Daily Archives: January 11, 2020

Restoring a Karl Erik Mixed Finish Freehand with a Plateau Rim


Blog by Steve Laug

Every so often I receive pipes from pipemen and women who want them to be sold and the proceeds go to the NGO I work for in my real job! It is an organization called the SA Foundation Canada (www.safoundation.com) and it provides long terms housing, recovery and skill development for women and their children escaping sexual exploitation and trafficking. The organization is based in Vancouver, Canada but has projects in 7 countries and 12 cities globally. It is an organization that is cutting edge in the recovery process for these women and their kids with a success rate of over 70% globally. That simply means that out of every 100 women who enter our program 70 do not go back to their previous lifestyle. It is an amazing organization to work for and it has big vision and a commitment to thinking globally and acting locally. The admin and fundraising costs are 10% meaning that of every dollar donated $.90 goes to the work of providing for the recovery, care and training of the women and their children.

I am posting four pipes that have been donated for this cause. I am donating the restoration work on them and the individuals are donating the income generated by the sale of the pipes. This is the third of those pipes – first was a Nording Brandy 13, second was a Chimera Churchwarden, the third was the Karl Erik Ekstravagant Tulip and now this Karl Erik Freehand. It is a beautiful pipe that has stunning grain, interesting rustication and a plateau rim. The stamping on the shank reads Karl Erik in a circle. The pipe is in excellent condition. The plateau rim looks very good. There is raw briar in the bottom quarter of the bowl which leads me think that it was never really broken in. The bowl and shank were dusty from sitting around and dirty from light use but there was no cake in the bowl. The stem is acrylic with a gold fancy KE on the top. It has some light tooth chatter and marks near the button. I took some photos of the pipe before I started working on it. It is a beautiful, well laid out pipe and feels great in the hand. I took photos of the rim top to show the plateau finish. There was a little grime and dust stuck in the valleys but otherwise it was very clean. The inner and outer rim edges were flawless. I took photos of the stem as well to try to capture the condition of the stem. Both the top and underside of the stem were dirty and dull and had light tooth marks and chatter. The button edge also has chatter. The stylized KE is faint so I will need to have a look at redoing that.I took a photo of the COM stamp on the left side of the shank and it reads as noted above. It is clear and readable with the stamp in an oval shape as shown below.I decided to clean up the bowl first. I cleaned the plateau top with a brass bristle wire brush to remove the dust and debris.I cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipes cleaners. The mortise and the airway in the shank was more dusty than dirty and the airway in the stem was pretty clean.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to get it into the rustication and the plateau top. I let it sit for about 10 minutes. I buffed it off with a soft cloth. It is a product that I have really come to appreciate. Mark Hoover crafted it to enliven, clean and protect briar. I use it on every pipe I work on and find that with a single application the briar comes alive with deep glow. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to address the stem. The stem had some scratches and marks on the surface. The top was worse than the underside but both had them. It was hard to capture the issues with the camera. There were also some light tooth marks on the button surface that needed to be addressed. I sanded out the marks with a folded, worn piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I wanted to remove the marks but not make more scratches. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I used some Rub’n Buff Antique Gold to touch up the KE stamp on the stem top. I apply the product with a tooth pick making sure to work it into the grooves of the stamped letters. I let it short time and wipe it off and polish with a 3200 micromesh pad.Denicare Mouthpiece Polish is a gritty red paste that I have been using as a pre-polish for the mouthpieces. It removes a lot of very minor scratches and works well in removing the hard to get area in the crease of the button. I work it on with my fingers and then scrub the stem with a cotton pad and wipe it off when finished.  I was careful around the gold stamping on the topside to protect it from over buffing.I polished the acrylic stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down with a damp cloth between each set of pads. The stem began to take on a deep shine. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to finish the polishing. By this point the stem is looking better! Once I finished I put the stem back on the shank and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond polish using a lightly loaded pad and a soft touch. I wanted to raise a shine and buff out some of the small scratches in the briar and the acrylic stem. I gave the stem a vigorous polish being careful around the stylized gold KE on the stem top. I gave the bowl and the stem several coats of carnauba. I gave the plateau top and rusticated portions of the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a great looking Karl Erik Freehand shaped pipe with a mixed finish. The money from the sale of this pipe is going for a great cause. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outer Bowl Diameter: 1 ½ inches, Chamber Diameter: ¾ of an inch. The pipe will soon be on the rebornpipes store and you can purchase it and support a very worthy cause. Thanks for walking with me through the restoration.

