Blog by Steve Laug
I received a call from a fellow who lives nearby my house about working on some pipes for him. He happened to be packing them up to send to the US for repairs when he stumbled on the rebornpipes.com website. He stopped by with a box of pipes that he wanted to know if I could work on for him. Two were pretty straight forward – 1910 Calabash that needed a cleanup and a freehand that belonged to his dad that he wanted cleaned up so that he could send it back to him. The freehand was simple – buffing, touching up stain, cleaning the bowl and shank and removing tooth chatter and oxidation from the stem. I finished that one first and then moved on to this calabash. I have written about the calabash on a previous blog that can be found at the following link: (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/07/01/a-simple-restoration-of-a-1910-gourd-calabash/). The third pipe that he wanted me to work on was a different proposition – it was a Blowfish shaped pipe with the name Chimera etched on the underside of the shank. He did not like the stem and the way it looked on the shank. He was wondering if I could add some length to the shank and fit a different looking stem on it that better fit the shape and look of the pipe. I took photos of the pipe before I started working on it. I took a close up photo of the stamping on the shank. It is a brand that I don’t know much about. It is not listed on Pipedia or Pipephils site. I wrote an email to the owner to see what he could tell me about the pipe. He wrote back as follows:
The blowfish “Vincent” was made by Tedd Weitzman in Atlanta around 2010. He started making pipes out of the shop of a local amateur maker and this was his first sellable one… “Chimera” would have been his marque, but he hadn’t made a stamp yet, but as far as I know he never made another.The pipe had an interesting shape and worked with the grain very well. It seemed to have a clean and open draw. I took a few photos of the bowl from various angles to show the grain. Some of you may note that the shank end is not square and require that the saddle of the stem be cut at an angle. This will need to be addressed when I add the shank extension. I had an interesting faux horn (Lucite) shank extension here that I thought make an interesting contrast with the shape of the bowl. I also had a four sided, square vulcanite tapered stem that I thought would look good with the pipe. I laid out the pieces and took a photo of the proposed look of the pipe. I sent the photos to the owner and his response was to go with what I thought would look good. I was good to go on this one.I took the pipe apart and worked on the shank extension. I glued a threaded Delrin tenon in the shank end of the stem to join it to the shank of the pipe. The taper on the shank extension was not quite enough to make a smooth transition with the briar shank. I took it down with a Dremel and sanding drum and got it close. The rest of the fitting would have to be done by hand with files and sandpaper. The tenon would need to be cleaned up a bit but it was going to work nicely. I put the stem back together with the extension and took some photos. I put the stem and shank extension in place on the bowl and took some photos. You can see that the transition is getting close. I think the faux horn shank extension and new stem are going to look really good. It is quite unique looking as a whole. I like the longer shank and stem with the large blowfish shaped bowl. Once I had the transition sanded smooth with 220 grit sandpaper I polished it and the extension with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-4000 grit pads. I wiped the extension down after each pad with a damp cloth. Before I polished it with the 6000-12000 grit pads I stained the connection with an oak coloured stain pen to match the colour of the rest of the bowl. I finished by polishing the junction and the extension with the last three grits (6000-12000) of micromesh pads. I really like the look of the longer shank. The faux horn extension looks good with the rest of the pipe. I worked Before & After Restoration Balm deep into the briar on the smooth finish to clean, enliven and protect it. I wiped it off with a soft cloth. I buffed the bowl with a cotton cloth to polish it. It really began to have a deep shine in the briar. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. The grain on the bowl is really beginning to stand out and will only do so more as the pipe is waxed. I set the bowl aside and began to work on the stem that I had chosen. It was an interesting four sided taper stem with a flare at the bottom where it joined the shank. The tenon was rough so it would need to be worked on. I funneled the airway in the stem to give it a good open flow. I sanded out the tooth chatter on the top and underside near the button. I sanded out the scratches in the tenon and the underside of the disk between the tenon and the stem. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to do the shaping and smoothing work on the stem.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 Obsidian Oil and rubbed it into the surface. To finish the polishing I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine polishes. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and hand buffed it to a shine. This Chimera Blowfish has some really beautiful grain all around the bowl and shank. The grain really is quite stunning. The asymmetrical nature of the bowl and shank give it a really unique look. I can see why the original stem was a hard fit. The shank extension that has the look of faux horn looks really good in contrast between the briar and the stem. The panelled vulcanite stem is high quality and shined up well. I buffed the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond polish to raise the shine on the briar and the vulcanite. I was careful to not buff the stamping and damage it. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 6 1/2 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside Diameter: 1 3/4 inches, Diameter of the chamber: 3/4 inch. This blowfish feels great in the hand and its light weight give it the potential of being a clencher. I have one more repair to do for this pipeman and I will give him a call soon and I know that he is looking forward smoking these pipes. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.