Daily Archives: April 16, 2020

Now for a bit of a Break – a Vacher Long Shank Cherrywood Poker


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on my worktable is a long shank Cherrywood or Poker. It is a tall pipe with an angled heel that makes it a sitter. It is well balanced so it is a very stable sitter. The finish is a unique mix of rustication patterns. The left side of the bowl (shown in the first photo) is a tight patterned rustication. The right side has some angled grooves across the pattern that is quite unique. The shank rustication is a much looser rustication and again some of the grooves so it is very different from the rest of the bowl. The briar is stain with some black undercoat and an oxblood top coat. The pipe has a smooth heel on the bowl and a smooth band around the shank. The saddle stem is vulcanite that has some light tooth chatter and marks at the button. The bowl has a moderated cake and the inner edge of the rim has some darkening. The rim top itself is quite clean. The stamping is the logo for Laughing Moon Pipes – a crescent moon and a star. Under that is Vacher signature and the number 2013. The pipe is dusty but otherwise in good shape. Jeff took the following photos before he started his cleanup work on the pipe. He took close-up photos of the bowl and rim top from various angles to capture the condition of the bowl and rim top edges. You can see the clean rim top free of lava and just a bit dusty. There is also some darkening around the inner edge of the bowl. The rustication on the rim is another different style pattern from the rest of the pipe. Very unique.He took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the unique and rugged rustication patterns around the bowl. It is craggy and random looking. You can see the dust and debris in the finish. Jeff took a photo of the stamping on the flat, smooth heel. It has the Laughing Moon Pipes logo at the top and underneath it bears Vacher’s signature and the number 2013 which could be the year of manufacture or something else…The next two photos show the top and underside of the stem. The oxidation and the tooth marks on both sides near the button are visible in the photos. When the pipe arrived I knew I had worked on pipes from Vacher and Laughing Moon Pipes in the past but I could not find them on the blog. That was strange – maybe age playing a trick on me? Ah well! I instead turned to Pipephil (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-v1.html) to see if he included a quick summary of information on the brand. I was not disappointed. I have included  a screen capture of the pertinent section. From there I learned a few things.

The pipe maker was Robert Vacher who had worked with Brian Ruthenberg in his early days. I also learned that his pipe were stamped with 4 digit numbers. The first 2 digits was the pipe number in the year. The last 2 digits was the year of manufacture. Interestingly that made the pipe on my table the 20th pipe made in 2013 if I am interpreting it correctly.I turned to Pipedia for more information on Robert Vacher and the Laughing Moon Pipes that he carved (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Laughingmoon_Pipes). The site had a great writeup by Vacher himself taken from his Ebay store. The thing that stood out to me was his mission statement which I quote below:

MISSION STATEMENT: I believe that EVERYONE who desires to smoke a handcrafted pipe should be able to buy one regardless of their station in life. There is no reason why the janitor in a highrise should not be able to smoke the same pipe as the owner of that building. My pipes are made for, but not limited to, the people who make up the backbone of this world. The people who get up every day and get the job done. I just want you to know that when I make YOUR pipe, I made it with YOU in mind. So in the future, as in the past, I will make super-affordable pipes for those who enjoy them.

The article also includes the following information on the maker as well as his email address should you desire to contact him.

Robert Vacher
477-700 Laura Lane
Litchfield, California 96117  USA
E-mail: rvacher@citlink.net

Now it was time to look at the pipe up close and personal. I had just finished reworking the dog chewed Ser Jacopo so I was looking for something more like a simple restoration that needed little work. The Vacher appeared to be that  pipe . Jeff had done an amazing job in removing all of the cake and the thick lava on the rim top. He had reamed the bowl with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He took the cake back to bare briar so we could check the walls for damage. 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 was able to remove the dirt. 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. I took some photos of the pipe as I saw it. 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 is very clean with no residual grime in the groves of the rustication. The inner edges of the bowl look good. The black vulcanite saddle stem cleaned up nicely. The surface had some light tooth marks but the button edge looked really good.I took a photo of the stamping on the smooth heel of the bowl. You can see the Laughing Moon Pipes logo, Vacher’s name and the numbers.I removed the stem from the bowl and took photos of the parts. The vulcanite saddle stem worked really well with the thin pencil shank. Take particular note of the stem and tenon in both photos. The distance from the edge of the stem to the side of the tenon is different on both sides. It is definitely narrower on the right and underside which made it clear that the shank drilling was not quite round. I took a photo of the end of the shank and end of the stem to show the same thing. I have identified the thinner side of the shank and stem with red arrows in the 3rd photo below. The bowl looked very good so I did not need to do any further work on it. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the finish on the bowl and shank. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I worked it in with my fingers and with a horse hair shoe brush to get it into the deep nooks and crannies of the rusticated finish on the rim and bowl sides. I let it sit for 30 minutes to let it do its magic. I buffed it with a soft cloth. The briar really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. The bowl was finished so I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth marks on both sides of the stem with a folded piece of 220 sandpaper and started polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I rubbed the stem down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish – a red gritty paste a lot like Tripoli to polish it after the 400 grit sandpaper. I rub it on with my fingertips and work it into the vulcanite and buff it off with a cloth. It does a great job before I polish it further with the micromesh pads.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the stem 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. I gave it a final rub down with Briarville’s No Oxy Oil to preserve and protect the vulcanite stem. I put the bowl and stem back together again and lightly buffed the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I used a soft touch on the rusticated bowl so as not to fill in the valleys and crannies with the product. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem several coats of carnauba wax. I carefully buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I finished buffing with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe looks very good. The rusticated finish is deep and rugged with a great look and feel in the hand. It is comfortable and light weight. The finished American Made Vacher is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 ½ inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 5/8 of an inch. This great looking rusticated Cherrywood Poker turned out very well. It should be a great pipe. It will make someone a great smoking pipe. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested let me know. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.

