by Kenneth Lieblich
Next on the chopping block is an unnamed, apple-shaped pipe I acquired in a lot from France. My customer was looking for a simple, modest pipe — nothing fancy, but a good smoker. In his opinion, this one seemed to fit the bill quite nicely. Clearly, it had been well-loved, as it arrived with a dirty inner tube, plenty of dents, marks and a burn on the rim. Interestingly, this pipe had an orific button at the end of the stem, a feature that apparently disappeared by the 1930s, so it must be around a hundred years old. For more information on the orifice button, take the time to read Steve’s interesting article on the subject. The only markings were on the left side of the shank: Bruyère [over] Garantie which translates to ‘Genuine Briar’. The words Bruyère Garantie on a pipe are the bane of my pipe restoration existence. They are found on a plethora of different pipes, usually without any other identification. Ugh. One comment on the old Pipes Magazine forums confirms exactly what my meagre research has uncovered:
“Lots of French and German pipes, even pre-war ones, were given the label “Bruyere Garantie.” At least the ones I’ve seen for sale were listed as being from the 1920s and 30s. But I suspect that is a genuine date for those because many of them had horn stems, which are much rarer in post-war pipes and some of them definitely had an Art Deco/Art Nouveau look about them as well as old-fashioned rounded buttons.” — pitchfork
Well, time to get to work! I started by sending the inner tube for a soak in some lemon-infused isopropyl alcohol. I let it sit for several hours, cleaned it off and gave it a quick polish. Good as new! Next, I wiped the stem with Murphy’s Oil Soap on some cotton pads, then took a BIC lighter and ‘painted’ the stem with its flame to lift the bite marks. This did scarcely anything to fix the damage, but I would worry about that later. Then I cleaned out the inside with pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. Fortunately, it wasn’t overly dirty, and it only needed a handful of pipe cleaners. Next, the stem went for an overnight soak in the Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover. The following day, I cleaned all of the de-oxidizing mess off with alcohol, pipe cleaners, et cetera. The oxidation had migrated to the surface and would be fairly straightforward to remove. I scrubbed with SoftScrub on some cotton pads to remove the leftover oxidation. I built up the bite marks on the stem with black cyanoacrylate adhesive and let them fully cure. Following that, I sanded the adhesive down with 220- and 400-grit sandpapers to meld seamlessly into the stem. I then used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to bring out the lovely black lustre on the stem, with some Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil in between each pad scrubbing. Now for the stummel. Firstly, I decided to ream out the bowl. I used the PipNet Reamer to remove the built-up cake and followed that with 220-grit sandpaper taped to a dowel to eliminate as much as I could. I took the chamber down to bare briar, as I wanted to ensure there were no hidden flaws in the wall. I also took this opportunity to wash the stummel with Murphy’s Oil Soap and remove as much grime as I could. Following this, of course, I cleaned out the insides with the requisite pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. Now I could address the burn on the rim. I took some oxalic acid, used several Q-tips, and rubbed. The burn improved slightly, but it needed some more help, so I took a solid wooden sphere, wrapped a piece of 220-grit sandpaper around it, and sanded the inner edge of the rim. This helped to both remove the burn and maintain the beveled edge of the rim. The top edge of the rim was sufficiently even, so no extra sanding (topping) was needed.The century-old patina was nice enough that it didn’t need a new stain so I simply finished it up by sanding with my Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit). Then applying some Before & After Restoration Balm added that je ne sais quoi which brings out the wood’s beauty. In fact, the photo above shows a bit of burn remaining on the inner edge of the bowl. Although I don’t have photos, I did address this and the final product was much improved.
Finally, it was off for a trip to the buffer. A dose of White Diamond and a few coats of carnauba wax were just what this pipe needed. This is a handsome pipe with a classic look and feels very comfortable in hand. The lovely shine made the wood very attractive, and I know that the new owner will enjoy smoking it for many years to come. I hope you enjoyed reading the story of this pipe as much as I did restoring it. If you are interested in more of my work, please follow me here on Steve’s website or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments.