Daily Archives: April 21, 2020

Cleaning up a Willmer Straight Grain AAA Standard Cup and Saucer


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table is a shape I would call a cup and saucer or at least Willmer’s take on this shape. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank Willmer in script over Straight Grain over AAA over Standard. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Made in England. It is a bent cup and saucer shaped smooth briar with vulcanite saddle stem. The pipe was dusty and dull looking but had great grain around the bowl and rim. The rim top is smooth and there was some darkening and damage to the inner edge of the bowl. There was a thick cake in the bowl. The finish was in great condition under grime ground into the sides and shank. The saddle vulcanite stem was oxidized and had light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. 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 rim top and edges of the bowl. There was a little darkening around the inner edge and heavier along the back edge of the bowl. There are some scratches on the top and outer edge of the bowl as well. You can also see the cake in the bowl.He took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish and the grain around the bowl. The pipe has some stellar grain around the bowl and shank and the carver maximized the lay of the grain with the shape of the pipe. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable.  He also took a photo of the Willmer “W” on the left side of the stem. The next photos show the top and underside of the stem. You can see the light tooth marks right next to the button edge.I turned to Pipephil to get a quick review of the Willmer Company as it had been a long time since I had worked on one (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-w3.html). I quote the side bar from the site bellow.

Willmer is a brand of H. Willmer & Son Ltd. The factory closed down about 2006-07 after more then 60 years activity and two generations of makers. Gradings until the 1980s (ascending): BA, A, AA, and AAA. After this date Willmer introduced the AAAA and AAAA PRESENTATION as top grades.

The pipe I was working on has a AAA stamping on it which if the pipe came from pre-1980s was the top of the line. If it was later pipe it close to the top of the line.I turned to Pipedia to get more information on the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Willmer). The first paragraph dispelled of the belief that Willmer had been a carver for Charatan in his own words. I quote a portion of the article to give a sense of the history of the brand.

Willmer was founded in London. According to the website, which doesn’t exist anymore because the Willmer factory has been closed in 2006/07, the firm was in business “for more than 60 years” by 2003. Willmer was homed then in Southend-on-Sea, Essex, so not far from the Cadogan plant.

When Willmer first started, they definitely strived to compete with brands in the high-end market. Due to the excellent quality of the pipes Willmer was frequently asked to produce private label pipes for England’s best renowned pipe retailers. So many pipes are not easily recognized as Willmers for stamped under the name of the respective shop. Willmer’s own pipes were stamped “Willmer – Made in England” and showed a sweeping “W” in white or gold on top or left side of the stem. The earlier grading had AAA as top grade followed by AA, A, AB etc.

Sometime in the 1980’s, Willmer went through some major changes. The move to Essex was already mentioned above. They continued making highly respectable freehands – often copying some of the stunning Charatan shapes of days gone by. The grading was altered. What used to be an AAA now became the additional name “Presentation” and was stamped with AAAA. Funny enough, the forth A was often larger than the three before. The other grades were changed accordingly.

Now it was time to look at it up close and personal. Jeff had done his usual thorought job in removing all of the cake in the bowl and the 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 lava and 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 photos of the pipe before I started my part of the work. To show the damage to the inner edge of the rim and the rim top I took a close-up photo. You can see it on the right inner edge and the back edge of the bowl. The vulcanite stem had some tooth marks on both sides and there was some oxidation remaining.I took a photo of the stamping on both sides of the shank. It clearly read what was noted above. The “W” stem on the left side of the saddle stem is also readable.I removed the stem from the bowl and took photos of the parts. It really is a great looking pipe.I started my part of the restoration by addressing the damage to the rim top and inner edge of the bowl. I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. I worked over the inside edge of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper.I polished the newly topped rim and the rest of the bowl with 1500-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad to remove the dust and debris. I stained the rim with a Maple Stain Pen to blend the repaired and polished rim into the rest of the bowl.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 fingertips into finish on the bowl and shank. I let it sit for 10 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. To address the oxidation and the tooth marks on the stem surface I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to blend in the tooth marks and to break up the oxidation. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I started polishing the stem with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish – a red gritty paste that feels a lot like Tripoli. I find that it works well to polish out some of the more surface scratches in the vulcanite left behind by the 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I rub it into the stem surface with my fingertips and buff it off with a cotton pad.I touched up the “W” stamp on the stem with PaperMate Liquid Paper. I pressed it into the stamp in the vulcanite with a tooth pick. Once it dried I scraped off the excess fill with the tooth pick and with micromesh sanding 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 wiped it down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. This is a unique pipe and it is the first one I have worked on like this. It is a beauty. I put the bowl and stem back together again and buffed the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl 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 grain is quite beautiful a mix of straight and flame around the bowl sides and birdseye on the rim top and heel. The pipe feels great in the hand. It has an interesting shape that fits well in either the right or left hand. The finished Willmer Straight Grain AAA Standard is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This great looking Willmer Cup and Saucer pipe turned out very well. It should be a great pipe. It will be going on the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.

An Easy Restoration of a JM Boswell 2013 Bent Poker Sitter


Blog by Steve Laug

I have been doing a fair bit of work on the last few restorations so I thought it was about time to work on an easy one next. I took another of the Boswell pipes out of box of pipes to be restored to be my next project. I cleaned up an unsmoked JM Boswell volcano recently and posted the blog on it here (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/04/08/life-for-a-j-m-boswell-2013-bent-volcano-with-a-twist/). I also restored a second estate Boswell – a bent billiard with a twist. Here is the link to that blog (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/04/08/life-for-another-j-m-boswell-2013-bent-billiard-with-a-twist/). In both of those blogs I gave quite a bit of background information on the brand and its maker. If you would like to know more about the brand you can click on either link and have a read.

