Monthly Archives: June 2019

Restoring a Beautiful Bertram Tiger Grain Bulldog 40


Blog by Steve Laug

It you have not read the previous blogs I have posted on this brand give them a read to get some background on the pipes in this lot. If you have not been hit with a box I am sure you have a hard time understanding how overwhelming it feels to look at the 200+ pipes that need to be restored. It is mind boggling for sure – but there is only one way to move ahead – 1 pipe at a time. I could not do it without Jeff’s help doing the clean up on the lot. If I had to do it all by myself it would be more than I handle moving through this many pipes. From his cleaned pipes I get to choose what I want to work on. Doing the work this way we have already cleaned about 70 pipes and I have restored around 40 of them. We are getting there slowly but surely.

This time I chose another Bertram Bulldog to work on. It has a diamond shank and a diamond saddle vulcanite stem. It has grade 40 number stamped on the left underside of the shank. The briar has some really interesting grain – almost tiger grain. It is beautiful. The exterior of the bowl looked good. Unlike the previous Bulldog this one either has no fills or they are well place and hidden. The bowl had a thick cake in the chamber with shards of tobacco stuck to the walls. The rim top had some darkening all around the bowl and thick lava overflow on the back top. It was hard to know what the inner edge of the bowl edge of the bowl looked like until the cake and lava were gone. The stem had some oxidation and tooth marks and chatter near the button on both sides. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he began his cleanup work on it. Jeff took close-up photos of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe when it arrived. The rim top had a thick coat of lava and the bowl had a thick cake. You can see from the photos why it was hard to tell the condition of the inner edge of the rim.The picture of the bowl sides and the heel give a clear picture of the grain around the heel and the sides of the bowl. The bowl looks very good – maybe a small fill on the bottom right side of the bowl but cleaning will tell for sure. I am looking forward to seeing what is under all of the grime. The grain looks very interesting in these pictures and should look amazing when cleaned and polished.The next photos capture the stamping on the left side of the shank. You can see the Bertram Washington, D.C. stamp on the upper left side of the diamond shank and the grade 40 stamp on the left underside of the shank.The next two photos show the stem surface. They show the calcification, oxidation and the chatter on both sides near the button. There are light tooth marks on the stem near the button. There is some wear on the button edge.With each of the blogs that I have written on the Bertrams that I have worked on I have included the following information. If you have read it in past blogs, you can skip over it. If you have not, I have included the link to Bertram history and information. I would recommend that if you don’t know much about them take some time to read the background. I include a link to the write up on Pipedia (http://pipedia.org/wiki/Bertram). Bertram pipes were based out of Washington DC. They were popular among famous politicians and celebrities of the time. They made many products for them from FDR’s cigarette holders to Joseph Stalin’s favorite pipe. They were considered some of the best America had to offer till they finally closed their doors in the 70s. Bertram graded their pipes by 10s and sometimes with a 5 added (15, 25, 55 etc.), the higher the grade the better. Above 60s are uncommon and 80-90s are quite rare. I have worked on one 120 Grade billiard. I have several blogs that I have written on rebornpipes that give some history and background to Bertram pipes. (https://rebornpipes.com/2015/06/16/an-easy-restoration-of-a-bertram-grade-60-217-poker/).

I have included the following link to give a bit of historical information on the pipe company. It is a well written article that gives a glimpse of the heart of the company. http://www.streetsofwashington.com/2012/01/bertrams-pipe-shop-on-14th-street.html#

From this information I learned that all of these Bertrams were made before the closure of the shop in the 1970s. This Bertram Bulldog is the first of this squat Bulldog style that I have worked on. This pipe has a grade 40 which I think is a reflection on the beautiful grain.

Jeff is methodical in his cleaning regimen and rarely varies the process. He 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 lava build up on the rim top and you could see the great condition of the beveled rim top and edges of the bowl. 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 a close up photo of the rim top to show the condition of the bowl and rim after Jeff had cleaned up the grime and lava. Without the lava the rim looked very good with some darkening at the rear. The inner edge was a little rough on the back edge; otherwise it was in great condition. The stem photos show that the light oxidation is gone. The stem is in excellent condition with some light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.I took photos of the stamping to show how it looked after the cleanup. The Bertram Washington DC is clear and readable though a bit faded on the right side of the stamp. The Grade 40 stamp is deep and clear.I cleaned up the darkening on the rim and smoothed out the damage on the back inner edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I cleaned up the sanding marks with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. The first photo shows the rim when I started. The second shows the clean up of the inner edge and the darkening on the rim top. The third photo shows the finished rim top. I polished the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the sanding debris. The grain began to stand out. After the final sanding pad I hand buffed it with a cotton cloth to raise a shine. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish 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. The Restoration Balm really makes the grain stands out beautifully. The rich tiger grain really pops on this beauty! If you have not tried some why not give it a try. I sanded out the small tooth marks and chatter next to the button on both sides of the stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I sanded the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the scratches. I polished it with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish to scrub out the scratches. I wiped it down with some Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I polished out the sanding scratches with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and gave it a final coat and set it aside to dry. Jeff and I are gradually working through this 200+ lot dealing with each of the challenges they present one at a time. This one is Bertram’s take on a classic diamond shank straight Bulldog shape. It has probably the most stunning grain of any of the Bertrams I have worked on. I would call it a tiger grain. I put the stem and bowl back together and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I polished the briar and the minute scratches still in the vulcanite of the stem until there was a rich shine. For a Bertram Grade 40 this pipe is quite stunning. I cannot find any sign of visible fills. It has a saddle stem on a diamond shank. The finish really has some interesting grain on a proportionally well carved pipe. Once I buffed the pipe the briar came alive and the swirling tiger grain popped with polishing. The black vulcanite stem had a rich glow. The finished pipe is well shaped Bulldog. This is another Bertram that feels great in the hand sits right in the mouth. Have a look at the finished pipe in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 3/4 inches, Height: 1 1/2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This is one that will stay with me for a while. The grain is captivating. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as it was a pleasure to work on.

What Is It About A Preben?


Blog by Norman Skiba

For 50 years now I have been enjoying and observing that there is something special and magical about Preben Holm pipes. I have always loved his pipes.  Looking back, I can say that I have owned more Preben Holm pipes than any other pipe maker – period.  Overall, they are unique; some wild and some are quite tame and reserved, by his standards.

