Blog by Steve Laug
I received this pipe in the mail with a box of 11 others and it is the first one that caught my eye. The shape was well executed. The bowl had a round crowned rim. The bend of the shank and the curve of the stem looked elegant. The bowl had a thick, sticky and crumbly cake that needed to be removed. The rim was covered with a thick coat of lava that had overflowed the bowl. The finish was a typical Edward’s natural briar – I think that they must have used a light tan/brown stain at one point that highlighted the grain but did not mask it. The grain was mixed with cross grain on the front right and back left. There was birdseye on the sides of the bowl and swirling circles of grain on the underside and up the shank. There were two small fills on the right side of the bowl near the shank bowl junction – almost two dots one above the other. There was also a larger fill on the underside of the shank. The pipe is stamped Algerian Briar in block text on the left side of the shank and Edward’s in script on the right side. On the underside mid shank it is stamped with a large 5. On the end of the shank next to the stem it is stamped with a 31. The large 5 is the bowl size and 31 is the shape number, though current production shows the shape as a 731. The stem was lightly oxidized and would not push all the way into the mortise. The fit was very tight. The inside of the shank had a thick coat of tar and oil on the walls of the mortise.
One of the packing peanuts was jammed into the bowl so I used the dental pick to remove. It left some crumbling pieces in the sticky aromatic cake in the bowl. In the first photo below you can see the tars on the rim of the bowl and the generally dull finish of the bowl. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and took the cake back to bare briar. I wanted the new owner to be able to build a cake of their own choosing.
I scrubbed the rim with 0000 steel wool to remove the lava on the top of the rim. I had seen Troy use that several times in his refurbs so I thought I would give it a go with this bowl. It worked extremely well. I wet the rim with a bit of water and then scrubbed it until the rim was clean. I scrubbed out the interior of the bowl and the shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol.
I scrubbed down the exterior of the bowl with the steel wool and also wiped it down with alcohol on a cotton pad. I removed the wax and grime from the finish. Once the shank was dry the stem fit snuggly in the mortise. The stem had some light tooth chatter at the button that would clean up quite easily. With the stem fitting well I took the next four photos to show what it was about the pipe that caught my eye.
The stem did not need a lot of work to clean off the oxidation. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil after the third pad and then continued to dry sand the stem with 3200-4000 grit pads. I rubbed it down again with another coat of oil and let it dry.
I finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads and then gave it a final coat of oil. I set it aside to dry. I buffed the stem with Tripoli and with White Diamond to remove the remnants of oxidation. I buffed the stem and bowl with Blue Diamond Polish on the buffing wheel and then gave the pipe several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a soft flannel buffing pad. I took it back to the work table and hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown below.