidized. I have smoked this one quite a bit since the day I found it and it is a great smoking little pipe. It is on the small side for me but I reach for it for a quick smoke.
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The stamping on it reads:
576 F/T DUNHILL Made in 1 in a circle and T
TAN SHELL England 3 and slightly lower and offset 4
The date stamping makes me think that the pipe was made in 1963 and stamped or issued in 1964. I am never sure about the meaning of the double date numbers. I remember reading though something along what I mentioned above.
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I have two Root Briar pipes both from 1961. The first of those is a large billiard that I purchased on Ebay with a burned through in the bottom of the bowl. Because of the damage it was very cheap. When it arrived I drilled out the burn through and repaired it with a briar plug. I have written about that repair on the blog earlier. The finish other than that burn through was in good shape with some cross grain on the sides of the bowl and birdseye grain on the front and back sides. The stem was clean except for some tooth marks on the top and bottom of the stem near the button. The pipe cleaned up well and is a good smoking pipe.
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The stamping is on both sides of the shank. It reads:
On the left side:
59 F/T DUNHILL
ROOT BRIAR
On the right side:
Made in 4 in a circle and R
England 1
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The second Root Briar is a 1961 straight shank bulldog. I picked this one up in a trade. It is a beautifully executed pipe. Dunhill makes some stellar bulldogs. The finish on this one was in excellent shape when it arrived. It matches the finish on the billiard exactly. There was some rim darkening but no serious damage to the rim. It has a mix of grains with nothing that truly stands out. The stem was in excellent shape with slight oxidation but no tooth marks or chatter. It is another great smoking pipe.
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The stamping is on both sides of the shank. It reads:
On the left side:
OXS F/T DUNHILL
ROOT BRIAR
On the right side:
Made in 4 in a circle and R
England 1
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The next pipe is a bit of a mystery. It does not have any date stamping on the shank. The shank is also repaired at the factory as the stamping goes over the shank splice. The shank is a separate piece of briar from the bowl. A response by Jacek Rochacki on a post I wrote yesterday on the addition of a shank extension made me think that possibly this pipe was made during the war years when briar was hard to come by. The factory thus spliced together two pieces of briar to make this pipe. The omission of the date stamp is still a puzzle so I may never know when the pipe was made. I have written previously about this pipe on the blog. It is a straight stemmed prince shape. It is definitely not one of my favourite shapes. I picked it up at an Antique Mall in BC quite a few years ago now. The seller had it priced at $20 Cndn so I did not ask questions and bought it immediately. The bowl finish was worn and the rim was badly beaten. I steamed the rim, topped it lightly and reshaped the bowl accordingly. The stem was in excellent shape with little oxidation. There were minor tooth marks near the button on the top and bottom sides of the stem.
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The stamping is deep and legible on both sides and reads:
On the left
FET DUNHILL
BRUYERE
On the right
Made in 4 in a circle A
England (no date stamp following the D in England)
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The last two pipes in my Dunhill collection are more current production models. The first is a bent Rhodesian with a Shell finish. This one does not have the old characteristic rich contrasting stain on the blast. It is stained black. It is well executed and comfortable to hold. The shank and the stem are on the chunky side, which I like. It is a nicely made taper stem. I bought this from a pipe dealer in Washington who had close out stock that he was moving.
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It is stamped:
3108 dunhill in an oval Shell Grain over Made in England 01
The stamping dates this pipe as a 2001. I smoked it quite a bit and it is a great size for putting in my jacket pocket when I am out on a walk about.
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The last pipe is an Amber Root apple. I loved the finish on this one when I saw and had to have it. I purchased it from the same dealer as the little Rhodesian above. It has a reddish finish and some stellar grain. The sides of the bowl and shank have straight or flame grain. The rim, top of the shank and the underside of the bowl and shank have beautiful birdseye grain. The stem is well made and comfortable. This pipe is also a great size for the pocket and smokes well.
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It is stamped on both sides of the shank.
On the left it reads:
3101 dunhill in an oval
On the right it reads:
AMBER ROOT
Made in England 05
The stamping makes this a pipe made in 2005. As such it is the newest Dunhill pipe in my collection.
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That is my entire Dunhill collection as it stands today. It spans a large part of history from either 1937/1943 to 2005. It has pipes with a variety of Dunhill finishes – Shell, Shell Briar, Tan Shell, Root Briar, Bruyere and Amber Root. Each pipe in itself is a well made factory pipe. The earlier pipes have some stunning blasts and finishes while the two newer ones also have some beautiful finishes that are unique to the newer lines. I cannot say that I am a Dunhill fanatic but having these pipes in my collection make me a small time collector that is for sure. I think the thing I enjoy about the Dunhill pipes is that they can generally be dated to a period of history. As one who enjoys knowing that kind of detail regarding the pipes I smoke I have to say that I am drawn to them. To this day I continue to check the display cases at thrift shops and antique malls in hopes of finding yet another old Dunhill. But I guess that finding four of them that way is not to bad a record.

