Monthly Archives: March 2016

The Transformation of a Second Ugly Duckling – Can it be done a second time?


Blog by Steve Laug

This afternoon I took on the second ugly duckling from the eBay “hackster” who had ruined the pipe that I transformed into a swan earlier. This one is stamped Morell over Mackenzie on the left side of the shank and Imported Briar over Italy on the right side. The Morell was a filter pipe so it was made to accommodate a Medico style paper filter. The pipe was a mess. Picture with me what it looked like. It had been painted with a band of coffee grounds (?) around the rim going down the sides of the bowl about a ¼ inch. The rim had been roughly sawn off and the tooth marks of either the file or saw were still present. The shank had damage that was ignored. The entire pipe had then been coated with a thick, runny coat of shellac that had rippled over the surface and given the pipe an obscene shininess that highlighted the atrocities that had been done to it. The stem was original but the “hackster’s” hand had not missed it either. It was cut off and a poorly cut button was carved into the stem. No care of thought was taken to account for the angles of the stem to the button and nothing had been done to open a slot in the end of the button. If you cannot picture it in your mind’s eye here are some photos.Dublin1 Dublin2 Dublin3 Dublin4I took some close up photos of the rim and stem. The rim photo is a little out of focus but you can see what I was talking about above. It was a mess. The issues with the stem are pretty self evident.Dublin5 Dublin6 Dublin7 Dublin8I scraped the coffee grounds off of the bowl edge with a sharp pen knife. In doing so I found a large pink/white fill on the left side of the bowl across the top just below the rim edge. In the next two photos you can see the coffee grounds on the cloth I put on the work table to collect them when I scraped them off. The bowl was pretty full of fills all the way around.Dublin9 Dublin10I scrubbed off the shellac with acetone on cotton pads until I had removed all the thick, runny coat that covered the bowl.Dublin11 Dublin12I took a close up photo of the fill area on the left side to give you an idea of the size of it. It was large and ugly. The other side of the bowl also had several and one larger one mid bowl.Dublin13 Dublin14I took a photo of the rim to show the detail of the file or saw marks.Dublin15With fills this large and a pipe this ugly something had to be done with it or it would end up looking worse than it did when I started. The ugly duckling would just be a duck of another colour. There would not be any swan emerging unless I took some drastic measures. I taped off the stamping on the bowl and a band around the shank stem union with some electrical tape to protect it during the rustication and the staining. I used a series of burrs on the Dremel to cut a random rustication pattern on the sides of the bowl. Different burrs gave a different effect so follow the photos until the end of the rustication to get a full idea of how each burr worked.Dublin16 Dublin17 Dublin18 Dublin19 Dublin20 Dublin21 Dublin22 Dublin23When I finished with a series of five different burrs I then used the rustication tool that was gifted to me and tore up the finish even more. I wanted to cut some deep gouges in the briar to give it heavy rustication.Dublin24I followed that up with a flower frog (see picture below) to further rusticated the finish.Dublin25Once finished with the serious weapons I used a brass bristle brush to knock of the loose particles of briar and smooth things out a bit.Dublin26My next step in the transformation process was to stain the bowl. I chose an aniline black stain to go into the grooves of the rustication because of the large fills. The black stain would penetrate even the white stain in the grooves I cut into it. I applied the stain and flamed it to set it in the briar.Dublin27 Dublin28When the stain dried I removed the tape from the smooth areas. I sanded the high points on the rustication with a sanding block to remove the black from those areas. I wanted to have a contrast that blended well with the smooth areas. I chose on this bowl to also rusticate the rim because of the amount of damage that the “hackster” had done to that area of the pipe. With the sanding done you can see the contrast beginning to show.Dublin29 Dublin30 Dublin31 Dublin32After I sanded the bowl and rim I rubbed it down with a light coat of olive oil to enliven the briar. I let is absorb into the wood before I hand buffed the pipe with a shoe brush.Dublin33 Dublin34 Dublin35 Dublin36 Dublin37With the bowl finished it was time to tackle the damage done to the stem. It had been clipped off and then sloppily tapered to the hand cut new button. I worked on the taper with a flat file and a sandpaper until the transition on both sides of the stem matched. I also cleaned up the button as it was wider on the top than the bottom. I also shaped the button so that it was uniform. The button was pinched and there was an indentation on both sides of the stem in front of the button. I sanded the sides of the stem to remove that indentation.Dublin38The end of the stem was left with a raw air hole. I used needle files to clean up the shape of the button from the end and also to cut and shape a slot.Dublin39 Dublin40The photo above shows the general shape of the slot. I still needed to flatten the face of the button and to clean up the slot but you get the idea. I also used some tiny spots of superglue to fill in the areas on the left side of the stem near the button where the “hackster” had cut back too much material. Once it dried I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it out and blend it into the surface of the stem.Dublin41With the reshaping and tapering done to the stem I went on to use my usual array of micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and gave it a coat of Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads, another coat of oil and then finished with 6000-12000grit pads. I gave it a final coat of oil and let it dry.Dublin42 Dublin43 Dublin44I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond – making sure to use a light hand on the bowl. Then I gave the stem several coats of carnauba wax. I gave the bowl a coat of Halcyon II wax and hand buffed the bowl with the shoe brush. I gave the entire pipe a final buff with a microfibre cloth. I think the ugly duckling once again became a swan. What do you think? I may well have to make a new stem for it one day. Dublin45 Dublin46 Dublin47 Dublin48 Dublin49 Dublin50 Dublin51 Dublin52 Dublin53

