Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the work table came to us from an online auction in Kingman, Arizona, USA. The pipe is an interesting tiny bent pot. It could easily have been another salesman’s sample for Wm Demuth & Co. an American Briar maker but I have no way of knowing for sure. The orific button and the style of the stem contribute to my belief that this is an older pipe. The pipe is smoothly finished Bent Billiard shaped bowl. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads WDC in a triangle and next to that it reads Studio [over] Italian Briar. There was grime and dust ground into the finish of the briar. The nickel band was oxidized and dull. The bowl was heavily caked while the top and inner edge of the rim had a coat of lava. The curved vulcanite taper stem was lightly oxidized, calcified and had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button. This was a tiny pipe and one that I would have thought could easily have been unsmoked. But in this case it must have been someone’s favourite smoker because it was smoked hard and often from the looks of it. The tiny pipe looked like it would be an interesting one to clean up. It showed a lot of 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 tobacco debris as well as the lava on the top and inner edge of the rim. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem. The shank was too dirty for the stem to fit in correctly. The photos show the overall condition of the stem. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar looked like. It really does not look like briar but more like a hard wood which would also be another argument for it being a salesman’s sample pipe. The nickel band should look great once it is polished. The stamping on the left side of the shank is clear and readable and read as noted above.Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife as the bowl was too small for even the smallest PipNet reaming head. 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 a Before & After Deoxidizer bath and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe before I started my part of the restoration work. The rim top cleaned up really well. The rim top, inner and outer edges of the bowl are in excellent condition. The stem surface looked very good with a few tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. The stamping on the shank side is clear and readable. It is stamped as noted above. I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. The taper stem is nice and the photo gives a sense of what the pipe looks like. I started my work on this little pipe by addressing a flaw in the wood on the front of the bowl. I filled it in with briar dust and super glue. Once the repair cured I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it out. I stained the repair on the front of the bowl with a walnut stain pen. I sanded the bowl smooth with 1500-3200 grit micromesh sanding pads (I forgot to take photos of that process). I stained the pipe with a dark brown aniline stain, flamed it to set it in the grain and repeated the process until I was happy with the coverage. 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 about 10-15 minutes and buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The grain came alive and the fills while visible look better than when I began. I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. 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. This Tiny WDC Studio Italian Briar Bent Billiard is a great looking little pipe now that it has been restored. The rich brown stain gives the bowl depth and elegance. The flow of the bowl and stem are well done make for a great hand feel or maybe I should say “finger” feel. The polished nickel band looks very good with the brown briar and polished vulcanite stem. 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. Once I was finished the bowl and a matte look to it that I liked. The finished WDC Studio Bent Billiard 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: 4 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ¼ inch, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 inch, Chamber diameter: 5/8 of an inch. The weight of this pipe is 18 grams/.63oz. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store shortly. 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!