Daily Archives: July 9, 2016

Restoring a Tom Howard Rhodesian Scoop

Blog by Steve Laug

This pipe is stamped Tom Howard on the left side of the shank and Imported Briar on the right side. A friend of mine emailed me and asked if I would clean it up for him and bring it back to life. He said the stem tasted awful. He said he had tried to clean it up a bit but was not happy with the results. He dropped it by the house before he left on a short trip. Here is what it looked like when it arrived.H1 H2There was a pretty thick cake in the bowl and the rim had overflow on the top. The grooves and worm trails were pretty much filled in with grime. The stem was badly oxidized and there were some deep scratches in the surface. There was tooth chatter on the top and bottom of the stem near the button.H3H4I reamed the bowl in stages. I began with a Savinelli Pipe Knife to take back the inner edge of the bowl.H5I used a brass bristle wire brush to clean off the top of the rim and get rid of the buildup.H6I scrubbed the bowl with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the buildup of tars and oils that darkened the bowl and shank. It did not take too much to get the briar clean. I rinsed the bowl with running water and dried it off with a towel. The cleaned exterior is shown in the photos below.H7 H8I did the second stage of reaming the bowl with a PipNet Reamer and took the cake back to bare briar. I cleaned up that reaming with the Pipe Knife again.H9I used the dental spatula to scrape out the mortise and then scrubbed it with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until it was clean.H10I decided to scrub the surface some more with a cotton pad and acetone. I was able to remove more of the finish on the bowl and lighten it even more.H11 H12I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the inner edge of the rim and smooth out some of the damage that was there.H13I cleaned out the inside of the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol.H14I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation that was on the surface of the saddle, the groove where the saddle joined the bowl and the area around the button.H15Before continuing on the stem I stuffed a cotton ball in the bowl of the pipe and also the bowl of a second one I was working on and filled it with alcohol. The alcohol pulled the tars and residue from the bowl and shank into cotton ball.H16I let it sit in the bowl for several hours while I worked on the stem. You can see the oils and tars that are being drawn into the cotton ball in the next photo.H17The underside of the stem near the button had one deep tooth mark in the surface that I was unable to sand out. I cleaned it up and then filled it with some black super glue. Once the glue had dried I sanded the patch back to blend it into the surface of the stem.H18I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I sanded and polished the stem. 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.H19 H20 H21I stained the bowl with some medium walnut Danish Oil and then buffed it with Blue Diamond on the wheel. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem several coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad and then hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth. The pipe is clean, the smell and bad taste are gone and to me the pipe looks better than when I started the process. The bowl smelled clean. The pipe is ready to go back to its owner once I get the second pipe finished. Thanks for looking. Theo if you see this – your first pipe is ready for you when you return.H22 H23 H24 H25 H26 H27 H28

A Clean and Restore of a Viggo Nielsen Handmade Freehand

Blog by Steve Laug

My brother Jeff is developing quite an eye for beautiful pipes. He came across this freehand on eBay and sent me the photos. He bid on it and soon received it in the mail. It is a stunning piece that Viggo made in such a way that the shape absolutely maximizes the grain. It is stamped with Viggo’s normal stamp Viggo Nielsen in a circle over Handmade in Denmark on the left side of the shank.V1Its finish is a combination of smooth and what looks like sandblast but I am not sure it is not just a well done rustication made to look that way. The colours of the stains are a rich medium brown on the smooth portions that accentuate the grain. The colour on the rustication shows both a medium and dark brown stain that is repeated on the plateau on the rim of the pipe and small bit of plateau that peeks out on the top edge of the shank. The stem is a custom cut square piece of vulcanite that is carved with a square ring and a round one just before the tapered tenon.V2 V3 V4The finish was dirty with thick wax and grime from years of use. The bowl had a light cake. The rim edges were in perfect condition and the plateau top look new under the grime. The rustication/blast on the front of the bowl also looked to be in great shape. There were no dings or nicks in the finish. The stem was oxidized and had tooth marks on the top and bottom sides near the button.

V5I turned to Pipedia to learn about Viggo Nielsen. I had memory about him being somehow connected to Kai Nielsen but I was not sure of the relationship of the two. In Pipedia I learned that Viggo, now deceased, was born in 1927. I believe that during World War II he worked for Stanwell making pipes out of birch due to a shortage of briar. In 1948 he opened the Bari pipe factory and in 1951 began to make briar pipes. He carved both classic and freehand pipes.