Restoring a Karl Erik Ekstravagant Handmade In Denmark Tulip


Blog by Steve Laug

Every so often I receive pipes from pipemen and women who want them to be sold and the proceeds go to the NGO I work for in my real job! It is an organization called the SA Foundation Canada (www.safoundation.com) and it provides long terms housing, recovery and skill development for women and their children escaping sexual exploitation and trafficking. The organization is based in Vancouver, Canada but has projects in 7 countries and 12 cities globally. It is an organization that is cutting edge in the recovery process for these women and their kids with a success rate of over 70% globally. That simply means that out of every 100 women who enter our program 70 do not go back to their previous lifestyle. It is an amazing organization to work for and it has big vision and a commitment to thinking globally and acting locally. The admin and fundraising costs are 10% meaning that of every dollar donated $.90 goes to the work of providing for the recovery, care and training of the women and their children.

I am posting four pipes that have been donated for this cause. I am donating the restoration work on them and the individuals are donating the income generated by the sale of the pipes. This is the third of those pipes – first was a Nording Brandy 13, second was a Chimera Churchwarden and now this Karl Erik Ekstravagant Tulip. It is a beautiful pipe that has stunning grain. The stamping on the shank reads Karl Erik in a circle over Handmade in Denmark with Ekstravagant underneath that. The pipe is in excellent condition. There was some damage and burn marks on the rim top and inner edge as well as some darkening on the rim edges. The stem is acrylic with a golden fancy KE on the top. It has some light tooth chatter and marks near the button. There was also a long scratch on the underside of the stem running mid stem toward the button. The bowl and shank were dirty from light use but there was no cake in the bowl. I took some photos of the pipe before I started working on it. It really is a stunning pipe and feels great in the hand. I took photos of the rim top to show the damage that is present on the top and on the inner edge of the bowl. It almost looked as if the bowl had been knocked out against concrete. I took photos of the stem as well to try to capture the condition of the stem. The top side was dirty and dull but there were no tooth marks or chatter. The underside looked good other than a deep scratch that ran from the button edge forward on the stem for about an inch. I took a photo of the COM stamp on the underside of the shank and it reads as noted above. It is clear and readable with the stamp running around the circle.I wanted to know a bit more about the Ekstravagant stamping on this pipe. I have worked on quite a few pipes from Karl Erik (Karl Erik Ottendahl) over the years but this was the first with the Ekstravagant stamping. I turned to the Pipedia article on KE pipes for help with this (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Erik). From there I learned that these pipes were large pipes entirely handmade by Karl Erik Ottendahl.

I quote in part from that article below.

During all periods he had made some of his own handmade pipes, but he felt that the responsibility of managing the factory did not give him the freedom he wished he had. Accordingly, in 1990, he went back to work on his own. He believed that he could produce better work if he worked alone, though his principle reason was simply that he missed the quiet, pleasant atmosphere that a one man shop afforded him. According to him, he has been much happier since he returned to make pipes all by himself. Certainly, the results reflect his rediscovered happiness with the pipe making craft.

Though Karl Erik’s favorite briar mostly came from Morocco or Greece, but he frequently purchased elsewhere, too. He didn’t consider the briar origin to be particularly important provided the briar was well cured. Therefore, he simply purchased the best briar he could find, rather than purchasing from only one or two regions.

Concentrating on more classical influenced shapes Karl Erik’s style emphasized the wood over all other contributing factors by allowing the grain to determine the ultimate shape of the piece. He further emphasized the natural, organic, flowing shape of his bowls with hand cut stems and a broad variety of decorating materials.

