Monthly Archives: January 2016

It was A Kaywoodie Metal Pipe that I had never seen before

Blog by Steve Laug

My brother, Jeff has caught the pipe hunting bug and that is a great thing for me. It won’t kill him and he won’t suffer too much harm from it unless he gets carried away and gets in trouble with the wife. But it is good news for me. It means that with him we can cover twice the ground looking for old pipes than I used to do by myself. It also means that he comes on things that I have never seen. He is in the US and I am in Canada and we have different stomping grounds for our hunt other than the odd time we are in the same place. I don’t remember if we found this one while we were looking at eBay together using Facetime or if it was a find on a hunt. But it does not really matter as we got it. It is an old Kaywoodie the style of which I have never seen before. The base unit is the typical long metal shank but rather than a cup the bowl threads into this one has a ring on the end. It is split on the end of the bowl and goes around the base of the bowl. When I first looked at it I was hooked. I wanted to see it and work on it. The thing that caught my eye was the unusual look of the pipe. I wanted to see how the bowl was held in the ring.Filter1



Filter4 The pipe was in pretty decent shape from the photos. The stem had the usual tooth chatter and oxidation around the button. The Kaywoodie club emblem on the stem looked rough. The embossed emblem in the aluminum shank was really clean. The entire base unit was oxidized but clean. The briar also was very clean. There was some darkening and lava on the back edge of hte rim and a thin cake in the bowl but no inner or outer edge rim damage.Filter5 The base plate was stamped Kaywoodie Filter Pipe Pat. Pend and there was a slot in the bowl. It appeared that someone had tried to use a screwdriver to turn the base plate and damaged it. To me the slot looks like it was made for a coin to turn the base.Filter6 The next photo shows the pin on the front of the briar bowl and the split in the ring of the base unit. To me it is hard to figure out how the bowl is to be removed.Filter7 While my brother had it in hand in the states looking it over and trying to figure out how to remove the bowl I did a quick search and found the pipe on the Smoking Metal site ( The site had the following information and pictures that I have copied to use here. The first paragraph gave me the information I was searching for on how to remove the bowl. I read it to my brother and he tried it and bowl came free. He showed me the pieces on Facetime. I was fascinated.

“Many of these wrecked by folk not realising how the bowl is released. Pulling the bit out of the stem and twisting half turn in either direction releases the retaining pin and allows the bowl to come free of the stem. The lower and right hand adverts are from October 1962 Flying Magazine
The pipes were $6.95, bowls @ $3.50 and 3 filters were 25 cents.”

“In the base of the bowl is a screw cap which when undone releases a ceramic filter. These filters came in plastic tubes containing three filters. As with all metal pipes, frequent cleaning is advisable to prevent any screws from becoming irretrievably sealed into pipe. The filters are at times available on eBay, but I have been told by Rob that soaking in alcohol (Everclear or IPA) can extend their life.”

The second photo below of the bowls and the third photo of the boxed set also come from the Smoking Metals website. In the photo of the bowls you can see the clay filter piece that sits in the bottom of the bowl. It is shaped like a flattened spool and there are holes in the top of the spool as well as a stamped Kaywoodie Club emblem. The bottom of the spool is indented and sits in the metal threaded base cap. In the third photo you can see how the filters were sold in plastic tubes that held three filters and sold for $.25.

Given all of information found in these photos I could not wait until the pipe arrived in Canada and I could take it apart and clean it up.Filter8


Filter10 When the pipe arrived I took the bowl off per the above instructions and it worked quite simply. I could easily see why the Smoking Metal website said that many of the pipes were damaged by improperly removing the bowl. Fortunately this one was not damaged by me. The metal base plate was solidly stuck in place and I read above that the clay filter was not damaged by alcohol so I dropped the bowl in an alcohol bath and let it sit all morning while I finished up some repairs I was doing. I took it out this afternoon and dried it off with a cotton cloth. The grime on the finish was gone and the bowl was clean. The lava on the rim was softened so I could work on it with more ease. It looked like I would not have to top the bowl to remove the lava. That is always a good thing. The rim edge was also not charred or burned which was a bonus as well.Filter11




Filter15 I decided to take the bowl apart before working on cleaning it up. I inserted a quarter in the slot in the bottom plate and twisted it both directions until it came loose. Then I unscrewed it and took out the clay filter. The inside of the base and cap were thick with tars. The clay filter was black and goopy.Filter16



Filter19 I cleaned out the bottom half of the bowl, the filter and the base cap with alcohol and cotton swabs. I picked the threads clean with a dental pick and then scrubbed them with the cotton swabs. I scrubbed the clay filter and used the pick to clean out the holes in the top of the spool and also the build up on the middle and bottom of the spool. I wiped it down with alcohol and cotton swabs.Filter20

Filter21 I wiped down the outside of the bowl with alcohol and cleaned out the air hole on the side of the bowl. I used 0000 steel wool to scrub the inside of the base cap.Filter22 With the bottom half of the bowl cleaned I reamed the top half of the bowl with a PipNet reamer. I took the cake back to bare wood.Filter23

Filter24 I scrubbed the rim clean with cotton pads and saliva and was able to remove the lava build up. I sanded it lightly with a 3200 grit micromesh sanding pad and brought some shine to the rim.Filter25

Filter26 I set the bowl aside and went to work on the metal base and vulcanite stem. I cleaned out the interior of the shank and stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol. The stem is spring loaded and cannot be removed from the base without potential damage so I ran many pipe cleaners through to clean out the tars and oils.Filter27

Filter28 I sanded the stem to remove the oxidation and the tooth chatter. I used 220 grit sandpaper to break through the surface and then a medium grit sanding sponge.Filter29

Filter30 I rubbed down the stem with Obsidian Oil and then put the pipe back together. I dropped the filter into the bottom of the bowl with the holes upward, lubricated the threads on the bottom cap with Vaseline and screwed it in place. I pulled the stem back and turned it to retract the aluminum tube into the shank and dropped the bowl in place. I let the stem reseat and the tube entered the bowl. The bowl was anchored in place. Now I had a bit of a handle on the pipe while I worked over the stem with micromesh sanding pads.Filter31



