Monthly Archives: July 2016

A Berkeley Club 7118 Billiard that turns out to be Sasieni Made

Blog by Steve Laug

Inside the first boxed set of Picadilly Brand Genuine French Rustique Briar pipes that my brother picked up was a straight billiard that did not bear the markings that were on the bent billiard or on the other complete set of Picadilly pipes. This one had a familiar finish to me but I could not put my finger on it and identify it. It was stamped on the underside of the shank with the following: 7118 over Berkeley Club over London Made. The bowl end of the smooth bottom of the shank it was stamped England in an arch. The finish on the bowl sides was very clean. The rim was a bit beaten. The front edge of bowl had been knocked out on a hard surface repeatedly and left a rash. The entire top of the rim was also beaten up and pitted. It was the only part of the bowl that was in rough shape. The stem had some tooth chatter and some light tooth marks on the top and bottom sides near the button. There was some oxidation and a faded stamp with what looked like a B partially circled by a C.Berk2 Berk3I took a close up photo of the bowl and rim to show the cake on the bowl and the damage to the rim surface. I also took a close up photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank.Berk4I went online to Pipephil’s site Logos and Stampings ( and found the brand and the reminder that had niggled at the back of mind. The Berkeley Club with this stamping was made by Sasieni. The photo below came from that website and shows the same finish and the same stamping on both the shank and the stem.Berk1With that in mind I took the pipe apart to have a look at it. I was expecting the pipe to have an inner tube in the tenon. I looked in the bowl and the point extended into the bowl showing a glint of metal. However when I took the pipe apart there was no inner tube. I shined a light down the mortise and airway in the shank and sure enough the tube had broken off in the airway leaving the mortise unobstructed. I looked at the stem and saw the same – broken off slightly inside the tenon leaving it also unobstructed.

I decided to work on the rim top damage by topping the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper on a topping board. It took some work to remove the damaged portion of the rim. The second photo shows the initial sanding and the third photo shows the finished topping. You can also see the chips in the cake at 12 o’clock in the third photo.Berk5I used the Savinelli Pipe Knife to clean out the cake in the bowl and work on the inside edge of the rim. I was able to remove all of the cake and smooth out the rim edge while keeping it in round in the process.Berk6With that completed I decided to drill out the broken inner tube in the shank of the pipe. I used a drill bit almost the same size as the airway in the inner tube. I increased the size of the bit until it was the same size as the airway and drilled out the broken tube. I never use a power drill when I am doing this – rather I use a cordless drill sans battery (I don’t want to inadvertently hit the trigger and regret it). I turned the shank onto the drill bit until it grabbed onto the tube and I was able to pull it out on the end of the bit. While I was pulling I also used the end of the Savinelli Pipe Knife to push on the end of the inner tube in the bowl. It takes patience but the result leaves behind no damage to the airway or the bowl.Berk7I scrubbed the rustication on the bowl with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap until it was clean. I rinsed it under running water to remove the soap and the debris. I dried it off with a soft cotton towel.Berk8I took some photos of the cleaned and dried pipe to get an idea of what I needed to do with the finish on the bowl and shank. The pipe looks really good other than the top of the rim that I will need to restain and polish.Berk9 Berk10I cleaned out the mortise in the shank and the airway in the shank and the stem. The airway was quite clean thanks to the broken inner tube. The mortise had some tars and oils that took a few cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol to remove. The stem was dirty on the inside and took considerably more pipe cleaners than the shank. I used pipe cleaners and alcohol to clean out the stem airway.Berk11To match the stain on the bowl sides I used a black Sharpie Marker and a dark brown stain pen to restain the rim top and the outer edges of the bowl.Berk12I cleaned up the inner edge of the bowl with a piece of sandpaper wrapped around my finger to smooth out the rough edges of the inner rim. It took a few passes to smooth out the edge but when it was done it looked much better.Berk13I gave the bowl a coat of Conservator’s Wax and buffed the bowl with a shoe brush to bring up the shine.Berk14I used the same method that I spelled out above – a stationary drill and drill bits to remove the broken tube in the tenon. I drilled until the bit caught a hold of the tube and then pulled the tube out of the tenon.Berk15I used some European Gold Rub ‘n Buff to fill in the logo on the stem. I applied it with a cotton swab and then rubbed off the excess. The finished logo is shown in the photo below.Berk16I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding with 6000-12000 grit pads. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry.Berk17 Berk18 Berk19I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the bowl and the stem with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and polish the wax. I buffed it again by hand with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It came out looking really good. This one will eventually be listed for sale on the store. You can send me an email or a message any time if you would like to add it to your collection. Thanks for looking.Berk20 Berk21 Berk22 Berk23 Berk24 Berk25 Berk26

