Daily Archives: April 7, 2020

Continuing My Practice on Tenon Replacement… Working on a Connoisseur, NYC Pipe


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

Any learning consists of three phases; first is being taught, second is practice and the third phase is mastering!! Continuing on my learning curve, I wanted to practice replacing broken tenons on pipes to make them smoke worthy again.

The pipe that I chose to practice on is a free hand that boasts of straight / flame grains all around the stummel with bird’s eyes on the heel of the bowl with a plateau rim top. It is stamped on the left of the shank as “CONNOISSEUR” over “N.Y.C.”. These stampings are crisp and easily readable. There is no other stamping seen on either the stummel or the stem. This is the first time that I am working on a Connoisseur and am keen to know more about this pipe brand, carver and also dating this pipe. As is my habit, the first site that I visit is rebornpipes where, over the years, it seems like Steve has chronicled almost all the pipes that were and are in existence. True enough, Steve has restored and researched a pipe from this maker. Here is the link for a detailed information on this pipe; https://rebornpipes.com/2015/05/23/restoring-an-ed-burak-connoisseur-tall-stack/

Further down the write up, he also gives out the dating methodology adopted by Ed Burak and the same is reproduced for immediate reference.

I also learned on Pipephil’s website (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/about-en.html) that the stamping did indeed give some information that helped in identifying the period that a particular pipe was made. There I found that one may generally separate Connoisseur pipes’ date of manufacture into three periods.

From late 1960’s until 1974: no stampings
From 1974 until 1981: CONNOISSEUR over N.Y.C.
From 1981 on: CONNOISSEUR over N.Y.C. and Ed Burak’s signature.

Thus from the above information, it’s evident that this beautiful Connoisseur pipe in my hand is from the period 1974 to 1981!

