Daily Archives: December 22, 2015

A Christmas Morning Pipe

Blog by Steve Laug

I want to take this opportunity to wish the contributors and the readers a very blessed Christmas season and a fruitful New Year in 2016. Thank you for your contributions and for your readership. It has been great to see that several of you have started your own refurbishing blogs. It is a privilege to follow them and to reblog your work here. Merry Christmas. I wrote this short Christmas story for your reading pleasure should you choose to read it!  – rebornpipes

He was up early on Christmas morning as usual. He never needed an alarm clock as his old body told him when it was time to move. He loaded a bowl of 10 year old Christmas Cheer in one of his favourite pipes, lit it and puffed on it while he went into the kitchen to put together the breakfast for the family. He savoured these early morning times when no one in the house was awake and active. It gave him some peaceful moments to himself. Over years of many Christmases this had been his habit. He went to the sink and rinsed out the coffee filter and the pot and prepared it for a new pot of coffee. He carried it to the coffeemaker and put the basket in place and poured the water in the reservoir. He scooped out some flavourful Ethiopia Yirgacheffe coffee that he had picked up especially for Christmas morning breakfast. While the coffee was brewing he puffed the pipe and gathered the ingredients for his traditional breakfast casserole that was on the menu.

His casserole was a baked egg dish that he had adapted over the years to fit his own tastes. He always managed to add one or two new ingredients each year to keep it interesting. In fact he wondered if anyone remembered the original edition. He preheated the oven and got out the bowls and the casserole dish that he would need for the mixing his concoction. He puttered around the kitchen until the coffee was finished, poured a cup, took his pipe out of his mouth and sipped on the fresh coffee. “This is the best way to start the morning” he said to himself and took another pull on his pipe. He cracked a dozen eggs over the bowl, poured in some milk added some fresh salsa and used mixer to whip them together. He paused to puff on his pipe and sip his coffee before he continued. He greased the baking dish with butter and then layered pieces of cheese bread on the bottom of the pan. He poured the bowl of beaten milk and eggs into the dish and they soaked into the bread. He added scallions, onions, mushrooms, red bell peppers that he had already prepared. He put in some crushed garlic, bacon and chorizo sausage that he had cooked the night before. Once the mixture was complete he stirred it a bit to disperse the ingredients evenly throughout the dish and added salt and pepper. All the preparation was done by the time the oven beeped to tell him it was ready. He opened the oven door and placed the dish on the rack, shut the door and set the timer.

It was time to relax with another coffee and finish the bowl of tobacco in the quiet of a sleeping house. He refilled his coffee cup added a dash of Irish cream and then tamped his pipe. He relit it and made his way to the living room to relax and enjoy the quiet morning with his coffee and pipe. One of the great things about having older kids was that they slept later on Christmas. He sat in his recliner, put his feet up and sipped the coffee and his pipe. He enjoyed mornings like this. The 10 year old Christmas Cheer was smooth and flavourful. He was lost in the pleasure of the moment. The flavour of the Virginia tobacco went very well with the Ethiopian Coffee. The flavours complemented each other and together they melded into a melange of wonderful taste. The crazy thing about smoking a pipe is that you cannot smell your own tobacco aroma but somehow the combination of coffee and tobacco gave him the impression of what it must have smelled like. His thoughts went around in his head like the swirls of smoke that wreathed him. He thought of years gone by when the kids were little, when his wife and he had waited quietly until the children were asleep and then put out the presents around the tree. He remembered how the excited little ones had pulled him out of bed on Christmas morning and then watched them as their faces displayed their awe at the wealth of presents around the tree. Warm Christmas

He knew that his quiet reverie would soon be over. As he was thinking that the timer went off on the stove telling him that the breakfast was ready. He could not believe how quickly the time had gone with pipe and coffee. It seemed only moments had gone by and now he would have to get up and go to work. He needed to set the table, mix the orange juice and make another pot of coffee before it was time to wake up the family. He took the casserole from the oven and tested it with a fork to make sure it was cooked all the way through. It was perfect so it only needed to cool a bit before he cut it. He poured himself another cup of coffee, poured one for his wife and started a second pot. He climbed the stairs to their bedroom and woke his wife with a hot cup of coffee. She sat up and sipped the coffee. He turned on the Christmas parade while she finished her first coffee. His youngest daughter was awake and already downstairs. She would wake the others. Breakfast would be ready and waiting when all of the sleepy heads made it to the dining room.