NOS Picadilly Brand Genuine French Rustique Briar

Blog by Steve Laug

My brother bid on a boxed set of pipes that was in a box covered with a green alligator pattern material. Inside the box was a yellow linen lining with a diamond logo on the inside of the lid that read Picadilly Brand Genuine French Rustique Briar Price $15.Pic1When he received it in the mail and opened it the set of pipes inside was not quite what he had expected. There was Redmanol or red Bakelite cigarette holder, a bent billiard with a Remanol or Bakelite stem with an orific button. The shank was stamped Real Briar over Made in France. The stamping was set with gold. The second pipe in the box was a billiard with a vulcanite stem that was notably newer in age than the bent billiard. It was stamped on the underside of the shank with 7118 Berkley Club over London Made. At the bowl end of the shank the word England was stamped in an arc. The fourth indentation which should have had a cigar holder held a Lovat stem from a screw mount shank. It obviously did not go with this set. Thus looking at the set we could see that the cigar holder and the straight billiard were missing.Pic2Not long after receiving the set in the mail he was scanning eBay and found another boxed set that bore the same gold filigree diamond on the lid. It was in a brown vinyl box with a linen coloured lining. The exterior and the interior of the box were in great shape. This one had both the straight and bent billiard and the cigar holder but was missing the cigarette holder. We talked about it and decided to bid on it. He won it and soon it was on his desk next to the other one.Pic3 Pic4He put the cigarette holder from the first case in the second one. He compared the bent billiards and kept the one that came with the second case. The entire set was new old stock. It had not been smoked and it was in great shape. The only issues were that both Bakelite stems were overturned and the surface of each bowl that faced upward was dusty in the grooves and crevices. The bowls were pristine. The cigar holder also was unsmoked though it had obviously been held between someone’s teeth as there were some tooth marks in the top and bottom side near the button. The cigarette holder from the first set was also unused. Putting the four pieces together in the second box gave a full unsmoked new old stock collection. We were excited.Pic5I took the pipes out of the case and lined them up on the work table. The rustication on both billiard pipes was dusty on the exposed side. The rims on both were clean but had some sticky substance on the surface. The Redmanol/Bakelite stems were both oxidized and dull. The stamping on both pipes was gold. The Bakelite stem on both pipes had been overturned. The straight billiard had a paper washer between the shank and the stem to try to compensate for the overturned stem. The surface of the pipe stems and the cigarette holder were all free of tooth marks or dents. The cigar holder was also dusty on the exposed side and the Redmanol/Bakelite stem had some tooth dents on both sides near the button even though the holder was unsmoked. The stem was also overturned on the cigar holder.Pic6I decided to work on the straight billiard first. I took photos of the pipe before I started working on it. You can see the paper washer between the stem and the shank. You can see the sticky substance on the top of the bowl rim.Pic7 Pic8I took a photo of the gold leaf stamping on the shank. The Made in France stamping is double stamped on the Made In portion. France was single stamped.Pic9The tenon was metal and it had glue or something that had been added to the threads to try to align the stem and shank. I removed the paper washer and threw it away. I picked out the glue in the threads with a dental pick. The mortise was threaded directly into the briar.Pic10I used a 1500 grit micromesh sanding pad to remove the sticky substance on the rim top. It was hard and tacky so the micromesh worked well to remove it. The rim surface was clean and undamaged when I was finished.Pic11With the pipe and tenon cleaned up I used a Bic lighter to heat the metal tenon. Once the glue in the stem softened I screwed the stem back in place and aligned the stem and the shank.Pic12I scrubbed the rustication of the bowl and shank with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush. I rinsed it under running water to remove the soap and debris.Pic13I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and rubbed it down with another coat of oil. I finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads, gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set the stem aside to dry.Pic14 Pic15 Pic16I lightly buffed the stem with Blue Diamond and gave it several coats of carnauba wax. I gave the bowl a coat of Conservator’s Wax and hand buff it with a shoe brush. I hand buffed the whole pipe with a microfibre cloth to raise a shine. I took a few photos of the finished pipe before moving on to the second one.Pic17 Pic18I worked on the bent billiard next. It had not been smoked and was clean. The stem was overturned. The gold leaf stamping was in great shape and was single stamped. The stem had an orific button and was made out of Redmanol/Bakelite. It was oxidized but in good shape with no tooth marks or chatter. The bowl was in great shape and still pristine new briar. The rim had some sticky material on the top the same as the other billiard. The rustication was in good shape but it was dusty on the exposed side.Pic19Pic20I sanded the rim with a 1500 grit microfibre sanding pad to remove the hardened sticky substance on the top of the rim. I scrubbed the bowl with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the dust from the rustication. I rinsed it under running water to remove the soap and debris and dried it off.Pic21I used the Bic lighter to heat the metal tenon until the glue in the stem was warm and then screwed the stem onto the shank to realign it. Once it was aligned I let it cool. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and gave it a coat of Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads, gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry.Pic22 Pic23 Pic24I gave the bowl a coat of Conservator’s Wax and hand buffed it with a shoe brush. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond and gave it multiple coats of wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad and then hand buffed the pipe with a microfibre cloth. I took the following photos to show the finished pipe.Pic25 Pic26I turned next to the cigar holder. It was in decent shape though it too had dust on the exposed side. The stem was overturned and there were some tooth marks in the surface of the Bakelite/Redmanol stem next to the button on the top and bottom sides.Pic27The inside of the holder was pristine and had not been smoked.Pic28I unscrewed the mouthpiece from the holder and cleaned up the threads with a dental pick and a tooth brush.Pic29I cleaned out the inside to remove the dust with cotton swabs and alcohol. I gave the threads a coating of clear fingernail polish. I wanted to build up the thread slightly so that the mouth piece would align correctly.Pic30I sanded out the tooth marks with 220 grit sandpaper. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and gave the stem a coat of Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding with 6000-12000 grit pads, gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry.Pic31 Pic32 Pic33 Pic34I gave the briar part of the holder a coat of Conservator’s Wax and hand buffed it with a shoe brush. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond and gave it several coats of carnauba wax. I lightly buffed the holder with a clean buffing pad and then again by hand with a microfibre cloth. I set the cigar holder aside until I had finished the rest of the set.

