Blog by Dal Stanton
I acquired this Silver Match Toronto from what I have called, the ‘French Lot of 50’. It was on the French eBay auction block and I was fortunate enough to have the winning bid. When the Lot arrived here in Bulgaria from France, I unpacked it, took pictures of each pipe and posted them in the ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!’ collection for potential new stewards to find and commission. I have already restored many treasures in this French Lot of 50 for new stewards. Robert saw the Silver Match Toronto 115 Squat Lumberman in the ‘Dreamers Only!’ collection and wrote me about commissioning it. In my interchanges with Robert describing the pipe and what was involved in commissioning it, he wrote this in response:
Dal I’m still interested in commissioning the lumberman pipe and I’m in no rush. My wife and I just had a baby he just turned 1 week old! I found out about your restorations on Facebook on The Gentleman’s Pipe Smoking Society. Thanks for returning my email and I can’t wait to see the outcome of this little pipe!
I also found out that he and his family reside in central Virginia and when we were writing, it was getting ready to snow where he lived! Well, that was last November, and it has taken this long for Robert’s Lumberman to work its way up the queue and I’m thankful for Robert’s patience! – As well as all the stewards who commission pipes which benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited. Here’s a picture of the original Lot of 50 in the ‘wild’ that I saw on eBay – the Lumberman it identified with an arrow.Now with Robert’s commission on my worktable, I take more pictures to show this smart squat Lumberman – I call it ‘Squat’ but the bowl is large and will handle a nice packing of one’s favorite blend. The nomenclature is stamped on the upper and lower sides of the oval stem. On the upper is stamped ‘SILVER MATCH’ [over] ‘TORONTO’. The lower shank bears what I’m assuming to be a shape number: ‘115’. The stem is also stamped with a design which I assume is the flame of a match being depicted – my best guess at this point, but I’m not sure! The information about the Silver Match name is thin. A quick search on the internet shows that Silver Match has been the name of tobacco accessories manufacturer since the 1800s, but mainly of lighters. Silver Match lighters seem to be highly collectable with vintage lighters dating back to the 1800s but most listed that I saw have a French origin. The only information in Pipedia refers to Silver Match in the list of British pipe makers as an inexpensive brand sold by Roy Tallent Ltd., and marked with the stamping SM (LINK). This is confirmed in my copy of Wilczak & Colwell’s, ‘Who Made That Pipe?’ that Silver Match has English origins and manufactured by Roy Tallent LTD/S’Elite LTD – both of which seem more to be in the accessories market than focusing on the manufacturing of pipes. Pipephil.eu (LINK) brings these two together in the following panel. It pictures pipes distributed by the famous lighter brand, Silver Match, but shows the two different stem stampings that may indicate either French or British manufacturing – the flame (French) and the SM (England). If this is correct, the Silver Match Toronto 115 has a French origin, but I found no other information to corroborate this. Arriving from France in my ‘French Lot of 50’ is anecdotal evidence perhaps supporting this.I’m calling this Silver Match a ‘Squat’ Lumberman because he meets all the qualifications of his place in the Canadian family with the oval shank, but he’s on the shorter side but I’m impressed with the nice ample bowl. I did look at both French and British made shape charts to see if I could discover a lead on who produced the Silver Match but found no matches with 115 that provided this information.