Operation Rescue – “My Dog Ate my Ser Jacopo L1 Billiard!”


Blog by Steve Laug

When Jeff showed me the next pipe on the table we went back and forth about buying it or just leaving it with the seller. It was a really nice Ser Jacopo L1 Billiard at some point in its life but that time had passed. It had literally become a chew toy for someone’s dog. The bowl was in very rough shape and had deep tooth gouges around the bowl with chunks of briar missing on the rim and top. The bowl was really damaged to the point of being questionable. The shank interestingly was free of bite marks and the stem had less bite marks than some of the stems I have worked on from pipemen who chew their stems. For me the question was whether or not I wanted to work on it. There was no doubt that the pipe would be a challenge but was it a challenge I wanted to take on. That was the question we weighed before moving ahead with the buy.

After spending time talking about it we decided to pick up the pipe and see what I could do with it. When Jeff got it the story became even sadder!  The bowl had amazing straight grain around the sides and it appeared to have been barely smoked. It looked as if maybe a bowl or two had been enjoyed before the dog got a hold of the pipe and did the massive damage that showed when we saw it. The bowl had some darkening but there was no cake in the bowl. It smelled smoky but otherwise was very clean. Jeff would still clean up the pipe before he sent it on to me that way I would be able to just pick it up and see what I could do with it. Jeff took the following photos before he started his cleanup work on the pipe. Just look at the damage! Oh my; the pipeman or woman must have just wept after the initial shock or anger when he or she saw the pipe dangling from the dog’s mouth. He took close-up photos of the bowl and rim top from various angles to capture the gnawing damage to the bowl and rim top edges. You can see the large bite marks and chunks of briar missing on both the inner and outer edges. The largest chunk is on the front of the bowl and the inner edges damage is on the right side. You can also see the damage to the sides of the bowl. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the both the extent of the damage to the bowl and the amazing grain around the bowl. It really is a shame that this poor pipe suffered this fate. Jeff took photos of the stamping on sides of the bowl. On the left side it reads Ser Jacopo over Fatta A Mano over In Italia. On the right side it reads L1 in a circle Per Aspera Ad Aspera. On De Divina Proportione. All the stampings are very readable and clear. He took a photo of the inlays on the tapered stem top. The silver J with an I and a circle. The next two photos show the top and underside of the stem. Notice the few tooth marks on both sides. It is not as bad as it could be. I wanted to know a bit more about the pipe in hand. I knew a little of the history of the brand but I wanted to understand the stamping on the shank sides and underside so I turned first to the Pipephil website (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-s5.html). Interestingly the first pipe they had a photo of was similar to the one that I had. It is stamped similarly on the left side of the shank with the Ser Jacopo over Fatta a Mano but the one I have also was stamped In Italia under that. The right side of mine is stamped with the L1 in a circle and the Per Aspera Ad Astra followed that. Mine also was stamped on the underside of the shank and read: De Divina Proportione. The one I am working on also had a band on the shank and the stem stamp was different as well. I also learned the L1 stamp stood for a pipe with acceptable grain. I have included a screen capture of the  pertinent information.Once I had that material digested a bit I turned to Pipedia to understand more about the stamping on the pipe (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Ser_Jacopo). I am including the information on that below. The standard nomenclature found on Ser Jacopo pipes is as follows: Ser Jacopo Fatta A Mano In Italia Per Aspera Ad Astra.

Fatta A Mano translates to “Made By Hand”. Per Aspera Ad Astra is a Latin phrase found on Ser Jacopo pipes and is the Ser Jacopo motto. It translates to “To the Stars Through Travails”, meaning that success comes through hard work. In the Summer 1997 Pipes and Tobaccos article Giancarlo Guidi translated this as “through a difficult way until the stars are reached”.

All that remained was to find out what the De Divina Proportione on the underside of the shank meant. I turned to wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Divina_proportione) for what I assumed referred to Divine Proportion or the Golden Ratio. I quote from there a good summary.

