Blog by Steve Laug
My brother Jeff picked up four pipes in classic shapes at an auction in Nampa, Idaho. All four pipes are stamped JR Handmade. Beside the Bulldog there were two Canadians and an Apple. All were stamped the same on the left side of the shank JR over Handmade and on the right side Algerian Briar. I have been researching the brand on the web. I came across a potential pipemaker with the JR initials on Pipedia named J. Rinaldi but from what I can see he did not make classic shaped pipes. He pipes are very well made and have more of a freehand/freeform shape with shank adornments so it makes me wonder if these are his. I enlarged each photo on the Pipedia article but I was unable to see the stamping on his pipes for comparison sake. This leaves me with a lot of questions about the brand. The foursome came from the Boise, Idaho area like the House of Robertson pipes that I worked on last year. Those came from a pipe shop in Boise, Idaho and I wonder if it is not possible that the JR Handmade brand was also a pipe shop brand from a small shop in that area or even somehow connected with the House of Robertson brand. Perhaps I will never know… if any of you readers have any idea about the brand your help would be greatly appreciated.The above photo shows the foursome after Jeff had cleaned them. But before he cleaned each of them he took photos of the pipes as they came to him. I already wrote about the restoration of the Bulldog (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/01/28/the-first-of-a-foursome-a-jr-handmade-bulldog/). The next pipe is the first pipe on the right side of the above photo – a classic Canadian with a beveled rim top. I have included the photos of the Canadian before cleanup. The pipe is very well made and follows the classic shape of an oval shank Canadian perfectly. The bowl was stained with a dark brown/black and a medium brown stain over it. It is a well-shaped pipe that captures the mixture of flame and straight grain around the bowl sides and shank. The top of the bowl had some damage on the top and inner and outer edge. There were some chips from the briar on the outer edge on the right and the left side. There was a little darkening at the front outer edge. The inner edge had some knife marks on the right side at the top that left damage. The bowl had a very thick cake in the bowl. There was an overflow of lava onto the rim top. The stamping on the top side of the oval shank read JR over HAND MADE. The stamping on the underside read Imported Briar. The black vulcanite stem had light tooth dents and chatter on the top and the underside of the stem. Otherwise it was in very good condition. It was also lightly oxidized. Jeff took two close-up photos of the bowl and rim with different lighting to capture the condition of the pipe pre-cleanup work. The rim top had some lava overflow and a lot of damage to the inner and outer edges of the bowl. The pipe is dirty with thick cake and damage around the beveled rim.He also took photos of the sides of the bowl and shank to show the various grains on the bowl and shank. The first photo shows the large chip out of the top edge of the bowl. It was quite large and deep. Even though there is damage to this pipe the photos also show the rich colour of the stain that makes the grain just pop. The finish is very dirty but this is another beautiful pipe. Jeff took a photo to capture the stamping on the topside of the oval shank. The photo shows stamping JR over HAND MADE. On the underside it reads Imported Briar. The next two photos show the stem surface. There are tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. There is also some wear on the sharp edge of the button. As mentioned before, Jeff and I have developed a pattern of working on the pipes that has become habit to both Jeff and me. I include it here so you have a sense of that pattern. Jeff reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove the lava build up on the rim top and the rim top damage and the damage around the edges – both inner and outer is quite extensive. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. I took close up photos of the bowl and rim top as well as the stem. You can see the condition of the rim top and bowl in the first photo. Jeff was able to remove all of the tar and oils but you can now see the damage to the inner edge of the bowl. The vulcanite stem had tooth chatter and some tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem near and on the button surface.I took photos of the stamping on both sides of the oval shank. You can see that the stamping on both sides was light toward the front of the pipe. It was still readable but faint nonetheless.I decided to address the damage to the rim edges first. I wiped down the outside of the bowl with an alcohol dampened pad and filled in the chipped areas around the edge with clear super glue and briar dust to build up the chips to match the bowl sides.I decided to leave the side repairs for a bit to harden and turned to the rim top. I had to handle the rim repairs a bit differently on this pipe since it had a rim top that was beveled inward. I topped the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper on a topping board to remove the damage to the outer edges of the rim top. I worked the beveled edge to match the outer edge of the bowl and smooth out the transition. I also needed to take care of the inner edge so I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the knife marks there and minimize the damage. I sanded the repairs smooth and blended them into the rest of the bowl. It took a bit of work but soon they were blended in. I would need to stain the bowl repairs but first I want to polish the sanding marks out. I polished the rim top, the edge and exterior of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the rim off after each sanding pad to remove the dust. The damage on the rim edges and top looked really good after polishing. I stained the rim top and bowl sides with a Cherry stain pen. I gave the sanded edges and repairs several coats of stain and let it cure.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the smooth surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little wall 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 reworked rim top looks really good and matches the colour of the rest of the pipe. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. There were some tooth marks on the top and underside at the button that needed to be addressed. I sanded the tooth marks and chatter out of the surface of the stem and shaped the button with 220 grit sandpaper.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish and wiped it down with a last coat of Obsidian Oil. With this second JR Hand Made pipes from the Nampa, Idaho auction I am even more certain that there is some connection to the House of Robertson Pipe Shop in Boise, Idaho. Even with the fills and the repairs to the pipe this is another nice pipe. The two of the four JR Hand Made pipes that I have to restore are really well made and shaped. The stain job was done to highlight the mix of grain on the bowl. I polished stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I 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. The contrasting grain really began to stand out; it seemed to take on life with the buffing. The rich contrasting brown colour works well with the polished black vulcanite stem. This finished pipe has a rich look just like the Bulldog and it is also quite catching. Have a look at it in the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. I will be putting this newly finished JR Hand Made Canadian on the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over the second of the foursome from JR Hand Made pipes.