Blog by Steve Laug
This large freehand with a fancy turned stem came to us from a friend in Chicago who keeps an eye open for pipes that might interest Jeff and me. It is stamped on the left side Cassel [over] 02. Cassel is a maker I know nothing about and the 02 must be the year the pipe was made. There is no other stamping on the shank. It is UNSMOKED/NOS but dirty and tired looking from sitting around for a long time. The bowl is clean other than dust, the rim top is quite nice, even with the small briar flaws. The grain on the rim top is birdseye and sides and shank are a nice mix of flame and straight grain. The fancy turned stem is oxidized and has some scratches on the surface from all the traveling it has done. It looks quite good with the large freehand Dublinesque looking pipe. I took photos of the pipe before I started my refurbishing work. I took some photos of the rim top and bowl. You can see the scuffs in the finish and the flaws in the briar on the bowl. The edges and bowl themselves look very good. The stem photos show the oxidation in the vulcanite and the scuffs and scratches on the flat portions of the stem. They look like tooth chatter in the photos but they are more of a scuff than chatter in person.While the next photo is a little blurry it reads Cassel [over] 02 as noted above. The stamping on the left side of the shank is clear and readable.I took the stem off the shank and took a photo of the pipe. It really is a nice looking piece of briar.Before I started my refurbishing I decided to see what I could find out about the pipe. With a name like Cassel I thought it might be German or even Italian but I could find nothing in those areas. I looked on Pipephil’s site and there was nothing listed. I finally did a general Google search of the brand and found a link to the American Pipe Brands and Makers section on Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/American_Pipe_Brands_%26_Makers_C_-_D). The list showed a pipemaker named Shannon Cassel who was in Tucson, Arizona, USA. I clicked on the link and found that there was no additional information on the carver. Do any of you know this carver? It would be great to get some more information on him and his work if it is available.
I started my work on the pipe by polishing the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. It really began to take on a shine. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl, rim top and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of stain and the separate finishes really made the grain stand out. I let the balm sit for 10 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The bowl really looks good at this point. To deal with the oxidation on the stem I dropped it in a bath of Briarville’s Stem Deoxidizer. The oxidation was quite deep in the vulcanite so I left it overnight – overkill I know but I figured I was done for the day and it could soak while I rested. This morning I took it out, rinsed it off and wiped it down with a paper towel. It looked much better.I scrubbed it down with cotton pads and Soft Scrub Cleanser and was able to remove the remaining oxidation. It looked better. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a cloth impregnated with Obsidian Oil. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. With a refurbishing the final moment when all the pieces come back together is the tell all! I put the pipe back together and buffed the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the smooth finish and the black fancy vulcanite stem. This naturally finished Cassel 02 Freehand is light for its size and it is ready for you to load up a tobacco of preference and enjoy breaking it in for yourself. Have a look at it in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 7 ½ inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 79 grams/2.79 ounces. This is one that will go on the American Pipemakers section of the rebornpipes online store shortly. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next generation.