He went back to the living room and put his pipe on a rest next to his chair. He put the lid back on the tin of tobacco and went to the kitchen to set the table and bring the food to the table. He went to the dining room to set out the plates and cutlery around the table, placing coffee mugs and juice glasses at each place. And found that his daughter was already at work. He put each of his children’s Christmas coffee mugs at their place. He set out the hot pads on the table for the casserole and then put the hot casserole on them. His daughter mixed the juice and when he went back to the kitchen he found that she had already put some bread in toaster. As the bread was toasted he buttered it and put it in a basket for the family. He put jams and jellies on the table. He poured the juice in the glasses. Everything was ready for when they all came to the dining room – breakfast would be waiting.

He rang the breakfast bell and he could hear people coming. The doorbell rang and his daughter and son in law came through and into the kitchen. They brought hot muffins in and set them on the breakfast table. The others girls came into the dining room and his wife joined him with her coffee cup. Everyone was present so he read the Christmas story and said the breakfast prayer. With the amen still warm on his lips, the plates were passed so he could serve them. Soon they were tucked into the meal and drinking coffee. The conversation hummed around the table. Things had changed a lot since the girls were little – no more rush to the presents. They were happy to visit and relax together. The presents would come when they came.

He cleaned off his plate and sat back in anticipation. He sipped his coffee quietly in the noise of his daughters chatter around the table. He enjoyed every moment of their chatter and banter around the table. They laughed and told stories and devoured every bit of the breakfast he had made. They compared it to the previous breakfast casseroles and gave this one a vote of approval. It had become a ritual to rate the casserole each year. His wife looked at him and rolled her eyes knowingly at each daughter’s comment. His son in law had already learned how to navigate the breakfast table and sat quietly. Soon the breakfast would be over but no sense in rushing things now. He knew that these Christmas morning breakfasts were the things that added living memories to the family history. Once breakfast was over he could relight his pipe, the girls would take care of the dishes. His son in law and he would adjourn to the porch and enjoy a bowl of Christmas Cheer. That was one of the benefits of living on the west coast – even in December you could sit comfortably on the porch. He sipped his coffee and knew that it would not be long now before he could safely slip away to enjoy his pipe.

Rescuing a Tinderbox Monza Horn – Restemming and Refinishing

Blog by Steve Laug

Monza1Another of the pipes that my brother Jeff sent me was a horn shaped pipe that was stamped Tinderbox Made in Italy in a circle with Monza in the centre of the circle. It is stamped on the underside of the shank. The shape is quite unique. The bowl had around 10-12 fills in it that went from tiny spots to huge plugs in the briar. The finish was a heavy urethane coat that made the pipe very shiny and really highlighted the fills around the bowl and the shank.

The shank had a split in the underside of the shank that went from under the band up the shank for one inch on the bottom side. It had just turned slightly upward and if left alone would have continued to the bowl. The rim was heavily damaged and there was a thick hard cake in the bowl that hurt my hand when I pushed the various reamers that I had trying to remove it. The bowl looked like it was conical in shape but was so thick that there was very little room in the bowl for tobacco. The stem was a replacement, like many of them in the pipes my brother sent me. It was a saddle stem and was missing a huge chunk on the left side of the button and up the stem about ½ inch. The person who had made the replacement had cut an angled end on the tenon which in my opinion was careless and not necessary. The airway into the bowl from the shank was plugged and when I blew into the end of the shank I could not get any air through it.