Divina proportione (15th century Italian for Divine proportion), later also called De divina proportione (converting the Italian title into a Latin one) is a book on mathematics written by Luca Pacioli and illustrated by Leonardo da Vinci, composed around 1498 in Milan and first printed in 1509.[1] Its subject was mathematical proportions (the title refers to the golden ratio) and their applications to geometry, to visual art through perspective, and to architecture. The clarity of the written material and Leonardo’s excellent diagrams helped the book to achieve an impact beyond mathematical circles, popularizing contemporary geometric concepts and images.

Now I had a clear idea of the meaning of the stamping. The Golden Ratio refers to the mathematical proportions of this particular pipe fitting that Ratio. It is seriously a beautiful pipe and now I am even sadder at the damage that was done. That motivates me to try to bring it back to some semblance of beauty.

Now it was time to look at it up close and personal. Jeff had done an amazing job in removing all debris and bits of broken briar from the finish. He had done a quick reaming of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime the grime and dirt on the finish so the pipe was clean – damaged but clean. He cleaned out the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until they came out clean. The rim top looked quite daunting with the missing chunks of briar but it too was 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. I took some photos of the pipe as I saw it when I brought it to the work table. To show how the rim top and stem looked at this point I took a close-up photo of the rim and stem. The bowl was clean and the damage to the inner edge and the rim top was very visible. It was a mess! The black acrylic stem was saved from major dog chomping. There are just a few tooth marks on both sides of the stem that could be addressed fairly easily.I removed the stem from the bowl and took photos of the parts. I chose the left side of the bowl as really both sides were equally damaged. This is truly a sad sight to see as the great grain on the bowl shows up nicely under the damage.I had been thinking about what to do with the finish since first seeing the photos. I had decided I would rusticate it but was undecided as to what extent I would go in the process. I wanted to retain the original shape and intent of the pipe while working out the damages. I started by using three different burrs on the Dremel – a ball, a cone and cylinder. Each one gives a slightly different finish. I worked them one after another to seek to blend in the tooth marks as much as possible. I also decided to rusticate the worst areas – the base and part way up each side of the bowl and the entire bowl front. The photos show this first step. I decided to let that rustication pattern sit with me for awhile and not add more to it. I just wanted to think about it for a  while. I decided then to patch the bite marks in the upper part of each side and the entire back of the bowl. I also wanted to repair as much of the rim top and edge damage as I could. I used clear super glue and briar dust to patch the many tooth marks around the bowl. The photos show the freckled sides. I built up the damaged front outer edge and the deep marks on the top of the rim with super glue and briar dust. These took some layering to do the job. I looked over the rustication some more and was not completely satisfied with the coverage of the existing rustication or the distance I came around the sides of the bowl. I decided to use a tool that a reader of rebornpipes made for me for rusticating. You can see it in the photos. It is essential a group nails bound together in a handle and with a clamp to give me multiple points to rusticate with. The way it works is to press it into the briar and twist it. You move across the briar until it is “randomly” covered. Once I was happy with the coverage I knock off the debris left behind with a brass bristly brush. I like to knock it down and smooth it out to give it an old leather like look to the rustication. I left the rustication and turned to address the damage to the rim top. I topped the rim with 220 grit sandpaper on the topping board. Once it was smoother and flatter I filled in the divots and holes in the rim top and edges with briar dust and super glue once more. Once I finished I topped it once more to smooth out the repaired areas.With that finished for the moment I turned to sanding the smooth portions of the bowl. I used my Dremel and sanding drum to flatten out the repaired areas first. I followed up by sanding them with 220 grit sandpaper. The photos below show the bowl at this point in the process. Note that there was no damage to the shank so I left it as is and would match the stain to that once I stained the repaired area. I was pretty happy with the way it was looking. I was ready to stain the undercoat on the bowl. I decided to use a black aniline stain for the rusticated part of the bowl and for the undercoat on the smooth sides and rim top. Black does a great job hiding the kind of repairs that I had to do with this briar. I applied the stain and flamed with a lighter. I repeated the process to ensure the coverage was thorough. I flamed it again and set it aside to dry while I had some dinner.I took photos of the bowl at this point to show the coverage of the black stain on the rustication and the undercoat on the smooth areas. After dinner I wiped down the smooth areas with isopropyl alcohol on a cotton pad to make them more transparent and show the grain. I then gave the smooth areas a coat of Mahogany stain using my stain pens to get into the transition areas and control the flow better. The combination of the black undercoat and the Mahogany matched the original shank colour! When that coat of stain had cured I polished the smooth portions of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads. One of the pains of this process is all the flaws show up in the initial sanding. You can see my repairs in some spots but hopefully they bill disappear a bit in the polishing. I was really happy with the right side of the bowl. The repairs virtually disappeared in the staining and sanding. I worked on the left side a little more. I sanded the offending areas of the transition with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper and restained the area. I worked through all of the micromesh pads another time on that area. I was happy with the finished looked at this point. I rubbed the finish down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the smooth areas on the bowl and rim top with my fingertips and the rusticated areas with a horsehair shoe brush. The product cleans, protects and enlivens the briar. I let it sit for about 30 minutes and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. The photos below show the bowl at this point… it is a far cry from the dog eaten bowl that I started with — at least I think it is ;). I set the bowl aside and turned to the stem to address the issues that were on the top and underside. I filled in the tooth marks on the stem with clear super glue. I generally overfill them a bit so that it takes into account the shrinkage that occurs as the repair cures.Once the repairs had cured I sanded them smooth to start to blend them in with the surround acrylic of the stem. I sanded the repairs on both sides with a folded piece of 220 sandpaper and started polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I rubbed the stem down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish – a red gritty paste a lot like Tripoli to polish it after the 400 grit sandpaper. I rub it on with my fingertips and work it into the vulcanite and buff it off with a cloth. It does a great job before I polish it further with the micromesh pads.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the stem 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. The next steps in this restoration were ones that I have been looking forward to. I was glad to reunite the bowl and stem and see what the finished pipe looked like. I polished the silver with a jeweler’s cloth and buffed the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I used a light touch on the rusticated portion as I did not want to fill in the rustication with the product. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I carefully buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I finished buffing with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe looks a lot better than dog chewed pipe that I started with. I am happy with the finished look at this point. While the repairs to the smooth areas show a bit they are smooth. The leather like rustication works well with the finish on the bowl in my opinion. The finished Ser Jacopo L1 Billiard is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 ½ inches, Height: 2 ¼ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This should be a great pipe once it is broken in. The rustication on the base and front give it a very tactile feel that should only be better as it heats up during a smoke. This one will go on the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in it let me know. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.

