Monthly Archives: June 2018

A Harcourt Hand Carved Freehand – #7 of Anthony’s Dad’s Pipes


Blog by Steve Laug

This is a continuation of the work that began with an email from Anthony, a reader of rebornpipes asking if I would be willing to help him clean up his Dad’s pipes. He wrote; “I have a few pipes (8 or so) that haven’t been smoked in 15 years. They were my dad’s. I would like to get someone to restore them”. We chatted back and forth via email and the long and short of the story is that I have eight of his Dad’s pipes in my shop now to work on. The photo below shows the mixture of pipes that he sent me. There are some interesting shapes and most are very dirty and have very little if any of the original finish left on the briar. All have an overflow of carbon on the rim top and all have chewed, damaged stems and buttons. Anthony remembers his Dad smoking them throughout the years he was growing up so they went from regular use to being boxed and stored. They will need a lot of TLC to bring life back to them but it should be fun to give it a go. I went through the pipes and assessed their condition and contacted him and got the go ahead to proceed on the lot.I have completed the restoration of six of the pipes. The next pipe I chose to work on was the tall freehand with plateau on the rim and the shank end. It too had a replacement vulcanite stem – it is the second pipe down on the left hand column in the above photo. I have circled it in red. It is a tall freehand with a 1/4 bent stem. It is a really pretty straight grain with patterns of rustication on the bottom portion of the bowl. It has plateau on the top and on the end of the shank. The plateau finish has what looks like mold or at least water damage on both the top and end of the shank. There is also water damage around the end of the shank. The stem that is on it is again a replacement twin bore/bite proof stem that is chewed and for all intents and purposes destroyed. The fact that most of these pipes have a replacement twin bore bite proof stem tells me a lot about Anthony’s Dad’s habitual gnawing on his pipes. The stem is ruined with large pieces tooth marks and holes on both the top and underside extending from the chewed button into the surface of the stem. I will need to find a different stem. The pipe is stamped on the underside of the shank with the number 0 and under that Harcourt over Hand Carved in Denmark. The bowl had a thick cake, and some lava overflow under the water damage. The finish was gone and very washed out looking. Even the dirt and grime were anemic. I took photos of the pipe to show its overall condition when it arrived at my work table. I took some close up photos of the bowl, rim top and the stem to show what I was going to be dealing with on this pipe. The plateau rim top was in rough condition – mold filled in the grooves and valleys of the plateau. There was also some lava overflowing from the bowl that had filled in the grooves. The plateau on the shank end was worse than the rim top (if possible). The finish worn off and there was water staining all around the shank end.The water damage around the end of the shank was darker than the rest of the finish. It was water stained and those are hard to remove. I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It reads 0 over Harcourt. Underneath that are two lines reading Hand Carved over In Denmark.The stem was ruined you can see from the second and third photos below. The “bite proof” stem evidently was not bite proof. Anthony’s Dad had gnawed through the twin bore and left holes in the deep tooth marks on the stem. It would need to be replaced.I had some vague memory about the Harcourt brand that had a connection to Preben Holm and the stamping seemed a lot like the way that he stamped his pipes. I did a bit of research on the brand to see the connection. The first place I looked was on Pipedia at the following link: https://pipedia.org/wiki/Harcourt. There I found the following information which I quote in full.

The brand Harcourt was produced by Preben Holm (†) for Dunhill to secure a share of the Danish fancy boom for Dunhill’s principal pipe dealers. Later Erik Nørding made Harcourt pipes for a shorter period. These pipe are sometimes (partially) rusticated.

It had been reported that the second generation of Harcourt pipes were sold exclusively through Dunhill stores, but we now know through Rich Mervin that the Brick Church Pipe Shop, a chain of 3 stores in NJ sold Danish freehands in the 1970s and 80s including Knute, Ben Wade, and Harcourt. They were also an authorized Charatan and Dunhill retailer. So, apparently Harcourt freehands were sold through at least some Dunhill dealers as well as the Dunhill stores.

I then turned to the pipephil site at this link and found out some more information on the brand. http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/infos/harcourt1.html. I followed the links there to some photos of a boxed pipe and the stamping on the shank.

This box contains a pipe carved for Dunhill in the 1970s. Harcourt pipes were Dunhill’s answer to the passion Danish style raised during this period.There was also a photo of the stamping on Preben Holm’s designed Harcourt that is recognizable by the characteristic shape of the pipe as well as by the stampings on its shank. The stampings in the photo are identical to the pipe I am working on. It is stamped with an 0 over HARCOURT and underneath that it reads  HAND CARVED over IN DENMARK.

From the two sites I was able to make the connection between the pipe I am working on and the Harcourt pipes that were made by Preben Holm. The connection between Preben Holm and Dunhill’s desire to tap into the Danish Freehand market in the US was also helpful as it gave me a potential date for the pipe. It was made in the 1970s – the height of the Danish period in the US.

So now I knew that Anthony’s Dad had purchased this pipe during the 1970s from a shop probably somewhere in California. Possibly even the pipe shop that Anthony’s Mom had written about called “Andre’s,” around 1969 or ’70. She said it was a unique shop, originally located in Los Gatos, or Campbell, California she thought. She said that it later moved to the Alameda area in San Jose. Anthony’s Dad also bought his favorite tobacco blends there so it makes sense to me that he may have also purchased the pipe there. Perhaps Anthony will let us know when he reads this.

Once again I am including the tribute that I asked Anthony to write about his Dad and his pipe smoking once again in case some of you missed that and wanted to have some background. Here is what Anthony sent: When my dad died 6 years ago, my mom asked if I wanted my dad’s old pipes. He was a long time pipe smoker, ever since I was a kid I can remember him sitting on the couch smoking his pipe inside. He worked at IBM and used to smoke his pipe in his office before they changed the laws in California. So you can imagine he had quite the collection over the years.

I took his pipes and put them in storage for a few years, I myself recently quit smoking cigarettes and decided to take up pipe smoking as it was easier on the wallet. I asked in /r/pipetobacco if anyone could recommend a pipe restoration service and someone told me about rebornpipes.com. I was hesitant but after looking at the blog I knew it would be a good place to send my dad’s pipes.

My dad loved smoking his pipes, sitting out by the pool in the sun taking a nap or in the garage wood working. The house was my mom’s area and the garage was my dad’s area. I spent hours sitting out in the garage as a kid watching the niners or a’s and giants on tv while doing woodworking projects. I hope to do the same with my kids these days.

I’m not sure if my dad smoked other tobacco but I remember Captain Black was the kind he smoked regularly. He had tins of it in the garage, full and empty and would turn the old tin jars into storage for odds and ends, like screws or washers or miscellaneous stuff.

I remember when I played little league my dad would sit in the stands and smoke his pipes. One of my teammates asked “What is that smell?” and I ashamedly said “Oh that’s my dad’s pipe…I’ll go tell him to put it out” and my teammate said “No man, it smells good!”.  It’s funny how the little conversations over the years you remember.

Another time when I was in 3rd grade or so we learned how smoking was bad for you (this was back in the 80s). I remember I asked my teacher if smoking a pipe was bad for you too….and she hesitated and said “Not as bad as cigarettes, since you don’t inhale it”. After that I was no longer worried about my dad smoking.

Knowing my mom I have no idea how my dad pulled this off but he managed to smoke his pipe in the house. I guess she liked the smell of it. Recently when I was waiting for my girls to get out of school I was sitting on a side street smoking my pipe and someone walked by and thanked me for bringing the pipe back. He said his dad used to smoke a pipe and he loved the smell. As did mine. The only difference is my daughters complain constantly about the smell of my car, but that is mostly because I smoke cigars too.

Anyway, grab some fine tobacco, light up a bowl and sit back and relax. I don’t have a pool like my dad did but you can catch me working on my laptop sitting in my driveway smoking a nice pipe, especially one of these restored pipes from reborn pipes….I can’t wait to smoke them.

Thanks Anthony, that gives me a sense of who your Dad was and how he enjoyed his pipes. I was ready to turn my attention to this seventh pipe. I went through my can of stems and found a stem that I really like the looks of. There was something classic about it and simple that looked right with the pipe. It was about ½ inch longer than the replacement stem. The tenon was the right length for the shank and once it was cleaned up it would look good. I would need to put a slight bend in the stem to fit the flow of the shank and pipe. It was lightly oxidized but otherwise a pretty clean saddle stem. I took photos of the two stems together to show how they compared.I heated the new stem with a heat gun to soften the vulcanite enough to bend it. When it was flexible I bent it over the end of the buffing wheel to get the proper bend on the shank. I put the stem in the shank and took photos of the newly bent stem. The fit was good. I liked the look of the bend and the flow of the pipe. I sanded down the circumference of the tenon with 150 and 220 grit sandpaper. It did not take too much work to get the stem to fit well in the shank  the way I wanted. I sanded the oxidation off the surface of the stem and sanded out the tooth chatter and light tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem at the button. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I polished the stem with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to finish removing the light scratches that remained. I gave stem another coat of the oil after that and set it aside to let the oil dry. I set the stem aside and worked on the bowl. I reamed it back to bare briar using a PipNet pipe reamer to remove as much of the cake as I could. I finished with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife and then sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a dowel. There were some deep gouges and flaws in the briar on the left side toward the bottom half of the bowl. I cleaned the area and filled them in with drops of clear superglue. When the glue cured I sanded them back to blend into the surrounding bowl side.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the nooks and crannies of the sandblast finish on the rim top, bowl and shank. I worked it deeper into the grooves with a horsehair shoe brush. The balm works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I really like the way it brings life to the briar. When I wipe it off with a soft cloth it not only adds a shine but takes away the grime that is in the finish.    I needed to stain the bowl to get some coverage on the water damaged areas. Even after sanding they were darker than the rest of the briar. I stained the pipe with Fiebing’s Tan stain. It seems the tan stain may be improperly labelled because everything seems to come out like it has been stained with oxblood or cordovan stain. It brought the red out of the briar. I applied the stain and flamed it with a lighter. I repeated the process until the coverage was even around the bowl. Once the stain had cured I buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond on thebuffing wheel to polish the stain and smooth out the finish. The pipe is looking good. The finish is a little too opaque for me so I will need to address that shortly. I decided to make the finish less opaque by polishing it with micromesh sanding pads. I sanded with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads to make the finish more transparent. The photos below show the process. I put the pipe back together and polished the bowl with multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem with multiple coats of carnauba wax. I 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 polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is seventh of eight pipes that I am restoring from Anthony’s Dad’s collection. I am looking forward to hearing what Anthony thinks once he sees the finished pipe on the blog. Once I have the remaining pipe finished I will pack them up and send them back to him. It will give him opportunity to carrying on the trust from his Dad. The dimensions are Length: 7 inches, Height: 3 1/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 inches. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe from Anthony’s Dad’s collection. One more freehand pipe remains and will soon follow in the days ahead keep an eye out for it.

A Racine & Laramie Bent Apple – #6 of Anthony’s Dad’s Pipes


Blog by Steve Laug

This is a continuation of the work that began with an email from Anthony, a reader of rebornpipes asking if I would be willing to help him clean up his Dad’s pipes. He wrote; “I have a few pipes (8 or so) that haven’t been smoked in 15 years. They were my dad’s. I would like to get someone to restore them”. We chatted back and forth via email and the long and short of the story is that I have eight of his Dad’s pipes in my shop now to work on. The photo below shows the mixture of pipes that he sent me. There are some interesting shapes and most are very dirty and have very little if any of the original finish left on the briar. All have an overflow of carbon on the rim top and all have chewed, damaged stems and buttons. Anthony remembers his Dad smoking them throughout the years he was growing up so they went from regular use to being boxed and stored. They will need a lot of TLC to bring life back to them but it should be fun to give it a go. I went through the pipes and assessed their condition and contacted him and got the go ahead to proceed on the lot.I have completed the restoration of five of the pipes. The next pipe I chose to work on was the A unique sandblasted bent apple with a ruined replacement vulcanite stem – it is the first pipe at the top of the right hand column in the above photo. I have circled it in red. It is a bent apple shaped 1/4 bent pipe with a sandblast finish on the bowl and the majority of the shank and some smooth portions on the side and around the end of the shank that provide contrast between the finish of the bowl and the black vulcanite stem. The stem that is on it is again a replacement twin bore/bite proof stem that is destroyed. The fact that most of these pipes have a replacement twin bore bite proof stem tells me a lot about Anthony’s Dad’s habitual gnawing on his pipes. The stem has a diameter is slightly less than the shank. The stem is ruined with large pieces missing from the button on both the top and underside extending into the surface of the stem. I will need to find a different stem. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank in a smooth band. It reads Racine & Laramie in an arc over Old Town San Diego. On the underside it reads Italy. The bowl had the least cake of any of the pipes, just a slight, uneven buildup on parts of the bowl. The biggest issue with the finish was just the dirt and grime ground all around the bowl. I took photos of the pipe to show its overall condition when it arrived at my work table.   I took some close up photos of the bowl, rim top and the stem to show what I was going to be dealing with on this pipe. The rim top was din excellent condition with just some dust and debris in the grooves of the blast. The finish looked good other than the grime. The shank looked a little pinched in the smooth portion and makes me wonder if whoever restemmed the pipe did not do that to adjust the shank diameter to approximate the stem diameter. I find that a bit frustrating as it is not that hard to fit a decent stem without doing that. The stem was ruined you can see from the second and third photos below. The “bite proof” stem evidently was not bite proof. Anthony’s Dad had gnawed through the twin bore and left a gaping hole in the stem. The topside was cracked and missing chunks and the underside had a large chunk missing. It would need to be replaced.I had worked on a Racine & Laramie pipe before that also needed a stem. I went back and read the blog I did on that pipe. Here is the link: https://rebornpipes.com/2013/06/30/a-restemming-job-with-memories-of-the-past/. Like the previous R&L Italian Made pipe the look and feel of this one says it is made by Lorenzo. I quote from that blog now in part to remind you of the tobacco shop whose name is stamped on the shank of this pipe.

