Converting a Zettervig Freehand into a Churchwarden

Blog by Steve Laug

Sometime pipes come back to you. I had restored and restemmed this pipe for a fellow here in Vancouver not too long ago and made a freehand stem for it. I had also worked on converting a broken shanked Brigham into a churchwarden. The other night he dropped by and we sat and chatted for a bit. He pulled four pipes out of his bag for me to look at. One was a new find from a junk store. The other three were pipes that I had already done for him. The first two were churchwardens and he decided that they just were not for him. He also took the freehand stem out of the Zettervig and put it in the Brigham and said that he had been smoking it that way and really liked it a lot. We talked about options – restemming all three, using the stem from the Zettervig on the Brigham, restemming the churchwardens with shorter stems or just selling the pipes. The one churchwarden would be just a cleanup. The other was a little more involved. It meant fitting the existing churchwarden stem on the Zettervig pipe and seeing if that would move it. We chose the last option selling the two pipes as churchwardens to someone who really wanted them.

Here are some pictures of the Zettervig as it was when I sent it home with him. I thought they would give us a base for the change. The pictures give a clear picture of the beauty of the pipe. The stamping on the pipe is on the underside of the shank and reads Zettervig over Copenhagen over Handmade. Under that it is stamped with the shape number 351 followed by Denmark. As a reminder I quote from the blog on the Zettervig to summarize the history of the brand for you all. Here is the link to the blog:

In the 1960’s and into the early 1970’s Ole Zettervig had a shop in Copenhagen, Denmark where he was carving high quality pipes equal to Stanwell, Larsen, Anne Julie, Thurmann, Bang and others. These early pipes were marked “Copenhagen” and are very collectible. He sold his shop at some point in the 70’s and moved to Kolding and continued to produce pipes as a hobby, but the quality of briar and workmanship is said to not equal the early production. The later pipes he now marked as Kobenhaven rather than Copenhagen, and these were sold by Ole at flea markets throughout Europe.

I took the churchwarden stem from the Brigham and reworked it for the Zettervig. I needed to trim the tenon down slightly and reshape the shank end of the stem. I worked on it until the fit was perfect in the shank. I rounded the area above the tenon to fit into the angled plateau on the end of the shank. I used 220 grit sandpaper to shape the tenon and stem. Unfortunately I was on a roll and forgot to take pictures of that part of the process.

I lit a votive candle and used it to heat the stem. I inserted a long pipe cleaner in the stem and turned it over and over until the vulcanite was pliable. I checked the pliability repeatedly and when it was finally bendable I bent it over a round jar to give it an even bend that matched the flow of the bowl and shank. I held it in place until the bend was set. The stem was used by the Vancouver fellow so I needed to remove the light tooth chatter on the top and underside near the button and also clean it to remove the light tars. I cleaned the stem with alcohol and long pipe cleaners. Once the cleaners came out clean that part was finished.I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped down the stem with Obsidian Oil after each pad to protect and polish it. I gave it a final polish with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. The Zettervig bowl had been smoked more than the churchwarden stem from the Brigham. It was dirt in the shank and airway. It also had a light buildup of carbon in the bowl and it was dirty. The finish was also dull so that would need to be address. I cleaned out the shank and airway with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until they were clean. I cleaned out the carbon on the bowl walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to smooth out the interior of the bowl. I rubbed down the smooth briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the smooth surface of the briar on the sides and the bottom of the bowl and shank with my fingertips. I worked it into the plateau on the rim top and shank end with my finger tips and worked it in with a horsehair shoe brush. I wanted to make sure that the balm got deep into the briar to do its work. The balm works 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 the buffed stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish out the remaining small scratches and raise the shine. I carefully avoided the stamping on the underside of the shank. I gave both the bowl 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. This turned out to be a beautiful pipe in terms of shape and finish. The combination of the Danish Zettervig bowl and the vulcanite churchwarden stem looks very good. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 11 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks for walking through the conversion of this bowl to a churchwarden with me.

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