 

 

Bringing to Life a Unique Kaywoodie Natural Burl 33 – Another Legacy Pipe of a Great Grandfather


Blog by Dal Stanton

This is the second of 3 of Paw’s pipes that Joe sent to me from Athens, Greece, where he and his wife, Hannah, live and work.  Paw is Hannah’s great grandfather who left behind several pipes that Joe has asked me to restore for the family.  Paw, also known as, ‘2-Page Sam’ by those who knew him as a salesman of over 40 years of the tobacco giant, Brown & Williamson Tobacco, Corp, has a fascinating story that was described in an article in B&W’s company magazine that I included in the write up of Paw’s Medico Apollo Brylon, which I just completed that turned out well (See: Another Legacy Pipe of a Great-Grandfather: Challenges Working with ‘Brylon’ on a Medico Apollo).  Next, two Kaywoodies remain to be restored – a Kaywoodie “500” and the one on my worktable now, a Kaywoodie Natural Burl 33.  Here are pictures to take a closer look. The nomenclature is on the underside of the shank’s smooth briar panel with ‘KAYWOODIE’ (as most of it is not legible as the upper half of ‘Kaywoodie’ bleeds into the craggy rusticated landscape) [over] ‘Natural Burl’ in fancy cursive script. To the left of the nomenclature is stamped the Kaywoodie shape number of 33.  In Pipedia’s listings of Kaywoodie shape numbers, 33 is listed as: “Large apple, rounded top” that was used as a shape designator from 1937 to 1972.The dating indicators of this Kaywoodie are good.  The Natural Burl has a 4-holed stinger which were phased out at the end of the 1950s, though they still show up some in the 60s according to Pipephil.eu’s discussion about Kaywoodie’s stinger evolution.  The inlaid white shamrock also points to an earlier period.I found nothing specific in Pipedia or Pipephil.eu about Kaywoodie’s ‘Natural Burl’ line.  Expanding my search, I did find very helpful anecdotal information in a February, 2013, thread by ‘kwguy’ on a Kaywoodie discussion group on Tapatalk.com:

Natural Burls are in the catalogs from 1957 to 1962. They were $4.00 when they first came out and $5.00 by the time they were discontinued.  They were basically a stained version of the Coral White Briar, which also debuted in 1957.  The overall rough texture was described in the catalogs as having a rough texture like the outside of the burl.  The rough texture in theory would create more surface area for a cooler feeling bowl.  Carving of this type was done on bowls of less desirable grain and with excessive surface imperfections.  On the lower side of the quality scale, Natural Burls would have had the white cloverleaf.  There may have been the occasional higher grade pipe that was downgraded during production and hence would have the round logo, but I think you’ll mostly see them with the white logos.

Based upon the information of this thread, the Natural Burl Apple before me dates from 1957 to 1962, when they were featured in Kaywoodie catalogs. I looked for a catalog during this period online, but unfortunately, I was unable to find one.  The rusticated or carved surface theoretically provides a cooler feeling bowl.  This pipe fits Sam’s low budget approach to his pipes.  When the Natural Burl Apple first hit the market, it was in a working man’s modest budget range, $4!  I’m hopeful that after I’ve completed working on Paw’s vintage Kaywoodie it will look like a million bucks!

