Blog by Steve Laug
When I saw the pictures of the way this pipe looked – at least the first picture I thought it was in pretty decent shape. The finish was a little worn; particularly some of the high spots on the sand blast had worn off. The smooth patches were also worn and lifeless. The back edge of the rim looked really rough – as if the pipe had been knocked about on concrete or another hard surface to remove the dottle from the bowl. It was ragged. The inner edge of the rim also looked worn and the cake in the bowl was a bit odd looking – as if it was partially removed. It seemed heavier on one side than the other. The stem looked okay in the first picture but the second hinted that all was not well with it either.The close up photos reveal the issues that I hinted at above. The first shows the strangely caked bowl – heavily built up toward the left side and rear of the bowl as well as the rough back rim top and edge of the bowl. The inner edge of the rim also looks like it has taken some damage. The second photo shows the slight cap at the stem junction that to my mind spoke of a tarry and caked mortise that kept the stem from seating properly. The finish also shows some wear in the photos. The pipe is stamped Royal Danish and Made in Denmark. The shape number is 936 which is a Stanwell shape.The next two photos show the issues with the stem. There were tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem that went from quite deep to very shallow. The button top and bottom were worn down and had deep tooth marks. There was also a heavy build up of oxidation on the stem. The stem logo on the top is very faint. It made me wonder if I would be able to feel it with my finger once it arrived in Canada.I am so glad my brother does the heavy work on cleaning out these pipes. I have reamed and cleaned out the shanks of a lot of pipes and I can’t say that I miss it. I still get to do my share of cleanups on pipes that I find but these that he sends me come ready for the restoration process. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and was able to remove the wax and tars on bowl and rim. He reamed the bowl back to bare briar and scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem. When it arrived the stain was quite washed out and the stem was really oxidized. The damaged rim top was very visible and it was in rough shape. I took some close up photos of the rim and the stem when it arrived here. The roughness of the rim top and inner edge are seen in the first photo. The tooth marks and wear on the stem top and underside in the second and third photos. My brother had cleaned out the mortise so the stem fit tightly against the shank so my guess mentioned above about a dirty mortise appears to have been correct. The crown logo on the top of the stem could hardly be felt by touch. I started sanding the stem then decided to run a few pipe cleaners and alcohol through the airway in the stem and shank as well as in the mortise. They were quite clean and did not take too much work to remove the little bit of debris that was still left.I sanded the rim lightly to take away the roughness but still leave the finish looking like the sand blasted portion of the rim that had not been damaged. I stained the bowl with a dark brown stain mixed 50/50 with isopropyl alcohol. I applied the stain and flamed it and repeated the process until the coverage was what I was looking for. I wanted the dark stain in the deep grain of blast to show through the brown top stain.I hand buffed the bowl with a microfibre cloth to raise a shine and to give an even look to the finish. The photos below show the pipe at this point in the process.In the second photo below the rim surface is visible. There will need to be some contrast applied to the finish to make it blend in and not look merely “less damaged”.To address the contrast issue on the rim mentioned above I used a black Sharpie Pen to provide some darkening in the crevices of the pitted surface. I used a dark brown stain pen to give the top coat over the black stain.I sanded the inner edge of the rim with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the roughened inner edge. In retrospect I probably should have done this before staining the bowl but I did not so I put it in the order I did the work. In the second photo below you can see how the contrast stain worked on the rim top.When I finished sanding I stained the inner edge of the rim with the dark brown stain pen and added some streaks of black Sharpie pen to give it some contrast. I buffed the rim lightly Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and with a microfibre cloth. The photos below show the pipe bowl after buffing. Notice the change to the rim after the sanding, staining and buffing. I set the bowl aside and worked on the issues with the stem. I sanded the area around the button on both sides of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and scrubbed the deeper tooth marks with cotton swabs and alcohol. Once they were clean I filled the deeper marks and built up the button surface with black super glue.I sanded the repairs once they had cured with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth them into the surface of the stem. I reshaped the top of the button on both sides of the stem with the sandpaper.The edge of the button on the underside of the stem was still rough so I used a needle file to shape and sharpen the straight edge.I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 micromesh sanding pads. I rubbed the stem down with Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and a paper towel to further remove the oxidation on the stem. I polished the stem with Before & After Pipe Polish both Fine and Extra Fine with paper towels. The stem was beginning to shine. I sanded the stem once again with the micromesh sanding pads using 1500-12000 grit pads. Each successive grit of sanding pad added more shine and depth to the shine. The more I polished the stem the more the crown logo disappeared.I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and then gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I rubbed the bowl down with Conservator’s Wax by hand. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The pipe is clean and looks new. The restoration brought it back to life. Thanks for looking.