Filter34 I started wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit micromesh pads and quickly found that the club logo was just pieces in the indent in the stem. It was broken and not complete. The ragged look that I had noted earlier was the grit and grim holding the broken logo in place.Filter35 I cleaned out the old pieces of logo with a dental pick and blew out the dust. I had a broken Kaywoodie stem with a club logo the same size as this one so I carefully liberated it from the broken stem for use on this one (it visible at the bottom of the first photo) I cleaned out the indent on the stem with air and then put some all purpose glue in the hole with the end of the dental pick. I pressed the new logo into the hole with the rounded handle of a dental spatula. The new logo looked good and it was smooth when you ran a finger over that area of the stem.Filter36

Filter37 I reworked the stem with the 1500-2400 grit micromesh, this time dry sanding it. There was no need to wet sand it again. I was careful while sanding around the newly set logo so as not to risk lifting it from the stem. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and then dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit micromesh pads. The stem was beginning to take on a shine. I continued to polish it with 6000-12000 grit pads and gave it a final wipe down with Obsidian Oil. I let it dry.Filter38

Filter39 I gave the stem several coats of Conservator’s Wax and hand buffed the stem by hand so as not to damage to the logo. I also hand buffed the bowl and metal base by hand with the wax and then rubbed it down with a microfiber cloth to finish the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I really like the looks and mechanics of this old Kaywoodie. It is a pleasure to add it to my collection of metal pipes.Filter40




Just when I had given up on finding a great pipe this happens – but not to me

Blog by Steve Laug

It has been a long time since I found a pipe of this caliber in a thrift shop of antique mall. It seems that the finds of earlier times are fewer and farther apart. Then something like what I am about to tell you happens – in this case happens to someone else. It creates in me a renewed passion for the hunt.

It is not too often that the pipes that others find set loose a twinge of jealousy in me but this one certainly did. It was one of my favourite shapes and he virtually stole it in terms of price. It was found by a pipeman on Vancouver Island. He found it in a local thrift/antique shop and paid $15 Canadian for it. For the Americans reading this our Canadian dollar is worth about 65 cents US. That is why I said that he stole the pipe, paying a whopping $9.75 US. He sent me a message on Facebook Messenger and asked if I would clean up the pipe for him and restore it. He sent me a photo that did not begin to tell the story of this beautiful little dog. We talked via Messenger and discussed the pipe. He sent it to me and I received it earlier this week.

It is a beautiful Shell Briar Bulldog. The bowl had a thick cake and was dirty on the outside. The finish looked undamaged by scratches and dents and merely bore a thick coat of dust and grime. The rim was in excellent shape – both inner and outer edges were undamaged. The stem was the worst part of the pipe – it was extremely oxidized and had a deep oxidation and also a very gritty feel in the hand. It almost felt like sand was stuck to the surface of the rubber. There were tooth marks on the top side of the stem and on the underside. There was a sticky spot on the top of the stem where there must have been a price tag at one point. The button and the slot were both undamaged and would clean up easily. There was an inner tube in the stem and shank of the pipe. It ran from the end of the tenon to the bottom of the bowl. These were made originally to facilitate keeping the airway clean. This one had a few oxidized spots on the surface of the aluminum and also was stained with tars and oils on the inside.

It was stamped on the flat underside of the bowl and shank as follows: On the bottom of the bowl it was stamped 148F/T which told me the shape number and the style of the stem – a fish tail. After that almost mid-shank it was stamped Dunhill Shell Briar. Next to that it was stamped Made in England7 0. From my read of the stamping the underlined 7 is added to the date 1960 which would make this pipe a 1967 pipe ( I am not sure of the meaning of the 0 that sits between the underlined 7 and the Circle 3 S. I do know that the circle three tells me that this pipe is a Group 3 sized pipe and the S gives the finish which in this case is a Shell.

The next set of five photos show what the pipe looked like when it arrived at my work table.Dunhill1




Dunhill5 I studied the pipe for a while before proceeding with my usual clean up. I shook of the remnants of pipe envy and congratulated the finder. I began by reaming the pipe with a PipNet Reamer. The bowl, being a Group 3 size would only take the smallest cutting head of the reamer. I took the cake back as close as possible to bare wood with the reamer. I had to finish the reaming with a small pen knife and removed the ridges and remnants of cake that are visible in the second photo below.Dunhill6

Dunhill7 After I finished the reaming with the pen knife I used a brass bristle tire brush to clean up the finish on the top of the rim. I find that the soft brass bristles clean out the stubborn lava without doing damage to the blast/rustication finish on the rim. They also do not damage either the inner or outer edge of the rim.Dunhill8 I scrubbed the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the detritus that had collected in the crevices of the finish. I rinsed the bowl with running water and dried it off with a towel.Dunhill9 I cleaned out the airway in the slot and stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol and cleaned out the inner tube the same way. I scrubbed the exterior of the inner tube with 0000 steel wool. The oxidation on the stem was deep and concentrated. It really was a mess.Dunhill10 To try to soften the oxidation and bring it to the surface I mixed a batch of OxyClean and dropped the stem in the mixture to soak overnight and worked on the bowl. I rubbed the bowl down with a light coat of olive oil and then buffed it with a shoe brush. I gave it several coats of Halcyon II wax and rebuffed with the shoe brush.Dunhill11



Dunhill14 I cleaned out the shank and the mortise with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. Thanks to the inner tube it was not nearly as black and grimy as many of the older pipes that I clean up.Dunhill15 In the morning I took the stem out of the Oxyclean bath and dried it off with a coarse cotton towel. The oxidation had softened considerably and I was able to scrape a little away with a fingernail (that is a “secret” test I use to see if it ready to come out of the soak).Dunhill16


