Refurbishing a Boswell 2003 Spiral Twist Bent Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

Another interesting pipe that Jeff picked up was a Boswell Spiral Twist Bent Billiard made in 2003 by the Boswell father and son team. It was in excellent condition and came in its original packaging. It had some beautiful grain and was well laid out on the piece of briar. The stem was vulcanite and was lightly oxidized on the left side and top. It looked like it had been on display and the sun had oxidized the stem over time. The spiral of the cut in the briar worked itself across the bowl and around the shank. The gracious curves of the pipe are highlighted by the spiral pattern of the carving.My brother took some photos of the pipe to show the condition before he started his clean up work on it. The pipe had been smoked and had a light cake but it had been well cared for by the previous pipe man. There was also some tooth chatter on the stem on the underside near the button though the top side was clean of chatter. The rim top was very clean without any tar or lava overflow from the bowl. The stamping on the underside of the shank was clear and readable. It read Boswell in script over 2003 USA. The pipe was made in 2003.The close up of the shank stem junction shows a clean, tight fit. The close up photos of the stem shows its overall condition. (The oxidation on the top and left side of the stem does not show up well in the stem photos but it is present.) I did some reading to reacquaint myself with Boswell pipes. I read their website and also the entry on Pipedia ( I find that reading the information on a pipe brand before I work on it gives me a sense of the passion and art of the craftsmen who made the pipe. That was true of this pipe as well. I quote from that entry now to give you a sense of the information that I found on the Boswells and their craftsmanship.

Photo courtesy of the Boswell’s Pipes Website

J.M. Boswell is considered to be one of the finest Master pipemakers in the world. His reputation is exemplary, and his craftsmanship is legendary. Working from sun up till the midnight hours, 7 days a week for most of the past 40 years, J.M. has produced thousands of handmade pipes for folks to enjoy. His dream, back in the 70s, was to make the best smoking pipes with the highest quality briar wood at an affordable price. J.M. Boswell has succeeded in doing so.

The Chambersburg store is located on the historic Lincoln Highway (rt 30), about 20 miles west of Gettysburg.

J.M. became a U.S. importer for Briar wood so that he could supply briar to other pipemakers. By doing this, he was able sell his own pipes at an affordable price. With the finest quality Briar available in the world, years of skill and his pipe master’s hands working to form the most beauty from a block of prime briar, a Boswell pipe is born…

J.M. and his son, Dan take great pride in making high quality handcrafted, American made smoking pipes. Admired for their craftsmanship, their handmade pipes are created for the rigors of everyday use and truly made to last.

Boswell’s is a family – owned business with a family environment. Every family member has a role within the business. J.M.’s wife Gail takes all of the photos – for the website, Instagram, and Pinterest; she also maintains the museum and store. Daughter Rachel manages estate pipes online, while Dan’s wife Julie takes the phone orders, and runs the shipping department.

J.M. and Dan, who work full time, side by side together, have created pipes that range from the smallest to the largest smoking pipes made in the world. Dan has known he wanted to follow in his fathers’ footsteps since he was a young boy, helping J.M. after school and during summer vacation. He has been working for the family business full time since he graduated high school, and plans on continuing the proud family tradition for many years to come.

Gail’s family background has involved pipes since long ago- her Father, Uncles, and Aunt made pipes in the late 1930s for the Weber Pipe factory in Jersey City, New Jersey. Her father’s family lived on Cator Avenue, the same as the factory, and they would walk to work each day. Their family history brings an incredible depth and passion for pipemaking!

“Over 70 years of pipe history in our family, and still continuing.”

The pipe arrived in Vancouver after my brother had done a thorough cleaning. He had reamed out the thin cake from the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He had cleaned out the internals – the mortise and the airways in the shank and the stem. I scrubbed off the grime on the surface of the briar and lightly buffed it with a cloth to dry it. It was ready for a very easy refurbishing. When I brought it to my work table I started by taking a photo of the box.The backside of the box reads:

Dear Pipe Smoker: J.M. Boswell crafts each of his pipes exclusively by hand! From the bare briar block to the final stain and polish, each step is a hands on procedure in old world tradition. Boswell pipes feature individual craftsmanship and style.

Additionally, J.M. Boswell has developed an exclusive bowl coating that greatly shortens the “break-in” time of a Boswell pipe and gives a sweet smoke from the very first bowl full. This coating is applied to each new pipe that Boswell makes.

One more compelling feature of Boswell pipes: “Their cost”! Boswell pipes can be had at a fraction of what most import pipes are. This is a feature pipe smokers find gratifying.

Our second feature is repairs by Boswell. J.M. Boswell has no peers in the quality and speed in which he gives “Turn-around” on pipe repairs, from stem replacement to banding, to reaming and cleaning.

I will be glad to answer any questions that you have regarding all the features of Boswell’s pipes, my repair work, plus the crafting process which can be witnessed first hand at our store and pipe making shop at 586 Lincoln Way East in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

Cordially J.M. Boswell, Owner.

Here is what the pipe looked like when I opened the box at my work table. The stain and the finish are really well done. The shape is quite compelling and the hand feel is very good. I took a close up photo of the rim and bowl to show the condition. The rim and inner and outer edges are very clean. There are remnants of the Boswell bowl coating mentioned on the box that can be seen in the photo.The next two photos show the oxidation on the topside and the tooth chatter on the underside of the stem.Since the bowl was in such great condition I started with the stem. I sanded out the tooth chatter on the underside of the stem and the oxidation on the top and left side with 220 grit sandpaper being careful not to damage the thin edge of the saddle that sat against the shank. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil after each pad and after the final pad I set it aside to dry. I ran a pipe cleaner and alcohol through the mortise and shank to see if there were any issues there. My brother’s cleaning job was excellent so there was only dust from my clean up in the shank and mortise.I decided to give the bowl a coat of Conservator’s Wax to see if there were any spots that needed a bit more attention. I applied the wax, let it dry and buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth. The next photos tell the story. The pipe was in excellent condition. I put the stem back in place on the shank and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe is a beauty and one that is tempting to hold onto for my own collection. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Diameter: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inches. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I will soon be adding it to the rebornpipes store. If you would like to add it to your collection send me an email at or a private message on Facebook. Thanks for walking through the refurb with me.

5 thoughts on “Refurbishing a Boswell 2003 Spiral Twist Bent Billiard

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  5. upshallfan

    Nice job and find. Boswell’s typically uses acrylic stems these days, but I prefer their older, vulcanite stemmed pipes. JM and Dan are two really fine folks. I’m fortunate to live nearby, a few miles South of their shop in Maryland. Your post today reminds that I’m due for a visit. The lounge and hospitality are outstanding, should you ever find yourself in the area, definitely don’t miss this shop.


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