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The first and foremost issue that I noticed and was aware of from the description given by the seller is that of the broken tenon. When I saw the pictures of this pipe for the first time, I had observed, apart from the most obvious broken tenon a number of other issues which presented a challenge of their own. The briar was natural and unstained. It had darkened slightly with age. This was how the pipe had reached me…discerning readers will easily make out other major issues that need to be addressed on this pipe. The chamber has a thick uneven layer of dry and hard cake with the inner rim edge showing darkening in 6 o’clock direction (marked in yellow). The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be checked and ascertained only after the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. However, I do not envision any damage to the chamber walls. There is heavy lava overflow and debris embedded in the plateau of the rim top surface. The condition of the inner rim edge will be commented upon once the lava overflow has been removed. There are very strong and all pervading smells of old tobacco emanating from the chamber. Hopefully this issue should be addressed once the cake has been removed and the mortise is thoroughly cleaned. The stummel boasts of beautiful straight/flame grain all around and extend over the shank surface too!! The surface is covered in lava overflow, dirt and grime. The stummel briar is without a single fill and through all the dirt and grime, exudes a very high quality briar and craftsmanship. The foot of the stummel shows beautiful bird’s eye grains and is sans any damage. The slightly tapered end of the shank has the broken end of the tenon still embedded within. A prominent crack is visible over the shank on the right side. This pipe, in all probability, has suffered this catastrophic damage as a result of having fallen in stem down position. The mortise has the broken tenon stuck inside. I did try to wriggle it out with a screw driver, but the broken tenon wouldn’t budge. This will require more invasive technique. The heavy build up of cake in the chamber, dirty plateau rim top and the sorry condition of the stem all point towards a clogged mortise. This will be ascertained once the broken piece is removed from the shank end.The fancy stem has blobs of sticky oils and tars on both the surfaces as well as in between the nooks and crannies at the tenon end. There are significant tooth indentations on both the upper and lower buttons, to the extent that they would need to be rebuild completely. The slot just does not appear correct. It appears to be a orifice, but it is not a perfect round and  there are horizontal extensions on either side. Even this opening is clogged with old oils and tars. The broken tenon end of the stem is jagged and sharp at the place where the tenon has snapped. In my opinion, there is something which is not right about this stem. The quality of the stem is not something which is to be expected on a Connoisseur pipe. THE PROCESS
I began the process of refurbishing this pipe with cleaning the internals of the stem using pipe cleaners with isopropyl alcohol (99.9% pure) and dunking the stem in to “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution developed by my friend Mark Hoover. The solution helps to draw out heavy oxidation to the surface making its removal a breeze, while the minor oxidation is eliminated to a very great extent. I usually dunk stems of 5-7 pipes that are in-line for restoration and this pipe is marked in pastel blue arrow. I generally allow the stems to soak in this solution overnight for it to work its magic.With the stem soaking in the deoxidizer solution, I decided to remove the broken portion of the tenon from the shank. I select a drill bit that was slightly bigger than the tenon airway opening and mount it on my hand held drill. Very gently holding the drill absolutely straight, I give the drill machine a few forward turns. Once the drill bit is firmly embedded in to the broken tenon, I turn the drill machine in reverse. The reverse turns pull the broken end of the tenon out from the mortise. I breathe a sigh of relief as this is a very delicate step and a lot of things can go wrong if not executed with precision and patience. I further work the stummel, reaming the chamber with my PipNet reamer using head sizes 1 to 3. Using my fabricated knife, I further ream out the cake from places where the PipNet reamer could not reach and follow it with sanding the chamber walls with a 220 grit sand paper. I wipe the chamber with isopropyl alcohol and a cotton swab to remove all the carbon dust. This final cleaning of the chamber reveals a minor indentation in the wall opposite the draught hole, a result of over enthusiastic use of pipe cleaners to clean the mortise (marked in yellow semi- circle)!! Though not a major issue now, one will have to be careful with using pipe cleaners in future. Next, I clean the mortise with hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I scrub the external surface of the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dry it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I carefully clean the plateau rim top with a soft brass wire brush to remove the accumulated dirt and debris from the surface. Thereafter, I clean the mortise, plateau rim top and stummel surface with anti-oil dish washing soap on a shank brush and a tooth brush. The entire stummel, including the plateau rim top, cleans up nicely. I set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. The smells from the pipe, though reduced, are still very strong. Close observation of the stummel reveals the culprit to be the now moistened accumulated gunk in the mortise. Using my dental tools, I assiduously pick out and clean the mortise of all the gunk. I also clean the mortise with q-tips and alcohol. The amount of old grime that is scraped out from the mortise itself tells the story. The mortise is now clean and smells fresh.Moving ahead, I now address the crack that is seen on the right side of the shank, extending from the shank end to nearly half distance towards the stummel. Firstly, I clean off all the debris that is lodged in the crack using dental floss. The thin floss cleans the crack of all the dirt without widening it.I follow up this cleaning of the crack by marking the end points and turning points of the crack with a sharp dental pick. These marks help to guide the drill bit when drilling the counter hole. I take care that the drill is just sufficiently deep enough to arrest the further spread of the crack and not a through hole.I fill this crack with a mix of CA superglue and briar dust. To ensure a tight fill I clamp it down with pliers till the mix had cured, which by the way, is instantaneous!! Once the repair has cured for couple of hours, I sand it down with a flat needle file to achieve a rough match with the rest of the stummel surface. I fine tune the match with  220, 400 and 600 grit sand paper.To further stabilize the crack and prevent it from splitting again, I decide to place a band over the shank end. I select a band that is a tad bit smaller than the shank end diameter. When I place this band over the shank end, I realize that the last two letters of the stamping are being masked. I decide on grinding away the excess material from the band with my sanding drum mounted on a hand held rotary tool to a size which while being appropriate to stabilize the crack will not mask the stampings. The process is long and fraught with mistakes… The band has flown out of my hands a few times, since it can not withstand the stress of the sanding drum and is deformed , not to mention the time factor involved. However, through all these difficulties, I have prevailed to shape a band for the shank end. This is the pictorial depiction of the process and the result. Once I am satisfied with the fit, I heat the band with a heat gun in order to expand it and fix it over the shank end. I have avoided gluing it securely in place just in case I may have to revisit the entire process and go for a fresh band. Here is how the band fits over the shank end. Truth be told, I am not very confident that the band would be a success given the fitting of the band over the shank end. I set the stummel aside and decide to replace the tenon on the stem. I have explained in great detail the procedure that I have learnt and followed while replacing the tenon on a Preben Holm # 7 FH pipe. To avoid repetition of the process, I would request all to refer to the write up and other literature on the subject that is available on rebornpipes.