To me – there is something that I have struggled, and still fail, to describe regarding the overall smoking experience of a Preben Holm pipe.  I have mostly had fine to superb smoking Preben’s, and I have had a few that were ok, and also a few rare ones that just had issues: predominantly a bad gurgling.  Yet even the few bad or not-so-good ones all had this Quality and taste and smoking experience across the board with the best of them.  There is a consistency there that I struggle to explain.  This character/taste/sensory experience that makes it a Preben.  After a week of straight meerschaum smoking I had a bowl this morning in a Preben and it was marvelous.  I look forward to another bowl out of the Preben tomorrow before I head out to the top vineyard to get my nets on.  (I did the side vineyard after the bowl this morning.)  So, again, these experiences make me wonder and question just what it is that makes the Preben’s so unique?  What is it about the nature of the briar he uses that are so different and special unlike any other pipe maker.   And no, I am not just talking about Danish pipe makers.  I mean all others that I have ever smoked or owned.  There is something about his pipes that make me still love the pipe and pipe smoking (with my favorite tobacco as a partner in all of this), and briar.  After all of these years I still cannot put my finger on that special dynamic.  Yet I am in awe when I light up one of his pipes.  They are not only beautiful in so many ways; but they smoke so sweetly and with a subtlety to them.  So, what is it about a Preben?

Restoring a Beautiful Bertram Long Shank Bulldog 20


Blog by Steve Laug

It you have not read the previous blogs I have posted on this brand give them a read to get some background on the pipes in this lot. If you have not been hit with a box I am sure you have a hard time understanding how overwhelming it feels to look at the 200+ pipes that need to be restored. It is mind boggling for sure – but there is only one way to move ahead – 1 pipe at a time. I could not do it without Jeff’s help doing the clean up on the lot. If I had to do it all by myself it would be more than I handle moving through this many pipes. From his cleaned pipes I get to choose what I want to work on. Doing the work this way we have already cleaned about 70 pipes and I have restored around 38 of them. We are getting there slowly but surely.

This time I chose a Bertram Bulldog to work on. It has a long, diamond shank and a diamond saddle vulcanite stem. It has grade 20 number stamped on the left underside of the shank. The briar has a mix of grains – straight, flame and birdseye. The exterior of the bowl looked really good. There was on large fill on the left underside of the shank near the bowl/shank junction that was chipped and rough. The bowl had cake in the chamber and the rim top had some darkening and lava overflow. It was hard to know what the inner edge of the bowl edge of the bowl looked like until the cake and lava were gone. The stem had some oxidation and tooth marks and chatter near the button on both sides. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he began his cleanup Jeff took close-up photos of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe when it arrived. The rim top had a thick coat of lava and the bowl had a thick cake. You can see from the photos why it was hard to tell the condition of the inner edge of the rim.The pictures of the bowl sides and the heel give a clear picture of the grain around the heel and the sides of the bowl. Other than the one obvious large fill the bowl looks very good. I am looking forward to seeing what is under all of the grime. The large fill /flaw is visible in the second photo below. I have circled it in red so it easy to identify. The next photos capture the stamping on the left side of the shank. You can see the Bertram Washington, D.C. stamp on the upper left side of the diamond shank and the grade 20 stamp on the left underside of the shank. The photo below captures the nature of the flaw and damaged fill that I had noted above with the red circle. It is on the left underside of the diamond shank.The next two photos show the stem surface. They show the calcification, oxidation and the chatter on both sides near the button. There are light tooth marks on the stem near the button. There is some wear on the button edge.

With each of the blogs that I have written on the Bertrams that I have worked on I have included the following information. If you have read it in past blogs, you can skip over it. If you have not, I have included the link to Bertram history and information. I would recommend that if you don’t know much about them take some time to read the background. I include a link to the write up on Pipedia (http://pipedia.org/wiki/Bertram). Bertram pipes were based out of Washington DC. They were popular among famous politicians and celebrities of the time. They made many products for them from FDR’s cigarette holders to Joseph Stalin’s favorite pipe. They were considered some of the best America had to offer till they finally closed their doors in the 70s. Bertram graded their pipes by 10s and sometimes with a 5 added (15, 25, 55 etc.), the higher the grade the better. Above 60s are uncommon and 80-90s are quite rare. I have worked on one 120 Grade billiard. I have several blogs that I have written on rebornpipes that give some history and background to Bertram pipes. (https://rebornpipes.com/2015/06/16/an-easy-restoration-of-a-bertram-grade-60-217-poker/).

I have included the following link to give a bit of historical information on the pipe company. It is a well written article that gives a glimpse of the heart of the company. http://www.streetsofwashington.com/2012/01/bertrams-pipe-shop-on-14th-street.html#

From this information I learned that all of these Bertrams were made before the closure of the shop in the 1970s. This Bertram Bulldog with a long shank is the first of this style that I have worked on. This pipe has a grade 20 which I am sure takes into account the large fill that is present on the shank.

Jeff is methodical in his cleaning regimen and rarely varies the process. He 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 lava build up on the rim top and you could see the great condition of the beveled rim top and edges of the bowl. 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 a close up photo of the rim top to show the condition of the bowl and rim after Jeff had cleaned up the grime and lava. Without the lava the inward bevel on the rim looked very good with slight darkening at the rear. The inner edge was in great condition. The stem photos show that the light oxidation is gone. The stem is in excellent condition with some light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.I took photos of the stamping to show how it looked after the cleanup. The Bertram Washington, DC is clear and readable as is the Grade stamp 20.The damaged fill/flaw on the underside of the diamond shank was the only significant issue with the pipe. I wiped it down with alcohol on a cotton swab then filled it in with clear super glue. Once the repair had cured I sanded it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. It is fascinating to see that the fill or flaw follows the pattern of the grain perfectly and once it was sanded it blended in well with the grain on that portion of the bowl. I cleaned up the darkening on the rim and smoothed out the damage on the back inner edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I cleaned up the sanding marks with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the sanding debris. The grain began to stand out. After the final sanding pad I hand buffed it with a cotton cloth to raise a shine. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish 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. The Restoration Balm really makes the grain stands out beautifully. If you have not tried some why not give it a try. I sanded out the small tooth marks and chatter next to the button on both sides of the stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I sanded the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the scratches. I polished it with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish to scrub out the scratches. I wiped it down with some Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I polished out the sanding scratches with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and gave it a final coat and set it aside to dry. Jeff and I are gradually working through this 200+ lot dealing with each of the challenges they present one at a time. This one is Bertram’s take on a classic long shank straight Bulldog shape. I put the stem and bowl back together and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I polished the briar and the minute scratches still in the vulcanite of the stem until there was a rich shine. For a Bertram Grade 20 this pipe is quite stunning. I cannot find any sign of visible fills. The grain is sporadic but pretty. It has a saddle stem on a diamond shank. The finish really has some interesting grain on a proportionally well carved pipe. Once I buffed the pipe the briar came alive and the mixture of grain popped with polishing. The black vulcanite stem had a rich glow. The finished pipe is well shaped long shank Bulldog. This Bertram feels great in the hand sits right in the mouth. Have a look at the finished pipe in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. Maybe this shape speaks to you and you want to add it to your collection. If you are interested let me know as I will be adding it to the store soon. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as it was a pleasure to work on.