There has got to be a Swan in there somewhere – doesn’t there?


Blog by Steve Laug

Sometimes you are handed an ugly pipe. This one came to me from my brother and was part of a lot from an eBay seller who claims to be restoring estate pipes. Let me tell you, this guy should be shot for what he does to old pipes. My brother picked up four of his pipes. From his photos they appeared to be okay. But when they arrived they were absolutely awful. He had a lovely Stanwell sandblast billiard that he hacked the blast off of. He had a nice looking Dublin shape that he glued what appears to be coffee grounds around the rim from the top down about ¼ inch of the side. The third was butchered as well. Then there was this one – it must have been a nice Rhodesian but he had sawed it off below the rings and then left a very rough rim. He had drilled out the bowl and left it rough and out of round. To my thinking this one had been a GBD Rhodesian. The stem was stamped with the characteristic FRANCE across the joint of the shank and stem. There were remnants of a shape number on the right side that was illegible. There was also a very faint part of the oval on the left side of the shank. He had ruined a very sought after pipe. Added to that he had not even bothered to open the airway as it was plugged with thick black tars and I could not blow any air through it.

To top it all off he even pictures the final insult – in his sales he shows a can of shellac and proudly says he coats all of his work with shellac. Well the amount of dried, runny shellac on these bowls was astonishing. Under the shellac there were even hairs and dust permanently encased in a coat of the thick shiny mess. They all looked awful. The dried runs, the scratches and grooves left much to be desired. Even the stem had not escaped his savage attempts at restoration. There were sanding marks and large dings along the surface of the top and the bottom. The tooth marks that had been there were still evident. A large part of me wanted to throw them all away. But there is always that part of me that wants to see if I can reclaim these hack jobs and make something useful and beautiful out of the guy’s mess. I decided to tackle the cut off Rhodesian first. Time would tell if I could redeem the pipe and make it usable and beautiful once more.

