Monthly Archives: June 2016

Dunhill 488 Root Briar Restoration (1977)

By Al Jones

I’ve had several Dunhill pipes in my collection and on my work bench, but this is my first Root Briar. This one was offered by an eBay seller in Indonesia and it didn’t get much attention, and it was won for a modest final bid.

Pipedia says this about the Root Briar finish:

Root Briar
1940, Shape #48 saddle bulldog in Root finish, G.L. Pease collection[12]
1932 T113 Billiard in Root Finish, showing “Bowling Ball” stem and Vernon tenon
. Introduced in 1931 and highly prized because the grain is more pronounced in this finish. The Root Briar finish required a perfectly clean bowl with excellent graining. Therefore, it is the most expensive of the Dunhill pipes. Corsican briar was most often used for the Root finish, since it was generally more finely grained. This is a rare finish, due to the scarcity of briar suitable to achieve it. These pipes are normally only available at Company stores, or Principle Pipe Dealers.

The seller had posted many good pictures of the pipe and it appeared to only require a mild clean up.

Three weeks later, the pipe was delivered and I finished it this evening. Below is the pipe as it was received. The pipe weighs 46 grams. It does not have a size stamp, but I would say it is a size 4.

Dunhill_488_RB_Before (1)

Dunhill_488_RB_Before (4)

Dunhill_488_RB_Before (3)

Dunhill_488_RB_Before (2)

The pipe was used with the metal filter tube and it was interesting to find that there was little or no tar build-up in the shank. I assume the tube tranferred the smoked tobacco directly up the stem. The tube was a bit bent, so it was discarded. Today, most Dunhill pipe enthusiasts do not use the filter tube. There was some mild cake in the bowl and the stem had some light oxidation. There was a little rim darkening.

I removed the mild cake and soaked the bowl with alcohol and sea salt. The stem was soaked in a mild Oxy-clean solution.

The briar was shined with White Diamond followed by several coats of carnuba wax. The stem was shined with 800 grit wet paper followed by 1500 and 2000 grades, then 8000 grade micromesh. This was done with the stem mounted on the bowl. The stem was then buffed with White Diamond and Meguiars Plastic Polish.

Below is the finished pipe.

Dunhill_488_RB_Finish (1)

Dunhill_488_RB_Finish (5)

Dunhill_488_RB_Finish (4)

Dunhill_488_RB_Finish (2)

Dunhill_488_RB_Finish (6)

Dunhill_488_RB_Finish (3)

Dunhill_488_RB_Finish (7)





Dunhill_488_RB_Finish (9)

Dunhill_488_RB_Finish (1)

