Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe in the queue is another pipe from the batch of pipes I am cleaning up for Alex – this one is a Schoenleber Hand Made – a Canadian with some beautiful grain around what appears to be an oil cured bowl and shank. The entire pipe has some beautiful birdseye grain around the bowl and cross grain on the front and back of the bowl. The pipe does not appear to have been stained but sports the same look as the Malaga pipes that I have been working on. The carver did a great job utilizing the block of briar to maximize the grain. The pipe is stamped on the top side of the shank. It reads Schoenleber over Hand Made. On the underside of the shank it is stamped Imported Briar. On the right side next to the bowl/shank junction there is a number 3 which is either a shape number or size designation. The tapered stem is vulcanite and has no marking or stamping. This is another nice looking piece much like many of the pipes Alex is picking up. There was cake in the bowl and a burn mark on the front inner edge of the bowl and darkening on the rim top. The exterior of the briar was dusty with grime and sticky spots on the shank and bowl. The stem is lightly oxidized and there light tooth chatter on both sides near the button. The photos below tell the story and give a glimpse of the pipe before clean up. I took a photo of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before I started my cleanup work. There was burn damage on the front of the inner edge and top of the rim. There was a thick cake in the bowl. The outer edge of the bowl appeared to be in excellent condition. The stem was in decent condition. There was some light oxidation on the stem. There was also some tooth chatter and marks at the button on both sides of the stem. I also took a photo of top and underside of the shank to show the stamping. The stamping is readable in the photo below and is as noted above – Schoenleber Hand Made. On the underside it reads Imported Briar. There is also a 3 at the shank/bowl junction on the right side.I remember working on a Schoenleber pipe in the past and had a memory of the pipe being made for a shop in the New York area but could not remember much more than that. I quickly googled the brand to see what I could learn and found a link on Pipedia. Here is that link. I quote the article in full (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Schoenleber).
Louis Schoenleber lived in North Arlington N.J. and was an Austrian immigrant and skilled artisan in pipe making. His hand carved pipes were available in his shop, ‘Schoenleber’s Newark Pipe Shop’, at 26 Branford Pl., Newark NJ, thought to open in the 1920’s. Schoenleber’s carried a full line of tobaccos as well as related pipe smoking accessories. It’s thought the shop operated until the late 1960’s, and Louis Schoenleber died in 1976. It’s also fairly certain they may have sold to other brands such as Jelling, also in Newark and are very similar in design and finish.
There was also an advertising card on the site that I have included below. It speaks to my assumptions about the curing process and the finishing process on the pipe. It also connects the pipe to Schoenleber’s Newark Pipe Shop in Newark, N.J. It also has a comment on the fact that pipes were made to order.I started the restoration by reaming the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer using three of the four cutting heads to take the cake back to bare briar. I followed by using a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the remnants of the cake on the walls in the heel. I sanded the inside of the walls with a dowel wrapped with 220 grit sandpaper. I worked on the slight damage to the inner edge of the rim by lightly topping the bowl to remove as much of the damaged rim top as possible without changing the shape. Once it was topped I sanded the inner edge of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to remove the damage and the burned areas. I stained the rim top with a Maple stain pen to match the colour of the rest of the pipe. I scraped the mortise with a dental spatula to remove the hardened tars and oils on the walls. I then scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I also cleaned out the airway in the stem using pipe cleaners and alcohol.I polished the outside of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad to remove the sanding debris. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. With the bowl finished I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth chatter and marks on both sides of the stem. I am happy with the stem surface once that was done. I started the polishing of the surface with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cloth after each pad. I further polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I wiped it down with a coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. With both parts of the pipe finished, I polished the bowl and the 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 rich oil cured finish and the grain came alive with the buffing. The finish on the briar works well with the polished black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is a well-proportioned, nicely grained classic Canadian. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This Schoenleber Hand Made Shop pipe will be going back to Alex soon to join his growing collection of American made pipes. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on another of Alex’s pipes.