Monthly Archives: June 2015

NEPAL PROJECT PIPE SALE 13 – Breathing New Life into a Kaywoodie Signet Bulldog

Blog by Steve Laug

This is the thirteenth pipe from the box of pipes that I was gifted by a good friend of mine with the instructed purpose of cleaning them up and selling them with all of the proceeds going to the aid of earthquake victims in Nepal. Once again all funds raised will all go to the SA Foundation, and organization that has worked in Nepal for over 15 years helping provide recovery, housing and job training for women who are victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking. The ongoing earthquakes (over 300) that continue to shake Nepal have left much in ruins. The SA Foundation Project there was able to find new housing for the women and help with staff as well. Every dollar raised from the sale of these pipes will go to the work in Nepal.

It is a Kaywoodie Signet Bulldog. I did a bit of digging on the web and found out from the Kaywoodie forum that the KW Signet line was made from 1956 to 1972. It is stamped very clearly on the underside of the left side of the diamond shank, Kaywoodie over Signet. There are no other stampings on the pipe. The finish appears to have been rusticated and possibly blasted in a swirling pattern up and around the bowl. The grooves in the briar are deep and the red brown stain gives the swirls a sense of movement as the pipe is rotated in the hands. It almost undulates as it is turned over and the varieties of browns lend themselves to the illusion of movement. That makes it an interesting finish. The exterior of the bowl is a well shaped bulldog sans a bead around the top of the bowl. The bowl was the cleanest of the lot of pipes donated. It did not need reaming but merely a light wipe of a pipe cleaner in the bowl. The finish was dirty but in decent shape.KW1



KW4 The rim had some darkening but was not damaged on either the outer or inner edge. It would only need to be scrubbed to clean up the darkening.KW5 The shank and airway were dirty. As I have often found in a metal mortise pipe, there was a lot of tar and oil built up in the threads of the mortise and behind it in the shank. The aluminum was oxidized and scratched. The stem was a screw mount with a classic KW four hole stinger apparatus and metal tenon. The stinger was not removable but part of the metal tenon. It was dirty and covered in oils.KW6 The stem was oxidized and had tooth marks on the top and underside near the button. Most of the oxidation was on both ends of the stem.KW7

KW8 I used a lighter to heat the bite marks on the stem and raise them to the surface. I paint the surface with the flame, never letting it sit too long in one place. This lifted the bite marks and they would be easily removed with a light sanding. An added benefit to using the lighter is that it also burns off the surface oxidation. The photo below shows the top side of the stem after I “painted” it with the lighter. The bite marks had disappeared the oxidation was less prominent.KW9 I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the remaining tooth chatter and light tooth marks.KW10

KW11 I scrubbed the stinger and tenon apparatus with 0000 steel wool to remove the buildup of tar and oil that had hardened there.KW12 I cleaned out the airway in the stem and shank as well as the threaded mortise with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners, and alcohol to remove all of the residual oils. I finished by scrubbing the threads on the stinger with a tooth brush to remove the last of the oils. I also scrubbed the end of the shank cap.KW13 I scrubbed the briar with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap and then rinsed it under running water to remove the soap. I dried it off with a cotton towel and took some photos of the cleaned finish.KW14




KW18 The smooth area on the underside of the left side of the shank where the stamping was had some peeling varnish or clear coat on it.KW19 I wiped down the shank with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the peeling finish on that portion of the shank. IT came off quite easily which leads me think it was a varnish rather than a lacquer or plastic coat.KW20 With the bowl cleaned and finished it was time to work on the stem. I sanded it with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the oxidation and scratches. I sanded it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed down the stem with Obsidian Oil between each set of three pads and then a final time after the sanding with the 12,000 grit pad.KW21


KW23 When the oil had dried I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond – lightly pressing the bowl into the buffing wheel and normally buffing the stem. I then gave the bowl a light coat of carnauba and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I finished by buffing the pipe with a soft flannel buff to raise the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below.KW24





KW29 This Kaywoodie Signet Bulldog a small pipe, roughly a Group 2/3 in Dunhill terms. The pattern of rustication and possibly sandblasting as well give it an interesting to look at and the feel of it in the hand will make it quite tactile when heated up and smoked. The stain is a combination of medium and lighter browns that gives it a subtle look of movement when it is held and turned in the hand. It should make someone a great addition. If you are interested in this pipe email me with an offer at and we can discuss it. The entirety of the sale price will go to the Nepal project. I will pay the postage so that does not get taken off the proceeds. If you are interested in reading about the SA Foundation you can look at their website at

Thanks for looking.