Finally a simple clean up – an Alco Universal Gold Pipe

Blog by Steve Laug

The Alco pipes were made by Falcon in England. This particular version of the Alco was made to hold an in line triple air groove filter. All Alco bowls are interchangeable with any other Alco, but NOT with Falcon. The Alco I was given is an Alco Universal Gold pipe. The pipe was in decent shape with the finish on the bowl in good shape but dirty. The rim had an abundance of lava overflow that came from a thickly caked bowl. There was tobacco debris stuck to the bottom of the bowl. The copper coloured base was dirty but did not show damage. The gold band was attached to the stem and showed some oxidation. The stem itself had a lot of tooth chatter on both the top and bottom sides near the button. What complicated that a little was that the stem was a dental bit and had two scored marks on each side. The airway in the stem was tight and the slot was narrow. The stem had a gold Falcon on the top side. The stamping on the underside of the base read ALCO UNIVERSAL.Alco1 Alco2The pipe came apart easily. I twisted the bowl off the base and found that there was a plastic spacer between the bowl and the base. The bowl had been stamped ALCO on the underside and it was dirty. The base had a lot of tars and oils that had hardened around the centre post. The stem also had the above mentioned “Triple Air Groove Filter”. Surprisingly the filter was pretty new looking.Alco3I cleaned out the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. It was not as dirty as I expected. It made me wonder if the previous owner had not cleaned it a bit before he put in the new filter.Alco4The base was another story. It looked as if it had not been cleaned for a long time. I loosened the hardened oils and tar with a dental pick. I cleaned up the loosened debris with cotton swabs and alcohol and was able to remove the hardened tars and oils that had accumulated in the base over the years. I used cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol to clean out the inside of the mortise and airway in the shank.Alco5Reaming the bowl was a challenge as the cake was hard and dense. Starting with the smallest cutting head on the PipNet reamer and moving through the first three heads I reamed the cake back to bare briar. I cleaned up the bowl and airway at the bottom using the Savinelli Pipe Knife. Thinking about it as I write I probably should have tried out the Falcon Pipe Reamer that I picked up not too long ago. I forgot I had it so it will have to be used next time.Alco6 Alco7I scrubbed the base of the bowl and airway with cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the accumulated oils and tars on the bottom. You can see the ALCO stamping on the briar at the top of the picture.Alco8I worked on the rim with a cotton pad and saliva to remove the build-up there. It just took a bit of elbow grease to remove it and the undamaged rim came out of the grime. I wiped down the bowl with alcohol on the cotton pad and cleaned the dirt off the surface of the bowl and touched up the rim.Alco9I wet sanded the rim and bowl with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and wiped it down again. I finished by sanding it with 3200-4000 grit pads to raise the shine. I put the bowl back on the base for the photo below.Alco10I have always found plastic stems harder to polish than rubber ones. The dental bit was a challenge to clean out all of the tooth marks in the grooves. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the chatter and then used 2000-6000 grit wet dry sandpaper to begin polishing it. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and gave it a coat of Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 pads, gave it another coat of oil and finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and let it dry.Alco11 Alco12 Alco13I have found that buffing plastic stems is more trouble than it is worth as the heat of the buffing pads can easily melt the stem and create a mess. I hand polished the stem with Meguiar’s Scratch X2.0 with cotton pads to bring up the shine. I buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond and gave it several coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the bowl with a clean buffing pad. I gave the stem several coats of Conservator’s Wax and hand buffed it and the bowl with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below.Alco14 Alco15 Alco16 Alco17 Alco18 Alco19 Alco20


