Blog by Steve Laug
The last of the foursome of Edward’s pipes that I cleaned up for the fund raiser on Smoker’s Forums is a large Billiard with a vulcanite ferrule. It came to me without a stem so I would need to go through my stem can and see if I had any stem that would work with this bowl. The pipe is stamped Edward’s in script on the right side of the shank. On the left side it is stamped Algerian Briar in block letters. On the underside of the stem there is a large + sign and the shape number 42 near the ferrule. The bowl was in rough shape. The finish was dirty and there are some large and small fills along the shank from the bowl shank union to the ferrule. The ferrule was oxidized. The internals of the bowl and shank were dirty. The bowl was caked with the same heavy soft cake as the other Edward’s pipes. The tars had flowed over the beveled inner rim of the pipe and hardened into a dark hard cake. The briar itself was quite beautiful under the grime so a good cleaning would reveal some excellent grain as it had in the other three pipes.
I found a stem in my stem can that fit the shank well and looked pretty decent. It would need to be bent slightly and the roughness of the stem would need to be sanded down to make the fit right but I took photos of the pipe with this stem to get an idea of how it would look. At this point the pipe has not been cleaned up or reamed.
I took one close-up photo of the bowl to show the state of the rim and the cake in the bowl. It would take some work to clean off the lava and bring the finish back to pristine. I reamed the bowl with the PipNet reamer and took it back to bare wood to remove the crumbling, soft cake in the bowl.
Once I had the bowl reamed I took a photo of the stem and then took it to the heat gun to soften and rebend it to fit the bend of the pipe. There was a slight wave in the top of the stem that needed to be straightened as a part of the new bend.
I liked the look of the stem with the new bend so I set it aside and went to work on the bowl. I used 0000 steel wool on the rim to remove the lava overflow and repolish the rim. I am finding that this works really well as Troy shared in various blog posts he has done here and on his own site. There is always something new to learn and add to the refurbishing skill set. With the rim cleaned up I wiped down the bowl with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the grime in the finish and refresh the briar.
I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the shape and smooth out the angles and make the sides proportionally the same when the stem was in the mortise. I finished by sanding it with a medium and fine grit sanding sponge to smooth out the scratch marks left behind by the sandpaper.
I lightly sanded the bowl and the rim with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 and dry sanding with 3200-4000. I also sanded the vulcanite ferrule at the same time to remove the oxidation. I sanded the stem with the micromesh sanding pads as well – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and then rubbing it down with Obsidian Oil. I also used the oil on the ferrule. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads and rubbed it down again with the oil.
I buffed the stem with Tripoli and White Diamond before sanding it with the final grits of micromesh pads. I finished with 6000-12000 grit pads and then gave the stem and ferrule a final rub down with the Obsidian Oil. I let it soak in and dry before taking it to the buffer. I gave the bowl a light coat of olive oil to bring life back into the briar and then gave it a buff with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and then buffed it with a clean flannel buff. I finished by hand buffing it with a microfibre cloth to bring depth to the shine. The finished pipe is shown below. The first photo is of the pipe with the Edward’s large apple to give a sense of the size of the pipe. It is a large piece of briar.