Given below are a series of sequential pictures explaining the procedure. Here I would also like to note that as I had mentioned earlier, the quality of the stem appeared circumspect and this was corroborated while drilling the stem air way to accommodate the new tenon. The plastic or some such low quality of the stem did pose a lot of resistance during the drilling and a straight drill was very difficult. However, my persistence has paid off and I am happy with the replaced tenon. Once the tenon is replaced, I try the fit of the stem in to the mortise. The fit though snug, reveals gaps and the seating of the stem in to the mortise is not flush. No amount of tweaking and minor adjustment by sanding of the tenon can ensure a flush seating. I feel that I have botched up the banding of the shank end and that is what has caused this issue. Here is how the seating appears after all the adjustments and tweaking. At this point in restoration, I shared pictures of this issue and then later in the day had a FaceTime chat with my Guru, Steve. Steve, with his vast experience and having worked on and researched a Connoisseur pipe before, immediately commented that the stem is not the right style for Connoisseur pipes and could be a replacement stem. I have another Connoisseur pipe (which awaits restoration) with a saddle stem in my collection and when the stem of this freehand was compared, it was no where near the quality that was seen on the other saddle stem. The pictures below show the difference in quality of the stem material and finish between the two pipes. Thereafter we discussed the shank band and he suggested to reband the shank end while going in for a completely new stem. Thereafter, we went through my can of spare stems and selected one that would be the best match for this pipe. Here are the pictures of the shortlisted stem. The slightly bent stem with all the calcification is the one that would replace the one that the pipe came with. The shortlisted stem, I am afraid, is not in the best of condition. The tapered slightly bent vulcanite stem is nearly the same length as the replaced one while being very thick at the tenon end. The quality of the re-replacement stem is very good. The stem is heavily oxidized with significant calcium deposition and deep tooth indentations in the bite zone on either surfaces of the stem. A couple of deep chips are seen along the seam on either sides as well as on the lower and upper surfaces of the stem. The button surfaces on either side has bite marks and the edges are equally damaged and deformed. The tenon and the horizontal slot shows heavy accumulation of oils, tars and gunk. All in all, the refurbishing and shaping of this stem presents a ton of effort and time.I begin the refurbishing and reshaping of the stem by first cleaning the stem, both internally and externally. With my fabricated knife and a paper cutter, I remove the entire calcium sediments from the bite zone. Using a dental tool, I dislodge all the dried oils and tars from the tenon and slot end. I clean the stem internals with pipe cleaners and shank brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I sand the entire stem surface with a folded piece of 150 grit sand paper to remove some oxidation as well as to even out some tooth chatter from the bite zone. Once the initial cleaning is done, I move ahead for shaping/sizing the stem. The tenon is too thick for the mortise and that is my start point. I mount a sanding drum on to my hand held rotary tool and sand the tenon till I achieve a rough fit in to the mortise. During the entire process, I frequently check the progress being made as I do not want to sand too much material from the tenon, making for a loose fit.I fine tune the fit of the tenon in to the mortise by hand sanding with flat head needle file and 180 grit followed by a 220 grit sand paper. The tenon attachment with the stem is shaped with a triangular needle file. I check the seating of the stem in to the mortise after I remove the shank band. The stem fit is nice and snug. Before I move to the final fit and shaping of the stem, I decide to reband the shank end. This time I select a band that was a snug fit as against a size smaller as I have done earlier. To reduce the thickness of the band, this time I manually sand it over a 150 grit sand paper instead of using my rotary tool and a sanding drum. It does take a long time, but the end result is much better. The last letter “R” has been masked, but I shall deal with it later (will I…?). I still have not glued the band in place, just to be on the safer side!!Now with the band in place, I move ahead with shaping and aligning the stem. The first thing that I proceed to do is to shave of the excess meat from the shoulders at the tenon end. Readers, when I say excess, please be aware that the word excess does not convey the quantum of excess… It  was hell of a lot of material to shave off!! I mount a 150 grit sanding drum on to the rotary tool and go to town sanding off the material from the shoulders of the stem. Once I have achieved a rough match, I use a flat head needle file to further match the fit. I progress to manual sanding with a 180 grit sand paper to fine tune the match. This is how the stem profile matches with the shank end of the stummel…not quite there but getting close. I feel that the mid region of the stem needs to be trimmed a bit and do so with a flat head needle file and a 180 grit sand paper. Here is where I have reached at this stage. Truth be told, eye balling the shape is not the easiest way to achieve the exact shape since I am always seeing it, shaping it and matching it. It’s something akin to optical illusion that I am experiencing. There is a bit of overhang at the shoulders of the stem and I need to shave off some more material from the area above it. Also a slight gap is seen at the lower end and on the left side of the stem that needs to be