I thought this one would be easy – boy was I wrong

Blog by Steve Laug

I wanted a bit of a breather so I went through my box of pipes for repair and picked this multi-finish Jobey Asti Classic Bent Billiard to clean up. The stamping on the left side reads Jobey Asti Classic and on the right side France and the shape number 470. At first glance it looked like it would be a simple restore and clean. The bowl looked decent in the box and the stem was okay as well. When I got back to the table and did a closer examination I was surprised by what I saw. The bowl rim was in bad shape with the outer edge knocked and damaged. There were dent and score marks in the top of the rim. The lava had flown over the top and it looked as if someone had thrown a coat of Urethane on top of the bowl, grime and all. I looked at the exterior and found that even the grooves in the rusticated bottom of the bowl were thickly coated with the plastic stuff. The stem looked good at first but as I examined it I found that it had been cut off and the button recut and a slot fashioned that was not clean or even. The surface of the stem on the top and bottom next to the button was heavily built up with what appeared to be black epoxy and it was bubbled and full of pin prick like holes. It also was not bent correctly to the shape of the bowl. Truly it would need a lot more work than originally thought. (As an aside don’t use Urethane on bowls it is a bear to clean off and if you have to at least clean them before you dip them in that awful plastic stuff.)Asti1 Asti2I took the pipe apart and unscrewed the Jobey Link from the bowl and took a picture of the parts. I wanted to see how dirty the internals were and if the Link would come out easily. For those of you who don’t know the Link system one of the nice perks is that the end of the tenon that sits in the stem are slotted so you can insert a slot or blade screwdriver to loosen and remove the Link. It is a great piece of forethought on the part of the designer.Asti3Because of the coat of Urethane over the lava I needed to top the bowl to remove the grime and also to clean up the outer edges of the bowl. I topped it with 220 grit sandpaper on my topping board.Asti4I sanded the finish on the smooth portion of the bowl with a medium grit sanding block and then wiped the bowl down with acetone to try to break the plastic finish. I was partially successful in removing it but more work would need to be done.Asti5I reamed the bowl with the PipNet reamer and also with the Savinelli Pipe Knife to remove the remnants of cake that still were deep in the bowl. I reamed it back to bare briar so that the new owner could build a cake of their own choosing. You can also see the top and outer edge of the rim in these photos that show it after the topping of the bowl.Asti6In the next photo you can see the film of the plastic stuff still on the bowl with the scratches from the sanding block visible. I decided to let it soak in the alcohol bath for a day and a half to see if the finish would break down some more now that it had been broken through with the sanding blocks.Asti7When I took it out of the bath the finish was pretty smooth. The plastic stuff was gone. I sanded the bowl and shank with micromesh sanding pads to remove some of the scratching and was careful around the stamping on the sides of the shank. I washed the bowl down with some acetone on cotton pads and then stained it with a dark brown aniline stain. I flamed it and repeated the process to make sure I got and even coverage.Asti8While the bowl dried I turned to work on the stem. I heated it with the heat gun to soften the Lucite enough that I could bend it to the proper angle. It did not take too much to get the angle correct but the heat caused the epoxy patch to bubble. The perk of that was that the airhole pin prick marks disappeared.Asti9I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on cotton pads to remove some of the dark stain and bring the grain to the forefront.Asti10I cleaned out the interior of the stem with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol. I cleaned out the area where the Jobey Link sat in the stem and the airway to ensure good fit and draw.Asti11Now it was time to work on repairing the stem repairs! The next photos show what the patches looked like when I started. They stood out clearly and the heat of the gun made them raise and bubble. To me they looked like overkill in terms of a repair. It was almost if the person who did the patch was trying to build up the thickness of the stem at the button to give it strength. It would take some work to make it blend in. I sanded the surface of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth things out and try to match the stem surface. Of course I forgot to take photos of the process but the ones shown below with the micromesh sanding pads will show the change. The third photo below shows the slot in the button. I worked on it with needle files to clean it up and shape it and again forgot to take photos of the process.Asti12I rubbed the bowl down with some Conservator’s Wax so that when I cleaned out the shank and Jobey Link System with would not damage the finish that I had done. (I know I should have done this before staining but this one irritated me and I forgot to do so.) I cleaned the link and then put a little Vaseline on the threads and turned it into the mortise. I adjusted it with the screwdriver to set it into the shank.Asti13 Asti14I buffed the bowl lightly with Blue Diamond on the wheel and gave it a light coat of olive oil. I took the following photos to show what the pipe looked like at this point in the process. You can also see the state of the stem in these photos. Overall the pipe is looking pretty good at this point. It is far better than I expected when I started. The contrast of the dark stain on the rustication and the lighter stain on the smooth briar makes this pipe look quite “classic” matching its name.Asti15 Asti16I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads. I finished sanding with 6000-12000 grit pads. Asti17 Asti18 Asti19I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond. I avoided the rusticated portion so as not to get polishing compound in the crevices and pits of bottom half of the bowl. I waxed the bowl and the stem with multiple coats of carnauba. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The grain is quite beautiful and the contrast between the smooth and the rusticated portions gives a unique look to the pipe. Thanks for looking.Asti20 Asti21 Asti22 Asti23 Asti24 Asti25 Asti26 Asti27

An Interesting Churchill’s Volcano Brought to Life

Blog by Steve Laug

The next out of the box of pipes from my brother is the one below. It is stamped Churchill’s on the smooth underside of the shank. The shape number 882 is along the shank stem junction on the underside. I have refurbished several Churchill’s pipes from their pipe shop in Norwich. I wrote a bit about that shop when I did a refurbish on a Churchill’s Bent Pot. The link to that article is as follows: This pipe had a rustication that is very similar to those I have seen on Lorenzo pipes. The stem on this pipe is stamped Italy on the underside. The finish was tired and dirty but the rustication was in good shape. The rim was solid with no damage to the inner or outer edge but it was thick with tars. The bowl was reamed while I was visiting in Idaho. The stem was in good shape at first glance. It was oxidized but there were no tooth marks. As I examined it I found that the stem had been cut off and a new button was cut into the surface. The slot was also reshaped. The button itself was very thin as the stem was also thin at this point.Church1 Church2I took a close up photo of the rim and the stamping on the underside of the bowl. The rim is dirty but the rustication is in good shape with no burn marks or damage. The stamping is also very clear.Church3I scrubbed the rim with a brass bristle wire brush to remove the tars and oils that had built up there. Once it was loosened I scrubbed it with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to clean off the grime in the finish. I rinsed the bowl with warm running water to remove the grime and soap.Church4 Church5The next photos show the cleaned finish on the pipe.Church6 Church7I used the dental spatula to scrape out the inside of the shank and break the tars and oil build-up away from the walls of the shank and mortise. I cleaned out the mortise and airway in the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol.Church8 Church9I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation. I built up the button with black super glue to add thickness and enable a grip on the button.Church10 Church11I used a file to shape the button and recut the sharp edge against the stem surface. I sanded it with 180 grit sandpaper to smooth out the areas in front of the button on the top and the bottom sides.Church12 Church13I continued to shape the stem surface and the button with 220 grit sandpaper and also used the needle files to open up the slot in the button and reshape that.Church14I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to clean off the oxidation. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded the stem with 3200-4000 grit sanding pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding the stem with 6000-12000 grit pads and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I let the stem dry.Church15 Church16 Church17I stained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain and flamed it. I repeated the process until the coverage was good. I hand buffed the bowl with a shoe brush. I gave it a light coat of olive oil and hand buffed it again. I rubbed the surface down with some Conservator’s Wax and then hand buffed it with the shoe brush for a final shine.Church19 Church20I buffed the pipe lightly with Blue Diamond polish on the wheel and then gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad and then hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The rustication has depth and textures both visually and tactilely. It feels great in the hand. The shape of the bowl and the faux military stem give the pipe a classic look with a flair that is almost Danish looking. I like the finished look of this one. Thanks for looking.Church21 Church22 Church23 Church24 Church25 Church26

