Cleaning up a Delicate French Made GBD Sablee 106 ¼ Bent Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

There is something about early GBD pipes that always gets my attention. I don’t know if it is clearly identifiable shapes and finishes or the attention to detail that is obvious in each pipe. Whatever it is I am hooked when I see them. I do know that this one caught my eye the minute I opened the box from my brother Jeff. He found it somewhere along the way in his travels.It is a delicate pipe with a deep sandblasted finish. The rich contrast brown stain works well with the sandblast to give it a touch of elegance. The saddle stem is also delicate and the GBD rondel on the left side of the saddle nicely sets off the black and the browns of the stem and bowl.When Jeff received it the finish was dirty but underneath the grime it appeared to be in good condition. The bowl had a light cake and the rim top was clean. There did not appear to be any damage to the rim edges and there was no lava over flow on the rim top. The stem was lightly oxidized and had some minor tooth chatter on both sides near the button.The next series of photos show the bowl and rim and the beautiful sandblast finish around the sides and bottom of the bowl. The variety of ring grain and birdseye and how it responds to the blasting medium can be seen in these photos. I never tire of spending time turning a sandblast pipe over in my hands looking at the blast from every angle. This is one of those blasts that just demands the time and observation. The shank bears the brand stamping on various sides. The GBD oval and Sablee name is stamped on the underside of the shank in a smooth portion of the briar. It is stamped FRANCE along the stem/shank union on the underside leading me to conclude it is a French made GBD. It has the shape number 106 stamped in the smooth ring around the shank on the right side. The brass rondel inset on the left side of the saddle stem is in excellent condition. The stem shows light oxidation on both sides and some tooth chatter and marks on both near the button. Fortunately there are no deep tooth marks that will need attention.Jeff did a great job cleaning off the debris and grime in the crevices of the blast on this old bowl. He reamed it with a PipNet reamer and smoothed the walls of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim and shank with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap. It removed all of the grime and dust on the bowl, rim and shank. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. Once the grime was removed the finish underneath was in stellar condition. The rich patina of the contrast brown stains in the sandblast looked great. He scrubbed the exterior of the stem and was able to remove the remnants of a price tag from the seller. He cleaned out the airway with pipe cleaners and alcohol until it was clean. When it arrived it looked really good – just dull. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. I took some close up photos of the bowl and rim as well as the stem to give an idea of the condition of both before I started my restoration process on the pipe. I put the stem in a bath of Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and picked up the bowl to begin working on it. I used the Mark Hoover’s Before & After Restoration Balm on the briar. I rubbed it into the nooks and crannies of the sandblast on the bowl sides with my fingers. I wanted it to go deep in the crevices. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, 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. I figured this interesting sandblasted GBD would once more put those claims to a test. He said that he had added some anti-oxidants to keep the briar from getting damaged from both UV rays and water. Once I had all the nooks and crannies in the sandblast of the bowl covered I wiped it down with a clean cotton pad and then buffed it with a shoe brush. It seemed to work very well and I took the following photos to show the results. The stem had been soaking in the Before & After Deoxidizer for over three hours while I worked on the bowl and did a few other things around the house. It was time to pull it out and see what the aging soak had done to the oxidation. I removed it and scraped off the excess soak. I pushed pipe cleaners through the airway to remove the soak from the inside of the stem. I dried it off with a cotton cloth to dry off the surface and rub off the oxidation that was now on the surface of the stem. If there had not been tooth chatter on the stem it would have been really clean and ready to polish.I sanded out the tooth chatter and scratches in the vulcanite on both sides of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. It did not take a lot of sanding to smooth them out.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiping 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 again with the oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish the stem and lightly polish the briar. 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 finish. 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 contrast brown finish on the bowl and the black of the stem combine to present a beautiful pipe. The dimensions of this pipe are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Bowl diameter: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 inches. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I will soon be adding it to the rebornpipes store if you are interested in adding to your collection. It is a beauty and will serve someone very well. Email me at or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.


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