When I read the stamping is when the memory came back. I have been in the Racine & Laramie tobacco shop in Old Town San Diego, California. It is a museum like tobacco shop that has a wide range of tobaccos and pipes in an old California mission style village setting. You can almost imagine cowboys riding up and tying up their horse to go in and get a pouch of fixin’s. The picture below is what I remember of the shop. It is from the website http://www.racineandlaramie.com/

The following excerpt on the history of the shop comes from the website as well. I find it incredibly interesting reading.

History of Racine & Laramie

In 1868 Racine & Laramie became San Diego’s first Cigar Store. Having come from eastern Canada in the prosperity following the War Between the States, Messrs. Racine and Laramée sold cigars, tobacco, stationery, pipes, cutlery and gentlemen’s furnishings. The adobe they rented had been built in the 1820’s as the retirement home for leather-jacket soldier, Juan Rodriguez of the Royal Presidio. It was one of the first six buildings in the small pueblo, 500 registered voters, thousands of Kumeyaay. The Rodriguez family held ownership through periods of depression and Gold Rush boom, and their son, Ramon, was on the City Council. The widow Rodriguez had the building remodeled in 1867 and rented to Racine & Laramie and the Bank Exchange saloon. All was lost in the fire of 1872.

Using archeology, historic research and photographs this building has been reconstructed with the interior furnished and stocked as it may have been in that remote, frontier Pacific port. This picture gives a panoramic view of the interior of the shop looking at the cigar humidor.It was this shop that I visited many times over the years. It is like stepping back in time to enter the old town and then to walk into the shop itself. I think the last time I was there was about six years ago now. I took the train from the downtown harbor area to the old town site. I walked through the reconstructed village. I must have spent 3 or 4 hours wandering around the site and ending up in the old tobacco shop. I looked at pipes and tobaccos before settling on a couple of tins. I think I picked up some Dunhill EMP and maybe a tin of McClelland Dark Star before catching the train back into town.

That gives you an idea about the shop that this pipe came from. I can imagine Anthony’s Dad, a Californian, visiting this shop and like me picking up a pipe and some of his favourite tobaccos.

I want to include the tribute that I asked Anthony to write about his Dad and his pipe smoking once again in case some of you missed that and wanted to have some background. Along with the information on the Racine & Laramie Pipe Shop in Old San Diego I find that knowing a bit about his Dad helps to give me a sense of the previous pipeman when I work on a pipe from an estate. Anthony sent me this tribute: When my dad died 6 years ago, my mom asked if I wanted my dad’s old pipes. He was a long time pipe smoker, ever since I was a kid I can remember him sitting on the couch smoking his pipe inside. He worked at IBM and used to smoke his pipe in his office before they changed the laws in California. So you can imagine he had quite the collection over the years.

I took his pipes and put them in storage for a few years, I myself recently quit smoking cigarettes and decided to take up pipe smoking as it was easier on the wallet. I asked in /r/pipetobacco if anyone could recommend a pipe restoration service and someone told me about rebornpipes.com. I was hesitant but after looking at the blog I knew it would be a good place to send my dad’s pipes.

My dad loved smoking his pipes, sitting out by the pool in the sun taking a nap or in the garage wood working. The house was my mom’s area and the garage was my dad’s area. I spent hours sitting out in the garage as a kid watching the niners or a’s and giants on tv while doing woodworking projects. I hope to do the same with my kids these days.

I’m not sure if my dad smoked other tobacco but I remember Captain Black was the kind he smoked regularly. He had tins of it in the garage, full and empty and would turn the old tin jars into storage for odds and ends, like screws or washers or miscellaneous stuff.

I remember when I played little league my dad would sit in the stands and smoke his pipes. One of my teammates asked “What is that smell?” and I ashamedly said “Oh that’s my dad’s pipe…I’ll go tell him to put it out” and my teammate said “No man, it smells good!”.  It’s funny how the little conversations over the years you remember.

Another time when I was in 3rd grade or so we learned how smoking was bad for you (this was back in the 80s). I remember I asked my teacher if smoking a pipe was bad for you too….and she hesitated and said “Not as bad as cigarettes, since you don’t inhale it”. After that I was no longer worried about my dad smoking.

Knowing my mom I have no idea how my dad pulled this off but he managed to smoke his pipe in the house. I guess she liked the smell of it. Recently when I was waiting for my girls to get out of school I was sitting on a side street smoking my pipe and someone walked by and thanked me for bringing the pipe back. He said his dad used to smoke a pipe and he loved the smell. As did mine. The only difference is my daughters complain constantly about the smell of my car, but that is mostly because I smoke cigars too.

Anyway, grab some fine tobacco, light up a bowl and sit back and relax. I don’t have a pool like my dad did but you can catch me working on my laptop sitting in my driveway smoking a nice pipe, especially one of these restored pipes from reborn pipes….I can’t wait to smoke them.

Thanks Anthony, that gives me a sense of who your Dad was and how he enjoyed his pipes. I was ready to turn my attention to this sixth pipe. I went through my can of stems and found a stem that was the right shape and would do the job. It was larger in diameter than the shank so I would need to work that down but once finished I think it would look better. It was oxidized but otherwise a pretty clean saddle stem. I took photos of the two stems together to show how they compared. I put the stem on the shank and used a Dremel and drum to take down the circumference of the new stem. I wanted to get as close as possible to the size of the shank without damaging the shank itself. It worked very well. I took photos of the stem after the Dremel work. There is still a lot of sanding to do but it is getting there. I sanded out the scratches and removed the rest of the excess material to match the circumference of the shank with 150 and 220 grit sandpaper. It was a bit of a challenge as the previous restemming had left the shank out of round – much narrower on the underside than the top. It took a lot of hand sanding and constant checking to make sure I had removed enough and not too much material. I took photos of the fit once it was what I wanted. I knew that the polishing with micromesh sanding pads would make the final adjustments to the fit. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I polished the stem with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to finish removing the light scratches that remained. I gave stem another coat of the oil after that and set it aside to let the oil dry. I set the stem aside and worked on the bowl. I reamed it back to bare briar using a PipNet pipe reamer to remove as much of the cake as I could. I finished with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife and then sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a dowel. I cleaned up the mortise, shank and airway in the bowl. Remembering that I had not cleaned the stem, I cleaned airway and slot in the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton  swabs and alcohol.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the nooks and crannies of the sandblast finish on the rim top, bowl and shank. I worked it deeper into the grooves with a horsehair shoe brush. The balm works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I really like the way it brings life to the briar. When I wipe it off with a soft cloth it not only adds a shine but takes away the grime that is in the finish. I decided this was a good time to take a break. I fired up a bowl of some gifted Uhle’s #44 in my “Malaga” rusticated Diplomat and sipped some coffee to look over the pipe to see if I was missing anything. It was great to be able to sit and work with a pipe in my mouth.I put the pipe back together and polished the bowl with multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem with multiple coats of carnauba wax. I 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 polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is sixth of eight pipes that I am restoring from Anthony’s Dad’s collection. I am looking forward to hearing what Anthony thinks once he sees the finished pipe on the blog. Once I have the remaining two pipes finished I will pack them up and send them back to him. It will give him opportunity to carrying on the trust from his Dad. The dimensions are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 1/2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 inches. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe from Anthony’s Dad’s collection. Two freehand pipes remain and will soon follow in the days ahead. Keep an eye out for them because there are still some unique pipes in the lot.   

A Heavily Smoked Sultan Meerschaum – #5 of Anthony’s Dad’s Pipes


Blog by Steve Laug

This is a continuation of the work that began with an email from Anthony, a reader of rebornpipes asking if I would be willing to help him clean up his Dad’s pipes. He wrote; “I have a few pipes (8 or so) that haven’t been smoked in 15 years. They were my dad’s. I would like to get someone to restore them”. We chatted back and forth via email and the long and short of the story is that I have eight of his Dad’s pipes in my shop now to work on. The photo below shows the mixture of pipes that he sent me. There are some interesting shapes and most are very dirty and have very little if any of the original finish left on the briar. All have an overflow of carbon on the rim top and all have chewed, damaged stems and buttons. Anthony remembers his Dad smoking them throughout the years he was growing up so they went from regular use to being boxed and stored. They will need a lot of TLC to bring life back to them but it should be fun to give it a go. I went through the pipes and assessed their condition and contacted him and got the go ahead to proceed on the lot.I have completed the restoration of four of the pipes. I put red X’s through the pipes in the above photo to show the ones that I have completed. The next pipe I chose to work on was the interesting little carved Sultan head Meerschaum with a ruined replacement vulcanite stem – it is the third pipe down on the right hand column in the above photo. I have circled it in red. It is an interestingly shaped 1/4 bent pipe with a short shank and an inserted metal tenon that has been glued in place in the mortise. The stem that is on it is a replacement twin bore/bite proof stem that is destroyed. I was not the original stem as the diameter is slightly less than the shank. There is no stamping on the pipe. The bowl has a thick cake with lava overflow over the rim top and a lot of dirt and grime ground into the finish of the meerschaum. The face has some dirt deep in the carvings on the features so it is hard to tell if there is any real colouring the bottom half of the bowl (the beard) is very dark and once again I cannot tell how much is colouring and how much is dirt and grime in the meer. I will look forward to seeing what is there once I scrub the bowl. As mentioned above the stem is ruined so I will need to find a different stem. I am checking to see if I have some more amber coloured or even yellow that will go well with the meerschaum and be more like what was originally on the pipe. I took photos of the pipe to show its overall condition when it arrived at my work table.   I took some close up photos of the bowl, rim top and the stem to show what I was going to be dealing with on this pipe. The rim top was dirty and lava covered but the inner edge appeared to be in decent condition. The carving of the Sultan was very dirty with lots of grime and dirt in the grooves of the hat and the beard. The area around the eyes, nose and mouth was also very dirty. It was a mess and it was hard to know what was patina and what was dirt. The stem was ruined you can see from the third and fourth photos above that there was a large chunk of the stem missing on right side. It would need to be replaced. To me the whole stem and shank joint did not look right. It seemed like at the very least the stem was a replacement but it could also be that the shank had been shortened due to damage and a new stem added at the same time. The tenon was threaded and metal and was solidly glued I the shank.Before I started to work on this one I thought that it would be good to share the tribute that I asked Anthony to write about his Dad and his pipe smoking in the past two blog posts in case some of you missed that and wanted to have some background. Personally, I find that it gives me a sense of the previous pipeman when I work on a pipe from an estate. Anthony sent me this tribute: When my dad died 6 years ago, my mom asked if I wanted my dad’s old pipes. He was a long time pipe smoker, ever since I was a kid I can remember him sitting on the couch smoking his pipe inside. He worked at IBM and used to smoke his pipe in his office before they changed the laws in California. So you can imagine he had quite the collection over the years.

I took his pipes and put them in storage for a few years, I myself recently quit smoking cigarettes and decided to take up pipe smoking as it was easier on the wallet. I asked in /r/pipetobacco if anyone could recommend a pipe restoration service and someone told me about rebornpipes.com. I was hesitant but after looking at the blog I knew it would be a good place to send my dad’s pipes.

My dad loved smoking his pipes, sitting out by the pool in the sun taking a nap or in the garage wood working. The house was my mom’s area and the garage was my dad’s area. I spent hours sitting out in the garage as a kid watching the niners or a’s and giants on tv while doing woodworking projects. I hope to do the same with my kids these days.

I’m not sure if my dad smoked other tobacco but I remember Captain Black was the kind he smoked regularly. He had tins of it in the garage, full and empty and would turn the old tin jars into storage for odds and ends, like screws or washers or miscellaneous stuff.

I remember when I played little league my dad would sit in the stands and smoke his pipes. One of my teammates asked “What is that smell?” and I ashamedly said “Oh that’s my dad’s pipe…I’ll go tell him to put it out” and my teammate said “No man, it smells good!”.  It’s funny how the little conversations over the years you remember.

Another time when I was in 3rd grade or so we learned how smoking was bad for you (this was back in the 80s). I remember I asked my teacher if smoking a pipe was bad for you too….and she hesitated and said “Not as bad as cigarettes, since you don’t inhale it”. After that I was no longer worried about my dad smoking.

Knowing my mom I have no idea how my dad pulled this off but he managed to smoke his pipe in the house. I guess she liked the smell of it. Recently when I was waiting for my girls to get out of school I was sitting on a side street smoking my pipe and someone walked by and thanked me for bringing the pipe back. He said his dad used to smoke a pipe and he loved the smell. As did mine. The only difference is my daughters complain constantly about the smell of my car, but that is mostly because I smoke cigars too.

Anyway, grab some fine tobacco, light up a bowl and sit back and relax. I don’t have a pool like my dad did but you can catch me working on my laptop sitting in my driveway smoking a nice pipe, especially one of these restored pipes from reborn pipes….I can’t wait to smoke them.