Refurbishing pipes became therapy for me through some dark days

Briar Bowls

Blog by Steve Laug

This summer I am celebrating 24 years of working on pipes and I thought it would be helpful for me to reflect a bit on why I started refurbishing pipes and what happened to make it what it is today in my life. I also thought that I would post it here as a blog for those of you who might be interested in knowing a bit more about this old codger! There was a time when pipe refurbishing moved from being a side hobby that I did solely out of interest in getting some quality pipes in my own rack to being a lifeline for me that brought back lost abilities due to a personal physical crisis. I thought it would be interesting to at least some of you to read about my journey with pipe refurbishing and how it has been more than just a hobby in my life. It has become a passion because of what it has done for me. So here is the story.

I started refurbishing pipes shortly after I moved from Surrey to Agassiz, British Columbia, about 2 hours from Vancouver, in 1992. By that time, I wanted to add some more pipes to my pipe rotation but did not have the coin to buy the pipes that I really wanted. I spent time flipping through pages on eBay to find the pipes that I liked. I found that there were many of the ones I wanted there for an “affordable to me price”. It did not take long before the bug bit and I was picking up pipes that I liked. The problem soon arose, that I am sure many of you found with eBay, I was hooked on the thrill of the hunt and the adrenalin of the “auction”. I purchased more pipes than I needed and I purchased ones that looked great online but turned out to be real junk once they arrived. Some of them may have been fixable but I could not fix them. So there was nothing to be done but either throw them away or start to stockpile them in a box. I chose the latter hoping that one day I would be able to work on. But I knew I needed to learn how if that was going to happen.

The day soon came that the box of “junk” became my training ground for learning how to clean up and restore estate pipes. There were enough of them that I could practice for a long time and I could not help but learn. I figured I could make the mistakes on the truly junk pipes and then use what I learned from working on them with those I wanted to keep. That is what I did and that is when things started. It was slow and tedious work and I wondered if I would ever learn what I needed to know but I kept working on them. I did not go overboard in purchasing more pipes to work on, at least to my mind. Those that came out well I either sold or gave away to friends and other pipe smokers. Slowly but surely I reduced the stockpile of pipes and learned much in the process.

This education in pipe refurbishing went on for 8-9 years (though to be honest it is still ongoing). I learned a lot of methods and tricks about working on pipes through the progress of those years. When I got stuck I would call other restorers or post on the online forums for help and it never failed that one of the father’s in the hobby would give me help. I never saw myself as a pipe restorer, I was just a pipe smoker who wanted to learn to work on his own pipes. My method was simple, I would choose an area to work on and then buy pipes that needed that kind of work. Because of my chosen learning methodology, I bought a lot of what appeared to be junk pipes. I would work on their common issue until I was satisfied with the end product. If it was bowl topping I bought bowls that needed that. If it was rustication then I bought bowls that needed that. If it was stripping, refinishing and staining that I wanted to work on then I bought bowls that needed that… you get the drift. I worked on something until I felt I had a basic mastery of the process. In this way the box of old junk pipes became my school of pipe repair. In those days if you had seen what I worked on you and where I did the work you would have laughed. I sat at my desk in my study in our house in Agassiz and worked after office hours and often into the evening to learn how to do something. I never had a lot of tools to work with so it was pretty simple in those days. Things that I was not ready for, I avoided – things like learning how to fit a new stem or add a replacement tenon to a stem. Those would take more work and when I tried to do it the results were frustratingly poor.

