Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the worktable has been here awhile. Jeff picked up the pipe from an online auction in 2019 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, USA. Jeff cleaned it in 2020 and I am starting work on it now in 2021. It is a mini-churchwarden that had a low profile and a fairly long stem. The finish was rusticated with deep rustication around the bowl and shank. There was a flaw in the briar on the right side toward the top of the bowl. The bowl is stamped on the left side and reads Bruyere [over] Garantie [over] Made in France. The bowl had a thick cake with an overflow of lava on the inwardly beveled thin rim top. The finish was worn and dirty with grime in the grooves of the rustication. It appeared that the shank had originally had a band that had long since disappeared before it came to us. The stem has a lot of damage toward the shank end. There were grooves and scratches all the way around the stem. The button end had some deep tooth marks and grooves from the edge of the button forward about 1 inch. The stem was calcified and oxidized along the length. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he did his work on it. Jeff took photos of the rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava overflow on the rim top. You can also see the nicks in the outer edge of the bowl toward the front side. The stem had a lot of tooth chatter and marks that are clear in the photos that follow. There is some oxidation and the calcification on the stem surface. He took photos of the sides of the bowl to show condition of the briar. You can see the dust and debris ground into the bowl. The flaw on the right of the bowl is also visible in the second photo. He also took a photo of the shank end and tenon on the stem to show the condition. In the photo of the shank end you can see where the missing band was. I appeared to be a narrow band that was missing. By the time we had it the band was missing. I would need to replace the band on the shank.He took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank. It was clogged with debris that filled in some of the letters. Underneath it was clear and readable as noted above.Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual focus on detail. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer and removed the rest of it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the exterior of 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 Briarville’s Stem Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it. The rim top cleaned up really well. The rim top, inner and outer edges of the bowl were in good condition. The beveled inner edge also has some rim darkening and burn damage. The stem surface looked good with some large and deep tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. The stamping on the left side of the shank is clear and readable and reads as noted above. I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole.Now it was time to do my work on the pipe. I decided to replace the band on the shank end first. I chose a band from my collection of bands to fit the shank. I reduced the depth of the band on a topping board and glued it in place on the shank end with all purpose glue. I repaired the deep flaw on the right side of the bowl with clear CA glue and briar dust. I rusticated the repair with a wire brush. I restained the spot on the bowl with a Walnut stain pen and set it aside to dry.I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the darkened inner edge bevel on the bowl. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding debris and dust. 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. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the surface of the stem with the flame of a lighter to lift the tooth marks. It worked very well and many of the marks lifted. I filled in the remaining marks with clear CA glue and let the repairs cure. I used a small file to flatten out the repairs. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to blend the repairs into the stem surface. I started the polishing with 400 grit 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 French Made Bruyere Garantie Churchwarden is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The sandblasted brown stained finish around the bowl is quite beautiful and highlights the a finish that works well with the brass band and the 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 Conservator’s Wax and buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Bruyere Garantie Churchwarden sits nicely on the desk top and in the hand. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 7 inches, Height: 7/8 of an inch, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 inch, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 15 grams/.53 ounces. I will be putting it on the French Pipe Maker section of 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!