About reborn pipes

A Pipe Refurbisher’s Reflections

Welcome to reborn pipes! This blog is a place to post my reflections on pipes and tobaccos and on the art of refurbishing old pipes. I love working on old pipes and giving them a renewed life. Over the years I have developed a variety of methods that have worked well for me in my hobby of pipe refurbishing. I share them with you because I enjoy sharing information and knowledge I have learned with others. I have written a lot of different articles on the many aspects of the refurbishing work. It seems like it is a good idea to post them in one place that was a bit more permanent and localized. As I learn new methods and try new things I will add them to the blog. I also will share the result of the labour so that you can see what the finished products look like. The methods work for me. Try them if you like but be sure to post your results here if you wish to share them with others.

I have also invited others to write different blog posts on the topics where they have interest and willingness. Thank you to them for sharing their knowledge and skills. If you would like to write something for the blog just email me and let me know (slaug at uniserve.com)

Since I enjoy writing essays and short stories, I have also included some of each in various categories of the blog. These include pieces that have appeared elsewhere and some that appear here for the first time. I have also added a category on book reviews of pipe books that I have found helpful or just enjoyed when I read them.

Once again welcome to reborn pipes. Leave a comment if you read something helpful or if you wish to add to what is written. Share your ideas and additions. Most of all enjoy yourself here.

Steve

101 thoughts on “About reborn pipes

  1. Arnold Blum

    Steve,
    I’ve been enjoying the pipe I bought from you as well as your blog. I have a question, I bought a cheep Kaywoodie on ebay that has an orange&black textured bowl that was way to shiny, looked like plastic. I didn’t like it so i sanded it down and now i love the flat look and feel. To keep the flat look, what do you recommend to finish it with or would you just leave it unfinished?
    Thanks, Aj

    Reply
      1. Arnold Blum

        Yes, it still has the orange and black pattern, with the flat unfinished texture. I had read not to use clearcoat on briar so just wanted your take on it. I will leave it be, Thanks for the advice. Aj

        Reply
        1. rebornpipes Post author

          Aj sometimes to add a little life to the bowl I will rub it down with a light coat of olive oil and rub it off. It does not add shine once it dries just depth to the bowl. I like the oiled look a lot and use it on many of my pipes.

          Reply
  2. Dustin Barr

    I have a la strada stacatto very similar to the one you worked on. The pipe stem is chipped at the mouth piece and I wanted to know if it could be repaired or replaced. Let me know what you think.

    Dustin

    Reply
  3. JoeRiggs

    Steve, I have a quick question. It’s driving me crazy.

    We all know not to round the edges where the stem meets the shank when sanding, so the juncture remains smooth. But I’m having problems.

    When I sand my stems and run through the micromesh, the juncture is never the same. I’ve tried doing it with the stem attached to the pipe obviously, but Just enough vulcanite is removed to create that tiny unwanted lip. Aside from just not sanding that area of the stem altogether, I don’t know how to resolve this.

    And how to fix the couple of pipes I’ve created this issue on. The lip is indeed microscopic, but it’s definitely there, and didn’t used to be in any the cases. Any advice would be appreciated.

    Reply
      1. JoeRiggs

        You mean sand right over the tape? Trying to understand. I tape off my shank, then I sand the stem carefully right up to the shank without going over onto the shank.

        The stem always comes out microscopically smaller than it was before, creating the lip. Are you saying to tape the shank, then sand right over the juncture as if I was sanding both together.

        Reply
  4. Gordon Hazel

    Steve, just discovered this site. I have a badly cracked Peterson much like the one whose cracks you repairs. I will do the same as yourself and see how it goes.

    Cheers

    Gordon

    Reply
  5. Tim McComb

    I have an old ropp 803 and the tenon is loose in the mortise. The mortise is lined with cork. Do I need to replace the cork or is there a trick to swell the cork?

    Reply
  6. Boris Vezmar

    Hey Steve, Boris here… again 🙂

    One quick question, if you have time. Do you have any advice on restoring stem stamp? It is still embossed, but the paint’s gone. Paint markers aren’t any good. How do you do it?

    Thanks

    Reply
  7. Boris Vezmar

    Hey Steve. Been folowing you blog for quite some time now, and this is the first time I actually have a question.
    It is about CA super glue you are using to repair mouthpiece buttons (mainly). I’ve read in one of your restorations that you have found an info somewhere that CA is not dangerous when completely cured. Does that apply to that exact CA you are using, or is it some general study?
    Could I have some info, maybe some links if you still have them?
    I have couple of pipes with the button ends all clipped off for some unknown reason, and I’m very weary of using CA for something that would get reasonably hot, and would go straight into my mouth.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    1. rebornpipes Post author

      Thanks Boris for your message. I have been using the CA and charcoal powder mixture on stem repairs for about 5 years now. In the early days i was concerned so I searched the web. I don’t have the links any longer. But I remember reading that CA was used in Vietnam for quick wound repair. It was used on the skin to bind wounds together. I also read that it was used in the US for the same. I also read that once it hardened it was impervious to gassing or releasing compounds.