When I moved to Vancouver, we rented a basement suite that was furnished and I had to put away and put off my pipe repairs. I was looking forward to having a little shop in the new house to dedicate to pipe work. In December of 2003 my world came to a sudden halt. I had a serious stroke and lost use of the right side of my body. It was a rough time for our family and for me personally. I could no longer walk without assistance and had to be bathed, dressed and cared for by my wife. She had to tie me into a seat to keep me from falling. We bought our Vancouver home after I had started physio-therapy to relearn using my hand, caring for myself, walking and balancing.

We purchased our new home and moved into it with the help of many and soon I had a desk in the basement area. I was able to do stairs carefully and slowly with the help of my cane so that would be workable. I went through my boxes slowly and found my pipe repair supplies and pipes still needing work. I sat and looked at them morosely because the doctors had said that I would not get my fine motor control back. They said that I would never be able to use my right hand like I had before. I refused to believe that and soon began to fiddle with pipe repair. I had the therapist teach me repetitive exercises to learn fine motor control. Things like picking up things translated to picking of sandpaper and pipes. Holding things translated to holding a piece of sandpaper, gripping a cup of coffee easily transferred to hold a pipe bowl between my fingers. When I learned to brush my teeth the back and forth work of that exercise carried over to the work of sanding, and so on. Each thing that had once come naturally had to be broken down and relearned and practiced. It was a lot of repetitive work but with God’s help and grace and a more than stubborn spirit I went to work because I wanted to have those fine muscle controls back. I wanted to be what I had come to call a new normal.

Personally those were some dark days. Progress was very slow and there was not a day that went by that was not frustrating for me. Strokes leave your emotions very ragged and disjointed and responses are often unpredictable. I worked hard with the encouragement of my wife Irene and truly without her patience and faithful love I don’t know if I could have done the work. It took over a year and a half of therapy, 3-5 days a week to relearn what had once been everyday things – walking, balance, feeding and caring for myself and dressing myself. At this point I think I was the only one who held out hope that I would one day return to my hobby – pipe repair. My Romanian stroke therapist, Adrienne was a gift to me; she designed daily exercises for the many different hand and wrist motions that I wanted to regain. She did the same for foot and ankle motions and head and neck motions. She had equipment to teach me balance and how to regain the rhythm of walking. She used massage to untangle my knotted muscles from the spasms that went through my right side post stroke. I was blessed to have found her and she was my lifeline back to self sufficiency. Through her careful training and pushing I was once again able to bathe and toilet myself and even feed myself. I went from dragging my foot and leg to walking with a cane. Eventually I left the cane behind.

Along with her therapy I would sit in the afternoons and evenings resting at my desk or in my recliner working at working on pipes. I worked on sanding bowls and shanks, cleaning up stems and topping bowls. I learned to hold pipe cleaners and push them through stems and airways. Sometimes my old ways did not work and I was left to figure out how to work around something that I could not do. I would also go back to physio-therapy each day with new movements that I knew I needed. I continued to buy more pipes on eBay to keep my schooling and pipe therapy going. Slowly but surely with almost imperceptible daily growth, I was able to gain more control of my fine motor skills and life became more manageable. The side benefit was that the pipes I worked on began to look better. I have told you really the short version of that long year and one half of therapy. There were many struggles and many failures along the way but there was still day by day progress.

Now twelve years later, unless you knew me before, you would not know that I had suffered a stroke and experienced the loss of fine motor control. All the restoration work I do on pipes is still part of my ongoing physio-therapy as well as a means of de-stressing my life. The memories have come back as I have gone back over many of the pipes restored in those early years. I had to laugh at what some of them looked like but then I remember where I was in my recovery when I worked on each of them. They were far from beautiful but to me they were steps back to full function. Since then I have added a lot more skills to my collection. I do not avoid restemming pipes and I replace tenons without fear. I have learned to carve my own pipes with a Dremel. I have learned a steadiness of hand that allows me to work on very finicky spots on bowls and stems with the Dremel and sanding drum. I know that it is not just a matter of hard work and stubbornness. It is also a gift from God to me and I do not take that for granted. The daily work on pipes is an ongoing retraining of my fine motor skills. Today if you spent time with me you might not see the remaining impact of the stroke on my movements but I can still feel them. I am working at about 85-90% of what once was there. I have learned tricks and new habits that have compensated for what is lacking but I continue to push to regain yet more control.