Restoring a Beautiful Bertram Lumberman 50/25 from the Bertram Lot


Blog by Steve Laug

It you have not read the previous blogs I have posted on this brand give them a read to get some background on the pipes in this lot. If you have not been hit with a box I am sure you have a hard time understanding how overwhelming it feels to look at the 200+ pipes that need to be restored. It is mind boggling for sure – but there is only one way to move ahead – 1 pipe at a time. I could not do it without Jeff’s help doing the clean up on the lot. If I had to do it all by myself it would be more than I handle moving through this many pipes. From his cleaned pipes I get to choose what I want to work on. Doing the work this way we have already cleaned about 70 pipes and I have restored around 38 of them. We are getting there slowly but surely.

This time I chose a Bertram Lumberman to work on. It has a short, round shank and a tapered vulcanite stem. It has grade 50 number stamped on the left side of the shank and crossed out with a 25 stamped over the top. That too has been crossed out and there is a Grade 25 stamped below it on the underside of the shank. The briar has a mix of grains – straight, flame and birdseye. The exterior of the bowl looked really good. The bowl had cake in the chamber and the rim top had some darkening and lava overflow. It was hard to know what the inner edge of the bowl edge of the bowl looked like until the cake and lava were gone. The stem had some oxidation and tooth marks and chatter near the button on both sides. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he began his cleanup work on it. Jeff took close-up photos of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe when it arrived. The rim top had a thick coat of lava and the bowl had a thick cake. You can see from the photos why it was hard to tell the condition of the inner edge of the rim.The pictures of the bowl sides and the heel give a clear picture of the grain around the heel and the sides of the bowl. It was hard to see any fills in the briar. I am not sure why it is restamped with a 25. I am looking forward to seeing what is under all of the grime.The next photos capture the stamping on the left side of the shank. You can see the overstamped grade 50 and 25 over the top on the left side of the shank. You can see that is also crossed out. The second photo shows another 25 stamped below it on the underside of the shank. The next two photos show the stem surface. They show the calcification, oxidation and the chatter on both sides near the button. There are light tooth marks on the stem near the button. There is some wear on the button edge.With each of the blogs that I have written on the Bertrams that I have worked on I have included the following information. If you have read it in past blogs, you can skip over it. If you have not, I have included the link to Bertram history and information. I would recommend that if you don’t know much about them take some time to read the background. I include a link to the write up on Pipedia (http://pipedia.org/wiki/Bertram). Bertram pipes were based out of Washington DC. They were popular among famous politicians and celebrities of the time. They made many products for them from FDR’s cigarette holders to Joseph Stalin’s favorite pipe. They were considered some of the best America had to offer till they finally closed their doors in the 70s. Bertram graded their pipes by 10s and sometimes with a 5 added (15, 25, 55 etc.), the higher the grade the better. Above 60s are uncommon and 80-90s are quite rare. I have since worked on a 120 Grade billiard. I have several blogs that I have written on rebornpipes that give some history and background to Bertram pipes. (https://rebornpipes.com/2015/06/16/an-easy-restoration-of-a-bertram-grade-60-217-poker/).

I have included the following link to give a bit of historical information on the pipe company. It is a well written article that gives a glimpse of the heart of the company. http://www.streetsofwashington.com/2012/01/bertrams-pipe-shop-on-14th-street.html#

From this information I learned that all of these Bertrams were made before the closure of the shop in the 1970s. This Bertram Lumberman is another one of the several that I have worked on from the collection. Here is a link to the blog on another Lumberman I restored. It has a longer shank but is also the same shape (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/06/14/a-bertram-50s-lumberman-pipe-from-the-bertram-lot/). This pipe has a crossed out grade 50 and is marked with a 25 grade stamp. Looking at the grain, I am not sure how Bertram arrived at the quality stamp on this pipe.

Jeff is methodical in his cleaning regimen and rarely varies the process. He 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 lava build up on the rim top and you could see the great condition of the beveled rim top and edges of the bowl. 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 a close up photo of the rim top to show the condition of the bowl and rim after Jeff had cleaned up the grime and lava. Without the lava the inward bevel on the rim looked very good with slight darkening at the rear. The inner edge was in great condition. The stem photos show that the light oxidation is gone. The stem is in excellent condition with some light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.I took photos of the stamping to show how it looked after the cleanup. The Bertram Washington DC is clear and readable as is the overstamped 50/25. The second photo shows the grade 25 stamp on the underside of the shank.I cleaned up the darkening on the rim with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I cleaned up the sanding marks with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the sanding debris. The grain began to stand out. After the final sanding pad I hand buffed it with a cotton cloth to raise a shine. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish 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. The Restoration Balm really makes the grain stands out beautifully. If you have not tried some why not give it a try. I sanded out the small tooth marks and chatter next to the button on both sides of the stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I sanded the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the scratches. I wiped it down with some Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I polished out the sanding scratches with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and gave it a final coat and set it aside to dry. Jeff and I are gradually working through this 200+ lot dealing with each of the challenges they present one at a time. This one is Bertram’s take on a classic Lumberman shape. I put the stem and bowl back together and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I polished the briar and the minute scratches still in the vulcanite of the stem until there was a rich shine. For a Bertram Grade 25 this pipe is quite stunning. I cannot find any sign of visible fills. The grain is sporadic but pretty. It has a tapered stem on a thick shank. The finish really has some interesting grain on a proportionally well carved pipe. Once I buffed the pipe the briar came alive and the mixture of grain popped with polishing. The black vulcanite stem had a rich glow. The finished pipe is well shaped short shank Lumberman. This Bertram feels great in the hand sits right in the mouth. Have a look at the finished pipe in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. Maybe this shape speaks to you and you want to add it to your collection. If you are interested let me know as I will be adding it to the store soon. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as it was a pleasure to work on.

