Daily Archives: March 9, 2014

One Man’s Trash….. by John Williams (Coastie)

I have been reading about John’s work of rustication and restoration on pipe forums online for some time now. Recently he came to Pipe Smokers Unlimited and began to post some of his work there. I was taken by the beauty of his restorations and his rustication. He does great work. I decided to write him a note and ask if he would like to share some of his work with us on rebornpipes. What appears below is a piece John has written about his love of the hobby and his methodology for gathering pipes to work on. I thought that a before and after photo of one of John’s rustications would give an idea regarding the caliber of his work.

Before rustication

Before rustication

The process of rustication.

The process of rustication.

The finished pipe.

The finished pipe.

Welcome to rebornpipes, John it is a pleasure to be able to feature some of your writing and your work. Thank you for taking the time to send this to me.

Before I begin this let me tell you a little about myself, as it relates to the wonderful world of piping. After 40 years of smoking cigarettes, 20 of which were spent trying to find ways to quit smoking cigarettes, with no success, I stumbled into the wonderful world of pipe smoking. I had tried a pipe when I was in my 20’s and just didn’t find it satisfying or convenient. I decided to try it again, at the age of 58 so went to a local tobacco shop, picked up a basket pipe for $20.00, some Sir Walter Raleigh, and never picked up a cigarette again. I was smitten by the entire experience and quickly found myself lusting for more and more pipes.

After shopping on line and major on-line B&Ms I quickly realized that this new found love could get expensive, very quickly. So I turned to eBay, and starting amassing a pretty good size collection, but they were mostly oddball pipes that just caught my fancy and really were not enjoyable smokes. I started looking at higher end pipes on eBay and realized that again, this was going to get expensive. But I had this fascination with collecting pipes, and lacked the resources or desire to spend huge amounts of money. I had been cruising the net and stumbled upon Reborn Pipes and reading about Steve’s work breathing new life into old pipes. So I dove in and bought the few materials that I would need and started using my eBay acquisitions as practice material. In the process I found a new love, pipe restoration and rustification. It has been a fun journey since, and through the help of friends from forums I acquired more and more briar to work on, both mine and theirs, and just kept trying new techniques. There were highs and lows, and thankfully the lows were on my own pipes, and the highs were from seeing the reaction from pipe owners to my work on their pipes.

But alas, things took a turn. Suddenly this hobby of piping has gotten popular again, and with popularity came the inevitable increase in the cost of pipes on eBay. No more could I bid on nicely taken care of, quality briar, and win multiples to feed my new hobby, so activity on the workbench slowed down. Then one day I saw a beat up old pipe on eBay that was ugly, not taken care of, never cleaned, and appeared to have been used as a hammer or golf tee at one time. But it was cheap, no one wanted it due to the condition, and I won it for cheap, cheap. Before that day I would have never looked twice at this monstrosity. I would have immediately dismissed it, as I am sure many did.

Once I got it in the mail I applied the few skills I had learned about pipe rustification and produced a pipe that is now beautiful and serves me well, and will for years. I still buy a lot of pipes on eBay, but I now look for those pipes that appear to be structurally sound, but do not care about their cosmetic appearance. I learned to look past the ugly and envision what it could be with some work. And through this process I have continued to develop my hobby and abilities. I am always looking for new techniques, developing my own, and constantly striving to expand my abilities. And I am still managing to do it for less than I was spending on cigarettes when I was a cig smoker. That makes the wife happy, and therefore I am happy.

So what’s my point? If you are new to the world of pipes, or you wish you could expand your current collection, but just do not have the disposable income to buy those beautiful pipes that you often see, don’t fret, you can still have them. Simply lower your standards when shopping on eBay or in junktique stores. Learn to recognize those pipes that have beauty buried underneath neglect and abuse. Recognize those pipes that fall under “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. They are abundant on eBay and in junktique/antique stores, if you look. I will say however that you need to do some research. Teach yourself what is a desirable make, what is not; what is a good smoker, what may not be. Learn what to watch out for, what to avoid. I never buy pipes on eBay that only have one picture. I want to see both sides, the bowl, inside and the bottom, and the stem and tenon. Learn to recognize burn out, cracks in the shank or bowl, or other stem or briar damage that may be beyond your abilities to fix. If it is just ugly, dirty, dinged up, etc., and it catches your fancy….buy it and bring it back to beauty yourself. We are lucky enough that we have the internet and therefore a world of resources available to us as we develop our hobbies. Dive in my friend, dive in.

Join a forum, or multiple forums. There is a world of experience on those forums just waiting for your question or your plea for help. I have yet to encounter a pipe enthusiast on a forum who would not offer advice or help. There are a lot of us there whose passion is the restoration and/or rustification of pipes. Seek us out. And if you get a pipe that you feel is just beyond your ability to restore, many of us will gladly take care of it for you. I know I would, as working with briar is my passion. All you have to do is ask.

