Restoring and Restemming an Interesting Nording F Freehand

Blog by Steve Laug

It was time to turn back to another one of the pipes that Jeff and I picked up. Neither of us had any memory of where this pipe came from but it is another interesting geometrically shaped 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 and shank end is plateau and is stained black. You can see the flow of mixed grain around the bowl and shank. It is stamped on the underside of the shank F over NORDING over MADE IN DANMARK just before the plateau end of the shank. There is no other stamping on the pipe. The stem was missing and the tenon was broken off in the shank. Jeff had definitely cleaned up the pipe sometime along the way. He had 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 lava on the rim top and shank end. He had 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. I would need to pull the broken tenon and fit a new stem to the shank but it was a nice bowl. I took photos of the rim top and shank to show the condition of the pipe before I started working on it. You can see the condition from the bowl and rim top in the first photo. The inner edge of the bowl was in very good condition and was smooth to the touch. The second photo show the shank end plateau. It also looked very good. I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It was faded but still readable as noted above.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 F stamp being a lower end midgrade Freehand, I knew a bit about the pipe at hand. I turned to address the pipe itself. When it arrived here in Vancouver it was a clean pipe and I knew what I had to work with. To begin my work on it, I removed the broken tenon from the shank with a drill bit turned into the shank on low speed. I took a photo of the broken tenon once I had it removed. I went through my can of stems and found this straight acrylic stem that had been partially turned for another pipe somewhere along the way. It would need some work but the fit was close. I sanded the tenon end of the new stem to get a strong fit in the shank of the pipe. I would need to refine the fit but it was looking quite good. I would also need to heat and bend the stem for a proper fit. I used a heat gun to bend the stem to match the flow of the stem. I used the lowest setting on the heat gun and bent the stem at the proper angle. I put it in the shank and took photos of the newly restemmed pipe. It is looking good at this point. I polished 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 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 and shank end. After it sat for a 15 minutes 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 sanded the tenon area to shape the fit in the shank with 220 grit sandpaper fit snugly in the shank. 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 acrylic 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 pipe and took the pipe to the buffer. I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish the briar and the acrylic. 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 Freehand for me – the amber acrylic stem and plateau shank end gives the pipe a different look. The polished acrylic   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 ½ long, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 93 grams/3.28 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!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.