Blog by Steve Laug
I got an email a while back from a friend who wanted me to work over an old Edwards that he had picked up. He had bought one from me in the past and had now found another one. It was a Hexagonal Dublin that had carved grooves on the sides of the bowl from the rim down to the base. The shank is square sided and is smooth. It is stamped Edwards on the top side of the shank. On the underside of the shank it is stamped Algerian Briar followed by the shape number 97. He had found it in a local antique shop I think. It had a thick cake in the bowl and the lava flowed over the top of the rim and down to the second layer of the carving on the rim. The shank was dirty and also filled with tars. The stem was a heavily oxidized replacement stem with the entire underside of the button broken off. Because it was a replacement I decided to put another replacement stem on the shank. I pulled the stem off the shank and took photos of the bowl. The grooves in the carving were dirty and the natural finish was dirty and damaged. I forgot to put the stem back on the shank and take photos. I was intent on cleaning up the bowl. I scraped out the carbon cake in the bowl and off the rim top with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I carefully removed the lava from the rim of the bowl.I lightly topped the bowl on the topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the thick lava coat on the rim. I did not want to take off too much of the briar as it looks like an interesting stack of briar sheets from the top down.I scrubbed the bowl and rim with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to get all of the grit and dust out of all of the grooves and edges of the briar stack. I rinsed the pipe with running water to rinse off the dust and the soap and scrubbed it under the running water to leave behind a clean bowl. I dried it off with a clean cloth. Then I remembered I had not taken photos of the pipe with the old stem in place so I slid the stem into the shank and took the next series of photos. Not only was the replacement stem badly oxidized it also had a large chip out of the button across the top side of the stem. It was poorly fit to the shank as well. You can see from the photos that it is larger in diameter than the shank itself. It was definitely going to be replaced. I put aside the damaged replacement stem and took a new square stem blank out of my box of stems. I turned the tenon on the PIMO tenon turning tool on my cordless drill to take down the tenon to fit the shank of the Edwards pipe. Once I had the tenon turned I wiped it down with a damp cloth and took a picture of the new stem next to the one I was replacing.I put the new stem on the shank to see how it fit against the shank end. I needed to do quite a bit of sanding on the sides of the stem to get the flow along the sides, top and bottom smooth and even.I cleaned out the internals of the pipe – the mortise and the airway in the shank using alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners to remove all of the oils and tars that collect there. I cleaned out the airway in the new stem to remove the dust from turning tenon.I sanded the stem to reduce the size on all sides with 220 grit sandpaper. When I got close I put it on the shank and carefully sanded it until the transition between the shank and the stem was smooth. I sanded out the casting marks and scratches on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. There were quite a few scratches left behind by the work I did to fit it to the shank. Once I had the majority of deep scratches sanded out, it was time to work on it with micromesh sanding pads. I used the micromesh sanding pads to polish the stem. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiped it down after each pad with Obsidian Oil to give the next pad more bite when I sanded. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and again wiped it down with the oil after each pad. After the final pad I wiped it down with a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. In the last photo of the three below you can still see some light scratches in the vulcanite on the saddle part of the stem. These would need to be buffed out on the wheel. (I polished the tenon as well as can be seen in the photos below. Each photo shows it progressively getting a shine.) With the stem almost finished I took it off the shank and used the Mark Hoover’s Before & After Restoration Balm on the briar. I rubbed it into the grooves on the bowl sides with my finger and a cotton swab. I wanted it to go deep in the grooves to further test the effectiveness of the product. This would be a good test as it is a totally different finish than any of the other pipes I have worked on with the product. Mark had said that the product can be used on briar or stems – whether vulcanite, acrylic or horn. He said it was designed to pull the dirt off of the briar as well as polish it. He added some anti-oxidants to keep the briar from getting damaged from both UV rays and water. Once I had all the grooves and surfaces of the bowl covered I worked it into the finish with a cotton pad to see if it pulled out the dirt. It seemed to work very well and I took the following photos to show the results. So far the product seems to be delivering as promised. I will continue using it for a while and see how it works in a variety of settings before I give an opinion of the product. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the entire pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish the stem and the bowl. I used a soft touch around the stamped areas as I did not want to flatten them or polish them away. I buffed stem hard to work over the remaining scratches in the rubber. It took some work but they are smoothed out. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and rubbed it into the sandblast and the plateau areas. I buffed it with a shoe brush and then with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The interesting carved finish on the bowl with its natural oil finish and the new stem combine to present a beautiful pipe. The pipe has been given a total makeover and the new stem fits the shape very well. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I think William is going to really like the new look and feel of this pipe. I have one more of his to finish up and then the pair will go back to him in the mail. Thanks for looking.