Now it was time to work on the pipe. I decided to address the issues with the rim top first. I chose to use the least intrusive method first. I steamed the nicks and dents to no effect. I sanded it with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to try to remove the damage. You can see the effectiveness of this in the first photo below. I carefully worked on the inner edge of the rim with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I worked slowly so as not to damage the rim top. It took a little work but I was able to remove some of the burn damage that marred the inner edge but there were some deep burns on the back edge of the bowl that would require stronger methods. I turned to stronger measures and carefully top the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. I needed to address the deep nicks in the surface and the edges – both inner and outer and this was the means I chose. It took care of the majority of the issues and minimized the burn mark at the front and back of the bowl. It was not gone but it looked better. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to work on the inner edge. I wanted to give it a slight bevel to clean up the burn damage. While it was not perfect it was much better. I did not want to sacrifice the roundness of the bowl to do more work on it so I left it.I polished the rim top and edges of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads and wiped it down with a damp cloth after each pad. The rim top came out looking very good. The darkening was lessened and the damage was smoothed out. The rim was looking very good at this point.  I stained the top of the bowl with a blend of Oak and Cherry stain pens. This combination matched the stain on the rest of the bowl perfectly. I am pretty happy with the look of the rim top at this point in the process.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and let it sit for about 10 minutes. I buffed it off with a soft cloth. It is a product that I have really come to appreciate. Mark Hoover crafted it to enliven, clean and protect briar. I use it on every pipe I work on and find that with a single application the briar comes alive with deep glow. Because the pipe looked so clean I forgot to clean out the internals. I went back and cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipes cleaners. The shank was quite dirty but the airway in the stem was pretty clean. I repeated the scrubbing until the cleaners came out clean.I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to address the deep scratch in the stem. It was really a gouge that had carved a line from the button forward. It was not a crack lest you might think so. I examined it in detail with a lens and the stem was solid. I wiped down the area with a cotton swab and alcohol and then filled in the gouge with clear Krazy Glue. Once the repair cured I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to blend the repair into the stem surface. I polished the area I had sanded with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.Denicare Mouthpiece Polish is a gritty read paste that I have been using as a pre-polish for the mouthpieces. It removes a lot of very minor scratches and works well in removing the hard to get area in the crease of the button. I work it on with my fingers and then scrub the stem with a cotton pad and wipe it off when finished.  I avoided the gold stamping on the topside to protect it from over buffing.I polished the acrylic stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down with a damp cloth between each set of pads. The stem began to take on a deep shine. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to finish the polishing. By this point the stem looks great and the gouge is gone! Once I finished I put the stem back on the shank and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond polish using a lightly loaded pad and a soft touch. I wanted to raise a shine and buff out some of the small scratches in the briar and the acrylic stem. I gave the stem a vigorous polish being careful around the stylized gold KE on the stem top. I gave the bowl and the stem several coats of carnauba. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a great looking Karl Erik Ekstravagant Tulip shaped pipe whose sale price is going for a great cause. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outer Bowl Diameter: 1 ½ inches, Chamber Diameter: ¾ of an inch. The pipe will soon be on the rebornpipes store and you can purchase it and support a very worthy cause. Thanks for walking with me through the restoration.

Breathing Life into a Worn and Beat up Dunhill Shell Briar EC Canadian for Alex


Blog by Steve Laug

In a previous blog I mentioned that around Christmas time I got together with Alex to enjoy some great hot cocoa, smoke our pipes and talk about all things pipes. I also gave him a batch of pipes that I had finished from his stash and he gave me a few more to work on for him. I always have a great time when we get together and this time was no exception. He greeted me at the door with slippers and an old smoking jacket. I took my seat in the living room among his latest pipe finds and was handed a great cup of cocoa. I set it down and we both loaded out pipes with some new Perretti’s tobacco that he had picked up. We touched the flame of the lighter to the tobacco and sat back and blissfully enjoyed the flavour. As we did Alex walked me through his latest finds. There were some amazing pipes to look at and savour. I already wrote about the Dunhill Bamboo Tanshell with a lot of nice colour happening around the bowl. I refreshed that pipe for him and wrote about it here – https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/08/refreshing-a-dunhill-tanshell-w60-t-1962bamboo-lovat-for-alex/.