Not long ago I was interviewed by Brian Levine from Pipes Magazine Podcast about rebornpipes and I mentioned that I did pipe refurbishing for therapy more than any other reason. I talked of the work that I do in my real job and the need to finish things and unwind from the weight of what I do. The thing I did not mention was the other side, the therapeutic reason that rebornpipes exists. Pipe refurbishing and restoration will be something I do until the day that I am unable to move any longer because it continues to be my school room for ongoing stroke recovery and it is something of a thanksgiving offering to the Lord who made this renewed ability possible for me. I have written often of the meditative and sacramental nature of pipesmoking but to that I now want to add this concept. In the restorative process of bringing a worn and tired estate pipe back from the brink there is the equally remarkable restorative process of bringing this physically broken person back from a place of frustration and anger to a place of usefulness.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

Briar Bowls

Rehabilitating a Well-Used Nino Rossi Sterling Spigot 167

I am still trying to figure out how Charles uses the Meguiar’s to get it to take that much oxidation off… I use it and never have that result. What is the trick?

Having served in the Canadian Forces Reserve during my university days, I’m a big fan of all things Army, including military mount pipes, so when this Nino Rossi Sterling 167 hit my worktable, I was quite excited to see what lay under the layers of tar and tarnish.

This pipe was obviously a favourite of its previous owner, and it showed all the hallmarks of a reasonably well cared for constant companion – a fairly thick layer of what turned out to be very dense cake in the bowl, tars on the rim and a bit of road rash here and there on the outside of the bowl from handling over the years. The bowl had been reamed at some point with a knife, leaving a ragged and somewhat out of round chamber.

The sterling silver shank cap and tenon were heavily tarnished and greasy feeling, while the vulcanite stem…

View original post 1,215 more words

Restoring a Semi-Churchwarden Pipe

Blog by Steve Laug

When I picked up the lot of pipes from my brother Jeff there was a small churchwarden, just seven inches in length among the assorted pipes. It was a dark sandblasted bowl with an undertone of dark brown and an overstain of medium brown. The bowl was in excellent shape and the rim was very clean. It was stamped on the underside of the shank with the words SEMI over CHURCHWARDEN over Italy. The shank was thinner on the top than on the bottom side. As I examined it I could see a small hairline crack on the right top side of the shank. The finish was perfect with no tars or build up on the rim and no cake in the bowl. The stem was oxidized to an ugly brown and the one side that looked like it had a ‘–‘ logo on the left side. The problem was that the side of the stem had been flattened in that area and if it was a logo it made the stem out of round. There was some tooth chatter on the top and the bottom of the stem at the button but there were not any deep tooth marks that I had to deal with. The way the pipe was made with the flat bottom made it a sitter.CW1I took some photos of the pipe when I brought it to the work table. These give a pretty clear picture of the condition of the pipe when I started cleaning it up. The shank needed to be repaired and the stem cleaned up and made round on the flat side.CW2 CW3I took a close-up photo of the rim to show the state of the inner and the outer edge of bowl. The sandblast finish was clean and the blast on the rim was well done. I also took some photos of both sides of the stem at the button to show the tooth chatter and the lack of deep dents or tooth marks. The fourth photo shows the stamping on the smooth bottom of the shank.CW4 CW5 CW6I cleaned out the inside of the mortise and the airway to the bowl and in the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol.CW7I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the surface oxidation and begin the process of cleaning it off.CW8I cleaned the flat surface on the left side of the stem and then began to build up the smooth area to bring the stem back to round. I sprayed it with an accelerator and then gave it a second coat of glue.CW9I put the stem in the shank and sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out and blend in the patch to the rest of the stem. I worked on it with the sandpaper until the surface was smooth to touch and blended well with the rest of the vulcanite.CW10Once it was smooth and round I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and wiped it down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. CW11 CW12I went through my assortment of bands to find one that was the correct diameter for the cracked shank. I measured it and then found the correct one. I heated it with a lighter and then pressed it into place on the shank of the pipe.CW13 CW14 CW15I took a close-up photo of the shank end to show the crack at the top of the photo under my finger. I have circled cracked area in red.CW16I finished sanding the stem with 6000-12000 grit micromesh pads and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I set it aside to dry.CW17I polished the band with a jeweler’s polishing cloth and then buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffer. I gave the bowl and stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. Thanks for looking. This one will show up on the rebornpipes store soon. Send me a pm or a message if you are interested in owning it.CW18 CW19 CW20 CW21 CW22 CW23 CW24