I can see some nice briar underneath the thick layer of grime over the briar surface, but I see one large fill that will need attention on the lower shank near the shape number. The cake is thick in the chamber with corresponding lava covering the rim. The stem has oxidation and the button is chipped and will need to be rebuilt. With this inventory of the challenges this Silver Match Toronto Lumberman faces, I start the restoration by adding the oxidized stem to a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer along with other pipes in the queue. I first clean the airway with a pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95%. After several hours I fish the Silver Match stem out of the Deoxidizer and use a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to wipe off the raised oxidation. I also run another pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95% through the stem to clean the Deoxidizer remaining in the airway.The Before & After Deoxidizer does a good job and it preserves the white in the Silver Match stem stamp logo – I still can’t figure out for sure what it’s depicting! I follow by applying paraffin oil to the stem to begin the rejuvenation process. I put the stem aside to dry and absorb the oil. Next, I address the very thick cake in the chamber. The chamber is almost closed off as the cake angles down the chamber. Using the Pipnet Reaming Kit, starting with the smallest blade head, I use 2 blades of the 4 available to me. I follow the reaming by using the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to further scrape and clean out the carbon build-up. Finally, I sand the chamber after wrapping a piece of 240 grade paper around a sharpie pen to give me reach and leverage. To remove the carbon dust, I wipe the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%. After the cleaning, I inspect the chamber and it doesn’t have any cracks and fissures from heating damage. It looks good!Next, I continue the cleaning by using undiluted Murphy’s Soap on the external surface using a cotton pad to scrub. I also use a Winchester blade to scrape the rim addressing the thick lava you can see in the picture above. I also use a brass wire brush on the rim which doesn’t damage the briar. After being in India, I learned about some of Jeff Laug’s (Steve’s brother) cleaning techniques and I decide to employ some of them. After cleaning the stummel with Murphy’s, I take the stummel to the sink and clean the external surface with a bristled toothbrush with regular dish soap – the kind that is anti-oil. I also use shank brushes to clean the mortise with the dish soap and warm water. After rinsing well, I dry the stummel with a cloth. It came out well.As I observed earlier, there is a very large fill on the underside of the shank. As expected, the cleaning of the stummel softens the old fill material and most of it fell out with the cleaning. Using a sharp dental probe, I continued to excavate the material from the hole to clean it.Addressing the internals, I now use cotton buds, pipe cleaners, shank brushes and a dental spatula to scrape the mortise wall. Using my tools to clean takes a bit of effort, but after some time, the buds started coming out lighter. Later I will give the internals a further cleaning using a kosher salt and alcohol soak.Next, I patch the huge crater on the shank. After I make sure all the old fill material has been removed, I clean the hole with alcohol. In the recent trip to India I discovered that there was some mild controversy around my method for filling holes using a putty created by mixing CA glue and briar dust. Both Steve and Paresh said that they could not duplicate what I’ve been doing for some time – mixing the two components and creating a putty that remained supple. What they experienced was the CA glue instantaneously solidifying when it touched the briar dust. We discussed many different possible factors that would cause this difference in results – elevation, kind of glue, etc. Another possible difference I suggested was that when I used an index card as a mixing platform, I would first cover the card with a strip of packing tape so that the glue would not be absorbed into the paper – which may, if it did absorb, cause the CA to solidify more rapidly. Both Steve and Paresh were mixing on an index card surface without the tape. I don’t know if they’ve had better results yet! I decide to use a plastic lid as my new mixing platform. You can see that I also put some scotch tape down so that I can clean easily. I place briar dust on the tape and add BSI Extra Thick Max-Cure CA glue.I gradually pull briar dust into the puddle of CA glue and mix it with a toothpick. I don’t overwhelm the glue with a lot of briar dust but gradually mix more in.As you can see, the CA is not solidifying as I add more.When the resulting mixture thickens to that of molasses, I use the toothpick and trowel the putty to the shank and fill the huge hole. After filled, I put the stummel aside to allow the briar dust putty to cure.With the hour becoming late, I further advance the internal cleaning with a kosher salt and alcohol soak. The patch on the shank has set up sufficiently. I fashion a ‘mortise wick’ using a cotton ball. I stretch and twist the cotton until it creates a wick that will serve to draw out the tars and oils from the mortise. I stuff the wick down the mortise with the help of a stiff wire. After placing the stummel in a egg carton for stability, I fill the bowl with kosher salt which doesn’t leave an aftertaste