Crafting a New Stem for a Cortina Factory Denmark 22 Freehand Stack

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table was one that my brother Jeff picked up on an eBay auction from a seller in Franklin Tennessee almost two years ago. I know it seems like a long time ago and I suppose it is but I have boxes of pipes to refurbish here and this one came up today! It was in a box with the freehand pipes that I have been working my way through. It is an interestingly shaped sandblast pipe that is a stack. When I first looked at it I did not see any stamping on the shank. As I examined it today I found stamping on the thin band of smooth briar between the horn shank extension and the bowl. It stamped around the band and reads CORTINA FACTORY DENMARK with the shape number 22. The pipe looked pretty good when he got it from the seller. There was dirt and grime in sandblast finish on the bowl. The horn shank extension was oxidized and tired looking. There was a metal mortise inset in the horn to protect it from splitting. There was a light cake in the bowl and the inner and out edges of the bowl were in good shape. The contrast brown finish on the pipe was in excellent condition. I am not sure if the stem on the pipe was the original as the tenon was very long and the fit in the shank was snug but not deep. It was lightly oxidized but in decent condition. I think a stem with a shorter tenon and snug fit to the shank would work well. I would also see if I could shape one to follow the shape of the horn extension. I would have to see what I could find in the can of stems. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup up work. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the pipe. The first photo shows the shape number 22 on the smooth band. The second shows the CORTINA stamp on the smooth band. The third and fourth photos show the stamping Denmark Factory. The next photo shows the shank end – a mottled horn with the metal mortise insert. The stem is in place but you can see that the diameter of the tenon is smaller in diameter than the insert. The second photo below shows the striations in the horn shank extension. The stem was dented and worn. I wanted to replace it with a different stem than the replacement that came in it so I was not too concerned with the stem condition.Jeff had scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil soap and removed the dust and grime that had accumulated there. The finish looked very good once it had been scrubbed. He lightly reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and cleaned 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. The pipe came to me clean and ready to do the restoration and restemming. I took some photos of the bowl to show the condition at this point in the process. I took some photos of the horn shank extension. At first I thought it was acrylic but as I worked on it I was sure that it was real horn. It was a unique and pretty piece of polished horn. It need to be polished but it was unsplit and in good condition.As has become my practice when working on restoring pipes I did some research on the Cortina Factory Denmark brand name. Pipedia noted the brand but had no information to give in terms of the company or a time frame. I also looked on Pipephil’s site and found a listing for the brand. I have included a screen capture from that site ( The first pipe in the photo shows the Cortina brand and stamp that is the same as on the pipe I am working on. The second one is attached to the Georg Jensen brand and the stamping is actually very similar. It makes me wonder if the Cortina was not a line of pipes made by Georg Jensen. I have no proof of that other than the connection shown in the screen capture below.I started my restoration of the pipe armed with the little bit of information that I could find on the brand. I polished the horn shank extension with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad to remove the sanding dust. Once I had finished with the last pad I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil to enliven the horn and preserve it. I turned from the horn shank extension to work on the sandblast briar of the bowl. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the briar bowl and the rim top as well as the briar 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. I worked it into the blast with a horsehair shoe brush. After it had been sitting for a little while I 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 had a stem in my can of stems that had turned portions that as the shape of the shank extension on the pipe. Once the stem is cleaned up I will point out the shapes more clearly. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to shape the tenon to fit in the mortise. I sanded the oxidation to remove it from the rest of the stem. I took a photo of the new stem next to the one that had come with the bowl. You can see the variation in the shape of the stem. The top one has a very long tenon that fit into the shank up to the spot where the oxidation begins. It is longer than the new stem and the shape is not quite right. On the new stem I have boxed in the shapes in red that parallel the shape of the shank extension.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 on the acrylic. I polished the stem with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and I set it aside to dry. I 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 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 contrasting brown stain on the sandblast, the variegated swirls in the horn shank extension and the polished vulcanite stem worked together to give the pipe a unique look. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is one of those interesting unknown Danish Pipes that I think could possibly lead back to Georg Jensen but we will probably never know for sure. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 6 1/2 inches, Height: 2 1/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 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 piece of Danish pipe making history.


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