New Life for Savinelli Churchwarden Aged Briar 404

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table was purchased off eBay on 01/19/18 from Dallas, Texas, USA. It is a nice looking Dublin Churchwarden with a long straight stem. It is stamped on the top of the shank and reads Churchwarden [over] Aged Briar. On the underside it is stamped with the Savinelli S shield followed by the shape number 404 then Savinelli [over] Italy. The stamping is readable but on the topside the middle of the stamp is faint. The finish worn and dirty around the shank and sides. The bowl had a thick cake and a thin coating of lava on the rim top and inner beveled edge. The stem was warped to the right and turned downward. It had some tooth chatter and marks on both sides near the button. It was lightly oxidized along the entire length. Jeff took photos of the pipe when he unpacked it and before he started his clean up work. It is a great looking piece of briar. Jeff took the following photos before he started his work on the pipe.Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava coat on the top and on the inner beveled edge of the bowl. I am hoping that it protected the edge from damage. He also took photos of the stem to show the light tooth marks and chatter on the oxidized stem. He took photos of the bowl and heel to show the condition of the finish. Though the photos are slightly out of focus you can see some nice grain showing on the bowl sides. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the top and underside of the shank. It read as noted above and was readable. The Churchwarden stamp on the topside of the shank was faint in the middle but could still be read.If you want a great read on the history of the Savinelli brand give the one on Pipedia some attention as it is well written ( There is a shape chart on the site so I did a screen capture and have circled the 404 shape in read in the photo below. The shape number is correct and a Churchwarden long stem has been added. It works very well with that particular shape.I took some photos of the pipe as I took it out of the box. Here is what I saw. I slid it out of the wrapper around it. I could see that Jeff had cleaned it well. The bowl had been reamed with a PipNet reamer and Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He had scrubbed the exterior with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap. He rinsed it with warm water. He cleaned out the internals with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. The stem was twisted and tweaked to the right as can be seen in the photos of the top and underside of the pipe. The grain on the bowl is quite nice with just a few small fills that are solid and well blended in with the surrounding briar. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. I removed the stem and took some photos of the bowl and stem to show the overall look and proportions of the pipe. The shape really does work for a Churchwarden.The rim top had cleaned up very well and all that remained was some darkening on the inner edge on the back left of the bowl and a little on the rim top in the same place. I took a photo of the stamping on the top and underside of the shank. The stamping is clear and readable with some faint spots as noted above.I started my work on the pipe by cleaning up the beveled inner edge and top of the rim with a folded piece of 220 sandpaper.I polished the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped down the bowl after each sanding pad. 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. The Balm did its magic and the grain stood out. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I decided to address the tweak and twist to the stem first. I used my heat gun to straighten out the vulcanite. Fortunately vulcanite has “memory” and will return to its original shape with heat. I worked on it until it was straight once again. Then heated it a final time to give it a slight bend mid-stem. It looked much better.The chatter and marks were very light and could be polished out. I polished it 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. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry.Once I finished straightening the stem, this Savinelli Made Churchwarden Aged Briar 404 was another beautiful pipe. The briar around the bowl is clean and really came alive. The rim top looks much better than when I began. The rich brown stains gave the grain a sense of depth with the polishing and waxing. The grain really popped. I put the vulcanite stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Savinelli Made Churchwarden is a beauty and feels great in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 11 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of pipe is 1.38 ounces /40 grams. It is much more beautiful in person than these photos can capture. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store soon. Look for it in the Italian Pipe Makers section. If you would like to add it to your collection let me know. This is another pipe that has the possibility of transporting the pipe man or woman back to a slower paced time in history where you can enjoy a respite. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.

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