Something about Karl Erik Freehands gets my attention

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table was a beautifully grained Freehand. It had a combination of a smooth and a rusticated patch made to look like plateau. The top of the bowl and the end of the shank was true plateau. The shape of the bowl top was almost rectangular. The walls of the bowl are scooped on the sides and front of the bowl. The bottom of the bowl is multi-sided. The shank is quite thick and the underside is stamped Karl Erik over Hand Made in Denmark over 6. The bowl had a dirty finish and there was some damage on the shank end plateau. There was a thick cake in the bowl and lava overflow and grime in the plateau on both the top and the end of the shank. There was some damage on the bottom right edge of the shank plateau. A piece of briar was missing from the shank edge but it was a clean break with no cracks. I have circled the chipped area in red on the second photo. The stem was oxidized and there was tooth chatter on both sides near the button. Jeff took quite a few photos of the pipe before he started his clean up. The next photo shows the rim top and the bowl. You can see the shadow of the cake in the bowl and the overflow of lava in the plateau of the rim top. The finish under the grime and lava looks like it is in pretty decent shape. The inner edge of the bowl looks smooth and damage free.Jeff took pictures of the bowl from various angles to show the condition and the overall look of the pipe. I was pretty hooked with what I saw. It was a beauty underneath the grim and the damage on the shank did not affect the overall condition of the pipe. The underside of the shank is stamped Karl Erik over Hand Made in Denmark. Underneath that is the number 6. There is also a picture of the stem in the shank. It shows the oxidation on the stem and the buildup of grime on the stem surface. The next two photos show the condition of the stem. It is pitted with oxidation and there are tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.Jeff worked his magic in cleaning up this pipe. 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 to the oils and tars there and in the plateau finish on the rim and shank end. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. The cleaning of the stem raised more oxidation in the vulcanite. The tooth marks and chatter was clean but visible. I took the stem off and put it in a bath of Before & After Stem Deoxidizer along with a stem from a Peterson Mark Twain. Once again I totally forgot to take pictures of the pipe before I started.I did however; remember to take photos of the bowl to show its condition before I started my work on it. I really like the rustication work on the right side of the shank and the back of the bowl. Jeff did a great job removing the grime and lava from the plateau on the rim top. The inside of the bowl was incredibly cleaned and the finish on the plateau top looked good. The inner edge of the bowl looks good as well. The plateau on the shank end also looked really clean. The finish was dry but in good shape.The underside of the shank looks very good. The stamping on the shank looks really good. The damaged area on the edge of the shank end can be seen on the right side of the photo below. The grain on the shank looked really good. The contrast stain shines now that the finish has been cleaned.I scrubbed the briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I rubbed it into the briar with my finger working it into the plateau on the rim top and shank end with a shoe brush. The product worked to lift the grime and debris out of the grooves of the briar. I rubbed it down and scrubbed it deeper into the plateau on the top of the rim and end of the shank. I polished the briar with a soft cloth to remove the balm from the briar. I reworked the chipped area and stained it with a dark brown stain pen. The photos below show the repaired and stained area. Interestingly the shape of it and the angle matches the smooth area on the left side of the shank end.I set the bowl aside and turned back to the stem. I removed it from the soak in the Before & After Deoxidizer and wiped it down. I cleaned out the inside of the airway with alcohol to remove the product from the stem. I polished the stem with a soft cloth to remove all of the deoxidizer and give it a bit of a shine. It had removed much of the light oxidation though there were remnants in the rings and grooves above the tenon. There were still some oxidation that needed to be addressed and the button needed to be reshaped on both sides to remove the tooth marks and chatter. The photos below show what it looked like at this point. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to work on the tooth marks, chatter and to reshape the edges and surface of the button.  I worked over the oxidation on the flat portions and on the rings and grooves in the turned stem with the sandpaper at the same time to remove it from the surface of the hard rubber stem.I polished out the sanding scratches and marks in the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-4000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I brought it back to the table and sanded it with the final three 6000-12000 grit pads. After the final pad I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and worked the pipe over on the buffing wheel using Blue Diamond to polish the bowl and shank. I used a gentle touch on the briar when I was buffing it so that the grooves of the plateau and the rustication would not be filled in and make more work for me. I buffed the stem with a harder touch to raise the gloss on the rubber. I gave the pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The combination of rustication, plateau and smooth finishes make this an interesting and beautiful pipe. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 6 1/2 inches, Height: 2 3/4 inches, Diameter of the bowl: 2 inches, Diameter of the chamber: 7/8 inches. I will be adding this one to the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. It will make a fine addition to the rack. If you are interested email me at or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.


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