Building a New Button on the Cut off Stem of a Savinelli Autograph 4

Blog by Steve Laug

I decided to tackle another button rebuild. A friend brought over a cut off Savinelli Autograph long shank plateau Dublin that he had picked up. The shank was stamped Savinelli Autograph 4 on the underside and there was a signature stamp on the stem.Auto1 I have no idea how the stem got cut off but my guess would be that someone removed the damaged part of the stem and button and then saw how close to the surface the airway was and decided to abort the mission of cutting a new button on the stem. I have been working with developing my mixture of medium viscosity black cyanoacrylate glue and charcoal powder to rebuild/craft new buttons. I have used it on quite a few repairs of my own and on a few for friends. It definitely dries harder than the glue by itself and seems to be very strong once it has cured. I thought this pipe would be a good candidate for that process.Auto2 I wrapped the end of the stem with a band of cellophane tape to make a straight edge to work against for the glue and charcoal powder mixture. It works to keep a semi-straight edge but I find it is more of a guide than anything else. It gives me an edge to work with when I build up the layers of patch material.Auto3

Auto4 I mixed a batch of glue and charcoal powder on a card that I use for that purpose. That way when I have finished the mix and repair I can fold the card and throw it away without getting the glue all over the place.Auto5 I stirred the powder and glue together with a dental pick until I had a thick paste mixture that was still workable.Auto6 I applied it to the end of the cut off stem with the dental pick and shaped it roughly to match the kind of button shape I was aiming for when finished.Auto7

Auto8 I put the pipe on a cork and candle stick holder that I use for drying bowls when I stain them or stems when I have done this kind of repair and set it aside to cure for two days. This kind of patch is a long haul project. It is not a quick repair. If you start reshaping the button too soon the repair breaks off in chunks that are still soft underneath the surface. So, having learned that I left it alone and did other work while the days passed.Auto9 After two days of curing the repair was solid all the way through. I would still need to be careful as the longer it cured the harder it would become. I used emery cloth and 180 grit sandpaper to shape the button into an oval and to face the end of the button. You can see in the photo below how much more material there was to work with now in terms of shaping the airway and the slot in the button thanks to the build-up of material.Auto10

Auto11 I worked over the edge of the button with the sand paper as well to clean up the sharp edge next to the blade of the stem. I moved on to sand with 220 grit sandpaper and also with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to further define the new button and to clean up the scratches.Auto12 After the initial shaping and sanding I put the stem to the side to cure longer and addressed the bowl and shank. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and took the cake back to a very thin layer.Auto13

Auto14 I cleaned the interior of the airway and mortise with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol until they were clean.Auto15 I scrubbed the bowl and the plateau rim with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to clean off the grime and dirt in the plateau and the sandblast shank.Auto16

Auto17 I scrubbed the plateau with a brass tire brush to dig out the built up tars and oils that had clogged the crevices in the finish there.Auto18 I put my thumb in the bowl and carefully rinsed off the soap with cool running water. I dried the bowl with a cotton rag and took the next series of photos to show what the bowl looked like clean.Auto19



Auto22 The next day I decided to work on the slot in the button and open it up with a flare to create a Y shape. I used needle files to work on the airway. The next series of photos show the files and the progress of opening the airway.Auto23


Auto25 With the airway/slot roughed in it was time to continue shaping the button and the face of the slot. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to refined the shape and to smooth out the end of the stem.Auto26


Auto28 I used a folded piece of sandpaper to smooth out the interior of the slot and further shape it. The photo below shows the state of the slot and the shape of the button.Auto29 With the shaping completed it was time to work on fine sanding of the stem and new button. The charcoal bits in the mixture are hard and coarse and need to be refined with fine sanding. I worked over the stem and button with micromesh sanding pads, wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads to remove the majority of the coarseness. It is only this first step in the process of polishing the stem but it is amazing to see the transformation as I work through the various grits of micromesh. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil when I had finished with the 2400 grit pad. I will still need to refine the inner edge of the button with files but the overall shape of the stem and button are clearly visible.Auto30

