Restoring a Danish Handmade Kriswill Chief 40

Blog by Steve Laug

This Kriswill is yet another one from a local pipe shop. It came from the estate of the same older gentleman whose wife returned them to the shop for restoration and resale. This one is a smooth finished Kriswill. The briar is a combination of mixed grain around the bowl. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Kriswill over Chief over Handmade in Denmark. On the underside near the shank stem junction it has the shape number 40. I reviewed the information I had on Kriswill and have included some of that here.Kriswill was one of the large pipe manufacturers in Denmark during the 1960s and 1970s, and closed around 20 years ago. Their catalog cover read “By Appointment to the Royal Danish Court, KRISWILL, Kriswork Briar Trading, Briar Pipes Hand Made in Denmark.” After the Danish Kriswill enterprise ended, pipes were made in Norway and in France under the Kriswill label. In the 1970s Kriswill was bought by Lillehammer, and in the 1980s the pipes were made for a while at the Catalan factory, Iberica de Pipas.

The finish on the pipe was dirty and dull. The beveled rim top had lava built up that extended up and over the outer edge. It was hard to tell if there was damage to the inner edge of the rim. The bowl had a thick, hard cake filling the bowl. The stem was heavily oxidized and had some deep tooth marks on the top and underside at the button. It also appeared to have had a Softee bit at some point as the usual calcification was present on the stem from the button forward about an inch. This was included in the pipes that I sent off to my brother for cleaning. This is the third pipe that I have brought to the work table from the lot of about 50 to rework. I can’t say enough how much I appreciate his willingness to clean and ream the pipes for me. It allows me to move through the repairs much more quickly. When he received the pipe he took a series of photos of it to show its condition. He took a close up photo of the rim top showing the thick cake and the overflow of lava onto the top of the bowl. The cake is very thick and the lava hides the rim top. The bowl is quite small and in this condition would hold very little tobacco.The next photos show the stamping on the left and the underside of the shank. It is clear and readable. The Kriswill snowflake logo on the top of the stem is in very good condition and is undamaged.The vulcanite stem was heavily oxidized and had some deep tooth marks on both the top and underside near the button. They were deep but did not go all the way through the stem. There were scratches and nicks in the surface of the stem all the way around the stem. The button was worn down on both sides. There was some heavy calcification going on where there must have been a Softee bit covering the end of the stem. There were no surprises as this was true of most of the pipes in this estate.I am once again very grateful for the thorough cleanup that Jeff did on the bowl and stem. He carefully reamed the bowl back to bare briar with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He cleaned the internals of the bowl and stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs – scrubbing out the mortise as it was dirty. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil soap and a tooth brush and was able to remove all of the oils and dust in the smooth finish on the briar. He was able to remove all of the lava and grime from the beveled rim top and left it looking very clean. The inner edges of the bowl were slightly out of round and would need to be worked on. The outer edge of the rim top looked very good. He soaked the stem in an Oxyclean bath to remove the grime and calcification and to bring the oxidation to the surface. When the pipe arrived I took some photos to show how it looked before I did the restoration. It really is a beautifully grained piece of briar that should look amazing when it is polished. Jeff removed the thick, hard cake and the lava buildup on the rim top and clean off the inner and outer edges of the rim. The inner edge had some minor damage that made it slightly out of round. The outer edge looked really good. The top surface of the rim had some minor darkening but otherwise looked very good. The vulcnaite stem looked far better than when Jeff started the cleanup. There were a lot of scratches on the surface and a few tooth marks on both the top and underside if the stem. The snowflake logo was undamaged.The stem still had some deep oxidation in the vulcanite so I dropped it into the Before & Stem Deoxidizer bath and let it soak overnight. (The photo below shows the stem before I pushed it into the bath.)I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to reshape the inner edge of the bowl and to smooth out the surface and remove the darkening. I used 1500-4000 grit micromesh pads to polish the surface of the rim and the inner edge.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my finger tips to deep clean the smooth finish, enliven and protect the briar. I let it sit for a few minutes and then buffed it with a cotton cloth. The grain of the briar really had begun to show through at this point and there was a rich shine to the briar. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I set the bowl aside and called it a night. In the morning I removed the stem from the Before & After Stem Deoxidizer and wiped it off with a paper towel to remove the remaining oxidation and bath. I cleaned out the airway with pipe cleaners and alcohol until it was clean. The stamping on the stem was untouched. The stem was pitted slightly and the tooth marks were very visible. It was ready for repairs to the tooth marks and polishing.I filled in the tooth marks with clear super glue on both sides of the stem and set it aside to allow the repairs to cure. When the repairs had dried I sanded them smooth and blended them into the surface of the stem. I reshaped the button on both sides of the stem with a needle file and sanded the stem down 220 grit sandpaper. The 3rd and 4th photos below show the stem at this point in the process. The surface of the stem on both sides looks good. The tooth marks are gone and the surface is smooth. I worked over the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I polished out the sanding scratches and marks in the vulcanite – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads and wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each one. When I finished with the 12000 grit pad I gave it a final coat of oil and let it dry. After the polishing I could still see light scratches in the vulcanite on the top at the curve and on the underside next to the stem. I buffed it on the buffing wheel with Red Tripoli and Blue Diamond and polished them out. I took it back to the work table and polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish Fine and Extra Fine. I rubbed it down with some Obsidian Oil and took the following picture.I put the stem back on the bowl and took the pipe to the buffing wheel to work it over. I buffed the bowl and stem once again with Blue Diamond to polish it. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats carnauba wax. I buffed the entire 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. It is a beautiful older Kriswill pipe in one of their classic shapes that looks great and feels comfortable in the hand. The reddish brown stain and the polished black vulcanite work together to give the pipe a rich look. If you are a fan of older Danish pipes this is one of the classic shapes from Kriswill. It will make a great pipe addition to the rack and should be a great smoker.  The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 2 1/4 inches, Outer Diameter of the Bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Diameter of the Chamber: 3/4 inches. I will be adding this one to the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. If you are interested email me at or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.



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