Restoring My Grandfather’s Kaywoodie “Super Grain” Bent Billiard

Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I had just finished restoring a Kaywoodie Handmade ¾ bent Apple pocket pipe that I had found in the pile of pipes inherited from my Grandfather. The next pipe that I have selected for restoration is again a Kaywoodie, but a Bent Billiard with a 4 holed stinger, also from my grandfather’s collection. To date, these are the only two Kaywoodies that I have come across in my large inherited pipe collection.

This Kaywoodie is in immaculate condition and appears to have been smoked maybe only 3 to 4 times. This pipe has a medium sized bowl and the stummel has some beautiful mixed grains that can be seen through the dull and lifeless finish on the stummel and the shank. It fills the hand nicely and is light weight, making it comfortable to hang from the lips.

This beauty is stamped on the left side of the shank as “Super Grain” in cursive hand over “KAYWOODIE” in block capital letters and the right side of the shank bears the shape number “14”. The stem bears the inlaid Clover leaf on left side in white. All the stampings are clear, crisp and easily readable.I searched the net for information on this brand in general and this pipe in particular. The first site I always visit is Pipedia. I gathered a lot of information about the brand and some important snippets of information are reproduced below:

Kaywoodie was the name a pipe offered by Kaufman Brothers & Bondy Company (KBB), first appearing in February of 1919. The Dinwoodie pipe, also by KBB, appeared in November of 1919. Sometime before 1924, the Dinwoodie had been discontinued and the Kaywoodie name was beginning to be used on an extensive line of pipes that ultimately would be the name of the company. The origin of the name Kaywoodie is a combination of the K from Kaufman and wood, as in briar. Not much is known of the original KBB company other than it was started in 1851 by the German born Kaufman brothers when they opened a small pipe shop in the Bowery section of New York City. In the back room of this shop, they made their first pipes. From this meager beginning, the Kaywoodie name and organization was to emerge.

When one of the men from the New York office got “gold fever”, he carried a large supply of pipes with him to California that he sold along the way. This early “national distribution” did much to build the reputation of KBB. By the late 1800’s, branches of KBB were opened in Chicago, Atlanta, San Francisco and St. Louis with family and friends acting as agents. The trademarks, for the inlaid cloverleaf and the cloverleaf with the KBB initials inside, were issued in 1881. KBB’s pipes became more popular and were in constant demand by the end of the century. Orders were streaming back east and KBB needed to move to larger manufacturing facilities. By 1915 the move was made to larger facilities in the old Union Hill section of Union City, New Jersey. The salesroom offices were located at 33 East 17th. Street, New York. When the Kaywoodie pipe was first introduced by KBB it came with a hand cut rubber mouthpiece fitted with an aluminum Inbore Tube. This device was to “assure a clean, cool smoke.” Other KBB pipes such as Ambassador, Heatherby and Melrose also had the Inbore tube. The early Drinkless Kaywoodies from 1924 through 1931 had push bit stems. In 1931, after three years of research, the new Drinkless Kaywoodies with the synchro-stem, (threaded drinkless screw-in mouthpiece) were introduced. The drinkless attachment was advertised as cooling the smoke from 850 degrees in the bowl to 82 degrees when it entered the mouth. By the mid 1930’s, all Kaywoodie’s came with the screw mounted Drinkless attachment. (Export Kaywoodies, available briefly from 1950-1955, had push bit stems and were available in all the same shapes and finishes as the drinkless versions.)

Throughout much of the 1940’s, 50’s and 60’s, the Kaywoodie family of pipes consisted of 11 basic grades of briar pipes; though new grades were frequently added to the line and some older grades were discontinued or downgraded. These 11 basic grades of pipes, listed in ascending order of quality, were:

  1. Drinkless
  2. Hand-made Super Grain
  3. Super Grain
  4. Relief Grain
  5. Flame Grain
  6. Silhouette
  7. Oversize Kaywoodies
  8. Meerschaum Inlaid Kaywoodies
  9. Connoisseur
  10. Ninety-fiver
  11. Centennial

Thus from the above, I can safely infer that this pipe was a higher grade Kaywoodie from the 1940s to 1960s.

Armed with this information, I carried out my detailed initial visual inspection of the entire pipe. This assessment helps me in identifying the issues that are seen as well as understand likely issues that may present themselves subsequently while making a mental map of the entire restoration process.