Here is what it looked like when it arrived. Understand that the photos do not begin to give an idea of what the pipe looked and felt like I person… the best that they can do is give you a sense of what was there.Author1 Author2 Author3The first thing I decided to do after looking at it was to reshape the bowl. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to round the edges of the top to make it look more like a prince. It was a lot of sanding with the Dremel to reshape the bowl. The photos below show the process of shaping from the beginning. The first two photos show the first steps in the removal of briar to give the pipe some shape. Was the swan starting to appear? Not sure at this point.Author4 Author5I gave the sides of the bowl more of a curve toward the rim and reduced the size of the rim with the Dremel and sanding drum as shown in the next photos.Author6 Author7 Author8At this point I decided to top the bowl and get rid of the deep scratches on the rim top. The bowl after topping was beginning to take some stately shape. Maybe the swan was beginning to appear.Author9 Author10There was still too much width on the rim and not enough curves to the sides of the bowl for my liking. I sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper to further shape it. I used acetone to remove the shellac and the messy finish on the remaining part of the bowl and shank. The pipe was quickly becoming mine rather than the work of the “hackster”.Author11I tried in vain to blow through the shank. The airway was blocked. I used an unfolded paperclip to break through the thick blockage. I poked and probed until I was able to blow through the airway. Once it was opened I used the drill bit on a KleenReem pipe reamer to unblock the airway. It took a bit of pushing and twisting to get it through the hard tars that lined the airway. Finally I was able to break through. I cleaned the shank and airway with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol.Author12 Author13 Author14I put the pipe away for the night. In the morning I was still not pleased with the curvature of the bowl top so I used the Dremel and sanding drum on it once again and gave the bowl more of an upward slant toward the rim. I reduced the width of the rim top to almost nothing. Once I had the bowl shape better defined I sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper to shape it further. I then went to work on the rim. I decided to bevel the rim inward to try to clean up the shape of the bowl. I folded a piece of 220 grit sandpaper and worked on the rim until I had a nice rounded top and beveled inner edge.Author15I sanded the bowl with a medium and a fine grit sanding block to remove the scratches. To me the swan is finally emerging. This piece of briar has some beautiful grain that was hidden beneath the dirty finish and the overcoat of shellac. I am liking the look of the pipe more and more.Author16 Author17 Author18 Author19The stem was actually more of a mess than I had initially thought. In sanding out the bite marks as much as the hack had done he has changed the slope of the stem. Now the angles of each side were different and the marks he had left behind were quite deep. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the marks and to try and reclaim the shape of the stem. Author20 Author21Once I had the shape of the stem repaired I sanded it with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and then rubbing it down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished with 6000-12000 grit pads and gave it a final coat of oil.Author22 Author23 Author24I sanded the bowl with micromesh sanding pads at the same time. Each successive grit pad from 1500-12000 gave the bowl a deeper shine.Author25 Author26 Author27 Author28I finished by buffing the pipe on the wheel with Blue Diamond polish and giving it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad and then gave it a final hand buff with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown below. The grain on this old timer that has been given a new life is amazing. What do you think did the swan emerge from this ugly duckling? I think so but I am curious as to what you think. Thanks for looking.Author29 Author30 Author31 AUTHOR32 Author33 Author34 Author35

Dressing up a no name Walnut Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