I had one more item to clean up. The cigarette holder from the other box was oxidized and dull. There were no tooth marks or bite marks in the Redmanol/Bakelite. There were a lot of scratches in the surface of the holder that needed to be polished out to remove them.Pic35I wet sanded the holder with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and gave the holder a coat of Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit sanding pads, gave it a final coat of oil and set the holder aside to dry.Pic36 Pic37 Pic38I buffed the holder with Blue Diamond on the wheel and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad and then by hand with a microfibre cloth. I set the finished cigarette holder in the case.

I put the pipes and holders back in the case and took some photos of the finished pipes in place in the case. It is a great looking set of pipes and holders and shows some age on it. I wish I could figure out who made it but so far I have not been able to find any information in my usual spots on the web. Thanks for walking with me through this refurb. Thanks for looking. If any of you have any information on the set let me know in the comment box below.Pic39


Another ‘Hole in the Wall’ Find – BBB Banker Bent Volcano

Blog by Dal Stanton

Last April, during one of my earlier visits to what I have affectionately named, ‘The Hole in the Wall’ antique store near the Zhenski Pazar (Women’s Market) in downtown Sofia, Bulgaria, my eyes locked on to a very handsome pipe that called out to me resolutely – “Take me home!”  The pipe was a slightly bent volcano shape, brandishing a broad flattened oval shank and stem that drew my attention.  In my small collection of pipes then, and even today, I have nothing like it.  After taking in the unique shape, the briar grain, obscured by layers of grime and old wax, gave me an internal ‘wow!’ that I carefully kept hidden from the shop owner who would see my excitement as potential greater profit for him – so I played it cool.  I looked at how the grain moves horizontally across the bowl and shank giving the appearance of a tiger pattern looking down on the shank.  Looking straight at the bowl the grain looked like horizontal flames terminating on the sides of the bowl with Birdseye patterns – I was anxious to work on this pipe.  The top of the shank was imprinted with the classic BBB diamond mark over Banker.  Underneath the shank had London, England over 739.  The stem top also had the white diamond BBB mark.  I also spied another pipe in the basket that looked like a good candidate to bundle with the BBB Banker, a French Jeantet Fleuron 70-7 which helped me negotiate 30 Bulgarian Leva for the pair – about 16US.  Not a bad deal at $8 a pipe!  The first picture is the Jeantet followed by the BBB Banker after I arrived home from the ‘Hole in the Wall’ with my newest acquisitions:Bank1 Bank2 bank3 Bank4 Bank5 Bank6 Bank7 Bank8 Bank9I found a lot on the internet about the BBB name.  The small blurb in Pipehill describes the evolution of the BBB moniker:

BBB: ” Best British Briar” is now a brand of the Cadogan Company (Oppenheimer group). American rights to use the brand name were sold to Wally Frank in 1980.

Founder of the brand in 1847: Louis Blumfeld. The oldest pipe brand name in the UK has been registered in 1876 (Blumfeld Best Briar).

Steve also posted a blog on the history of BBB pipes a few years ago using the French article:

