Daily Archives: March 28, 2014

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/