My brother Jeff found this homemade no name Walnut Billiard on eBay and was drawn to it. He has sent me more panel pipes than I have ever bought myself… the funny thing is that I am starting to really like them. This one is quite unique and almost a folk-art piece. It is a panel but the carver did not worry about making things symmetrical. All of the sides are different sizes. The rustication is quite nice and I like it – almost like the surface of a golf ball. The rim is smooth and the bowl is almost round. The pipe had a little cake building but not enough to keep. The pipe was stained with a bland tan coloured stain but there appeared to be remnants of red stain in some places. The sanding on the smooth parts was a little rough and there were scratch marks left behind by a file or some carving knife. The stem was good quality vulcanite and there was some buildup around the button and some oxidation. The fit of the stem to the shank was not good as the end of the shank was cut at an angle. The stem was also too large for the shank and neither the shank nor the stem was round. The tenon was also not round – it looked as if it had been sanded and was a little conical. The concept for the pipe was good but the execution left a lot of unfinished angles and left a mediocre handmade pipe.Bill1 Bill2 Bill3 Bill4I took a close up photo of the shank/stem union to show what I am talking about when I say that they do not match.Bill5I have also included a photo of the bowl to show the “almost round” bowl. It looked as if the carver had tried to bevel the inner edge of the rim.Bill6The stem was oxidized and had some spots and build up on the surface. At the stem/shank union it was rough and there were some deep scratches.Bill7To take care of the bad angle on the shank I used the topping board to face the end. It squared up pretty neatly. The out of round shank and stem required something a little different. I decided to use a nickel band to break up the shank and stem union and give me a round edge to bring the stem against. That way I could at least make the stem round and clean up the junction. I used the Dremel and sanding drum to round out the shank enough to take the band. I smoothed out the flow of the shank to the bowl and round the top of the shank. Once I had the area sanded for the band I pressed the band lightly onto the shank and then heated the band with a heat gun. Once it heated and expanded I pressed it into place on the shank.Bill8 Bill9 Bill10 Bill11The band fit well with the shank and actually dressed up the pipe. I wiped the bowl down with acetone on cotton pads to remove the finish and prepare the bowl for a contrast stain.Bill12 Bill13 Bill14 Bill15I used a black Sharpie pen to colour/stain the rustication on the whole pipe. I wanted that portion of the pipe to contrast with the smooth portions of the walnut.Bill16 Bill17 Bill18I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on cotton pads to lighten the shiny black of the Sharpie and dull it slightly. I then stained and flamed the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain mixed 50/50 with alcohol to make it more of a wash. I stained the entire bowl including the black portion to make sure to get stain into all of the grooves.Bill19 Bill20 Bill21I buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond on the wheel paying particular attention to the smooth portions of the bowl. I wanted the contrast to be stark between the rusticated parts and the smooth parts.Bill22 Bill23 Bill24 Bill25 Bill26I cleaned out the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol. I was surprised with how clean it was.Bill27The carver who had fit the stem to the pipe had not finished working on the slot. It looked like he had started by using a small cutting wheel to cut a line across the airway in the end of the stem. That was all that had been done to the slot at this point.Bill28I used needle files and sandpaper to open up the airway and shape the slot. I smoothed out the transition from the cut to airway and made the entire slot more oval. The general shape of the airway is a Y with it following the curve of the button and creating an open airway. A pipe cleaner slides easily into the airway with the new open end.Bill29To prepare the mortise to accept the curve of where the tenon met the stem, I beveled the inside edge of the mortise with a knife. I also beveled the end of the tenon into a funnel while I had the knife out. When I pushed the stem into the shank it fit snugly against the end of the tenon.Bill30I took out the stem and cleaned out the airway to the bowl and the mortise with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I scrubbed it until it was clean.Bill31I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to break up the oxidation and also to remove some of the dings and marks on the stem surface. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and then dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads. I gave it another coat of oil and then finished sanding with 6000-12000 grit pads. I gave it a final coat of oil and let it dry.Bill32 Bill33 Bill34I sanded the smooth portions of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads to lighten the stain there. I lightly buffed the bowl and buffed a bit harder on the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buff. I applied some Conservator’s Wax to the bowl and hand buffed it with a shoe brush. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It came out pretty well with the adjustments and tweaks that I added. The band sets off the bowl and stem. The contrast stain works with the walnut. The smooth and the rusticated finish go well with the stains I chose. It is now a better looking workable pipe. Thanks for looking.Bill35 Bill36 Bill37 Bill38 Bill39 Bill40 Bill41 Bill42 Bill43

Restoring A Medico Double-Dri Bakelite Pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

In the ongoing adventure of discovery of the quest for the drier smoking pipe I keep finding new ones that intrigue me. This latest addition that my brother Jeff picked up is unique even if it was not part of that adventure of discovery. It is stamped Medico over Double-Dri and it is unusual to say the least. The base of the pipe I believe is made of Bakelite. The bowl is painted briar or at least looks to be. The bowl is friction fit into the base and is held in place by a cork or composition ring around the edges of the base. The bottom of the bowl is a hard clay or ceramic material. The bowl is U shaped and has three holes in the bottom of the bowl that angle outward toward the edge of the external bottom of the bowl that fits in the base. The bottom of the base has a raise metal pillar that sits in an indentation on the bottom of the bowl once it is in place. Double-dri3

This directs the airflow into the rounded bottom of the base and the airway on the back of the pipe. There is a Medico paper filter that sits in the shank of the pipe and the tenon of the stem to further dry out the smoke. Thus there are two traps for moisture so that the smoke that is drawn into the mouth of the smoker is Double Dry. The stem on the one I have is made of a multi-coloured white/grey and has a raised interlocking DD logo. The white/grey nylon looks quite nice with the dark of the base and the white of the bowl.

