Blog by Steve Laug
I finished up some pipes for a guy here in Vancouver and when he came to pick them up he brought more for me to work on. I have finished four of the pipes this is the fifth one. It is a small Billiard bowl that is stamped on the underside of the shank LIGHT. The pipe came without a stem and was one of his pipe finds on a recent pipe hunt in Vancouver. It is a small billiard with a light sandblast finish. The colour is a mix of dark and medium brown stains. The finish was very dirty and there was a thick bake in the bowl. There was some damage on the inside edge of the rim toward the back of the bowl on the left side. Together we decided to make a churchwarden out of it. I thought he had a great idea so I ordered some stems from JH Lowe online. They arrived last week so I decided to fit a stem to the bowl today. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer with the smallest cutting head and took the cake back to bare walls. I cleaned up the remnants of cake with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I used a dowel wrapped with sandpaper to sand down the walls on the bowl. I cleaned up the inside rim edge with a folded piece of sandpaper and gave the rim a slight bevel. I took a photo of the inside of the bowl once it was cleaned. I touched up the stain on the bowl sides and rim with a Cherry Stain pen. I buffed it with a shoe brush.I rubbed down the briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the sandblast finish with my fingertips and finished working it in with a shoe brush. The balm worked to clean, preserve and enliven the surface of the finish on the small bowl. The briar was coming alive so I took some photos of the pipe at this point. I cleaned out the airway from the shank to the bowl and the mortise area with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I use 99% isopropyl because it evaporates quickly and cleans the briar very well.I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a soft cloth. I would buff it later on the buffing wheel but I wanted to get a feel for the look at this point in the process. The stems I ordered arrived. They are approximately 9 inches long. The tenon was unturned and the casting excess was along both sides of the stem and the slot end. I used a drill bit to open the airway in the tenon end of the stem. It needed to be the same size as the guide pin on the PIMO tenon turning tool. I measured the diameter of the shank and adjusted the tenon turning tool to cut the new tenon. I used it on a cordless drill and turned the tenon on the stem. I turned it until it was a close fit and sanded it down until it fit snugly in the shank.I heated the stem over the flame of a candle until the vulcanite was soft. I bent it slightly over a small bottle.I sanded out the casting marks on the sides of the stem and the button end with 220 grit sandpaper. I sanded the rest of the stem smooth to remove all of the sanding marks on the diameter near the shank stem junction.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 between each sanding pad. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I lightly buffed the bowl so as not to fill in the sandblast finish. I also carefully avoided the stamping on the underside of the shank. I gave both the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax 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 finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I have three more pipes to finish for him – all of them that are finds he made while pipe hunting. This is a fun bunch of pipes to work on. I look forward to moving through the rest of them. Thanks for looking.