Auto31 I wet sanded the stem with the 2400 grit micromesh until I had minimized the scratches and polished the button. I then rubbed it down with another coat of Obsidian Oil and then sanded it with 3200-4000 grit micromesh pads. I gave it another coat of oil and then sanded it with 6000-12,000 grit pads. I gave it a final coat of oil and let it dry.Auto32

Auto33 I buffed the stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond and then lightly buffed the blast with the same. I gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean flannel buffing pad to raise the shine. The finished pipe is shown below. The new button looks like it belongs. The shape of the slot is open and it accepts a pipe cleaner with ease. It should provide years of service to the pipeman who is holding it in trust. He should enjoy smoking it with much more ease. Thanks for having a look!Auto34






Bead repair on a baby Rhodesian

Blog by Dave Gossett

It is a pleasure to introduce you all to Dave Gossett’s work. Pat Russell, another contributor here sent me links to Dave’s work on Pipes Magazine forum and Dave sent me links to his own YouTube channel showing the beautiful work that he does. With no further ado here are Dave’s own words:

I received this pipe from a friend that acquired it in an estate lot. The only stampings on the pipe read imp, which I assume once read imported briar. This pipe had seen better days but it still drew my attention. Maybe it was the novelty of its size.Dave1



Dave4 I started out by repairing the bowl chamber which had been badly reamed over the years. After removing the cake I sanded the bowl chamber smooth using 400 grit wrapped around a small sharpie marker.

Next I proceeded to rebuild the bead line.dave5 I covered a small piece of cardboard in clear tape and wedged it in the groove under the damaged areas to keep the channel clear. Medium viscosity cyanoacrylate glue and fine ground briar dust will fill the missing voids. The glue will not stick to the clear tape and the wedge is easily removed after the repair has set up. I put a few small drops of glue in place and sprinkled the dust on top, then used the flat edge of a knife pressed it flat against the pipe. I repeated this several times around the circumference of the bead line.Dave6 After I had all the missing briar filled in I proceeded with the sanding . I started with 800 grit to smooth out all the excess glue, and then worked my way up to 2000 grit on the rest of the pipe.

Fiebings Dark brown leather dye is the base stain mix with a drop of oxblood. Once the stain dried, I went over it again with 2000 grit to give the grain a nice contrast, followed by a couple coats of pure carnauba wax on the buffing wheel.Dave7



Dave10 Here it is sitting with a Savinelli 320 for size reference.Dave11 Next to a Bic lighter truly shows how small this Rhodesian really is.Dave12

Here is link to his YouTube channel. As he says: No worries. No blathering,YABO’s, or reviews, just pipes….

Cleaned up a Small KBB Yello Bole Sandblast Billiard

Blog by Troy Wilburn

I know what you all of you are thinking ….another Yello Bole? lol

I was just telling a friend of mine that I most likely would not be going to go after anymore Yello Bole’s for a while unless I saw another sandblast I liked. Sure enough just after that this one popped up EBay. Here is the way it looked on EBay. I thought nice pipe but it has some stem chatter that won’t be too hard to get rid of. Yello1 Well when I got it in, come to find out it wasn’t stem chatter but just some glue residue. You can see in the picture where I wiped some off with my finger.Yello2 The pipe has not been smoked much at all.Yello3 There were a few nicks and spots around the rim.Yello4 All in all, I lucked out again and got a really nice excellent condition original Yello Bole. I wiped off glue with 91% alcohol and cleaned inside stem and stinger. I sanded the stem lightly with 2500 grit.Yello5 I touched up nicks with some black acrylic. Gave the inside a quick swab with a cleaner and 91% alcohol.Yello6 I gave the pipe a good scrubbing with mineral oil and toothbrush. I wiped it dry with cotton cloth.Yello7 Quick buff and wax ….Voila finished.Yello8







Yello15 Looking up the pipe on my Kaywoodie charts I believe this to be a shape #67 Small Billiard Long Shank.Yello16 Due to its small size this will be used mostly for flakes. I have smoked a bowl of Bold Kentucky in it already and it’s a great little smoker.Yello17 I have been thinking about doing a write up on why I like KBB Yello Boles so much and add some pictures of my Yello Bole collection. Steve has also mentioned this to me. So maybe in the near future I will post the article.