The pipes seemed to come in a variety of colours and bowl configurations and materials from meerschaum to briar and painted briar. The bases also came in a variety of colours as did the stems. I found the next photo on the web that gives some idea of the wide variety of choices in this 50’s era pipe. Double-Dri1Charles Lemon at Dadspipes wrote about one he did a refurb on and it got my attention so I have had an eye out for one. Here is his write up http://dadspipes.com/2015/10/30/1041/ He wrote that the “Double-Dri was Medico’s foray into the field of removable and interchangeable bowls, though where the Falcon pipe used aluminum for its shank, the Double-Dri used another 1950’s Space Age material, Nylon, for both shank and stem. Press-fit bowls were available in briar or the more expensive meerschaum.”Double-dri2

There was not much information on the brand. The PipePhil site just had the brand and a few photos of two different pipe configurations. The Smoking Metal site gave the name and a picture of the pipe put together and taken apart. There was nothing that I could find that spelled out what Charles spoke of in terms of the base and stem being nylon. It appeared to me that he was right about the stem on the one I had. It was nylon. The base however was exactly like earlier Bakelite pipes that I have in my collection. I know there is a way to check that but the look and feel certainly makes me think I am right in that assessment.

Like Charles I also found a few advertisements in 1950s era magazines that sold the pipe. I could not resist using the one to the left.It is a Medico advertisement in the March 1955 edition of Popular Mechanics magazine. The language of the advert makes for great reading. It says that it is the Best Looking Pipe and the Best Smoking Pipe. It smokes 35 degrees cooler. The Double-Dry system is shown in the line drawing as made up of three parts – Condensation, Radiation and Filtration. If you buy the press on this pipe you will wonder why it is not still being sold 60+ years later. (I would love to get a hold of a copy of the folder that is mentioned at the bottom of the advertisement if any of you have one around.)

When the pipe arrived I brought it to the worktable I took a few photos to show what the condition was when I started the clean up. It was in decent shape. The bowl was caked and the holes in the bottom of the bowl were clogged. I could not see how the airflow worked with the bowl and base from looking inside the bowl. The bowl had some nicks and damage on the top edge and had a thick coating of tars. The bowl exterior was also dirty and there were some black marks on the sides of the bowl. The base was dirty and caked with hardened tars and oils. The inside of the shank and airway were black and the airway into the base was reduced in size. The stem had a lot of tooth chatter on the top and the bottom sides near the button and the contrasting grey and white of the stem material were dull. The double DD on the stem looked to be in excellent shape.Double-dri4 Double-dri5 Double-dri6 Double-dri7I took a close up photo of the rim to show the damage that would need to be dealt with. I also did a close up photo of the bottom of the base to show the inset up into the bowl base.Double-dri8 Double-dri9

I took two photos of the base and the bowl – one looking at it from the top down and the other with the bottom side of the bowl showing.Double-dri10 Double-dri11

I removed the stem from the pipe and the old paper Medico Filter was present.Double-dri12

I cleaned out the inside of the base with cotton swabs and alcohol and cleaned out the airways in the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol.Double-dri13 Double-dri14

The bowl had a rounded bottom so I used a PipNet reamer and reamed the bowl to remove the cake and enable me to see the airways in the bottom of the bowl.Double-dri15 Double-dri16

