Daily Archives: April 28, 2020

Reworking a KB&B Bent Churchwarden


 Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table is an interesting KB&B Churchwarden and that is how it is stamped on the left side of the shank. On the right it reads Italian Briar. It is an interesting piece of briar in that it is a mix of grains hidden beneath a dark coat of stain and a top coat of shellac. The briar was very dirty. The bowl had a thick cake overflowing like lava onto the rim top. It is hard to know what the inner edge of the rim looks like because it is buried under the cake and lava coat. The fit of the stem in the shank appeared to be a bit off but cleaning would make that clear. The long vulcanite stem was dirty and oxidized. It was calcified near the button. The bend on the stem was also too much leaving the bowl tipped downward when in the mouth. There were tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before his cleanup work. Jeff tried to capture the condition of the bowl and rim top with the next series of photos. You can see the work that is ahead of us in terms of cake and lava buildup. The grain around the bowl is quite stunning. Jeff took some great photos showing what is underneath the grime and debris of time and use. He captured the stamping on the both sides of the shank it read as noted above.The photos of the stem show the stem surface. It is dirty and has light tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button.Now it was time to work on my part of the restoration of the pipe. Jeff had cleaned the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. This one was in decent condition with a bit of buildup on the rim top but virtually no cake in the bowl. He cleaned up the bowl walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the light lava on the beveled rim top. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some photos of the rim top and stem. Once Jeff removed the lava on the inside edge of the rim top it was in pretty rough condition. There were cuts, nicks and burned areas all around the inner edge and the bowl was out of round from the damage. The outer edge of the bowl looked very good. The close up photos of the stem shows that it was very clean and there was some tooth marks and chatter on the stem just ahead of the button.The fit of the stem in the shank is off. It looked like the shank end had a slight cant to it and the stem did not seat evenly against the shank end. The gap was obvious and made worse by the fact that the diameter of the shank was less than that of the stem. It was worse on the top side and the right side. I checked the shank end and there was some damage there. I could top it lightly but that is a hit or miss proposition. I decided that I would see what a thin band did to the fit. I took some photos to try to capture what I was seeing at the shank stem junction. I went through my various bands. I had picked up a bag of older style bands that included a slight cap that went over the shank end. It was my thinking that this would smooth the surface of the junction for the stem. I heated the band with a lighter and pressed in place on the shank. It was a very tight fit and I liked the look of it. There is something about the look of these thin brass bands that just looks right on older pipes. I took photos of the bowl and the pipe at this point. I decided to address the over bent stem at this point since I was working on the pipe as a whole. I want the bent to be more in keeping with the top of the bowl so that when it sat in the mouth the line was even from the bend to the top of the bowl. I used a heat gun on the lowest setting to soften the vulcanite. To “unbend” is far easier than to bend. You heat the top side of the stem at the bend, constantly moving the pipe and the stem automatically begins to straighten. The key is to stop in time before it is totally straight! I paid attention and caught it at the right moment. I cooled the stem with water to set the new bend.With the shank/stem connection repaired and the bend in the stem reset I was ready to move on to dealing with the issues of the inner edge and rim top. I removed the stem and set it aside and took the bowl in my hands. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the edge and give it a slight bevel to mask the damaged areas. Once the bowl is polished the bevel is hardly visible and the bowl looks better.I wiped off the remnants of the shellac finish on the bowl with isopropyl alcohol on a cotton pad. Once the finish was removed the grain began to really stand out nicely. I was happy with the way the rim top and edges looked so I moved on to polish the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. The grain really began to stand out and the finish took on a shine by the last sanding pad. The photos tell the story! I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips. 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 laid the bowl aside and turned to deal with the stem. I sanded off the excess diameter at the shank with 220 grit sandpaper until the shank and stem were the same diameter. Unfortunately I utterly forgot to take photos of this part of the process. My photos pick up again when I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I was able to remove the scratching and tooth marks with the micromesh. 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 KB&B Churchwarden was a fun pipe to work on. I knew that I had to do some work to bring it back to smooth transitions between the shank and stem and to get the bowl looking better and not so beat up. But I was very happy when I got to the point of putting it all back together and everything worked very well. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition and the contrasting stains work well to highlight the different grain patterns on the pipe. The black vulcanite Churchwarden stem just adds to the mix. With the grime and debris gone from the finish and the bowl it was a beauty and the grain just pops at this point.