Bringing a Dunhill Bruyere Bent Rhodesian 08 Back From the Brink

Blog by Steve Laug

This Dunhill Bruyere was part of the gift lot for sale for Nepal. It was in very rough shape and one that would never be fit enough to grace a collection. The Dunhill stamping is only visible under bright light with a lens. The stamping on the left side of the shank is Dunhill over Bruyere. On the right side it is stamped with 4 in a circle and an A. The rest of the stamping is very faint and reads Made in London England (At least that is what it looks like). The shape number 08 is gone except for the 0. The finish was gone. The double ring around the bowl was virtually ruined and the bowl itself was in very rough shape. The rim was beat up and out of round. There were burn marks on the rim, the left side and bottom of the bowl and on the left side of the shank. To me it looks like the pipe was laid in an ashtray and the cigarette burned the bowl. It was in very rough shape. The stem was badly oxidized and upon examination there was a small split in the button on the underside and the stem was thin and the edges of the button were rounded down.Dunhill1



Dunhill4 I took some close up photos of the bowl to give a better picture of what I had to work with on this one. You can see from the photos the issues that I pointed out above. The ring was badly damaged and rough. The bowl was out of round and the rim was damaged. The finish was spotty and grimy.Dunhill5




Dunhill9 I have one newer Bruyere in my rack so I kind of knew the colour this pipe should have been and it was not even close any more. I did a bit of searching on the web to see if I could find a finish chart and also one that would confirm the shape number that I was “speculating” on. I have included the next two charts for the information that I gleaned from them. The Bruyere was more dark/reddish coloured than this one was and the faint number was indeed 08 which was called a Bent Rhodesian.dunhill_pipe_finishes

dunhill_shape_size_chart The next two photos show the stem in some closeup photos. I wanted to show the oxidation and the split in the button on the bottom side of the stem. The fit in the shank was also worn. The tenon was sloppy fitting and could be wobbled side to side and up and down.Dunhill10

Dunhill11 I put off working on this one for a long time, choosing rather to work on pipes that I had some sense of what the finished product would look like. I had no idea if I could restore this one to any semblance of its original state let alone bringing back to “BEST QUALITY” which the Dunhill catalogue above said that Bruyere pipes stamped with the large “A” were supposed to be. This one was a challenge and I really drug my feet and postponed the test as long as possible. After looking at the photos above I hope that I have communicated the state of the pipe I was going to deal with. I have made no mention at all of the state of the inside of the shank and the stem. It was a mess as well – a thick black crud covered the inside of the airway in the stem and the shank and the mortise was almost clogged with the almost petrified tars of years of neglect.

So, yesterday I decided was the day to tackle this pipe. I had mowed the yard and done my weekend chores and needed some down time to relax. I suppose many of you would not call this relaxing but I still am under the illusion that it is restful…. Shhh don’t change my illusion please. I began with cleaning out the rings around the bowl. They were rough but they were also clogged with all kinds of debris. I used a sharp, thin blade pen knife that I have and use for this kind of thing. It works wonders and within a short time I had cleaned out the grime and the original red stain was showing in the bottom of the grooves.Dunhill12

Dunhill13 I scrubbed the bowl with cotton pads and acetone to remove the grime and the damaged finish. I also wanted to see the extent of the burn marks on the bowl, rim and shank. I wanted to see if they went deeper than the surface. Knowing that would help me decided what to do to address them.Dunhill14


Dunhill16 With the grime cleaned off the rim I could see what I had to work with. The bowl was in rough shape. It was out of round but the inner edges did not have any char or burn. The rim had lots of dents and dings from someone using it as a hammer.Dunhill17 I decided to top the bowl to flatten out the rim and clean up as much of the damage as possible. I would then have to work on sanding the inner edge of the rim to smooth it out. I used the topping board with 220 grit sandpaper.Dunhill18

Dunhill19 With the rim flattened out once more and the outer edge more evenly set on the bowl top it was time to address the inner edge of the rim. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the edge. I was able to greatly improve the “roundness” of the inner edge. While it was not perfect it was far better than when I started.Dunhill20 I cleaned out the shank and the airways with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I scrubbed and scoured and scraped the airways clean of the “fossilized” tars until the pipe cleaners and cotton swabs came back white. Since I was probably going to smoke this one myself I decided to not use the retort at this point. If it smoked rough I could always set up the retort and let it do its magic.Dunhill21 I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper, repaired the small split in the button on the bottom side and then sanded the stem with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge. I rubbed it down with some Obsidian Oil and put the pipe back together. I took a few photos of the cleaned up look. If you are getting the idea that I was postponing working on the double ring and the heavy damage there you are correct in your assumption. I was not sure I would be able to work any redemption on that area of the bowl. Time would tell.Dunhill22