addressed. I decide to take a break from all the sanding of the stem and move on to shaping the stem to match the profile of the stummel. I insert a pipe cleaner through the stem’s air way to prevent it from collapsing once the stem is heated. I first straightened the stem by heating it with a heat gun. To impart the requisite bend, I try to adopt the technique that my friend, Dal Stanton of PipeSteward fame, uses and that is to draw a diagram marked with the plane of the stummel rim top, a parallel plane that is required, the present profile of the stem and thereafter, the exact place and shape of the bend that is needed. Well, it is an attempt that I made, but ended up eye balling the exact bend to be imparted. I heat the stem with my heat gun till the vulcanite becomes pliable and gives it the necessary bend. I hold it in place till the stem had cooled down a bit and thereafter, hold the stem under cold water for the bend to set. The next issue that is addressed is of the stem repairs. I insert a triangle shaped index card covered in transparent tape in to the slot. The tape prevents the mix of superglue and charcoal from sticking to the index card. I mix superglue and activated charcoal powder and generously apply it over the bite zone, including over the button. I also fill the couple of deep chips along the seam on either sides as well as on the lower and upper surfaces of the stem with the charcoal mix and set it aside to cure. Once the mix has cured, I remove the index card from the slot. While the stem fill is set aside to cure, I polish the stummel with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 pads. This time around, I do not repeat the mistake of polishing the plateau rim top as I had done with the PH # 3 earlier! I wipe the surface with a soft cloth at the end of the micromesh cycle. The stummel looks amazing with a deep shine and beautiful straight grains popping over the stummel surface. I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar. I rub this balm deep in to the nooks and crannies of the plateau rim top surface with my fingers and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the dark brown hues of the grain contrasting with the rest of the stummel surface. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. The appearance of the stummel at this stage motivates me further to complete this project at the earliest. I set the stummel aside and all that remains was to shape, align and polish the stem! Now motivated with the appearance of the stummel, I turn my attention to the stem repair. The fills have cured nicely and I move ahead and began the process of filing and shaping the button end with a flat head needle file. At this stage, I get in touch with Steve on Face Time and discuss the progress on the stem. He suggests that a slightly sharper bend to the stem from near the bite zone would accentuate the shape and flow of the shank with that of the stem. He also suggests that the profile of the stem near the shoulder and mid region needs to be more slender. So, it is back to heating the end of the stem with the heat gun and giving it the desired bend, of course, eyeballing it to the desired shape!As discussed with Steve, with a flat needle file, I shave off some more vulcanite from the shoulder and the mid region of the stem. I further sand the stem with 220, 320, 400, 600, 800 grit sand papers and finally with 0000 grade steel wool. I wipe the stem with a cotton pad dipped in alcohol to remove the resultant dust and rub some extra virgin olive oil onto the stem and set it aside to be absorbed.I polish the stem with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I rub a little extra virgin olive oil in to the stem at the end of the micromesh pads polishing cycle. I complete the polishing regime of the stem by rubbing a small quantity of Extra Fine Stem polish developed by my friend Mark Hoover, and giving it a final polish with a soft cotton cloth. The stem is now nice, smooth and shiny.To apply the finishing touches, I first mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and apply a coat of Blue Diamond to the stummel and the stem to polish out the minor scratches. Boy, am I glad to finally have reached the home run stretch to complete this project!! I shared these images with Steve for his comment. He suggested that the shoulder overhang needs to be reduced and under belly to be straightened out more.Well, here I was back with a flat needle file and 220 grit sand papers as against carnauba wax and rotary tool!! I again diligently worked on these issues, frequently checking for progress being made. Once I am satisfied that the shoulder overhangs and under belly issues have been resolved, I check the seating of the stem in to the mortise. The seating is canted backwards. I address this issue by heating the tenon and slightly pushing it upwards (that is, in the opposite direction). I check the seating and am quite pleased by the overall appearance of the stem and its seating. Thereafter, I go through the entire regime of sanding and polishing as explained above. At the end of the micromesh pads, I complete the polishing regime of the stem by rubbing a small quantity of Extra Fine Stem polish developed by my friend Mark Hoover, and giving it a final polish with a soft cotton cloth. The stem is now nice, smooth and shiny. With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of carnauba wax to the stummel and stem and continue to work on it till the complete coat of wax is polished out. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. I finish the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine further. The finished pipe is shown below. P.S. – This project was more tedious than I had anticipated, mostly because of my own faults and errors in judgement.  But then, isn’t this the fun part of being of the learning curve? I shall be avoiding the following in my future restorations:

(a) Using a band that is a tad smaller then the shank end diameter. I would rather use a band that has a snug and perfect fit over the shank end.

(b) Using a rotary tool with a sanding drum to get the band to the desired size. It’s better, safer and precise to manually sand the band on a sand paper.

(c) Clamping the shank end after filling a crack. I am not sure, but I think that the clamping down may have caused a slight deformation that had caused me such grief with the seating of the stem.

(d) Less reliance on “eye balling” for sizing and shaping…need to get on with hunting for a “PIMO TENON TURNING TOOL” and a set of “VERNIER CALIPERS”.

I am really fortunate to be in the process of learning the nuances of pipe restoration and cannot thank Steve enough for his support and guidance.

Thanks for your patience and looking forward to input about the write up. Cheers…

An Easy Restore – an Il Ceppo 1 Hand Made Paneled Horn


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the worktable is another one that I have been looking forward to working on. It is a large Il Ceppo Paneled Horn. The pipe is in very good condition when he took it from the box. There were not a lot of issues to deal with in the cleanup and restoration. It is stamped on the underside of the diamond shank 1 in a circle followed by Il Ceppo followed by Hand Made Italy. The pipe is horn shaped. It has a round rim top flowing into 5 panels down the sides of the bowl merging into a diamond shaped shank. There was some darkening around the inner edge of the rim and top toward the back of the bowl. There was a moderate cake in the lower portion of the deep bowl. The upper portions had darkened and had a thin cake. The finish was dirty and there dust in the rustication around the bowl. The black acrylic diamond shaped saddle stem had a white inlaid C on the left side of the saddle. There were light tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside ahead of the button. Otherwise the stem looked very good. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the bowl and rim top to show their general condition. You can see the tars and darkening on the inner edge of the rim top. The cake in the bowl is moderate and thickening as you go further down the bowl. The rusticated finish on the bowl sides and the smooth rim top combine to make an interesting pipe.Jeff took some photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give an idea of the unique rustication on this particular piece of briar. It is quite stunning with the smooth rim top and the diamond shaped shank end. I cannot wait to see what it looks like once it is cleaned and polished. He took a photo of the stamping on the left underside of the diamond shank to capture it for me. It is clear and readable. The encircle 1 followed by the il ceppo stamp and then Hand Made Italy. He included a photo of the inlaid C on the left side of the saddle stem.The black acrylic stem is in good condition other than being dirty and having light tooth marks and chatter on the both sides of the stem at the button. The photos below show the condition of the stem.Not too long ago I worked on an il ceppo large sandblast billiard and had done some research into the brand (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/25/life-for-a-beautiful-sandblast-il-ceppo-made-by-hand-triangle-1-billiard/). I turned to that blog and reread the information that I had included there. I took the liberty to include that below.