Dunhill18 I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation and then with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge. The oxidation was stubborn on this stem. It took a lot of work to get it out of the edges and curve of the saddle. Once I cut through the oxidation on the rough spots I moved on to sanding the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit pads and then rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished by sanding with 6000-12000 grit pads and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I let the oil dry.Dunhill19


Dunhill21 I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the wheel. I buffed the bowl with a light touch to make sure that I did not get the buffing compound in the crevices of the blast. I buffed the stem with a little heavier touch and then gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I gave the bowl several coats of Halcyon II wax and buffed it with a shoe brush. I rubbed the bowl and stem down with a microfibre cloth for the final shine. It is now packed and on its way home to the lucky gent who found it. I have a renewed passion to take up the hunt for more pipes. Perhaps it will be my turn to find a treasure like this. Thanks for looking.Dunhill22






12647990_10156469550400557_62413239_nI received this photo last night of the pipeman who found this Dunhill. The mail delivered the pipe to him yesterday and he loaded it up and enjoyed a smoke. I don’t often get to see this end of the story! Thanks Ryan.


GBD Shape 269 Prehistoric Bulldog Restoration

By Al Jones

GBD had a number of straight bulldog shapes in their catalog. Typically, the 2007 or 2006 shapes are seen more often. Shape 269 is listed in their catalogs an “Oversize Bulldog with saddle stem” and is seen less frequently. This is a larger pipe, easily a Group 5, but it only weighs 43 ounces. I love the “Prehistoric” deep sandblast finish for it’s craggy look. Another feature of that finish is the polished bowl top that is frequently hidden underneath a layer of cake. Sporting the brass rondell and “London, England” COM mark, this pipes dates 1981 or earlier. Below is the GBD shape chart showing the straight bulldog shapes


The briar was in excellent shape, including the nomenclature and bead lines on the bowl. The stem fitment was excellent. The stem had a deep tooth mark on each side of the stem and an abrasion on the button.

GBD_269_Prehistoric_Before (1)

GBD_269_Prehistoric_Before (4)

GBD_269_Prehistoric_Before (2)

GBD_269_Prehistoric_Before (3)

GBD_269_Prehistoric_Before (5)

On this pipe, the cake was quite thick and bubbling over the rim. I reamed the cake with my new Pipenet reamer set but unfortunately, one of my bits shattered. My garage was in the 40’s overnight, but was warm enough on the evening I worked on this pipe to only require a sweatshirt. I like the sharp, carbon blades on the Pipenet set but I hadn’t considered the clear plastic might be brittle in my cold workshop. Fortunately, I still have my Castelford set, which is made of black, rubber like material. I’ll keep the Pipenet set inside the house in the future. For the bowl top, I used some 600 grit paper to remove the heavy deposit on the bowl top.Then 8000 micromesh, followed by a buff with White Diamond and several coats of carnuba wax . A beautiful polished, beveled rim was revealed.



GBD_269_Prehistoric_Work (1)

With this work completed, I soaked the briar with sea salt and isopropyl alcohol overnight.

I soaked the stem in a mild Oxy-Clean solution for several hours. Using a lighter, I was able to raise the tooth dents only slightly. I decided to fill the indentions with the black Stew-Mac superglue product, also using the accelerator. Here is the stem with superglue patches.





I smoothed the repairs and button first with a flat needle file, then with 600 and 800 grit paper. Next up is to mount the stem on the briar and finish removing the oxidation. For shaping the button, I wrap the paper around a small, flat needle file which allows me to recut the button.





The stem was finished with 1500 and 2000 grade wet papers, followed by 8,000 and 12,000 grade micromesh sheets. It was then buffed (mounted to the briar) with White Diamond and Meguiars Plastic Polish. The teeth repairs blended in nicely, particularly on the more visible top of the stem.

After the salt and alcohol soak, the shank was cleaned with a bristle brush dipped in alcohol. The briar was in great shape, with some faded stain areas. I gave it a “stain wash” using a diluted mixture of Feiblings Medium Brown stain, whipped on with a cloth, then buffed by hand. I then used a toothbrush to brush in some Halycon wax.

Below is the finished pipe, a very handsome piece.

GBD_269_Prehistoric_Finish (1)

GBD_269_Prehistoric_Finish (4)

GBD_269_Prehistoric_Finish (6)

GBD_269_Prehistoric_Finish (5)

GBD_269_Prehistoric_Finish (3)

GBD_269_Prehistoric_Finish (2)

GBD_269_Prehistoric_Finish (7)

GBD_269_Prehistoric_Finish (8)

GBD_269_Prehistoric_Finish (1)

A Challenging Restoration of a Tsuge Second Small Billiard

Guest Blog by Robert M. Boughton
Member, International Society of Codgers
Member, North American Society of Pipe Collectors
Photos © the Author

“You will never learn enough looking for only the good things in life; you will always be a pupil.”
― Japanese proverb
“Ay, now the plot thickens very much upon us.”
― Bayes, a playwright within the play “The Rehearsal” (1671), a satirical mockery of heroic plays, by Sir George Villiers (1628-1687), 2nd duke of Buckingham, de facto King of England during the end and the beginning of two rightful monarchs, debaucher, poet, playwright

This Esterd silver banded small billiard with a bone bit that screws onto a metal shank insert was another inexplicable find on eBay. The seller had listed it as a vintage hand-carved pipe with a silver band and horn bit, and believed it might have been made in the Philippines. The starting bid was $9.99, with nobody biting. Tempted to enter the fray based only on the elegant design – intricate, carved images of an old, Oriental-style house or palace on the left side, mountains on the front, another landscape of some sort on the right with four tiny marks that could be a language, and two reversed images on the back, maybe symbolic – I exercised control over my index finger that likes to click the Place Bid Now button on its own and opened a new window to browse to

Pipephil is good, but it doesn’t list every brand. Although Esterd is but one of thousands of names of which I have never heard, I was prepared not to find a match. Nevertheless, there it was: Esterd, Tsuge second. Here’s where the inexplicable, if not outright spooky, aspect of the find comes in. I reviewed one of the Tsuge non-aromatic lines of pipe tobaccos not long ago on the Smokers Forums UK. Tsuge Pipe Company of Japan, having ultimate control over its tobaccos, nixed milder, less flavorful versions of the blends that are made by “Drew Estate, Tsuge and Daughters & Ryan in North Carolina…[e]xclusively for Tsuge.” The operative name in the list is D&R, and it was Mark Ryan’s blend that was approved by Tsuge.

