Daily Archives: November 25, 2014

Comoy’s Satin Matte Bent Christmas Pipe, In Four-Part Harmony – Robert M. Boughton

Guest Blog by Robert M. Boughton
Member, North American Society of Pipe Collectors
Photos © the Author

This blog is dedicated to my older uncle, Frank Lee Grannis (1945-2014), who was maybe Arlo Guthrie’s biggest fan. Frank once snapped a black and white photo of a teenaged Arlo, at an outdoor music festival somewhere in the countryside, smiling and signing an autograph for another fan who was about Arlo’s age. I lost the photo in my younger, wilder days, or I would include it here, but the image will always be in my memory.

Let’s get Santa Clause ’cause:
Santa Clause has a red suit
He’s a communist
And a beard, and long hair
Must be a pacifist
What’s in the pipe that he’s smoking?
—Arlo Guthrie, U.S. singer-songwriter-musician, in “The Pause of Mr. Claus” (1968)

Now friends, tonight we’re gonna sing you a song, a Christmas carol in four-part harmony. The song…the Christmas carol is part of an album called “Arlo.” That’s my name. Some of you right about now might be thinking, thinking in your private thoughts there in your heads, well, this Arlo fella must have a pretty big ego. I mean, to go and name an album after himself, he must have let all that fame and fortune go to his head. I don’t know about the fame and fortune part, because all that doesn’t last long, but my head, my head is really sort of small. We’ve never actually met. All of you out there and me, that is.But that’s not what I came to talk about. Came to talk about a pipe. Remember the pipe? This is a story about a pipe.And I’ll get to it. In time, and four-part harmony.

So there I was, sitting on a bench, looking for a song to start with. I didn’t find it. I’m not proud…or tired.Out of all the songs I wrote, there I was, on the bench trying to pull just one verse from my head, but nothing would come.I knew right then and there I had to get ahold of Steve Laug, he’s a good friend of mine. We’ve never actually met. But we write emails back and forth to each other all the time. Now friends, if you ask me, that’s one hell of a way for folks to talk. Sort of like writing a story, in four-part harmony.

And then it hits me that it would be a friendly gesture to sing a Christmas carol about the guy who started it all. A guy in a red coat who has a beard, and all he does is give presents…for free…to all the rest of us. Must be something deranged about a guy like that.Living in Canada…living at the North Pole, it’ll do that to a guy.

Now, Steve and me, we never exactly said anything about any quote. All we talked about was the pipe. Remember the pipe? Anyway, I sent him a picture with the email, an eight-by-ten color glossy with all the details written down, and I said I thought it was what’s called a brandy shape, and Steve, he says it’s like a BBB he has that’s the same shape, only it’s a Christmas pipe. Well, I never heard of any Christmas pipe shape, but Steve knows more than I do. And later on he wrote back and sent a picture of his BBB, an eight-by-ten color glossy with all the details. And the two eight-by-ten color glossies with all the details were almost the same.

And the good news is, that’s when I remembered this Christmas carol I wrote, in four-part harmony, because it was about Santa Claus, even though it’s spelled with an “e” in the song. Don’t ask me why, you can figure it out. Now, everyone knows old Santa is all about Christmas. So that’s about how that story goes.

Now I’ll get on with the other story, about the pipe. Remember the pipe?

I got mixed up online with some poor fella who was selling seven pipes all together and didn’t have a clue what all was in there. ’Cause my eye went straight to one with a white C on the stem and even I knew what that meant. The listing, in micro-mini small print at the bottom of the page, that you’re not supposed to read, called it a “Como’s Bent Billiard,” but I took a closer look and made out the blurry Y after Como. So there I was, still sitting on the bench and having a good old time knowing how nobody else knew the Como pipe was in there with all the others, and that’s why the price was so low with time running out.Rob2 I’d like to dedicate this Christmas carol to all the pipe-abusing S.O.B.s out there who have been bad little boys and girls and ought to keep that in mind this coming Christmas. It’s called “The Pause of Mr. Como.” Now here’s how the song goes.

Meanwhile, back to myself again after a brief diversion, I will describe the pipe as I received it. Although there were bad cake buildup in the chamber, rim burning, ubiquitous scratches on all sides of the bowl and a stem in dire need of work and polishing, the allure of this excellent Comoy’s example was almost intoxicating, and I haven’t tasted alcohol in 26 years – not that you could tell after reading my Introduction.Rob3






Rob9 I like to start on a rim with super fine steel wool, as I did with this pipe. In general, this approach takes off most or all of the char and leaves the wood beneath without a single new scratch and often even shiny. This time I got nowhere with the regular method, and so I switched to 400-grit paper, which removed the char as well as dings and scratches I uncovered. Of course, the sandpaper also took off the old stain.