I turned then to Pipedia to see what I could find out about Il Ceppo pipes. I read through the Il Ceppo page written by the pipemaker and then the next section of the page written by RD Field. Here is the link to that page on Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Il_Ceppo).  I will quote from the section on the line below.

The il ceppo brand has been in production since the late 1970’s but, in spite of its overall good value, is not well known in all parts of the United States. Partly this is because of a limited supply of pipes and partly because the brand has not been put in front of the pipe smoking public through a national venue.

The il ceppo brand is made in Pesaro, Italy and is part of the famous Pesaro school of design that has also produced Mastro de Paja and Ser Jacopo. That all three brands have similar characteristics can be seen at a glance, but they all have significant differences as well.

Giorgio Imperatori, an architect, had a passion for pipes, and in 1978 began to design and make Il Ceppo. Always considered a good value and very good for smoking, the brand did not make folks stop and take notice until 1995 when Franco Rossi joined the firm. He brought with him a true elegance of design and a unique flair that now helps Il Ceppo stand apart. Giorgio has retired to his farmhouse, and the pipes are now all made by Franco and his sister Nadia.

Individuals involved in the creation and continuation of the Il Ceppo brand are; Giorgio Imperatori (now retired from pipe making); Franco Rossi who, along with his sister Nadia, are the current Il Ceppo pipe makers; Mario Lubinski, the distributor of the Il Ceppo brand in Italy; Massimo Palazzi who worked with Il Ceppo until 1998 when he founded his own brand, L’Anatra.

I turned to Pipephil’s site (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-i.html) to gather additional information. I have included a screen capture below of the section on the brand.From the notes on that page it confirms RD Field’s information. Brand founded by Giorgio Imperatori in 1977 (first period) and bought by Franco Corinaldesi Rossi (second period, about 1996) when Giorgio retired. Franco and his sister Nadia are the current (2011) Il Ceppo pipe makers.

I also found that the section on the grading system on the Pipephil site was really helpful in identifying and reading the stamping on the pipe in my hands.

Grading system.

Pipes from the first period:

“Il Ceppo” stamping slightly curved, A to H and a 4-5 digit number, Group number in a triangle

Now the new information. Putting together all of the information on the pipe I can summarize what I have learned. I knew now that the pipe on my table war from the Second Period (1996-2010). The Il Ceppo stamping is a straight line on this one. The number 1 on the shank indicates a sandblasted pipe. The last point is interesting as I would not have called this a sand blasted pipe. Perhaps a good description would be “Blasticated”.

