Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the table was a bowl sans stem that a reader sent to me after reading my blog on a similar pipe – a Stone Age K11 [over] shape number 609 followed by Italy. His pipe is stamped on the underside of the shank and reads Stone Age K11 [over] shape number 603. From my previous work on one of these I knew that I was dealing with a Savinelli product. The pipe had been reamed and cleaned by the sender and looked good. The rim top had some light darkening around the inner edge but otherwise was clean. The finish had been scrubbed and cleaned so it looked good just a bit lifeless. Last evening while going through my collection of stems I found one that would work on the pipe. It would need some shaping and tapering but the size and shape were perfect to start with. It has a very unique rustication that is quite different – both rugged and spun that reminds me of a honey swizzle stick. The flared shank and rim top both look like rusticated plateau – faux or real, I am unsure. Overall it is a pretty pipe. I took some photos of the bowl before I worked on it and the new stem. The next two close up photos show the condition of the bowl, rim top and shank end. You can see the darkening on the front and back inner edge of the bowl and in the rustication of the rim top and shank end.The stamping is readable but faint on the underside of the shank. It reads as noted above. I turned to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/images/4/41/Sav_Shape_Chart_2017.jpg) and found a shape chart and the listing for the 603 shape. It shows up as a saddle stem bent billiard. The shape of this pipe is more of a Dublin shape so I do not know how to explain the shape chart. I have included the chart below.I decided to start my work on restoring the pipe by addressing the debris and darkening on the rim top. I used a brass bristle brush and scrubbed the surface of the rim top and shank end working on removing debris and darkening from the grooves of the plateau and rustication.I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to address the darkening on the inner edge of the bowl. I carefully sanded out the darkening to give it a cleaner look. It looked much better than when I started. I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar and the grooves around the bowl and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the briar. I let it sit for 15 minutes while I worked on the stem. After the time passed I buffed it with a cotton cloth to deepen the shine. The briar really comes alive with the balm. The stem had a broken tenon that I removed with a Dremel and sanding drum. I flattened the stem end. I used the Dremel to shape the stem end into a tapered cone. It was rough but the shape was getting there. I cleaned up the roughened stem end with a small flat file to further shape it. I sanded it with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to shape it more. It is starting to take shape at this point. There was a gouge on the top side of the stem mid stem that almost looked like a crack but was not one. I sanded the area smooth with the 220 grit sandpaper at the same time.Now it was time to straighten the bend I the stem to match the flow of the pipe. Instead of using my heat gun I painted the stem surface with the flame of a Bic lighter until the vulcanite became flexible. I straightened it out to the angles I wanted for the pipe. I put the stem in the bowl and took photos of it at this point in the process to get a sense of the overall look of the pipe. It is looking pretty good to me at this point! I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. This restemmed, rusticated Savinelli Made Stone Age K11 603 Italian Freehand is a beautiful looking pipe that combines a rusticated finish with a unique shaped. The brown stains on the bowl work well to highlight the finish. I put the newly finished stem on the bowl and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel being careful to not buff the stamping. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is quite nice and feels great in the hand. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that like the other pipes I am working that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 54grams/1.90ounces. It will soon heading back to the pipeman who sent it to me. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next generation.