Monthly Archives: April 2014

Willard Dublin Restemmed and Rejuvenated

This was one of the bowls that I picked up in that antique mall grab bag. It is stamped Willard Imported Briar. There is no other stamping on the shank on either side. It came with an aluminum band on the shank and the mortise was made for a push stem. The finish was in rough shape showing worn spots and crackling in the varnish finish. The bowl sides had deep nicks and gouges in them and there were several fills around the bowl. The rim was heavily beaten with broken edges on the outer rim and some damage to the inner rim edge. The bowl itself was dirty with broken cake around the middle of the bowl and looking like it had been carved away from the top of the bowl leaving the rim out of round. There was no stem with this pipe bowl.


I had a stem that would work with the pipe in my can of stems. The diameter of the stem was too wide but the length and the taper were correct. There was some surface damage to the top edge of the stem that would be removed once I adjusted the diameter. The tenon was very close to a fit and I sanded it lightly to make it fit snug without pressure on the shank.
With the sanding the tenon fit well in the shank. The next series of photos show the excess material that would need to be removed from the diameter of the stem.

I sanded the stem with a Dremel and sanding drum while leaving it in place on the shank. I wanted sand it as close as possible with the Dremel so that the amount of hand sanding would be lessened. I then sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper.


Once I had the basic shape right I decided to top the bowl. I set up my topping board and sandpaper and work on removing the damage on the rim. I press the bowl into the sandpaper and turn it clockwise until the damaged portion of the rim is removed and the surface smooth.

I took the Dremel to the stem again and removed some more of the excess vulcanite and then brought it back to the work table and did some more sanding with 220 grit sandpaper and medium and fine grit sanding sponges.



I sanded the bowl with the medium and fine grit sanding sponges to smooth out the sanding marks on the rim and to smooth out the outer edge of the rim. I wiped the bowl down with acetone and then with isopropyl alcohol to remove the varnish finish.



I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and took out the remaining cake mid bowl. It took three of the four cutting heads to take the cake back to bare briar.
Since the briar was already a rich reddish colour I decided to stain it with an oxblood aniline stain. I had found that when I scrubbed the bowl down with the alcohol the fills actually were more blended into the bowl than they had been before removing the varnish. I figured that by adding a topcoat of more oxblood stain the fills would blend in more fully into the finish. I applied the stain, flamed it and repeated the process until I got an even coverage on the bowl. The top of the rim took several extra coats of the stain to make it match the rest of the bowl.



I took the pipe to the buffer and buffed the bowl and stem with White Diamond. I avoided buffing the band as buffing the aluminum turns the buffing wheel black and the black stains the briar and the stem. When I got back to the work table I polished the aluminum with a polishing cloth. The photos below show the pipe after the staining and buffing.



I sanded the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I buffed the stem with White Diamond and then rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil.


I buffed the bowl and stem a final time with White Diamond and then gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a soft flannel buffing pad to bring out the shine. The stain did a good job of hiding the fills. Though they are still present they do not stand out as much. The new stem fit very well and looks like the one that was made for the pipe. The finished pipe is pictured below and it will certainly grace someone’s pipe rack in the near future.




My latest “Frankenpipe” Project

Blog by Steve Laug

In the grab bag I got from the antique mall on my recent trip was a cutoff bulldog bowl. Whoever had owned the pipe in the past cut off the majority of the shank and had epoxied a metal tenon in place in the short shank. They had then added a churchwarden stem – a delicate round stem that really did not fit at all. In the photo below it is the bulldog just above the cob bowl. The stem was repurposed for the cob stack I wrote about in a previous blog post. The bowl just sat in the box while I figured out what I would do with it. I had thought of turning it back into a bulldog but just was not sure of that being the right direction to go with the pipe.
Pipe finds2
Then this evening I decided to do another “Frankenpipe” project. I pulled together the parts that might come into play and spread them out on the worktable. I had a chunk of briar from Dogtalker that could work for a shank extension, the cut off bowl from the bulldog and a selection of different stems that could be fit to the new shank once it got to that point. I examined the end of the short shank for a long time trying to decide the way to go with the new shank extension – diamond shank or round shank. The edges of the remaining diamond shank were well-rounded and the diamond had virtually disappeared. It looked like it would probably evolve into a Rhodesian by the time I was done but time would tell. Sooooo…. in the spirit of the tall cob, I decided to put together the parts and see what I could do with them.

