Restoring a Viggo Nielsen Hand Finished Freehand

Blog by Steve Laug

My brother Jeff picked up some amazing freehand pipes lately and when I was in Idaho for my mother’s funeral I went through them and packed them to come back to Canada with me. There was a Soren Hand Carved, a Granhill Signature 1 100, a Ben Wade Golden Walnut Hand Made, a Veeja 900 C6 and a Viggo Nielsen Hand Finished Freehand. All of them were hand crafted and had interesting shapes and finishes. Some had full plateau rim tops, some partial plateau rim tops and one had a smooth rim top. I put them in my restoration box and tonight was going through them again. I had worked on a Viggo Nielsen freehand before and done a blog on it so I thought I would start with that one. Here is the link to that blog: I took photos of it this evening when I started to work on it. My brother had done all of the cleanup work – reaming, scrubbing the exterior and cleaning the mortise and the airway in the bowl and shank. That left me with the finishing work on the pipe. I took some photos of it before I started. Jeff had been able to clean up the plateau on both the shank end and the rim top. It was clean and did not have a shine. There was no dust, grime or lava in the plateau finish. The bowl was reamed and very clean. The stem was lightly oxidized with minor tooth chatter on the top and underside near the button and on the surface of the button itself. I took close up photos of the rim top and the shank end to show the condition of the plateau. I also took photos of the stem to give a clear picture of what I had when I started. I rotated the shank of the pipe and took photos of the stamping. The first photo shows the Viggo arched over Nielsen forming a football shaped stamp. The second photo shows the stamping directly below that and reads Hand Finished. Under that in the third photo is stamped Made in Denmark.

I reread my previous blog on Viggo Nielsen pipe that I had restored earlier this year. I went back and reread the entry in Pipedia on the brand to refresh my memory. I include key portions of the passage from my previous blog as a quick reminder. I include a photo of Viggo Nielsen to give it the pipemaker a face as I find that helpful.

I turned to Pipedia to learn about Viggo Nielsen. I had memory about him being somehow connected to Kai Nielsen but I was not sure of the relationship of the two. In Pipedia I learned that Viggo, now deceased, was born in 1927. I believe that during World War II he worked for Stanwell making pipes out of birch due to a shortage of briar. In 1948 he opened the Bari pipe factory and in 1951 began to make briar pipes. He carved both classic and freehand pipes.

In 1978 Bari was sold to a company in Germany and he and his two sons, Jorgen and Kai started making Faaborg pipes. Now I knew the connection between the two names that I remembered.,_Viggo

I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the briar and the plateau areas on the shank end and the rim top. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers, working it into the rim top and shank end plateau. I wiped it off with a soft cloth. I buffed the bowl with a horsehair shoe brush to polish it. The briar really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the tooth chatter and the tooth marks in the button top out with 220 grit sandpaper. I sanded the oxidation areas as well with the sandpaper to remove all of the remnants of light oxidation. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil and dried it off. I cleaned out the inside of the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol.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 after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I used the Before & After Pipe Polish to remove the small minute scratches left in the vulcanite. I finished by wiping the stem down with 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 and the stem 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 the second Viggo Nielsen pipe that I have restored and I am amazed at the craftsmanship and the shapes that he achieves. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are uniquely his and he does a great job following the flow of the briar. The dimensions are Length: 7 inches, Height: 2 1/2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 inches. This one will be added to the rebornpipes store soon. If you are interested in adding it to your collection send me an email to or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this great freehand. More of the other freehands I mention above will follow in a variety of shapes and sizes in upcoming blogs.





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.