Daily Archives: May 13, 2023

Resurrecting a Karl Erik Pot

Blog by Steve Laug

Once again I want to take you through my process of working on each pipe that we purchase. Jeff has set up a spread sheet to track where the pipe came from, the date of purchase and what we paid for it so that we know what we have invested in the pipe before we even work on it. This takes a lot of the guess work out of the process. This particular pipe was purchased on 12/27/2021 from a seller in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA. I also want you to understand why we take the photos we do. If you have followed for a while then you will see the familiar pattern of the photos we include both in the before and midstream process of working on a pipe. It is not accidental or chance as the photos have been taken to help me make an assessment of the pipe Jeff sees before he starts his clean up work. We do this to record the condition that the pipe was in when received it and to assess what kind of work will need to be done on. When I look at these photos this is what I see.

  1. The first thing I see is a classic Danish take on a Pot shaped pipe that had been well used. It was obviously someone’s favourite pipe if the cake in the bowl is any indication.
  2. The finish is dirty and there is grime and grit ground into the finish. Underneath the grime it looks like the bowl and shank have some amazing grain.
  3. The rim top has a heavy coat of lava that flowed from the cake in the bowl. It was thick and it was impossible to know what the edges of the bowl – both inner and out. I am hoping that the thick lava had protected the top and edges from burn damage.
  4. The bowl has a very thick cake and debris on the walls that hides the walls. The outer edges look good and there does not appear to be any obvious burn damage to outer bowl edges.
  5. The acrylic stem is in excellent condition – dirty, scratched and has tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of button. There were deeper tooth marks on the underside. There was a worn and partial KE logo on top of the blade portion of the saddle stem.

Overall my impressions of this pipe is that it is a great looking Danish style pot shaped pipe with some beautiful grain hidden under the grime that once cleaned up will be another pretty pipe. The photos below confirm the assessment above. Jeff took close up photos so that I could have a clearer picture of the condition of the bowl, rim edges and top. The rim top photos confirm my assessment above. The cake in the bowl is thick with tobacco debris stuck on the walls. The rim top has heavy lava, grime and debris covering it. The inner and outer edges are so covered it is hard to know what is under them. This is what I look for when assessing a pipe. It is unclear if there is any burn damage at this point. I look forward to viewing it in person after the clean up work. The photos of the acrylic stem surface from various angles confirm my assessment of its condition. You can see the grime on the stem in the first photo below. The stem is quite dirty and a bit of a mess. The fit of the stem to the shank is good. There is a partial logo on the top visible in the photo. Instead of telling you what I see in the next photos of the sides of the bowl and the heel I want to hear from you. Tell me what you see? What does the finish look like to you? Are there any visible problems or issues that stand out to you? Are the cracks or scratches in the valleys of the rustication or the high spots? Are there visible flaws or fissures in the briar? How random does the deep rustication look? Is there a pattern to it? Any visible issues on the heel of the bowl? These questions should help you to see what I am looking for when I see these photos. (One note is that there appears to be burn damage on the front outer edge of the bowl shown in the second photo below.)  He took a photo of the stamping on the sides of the shank. The underside reads Karl Erik in an oval (Karl [over] Erik. Following the length of the shank it is stamped Made In Denmark. What stands out for you in the photos of the stamping? What do you look for in the stamping? It is dirty but what do you see underneath the grime on the surface of the briar? If you have been following the blog for any length of time you have come to know that when I am working on interesting old pipes (even sometimes those not so interesting) I like to know a bit about the background of the brand. I like to “meet” the carver to get a feel for their work and style.

I turned to Pipephil’s site (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-k1.html) to see what I could find. I did a screen capture of the entry there and have included the side bar information below the photo. Brand created in 1965-66 by Karl Erik Ottendahl (1942 – 2004 †). In the best years he employed up to 15 craftsmen among which Bent Nielsen (see Benner) and Peder Christian Jeppesen. Former grading (ascending): from 4 to 1, and “Ekstravagant” (entirely hand made)

I turned to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Erik) and reread the history of the brand. Give the article a read.