The above thread from ‘kwguy’ also mentions that the ‘Natural Burl’ line was featured in Kaywoodie catalogs from 1957 to 1962.  There are Kaywoodie catalogs and adds referenced on Pipedia and the Chris Keene Directory of Pictures, but I could find nothing in these ‘go-to’ places for catalogs or listing between 57 and 62.  Emails to Steve and rebornpipes contributor, Al Jones, also came up empty.  However, Al encouraged me to reach out to Bill Feuerbach, the current president of S.M. Frank with Kaywoodie production in New York.  Al said that Bill had always been helpful and had seemed to enjoy providing info.  Nothing like going to the top of the pipe food chain!  I sent a note to Bill through the S.M. Frank website as well as to the ‘kwguy’ in the Natural Burl thread with the hope of getting a response and perhaps a historical Natural Burl add!

Al’s suggestion to me paid off!  In a few days I received a response from Bill Feuerbach, president of S.M. Frank since taking over the role from his father in 1990 as the fourth generation of Feuerbachs overseeing the company.  Bill’s note to me:

Dal 

I’d love to be able to help you out with that. I’ve looked through what I have at the shop and most of those catalogs are later 60’s to later 70’s.  I’m sure I’ll have those older catalogs from that range at home.  I’ll try and check tonight.

Best regards

Bill

After arriving home that night, Bill sent an additional note that he hadn’t found anything at his home and would redouble his efforts the following day at the shop to find the sought after ’57 to 62’ catalog pages.  Then, this note came in and the treasure hunt ended with success!

Dal

Success!!  I found the catalogs at home.  They were in a storage tub in the downstairs closet. Funny I don’t remember putting them there. It’s probably been 4 years since I referenced them. It is hell getting old, CRS is kicking in.

Anyway, I’ve attached three images from the 1958, 1960 and 1962 catalogs.  I was only using my phone to take pictures and it was difficult not to get any flash or glare.  Are they ok?  You can tell the year by the retail prices for the Natural Burl.

1958- $4.00

1960- $5.00

1962- $5.95

Let me know when you’ve posted this and the link. I’d like to take a look.  If you have any other questions let me know. If in the future you need other images from the catalogs, let me know.

Best regards

Bill

The images Bill sent were great depicting the Kaywoodie presentation of the Natural Burl line.  Both the 1960 and 1962 pages, second and third below, showcase the Large Apple on my worktable.  The pictures and descriptions are great helping to wrap Paw’s pipe in its historical context! I appreciated the help of Bill Feuerbach, president of the S. M. Frank Co. & Inc. based in New Windsor, New York.  The Frank website not only showcases the Kaywoodie, Yello-Bole and Medico brand lines, but has other interesting information as well.  In my email response to Bill, I offered to digitize the ‘treasure tubs’ of Kaywoodie catalogs and adds if I only lived a bit closer to his neighborhood!  Oh my….

As I was waiting for word from Bill before he found the catalogs, I reread the Pipedia article on the S.M Frank Co. and discovered at the bottom of the article a reference to Brian Levine’s interview of Bill on the Pipes Magazine Radio Show.  I tuned in to learn more about Bill and the Kaywoodie name.  I was interested to hear in the interview that not only is Bill the CEO of the company, but he is an accomplished freehand pipe maker himself, likes single malts and owns and enjoys pipes in his rotation other than Kaywoodies!  It was a great interview and I encourage readers to tune in too!

The name for this Kaywoodie series, ‘Natural Burl’, harkens back to a pipe’s origins – or at least its bowl.  The Natural Burl adds above from Bill describe the ‘rugged, weather-carved briar’ that breathes more because of the increased surface of the bowl.  Briar comes from a bush-like plant that grows in arid lands.  The Kaywoodie motif focuses on the rough state of the burl in its natural form sporting rusticated or carved bowls to emulate a natural harvested burl.  The burl is the base of the briar bush that is cut into blocks, each becoming the raw material for fashioning each unique bowl. I found this example online of the burl texture which looks very much like the pipe on my worktable! This interesting information was added about the process at the WorthPoint site:

The mother of briar is Erica Arborea, an evergreen bush / tree, that grows in all forests of the Mediterranean area, preferring acid soils (Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Spain, France, Portugal, Morocco, Algeria- these are the countries where it is found). The bush has a typical height of 3 – 12 feet. But not the visible parts are the wanted ones, the ball-like roots are the pipe makers desire. These are the raw material for the briar wood, which is cut in blocks (plateaux and ebauchons) by real specialists. After a long process of boiling them in clear water and drying periods, these briar blocks will be ready for the experienced hands of a pipe maker.