Dunhill25 I could not postpone dealing with the ring damage any longer if I was going to finish the pipe. I had read with interest Mark Domingues write up on restoring the rings on the Peterson 80 that he posted here recently. I spent time looking at how he rebuilt the centre briar ring between the two lines. I was ready to start. I cut a piece of note card the width of the back of the bowl and decided to address that damage first. I pressed briar dust into the damaged area of the ring and tamped it in with dental pick. When it was full I put some drops of clear super glue onto the briar dust. I did the same all around the bowl until I had a real mess on my hands. I was careful not to put the glue or dust on the places where the rings were in good shape. I would use these as guides to recut the lines later.Dunhill26


Dunhill28 I used a flat, thin blade knife edge needle file to recut the grooves in the bowl. It took a lot of work to slowly and carefully recut them but it worked as the photos below show.Dunhill29



Dunhill32 After the initial cutting of the grooves with the needle file I continued to use it to smooth out the grooves and the edges on the top and bottom. They took a lot of work to smooth things out. I also folded 220 grit sandpaper and ran it through the grooves on the bowl. Once they were smooth and cleaner looking than before it was time to clean off the bowl and then restain it with the first coat of stain. I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on cotton pads to remove the excess briar dust and any remaining glue. I sanded the burn marks on the bowl and rim with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to minimize them. I sanded them again with 1500-2400 grit micromesh pads to smooth out the scratches. I then gave it a coat of oxblood aniline stain, flamed it and set it aside to dry.Dunhill33

Dunhill34 The burn marks still showed with this first coat of stain and it was a little too red to my liking. I buffed it with White Diamond and then brought it back to the table to do some more work. I took some photos of the pipe after the buffing. I find that a couple pics help me focus on what needs some more work. In this case I could see that a little dark brown stain would work to tone down the red and also blend the dark spots in a bit more.Dunhill35



Dunhill38 I used a dark brown stain pen to give it a top coat of stain. In the photos it looks streaky but I don’t worry too much about that as a buff once it is dry will take care of that.Dunhill39 I buffed the bowl with White Diamond and a light touch. It is looking better. The rings on the left side are better but are still a little rough. The rest of the way around the bowl they are looking really good. The dark brown stain did a better job of blending in the dark spots and toning down the red. I liked the colour and it seemed to match the chart photos of the Bruyere that I had found.Dunhill40




Dunhill44 At this point it was time for a break. I put the stem on the bowl and loaded a bowl of Boswell’s North Woods and went to church with my daughters. I smoked a bowl as I walked with them and loaded another bowl on the way home. I sat on the porch and fired up a third bowl filled with Malthouse Reserve 12. This pipe really sang with English tobaccos. Even if it was still a bit ugly it smoked well!

When I finally went back to the shop I worked on polishing the stem. I put the plastic spacer/washer between the shank and the stem and worked on it with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and then rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads and rubbed it down again with the oil. I dry sanded with 6000-12,000 grit pads and then gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I set it aside to dry.Dunhill45


Dunhill47 The stem was looking really good. There was a rich glow to the vulcanite. These older Dunhill pipe stems really shine like glass when they are polished. I set the stem aside and did a bit more work on the bowl. I used a very small oval needle file to work on the rings on the left side and front of the bowl. I wanted to clean up the edges and sharpen the overall look of the rings.Dunhill48

Dunhill49 I followed the oval file with a flat rectangular blade needle file and cleaned up the edges of the rings some more. When I had finished with the flat file the rings looked far better than they were when I started.Dunhill50

Dunhill51 I gave the bowl another coat of stain with the dark brown stain pen and then buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond Plastic polish. I gave them both multiple coats of carnauba wax. Then I buffed the pipe with a clean flannel buff and polished it. The finished pipe is shown below. I think this one will stay with me as the nomenclature is almost illegible and the dark marks all over the bowl still show. The pipe smokes well so it will be a work horse pipe for me. It was well worth the time to clean up and I learned much in the process of reworking the rings.Dunhill52



Dunhill55 Thanks for looking.