as does iodized salt. I then add isopropyl 95% to the bowl until it surfaces over the salt. After a few minutes, the alcohol absorbs, and I top off with some additional alcohol and then put the stummel aside to soak through the night. The next morning, I see what I was hoping to see. The salt has soiled and after I draw out the wick it shows that it has continued the internal cleaning process of drawing out the tars and oils. After thumping and dumping the expended salt in the waste, I wipe the bowl with a paper towel and blow through the mortise to remove the salt crystals.I follow with a pipe cleaner and cotton bud wetted with isopropyl 95% to clean residue left behind after the soak. I find that the internals are clean and refreshed for the new steward. I move on!The crater fill on the lower side of the Lumberman shank has cured, and I begin the process of removing the excess briar putty using a flat needle file. I file the mound down almost to the briar surface and then I switch to sanding with 240 grade paper to bring the patch flush with the briar surface. As is often the case, from the picture above, you can see the air pockets left in the sanded patch material. To blend this, I touch up the patch with a dye stick after sanding the patch further using 600 grade paper.Turning now to the rim, the front and sides of the rounded rim have been skinned up a good bit which the following two pictures show. I use 240 grade paper on the rim and go with the rounded rim flow and sand out the roughened areas around the rim. I follow the rim sanding using sanding sponges over the entire stummel, including the rim. I use a coarse sponge, followed by a medium sponge and finish with a fine sanding sponge. The briar on this Silver Match Toronto is expressive and It’s coming out nicely with the sanding. After the sponge sanding, I identify a pit on the lower left side of the bowl. I decide to apply a clear CA glue patch to fill this pit. After cleaning this area with alcohol, I blacken in the pit using a fine point Sharpie Pen then apply a drop of regular clear CA glue and set the stummel aside for the glue to cure. Not long after, the CA glue cures and I file the patch with a flat needle file followed by 240 and 600 grade papers. The result of this quick patch looks good.Waiting in the wings is the short stem of the Lumberman which sports a chipped button. The button will need to be rebuilt using a mixture of activated charcoal powder and CA glue.I form an initial triangular insert from index card stock which fits into the slot of the button fully. I had covered the inserted part with a layer of scotch tape to serve as a barrier to the patch material – to easily be able to remove the insert after the charcoal powder and CA mixture cures. I then insert another triangular piece of card stock into the initial insert. This serves to expand and tighten the insert.I open one capsule of activated charcoal dust on the plastic disc (also put a few strips of tape down for easier cleaning) and add BSI Maxi-Cure Extra Thick CA glue in a small puddle next to the charcoal powder and mix in gradually using the toothpick. As with the briar dust putty, I draw charcoal powder into the CA glue until it reaches the viscosity of molasses and then trowel the putty to the stem to fill the missing button cavity. I trowel enough to fully over-coat the area.As hoped, after the charcoal patch sets up after a few minutes, with a bit of wiggling, the insert comes out leaving the slot and airway clear of the patch material.After several hours, the patch material has fully cured, and I go to work using a flat needle file. I first work on clearing the excess patch material on the end of the stem.To more rapidly remove the mound of excess patch over the button I employ a small sanding drum mounted on the Dremel. This removes the patch material very easily. I follow using the flat needle file to bring about the fine shaping of the button repair. I follow the filing and shaping of the button with 240 grade sanding paper to further smooth and shape. I notice significant air bubbles being revealed by the sanding – ugh…Following the 240 paper, sanding with 600 grade paper and 0000 grade steel wool – upper and lower stem, brings out the air pockets even more distinctly. To address the significant presence of air pockets in this button repair, I first darken the pockets with a fine point Sharpie Pen then I paint thin CA glue over the button lip. I put the stem aside for the CA to cure.Putting the stem aside for the time, I turn back to the stummel sanding it with the full regimen of micromesh pads. Beginning with pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand the stummel. Following this, I dry sand using pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000. Wow! The grain on this Silver Match Lumberman is nice. You can tell that when the grain patterns in the briar are random, as in this stummel, it is usually a good indication that it was cut from the upper part of the burl which is called the ‘branch wood’ section where the branches of the briar shrub form. This article I’ve found helpful in understanding better the nature of briar grain – Published in Pipes & Tobaccos, Fall 1999, GRAIN: The first of an infrequent series of articles concerning THE BRIAR PIPE By R. D. Field (See: LINK). The grain that emerges through the micromesh process is very nice – the Silver Match Toronto is shaping up well. The thing that bothers me like a burr under a saddle is the huge crater fill on the underside of the