Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the work table came to us from a pipe hunt in Utah. It is a nice looking Poker with cross grain and birdseye grain and has a taper vulcanite stem. I am pretty certain the stem is a replacement. The bowl has a rich reddish brown colour combination that highlights grain. The pipe has some grime ground into the surface of the briar. The finish had a few small fills around the sides but they blended in fairly well. This pipe is stamped on the sides of the shank. On the left it reads Oscar [over] Aged Briar. On the right it has a Savinelli “S” Shield and next to that was the shape number 310KS [over] Italy. The replacement stem was slightly larger than the shank diameter and had rounded shoulders. There is a thick cake in the bowl and an overflow of lava on the top beveled inner edge of the bowl. The rim top looks good but it is hard to be certain with the lava coat. There were some tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the vulcanite stem near the button. The pipe looks to be in good condition under the grime. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup. He took photos of the rim top to show the thick cake and the thick lava coat. It is hard to know what the condition of the rim top and edges is like under that thick lava. It is an incredibly dirty pipe but obviously one that was a great smoker. The replacement stem was poorly fit to the shank and it had light tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. He took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the beautiful grain around the bowl and the condition of the pipe. You can see the grime ground into the surface of the briar. He took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above. On the right side of the shank it is stamped with the Savinelli “S” Shield and the shape number 310KS [over] Italy. I turned first to Pipephil’s site to look at the Savinelli write up there and see if I could learn anything about the Oscar Aged Briar line (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-savinelli3.html). There was a listing for the Oscar Aged Briar and I did a screen capture of the pertinent section.I looked up the Savinelli brand on Pipedia to see if I could find the Oscar Aged Briar line and the 310KS Shape (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Savinelli). There was nothing that tied directly to the line I am working on. There is a detailed history of the brand there that is a good read. I also captured the shape chart and boxed in the 310KS shape in red. The shape is identical to the one that I am working on. The stem on this one would have originally been a saddle stem with a shooting star logo on the left side of the saddle. The one I have has a replacement taper stem with no logo and with a poor fit to the shank.It was time to work on the pipe. As usual Jeff had done a thorough cleanup on the pipe. He 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. One of the benefits of this scrub is that it also tends to lift some of the scratches and nicks in the surface of the briar. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He cleaned the internals and externals of the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water and cleaned out the airway in the stem with alcohol. Other than the damaged rim top the pipe looked good. I took a photo of the rim top and stem to show the condition. The rim top looked very good. The rim top and the inner edge of the bowl had darkening and some nicking on the crowned edge. The vulcanite taper stem had light tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of the button and on the button edges. The diameter of the stem was larger than that of the shank. It also had rounded edges. The stamping on the sides of the shank is clear and readable as noted above. I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. It is a nice looking Poker that should clean up very well. I started working on the pipe by dealing with the rounded shoulders of the stem. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper smooth out the transition. One of the issues with the stem was that the stem was not completely round with less material on the left side of the stem. I worked on the left side to make it round. I also needed to address some light damage to the shank end so I decided to use a thin brass band to make the transition smooth and repair the edge of the band. I spread some super glue on the stem and pressed the band in place on the shank. I took photos of the banded shank. I like the look of the pipe with the band. I worked over the rim top and inner bevel of the rim with 220 grit sandpaper. I smooth out the damage and gave the rim top and edge a clean look that would polish out nicely. I wiped the rim top down with a damp cloth to remove the dust and debris. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped down the bowl after each sanding pad. 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. The Balm did its magic and the grain stood out. There was a spot on the right side of the inner bowl wall that look like a crack in some of the photos. I sanded it out with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it out. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth marks on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing process with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. The photo below shows the polished stem. This nicely grained Savinelli Made Oscar Aged Briar Poker with a replacement vulcanite taper stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. I put a thin brass band on the shank to clean up the fit of the stem to the shank. The briar is clean and really came alive. The rich reddish, brown stains gave the grain a sense of depth with the polishing and waxing. The grain really popped. I put the vulcanite 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 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 Oscar Aged Briar Poker is a beauty and feels great in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!