I used a paper clip to break through the airways from the underside of the bowl.Double-dri17I scrubbed the bowl exterior and rim with cotton pads and alcohol. I was able to remove most of the grime from the bowl and a fair bit of the lava from the rim. I could see that the rim was actually unpainted briar.Double-dri18 Double-dri19 Double-dri20 Double-dri21I sanded the bowl with 1500-2400 grit micromesh pads to remove some of the pieces of tar and oil that were stuck to the surface of the bowl. I also sanded the base with the micromesh to give it a shine.Double-dri22 Double-dri23I lightly topped the bowl to clean up the outer edge of and the top of the rim. I sanded the inner edge of the rim to smooth that out as well. I followed up on it by sanding it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh pads.Double-dri24I sanded the tooth chatter and marks out of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and then wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and the shine came back to the stem. The contrast of grey and white really began to stand out.Double-dri25 Double-dri26 Double-dri27I gave the nylon stem several coats of Conservator’s Wax and hand buffed the stem with a microfibre cloth. I put the pipe back together piece by piece including a new Medico paper filter in the stem.Double-dri28 Double-dri29 Double-dri30I gave the entire pipe another coat of Conservator’s Wax and hand buffed the pipe to a shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. Other than the damage on the curve of the bowl the pipe looks very good. Thanks for looking.Double-dri31 Double-dri32 Double-dri33 Double-dri34 Double-dri35

BBB Own Make #166 Reconditioning


Blog by Dave Gossett

I’ve owned a few BBB’s for years but lately I’ve taken a real liking to the Own Make. I picked this up from eBay on the cheap. Even with the blurry pictures it looked rough, but it was even worse upon arrival.

The one time this pipe was actually reamed, I think it was with a knife. The inner rim was hacked up and the top was charred. Dave1 Dave2 Dave3 Dave4 Dave5I like a challenge so I got to work. I used a Dremel drill with a barrel sander to make way for a reamer.

Here is it after the initial cleaning. Lots of rim char and missing briar. Dave6I started with a slight topping to give it a crisp symmetrical outer rim ring and then beveled the inner rim to smooth out the damage. Next I sanded the outside of the bowl to remove the scratches. Once the rim and stummel repairs were finished, I sanded the bowl chamber smooth and added a fresh carbon coating.

Next up: the stem. Once the stem was cleaned and sanitized I removed the tooth chatter with needle files and began wet sanding. I use craft sticks and glue various grits of sand paper to them for wet sanding the sharp edges and angles. Wet sanding the entire stem by hand can soften the crisp edges of the original design. Using these small sticks, can remove all the oxidation without compromising the original shape.

Here is an example from another project pipe. The stem in this picture also has a button patch repair. Dave7To finish up, I gave it few coats of carnauba wax and polished the silver band. Dave8 Dave9 Dave10 Dave11

A Facelift for Colored Billiard


Blog by Aaron Henson

Last fall I went to a flea market at our fair grounds and found a pipe that I could not leave without. It is was a Yello-Bole, Chesterfield, bent billiard with P-lip stem and nickel-plated shank band. It had been well used but was in good shape. When I got into restoring it I found that it had two significant issues, one of which was a deep burn on the outside of the rim. After a consultation email with Steve, I decided to build up the outside of the bowl and then rusticate the bowl to hide the repair. Since I had not rusticated a bowl before I thought I should try my hand on another pipe first. This is the story of my first pipe rustication. I’ll do a write up on the Chesterfield when I get it done.Aaron1Incidentally, I also picked up a white bent billiard at the same flea market. Truth be told (and revealing my inexperience), I thought I was buying a smooth meerschaum. It had a nice smooth bowl, with a gold shank band and a yellow acrylic stem. The stem attached to the bowl with a tenon that threaded into an insert in the shank. The rim was dark and heavy with tar. It wasn’t until I cleaned off the rim that I noticed the chipped paint and the wood underneath and realized my error.Aaron2 Aaron3After deciding to rusticate the Chesterfield, I thought that this pipe would be a perfect candidate on which to practice. I began by reaming the bowl and cleaning the shank. The tar was very thick and hard even the stem was plugged about halfway. Once the internal of the stummel were cleaned I started removing the white paint. Not a necessary step but I wanted to see just what kind of wood lay underneath the white coat of paint. To my surprise it wasn’t briar at all. I’m still not certain what it is; very little grain, very light in color and quite soft compared to briar. My guess is pear wood but it could be any of a variety of alternate woods.Aaron4 Aaron5I used 60-grit sand paper to remove the paint which left a rough surface. I didn’t bother to smooth in any further but rather applied a heavy coat of black aniline dye. The dye was sacrificial and would help me see the extent and depth of the rusticating.Aaron6I made my rustication tool using ten 10d nails set with Gorilla Glue into the hollowed out end of a large dowel. Before gluing the nails, I cut off the heads and sharpened the points. Taping them all together so the points were even I set them in the dowel and waited for glue to set. The nails extended a little more than 2 inches from the dowel and I later found that this was too far. Using the push and twist method the nails would flex and separate while twisting the tool. Placing a hose clamp around the nails about half an inch from the end kept the nails together and the tool worked much better. Aaron7 Aaron8At this point the bowl had a very sharp and coarse texture so I knocked it down with a wire brush and then switched to a light sanding with 60-grit sandpaper. With the texturing done, I applied another two coats of black Feibing’s dye and flamed them to set the color.Aaron9I wanted to try a contrasting stain, so I took some 400 grit paper and worked the stain off high points. By the time I got done and wiped the stummel down with alcohol, I had a slightly rusticated pipe with white high points and blue (faded black) low points. I was not very happy with the results so I set it aside to dwell on it for a while.Aaron10Reflecting on the pipe I realized that the wood was not very interesting and did not seem to absorb stain well; I can see why it was painted in the beginning. I also reminded myself not to get ‘attached’ to this pipe. It was for practice after all; experiment and learn.