I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I carefully avoided the stamping on the shank and stem during the process. I gave the bowl 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 KB&B Churchwarden is quite beautiful and is a classic bent Churchwarden shaped pipe. The finish on the bowl combines various stains to give it depth. 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: 10 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I really like the looks of this Churchwarden and it is a great looking pipe in great condition. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. This pipe will be added 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.

Fresh Life for a GBD Pedigree 254 Canadian


Blog by Steve Laug

I have always liked GBD pipes. There is just something about the brand and their take on shapes that catches my eye. This particular GBD is a really nice looking Canadian with a saddle stem – at least I would call it a Canadian because of the oval shank. It is stamped both on the topside and underside of the shank. On the top of the shank it is stamped with the GBD Oval over Pedigree. On the underside it is stamped London England 254. There is also the brass GBD oval roundel on the top of the saddle stem. It was dirty but the bowl had been reamed back to bare briar. There was a light lava coat on the inner edge. The pipe had a rich medium brown stain that highlighted nice grain on the bowl sides under the grime and the finish appeared to be in good condition. There is a band on the shank that appears to be an add on. The shank is not cracked though it is thin on the top and underside. A lot would be revealed once Jeff had worked his magic on it. The vulcanite saddle stem was in good condition with some oxidation and light tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of the button and on the button surface itself. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. Jeff tried to capture the condition of the bowl and rim top with the next series of photos. You can see the work that is ahead of us even though the bowl is clean. The beveled rim edge has some lava buildup. The grain around the bowl is quite stunning. Jeff took some great photos showing what is underneath the grime and debris of time and use. He captured the stamping on the left side of the shank and both sides of the half saddle acrylic stem. They are clear and readable. It read as noted above.The photos of the stem show the stem surface. It is dirty and has light tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button.I turned to Pipephil and looked to see if there was any information on the Pedigree line. There was nothing there other than a great brief history. I turned to Pipedia to the specific section on GBD to read about the line (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD). There was a page from an Oppenheimer Catalogue on the Pedigree line. I have included a screen capture of that page below.Now it was time to work on the pipe itself. Jeff had cleaned the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. This one was in decent condition with a bit of buildup on the rim top but virtually no cake in the bowl. He cleaned up the bowl walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the light lava on the beveled rim top. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some photos of the rim top and stem. Once Jeff removed the lava on the inside bevel of the rim top. Both the inner and the outer edge of the bowl look very good. The close up photos of the stem shows that is it very clean and there is some oxidation and some minimal tooth chatter on the button and surface just ahead of the button.I took the stem off the shank and took a picture of the pipe. It really is an elegant and  delicate looking pipe with great grain.I was happy with the way the rim top and edges looked so I did not need to work on them more. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. The grain really began to stand out and the finish took on a shine by the last sanding pad. The photos tell the story! I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips. 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 laid the bowl aside and turned to deal with the stem. The tooth marks and chatter on the stem were not deep. 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 delicately shape classic GBD pipe came together amazingly well. Thanks to the fact that it was in pretty good condition before we started it was a clean pipe to work on. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition and the contrasting stains work well to highlight the stunning grain on the pipe. The black vulcanite saddle stem just adds to the mix. With the grime and debris gone from the finish and the bowl it was a beauty and the grain just pops at this point. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I carefully avoided the stamping on the shank and stem during the process. I gave the bowl 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 GBD Pedigree Canadian is quite beautiful and is a classic Canadian shaped pipe. The finish on the bowl combines various stains to give it depth. 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: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 5/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I really like this delicate and elegant GBD pipe and it is a great looking pipe in great condition. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. I had a GBD pipe sock around that I have put together with the pipe. This pipe will be added 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.

Breathing New Life into a Charatan’s Make Special Bell 33X Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

I still remember the first Charatan pipe I picked up over 25 or so years ago. I remember finding it in an Antique Shop that is no longer around. It was Charatan’s Make Bell 33X with a Double Comfort (DC) bit on it and probably the craggiest looking sandblast I had seen to date when I found it. I still have that pipe and still fire it up with a good bowl of 5100. It is a smoking machine. So when I when I moved on to choose the next pipe to work on it was not a far stretch to pick the Charatan’s Make Special Bell 33X smooth that was in my box. It is a nice looking Dublin shaped pipe that Charatan called a Bell. All of the stamping is on the left side of the shank. It reads Charatan’s Make [over] London England. Under that it reads Special with the shape number 33X. The CP logo on the left side of the vulcanite saddle stem is clear and readable. It was dirty and was another well-loved pipe when we received it. The bowl had a thick cake and the lava overflow on the inner edge of the bowl a heavy on the back side of the rim top. It was hard to know the condition of the inner edge of the bowl. The pipe had a rich medium brown stain that highlighted nice grain on the bowl sides under the grime and the finish appeared to be in good condition. A lot would be revealed once Jeff had worked his magic on it. The vulcanite saddle stem was in good condition with light tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of the button and on the button surface itself. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. Jeff tried to capture the condition of the bowl and rim top with the next series of photos. You can see the work that is ahead of us there. The grain around the bowl is quite stunning. Jeff took some great photos showing what is underneath the grime and debris of time and use. He captured the stamping on the left side of the shank and both sides of the half saddle acrylic stem. They are clear and readable. It read as noted above. The photos of the stem show the stem surface. It is dirty and has light tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button.I turned to Pipephil to get a quick overview on the brand to refresh me in a quick overview of the history of the Charatan’s Make Brand (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-charatan.html). I quote a pertinent summary of the information I found there.

Short history of the brand. Brand founded in 1863 by Frederik Charatan. When his father retired in 1910, Reuben Charatan took over the family business. All the pipes were handmade until 1973. The brand name has been overtaken by Dunhill in 1978 and sold in 1988 to James B. Russell Inc. (NJ, USA). During the period 1988-2002 Charatans were crafted by Butz Choquin in St Claude (France). Dunhill re-purchased Charatan brand name in 2002 and Colin Fromm (Invicta Briars, Castleford) follows up on freehand production.

I turned to Pipedia to the specific section on Dating Charatans to fill in more of the gaps (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dating_of_Charatans). I was hoping to be able to solidify the time period that the pipe was made. In reading through the material I am pretty confident that the pipe is a Third Era Pipe. I have included the section from the article that helped me arrive at this conclusion.

Identification of a third era pipe (First Lane era, 1961-1965)

Pipes of this period are quite common.

1) The mouthpiece is frequently double comfort, rarely saddle without the double comfort, never tapered. If the stem is not a double comfort but a saddle one, it is characterized by the letter X on the right of the shape code (e.g. 2502X), naturally in this case the letters DC are not displayed.

2) In the CP logo, the C enters the P

3) Presence of £ on the shank (note that from 1955 all the pipe imported in the USA by Lane has it, however that stamping is not synonymous of the Lane era)

4)Presence of the letter DC just after the shape number (e.g. 2502 DC) or of the letter X only if the stem is not a double comfort one

5) Presence in some models of the stamp “MADE BY HAND” on the shank (introduced for the first time in 1958)

6) Presence of the writing “CHARATAN’S MAKE LONDON ENGLAND” on 2 lines

7) The CP logo is thicker than in previous eras

I am also including a photo from the article that shows the same stamping as the one I am working on. The one I have has a different shape number (33X) and also does not have the Lane’s L stamp visible on the left side of the shank in the photo below.I posted the stamping on the Tobacco Pipe Restorers Group on FaceBook and Paige Simms and I dialogued a bit about it. Michael Stanley responded first and echoed my thinking. Paige Simms followed up with the rest of the dialogue. It was a very helpful conversation.

Michael Stanley: The “X” denotes a non DC mouthpiece. And imho, that, was a good move!

 Steve Laug: Thanks Michael I would agree.

Paige Simms: I beg to differ my friends. The ‘X’ denotes a ‘special’ pipe in grain, size or maybe shape. I have several DC stemmed pieces stamped ‘X’

Paige Simms: No ‘Lane stamp’ may mean made before 1958ish…….or they forgot to stamp it. LOL. But the shape number ’33’ probably dates it pre1968. How is it stamped on the right side of the shank? IMPORTANT

Steve Laug: Nothing on the right side Paige… Everything is on the left

Paige Simms: Meaning then, the pipe was made before 1955 or 1960. The nomenclature change after the ‘blank right shank’ was in block letters “MADE BY HAND”. That stamp started in 1956 or 1961. (And ran for 5 years only). I was a founding member and I learned well from ‘The International Charatan Pipe Smokers Society’. That’s a Great pipe!!!

Steve Laug: What is the 1968 referring to above?

Paige Simms: The first year of the “Lane stamping”

With that information in hand Pipedia informed me that I was dealing with an era of Charatans pipes that were quite common. It was known as a third era pipe (First Lane era, 1961-1965). According to the information from Pipedia the pipe was made in the early 1960s. From Paige Simms information it pushed it back a bit further to being made before 1955 or 1960. The nomenclature change after the ‘blank right shank’ was in block letters “MADE BY HAND”. That stamp started in 1956 or 1961. (And ran for 5 years only).  I now had an idea of the age of the pipe and a bit of its story – it had been made between 1955-1961. Now it was time to work on the pipe itself.

Jeff cleaned the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. This one was a real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some photos of the rim top and stem. Once Jeff removed the lava on the back side of the rim top and inner edges the damage became evident. There was some significant damage on the back inner edge of the bowl that included chipping and burning of the surface. The outer edge of the bowl looks very good. The close up photos of the stem shows that is it very clean and there is some minimal tooth chatter and marks on the button and surface just ahead of the button.I took photos of the stamping on the stem and shank of the pipe. It is clear and readable. I took the stem off the shank and took a picture of the pipe. It really is a nice looking pipe with great lines.I started my part of the restoration work on the pipe by trying to address the burn damage on the back inner edge of the rim. The least invasive method was where I started. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to try and smooth out the edge while keeping the bowl in round. While I was able to smooth out the edge and keep it round the burn damage on the back of the rim top needed something a little more invasive. This is probably a step that some will find unnecessary but I feel somewhat compelled to try to bring it back as close as possible to the original look. I topped it on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. Once I finished it I smoothed out the inner edge again. The third photo below shows the newly shaped rim top without the burn damage. Fortunately it was not too deep and the topping was minimal. I was happy with the rim top and edges now so it was time to polish the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. I was also hoping to blend the newly topped bowl into the finish of the rest of the pipe. The grain really began to stand out and the finish took on a shine by the last sanding pad. The photos tell the story! I apologize for the next photo but I did not catch it until later in the process when it was too late to go back and retake the photo.I touched up the rim top up with a blend of oak and maple stain pens to match the rest of the bowl. I forgot to take a photo of that. When the stain was cured I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips. 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 laid the bowl aside and turned to deal with the stem. The tooth marks and chatter on the stem were not deep. 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 older Charatan pipe came together quite well. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition and the contrasting stains work well with the black vulcanite saddle stem. With the grime and debris gone from the finish and the bowl it was a beauty and the grain just pops at this point. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I carefully avoided the stamping on the shank and stem during the process. I gave the bowl 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 Charatan’s Make Special 33X is quite beautiful and is a lovely Bell shaped pipe. The finish on the bowl combines various stains to give it depth. 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: 5 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 5/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I really like this Bell shaped Charatan’s Make Special pipe and it really does remind me of one of my first pipe finds. This is a great looking pipe in great condition. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. Thanks for your time.