Blog by Steve Laug
This pipe is the last of the nine that was dropped by my house for repairs. I was in rough shape for multiple reasons. The finish was dirty and spotty and the rim top was covered with overflow from the bowl. There was a thick cake in the bowl and there were some dark spots on the bowl sides toward the bottom of both sides at the bend. There were also some nicks in the heel of the bowl as well. The stem was missing a large chunk at the button on the right side. The Brigham hard rock maple filters come with an aluminum end and it had broken off deep in the shank near the entrance of the airway to the bowl. The mortise was very tarry and dirty. It would take some work to clean out enough to free the broken aluminum end piece. I took a close up photo of the rim and bowl to show the condition of the pipe when I started the cleanup. Underneath the grime on the bowl there was some nice cross grain and some birdseye on the front and back sides of the bowl.The stem was not salvageable as it stood. The missing chunk was large and the airway into the bowl was collapsed. I would need to fit a new stem on the shank. Fortunately for me the owner did not want a Brigham stem so I could use a regular push stem for the replacement.I went through my stem can, found a stem that was the same diameter, and close to the same length. I filed the diameter of the tenon with a file until it was close to fitting and finished with 220 grit sandpaper. I trimmed the edge of the tenon with my tenon turning tool by hand.When I finished smoothing out the tenon I inserted it in the mortise on the pipe bowl. The fit was snug. It looked good. I would need to do a few adjustments on the shank and stem as the shank was not perfectly round. I sanded the stem and the shank with 220 grit sandpaper to get a smooth transition between the two. I scrubbed the bowl with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the finish and the grime. I took photos of the cleaned exterior. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and the Savinelli Fitsall Knife. I removed the cake completely. I sanded the interior walls with sandpaper wrapped around my finger to smooth out the walls.I lightly topped the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper on the topping board to remove the rim damage and smooth out the nicks and scratches. I sanded it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to polish the surface.I stained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain. I had found that once the finish was removed there were quite a few fills in the bowl sides and shank. I wanted to blend them into the surface of the briar and try to make them less visible. I flamed the stain and repeated the process until the coverage was even. I set the bowl aside for the day and went to work.When I returned from work that evening I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on cotton pads to make it more transparent. It was still too dark but I had plans to take care of that in a different way. In the photos below the fills are very visible against the dark brown stain. I cleaned up the face of the stem with the PIMO tenon turning tool at the tenon/stem angle so that the fit against the shank would be smooth. Sadly, my drill died so I had to turn the stem onto the tool by hand. It still worked well, just more slowly, and I was able to smooth out the surface.While the drill was out, I removed the tenon turning tool and put a drill bit in the chuck that was just slightly larger than the airway into the bowl. I wanted to be able to grab a hold of the broken aluminum filter tip with the drill bit and pull it out. Once again, I did it without the benefit of power. I just twisted the bowl onto the bit until the bit locked onto the aluminum end. I careful turned the bowl off the bit and the broken aluminum end came out stuck to the bit. Whew!I cleaned out the mortise and airway with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I finally was able to get all of the tars and oils out of the extended mortise.I heated the new stem with a heat gun and bent it to match the broken stem. I took a photo of the two of them together. I took photos of the pipe with the new stem in place. Still a lot of work to do to polish both the bowl and stem but it is looking good. I set the stem aside and worked on polishing the bowl. I started by wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. The photos below tell the story. I set the bowl aside and polished the stem. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and rubbed it down after each set of three pads. After the last 12000 grit pad I gave it a final coat of oil and let it dry.I buffed the stem and bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel to polish out the last of the scratches on the stem. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect the surface of both. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and by hand with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I think the owner will be pleased with the finished stem and bowl. It looks like it was made to order. The contrasting stain on the bowl highlights the grain and hides the fills at the same time. Thanks for looking.
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