Looking into the tobacco brand, I discovered the existence of the Tsuge Pipe Company, founded in Japan in 1936 after a grueling 25-year apprenticeship in pipe crafting by Kyoichiro Tsuge. The company makes very fine, hand-crafted pipes of various designs and using different materials. Some of them are priced in what I consider the middle range ($200-$300), but many excellent examples of the craftsmanship that goes into their construction are on the end that is more affordable to most of us. Tsuge, translated to English, means box tree or boxwood, and is also the name of an old Samurai family from which the father of Kyoichiro was descended.Esterd1

Esterd2 Of course, I returned to eBay, where I had no further qualms bidding for the wonderful pipe at such a low price. At the time, two days remained for bidding, but no one else seems to have gotten past the seller’s unfortunate description of the pipe’s construction and origin with a simple Google search for the brand. As a result, I won it for $14 with S&H.

I was aware of the evil crack on the bottom of the bit, but figured I had nothing to lose at that price. I expected to list it on my site for $100 after restoring and fixing the crack that my friend and mentor, Chuck Richards, assured me could be repaired with an unusual process that would leave the bit looking like new. Instead, I made my first ever sale of a pipe before I restored it, to a friend in my pipe club who held the Esterd in his hands with an unmistakable flush of longing on his face, in particular the eyes that were fixed on the delicate beauty. Ah, how well I know that look!

Familiar with the deserved reputation of Tsuge pipes, my friend, Stephen, said he has always wanted one but never found any he could afford. He asked in a somewhat faltering voice how much I would sell it for. Teasing him, perhaps with a bit too little shame, I mentioned the anticipated list price, and watching his eyes saw I could get that much from him. But Chuck’s unparalleled generosity in offering his restored pipes at fantastic deals rubbed off on me, and I told Stephen he could have the work of art (I didn’t put it that way) for $50. He was so surprised that he looked to his wife, Ashley (of course), for approval. She just said, “You have the card, don’t you?” Stephen reached in his pocket to get it, amazing me with his clear intention to buy it right there. [Ashley, by the way, was in my first blog on Reborn Pipes, about a unique Chinese churchwarden that I found in a – ahem – head shop. When the cheap bit broke as I was savoring the great taste of my first chamber-full in it, I was not yet aware I could buy a replacement bit and instead chose a replacement for the pipe, which in fact was cheaper, anyway. But that bit broke also, leading to a friendly competition between Chuck and me, although there was little doubt his restore of one for me would be better than mine, which I gave to Ashley.]

I reminded Stephen it still needed a light cleaning and serious restoration, but he wanted to make sure it would go to him when it was ready and insisted on paying up front. And so I reached for my cell phone, which I had left at home since it is not working, and then attempted to find a way to download the PayPal Here app onto my laptop. This endeavor failed. Therefore, I went to my website editor and listed the pipe so that he could purchase it online. I encountered yet another obstacle when I found that my store, set up to accept PayPal, for some reason only allowed members to use it, unlike my previous site which permitted guests to use the service. Stephen drew the line at having to sign up for PayPal.

Therefore, the transaction was not finalized until two days later, last Saturday, after I copied and pasted the necessary HTML code into my site’s store page and got ahold of Stephen using my friendly neighbor’s cell phone. I would not have been so eager had I not needed the money to buy the key material in Chuck’s instructions to make the bit like new, not to mention less important things like food and gas. I told Stephen to let me know by email if he had any problems navigating the PayPal system to the newly-added guest mode, but before I read his reply saw that the payment had gone through on PayPal.Esterd3 In his email, Stephen told me not to rush the restore for him. I replied that my desire to start it right away was for my own eagerness to see Chuck’s promise of excellent results come true. This blog, therefore, will show the real-time steps I need to take to prepare the lovely Tsuge second to a condition worthy of handing over to its buyer.



I place an order on eBay for the uncommon special something I will need for the completion of this task I am about to begin. The much anticipated package is due to arrive, via First Class Mail, in several days if I’m lucky and literally God knows when if the USPS conducts business as usual. Therefore, I await it with all of the patience and faith I have, and open my photo files to the Esterd folder, where I find the original shots of it I took at my favorite tobacconist when it came in the mail, far faster than usual with Priority Mail 1-Day Delivery.Esterd4





Esterd9 Clearly, as shown by the presence of tobacco in the chamber in the third photo above, the Esterd was so clean upon arrival that I was forced to sample some good tobacco in it – and then, amazed by the mellowness and great flavor of the one tobacco, I had to test it with another. Both tries get the highest rating I can give any pipe.