Thanks Anthony, that gives me a sense of who your Dad was and how he enjoyed his pipes. I was ready to turn my attention to this fifth pipe. I decided to start with the bowl. I removed the damaged stem and reamed the bowl using a PipNet pipe reamer to remove as much of the cake as I could. I finished with a Savninelli Fitsall pipe knife and then sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a dowel. I cleaned the top of the rim.The meerschaum was so dirty I resorted to scrubbing it with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove all of the debris, grit and grime from the crevices of the carving on the beard, face and cap. It was a real mess. I rinsed it with warm water and dried it off with a soft cloth.  I went through my collection of stems and found a stem that had originally come to me on a broken meerschaum. It is a good thing I am a scavenger because this would take very little adjustment to work and the stem was already tapped to fit the threads on the metal tenon in the shank of the meerschaum. I took some photos of the cleaned up bowl to give an idea of what it looked like at this point in the process. It is showing some promise. You can see the new stem underneath it because I used it as a prop for the photos. I think the stem will look good. I cleaned up the mortise, tenon, shank and the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton  swabs and alcohol.I used my Dremel and sanding drum to remove some of the diameter of the new stem and threaded the stem on the tenon. I wanted to see how much more of the material I would need to remove to get a good flow between the shank and the stem. The photos give you an idea of what the stem will look like on the pipe and also how much more work I need to do to get the fit right. More work and sanding to follow! I used files, 150 and 220 grit sandpaper to reduce the diameter of the stem to match the shank. It took a lot of patient hand sanding to align every thing. I took it part way with a Dremel and sanding drum but because the shank is not round and every side even I had to had fit it. I think it was worth the effort. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad to remove the dust. I polished the meerschaum bowl with micromesh sanding pads. I wanted to minimize the scratching but not necessarily remove them all. The pipe has a full history that is told by the scratches and nicks in the meerschaum. I want to give the bowl a shine but not remove the story. It is not a new pipe but a refurbished pipe. I worked through all the grits of micromesh pads from 1500-12000 and buffed the bowl with  a microfibre cloth to raise the shine.  I polished the bowl with Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a shoe brush. I buffed it again with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is fifth of eight pipes that I am restoring from Anthony’s Dad’s collection. I am looking forward to hearing what Anthony thinks once he sees the finished pipe on the blog. Once I have the remaining three pipes finished I will pack them up and send them back to him. It will give him opportunity to carrying on the trust from his Dad. The dimensions are Length: 5 1/4 inches, Height: 2 1/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: width is 1 inch and length is 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 5/8 inches. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe from Anthony’s Dad’s collection. Three more will soon follow in the days ahead. Keep an eye out for them because there are still some unique pipes in the lot.   

A Nice Little Full Bent Pocket Pipe – #4 of Anthony’s Dad’s Pipes


Blog by Steve Laug

This is a continuation of the work that began with an email from Anthony, a reader of rebornpipes asking if I would be willing to help him clean up his Dad’s pipes. He wrote; “I have a few pipes (8 or so) that haven’t been smoked in 15 years. They were my dad’s. I would like to get someone to restore them”. We chatted back and forth via email and the long and short of the story is that I have eight of his Dad’s pipes in my shop now to work on. The photo below shows the mixture of pipes that he sent me. There are some interesting shapes and most are very dirty and have very little if any of the original finish left on the briar. All have an overflow of carbon on the rim top and all have damaged stems and buttons. Anthony remembers his Dad smoking them throughout the years he was growing up so they went from regular use to being boxed and stored. They will need a lot of TLC to bring life back to them but it should be fun to give it a go. I went through the pipes and assessed their condition and contacted him and got the go ahead to proceed on the lot.I have completed the restoration of three of the pipes. I put red X’s through the pipes in the above photo to show the ones that I have completed. The next pipe I chose to work on was the full bent briar with a stem that turned over the bowl to make it a pocket pipe – it is the second pipe down on the right hand column in the above photo. I have circled it in red. It is an interestingly shaped full bent pipe with the shank and the bowl being side by side with no gap between them. The only stamping on the pipe is on the underside of the shank at the stem/shank junction and reads ITALY. The bowl was very dirty and the finish was worn to the point that it was lifeless looking. Once again, not only did it have a thick cake in the bowl and some darkening and lava overflowing onto the rim top it also appeared that Anthony’s Dad had laid the pipe aside mid smoke. The bowl was about 1/3 full of partially burned tobacco that had hardened and dried with age. The bent, vulcanite stem was the least chewed of the collection and had some tooth chatter and light marks on both sides around the button. It was also oxidized and would need to be cleaned. I took photos of the pipe to show its overall condition when it arrived at my work table.   I turned the stem over the bowl to show how it was used as a pocket pipe and took a photo. The stem turned gave the pipe a better profile and it could easily be stuffed in a coat or vest pocket for use and reuse.I took some close up photos of the bowl, rim top and the stem to show what I was going to be dealing with on this pipe. The rim top was dirty and lava covered but the inner edge appeared to be in decent condition. The stem was lightly oxidized and it had the least chewing damage of any of these pipes. There were light marks and tooth chatter on both sides of the stem and button.I took photos of the bowl from various angles to try to capture the condition of the pipe for you. The briar appears to have some interesting grain around the sides. There is one fill in the bottom of the bowl that is chipped and damaged. I shared the tribute that I asked Anthony to write about his Dad and his pipe smoking in the last blog post and will share it again now. I always find that it gives me a sense of the previous pipeman when I work on a pipe from an estate. Anthony sent me a great tribute. Here it is in his words:

When my dad died 6 years ago, my mom asked if I wanted my dad’s old pipes. He was a long time pipe smoker, ever since I was a kid I can remember him sitting on the couch smoking his pipe inside. He worked at IBM and used to smoke his pipe in his office before they changed the laws in California. So you can imagine he had quite the collection over the years.

I took his pipes and put them in storage for a few years, I myself recently quit smoking cigarettes and decided to take up pipe smoking as it was easier on the wallet. I asked in /r/pipetobacco if anyone could recommend a pipe restoration service and someone told me about rebornpipes.com. I was hesitant but after looking at the blog I knew it would be a good place to send my dad’s pipes.

My dad loved smoking his pipes, sitting out by the pool in the sun taking a nap or in the garage wood working. The house was my mom’s area and the garage was my dad’s area. I spent hours sitting out in the garage as a kid watching the niners or a’s and giants on tv while doing woodworking projects. I hope to do the same with my kids these days.

I’m not sure if my dad smoked other tobacco but I remember Captain Black was the kind he smoked regularly. He had tins of it in the garage, full and empty and would turn the old tin jars into storage for odds and ends, like screws or washers or miscellaneous stuff.

I remember when I played little league my dad would sit in the stands and smoke his pipes. One of my teammates asked “What is that smell?” and I ashamedly said “Oh that’s my dad’s pipe…I’ll go tell him to put it out” and my teammate said “No man, it smells good!”.  It’s funny how the little conversations over the years you remember.

Another time when I was in 3rd grade or so we learned how smoking was bad for you (this was back in the 80s). I remember I asked my teacher if smoking a pipe was bad for you too….and she hesitated and said “Not as bad as cigarettes, since you don’t inhale it”. After that I was no longer worried about my dad smoking.

Knowing my mom I have no idea how my dad pulled this off but he managed to smoke his pipe in the house. I guess she liked the smell of it. Recently when I was waiting for my girls to get out of school I was sitting on a side street smoking my pipe and someone walked by and thanked me for bringing the pipe back. He said his dad used to smoke a pipe and he loved the smell. As did mine. The only difference is my daughters complain constantly about the smell of my car, but that is mostly because I smoke cigars too.

Anyway, grab some fine tobacco, light up a bowl and sit back and relax. I don’t have a pool like my dad did but you can catch me working on my laptop sitting in my driveway smoking a nice pipe, especially one of these restored pipes from reborn pipes….I can’t wait to smoke them.

Today after publishing the blog on the twisted freehand pipe I received an email from Anthony. He copied me an email that he had received from his Mom after she read the blog. It gives more insight into his Dad so he gave me permission to post it here.

Dear Anthony,I really enjoyed your email attachment about Steve Laug’s restoration of your dad’s pipes (“#1 and #3”)!  Your father would be so thrilled to see this master craftsman bringing back to life his old favorites — especially as he so loved wood-working himself — and to know that you treasure them.  (I wonder if the one I “rescued” from his workshop and now display in plastic case — the meerschaum lion’s head — is ruined.  After vacuuming and blowing out all the dust and rat-turds, I soaked it in vinegar till white again.  It looks good, anyway!)

I also loved reading your comments about Dad’s enjoyment of them.  I don’t think he was ever addicted to tobacco; he just enjoyed it casually (and mostly chewing on them!).

I remember when he acquired the large, twisted one (“#3”) at a pipe shop called “Andre’s,” around 1969 or ’70.  It was a unique shop, originally in Los Gatos or Campbell (I think) which later moved — maybe to The Alameda area in San Jose.  I’m not sure if Andre made any that he sold, but as a woodworker Dad was fascinated by this one especially.  He also bought his favorite tobacco blends there.  (Maybe there’s something on the Internet about Andre’s, if he became more well known.)

While expecting our first child in early April 1971, I went down there to get Dad a surprise gift pipe for his April 25 birthday and picked out a plump, short one labeled “The Little Chub.”  Not knowing in those days whether Baby would be a boy or girl, I wrapped it with a card saying it was “To My New Daddy from your Little Chub.”  Lo and behold, Baby arrived on Dad’s very own birthday, when I tucked the pipe into my suitcase for the hospital and presented it to him there (along with The Little Chub herself — his best birthday gift ever)!  I don’t see it among these photos, so I guess it got chewed down worse than the others!

Re. your notes on changes over the years in  smoking habits and rules:I think it was IBM that banned smoking at work before state or local governments did.  Also, as tobacco was made stronger (and more addictive), odors grew stronger and more permeating, and its terrible health effects became more obvious, more bystanders were impacted and objected.

As for my allowing pipes in the house in “the old days,” I had grown up with both parents heavy smokers, when that was common practice.  (I didn’t take it up myself, as I couldn’t afford it — in the break room at work in my teens, machines sold candy bars for a nickel, but a pack of cigarettes cost 35 cents!  And I liked chocolate better anyway.)  But a  man with a pipe was more attractive (especially if he dressed well), it seemed a sophisticated image, and the smoke smelled better.    Many of my professors at Berkeley had pipes on their desks!  But after we had kids and knew smoke was a hazard for them, we didn’t want them near it inside.  And of course, we watched both my parents suffer terribly (Daddy’s heart attacks and emphysema, and Mom’s lung cancer) from near-lifelong smoking.

Anyway, these are beautiful, vintage, collectors’ items when restored and they’d look great in a closed case on the wall!

Love,Mom

Thanks Anthony, that gives me a sense of who your Dad was and how he used and enjoyed his pipes. I was ready to turn my attention to this third pipe. On this pipe I decided to work with the stem as it seemed a pretty straightforward cleanup (unlike the others). I cleaned out the inside with pipe cleaners and alcohol and worked on the funneled end of the tenon with a cotton swab and alcohol. It was quite dirty but it did not take too long to change that.  I used some 000 steel wool to clean off the light oxidation and then sanded the tooth chatter and marks out with 220 grit sandpaper. I wiped down the bowl with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the grime and remnants of the finish on the bowl. I scrubbed the rim top but that would take a bit more work to clean it off. I cleaned up the fill on the bottom of the bowl and refilled it with super glue. I did not pick it out as it was merely pitted and not loose. The super glue would take care of the damage.With the exterior of the bowl cleaned and repaired it was time to address the rim top. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean off the lava and remove the damage that was present on the surface. I worked over the surface of the shank end as well and cleaned off the grime there. There was still some darkening on the briar but it was clean.Now it was time to ream the bowl. I used a PipNet pipe reamer and took the cake back to bare briar. The pipe had been sitting for so long I wanted to do a maximum cleanup and also check out the walls of the bowl for damage. I cleaned up the bowl with a Savninelli Fitsall pipe knife and then sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a dowel.  I cleaned out the sump in the shank and mortise and the airway into the bowl with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol.I repaired some deep gouges on the right side of the bowl with clear super glue. When it was dry I sanded it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the surface of the bowl.I began the polishing of the briar with a medium and a fine grit combination sanding sponge. I polished out the scratches and the repairs until the surface began to shine. I followed that by polishing it further with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the debris from the previous pad. Once I had finished I wiped it down with an alcohol dampened pad and let it dry. I rubbed Before & After Pipe Balm into the surface of the wood with my finger tips and worked it into the grain. The product did its magic and enlivened, cleaned and gave the wood a rich glow. It cleaned up the repaired areas so I could see where I needed to work in the stain to blend it into the briar. The photos show what it looked like at this point. I buffed the bowl on the buffing wheel with Blue Diamond to further polish it. The photos below show the condition of the bowl at this point. It is almost ready to restain. With the bowl cleaned, it was time to restain the pipe. I chose to use a Fiebing’s Dark Brown stain to give some life back to the pipe. It is dark enough that I figured it would hide the repairs a bit and blend the fill in on the bottom of the bowl. I heated the briar and then applied the stain with a dauber. I flamed the stain to set it in the grain and repeated the process until I was happy with the coverage. I set the bowl aside to let the stain cure overnight and called it a day.  I took pictures of it once I had buffed it with Blue Diamond to remove the topcoat of crust. It needed some more work in my opinion. The stain was a bit too opaque for me as I wanted the interesting grain to stand out. I would need to sacrifice some of the coverage on the files to get the grain to stand out. I decided to go for it and wiped the bowl down with alcohol on a cotton pad to make the stain a bit more transparent. I set the bowl aside and polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit micromesh pads and again wiped it down after each pad with oil. I gave it a final coat of oil after the final pad and set it aside to dry. There were still some stubborn spots of oxidation in hard to sand spots so I polished the stem with Before & After Pipe Polish – Fine and Extra Fine polishes and I am happier with the end result.I polished the pipe with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl and the stem 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 pipe polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is fourth of eight pipes that I am restoring from Anthony’s Dad’s collection. I am looking forward to hearing what Anthony thinks once he sees the finished pipe on the blog. Once I have the remaining four pipes finished I will pack them up and send them back to him. It will give him opportunity to carrying on the trust from his Dad. The dimensions are Length: 3 1/2 inches, Height: 2 1/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl:  1 5/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 inches. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe from Anthony’s Dad’s collection. Four more will soon follow in the days ahead. Keep an eye out for them because there are still some unique pipes in the lot.