The texture that I got with my rustication tool was not what I wanted for the Chesterfield. So I took the white and blue stummel back to the workbench again and this time used a small carving bit on my Dremel. I went over the low spots and making them more defined and just randomly played with the tool. In the end I had something I kind of liked, and more importantly, something that I felt I could use on the Chesterfield.

To finish the stummel I decided to go simple and leave it all black. I gave it two coats of black dye and set it aside to dry. Because the wood didn’t seem to hold the stain well I was concerned about buffing the finish. Instead I finished the stummel with two coats of clear shellac.

Then, I turned my attention to the stem. I had decided early on that the yellow acrylic stem would not work with the new look so I would need to fashion a new one. I liked the idea of an acrylic stem but after looking at stems online I could not find just what I wanted. So I ordered two different round tapered vulcanite stems from Vermont Freehand.Aaron11Having only worked with vulcanite stems with integral tenons I was on the low end of the learning curve for this type of tenon. In the shank, there is a threaded (female) insert. The tenon itself (the other part) is double ended (male-male) – one threaded and other end smooth. The threaded end is simple enough to understand and the smooth part fit into the end of the stem.Aaron12When I received the stems I selected the one I thought would look best and took it to the work bench. First I cut off the formed tenon, then using progressively larger drill bits, enlarged the air hole. I made the mortise for the smooth end of the plastic tenon. I have a detachable chuck for my hand drill and I used it to hold the bit while I turned the stem by hand. Aaron13I then had to counter sink the mortise to seat the tenon ring. Aaron14After the tenon was fit to the shank and the stem was rotated correctly, I marked the top of the stem and taped off the band to protect it. Using a flat micro file I shaved off stem material until it closely match the shank diameter. I finished the shaping with 240-grit wet/dry sand paper taking care not to round the shoulder of the stem.Aaron15Once the stem was fully fitted and shaped to the stem I used a heat gun to soften the vulcanite and bend it to match the shape of the original stem. I set the shape by dipping the stem in cool water. This is where I ran into my next challenge. The heat from bending the stem also expanded the mortise and now the tenon was too loose. My solution was to coat the inside of the mortise with a thin layer of super glue. I am not sure how this will hold up long term but it works well for now.