I discovered that there are many BBB collectors and enthusiasts in my research.  Unfortunately, I could find nothing helping me to date or place my BBB Banker except some informed guesses comparing to the BBB stamps (pictured below) depicted in the French article Steve posted above which would probably date the Banker at the earliest in 1989 when the Cadogan Company consolidated manufacturing its various pipe lines at Southend-on-the-Sea, but more likely in the 2000s – not a terribly old pipe (Can anyone help me on that?):Bank10The condition of the Banker is generally good.  There is some cake build up in the chamber but I still want to ream the bowl down to the briar for a fresh start and to be able to make sure there are no problems lurking beneath – which I really don’t expect.  The rim has light grime and lava on it, but a significant wearing down of the front lip so that bare briar is exposed.  The stummel looks to be in good shape – I detect one fill underneath but it looks to be solid and will blend well.  The stummel grain is dulled and obscured by grime and oil build up.  The stem is in good shape – showing almost no oxidation, but has a tooth dent on the lower side of the bit.  I take a fresh close up of the rim to mark the progress.  I begin with reaming the bowl with my Pipnet reaming kit.  As I’ve become accustomed, I try to do the dirtier part of the cleanup on the 10th floor balcony adjoining our bedroom where my work-station is here in Sofia, Bulgaria.  Sometimes I wish I had a basement work area, but we do what we must!  I use only the two smaller blades of the four blades available to ream the cake down to the briar.  I follow the use of the reaming blades with 120 grit sanding paper to clean the cake further and finish with 240 grit on the chamber wall.  The bowl looks good.  True confession – while I was reaming the bowl my thoughts drifted off to a Savinelli reaming knife – on the eBay block, that I’ve had my eye on – one like Steve often employs.  There are still a few days left in the auction and I’m hopeful that I might add it to the arsenal!  I’ll let you know!  In order to get a better idea of the rim’s condition, I clean the external stummel with Murphy Oil Soap and work on the grime covering the rim.  I use cotton pads with undiluted Murphy’s.  I also employ a brass brush to work on the rim.  After the cleaning, I take the stummel to the sink and rinse it with cool tap water.  The pictures show the progress.Bank11 Bank12 Bank13 bank14Ok, for you who have years of restorations under your belts, here are some newbie musings – your patience appreciated!  At this point I realize I need to top the bowl to repair the front lip of the rim – it won’t take much but it is needed.  When one takes the rim down to the bare briar, I’ve learned that one also must have a plan for matching the hue of the old stain if one desires to keep the old stain tone matching the bowl.  I like the color scheme of the BBB Banker and I desire to keep it.  To keep it, I need to match the rim color tone with the rest of the stummel AND I need to address the very minor scratches and wear marks on the stummel surface BUT NOT sand it aggressively to remove the stain.  It is in some ways much easier to take the briar down to the wood with acetone and sanding and then apply new stain and voila!  New surface and color all blended and ready to go.  I know this situation calls for use of polishing compounds and such, which is a more passive approach to dealing with the surface – more opportunity to learn new things!  So, I move forward with topping the bowl with the aim of maintaining the current rich, deep red tones – we’ll see how it goes.  I took the BBB Banker to the topping board – 240 grit paper on a chopping block and rotated it on the paper in a gentle clockwise circle not applying too much pressure – letting the grit do its work.  To make sure I wasn’t leaning into the damaged lip area as I rotated, I eyeballed that the damaged area was untouched during the early rotations which meant the topping was true – I took a picture at this point (second picture).  I took off only enough to clear out the front lip problems.  I think it went well and the bowl looks perfectly round.  As I often like to do, to add a classy touch to the rim I bevel the inside lip.  I make the initial cut of the bevel with 120 grit sanding paper followed by 240 grit.  I’m satisfied with the bevel – not too much but just an accent.  I use micromesh on the rim from 1500-12000 to complete the rim repair preparing it for stain later.Bank15 Bank16 Bank17 Bank18 Bank19Now, the stummel surface.  I have questions rolling through my mind regarding how aggressive I can be to remove small scratches and wear blemishes but maintain the original patina of the briar as it came to me.  I elect to micromesh the stummel surface and leave the small blemishes.  I do not start with the coarsest pad (1500) but at 2400 – gentle approach (though the first picture below shows the 1500 it was not used).  I’m not sure this is the best plan but I can always back up to a more aggressive posture if I’m not satisfied with the results.  After a quick email with Steve, I feel better about the course of action.  I continue on the stummel with micromesh pads 3200-4000 and 6000-12000.  I am loving the briar grain popping out through the micromesh process – one of God’s small creations each piece of briar.  The pictures show the progress:Bank20 Bank21 Bank22As I put the stummel aside to work on the stem, I realized that I was so involved in working on the externals that I forgot that I hadn’t cleaned the internal of the stummel nor stem.  