I started the process of joining the briar block and the short shank bowl. I drilled an airway in the briar going straight through. It was slightly larger than the metal tenon so that it the metal tenon and some epoxy would fit. This would give a straight airway from the bowl to the block. Once that was finished I drilled enlarged the airway on other side of the briar block with a larger bit to create a mortise. I put the pieces together to make sure that everything would fit together. For the purpose of having some kind of stem I grabbed an old diamond shank stem from my can of stems to fit the mortise.




I used my topping board and sandpaper to try to face the short shank and the piece of briar to facilitate a flush fit when the two pieces were joined. The shank on the pipe had been cut at an angle so I took that into consideration when I was working on the briar extension. I mixed up a two-part epoxy and glued the block and the bowl. The photos show the epoxied joint before I cleaned it up. I clamped the pieces together overnight to let it cure.




In the morning once the glue had cured I took the clamp off and looked it over more carefully to see if I could redeem the diamond shank. The more I looked at it the more I knew that the diamond shank was gone and I would best work to make a round shank Rhodesian. I turned the tenon on a very chubby round taper stem with the PIMO Tenon Turner to fit in the new mortise. Once the stem fit well in the shank I got a better idea of what the finished pipe would look like. There was still a lot of shaping and fine tuning to do with the stem to shank junction but the “Frankenpipe” had potential.


I used a Dremel with a sanding drum to begin shaping the shank extension. I had to remove a lot of the briar on the extension and round it to make the transition smoother. I did the work in stages, constantly checking the look and flow of the shank extension to make sure I did not take off too much briar.



I put the stem in place in the shank to keep the target in sight as I sanded the shank. At this point in the process I was not worrying about the fit of the stem to the shank I was more concerned with the overall flow from the bowl to the button. When I am shaping a pipe I am constantly putting the pieces back together to see if the flow is beginning to work well.


I continued to sand with the Dremel until I had the majority of excess briar removed. I then took it to the worktable and worked on the bowl and shank with 220 grit sandpaper. I continued to remove the briar and shape the new shank. The Rhodesian shape is beginning to become clear in this “Frankenpipe”. There was still a lot of sanding to do but the finished pipe shape was beginning to emerge from the briar.


I continued to hand sand the shank to reduce the diameter and shape the flow toward the bowl. The shank and bowl are starting to look like they belong together. I worked on the stem to make the fit of the stem to the shank smoother. I removed the excess vulcanite with the Dremel and shaped the stem by hand to remove the sanding marks and scratches left behind by the Dremel and sanding drum. When I finished sanding for the evening I slid a band on the shank just for kicks. If I leave the band on the shank I will need to work some more on the stem to get a good snug fit. Even so the pipe is starting to appear from the diverse parts – “Frankenpipe” was beginning to come alive.




I sanded some more on the shank and bowl junction. I decided to give the shank a cigar-like flow – tapered at the bowl and taper from the stem to the button but with a gradual rise in the middle. The flow would be a gentle bulge that came to its highest point at the band.



I decided to take the pipe to work with me and continue to sand it during breaks. I had a day working in our warehouse scheduled and would need to have a diversion from the work I had on the agenda for the day. I sanded it with a medium grit sanding sponge. I took these photos at the end of the day before I headed home for the day. The pipe was really taking shape now.



Frank 2
I really liked the flow of the shank from the back of the bowl to the tip of the stem. It formed a nice elongated oval. It would not be possible to sand further on the joint of the bowl and extension so I decided to rusticate the shank. I used some electrical tape to mark off the area that I would rusticate and to protect the places that I did not want to rusticate.