Reflecting on my collection of Tinsky Pipes


Blog by Steve Laug

I don’t recall when I bought my first Tinsky pipe. But I do know which one it was – a nice Coral finish Billiard with a taper stem. It has a contrast stain on it – a dark brown and a walnut combination. The rim and a band around the top of the bowl and the end of the shank are smooth and sport the walnut finish. I have had the pipe at least 15 years or more and have thoroughly enjoyed smoking it. In fact it was the pipe that got me buying Tinsky’s pipes over the years. I have bought maybe two of them directly from Mark and the others have come through EBay or from friends. I have fourteen of Mark’s pipes to date with one new one on the way. These all vary in shapes and styles but all are fine smoking machines. Only one of the pipes in this collection remains unsmoked. I really can’t tell you why, but I will break it in one day in the near future.

I thought it might be interesting to give a brief history of the brand for those on the blog who may still be unfamiliar with Mark’s work. Most of this material is taken from his website http://www.amsmoke.com/ and from Pipedia which has an article on the brand and quotes many of Mark’s own words.

The American Smoking Pipe Co. was formed in 1978 by Mark Tinsky and Curt Rollar. Both started making pipes for Jack Weinberger (JHW Pipes) while in high school and throughout college. Determined to blaze their own path, they formed their own company – its goal to create unique pipes, lightweight and comfortable, where attention to detail was the rule not the exception. Exulting in their new freedom, they carved out new shapes that were balanced between the radical freehand era of the 70’s and the board pipe look of other conservative companies. Hungry for recognition, they stormed the Eastern and Southern shops looking for markets to sell their pipes. Many hidebound retailers refused to try something new; preferring to sell, well, what has always sold before. However, their pipes did take root in many shops and the business thrived.

They continued expanding their pipe making capabilities, adding employees to help finish the pipes. In 1990, over a disagreement over how much to expand, Curt Rollar left the company. This put a break on expansion and coupled with a U.S. recession and rising anti-smoking fervor served to limit production to supplying existing retailers, thus ending a decade of growth. With pipes sales in decline, we turned to pipe repair as a way to supplement revenues. Finding that we liked fixing things, American concentrated on pipe repair. While working hard at repair and manufacture American is ready once again to expand its markets through its existing network of shops serviced by pipe repair.

With the advent of the Internet, we are exploring marketing pipes directly to consumers in markets not covered by retail accounts. Feel free to e-mail us at MT@MT.NET

Mark can also be reached by mail at:
American Smoking Pipe Co.
PO Box 13
Wolf Creek, MT 59648

Over the years I have collected quite a few Tinsky’s. I have pipes from the time he and Curt Rollar set off on their own and others that are singularly Mark’s from his time in New England and then newer ones from his workshop in Montana. All the pipes I have are made by Mark other than one that was a collaborative work of Mark and Curt. The rest of this article will be a short reflection on the Tinsky pipes in my collection. Looking them over this afternoon as I photographed them I am again struck by the workmanship in Mark’s pipes. They are all exceptionally well made with fits and finishes well done. From the Coral finishes, the Blasts, the Black and Tans and the Smooth finished pipes I have come to expect nothing but the best smoke. They are truly bread and butter pipes in my collection. They are well made utilitarian pipes that have provided many years of service to me and if the oldest in the collection (a 1984) is any reflection on the whole lot they will last far longer than I will.