Breathing Life into a Knute of Denmark Freehand


Blog by Steve Laug

I chose the next pipe to work on from some that Jeff and I recently purchased from a guy in Illinois. There were some nice pipes in the assortment from a variety of ranges. The pipe on my worktable comes from that collection. This one is a beautifully grained Knute Freehand with a turned vulcanite stem. The rim top and shank end are plateau and have been selectively darkened in the grooves and valleys. The shape follows the grain of the block of briar very well. It is stamped on the underside of the shank Knute of Denmark. There is no other stamping on the pipe. The pipe is shaped to sit nicely on a desk or table top. The stem is stamped with a Crown over the letter K on the top. The pipe was very dirty with a thick cake in the bowl and some lava overflowing on to the plateau rim top. It was hard to know what the inner edge of the rim looked like because of the lava and cake. Other than being dirty the finish appeared to be in good condition. The stem was oxidized and had come calcification where a pipe Softee bit had been. There was some tooth chatter and marks on both sides of the stem at the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started working on it so I could see what he was dealing with. He took photos of the rim top to show the thick cake in the bowl and the overflow of lava. The cake is thick and hard and the lava overflows into the plateau. The bowl is a real mess but it must have been a great smoking pipe. He also took a photo of the dusty plateau at the shank end. The next photos show the sides and heel of the bowl to give a clear picture of the beauty of the grain around the bowl of the pipe. Under the grime there is some great grain peeking through. Jeff took a photo of the stamping to capture the clarity of it even under the grime. The stamping reads Knute in script over of Denmark running horizontally along the underside of the shank.The stem looked dirty and oxidized with the calcification left behind by a pipe Softee bit. The bite marks and tooth chatter on the stem was light and should not take too much work to remedy. The Crown over K logo looked good at this point. Hopefully the cleanup will preserve it well. Before I started my work on the pipe I wanted to remind myself of the provenance of the pipe. I remembered that it was linked to Karl Erik as the earlier pipe I worked on was. I wanted to know where this pipe fit into the Karl Erik lines so I turned to the first of two sites that I always check to gather information on a brand. I turned first to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Erik). There it is clearly identified and linked to Karl Erik Ottendahl. It is designated as a second and frequently having rustication. For some reason this beauty does not have any rustication and it is a great piece of briar.

I turned to the second information site – Pipephil’s (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-k3.html) got a quick overview on the brand once again connecting it to Karl Erik.Pipedia also had this great picture of Karl Erik Ottendahl and I decided to include it here as a reminder of the artisan who first carved and released this pipe. Reminded of the tie to Karl Erik I knew a bit about the pipe at hand. I turned to address the pipe itself. Jeff cleaned up the pipe for me. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to clean off the grime off the finish and the heavy overflow of lava on the rim top. The cleaning had removed some of the black stain on the rim top. He cleaned up the internals of the shank, mortise and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove all of the oils and tars in the pipe. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and was able to remove much of the oxidation. When it arrived here in Vancouver it was a clean pipe and I knew what I had to work with. I took photos of it before I started my part of the restoration. I took photos of the rim top and the stem to show their condition once it arrived in Canada. Jeff was able to clean up the incredibly thick cake and lava overflow that was shown in the rim and bowl photos above. The plateau and the inner bevel to the rim look really amazing. He was also able to get rid of the grime and grit in the surface of the briar. The rim top and edges looked very good. The stem looked very good and was much cleaner. There was light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. The white paint in the stamping had been removed by the soak and cleaning but the stamp was still good so I could repaint it.I have noticed on some repairs that folks don’t pay much attention to the stamping when they are restoring a pipe. To me this is a critical part of the restoration to leave undamaged as it is the only link we have to who made the pipe. I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank to show that it was very readable and undamaged by the cleanup work.There was a small cut in the briar on the right side of the bowl mid bowl that I would take care of first. I filled in the cut with a small drop of super glue. Once it cured I sanded it out with a worn piece of 220 grit sandpaper and polished the scratches left behind with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I started polishing the briar with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. The bowl began to take on a rich shine and grain was beginning to stand out. I wet sanded with all of the pads and wiped the bowl down after each pad with a soft cloth. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the finish on the bowl and shank. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I worked it in with my fingers to get it into the briar. I used a horsehair shoe brush to work it into the plateau top and shank end.  After it sat for a little while I wiped it off and buffed it with a soft cloth. The briar really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. It is a beautiful bowl. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem at this point in the process. I sanded tooth chatter and the remaining oxidation on the stem with folded pieces of 220 to remove the marks and the light brown colouration on the stem surface. I sanded them with 400 grit sandpaper until the marks were gone and the oxidation was gone. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil. I rubbed the stem down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish and a cotton pad to remove remnants of oxidation and to further blend in the sanding. The stem was showing some promise at this point in the process. I used a liquid paper to touch up the stamping on the top side of the fancy saddle stem. I rubbed it into the stamp and set it aside to dry. I polished off the excess white product and left the remainder in the stamp itself.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I used the Before & After Pipe Polish to remove the small minute scratches left in the vulcanite even after the micromesh regimen. I finished by wiping the stem down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the pipe and took the pipe to the buffer. I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish the briar and the vulcanite. Blue Diamond does a great job on the smaller scratches that remain in both. 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 really nicely with a great contrasting stain look to the briar. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is a beautiful Karl Eric Freehand – the fancy turned stem and plateau shank end give the pipe a great look. The polished black vulcanite stem looks really good with the rich browns standing out in the grain. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 1/2 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This is another pipe that I will be putting it on the rebornpipes online store shortly, if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on this beauty!

Rejuvenating a Nording Danmark F Freehand


Blog by Steve Laug

It was time to turn back to one of the pipes that Jeff and I recently purchased. We bought some pipes from a guy in Pennsylvania. There were some nice pipes in the assortment from a variety of ranges. The next pipe on my worktable comes from that collection. This one is a straight, thin shank Freehand with a quality vulcanite stem. The rim top is plateau and is stained black. The shape follows the grain of the block of briar very well. It is stamped on the underside of the shank F over NORDING over DANMARK near the stem shank union. There is no other stamping on the pipe. The stem does not have the expected Nording N anywhere on the sides or top. The pipe was very dirty with a thick cake in the bowl and some lava overflowing on to the plateau rim top. It was hard to know what the inner edge of the rim looked like because of the lava and cake. Other than being dirty the finish appeared to be in good condition. The stem was lightly oxidized and had come calcification where a pipe Softee bit had been. There was some light tooth chatter and tooth marks on both sides of the stem at the button. I have included the photos that the seller sent to me – the entire pipe and also of the stamping. I am including them to give an idea of what Jeff and I saw when we were deciding to purchase the pipe. We had the pipe lot shipped to Jeff in Idaho so he could do the cleanup on them for me. He took photos of the pipe before he started working on it so I could see what he was dealing with. I am including those now. He took a photo of the rim top to show the thick cake in the bowl and the overflow of lava. The cake is thick and hard and the lava overflow is in the plateau. The bowl is a real mess but it must have been a great smoking pipe.The next photos show the sides and heel of the bowl to give a clear picture of the beauty of the grain around the bowl of the pipe. Under the grime there is some great grain peeking through. Jeff took photos of the stamping to capture the clarity of it even under the grime. The stamping is faint but readable. Holding the pipe stem down the stamping is F over NORDING over DANMARK.The stem looked dirty and oxidized with the calcification left behind by a pipe Softee bit. The bite marks and tooth chatter on the stem was light and should not take too much work to remedy. The light oxidation was another issue that would need to be addressed.Before I started my work on the pipe I wanted to learn more about where this pipe fit into the Nording lines so I turned to the first of two sites that I always check to gather information on a brand. I turned first to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/N%C3%B8rding). Nording’s were exclusively freehand shapes, graded from A, B, C, D, up to its highest grade, extra. Later an “F” grade was added—less expensive than the “A.” I could find no other information on the rest of the stamping on the pipe.