He also pulled another Dunhill from the pile of new pipes that he wanted me to work on. It was the exact opposite of the Bamboo in terms of condition. The Bamboo was relatively clean and he had already enjoyed a few bowls through it so it was a quick and easy refresh. This one was a real mess! It was another sandblast. This time it was a Shell Briar Canadian. I carefully took it in my hands and examined it. It was in very rough shape with many cracks in the briar. Alex knew the issues with the pipe but he wanted to know if I could repair it. I assured him that of course it could be repaired and the current cracks stopped. But all repairs to the cracks would essentially be cosmetic and though he could not see them they were still present. The ones going through into the bowl would need to be treated as well. I have repaired many of the pipes that I smoke in this manner and they continue to serve me undamaged for many years after the repair so I was just giving him the facts. He was fine with that and said to go ahead. So I took it home with me.

When I got home I laid it aside and tonight took it up to work on it. I examined the pipe to see what I was working with and took some photos. You can see from the first four photos below that there was something redeeming about the pipe. I think that is what Alex saw. It is a really nicely shaped Canadian. The right side of the bowl was dirty but looked very good. The back of the bowl and right side were full of cracks that went virtually the length of the bowl from the rim top to at least shank height. The rim top had significant damage to the inner edge and the crack on the right side went through to the interior and on top. The stem was pockmarked, dirty and oxidized with tooth chatter and marks on both sides just ahead of the button. Overall the pipe a wreck. I took photos of the pipe before I started my cleanup and restoration. Look closely at the second and third photos. You will see the cracks. I took a close up photo of the rim top and the back and right side of the bowl to show the crack damage. I have pointed out the cracks with red arrows for easy identification. The inner edge of the rim also shows burn and poor reaming damage. I took photos of the stem as well. The vulcanite was pitted, oxidized and calcified in the crease of the button. There were some tooth marks and chatter on the stem near the button but otherwise it looked pretty good. The pipe was stamped on the heel and underside of the shank with the following nomenclature: EC (the designation for a Canadian) followed by Dunhill over Shell Briar. That is followed by Made in England with a number 3 in superscript next to the D. This tells me that the pipe was made in 1963. After that there is a circle with a 4 in it designating the size of the pipe followed by the letter S which is the designation for Shell Briar pipes. The stamping was clear and legible which actually surprised me given the condition of the rest of the pipe.I think Jeff has spoiled me with working on clean pipes so I decided to start by cleaning up this one. I wanted it clean even before I began to work on the repairs. I find that the cleaning also helps me see things in the finish that I would otherwise miss. I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the debris from the nooks and crannies of the sand blast as well as from the inside of the cracks. I rinsed the bowl with warm water and dried it off with a cotton cloth. Once that was done the cracks were very clear but so was the natural beauty of this Canadian shape! With the exterior clean I worked on the interior. I reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall knife. I did not want to risk the pressure that is put on the bowl sides by the PipNet reamer. I scraped the cake out until the walls were clear. I sanded them smooth with a dowel wrapped in 220 grit sandpaper.I cleaned out the mortise and the airway from the shank to the bowl with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I worked on it until the airway was clean and the pipe smelled clean! I cleaned the stem at the same time working around the buildup on the tenon and stem face as well as the airway and the slot. I used alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs for this as well. I was surprised at how clean the internals of the stem were. I expected it to be horrid.With the bowl clean it was time to begin the reconstructive surgery on the bowl. I used a lens to trace the cracks to their end. All of them began at the rim and worked downward. I marked the end with a correction pen (thanks for the tip Paresh). Once I had them marked I used a Dremel and microdrill bit to drill a small hole in the end of the crack to stop it from spreading. Once I had the holes drilled I filled them in with briar dust and clear Krazy Glue (CA Glue). The cracks were numerous so I took a few photos to show the extent of the repairs. My method is a bit different from Dal’s due to my glue. I fill in the crack with the glue and press the parts together. It dries quickly and with no internal pressure holds together well. I go back and fill in the cracks in the bowl with briar dust. I use a dental spatula and pick to work them into the cracks. I put a top coat of Krazy Glue to seal it. I repeat the process until the repair is complete. In the case of the large crack that goes into the interior of the bowl I pressed dust into it as well and the glue from the outside held it in place. I will give it a coat of JB Weld to protect it once I finish the bowl. Once the repairs cure I work over the repaired areas with a brass bristle brush to knock of