Restoring a Kaywoodie Churchwarden

Blog by Kenneth Lieblich

Next on the chopping block is a charming and looooong Kaywoodie Dublin churchwarden (twelve inches long), commissioned by the daughter of a friend, for her fiancé. She was determined to get her beau a churchwarden as a gift. Fortunately, I was able to lay my hands on one and did a nifty restoration job on it. This pipe was made by the well-known American pipe company, Kaywoodie. The markings on the left side of the shank read Super Grain [over] Kaywoodie. On the right side of the shank is the shape number: 95. The left side of the stem has the traditional Kaywoodie logo, a club: ♣.   I went over to Pipedia, in order work out a rough date for this pipe. I know that the very old Kaywoodies have four-digit shape numbers – and this pipe obviously only has two digits. On the list of Kaywoodie shape numbers, the following information was shown:

Shape #                 Description                                                         Years Produced

95                           Extra Long Dublin Churchwarden              1932-1937, 1947-1972

So, at its youngest, this pipe is a minimum of 50 years old. Having said that, however, I think it’s older because the scant information I could find suggests that the 95 was not produced in Super Grain from at least 1968. I also don’t feel that this pipe falls into the earlier year ranges. My best estimate is that this pipe dates from the period of 1955 to 1968. Sadly, I cannot be more precise than that. The following photo shows the pipe in question from a 1955 Kaywoodie catalogue:The pipe was in decent condition. The pipe had been well-smoked add the bowl and shank were quite dirty, but nothing outlandish. The bowl had notable cake on the inside and some lava on the rim. I felt that some burning was possibly there too. Similarly, the stem was relatively clean – not much oxidation to speak of, and what I would describe as “typical” tooth marks on the bit. The stem was somewhat bent out of shape (in the yaw, pitch, and roll axes) and would need to be corrected. Finally, some previous owner had decapitated the drinkless filter system. Time to get to work. The stem was first on my list. I wiped the outside down with Murphy’s Oil Soap on some cotton pads. I cleaned out the insides with lemon-infused isopropyl alcohol and some churchwarden pipe cleaners. I also took a BIC lighter and ‘painted’ the stem with its flame to lift the few bite marks and dents. This was reasonably successful in raising the damage. It wasn’t perfect, but it was improved.

As I mentioned, the stinger thing had been lopped off. There was no repairing it – and I didn’t want to anyway! What I did do, however, was to gently sand down the cut edge with metal sandpaper in coarse, medium and fine grits. This worked beautifully and I was pleased with the results. I cleaned off the end with some alcohol on a cotton pad and gave the metal a quick polish. I then heated the stem with my heat gun and gently worked the twisted stem back into place. I have bent many stems before, but this one was by far the trickiest – perhaps because it was so long. There was considerable resistance in the stem and, after correcting the yaw and roll axes, I opted to leave some of the pitch – figuring that discretion was the better part of valour. Or, rather, I didn’t want to break the darn thing!

Fortunately, the stem was in good enough shape that it didn’t need a soak in the Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover. I simply scrubbed and scrubbed with SoftScrub on some cotton pads. I built up the remaining marks on the stem with black cyanoacrylate adhesive and then cured it with the aid of some CA glue accelerator. I then carefully sanded the adhesive down with 220-, 400-, and 600-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. I also used Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil in between each pad scrubbing (from 3,600 onward). Now for the stummel. 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. Fortunately, there were none.   I then proceeded to clean out the insides of the shank with Q-tips, pipe cleaners, and lemon-infused isopropyl alcohol. There was quite a bit of filth inside this stummel and it took a fair amount of cotton to get it clean. I used cotton rounds and some Murphy’s Oil Soap to scrub the outside of the stummel. I soaked the rim of the pipe in Murphy’s in order to soften the lava. This worked well, but burn marks remained on the wood of the rim. I followed that up by cleaning the insides of the stummel with some dish soap and tube brushes. Next, I decided to de-ghost the pipe in order to remove any lingering smells of the past. I thrust cotton balls into the bowl and the shank and saturated them with 99% isopropyl alcohol. I let the stummel sit overnight. This caused any remaining oils, tars and smells to leach out into the cotton. The bowl was nice and clean after this. Often, to remove burn marks, I use oxalic acid, but, in this case, the burning was too extensive. I should say that the burning wasn’t severe or deep – just wide. In order to safely remove the burns on the rim, I “topped” the pipe – that is to say, I gently and evenly sanded down the rim on a piece of 220-grit sandpaper. This effectively removed the damage, without altering the look of the pipe.Before sanding, I applied some Before & After Restoration Balm and let it sit for 20 minutes or so. It does lovely things to the wood. Once I polished it with a microfibre cloth, I sanded the stummel down with all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit). Finally, I applied some more Before & After Restoration Balm and buffed it with a microfiber cloth a second time. I then took the pipe to my bench polisher and buffed it with White Diamond and a few coats of carnauba wax. Wow – the pipe really looks lovely. My friend’s daughter presented her fiancé with the pipe and he seemed quite pleased with it. I met the lucky fellow myself and I know that he will enjoy smoking it for many years to come. I hope you enjoyed reading the story of this pipe as much I 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 Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments.

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