NEPAL PROJECT PIPE SALE 15 – From Ugly Toad to Handsome Prince. Converting an Ehrlich Special Grain Stack into a Beautiful Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

This is the fifteenth pipe that I have cleaned up and restored. It is a new addition to the box of pipes that I was gifted by a good friend of mine. He brought several more by the house last week with the same instructed purpose. I was to clean them up and sell them with all of the proceeds going to the aid of earthquake victims in Nepal. So far we have raised over $300 dollars for the Nepal project. All the funds that continue to be raised from the sale of these pipes will 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 Nepalese are hard at work restoring their country and there is much to do. The SA Foundation Project there was able to find new housing for the women and help the staff as well. Every dollar raised from the sale of these pipes will go to the work in Nepal.

This one is an Ehrlich Special Grain. I think that when it was originally made it was a tall billiard or a stack. Whoever had it before it came to my friend really did a job messing up the rim and the top ¼ inch to ½ inch of the top of the bowl and rounding it. This would not have been bad if it was done evenly but it was done with what looked like a carving knife. It left the briar hacked and damaged. It was almost as if the owner had tried to round the top edges of the bowl to take care of damage to the rim. The pipe is stamped EHRLICH on the left side of the shank. On the right side it reads IMPORTED BRIAR. Just above that almost on the top of the shank it is stamped SPECIAL GRAIN. The stem was oxidized and also had some file marks in the surface on the top and bottom sides. The slot in the end of the stem was very narrow and hard to get a pipe cleaner through from that end. I had to clean the stem from the tenon end. That would need to be taken care of. The E in the circle that is the Ehrlich logo was in decent shape on the stem.Ehrlich1 The top of the rim was very rough. The inner edge was no longer round. The flat top was cut and damaged with the carving knife that had been used on the outer edge of the rim to round it out. The underside of the shank was in good shape but the bowl sides and bottom had some dings and dents in it from knocking it about.Ehrlich2 I took a series of close up photos of the rim and the sides of the bowl to show the knife damage that had been done. You can see from the first photo how the inner edge had been beveled with a knife and was quite uneven. The top of the rim was scratched and had deep grooves from where the knife had slipped. The second and third photo shows the sides of the bowl and how the outer edge of the rim had been rounded haphazardly with a knife. The front and back side also was rounded and hacked. It was very poorly done and left the pipe a mess. The finish was worn and had been covered with a coat of varnish that was bubbling.Ehrlich3

Ehrlich4 I decided to top the bowl first. It would need to be topped quite a bit to take out the rounded and cut sides of the bowl. The damage was significant and I would need to bring the top down at least a ¼ inch to repair it. I used the topping board and 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damaged wood. It took probably 30 minutes of continuous sanding to bring it down. I had to press the rim against the sandpaper to keep the rim flat and horizontal.Ehrlich5

Ehrlich6 Once the top was flat and most of the damaged outer edge removed I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the taper from the bowl side up to the outer edge of the rim. It took a bit of time to smooth out the transition and remove all of the nicks and dents in the briar.Ehrlich7




Ehrlich11 I wiped down the bowl with acetone on cotton pads to remove the finish and sanded the bowl sides until the transition to the rim was smooth.Ehrlich12




Ehrlich16 When the transition was smooth and the sides of the bowl flowed evenly to the top I wiped the bowl down with isopropyl alcohol to clean off the remaining finish and the sanding dust. I sanded the bowl with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge and then took the following four photos to show the new look of the bowl.Ehrlich17



Ehrlich20 I sanded the bowl and rim with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and then prepped it to be stained. I put a cork in the bowl so that I could stand it in the candle holder that I used for drying my stained bowls. I stained the bowl with a 50-50 mixture of alcohol and dark brown aniline stain. I flamed it, repeated the stain and the flame and set it aside to dry.Ehrlich21

Ehrlich22 Once it dried enough to pick up I wiped it down with acetone on cotton pads to thin the dark coat and make the grain stand out better.Ehrlich23



Ehrlich26 I cleaned out the shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I lightly reamed the bowl with a pen knife to remove the debris from the sides of the bowl.Ehrlich27 I sanded the stem with medium and fine grit sanding sponges. I followed that by sanding it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and then rubbing it down with Obsidian Oil.Ehrlich28 After the wet sanding I decided to open up the slot to make it easier to clean out the stem and shank with a pipe cleaner. I used a flat oval needle file to start the work and finished it with a thicker oval file. Once I had it opened I used a folded piece of sandpaper to smooth out the opening.Ehrlich29

Ehrlich30 I dry sanded the stem and the end of the button with 3200-4000 and rubbed it down with oil a second time. I finished with the micromesh pads by sanding with the 6000-12000 grit pads, rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. Once it dried I buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffer.Ehrlich31

Ehrlich32 The reborn Ehrlich Billard is shown in the photos below. I was able to clean up the mess of the bowl and rim and open the stem for a better draw. The bumbled job on the rim and bowl had disappeared and a sharp billiard took its place. The slightly darker colour of the stain adds richness to the billiard that I really like. It is now ready to be sold into the hands of its next owner.Ehrlich33



Ehrlich36 The next three photos give a clear picture of the rim top and sides of the bowl to show the grain.Ehrlich37


Ehrlich39 The last two photos show the tenon and slot on the stem.Ehrlich40

Ehrlich41 This Ehrlich billiard is a chubby shank larger sized pipe, probably the same size as a Group 4 in Dunhill terms. The grain is quite nice and the thinned dark brown stain allows the grain to show through to its advantage. 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.


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