Daily Archives: August 29, 2016

From Block to Pipe – the birth of a Morta Apple Hand Crafted by Ed James

Blog by Steve Laug

Ed James, Ozark Southpaw posted a Morta pipe that he had made, a beautiful Dublin with a Cumberland stem and an interesting addition of a piece of black palm that was fitted onto the stem. It was an amazing looking pipe and certainly one I would have loved to own. I wrote to Ed and asked about it but it was sold. We went back and forth on email and finally I decided to commission Ed to make a pipe for me. I wanted the same work on the stem – Cumberland and Black Palm. He was getting some Morta from Croatia and he said it was great stuff so we decided to wait until he had it in hand. We discussed the shape of the pipe and I decided to go with an apple – one of my favourite shapes. I have yet to have one of Ed’s pipes and I have never had a Morta before so this was several firsts in one pipe. I was looking forward to seeing what he was going to make. I asked if he would mind sending me some photos along the way as he made the pipe. He said he would gladly do so.

Here is the first set of photos Ed sent me. The first shows his sketch of the pipe or the pattern of how he laid it out on the block of Morta. From the pictures that follow it is clear that it was stuck to the Morta block and when he cut away the pieces noted with the Xs there is paper stuck to them in the third photo below.  Black1The next photo shows the drilled block of Morta, the Delrin tenon and the Cumberland rod stock with the Black Palm overlay on the rod. I like the looks of the parts of the pipe so far. That block of Morta looks really clean and has some interesting grain on it. The speckled Black Palm is one of my favourite exotic woods and I love the look of it with Cumberland.Black2Ed cut away the excess from the block leaving the rough form of the apple in the midst of the slices of Morta. The bowl shape is present and the shank is emerging from the bowl.Black3I believe that Ed began to turn the bowl on the lathe to round out the top half of the pipe and the shank. The grain on the Morta is really showing through.Black4He removed the rest of the excess material on the remainder of the shank and the bottom of the bowl. He also began to shape the stem. The black palm looks great against the Cumberland and the Morta. Ed asked if I wanted to leave it natural or wanted a red stain on the Palm. My choice was to leave it natural. The cut away portion of the palm that flows into the Cumberland is also a nice touch. The arch of Cumberland extending into the Palm will stand out nicely once the stem is finished.Black5Ed sent a close up of the bowl to give me an idea of the shape and the grain. It is looking really good at this point. The speckled Black Palm looks really good with the Morta. Black6He also flattened the bottom of the bowl so the pipe would stand on its own on the desk.Black7He did a lot more sanding and shaping of the bowl and the stem. The next photos show the pipe polished and ready for its final finish. Ed wrote and said he want to do some polishing on the Morta. I can’t wait to see what it looks like once it is done. The pipe shown in the photos below is stunning to me. The Black Palm and the Cumberland work really well together. The shine he achieved on both is amazing. Thanks Ed.Black8 Black9 Black10 Black11 Black12Ed wrote me on the weekend and said that the pipe just needed some polishing. He hand rubbed the pipe with some Halcyon II Wax. He applies it with a finger and rub it in well, lets it dry for 5-10 minutes then buff with a clean wheel — then repeats the process. He has found that the Halcyon Wax doesn’t build up in the pores of the Morta like carnauba does and looks better to his eye. He said, like I have often discovered when buffing a pipe that he had to do a bit more sanding as he found some scratches that he didn’t get out on the bowl. The polished and finished pipe is shown in the photos below. To me it is a beauty and I can’t wait to get it here and see it in person. Thanks Ed for making a beautiful looking pipe. You got my attention with this first Morta that I have purchased.Black13 Black14 Black15 Black16


Ed just sent a photo of a tamper that he made from the pieces of Black Palm and Morta. It is a beauty. Thanks for the tamper Ed.14138235_10208671525778286_2489666687520545610_o

A Reborn KBB Yello-Bole 2329 Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

