Blog by Steve Laug
I decided to work on another pipe from the fellow in Kitchener, Ontario who sent me some pipes he needed cleaned up. He had been referred to me by my local pipe and cigar shop. While I am not currently adding more pipes to my queue of repairs I have made a commitment to the shop to work on pipes for their customers. Generally they have one or two pipes that need a bit of work. This fellow sent me the following email:
I just came across my smoking pipes that I’ve had in storage for about 40 years. I’m wondering what you’d charge to have them refurbished. There are 17 in total (11 are Brighams and 6 are various).
It turns out he said he had 17 pipes. That was certainly more than I expected but I communicated that there was a large queue ahead of him and I would have to fit them in as I could. He was fine with whatever time it took. He sent me the following photos of his collection that he wanted restored. The first photo shows his eleven Brigham pipes – all very interesting shapes. The second photo shows the six various pipes in the collection – A Republic Era Peterson’s System 1312 (Canadian Import), A Bjarne Hand Carved Freehand, a Comoy’s Everyman London smooth billiard, a GBD Popular Dublin 12, an English made Kaywoodie Rustica 72B, a Kriswill Bernadotte 60 with a broken tenon. When the box arrived there were two additional pipes included for a total of 19 – a Ropp 803 Deluxe Cherrywood Poker and a Comoy’s Sandblast Everyman Canadian 296. It was a lot of pipes! I have been randomly choosing the next pipe to work on and chose the Bjarne Hand Carved Freehand that is shown in the second photo below. I have drawn a red box around the Bjarne in the second photo. I have also put and X through all of the pipes that I have finished. The Bjarne came in a royal blue satin pipe bag with gold letters reading bjarne pipes, the exclusive ones handmade in denmark. The pipe it was a smooth finish freehand with plateau on the rim top and shank end. It was stamped on the underside of the shank and read Bjarne over Hand-Carved over Made in Denmark. The finish was dull and dirty looking but had some amazing grain under the grime. The plateau rim top had a thick coat of lava filling in the plateau around the bowl. There was also some darkening on the top and the inner edge. The bowl had a thick cake in it that was rock hard. The fancy turned stem was oxidized and had tooth marks and chatter near the button on both sides. There was also some calcification for about an inch up the stem. I took close up photos of the bowl and rim top to show the condition of the bowl and thick lava on the top and the beveled rim edge as well. You can also see the cake in the bowl. It is hard and quite thick. I also took close up photos of the stem to show its condition as mentioned above. I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank to show what I was speaking about above. It is very readable. It reads BJARNE Hand-Carved Made in Denmark. There is some nice grain around the bowl and shank. I turned my favourite go to sites on background of brands. The first is Pipephil’s site (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-b5.html). There I looked up the Bjarne brand. I have copied the pertinent information below.
Bjarne Nielsen (1941 – † 2008) distributed his own “Bjarne” brand and pipes carved by Danish pipemakers (Mogens Johansen, Tonni Nielsen or Ph. Vigen). High grade pipes were stamped “Bjarne Nielsen” without any logo on the mouthpiece and graded A, B, C and D. Bjarne second brand: Viking.
I have included a screen capture of the section on the brand below.I turned to Pipedia and looked up the brand for a bit more information on the pipes that were stamped like the one that I am working on (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Bjarne). Toward the end of the article I found what I was looking for. I quote:
Among the pipemakers that worked for Bjarne were Johs (for the lower priced high volume pieces), and makers like Ph. Vigen, Ole Bandholm and Tonni Nielsen for high grade pieces. The cheaper line was stamped “Bjarne” while the highest grades were stamped “Bjarne Nielsen” (never with the pipemakers’ name) and graded, from highest to lowest, by the letters: AX, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, and J.
Now I knew that I was dealing with the cheaper line of pipe made by the company. It was stamped Bjarne while the higher grade pipes were stamped Bjarne Nielsen with a grade stamp. Now that I had the background information on the brand I went to work on the pipe.I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer using the second and third cutting head to take the cake back to bare briar so I could inspect the walls. I cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I sanded the bowl walls with 220 grit sandpaper on a piece of dowel to smooth them out and further examine them. I was happy that the walls looked very good. I also scraped off the lava on the rim top and edges with the Fitsall Knife and a brass bristle wire brush to begin to break down the hard coat in the plateau. I scrubbed the surface of the bowl and the plateau areas on the shank end and rim top with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit from the briar. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the darkened areas on the rim top and inner edge of the rim. I was able to remove the darkening and the remaining lava. I also sanded the high spots on the plateau to clean those up. I finished by using the brass bristle brush on the rim top and shank end. I polished rim top and sides of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each sanding pad to remove the dust and debris from the sanding. The bowl was looking very good after the final polishing pad. I interrupted the polishing to stain the plateau on the rim top and the shank end with a Maple stain pen before I polished the bowl with the last set of three pads – 6000, 8000, 12000. The pipe is looking very good at this point in the process. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horse hair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I rubbed the stem down with Soft Scrub on with a cotton pad and it removed the oxidation and the calcification build up. It looked a lot better. Once the surface was cleaned off I found the Bj stamp on the top of the flat blade. Up until that point I was wondering if the stem was a replacement. It was at this point that I remembered that I had not cleaned out the mortise and airway in the shank and stem. I paused and cleaned them with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I am glad I remembered now because it was very dirty – as I would have guessed by the condition of the rim top. Now that I had cleaned the pipe internally I went back to working on the stem. I sanded out the remaining tooth chatter and oxidation with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I rubbed down the stem with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish, a red gritty paste and a cotton pad to remove the remnants of oxidation and to blend in the sanding. The stem is starting to show promise at this point in the process.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with a cotton pad to remove the sanding debris. I finished polishing the stem with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I finished by wiping it down with Briarville’s No Oxy Oil and buffing it to a shine. I finally feel like I am making progress on this 19 pipe lot from Eastern Canada. With the completion of this one I have finished 13 of the pipes. I put Bjarne Hand-Carved Freehand back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I hand buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the grain on both sides and the plateau on the rim top and shank end looked amazing. Added to that the polished black vulcanite stem was beautiful. This nicely grained Bjarne Freehand is nice looking and feels great in my hand. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 ½ inches, Height: 2 ¼ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. Once again I am looking forward to what the pipeman who sent it thinks of this restoration. Only 6 more of these pipes to do in this lot! Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on the trust to the next pipeman or woman.