Midterm Exam #3: Restemming a Thermofilter Billiard

Blog by Anthony Cook

I’m turning in my third midterm exam today. This one is based on an old Thermofilter pipe. I’ve made plenty of mistakes while fumbling my way through the learning process of pipe restoration, but one of my biggest and earliest blunders was inflicted on this poor pipe.

Thermofilter seems to be one of those nearly forgotten brands that nevertheless still pops up on eBay on a fairly frequent basis. The best information that I can dig up on it comes from a comment that “emo” posted on the Dr. Grabow Collector’s Forum:

Thermofilter was made in Italy by Fratelli Rossi in Varese. Started about 1964 and continued till about 73/74. It was imported and sold by Mastercraft…. to, best I recall, Whitehall Products Co. in Wheeling WV… Division of CULBRO.

We had several “left over” and closed them out for $3.98 over a year or two… not as Thermofilter, but simply as a filter pipe, even though they were stamped Thermofilter. Pretty cheap stuff…

The pipe in my possession is a small billiard with carved rustication. The center letters of the stamping are very worn and faint, but there’s enough there to make out “THERMOFILTER” over “IMPORTED BRIAR” on the left side of the shank. The stem did not have any markings and the bit end had been hacked off. Below are some photos of the pipe that I took shortly after its arrival.Anthony1

Anthony2 You may have noticed that I used past tense when mentioning the stem above. That’s because I dissolved the original, plastic stem from the inside out. Yes, you read that right. When I was running alcohol dampened pipe cleaners through the stem to clean it out, the first couple came out covered with the thickest, blackest, and stickiest goo that I had ever encountered and I surmised that I was working on some serious tar build-up. I was surprised to find that the amount goo wasn’t diminishing as I worked, but actually appeared to be increasing. Eventually, I noticed that the bore of the airway seemed larger than I had originally thought it was. That’s when I realized the horrible truth. The alcohol on the cleaners was causing the cheap, plastic material of the stem to break down and it was disintegrating from the inside out. You can see for yourself in the comparison photos below.Anthony3 You’d think that I would have noticed it earlier, but I honestly wasn’t paying attention to the diameter of the airway. I mean, who thinks that their stem is just going to dissolve, right?

In any case, I didn’t have any extra stems to replace the original with. So, I tossed the poor, mutilated stem into the trash and dropped the stummel back into the box. It’s been wasting away in there for the past several months. For my third midterm exam, I decided to pull it out to see if I could do right by this old pipe, try some new things, and correct my past mistakes.

I started by giving the stummel an alcohol bath and wiping it down with acetone. This removed the lacquer coat and much of the old stain. It also revealed some really nice grain between the areas of carved rustication. Then, I topped the bowl with 220-grit and 320-grit papers. I used the same grits to rough out a chamfer around the rim to remove the gouges along the edge.Anthony4 Even though the pipe had been hand cleaned before being boxed up, I wanted to do a retort since I didn’t have one at the time. So, I placed the original, aluminum tenon into the mortise and attached the retort tube directly to that. I flushed the boiling alcohol through the shank 8-10 times before setting the pipe aside to cool, and then I dumped the amber-colored alcohol and repeated the process. After the second flush, the alcohol remained nearly clear and I was satisfied that the retort had done all that it could do. I gave the shank a final scrub using a few pipe cleaners, cotton swabs, and a shank brush and considered the pipe to be clean as it was going to get.Anthony5 The stummel had a few fills that needed to be dealt with. It also had a small, surface crack at the end of the shank that did not penetrate into the mortise. I had wondered about using black CA glue for fills for a while. When I saw Al’s work on the Chelsea pipe I knew that I had to give it a try. After picking the fill material out, I applied a bit of glue into the pits and crack with a round toothpick, and then packed in a little pre-stained briar dust that I had left over the Rogers pipe that I posted earlier. I repeated this until I had a good patch built up above the surface. When the glue was dry, I sanded it down with 220 and 320-grit paper. I also used a round, tapered needle file and 240/320-grit sanding needles to smooth and shape a patch inside the carved rustication.Anthony6 Once the fills and crack were repaired, it was time to do something about the stem. I had picked up a grab-bag batch of pre-made stems a short while earlier. I sifted through them until I found a decent match. I decided to trim the tenon rather refitting the old, aluminum one. So, I cut off the stepped end of the tenon with a Dremel, and then trimmed the tenon with the tenon turning tool chucked into the drill press. The tool was new to me and the first image in the picture below shows the result of my first cut. My speed was off and I didn’t take it up far enough to face it properly. No worries though, because it was still too large and the subsequent trims went much better.Anthony7 After each turn of the tenon, I tested the fit by inserting it partially into the shank. When I thought I was getting very close, I attempted to insert the stem a bit farther and heard a sharp “snap”. It was the unmistakable sound of the shank cracking. It seems that the surface crack that I had thought was insignificant had suddenly become significant.

