Daily Archives: November 30, 2016

Polishing a Chair Leg/Fancy Stem

I have a GBD Tapestry that I am restoring, hopefully it will be done in the next day or so. I really like the Tapestry line; this makes my second one in different shapes. They have a fancy “chair leg” stem that while attractive are a pain to polish, especially if they are heavily oxidized, as this one was. 

You can see the “problem” areas in the photos. Unfortunately I forgot to take photos before beginning to remove the oxidation and calcification, which were quite thick. 

Remembering back to the first one I restored, I thought that sharing the method I use on this type of stem would be helpful to others. It’s not a fast process but it is pretty well foolproof because no machines are used, only “you power” and buffing compound on a piece of thin leather lace. 

I use 3/32″ lace but it also comes in 1/4″. I imagine other materials would work, too. I drag the lace across the bar of compound to load it after putting the stem in a hobby vise. (I use this table top vise with only my hand for holding the vise in place – it has rubbed coated jaws – so I don’t put too much stress on the stem and possibly break it.) I take one end of the lace in each hand and rub it using a “sawing” motion (pull the lace toward me with my right hand, then my left, repeat) in the crevices, reloading the compound as needed, until the oxidation is gone. 

It does require some time and effort but there’s almost no chance of getting the stem out of shape, ruining the graceful lines, or breaking it. 