I rusticated the shank, leaving a smooth section of briar next to the nickel band. I formed a point at the bottom of the bowl where the rustication would end. I decided to leave the bowl smooth as it had some nice grain. I rusticated it with the modified Philips screw driver, wire brushed off the loose briar chips and then sanded it with a medium grit sanding sponge to smooth out the high edges. I wanted a patterned rustication but not one that was rough to the touch. My idea was to provide an interesting pattern on the briar of the shank extension that would hide the joint but also add interest to the finished look of the pipe.




I stained the rustication with a black aniline stain, flamed it and then wire brushed it a second time. I restained and reflamed it and then sanded the high spots on the rustication with a fine grit sanding sponge. Once the rustication was the style I wanted I gave the bowl a top coat of oxblood stain. I wanted a contrast between the deep grooves of the rustication and the rest of the pipe. I always have liked that look on a pipe. This particular “Frankenpipe” was made for this kind of rustication pattern. At this point the major work on the bowl and shank is done other than polishing and waxing. I still had work to do on the stem and band but the pipe was taking definite shape. It had come a long way from the pieces that came together at the beginning.



I still had a lot of work to do on the stem. I needed to clean up the angles and taper of the stem, sand out some of the scratches left behind, reshape the button and open up the airway on the stem. Each of these little steps adds to the finished comfortableness of the stem and the flow of the smoke from the bowl to the mouth. I began by reshaping the slot in the airway. I have three needle files that I have come to depend on for this process. Two of them are oval files – one flatter than the other and the third is a round file. The three files work together to give the slot the open shape that makes slipping a pipe cleaner down the stem and shank during a smoke effortless.


Once the slot was opened I sanded the inside of it with a folded piece of sandpaper to smooth out the inner surface of the slot. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to shape and taper the flow from the band and shank toward the button. I wanted a smooth curve that paralleled the curve in the shank on the other side of the band. I used medium and fine grit sanding sponges and then my usual batch of micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil.


I put the polished stem back in the shank and took the pipe to the buffer. I buffed it with White Diamond to give a shine to the bowl and shank and lightly buffed the stem again with White Diamond. I gave the pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax – using a light touch on the rusticated part of the shank. I buffed it with a soft flannel buffing pad to raise the shine. The finished pipe is shown below. I noticed in the photos that there are still some fine scratches on the stem and band so I will go back to the micromesh and take care of those. But before I do that it is time to load up a bowl of some aged Balkan Sobranie Virginian No. 10 and give the pipe a smoke. My Cocker Spaniel, Spencer is anxious to go out so it is a good time to load a pipe and give him some attention in the yard.




A Tired Little Bewlay Billiard Reborn

I participated in a Canadian Box Pass where tobaccos and pipes are mailed across Canada between pipemen and women from sea to sea. It is a fun experience in which you are given a chance to try tobaccos that you might never otherwise try to also trade for pipes that catch your eye. This particular box pass was very well-organized and I received a compact box of tobaccos and a variety of tobaccos. They had been divided in to three broad categories – Latakias, Virginias/Virginia Perique/Burley and Aromatics. There were also several tins of tobacco to try or to trade. The idea was you could take one if you put something of equal value back in the box. There were three pipes as well – a Comoy’s Apple (Cadogan era), a Trypsis partially rusticated pot and a Bewlay billiard that had been restemmed to give it the look of a cutty. There was also some carnauba wax that was there for the taking.
I sampled many of the Latakia blends and many of the Virginia and Virginia/Perique blends. It was an enjoyable experience over the past weekend. There was one of the pipes that I also kept coming back to over and over again during the weekend – the small Bewlay billiard/cutty. There was something about it that drew my attention. It was clean but the finish was shot and the stem was definitely a replacement. The bend in it seems to have been added with the new stem. The finish was a sandblast that was well-worn from either handling or over buffing. The stamping on the bottom of the shank reads Bewlay in script over Sandblast over London England. It is worn and growing faint. There was probably a shape number at the end of the shank but it had been sanded away with the sandblast when it was restemmed previously.