One other shopping technique that I use. I always have a pipe with me. Anytime I am talking with a stranger, outside, at a business, a yard sale, in the park, etc., I pull out the pipe and light it. More times than not it sparks a conversation, and many times you find that you are talking to a gentleman who will say “I used to smoke a pipe…..” but for one reason or another they quit. I will always follow up with “What did you do with your pipes?”, and a lot of times they will reply that they are in a box in the garage. You know where I go from there. I will just say that I have over the span of 1 year been gifted over 30 pipes from ex-pipers as a result of these conversations. Some pipes were beyond help, others were beautiful, and some just needed my attention. Ex-pipers are happy to give them to a fellow piper; you just have to let people know you smoke a pipe. It’s a brotherhood after all.

So happy hunting, happy cleaning/restoring, and happy piping. Now I am going to go hunt for old soldiers on eBay that need some attention.

Sasieni “Viscount Lascelles” XS Restoration

Blog by Al Jones

I picked up this Sasieni Four Dot Natural at the NYC show yesterday. It looked to be in very good condition, requiring only a mild clean-up. I knew from the “Four Dot” “London Made” stamping that it was made between 1946 and 1979. The pipe has the football shaped “Made In London” stamp on the other side and “XS”. Curiously, it was missing the name of a London town. At home, I could see some additional stamping and with a magnifying glass, I could read “Viscount Lascelles”. I googled that name and discovered that according to the Stephen Smith article, the Viscount Lascelles was the model name and a rare model.


The bowl had some build-up on the top which I thought might be some scorching. The stem had the faintest of teeth marks and was in overall excellent shape and only lightly oxidized.


Sasieni_Four_Dot_XS_Before (1)

Sasieni_Four_Dot_XS_Before (3)

Sasieni_Four_Dot_XS_Before (8)

Sasieni_Four_Dot_XS_Before (2)

I reamed the cake from the bowl and I could see despite the thick cake, the bowl was in very good condition. Most of the build-up on the bowl top rubbed off with some distilled water and a soft cloth. I soaked the bowl with some 91 proof alcohol and sea salt. The shank was cleaned with a bristle brush and alcohol.

Sasieni_Four_Dot_XS_Before (7)

The bowl didn’t need much else and was buffed lightly with White Diamond and then carnuba wax. I stayed away from the nomenclature to preserve it.

The stem was sanded with 1500 and 2000 grit paper, then 8000 and 12,000 grade micromesh sheets. I buffed it lightly with white diamond and then a plastic polish.

I hand waxed the briar with some Paragon wax.

Here is the finished pipe.


Sasieni_Four_Dot_XS_Finished (4)

Sasieni_Four_Dot_XS_Finished (7)

Sasieni_Four_Dot_XS_Finished (6)

Sasieni_Four_Dot_XS_Finished (5)

Sasieni_Four_Dot_XS_Finished (3)

Sasieni_Four_Dot_XS_Finished (1)

Reworking a No Name Pipe Bowl – Adding Rustication and Bling

Blog by Steve Laug

Andrew is turning out to be a great source of older pipe bowls in need of stemming. I received this old bowl in the mail from him not to long ago. It had a look to it that was interesting to me. The shank had been reworked somewhere along the way. I think that originally it may have had a diamond shank. Someone had carved it by hand into an almost round end and flattening as it moved toward the bowl. They had added three bands of coloured tape to the shank to dress it up. The first two bands were thin gold tape and the third was a wide swath of dark brown tape. The bowl was clean and reamed and the inside of the shank was also clean. The underside of the shank and bowl were rough. I think that the person who had reworked this bowl had used a knife to work on it and had not sanded it smooth after his work. There were also some pretty deep dents and grooves on the bottom of the bowl.




This old pipe bowl provided a challenge to me. The tape had to go but I had no idea what was underneath and hidden by it. The funky shape of the shank also needed to be reworked to give it a more artistic and shapely appearance. The restemming would also be a challenge in that the shank was not round at this point but very oddly shaped with all sides being unequal. I found an old saddle stem in my box of stems and tried that first – to me it was too long and gave the pipe an unbalanced look so I dug through my can of stems and found a saddle stem that was shorter that would look nice on the pipe.