The first part of the collection that I want to visit with you is the Cauldron and Dublin shaped pipes. I have three pipes in this lot. The first pictured below is from 1988 and is a smooth cauldron that is stamped American in an oval over Reg. No. 88.CR-MT over The Berkshire over the number 37. If my read of these stampings is correct the pipe was made in 1988 and is a collaborative effort between Mark and Curt. The Berkshire is the name of the finish on this pipe. The familiar logo on Mark’s pipe stems has always been a five point star – in this case it is white star surround by a briar circle set in a clear acrylic and inlaid in the stem.
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The second cauldron is a slightly older pipe. It is from 1984. It is stamped Sandblast over American in an oval over Reg. No. 0184/*7 and a 5 in a circle. Interpreting these stampings the pipe is from possibly January of 1984. I am not sure of what the *7 means but the 5 in the circle is the size – thus a group 5. It is the same size as the Berkshire above. The blast covers the bowl and shank. The rim is smooth and circumscribed with a ring mid rim. There is a smooth band around the end of the shank and a smooth area for the stamping. The stem has a white five point star set in clear acrylic inlaid into the surface.
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The third pipe in this lot is a Dublin and was the first Christmas pipe I was able to purchase. I believe I bought or traded it from a fellow on one of the online forums that I frequent. It is a nice sandblast pipe. The Dublin shape has an oval shank with a slight forward cant to the bowl and slight bend to the stem. It is a comfortable pipe to smoke. It is stamped Tan Blast over Christmas 2004 and a single star. This pipe has the customary metal inset star in a circle set in the stem.
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The next group of Mark’s pipes in my collection are Coral finish pipes. In the photo below I have grouped this lot together. There are five Coral finish pipes and one with a Black and Tan finish.
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The first of these is a Christmas pipe. It is a square shank billiard that is stamped with Mark’s signature (Mark Tinsky) on the smooth panel on the left side and on the underside smooth area Christmas 2005 over Coral. The stain on this one is a contrast between a dark brown deep in the grooves of the finish and a reddish stain on the high points of the finish. The contrast is well done. The smooth portions of the shank are also a dark brown in colour. It bears the same metal star in a circle inset into the stem as the logo. It is probably a Group 5 size pipe but does not have a size stamp.
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The second Coral finished pipe in the above group photo is a thick shank apple. It is probably one of my favourite shapes that Mark makes. I have three of this shape – two Coral finished pipes and a Sandblast. It is stamped American in an oval over Coral with 5 in a circle. The finish feels great in the hand and as it heats up the tactile feel is comfortable. The smooth rim and band around the end of the shank are attractive additions. The underside of the shank is also smooth and provides a place for the stamping. The stain on this one is a combination of dark brown and walnut. The grooves are dark and the high points and smooth portions are a walnut stain.
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The third Coral finish that I picked up was also my first Tinsky pipe. It is a beautiful group 4 sized billiard with a dark brown and walnut contrast stain. There is a smooth ring around the top of the bowl and a smooth rim. There is also a smooth band and area for the stamping at the end of the shank. It has been with me for a long time now and is one that I have smoked again and again. It never disappoints in delivering a great smoke. I use it for only Virginias and it literally makes them sing. It is stamped American in an oval over Coral over 4 in a circle. On the smooth left side of the shank it is stamped with the Mark Tinsky signature. The stem bears the metal star in a circle inset.
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The fourth Coral finish is another thick shanked apple. I traded for this one and when it came the finish was virgin though it had begun to darken. Through the years the darkening has continued and it shows a lightening in the grooves and the high spots are darkening. It has a rusticated rim and the only smooth portion of the pipe is a thin band around the end of the shank and a smooth patch on the underside of the shank for the stamping. It bears the stamping Coral over Christmas 2003 and the customary metal star in a circle inset in the stem. There is a part of me that wants to give this bowl a good coat of stain to even things out a bit and make it look cleaner. I have restrained myself from doing that until now but who knows what the future holds in that regard.
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The final Coral finish pipe is kind of a tadpole shaped pipe. It has the same stain combination on it as the first Coral Christmas 2005 pipe. It is the only pipe of Mark’s that I have that I have yet to smoke. I am not sure why but it sits in my pipe cupboard waiting for the right moment. It is stamped Mark Tinsky in script over Coral over American in an oval. It also bears a 5 in a circle for it size. It is quite a large pipe. The rim is smooth and crowned and there is a smooth band around the end of the shank and patch on the underside of the shank for the stamping. The stem bears the metal star in a circle inlay but it is slightly different from my other Tinsky’s in that the star is pewter coloured rather than the brass that is characteristic of the others.