Restoring a Comoy’s The Guildhall Twin Bore Long Shank

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I brought to my table to work on was stamped on the left side of the shank The Guildhall over London Made and on the right side Twin Bore over Made in England. The stamping was readable with a light and a magnifier but it was faint. It was a nicely shaped long shank billiard or some would call it a Lumberman. I have worked on many Comoy’s The Guildhall pipes but never have seen one stamped like this. The stem indeed is a twin bore. It was in decent shape but it did not bear testimony to the point of the twin bore “bite proof” stem. It had a lot of tooth marks and chatter on the top and the bottom side of the stem. The tooth marks were quite deep but did not enter the airway in the stem. So I guess in that way the stem was “bite through proof”. The finish was quite nice. The pipe was in good shape with just some grime on the surface of the briar. The rim had been topped and restained sometime in its history as the stain is quite a bit lighter than the rest of the pipe. The outer and inner edges of the rim were darker than the surface of the rim. The bowl had been reamed but the cake was left uneven on the walls of the bowl.Guild1 Guild2 Guild3 Guild4I took a close-up photo of the rim to show the previous topping and the darkening of the inner and out edges. You can see that it had been touched up and the rim edges not cleaned up. I also took some close-up photos of the damage to the stem in terms of tooth marks and chatter.Guild5 Guild6I sanded the top and bottom sides of the stem to remove the tooth chatter on the surface and to clean up the area around the deeper tooth marks. I wiped the areas down with alcohol and then used black super glue to fill in the deep marks.Guild7While the stem repairs were drying I reamed the bowl with the Savinelli Pipe Knife. I took the cake back to bare briar.Guild8I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the bevel on the inner edge of the bowl. I worked slowly to make sure that the bevel maintained the roundness of the bowl. Once I had it finished I stained the rim and inner edge with a medium brown stain pen to match the colour with the rest of the pipe.Guild9I used a dental spatula to scrape out the inside of the mortise as there was a ridge of tar and oil part way down the shank. I scraped out the grime and then scrubbed the inside of the mortise and the airway in the shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until it was clean.Guild10By the time I worked on the twin bore stem the repairs were dry. I lightly sanded them and then cleaned out the twin bore airways.Guild11I sanded the repairs on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper until the surface of the repairs was blended into the surface of the stem.Guild12I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I rubbed down the stem with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I sanded it with the last set of three micromesh sanding pads – 6000-12000 grit pads. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry.Guild13 Guild14 Guild15I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond and worked over the scratches that still showed up on the top surface of the stem. It did not take much to remove them and get a deep shine on the stem. I buffed the bowl as well, being careful around the stampings on the shank of the pipe. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine on the briar and vulcanite. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It shines and has depth to the finish. The stamping is faint but is my only example of a Twin Bore Comoy’s The Guildhall Pipe. It is a beauty in my opinion. Thanks for looking.Guild16 Guild17 Guild18 Guild19 Guild20 Guild21 Guild22


Restoring a Very Special Six-Day Set of Stanwell Pipes of the Year

I wanted to share this post from Charles with rebornpipes readers for the information it gives on the POY. It is helpful. Thanks Charles. Also if you would like to purchase the set contact Charles at

Many pipe producers release an annual Pipe of the Year – a limited-run pipe in a distinct shape and finish representing the very best a pipemaker can produce each year. Coming from a highly regarded and skilled producer like Stanwell, these Pipes of the Year are top-notch pipes and highly collectible, so I was very excited to find no less than six Stanwell Pipes of the Year in the estate lot I’ve dubbed The Danish Collection.

Laying them all out, I found pipes from 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989 and 1990. These years are significant, as Stanwell only started producing Pipes of the Year in 1979, and 1984 was the first year these pipes were available in North America in any significant quantity.

