Blog by Steve Laug
A friend on Facebook reached out to me to see if I would have a look at a pipe he picked up off EBay. It was a Butz-Choquin pipe that was stamped on the left side of the shank Butz-Choquin over Maitre-Pipier over Deluxe over Special. On the right side it was stamped Fait Main over St. Claude France. It had a canted egg shape to it and a square shank. It had an orange acrylic shank extension – lots of undulating oranges. There was an inset BC logo in the shank extension. It was rounded on one end and set up for a military style bit. The bit itself was a freehand style. The pipe had been cleaned up nicely. What he wanted was to have me have a look at the rim top to see if I could remove some of the damage and at the stem to see if I could build up the button. When it arrived I took a few photos to capture the look and feel of this handmade pipe. I took a picture of the rim top to show the condition that he had asked me to deal with for him. It did have some significant darkening and the closer I looked at it I could also see that there appeared to be a groove around the bottom inside of the bowl. I also took photos of the stem to show the condition of the button. It was worn and ill-defined.I started working on the pipe by cleaning up the darkening on the rim top with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I was able to clean off much of the darkening and leave the rim top looking much better.I cleaned up the inside of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and was able to remove what had appeared to be a groove around the bottom of the bowl. It turned out to be a cake that had been left behind when the pipe had been reamed originally. I wrapped a piece of 220 grit sandpaper around a piece of dowel and sanded the walls of the bowl to smooth them out.I rubbed down the smooth briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the smooth surface of the bowl. I worked it into the bowl and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let it sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The rim looks much better than when I started but still needs to be polished and buffed to raise a shine on it. I built up the surface of the button with black super glue. I layered it repeatedly until the surface was thicker. I defined the edge of the button with a needle file and sanded it with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the file marks. I layered more on the surface and sanded it smooth. I took the following photos to show the progress.I worked on the button to smooth out the surfaces and shape it more finely. I used 220 grit sandpaper to do the shaping. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil after each grit pad. I gave it a final polish with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to remove the minute scratches that remained. I gave it a last coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to let it dry. I the polished stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches and raise the shine. I gave the bowl and the stem several 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. I am hoping the owner will be pleased with the redefined button on the stem and the cleaned up rim top. I think it came out beautifully. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked this interesting handmade Butz-Choquin canted egg. It will soon be heading back to its owner in New York. Thanks for looking.