Restoring a Nording # 4 Freehand

Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I had purchased four freehand pipes about a year back, and now after having worked on 30 plus pipes, and restored them to acceptable standards, I feel confident of tackling restoration of these pipes. Along the way, I learned a few techniques and honed and practiced my skills in these processes, made a few good friends and acquaintances and most importantly, have been able to preserve and restore memories of my Grand Old Man, which I cherish the most.

This Nording #4 now on my table is a large pipe with beautiful straight grains extending from the base of the bowl to the rim top on left 1/3 portion of the stummel and the rest 2/3 is sandblasted. The rim top curves upwards in 11 ‘O’ clock and 5 ‘O’ clock direction and forms plateau on the rim top. There is a smooth ring of briar on the bowl just below the rim top. The ring is asymmetrical and follows the shape of the rim top. The square shank is rusticated on three sides and smooth on the left side. This smooth surface bears the stamp “NORDING” over “MADE IN DENMARK” followed by a prominent number “4”. The fancy stem bears the stamp “N” in a fancy decorative and cursive hand.I was surfing the net for some additional information on this particular Nording and found that this piece closely resembles the NORDING’S RUSTIC pipe. Here is the link to Nording shapes and finishes on Tobacco Pipes. (  

The plateau on the rim was dirty with dust and tars in the grooves of the plateau. The grooves of the sandblast were also dusty and dirty. The inside of the bowl appeared to be in good condition under the thin cake. There is an uneven build up of cake with bottom half having more cake as compared to the upper half of the bowl.The rustications on the shank and stummel is also dusty and filled with dirt and grime. The smooth portion of the stummel appears dull and lackluster due to dust and grime coating the stummel. The plateau shank end was also dirty with tars and dirt. Air does not flow freely through the shank and the mortise appears to be clogged. The stem does not seat completely in to the mortise. This will have to be cleaned.The stem is vulcanite and was oxidized and had some calcification on each side of the stem for the first inch ahead of the button. Apparently at some point in its life, it had a rubber Softee bit on the stem to protect it from tooth marks and chatter. It had done its job and there were no tooth marks or chatter on the surface of the stem. The stamping on the stem, though faded and covered under heavy oxidation, is visible and it will be my attempt to restore and highlight it to the extent possible.All in all, this appears to be a simple and straight forward clean up and polishing project, unless some gremlins and demons are unearthed during the process!!!!

I reamed the bowl with a Kleen Reem pipe reamer to take the cake back to bare briar. I cleaned up the remnants of cake in the bowl with my fabricated knife. I was careful not to be over zealous using the knife in order to prevent the walls from being gouged. I finished the cleaning of the inside of the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around my finger. I turned it in the bowl until the bowl was smooth and clean.I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap. I scrubbed the plateau rim top with a brass bristle brush to remove the tars and oil in the grooves. I rinsed the bowl with water in the sink while scrubbing the finish with the tooth brush to remove the dust and grime. I scrubbed out the mortise with a dental spatula. I cleaned the airway in the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs dipped in alcohol. Once the grime was removed the pipe smelled good and looked good.I rubbed some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar to enliven, clean and preserve it. I rubbed it in with my fingertips working it into the briar. I worked it into the plateau rim, shank end, smooth portion of the stummel and the sandblast on the sides of the shank and the bowl. I buffed it into the finish with a horsehair shoe brush. I set it aside for a little while to let the balm do its work. I buffed it off with a cotton cloth and a shoe brush. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I flamed the surfaces of the stem with a Bic lighter to raise very minor tooth chatter to the surface as well loosen the oxidation from the stem surface. This was followed by sanding the oxidation and the calcification on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to remove the oxidation and the calcification.

I polished the stem using micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and then dry sanded the stem with 3200-12000 grit pads to further polish it. After each pad I wiped it down with Extra Virgin Olive Oil to protect and enliven the stem. When I finished with the final pad I gave it the stem another coat of oil and set it aside to dry. These fancy stems, though looks fabulous and helps in accentuating overall look and shape of a freehand, are a pain to clean up and remove all the oxidation!!!! I finished this restoration by applying a small quantity of PARAGON Wax on the stem and smooth briar surface and HALCYON II wax on the rusticated surface. I let it set for a few seconds and thereafter polished it with a soft cotton cloth. The finished pipe looks nice and with the shiny black fancy vulcanite stem, the red and dark hues of the pipe are further accentuated. The finished pipe is shown below.


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