      Reply
      1. Boris Vezmar

        Hey Steve. Thanks for the prompt reply!
        I’ve found that same info, but also that the “short chain” CA is not safe, and the “long chain” CA which is approved for the medical use in the USA is generally safe. Problem is, all I cound find in my homecountry of Serbia is that “not-safe” type. What CA are you using? I’m sure you’ve mentioned it somewhere, so please excuse my lazyness. If that one is the safe kind maybe I can get it to here through some people I know

        Reply
        1. rebornpipes Post author

          I am using some I get from Stewart Macdonald online. I live in Canada and they are in the US. They make products for musical instruments. It is the one that I have found is workable. It comes in several colours and I use the black and clear. I have yet to try the amber one.

          Reply
          1. Boris Vezmar

            Thanks for the info. I went to their website but sadly couldn’t find any technical document for the product itself.
            What I did find with a little help from my wife (she’s a biochemist) is that the longer chain CA is generally safer, and that is the one approved by the FDA. Exact name is 2-Octyl cyanoacrylate, while the one I am able to find is the common ethyl cyanoacrylate, and I’m guessing yours is too, because outside of the medical practice there really is no need for any other king, as it works the same for the general usage.
            If you ever find yourself interested in the subject, and maybe find some 2-Octyl CA please leave the info here.

            Sorry for bothering, and I hope I wasn’t a nuissance 🙂

            Reply
  8. Salvo Raso

    i nwould like to publish something .I am Salvo Raso an Italian emergency medical doctor. II would like to know the way. Thanks

    Reply
      1. jessgriffiths

        Hello!! I saw your post about working on a c.a. Sanders of Swansea pipe.
        That’s my great grandfather! Clement Alan sanders! My granny’s dad!
        He was based at number 1 wind street in Swansea!
        So interesting and wonderful to see someone still using and working with his stuff!! Contact me if you want any further info! 🙂 xxx

        Reply
  9. Frozen Philosopher

    I have an old CPF pipe, very small. Found in an old rock house in Montana. Pre-1900’s. Any idea who I could contact to inquire about the value?

    Reply
    1. rebornpipes Post author

      I have a few of them and I picked them up for about $50 and they needed work. Not sure who could give an idea. You could check eBay for going prices.

      Reply
      1. tjholt10

        I have and old leather covered Deauville pipe from the 60’s that needs a new leather cover. Any idea who can help?

        Reply
  10. chris mannon

    Hello just got back into pipes ,it’s been 15 yrs so I’m learning all over again . Getting 30 pipes from eBay .all known makes nothing to Valuable but it will a good start . Dr garbow,yellow bole . Hanry Straus. Ect . Love the blog and lot of information thanks Chris

    Reply
      1. Jorgen Jensen

        Good afternoon
        Would you please tell Mr ssjones that Dulwich pipes were made by G.Huybrecht,West Noorwood, London. Same shape numbers as his London Castle pipes.
        Jørgen,Denmark

        Reply
  11. donald boulanger

    I bought a dz or so Holeysmoke pipes through Lane Ltd back in mid 70’s. I really liked them but they burned through eventually. I bought one on ebay last week. Really surprised to find an old friend again.

    Reply
  12. Phil

    Hello,
    I really admire your skill and stunning aesthetic results achieved even for desperate cases, but as a biologist and a pipe smoker I can not make you see that most of the materials used are particularly toxic and harmful, and often carcinogenic, eg cyanoacrylate on the mouthpiece, or various chemical dyes used with ease, even inside the bowl, so very good for pipe ornament, but not yet to be smoked without incurring serious risks
    Best Regards,
    Phil ,from ‘Italy

    Reply
    1. rebornpipes Post author

      Thank you Phil. I am unsure of what you are speaking of other than the cyanoacrylate. I never use toxic stains on the inside of the bowls and am quite careful to keep the stain out of the bowl. I also use no toxic stains on the outside. I use an aniline stain on the exterior which is what many pipe makers use. I apply it and flame it which removes the alcohol and leaves the stain in the briar. In terms of the cyanoacrylate – I have done a lot of research and found that once it dries and hardens it is impermeable. It is the same material that was used by Vietnam era in field dressing and closing wounds. I am unclear what other things which you label as “most of the materials used are particularly toxic and harmful” that I use. Please clarify what you are referring to. I appreciate your posting here.

