Blog by Steve Laug
After all the tough restoration jobs I have been doing lately I wanted to take a breather and do an easy restore. In the box of pipes, that my brother sent there was one that fit the need perfectly. It was one of my favorite shapes, had some interesting grain and needed minimal work. Thanks to my brother Jeff, it was astonishingly clean, and smelled the same! I have missed his help on the last batch I have been working on. When he does the cleanup, it cuts my work by 2/3’s and I have the pleasure of working on a clean pipe. This Rhodesian was very clean. The first set of photos is what the pipe looked like before he did his magic. When the pipe arrived in Vancouver I was really happy with what I found. The bowl was hardly darkened inside. The finish was gone, and though there were fills, they were not the ugly pink ones that I usually find in pipes of this era. There was some slight rim darkening on the rear left side of the rim. The stem was lightly oxidized and there were light tooth marks and chatter on both the top and underside of the stem near the button. The next photos show what the pipe looked like before I started my restoration. I took close up photos of the bowl and the rim top to show how clean it was. You can also see the fills on the front of the bowl. I actually started working on it this morning before I left for work. There was no dread attached to working on this one. There were no surprises under the grime or finish. There were no cracks of major issues with the bowl. It is a sweet pipe.The close up photos of the stem show the light oxidation and the tooth marks and chatter. They are not deep so they will not be hard to work on.I sanded the oxidation, tooth marks and chatter with 220 grit sandpaper until they were removed. It did not take too much sanding to smooth out the surface of the stem. There was a small nick on the top inner edge of the button that may need to be repaired. I will look at that after I have polished the stem more.The nick in the button disappeared as I cleaned and reshaped the button. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. After each set of three pads I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil. After the 12000 grit pad I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I polished the briar with micromesh pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. The briar responded really well to the polishing and the fills began to disappear into the grain of the briar. They are still visible but they no longer stand out as they did when I started. At this point I think I will leave the finish natural and waxed instead of staining it. Just because it is a habit for me I did a cursory cleaning of the inside of the pipe and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners and it was as clean as I expected. There was nothing left to clean out. It was spotless.
Because the grain looked so good and I did not find the fills to be too distracting I decided to leave the pipe unstained. I liked the look of the briar and new it would colour with time and smoking. To give the bowl a little life I wiped it down with a light coat of olive oil and put the stem back on the shank. I buffed the entire pipe with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel to remove the last remnants of scratching. I gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I finished by hand buffing it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe is shown in the photos below. I really like the way it looks. For a factory made pipe the way the shape follows the grain is pretty amazing. Thanks for looking.