The first photo below show some light splotches on the side of the bowl. These seem to have been fills that were put in before the blasting and finish were done. They were definitely putty. The shank had been sanded down and the first half-inch next to the stem was sanded smooth. There was also a slight taper to the shank were the sanding had taken down the diameter of the shank at the end. The rim was darkened and had some carbon build up on it. The stem was in rough shape in that it had some deep tooth dents on the underside. When I took it out of the shank I was even more convinced that it was a replacement in that it had a thick-walled aluminum tenon. It was similar to the tenons on Medico pipes with horizontal split in the tenon so that it can be adjusted. The difference was in the thickness of the material.





Before I packed up the box yesterday I decided to take the little Bewlay and give it a new home. The first thing I did last evening was fit a new stem on the pipe. I wanted to have a vulcanite stem and tenon. I had a stem in my can of stems that took very little to fit the tenon to the shank. The diameter of the stem was wider than the shank so that would take some work but that was not an issue. I was undecided if I would replace the bent stem with another bent one or restore it to its original billiard status.

I worked on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to bring the diameter of the shank and the bowl to a match. I wanted to be careful to not remove any more of the briar from the already slightly tapered shank. Once the sanding was close I dropped the bowl in an alcohol bath for a soak to remove the remaining finish on the bowl and the grime and grit from the sandblast rings.
I continued to sand and shape the stem. I liked the wider blade at the button as I thought it looked like it fit better with the pipe. I left the tenon a little longer so it sat against the end of the mortise when it was inserted.

After the bowl had soaked for an hour I took it out and scrubbed the blast with a soft bristle brass tire brush. I find that the bristles do not scratch the briar but that they work well to remove build up in the grooves of the blast. I also wanted to brush the areas of the putty fills to highlight the grain pattern in those areas rather than leave a light looking smooth patch. I used a dental pick to clean out the deeper grooves of the blast in the fill areas. I cleaned out the shank with cotton swabs and alcohol and also the stem internals. I finished sanding the stem to make the transition between stem and shank smooth. I sanded it with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge after sanding with the 220 grit sandpaper. I sanded the top of the rim very carefully to remove the tarry build up and also smooth the outer edge. At this point I am beginning to really like the straight stem on the pipe. It lends a dignity to the bowl that was lacking with the bent stem in my opinion. It looked to me the way it must have looked when it left the factory. After all the clean up I wiped it down a final time with isopropyl alcohol to prepare the bowl for staining.



I stained the bowl with a light brown stain to give it a tan blast look but it did not work on the areas of the putty fills. They still showed through the finish as light streaks in the briar. I then decided to restain it with a dark brown aniline stain. I applied the stain, flamed it, stained and flamed it again to make sure that the coverage was even. In the photos below the stain almost looks black but it is not – it is a dark brown.



The colour was too dark to my liking so I wiped the bowl down with acetone on cotton pads to remove some of the heavy dark stain and give the bowl more transparency. I wiped it down repeatedly until I got it the colour I wanted with some contrast between the high and low points in the blast.



I sanded the stem with the medium and fine grit sanding sponges to remove the scratches from the work on the diameter. Once I had them removed I use micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and let it soak into the stem.


Afterward I took some photos of the pipe at this stage of restoration to get a good look at the straight stem. I find that I can tell more with a photo than I can holding it in hand when I am trying to decide on the finished look. I wanted to decide whether to leave it straight or to bend it like the one I took off the pipe. For me looking at it on the monitor, enlarged gives me a feel for the overal appearance of the pipe. I cannot tell you how many times, after looking at the photos, that I have taken the pipe back to the table for more shaping and work.



I liked the look of the straight stem so I left it. I buffed the stem with White Diamond and gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect and preserve it. I gave the bowl a coat of Halcyon II wax and then lightly buffed the stem and bowl with a soft flannel buff to bring up the shine. The finished pipe is pictured below. It came out very well in my opinion. As I look at it I wonder who the maker was. Bewlay had others make their pipes – to my mind this one had the look of a nice little Orlik Sandblast, but who knows for sure. What do you think? Who made this pipe?




