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.