Daily Archives: November 28, 2020

New Life for a Don Style Billiard with Vulcanite Military Bit Stem


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table is another mystery pipe for Jeff and me. It does not have any stamping on the bowl heel or on the shank. Jeff thinks he may have picked it up in Montana but it not certain. The pipe is a classic billiard shaped pipe with a bit of a cant forward. It could well be someone’s repair on a broken shank but there is something about it that makes me think it was originally made this way. There was a lot of grime ground into the finish on the briar. The bowl was moderately caked and the rim top had a light overflow of lava on the top and edges of the bowl. The rim top and the inside edge showed some damage. The stem was a straight military stem with a metal fitment on the bowl end. It was dirty and lightly oxidized. It had tooth chatter and marks on the top and underside near the button and on the button edge. It was small billiard shaped bowl with a pencil style military stem and it had 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 condition of the bowl. You can see the cake in the bowl as well as the lava and the damage on the rim top and edges. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the light oxidation and the chatter and tooth marks.   Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar looked like. There is some great grain under the grime coat on the bowl sides. I turned to work on the pipe itself.  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 and all of the peeling varnish coat. 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 Before & After Deoxidizer 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 and outer edge of the bowl show some darkening and damage. There was damage to the inner edge and it was rough. The stem surface looked very good with a few small tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. I forgot to take pictures of the areas on the stem that were damaged before I filled them in with super glue but you can see the general condition even with the repairs.  I started my work on the pipe by addressing some of the damage to the rim top edges. I topped the rim on a topping board with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I also flattened the area where the stem inserted into the bowl as it was damaged.I polished the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad.   I rubbed the bowl 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 15 minutes and buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The grain came alive. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I filled the deep tooth marks next to the button with clear super glue. Once the glue cured I flattened it out with a file to blend it into the stem surface.  I sanded the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper to further blend them into the stem surface. I started polishing the stem 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.   This Billiard Shaped Bowl on a Don Style Pipe is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored and the stem reshaped. The grain around the bowl is quite beautiful and works well with both the shape and the polished vulcanite taper 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. The finished Don Style Billiard is another pipe that 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: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 16g/.60oz. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store in the Metal and Other Types of Pipe Section 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!