Blog by Steve Laug
On our recent trip to Alberta we picked up quite a few pipes that were really nice. Some of them were brands we were familiar with and some were pipes that were unknown and unidentifiable. But if you are a pipe hunter you know the feeling when you are holding a particular pipe, no matter what the brand and it just speaks to you. That is what happened with this pipe. It was in a display case at an antique mall in Edmonton. The shape of the pipe, the forward canted bowl, the small short stem, the shape of the button and the single, orific opening on the end of the stem just looked old and I was going to add it to the finds.The grain under the dirty finish was quite nice with straight, flame and birdseye popping through around the bowl and shank. The bowl has a slight forward cant. The rim top had a thick layer of tars and there was sustained damage on the inner and the outer edge. There was a thick cake in the bowl that made it hard to see the extent of the damage to the inner edge. The stem was short vulcanite that had a threaded bone tenon that did not fit tightly against the shank. The stem was also heavily oxidized and had some tooth chatter on both sides near the button. The airway on the end of the stem was a round orific opening. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the thickness of the cake in the bowl and the overflow of lava on the rim top. The damage to inner edge of the bowl and the nicks on the outer edge are evident in the photo. I took photos of the stem showing the oxidation and tooth chatter on both sides near the button. The third photo of the stem shown below gives a clear view of the orific opening in the stem end.I unscrewed the stem from the shank to show the threaded tenon on the end of the short stem. It has a bone tenon and has a long tube on the end of the threaded that works to funnel the smoke up the stem to the opening at the stem end. Since I had taken the pipe apart I decided to clean the parts. I started by reaming the bowl with a PipNet Pipe Reamer. I used the first two cutting heads to take the cake back to bare briar. I used a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to clean up the remnants of the cake on the bowl walls. I finished the bowl by sanding it with a length of dowel wrapped with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I scrubbed out the mortise, shank and the airway in the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I worked them over until it was clean. I scrubbed the threads on the tenon with a brass bristle wire brush.To clean up the rim top I topped it lightly with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper on a flat board. I took off the damaged rim top to smooth out the inner and outer edge of the rim. I finished the clean up by reworking the edges of the bowl with folded 220 and 400 grit sandpaper.I used some small drops of clear super glue to fill in the deeper nicks and marks on the bottom of the bowl. I sanded them smooth and then polished the repaired areas on the bottom of the bowl, the outer edge of the bowl and the rest of the bowl and shank with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads to smooth out the scratches and nicks in the bowl sides. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Before & After Briar Cleaner. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my finger tips and let it sit for a short time to absorb the grime. I rinsed it down under warm water to remove the grime debris that was collected in the cleaner. I dried the bowl off with a soft cotton cloth and lightly polished it. I worked some Before and After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar. I rubbed it into the briar to restore, preserve and polish the briar. I let it sit on the bowl for about 10 minutes and buffed it off with cotton cloth. I set the polished bowl aside to work on the stem. I sanded the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation and tooth chatter. I started polishing it with 400 grit sandpaper to remove the scratches.I polished out the remaining scratches in the stem material with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped down the stem after each pad with some Obsidian Oil. Once I used the last pad – 12000 grit – I polished the stem with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish, both Fine and Extra Fine. I used a new product I am trying for Briarville called No Oxy Oil to give the stem a final wipe down and polish. I put the stem back on the pipe and polished both pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the pipe several coats of Carnauba Wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a soft cotton cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a beautifully grained piece of briar with straight grain around the walls of the bowl and sides of the shank. The undersides of the bowl and shank show a mix of birdseye and swirled, mixed grain. The rich brown finish highlights the grain and contrasts well with the short black vulcanite stem. The shape and style of the button and stem point to an early date for this pipe. I only wish that it had some identifying stamping on the shank to help identify the maker. The threaded bone tenon is in excellent condition and to further protect it, I coated it with some Vaseline. The pipe is a beauty. There are some flaws in the pipe that I wish could help tell the story of this old pipe. The dimensions of the pipe are – Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This is an old timer that I will add to my own collection. I am looking forward to loading a bowl in it and enjoying the taste of this old timer. I will carry on the legacy! Thanks for reading the blog.