Blog by Steve Laug
In the gift bag that I received while traveling was a poker made by Brian Doran. I did some reading on Brian’s Facebook page and cannot find out when the pipe was made. I know that this one was originally a nosewarmer poker. I had the pieces of the pipe as it had been dropped by my friend. The tenon broke off in the shank. The tenon would need to be pulled and a new tenon put in the stem or the pipe would need to be restemmed. The bowl was large and the rustication was very nice with a contrasting stain between the rim and bowl. The bowl was a dark brown/black with the smooth rim and bottom stained with a medium brown. The bowl was attractive and the drilling was spot on. There was a large silver band with two black rings around it on the end of the shank that added to the weight of the piece. I put the stem up against the bowl to get an idea of how it originally looked before the break. The piece of briar was quite large and heavy and the small mouth piece that had been on it made gripping it a challenge. I could see why my friend had dropped it. The mouth piece itself was smaller in diameter than the shank of the pipe and did not look quite right to me. The button was rough – not sure if it happened during the drop or if it came that way. It had chips out of the edges, top and the face of the button and the inside of the slot was also roughly shaped. The shortness of the blade on the stem did not give much to work with. I used a screw to pull the broken tenon out of the shank. I twist it in with a screwdriver until it catches and then wiggle the screw while pulling on it. It generally comes out very easily. I was thankful that this time it came out without a problem. I cleaned up the shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. With the tenon pulled I needed to make a decision regarding the pipe. After spending some time with the mouth piece I decided that the damage to the button would take more work than I was willing to put into it. I personally did not like the short stem and found that it was uncomfortable in the mouth and the pipe was too heavy to make it practical. That meant that I needed to restem it. I looked at short stems of the same diameter – both saddle and tapered and just did not like the look. I went through my stems and found a saddle stem that was the same diameter as the shank but was not happy with the overall look. Then I found this smaller tapered stem. It was one I had scavenged from somewhere and the tenon was a perfect fit. It sat in the shank just like the little saddle stem had and showed the stained briar ring inside of the silver band. The appearance at the shank was almost the same. It was slightly bent and I would need to straighten it but I kind of liked the look. It would be worth working on. If I should decide otherwise later I can always restem it again. I set up the heat gun and straightened the stem leaving a very slight bend. I took the next series of photos to show what the pipe looked like at this point in the process with the longer stem.
I reamed the bowl to take back the uneven cake. I scrubbed the rusticated bowl and the tars on the rim with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap. I rinsed the bowl with water and then dried it off with a soft cloth. I further worked on the darkening of the rim with a cotton pad and saliva until I had the majority of it removed. I also scrubbed the bottom of the bowl with the cotton pad and saliva as well. I buffed the rustication with a shoe brush to give it a slight shine. I gave the bowl a light wipe down with olive oil and hand buffed it with the shoe brush to raise the shine. The stem was in very good shape with no tooth chatter or oxidation so it needed only to be cleaned and polished. I buffed the rim and the base along with the stem with Red Tripoli, White Diamond and Blue Diamond. I then gave the rim, base and stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed them with a soft flannel buff. I finished by hand buffing with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown below. I like the new look with the longer stem. The pipe now works as a sitter and balances on the desk with no issues. What do you think?