Restoring a GBD New Standard 4/271 London Made Straight Bulldog

Blog by Steve Laug

When I was at the antique mall in Edmonton a few weeks ago I found this GBD straight bulldog. It is stamped GBD in an oval over New Standard on the left side of the shank and 4/271 London Made on the right side of the shank. The stem had the brass GBD roundel on the side of the saddle. The pipe was badly cake with a thick carbon build up. The rim had build up and was also damaged. There was darkening, whether burn or tar build up flowing down the crown of the bowl at the top all the way around the rim. The finish was worn and there was a black ink stain on the left side of the bowl down low toward the bottom. It looked like a hot spot when I first saw the pipe so I almost left it in the shop. I examined it under a bright light and could see that it was not a burn but a spot of what looked like India Ink. The stem was oxidized and there was tooth chatter on the top near the button and a tooth mark on the underside along with the chatter there. The button is different from most of my other GBD’s in that it is concave rather than convex. It is shaped like this “(“ looking at it from above.



The photo below shows the stain on the bowl. I used a flash to highlight the nature of the stain. It was not solid but rather slightly opaque so that the grain could be seen through it. I thought it was worth a try to see if I could remove the ink from the briar.
I reamed the bowl back to bare briar with a PipNet reamer starting with the smallest head and working up to the next head that fit the bowl.
I dropped the bowl in an alcohol bath to soak for several hours and dropped the stem in a bath of Oxyclean.
I left the stem in the Oxyclean while I worked on the bowl. I removed it from the bath and dried it off with a piece of cloth.
I wiped it down with acetone on cotton pads to remove the finish that remained and scrubbed the ink stain. I sanded the bowl with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to finish removing the finish and also the ink stain. I lightly topped the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage to the outer edge of the rim.
I used a piece of folded 220 grit sandpaper to work on the beveled inner edge of the rim. I wanted to repair the burn damage and take away the ridge left behind by the light topping of the bowl.
I sanded the bowl where the stain was and with sanding and scrubbing with isopropyl alcohol I was able to remove the ink stain from the briar. The photo below shows the area that had previously been stained.
I wiped the bowl down with isopropyl alcohol a final time to remove the sanding dust and grit from the twin rings on the bowl.




I cleaned out the shank of the pipe with isopropyl and cotton swabs and when it was clean I took out the stem and dried it off. I cleaned out the inside of the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol. I scrubbed the stem with Mequiar’s Scratch X2.0. I rubbed it onto the stem surface with my finger and scrubbed it off with cotton pads. The photos below show the stem after one application of the polish after about 2 hours of soaking in Oxyclean.



I continued to scrub down the stem with the Meguair’s until the oxidation was gone. I sanded the areas where there was tooth chatter with 220 grit sandpaper and then with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge. I put the stem on the pipe and took the photos below. I could not believe how easily the oxidation had come off the stem. There was still more polishing to do but the overall effect of the Oxyclean and the Meguiar’s was amazing to me



Though there was still oxidation to work on I decided to stain the bowl. I used a dark brown aniline stain. I applied it, flamed it and repeated the process until the coverage was even.


I wiped the bowl down with isopropyl to thin the stain down and make it more transparent. I repeated the wash until the stain was the colour I was aiming for. Then I scrubbed the stem some more with the Meguiar’s and was able to get the rest of the oxidation of the stem.



I buffed the pipe with White Diamond – both bowl and stem being careful around the stamping so as not to damage it. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and then gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect and shine. I buffed it a final time with a soft flannel buffing wheel. The finished pipe is pictured below. The colour on the green background appears redder than the pipe actually is. The wax and buffing did bring out the red highlights in the briar. It is more brown than red but the contrast is quite nice. The grain is visible through the stain. I am pleased with the finished look to the pipe. It is cleaned and restored and ready for the next chapter of the trust with me.




