Daily Archives: November 7, 2014

Restoring a Paronelli Bent Apple


Blog by Steve Laug

I picked up a large bent apple-shaped pipe from one of the antique shops I visited on my journey in Alberta. It is a filter pipe with a Lucite stem and a metal spacer between the shank and stem. The spacer was loose and would need to be glued in place. The stem had sticky gum on it from the sales tags that were on the pipe. There is a stylized pipe stamped on the left side of the saddle portion of the stem. The bowl had a light cake on the top 1/3 of the bowl and some darkening on the rim itself. There was no damage to the rim or the briar of the bowl. The piece of briar used had some great grain on the right side and the back and front of the bowl. The left side had a bald spot but overall the pipe had some nice grain. There is one fill on the back side of the bowl midway between the top edge and the junction of the bowl and shank. The finish was covered with a glossy varnish coat that was dirty, worn and had darkened in some spots on the bowl. The stamping was quite simple – Paronelli on the left side of the shank in script and on the underside of the shank next to the stem is ITALY. I was drawn to the shape as I had not heard of the brand before.Par1 par2 Par3 Par4 Before I started working on it I did a bit of digging on the web to see what I could find out about the brand. I found quite a few oddly painted Paronelli pipes and quite a few in wild colours with appliqués. But I did not immediately find anything on just simple briar pipes. Finally I found Paronelli pipes listed on http://www.theitalianpipe.com/artisans/paronelli.htm

Par5I copied the picture of Alberto Paronelli to put a name with the face for this pipe. The following is adapted from the site.

“Alberto Paronelli, now in his eighties, is undoubtedly one of the true fathers of the art of pipe design and craft. He continues to design and make briar and clay pipes. Many world-famous pipe makers, such as Tommaso Spanu, are indebted to him for their knowledge and fame. Among his endless achievements are the founding of the International Pipe Academy, the Pipe Museum in Gavirate (Italy), and the publication of the now out of print magazine called “La Pipa” (The Pipe).”

I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and took back the cake on the top 1/3 of the bowl back to bare wood. I cleaned out the shank and the tenon/filter area with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol. I scrubbed until they came out clean. I cleaned the metal spacer and reglued it to the stem. I wiped down the bowl and stem with alcohol to remove the gummy substance on the stem and on the sides of the bowl.Par6 Par7 Once I had the inside of the bowl, shank and stem clean I worked on the finish of the bowl. I decided to try to remove the shiny varnish finish so that I could clean off the dirty and worn areas. I wiped it down with acetone on cotton pads until I had cut through the finish. I sanded it with a medium grit sanding sponge to further break up the varnish and then wiped it again with the acetone.Par8 Par9 Par10 Par11I worked on the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil between each set of three sanding pads. Fortunately the Lucite stem was in excellent shape other than some minor scratching so it cleaned up quite easily. I reapplied the logo on the side of the stem with white out and lightly buffed the pipe stem with White Diamond when I had finished. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and set it aside while I worked on the bowl.Par12 Par13 Par14 I buffed the bowl with White Diamond and then rubbed it down with a light coat of olive oil. I wiped the oil on and then off again and let it sit overnight. In the morning I buffed the bowl with White Diamond once again and then gave the pipe several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a soft flannel buff. The finished pipe is shown below. I will either have to get a 9mm converter to fill the open tenon or put a filter in place. I have some filters that I picked up in Europe when I was there that fit perfectly so that may well do the trick with this one.Par15 Par16 Par17 Par18

UPDATE: The pipe is on its way as a gift to a young pipeman to add to his growing rotation. Hope you enjoy this one Justin.

Giving new life to a Savinelli Product – a David’s Choice Canadian


Blog by Steve Laug

I have written about the restoration and restemming of the first pipe bowl I picked up while on a recent trip. It was found in an antique shop in Nanton, Alberta. It was an old AF Billiard from 1923. The second pipe bowl I found at the same shop is the focus of this refurbishing article. It is stamped on top of the shank with the words David’s Choice and stamped on the underside Italy and barely visible under the repair band Savinelli Product. The repair band was loose and when it was removed the shank had a crack on the bottom side. At the bowl shank junction there is also a small crack that extends back along the shank for almost an inch. It does not appear to go through the shank to the airway but it is visible. The rim of the pipe was clean but the outer edge was damaged and the top edge was badly dented. The finish on the bowl was gone and the briar, though it had stunning grain, was lifeless looking. The bowl was clean in the top ½ inch – looking to have been reamed. The rest of the bowl was badly caked to the point that a pencil would stand in the bottom half unaided. There was no room for additional tobacco. Surprisingly the shank was clean. The stem was long since gone but I found a stem blank in my stem can that would work very well with the pipe.Sav1 Sav2 Sav3 Sav4 Sav5 Sav6 The cake was like concrete in the bottom half of the bowl. I could not cut through it with either the PipNet or the KleenReem pipe reaming tools. I filled the bowl with cotton balls and then used an ear syringe to fill the bowl with isopropyl alcohol. I let it sit for several hours while I worked on fitting the stem.Sav7 Sav8 I used the Pimo Pipe Turning tool to reduce the diameter of the tenon and cut a clean edge against the stem. I sanded it by hand to get it to the proper diameter to fit the shank. I still needed to fit the stem to the angles of the shank and make the lines straight and clean from shank to button. I fit it on the pipe and took some photos to get an idea of what I needed to sand.Sav9 Sav10 I took the cotton balls out of the bowl and then reamed the bowl. The alcohol softened the hard cake and it came out more easily. I finished scraping the bowl with a sharp knife to take out the remnant of cake. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to reduce the stem to fit the shank. I glued the band in place on the shank with an all-purpose wood glue.Sav11 Sav12 Sav13 Sav14 Sav15 I wiped down the bowl with acetone on cotton pads to remove the remaining finish from the briar. I would eventually stain the briar – not sure at this point what colour I would use but I wanted to have a clean surface for the stain. I also lightly topped the bowl with a topping board and 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damaged top and edges of the rim.Sav16 Sav17 Sav18 I heated the briar with a heat gun to open the pores in the briar to receive the stain and then used a dark brown aniline stain. I applied it and flamed and repeated the process until I had an even coverage over the surface of the bowl. In the past I have thinned the stain to lighten it but have lately just applied it and then wiped it down with alcohol and cotton pads to lighten it after staining.Sav19 Sav20 Sav21 I sanded the bowl and shank with a 1500 grit micromesh sanding pad to further lighten the finish and then wiped it down a further time with the alcohol wet pads.Sav22 Sav23 Sav24 Sav25 I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and medium and fine grit sanding sponges. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and dry sanding with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads. Once I had finished sanding I buffed the stem with White Diamond. I polished the band with silver polish and gave it a light buff with White Diamond as well.Sav26 Sav27 Sav28 I put the stem back on the pipe and buffed it all again with White Diamond and gave it a several coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a soft flannel buff to raise the shine. Though this old warhorse of a pipe has seen much use, the new finish and restored, rebanded and restemmed pipe should give many more years of service. It is cleaned and ready to load with its inaugural bowl. Though the pictures do not show it the pipe is a large one – it is 6 inches long with a bowl that is 2 inches tall. The diameter of the bore is 7/8 inches. It will certainly be a long smoke – and if the build of cake left behind by the previous owner tells any tales it will be a good smoking pipe.Sav29 Sav30 Sav31 Sav32