shank. Even with a darkened stain to mask the fill, it will still be there. Yet, the light briar surrounding it in the current state is too much contrast for me to swallow! I come to a decision to stain the stummel a dark brown to provide as much blending as possible and to use the staining process to tease out in greater contrast of the grain. I assemble on the worktable all the needed components for applying stain to the stummel. I will use Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye with the possibility of lightening the dye because it’s an aniline dye – alcohol based. I can wipe it with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to lighten the finish and blend it. I first clean the surface using isopropyl 95% and a cotton pad and using a cork inserted into the shank as a handle, I heat the stummel with a hot air gun. This expands the briar and helps the grain to be more receptive to the dye. I then use a folded over pipe cleaner to apply dye in swatches and then I flame the wet dye using a lit candle. This immediately combusts the alcohol in the dye and it sets the dye pigment into the surface. I methodically apply dye to the surface and flame as I go. I then set the newly dyed stummel aside to allow the dye to rest – I’ll let it sit through the night. This helps setting the new stain so that it will not come off on the hands when the stummel is first fired up when it goes into service. With the stummel resting, I return to the patched button addressing the air pockets. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures during this process, but the result is shown. I use a flat file to remove the some of excess patch material and then gently sand with 240 grade paper and 600 paper. I finish this phase using 0000 steel wool over the entire stem. I’m not 100% satisfied with the button rebuild, but the stem is structurally ready to return to service.I move straightaway to using micromesh pads on the stem. I begin wet sanding with pads 1500, 1800, and 2400 and follow with dry sanding with pads 3200, 3600, and 4000 and finish with pads 6000, 8000 and 12000. Between each set of three I apply Obsidian Oil to the stem to help rejuvenate the vulcanite and the expected high-level gloss of the stem makes an appearance. Nice. I put the stem aside to dry and absorb the oil. The newly stained stummel rested through the night and it’s time to unwrap the stummel from the flamed crust residue revealing the grain below. To do this I mount a new felt cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel and set the speed to the slowest possible to reduce the possibility of overheating with the friction. I then apply Tripoli compound to the entire stummel. I have been asked how long this process takes as I ‘plow off’ the crust and ‘clean’ the residue dye revealing the grain detail. I timed it this time and the Tripoli compound application took me one hour and 10 minutes – yep, that long. When the help of my wife, she takes a picture of the process of removing the crust and revealing the hue of the newly stained briar underneath. I’m pleased with the results. The crater fill on the underside of the shank almost disappears as it blends with Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dyed grain. After I complete the application of Tripoli with the felt cloth wheel, I switch to a cotton cloth wheel, increase the speed to about 40% full power, and again apply Tripoli to the stummel. I do this for two reasons. First, with the cotton cloth wheel I’m able to reach into the crook of the bowl and shank which the felt cloth wheel cannot reach. Secondly, I find that it sharpens the grain presentation as additional excess dye is taken away. The result is almost like a luminescent effect. After applying the Tripoli, I give the stummel a gentle wipe with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol. This lightens the hue a bit and helps blend the new dye.Next, I mount another cotton cloth buffing wheel and maintain speed at 40% and apply Blue Diamond compound, less coarse than Tripoli, to both stummel and stem.Next, I again detach the stem and I want to freshen the Silver Match ‘flame’ stamping. It took me a while to figure out that was what it was – at least that’s what I think it is! I apply white acrylic paint over the stamp and then gently wipe it off while still wet using the flat side of a toothpick. I use a cotton bud and the point of the toothpick to clean off the excess. The result is about 80% success. The upper part of the flame wasn’t deep enough to catch the paint. The result still looks good.After reuniting the stem and stummel, I mount another cotton cloth wheel to the Dremel, maintaining 40% full power, and apply carnauba wax to the entire pipe. I give the pipe a few coats of wax then I give it a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine and complete the restoration of this nice looking pipe.
This Silver Match Toronto Squat Lumberman came out well. The grain is striking with a smattering of swirls, waves, bird’s eye, and flame…, it’s an expressive piece of briar! The darkened stain works great and masked the fill on the underside of the shank almost to perfection. I’m pleased with the button rebuild, though I want to work more on reducing the air pockets in the process. Overall, this stout Lumberman is ready for service. Robert commissioned him and has the first opportunity to purchase this pipe from The Pipe Steward Store. This pipe benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited. Thanks for joining me!