With that information I moved forward to work on the pipe itself and see what I had to do with it. The pipe looked amazing. Even the stem looked like new, with most of the tooth marks and chatter gone. There was some darkening on the edge of the rim but that too had almost disappeared. Jeff had done his normal thorough clean up – reaming, scrubbing, soaking and the result was evident in the pipe when I unpacked it. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. The shape and finish on this pipe is quite beautiful! I took some photos of the rim top and stem. The rim top and bowl looked very good. The cake and the darkening on the back side of the inner edge of the rim looked better. Jeff had been able to get rid of most of the darkening. There was some light scratching that I would be able to polish out. The close up photos of the stem shows that it is a much cleaner. There was still some light tooth chatter but it was really quite minimal.I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank to show the condition after the cleanup. Often the stamping takes a hit with the cleaning and is lessened in it clarity. Jeff does a great job in leaving the stamping looking very good.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe at this point. You can clearly see the condition, size and shape of the pipe.I started my part of the restoration work on this pipe by polishing the rim top and inner edge of the bowl. I dry sanded with micromesh sanding pads -1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the rim top down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth. The rim top and edges look very good at this point. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to get in the nooks and crannies of the “Blastication’ on the sides of the bowl. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for about ten minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. The remaining tooth chatter and marks were very minimal and I could remove them with polishing. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a cloth containing some Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. Putting this pipe back together was not as dramatic as it usually is but still it is rewarding nonetheless. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe lightly with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I carefully avoided the stamping on the shank sides during the process. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad on the buffer. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is a real stunning example of a Horn shaped pipe. The “Blasticated” grain and the way the shape follows it is very well done. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 7 inches, Height: 3 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches wide x 2 inches long, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This interesting il ceppo Italian Hand Made 1 Horn is a great looking pipe in excellent condition. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. I will be adding it to the rebornpipes store soon. If you want to add it to your collection send me an email or a message! Thanks for your time.

Crème de la Crème – There are just some pipes that leave you speechless


Blog by Steve Laug

This is one of those pipes that have to be seen to truly appreciate the craftsmanship that went into it. In my title for this blog I called Crème de la crème which in French literally means ‘cream of the cream’. It is an idiom meaning “the best of the best”, “superlative”, or “the very best”. You may not like the shape; I have to admit I did not when I first saw it. My speechlessness at first was over how odd and ugly the pipe was at first glance. It is not one that I would naturally gravitate to that is for sure. However, you cannot deny the sheer craftsmanship that went into this pipe as you turn it in your hands and look at all the various angles and asymmetrical twists in the bowl and stem. It is quite singularly stunning and certainly a pipe that I did not expect to see or work on. The pipe is stamped Butz Choquin over Cybele 3 on the heel of the bowl and underside of the shank.

How to describe this pipe? That is certainly a hard this to capture the craftsmanship with words. But I will try! The left side of the pipe is sandblast and literally the blast covers roughly the left half of the bowl. The rim top is smooth as is the right side of the pipe. The shank which flow directly out of the combined finishes is a mosaic of inlaid hard woods of varying colours and grains. The only pattern to them is really a lack of pattern. Looking down the pipe from the stem to the front of the bowl you can see that the shank takes a decided twist to the left and flattens out on the right. It ends at the shank end in an oval shape.  The stem is acrylic and also carries the twist even farther. It has a silver BC and inlaid star on the top of the stem. When sight down the stem from the button you will see that it is actually tipped very slightly to the left though appears to be aligned with the rim top. Jeff took photos of the pipe from a variety of angles to capture what I have tried to describe. He took a photo of the inlay work on the shank showing it from the right side. Some of you probably can name the various woods that are included in the shank but I cannot. I am fairly certain that there is a briar core and these are like a shank extension over that. They appear a bit rough in the photo and marred but all of that will be remedied in the restoration.Jeff took a photo of each side of the bowl to give an idea of the sheer contrast in terms of finish and also colour. The first shows the left side the second shows the right side. You can see the nicks in the finish on the right side as well as some potential fills.I realize as I get to this point in the blog that I have yet to describe the condition of the pipe. Okay let me do that now. I have been so caught up in trying to describe the craftsmanship and uniqueness of the design that I honestly forgot! To be honest the pipe is filthy! The sandblast portion has dust and debris in the finish. The rest of the bowl is dirty. The wood inlays are scratched, dented and the finish that protected them is worn off. The rim top has some marks and scratches in the surface. The inner edge of the bowl has some darkening and some tars and lava. The inside of the bowl appears a little odd to me. There is a cake in the bowl but what is shown in the two photos below looks like some bowl coating on the top portion that is peeling away with cake on top of it. That is strange. The stem is also dirty with tooth marks and chatter around the button on both sides.Jeff took some photos of the front of the bowl the grain on the smooth portion is really nice cross grain. The line running between the sandblast and the smooth portion is flowing and almost alive looking. It is rough because of the merging of the two finishes. Jeff took two photos of the stamping on heel and shank. The first photo shows the stamping clearly and the joint between the briar and the inlaid woods. The inlaid words are shown more clearly in the second photo. The woods are dull and lifeless looking up close. They are also rough to the touch. The stamping on the stem appears to be white but it is actually silver and is a inlaid into the acrylic. The stem is dirty and there is light tooth chatter and marks on both sides. There is also some scratching in the acrylic that is visible in the photos.I turned to Pipephil’s site to see what he had to say about this particular line of Butz Choquin pipes (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-butzchoquin.html). He gives me a quick summary of the history of the brand. He also says that “the Cybele model has always the same shape with a shank extension of reconstructed exotic woods”.At this point I did some research on the name Cybele. I googled the name and found a link to smokingpipes.com that was written by Eric Squires describing the name of the pipe what he thought of the pipe he was looking at. (https://www.smokingpipes.com/pipes/estate/france/moreinfo.cfm?product_id=189504). I quote:

Cybele’s role in her native Anatolian remains an unknown. Most of what we know of her comes through the ancient Greeks worshiping her as an exotic deity, or the Romans’ later adoption of her as the Magna Mater. But what’s with this pipe? Given just how exotic its shaping is, and the sweeping nature of it, I would think it was inspired by the wilder rites that came to be associated with the goddess of enigmatic origins. Definitely this is one of the stranger designs I’ve seen by B.C., but that said it does still sit well.

I also googled the goddess Cybele to get a bit broader picture of what she was about in the Greek pantheon (https://www.theoi.com/Phrygios/Kybele.html).

KYBELE (Cybele) was the ancient Phrygian Mother of the Gods, a primal nature goddess worshipped with orgiastic rites in the mountains of central and western Anatolia. The Greeks identified her with their own mother of the gods–the Titaness Rhea.

Interesting information by it really did not help me understand why Butz Choquin had named their pipe Cybele. But I think I will leave that for now and move on to the restoration work on the pipe. Jeff had done his usual thorough cleanup of the pipe. He had reamed it with a PipNet reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife. He scrubbed the internals of both the shank and he stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the externals with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush. He cleaned the stem with Soft Scrub and let the pipe dry thoroughly before putting it back together and sending it to me. I took some photos of the pipe when I unpacked the box. I took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the difference the cleaning had made. There are a few nicks in the surface of the rim top but the edges look very good. The stem also looks much better. There are a few light tooth marks in the surface of the stem on the top and underside near the button.The stamping looked very clear and the scratching on the wood inlay section looked better. I took the stem off the bowl and took some pictures. I decided to polish out the scratches in the smooth parts of the bowl and the wood inlaid shank first so I used micromesh sanding pads. I dry sanded with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads and wiped the bowl down after each sanding pad to get a sense of progress. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to get in the nooks and crannies of the blast. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for about ten minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth chatter and blended in the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper and started to polish it with a folded piece of 400 wet dry sandpaper. Once it was finished it was smooth.I used some Denicare Mouthpiece Polish that I have in my kit to start polishing out some of the scratches and remaining stains on the surface of the stem. I rubbed it in with a cotton pad and my finger tip and buffed it off with a cotton pad.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a cloth containing some Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. This was an interesting pipe to work on and each step brought more life and colour to it. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe lightly with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I carefully avoided the stamping on the underside of the shank during the process. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad on the buffer to give it a shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is a very interesting example of the creativity and craftsmanship of Butz Choquin in France. The sandblast grain on the left side of the bowl and the smooth grain on the briar and the inlaid woods look great and seem to follow the flow of the briar. This is the first BC Cybele pipe I have seen or worked on it was an interesting piece. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches wide x 1 ½ inches long, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This French Made Butz Choquin Cybele came out looking great and it is in excellent condition. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. This one will be going on the rebornpipes store soon if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for your time.