Blog by Steve Laug
Jeff picked up this odd or unique or (ugly?) geometric bulldog in a group of pipes that we purchased recently. It came in the pipe bag pictured below and to the left. It is soft suede leather that is a mix of greys. It has the logo of the brand and the name of the pipe maker on the fount of it. It is a very different looking pipe with lots of edges to the shank and bowl and very geometric look to it. The finish is a very shallow sandblast and the stain on the briar is a mixture of tans, browns, blacks and even a bit of green. It has a black ebonite stem that has a very different style of saddle. The tenon is well made and the end is funneled to draw the smoke into the mouth of the pipe man or woman. The pipe is stamped on the left panel of the shank and read McIKL near the shank end.
The pipe was dirty with grime and dust in the finish of the sides and rim top. There is a medium cake in the bowl but no lava overflow onto the beveled rim top. The inner edge and the outer edge both looked to be in excellent condition. The ebonite stem had light tooth marks and chatter on the surface of the stem on both sides ahead of the button. Otherwise it is a clean looking stem. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. Jeff took photos of the rim top from various angles to show the condition of the bowl and rim as I described above. The finish is in good condition under the grime. The inner and outer edges of the rim look very good under the thick cake and light lava overflow. There do not appear to be any nicks of dents in the top of the rim. He took photos of the sides of the bowl showing the finish on the briar. It is sandblasted but has a very unique texture to it. You can also see the grime in the surface of the finish.Jeff took a photo of the stamping on the lower left side of the shank. It is very readable. It reads McIKL. It appears that each letter is stamped individually judging from the spacing and alignment of the stamp.He took photos of the stem to show the oxidation and the tooth marks and chatter on both sides.The McIKL brand was not one that I had heard of before. I have worked on a lot of pipes but I have never seen a pipe like this one and I am unfamiliar with the brand. I turned to Pipephil’s site to see if I could find out information on the brand. There was nothing on the site on that brand. I turned to Pipedia and again found no information on the site.
I then did what I should have in the first place I suppose. I did a Google search of the brand and I found the pipe maker’s website (https://mcikl5.wixsite.com/pipes). There I found the very pipe that I am working on. It was on one of the pull down tabs called on artisan pipes. The carver called the pipe “Wedgebull”. The name is a perfect description of the pipe I am working on. It really is a series of wedges and triangles. I decided to include the information from the site on the briar and stem as well as the details size, weight and original cost of the pipe. I actually had no idea what a pipe like this would have cost originally so I figured that might be helpful information to include.
Stummel: briar – David Bruken (Spain)
Stem: ebonite – SEM (Germany)
Total Length : 120 mm / 4.72 in
Bowl Height : 52 mm / 2.04 in
Bowl Width : 58 mm / 2.28 in
Bowl Chamber Depth : 23 mm / 0.9 in
Bowl Chamber Width : 20 mm / 0.79 in
Weight : 57 g / 2.01 oz
Price: USD 310
He also included a great series of photos if you want to see that pipe along with other pipes he has made and is making. I am including some photos of the pipe to show what it originally looked like. With a clearer picture of the pipe maker in mind I turned to work on this pipe. Jeff had done a great job in cleaning up this pipe. He had reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He took back the cake to the walls of the bowl. He also cleaned off the lava and grime on inner edge of the rim. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime on the bowl and rim and rinsed it off with warm running water. He cleaned out the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until they came out clean. He cleaned the stem with Soft Scrub to remove the grime on the exterior and cleaned out the airway with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked it in Before & After deoxidizer and rinsed it clean afterwards. The stem was a very tight fit and actually with the angles was hard to put in place on the shank. I took some photos of the pipe as I saw it. It was a very different pipe from all the others I usually work on. To show how clean the rim top and stem really was I took a close-up photo of the rim and stem. The bowl was clean and cake free. The rim top looked really good and the beveled inner edge of the bowl has all of the lava removed. The ebonite stem looks very good. The surface and the button edge appear to be in good condition. There were some small tooth marks and chatter on both sides but it looked good.I took the stem off the pipe and took a photo to show the shape of the Wedgebull – it is a pipe of many angles and triangles. It is very unique and the ebonite stem is uniquely shaped to work well with the shape.My part of this restoration was quite simple as the bowl was in great condition after Jeff’s cleanup work. I moved straight to working some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl and the rim top. I worked it into the surface with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the wood. I let the balm sit for 10 minutes and buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth. I repeated the process a second time and the pipe began to show its colours. Next on my list was to work on the fit of the tenon in the shank. Jeff had mentioned that it was very tight from the time he received it. I used a piece of 220 grit sandpaper to carefully and slowly reduce the diameter of the tenon to give it a snug but not tight fit. It did not take too much work and the fit was perfect.With the fit of the stem in the shank cleaned up I could stem the bowl aside and turn my attention to the stem. I also sanded out the light tooth marks and chatter on the surface of the ebonite stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I followed the 220 grit sandpaper by sanding it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to begin the polishing of the surface of the stem. I polished the stem with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish to take out the sanding marks around the button area. I buffed the stem with a microfiber cloth.I polished out the scratches with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I wiped it down with Briarville’s No Oxy Oil and set it aside to dry. I have to tell you the angles on this pipe make the work of restoring hard on the hands! So I am very happy to be on the homestretch with this pipe and I really look forward to the final look when it is put back together and polished and waxed. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The Wedgebull bowl really looked good with the polished ebonite saddle stem. The combination colours in the stain coat on the bowl really work well with the black of the polished ebonite stem. For all the pain the angles caused me in working on it I have to tell you that it is a very comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 4.72 inches, Height: 2.04 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2.28 inches, Chamber diameter: .75 of an inch. This pipe will be going on the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it. Let me know if you want me to put it aside for you. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.