A New Aspect of the Hobby (at least to me) – Tobacco Stamps

A part of this hobby that never crossed my purview was the collecting of old tobacco stamps. I don’t know why it never occurred to me that others would collect them but it never did. I have seen them on the old tins I have purchased and never given them much thought other than using them to date the tins. Then several years ago in a deal with Emil of Century stamps he sent me this mint tobacco tax stamp. We had corresponded and then eventually met at the Chicago Pipe Show. He had picked up some pipe from me and we had shared some bowls of tobacco and enjoyed the fellowship of the pipe. He had introduced me to his friend Mike who also bought a few pipes – even a birth year Dunhill purchased for him by his wife for his birthday. I knew Emil had a stamp shop in Mississauga, Ontario but I figured that was for postage stamps – something that I had collected as a lad and somehow laid aside in the business of adult life.

Then one day I was looking for a humidor for cigars and Emil had one that he said he would send me. It was a beautiful inlaid box that would take my meager cigar collection to a new level. Included in that package or maybe following it a short time later was a small package containing the Tobacco Tax Stamp pictured below.
Tax Stamp
Since receiving it I have done some reading on the internet regarding tax/excise stamps and found it really interesting. I found the link below when I was trying to date a tin of tobacco that I had found in an antique shop. It seems to be a living part of the stamp collecting hobby with cross over into the pipe and tobacco hobby.

These stamps give a feeling of another era, of a time when things moved more slowly. The look of the stamp in terms of colour and type hark back to another time. It is one, that at least in terms of the pipe and tobacco, sometimes I would not have mind living through.

A Book Review – Weber’s Guide to Pipes and Pipe Smoking by Carl Weber

Blog by Steve Laug

13139507 Probably one of the first books I picked up for my pipe library was Carl Weber’s Guide. It has a price tag on it from a used bookshop that I frequented in those days that dates it to June of 2002 and I paid a princely total of $4 for it. My copy is noted on the cover and the cover pages as An Original Edition though I am not sure what that means. It originally came out in 1963 ad copy is one that was reprinted in 1967 by the Cornerstone Library, New York City. Carl Weber was the Founder of Weber Briars, Inc. a company whose pipes have passed through my collection for the past 20 years. I remember finding this book in the book shop – way back in the far left corner of the shelves in the area of collectibles and hobbies. I had read of it but not seen a copy so I snatched it up and made it mine.

The table of contents is very straightforward as to what is covered by the book and as is true of most well written books it gives an outline of the topics covered between the covers of the book.
Table of Contents:
1. What is a pipe?
2. The Briar and the Meerschaum: The King and Queen of Pipes
3. Pipe Varieties
4. Selecting Your Pipe
5. Selecting Your Tobacco
6. The Art and Science of Pipe Smoking
7. How Briar Pipes are Made
8. Pipe Accessories
9. The Pipe as a Hobby
10. Questions and Answers About Pipes

To begin this quick review I want to quote three portions from Weber’s Forward to this little handbook. The first one sets the stage for his proposition that pipe smoking is a most pleasurable pastime. He writes:

“No one really knows why men smoke. Yet long before the discovery of tobacco, smoking had become the abiding joy of many peoples. Since tobacco’s discovery, smoking has truly become one of mankind’s most pleasurable pastimes.” – page 7

The next quote I find particularly poignant in a handbook on smoking. It calls the pipeman to treat his pipe well and it will treat him well. Oh how I wish that many of the owners of the old pipes I refurbish had read these words. He writes:

“The real pipe-smoker soon learns that pipe smoking is both an art and a science. The pipe responds to its owner with exactly the same treatment that it receives from him. The man who masters the techniques of pipe smoking is repaid by a satisfying smoke, a joy which he created for himself with his own hands.” – page 8

The last quote gives the stated purpose of the book in Weber’s own words: “The sole purpose of this book is to help the smoker achieve these rare moments of serenity, which are increasingly hard to come by in the accelerating pace of the modern world.” – page 8

Weber’s Guide can be divided into four major sections – each covering several chapters. These section divisions are my own and are not found in the book. I find that they help to organize and locate material for my quick reference.

