Rejuvenating an All Briar Oval Shank Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next few blogs I am writing are about pipes that I worked on with Jeff on a recent visit to Idaho for my Father’s 91st birthday. The first of these was a pipe that came from one of the pipe lots Jeff picked up on his travels. It was a group of old, unsmoked pipes form the early 1900s. The pipe I am working on now is an all briar pipe with the stem part of the shank. It bears no stamping or identifying marks at all. The briar is quite nice with a mix of grain around the sides and shank. The rim top is perfect and there is no damage to the inner or outer edges of the bowl. The bowl itself was unsmoked and very clean. The finish was dirty and somewhat lifeless. There were dent marks mid bowl on the left side and nicks in the briar on the right. The briar bit was flawless with no tooth damage or marks. I took the following photos to show what pipe looked like before I started. It is a very striking little all briar pipe. I took some close up photos of the bowl top and the solid briar shank and stem combination. The rim top is perfect and smooth – a little dusty but otherwise clean. The shank/stem combination is flawless. There are some small nicks in the shank but otherwise the shank and stem are perfect.I received a package with some more Restoration Balm from Mark Hoover while I was in Idaho. He included a sample of a new product that he was experimenting with called Briar Cleaner. It is to be used prior to scrubbing (possibly instead of scrubbing) and to be followed up with the Balm. I decided to give it a try on the pipes I was working on with Jeff. I rubbed the Briar Cleaner into the bowl and shank with my finger tips and scrubbed it off with a cotton pad. It left behind some grit that I would need to deal with but otherwise lifted dirt and grime from the grain. I am still not sure if it a necessary extra step for me or not but I am working with it on the next few pipes. The photos below show the pipe after cleaning with the product. I wiped it down with a wet cotton cloth and prepped the briar for steaming out the dents on the left side of the bowl. I heated a steam iron and wetted a cotton cloth. I put the wet cloth on the dent in the side of the bowl. I put the hot iron on the wet cloth and the steamed the dents out of the briar. I repeated it until the steam had lifted the dents to the surface. Once I had steamed out the dents in the briar I polished the bowl with micromesh sanding pads. I had ordered several sets of them before I left Canada and had them shipped to Idaho to arrive while I was there. I wet sanded with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I rubbed some Before & After Restoration Balm into the one piece All Briar pipe. I worked it into the grain with my finger tips and let the bowl sit while the Balm did its work on the briar. Once it had been sitting for a few moments I buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth. The photos show the bowl after the Balm had worked. I finished the pipe by buffing it with a microfiber cloth to raise a shine in the briar. The briar came alive with the buffing and the grain just popped. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a petite pipe measuring 4 ½ inches in length, 2 inches in height. The outside diameter of the bowl is 1 ¼ inches and a chamber diameter of ¾ of an inch. The briar shows some cross grain, birdseye and flame grain around the bowl. It is a beautiful little All Briar Billiard that is going to be a fun pipe to break in and enjoy. Thanks for reading the blog. Keep an eye open for the next few blogs that follow showing the other pipes that I worked on while I was in Idaho. Enjoy.

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