Blog by Steve Laug
I have been cleaning up a lot of pretty standard pipes lately, whether metal, meerschaum or briar. It has been a while since I took on a unique looking piece that captured my interest. In the current box of pipes my brother sent there are some great one of a kind pipes that I have not seen before so I turned my attention to one of them. The first one that I decided to work on just called out my name. The combination of rustic cherrywood with the bark on, really nicely striated horn and beautifully grained briar just called out to see what I could do with a restoration. I have no idea of the age of the pipe but the horn stem with the orific button speaks of some age. The pipe is stamped on the left side La Montagnarde over Deposee and on the right side it is stamped with Ropp in an oval with the 298 shape number next to it. The brass band on the shank and the small wedding ring brass band on the cherrywood extension give the pipe a touch of class. The next two photos were the seller’s photos. The pipe looked to be in really good condition. When the pipe arrived at my brother’s house it was not nearly as clean as it appeared. The finish was spotty and worn. It had been waxed or maybe shellacked to give it a shine. The stem screws into the cherrywood and then the wood end is pressure fit into the shank of the pipe. It was very loose and would not stay in place. My brother cleaned the internals and scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap. It took off the soiled finish and the remnants of the polish. When I got it the pipe was very clean. The brass bands were tarnished and the horn was dull. I took some close up photos of the rim and the stamping to have a better look. The top of the rim had a burn mark on the inner edge of the right side. It did not go deep into the surface of the briar so a light topping would remove the damaged area.The second close up shows the stamping on the shank. La Montagnarde Deposee is what it reads. La Montagnarde translates from French as “The Mountain” and Deposee translates as “Filed” or “Registered”.I topped the bowl with 220 grit sand paper on a topping board. Once the bowl was topped I used a rolled piece of sand paper to sand out the bowl and smooth out the inner edge of the rim. The internals were pretty clean. My brother had done a good job scrubbing out the mortise and shank. I used a few cotton swabs and pipe cleaners and alcohol to remove and of the dust left behind by my sanding.I stained the bowl with dark brown aniline stain and flamed it. I repeated the process until the bowl was covered.I wiped the bowl down with a cotton pad and alcohol to thin the stain and make the grain stand out better.I buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond and gave it a light coat of olive oil. I rubbed down the cherrywood bark with oil as well to bring some life to it. In the photo below you can see the way in which the pipe is held together.The cherrywood insert has a threaded wooden tenon on the outer side which the horn stem threads onto. The other end is a wooden stinger apparatus that fits into the shank of the pipe and holds the stem in place on the bowl.I polished the brass bands with a tarnish polish to bring back the shine.I cleaned out the threads in the end of the stem with cotton swabs and alcohol.I sanded the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil between each set of three pads. What appears to be chips along the end of the stem are not actually chips but striations that run through the rest of the stem. I sanded the bowl with 1500-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads. As I sanded it the grain really began to pop and some of the scratches in the briar disappeared. I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond. I avoided buffing the cherrywood insert as I did not want to risk peeling the bark. The finish began to take on a rich glow. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The first four photos show the pipe as a whole. The rest of the photos show the various pipe parts. Thanks for looking.