Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the work table came to me from another of our estate purchases. It has been around for a while waiting to be worked on. Jeff did the original photographs of the pipe in June of 2017. It is a beautifully grained Savinelli Made Pot that is really quite nice. The stamping is the clear and readable. It is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads The Tinder Box in an arch [over] Milano [over] Made in Italy. There is not a shape number stamped on either side of the pipe. The smooth finish had a lot of grime and dirt ground into the briar. The bowl was heavily caked and had an overflow of lava on the top of the rim. It was hard to know what the rim top and beveled inner edge of the bowl looked like under the grime. The vulcanite saddle stem and was calcified, oxidized and had light tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside but the surface of the button. There was a deep trough bitten into the top of the button but it did not go through the button. There was not any logo on the stem. The grain on the bowl of the pipe was gorgeous with even the few small fills well blended into the finish. The pipe certainly had promise but it was very dirty. Jeff took 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. The inner bevel on the rim does not look too bad and the outer edge looks good. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the oxidation, calcification, light chatter and tooth marks as well as the damage to the top of the button. 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 interesting grain under the grime. Jeff took a photo of the stamping on the sides of the shank and the top of the stem. It reads as noted above. Since Jeff follows the same pattern of work in his cleanup we do not include photos but rather just a simple summary. Jeff reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove the lava build up on the rim top and you could see the damages to the top and edges of the rim. I think this pipe may well been before we worked with Mark Hoover’s Before & After Deoxidizer so he cleaned the internals and externals. The stem was clean but oxidized. I took photos of what the pipe looked like when I brought to my worktable. The rim top cleaned up really well with the lava coat removed. The rim top and inner edges of the rim showed some damage. The stem surface showed heavy oxidation remaining and some tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of the button. The worst damage was to the top of the button where there was a crease in the vulcanite. I took a photo of the stamping on the left side if the shank. It reads as noted above. Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. To remove the damage to the rim top and the edges of the bowl I topped it on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. I also worked over the inner edge of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the damages there. I polished the bowl and the rim top, sides and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth. I carefully avoided the stamping on the top and underside of the shank so as not to damage the already faint stamping. 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 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. It helped to blend the stain into the rest of the bowl. While I was working on the bowl the stem was soaking in a new product I received from Briarville Pipe Repair – Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover. It is a liquid of about the same consistency as apple juice. The stem sat in the mixture for 2 ½ -3 hours. I removed the stem from the bath, scrubbed lightly with a tooth brush and dried if off with a paper towel. I was surprised that it was quite clean. Just some light oxidation on the top of the stem remained. The bath was dark with the removed oxidation of the seven stems. I cleaned out the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. I filled in the tooth marks on the top of the stem and rebuilt the button surface with black superglue. Once the glue cured I used a needle file to reshape the button and flatten the repairs. I sanded out the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the surface of the stem. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the vulcanite stem 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 well made, classic Italian Made Tinder Box Milano Pot with a vulcanite saddle stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The rich finish that Milano used came alive with the polishing and waxing. 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 and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Milano Pot is a beauty and fits nicely in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: 1 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!