Blog by Steve Laug
I received a phone call referral from another customer of City Cigar. I was at work so I gave him a quick call and once again after playing some phone tag we connected. I had Friday off so he stopped by with his pipe. It was a beautiful L’Anatra Smooth Pot shaped pipe with amazing grain all around the bowl. The pipe was in parts – he held the stem in one hand and the bowl in the other. He had dropped it and it had flown across the floor in his parking garage. There was a bit of road rash on the left side of the bowl and the tenon had snapped off in the shank. He had smoked maybe one or two bowls in the pipe before it broke so he was pretty heartbroken. I could see why he was shaken as it was a very beautiful pipe. There was still unsmoked tobacco in the bowl. The pipe was stamped on the left side of the shank with an egg at the bowl shank junction. That was followed by “L’Anatra (over) dalle Uova d’Oro”. On the underside of the shank it was stamped Hand Made in Italy. There was some darkening on the back top side of the rim. The Lucite stem was in excellent condition with just a little tooth chatter on both sides near the button. There was a golden duck head on the top of the stem that would make things interesting. I needed to pull the broken tenon from the shank and drill out the stem and add a new tenon. It was a small pipe so the tenon would take work to get the right diameter. I took a few photos of the pipe in pieces to show what I was dealing with. I tried to pull out the tenon in my usual way – a screw in the airway and wiggling it but it was stuck and would not come out. I put it in the freezer for about 20 minutes and when I took it out I screwed the screw into the airway in the broken tenon and wiggled it free of the shank (a side benefit of the freezer was that as the bowl warmed up I was able to wipe the blackening away from the rim top and it looked new).I took a photo of the bowl side to show the “road rash” on the left side down low. I have circled the damaged area in red to make it easily identifiable. I decided to steam it out. I heated a butter knife over the gas stove and put a wet cloth on the marks and applied the hot knife to the cloth. The steam that was generated helped to raise the dents in the briar. I was not able to take all of them out of the briar but a few were left behind. I really have come to appreciate Mark Hoover’s Before & After Restoration Balm for its restorative properties with dry briar. I use it on virtually every pipe that I work on. I worked it into finish of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it as I usually do at this point in the process. 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. I went through my box of tenons and found one that would fit once I had reduced the diameter. The photo below shows the original tenon while the upper one shows it after I have shaped and reduced it. I used the PIMO tenon cutting tool to reduce the tenon as far as I could with the adjustments available. I finished the reduction with a Dremel and sanding drum. It took work to get it the right diameter. I also cut the length to match the depth of the mortise and to make sure I had enough length to glue into the drilled stem. (I of course was on a roll and forgot to take photos of the process of shaping the tenon.)I drilled out the end of stem as well. This was a touchier job as there was the Duck head on the topside of the stem. I would need to be careful of the diameter of the drill bit so that I would not damage the pin that held the duck in place. I started with a drill bit a little larger than the air way. I went through 5 other bit until the diameter was big enough for the newly shaped tenon end.I took a photo of the drilled airway and the tenon before I glued it in place. I put super glue on the tenon and swabbed it around the entire end. I pressed it in place in the stem. I took photos of the newly installed tenon. There was quite a bit of tooth chatter on the top and underside ahead of the button. Though in talking to the client I did not mention cleaning up the stem to me it is just part of the process. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad and gave it a final coat and the 12000 grit pad and set it aside to dry. I put the newly repaired stem and bowl back together and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I polished the briar and the stem until there was a rich shine. This Italian Hand Made “L’Anatra (over) dalle Uova d’Oro” has a classic Italian shape and a rich finish that highlights the amazing grain on a proportionally well carved pipe. Once I buffed the pipe the grain just popped. The black Lucite stem had a rich glow. The finished pipe is actually quite stunning. It is a beautifully grained pipe that fits well in the hand and sits right in the mouth. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I will be giving the owner a call to let him know it is ready for pickup. Thanks for walking through the repair on the stem with me as it was a pleasure to work on.