The next Boswell is also a 2013 pipe and this one has more of a standard shape to it. It is a bent Poker or Cherrywood Sitter shaped smooth briar with an acrylic saddle stem. The pipe was dusty and dull looking but had great grain around the bowl and rim. The rim top is smooth and clean with no darkening or lava overflow. The finish was very dirty from sitting around. There was a moderate cake in the bowl. The inner edge of the rim appeared to be in excellent condition. The pipe was signed on the underside of the shank with JM Boswell’s signature and 2013 U.S.A. There are no other stampings on the pipe and no shape numbers. The saddle acrylic stem was in good condition with just a few light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. 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 rim top and edges of the bowl. There was a little darkening along the back edge of the bowl but otherwise it was clean.He took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish and the grain around the bowl. You can see the small minor sandpits on the left side and on the heel of the bowl but otherwise it a clean piece of briar. Jeff took a photo of the signature and date on the underside of the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable. The next photos show the top and underside of the stem. You can see the light tooth marks right next to the button edge.Now it was time to look at it up close and personal. Jeff had done his usual thorough job in removing all of the cake in the bowl and the 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 lava and 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 photos of the pipe before I started my part of the work. To show how clean the rim top and stem really were I took a close-up photo of the rim and stem. The bowl was clean and cake free. The inner edges of the bowl look good. The acrylic stem cleaned up nicely. The surface had some tooth marks but the button edge looked really good.I took a photo of the signature on the under side of the shank.I removed the stem from the bowl and took photos of the parts. It really is a great looking pipe.I polished the briar with 1500-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad to remove the dust and debris. 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 fingertips into finish on the bowl and shank. I let it sit for 10 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. To address the tooth marks on the stem surface I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to blend in the tooth marks. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.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 put the bowl and stem back together again and buffed the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl 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 grain is a mix of patterns around the sides, top and bottom of the bowl and is quite beautiful. The pipe feels great in the hand. It is comfortable and light weight. The finished JM Boswell 2013 Bent Poker/Sitter is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This great looking Boswell Poker turned out very well. It should be a great pipe. It will be going on the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.

Breathing Life into an Aged Imported Briar Bullmoose


Blog by Steve Laug

There is something about Custombilt style older American Made pipes that always gets my attention. This one is a uniquely rusticated Bullmoose shaped pipe with a short stubby vulcanite saddle stem. The pipe had some unique beauty shining through the dust and debris in the valleys of the rustication. The rustication is on the sides and bottom of the bowl and shank. The rim top is smooth as is the smooth panel on the left side of the shank and the band around the shank end. The finish was very dirty from sitting around. There was a thick cake in the bowl with lava flowing out of the bowl and over the rim top. The rim top looked like it had been used as a hammer repeatedly. There were nicks, gouges and deep chunks missing on the smooth rim top. It was in very rough condition. The inner edge of the rim appeared to be in surprisingly good condition. The stamping on the left side of the shank read Aged Imported Briar. There are no other stampings on the pipe and no shape numbers. The saddle stem was oxidized and there were tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. 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 damage to the rim top. It really is a mess. You can see the lava overflow and debris in the gouges and scratches on the rim top. You can see the cake in the bowl. This was a dirty pipe but the rusticated around the bowl finish appeared to be in good condition. He took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the unique rustication around the bowl. You can see the dust and debris in the finish. It is a good looking rustication and unlike any others that I have seen. Jeff took a photo of the stamping on the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable.The next photos show the overview of the stem top and the tooth chatter and oxidation on the top and underside of the stem. The stamping on the shank does not help me identify the maker of the pipe. There are things about the pipe that remind me of either Kaywoodie rustics or Custombilt pipes. But there was nothing other than conjecture on my part.

Now it was time to look at it up close and personal. Jeff had done his usual thorough job in removing all of the cake in the bowl and the 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 lava and 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 photos of the pipe before I started my part of the work. To show how clean the rim top and stem really were 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 lava in the sandblast finish. The inner edges of the bowl look good. The vulcanite stem cleaned up nicely. The surface had some light oxidation and tooth marks but the button edge looked really good.I took a photo of the stamping on the under side of the shank. You can see the clear stamping.I removed the stem from the bowl and took photos of the parts. The saddle vulcanite stem look very good. I decided to address the damage to the rim top first. I filled in the deep gouges and nicks in the rim top with superglue. Once the repairs had cured I sanded the rim top with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge. I worked on especially hard areas on the rim top and edges with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper.I polished the rim top with 1500-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad to remove the dust and debris. I stained the rim top with a Tan aniline stain to match the colour of the smooth portions around the bowl and shank.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 nooks and crannies of the sandblast finish on the bowl and shank. I let it sit for 10 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. To address the oxidation and the tooth marks on the stem surface I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to blend in the tooth marks and to break up the oxidation. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I started polishing the stem with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish – a red gritty paste that feels a lot like Tripoli. I find that it works well to polish out some of the more surface scratches in the vulcanite left behind by the 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I rub it into the stem surface with my fingertips and buff it off with a cotton pad.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 Obsidian Oil to preserve and protect the vulcanite stem. I have used No Oxy Oil in the past at this point as it does the same thing as Obsidian Oil but have gone back to using Obsidian Oil. I put the bowl and stem back together again and 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 crevices 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 rustication is unique with almost a nautilus swirl on both sides. The pipe feels great in the hand. It is comfortable and light weight. The finished Aged Imported Briar Bullmoose is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: 1 inch. This great looking rusticated Bullmoose turned out very well. It should be a great pipe. It will be going on the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.