To repair the crack, I smeared petroleum jelly over the tenon and inserted it into the mortise to spread the crack open. Then, I applied CA glue (clear, not black this time) into the crack and removed the stem to allow the crack to close. I squeezed the shank tightly together with my fingers for a couple of minutes until the glue had set.Anthony8 I wasn’t going to do anything more with the stem until I added some support to the shank. I considered trimming down the original, aluminum tenon to use an internal splint, but decided against it. Since the new crack had run longer than the length of the tenon. So, I decided to band the shank.

I had some trouble finding a band that would fit properly. A 13mm would slide most of the way up the shank easily, but a 12.5mm band wouldn’t even start over the end. So, using the 13mm as a guide, I marked off an area that was the width of the band and sanded it down until the 12.5mm band would just barely slide onto the shank. Then I held the band attached to the stummel over a heat gun to expand it. In less than a minute it had expanded enough that I could push the band the remaining distance up the shank by pressing the end into a soft cloth on a hard surface.Anthony9 With the band in place, I could continue working on the tenon. I continued to slightly reduce the diameter of the tenon with 220-grit, 320-grit, and 400-grit paper until the stem was held tightly in place but easily removed.

The stem was already a pretty close match to the width of the stummel but it needed some refinement and the artifacts from the mold needed to be removed. I kept the stem attached to the stummel and wrapped a strip of painters tape around the band to keep from dragging fine metal shavings into the vulcanite (which dulls it). Then, I began shaping the stem and removing the extra material with sandpaper and sanding sticks. I began roughing it with 220-grit and 320-grit (results in first picture below) and refined it with 400-grit and 600-grit (results in second picture below).Anthony10 I used a set of needle files and sanding needles to open the slot and funnel it. This was my first time trying my hand at this and I’m going to need some more practice because the results were rough. I also funneled the tenon to remove the whistle when the stem was drawn on. Finally, I lightly sanded the entire stem with 1200-grit paper before polishing with micro-mesh pads 1500-12000. The final stem, along with a whole lot of lint, can be seen in the bottom image below.Anthony11 Between the large areas of carved rustication (blech!) on the stummel there was some really nice grain. I can appreciate straight grain for its rarity, but I love a good bird’s eye. When it’s stained well, it has a depth that’s almost like looking at an x-ray of the briar. So, I wanted to do everything that I could to accent that grain and take your eyes away from the ugly, carved, tobacco leaf swirls.

Three main stains were used to achieve the final look of the pipe; black to accent the grain, mahogany to give the overall tone, and ox blood at the end to add a bit of vibrancy. The first two colors were mixed at a 3:1 ratio of isopropyl alcohol to stain. The final color was mixed as a thin wash that I just eyeballed. The stummel was sanded between each staining; starting with 400-grit after black, 600-grit after mahogany, and 1200-grit after the ox blood wash, and then a micro-mesh polish 1500-12000. I also did a lot of grain massaging between each stain using a variety of tools including liner brushes and markers and inks and dyes of a few different colors. You can see how the staining progressed from start to finish in the pictures below.Anthony12 When the staining was complete, I reattached the stem and buffed the entire pipe with White Diamond, gave it several layers of carnauba wax, and added a bowl coating to the well worn chamber. Here’s the pipe that I’m turning in for my third exam.Anthony13



Anthony16 Thanks for looking!

NEPAL PROJECT PIPE SALE 12 – Restoring an Iwan Ries Blackruf Bent Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

This is the twelfth pipe from the box of pipes that I was gifted by a good friend of mine with the instructed purpose of cleaning them up and selling them with all of the proceeds going to the aid of earthquake victims in Nepal. Once again all funds raised will all go to the SA Foundation, and organization that has worked in Nepal for over 15 years helping provide recovery, housing and job training for women who are victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking. The ongoing earthquakes (over 300) that continue to shake Nepal have left much in ruins. The SA Foundation Project there was able to find new housing for the women and help with staff as well. Every dollar raised from the sale of these pipes will go to the work in Nepal.

