Blog by Steve Laug
Last week I received an email from a friend in Calgary who I had lost track of over time. We knew each other on Smokers Forum UK and had emailed back and forth for a while but I bet it has been over 8-9 year since I had heard from him. He wrote reminding me of who he was and asking me if I would be willing to put a new stem on his brother in-law’s Mr. Brog pipe. I really am trying to not take on more work and get caught up on the backlog of pipes that Jeff and I have picked up along the way but I did not feel like I could say no so the pipe is now on the desk top. The pipe was not briar but was made out of pear wood. I have smoked a few pear wood pipes in the past and they have been good smoking pipes. The broken stem was made for a filter but the owner wanted it replaced with a regular stem so that was going to be simpler for me. I took some photos of the pipe showing the remnant of the broken stem. Before I started working on the pipe I wanted to see what the original stem looked like and I wanted some background information on the Pear Wood Pipes. I decided to check on the Mr. Brog Website (https://mrbrog.com/collections/pear-wood-pipes) to see what I could find out.
The first information that I found was the following information on the wood the pipe was made of. I quote
Pear wood is a great alternative to briar wood. Pear wood is very dense and a hard wood which is great for a pipe you can have for the years to come. Also pear wood gives off a very pleasant smell and taste while smoking.
I then turned to the catalogue of pipes and shapes that were available in pear wood and looked specifically for the Chochla No. 48. I found the shape and the pipe listed but it was in a sandblast finish. The shape and the original stem were clearly visible (https://mrbrog.com/collections/pear-wood-pipes/products/smoke-pipe-chochla-no-48-pear-wood-root-hand-made-by-chochla?variant=32087227597). I have included a picture from the website. Now I knew what the stem length and shape were for the broken piece that I had.I decided to do a bit of digging on the history of the brand. I turned first to Pipephil’s site to get a quick overview (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-m8.html). From there I learned that the brand started in Poland in 1991 in the area known as the “St. Claude of Poland’. It was started by Zbigniew Bednarczyk along with Kazimierz Rog. Zbigniew kept the name after Kazimierz died in 2006.I turned to Pipedia for a bit more detail of the history (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Br%C3%B3g).
Pracownie Fajek Bróg was founded as Mr Bróg in Przemysl, “the Saint-Claude of Poland”, in 1991. Master craftsman Kazimierz Rog, the senior partner, had been a pipemaker since 1947, starting as an apprentice and later partner of Wiktor Winiarski and Zbigniew Mazuryk, followers of legendary Ludwik Walat. Zbigniew Bednarczyk was completely new to pipemaking, but as a non-professional sculptor, painter and poet he surely had pretty enough artistic disposition.
Mr Brog started out offering 10 models of briar pipes and 10 models made of wild pear, wild cherry and other unexpected materials, available both smooth and rusticated and polished with natural waxes only. The experience of the old master and the dynamic passion of his young friend made the brand soon well-known in Poland. Little by little they enlarged their program turning towards a more artistically minded way of pipemaking. This was the bedrock for success on international markets.
Kazimierz Róg, highly honored, passed away after a lengthy illness on June, 26th 2006. The firm is continued by Zbigniew Bednarczyk and his wife Renata.
From the article as well as time spent on the Mr. Brog website I learned that the brand included both briar and pear wood pipes. That was new information for me. Now I had the background information I needed and it was time to work on the pipe. I started by taking a few close up photos of the pipe with the broken stem to give an idea of the condition of the pipe. It was well smoked and a bit dirty but in decent condition. Before I sent it back I would clean up the bowl and rejuvenate the finish. I went through my stem until I found one that was approximately the same length as the one in the photo. It was a vulcanite taper stem and would need to be fit to the shank and mortise but I think it would look good when finished. I used the PIMO tenon turning tool to clean up the tenon and the flat edge of the stem so that it would seat right in the shank.I put the stem on the shank and took photos of the look at this point. The length of the stem will work well with the pipe. It will need to be given a bend but the look works. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to take down most of the excess diameter of the stem. I get it as close as I can and do the rest of fitting by hand. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove more of the excess diameter of the stem. Still more work to go on it but it is getting there. I used a heat gun to bend the stem to fit the flow of the bowl and shank. I gave the fellow a call in Calgary because I had an idea to add a decorative brass band on the shank end. I sent him a photo of it before I set it in place on the shank end. He was excited about it because his brother in law is a hobby machinist who loves working with brass. I pressed the band onto the shank end and polished it. With the band in place I put the stem in the shank and took some photos. I needed to do a bit of adjusting to the stem diameter at the topside. But the stem was looking very good at this point and the band was a great touch. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm and worked it into the surface of the pear wood with my finger tips. I let it sit on the bowl for 10 minutes and buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth to raise a shine. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I polished out the scratching left behind by the shaping of the stem. With each progressive sanding pad – 1500-12000 grit pads – the stem began to take on a shine. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I finished the stem with Before & After Fine and Extra Fine Polish. I buffed the stem with a soft cloth to raise the shine. The Mr. Brog Pear Wood Chochia No. 48 Squashed Tomato turned out really well with its new stem. The brass band that I put on the shank for decorative purposes gave a splash of bling to flow of the pipe. I put the stem back on the shank and buffed it lightly with Blue Diamond to raise the shine. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the bowl with a soft cloth to deepen the shine. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Diameter of the Chamber: ¾ of an inch. I will be packing it up and sending it back to Calgary. I am looking forward to hearing from the pipeman there what he thinks of his new pipe. Thanks for reading through my thoughts and reflections as I worked on this pear wood pipe.