As the bit is the only difficult part of this restore, I start with it. Chuck has already talked me through the peculiar process for fixing the bit, telling me to soak it in a solution first to clean it, inside and out. Knowing he has his own formula, I asked if the OxiClean I use would be okay. He said that would be fine but emphasized that the entire pipe had to be thoroughly clean before the bit repair could begin.Esterd10 I remove the bit from the OxiClean after a long bath, rinse and wipe it dry, run a bristly cleaner through the air hole and let it dry more.Esterd11 The next step is to use an old toothbrush on the crack. I am uncertain how to go about this, but I give it the old college try, deciding on two toothbrushes, one firmer than the other, and also to employ a very fine fingernail file from an old, unused package of every kind of device for nail care. I throw in a 12000 micromesh pad as an afterthought.Esterd12 After alternating between both brushes, trying from every direction to work the little pieces into the big crack on the bottom of the bit and where they extend to the open end, I begin to be able to see all the way through the wider part of the crack. I use the fingernail brush on the more difficult dental chatter on the lip and below it – as well as to remove as much of the nice patina that has developed considering the ultimate mystery step I will need to take to put the final touch on this project – and then clear the fine dust from the soft bone with a toothbrush again. I finish this step with the micromesh to make the entire surface ultra-smooth again. By George, the old fart was right!Esterd13 Instead of proceeding to the next of Chuck’s stated steps with the bit, I switch to the easy stummel cleaning and preparation. I wipe a miniscule amount of dirt from the outside of the briar with a couple of soft, white, cotton gun cleaner cloths and purified water. Next I use a tiny piece of superfine steel wool on the rim, which has minor scratches, and the full range of micromesh pads on the entire wooden surface. Finally, I clean the chamber with 320- and 500-grit paper and remove the excess carbon with alcohol-soaked cotton cloths.Esterd14




Esterd18 The retort of this pipe is going to be very difficult as I cannot, under and circumstances, run Everclear through the bit, as usual, and I possess no other that will connect to the unique threaded shank connector. I must do something. But what? Aha! My synapses snap, and I devise a scheme to make a try at it without a bit at all – filling the test tube with Everclear, plugging it with the rubber tube, and then placing the small open end of the tube over the metal shank connector just-so. I set everything down for a moment to get my big cotton cloth and wrap a corner of it over the rubber tube-covered shank connector. Pinching it as tightly as I can with three fingers, no matter how hard I try (and believe me I did my darndest), I can’t manipulate a fourth finger to hold the final side of the tube, under the cloth, shut. Go ahead and try it. Oh, well, I’m not about to give up now. Never surrender!

In this bizarre fashion, I flick my Bic with my free hand and light the flame of a small candle. With both hands occupied beyond their design, I hold the rounded end of the test tube above the flame, having to contort still more to balance the side of my left arm against the small table in order to stop the shaking of the Pyrex tube that keeps almost snuffing out the flame. At last I have it under full control. If anyone believes that, as George Strait sings it, I’ve got some ocean front property in Arizona for sale. Honestly, I’m reminded of certain scenes from “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” with Johnny Depp as the late great though drug and alcohol synergized Hunter S. Thompson, and, I am forced to admit, a memorable scene or two from the 1931 classic “Frankenstein,” with Colin Clive as the unstable doctor and of course Boris Karloff as his Monster.

My only regret is that I have but two hands to give to this effort at snapping a shot of the spectacular scene! In my fervor to record the feat, I even consider asking my good neighbor with the cell phone to come in and catch the unprecedented event with my Nikon – but it is a bit late, and he might not appreciate the request, not to mention what he should think of me if he catches sight of what I am doing in my living room.

Thus, two test tubes full of Everclear later, the rag somewhat wet with alcohol that didn’t reach its destination, the ordeal of the Retort of the Esterd is behind me, and the stummel is clean.Esterd19 Yes, there are still times in life when even I am flabbergasted by my ruthless determination to do something. I have not sold a briar pipe un-retorted since I learned my lesson on that score the hard way some time ago, and I’ll be tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail if I ever will. I rest my case on this point with the above photo.

I seem to recall writing something earlier about the easy clean-up of the stummel. Perhaps I was mistaken a tad.

Now, I can sleep.


Regarding the dainty stummel, deftly crafted by loving hands unknown years ago, I see that the carved areas are all faded. I’ve been mulling over what I thought might turn into an option between re-staining or not and now know I’ll have to do the former, but what color? I dismiss Lincoln burgundy as too dark almost before the thought occurs to me, and consider lighter or darker brown. Mentally flipping a coin, I choose the darker, Lincoln Medium Brown, and apply a coat, brushing it with special attention into the tiny grooves of the carving. I flame it straight away, enjoying the puff of blue flame that envelops the stummel and dissipates, fixing the color into the wood and leaving only a light, even coat of char behind. I set it aside to cool.Esterd20 A few minutes have passed. I choose 8000 and 12000 micromesh for the gentle removal of the char and use first the lower number, then the higher. Still, the color is too dark. I take out the 3200 pad and rub the smooth surface of the stummel, which lightens nicely, and for the artwork use another small piece of superfine steel wool, first over the raised areas and then focusing with necessarily more pressure into the difficult grooves. It’s amazing how many there are in this testimonial to the mastery Japanese artists have over such detailed work.Esterd21


Esterd23 I must have put away the steel wool for the photos above, but trust me, I didn’t make the carved parts of the stummel so light without it. It is time to coat the briar with a small finger of Halcyon II wax and set it aside awhile to dry.Esterd24 When the Halcyon II has set into the smooth and carved areas of this excellent small billiard (it measures 4¾” in length with a chamber diameter of ⅝” x 1”), I buff it by hand with a clean cotton rag and set it aside, with the utmost care, where the cats will not disturb it. I will wait until later to photograph the finished pipe as a whole. I have completed the stummel and now have only the bit to restore to vibrant life.

Only the bit! Again I have reached a critical stage of this wholly strange process that hinges on the successful “removal,” or more aptly, mending and covering of the creeping cracks in the shank. I freely confess my justified fear of blowing this all-important feature of the restoration. After all, it is the only real challenge I face with the Esterd, and if I botch it, I will have to reverse the next step and try again, a prospect I do not at all relish. Ultimate failure is not possible, I know, because I will do it as many times as it takes to get it right.

I take a break. After a moment’s thought I choose, with a weird and flippant flair I do not begin to feel in my stomach, the GBD Prestige Apple, which caused so much heartache and twisting difficulty in my previous, dubious trip through the sometimes treacherous and bewitched path of pipe restoring. I decided to keep the GBD as much as a reminder of my mistakes as anything else. I savor some Gawith Bracken Flake, an intact tin of which I bought about two years ago and put in my cellar after rehydrating and trying two tins that were popped open at my occasional secondary tobacconist here, and which the young son of the owner, the heir to the family operation, had the business acumen to give to me. At my preferred tobacco shop, I like to refer to the competition as “the Tobacconist that Must Not Be Named” when it needs to be mentioned at all.