I peeled off the tape and underneath the two gold tape bands was a small crack in the shank. Underneath the brown tape was a huge fill on the top and underside of the shank. I used a Dremel with a sanding drum to reshape the shank and bowl union and also to reshape the end of the shank. I had a nice sterling silver wedding ring band that would work well on this pipe bowl so I reshaped the end of the shank with 220 grit sandpaper after the Dremel work and then applied all purpose white glue on the shank and pressed the silver band into place. Once it was in place I could see that the end of the shank was not straight but had been cut off at an angle. With the band in place I used the Dremel and sanding drum to straighten up the end of the shank. I finished that work by using the same sanding board set up I use for topping bowls. With all that finished I put the stem in place and sanded the bowl and shank until it was a clean smooth shape. I wiped the surface down with acetone on cotton pads to remove the urethane finish that the previous person put over all the bowl and tape. In the next four photos below the size of the large fill is obvious.




With the shaping of the bowl and shank finished and looking more balanced I had to make a decision on how to deal with the large fills on the shank. There were also several sand pits on the bottom of the bowl that needed to be addressed. I weighed my options and decided to rusticate the shank. I used the modified Philips screwdriver to rusticate the shank first. At this point I left the bottom of the bowl smooth and just worked on the shank. Once I had rusticated it I used a small brass tire brush to smooth out the roughness of the rustication. I find that the brush knocks off the loose pieces of briar and gives the finish a contrast of highs and lows. The rustication looked good against the wedding band and the smoothness of the vulcanite. I also liked the look of the rustication against the smoothness of the bowl.




I stained the shank with a black aniline stain. I applied it heavily with a cotton swab and flamed and repeated the process until I had a good matte black finish on the shank. At that point I decided to carry the rustication to the bottom of the bowl and slightly up the sides and curve it into the top of the shank bowl union.

I stained the bottom of the bowl to match the shank colour. I applied a black aniline stain to the bottom and restained the shank at the same time. I flamed the stain and repeated the process until I had the coverage that I wanted on the bottom of the bowl. I then sanded the rest of the bowl with 200 grit sandpaper and then a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge. I finished by sanding it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wanted to have the briar clean and smooth on the upper portion of the bowl. The grain on that part of the bowl was quite nice. I wiped down the bowl with isopropyl on a cotton pad to remove the sanding dust. The state of the bowl at this point is shown in the next four photos below.




It was time to bend the stem so I heated the stem until it was pliable with a heat gun set on the lowest setting. I bent is over a rolling pin to the angle that I wanted and set the angle with cold water. This particular stem evidently was good quality vulcanite as it did not have any oxidation and the water did not bring any to the surface. That was a real gift in this process as I would have had to work out the oxidation on the stem as well. The next series of photos shows the process and the finished look of the bend.



At this point I reflected on what I wanted to do with the upper part of the bowl. I could stain it with a variety of colours to contrast with the rusticated black portion of the shank and bowl bottom but I was not certain I wanted to do that. I finally decided to rub down the bowl with olive oil to bring out the grain. I rubbed it in by hand and repeated that until it was finished. I gave the bowl a light buff with White Diamond to give it a shine. I will still need to give it several coats of carnauba wax but the look works for me. The grain pops with the oil finish. The next series of four photos show the bowl finish at this point in the process.




I liked the overall appearance of the pipe. It was certainly significantly different from the bowl that it was before I started. The old bowl had a more elegant look to it now and felt great in the hand. The chunky wedding band contrasts well with the shape and the finish of the bowl. Now it was time to work on the stem. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the casting marks on the sides of the saddled and blade of the stem. I followed that by sanding with medium and fine grit sanding sponges to further remove the scratches to the vulcanite. I finished the sanding with my usual list of micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and let it soak in to the stem material.



I buffed the finished pipe and stem with White Diamond and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I was careful to not get wax on the rusticated portion of the bowl and shank. The finished pipe is pictured below. It seems to me to have a much more dignified appearance than what it started with. I like the tactile feel of the bowl in my hand while at the same time maintaining the beautiful straight and flame grain on the bowl. I think this one will stay in my collection for quite awhile.




An Older Comoy’s Brochure

This morning I awoke to find that Jacek Rochacki had sent me an email with this lovely old Comoy’s brochure attached. I truly love these old pipe and tobacco leaflets and brochures. They are a tool that I use regularly when I am trying figure out a particular brand or shape. In my mind I can never have enough of these old pieces around. Thank you Jacek for sending this one to me to post on the blog. I have included his email to me as it has several links that are helpful.

With regard to nice conversation on Comoy’s I realized that the folder published by Chris Keene here http://pipepages.com/dancomoy2.htm is missing it’s back part/side with information and pictures of St. James, Guildhall and Academy Award edition from Comoy’s.

So I am enclosing scans of mine copy of the same folder that I acquired in Copenhagen in Summer 1969. Both sides.

Guildhall is also mentioned here:

With my best

Jacek, returning to text on “C” markings in Comoy’s pipes
Comoy's 1

Comoy's 2