Simple Rebirth of a Morel Hand Made Freehand

Blog by Steve Laug

As mentioned in the last few blogs, Jeff picked up some amazing freehand pipes lately. When I was in Idaho for my mom’s funeral I packed and brought them to Canada. There was a Soren Hand Carved, Granhill Signature, Ben Wade Golden Walnut, Veeja 900 C6 and Viggo Nielsen Hand Finished. Along with that there were other Freehands that I am moving onto now. The first of these is an interesting one with a yellow/golden acrylic stem. It is hand crafted smooth finish with a plateau rim top and shank end. It is stamped on the underside of the shank Morel in script over Benzon- Italia over Fait Main France. My brother had done the entire cleanup – reaming, scrubbing the exterior and cleaning the interior. That left me the finishing work. The finish on the pipe was in excellent condition. The acrylic stem had very light tooth chatter and marks on the top and bottom at the button and was dull. Jeff had cleaned the rim top and removed the debris in the plateau. He had scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil soap and a tooth brush to remove the dust and grime that had accumulated there. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and touched it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He cleaned the interior of the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. It came to me clean and ready to touch up and polish. The stem was cleaned but had tooth chatter on the top and underside near the button and on the surface of the button. I took close up photos of the rim top and the shank end to show the condition of the plateau. There were some burned areas around the inside edge of the rim. It is darkened and burned. I also took photos of the stem to give a clear picture of what I had when I started.I took a photo of the underside of the shank to show the stamping there. It read Morel over Benzon-Italia over Fait Main over France. I will need to do some work on the maker. I have several Morel pipes and really like them so this was one I wanted to work on. There is a small twisted fill just above the Morel stamp. It is slightly shrunken and will need to be repaired and smoothed out. This is the only flaw on the otherwise beautifully grained briar.I needed to refresh my memory on the history and background of Morel. I knew from memory that he had made pipes for Chacom at one point in time but could not remember the details. I went to pipephil’s site and looked up the brand to see what I could find. The pipe that was included in the entry on the site was similar to the one I am working on. The one I have has a flattened bottom on the shank and bowl and a twist in the shank. It also has an acrylic stem. Here is the link I did a screen capture of the pertinent entry and the photo of Morel. They are included below.The stamping on the shank “Morel” is exactly as it is spelled out above. The “e” in Morel is the cursive letter. The Benzon – Italy stamp is the same so this helps to date the pipe to pre-1980 when Benzon ceased to be Morel’s Italian reseller.

I went on to read further on Pipedia to see if I could find more information. Here is the link. I have included the pertinent information below as well as a photo of the carver.

In 1978, Pierre Morel, an independent free-hand pipe maker, was enlisted by Chacom to create a line of completely hand made pipes, called the Chacom Grand Cru. For this line he created the free-hand shapes Naja and “Fleur de Bruyère”. In 1987, Pierre Morel joined the team at Chapuis-Comoy full-time. (The above is an excerpt from the Chacom website)

Still employed at Chacom, Pierre Morel will be 60 in 2009 and must retire from the house that employs him.

When asked by “Pipe Gazette” in February of 2009, “If there should be a pipe of Pierre Morel, it would be what form?”, Mr. Morel responded, “Flower Morel, I’ve probably made hundreds.”

Pierre works now in his own shop. The new line is the result of over 40 years’ experience in free-hand high-grade pipe carving. His new High-grade line will be available online. Here is a link to his website,

Now I had a pretty good idea of the brand and the maker of this pipe as well a bit of clarity on the date is was carved. I decided to begin by working on the bowl so I removed the stem and turned my attention to the burned inside edge of the bowl. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the damaged edge and lightly bevel the edge inward toward the bowl.I filled in the shrunken fill with clear super glue. Once the glue had dried I sanded the repair smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to blend it in to the rest of the briar. I polished the repaired area with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I touched up the stain with  a stain pen to blend the colour into the rest of the finish. From that I knew that the pipe in my hands came from some time during the 1970s and before 1980. The briar was clean but dried out and lifeless. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the briar bowl and shank. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers, working it into the exterior of the pipe and working it into the plateau areas with a horsehair shoe brush. I wiped it off and buffed it with a soft cloth to polish it. The pipe 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 out the tooth chatter out of both sides of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. I worked over the surface with sandpaper to remove the tooth marks and chatter.I polished the acrylic 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 pad to remove the sanding dust. I buffed it with a soft cloth to polish it. I 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 plateau on the rim top and shank end and the medium brown stain with red contrasts work very well with the golden acrylic stem. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is the first of Morel’s Freehands that I have worked on and it was a pleasure. Like the Danes, he does great work and is quite innovative in terms of shapes, flow and finishes on his pipes. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outer diameter of the bowl: 1 7/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inches. This one is will be added to the rebornpipes store shortly. If you would like to add it to your collection send me an email to or a message on Facebook. Thanks for walking through this restoration with me as I worked over this beauty. I have other Freehands that I will be working on in a variety of shapes and sizes in upcoming blogs. 





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