Digby 9438 Bead Repair/Refinish

By Al Jones

I really didn’t need another 9438 shape, but this Digby model was listed at a reasonable Buy-It-Now price eBay from seller “Shiny Pipes” and I couldn’t resist. The overall pipe was in good condition and the stem was in great condition. There were a few dings and or fill holes on the bowl and one section of the bead line had been damaged. Typically, I’m never happy with the stem finish on eBay pipes, but I didn’t need to do anything to this one.

Pipedia lists very little for the Digby line, only:

Digby pipes were made by GBD as a second line for pipes with too many flaws to carry the primary brand. They appeared, in the 1976 catalog, in either a smooth walnut finish or a dark sandblast. Digby pipes were openly sold as being made “By the Makers of the Famous GBD”.

The pipe as received. The damaged bead line is noticable.

Digby_9438 (2)

Digby_9438 (3)

Digby_9438 (4)

I’ve never tried to repair a bead line, but I’ve followed with great interest of the work by Dave Gossett, whose excellent work is detailed in this blog.

I gave the pipe a brief soak in alcohol, to remove the wax and stain. Dave has warned me that the alcohol soak has raised grain and damaged nomenclature so I only left the pipe immersed for 30 minutes.

I used clear CA glue and pressed in briar dust/shavings (created with a file from an old pipe). Dave has mentioned putting a tape-covered piece of cardboard in the bead ring, but these rings were so shallow that didn’t work. I was forced to cover both bead lines with the repair.

Digby_9438_Resto (8)

Digby_9438_Resto (9)

Digby_9438_Resto (10)

Digby_9438_Resto (11)

Digby_9438_Resto (12)

Digby_9438_Resto (13)

I used 600 and then 800 grit wet sandpaper (3M) to smooth the glue repairs.

On the bead ring, I used a sharp, think knife blade to recut the bead line. One fill was on top of the bead line, but very close. I covered the bead line with a piece of clear packing tape to keep the glue out of the lines. The bead line repair is not perfect, but a big improvement from what was received.

I used Feiblings Medium Brown stain on the bowl. The stain color blended in the fill areas nicely and gave the briar a richer look. The original stain was a little washed out and highlighted the bland grain too much.

I then buffed the pipe with White Diamond and several coats of Carnuba wax to finish the job. The stem was already in great condition, including the D stamp, which somehow survived.

Below is the finished pipe. Curiously, the tenon on this Digby is nicely funneled, a feature I’ve only seen on GBD “Hand Cut” stamped stems.

Digby_9438_Resto (1)

Digby_9438_Resto (2)

Digby_9438_Resto (3)

Digby_9438_Resto (4)

Digby_9438_Resto (5)

Digby_9438_Resto (6)

Digby_9438_Resto (7)

Digby_9438_Resto (1)


10 thoughts on “Digby 9438 Bead Repair/Refinish

  1. Anthony

    Very nice work, Al! Repairing a shallow bead line is difficult. There’s just not much wiggle room to work in. You pulled it off excellently though!

  2. ReserectedPipes

    Very nice repair Al. I too like the 9438 shape and hate seeing broken lines as I think they make the pipe. You brought this one up very nicely to the point that if you did not say anything about it no one would ever know. Well Done!

  3. Al

    That bead line repair looks a lot better than you commented. Very nice work. Those lines are one of the hardest repairs to do.

    1. upshallfan Post author

      Thanks, it was a little nerve racking! I sharp, thin blade on a Swiss Army knife did the trick. I suspect there is some luthiers tool that would work for this type of repair.

          1. Anthony

            Sadly, it’s a wide variety of widths, since there’s no standard tool for cutting them to begin with. On the three pipes with bead lines sitting in front of me at the moment, not one is remotely close to the others.

            I’d go with two or three of the thinner files to start with. If the bead is wider, you can make thin, parallel kerfing cuts and clean it up with needle files or sandpaper. I have a cheap set of double-sided files that I use, but I plan to pick up the StewMac files two or three at a time to do more refined work. It’ll take a while though. Those things are not cheap.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.