An Interesting Pipe with a Twist – the third of Anthony’s Dad’s Pipes


Blog by Steve Laug

A few weeks back I received an email from Anthony, a reader of rebornpipes asking if I would be willing to help him clean up his Dad’s pipes. He wrote; “I have a few pipes (8 or so) that haven’t been smoked in 15 years. They were my dad’s. I would like to get someone to restore them”. We chatted back and forth via email and the long and short of the story is that I have eight of his Dad’s pipes in my shop now to work on. The photo below shows the mixture of pipes that he sent me. There are some interesting shapes and most are very dirty and have very little if any of the original finish left on the briar. All have an overflow of carbon on the rim top and all have damaged stems and buttons. They will need a lot of TLC to bring life back to them but it should be fun to give it a go. I went through the pipes and assessed their condition and contacted him and got the go ahead to proceed on the lot.The third pipe I chose to work on was the briar pipe with the twist and the twisted stem – one on the bottom left side of the photo. I have circled in red. It is an interestingly shaped and rusticated piece of briar. Not one side of the bowl is the same and from every angle it looks totally different. It is almost amoeba shaped and you almost expect it to morph and reshape as you hold it in your hands. There is no stamping on the shank or bowl anywhere. It is nameless. The bowl was very dirty and the finish was worn to the post that it was smooth and lifeless looking. Not only did it have a thick cake in the bowl and some darkening and lava overflowing onto the rim top it also appeared that Anthony’s Dad had laid the pipe aside mid smoke. The bowl was about half full of partially burned tobacco that had hardened and dried with age. The twisted stem turned out to be a twin bore “bite-proof” vulcanite one. It is unique with its twists and spirals. It was heavily chewed and had damage on both sides around the button. All of the pipes from Anthony’s Dad had the same marks and wear on the stem. It will need to be reshaped and rebuilt. The rubber of the mouthpiece is quite high quality vulcanite as it is one of the few stems that showed very little oxidation. I took photos of the pipe to show its overall condition when it arrived at my work table.   I took some close up photos of the bowl, rim top and the stem to show what I was going to be dealing with on this pipe. The rim top was dirty and lava covered but the inner edge appeared to be in decent condition. The stem was in pretty rough condition. There was a lot of chewing damage to the surface of the stem and button. There were some deep tooth marks on both sides of the stem and button. I think that it is obvious that this old pipe had been another one of Anthony’s Dad’s favourites.I took photos of the bowl from various angles to try to capture the unique look of the pipe for you. It is simply different from any of the pipes that I have been working on lately which is what caught my attention and moved it up in the restoration of the eight pipes. I asked Anthony to write a bit of a tribute to his Dad and his pipe smoking. I always find that it gives me a sense of the previous pipeman when I work on a pipe from an estate. Anthony sent me a great tribute. Here it is in his words:

“When my dad died 6 years ago, my mom asked if I wanted my dad’s old pipes. He was a long time pipe smoker, ever since I was a kid I can remember him sitting on the couch smoking his pipe inside. He worked at IBM and used to smoke his pipe in his office before they changed the laws in California. So you can imagine he had quite the collection over the years.

I took his pipes and put them in storage for a few years, I myself recently quit smoking cigarettes and decided to take up pipe smoking as it was easier on the wallet. I asked in /r/pipetobacco if anyone could recommend a pipe restoration service and someone told me about rebornpipes.com. I was hesitant but after looking at the blog I knew it would be a good place to send my dad’s pipes.

My dad loved smoking his pipes, sitting out by the pool in the sun taking a nap or in the garage wood working. The house was my mom’s area and the garage was my dad’s area. I spent hours sitting out in the garage as a kid watching the niners or a’s and giants on tv while doing woodworking projects. I hope to do the same with my kids these days.

I’m not sure if my dad smoked other tobacco but I remember Captain Black was the kind he smoked regularly. He had tins of it in the garage, full and empty and would turn the old tin jars into storage for odds and ends, like screws or washers or miscellaneous stuff.

I remember when I played little league my dad would sit in the stands and smoke his pipes. One of my teammates asked “What is that smell?” and I ashamedly said “Oh that’s my dad’s pipe…I’ll go tell him to put it out” and my teammate said “No man, it smells good!”.  It’s funny how the little conversations over the years you remember.

Another time when I was in 3rd grade or so we learned how smoking was bad for you (this was back in the 80s). I remember I asked my teacher if smoking a pipe was bad for you too….and she hesitated and said “Not as bad as cigarettes, since you don’t inhale it”. After that I was no longer worried about my dad smoking.

Knowing my mom I have no idea how my dad pulled this off but he managed to smoke his pipe in the house. I guess she liked the smell of it. Recently when I was waiting for my girls to get out of school I was sitting on a side street smoking my pipe and someone walked by and thanked me for bringing the pipe back. He said his dad used to smoke a pipe and he loved the smell. As did mine. The only difference is my daughters complain constantly about the smell of my car, but that is mostly because I smoke cigars too.

Anyway, grab some fine tobacco, light up a bowl and sit back and relax. I don’t have a pool like my dad did but you can catch me working on my laptop sitting in my driveway smoking a nice pipe, especially one of these restored pipes from reborn pipes….I can’t wait to smoke them.”

Thanks Anthony, that gives me a sense of who your Dad was and how he used and enjoyed his pipes. I was ready to turn my attention to this third pipe. I generally start working on pipes by reaming the bowl and removing the debris from there. In this case I picked out the plug of hardened partially smoked tobacco that filled the lower half of the bowl and then reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer starting with the third cutting head. The bowl was a bit conical so I used the first and second cutting head as well. I took the cake back to bare briar. I used a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to clean up remaining debris in the bowl. I scraped the rim top with the edge of the knife to remove the lava that was there. I wrapped a piece of dowel with 220 grit sandpaper and sanded out the inside of the bowl to remove the remnants of cake and debris on the walls of the bowl.  I scrubbed the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush. I worked on the rim top and the deep grooves and curves of the bowl. I rinsed the bowl off with running water to remove the grime and the soap. The pipe is beginning to look really good. I wiped the bowl down with acetone on cotton pads to remove the remnants of the finish that was originally present. I wanted a clean surface to restain so it did not take too much scrubbing to leave behind clean briar. I scraped out the mortise with a sharp pen knife to remove the buildup of hardened tars and oils that had accumulated there. I cleaned out the airway and the mortis with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the debris and oils that were there. Once I had finished the pipe was clean.With the bowl cleaned, it was time to restain the pipe. I chose to use a Fiebing’s Tan stain to give some life back to the pipe. It is pretty close to the original colour of the bowl. I heated the briar and then applied the stain with a dauber. I flamed the stain to set it in the grain and repeated the process until I was happy with the coverage. I set the bowl aside to let the stain dry and settle. I turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the stem with a Bic lighter flame to raise the vulcanite. I repaired the remaining deeper tooth marks on the chewed stem end and button with black super glue. Once I was happy with the repairs I set it aside to let the glue cure. While it was drying I went and did some errands. When I returned I wiped the bowl down with alcohol to even out the stain. I did not mind the darker sections but wanted to remove streaks and heavy spots. I examined the bowl to check on troublesome spots and low and behold I found what I always hate to find. It had not shown up before in my examination of the bowl but it was there clear as a bell – a group of cracks that was on the underside of the bowl. I am not sure how I missed them but they were very visible. Now I would need to address that issue. I drilled the end of each of the cracks with a microdrill bit to stop them from spreading. When I took the photos I saw one further trail that I had not drilled so I took care of that one at the same time.I filled in the crack and the drill holes using a paper clip to strategically place the super glue. I traced the crack with the end of the paper clip and filled in the space with the glue.When the repair had cured I sanded it lightly with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface of the repair. I worked on it with the corner of the paper to get into the grooves. I worked on it as well with a sanding stick and needle file. The next photos show the progress. I rubbed Before & After Pipe Balm into the surface of the wood with my finger tips and worked it into the grain. The product did its magic and enlivened, cleaned and gave the wood a rich glow. It cleaned up the repaired area so I could see where I needed to work in the stain to blend it into the briar. The photos show what it looked like at this point. I blended the repaired area into the rest of the surrounding briar with stain pens – combining Mahogany, Maple and Cherry pens. Once the stain cured I would wax and buff the bowl.I set the bowl aside and worked on the twisted stem. It had been sitting for 24 hours so the black super glue repair was hard and ready to work on. I reshaped the button edge and surface of the stem with a needle file to clean up the look and feel of the button and the stem.I touched up the shallow dents that needed a little more glue and put some on the edge of the button as well. Once it dried I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the rest of the stem surface. I cleaned out the twin bore stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol. I discovered that the left side of the twin bore was plugged so that it was only get airflow through the right side. I cleaned it out with a straightened paper clip and followed up with alcohol and pipe cleaners down both bores. Once it was done the airflow was open.I polished it by wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit micromesh pads and again wiped it down after each pad with oil. I gave it a final coat of oil after the final pad and set it aside to dry. I polished the pipe with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem 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 pipe polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is third of eight pipes that I am restoring from Anthony’s Dad’s collection. I am looking forward to hearing what Anthony thinks once he sees the finished pipe on the blog. Once I have the remaining five pipes finished I will pack them up and send them back to him. It will give him opportunity to carrying on the trust from his Dad. The dimensions are Length: 6 1/2 inches, Height: 2 1/2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: width is 1 ¼ inches and length is 2 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 inches. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe from Anthony’s Dad’s collection. Five more will soon follow in the days ahead. Keep an eye out for them because there are some unique pipes in the lot.  

ADDENDUM

This morning I received an email from Anthony in which he shared an email from his Mom regarding this pipe. He thought it would be good info to add to this blog about his Dad’s pipe. So with his encouragement and permission I add this to the end of this blog.
Dear Anthony,
I really enjoyed your email attachment about Steve Laug’s restoration of your dad’s pipes (“#1 and #3”)!  Your father would be so thrilled to see this master craftsman bringing back to life his old favorites — especially as he so loved wood-working himself — and to know that you treasure them.  (I wonder if the one I “rescued” from his workshop and now display in plastic case — the meerschaum lion’s head — is ruined.  After vacuuming and blowing out all the dust and rat-turds, I soaked it in vinegar till white again.  It looks good, anyway!)

I also loved reading your comments about Dad’s enjoyment of them.  I don’t think he was ever addicted to tobacco; he just enjoyed it casually (and mostly chewing on them!).

I remember when he acquired the large, twisted one (“#3”) at a pipe shop called “Andre’s,” around 1969 or ’70.  It was a unique shop, originally in Los Gatos or Campbell (I think) which later moved — maybe to The Alameda area in San Jose.  I’m not sure if Andre made any that he sold, but as a woodworker Dad was fascinated by this one especially.  He also bought his favorite tobacco blends there.  (Maybe there’s something on the Internet about Andre’s, if he became more well known.)

>While expecting our first child in early April 1971, I went down there to get Dad a surprise gift pipe for his April 25 birthday and picked out a plump, short one labeled “The Little Chub.”  Not knowing in those days whether Baby would be a boy or girl, I wrapped it with a card saying it was “To My New Daddy from your Little Chub.”  Lo and behold, Baby arrived on Dad’s very own birthday, when I tucked the pipe into my suitcase for the hospital and presented it to him there (along with The Little Chub herself — his best birthday gift ever)!  I don’t see it among these photos, so I guess it got chewed down worse than the others!

Re. your notes on changes over the years in  smoking habits and rules:
I think it was IBM that banned smoking at work before state or local governments did.  Also, as tobacco was made stronger (and more addictive), odors grew stronger and more permeating, and its terrible health effects became more obvious, more bystanders were impacted and objected.

As for my allowing pipes in the house in “the old days,” I had grown up with both parents heavy smokers, when that was common practice.  (I didn’t take it up myself, as I couldn’t afford it — in the break room at work in my teens, machines sold candy bars for a nickel, but a pack of cigarettes cost 35 cents!  And I liked chocolate better anyway.) But a  man with a pipe was more attractive (especially if he dressed well), it seemed a sophisticated image, and the smoke smelled better.    Many of my professors at Berkeley had pipes on their desks!  But after we had kids and knew smoke was a hazard for them, we didn’t want them near it inside.  And of course, we watched both my parents suffer terribly (Daddy’s heart attacks and emphysema, and Mom’s lung cancer) from near-lifelong smoking.

Anyway, these are beautiful, vintage, collectors’ items when restored and 
they’d look great in a closed case on the wall!

Love,
Mom

Recommissioning a Bulldog: Amphora X-tra 724-644 of Amphora Holland


Blog by Dal Stanton

Last year, while in the US for several months, I landed the largest haul of pipes in my pipe collecting history – which isn’t that ancient!  It was called the Lot of 66 by the eBay seller who represented a non-profit in Texas that sold donated items to help people in need.  Just by the cursory look in the picture below I was very interested in turning these pipes around to benefit our very precious people in need, the Daughters of Bulgaria.  The world is full of broken people experiencing a plethora of painful and often, dehumanizing conditions.  Sometimes all of our efforts seem like a drop in the bucket, but I suppose if a lot of people added their ‘drops’ it might, and often does make a difference, one life at a time.  Well, I won the Lot of 66 on the eBay auction block and thanks to a very patient wife, the Lot of 66 made it back home to Bulgaria where each pipe, one pipe at a time, makes it to my worktable and is recommissioned – hopefully, better than new!   The Amphora X-tra, quarter bent Bulldog of Holland is the next pipe on my worktable.In Bulgaria, I took the Amphora Bent Bulldog out of the ‘Help Me!’ Basket when Taylor saw this pipe, along with two others that he commissioned already restored, a Savinelli Oscar and an Italian Custom Shape.  I allow pipe people to commission pipes from my ‘Help Me!’ Basket which I have listed on The Pipe Steward website in the section, For ‘Pipe Dreamers’ Only!   I’m amazed how many ‘Pipe Dreamers’ there are out there!  This Bent Bulldog is the last of three Taylor has commissioned and is destined as a gift for a friend who is to be married!  Here are the pictures. There is precious little information in my usual go-to sites on the internet about Amphora.  Pipedia’s small article said this:

Amphora pipes are made in Holland by the Jos. Gubbels organization, the same company which makes the very well known and loved Amphora Pipe Tobaccos. The pipes are produced in relatively small numbers to a high standard and not commonly found.