Ria_io Selection Italy Full Bent Billiard

Blog by Dal Stanton

The pipe before me now was acquired from an eBay seller in Arkansas.  The full bent shape (billiard or egg?) as well as the reddish, highlighted rustification drew my attention to this pipe – the rustified bowl reminded me of a bee hive – the tree hangers that Winnie the Pooh greatly coveted.  Undoubtedly, a good choice for those pipe wielders who enjoy the tactile and sensory connection with the briar.  Overall, it looked like it would fit well in a new steward’s palm.  Information about the pipe was scant from the eBay seller, as is usually the case: Selection from Italy, was all.  The eBay pictures describe some of the strengths and needs of this beehive rustified bent billiard:rialto1 rialto2 rialto3 rialto4When I retrieved the pipe from the ‘Help me!’ basket and put it on my work table here in Sofia, Bulgaria, I took some additional pictures to fill the gaps and show some problem areas.  The rim of the bee hive bowl shows significant wear and some chips out of the briar.  The immediate question in my mind is, can the chips be repaired to maintain the rustified rim and the tight bowl crown or will I need to top the rim and loose some valuable real estate in the process of its repair?  AND to re-rustify the rim – a first for me.  The inner bowl appears to be in good shape – mild cake but I will ream it and bring it down to briar for a fresh start.  The stummel needs a thorough cleaning of the rustified mountains and valleys.  The bent stem is in good shape – mild oxidation and tooth chatter around the bit.  With a closer look at the nomenclature on the lower shank I discover a marking that is barely perceptible and due to a rustification canyon dissecting the middle of the word, a letter is missing of what appears to be a 6-letter name: RIA_IO over SELECTION with ITALY off to the right side.  Since the pipe is from Italy, I searched Pipedia.com and Pipephil.eu and could not identify an origin.  I went to Google Translate’s Italian to English tool and inserted every potential letter in the #4 slot and only came up with two cogent, Italian words: 1) Riario: The name of a prominent Italian family in the 1400s from Savona, near Genoa, which had special ties with and enjoyed the favor of Pope sixtus iv.  This does not seem to be too helpful in establishing the credentials of this pipe.  The only other translate nibble was: 2) Riadio, English: Radio.  Therefore, Radio over Selection?  Maybe.  Does anyone recognize this name: RIA_IO??rialto5 rialto6 rialto7 rialto8I take a second and third look at the rim damage and put the brain in gear to come up with a plan.  The first order of business is to plop the stem in the Oxy-Clean bath to raise the oxidation in the vulcanite.  Following this I will ream the bowl down to the briar and then clean the exterior of the rim and stummel to get a better look at the briar surface – the canyons and crevices in the rustification can hide a lot of crud.  We need to clean things up.  Using the Pipnet reaming kit I use the two smallest blades to navigate the narrow fire chamber.  After these blades, I fine-tune the ream using the Savinelli pipe knife.  Then, I roll up 240 grit paper around a dowel rod and sand the bowl from top to bottom.  Finally, I wipe the bowl down with a cotton pad and a bit of alcohol.  The picture shows the reaming tools.rialto9With undiluted Murphy’s Soap I go to work cleaning the rim and stummel surface.  I use a bristle tooth brush to do the job.  I’m careful to keep the internals dry during the wash.  After scrubbed, I rinse the stummel in warm tap water.rialto10What the clean-up reveals is a lot of work I did not see before.  I’ve never tried my hand at the rustification process, but I will need to do that to bring this pipe back to its original condition.  The upper front of the stummel is almost completely flattened and void of the rustification patterns.  It looks as if this section was dragged across the pavement and skinned up.  This skinned up damage goes right up to the rim as chunks of the briar are missing.  This pipe has taken quite a beating.  Even though it wasn’t my desire, I’ll need to top the bowl to remove as much damage as possible while maintaining shape integrity.  I’ll need to read up on rustification techniques and give it a go.  The only redeeming aspect of the front bowl skin up is that shadows of the former patterns are detectable which can be followed.  Bringing a new finish to the skinned patch, blending the colors too, will be a challenge.  The next pictures show the damage but also serve to be a record of the appearance of the rim when I try to imitate it. rialto11 rialto12I begin this daunting project by topping the rim using a chopping board and 240 grit sanding paper.  I’m careful to let the inverted stummel ‘free stand’ to make sure I’m getting a level top.  I rotate the inverted stummel in a circular motion checking my progress often – I don’t want to take off more than is necessary. I’m careful to keep an eye on the full bend shank as well – there’s not a lot of clearance.  The rim does not need to be totally topped smooth because I will be re-applying rustification yet the topping restores a foundation of healthy briar.  rialto13 rialto14I need to reestablish the rustification patterns in the damaged area.  I’ve read about this but there’s nothing like doing….  I’ve chosen different Dremel wood chiseling tools which I hope will emulate the patterns already in place on the beehive bowl.  Easy does it!  Patience!  Prayer! The following pictures chronicle my slow, experimental approach reestablishing the rustification in this worthy pipe.rialto15 rialto16 rialto17 rialto18 rialto19 rialto20 rialto21 rialto22 rialto23Regarding the hurdle of refinishing the stummel surface in a way that hopefully blends with the native scheme, was a question that required a better mind than what I could bring to bear – an email off to Steve would hopefully remedy this novice’s paralysis.  While waiting for a reply from Steve in Canada, I went to work on the clean-up of the stem and stummel internals.  Fishing the stem out of the Oxy-Clean bath, I sanded the raised, classic olive green oxidation with 600 grit paper then with 0000 steel wool.  Now for the internals.  I use Q-tips and alcohol to run through the stem making sure that the primary gunk was moved.  I did the same with the stummel – it took some time to open the airway with pipe cleaners.  To loosen the clogging, I poured some isopropyl 95% down the mortise to let it soak.  I also gently employed a short piece of cut hanger to help push through the gunk.  With airway open, I reunite stummel and stem and utilize the retort to clean the internals.  After the retort did its work, I finish the internal cleaning job with Q-tips and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl.  The internals are clean!  The pictures show the progress.rialto24 rialto25 rialto26 rialto27The bit area of the stem is not in bad condition.  I use the heat of a candle to help raise the tooth dent on the lower bit and sand upper and lower with 240 grit paper to work out the very light chatter.  I redefine the button lips with a flat needle file. rialto28 rialto29 rialto30I continue with the micromesh phase of the stem restoration.  With micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 I wet sand followed by a coat of Obsidian Oil.  Then with micromesh pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000 I dry sand, following each set with an application of Obsidian Oil. The pictures show the progress.  I love the wet ‘pop’ look on polished vulcanite!rialto31 rialto32Steve’s email arrived and the plan is set.  Using Oxblood Leather Dye, I first stain the peaks of the rustified bare briar.  I use a folded pipe cleaner to apply the dye.  I also apply it to the rim – a splotch there and a splotch there – trying to vary the application.  I lightly flame the Oxblood to set it in the grain.  Then, taking a Sharpie black pen point, I highlight the deep crevices of the rustification and mark here and there on the rim – seeking to be random.  After this, I used Fiebing’s Dark Brown Dye and applied it over the entire repair area and the rim.  I lightly flamed it and then lightly rubbed the surface with a cotton cloth to soften the look.  Finally, I took a cotton pad with some alcohol – not much, and lightly rubbed the peaks of the rustification to release the Oxblood.  The result was not exactly emulating the red flecks over the stummel, but I grew to like the subtler interpretation of the new finish in contrast with the original.  I’m pleased with the finish.  The pictures tell the story.rialto33 rialto34 rialto35 rialto36 rialto37 rialto38The home stretch.  I apply Museum Wax to the stummel and buff it with a shoe brush to protect the rustification and bring out a nice shine.  Reattaching the stem, I apply coats of carnauba wax with the Dremel wheel to shine and protect the stem.  I know that carnauba is usually not applied to a rustified bowl but since I was using the Dremel wheel, I gave it a go.  I really liked the results.  I could angle and maneuver the wheel to work the carnauba over the rustified surface and I could easily detect the movement of the wax as I pushed it around with the Dremel wheel. It shined the stummel nicely.  I completed this project with a rigorous buff with a micromesh cloth.

