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.