Blog by Steve Laug
I found this small saddle billiard on a recent trip to Idaho Falls. My brother and I went on a pipe hunt in some of the antique malls in the city and the surrounding area. It was one of five that I picked up on that first day. I have circled it in the photo below so that you can see which pipe I am talking about. I apologize for the blurry photo I took with my iPad, but it gives a basic idea of the way the pipe looked. The bowl was caked, the rim was tarred and darkened, the stem was oxidized but in relatively good shape. The stamping on the left side of the shank reads Made in London over England. On the right side is the shape number 195. I have looked in the catalogues for Comoy’s, Barlings and Orlik to see if I can identify the English maker of this pipe but the shape number does not match any of the numbers in the catalogues.
It was one of two pipes that I worked on at my mom and dad’s house. I bought a set of micromesh pads from a local hobby shop that included pads from 1500-4000 grit. I started by sanding the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads. I scrubbed the bowl and rim with a paper towel and cool water to remove the tar buildup. Then I sanded the rim and the bowl with the same grit pads. I was able to remove the tars and darkening quite easily. The rim was undamaged on either the outer or inner edges. I carefully reamed it with a small sharp blade until the inner walls were bare.
I dry sanded the stem and bowl with 3200-4000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I did not have any higher grit micromesh pads with me. I gave the bowl and stem a light coat of olive oil and hand buffed it with a microfiber clothe to raise a shine and took the next series of photos to show where it stood after this process. Once I took it home and gave it a buff on the buffer and several coats of carnauba wax this would be a beautiful little billiard in the English tradition.
I brought the pipe back to Vancouver and gave it a quick sanding with 6000-12000 grit micromesh pads and then buffed the stem and bowl with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave it several coats of carnauba wax and then a quick buff with a clean flannel buff. I finished by trying out what Dave Gossett spoke of and buffed it by hand with a microfibre cloth until the finish glowed. The finished pipe is shown in the next series of photos.
I took a few photos in a pipe rest that my daughters found on a second trip to the antique malls. It is a golden coloured cocker spaniel similar looking to my dog Bailey that died a year ago after 14 years as a member of our family. The photos give a good view of the grain on this beautiful little billiard.