Not impressed with the first two tins that rehydrated well enough but still had something missing, like Frankenstein’s Monster reanimated, I have many times almost donated the last tin to my pipe club for the monthly raffle. Something stayed the urge, and when I at last popped the tin open and uncovered the moist, rich, dark brown Kentucky burley and Virginia flakes, the flecks of crystallized white sugar suggested it was packaged well before I bought it two years ago. This break, it appears, is a desperate attempt to chill out, as my generation calls the often difficult discipline of relaxing.

Nevertheless, the magic that is the essence of pipe enjoyment begins to pervade my body and mind as the rich flavor and pleasant wreaths of smoke envelop me. My mind drifts to the meaning of bracken. In terms of the tobacco in my GBD, it is a reference, not to the wild ferns that grow freely in some places of the world, but to the “shade of brown resembling the colour of turning brown; a warm orangey-brown.” (I like the repetition there and have looked it up in the OED to be sure.)

Okay, then. With that thought, I am heartened to return to the bit. I should get on with the next and cardinal phase of the Esterd restoration. I collect the tools I will need.Esterd25 Indeed, the plot thickens, so to say. Here is the first true step in repairing the pipe: applying regular, clear Super Glue into the large crack on the bottom of the bit and over the smaller one on the top that is just forming, as well as both of their beginnings on the open end of the bit. Although the task may sound easy, it is not. Aware of the risk of smearing the quick-drying stuff where it is not needed – beyond the lines of the cracks – and the equal need to avoid, above all, allowing the glue to seep inside the threaded opening, I did procrastinate the unavoidable step as long as I could.

And so, facing the music – another interesting phrase probably originating from the centuries old practice of disgraced officers being drummed out of their regiments – I approach my duty with the soldier’s wise combination of trepidation and exhilaration. I choose the single weapon that seems best suited for the battle, a short wooden fingernail care pick with one pointed end and the other chisel-edged. I feel somewhat as a young boy with a tiny toy quarterstaff harkening back to medieval England.

First addressing the primary targeted weakness of the bit, the long crack in its armor, using the pointed end of my pick tipped with a small squeeze of the Super Glue, I lay down a line of the sticky stuff, following as closely as I can the uneven course of the wound. Then, spinning the pick around to its dry, chisel-edged side, I poke it deftly into the widest part of the gap at the open end of the bit and scrape the excess glue from the sides of the fissure and running down into the still-sealed but breaching length to halt any future attack from that end. I survey the inner bit, focusing on the corresponding fault along the threads, and note that light no longer shows through, but it is still not sealed.

Daring not to venture inside the bit, I opt for a compromise, adding more glue to the pointed edge of the pick and capping off both short lines on the round end of its entrance. Returning to the front line, I repeat the same process as before, and in checking the interior of the bit am gratified by the apparent victory within sight. The glue has crept all the way to the inside boundary of the threads and halted, already firming up against any future onslaught by the enemy.

I turn the bit top up to coat the short, closed line of early crack formation there with a preemptive strike against further growth. The Super Glue seal is almost imperceptible in the photos below, but it is looking strong to my eyes.Esterd26 Now begins the two-day siege as I must wait and see if my blows to the enemy fortify and take hold.


The clear instructions from Chuck, my warlord, were to retreat and wait a full 48 hours after the Super Glue assault before returning to the scene of the battle. I followed his orders to the letter and briefed him on the situation earlier tonight at his HQ. He reaffirmed the last step I must take before the final death blow, the ammunition for which still has not arrived in the mail. This time, however, when I mention making the bit pure white, Chuck added, “You do the best you can.” Ignoring this modifier at the moment, I return home and with stealth take the bit in hand to gloat over the impending unconditional victory.

In final preparation for the extreme but morally justified coup de grâce I hope to deliver tomorrow, should the required reinforcement arrive by then, I clean up the battlefield, again using the very fine fingernail smoother to remove the minimal amount of Super Glue that has dried and hardened on the top and bottom of the bit, over and surrounding the sealed cracks.Esterd27

Esterd28 For the last, uncertain time, I can only await the arrival of the final weapon. War, indeed, is not Hell, but Purgatory.

THURSDAY – 4:30 p.m.

The state of the USPS being as it is, the package I have awaited, I see online by checking the Tracking Number, has arrived this day. I pick it up and make a pit stop at my tobacconist.Esterd29 The special weapon: white jeweler’s rouge, which Chuck tells me – and I confirm online, not with unbecoming doubt of my mentor’s knowledge but so that I can cite a second authority in my table of Sources below – is vital because of its lack of oils used in regular pipe waxes. Oil-based waxes will not hold to the surface of the bone, and thus, with my anxious hope, render the bit pure white again and remove any appearances of cracks. We shall soon see, together.

8:00 p.m.

Vancouver, there’s been a problem here. I have turned on my electric buffer with the so-called “clean wheel” and applied enough of the jeweler’s rouge to make it nice and white. This is not what Chuck told me to do. Aware of my barely adequate set-up, he said gently, “You will probably want to clean one of your buffers if not get a new one entirely before you put the rouge on.”

I have already admitted that is not what I did and prefer not to dwell on it. Needless to say, when I buff the bit, the jeweler’s rouge does the best it can by bringing most of the bone to an intense white shine. But despite my frantic attempts – extending to using every angle and side of the buffer, turning the small bit lengthwise and doing the same (in the process almost burning my fingers on the high-speed cloth), and even going so far as to rub the block of rouge by hand directly to the bit and then pressing it in with a cotton cloth – of course I am unable to cover the Super Glued and micro-meshed seals of the cracks completely.

