Restemming and Rejuvenating a Pipe for my Son-in-Law


Last evening my daughter and her husband had us over for a wonderful meal of pulled pork and salads. My daughter is a great cook but this time around her husband made the main course. My daughter called just before we went and asked that I bring my pipe and some tobacco to share. I could relax on the back porch and her husband, Lance and I could share a few bowls. It was a great evening and we shared a few bowls. I looked over his pipes and realized that most of them had come from me. In fact the first pipe he had ever smoked came from me – many years ago now. His brother had worked for me and I had introduced them both to the pipe. Anyway, as we spoke he said he had one with a broken stem. The pipe was an Italian basket pipe and had a hard Lucite stem. Somehow he had stepped on it and the stem had snapped in half. In the photo below you can see the break in the stem. It had been sitting with the stem out of the shank for a long time and the tenon no longer fit into the shank. The edges of the stem had been rounded to give it an interesting look, but it did nothing for me. The shank itself was also rounded so it would not take a stem the same diameter as the shank. IMG_8143 To take out the rounded end would have shortened the shank by almost ½ inch so I decided to leave that detail alone and restem it with a stem similar to the original. I also decided to use vulcanite instead of Lucite. The new stem is shown below. It is the same diameter as the previous stem and would have a similar look to it. I would not round the end of the stem but rather leave it flat to sit flush against the top of the crowned shank. IMG_8144 The stem was one from my stem can that had previously been on a different pipe. It was bent the proper angle already so I would not need to bend it or shape it. I just need to clean it up and remove the oxidation from the outside and clean out the interior as well. I also use some 220 grit sandpaper and worked on the tenon so that it had a good snug fit in the shank. I twisted it into place in the shank and took the photo below to get an idea of the new look. IMG_8145 The next two photos give a picture of just a few of the pipe cleaners I used to clean out the stem. I also used a sharp knife to bevel the end of the tenon into a funnel. The previous stem had been drilled off centre and did not match the airway in the end of the mortise. It was well drilled and centered so the funnel on the tenon end would encourage good airflow through the pipe. A quick draw on the stem demonstrated that the draught was good and open now as opposed to the tight draw that it had before. I sanded the calcification on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and then with medium and fine grit sanding sponges to remove the scratches and the oxidation at the end of the stem. IMG_8146 IMG_8147 I took the pipe to the buffer and gave it a quick buff with Tripoli and White Diamond to clean off the rim and also clean up the stem some more. I still need to sand the stem around the shank junction to remove stubborn oxidation and then polish it. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and medium and fine grit sanding sponges to remove the oxidation near the shank. Then I used my usual array of micromesh pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-15,000 grit pads. IMG_8150 IMG_8151 I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil and when it dried I buffed it with red Tripoli and worked on the area near the tenon. I buffed it with White Diamond after than to polish it. Then I took it back to the work table and sanded it with the last three micromesh sanding pads. IMG_8154 I polished the stem with Meguier’s Scratch X2.0 and then buffed a final time with White Diamond. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a soft flannel buff. I lightly buffed the bowl with wax and a soft buff as well. The finished pipe is shown below. On Wednesday evening I will deliver it to my son in law so he can fire it up after several years of not using it. I look forward to hearing what he thinks of the new stem. photo 1 photo 2 photo 3 photo 4

3 thoughts on “Restemming and Rejuvenating a Pipe for my Son-in-Law

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