Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the table is a great looking mixed finish Freehand that Jeff picked up on 05/25/22 from an antique mall in Portland, Oregon, USA. The top 2/3rd s of the bowl and the shank is smooth, straight and flame while the heel is rusticated. The top of the bowl is plateau. It is a great looking pipe. It is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Straight Grain and on the underside at the shank/stem junction it reads Israel. The finish was dirty and had a lot of grime and grit ground into the rustication and the smooth portions. The rim top and inner edge of the bowl is dirty with a light lava flow on the edge and the top. There is a thick cake in the bowl. The stem is lightly oxidized and there was a rubber Softee bit on the end. Because of that there was no damage or tooth marks or chatter on the surface. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his clean up work. It showed a lot of promise. He took close up photos of the bowl and rim top from different angles to show the condition of the bowl and the plateau rim top. You can see the light lava on the rim top and on the inner edge of a caked bowl onto the top. He took photos surface of the vulcanite stem which is lightly oxidized and covered with a rubber Softee Bit. Once the rubber bit guard is removed it looks to be in good condition. He took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show a deep and rugged rusticated heel and the grain peeking through the grime on the shank and the sides of the bowl. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the left and underside of the shank to capture it. It was clear and readable as noted above. I turned to both Pipephil and Pipedia to see if I could find any information on the stamping on the pipe. There was nothing stamped with both Straight Grain and Israel. I am pretty convinced that the pipe was made by the Shalom Pipe Company in Israel and the makers of Alpha pipes. The shape and the conformation of the pipe remind me of Alpha pipes. While I will never know the maker for certain I am fairly confident it as noted above. It is a neat looking pipe.
When I received it from Jeff this past week it did not look like the same pipe. It was clean and the finish had life. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and got rid of the cake. He cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife so that we could see the walls of the bowl and assess for damage. It was in good condition. He cleaned the internals of the shank and stem with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol. He scrubbed the exterior with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush. He rinsed the pipe under warm water. He dried it off with a cloth and then let it air dry. He removed the Softee Bit and then scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and soaked it in Briarville’s Stem Deoxidizer. He rinsed it with warm water and dried it off with a soft cloth. It came out looking very good. The finish on the bowl and the rim top cleaned up nicely. I took pictures of the pipe to show how it looked when I unpacked it. I took some photos of the rim top and stem to show the condition of them both when the pipe arrived. Overall it looked good. There is some darkening to the inner edge of the bowl and some of the dark stain in the grooves had come off in the cleaning. Once the Softee Bit was removed the stem looked very good. I took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank (though I forgot to take a photo of the Israel stamp on the underside). It is readable and in great condition.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe to show the look of the pipe.I started my work on the pipe by dealing with the faded black stain in the grooves of the plateau rim top. I used a black stain pen to restain the top and once I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads it would show a contrast between the stained grooves and the high points.I polished the bowl and the high points on the plateau with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the briar down after each pad with a damp cloth. The bowl is starting to look very good. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and into the plateau rim top and shank end with a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with some Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. This beautiful mixed finish Israeli Made Straight Grain Freehand, probably made by the Shalom Pipe Company with a slightly bent vulcanite stem has a great look and feel. I polished the stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. 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. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The rich combination of browns and blacks in the smooth, rusticated and plateau finish took on life with the buffing. The rich colour of the briar works well with the polished vulcanite stem. I like the grain and finished look of this Straight Grain Freehand. Have a look at it with the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ wide, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 52 grams/ 1.83 ounces. This Israeli Made Freehand is a real beauty. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. This one will be going on the rebornpipes store in the Pipes from Various Makers Section shortly if you would like to add it to your collection. Thanks for your time.