The Royal Dutch Pipe Factory Elbert Gubbels & Sons B.V. is the only manufacturer of briarroot tobacco pipes in the Benelux countries where pipes of high quality are made under the brands Big Ben, Hilson, Royal Dutch and Amphora. They also supply numerous smokers’ accessories of high quality.

There also was pictured an Amphora Bulldog with the same nomenclature as the one on my worktable but of the blasted variety (courtesy of Doug Valitchka):What I see in this picture above is that there is an ‘A’ stamping on the stem.  The Amphora before me now has a fading whisper of an Amphora ‘A’ stamping.  It is very weak and I’m doubtful if I can save it let alone improve it.The only additional information added by PipePhil.eu about Amphora was that it’s mother company, The Royal Dutch Pipe Factory, referenced above, went bankrupt in 2012.

The Bulldog before me has the nomenclature on the left shank, ‘AMPHORA’ over ‘X – tra 724-644’. On the right side of the shank it reads, ‘GENUINE BRIAR’ over ‘AMPHORA HOLLAND’.  The general condition of the pipe is dirty and it has a lot of nicks, bumps and dents.  The cake in the chamber is moderate.  The dome of the Bulldog is in good shape, but the double rings separating the dome and the lower bowl has some chips and dents.  There are also several small fills isolated on the left, lower side of the bowl that need a closer look.  The stem has oxidation, but the bit has little tooth chatter.  I begin the restoration of this Amphora X-tra quarter bent Bulldog by adding the stem to the Before and After Deoxidizer along with other stems in queue.   I leave the stems in the bath for several hours and then I fish the Bulldog’s stem out.I wipe the Deoxidizer off (didn’t take pictures of this!) with a cotton pad and light paraffin oil (mineral oil in Bulgaria).  The deoxidizer did a good job.  After the stem dries, I look for the ‘A’ stamping on the stem.  It remains only a phantom and I’m afraid it will disappear into oblivion.  It is impossible to see without a strong light and glare.  I’m afraid it’s a lost cause.Turning now to the stummel, I ream the chamber to remove the layer of cake to go down to fresh briar.  To do this I use the Pipnet Reaming Kit.  I start with the smallest blade and use only 2 blades of the 4 available to me.  I then switch to the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to scrape the chamber walls to fine-tune the reaming job.  Finally, I sand the chamber removing additional carbon left over and getting down to the fresh briar.  To do this I wrap a piece of 240 sanding paper around a Sharpie Pen.  I finish by wiping the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.  The chamber walls look good – I don’t see any cracks or heat fissures.  The pictures show the progress. Now, to clean the external briar surface I use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a cotton pad.  I also employ a tooth brush to scrub the surface around the dome rings and I use a sharp dental probe to scrape the muck out of the twin dome rings going around the circumference.  There is some light lava on the slanted rim which I scrub with a brass brush and scrape with a pin knife.  It cleans up well.  There remains darkened briar around the rim which I will need to sand.After the cleaning the stummel, I again check the fills that riddle the left side of the stummel.  I use a dental probe to test the fills.  The larger ones are soft from the moisture and I dig the fills out with the probe.  The smaller fills seem to be good, so I’ll leave them.  There’s a lot of patching to do.  To do all the stummel patching together, I look at the damaged areas of briar that have been chipped from the dome ring ridges.  I take pictures focusing on these areas to get a better look.  The first picture is the front of the stummel – a large chip is taken out of half of the center ring.  The next picture shows that there are two chips on the left side of the stummel.  I’ll patch the dome ring chips and the fills together using a putty mixture of CA glue and briar dust.  While I think about how best to approach these patches, I first clean the internals of the stummel using pipe cleaners and cotton buds dipped in isopropyl 95%.  It gave some resistance, but eventually the pipe cleaners and cotton buds prevail.  Later, I’ll also do a kosher salt and alcohol soak to clean more thoroughly.To patch the chips in the ring, after wiping the area with alcohol, I apply a thick CA glue and briar dust putty to damaged areas.  I mix thick CA glue and briar dust together until the putty reaches the viscosity of molasses and then I use a toothpick and a dental spatula to apply the putty. With the help of the dental spatula I make sure the troughs of the dome rings stay clear of putty – not an easy task!  With the fills, I apply putty to the holes as mounds and let the putty cure. It looks like a mess now, but I’m hoping it cleans up nicely when I sand the patches down tomorrow!  I let the patches cure overnight. Before I turn out the lights, the patches have set enough to handle.  I clean the stummel internals further with a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  I form a wick by twisting and pulling a cotton ball and then pushing it down the mortise and airway using a stiff straight piece of wire.  I then set the stummel in an egg crate to stabilize it and fill the bowl with kosher salt which leaves no taste.  I then fill the bowl with isopropyl 95% until is surfaces over the salt.  I now turn out the lights.

The next morning the soak has done the job.  The salt and wick are discolored showing the further absorption of tars and oils from the internal briar.  I dump the expended salt in the waste and clean the salt using paper towel.  I then finish by wetting a pipe cleaner and cotton bud with alcohol and run them through one more time.  Internals are clean for the next steward! Now working on a clean pipe, I look at the cured patches.  I start with the front chip on the dome ring.  Using a flat needle file, I go to work on filing down the patches to the briar surface.  I’m careful to keep the file on the patch mounds and not to impact surrounding briar.  Then switching to 240 grit, I lightly feather sand the area bringing the patch to the briar surface.  To sharpen the trough and remove excess patch, I fold a piece of 240 paper and fit it in the groove of the trough and sand (first picture below).  I then use a sharp dental probe to clean the debris out of the trough.  It looks good.  I then move to the left side of the dome ring and do the same with the two chip patches.  I take pictures of the process.  Next, I go to work on the fill patches on the side of the stummel.  With these many patches, it looks like a construction zone!  I use the flat needle file to bring the patches down to the briar surface.  Then, using 240 grade paper, I continue to sand and blend the patches with the briar surface.  I move from patch to patch until they are all down to the briar surface.  Again, I chronicle the filing and the 240 grade paper patch sanding.  Now I switch to 600 grade paper focusing first on the dome ring chips – first in the front.  I sand the area and I also, like with 240 paper, fold it in half and insert the fold into the trough of the ring and sand back and forth like a hand saw.  This addresses smoothing of the sides of the troughs which form the center dome ring.  Next, I move to the left side dome ring patches and do the same. Again, I use a sharp dental probe to ‘plow out’ the troughs removing the left-over debris.  I travel the entire circumference of the dome ring troughs.  I sand the entire ‘construction zone’ of patches with 600 grade paper which erases the scratches left by the 240 grit paper and blends the patches. Looking again at the beveled rim which angles toward the chamber.  It is darkened from minor scorching and I use a rolled piece of 240 grit paper to clean it.  I follow using a rolled piece of 600 paper to smooth and erase the 240 grit scratching.  Now, looking to the stummel, it has many scratches and dents, especially on the dome – I take a few pictures to get a closer look.  The question in my mind is, do I go the path of more disruption to the briar, starting with sanding sponges or do I start more conservatively using the micromesh pads?  I decide conservatively – I can always strategically back track if I see too many dents and scratches being left behind.  For now, I start with wet sanding using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400.  I follow this by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 then 6000 to 12000.  Throughout, I’m careful to avoid the nomenclature on both upper, diamond shank sides.  After completing the micromesh sanding, I again take the sharp dental probe and carefully scrape out the dome rings to remove any debris that has collected – and there is some!  I move around the dome in both troughs and then follow by sweeping the rings out with a bristled tooth brush.I now need to catch the stem up with the stummel.  I take a few pictures of the upper and lower bit area and there are minor dents on it and the button has some compression.  I’ll heat the vulcanite to raise these dents which should result in easier sanding.  To start, I use a cheap Bic lighter and paint the bit and button with flame to heat and to expand the vulcanite.   This works well.  I then use 240 grit paper to sand the dents.  I use the flat needle file as well to sharpen the button – to make it crisper.  After using the 240 paper, I employ 600 grade paper to erase the scratches of the 240 paper.  Finally, I sand/buff the entire stem with 0000 steel wool. Looking back to the stummel, I have been thinking about how to proceed. From the earlier pictures, the original color motif on this Amphora X-tra Bulldog was lighter – tending toward natural briar but not quite.  With the fill patches I’ve done, I want to darken the color to mask these.  When I look at the patches again, I notice that the smaller fills that I did not deal with earlier – thinking that they were ok, had hollowed out.  Ugh.  I get the dental probe and excavate additional older fill material.  I’ve had detours before, and I’ve just started another.  With three additional holes to fill, the good news is that it is localized and shouldn’t take too long.  After cleaning the new holes, I spot drop regular CA glue into each and utilize an accelerator to quicken the process. To shorten this description, suffice it to say, I filed/sanded the patches down and I repeated the full micromesh pad process of 9 pads to complete the detour pictured next!To mask the orchard of patches on the left side of the stummel and shank, I will use Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye to darken the hue.  As an aniline dye, alcohol based, I can and plan to wipe the stummel down with alcohol to lighten the dye if I choose.  I will start darker and lighten if needed so that the patch of patches will be masked.  Even so, I like the look of a darker Bulldog – it has more of an ‘Olde World’ feel to it.  I transform my worktable to the stain table, bringing out the tools necessary.  I mount the Bulldog’s stummel on a cork to act as a handle.  I wipe the stummel down with alcohol to make sure it’s clean.  I then heat the stummel with a hot air gun which acts to expand the grain and making the grain more receptive of the dye.  After the stummel is heated well, I use a folded pipe cleaner to apply the dye to the stummel.  After thoroughly covered, I light or flame the wet aniline dye and the alcohol immediately flames off setting the dye in the briar.  After a few minutes, I repeat the process again by applying another coating of dye and then flaming it.   I set the stummel aside to rest for several hours. Turning to the stem, using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 I wet sand the stem.  I follow by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  After each set of 3 pads I apply a coat of Obsidian Oil to revitalize the vulcanite stem.  The ‘A’ stem marking that was existent before is no longer.  There was nothing left to salvage by the time it reached my worktable. Now, time to unwrap the dye-flamed stummel.  It’s been resting for several hours after applying Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye.  To unwrap the crust to reveal the grain, I mount a new felt buffing wheel on the Dremel and set it almost to the slowest speed.  I apply the coarser compound, Red Tripoli to the stummel using a methodical section by section approach – not applying too much pressure on the wheel but allowing the speed, the felt wheel and the Tripoli to do the work.  With my wife’s help, because I don’t have three hands, she took a few pictures to show the Tripoli at work unwrapping.  To finish up the Tripoli, to get to the tight places next to the shank, I changed over to a cotton cloth buffing wheel which was able to reach into the crook.  The ‘unwrapping’ is pretty amazing to see the grain emerge and to discover how the leather dye was received.After completing the Tripoli, I wet a cotton pad with alcohol and lightly wipe the stummel.  I do this not so much to lighten the dyed finish, because I like the brown hue a lot, but to blend the fresh dye on the briar surface.I then mount the cotton cloth buffing wheel dedicated to Blue Diamond compound and increase the Dremel to 40% full power.  I join stem and stummel and apply Blue Diamond compound to the entire pipe.  When finished, I wipe the pipe with a felt cloth not so much to buff but to remove the compound dust from the surface in preparation for the carnauba wax.  Changing to another cotton cloth wheel, leaving the speed the same, I apply a few coats of carnauba wax to stem and stummel.  I then give the pipe a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine.

Oh my, he looks good!  The iconic Bulldog shape reminds one of the small, stout four-legged friend from whence this name comes.  This quarter bent Amphora X-tra 724-644 of Holland came out very well.  The dome ring repairs are invisible and the patch of patches on the lower left side of the bowl has blended well with the darker leather dye.  The briar grain is nice.  The straight grain seems to pour out over the Bulldog’s dome and is joined by bird’s eye grain bubbling like foam on a frosted mug – the dome is eye catching and pulls one’s attention to the pipe.  This Amphora X-tra is ready for a new steward!  Taylor saw the potential of this Bulldog when he commissioned it for his friend’s wedding gift (see For ‘Pipe Dreamers’ Only).  He will have first dibs on it when it goes into The Pipe Steward Store.  This pipe along with the other 2 that Taylor commissioned and acquired benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thank you for joining me!

