Daily Archives: February 21, 2016

Simple Restoration of a Stanwell Freehand

Blog by Aaron Henson – 2/20/16

I have had my eye on this pipe for several months. It has been languishing in a local antique shop since last summer and was priced as if it were fully restored. To my surprise it was still there at the end of January and the shop had lowered the price. I talked with the owner for a while and eventually got his rock bottom price (which was my top end price). After all, it is a beautiful piece of briar.Stan1

Stan2 This is big pipe: the chamber is 7/8” (22 mm) diameter and 1¾” (45 mm) deep and the walls are more than 3/8” (10mm) thick.Stan3 Inspecting the pipe I did not find much wrong. The stem was heavily oxidized and had very little tooth chatter. The briar was free from dent, gouges and the like. A few minor scratches and the worn stain was all that needed to be addressed. And there was only a light cake in the bowl. As for markings, there were none on the stem and some double markings on the bottom of the shank. It read STANWELL over de Luxe (double stamped) over MADE IN DENMARK (also double stamped). From what I could find, I estimate this pipe was made sometime in the 1970’s. If anyone can date it better please let me know.Stan4 I set the stem to soak in an Oxyclean solution and began working on the stummel. I cleaned the outside of the briar with a tooth brush and Murphy’s oil soap, rinsing with water then quickly drying with a paper towel. I repeated the process on the plateaux several times. Next I reamed the chamber back to bare wood and inspected the internals. Then the internals of the shank cleaned up easily with cotton swaps and bristled pipe cleaners.

All-in-all, other than a micro crack on the outer surface, the briar was in great shape. There was one long scratch near the stamping but I didn’t want to touch that and risk damaging the stamps. I wanted a very smooth finish so I sanded the outside of the pipe with 1500 – 3200 micromesh pads and set it aside.Stan5

Stan6 Returning to the stem, I scrubbed off the oxidation with a green pad and scrubbed the airway with a series of alcohol soaked pipe cleaners – bristled then soft. The tooth chatter was raised with heat from a lighter and the deepest tooth mark was filled with black superglue. When cured, the stem was sanded and polished with 1500 – 12000 micromesh pads. I wet sand with the first six pads and dry polish with the last three. A little mineral oil between sets of three pads seems to help too.Stan7

Stan8 Next the pipe was assembled and taken to the alcohol retort. Even thought I had scrubbed the internals thoroughly, it took 3 test tubes of Everclear until I no longer smell the ghosts of the previous owner’s tobacco.Stan9 In my research of the Stanwell pipes, I found that Stanwell used a walnut stain. This was consistent with the remnants of stain that I found on this pipe and I wanted to restore the original look. I began by applying and undiluted Feibing’s dark brown. After it set I realized that Feibing’s brown dye have too much of a red base and it was not direction I wanted to go.

I wiped as much off as I could with an alcohol soaked cotton pad and sanded the surface with the 2400 micromesh pad again to remove a bit more. Returning to my local Tandy Leather, I searched for a walnut stain. After looking at stain samples on leather (which responds much differently than briar) I placed my bets on Eco-Flo’s Bison Brown. This time the results were much more like what I had seen in pictures of similar Stanwell pipes. I applied the stain at full strength and flamed it. After the second coat dried I wiped the excess off with an alcohol soaked pad.

With the smooth surfaces done I stained the plateaux with Feibing’s black dye. Once it dried, I wiped the entire wipe down with mineral oil then set it aside to soak in. It was two days later that I found time to return and take the pipe to the buffing station. I buffed the entire pipe with red diamond then applied three coats of carnauba.

Thanks for reading and I would like to hear your comments.Stan10




Restoring an Interesting Older XXXX’d out Sitter

Blog by Steve Laug

When my brother Jeff sent me the photos of this pipe I could see what had attracted him to purchasing it. The unique sitter shape with the angled bottom, the interesting grain patterns and the clean though oxidized stem all pointed to a pipe that would clean up very well. The stamping on the left side of the shank was XXXX’d out so he could not read it to see who had made the pipe. There was something about it however, that niggled at my memory and the shape had a quintessential British made pipe look. When it arrived I examined it under a bright light and was able to make out the stamping under the XXX’s. It read MAJESTIC over Danish Crown. From research on the web I found that the brand was made by Ben Wade in England.Ben1 In person the pipe was quite nice. There were scratches and nicks in the bowl that would need some work. On the left side toward the bottom of the bowl were two marks joined by a line. At first glance it looked like a crack but it was not. There were two flaws in the briar and a long horizontal scratch in the surface of the briar. Even if it had been a crack the two flaws stopped it from spreading so it was not a problem.Ben2

Ben3 There was beautiful grain on the sides and bottom of the bowl. The dirty rim promised some interesting grain underneath the tars and lava build up. The outer edge of the rim had damage on the front and the rear. It had been tapped out on something solid and had rounded and damaged the edge. The inner edge looked good though the crumbling cake would need to be reamed to know for sure.Ben4


Ben6 I reamed the bowl with the PipNet reamer and completely removed the cake. I wanted to clean up the inner edge of the rim and check the bowl walls for cracks or damage. (In the top view photo you can see the rounding on the front and back outer edges of the rim.)Ben7

Ben8 I cleaned out the airways from button to bowl with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I used a dental pick to clean out the slot.Ben9

Ben10 I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with acetone on cotton pads to remove the grime and the damaged finish.Ben11


Ben13 I scrubbed the rim and then used the topping board to remove the damaged top of the rim. A light topping took the surface down and sharpened the edges on the front and back side of the bowl.Ben14


Ben16 I used the dental pick to clean up the line and the two end points that marked the bowl on the left side. I used clear super glue to fill in the flaws and the groove in the line.Ben17 I sanded the repairs to the bowl until the surface was smooth. I sanded it and the rim with micromesh sanding pads 1500-6000 grit. I used a black marker and a dark brown stain pen to prepare the bowl for staining. I decided to use a Cherry Stain and Danish Oil on the briar on this one. It would highlight the grain and make it shine.Ben18



Ben21 I laid the pipe aside to dry over night. In the morning I buffed it with some Blue Diamond and then gave it a coat of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a flannel buffing pad and then took the next photos.Ben22



Ben25 The stem still needed attention. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the nicks and deep oxidation in the vulcanite. I followed that by wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and rubbing it down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads and repeated the oil. I finished by dry sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads and gave it a final coat of oil. I set it aside to let the oil soak into the vulcanite.Ben26



Ben29 I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond and then gave it several coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad and then with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The unusual shape and the unique grain on the briar really stand out with the finish I chose. The slight bend to the stem gives it a jaunty look. The stem is too heavy for the bowl to sit flat on the angled base but it balances on the point.Ben30







Ben37 Thanks for looking.

Brebbia Clean Up

I had to share this with you all. It is one of my favourite shapes and the restoration was well done!



Happy International Pipe Smoking Day to all my friends, readers and fellow bloggers. For the day I wanted something new, well new to me . She came in on Friday just in time for a Saturday puff. The Brebbia Fat Bob is a pipe I’ve been in search of in my price range for two year’s. Now I’m unsure if that’s what I have here but if it’s not it’s a close match. The pipe itself is unmarked but the stem has the Brebbia inlay. I have seen other unmarked Brebbia’s in the past made for private B&B’s.
As Received


I got a little ahead of myself with this refurb and began working without stopping to take before and after photos, the photo above is from the auction. It was listed as clean and ready to smoke apparently my standard’s are a little higher than others. The pipe was badly reamed ( out…

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