The stummel is clean with a dull appearance due to all these years of storage. There are a few dings and dents seen all around due to careless storage and will have to be addressed. The bowl is clean with a very thin layer of cake. The rim top is clean with no dents or chips and no overflow of lava. Both the inner and outer rim edges are crisp, even and intact. The chamber is odorless and dry to the touch.The stem is lightly oxidized with no tooth chatter or bite marks on both surfaces. The lips on both sides is crisp, however, as seen on the earlier Kaywoodie, the surface of the lip is flattened. The inlaid clover leaf stamp is intact and prominently visible. The only issue with the stem is that it is off centre and not perfectly aligned with the shank and the stummel. This will have to be addressed. The biggest relief is that unlike the other Kaywoodie Apple pocket pipe, the aluminum spacer in this pipe is completely intact. As expected, the airway is clogged and a test draw revealed that the air does not pass through the airway in the stem. This will have to be cleaned.

The first step that I usually follow is the reaming of the bowl. Since I had appreciated the cake to be thin, I started the process of reaming the chamber with my fabricated knife. I was very careful during the reaming so as not to create deep gouges in the inner walls of the chamber. Contrary to my appreciation, the amount of cake that was reamed out from the chamber was quite substantial. To smooth out the inner surface of the chamber and completely remove the last traces of remaining cake, I sanded the inner surface with a 220 grit sand paper. Once the chamber was cleaned, I decided to address the dings and dents on the stummel by sanding the bowl with a 150 grit sand paper followed by 220 and 340 grit sand papers. I wiped the stummel with a moist cotton cloth after each sanding. This helps in removing all the briar dust and shows the progress of the sanding. This was followed by micromesh polishing pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads. Again, I wiped the bowl with a moist cotton cloth after each pad. As I finished sanding with 2400 grit pad, I observed three fills in the stummel which were exposed after the last wet sanding pad. These were spot filled with CA superglue and set aside to dry overnight. I sanded the cured superglue fill with a flat head needle file and further matched it with the rest of the stummel surface by sanding these fills with a 220 grit sand paper. This was again followed by sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit micromesh pads.Once I was through with the wet sanding pads, I used the 3200 to 12000 grit pads to dry sand the stummel to a nice shine. I rubbed some “Before and After Restoration” balm deeply in to the stummel with my fingers. This balm helps in rejuvenating and protecting the briar wood. The immediate and incredible transformation that takes place is a worthy reward for all the efforts!!! The mixed grain can now be clearly appreciated. I let the balm be absorbed by the briar for about 15-20 minutes and then polished it with a soft cotton cloth. The bowl now looks fresh and attractive with the grains popping out any which way you look at the briar.

Turning my attention to the stem, there were three issues which needed to be addressed; one was the oxidation, second was the flattened lips and third was the off center stinger. I started by creating a crisp edge by careful sanding the area around the edges with a flat head needle file. Once I was satisfied with the created edge, I began with sanding the stem with a 220 grit sand paper. I was especially careful around the edges and the stampings. Using the crisp edge of the folded sand paper, I reshaped the buttons and sanded it to even out the surface. Thereafter, I sanded the stem with 320 and 440 grit sand paper. To finish the stem I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol after each pad and rubbed olive oil into the stem after every three pads. The stem looks crisp, shiny and like new. I addressed the issue of the stinger being off center with the shank by carefully heating the stinger with the flame of a Bic lighter. The heating done should be just enough to loosen the glue around the stinger. I inserted the threaded stinger in to the mortise and turned the threads till the stem was perfectly aligned with the shank. Thereafter, I set it aside to let the stinger cool down and the glue to harden again.Having addressed the “appearance” aspects of this beauty, I turned my attention to the “performance” aspect to ensure that this beauty smokes as well as it looks. I thoroughly cleaned the shank internals using shank brush, pipe cleaners, cue tips and isopropyl alcohol. The stem airway was cleaned using regular pipe cleaners and also bristled ones dipped in alcohol. The airway is now clean and the draw is full and open.To complete the restoration, I rubbed a minute quantity of PARAGON WAX on the stummel and the stem. After a few seconds, using muscle power and a microfiber cloth, I polished the entire pipe to a lovely shine. The finished pipe is shown below. Thank you for your valuable time spent in reading this chronicle of my journey.


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