Section 1: Chapters 1-3
The first three chapters cover the topic of the pipe. Chapter 1 begins by discussing what a pipe is in terms of constituent parts and what it is used for. It gives a brief history of pipes and tobacco that is truly no different from any other pipe book I have read over the years. It is written in Weber’s inimitable style and is a very accessible quick read. In Chapter 2 compares briar and meerschaum pipes which he calls the King and Queen of pipes. He gives a brief history of the development of both. He concludes this section in Chapter 3 by giving a survey of different types not found in the two main categories already covered: calabash, corn cobs, water pipes and clay pipes. The chapter ends with a brief survey of the field of pipes and concludes with these words; “Whatever your style of smoking, chances are that somewhere you’ll find a pipe to match it.” (page 42)
Throughout each section of the text there are line drawings and sketches to illustrate the point the Weber is making in that section. They break up the text and add interest to the reader.

Section 2: Chapters 4-5
The next two chapters are about how to select a pipe (Chapter 4) and a tobacco to smoke (Chapter 5). The selection of a pipe is very individual. As Weber says, “…it must first of all, fit your personality and character.” He adds another line that has fueled much discussion. He says that the pipe should “enhance” the appearance of the pipe smoker and not detract. He gives examples of how this works in his opinion. He goes on to discuss flaws in briar with helpful insights in how to understand these natural parts of the briar. He discusses pipe shapes and gives three pages of drawing of the various shapes of pipes that is very helpful. He includes a page of stem drawings to accompany his paragraphs on the type of stem that is used. Chapter 4 concludes with a discussion of filter, the personality of the piper and the prices that pipes are selling for. The paragraphs on pipe and personality are interesting and entertaining. He suggests standing in front of a mirror and trying to match the shape of the pipe to your own shape – this idea has also engendered much derision and discussion.

Chapter 5 on Tobacco Selection is a succinct and helpful tool to a person trying a pipe for the first time as well as to the seasoned veteran needing a quick refresher. It begins with a quick botany lesson on tobacco plants before going on to discuss the types of tobacco that are smoked and their taste to the smoker. He has descriptions and information on Burley, Virginia, Cavendish, Maryland, Latakia, Perique and Turkish tobacco. He discusses and offers a diagram of the four basic cuts of tobacco – cube cut, cut plug, long cut and granulated. He ends this chapter with two paragraphs on the art of blending tobacco to suit the tastes of the smoker.

Section 3: Chapters 6-7
The third major section of the book is about the use of the pipe and the manufacture of a briar pipe. Chapter 6 covers what Weber calls the Art and Science of Pipe Smoking and is a good general introduction to our hobby. It covers packing, lighting, and smoking a pipe. It talks about breaking in a pipe, enjoying it and maintaining it. Chapter 7 gives an overview verbally on the birth of a briar pipe from burl to finished product. That is followed by a pictorial spread showing the making of a pipe illustrating what has been said in the first portion of the chapter. It concludes with paragraphs on stem making and finishing the pipe before it leaves the factory to be held in the hands of the pipe smoker.

Section 4: Chapters 8-10
The final section picks up all of the extraneous details of pipe smoking that have not been covered in the rest of the book and are necessary to proper enjoyment of the hobby of pipe smoking. Chapter 8 covers accessories – pipe cleaners, sweeteners, humidors, tobacco pouches of various styles and layouts, pipe racks, ash trays, wind caps, pipe tools and other useful gadgets that fall outside of these wider categories. Chapter 9 on the pipe as hobby cover the pipe collecting aspect of the hobby and addresses the types of pipes that are collected from high-end to oddities – the better mouse trap version of pipes. It ends with a short treatise on how to evaluate pipes that are collected.

Chapter 10 is a Question and Answer section. It covers a wide range of topics that somehow capture many of the first questions that new pipe smokers ask. It is set up in a question and answer format and covers such topics as how to tell the difference between block meerschaum and pressed meerschaum, rehydrating tobacco, sweetening a pipe, repairing broken stems, tongue bite, the meaning of stampings such as Real Briar and Imported Briar, mixing tobacco blends, shapes and their effect on coolness of a smoke, proper moisture levels in tobacco, directions for reaming a pipe and the life expectancy of a briar pipe.