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The final pipe in the group photo above is the only Black and Tan finished pipe that I have of Mark’s. It has almost a Danish flair to the Rhodesian shape. The crowned bowl top is set apart by two concentric rings and the finish is a tan smooth. The rim is slightly rounded. There is also a thin smooth band around the shank end and a smooth plate on the bottom of the shank. It is stamped American in an oval over Black & Tan over Christmas 2000. The stem has the characteristic brass star in a circle inset.
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The third group of pipes in my Tinsky collection is the Sandblast finished pipes. I have three Sandblasts. The first of these is probably my favourite Tinsky. I have carried it around the world with me on various trips. It has been smoked quite globally in all of my travels. It is a custom-made pipe that I bought as an estate from Mike Glukler of Briar Blues. It is a bent apple of sorts with a vulcanite ring on the end of the shank. The stem is a faux stick bit with a saddle. The grain on this one must have been a flame grain and the blast flares up evenly from birdseye on the bottom of the bowl. The rim is smooth as is a band around the end of the shank and a panel on the bottom of the shank for the stamping. It looks to me like Mark used a fine rustication pattern around the band and the panel to give it a more defined shape. It is stamped American in an oval over the Mark Tinsky signature over Blast with a 4 in a circle. Each line of the stamping is separated by a finely cut rustication. The stem does not have the typical star inlay as there is not a surface that would hold it.
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The second Blast is a thin shank apple or ball. It has a deeper more craggy blast than the previous pipe. It is smaller in terms of the bowl and size though it is still a group 4 bearing the 4 in a circle stamping. The rest of the stamping reads Mark Tinsky in script over Tan Blast on the side of the smooth patch on the left side of the shank. On the underside of the shank it is stamped American in an oval over 4 in a circle. The bowl ascends to the rim leaving a thin rim that is also blasted. There is a smooth band around the end of the shank and a smooth patch that runs up both sides and on the underside of the shank. The stem bears the customary brass star in a circle inlay.
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The third Blast is a Rhodesian that I also really like as it has become almost a signature shape for me. It is a thick shank Rhodesian with a dark and medium brown stain over the blast. The darker brown has settled into the grooves of the blast and the medium brown on the high parts of the blast. The majority of the bowl is covered with a blasted birdseye that is really interesting. There are a few spots where there are small portions of flame grain. The fascinating part of this blast is that you can also see the rings of grain under the top blast. It is a beautiful pipe. The twin concentric rings setting apart the crown on the bowl were cut before the blast and the centre between the rings also shows the blast well. The stamping on this one is on the smooth patch that runs up the sides and underside of the shank. It is stamped Mark Tinsky in script on the left side of the shank and on the underside it is stamped American over /6 in an oval over Blast and 5 in a circle.
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The last two pipes in my Tinsky collection have smooth finishes. The first is a beautiful pipe that is by far the largest of my Tinsky pipes. I was gifted this by a good friend one evening while we were at his apartment in downtown Vancouver enjoying a fine cup of tea and smoking aged tobaccos together on his 7th floor balcony. It has some stunning straight grain all around the bowl and birdseye on the underside of the bowl and the shank. The medium brown stain really sets off the grain. The shape is a thick shank brandy. It is stamped on the left side of the shank with the Mark Tinsky signature. On the underside it is stamped with American 2/ in an oval over Sunrise over a 6 in a circle and a single five point star.
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The second smooth finished pipe is an older Liverpool shape. I picked this one up on EBay for an amazingly low price as it did not have a stem on it. The bowl was in good shape but the finish was shot. It looked like it was not worth buying from the photos that the seller included in the advert. Because of that I got it for cheap. When it arrived I reamed and cleaned it. I polished the bowl and then called Mark to see if he would be willing to restem it for me. He agreed and I sent off for restemming. I expected Mark to use a current stem and brass star in a circle logo inset on the new stem but he did not. When it returned it had the appropriate aged inset of a star in a briar ring inset in acrylic. The difference between this inlay and my other early Tinsky is that the star inside the acrylic is brass in colour rather than white. The pipe is stamped on the underside of the shank American in an oval over Reg. No. over 7/93 – MT thus dating the pipe to July of 1993. The MT stamping differentiates it from the pipes made by Curt Rollar in that period which bore the stamping CR after the date stamp.
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Looking over my collection of Tinsky pipes this afternoon I have been struck yet again by their beauty and by the good quality work that Mark does in his pipe making. My pipes cover a time period of thirty years and the quality remains impeccable. The finishes remain constant. The Coral finishes of the early years are almost identical to those of the more modern era pipes that I have. The sandblasts are consistently the same and the Black & Tans remain constant. The smooth finished pipes are consistent from the early 90’s pipe I have to the more modern 2000’s era Sunrise. I am impressed by that fact. It is not often that in the evolution of a craft that the craftsman maintains his signature finishes even as he progresses in his skill. Thank you Mark for creating these fine pipes that I have taken great pleasure in owning and smoking. I look forward to adding more to my collection.

