Restoring a Dirty, Beautifully Grained Nording C Freehand

Blog by Steve Laug

It was time to turn back to one of the pipes that Jeff and I recently picked up. This pipe was purchased from an antique mall on 05/25/22 in Portland, Oregon, USA. The pipe geometrically carved Freehand with a variety of angles in the carving in the bowl and shank that really follow the grain on this piece of briar. The rim top is plateau and is stained black. You can see the flow of straight and flame grain around the bowl and shank. It is stamped on the underside of the shank F over NORDING over DANMARK just before the plateau end of the shank. There is no other stamping on the pipe. The stem does not have the expected Nording N anywhere on the sides or top. The pipe was very dirty with a thick cake in the bowl and some lava overflowing on to the plateau rim top. 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 fancy, turned stem was lightly oxidized and had come calcification where a pipe Softee bit had been. There was some deep tooth chatter and marks on both sides of the stem ahead of the button and on the button surface. Jeff took the following photos of the pipe before he started his clean up work 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 and the lava overflow is in the plateau. The bowl is a real mess but it must have been a great smoking pipe. The stem looked dirty and oxidized with the calcification. The bite marks and tooth chatter on the stem were quite deep and the edge of the button was worn down. 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 residue left behind by a price sticker and the grime there is some great grain peeking through. Jeff took a photo of the stamping to capture the clarity of it even under the grime. The stamping is readable. Holding the pipe stem down the stamping is C over NORDING over DANMARK.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, graded from A, B, C, D, up to its highest grade, extra. Later an “F” grade was added—less expensive than the “A.” I could find no other information on the rest of the stamping on the pipe.

I did find a great collage of photos of Erik Nording that I have included below.I turned to the second information site – Pipephil’s ( did not find any more helpful information on the Nording Danmark stamp.

Armed with the information on the C stamp being a midgrade Freehand, I knew a bit about the pipe at hand. 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 and 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 the spots where the black stain had been removed from parts of the plateau top. 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. There appears to be some roughening at the back of the inner edge but it is actually part of the plateau. The rest of the rim top and edges looked very good. The stem looked much cleaner. There was deep tooth marks and chatter on both sides on and near the button.I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It was clear and readable as noted above. I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the appearance of the parts. You can see how large the pipe is in the photos.I decided to start with polishing the briar with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. The bowl began to take on a rich shine and grain was beginning to stand out.   I paused the polishing to touch up the stain on the plateau rim top and shank end. I used a black stain pen and was able to match the black perfectly. It looks much better.I went back to polishing the briar with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the briar down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the dust and sanding debris. The bowl is really taking on a rich shine.   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.  After it sat for a little while 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 tooth marks in the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift them. I filled in the deep tooth marks on the stem surface and button edge with clear CA glue. I set the stem aside to let the repairs cure. I used a small file to flatten the repairs and recut the button edge. I sanded the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the stem surface. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 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 Danmark C Large Freehand and took the pipe to the buffer. I buffed the bowl 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 is a unique Nording for me – the thin stem and straight shank give the pipe a different look. The polished black vulcanite stem looks really good with the reds and blacks standing out in the grain. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 7 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches wide x 2 ¾ long, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 64 grams/2.26 ounces. This is another pipe that I will be putting it on the rebornpipes online store 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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