Before working on finishing the stem I decide to use the retort to clean the internals.  Last time I used the retort, an alcohol saturated cotton ball was launched from the bowl during the process.  I was gun-shy of the retort to begin with when I first acquired it – the launch didn’t help.  Notwithstanding, I unwrap the retort, get out the vodka, and proceed to let the retort do its work.  The pipe was surprisingly clean.  After two retort cycles, I finished off with cleaning the internals of stummel and stem with Qtips and pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol.  I think it’s better to clean internals earlier in the process….Bank23 Bank24 Bank25Now to the stem externals.  Earlier, I applied black super glue to two significant tooth dents on the underside of the bit (visible in picture above).  I use 240 grit sanding paper to remove the excess super glue removing traces of the dents as  well as file marks after using a needle file to fine tune the shape of the button. There was very little oxidation on the stem or teeth chatter so I proceed to wet sand with micromesh 1500-2400 and apply Obsidian Oil to the stem.  I follow by dry sanding using 3200-4000 micromesh pads and then the same with 6000-12000 and apply Obsidian Oil and set the stem aside to dry.  I’m pleased with the vulcanite ‘pop’ – that wet reflective look is great.Bank26 Bank27 Bank28 Bank29Well, I mentioned earlier that I was hopeful to add a Savinelli pipe knife to my tool box.  Steve speaks highly of this tool and has increasingly put it to good use in his restoration work.  He also posted a blog describing it when it arrived on his work table in Vancouver.  When I saw one on the block in the eBay’s estate pipes in tobacciana listings a few days ago, I decided to watch the auction and see if I could snag it – it seemed to be calling out to me: “I want to live in Bulgaria!”  As you would guess, others were watching too.  I’m thankful that my bid was sufficient and my new Savinelli pipe knife will be delivered to my daughter and son-in-law who live in Denver.  They will carry it with them to Bulgaria (along with some other supplies I’ve ordered including 32 oz. of Lane BCA Cavendish tobacco which I discovered with great enjoyment on my last trip to the US) when they visit in September!  My son-in-law had no problem agreeing to find space in the suitcases when I bribed him with sharing bowls together of the Lane BCA!  So, I’ll look forward to their arrival for the additional reasons that they will be packing new supplies and my new pipe knife!Bank30The BBB Banker slightly bent volcano is now in the home stretch.  After topping and sanding the rim with micromesh, I left the rim the bare wood until I finished the sanding of the stummel. I did this so that the stain I would eventually apply to the rim would be more closely matched.  Using an Italian brand stick, I applied a dark Mahogany stain to the rim and before it dried, lightly wiped it with a dry cotton pad to remove uneven stain application – the first two pictures below show before and after application of the stick.  I’m very satisfied with the match up of stummel and rim and am anxious to finish the stummel.  Living on the 10th floor of a former Communist block apartment building and with my work station in my bedroom (shared with my gracious and understanding wife!) space is at a premium.  My Dremel high speed tool is my workhorse when it comes to the polishing wheel.  Starting with a felt wheel, I first purge the engaged wheel by using the flat edge of the Dremel’s metal tightening wrench against it.  This softens the wheel and rids it of residue Tripoli caking from previous jobs.  With the newly purged wheel, I begin the final polish of the BBB Banker applying Tripoli to the surface addressing the minor pits and scratches on the bowl surface that I did not sand out aggressively to guard the beautiful patina of this piece of briar.  Bank31 Bank32 Bank33Finished with the Tripoli and Blue Diamond, I change to a cotton cloth wheel for the Dremel and apply several coats of carnauba wax.  I use the slowest setting for the Dremel and keep a continuous circular rotation over the briar surface – oh my, does the grain pop!  I cannot say exactly when this pipe was made, but if it’s been since 1989, someone employed by Cadogan Company’s Southend-on-the-Sea pipe making plant did an amazing job with the choice of this piece of briar and the volcano shape it became.  The grain is beautifully showcased in horizontal movements laterally across the stummel so that one can see the horizontal flame grain facing the stummel straight on and then move to the sides of the stummel and see the grain emerge in Birdseye perspective and swirls.  In the beginning I described the top-down view of the broad, flattened oval shank as reminiscent of tiger fir to me – now as I look at it zebra also comes to mind.  Another example of the beautifully showcased briar grain in the Volcano shape is the broad landscape of its underside – from across the broad shank to the front lip of the volcano base, runs a robust dissecting flow of grain that is majestic from my vantage point.  Yes, I confess, I’m a briar grain junkie.  Its beauty reminds me of its Maker.  With my last application of carnauba wax on stem and stummel, I change to a clean cotton cloth wheel and buff the entire stummel and stem.  Then I give the BBB Banker bent volcano a brisk buffing with microfiber cloth to bring out the richness of this briar even more.  I’ve enjoyed this restoration and look forward to loading the BBB Banker with its first bowl of tobacco in my hands.  Thanks for joining me!Bank34 Bank35 Bank36 Bank37 Bank38 Bank39 Bank40 Bank41 Bank42