Now it was time to work on the pipe.

I am sure many of you will shake your head and ask maybe even out loud, “Why is he including this again?” However, please remember that the point of these blogs is not to wow your with the work or make you shake your heads but I want you to know the details of the work we do so you can do your own. Back in 2020 Jeff wrote a blog about his cleaning process. I am including a link to that now so you can see what I mean about his process. Do not skip it! Give it a read (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/20/got-a-filthy-estate-pipe-that-you-need-to-clean/). Here is the introduction to that blog and it is very true even to this day.

Several have asked about Jeff’s cleaning regimen as I generally summarize it in the blogs that I post rather than give a detailed procedure. I have had the question asked enough that I asked Jeff to put together this blog so that you can get a clear picture of the process he uses. Like everything else in our hobby, people have different methods they swear by. Some may question the method and that is fine. But it works very well for us and has for many years. Some of his steps may surprise you but I know that when I get the pipes from him for my part of the restoration they are impeccably clean and sanitized. I have come to appreciate the thoroughness of the process he has developed because I really like working on clean pipe!

For the benefit of some of you who may be unfamiliar with some of the products he uses I have included photos of three of the items that Jeff mentions in his list. This will make it easier for recognition. These three are definitely North American Products so you will need to find suitable replacements or order these directly on Amazon. The makeup pads are fairly universal as we were able to pick some up in India when we were with Paresh and his family.

In the blog itself he breaks his process down into two parts – cleaning the stem and cleaning the bowl. Each one has a large number of steps that he methodically does every time. I know because I have watched him do the work and I have seen the pipes after his work on them. He followed this process step by step and when the pipe got to me it was spotlessly clean and ready for my work. The inside of the stem, shank and bowl were clean and to me that is an amazing gift as it means that my work on this end is with a clean pipe! I cannot tell you how much difference that makes for my work.

  1. The first thing I see is a classic Danish take on a Pot shaped pipe that cleaned up pretty well. There was damage that I will note in the numbers below but it was a nicely shaped pipe.
  2. The finish is clean and the grime and grit have been removed from the finish on the bowl. The grain is quite amazing looking.
  3. The lava, grime and dust on the rim top has been removed and it has revealed that there is some burn damage on the front outer, top and inner edge. There was some burn damage around the inner edge of the bowl as well
  4. The walls of the bowl are clean and there are some ridges in the walls of the bowl from someone reaming it with a knife.
  5. The acrylic stem is clean and has tooth chatter and marks on both sides. The marks on the underside of the stem are deeper than on the topside. The logo is partially visible but worn. The fit to the shank is well done with no damage.

