Rejuvenating a Nording Made in Denmark Natural Finish Signature Freehand

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table came to us This pipe was purchased from an antique store on 05/30/19 in Metaine, Louisiana, USA. It is a classic Freehand with a unstained, natural finish around the bowl and shank. It has a plateau on the rim top and shank end. It had a fancy turned vulcanite stem. The rim top is plateau and shank end were originally stained black. The shape follows the grain of the block of briar very well. It is stamped on the underside of the shank reads NORDING over Made in Denmark near the stem/shank union. There is no other stamping on the pipe. There is a faded signature on the left side of the shank that reads Eric Nording. It is almost worn off from use The stem has a faint Nording N on the topside of the stem. The pipe was very dirty with dark oily stain on the sides mid bowl. There was a thick cake in the bowl and some lava overflowing onto the plateau rim top filling in the plateau. It was hard to know what the inner edge of the rim looked like because of the lava and cake. Other than being dirty the finish appeared to be in good condition. The stem was oxidized and had come calcification. There was some tooth chatter and tooth marks on both sides of the stem at the button and on the button surface. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started working on it. He took a photo of the rim top to show the thick cake in the bowl and the overflow of lava. The cake is thick and hard. The lava overflow fills in the plateau. The bowl is a real mess but it must have been a great smoking pipe. The stem looked dirty, calcified and oxidized with bite marks and tooth chatter on both sides of the stem ahead of the button. The shank end and fancy turned stem are also dirty. The next photos show the sides and heel of the bowl to give a clear picture of the beauty of the grain around the bowl of the pipe. Under the grime there is some great grain peeking through. Jeff took photos of the stamping to capture the clarity of it even under the grime. There is a faint signature on the left side of the shank that reads Eric Nording. It is quite faded and worn looking. The stamping on the underside of the shank readable as noted above.  Before I started my work on the pipe I wanted to learn more about where this pipe fit into the Nording lines so I turned to the first of two sites that I always check to gather information on a brand. I turned first to Pipedia ( Nording’s were exclusively freehand shapes. There were quite a few photos and a longer history of the brand. It is well worth reading. I also found a collage of photos of Erik Nording included below. I turned to the second information site – Pipephil’s ( and found a great history of the brand in brief form and many photos of different pipes by Nording.

Armed with the information on the Nording Freehand I turned to address the pipe itself. Jeff cleaned up the pipe for me. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to clean off the grime off the finish and the heavy overflow of lava on the rim top. The cleaning had removed some of the black stain on the rim top. He cleaned up the internals of the shank, mortise and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove all of the oils and tars in the pipe. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and was able to remove much of the oxidation. When it arrived here in Vancouver it was a clean pipe. The Nording signature had become even more faint with the clean up. I knew what I had to work with. I took photos of it before I started my part of the restoration.     I took photos of the rim top and the stem to show their condition once it arrived in Canada. Jeff was able to clean up the incredibly thick cake and lava overflow that was shown in the rim and bowl photos above. You can see that almost all of the black stain had been removed from the plateau top and shank end. He was also able to get rid of the grime and grit in the surface of the briar. The inner edge of the bowl was in very good condition and was smooth to the touch. The rest of the rim top and edges looked very good. The stem looked very good and was much cleaner. The faintly stamped N is visible on the stem top. There were tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It is faint but readable as noted above. The dark ink Erik Nording signature was totally faded away. It is faintly visible but basically it is gone.I removed the stem from the pipe and took a photo to show the look of the parts.I decided to start the restoration by restaining the plateau rim top and shank end with a Black Stain pen. I worked to carefully get into the grooves and crannies of the plateau on both. Once it was finished I used a brass bristle wire brush to start removing the black from the high point. I then polished the high points on both with 1500 grit micromesh to get the contrast back. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding the briar with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad.   I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the finish on the bowl and shank. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I worked it in with my fingers to get it into the briar. I used a horsehair shoe brush to work it into the plateau top and shank end.  After it sat for 15 minutes I wiped it off and buffed it with a soft cloth. The briar really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. It is a beautiful bowl. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem at this point in the process. I “painted” the surface of the stem with the flame of a lighter to lift the dents in the vulcanite as much as possible (I failed to take photos of the stem before I filled them in but the photos show the process). I filled in the remaining marks with clear super glue. Once the repairs cured I used a file to reshape the button and flatten the repairs. I sanded the repairs with folded pieces of 220 to remove the file marks as well as the remaining oxidation. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.     I started sanding out the file marks and took a pause to touch up the N stamp on the stem surface. I wanted to make sure that I did no inadvertently sand it out during the polishing process. Once that was finished I finished sanding out the tooth marks and scratches with 220 grit sandpaper. I also started the polishing with 400 grit paper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I used the Before & After Pipe Polish to remove the small minute scratches left in the vulcanite even after the micromesh regimen. I finished by wiping the stem down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry.   I put the stem back on the Nording Signature Freehand and took it to the buffer. I buffed the bowl (carefully avoiding the stamping and signature remnants) and stem with Blue Diamond to polish the briar and the vulcanite. Blue Diamond does a great job on the smaller scratches that remain in both. I gave the bowl and the stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up really nicely with a great contrasting stain look to the briar. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This Nording Freehand turned out looking very nice. The polished black vulcanite stem looks really good with the natural oiled finisn and blacks of the plateau top and shank end. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 ¼ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 60grams/2.12oucnes. This is another pipe that I will be putting it on the rebornpipes online store in the Danish Pipe Makers section shortly, if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on this beauty!

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