The next four photos show the pipe as it appeared when it arrived in the box from my brother.Monza2



Monza3 I took a close up photo of the bowl and rim to show the damage and the cake in the bowl. The second photo below shows the broken stem. The stem was pretty much a throw away as it is very narrow after the broken button.Monza6

Monza7 I started to ream the bowl with a PipNet reamer. I started with a small cutting head and soon gave up. I used the largest head that would fit the diameter of the bowl and still found the cake too hard to cut through with the reamer. I dropped it in an alcohol bath to soak to soften the cake and to soften the urethane coat on the bowl. After it had been soaking an hour I took it out of the bath.Monza8

Monza9 In my can of stems I had one with the same diameter as the shank and a tenon that would work with some adjustments. The tenon was too long so I would need to trim it back and also adjust the diameter to get a snug fit in the shank.Monza10 The alcohol bath did not even make a dent in the finish. As I expected the only way to remove a urethane finish is to sand it off. I did not mind as it was covering a lot of damage to the rounded rim and the sides of the bowl. I fit the new stem in the shank and took a few photos to get an idea of the look. The stem was a little too bent to my liking so that would need adjusting but the taper worked well with the horn shape. The last photo of the underside of the shank shows a dark area. That is where the stamping is present and also the crack in the shank.Monza11



Monza12 I put the stem aside and used a pen knife, a KleenReam and a PipNet reamer to work on the hard cake. It was still rock hard but I was able to chip away at it until I had removed it from the bowl.Monza15 I used the drill bit from the handle of the KleenReem to open up the airway into the bowl.Monza16

Monza17 I sanded the bowl some more with some medium and fine grit sanding sponges. I wanted to clean up the cracked area on the shank bottom so that I could repair it. I took the photo below to show the crack in the shank.Monza18 I used a micro drill bit on my Dremel to drill a small hole at the end of the crack to stop it from spreading further up the shank.MOnza19

Monza20 I packed some briar dust into the hole and then dripped super glue on top of that and then more briar dust and some more glue. I ran a dental pick along the crack to open it slightly and then put some glue along the crack to the band as to preserve that as well.Monza21

Monza22 I sanded the repair to smooth it out and blend it into the shank and avoided the area inside the stamping.Monza23 I heated the stem with a heat gun to take a bit of the bend out of it. Once it was pliable I bent it to match the flow of the curve of the horn. I wanted it to sit with the rim and the bend in the stem flat on the table when laid down. That angle would make it sit correctly in the mouth when it was smoked.Monza24



Monza27 I worked on the curve of the rim and top with sandpaper and sanding sponges to get the flow of the rolled rim even all the way around the bowl. I worked on the inner edge of the rim as well to make it flow into the bowl rather than be an abrupt edge.Monza28 I sanded the bowl with medium grit sanding sponges and fine grit sanding blocks to remove the scratches from the briar and to work on the oxidation on the stem. The grain was beginning to show through. I wiped it down with a tack cloth to remove the sanding dust in preparation for staining the bowl.Monza29 The bowl had a lot of fills so I decided to try a contrast stain to both hide the fills and to bring out the grain. I started with a black aniline stain and finished with a brown.Monza30 I stained the bowl with the black and flamed the stain to set it in the grain. I reapplied and reflamed it until the coverage was even.Monza31 I wiped the bowl down with alcohol and cotton pads to remove the excess black and leave it only in the grain of the briar. I wanted it to show the grain and highlight the beauty. I also wanted to mask the fills to some degree.MOnza32



Monza35 I used a black Sharpie permanent marker to draw grain lines through the huge fills on the bowl to further blend them into the briar.Monza36


Monza38 With that preparation done I gave it a top coat of dark brown aniline stain. I applied it and flamed it and repeated until I was happy with the coverage.Monza39


MOnza41 I hand buffed the bowl to check out the coverage of the brown and the contrast of the black and the black Sharpie marks. By and large I liked what I saw. There were some spots that needed some more work but it was looking good.Monza42


Monza44 I worked the stem over with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and then giving it a coat of Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding with 6000-12000 grit pads and then gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and let it dry.Monza45


Monza47 I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean flannel buff to raise the shine and then with a microfibre cloth to add depth to the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It exceeds my expectations when I began the reclamation work on it. The fills on the sides, shank and back of the bowl have all but disappeared in the blend of stains and Sharpie pen. The large ones on the bowl front look better but are still somewhat visible. Overall I am happy with the results. Thanks for looking.Monza48