Hopefully the steps above show you both what I look for when I go over the pipe when I bring it to the work table and also what I see when I look at the pipe in my hands. They also clearly spell out a restoration plan in short form. My work is clear and addressing it will be the next steps. I took photos of the whole pipe to give you a picture of what I see when I have it on the table. This is important to me in that it also shows that there was no damage done during the clean up work or the transit of the pipe from Idaho to here in Vancouver.   I carefully went over the bowl and rim top to get a sense of what is happening there. In this case once the rim top and edges were cleaned the top and edges showed lots of burn damage on the top front right and middle as well as around the inner edge of the bowl. There was also some damage on the front outer edge of the bowl. I also go over the stem carefully. The stem had some issues as noted. There were some deep tooth marks on the underside and lighter on the topside. I took photos of the rim top and stem sides to show as best as I can what I see when I look at them. I always check to make sure that the clean up work did not damage the stamping on the shank sides in any way. It is in excellent condition and is very clear and readable. I love just looking at the lay of the pipe and the proportion of the hand made pipes. I like to remove the stem from the shank to get a sense of what was in the mind of the pipe maker when he crafted the pipe. The photo shows its beauty in flow and shape.  Now it was time to start working on the pipe. To address the darkening on the rim top and edges I started by topping the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper on a topping board. I need to remove the darkening to be able to see the damage. The damage is very evident on the top of the bowl and the inner edge on the right front. To deal with the rim damage on the top and the inner edge I used a wooden ball and a piece of 220 grit sandpaper to give the inner edge a slight bevel and remove the damage. Now I was getting somewhere. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to fine tune the shape. I topped it once again with 220 grit paper. I am happy with the end result. I wiped the bowl down with some acetone to remove the darkening in the stain around the bowl. I wanted to even out the stain coat and the look of brown on the bowl and rim. I could not remove much more of the damage on the front and sides of the bowl without changing the profile of the pipe. I stained the rim top with a walnut stain pen to match the rest of the bowl and shank colour. It was a little dark but once it was polished and waxed it would be a perfect match.I polished the bowl and rim with a medium and fine sanding sponge to blend the finish together and smooth out the briar. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads. I choose to dry sand the briar rather than wet sand it. Again it is a matter of personal preference. I prefer to use the pads dry and find they work very well on the briar. I sand with each pad (9 in total) and group them by threes for ease of reference. I wipe the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding debris and check the briar. I love seeing the developing shine on the briar as I move through the pads which is why I include so many photos of this step.  After polishing it with the micromesh pads I rubbed it down with Before & After Restoration Balm. It is a paste/balm that is rubbed into the surface of the briar and the plateau. The product works to deep clean the finish, enliven and protect the briar. I worked it into the briar with my finger tips. I let it sit for 10 minutes then wiped it off with a soft cloth then buffed it with a cotton cloth. The briar really began to have a deep shine in the briar and the grain shone through. The photos I took of the bowl at this point mark the progress in the restoration. It is a gorgeous pipe. I set the bowl aside and turn to work on the stem. I filled in the deep tooth marks on both sides of the stem with black CA glue. I used a small file to flatten the repaired area. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface. I started the polishing with 600 grit wet dry sandpaper. I continued polishing the stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit sanding pads and water to wet sand the stem. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil on a cotton rag after each sanding pads. But I find it does two things – first it gives some protection to the stem from oxidation and second it give the sanding pads bite in the polishing process.    After finishing with the micromesh pads I rub the stem down with Before & After Fine and Extra Fine stem polish as it seems to really remove the fine scratches in the acrylic. I rub the Fine Polish on the stem and wipe it off with a paper towel and then repeat the process with the Extra Fine polish. I finish the polishing of the stem down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set the stem aside to let the oil absorb. This process gives the stem a shine and also a bit of protection.  The final steps in my process involve using the buffer. I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the light scratches in the briar and the acrylic. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I have found that I can get a deeper shine if I follow up the wax buff with a buff with a clean buffing pad. It works to raise the shine and then I hand buff with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. It is always fun for me to see what the polished bowl looks like with the polished stem. It really is a nice pipe. The polished finish around the bowl sides and shank looks great with the rich brown stains. The Karl Erik Made in Denmark Danish Pot feels great in my hand. It is a well balanced pipe. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height:  1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inch, Chamber diameter: 7\8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 2.19 ounces/62 grams. It is a beautiful pipe that functions as a sitter due to the wide heel on the bowl. I will soon be adding to the rebornpipes store in the Danish Pipemakers section. If you would like to add it to your collection let me know. It should be a great smoking pipe.

Hopefully the style of writing of this blog is helpful to you in some way. In it I wanted to show both what I am looking for and how I move forward in addressing what I see when work on a pipe. Let me know if it is helpful to you. It is probably the most straightforward detailed description of my work process that I have done. As always I encourage your questions and comments as you read the blog. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipe men and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of those who follow us.

Refreshing an Elder Statesman – a KB&B Blueline Bakelite Cased Bulldog

I love these older KB&B Blueline pipes. Great example and great work Charles

I recently wrote about the work done to restore a vintage Frank Bulldog. Today’s patient is of a slightly older vintage but where the Frank needed …

Refreshing an Elder Statesman – a KB&B Blueline Bakelite Cased Bulldog