New Life for a Homemade Pipe – the second of Anthony’s Dad’s Pipes


Blog by Steve Laug

A few weeks back I received an email from Anthony, a reader of rebornpipes asking if I would be willing to help him clean up his Dad’s pipes. He wrote; “I have a few pipes (8 or so) that haven’t been smoked in 15 years. They were my dad’s. I would like to get someone to restore them”. We chatted back and forth via email and the long and short of the story is that I have eight of his Dad’s pipes in my shop now to work on. The photo below shows the mixture of pipes that he sent me. There are some interesting shapes and most are very dirty and have very little if any of the original finish left on the briar. All have an overflow of carbon on the rim top and all have damaged stems and buttons. They will need a lot of TLC to bring life back to them but it should be fun to give it a go. I went through the pipes and assessed their condition and contacted him and got the go ahead to proceed on the lot.The second pipe I chose to work on was the homemade alternative wood one in the lower right side of the photo. I have circled in red. It could be walnut or possibly mahogany but I am not sure. It is a single unit from bowl to button with a wooden stem. The bowl is a tall stack. Whoever carved it line the bowl with metal (looks like sheet metal). It was shaped into a cone and inserted into the bowl. It goes to the bottom of the bowl. In the bowl bottom is the airway entering the airway below that comes from the shank. It is quite large and has some very interesting grain. The metal rim top has a piece missing but it looks like it was made this way. It is dented and dinged from being knocked about. The bowl has some cake and some oxidation and grime from sitting for the years. The wooden stem is heavily chewed and has some damage on both sides around the button. There are pieces of the wood missing on the top and bottom and some deep tooth marks and gouges on both sides. It will need to be reshaped and rebuilt. The mouthpiece end is also lightened and worn. Like the other pipes in this collection the finish is all but gone – it is faded and lightened from sun exposure and possibly weather. I took photos of the pipe to show its overall condition when it arrived at my work table. I took some close up photos of the bowl, rim top and the stem to show what I was going to be dealing with on this pipe. The rim top was hammered sheet metal that formed the top edge of a metal bowl insert that went to the bottom of the bowl. It was pitted and tarnished as well as having a fair bit of tar in the pits. There was a triangular piece missing from the rim top that looks like it was made that way. It is a long the seam of the bowl liner. The wooden, integral stem was in pretty rough condition. There was a lot of chewing damage to the surface of the stem and button. There were tooth marks on both sides of the stem and button and some deep chunks out of the top and underside of the button. You can also see the damage to the wood from being wet from saliva. This old pipe had obviously been one of Anthony’s Dad’s favourites.I like working on clean pipes so I decided to clean up both the inside and outside of the bowl and shank. I reamed it with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife as the bowl is very narrow and deep. It is lined with metal all the way down so I did not want to risk damaging the metal so I used the knife to gingerly work over the interior until it was clean. I wrapped a piece of dowel with 220 grit sandpaper and sanded out the inside of the bowl to remove the remnants of cake and debris on the walls of the bowl. I repaired the deeper tooth marks on the chewed stem end and button with super glue and briar dust. I rebuilt the chewed and damaged button and opened the airway with an awl and needle file. Once I was happy with the repairs I set it aside to let the glue cure. It did not take too long as we are having a bit of a heat wave here in Vancouver.I reshaped the button edge and surface of the stem with a needle file to clean up the look and feel of the button and the stem. Once the shape was right I filled in some of the remaining spots on the button surface and the stem surface with glue.I sanded the surface of the stem and button with a folded piece of 220 sandpaper to smooth out the repairs and further reshape the stem. It was starting to look a lot better, but more sanding and shaping was required.I did a bit more shaping work with the sandpaper and then sanded the entire pipe with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge. I wanted to remove some of the roughness of the wood that came with the damage. As I sanded more and more of the interesting grain became visible. This was a nice looking pipe.I used a small hammer to tap out the damage on the metal rim. You can see how clean the bowl is in the photo below.Instead of scrubbing the already water damaged pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsing it, to clean the wood with Before & After Pipe Balm. I rubbed it into the surface of the wood with my finger tips and worked it into the grain. The product did its magic and enlivened, cleaned and gave the wood a rich glow. I still had more work to do repairing some of the damaged areas but the pipe was beginning to take on the look it must have had when Anthony’s Dad either made it or bought it. The photos show what it looked like at this point. With the finish clean I could see some of the damaged areas on the bowl/shank joint and the shank itself. I wiped those areas off with alcohol on cotton pads and filled in the damaged spots with clear super glue.I smoothed out the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the bowl and shank. I repeated the process with 600 grit sandpaper to further smooth out the scratches. I polished it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and wiped it down with a damp cloth after each pad. I took photos of the pipe at this point to get an idea of where things stood now. I find that looking at photos highlights things that I don’t see up close. I buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to see where things stood after the buffing. I took the following photos. The first four photos show the overall look of the pipe. These are followed by some close up photos of the stem at this point in the process. It is really becoming a beautiful looking pipe. I polished the pipe with the rest of the micromesh sanding pads – 3200-120000 grit pads. I wiped the pipe down with a damp cotton pad after each pad. Once I had finished the polishing with the micromesh I wiped the pipe down with a light coat of olive oil. I polished the pipe with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax and 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 pipe polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is second of eight pipes that I am restoring from Anthony’s Dad’s collection. I am looking forward to hearing what Anthony thinks once he sees the finished pipe on the blog. Once I have the remaining six pipes finished I will pack them up and send them back to him. It will give him opportunity to carrying on the trust from his Dad. The dimensions are Length: 8 inches, Height: 3 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 5/8 inches. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe from Anthony’s Dad’s collection. Six more will follow this restoration. Keep an eye out for them because there are some unique pipes in the lot.   

Resurrecting a BIG PIPE Lovat – the first of Anthony’s Dad’s Pipes


Blog by Steve Laug

A few weeks back I received an email from Anthony, a reader of rebornpipes asking if I would be willing to help him clean up his Dad’s pipes. He wrote; “I have a few pipes (8 or so) that haven’t been smoked in 15 years. They were my dad’s. I would like to get someone to restore them”. We chatted back and forth via email and the long and short of the story is that I have eight of his Dad’s pipes in my shop now to work on. The photo below shows the mixture of pipes that he sent me. There are some interesting shapes and most are very dirty and have very little if any of the original finish left on the briar. All have an overflow of carbon on the rim top and all have damaged stems and buttons. They will need a lot of TLC to bring life back to them but it should be fun to give it a go. I went through the pipes and assessed their condition and contacted him and got the go ahead to proceed on the lot. So I have begun.The first pipe I chose to work on was actually the first one that I removed from the mailing envelope he sent them in. It is shown above in the photo of the lot. It is the top pipe of the left column circled in red. It has a carved rustication around the bowl and a smooth thick shank. It is a large, thick shank, rusticated Lovat. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Imported Briar over BIG PIPE. The rim top has some overflow of lava and darkening. There is a thick cake in the bowl that is flaking and peeling from the walls of the bowl. The stem is heavily chewed and has some damage on both sides around the button. It will need to be reshaped and rebuilt. There is some water damage around the shank at the stem, though it is heavier on the underside of the stem. The finish is worn out and there is a lot of dust and debris in the grooves of the rustication. I took photos of the pipe to show its overall condition when it arrived at my work table. I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem to show what I was going to be dealing with on this pipe. The rim top had a thick cake of lava overflowing from the bowl over the back half. The inner edge of the rim was damaged with a burn on the right side toward the front of the bowl make the bowl out of round. The outer edge of the rim looked to be in good condition. The stem was in pretty rough condition. There were tooth marks on both sides of the stem and button and some deep chunks out of the sides of the stem at the sharp edge of the button. The fit against the shank had a gap because of the dirtiness of the shank. You can also see the water damage to the briar at the stem/shank joint.I took a close up photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank. It is dirty but it is readable and says Imported Briar over Big Pipe.I like working on clean pipes so I decided to clean up both the inside and outside of the bowl and shank. I reamed it with a PipeNet reamer and took back the cake to bare briar. I started with the third cutting head and worked up to the largest cutting head and cleaned the bowl. I used a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to scrape away the remnants of cake and clean up the walls. I scrubbed the bowl and the stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grime in the grooves of the rustication and clean off the grime and mess on the smooth portions. I also scrubbed the water damaged areas to remove the marking in those areas. I rinsed the bowl under warm running water to remove the debris and the soap. I scrubbed it with the tooth brush until the surface was clean and debris free. I took photos of the pipe after the cleanup. I scrubbed the lava build up on the rim and was able to remove the majority of it with the soap and brush. I removed the stem from the shank of this pipe and from another of Anthony’s Dad’s pipes and dropped them in the bath of Before & After Pipe Deoxidizer to break up the oxidation on the surface. It was fascinating to note that the tenon on this stem was metal and seemed to have been made for a filter.Once the briar dried there were shiny spots on it where the original finish still clung to the wood. It appeared to be varnish or some shiny substance and it was streaky and uneven so it needed to go. I wiped the bowl and shank down with acetone on cotton pads to remove the remaining varnish finish. Now that the bowl was clean and the stem was soaking it was time to start working on the rim top and the burn damage on the front right inner edge. I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to remove some of the burn damage and the nicks and dents in the rim top.I worked over the inner edge of the rim with folded 220 and 240 grit sandpaper to give it a bit of a bevel and remove more of the damage area. The next two photos give a clear picture of how the pipe looked at this point in the process.I polished the rim top with 1500-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the rim down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the debris. There were some red tints in the briar and I wanted to leave the briar light in colour. I used a tan aniline stain to bring out the red tones in the briar. I applied the stain with a dauber, flamed it and repeated the process until all of the grooves and carvings were evenly stained. To make the stain more transparent and spread it evenly around the briar I wiped the briar down with alcohol and cotton pads. Doing this thins the stain and makes the grain shine through more clearly. I let the briar dry and took photos of the pipe at this time in the process. It is starting to look really good and the grain is showing through the rustication pattern. I used an oak stain pen to fill in the rustication patterns and fill in the light spots in the pattern. I wanted to have a bit of contrast between the smooth briar and the rustication and this would provide it without being too much. I removed the stem from the Before & After Deoxidizer after it had been soaking overnight. I rinsed it down with warm water and blew air through it to clean out the mixture from the airway. The oxidation was at the surface and almost like a dust. The next two photos show the oxidation and the tooth marks and areas that needed to be repaired near the button. I wiped down the oxidation, cleaned out the tooth marks and dents with a cotton swab and alcohol. I dried off the stem and filled in the marks on the surface of the button and the tooth marks in the stem ahead of the button.I smoothed out the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the stem. I repeated the process with 600 grit sandpaper to further smooth out the scratches.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 and dry sanding with 3200-120000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I the polished stem and bowl with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem several coats of carnauba wax and 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 pipe polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is first of eight pipes that I am restoring from Anthony’s Dad’s collection. I am looking forward to hearing what Anthony thinks once he sees the finished pipe on the blog. Once I have the other seven pipes finished I will pack them up and send them back to him. It will give him opportunity to carrying on the trust from his Dad. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 inches. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe from Anthony’s Dad’s collection of pipes. Seven more will follow this restoration. Keep an eye out for them because there are some unique pipes in the lot. 