With the rim clean and smooth, showing the fine grain, I found my old Senior Reamer in its box and took on the chamber.This time, the reamer worked as it should. Almost all of the buildup was reduced to dust. A little quick sanding with 120-grit paper was needed before smoothing with 400.Rob10 Now, as I described earlier, the outer wood was scratched almost everywhere. I very much wanted to avoid ruining the good, light stain of the original. Having learned that micromesh can go a long way, from advice of my mentor, Chuck Richards, as well as our host and several previous readers, I put the theory to a tougher test than I had before.

And you know what? I think they’re on to something! Starting with 800-grade, I was able to eliminate all but the most insignificant scratches. I then worked my way up from 1000 to 1500 to 2400 and ending with 3200, leaving the briar– well, leaving the briar as smooth as it must have been the day it left the Comoy’s shop.

Taking on the stem only required heavy sanding and buffing with 1500, 2400 and 3200 micromesh.

Cleaning the pipe turned out to be the hardest part. I just kept dipping the bristly cleaners in Everclear one half at a time and scrubbing away until they came out of the shank and stem clear.Rob11



If I had kept this fine example of Comoy’s craftsmanship, I would prize it as the best as compared to the two I own. However, as fate would have it, the pipe sold almost as soon as I posted it on my restored pipes Website. My only consolation is that I have reason to believe it is in adoring hands.

Carving and Rusticating My First Pipe

Blog by Greg Wolford

Last winter sometime I got myself a pre-drilled pipe kit from an eBay auction; it is from Mr. Brog and is pear wood. I don’t remember exact how I did it but I really messed it up with a terribly wavy cut on the front using a coping saw; I made a few other small cuts that weren’t bad but made the block a mess added to the front cut. I was very unhappy with myself over it and put the kit away, forgetting about it, figuring it was a total loss.

Last week my son found it while he was carving a briar kit I’d bought him a few months ago and gave it to me. I decided that I was going to go ahead and try my hand at carving it, to get a feel for the process and maybe even salvage it. Considering the bad start I had, I didn’t plan on writing about this so I didn’t take many photos. But I’ve been asked about how I rusticated it so here we go.

I used only files and sandpaper, no more sawing (LOL), to do all of the rest of the pipe except for two things: the rim I carved lightly with a Dremel and I buffed it lightly on the buffer. This is an idea I’d where I started, with the wavy face:


I used various files, including the above pictured vulcrylic file, to shape the block; my plan was to get a volcano type shape and hide the poor face-cut in the process. This proved to be a challenge since the front couldn’t be shaped too much or I’d end up with a much too thin wall.

I filed and sanded, slowly bringing out, more or less, the shape I had in mind. I also worked at the shank to a decent transition to the stem, which was a fair amount of work with all the material that needed to be removed. After I had gotten as far as I felt I could go with the shaping and was fairly happy with it I decided this would be a rusticated pipe; it would blend the faults better I thought and, being pear, there was no grain to speak of.

I’ve been wanting to try my hand at rustication and make a tool for a while. I’ve read many ideas on how to do this, mostly on this blog, so I knew what I wanted to try. I have many small screwdriver bits lying around from cheap screwdriver kits I’ve had over the years. The bits are usually not very hard and of low quality, often stripping out on tough screws/bolts; one of these would be my starting point. I held the number 2 Phillips head bit I chose in a pair of vice grips while using a Dremel cutting disk to cut the “X” on the bit tip. This is what I ended up with:


There are now four cutting “teeth” on the bit, one which is slightly longer than the others (by accident I might say). I then chucked this up in a battery-powered screwdriver that had an adjustable handle; it can be used anywhere from straight to a 90-degree angle. I pressed the bit into the wood, depressed the switch, and began rusticating the stummel. This turned out to be a rather fun and enjoyable process I soon found. By varying the pressure, time the bit was rotating, and letting the tool “walk”, I was able to get a pretty interesting and fairly consistent pattern.





I used a small carving bit in the Dremel to lightly carve the rim because the smooth rim didn’t match the pipe in my opinion.

I then scrubbed the stummel with a wire brush, to knock off the dust and debris from the process. I applied Fiebing’s mahogany leather dye, two coats which I dried with the heat gun rather than flaming because my grandson was helping me with this entire project. I hand buffed the extra stain off with an old rag and steel wool. Next I sanded the wood lightly with 320-grit paper to knock down the really sharp edges that remained. Them I buffed the stummel with Tripoli to further reduce harsh edges and give it a very small amount of contrast. Lastly, I waxed it with Halcyon II and buffed it by hand with a shoe brush.



In the end I saved the kit, though it’s not as nice a project as I’d hoped for. But this system of bits ground into various shapes and used with the battery-powered screwdriver is an idea I really think made the project a success. I think that making different tools from different bits coupled with the variations one can achieve with the driver are a great tool to play with in the future, one that I hope others will find useful, too, and maybe find better variations on the idea to share with us for future use. Below is the driver, bit, and extension I used.