I really like older KBB Yello-Bole pipes. The initial look of this one as it is seen in the first two photos confirms that. There is something about the grain, the briar that is used and the natural patina that comes with years of use that draw me to them. The yellow stem with the inset circle is attractive as well. The Yello-Bole spade stinger that extends into the bowl bottom does not restrict the draw. I had hopes that this one would be in decent shape when my brother sent me the photos below. He had mentioned that the rim was in rough shape and the stem had a lot of bite and tooth marks but the photos did not clearly show that to me.Bowl Bowl1He did his usual stellar job in cleaning up the bowl and stem. The briar and the internals were clean when it arrived. Only then did I see the extent of the rim damage to this one. If you look carefully at the photos you can see how rough the rim top and sides are. You can also see the deep tooth marks on the yellow stem. The stamping on the pipe read KBB in the usual cloverleaf on the left side of the shank with Yello-Bole next to that. The shape number 2329 was on the right side of the shank. All stamping was faint but legible with a lens.Bowl2 Bowl3I took the stem off the bowl and found that the stinger was stuck in the tenon. On these older Yello-Boles the stinger is often threaded rather than pressure fit. I heated the stinger with a lighter and soon I was able to unscrew it from the tenon using some needle nose pliers.Bowl4I took close up photos of the rim and the tooth marks on both sides of the stem. The first photo below shows the extensive damage to the top of the rim. It looked as if the pipe had been used as a hammer. The rough spot on the front of the bowl went down quite far down the outside edge of the bowl. On the back right side of the bowl there was also a deep nick down the side of the bowl. The bowl would need to be topped but the depth of the gouges made it necessary to think of other options along with topping.Bowl5The top and bottom sides of the stem next to the button were imposing. The stem had been deeply gnawed on by the previous pipe smoker. The dents were deep and extensive across both sides of the stem almost obliterating the button from view.Bowl6This was one of those hard ones. The stamping is faint and the amount of work necessary to bring it back to life was questionable. But I decided I liked the look of it enough to go for it. I topped the bowl on the topping board to smooth out the top surface of the rim. This still left a lot of work to do on the gouges down the front and back sides of the bowl. I pressed briar dust into the gouges on the side and top of the bowl and put some clear super glue on top of the briar dust. I put more briar dust on top of the glue to fill in the gouges.Bowl7 Bowl8I filled in the deep tooth marks on both sides of the stem and set it on a small wooden lid to dry. I knew that in sanding the stem after the repairs I would lose some of the rich golden colour but the stem would actually be very usable.Bowl10Once the repair dry I used a needle file to recut the button and flatten the repairs to the surface of the stem.Bowl11I cleaned out the airway in the stem and in the shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. You can also see the lightning of the yellow stem at the repair.Bowl12I polished 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 after each set of three pads. With the final rub down with oil I set the stem aside to dry.Bowl13 Bowl14 Bowl15I wiped the bowl down with acetone on cotton pads to clean off the remnants of the finish. There was still some finish and varnish on the underside of the shank that needed to be removed. I was careful to not wash off the repairs as the acetone will dissolve the super glue patches.Bowl16Interestingly the bottom of the shank is stamped Algerian Briar. There appears to be a crack or repair on the underside of the shank but it is not it is merely a large scratch that I was able to sand out.Bowl17I polished the briar bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 and dry sanding it with 3200-12000. Each successive grit of micromesh pads raised the level of shine on the bowl.Bowl18 Bowl19After polishing it with the micromesh pads I took some photos to show the state of the bowl.Bowl20 Bowl21I touched up the stain with a medium brown stain pen on the repaired areas on the rim to blend them into the surface of the briar. I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and then gave the pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad and then buffed it by hand with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I chose to leave the darkened spot on the bottom of the bowl. I sanded it and found that it was more of stain than a burn mark. The wood is solid in that spot and there is no sign of burn through inside the bowl. Thanks for looking.Bowl22 Bowl23 Bowl24 Bowl25 Bowl26 Bowl27 Bowl28 Bowl29

Refreshing a Karl Erik Grade 2 Freehand Sitter

Charles made this one look really good – the art of restoration at work! Well done.

My apologies on the wait for this post. I had hoped to get it done before our family vacation but there you have it. This one is for all you Danish Freehand pipe fans. The Danes invented Freehand pipes and have proven to be darned good at it. This example is a Karl Erik pipe, stamped “Karl Erik” over “Handmade in Denmark” over “2”.

The pipe arrived in good estate condition. There was a decent cake built up in the chamber and a light crust of lava around the rear of the rim, spreading into the plateau top. Underneath it all, though, was superb grain that shot straight up both the bowl and shank, a testament to the carver’s expert reading of the wood. The stem was a bit grimy, with a few tooth marks and light oxidation, and it is missing the “KE” logo. This omission and a loose…

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