With a deepened understanding and appreciation for Paw’s Kaywoodie on my worktable, I look more closely at the issues it brings from its years of service. As one would expect, the craggy Burl bowl is full of grime.  The chamber has thickening cake as you go down toward the floor.  This needs to be cleaned out as well to inspect the chamber wall and to give the briar a fresh start. The rim has evidences of Sam’s penchant for knocking the stummel on the back side of the rim.  It is worn and tapers away from the chamber. The rim was fashioned to be somewhat rough complementing the craggy bowl motif, but there is a large chip or divot out of the rim that will need to be filled and then blended. The bowl itself, along with the rim, is faded and skinned up.  I suspect that the original finish bent toward a light brown, but it is now thin and will need refreshing with new dye to blend the rim and bowl.  The 1962 add above describes a ‘2-tone brown finish’ characterizing the ‘Natural Burl’ line.  This is helpful information that hints at the depth of the final finish.The stem is in rough shape.  The oxidation is thick and deep.  The bit has calcium caked on it and some lower tooth compressions – not as bad as I’ve seen on Paw’s previous pipes! The stem orientation is also over-clocked which is a normal phenomenon with Kaywoodie screw in stems that happens over years of use with repeated loosening and tightening.  This will need to be adjusted as well. I begin the restoration of Paw’s Kaywoodie Natural Burl Large Apple by addressing the severe oxidation in the stem.  Before placing the stem in a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer, I get a head-start on removing the oxidation by pre-sanding the stem.  I use both 240 grade sanding paper and 000 grade steel wool to sand the stem to remove as much oxidation and caked calcium as possible.  The nickel 4-hole stinger also is cleaned up with the steel wool.After the sanding, the stem joins other pipes in the queue in a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer. After a few hours, the Kaywoodie’s stem is extracted from the Deoxidizer and after draining, I squeegee the liquid off the stem with my fingers.  I then run a pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 95% through the airway to clear the Deoxidizer.  Using a cotton pad and alcohol, the stem is wiped to remove the raised oxidation resulting from the soak.After cleaning the stem, paraffin oil is applied to help condition the vulcanite.  I put the stem aside to absorb the oil.  The stem looks great compared to where it started. It’s cleaning up nicely.Next, I turn the attention to the stummel.  I begin by reaming the Kaywoodie’s chamber to remove the cake.  Using the Pipnet Reaming Kit, I use two of the four blade heads available in the Kit.  I don’t know how long this cake has been waiting to be removed, but it is as hard as a brick.  I’m careful not to force the blades beyond their torque endurance level – simply allowing the scraping action to wear away the brick cake.  When both blades do what they can, the Savinelli Fitsall Tool continues the scraping of the chamber walls. Finally, to remove the last remaining carbon remnants, a 240 grade sanding paper is wrapped around a Sharpie Pen to sand the chamber getting down to fresh briar. After wiping the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol, and inspection reveals a perfectly healthy chamber.  The picture on the 10th floor Man Cave balcony where I’m working, does not allow a very good picture of the chamber, but it looks good.  Moving on.Next, using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap, I go to work on the wonderfully craggy but grime-filled surface of the Natural Burl bowl.  I use a cotton pad a bit, but transfer to using a bristled toothbrush which gets into the nooks and crannies of the landscape much more effectively.Next, after transferring the bowl to the kitchen sink, I continue to clean the surface and use shank brushes and liquid anti-oil dish soap and warm water to work on the internals.  After rinsing thoroughly, back on the worktable I take some pictures of the results.  The cleaning has totally removed what was left of the old finish – not unexpected.  The cleaning reveals some white fills on the right side of the stummel which are fully embraced in the craggy landscape cover and seem to be solid after testing them with a sharp dental probe.Next, I focus again on the internal cleaning using pipe cleaners and cotton buds wetted with isopropyl 95%.  Cleaning Kaywoodie pipes tends not to be easy.  Working through the threaded metal shank facing makes access to the mortise difficult.  Along with pipe cleaners and buds, the full arsenal added the use of shank brushes, and a dental spoon to scrape the mortise walls.  After quite a bit of time and effort, the buds start to emerge lighter and a cease fire is called. I’ll continue the cleaning later with a kosher salt and alcohol soak to work through the night to further clean and freshen the internals of the Kaywoodie stummel.Turning now to the rim, the next step is to fill the divot, or perhaps, the crater on the rim.  I go along with the ‘rough’ motif of this Kaywoodie Natural Burl.  The rim is rough and the only repair I plan for the stummel is this divot.  