This, I confess to myself, is what I deserve for trying to do something my own way. And so I am forced, almost at the point of kicking and screaming, to delay this paramount stage of my progress at least another day as I give the “clean buffer” a soak in hot water before removing it, squeezing out as much of the wetness as I can and placing it near the bottom of the single gas heater in my living room.


The buffer, amazingly enough, is clean and dry by late morning. With baited breath I return to my office/workshop proper and reattach the cloth to the machine. I plug it in again, having taken the prudent precaution of disconnecting the electrical source lest some crazy but in my experience still possible freak accident occur. I am not willing to risk losing part of a finger or worse for this or any other pipe.

Taking another of many deep breaths in this project and exhaling, I push the switch that restores life to the machine and apply the white jeweler’s rouge to the cloth spinning in a blur on the wheel. With confidence, I first pick up the little stummel to polish the silver band still more, as I noticed in the description of the polishing compound its usefulness in working on metals as well. This task ends well with a lustrous band.

Now the ultimate moment of truth has arrived. I put the elegant and fragile piece of bone to the buffer once more, aspiring for the best results but emotionally prepared for a lesser return on my attempts.

My late roommate, who possessed an unwavering confidence in the supernatural that I truly admired, would have blamed the ensuing conclusion on my incomplete conviction. I want to believe, as Mulder’s poster on “The X-Files” reads, but it is not enough. The bone bit, though strengthened by my meticulous best efforts to make it so, is indeed structurally sound again and burnished. Nevertheless, the cracks still show. The harshest analysis reveals the bit’s integrity, but the ensured durability is still betrayed by faint traces of its incorrigible flaws.Esterd30




I am disappointed, to say the least, with the less than perfect closure of this arduous restoration, but I take solace from the Japanese tradition in artwork, which they call Wabi-Sabi, to leave one flaw in any endeavor. The Buddhist author, Taro Gold, describes it as “the appreciation of the value and beauty of imperfection.” Okay, so my work shows more than one flaw. No doubt the Japanese would do better. This is not Chuck’s fault. Maybe he could make it right, also, but I am at peace.

A distant part of my brain assumes someone, surely, must have expressed the same thought I wrote at the close of Tuesday, about war not being Hell but Purgatory. I Google the words and find I am correct. Drat! Keith Staskiewicz of “Entertainment Weekly,” reviewing Kevin Powers’ Iraq War novel, “The Yellow Birds,” wrote: “Powers effectively shows how, for these soldiers, war isn’t hell. It’s purgatory.” So he didn’t capitalize hell and purgatory and put a period in between. Ah, well! All’s fair in love and war. I’ll have to read that book. Or maybe I’ll see the movie, due out this year.

SOURCES Esterd Tsuge Pipe Co. Tsuge Dragon Gold Band Bent Billiard Tsuge Pipes Polishing bone materials Re: quarterstaves Yellow Birds movie




Rough Finish – Reworking Damaged Rim on a Savinelli Estella 412KS Dublin

Blog by Steve Laug

Warren, a Facebook friend, gifted me this Estella Dublin made by Savinelli not too long ago. It came to me in decent shape. Someone had topped the bowl and removed the original rustication and the topping had given the bowl a decided cant to the front and to the left side. The finish was in good shape. There was a dark spot on the lower portion of the bowl on the right side that made me wonder what was going on. The stamping was sharp and read Estella 412KS. The inside of the bowl had been reamed but it showed that it was lightly smoked. The stem was dirty but in decent shape as well. There was minimal tooth chatter on both sides and a faint E stamp on the left near the half saddle. There were also some ripples in the Lucite stem from buffing.Estella1



Estella4 I scrubbed the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and to see what was going on with the dark spot on the right. I could see from the inside of the bowl that there was no internal damage or burn through happening there. It appeared to be darkened only in colour rather than in burning.Estella5 I rinsed the bowl with warm water and dried it off. The photos below show the bowl after it had been scrubbed.Estella6



Estella9 The next three photos show the angle on the top of the bowl. From all my research on the brand and shape on the internet I had seen that the top was supposed to be flat and rusticated. I would need to flatten the rim and take care of the cant.Estella10


Estella12 When a bowl is this far out of square with a difference of almost ¼ inch in the slope it is a bit tricky to get a flat top. I used 220 grit sandpaper to begin the process and then used the Dremel and sanding drum to bring all sides even to my eye. Once I had the surface close to flattened I used a topping board and sandpaper to finish the job.Estella13


Estella15 I cleaned out the airway in the mortise and the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol.Estella16 With the internals clean and the top flattened it was time to work on rusticating it. I wiped down the top with a cloth to have a clean surface to work with. The photo below is the final photo of the flattened smooth top.Estella17 Originally the Estella had a rim top that went with the rustication on the bowl. In all of my research I could not find one that was smooth topped. I wanted to approximate the original finish of the rim so I looked on the internet to find a close-up photo of what the rim on this particular shaped Dublin would have looked like when it left the factory. The photo below, while not of a new pipe, shows the rustication of the original rim.Estella18 I used a Dremel and an assortment of dental burrs to rusticate the rim surface. I started with a Dremel burr to begin with so I could roughen the surface before using the other burrs. Each burr gave a slightly different pattern to the rustication and gave it a more random appearance.Estella19




Estella23 The finished rustication is shown in the photo below.Estella24 I used a light brown stain pen to stain the rim to match the rest of the pipe.Estella25 I scrubbed the rusticated top with a brass tire brush to clean up the look and give it the same kind aged rustication that the bowl had. The brass brush knocked off the high spots and evened out the surface for a more random look.Estella26 I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the rippled effect on both the top and the bottom of the stem and then used a fine grit sanding sponge to smooth out the scratches. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and then dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit micromesh pads. Estella27


Estella29 I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffer and then gave them both several coats of Halcyon II wax and hand buffed it with a shoe brush to raise the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I thoroughly enjoy the challenges present by the pipes I work on. This one was no exception. I think the finished look was worth the added effort to rusticate the rim. Once again thank you for taking the time to read and look at the blog.Estella30






The Burn Unit – Reclaiming a Scavenged Danish Sovereign Rhodesian

Charles’ handling of the burn mark on this Rhodesian is worth the read. His work to keep things even and flowing on the cap of the bowl is worth reading and noting.

