Blog by Steve Laug
Once again I chose to work on another interesting pipe from the Michigan lot – a really nice Knute of Denmark freehand with great grain. The finish on the bowl is smooth around the sides and shank with a patch of rustication on the heel. The rim is plateau and the shank end has a horn extension. It is another totally unique pipe and different from any of the other pipes in the collection. The stamping on the pipe is on the underside of the shank just below the stem/shank extension junction. It reads Knute of Denmark and the stamping is coloured white. Knute of Denmark was a brand carved by Karl Erik and also used by Ben Wade. The stem is fancy turned vulcanite and has some damage around the button area on both sides. This is another nice looking piece much like the rest of those in this 21 pipe Michigan pipe lot. The Knute I am working on now is on cloth at the bottom of the rack. It is the second pipe on the left and I put a red box around it to make it easy to identify.Jeff took some photos of the pipe when he received them to show the general condition of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. Like the rest of the pipes from the Michigan collection this pipe was dirty and well used. There was a thick cake in the bowl and lava overflowing onto the rim top. It was hard to know if the edges of the bowl were damaged or not because of the cake and lava. The flow of the pipe into the long horn shank extension is well done. The horn shank extension has a small split on the right side that extends from the end about ½ inch up the horn following the striations in the horn. The vulcanite stem is oxidized and has some calcification at the button. There are deep tooth marks on both sides of the stem at the button edge and some wear on the button edge itself. There appears to be a small crack or chip on the bottom right side of the button but it is hard to tell. There are also scratches in the vulcanite where it looks like someone scraped off some of the calcification. The photos below tell the story and give a glimpse of the large freehand. Jeff took a close up photo of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. The rim top had some thick lava overflow and some darkening. The thick lava on the rim top made it hard to know what the inner and outer edges of the bowl looked like. There is also a general accumulation of dust in the finish on the rest of the bowl and shank.He also took photo of the right and underside of the bowl and shank to show the interesting grain on the bowl and the rustication on the heel. The finish is very dirty but this is another beautiful pipe.Jeff took a photo to capture the stamping on the underside of the shank. The photo shows stamping as noted above. The stamping on this pipe is clear and readable.The next 3 photos show the stem surface. They show the tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. You can see the chipped areas on the button surface. The stem is dirty, oxidized and has a yellow cast to it. 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 plateau 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 you could see the great condition of the bowl top and edges of the rim. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. I took close up photos of the rim top to show the condition of the plateau and the condition of the stem. The rim top had a washed out appearance and you could see the black stain deep in the crevices of the plateau. It would need to be darkened to be true to the original. The inner edge and the outer edge of the rim look really good. The stem photos show the tooth marks and the damage to the button surface on both sides.With this pipe there were a lot of little issues that needed attention before I could really start polishing and enlivening the bowl and shank. I decided to start with the split in the horn shank extension. It was at the spot where the horn changed from dark brown to a cream colour. I have drawn a box around it in the photo below. In examining the split I could see that it was starting to delaminate at that point. This is one of the draw backs with using horn. As it dries out it can start to split like this one had. I cleaned out the split with a cotton swab and clean water to remove the debris. Fortunately the split was neither deep nor wide so it would be a pretty straight forward repair. I filled in the gap with clear super glue to bind and stabilize the horn stem. Once the repair had cured I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper and 400 grit sandpaper to smooth it out. Polishing it later when I polished the briar would take care of all of the scratches.The second issue I decided to address was the washed out looking rim top. I used a black Sharpie pen to darken in the rest of the plateau. I worked it into the crevices but did not worry about covering all of the plateau. I was good with the spots as they would give some variation once I polished and buffed the rim.With those repairs done I polished the bowl and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped down the bowl and shank with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the dust. The grain really began to pop and the horn took on a beautiful shine. The photos tell the story. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the plateau and the smooth finish of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I also worked the balm into the horn shank extension. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The pipe really looks good at this point. The horn and plateau look like they must have when the pipe was first sold. I am very happy with the results. With the bowl finished I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I cleaned out the tooth marks on both sides of the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol. I filled in the tooth marks and rebuilt the button edges with black super glue. I set the stem aside to let the repairs cure. Once the repairs had cured I used a needle file to flatten out the repaired areas and redefine the edge of the button. I filed it until the patches were smooth with the surface of the stem. I used a folded piece of 240 grit sandpaper to blend the repairs into the surface of the stem. Once the surface was smooth I sanded out the scratch marks and started the polishing of the stem with a folded piece of 400 grit sandpaper. I wiped the stem down with a damp cloth and took the following photos.In the spirit of Dal Stanton, I thought I would add a photo of my study and work table with me polishing the stem and enjoying a bowl of Virginia in a Tinsky Coral finished Rhodesian/Ball shaped pipe and enjoyed it while tackling the stem. As I am relegated to the basement for my work area I have no mountain scenery photos to add! I tip my hat to Dal’s balcony view!I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad and gave it a final coat and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and polished the bowl and stem 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 stain on the bowl made the grain just pipe on the briar. The polished horn and black vulcanite seemed to truly come alive with the buffing. The finished pipe is a beautiful freehand that has some resemblance to Ben Wade pipes but also the unique look of a Karl Erik. It is large and feels great in the hand. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 7 inches, Height: 2 1/2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 1 inch. I will be putting this one on the rebornpipes store sometime in the days ahead. It may well be the kind of freehand you have been looking for. Let me know if you are interested. Thanks for walking through the restoration of this with me it was a pleasure to work on.