Restemming and Restoring a Made in Denmark Apple

Blog by Steve Laug

I got an email from a fellow in Dawson Creek, British Columbia asking if I would be willing to work on a pipe that he had that was one of his favourites. It was an apple that he really liked and he liked the patina on it as well. This is what he wrote to me: Sir, I have a pipe in need of your skills. I was visiting City Cigar on a trip to Vancouver and William recommended you. I’ve inherited a pipe from my dad that needs to be refurbished. I wish to add a new curved stem. The old stem’s very loose. I will mail, or ship the pipe to you, as I live in Dawson Creek, BC. Once we discuss price & details. After leaving City Cigar, I was left with the impression that you’re “the guy” for the job.” 

I asked him to send some photos of the pipe and give me a look at the pipe. The next two photos are the ones that he sent to me. The saddle stem looked like a replacement to me. I had him send the pipe to me for a closer look.apple1When it arrived I could see that my assumption about a replacement stem was correct. Whoever had added the new stem had sanded the shank and removed half of the stamping on the shank. I could read that it said Made in Denmark and that there were no other stampings. The shank was significantly lighter in colour than the bowl. The rim was dirty and had a chip out of it and its top was damaged. There was some concrete rash on the back side below the chip where the bowl had been knocked on concrete.apple2 apple3I took a close up photo of the bowl top to show the extent of the damage and the uneven cake on the bowl sides. I also took photos of the stem and shank junction to show how the shank had been sanded to meet the stem diameter.apple4

I also took a photo of the back side of the bowl showing the horizontal line across the bowl. That line was a large fill that bulged and stuck out the surface of the bowl.apple5The bowl was covered with a thick grime and sticky material. I wiped it down with a cotton pad and alcohol to remove the grime and get back to the finish. The grain really began to shine through once I had removed the gummy buildup. The left and right sides of the bowl showed some nice birdseye. The front and back showed cross grain that ran along the top and bottom of the shank. The birdseye ran along both sides of the shank.apple6I topped the bowl on a piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damaged portions of the rim.apple7I sanded the backside of the bowl to smooth out the bulging fill that ran across the bowl.apple8I sanded down the outer edge of the rim to remove the rim damage and also the burn and darkening on the edges. I scrubbed the bowl down with acetone and cotton pads to remove the finish so that once it was clean I could blend in the lighter portions with the rest of the bowl.apple9 apple10The owner wanted a new stem for the pipe so I went through my can of stems until I found one that would fit. He wanted a taper stem and the one I found would suit the bill. He also wanted it to have a slight bend in the end. This sharply tapered stem would make that an easy fit and fix. The stem was slightly larger in diameter than the shank so I would need to reduce it to match.apple11I took off the excess vulcanite with a Dremel and sanding drum. I worked on it until it match the shank diameter.apple12 apple13I took it back to the work table to hand sand it. I used 180 grit sandpaper and took back the excess stem material.apple14I sanded the stem further with 220 grit sandpaper until the transition between the stem and shank was smooth to the touch. I heated water in the microwave until it was boiling and put the stem in the water to soften it enough to put the bend in it. I bent it just enough to give it a jaunty look.apple15 apple16I used the medium and the dark stain pen to touch up the shank. The combination of colours matches the rest of the bowl colour.apple17 apple18I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to begin polishing it and to begin to remove the scratches. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I set it aside to dry.apple19 apple20 apple21I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and polished the briar and the stem. The polishing took out the last of the scratches in the vulcanite stem. The fill on the back of the bowl blends in perfectly now and it is smooth to the touch. The transition from the stem to the shank is also smooth. The slight bend in the stem works well with the pipe. It is finished and ready to go back to Dawson Creek. Hopefully the owner will enjoy the new stem and the virtually “new pipe”. It still carries with it the memories of his dad giving it to him. It still as some of the marks of its story but the look and the feel of the pipe are better than when we began the journey. Thanks for looking.apple22 apple23 apple24 apple25 apple26 apple27 apple28 apple29

Deghosting a Stinky Champagne by Savinelli 606KS

Charles a good description the process of destinking a bowl with charcoal. I have done this but have not written it up at this point. I am reblogging it on rebornpipes to pass it on to the readers of the blog that might read this here. Thanks for doing the work.


The aroma of a pipe is one of those olfactory experiences that can thrill the senses and trigger a flood of memories and emotions – chats with Grampa on the front porch, the texture of the bench seat in an aluminum fishing boat, the scent of a campfire or the warm hazy aftermath of Christmas morning.  I’ve had fellow pedestrians deliberately alter the course of their afternoon stroll in order to get a whiff of my pipe and even stop me to share their pipe recollections. Sometimes I think that if I could bottle the scent of burning pipe tobacco, I could make a fortune.

Yes, the reaction to a quality tobacco burning in a good, clean briar is almost universally positive. But everything changes when that same pipe is neglected, transformed from a stalwart briar companion to a stinking wooden husk packed full of soured, congealed tars and fouled…