The damage of Paw’s knocking will remain – it simply adds to the rough rustic look and will be a remembrance of Paw when it is put into service by the family.I place a small mound of briar dust on the mixing palette that I’ve covered with scotch tape for ease of cleaning.  Next to the briar dust a small amount of BCI Extra Thick CA glue is puddled.Using the toothpick, briar dust is pulled into the glue and mixed as it is added.  As more is added, the resulting briar dust putty thickens.  When it reaches the thickness of molasses, with the toothpick the putty is troweled to fill the rim divot.With the briar putty applied, I place the stummel aside for several hours for the putty to cure.Turning now to the stem, the upper bit is in good shape after the ‘pre-sanding’ that was done before putting the stem into the Deoxidizer.  The lower bit, pictured below, has some compressions and a button bite compression that need addressing.I start by using the heating method with a Bic lighter.  Using the flame of a Bic lighter, I paint the bit using a back and forth motion heating the vulcanite.  As the vulcanite heats, it also expands to regain the disposition of the stem before the compressions were made by Paw.  The picture below is after the heating and the process has helped the bit compressions so that only sanding should be needed to remove the damage.  However, the button is still in need of additional steps.To fill the button lip bite, after wiping the area with alcohol to clean it, I spot drop black CA glue on the compression and put the stem aside for the patch to cure.The patch on the rim is now ready for filing.  I use both the flat and half-rounded needle files to remove the excess putty and to shape the internal curve of the rim. I put a stop on sanding and further cleaning the rim because the hour is late, and through the night I want to use a kosher salt and alcohol soak to advance the cleaning of the internals of the stummel.  I first fashion a cotton ball into a ‘wick’ by pulling and twisting it.  It is then inserted down the mortise into the airway with the help of a stiff wire. The wick helps to draw out the latent residue of tars and oils.The bowl is then filled with kosher salt, which leaves no aftertaste as with regular iodized salt.  After placing it in the egg carton to keep it stable, I then fill the chamber with isopropyl 95% until it surfaces over the salt. After a few minutes, as the alcohol is drawn into the stummel, the alcohol is topped off and it is set aside to work through the night. The next morning, the salt and wick are slightly soiled which hopefully means that the internals are already clean from earlier. After dumping the expended salt and wiping the bowl with a paper towel, I blow through the mortise to make sure all the salt crystals have been dislodged. To make sure that the internals are clean, and nothing has been left behind after the soak, I use only one pipe cleaner and cotton bud as confirmation of the cleaning. Moving on.I return now to the rim.  I plan to apply a fresh color to the stummel and the only preparation for applying the new stain to the stummel is on the rim.  I plan to leave it in the rough motif of the Natural Burl line, but I want the rim cleaned.  I lightly sand the internal rim edge as well as lightly around the rough external rim edge as it transitions into the Burl landscape.  I’m looking for ‘rough’ and ‘rustic’ but ‘fresh’ to give this unique Kaywoodie a fresh start.I follow the 240 paper with 600 grade paper with the same approach – keep the rustic but refresh the rim.Before moving to the next step, I notice that the nickel shank facing after the cleaning had not been spruced up.  A quick revolution of 000 steel wool takes care of this.  This is the only bling this Kaywoodie has and I’m making the most of it!As I think about applying a fresh color to Paw’s Kaywoodie, I have only one picture of another Natural Burl online and it is no help in hinting at the original 2-toned brown coloring Kaywoodie used.  The best clue I have is on Paw’s pipe. The smooth briar panel on the underside of the shank holding the nomenclature holds a clue.  To guard the stamping on the panel I’ve not sanded it – only cleaned with the rest of the stummel.  I’m guessing that the coloring of the panel leans toward a light brown.  I’m thinking that Kaywoodie’s approach was straightforward with this less expensive line of pipes.  Yet, the craggy surface now is so dry and bare, showing pristine briar, that applying even a light brown dye will probably darken considerably as the thirsty briar drinks it in.Looking at the craggy landscape in the picture above brings the next question in my mind about applying a new finish.  My normal way of staining with aniline dye is to flame it to combust the alcohol which encourages a deeper embrace of the dye by the briar grain.  My normal follow-up to this is then to apply compounds to remove the crusting the combustion creates and to further shine the surface with the fine abrasives of Tripoli and Blue Diamond compounds.  The roughness of this stummel causes me to question my normal approach.  My concern is that if compounds are used on this craggy rough surface, I will forever be trying to clean out the compound residue lodged in the rough surface!  I think I can utilize buffing wheels on the Dremel without too much problem, but without compounds.  I decide in the end to apply a dye wash instead of flaming the dye because of this concern.

