Blog by Steve Laug
I have a few pipes that I am working on for local folks who either have dropped them off or who are friends that I am catching up with. The next pipe on the worktable belongs to an old friend of mine who is in the process of moving. He stopped by and asked me to clean up a couple of his favourite pipe. This first one I have chosen to work on is a deep craggy, sandblast Bent Billiard. It is stamped on the underside of the shank Savinelli [over] de luxe [over] Milano. That is followed by the Savinelli S shield then the shape number 607KS [over] Italy. I believe the vulcanite saddle stem is a replacement. The pipe was in good condition with a light cake in the bowl and some darkening on the back side of the rim top. The stem was lightly oxidized and had some tooth chatter and tooth marks on both sides of the stem at the button. I took photos of the rim top and the stem to show their condition. The top looked quite good with some light to moderate cake in the bowl and some darkening and grime on the back top side. The stem had oxidation and light tooth chatter on both sides near the button. I took photos of the stamping to capture the clarity and readability. The brand and the shape number are very readable. I removed the stem from the bowl and took a picture of the pipe to show the general look and proportion of the pipe.The interior and exterior of the bowl was clean and in good condition when my friend dropped the pipe off. I decided to give the rim top a good scrubbing with a dry brass bristle brush to knock of some of the darkening in the valley’s of the sandblast on the rim top. I was able to get it a little bit cleaner and ready for the next step.I scraped out the ragged thin cake with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and wiped out the bowl with a pipe cleaner and alcohol and cleaned out the shank and the airway in the stem with the same. Both were quite clean so I moved on to treat the finish. 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 into the sandblast finish with my fingers to get it into the nooks and crannies. After it sat for a little while I wiped it off with a soft cloth. I buffed the bowl with a horsehair shoe brush to polish it. 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 sanded tooth chatter and all of the oxidation with folded pieces of 220 to remove the marks and the brown colouration on the stem surface. I sanded them with 400 grit sandpaper until the marks were gone and the oxidation was gone. 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. 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 pipe and worked the stem over with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax 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 well with the repairs disappearing into the new finish. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The style of the blast and the look of the stain colours remind me of some of the Dunhill Shell Briar pipes or Tanshell pipes that I have repaired and restored over the years. It is quite stunning. The photos just do not capture the textures. The polished black vulcanite looks really good with the browns of the briar. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.48 ounces/42 grams. I have a second pipe to clean up for my friend then they will be going back to him to enjoy in his new place. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this beautiful sandblast billiard made by Savinelli. It was a fun one to work on.