Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the work table came to me from one of our estate purchases. Between us we pick up quite a few pipes for restoration. I try to work them into the restoration queue so that I can keep them moving. This next one is from our ongoing hunt – a beautifully grained freehand that has carved trails on the heel, across the back of the bowl and up the right side of the shank to the stem. It had a saddle vulcanite stem. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Stag [over] Straight Grain and on the underside reads Israel. The stamping is identical to many of the pipes that I have restored from the Shalom Pipe Factory in Israel and the makers of Alpha pipes. The finish had a lot of grime ground into the surface of the briar and in the carving. The bowl was thickly caked with an overflowing lava coat on the plateau rim top. The edges looked to be in good condition though there is some possible damage under the lava. The stem was oxidized, calcified, dirty and had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. There were not markings or a logo on the taper stem. It had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the overflow of lava on the rim top. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the oxidation and the light chatter and tooth marks. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar around the pipe looked like. There is some stunning grain under the grime. He took photos of the stamping on the left and underside of the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable. I turned to Pipephil to read the article on Sasieni seconds (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-sasieni2.html). I have included a screen capture of the section on Stag below.I turned to Pipedia’s article on Sasieni Seconds and did a screen capture of the various pipes that they make (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Sasieni#Sasieni_Seconds). I have drawn a red box around the Stag brand.From the two sites I knew that the pipe I was working on was one of these seconds. The S was shaped like a pipe on Stag stamp on the shank in the above photo is the same on the pipe I am working on. The difference on mine was that it was stamped Israel rather than London Made.
Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it. The bowl and rim top cleaned up really well with the lava coat removed. The inner edge of the rim was in good condition. The plateau was clean but had some darkening. It looked very good. The stem surface had some oxidation and some light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. I took photos of the stamping (though a little out of focus) are clear and read the same as noted above. I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole.Now it was time to do my work on the pipe I polished it with micromesh sanding pads using 1500-12000 grit sanding pads and wiping it down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust and debris. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The stain brings the rich reddish brown tone to life. It is a nice looking pipe. I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. I scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and cotton pads to remove the majority of the oxidation. I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. This Israeli Made Stag Straight Grain Freehand with a vulcanite saddle stem turned out to be a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Stag Straight Grain Feehand fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!