I did find a great collage of photos of Erik Nording.I turned to the second information site – Pipephil’s (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-n2.html) did not find any more helpful information on the Nording Danmark stamp.

Armed with the information on the F stamp being added at a later time I knew a bit about the pipe at hand. I turned to address the pipe itself. Jeff cleaned up the pipe for me. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to clean off the grime off the finish and the heavy overflow of lava on the rim top. The cleaning had removed some of the black stain on the rim top. He cleaned up the internals of the shank, mortise and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove all of the oils and tars in the pipe. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and was able to remove much of the oxidation. When it arrived here in Vancouver it was a clean pipe and I knew what I had to work with. I took photos of it before I started my part of the restoration. I took photos of the rim top and the stem to show their condition once it arrived in Canada. Jeff was able to clean up the incredibly thick cake and lava overflow that was shown in the rim and bowl photos above. You can see the spots where the black stain had been removed from the plateau top. He was also able to get rid of the grime and grit in the surface of the briar. The inner edge of the bowl was in very good condition and was smooth to the touch. There appears to be some roughening at the back of the inner edge but it is actually part of the plateau. The rest of the rim top and edges looked very good. The stem looked very good and was much cleaner. There was light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.I decided to start with polishing the briar with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. The bowl began to take on a rich shine and grain was beginning to stand out. I paused in the polishing with micromesh pads after using the 1500-2400 grit pads. I used a Black Sharpie pen to touch up the black plateau top. It did not take too much work to get it looking like new.I went back to polishing the briar with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wet sanded with all of the pads and wiped the bowl down after each pad with a soft cloth. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the finish on the bowl and shank. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I worked it in with my fingers to get it into the briar. I used a horsehair shoe brush to work it into the plateau top.  After it sat for a little while I wiped it off and buffed it with a soft cloth. The briar really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. It is a beautiful bowl. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem at this point in the process. The more I work on the stem I believe it is a replacement stem. I don’t think I will ever be sure but it is just a feeling I have about it. It is a well done replacement if it is one. I sanded tooth chatter and the remaining oxidation on the stem with folded pieces of 220 to remove the marks and the light brown colouration on the stem surface. I sanded them with 400 grit sandpaper until the marks were gone and the oxidation was gone. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil. I rubbed the stem down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish and a cotton pad to remove remnants of oxidation and to further blend in the sanding. The stem was showing some promise at this point in the process. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I used the Before & After Pipe Polish to remove the small minute scratches left in the vulcanite even after the micromesh regimen. I finished by wiping the stem down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the pipe and took the pipe to the buffer. I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish the briar and the vulcanite. Blue Diamond does a great job on the smaller scratches that remain in both. 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 really nicely with a great contrasting stain look to the briar. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is a unique Nording for me – the thin stem and straight shank give the pipe a different look. The polished black vulcanite stem looks really good with the reds and blacks standing out in the grain. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 1/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 5/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This is another pipe that I will be putting it on the rebornpipes online store shortly, if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on this beauty!

Three Centuries of GBD


By Al Jones

Well, what we have are is not three centuries of GBD, since the brand has only been around since 1850 (per Pipedia), but rather three, “Century” finish GBD’s – in the shapes of 9456, 9438 and 529. I’m a huge fan of the 9438 and already own a Century finish in that shape. The 9456 is pretty common but the 529 – that was a shape I had not seen or handled before. It’s a beautiful little bent Apple with a tapered stem. It reminds of the Sasieni Regent shape.

According to Pipepedia and the old Jerry Hannah GBD page, the Century finish was introduced in 1950, to celebrate the first 100 years of the brand. I have a 1950’s GBD catalog scan but it doesn’t show this finish. So, its unknown as to the actual introduction date, or how long it was the Century finish offered. If anyone has a catalog page featuring this finish, I’d love a copy. The finish also came in “Century Matte”, and I’ve featured a Century Matt pipe on this blog previously. I don’t find much difference between the two finish. Both have appear to have a matte or satin finish and a very light tan stain. Fortunately, no stain touch was required on any of this group, which would have been a bit tricky to match.

All three of these pipes were in great shape, with the typical bowl top build-up and oxidation on the stem. I worked on them as a group and none presented any particular challenge. The tapered stem 529 was the easiest to complete. All three had excellent nomenclature stamping.

I reamed the slight cake out of each bowl and used some 320 sandpaper to get the bowl back close to the original wood. All three were in excellent condition. A worn piece of Scotchbrite was used to remove the bowl-top buildup, which didn’t damage the finish. The pipes were then soaked in sea salt and alcohol. After the bowl soak, the stems was mounted and I used 800, 1500, and 2000 grade wet paper to remove the very light oxidation. Next up was 8000 and 12000 grade micromesh sheets. The stems were then polished by machine with White Diamond and Meguiars Plastic Polish. The bowls were buffed lightly with White Diamond and Carnuba wax.

Below are the before and after pictures of each pipe.

9456 – Bent Billard with Saddle stem

Before

After

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529 – Bent Apple with Tapered Stem

Before

After

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9438 – Rhodesian with Saddle Stem

Before

After

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Restoring Jennifer’s Dad’s Champ of Denmark 4 Freehand


Blog by Steve Laug

I decided to change things up a bit and work on a few more of Jennifer’s Dad’s pipes. I just posted the finished Sasieni Four Dot Walnut “Appleby” M apple on the blog. For the next pipe from the estate of George Rex Leghorn I have chosen a nicely shaped Champ of Denmark Freehand. You may not have read about this estate before, so I will retell the story. I received an email from Jennifer who is a little older than my 64+ years about whether I would be interested in her Dad’s pipes. My brother Jeff and I have been picking up a few estates here and there, so I was interested. Here is the catch – she did not want to sell them to me but to give them to me to clean up, restore and resell. The only requirement she had was that we give a portion of the sales of the pipes to a charity serving women and children. We talked about the organization I work for that deals with trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and their children and she decided that would be a great way to carry on the charitable aspect of her Dad’s character. With some great conversation back and forth she sent the pipes to Jeff and he started the cleanup process on them. Once he had finished cleaning them all he sent them to me to do my work on them.