the loose dust and bits of glue that are on the surface. I used my Dremel and sanding drum to smooth out the interior walls of the bowl and the repair to the crack on the right side of the rim top. I think that the repair is starting to look pretty good.With the repairs cured and the interior and high spots smoothed out it was time for some artistry to bring the Shell finish back to the bowl sides and rim top. I started the process by working over the repaired areas with a wire wheel on my Dremel. I worked over the areas around the sides of the bowl and the rim top. It was starting to look right. The shininess of the repairs was reduced and the finish began to show through. Now it was time to etch the surface of the briar with the Dremel and burrs. The photos that follow show the three different burrs that I use to cut the grooves to match the sandblast. The burrs worked to cut a pretty nice match in the briar.I used the wire brush again to clean off the dust left behind by the burrs. It is hard to tell from the photos but the pattern is really close to the surrounding areas of the briar bowl and shank. With the carving done approximating the sandblast finish under the repairs it was time to stain the bowl. I have found that with a Shell Briar finish I have to use a Mahogany and a Walnut stain pen to match the rest of the bowl. I streak on the Mahogany first and fill in the Walnut around the rest of the finish. I blend them together and the finished look is hard to distinguish from the original stain. I moved on to round out the inner edge of the rim and minimize the damage. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to carefully give the inner edge a very light bevel. Once I was finished with the shaping I ran a Walnut Stain Pen around the freshly sanded edge to blacken it.With the finish repaired and restained I rubbed it down with Before and After Restoration Balm. It is a product developed by Mark Hoover to clean, enliven and protect briar. I worked it into the briar with my finger tips and a horse hair shoe brush. I let it sit for about 10 minutes and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. You can see the results below. With the exterior finish and the repairs completed it was time to mix up a batch of JB Weld to coat the inside of the bowl and protect the walls where the cracks went through. I mixed the Weld and put a pipe cleaner in the airway to keep the weld from sealing off the airway in the bowl. I applied the mixture to the walls with a dental spatula. Once had the walls covered around the area of the cracks I set the bowl aside to cure. I did not put the mixture in the heel of the bowl as it was solid and had no issues. I set the bowl aside and turned to address the oxidation, tooth marks and chatter on the stem surface. The stem was in good condition with some minor pitting. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to sand out the tooth marks, chatter and oxidation. I started the polishing with 400 grit sandpaper. The stem is starting to look very good.I have been using Denicare Mouthpiece Polish as a pre-polishing agent. It is a gritty, red paste that does a great job in removing the oxidation remnants in the crease of the button and also polish out some of the lighter scratches in vulcanite. I rub it on with my finger tips and scrubb it with a cotton pad. I buff it off with another pad.I finished polishing the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cotton pad to remove the dust. I polished it with Before and After Pipe Polish – both fine and extra fine. I finished by wiping the stem down with some No Oxy Oil that  received from Briarville Pipe Repair to experiment with. Once the JB Weld repair had cured I sanded the walls of the bowl to remove the excess material and to make sure the mixture was primarily in the damaged areas of the bowl walls. The repair looked very good. I mixed a batch of pipe mud composed of sour cream and charcoal powder and applied a coat of it to the bowl to protect the walls while a cake formed. I know Alex hates bowl coatings as much as I do but this one is essential given the nature of the cracks. It is just a precautionary step and the coating dries neutral and imparts no taste to the tobacco. After a few bowls you do not even know it is there. After mixing it well I applied it to the walls of the bowl with a folded pipe cleaner. I aim for a smooth coating that will dry dark and black and be almost invisible. When it dries the mixture does not have any residual taste. Once it was coated I set the pipe aside to dry. The mix does not take too long to dry. In about an hour it is dry to touch and almost black. After 24 hours it is black and smooth. The last photo below has been drying about two hours. The only remaining damp spot is in the bottom of the bowl. Once I finished I put the stem back on the shank and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond polish using a lightly loaded pad and a soft touch. I wanted the shine but not the grit filling in the crevices of the sandblast bowl. I gave the stem a vigorous polish being careful around the white spot. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem several coats of carnauba. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a great resurrection pipe for Alex and looks better than when I began the process. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 5/8 inches, Outer Bowl Diameter: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber Diameter: ¾ of an inch. The pipe will soon be heading back to Alex so he can continue to enjoy it. Thanks for walking with me through the restoration.