View original post 1,379 more words

Doing Shaping Work on a Comoy’s Grand Slam Pipe 66

Blog by Steve Laug

Recently I traded the Simpson Sandblast Billiard that I restored with a reader of the blog for a Comoy’s Grand Slam 66. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Comoy’s over Grand Slam over Pipe. On the right side it has the classic Comoy’s Circle Made in London over England Com Stamp and further along with the shape number 66. The finish was in decent shape though there was some sticky dirt buildup on the sides. The right side of the bowl had a small divot on the bottom front of the bowl. On the left side of the bowl there was a ring or a small trough that was indented in the bowl from the left rear of the bowl to left front of the bowl. It looked like a dent in the briar. It is very clearly shown in the second and the third photos below. The stem had some oxidation and three deep tooth gouges on the top of the stem and one on the button top. There were also some deep tooth marks on the underside of the stem and the button. The C stamp on the stem is a newer stamp in the vulcanite that is painted with a white paint.Comoy1 Comoy2 Comoy3I measured and studied the side of the bowl before I decided what to do with it. I was not sure if the trough was caused by and issue inside of the bowl so my brother and I both cleaned and checked that out and could see nothing. I turned to look at the outside of the bowl and noticed that the bowl actually bulged above and below the line. That line itself actually was the same height as the rest of the bowl apart from the bulge. The bulge was thus briar that needed to be removed rather than the line a dent of missing briar. I breathed a sigh of relief and began to work on restoring it to normalcy.

I sanded the side of the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper to try to minimize the groove in the bowl side. The photos below show the progress of the repair. The first photo shows the first sanding on the bowl side. With the initial sanding you can see length of the groove on the side of the bowl. I sanded the bowl side on both sides of the groove until the groove disappeared. I was actually surprised that I was able to remove the damage to the bowl without making the bowl any thinner in the process. It was almost as if when the bowl was turned in the factory the cutting head that turned the bowl slipped and left a hump above and below the groove. Thus the groove itself was actually level with the rest of the bowl other than the humps.Comoy4 Comoy5 Comoy6 Comoy7In the next photo you can see the slight divot at the 11 o’clock position at the top of the photo. It was a deep cut in the briar that must have happened when the pipe was dropped somewhere along process. I sanded it smooth and filled in the divot with clear super glue and briar dust. Once the repair cured I sanded it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out and blend in the repair. I sanded it with a medium and a fine grit sanding block to remove the scratches in the briar.Comoy7a Comoy8The rim on the bowl had a light buildup of tars so I lightly topped it on the topping board to remove the buildup. I topped it against 220 grit sandpaper then against a medium and a fine grit sanding block.Comoy9 Comoy10 Comoy11 Comoy12I stained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain thinned with alcohol to match the colour of the existing finish. I applied it to the surface and flamed the stain. I repeated the process until I had a good even coverage on the bowl sides.Comoy13 Comoy14I wiped the bowl and shank down with alcohol on cotton pads to even out the colour of the stain and make it more transparent. Once that was done, the finish of the bowl looked really good to my eye.Comoy15 Comoy16 Comoy17 Comoy18The stem was a newer style Comoy’s as noted above because of the style of the logo. It was stamped into the vulcanite and then painted. There were some significant bite marks on the stem that needed attention. The lighter tooth marks I was able to sand out with 220 grit sandpaper and remove them. There were others that were quite deep. I cleaned the surface of the stem and used a thick black super glue to fill in the tooth marks. Comoy19I sanded the repaired spots with 220 grit sandpaper and cleaned up the sharp edge of the button with a needle file. I was pleased with the overall look of the stem once the repairs had been sanded smooth.Comoy20I wet sanded the surface of the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to begin the process of polishing the stem. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil.Comoy21Before proceeding further with the micromesh I decided to touch up the “C” stamp. I used a fine bristle brush and white acrylic paint to fill in the letter. I sanded off the excess with the 1500 grit micromesh pad and went over that section with 1800-2400 grit to match the rest of the stem.Comoy22I dry sanded the stem with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of Obsidian Oil. I finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads, gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry.Comoy23 Comoy24I polished the pipe and the stem on the buffing wheel with Blue Diamond polishing compound and gave the entire pipe several coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad and then by hand with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The adjustment to the left side of the bowl worked well to smooth out the bulges and crease and the pipe looks as it should have when it left Cadogan. Thanks for looking.Comoy25 Comoy26 Comoy27 Comoy28 Comoy29 Comoy30 Comoy31

A Pipe with a Story – an R.V.W. Handmade 5 pipe

Blog by Steve Laug

My brother sent me pictures of a pipe he found on eBay that grabbed his attention. It was not so much the pipe but the story of the pipe that caught his eye. He sent me the link and I had a look but was not sold on picking up the pipe. But he wanted it so he threw in a bid and won the pipe. He wrote to the seller and asked about it. He received a reply that the pipe had been found in Northern Michigan, US in a mud bank on the Rifle River – farm country in the middle of nowhere. They had no more information. The pipe was dark and looked like the mud bank it had been found in to my eye. The stem looked too long and the flow of the pipe did not work for me.R1The stamping on the pipe was pretty clear which surprised me. On the underside of the shank it read R.V.W over Handmade and then a 5 underneath that. That piqued my interest a bit so I decided to wait and reserve judgment until I saw the pipe.R2 R3 R4While I waited I did a bit of research and found out the pipe was made by Randy Wiley. I Googled to find his website and was directed to his Faceboook page. The link follows: I sent him a message on Facebook and related the story that my brother told me. I also included the above photos of the pipe supplied by the eBay seller. The next day I received a message back from Randy. Here is what he wrote: “Hi Steve, Wow, Glad there wasn’t a body with it. I’ll bet it was dropped while fishing. I’ve heard many stories. One day someone will find a pipe while scuba diving. I know the owner. This pipe is a second, RVW. It retails today for around $105.00”

When I first read his response I missed the part about him knowing the owner. This morning I read his response again as I was working on this blog and wrote Randy back regarding that line. I wonder if the original owner would want the pipe returned. We shall see.