Learning something new while repurposing this damaged pipe bowl – adding a shank extension.


Blog by Steve Laug

One of the pipe bowls I was recently gifted was an unsmoked Mastercraft Drysmoke bowl that had the shank cut back to half of its original length. The cutback was done poorly – crooked cut with a dull saw. It had cut right through the stamping on both sides of the shank and was crooked.
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The bowl had a very heavy coat of urethane on it as well. There was some nice grain on part of the bowl but the bottom had some hack marks where it looked like the saw had jumped. I took some time to look it over and try to figure out what I was going to do with it. I was not sure and looked at the end of the cut off. I knew I would have to face the end of the shank to even things up no matter what I did with it. I could easily have just drilled the mortise large and cut a new stem for it. It would have ended up a short shank billiard and that would have been fine. However in the midst of the review I decided that it was time to learn something new. I have always wanted to learn how to do shank extensions so I figured this was a great candidate for my schooling. I flattened the end of the shank squaring it like I do when topping a bowl. I had an old vulcanite shank extension I scavenged somewhere. I had played around with it and sanded away part of the end that faced on the shank of the pipe before I threw it in my parts box. It was a mess as it was but it might just work. I also had some white Delrin tenon material that would work well. I had already turned it almost to the correct size with my Dremel and sanding drum. Maybe these parts would all come together and help me craft something different. What the heck it was worth a try and I would learn a lot in the process.
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The photo above shows all the parts laid out for the connection. I faced the end of the shank using a sanding board in the same manner I used to top a bowl rim. It took a bit of work and focus to get it flattened out and perfectly horizontal. (Oh to have a lathe to do this kind of thing.) I used the Dremel with the sanding drum to fine tune the diameter of the Delrin so that it would fit well in both the end of the cut of shank and the vulcanite extension. I wanted the two parts to face smoothly against each other. I put it together to make sure I had the fit right
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I put glue on the end of the tenon and pressed it into the shank and then repeated the process and pressed the extension in place. The fit against each other was exactly what I wanted. I ran some superglue in the joint between the two materials and when it dried I would sand it down. I had an old stem that had the right tenon size and inserted it to have a look. I wanted to see what the newly glued shank extension would look like with a stem in place. The joint looked good and a stick bit stem would work well when I got to that point in the process.
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I removed the excess material of the extension with the Dremel and sanding drum and a lot of hand sanding with 220 grit sandpaper. I wanted to make the extension slightly flared and the transition between the shank and the extension smooth and seamless. I was going for a taper back from the bowl to the end of the shank. I also wiped the bowl down with acetone on cotton pads to remove the urethane finish. It was a tough go so I sanded the bowl and shank. I decided to not worry about sanding the partial stamping that was left on the shank as it was no longer a Mastercraft pipe at this point.
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In the process of adding the Delrin I noticed that there was a crack in the shank on the right side of the pipe. It was present before I inserted the tenon, but the insert opened it up. I dripped some super glue in the crack before I put the Delrin insert in place. I knew that the insertion of the tube in the shank from the cut end to the end of the airway would give strength to the repair and also remove the pressure on the shank. I also knew that there would no more stress on the crack once the extension and tube was in place. After sanding the shank and extension I did some cosmetic work on the crack and filled it with superglue and briar dust. Once it was dry I sanded that area of the shank until it was smooth.