I believe that Weber did an admirable job of meeting his purpose as stated in his Foreward. While the book is not an exhaustive treatment of the topic it is comprehensive. His style of writing is inviting and makes this a very accessible and readable book. Copies of it are readily available online through such sources as and Abebooks. A quick search of the title will give you access to a wide range of copies and prices to match your budget. It is well worth the read and is a great book to have on hand for new pipemen you introduce to our hobby.

From the back cover.
back cover

One Just for Fun – Restemming a Tall Stack Cob

In the grab bag from the antique mall was a tall corn cob bowl. It is not exactly a MacArthur style cob as it is designed with a weighted bottom portion of cob attached to the bowl. The bottom portion appears to be filled with Plaster of Paris. The drilling of the bowl went down into the bottom portion slightly. There was no shank or stem for the bowl in my box. The cob bowl itself was unsmoked and truly new stock. I have no idea how the stem came to be lost but my guess is that the glue dried out and the stem and shank became unattached and somehow separated from the bowl. I looked at it when I opened the grab bag and almost threw it away. It was definitely not my style of pipe and with a stack that tall it would take hours to smoke a bowl. But I carried it home and it sat in the box until yesterday.

Last evening I was looking at some parts that were collecting dust on my work table – a piece of briar shank that I had liberated from a destroyed bowl, a cocobolo wood stem extension with a tenon turned on each end and a long stem that was without a tenon. I took out the cob bowl and laid out the parts next to each other. I thought to myself that it might be fun to put all the pieces together and see what I could do with them.
It took very little sanding for the tenon on the cocobola extension to fit into the piece of briar. I sanded the other side of the extension and drilled out the end of the stem until the tenon fit into the stem as well.
I mixed a batch of two part epoxy and glued the tenon extension to the stem and sanded the extension to fit the diameter of the stem. This took a bit of time as the extension was square and the stem round. But once the sanding was done it fit well and the transition was smooth. Then I debated on what to do with the briar piece. I could set it in the cob bowl and have a removable stem or I could attach it to the stem and make it a permanent feature. Looking at the size and weight of the bowl it seemed to make sense to make the stem one piece. I did not want to risk having the stem split the piece of briar or have the bowl fall off and damage the briar. So I used the epoxy to glue the briar to the stem as well.
I sanded the briar with a Dremel to remove the excess material and to get it close to the same diameter as the stem extension. Once it was close I hand sanded the entire new extension with 220 grit sandpaper and medium and fine grit sanding sponges to make the joints between the materials seamless. The photo below shows the stem sanded and ready to insert into the cob bowl. I really liked the way the stem and extensions had turned out. The cocobolo band looked good against the briar on one side and the black vulcanite on the other.
I drilled out the hole in the side of the cob to get a good snug fit of the shank to the bowl. I decided not to extend it as deeply into the bowl as the old shank had been but rather to extend it through the wall and then raise the bottom of the bowl with more Plaster of Paris. I glued the shank into the bowl with all purpose white glue.



I used a dental pick to push glue deep into the joint of the stem and bowl before setting it aside to dry. I wanted the joint to dry solid with no gaps in the sides for air to enter or to weaken the connection.

In the morning after the glue had dried all night I sanded the stem with a fine grit sanding sponge and then micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I also decided to stain the stem extension with some cherry Danish Oil and then sanded the extension to polish it.


The stem was slightly twisted from age and sitting too long so I set up the heat gun and heated it until it straightened. Once it was straight I carefully bent it over my buffing motor to get a slight bend in the end of the stem.

I buffed the stem carefully with White Diamond and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect and give it a shine. I buffed the cob and stem with a soft flannel buff to finish the look and polish both bowl and stem. The finished pipe is pictured below. It was a fun experience to work with the various materials and see what I could craft with them. The joining of the shank extensions was part of my ongoing “education” in bonding materials together using the tenon to give strength to the joint. While the pipe is ungainly and huge it nonetheless has a certain charm and elegance to it. Whether I ever use it or just have it sitting in the cupboard as decoration working on it provided me with great lessons and several hours of enjoyment.