      Reply
      1. Mart

        I’m not Phil, but I probably can explain. You often apply cyanoacrylate to the stems.
        This substance is toxic – not high toxic, but toxic. No one of the superglues is food safe!
        Even if it is of low toxicity, you can’´t apply it to a thing, people have in their mouths!
        It’s not that toxic, but keep in mind, the folks are chewing on the stems, salivating on
        them. Their spittle is of course interspersed with cyanoacrylate than. Be aware, all
        the superglues are not allowed to have contact with food or be inhaled… Aniline is
        suspected to cause cancer. No one pipemaker (I know few) uses aniline stains.
        No aniline stain has an approval to be used in contact with food. Its forbidden to be
        used in rubber toys, for example. Aniline fumes are toxic – hight toxic.

        Reply
  13. Chris

    Mr. Steve, I love reading about your and the contributors experiences in bringing back some gems and I have gained some knowledge for my own restorations. None quite as adventurous of some of yours. I have a pipe that I had repaired when I inherited it from my Great, Great Grandfather. The pipe is briar as far as I can tell. It is the shape of a bulls head and has Bullshead written on the shank. it also has “made in England on the underside of the wind cap. This is about all the information I have on it. I was wondering if you would happen to have any more. I have attached pictures. Thanks in advance. Chris

    Reply
    1. rebornpipes Post author

      Chris, the pipe is an old one – the stem is horn and the fitting and carving are very well done. My guess would be from the early 1900s but can’t get more specific. As for the maker – no way of knowing for sure. Though being English made you could search the various catalogues of English pipes available on line and see if you can find a maker. It does appear to be briar. Is the stem broken away from the shank? It appears to be in the photos. Any way what a great piece of history to have in your hands.

      Reply
      1. abigailrose

        I have almost the exact same pipe head, but the rest was broken off. Mine does not have “bullshead” carved into it, but it does read “made in England” on the inside of the lid attached to the nosering chain. The metal piece that used to attach the stem has some strange carvings in it that I cannot decipher. The top row is what appears to be an arrow, star, and a bird with an upside down triangle underneath with the letters WDC inside of it. Can you help me at all understand more about this??

        Reply
        1. rebornpipes Post author

          Thanks for your comment. I have several posts on the blog on WDC pipes. Do a search for WDC and you can read a bit of history. The initials stand for William Demuth Co. they were an American company that imported pipes.

          Reply
      2. Chris

        Steve, I had replied back to your post ealier. Apparently I did’nt. i thank you for the information. It is more than I had already had and you confirmed some thought s of mine. Keep up the blog. I enjoy reading about you trials.

        Reply
  14. zehcaetano

    Hey, Steve, how are you? Your blog is fenomenal and I follow it constantly. I have a little problem with one of my pipes and I think that you can help me a little. A friend closed his tobacco shop and gave me a little estate Dunhill Dublin n.2 Bryuere, but with the passing of time and probably the wrong care with this piece of art (It was my first pipe), the tenon now don’t fix more at the shank. I don’t know if the tenon or the entire stem is thinner than before, or the shank is larger. I put some odontological resine to fill the space, but the resine didn’t stay on the tenon. In this case, what is the better way to fix it?. It’s a Dunhill and I love this little pipe. Thanks a lot since now and forgive me by my poor english. Greetings from Brazil!

    Reply
    1. rebornpipes Post author

      Welcome to rebornpipes. Good to see you here. I have used a simple fix that I learned from a pipemaker friend of mine. It works well 99% of the time for me. Over time the shank can dry and shrink and the tenon become loose. His suggestion was to apply clear water to the inside of the mortise with a cotton swab and repeat until the wood swells and the stem is held tightly. Then with smoking regularly the stem stays in place. Another thing I use to correct it for the 1% of the time this does not work is to coat the tenon with clear fingernail polish or clear superglue. Once it dries you often have lightly sand it to get it back in place but it works well also.

      Reply
  15. Matt R.

    I was told about this site by a friend. So glad that he did. I’ve been practicing on some estate pipes before I tackle my grandfathers. The detail on this site is great. Thanks!

    Reply
    1. rebornpipes Post author

      Thanks Matt. Welcome to Reborn pipes. Feel free to email me any writeups you do on your refurbishing. I would love to see what you are doing. Again, welcome and enjoy yourself here

      Reply
  16. Simon Browning

    Really love this blog! So much so that it’s set as my homepage… Every post is informative for a newbie pipe smoker (under a year) like myself and (much to my better halfs dismay) I’ve started picking up cheap estate pipes everywhere I can, and with my tiny toolkit of a dremel, some files and sandpaper I’ve been working at lovingly restoring and refinishing my pipes.

    Thanks from Edinburgh,

    Simon

    Reply
  17. Roland

    Thouroughly enjoy your passion for writing and restoration of finer things in life, I too share the love of working with my hands and reforging of the past, I don’t smoke but recently came accross a number of vintage pipes which led me to your blog, kudos on the work and information. I hope to take pics along the way as I breath new life into the lot, mostly just before/after shots….