The Champ of Denmark pipe is stamped on the underside of the shank CHAMP over of Denmark and below that is the number 4. It came to us with a broken stem and the tenon stuck in the shank. The beautiful straight and flame grain around the bowl and up the shank is visible through the very thick coat of grime. It seemed like it had a dark stain but hard to tell. There were oil stains from George’s hands on both sides of the bowl obscuring the grain. It was so dirty that it was hard to see the colour well. There was a thick cake in the bowl and it had overflowed with lava into the plateau on the bowl top and shank end. It was a dirty and tired looking old pipe. The stem was badly oxidized with deep gouges and tooth marks both sides from the button up about 1 inch onto the stem surface. The button was cracked on the topside and tooth marks made it an unlikely candidate for a repair. It had been sitting in boxes for a lot of years and it was time to move ahead with the restoration. Jennifer took photos of the pipes she was sending. I have included two she included from this pipe.When the box arrived from Jennifer, Jeff opened it and took photos of each pipe before he started his cleanup work on them. There were two Champ of Denmark Freehands in the box – both were in bags and both had broken tenons and stems. There is something about classic Danish Freehands that is intriguing and I like working on them. The shapes seem to really capture the flow of the grain on the briar and this is no exception. The briar appeared to be in good condition underneath the grime. The finish looked intact under the grime. The bowl had a thick cake that had hardened with time. The lava overflow on the rim but it could very well have protected the rim from damage. We won’t know what is under it until Jeff had cleaned it off. The stem was irreparably damaged and would need to be replaced. The broken tenon was only one of the problems that led me to the decision that this stem would need to be replaced. (Jeff quickly pulled the broken tenon before he even cleaned the pipe.)Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava build up on the plateau rim top and on the shank end as well. It was thick and hard but hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage. The lava coat looks horrible but it points to a well-used, favourite smoking pipe. George must have enjoyed this old timer and when the tenon broke he must have been frustrated. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish – the grime and grit all over the sides and flat bottom of the bowl. It is a dirty pipe. Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the broken stem showing the scratching, oxidation and deep tooth damage to the stem surface. You can also see the broken tenon (totally fixable by with the other damage I don’t think it is worth it). I looked on the Pipephil site to get a quick overview of the brand. In the back of my mind I remembered a connection to Karl Erik. I could not remember the details of the connection (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-c4.html). I did a screen capture of the section on the brand that was shown on the site. I have included it below.In summary it says that the brand was distributed by Larsen & Stigart a tobacconist in Copenhagen, Denmark. The warehouse had a workshop that had such famous carvers as Soren Eric Andersen, Karl Erik Ottendahl and others.

I turned then to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Champ_of_Denmark) to see if I could get a bit more information. I quote in full from that site:

“Champ of Denmark” were made for and distributed by Larsen & Stigart by Karl Erik Ottendahl. Larsen & Stigart had some indoor carvers at certain times, too (e.g. Søren Eric Andersen) and among other things they managed to supply Dunhill with wild Danish fancy pipes.

In an endnote under the article on Karl Erik (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Erik) I found someo more information. I quote the endnote in full.

¹ It is almost impossible to draw a sharp line between some of these brands… Larsen & Stigart – once a famous Copenhagen pipe shop, now almost forgotten – offered pipes produced by KE stamped “Larsen & Stigart” as well as pipes stamped “Larsen & Stigart” + “Champ of Denmark” or “Larsen & Stigart” + “Shelburne”. Almost needless to say, there are pipes stamped “Champ of Denmark” or “Shelburne” only. And the only reason is inconsistent stamping??? (BTW Larsen & Stigart employed own indoor carvers for approximately one decade – e.g. Søren Eric Andersen. They even managed to supply Dunhill with wild Danish fancy pipes.)

Now I had the verification of the link to Karl Erik Ottendahl. The pipe was most probably made by him for the pipe shop in Copenhagen. Before I get on to cleaning up the pipe I thought I would once again include the tribute that Jennifer wrote to her Dad for the blog. She also sent some photos and an article that her Dad wrote for Jeff and me to be able to get a feel for him. I have included those below. Note in each of them that he is holding a pipe in his left hand. I asked her to also send me an email with a brief tribute to her Dad. Here is her tribute from an email to me.

Steve, I want to thank you again for accepting my dad’s pipes.  They were so much a part of my dad’s life that I could not simply discard them. But as his daughter, I was not about to take up smoking them either. *laughing* I think my dad would like knowing that they will bring pleasure to others.  I know that I do.

I’m not sure what to say about his pipes. I always remember Daddy smoking pipes and cigars.

First a bit about my dad. Though my father, George Rex Leghorn, was American (growing up in Alaska), he managed to join the Canadian Army at the beginning of WWII, but in doing so lost his American citizenship.  He was fortunate to meet a Canadian recruiting officer who told him the alphabet began with “A” and ended with “Zed” not “Zee”, and also told him to say that he was born in a specific town that had all its records destroyed in a fire.  When the US joined the war my dad, and thousands of other Americans who had made the same choice*(see the link below for the article), were given the opportunity to transfer to the US military, and regain their citizenship.

After WWII, my dad, earned his degree at the University of California Berkeley and became a metallurgist. There is even a bit about him on the internet.

He loved taking the family out for a drive, and he smoked his cigars on those trips. (As a child, those were troubling times for my stomach.)

I most remember my father relaxing in his favorite chair with a science fiction book in one hand and a pipe in the other… Sir Walter Raleigh being his favorite tobacco… and the pipes themselves remind me of him in that contented way.  If I interrupted his repose, he’d look up, with a smile on his face, to answer me.

It seemed he smoked his Briarwood pipes the most, though he had others.  At the time, it was only the Briarwood I knew by name because of its distinctive rough shaped bowl.  And it was the Anderson Free Hand Burl Briar, made in Israel, which I chose for his birthday one year, because I thought he might like that particular texture in his hand.

At least two of his pipes, he inherited from his son-in-law, Joe Marino, a retired medical laboratory researcher (my sister Lesley’s late husband)… the long stemmed Jarl (made in Denmark), and the large, white-bowled, Sherlock Holmes style pipe.  I believe Joe had others that went to my dad, but Lesley was only sure about those two.

The Buescher, corncob pipe my older sister Lesley bought for Daddy while on one of her travels around the States.

A note on the spelling of my sister’s name…

My dad met my mother, Regina, during WWII and they married in Omagh, Ireland.  My mother was English and in the military herself.  The English spelling of Lesley is feminine, and Leslie masculine, in the UK… just the opposite of here in the United States.  I guess my mom won out when it came to the spelling of the name.

I’ll send you photos of my dad soon, along with his WWII experience story.