When I was in Idaho I taught my brother to do the initial clean up on the pipes. It has been a real help for me. With the box of pipes to be refurbished filling up on this end it is really nice to have him work on them ahead of time. When I get them they have been reamed and the internals all cleaned so it makes my work much quicker. Because this one attracted his attention he really liked the cleanup of it. He reamed and cleaned the bowl and shank as well as the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the debris left behind by the mud bank. He took the following photos to show the pipe after his cleanup work. The straight grain on the left side, back and front of the bowl and the birdseye on the right side are beginning to show through.R5 R6 R7 R8 R9When I received the pipe I brought it to the worktable and took some photos of it before I began to work on it. While the grain was showing through it was still too dark to my liking. There were also many tiny nicks and pits in the surface from time spent in the mud by the river. These would need to be sanded out. The rusticated portions on the bowl sides and edges were also in need of deeper cleaning. The heel of the pipe had been knocked around and had many nicks and pits. The combination of smooth and plateau on the rim also needed deeper cleaning. The stem still seemed too long to me and if I end up either keeping the pipe or selling it I think I will make a second stem that is more proportional to the pipe in my opinion. The stem was oxidized but did not have any tooth marks or chatter.R10 R11I ran the Savinelli Pipe Knife around the inside of the bowl out of habit with little effect because my brother had done a great job reaming this one.R12The bowl had some white debris in the bottom which I think was water marks from its time in the mud. I used alcohol pipe cleaners and cotton swabs to remove that debris. I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl and shank to remove more of the dark stain with acetone on cotton pads and was able to remove some more dark stain. There was more work to be done in this area but I would keep trying.R13 R14I scrubbed the exterior with a bleach mixture to further remove the stain. The next photos show the effect of the bleach on the stain. The grain is beginning to show.R15 R16I went through my stem can and found a nice amber Lucite stem that was the right length to my eye and would be a great contrast with the bowl. I did not have to do any fitting or tenon work as the stem fit in the mortise perfectly from the start. The stem was bent too much and would need to be straightened and bent to match the flow of the bowl. You can see in the photo below that the new stem is about an inch shorter than the one that came with it when I got it. I put the stem in place and took some photos to get an idea of how the pipe looked with the stem. You can also see the effect of the bleach on lightening the stain on the bowl in these photos.R17 R18 R19I used a Sharpie pen to darken the plateau areas on the end of the shank and the top of the bowl. I also used it on the rustications down the bowl sides and front.R20 R21I used Watco’s Danish Oil with a Cherry Stain to stain the bowl. It is an oil based product and as it dries on the surface it darkens to a black cherry. I applied the stain with a cotton pad and let it absorb into the warm briar.R22When it had dried I buffed it off. The stain had darkened and with the natural darkening that had happened as the pipe lay in the mud the overall appearance almost a rich charcoal grey with red undertones.R23 R24I forgot to take photos of the process of rebending the stem but what I did was boil water in the microwave in a cup and then heated the stem until it was flexible in the hot water. I inserted the tenon in the mortise and then bent the stem to match the flow of the bowl. I held the stem under cool water to set the new bend. There was some tobacco stains in the stem from a previous pipe it had graced. I cleaned it out with pipe cleaners and cream cleanser/soft scrub cleanser until all of the stains were gone.R25There was a groove in the stem on the top side about a ¼ inch from the saddle that I sanded out with 220 grit sandpaper. I worked over the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding the stem with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads.R26 R27 R28I sanded the bowl with micromesh sanding pads to try to lighten the dark cherry colour of the stain. I finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads to polish the briar.R29While I was finishing polishing the pipe, I received an message from Randy regarding the previous owner of the pipe. He said that he had confused it with one that had been lost while scuba diving. So he could not remember who had purchased this one. I had also asked whether the stem was original and he was not certain.I actually found that to be good news as I did not like the stem that it came with.

I took the pipe to the buffer and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond and then gave it several coats of carnauba wax. The briar has many small pits in the surface that I am convinced came from its time spent in the mud alongside the river. Part of me wanted to sand them out and remove them but another part, the part that won decided to leave them to bear witness to the shadow life this pipe had before it was found. I took the next photos with the blanket background as it seems to allow the grain to stand out a bit.R30 R31 R32 R33The next photos I took against a light blue backdrop to show the contrast between the amber stem and the dark cherry stain. Thanks for looking.R34 R35 R36 R37 R38 R39