After wiping the stummel down with a cloth and alcohol to clean it the best I could, the stummel is heated with the hot air gun to open the briar.Then, with the use of a folded pipe cleaner, the surface is painted with Fiebing’s Light Brown Leather Dye.  I make sure the dye is getting into all the cracks, crevasses, nooks and crannies.  The rim also receives the dye.After the dye is applied, the stummel is set aside to rest for several hours before continuing with the next steps of finishing.  This ‘rest’ helps the new dye to stabilize in the briar.Turning back to the stem, the patch applied to the lower button lip is cured and I use a flat needle file to remove the excess patch material and to shape and refresh the button lip.  I also file the bit area to remove any residual tooth compression.Flipping over to the upper bit, I file residual compressions as well as refresh the button lip.  Refreshing the button lip is helpful to allow a better ‘hang’ grip of the pipe without biting and clenching, and extreme chewing!Continuing now with 240 grade sanding paper on the upper side, the file scratches are removed, and the button is smoothed further.  The same is done on the lower bit and to further blend the button patch.   I expand the 240 sanding to the entire stem to make sure that residual oxidation has been addressed. Following the 240 sanding, I wet sand the entire stem with 600 grade paper and follow with applying 000 steel wool. The nickel stinger is also a benefactor of the steel wool polishing again.Moving on, the full regimen of 9 micromesh pads are applied by first wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400 and dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads, Obsidian Oil is applied to condition the vulcanite and to guard against oxidation. I love the glossy pop of newly micromeshed vulcanite! I had observed earlier that the Kaywoodie screw in stem was over clocked a few degrees.  This happens over time with tightening and loosening.To correct this problem and to bring the stem back to an accurate orientation, a Bic lighter is used to heat the nickel 4-hole stinger.  Since the stinger is gripped by the vulcanite of the stem, the goal is to warm the stinger so that the vulcanite gripping the stinger heats and loosens its grip allowing the stinger to rotate. After heating the stinger, I quickly re-screw the stem into the threaded shank facing and when it tightens to the orientation pictured above, I continue to apply clockwise pressure and the heated vulcanite releases its grip and it allows me to turn the stem one full revolution to line it up correctly.  I had to heat the stinger twice as the first try did not loosen the grip.  After lining the stem orientation correctly, I leave the stem in place and as the vulcanite cools, the grip on the stinger is re-engaged holding the stem again in the proper orientation.Time to address the dyed stummel.  It has been resting for several hours to help stabilize the dye in the briar.I use a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to wipe down the dyed stummel.  I do this to remove excesses of dye on the surface and to lighten and blend the new dye.Next, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel onto the Dremel and simply buff the stummel.  I do not use any compounds so that the compound dust does not fowl up the surface getting lodged in the plethora of hiding places on the Burl surface causing me to have to clean it!  The Dremel is a great tool for getting into the nooks and crannies of the Natural Burl landscape. I’m able to rotate and move up and down ridges and to reach into crevasses.  The newly dyed surface responds well to the buffing wheel.  The coloring of the wheel shows that new dye is leeching out of the surface.  The more I’m able to remove now, less likely to come off on hands later!Next, I use the 1500 grade micromesh pad and lightly sand over the Burl surface.  The aim is to ‘scalp’ the peaks of the mountain tops on the craggy surface to lighten them.  The lightening of the peaks creates more contrast and depth definition to the landscape.  I follow the scalp sanding by running the Dremel’s buffing wheel over the surface again.  This, I believe, achieves the ‘2-toned’ look of Kaywoodie’s design for the ‘Natural Burl’ line.In the homestretch – next, I mount another buffing wheel onto the Dremel setting the speed at about 40% full power.  After reuniting the Kaywoodie’s stem and stummel, Blue Diamond compound is applied to the rim and smooth briar surface on the underside and end of the shank.  The compound is also applied to the stem.  After applying the Blue Diamond compound, the pipe is buffed with a felt cloth to remove the compound dust from the areas on the stummel and from the stem.  Next, another cotton cloth buffing wheel is mounted and set at the same speed and carnauba wax is applied to the entire pipe.  I’m careful to apply with a very light touch of wax to the Natural Burl surface not to allow wax to build up in the crannies.  Wax is applied to both stummel and stem and then the pipe receives a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine.

Wow!  I’m very pleased with how this Kaywoodie Natural Burl Apple shaped up.  The brown craggy finish is flecked with shade differences that give it a depth and warmth – a rustic knobby feel.  I always enjoy the contrast nuances that the coalescing of rough and smooth briar creates. The smooth briar underside and shank ring alongside of the Burl texture is nice.  I’m amazed that this pipe occupied the lower shelf on Kaywoodie’s offerings back in the day when Sam chose it and added it to his rotation of pipes.  The TLC it has received has enhanced the briar presentation with this unique Natural Burl finish. I appreciate the collaborative help from Bill Feurbach who even as the president of the S.M. Frank Co., was not hindered from helping with the recommissioning of this one vintage Kaywoodie – a pipe man at heart.  Thanks, Bill!  I like the Natural Burl a lot and I trust that Joe likes it too.  Paw’s Kaywoodie Natural Burl 33 – Large Apple, that was put into production in the mid-50s/early 60s, is a venerable 60-year-old(!), and is starting a new lifetime in the loving care and stewardship of Paw’s family.  Adding frosting to the Kaywoodie cake, Joe’s commissioning of this restoration of Paw’s Natural Burl also benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!