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With the crack and repair being very visible and knowing that it would not disappear in the stain I decided to rusticate the shank and the bowl bottom. I did not worry about the visibility of the repair as the entire pipe is a repair job. I have been reading a lot about John Calich and his use of rustication and smooth finishes in the same pipe and the contrast stains to highlight the transition between finishes so I decided to try that out with this bowl. I wanted a thin band of smooth briar around the joint so I taped off the area and did the rustication with my modified Philips screwdriver. I rusticated the shank and the bottom of the bowl. I used a brass bristle tire brush to go over the rustication and knock off the rough areas. I buffed it with red Tripoli to further smooth out the rustication slightly.
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I stained the bowl bottom with black aniline stain and flamed it. I repeated the staining and flaming until I had a good even coverage on the rusticated portion of the bowl. I cleaned up the smooth areas next to the stained rustication with sandpaper to remove the slight bleed from the black stain. I wiped those areas down with acetone on a cotton swab to clean the transition areas.
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I found the stem I wanted to use in my can of stems. It was a slender military bit with a slight taper. I liked the look of the stem. I put it in place for the next photos. It is not stuck deeply enough into the mortise because of the taper to the end of the stem. It will need to be turned down slightly to get a good snug fit deep in the mortise.
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Before going to bed last evening I rubbed down the bowl and stem with Olive oil. I wanted it to penetrate the vulcanite extension, stem and the bowl (smooth and rusticated portions) to give a bit more life to the rubber and the briar. This morning when I got up I worked on the end of the stem to get a deeper fit into the mortise. I used the PIMO tenon turning tool adjusted as small as possible and turned the first inch of the stem to get a tenon. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to bring it down to the diameter of the inside of the mortise. The next two photos show the stem sanded enough to go half way into the mortise. It would take a lot more sanding before it sat against the end of the mortise.
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Ah progress! Got the stem fit right – it is snug and deep in the mortise now. I sanded the tenon until it fit well. I also sanded the transition from the end of the tenon to the taper on the rest of the stem. I wanted the fit against the shank extension to be snug without the edges of the tenon showing when the stem was in place. This pipe has turned out to be a great lesson for me in the school of pipe repair up to this point. I am looking forward to “graduating” from this project at this point.
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I sanded the bowl, the smooth band at the union of the extension and the briar and the vulcanite of the stem and extension with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads to remove any scratches in the briar and the shank extension from sanding with the fine grit sanding sponges. The photos below show the bowl and stem after I had sanded them with the early grits of micromesh. I wiped down the bowl and the stem with a cotton cloth and then rubbed Obsidian Oil into the vulcanite extension and stem.
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I stained the smooth parts of the bowl and shank with a cherry stain using a cotton swab and wiped it off with a soft cloth. I hand buffed the bowl and shank with a shoe brush to give it a quick polish.
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Once that was finished I continued to sand the stem with the micromesh sanding pads. I had already wet sanded the extension and the stem with the earlier grits of pad so now it was time to dry sand them with the remaining pads – 3200-12,000 grit.
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When I finished sanding with the micromesh sanding pads I rubbed the vulcanite extension and stem down with Obsidian Oil and when it was dry gave the stem, extension and smooth portions of the pipe a buff with White Diamond. I gave the smooth areas of the pipe and the vulcanite multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed with a soft flannel buff to give it a shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It has come a long way from the cut off bowl that I started with in the beginning of this restoration. I think rather than restoring this one I have actually repurposed a bowl – a phoenix rising from the ashes. Now I have another new pipe to fire up and try out later today.
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