Hunting for estate pipes to refurbish has its ups and downs. Back in the heyday 1950s and 60s, almost every man had a pipe somewhere, which created a steady supply of pipes needing repair. Nowadays we refurbishers must be more adventurous, wading through the flotsam and jetsam of antique shops, second-hand stores and estate sales to find our quarry.

I find antiques & collectibles sales a bit of a hit and miss experience. Sometimes there isn’t a single pipe in the entire place, and sometimes only a few grossly overpriced specimens displayed in glass cases. I go home empty-handed on those occasions. Yet there are those times, like this particular show, when everything comes together in my favour. A seller I had purchased from in the past hadn’t brought any pipes to the show, but my daughter’s eagles eyes spotted a shoebox full of briar at another table, and the game was afoot!…

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Breathing new life into this Dusky Dulcet Bulldog

Blog by Geoff Carmell

It is a pleasure for me to post this first blog by Geoff Carmell. I have followed his work on Facebook and we have communicated via Messenger and email now for a while. We have common friends in the small pipe community of Calgary. I saw his work on this bulldog and knew it was going to a common friend so I asked him to do a blog on the restoration. Geoff, it is great to have this piece here. You have done some great work on that old pipe. Thanks for sharing it with us all. Welcome to rebornpipes.
Geoff1Hello everyone, this is my first attempt at blogging about one of my pipe refinishing projects.

Before I begin, our host Steve Laug wanted me to give a brief introduction about myself. I am still quite a novice when it comes to the world of pipes but that hasn’t quelled my desire to keep collecting, refinishing and smoking pipes. For me it truly started while going to local antique shops last fall while my parents were visiting. I was hooked when I refinished one of those antique store finds and haven’t looked back since.

I wanted to take a moment and say that refinishing pipes as a hobby has really helped me in more ways than one. I live in Southern Alberta and I am a crane truck operator in the oil and gas industry. Last year was an extremely slow year for me and 2016 isn’t looking any better. As such, I needed an outlet to keep myself from going crazy worrying about all the “what if’s” in life.

This began my journey into the world of pipe refinishing. This nice little bulldog was one of my first eBay purchases and was really in decent shape needing very little work, or so I thought…

My first step was to thoroughly clean the bowl inside and out. I did my usual salt/alcohol soak to get rid of any “ghosts” in the bowl. Before I did that though, I used Q-tips and pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol to clean the shank. Once the bowl was sanitized I turned my attention to the outside of the bowl by using a lightly dampened patch of “0000” steel wool to clean off the grime. To my dismay, this “cleaning” uncovered a crack in the rim.Geoff2 Not sure of what to do I just began sanding the rim down to the point that the crack was no longer visible. After I finished sanding the rim, I turned my attention to the grooves on the front of the bowl which had all but disappeared due to the wood swelling. After lots of filing with my newly acquired needle files the grooves started to take shape again. With the rim and grooves in good shape again I sanded the bowl with 400 and 600 grit sandpaper. I then proceeded to dye the bowl with Fiebings mahogany leather dye. I set the dye by flaming it and then left that to sit overnight. I turned once again to my steel wool to help strip off the dye to reveal the beautiful grain underneath. The bowl seemed lacking, I decided to sand the rim of the bowl once more if only to reveal the original briar again, although it’s not noticeable in the pictures, I sanded the ridge between the two grooves as well to show some contrast.Geoff3 Once the sanding was complete I used my buffing wheel with brown Tripoli to further bring out the shine and then applied a couple of coats of carnauba wax to protect the finish.

After the bowl was done I used the buffing wheels to put a shine on the stem as well. After all the buffing and waxing is done I like to use a clean microfiber clothe to hand rub the bowl and stem. This really helps to get rid of any wax buildup.Geoff4 After all is said and done I really enjoyed this refinishing project and I was pleased that it turned out to be my first pipe that would go to a great guy in our church.
Thanks for looking.
Best regards,

Custom-Bilt (Mincer Era)

I am a big fan of the Custom Bilts and Custombilt pipes. My brother just found me a Rhodesian that he is sending my way. Great job on that one. Well done.



. Mincer Era Custom-Bilt .


I love when auctions go this way , I only wish I was the one who won it. My wife took a chance on this one and gave it to me for Christmas. Sure enough its a Custom-Bilt, the nomenclature is worn or lightly stamped but its there. I have so many in my collection and I talk about them constantly she knows exactly what to look for.

As Received


She was in rough shape when received, thick crumbling cake, stem oxidation and the tennon was glued into the mortise. Once the the glue was removed from the tennon and mortise, I realized the glue was the previous owners attempt to fix a loose fitting stem. In my excitement Christmas morning I had already removed the glue. Using EverClear I filled the chamber and left it to soak, eventually I was able to free the…

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Peterson’s DeLuxe 608S

I love the shape and look of this one. You did a great job cleaning it up and making it shine. Well done.



Peterson’s DeLuxe 608S

My pipe refurbishing companion, shes in need of some TLC herself. I will admit when I’m working on a pipe I have a bad habit of puffing away like theres no tomorrow, the P lip seems to helps in this area as not to cause tongue bit. The flat, saddle, P lip bit is also comfortable clenched in jaw for hours on end. She was picked up as an estate and has been in service for myself going on six years. While refurbishing my last pipe it dawned on me that my little DeLuxe hasn’t been cleaned property by me ever, my skills have changed  much since  its cleaning almost six years ago and I thought now would be a good time to do right by her and give her a good once over.

My DeLuxe


I’m a little embarrassed with the upkeep of one of my favorites or…

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