In 1978 Bari was sold to a company in Germany and he and his two sons, Jorgen and Kai started making Faaborg pipes. Now I knew the connection between the two names that I remembered. https://pipedia.org/wiki/Nielsen,_Viggo

I scrubbed the surface of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap on cotton pads to remove the old wax and accumulated grime. Once the pipe was cleaned I rinsed it under running water and dried it off. The grain just stood out and showed how well Viggo laid out the shape to the grain.V6 V7 I cleaned out the internals of the mortise and airways in the shank and the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until the pipe was clean.V8I reamed the light cake back to bare briar with a Savinelli Pipe Knife – a tool that I am using more and more often since I purchased it. It works exceptionally well to pare back light cake and clean up remnants in a bowl after I have used my other reamers.V9The oxidation on the stem was stubborn so I soaked it in an Oxyclean solution for a day and a half to soften the oxidation. After I removed it from the solution I scrubbed it dry with a coarse towel to remove as much of the softened oxidation as possible. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth marks on both the top and bottom sides at the button. There were tooth deep tooth marks on the top edge of the button that needed attention. I cleaned off the stem surface and then used clear super glue to repair the two deep tooth marks. I sanded them back to the surface with 220 grit sandpaper and later with the micromesh sanding pads.V10I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil. In the photo below you can still see the battle I am having with the oxidation on the turned stem. It was a bear to get it off.V11I repeated sanding with 220 grit sandpaper and repeated the wet sanding with the 1500-2400 grit pads. I was beginning to conquer the issue. I dry sanded the stem with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding with 6000-12000 grit pads to bring out the shine and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I set the stem aside to dry.V12 V13I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond and worked on the tight areas on the stem – the grooves in the stem. I buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond – lightly on the rusticated/blast and plateau portions and more heavily on the smooth portions. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to finish polishing the finish. I have found that this last step adds some depth to the shine. I am pleased with the finished look of the pipe. Thanks for looking.V14 V15 V16 V17 V18 V19 V20

An Everyman London Pipe Un-dinged

Guest Blog by Robert M. Boughton

Member, International Society of Codgers
Member, North American Society of Pipe Collectors
Photos © the Author except as noted

“The average man, who does not know what to do with his life, wants another one which will last forever.” — Anatole France (1844-1924), French novelist

According to several sources, including Gregory Please, the circular “Made in London England” stamp on Comoy’s lines, of which this Everyman London Pipe full bent billiard is a second, was discontinued in the early 1950s.  Therefore it seems probable that the Everyman I put in my sub-group of unrestored pipes to be fast-tracked is from the same period.  This was my second Everyman London Pipe restoration, as well as one Guildhall, which leads me to suspect and there is a collective unity of pipe enjoyers out there, however nebulous, who seek out these inexpensive but fine seconds.  I make this supposition considering the speed at which all three of the Comoy’s seconds on which I’ve worked sold: within days of completion, one of each line on my old website and the other in a local transaction.  Comoy’s began, with the manufacture of clay pipes, in St. Claude, France in 1825; the company’s first briar pipe was made in 1848, and Comoy’s of London was established in 1879.  Then there are Chapuis-Comoy, founded in 1925, and the Chacom connection, starting in 1934.  But don’t let me confuse things.

By admitting this was not a difficult job, I should note that I nevertheless decided upon an Everclear strip of the old stain to uncover the many pocks and scratches that were all over the outer surface rather than sanding the entirety of the stummel.  Otherwise – although there were a couple of adjustments that needed to be made after I took the first set of “final” photos, the task was relaxing and diversionary in between some more involved projects I’m still finishing up.  The bit was in good shape and needed minimal sanding, the rim was as clean as I’ve ever seen one, and the chamber had little char.  Still, it was one dinged up pipe.C1 C2 C3 C4
I soaked the wood in the alcohol and the bit in an OxyClean bath.  The bit came out first, but that’s not the order I’m recounting the process here.  After I removed the stummel and wiped it most of the way dry with small soft white cotton cloth pieces, I gave it a gentle sanding with 320-grit paper.  All of the dings went away, and I thought I got all of the scratches as well.  But I will return to that thought later.

C6C7 The bit came out of the bath much cleaner and ready for wet micro mesh pads from 1500-12000. I did the same with the wood, only using dry pads.C8 I sanded the chamber with 220- and 320-grit papers and retorted the pipe. Already at the re-staining point, I chose Lincoln Marine Cordovan leather treatment, which I flamed.C9 To remove the outer layer of dark, charred stain, I used 1800, 2400 and 3200 micro mesh followed by a soft touch of superfine “0000” steel wool.C10 Now, for the first “final” shot I took showing two problems: the bit where it attaches to the shank needed more sanding and micro mesh work, and through the camera’s unblinking eye there were two glaring scratches remaining on the right side of the pipe.C11 And so I broke out a little piece of 320-grit sandpaper and went at the isolated scratches on the wood, micro meshing that area again with the full range of grits. I finished it by wiping with a cotton ball. To my surprise, I didn’t even need to rebuff the wood with the white Tripoli, White Diamond and carnauba I used in the first place.C12 I used 320-grit paper again on the rounded shank end of the saddle bit and the full line of micro mesh pads on that small section. I re-buffed the re-worked part of the bit.C13C14C15C16
The nomenclature was crisper than it seemed before the project, unlike a certain GBD Prestige brandy I was forced to keep – and often enjoy  — lest I forget.  Steve demonstrated the correct way to approach a Prestige of a different shape in one of his recent blogs, referenced below.