Breathing Life into an Italian Made Octagonal “Setter” Real Briar Don


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table was purchased from an online auction from Barbourville, Kentucky, USA. It was an interesting looking golden brown octagonal sitter in a shape that I call a Don. The stem is inserted in the small ferrule on the backside of the bowl. The smooth finish on the bowl was very dirty and worn. There were fills but all was covered by a thick coat of shiny varnish. The pipe was filthy but otherwise in surprisingly good condition. The bowl had a thick cake that overflowed as lava on the beveled inner edge of the rim top. The outer edge of the rim was in good condition. The pipe is stamped on the heel of the bowl and reads “Setter” [over] Real Briar [over] Italy. The stamping is clear and readable on the pipe. The stem was oxidized and there were light tooth marks and chatter on the stem near the button on both sides. There was no logo or brand mark on the stem. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he worked on it. Jeff took a close up photo of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before he started the cleanup work. The bowl had a thick cake and lava overflowed on the beveled inner edge of the bowl. The stem is oxidized, calcified and dirty and there is tooth chatter and marks on both sides of the stem ahead of the button.     Jeff took a photo of the pipe with the stem removed looking at the back of the of the bowl to give a sense of the shape of the pipe. The stamping on the heel of the bowl read as noted above. The photo shows that it is very readable.    I looked in all my usual places for information on the “Setter” brand and came up with nothing. I turned to Who Made that Pipe and found two listings that gave some interesting possibilities for me. It could have been made for Hudson’s Universal Pipes or from KB&B/Kaywoodie. It could easily have been made by either company from Italian briar. I suppose I will never know for sure.Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer and removed the rest of it 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 vulcanite stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. When the pipe arrived and I unpacked it the stem was broken off at the end. I took photos of the pipe once I received it.     The rim top and edges cleaned up really well. The stem surface looked very good with some light oxidation and tooth marks and chatter on the top side and the underside near the button. The stamping on the heel of the bowl is clear and readable. It reads as noted above.     I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole.  I started my work on the pipe by removing the thick varnish coat that made the pipe look like it was not real briar. I wiped it down with acetone on a cotton pad and was able to remove a lot of the varnish. On one side of the octagon there was a fill that had some chips in it. I filled in those areas with clear CA glue. Once the repair cured I sanded the entire bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the repair and to remove the last of the varnish. I started the polishing with 400 wet dry sandpaper to deal with scratches left behind. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping the briar down with a damp cloth after each pad. The briar began to take on a rich glow. I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips into the briar. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the briar. I let it sit for 10-15 minutes while I worked on the stem. After the time passed I buffed it with a cotton cloth to deepen the shine.    In the morning I headed back to the basement to work on the stem. My eldest daughter is visiting and her little MinPin/Chihuahua Frankie came down with me. He has been hanging out with me keeping me company. He seems to know there is a hole in our hearts and he is stepping in to fill it! We set up a bed and his food and water near the desk where Spencer used to sleep and he loves snoozing there. This morning he came downstairs with me and stood by my chair. He made it clear that he wanted up. He jumped on my lap and then onto the desk top and sat down on my left to “supervise” what I was doing. He was content to just sit and watch me. Every so often he would give me a smooch to let know he was watching. I captured this photo with the camera on the computer… the Spencer’s supervisor role has been handed to the next generation… at least when he is visiting.Once he was settled I turned my attention to the stem. I scrubbed the oxidation with Soft Scrub cleanser and was able to remove the majority of it. The rest would polish and buff out.     I polished the 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 little octagonal “Setter” Real Briar Don Pipe turned out to be a great looking pipe. The smooth finish and brown stain around the eight bowl sides make the grain just pop. The finish on the pipe looks great without the thick varnish coat and the brown stains work well to highlight the grain around the bowl. The polished thin military style vulcanite taper stem adds a nice contrast when inserted in the nickel ferrule. The pipe is really quite eye-catching. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel, carefully avoiding the stamping on the heel of the bowl. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished “Setter” is quite nice and feels great in the hand. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that like the other pipes I am working that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 5/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe was 22g/.81oz. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another interesting pipe. This “Setter” Don will be added to the Italian Pipe Makers section of the rebornpipes store soon. If you want to add it to your collection send me an email or a message! Thanks for your time.

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