This one is Iwan Ries & Co. Blackruf, or sandblast billiard. It is stamped very clearly on the left side of the shank, Iwan Ries & Co. over Blackruf. There are no other stampings on the pipe. The finish is in the best shape of all of the pipes in this lot that I have worked on. The sandblast is not deep and the finish is a mix of blasted birdseye and swirls. That makes it an interesting blast. The exterior of the bowl is not round as the blast removed a lot of the wood near the top left edge of the pipe. It is still nice and thick but is out of round. The bowl needed a light reaming and the shank and airway were dirty. The rim was very clean and the inner edge is sharp and undamaged. The stem was oxidized and had tooth marks on the top and underside near the button. Most of the oxidation was on both ends of the stem. The stem was also slightly twisted from the bend back to that it did not sit correctly. The button on the top side was quite thin and worn down and the sharp edges on both the top and bottom had been smoothed out. The tenon was unique to me in that it was rounded at the end. Once it was cleaned up and repaired this would be a beautiful looking pipe.Black1



Black4 I took some close-up pictures of the rim and the stem to show how they looked when I brought them to the work table.Black5


Black7 The next photo shows the rounded end of the tenon, the oxidation on the stem and also the dusty buildup on the bowl in the grooves of the sandblast.Black8 I reamed the bowl back to a thin cake with a PipNet reamer. There was a lot of tobacco debris in the bowl, stuck to the sides that needed to be removed and the cake was uneven so I wanted to even it out and make it easier to rebuild the new cake.Black9

Black10 I scrubbed out the mortise and the airway to the bowl with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. It took quite a bit of scrubbing to get them clean and to remove the “crud” (technical term) that had collected there over the years. I used a thin, sharp knife to scrape out the thick ridge of “gunk” (another technical term) in the mortise.Black11 I cleaned out the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol and also sanded the surface of the dents with 220 grit sandpaper and then wiped it down with alcohol to prepare it for the repairs. I filled the deep dents/tooth marks with clear superglue and let them dry (one side at a time). On the top side I also built up the button edge to give it some additional thickness.Black12

Black13 Once the glue had dried I used a needle file to redefine the sharp edge of the button against the surface of the stem. I sanded the patches with 220 grit sandpaper until they were even with the surface of the stem so that they blended in better.Black14 I sanded the repairs with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to reduce the scratches on the surface.Black15

Black16 I wanted to rebend the stem to take out the twist in the end. I set up a heat gun and heated the stem so that it would go back to its original shape. That is one of the things I love about vulcanite – is that it seems to have “memory” and returns to the shape it was before bending or twisting. It took some time to heat and straighten it out.Black17 A secondary benefit of heating the stem is that it smooths out all of the scratches and gives the stem a mat look. I rebent it over an old rolling pin to get a straight bend. I held it in the bend while I cooled it with running water.Black18 I polished it micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and rubbing it down with Obsidian Oil when I finished this first set. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads and rubbed it down with oil again when I finished that set. Finally I dry sanded it with 6000-12,000 grit pads and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry.Black19


Black21 I buffed it with Blue Diamond Plastic Polish on the wheel to give a deep shine and to remove any final scratches.Black22

Black23 I buffed the bowl lightly with Blue Diamond and the stem once again before giving them both a coat of carnauba wax. I gave the bowl a light coat so as not to fill in the grooves and repeated several more coats on the stem. The finished pipe is shown below. It is ready for the next pipeman who will enjoy smoking this beauty.Black24





Black29 This Iwan Ries Blackruf bent billiard is quite a large pipe, basically a Group 4/5 in Dunhill terms. The shallow mixed grain blast makes it interesting to look at and the feel of it in the hand will make it quite tactile when heated up and smoked. The stain is a combination of dark browns and black that gives it a multidimensional look. It should make someone a great addition. If you are interested in this pipe email me with an offer at and we can discuss it. The entirety of the sale price will go to the Nepal project. I will pay the postage so that does not get taken off the proceeds. If you are interested in reading about the SA Foundation you can look at their website at

Thanks for looking.