Jennifer

*https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2013/10/22/the_americans_who_died_for_canada_in_wwii.html

I am getting more and more used to Jeff cleaning up the pipes before I work on them. So much so that when I have to clean them it is a real chore! This pipe was a real mess just like the other ones in the collection. I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish was in rough condition with some darkening from oils on both sides of the bowl. The rim top and shank end plateau looked lifeless. Since I was going to replace the stem he cleaned the internals and scrubbed the exterior to keep the box from smelling. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I took photos before I started my part of the work. It is still darkly stained on both sides. I started sanding the bowl before I took photos so the top view shows the sanding dust… I quickly did some photos. At this point I decided to see what I had in terms of a freehand stem that would work with this bowl. I went through my options here and chose one with the approximate shape. It is a little less ornate but I think it will work well when it is cleaned up.I put the stem in the shank and took some photos to get an idea of the look of the pipe with the new stem. I will likely bend it slightly more to match the bowl angles but at the moment it is the same bend as the broken on. I like it! I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show what an amazing job Jeff did in the cleanup of the rim top. Even with the work there was still some hard lava in the plateau area I also took close up photos of the new stem to show condition it was in. It would not take a lot of work – just sanding out the scratches and polishing with micromesh sanding pads.I wiped the underside of the shank down with a cotton pad and alcohol so I could more easily see the stamping. It read as noted above.I started to sand out the inside of the bowl as noted above – a lesson learned from Paresh’s daughter Pavni while I was in India. It soon became apparent that there were some heat fissures in the briar. Fortunately they were not too deep but they were significant on the front and backside of the inner walls of the bowl. I mixed a small batch of JB Weld and used a folded pipe cleaner to fill in the fissures in those areas. I did not coat the entire bowl. Once it had cured I would sand the areas smooth leaving the fill only in the fissures themselves.Once the repair had hardened to touch it was time to continue my work on the bowl. I wanted to scrub the briar with alcohol and see if I could remove some of the oils in the briar on both sides. I also worked over the front and rear of the bowl and the shank. I was able to remove a lot of the darkening oils with the alcohol. I used a dental pick and a brass bristle wire brush to work over the rim top plateau. I was able to clean out the remaining lava and set the rest of the definition of the plateau free. It is a nice looking rim top. I wiped it down with alcohol and then touched up the valleys in the plateau with a black Sharpie pen.I polished the bowl with 1500-2400 grit micromesh to see what the sides looked like. I was not happy with the finished look on the sides of the bowl as it seemed to highlight the darkening on both sides. I was going to have to stain the bowl to try to blend in the darkening on the sides.I decided to use a Tan stain to see what I could do with it. I applied it and flamed it to set it in the grain. I repeated the process until I was happy with the coverage on the bowl. Once the stain had set and the alcohol evaporated I wiped it down with alcohol on cotton pads to make the colour more transparent. I wanted the grain to stand out but still hide the darkening on the sides of the bowl. I was happy with the results so far. Once I polished it with micromesh sanding pads and buffed it with Blue Diamond it would be even more transparent. I polished the bowl and rim with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped it down between pads with a soft cotton cloth. You can see the progress in the shine as you go through the photos. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl and the plateau on the rim top and shank end with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of stain really made the grain stand out. 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. I am very happy with the way the pipe is looking at this point in the process.  With the outside of the bowl finished and the repairs on the inside hardened and cured it was time to smooth out the interior of the bowl. I sanded it with a piece of dowel wrapped with 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to remove the material around the repairs by sanding. I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on a cotton pad to clean up the dust. I mixed up a batch of bowl coating – sour cream and charcoal powder blended together. The mixture dries hard and does not have any residual taste. I put a pipe cleaner in the airway to keep the coating out of it. I coated the bowl with the mixture by painting it on the briar with a folded pipe cleaner. Once the bowl was coated, I set it aside to dry. I will need to wipe off the rim top and externals before waxing the bowl but it is looking very good at this point. I set the bowl aside to allow the bowl coating to cure and turned my attention to the “new” stem. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation followed by 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I rubbed the stem down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish and a cotton pad to remove remnants of oxidation and to further blend in the sanding. The stem was showing some promise at this point in the process. I heated the stem over a candle to soften the vulcanite. When it was softened I bent it over a jar to match the angle that would match the top of the bowl.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I finished by wiping it down with Obsidian Oil after each pad and set it aside to dry. Once the bowl coating had cured I wiped the bowl down with a microfiber cloth and hand wiped off any residual bowl coating on the outside with a damp cotton pad. 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 new darker stain works well to mask the darkening and make the grain really pop. The pipe polished up really well. The polished black vulcanite bit seemed to truly come alive with the buffing. This Freehand  feels great in my hand and it is a sitter as well. It must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it from Jennifer. There should be a lot of life left in this Champ of Denmark by Karl Erik. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 ½ inches, Height: 2 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This is one that will go on the rebornpipes online store shortly. If you want to carry on the pipe trust of George Leghorn let me know. Thank you Jennifer for trusting us with his pipes. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners, we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman.

Reworking a Lucite Stem for a Meerschaum Apple


Blog by Steve Laug

Last week I had lunch with a friend I had not seen for quite some time. Over lunch he showed me a pipe that he wanted me to do some modifications on for him. It was a Pipe of the Year for 2012 from an online Pipe Forum that we both belonged to – PSU (Pipe Smokers Unlimited). The pipe was made by Altinok in Turkey for the club. It came in a red leatherette covered case with white “satin” lining. The case was made to hold the bowl and both a Churchwarden and a regular stem. It also came with a tamper. My friend has had it since 2012 and finds that though the pipe smokes very well the regular stem was extremely uncomfortable. The button was very thick, the edges very sharp, and the stem ahead of the button was thick and the taper was too abrupt to be comfortable in his mouth. This is exactly the opposite of the Churchwarden stem which had a thin, comfortable button and a longer taper from the button forward. I brought it home from work and took the following photos before I started my work on the pipe. I took the stem off the bowl and took a photo of the stem shape. I circled the areas in red that I was going to work on with the reshaping request. The second photo shows the thickness of the tape on the stem from the side (I circled the area in red). The third photo shows the thickness of the button and the very abrupt angle on the top and bottom surfaces of the button.  The edge of the button was very sharp on the lips and tongue.I removed much of the thickness with my Dremel and sanding drum followed by 220 grit sandpaper. The first photo shows the new profile to the stem. It is much more comfortable and the taper is gentler. The second photo shows the reshaped button. I thinned it down in terms of thickness from top to bottom. I changed the angle of the taper so that it is more of a flat profile looking at it from the end. I polished the vulcanite with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.The next two photos show how I used the 220 sandpaper to spread out the taper and make it less abrupt. I polished it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.Once I had reduced the thickness of the stem, the button and gave it a better taper I polished it with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped it off with a cloth after each pad. The Lucite took on a real shine with each successive buffing pad. I put the stem back on the bowl so I could more easily buff it on the buffing wheel. I polished the stem with Blue Diamond to raise the shine and gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the stem with a clean buffing pad to finish the polishing. My friend did not want me to worry about the bowl so I did nothing to it. I took photos of the finished pipe. The dimensions on the pipe are – Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. Now it is ready to go back to my friend. I am hoping he enjoys the new shape of the stem and that it smokes comfortably for him. Thanks for reading.

Unorthodox Thoughts and Actions on the Care and Waxing of Meerschaums


Blog by Norman Skiba

This is written with all due respect to the late Meerschaum master Fred Bass.  I have tried to read all I could by Fred, and I have learned a lot; however, some things are maybe a bit over the top for me and my life.  His knowledge and skill about caring and reworking meers is also most impressive, and again, way beyond my means and knowledge and needs.  So after recently picking my way through more than half of the stuff I have collected by Fred (writings, thoughts, and comments he has made in relation to others on a smokers forum), I have been pondering as well as observing what I do when smoking and caring for my meers.