I like the rugged looks and feel of this large fully bent bee hive billiard from Italy.  It fits the palm well!  I hope that it finds a good home with someone soon!  Thanks for joining me!rialto39 rialto40 rialto41 rialto42 rialto43 rialto44 rialto45 rialto46 rialto47 rialto48 rialto49

A Stanwell Danish Star 64

Blog by Steve Laug

My brother sent me a nice looking Stanwell shape 64 with a nice plateau top. The briar itself was in good shape. There were no dents of nicks in the briar. The finish was in great shape. The rim was decent but the plateau was clean and in decent shape. The high spots were the same brown as the bowl and the nooks and crannies were dark brown or black. It was stamped on the left side of the stem with the words Stanwell over Danish Star. On the right side it was stamped with the shape number 64. On the underside of the shank it is stamped Made in Denmark. The stem was lightly oxidized and there were tooth marks on the top and underside near the button. The bite marks on the underside were deep but the ones on the topside was a bite through into the airway.danish1 danish2I took a close up photo of the top of the bowl. It shows the grooves, crevices and the high spots on the plateau top. It was dirty and there was dust in the grooves of the rim.danish3I took close up photos of the stem to show the condition of the top and bottom side of the stem. The photo of the top shows the bite through and the tooth marks that were further down the stem top. The photo of the underside shows the tooth marks there as well. The tooth marks were deep and large. There were also bite marks on the top and the bottom of the button.danish4I sanded the surfaces of the stem and cleaned out the dents in the surface with alcohol and cotton swabs. I greased a pipe cleaner with Vaseline and inserted it into the airway of the stem. I mixed a putty of charcoal powder and black super glue with a piece of straightened paper clips. I filled in the bite through with putty and the paper clip until it was thickly covered. I filled in the dents in the surface of the stem and built up the worn spots on the button edge. I sprayed the repairs with the accelerator to harden the repair.danish5 danish6 danish7When the glue had hardened and cured I used a file to smooth out the repaired spots on both sides of the stem.danish8I sanded the repaired areas with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface and remove the scratches left by the file. It took some time but I was able to sand out the scratches.danish9I filled in some of the air holes in the repair with clear super glue and sanded the surface with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the stem.danish10I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set aside to dry.danish11 danish12 danish13The plateau top was in great shape. I used a black Sharpie pen to highlight the grooves and crevices in the rim top. I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to raise a shine and remove the last of the scratches on the vulcanite. I buffed the bowl surface to polish out the light scratches in the briar. The Blue Diamond gave the finish on both the bowl and the stem a high shine. I gave the pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it 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 colour of the stain on the pipe really makes the grain stand out clearly on the pipe. Thanks for having a look.danish14 danish15 danish16 danish17 danish18 danish19 danish20 danish21