Another nice thing about Stanwell’s Pipes of the Year is that they have been designed by some of the top Danish pipe carvers, including Sixten Ivarsson, Tom…

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My brother has an eye for unusual pipes – A Mastercraft Sea Slug

Blog by Steve Laug

When I visited my brother a few months ago one of the pipes that he had picked up for me to restore is one that I probably would never have picked up myself. In fact to me it was ugly and there was nothing redeeming about it. It looked like a giant sea slug to me and even the striations looked like the wrinkles in the slug’s body as it crawled. But I have to say that my opinion changed as I worked on this old pipe. I know that Mastercraft actually made few pipes but had the pipes jobbed by other pipe companies globally. This one was made in Italy and has all the marks of a Lorenzo pipe to me. I doubt I will ever know for sure but that is my take on it. As you look at the photos you may have your own take on it and that is totally fine – just take the time to post what you think in the comments at the end of the post.

This old pipe was pretty rough when it came to my work table. The rim was battered and the reaming that had been done did not account for the angled bowl. There gouges of briar missing on the rim edge that extended into the bowl. The cake was soft but generous. The finish was tired and worn but underneath the grime the wire striations on the briar had something about them that drew me to them. The pipe is stamped on a semi-smooth portion of the bottom of the bowl/shank (on this pipe I am not sure where each of those terms ends). It reads Mastercraft in the classic shield of the logo. Next to that is stamped COLOSSALS or COLOSSAL S with the S slightly bigger perhaps referring to the Satin Grain. Under that is it stamped Imported Briar and Italy. There are some deep gouges in the briar on that smooth portion that obviously were there when the pipe was stamped as the stamping goes through them but does not show up in the deeper areas. The stem is Lucite and it was covered with tooth chatter on the top and the bottom sides near the button as well as some deep tooth marks on both sides and on the button surface. The slot in the airway was clogged and dirty. (The first picture below is a little out of focus but it gives and idea of the shape of the pipe.)Master1 Master2I cleaned up the reaming angles with the Savinelli Pipe Knife and was able to get the bowl clean and smooth back to briar.Master3I decided to try to bevel the rim to remove the gouges on the right top side. I worked on it for quite a while before I gave up on that and topped the bowl. In the photo below the largest gouge is the light brown portion of the rim on the top of the photo toward the back of the bowl.Master4I took some photos of the stem to show the damage that needed to be worked on to recondition and rework it to bring it back to new. The first photo is the top of the stem and the second the underside.Master5I was able to sand out the tooth marks on the top side of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and also reshape the button a bit. I did the same on the underside but there was one deep tooth mark that I would need to fill.Master6Giving up on trying to reshape the rim or repair it I topped the bowl on my topping board and took of the damaged area on the right side of the rim and the back of the left side as well. The gouges were just not something I wanted to try to fill in. I also decided that I would flatten the rim and give the inner edge a slight bevel. I would stain the rim to match the smooth portion on the underside of the pipe.Master7I used the Dremel and sanding drum to bring the bowl back into round and then lightly beveled the inner rim edge with the sanding drum (first picture below). I cleaned up the Dremel work with a folded piece of 180 grit sandpaper followed by 220 grit (second picture).Master8I cleaned the mortise and airways in the bowl and the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol (I have always used 99% isopropyl).Master9I restained the rim with a dark brown stain pen and blended in some black from a Sharpie pen. I wiped down the exterior of the bowl with alcohol on a cotton pad to remove the grime and to blend the rim colour with the bowl.Master10I built up the tooth mark on the underside of the stem and the deep marks on the button surface with black super glue. Once it dried I sanded the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface and sharpened the button edge with a needle file. I sanded the stem with 400-600 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the scratches. I wet sanded it with 1500-3600 grit micromesh sanding pads and dry sanded it with 4000-12000 grit pads. I buffed it quickly with Blue Diamond and gave the stem a light coat of carnauba wax.Master11 Master12 Master13I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a shoe brush and a microfibre cloth to give it a shine. I gave the stem several more coats of carnauba wax. I lightly buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad and then again with the microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. What started out as an oddball pipe to me somehow in the process of restoration took on a beauty of its own. I like the smooth rim and the contrast it gives with the wire finish on the bowl and shank. Together they work for me. I know in the box of pipes I have sitting to refurbish that Jeff has sent me some others that cause a raised eyebrow but I have to say he has an eye for seeing beauty where I would walk by it and leave the pipe to molder away.Master14 Master15 Master16 Master17 Master18 Master19 Master20 Master21