At the outset, I must say that I am quite anal about my meers.  I never touch the bowls – hot or cold – and I handle them with an old clean piece of white t-shirt that is multi folded so it is not just single thickness.  When cleaning or filling the pipe I always touch the pipe with this material.  I use as many cleaners as I need depending on the bowl, the pipe, and the fact that my tobacco of choice is a very heavy English Latakia blend.  I use a clean pipe cleaner after the bowl is emptied.  I smoke anywhere from 2-4/5 bowls before they are taken apart for better cleaning. Again it really depends – I am being generous in my 5 bowl total. I usually smoke 2 bowls back-to-back.  Then maybe another bowl or two the next day. I then would clean it.  Between the 2nd and the 3rd bowl I usually run a clean pipe cleaner with the end dipped in vodka to clean the funk out of the stem. Makes the next bowl or 2 a nice smoke – not from the vodka, but from the light cleaning it offers.  A tasty smoke as opposed to a funky off tasting smoke.  I then take the pipe apart and clean it out. After I do a bowl or two in a day I also twist a paper towel into the bowl chamber to wipe out the remnants.  I also do this when I do a good pipe cleaning.  I use regular pipe cleaners and maybe a heavy pipe cleaner for the actual shank along with Q-tips.  I Have never used a shank brush but have thought about getting a few, but after 45 plus years of meers it seems to work for me  the way I have been doing it so why change. As an old deceased friend of mine used to say re: Linux which we both run – ‘If it is not broke then don’t fix it; and if you can’t fix, then don’t break it!’  So once again, this seems to be the original premise behind my thoughts on this little bit of prose.  I never used Everclear even though Fred and others use it – it always seemed to me that a cheap vodka worked nicely, so why change it.

I learned and practiced 45 years ago to hold meers by their stems and not touch them.  I have pondered just handling them in various ways; however, I never made the plunge.  With good waxing they are sticky.  I also am ‘into’ the coloring of the meer.  So why taint it with my fingerprints and smeers.  It makes it tough as an old fart with 30 yrs of crippling arthritis throughout my body and with fingers and hands that are all bent out of shape – literally.  And swollen.  So I am so very careful and have come close to an accident or two.  (I actually dropped a beautiful fine smoking Preben years ago – lucky – no dent at all on the briar, but the stem snapped.  It hit a clump of grass and dirt.  Mike Myers of Walker Pipe Repair did a super job in replacing the stem with a similar or same stem – I do not remember the specifics now – and it also was a very speedy job too.  He expedited the fix for me.)  So they are more fragile as such.  When tamping the tobacco and especially when cleaning the ash and funky tobacco out if that be the case at the end of a bowl – be very careful to not hit the edge of the bowl when tamping or use the edge of the bowl to pry the leftover tobacco out.  I accidentally hit the edge ever so lightly with the tamper on a signed I. Baglan Bacchus I had years ago and a chip was out of the rim.  I cried!  Man I did not want to do that.  I was so upset and eventually just went with the flow.  So – Be Careful!  Aesthetically – that just blows it.  The smoke will still be whatever the smoke was before the nick happened.  Just been there and done that!

In regard to waxing: I do not and never have melted wax and plugged the bowl’s airways and dipped it.  For me; not going there.  I have also read numerous times that wax, and I guess they are all different, have certain flash points that will become flammable.  I am not sure how many people have had such a negative experience, but i do not want to go there either.  Some never apply wax or rarely.  I apply wax quite a bit and as Fred says it becomes a ritual in a sense.  Wax protects the block of meerschaum as well as aiding in the coloring.  CAO in the 1970’s used to sell a whitish wax in a lip balm applicator.  I now use 100% pure beeswax that I get from Mohawk Valley Trading Company in Utica, New York.  https://www.tenonanatche.com/beeswax.htm The olfactory Quality is wonderful and when you apply it to the pipe the aroma is really nice.  I have bought from them 2x and no problems ever.  I used to apply it from the bar; however, I recently read that Fred pours his own and he then cuts the thinner small sheets into diamonds or triangles.  So I recently just randomly cut them into various triangular looking pieces and found that the edges and the pointed areas can aid in applying was to complex carved pieces — like eyes, beards, nooks and crannies, and florals and lattice work unlike the bar. (So you see – an old dog CAN learn a new trick.)  I am glad I read that.  It makes a big difference.  Fred tends to rub off the excess wax and maybe even pick out the excess wax from places; and I have done, and still do the opposite.  I tend to get wax chunks into the eyes and beards etc. and as I smoke and warm the pipe – especially after a couple or few bowls – the wax starts melting and running down into other areas.  I leave what I can and after numerous smokes it soon is absorbed into the block.  Since I smoke Latakia – you do get black particles and dust on certain places on the top of the pipe from filling.  Some gets wiped off with the white cloth and other I just let go.  I may try a soft toothbrush in the future but maybe not.  Fred also uses Everclear on the outside of his meers.  I never have.  But he knows what he is doing, I am just trying to take care and use and enjoy my pipes and be as diligent as I can.  Maybe if I was younger and know what I know now, and had a cheaper pipe to experiment with I would develop more aspects to care and cleaning and maintenance.  But that is the way it goes.  I also have not painted wax on a pipe either.  But as Fred says, on 3D complex lattice pipes that seems to be a good way to apply wax to the intricate hard to get areas.  I also have read about smoking chambers.  Not for me. Why make it more complex?  Smoke the pipe, and clean it, and wax it, and let the pipe color as it is going to color.

Years ago I also heard of blowing the smoke onto the pipe to aid in coloring.  I used to do it, but now I smoke it and that is it!  Lastly – one overlooked aspect of smoking a pipe – briar or meer – is admiring and looking at the piece and studying and taking pleasure on what the pipe maker/carver has offered for your pleasure.  I think many people look at the beauty of a pipe and that is that.  It seems as isolated from the actual smoking experience. Pipe is empty and you like at and admire it.  You purchase it because it is so nice.  Others see it or you show it off and that is just what it is. But it is an isolated experience that is fine as it is, but it is not integrated into the actual art and experience and pleasure of smoking that pipe with your favorite tobacco.

So sit back and light up a bowl and enjoy the complete experience of a pipe. And don’t forget to wax.

Addendum: I wanted to add that I, and Fred also smoke the pipe and apply wax to it as the pipe is smoked and warm. As the pipe warms the wax will become soft and easier to apply, even to the not so warm or colder areas. He also cold waxes it too from what i have read. I have tried it a couple of times but hesitate to do that. At the end of the bowl(s) he empties the ash and residual tobacco and then he uses the warm pipe to keep applying the wax while it still is warm and you can then tip the pipe – clean of ash, etc. – and wax the underside areas of the pipe not easily done while the embers are still in the pipe and burning.