Lastly I polished the stem with micro mesh pads (1500–12,000) using a little mineral oil between each set of three. I finished the stem with white diamond on the buffing wheel then three coats of carnauba wax.Aaron16 Aaron17 Aaron18 Aaron19 Aaron20All things considered, I am happy with the results. I am under no illusions, this pipe is no master piece, but I did learn a few things and that was what I was after. Hopefully this will help someone else too. Your feedback is very welcomed. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

Bringing New Life to a Yello-Bole Metal


Blog by Steve Laug

My brother found this older Yello-Bole metal pipe. It is a lot like the older Grabow Vikings but the bottom of the bowl is different from the Grabow. Between the bowl and the metal base there is a flat perforated screen or disk that the tobacco sits on. It acts as the bottom of the bowl. The wooden bowl itself is a threaded tube that screws into the base. There are two pin holes on the sides of the base (one on each side about mid base below the bowl). These serve as openings to draw air into the bowl. This one was in decent shape and would take a little work to clean up. The photos below were provided by the eBay seller and show the state of the pipe. From the first two photos below you can see the wear on the stem and the white calcification that generally builds up under a rubber softee bit. The finish on the bowl is shot. There is nothing but bare briar showing. The outer edge of the rim looks good. YB1 YB2The next two photos give a top and underside view of the pipe. You can see the ring of cake in the bowl around the middle and lighter on the top and bottom edges. You can see the metal disk in the bottom of the bowl. I have purchased a few of these over the years and almost all of them were missing the metal disk that sat in the base between the bowl and base. The stem shows some tooth marks on the top and underside.YB3 YB4The final photo included by the seller showed the stamping on the underside of the base. It read Yello-Bole horizontally along the bottom of the shank. It also gave the patent number on the bottom of the base. It read PAT. over 2467002 over PAT. PEND. That was enough data to do a patent search on the US Patent Information site. http://www.uspto.gov/patents-application-process/search-patents. From there I copied the patent drawing and included it below.YB5The diagram and the accompanying documents show the conceptual and descriptive narrative of what the pipe was about and what its maker hoped to achieve with his design. The inventor was a Samuel Laurence Atkins of New York. He filed his patent application on July 14, 1945. The patent was granted April 12, 1949. The pipe that I have is stamped Patent Pending thus it is easy to extrapolate that it was made between the dates July 14, 1945 and April 11, 1949 which are the dates before the patent was granted. That makes this pipe between 67-71 years old. It is in pretty decent shape for a pipe of that age.YB6 YB7I took the following photos when the pipe arrived. The seller’s photos were pretty good at showing the issues with the pipe. All the things noted above were correct.YB8 YB9 YB10 YB11The pipe was quite easy to take apart. I unscrewed the bowl and tapped out the disk in the base. The stem came out of the shank with little effort. I took the photo below to show the parts. The second photo shows the cake in the bowl.YB12 YB13I started the clean up with reaming the bowl. I used the PipNet reamer and the largest cutting head to ream from the top of the bowl. I used the second head to ream the bowl from the bottom. I reamed it back to bare briar. There was still some of the signature Yello-Bole bowl coating showing near the top just below the rim.YB14 YB15I scrubbed the bowl base with a brass bristle brush to loosen up the dried tars and oils in the base. I used a dental pick to clean out the threads. I also scrubbed the disk with the brush. YB16 YB17I used pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to clean the surface of the disk and the inside of the base and airway.YB18 YB19

I scrubbed the interior and exterior of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners to remove the build up on the outside and the oils on the inside.YB20With the cleanup finished I set the parts on the table and took a few photos of the cleaned up pipe. Now it was time to restore it.YB21 YB22I wiped down the bowl with cotton pads and acetone to remove the grime and the remaining finish on the bowl.YB23

I stained the bowl with a dark brown stain pen.YB24 YB25I buffed the bowl with red Tripoli to spread and polish the stain. I buffed it with Blue Diamond and rubbed the bowl down with a light coat of olive oil. At this point in the process the bowl and the metal base was complete. I took the following photos to show the state of the progress thus far.YB26 YB27 YB28 YB29 YB30I cleaned the stem and used a clear super glue to repair the deep tooth marks in the top and underside of the stem near the button.YB31 YB32I sanded the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the surface of the stem. YB33 YB34I worked on the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and then rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I wet sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished by dry sanding with 6000-12000 grit pads. I gave it a final coat of oil and let it dry.YB35 YB36 YB37I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the wheel and then gave both multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad and then by hand with a microfiber cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. Thanks for looking.YB38 YB39 YB40 YB41 YB42 YB43