Restoring a Soren Hand- Carved Sitter Pipe

Blog by Paresh Deshpande

This Soren is the last of the freehand pipes that I had purchased on eBay. Well, this pipe is definitely the smallest of all the four, but it is also the only sitter of this lot!!!!! The medium size of the bowl, angle between the stummel and shank with a fancy stem, lends this pipe a look which is both very attractive and functional at the same time.

The pipe has a combination of smooth surface and sandblast finishes.  These sandblast portions are seen along the entire length of the shank, save for a small smooth portion on the lower surface at the shank end. This smooth portion bears the only stamping seen on this pipe, “Soren” over “HAND-CARVED” over “MADE IN DENMARK”. The upper portion of the stummel shows irregularly designed straight grained smooth surface while the lower portion and the shank, less the stamped portion,  is sandblasted which give this pipe its unique appearance!!! The plateau rim top has a smooth thin surface very close to the inner edge. I absolutely loved this pipe. I searched the internet for information on this pipe. Pipedia has some interesting snippet of information on the carver of this pipe, which I have reproduced below:

“Søren Refbjerg Rasmussen founded a company in 1969, which employed an average of 8 – 12 craftsmen in the 1970’s. The semi-freehands they produced were traded under his prename Søren. Rasmussen himself finished only the very best pipes. So his way of pipemaking closely resembled the ways of Preben Holm, Karl Erik Ottendahl or Erik Nørding. Altogether more than 1,000,000 pipes were sold.

Today he works alone as Refbjerg and manufactures only a small number of pipes in his workshop in DK-2860 Søborg, which are considered to be tremendously precisely executed. The dimensions mostly range from small to medium sized, corresponding to his personal preferences. The shapes adhere to the classical models, but often he gives them a touch of Danish flair. Refbjerg accepts minor faults but never uses any fillings. “Straight Grain” is the only grading, used for his very best pieces. He likes stem decorations made of exotic woods or metal rings.

As Rainer Barbi once stated “Refbjerg uses only briar from Corsica and more than that, he’s the one and only to import it from there, at least in Europe. He’s supplier to the vast majority of the Danish makers”.

Examples and nomenclature, courtesy Doug Valitchka Initial inspection of the pipe revealed the following
There is a thick layer of cake in the bowl. The external surface of the stummel feels solid to the touch and I think there are no issues with the condition of the chamber. However, there are always surprises when you least expect them!!! I have learnt my lessons!!! Thus, condition of the inner walls of the chamber will be ascertained once the chamber has been reamed and the cake is taken back to the bare briar. The plateau rim top and shank end is covered in the overflow of lava, dirt and grime. This will have to be cleaned. The condition of the inner edge will be determined only after removing the cake. The air way in the shank is clogged with oils and tars and will require a thorough cleaning.The stem is firmly stuck to the shank and will not budge. However, other than heavy oxidation, there are no other issues noticed on the stem. The stummel is covered in dust, dirt, oils and grime. The stummel looks dull and lackluster. The grains on the smooth surface and the sandblast are all covered in tars, oils and grime. To be able to appreciate these grains and sandblast, the stummel will have to be cleaned. THE PROCESS
Before I could start the work of cleaning the pipe, I kept it in the freezer for a couple of hours so as to separate the stem from the shank. I removed the pipe from the freezer and tried to remove the stem, but it still did not budge! I let it rest outside for an hour and after applying considerable force, the stem came free. I had followed a YouTube video where the stem was soaked in a solution of hot water and Hydrogen Peroxide in the ratio of 2:1. The stem oxidation had risen to the surface and was much easier to remove. I cleaned the insides of the stem with pipe cleaners and hard bristled pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol. Once the internals were clean and dry, I wiped the stem surface with magic clean sponge and followed it with polishing with micromesh pads. I applied extra virgin olive oil on the stem surface and set it aside to be absorbed by the stem. I am afraid, in my enthusiasm to try out new technique of using Hydrogen Peroxide; I just missed out on taking pictures of each step. Using a Kleen Reem pipe reamer, I removed all the carbon cake from the chamber. This was followed by sanding the inner walls of the chamber with 220 grit sand paper. The internal walls of the chamber were flawless and solid. Thereafter, using Murphy’s oil soap ( undiluted ) and a hard bristled toothbrush on the exterior of the bowl, shank and rim, the pipe was thoroughly cleaned and rinsed under running tap water. I immediately wiped it down with a soft cloth. The sandblast and the smooth surface were now clean and the briar looked clean and solid. I then left the briar to dry out. Once the briar had dried out completely, I rubbed in Before and After Restoration Balm deep into the sandblast as well as the rim top. The bowl was then wiped vigorously with a soft cloth and buffed with a horse hair shoe brush. The result is very pleasing and satisfying to the eyes! I am happy with this progress. This balm is a fantastic product for infusing a nice shine into the briar and giving it a new lease of life.The finished pipe is as shown below. I enjoyed working on this lot of four freehand pipes and each of these pipes has its own individuality and each is beautiful in its own way. I hope you too enjoyed joining me on this wondrous journey of exploring the freehand pipes!!!!!  Thank you for your patience and as always, any suggestions and/ or improvements will help me in learning this art of restoration.

3 thoughts on “Restoring a Soren Hand- Carved Sitter Pipe

  1. ReserectedPipes

    Paresh, I thought I was looking at one of my own pipes being restored! I have one in the almost identical cut and shape down to the rustication and stem awaiting me on the workbench. You have done a marvelous job on it. Well done.

  2. ThePipeSteward - Dal in Bulgaria

    Good job, Paresh, working through the process and a beautiful pipe to add to your collection.


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