An Interesting Shape and an Amazing Transformation – An Italian Custom Shape


Blog by Dal Stanton

There are times a pipe gets your attention just because it has an interesting twist, a surprising shape, or it is just different.  This one falls under this category.  I remember acquiring this pipe when my wife and I were in the US for several months and we joined our son and daughter-in-law for Christmas in Dearborn, Michigan – just a stone throw from Detroit, a new, vibrant city in many ways.  It was December 30th and I was sitting next to the blazing fireplace in their beautiful home that was built by well-known icon, Henry Ford.  From this home, back during those turbulent years, Henry Ford and his press secretary would air their radio broadcasts that reached the entire country.  A very nice place to celebrate Christmas.  I was tooling through the eBay offering on the app in my iPhone and saw this interesting looking pipe. I think what attracted me to the pipe was the stout, get-a-hold-of-me bowl and the shank/stem shape.  The shank flared out from the bowl and rose to the fancy stem, and then the stem tapered away with a gentle bend.  It was marked with a non-descript ‘Italian’ over ‘Import’ and to the right ‘Italy’.  The pipe looked newer and the seller said it had been lightly smoked.  I won the auction and with free shipping, I was pleased with my unique looking acquisition.  The Italian Custom Shaped pipe made it back to Bulgaria with me and waited patiently in my ‘Help Me!’ basket until a fellow colleague saw him along with two other pipes.  The shape also attracted Taylor’s attention.  Taylor commissioned the Italian Custom along with another Italian, a Savinelli Oscar which I found in Athens, Greece.  I already restored the Oscar and Taylor and I enjoyed a few bowls together for that inaugural smoke on my Man Cave – 10th floor balcony!  In queue also for Taylor is an Amphora Bent Bulldog of Holland.  Taylor has started his collection of pipes and I’m glad to add to it!  Of course, each pipe I restore for Taylor benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria, women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks Taylor!  When I get the Italian Custom on my worktable, I take a few more pictures to take a closer look. The pipe is in good condition.  There is very little cake in the chamber and little tooth chatter.  I do detect some oxidation on the upper side of the stem.  The finish on the briar stummel is dark and cloudy.  The question that comes to mind is the dark finish hiding fills in the briar – what is being intentionally masked?  I look and see one apparent fill on the front of the bowl, but no others are obvious.  I’ll look forward to simply cleaning the bowl and to see if removing the grime will brighten up the finish.  There are normal nicks and small dents on the briar surface.  I begin the restoration of the Italian Custom for Taylor by putting the stem in an OxiClean bath to rise the light oxidation from the vulcanite.  I leave it in the bath overnight.While the stem is soaking, I turn to the stummel.  The cake is very light, but I want to clean it out for a fresh start.  I use the Pipnet Reaming Kit to do the job.  I only use two blades and follow with using the Savinelli Fitsall tool to scrape the walls of the chamber.  I then sand the chamber using a piece of 240 grit paper wrapped around the Sharpie Pen.  Finally, I wipe the fire chamber using a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.  The chamber looks good – no problems detected. Now, to clean the external briar I use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap to clean using a cotton pad.  I take a couple of pictures to mark the beginning point – I want to compare before and after the cleaning.  I clean with Murphy’s and a cotton pad and when finished I rinse the stummel with tap water.  Well, I can tell that the surface is cleaner, but the finish is not improved.  It remains a dull and not very exciting, and I wonder again if the briar underneath the finish is in bad shape and if the dark stain was intentional to cover the imperfections… I switch now to the internals of the stummel.  Using pipe cleaners and cotton buds I clean the mortise and the airway.  As I was cleaning the mortise and airway, I began to take note that the pipe cleaners and cotton buds were coming out with a reddish hue.  It appears that the stain used to color the stummel was also in the internals – that I don’t think is a good situation.  I wouldn’t want to be smoking a pipe with the normal moisture that happens in the pipe mixing with the heated stain….  Not on my watch!  I decide to put the entire stummel into an alcohol soak to clean and to remove the stain residing in the mortise and airway walls.  Time to turn out the lights.The next morning early, I get up with the birds and look at the two bottles on my workbench – one an alcohol bath and the other an OxiClean bath.  I decide to fish the stummel out of the alcohol bath and have a look.  The dark stain on the stummel weathered the alcohol bath and I run a cotton bud in the mortise to see if there was any color.  There wasn’t.  The primary purpose of the alcohol bath was accomplished.  Next, I fish the stem out of the OxiClean bath and take a few pictures to show the raised oxidation.  I adjust the aperture on the second picture to reveal better what I can see with the naked eye.  I then take the stem to the sink and wet sand the raised oxidation with 600 grit paper and following this with 0000 grade steel wool.  The minor tooth chatter I detected earlier on the bit was removed during the process of removing the oxidation.  The fancy stem looks good.I look back to the stummel.  The overnight alcohol bath lightened the finish slightly, but it is not to my liking. The fogginess of the finish is the problem – I like to view the grain not fuzz.  The stummel also has normal signs of wear – bumps, small scratches and some small dents.To remove the finish and nicks and dents I use sanding sponges.  Starting first with a coarser sponge I sand the stummel staying clear of the nomenclature stamping on the shank.  To guard the stamping from the sanding, I apply acetone with cotton pads to remove the finish.  It takes a while to break down the finish, but it eventually does the job.  I follow the coarse sponge with a mid-range sponge and then finish with a light grade sponge.   The pictures show the sponge sanding process. With the use of micromesh pads, I then wet sand the stummel using pads 1500 to 2400. Following this, I dry sand using pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Pray tell!  Look what was hiding beneath all the fuzzy, foggy finish!  The grain is coming out nicely!  I feel like I’m on a roll with this pipe – just a makeover, no major issues!  These easier projects are nice when they come.  I have been thinking about the finish.  I want to bend the tint of the stummel to the original darker brown, but I don’t want to go real dark.  I’ve been going back and forth in my mind about using Fiebing’s Saddle Tan Pro Dye, which would keep it closer to the natural briar color I’m seeing now.  Or, I’ve also considered Fiebing’s Light Brown Leather Dye that would cast the hue in a brown direction.  Both dyes are aniline based, or alcohol, and gives the flexibility of lightening either dye by wiping the dyed surface with an alcohol wetted cotton pad.  I decide on Fiebing’s Light Brown because it will be in the same scheme as the original color. After getting all the setup tools out and mounting the stummel on a cork to serve as a handle, I wipe the bowl down with alcohol to assure that it is clean.  I then heat the stummel over a hot air gun which expands the briar grain thus making it more receptive to the dye.  I then apply Fiebing’s Light Brown Leather Dye to the stummel using a folded pipe cleaner.  I make sure that the entire surface is covered.  I then flame the wet aniline dye which combusts the alcohol in the dye setting the pigment in the grain.  After a few minutes, I repeat applying more dye to the stummel and then firing it.  I set the stummel aside to allow it to rest – thus helping to ensure that the dye will not later come off on the hands when the newly restored stummel is heated up during use.  The pictures show the staining progress. While the newly stained bowl rests, I return to the stem.  Using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 I wet sand the stem.  Following this, I dry sand using pads 3200 to 4000 then 6000 to 12000.  After each set of three pads, I apply a coat of Obsidian Oil to reinvigorate the vulcanite.  The stem looks great!  It’s been several hours since I dyed the Italian Custom’s stummel and it’s time to unwrap the bowl!  I like this part because it is always a question as to how the grain receives the dye.  I mount a felt buffing wheel onto the Dremel dedicated for use with Red Tripoli compound.  I set the speed to the slowest and I first purge the buffing wheel with the Dremel’s adjustment wrench – cleaning the wheel of old compound.  I then use the Tripoli and the felt wheel to ‘unwrap’ the fired dye crust revealing the briar beneath. I take a picture of the ‘unwrapping’ – and my, what a kaleidoscope of grain is revealed!  I’m amazed at what I see!  After I complete the ‘unwrapping’ with Tripoli compound, I wet a cotton pad with alcohol and lightly wipe the dyed surface of the stummel.  My goal is not so much to lighten, because I like the shade of browns I’m seeing.  The purpose is to blend the dye more evenly over the surface and remove any excess dye on the surface. I follow by applying Blue Diamond to the reunited stem and stummel.  To do this I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel and increase the speed of the Dremel to about 40% full power.  After the compounds are completed, I give the pipe a wipe down with a felt cloth to remove the compound dust from the surface.  I then finish by applying a few coats of carnauba wax with another cotton cloth buffing wheel mounted to the Dremel at the same speed.  Then I give the entire pipe a brisk hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine more.

When I began the restoration of the Italian Custom Shape, my expectations of what this pipe might look like at the end in no way matched the result.  The briar on this pipe is a brilliant kaleidoscope of grain swirls, circles and tunnels.  It is mesmerizing to look at what was hidden underneath the old finish – God’s beauty in creation.  Not an old pipe, it appears that the manufacture simply aimed to produce an interesting shape without an appreciation for what this pipe could be and what it now has become.  This Italian Custom was commissioned by Taylor and he will have first dibs on it when I place it in The Pipe Steward Store.  This pipe will benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  This pipe earns a ‘before and after’ shot – what a transformation! Thanks for joining me!   

Rescuing Another L. J. Peretti Oom Paul: An Upside-Down Stem and Other Hurdles!


Blog by Dal Stanton

As with people, when you look at pipes, the way you look at them can be cursory – like walking down the sidewalk in the city center of Sofia.  You see colors, fashions, groupings of people, a quick intake of information and not much of the information reaches longer term memory in our brains.  I’ve been looking at the Peretti Lot of 10 that has been my focus over the past weeks as I’ve recommissioned each, one by one.  Interestingly though, not until a pipe reaches the status as “the one” on the worktable do you really start seeing it. The difference might be like walking the city sidewalk as I described above and then comparing this to looking at your new granddaughters for the first time just after their births – which I’ve had the pleasure of in the past several months!  Oh my, you look at toes, each one, fingers, how the ears hang and curl…. There is no end to the enjoyment of taking in the fulness of the detail!  When looking at the ‘the one’ close-up – the detail of an estate pipe in need of restoration, the detail will not be tented with the rose-colored glasses affixed when looking at grandchildren!  Here are the pictures I took from the city ‘side walk’ of the next Peretti Oom Paul now on my worktable when I was cataloging the Peretti Lot of 10 when they arrived here in Bulgaria together. After restoring several of these Perettis, all having the same steward, I’ve become familiar with what to expect.  Each Peretti has the former steward’s ‘MO’.  This Peretti falls in line.  It has thick cake in the chamber and thick, crusty lava covering the rim.  The left side of the chamber/rim is scorched and charred from the tobacco lighting habit of excessively pulling the fire over the side and damaging the briar.  Even as I do what I can to correct it, this Peretti will also leave the worktable with the same limp as his 9 brothers and cousins did in different degrees – an imbalanced and out of round rim/chamber.  Additionally, this Peretti Oom Paul’s stem is dented and chewed with almost the same ‘finger prints’ as the others.  These are the issues stemming from the former steward’s pipe smoking practices.  And yet, the stummel shows great potential – like the others, the grain on this large Oom Paul stummel is quite eye catching under the dirt and grime.  I see normal nicks and bumps of being a faithful servant in the rotation – the briar will clean up well, I’m sure of this.

Unfortunately, there’s more to the story.  In my previous write ups of the other Perettis, I had commented that some of the Oom Pauls’ stems were not aligned well with the shanks due to less than ideal drilling precision.  I have never made a pipe and my hat is off to those whose interests and creativity take them in this direction – there are many beautifully done Free Style pipes I see all the time posted by fellow pipe men and women.  I understand that the drilling of a stummel is one of the more complex parts of making pipes – especially when sharp angles require multiple drillings.  When I took a closer look at the pipe my eyes focused on the fact that there was a huge ridge overhanging the shank.  As I turned the pipe over looking at it from different angles, it appeared that somehow the wrong stem was mistakenly joined with this shank!  I looked at the other Oom Paul I have left in the basket to restore, in the queue for a new steward, and it was obvious that the other stem was not matching this stummel.  I came to the sad conclusion that this drilling job simply was shoddy.  Here’s what I see of ‘the one’ on my work table: No matter which angle I chose or how I squinted my eyes it didn’t make what I was looking at any better!  Oh my.  The next thought I had was of Abraham, a Californian and fellow pipe man and member of the Facebook group, ‘The Gentlemen’s Pipe Smoking Society’.  What would he think when he reads this blog after having commissioned this pipe, waiting patiently over the weeks as it slowly moved up in the queue!  Fortunate for him, I AM a man of prayer and this pipe WILL benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria!  I’m already wondering what I will do to rescue this ailing Oom Paul!  I remembered my research on Peretti for my first Peretti restoration a few years ago.  I wondered where the Boston-based L. J. Peretti Co., manufactured their pipes.  I sent an email to the Peretti Tobacconist in Boston and was amazed that I received a response. Here is what I learned:

Hello Dal,

We have been sourcing our proprietary pipes from a number of different manufacturers. That said, it is most likely that Arlington Briars made the pipe you have in your possession. Photos would help us identify the pipe further. I will have to look through some of our old content and see what I can find.

Hope this helps, Tom  LJP

Per Pipedia: Arlington Briar Pipes Corporation was founded in 1919 in Brooklyn, New York, and produced the Arlington, Briarlee, Firethorn, Krona and Olde London brands among dozens of others, primarily acting as a subcontractor making pipes to be sold under other brand names. Among others, in the 1950’s, Arlington turned pipes for the famed Wilke Pipe Shop in New York City. The corporation was dissolved by the State of New York as inactive on December 6, 1978. 

I don’t know for certain that Arlington Briar Pipes produced the Peretti Lot of 10, but when I looked at the Pipedia page, this picture of Arlington’s own brand, this Oom Paul was staring at me.  He looks very familiar!  Well, we won’t know for sure, but the history of L. J. Peretti and the drilling of this Oom Paul interests me!  In the back of my mind as I begin restoring this pipe, is the huge misalignment of the stem and stummel.

The first step in the restoration of this L. J. Peretti Oom Paul is to add the stem to a bath of Before and After Deoxidizer.  After several hours in the bath with other stems, I take out the stem and drain it of Deoxidizer and wipe it down with a cotton pad wetted with light paraffin oil (mineral oil) to remove the oxidation that was raised during the soak. I then use Before and After Fine Polish followed by Extra Fine Polish to further condition the vulcanite and remove oxidation.  I work the polishes in with my fingers and after a time, wipe them with a cotton cloth.Turning to the Oom Paul stummel, I see that there is still tobacco at the floor of the chamber.  I clear that, and I ream the thick cake using the Pipnet Reaming Kit.  I start with the smallest blade and working to the larger blades as the cake is incrementally removed.  I use three of the four blades in the Pipnet Kit.I then turn to the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to fine tune the reaming job.  This is the most painful part for me – carefully removing the charred briar on the rim and watching the rim grow thinner on the damaged side and out of round!  The good news is that the chamber itself looks stellar. To clean the chamber further I use 240 grit paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen and sand the chamber.  Finally, I wipe the chamber out with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to remove the carbon dust for all the reaming.  The pictures show the process. With all the other Perettis, the basic cleaning of the external surface and the rim revealed beautiful grain underneath the grime.  I have the same expectations for this Oom Paul stummel.  Using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a cotton pad I go to work on the briar surface and the lava on the rim.  I also use a brass brush to work at removing the lava on the rim.  To carefully scrape the rim, I utilize the flat sharp edge of the Savinelli Fitsall Tool.  I rinse the stummel with tap water.  The pictures show the progress, before and after.  Quite a difference!  My eye is drawn to a spider web grain pattern on the stummel’s left side – shown in the first two pictures – very nice! I turn now to clean the internals and it doesn’t take too much. I use pipe cleaners, cotton buds and a shank brush to work on the draft hole and mortise.  Even though the internals are cleaning up nicely, I like to utilize a kosher salt and alcohol soak to freshen and clean even more thoroughly preparing the pipe for a new steward.To prepare the soak, I form a wick using a cotton ball.  I stretch and twist it and then push it down the mortise and draft hole. I use a straight piece of an old wire clothes hanger to push and guide the wick. This wick acts to draw out the residual tars and oils as the salt and isopropyl 95% do their job.  I then position the stummel in an egg carton for stability and fill the chamber with kosher salt.  I asked the question when I first saw this method used, why kosher?  The answer I received was that it didn’t leave an aftertaste as does iodized salt.  Sounded reasonable to me.  I then give the stummel a shake with the chamber cupped to displace the salt.  Then, using a large eye dropper I fill the chamber with isopropyl 95% till it surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes I top it off with a bit more alcohol because it has absorbed into the fresh cotton wick and salt.  I put the stummel aside and let the soak do its thing. The next morning as expected, the darkening of the salt and wick indicate that more tars and oils were pulled out of the internals.  I thump the stummel on my palm releasing the expended salt in the waste.  I wipe the bowl with paper towel, blowing through the mortise to dislodge remaining salt.  I also use a multi-sized shank brush to do this.  Finally, I run another pipe cleaner and cotton bud dipped in isopropyl 95% in the mortise and draft hole to finalize the cleaning.   After reuniting the stem and stummel again, I take another long, hard look at the goblin stem that was lurking in my subconscious!  I have been mulling over the stem/shank junction and what it would take to repair –  counting the cost in sanding and lost briar.  As I fiddled with the stem, twisting it around checking the looseness of the fit, I stumbled onto the solution to the alignment conundrum!  When I reversed the stem, so that it was upside down, the saddle of the stem and the shank lined up almost perfectly!  The old 70s song came to mind, “Oh happy day!” I have absolutely no idea what was going on in the production line of the Arlington Briar Pipes factory that day, if indeed it was there, but there was a breakdown in communication between the drill man and the stem bending man (or women!).  My mind wonders whether they had a few beers over lunch….  I’m scratching my head, but this restoration was just made a little less difficult!  The junction between the end of the shank and saddle stem shows a bit of gap (daylight) but that can be addressed.  My plan: re-bend the upside-down stem, thereby turning the upside-down stem to right-side up!  Did you follow that? The pictures show the discovery! To make sure I retain the same angle of bend, which seems to be on the money, I trace the stem’s angle on a piece of paper which I’ll use as a template for the reversing bend.  I use a narrow-rounded glass bottle to provide the back-board for the bending.  I then insert a pipe cleaner through the draft hole to help to maintain the stem’s integrity during the heating and bending.  Using a heat gun, I gradually heat the stem in the bend area and when the vulcanite becomes pliable I bend it over the glass and size it up on the template.  When I think I have it right, I place the stem under cool tap water to cool the vulcanite and set the bend.  The first time through, I’m not satisfied that I create enough bend.  I repeat the process again.  The second time was the charm.  I like the bend – the fit is now much, much better in the shank. While I’m on the stem adjustment, I now address the gaps or ‘daylight’ I can see between the shank base and the stem saddle.  I start using by 600 grade paper on the topping board and I VERY gently top the shank base primarily to clean and start with a flat surface.  I then use a piece of 600 grade paper, folded over once, inserting it between the shank base and saddle of the stem as a two-side sanding pad.  I work on sanding down the high spots so that the gaps close.  After a while, I’m not making progress too quickly, so I switch to 470 grade paper – a little coarser, and it does the trick.  It takes quite a while sanding and testing repeatedly and making sure the stem stays in proper straight alignment during the sanding. I’m able to sand the high spots and achieve a much better, not perfect(!) union between the stem and shank. Another adjustment is needed with the fit of the tenon and mortise.  The fit now is looser than I prefer.  I will tighten the fit hopefully by heating the tenon while inserting a slight larger drill bit into the tenon’s airway and expanding it.  I heat the tenon with a Bic lighter and gradually work the smooth end of the drill bit down the airway.  I cool the vulcanite with tap water to hold the expansion and withdraw the bit and test in the mortise.  The fit is now snugger and that is good.  That completes the mechanical adjustments to the stem – its working well!  Even after the stem was turned ‘upside down’ to achieve better alignment, the saddle of the stem is enlarged over the shank at different places creating a ridge as I move my finger toward the stem over the junction.  To correct this, I use 240 sanding paper to work on these ridges of vulcanite.  I keep the stem inserted into the shank to do this.  As I sand at the edge, dealing with the ridge, I’m also sanding up the saddle to taper the angle.  I don’t want a mound of vulcanite to circle the saddle, so I blend the angle through the entire saddle – rounding it as well.  The first picture shows the evidence of a ridge with the vulcanite dust collecting.  The rest of the pictures show the stem flush with the shank and the tapering work on the saddle.  Of course, the ‘L. J. Peretti Co.’, stamping on the shank is carefully safe-guarded during the sanding. After the 240 grade paper, I go over the same area with 470 grit paper followed by 600 which goes much faster because the purpose is to erase the scratches of the previous sanding paper.  I am truly amazed at the recovery of this Oom Paul’s shank/stem alignment issues.  The entire structure of the pipe is now tighter and sharper.  The pictures show the completion of this part of the restoration for which I am thankful!  Now I remove the stem from the stummel and flip the stem over to the bit area to repair the tooth chatter and dents.  I take pictures of the upper and lower bit as well as a severe dent on the lower button lip to mark the starting point.  The first step is to employ the heating method. I use a Bic lighter and paint the vulcanite with the flame.  As a rubber composite, the vulcanite expands with the heating and so the dents will rise reclaiming their original place in the whole – or almost.  The dents have been lessened but not removed.  The lower bit’s dents have almost vanished and will probably only need sanding.  The upper bit and the button lip still have quite a bit of damage. I then take 240 grit paper and sand the bit and button to see what is left to patch. While I’m at it I sand the entire stem since it was re-bent in the extreme opposite, I want to remove any residual ripples in the vulcanite.  The lower bit dents sanded out completely.  The upper bit and button need to be patched.  Pictures show the progress – first, upper then lower bit and button after sanding with 240 grit paper. Now I will patch the upper bit using BSI Maxi-Cure Extra Thick CA glue mixed with activated charcoal dust. I will patch the two dents as well as the left side of the button lip.  It needs to be rebuilt.  After I put a small amount of charcoal dust on an index card, I drop a little CA glue next to the activated charcoal dust.  Then, using a tooth pick, I draw charcoal dust into the dollop of glue mixing it as I go.  Gradually, as I draw more charcoal dust into the CA glue it begins to form a thicker putty.  When it reaches the right consistency – like molasses, I use the tooth pick as a trowel and apply the patch putty to both dents and to the left side of the lower button lip to rebuild it.    I put the stem aside to allow the patches to cure.With the stem patches curing, I now look to the rim damage.  I take another close-up to get another look….  It’s amazing how things jump out – when I took the picture of the rim to begin working on cleaning it up, in the picture I notice what I hadn’t seen before – look beyond the rim to the shank….When I first saw it, I thought it might simply be a wet line left over from cleaning the stummel.  But after closer examination with a magnifying glass it confirmed what I was hoping against!  A crack in the shank emanating from the ‘crook’ or where the shank and bowl join.  I had almost the same thing in a previous Peretti Oom Paul restoration (See: Two of Boston’s L. J. Peretti Oom Pauls Recommissioned) – a shank crack that came from the crook and worked up toward the stem but did not reach the shank end.  I closely inspect the mortise for evidence of an internal crack and I see none.  I really don’t know how this crack started – it appears to be trauma created from the inserted tenon pushing forcefully toward the top of the mortise because of a drop which forced the stem down – my guess.  I would think if this were the case, you would expect more trauma on the back of the shank – as a reaction force.  But I see no indication of this.  I take a few close-ups of the crack to see it more clearly.The good news is that the crack is localized in the briar and has not crept all the way to the end of the shank.  As I did before, to block the ‘crack creep’ I drill small holes at both ends of the crack which will arrest its growth.  Drilling in the crook is not easy!  With the aid of a magnifying glass, I mark the ends of the crack with the sharp point of a dental probe.  I use these as a drill guide (first picture below). I then mount a 1mm drill bit into the Dremel and I VERY carefully drill the holes – not an easy feat holding the Dremel free hand!  I wipe off the area with a cotton pad this apply thin CA glue to both holes as well as along the line of the crack.  The thin CA glue will seep more deeply into the crack helping to seal it.  I then sprinkle briar dust on the entire repair area to help blending later when I sand.  I set the stummel aside to let the crack repair cure. While I’m working on the stummel, I also detect two places that have very small gaps in the briar that I want to fill.  I apply a drop of regular CA glue to each gap.  After applying the first drop, I wait an hour or so for the glue to set so that I can flip the stummel and apply the other patch.  After the first patch sets, I apply the drop of glue on the other side and set the stummel aside to allow the CA glue patches to cure. With stummel patches curing I turn again to the stem and the charcoal dust and CA glue patches are ready to be filed and sanded on the bit and to reshape the button.  I start by using a flat needle file to bring the patch mounds down to the vulcanite surface level.  I also shape the new button with the file.  The pictures show the filing progress.  Switching to sanding paper, I first use 240 grit to bring the patch mounds down to the vulcanite surface and to blend, erasing the file scratches.  I continue to shape and blend the button profile.  Then I switch to 600 grade paper and sand the entire stem to erase the scratches left by the 240 grade paper.  Finally, I use 0000 grade steel wool to sand/buff the entire stem to smooth out the scratches left by the 600 grade paper.  I like the results.  The reformed button looks good.  With a closer look at one of the patches, I detect very small air pocket cavities in the patch which is common.  To rectify this, using a tooth pick, I paint both patches, to be on the safe side, with a thin layer of thin CA glue to fill the cavities.  I wait a few hours for the CA glue to cure and I sand the patch again with 600 grade paper and then again with the 0000 steel wool.   I have sanding patch projects on the stummel to address.  I start first with the crack repair on the shank.  Using 240 grit paper I sand down the patch over both holes on each side of the crack as well as the crack itself.  I then follow with 600 grit paper over the entire area.  The repair looks good and will blend well as I finish the pipe.  The main thing was to protect the pipe from a creeping crack – this is done.Turning to the patches on both sides of the stummel, I use a flat needle file, then 240 grit paper followed by 600 on both sides.  As I file/sand, I try to stay on top of the patch mound to minimize impact on surrounding briar. Patches on the stummel are finished.  Now I turn to the rim repair. I feel like I’ve been around the block a few times with the repairs to the stummel and now I’m finally looking at the rim repair.  I take another picture to get a closer look and mark the starting point.  In the picture below, the bottom of the picture is the left side of the rim that has sustained the most damage from burned briar because of the former stewards practice of lighting his tobacco over the side of the rim instead of over the tobacco. I cannot replace the lost briar but what I try to do as I remove the damaged briar is to restore the balance to the rim as much as possible.  I do this through beveling. First, I take the stummel to the topping board which for me is a chopping board covered with 240 grit paper.  After inverting the stummel, I rotate it over the board in an even, circular motion.  I check the progress often to make sure I’m not leaning in the direction of the damaged area.  It is especially a challenge topping an Oom Paul because his shank is extended beyond the plane of the rim.  So, I hang the shank off the side of the board as I top.  I utilize a flat sanding block as well to direct the topping in specific areas.  When I’ve taken enough off in topping, I switch the paper to 600 grit on the topping board to give the rim a quick smoothing by removing the 240 scratches.  You can see in the pictures below how I unintentionally nicked the shank in the process….Next, to remove the internal ring of scorched briar I use a tightly folded piece of coarse 120 grade paper to cut a bevel around the internal edge.  I increase the bevel on the ‘fat’ areas of the rim seeking to balance the roundness a bit – even though nothing will solve it completely!  The goal is to give the appearance of more balance.  After completing the main shaping of the bevel with the coarser 120 paper, I continue using a rolled piece of 240 grit paper.  I take a picture at this point to mark the progress.I take the stummel back to the topping board with 600 grit paper to define the rim lines again.One last step in the rim repair.  The external edge of the rim is sharp because of the topping.  To soften the appearance of the rim and to enhance the overall presentation of the rim, I cut a small, gentle bevel on the external edge.  I do this with 240 grit paper rolled, then follow with 600 grit paper.  I pinch the paper on the edge of the rim with my thumb and move methodically and evenly around the circumference.  We live in a broken world and many people live their lives with a limp – it reminds us of our frailty.  This Peretti Oom Paul will always have a limp of a bowl that is out of round because of the damage he sustained in the past.  Despite this, the rim looks pretty good considering from where we’ve come! Anxious to move the stummel along, I now address the briar surface.  Using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 I wet sand the stummel.  I follow this with dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 then 6000 to 12000.  I enjoy watching the briar grain emerge through this process! With the previous Peretti restorations, and with this one, I strive to maintain the original Peretti light, natural grain motif.  I have used Before and After Restoration Balm to deepen and enrichen the natural grain color.  I’ve been more than satisfied with the previous restorations and will apply the Balm to this Peretti Oom Paul as well.  I apply Balm to my finger and then I work it into the briar surface with the ends of my fingers.  The Balm starts with an oily feel then it gradually transforms into a thicker wax-like substance.  After I work it in, I set it on the stand to allow the Balm to work.  I take a picture of this and then after several minutes I wipe/buff the Balm off with a microfiber cloth.  The results look great. With the stummel awaiting a stem to catch up, I turn to the stem.  The CA glue painting of the air pocket cavities in the bit patch is ready for sanding and I use 240 grade paper to sand down to the stem surface.  I then use 600 grade paper followed by 0000 grade steel wool to finish it out.  The bit repair is done, and it looks good.  All the air pockets have been removed.I move on to the micromesh pad cycles.  First, I wet sand using pads 1500 to 2400.  I follow by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 then 6000 to 12000.  After each set of 3 pads I apply Obsidian Oil to the stem which rejuvenates the vulcanite.  I love the glassy shine of polished vulcanite! After reuniting stem and stummel, I mount the Dremel with a cotton cloth buffing wheel and apply Blue Diamond compound to the pipe.  I set the Dremel to its slowest speed and apply the compound in a methodical way – not applying too much pressure to the wheel but allowing the speed of the Dremel and abrasiveness of the compound to do the work.  I then wipe the pipe with a felt cloth to remove compound dust.  Then, mounting another cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel, and increasing the speed to about 40% full power, I apply a few coats of carnauba wax to the stem and stummel.  I finish the process by giving the pipe a good hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine.

I must admit, I was so occupied with the technical aspects of this restoration that I didn’t fully appreciate the beauty of this pipes color and grain until now.  I especially like the ‘burst’ on the left side of the large Oom Paul stummel.  Earlier I called it a spider web effect – now it looks more like a center of clustered circles, the bird’s eye grain, and sunburst expanding out from it.  Very striking grain showcased on this classic Oom Paul shape. He’s overcome an upside-down stem, a crack in the crook of the shank, a chewed up bit and a burned up rim – I would say he’s looking good now for what he’s been through!  This Peretti was commissioned by Abraham in California and he will have first dips on this L. J. Peretti Oom Paul when he goes into The Pipe Steward Store.  This pipe benefits the work of the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls (and their children!) who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thank you for joining me!