    Reply
  18. Andrew Selking

    Steve,

    I’ve really enjoyed your blog. I started restoring pipes about a year ago, but struggled to get the oxidization out of some of the stems. Your technique of soaking them in a cleaning solution to bring out all of the oxidization sounded good, so I tried it. Since I already had some cheap vodka, which I use for the salt cleaning process in the bowl, I decided to try that. It worked like a champ, all the nasty oxidization came to the surface and then I removed it with 2000 grit wet/dry sand paper.

    I still don’t have a pipe reamer, but have had real good luck with using kosher salt and a liberal amount of vodka. This does a good job of softening the cake, which scrapes out easily after a day or so. I then use 150 grit sand paper on the inside of the bowl to take the cake down to an acceptable level. I usually re-sweeten the bowl.

    I especially enjoy your articles on rustication. That will be my next project.

    Best regards,
    Andrew

    Reply
    1. rebornpipes Post author

      Thanks Andrew. Sounds like you are on the right track. Anytime you want to share one of your refurbs on the blog let me know and I will post it here.
      Steve

      Reply
    1. rebornpipes Post author

      I have not seen one like that. It appears to be a folk art pipe. What is the wood? It does not look to be briar. I am not at all certain of the value of it.

      Reply
  19. Matt Edie

    I love this blog. I’ve only restored one pipe and it was a lot of fun. I would like to buy a good buffing wheel, any suggestions? And what do you do with all the pipes you restore? Do you keep them or sell them?

    Reply
    1. rebornpipes Post author

      Thanks Matt. I bought the Beall buffing system online. I then bought a bench grinder and removed the grinding wheels and added the pads from the system to it. There are several articles on the blog on Buffing set ups. Do a search and they will come up.

      I do sell many of the pipes I restore. I have a bunch that will go on ebay when I get the time to photo them.

      Reply
  20. isaac

    Great blog thanks!!
    I have made a couple of pipes in the past, and am currently restoring a batch of 7 i picked up online. Five of the pipes had normal vulcanite stems but the other two had stems which i am assuming are acrylic? they did not like the tripoli polish on a mop at all, it kind of ate into them…
    Any suggestions on getting them nice, just through to a higher grit sandpaper?? i usually just use tripoli and then carnauba wax, all on soft mops.

    Reply
  21. Simon Burrows

    Well I’m so glad I’ve bumped into this site………I’ve been smoking a pipe for six weeks now and already I’m interested in restoring, it started after lightly sanding the gunky black marks off my cheap basket pipe and thinking ooohh that looks better than when I bought it. So I’ve invested in a couple off ebay UK along with a polishing mop and some carnauba wax. I just need to wait until it all arrives. But in the meantime I’ll be reading and learning. Many thanks on a very in depth and informative blog.

    Simon

    Reply
  22. Constantin

    Hello! First off i wanted to tell you what an amazing job you do, it is very excellent, the pipes are truly brought back life!
    I also wanted to ask: For the stems, you’re using stems from Pipemakers.org (pipe emporium) right?
    If you are, how good are they? i havent bought any yet. Is the Vulcanite good?
    Also i see the tendon is very thick, is it necesary to have a Pimo Tenon cutter? or can you do it while a file?
    Thank you and Greetings from Chile!
    Cheers.

    Reply
    1. rebornpipes Post author

      Most of the stems I have picked up used on Ebay or traded for from other repair folks. There is certainly some difference in the quality of vulcanite in them. I have purchased some from PME (pipe makers emporium) and have found the non sale ones to be good. I use a PIMO tenon cutter but have also done some reading on the PME tenon cutter which is virtually the same. I make slight adjustments with a file or rasp but care must be taken to keep it round.

      Reply
  23. Stefan

    A great blog! I am completely enchanted and can’t stop reading about “reborn” pipes. Can’t wait to visit our town’s flea market on Sunday. – I will put a short review on our blog, if You agree.

    Reply
  24. Herman

    The one I mean i think its on his profile picture.
    My pipes are still on progress, I have done cleaning and and adjusting the internals. It is still not presentable at this stage. But will do later on.

    Reply
    1. rebornpipes Post author

      Thanks Herman. I looked at the profile picture and you may be correct on the pipe. I hesitate as it seems to have a straight stem.

      I look forward to seeing what you have done.

      Reply
  25. Herman

    I really like the pipe that you took picture with. What is it? Looks like an author shape. Could you tell me a bit about it.

    Btw, thumbs up for your blog. I have done a few restoration based from the information here. Cheers.

    Reply
    1. Herman

      Sorry, i think it was Piet Binsbergen photo. Not sure where to find that pics now. Yeah. Like that pipe

      Reply
  26. LarryG

    So excited to find your blog! I’ve been following your exploits w/pipes on SF for a while, and just found out about the blog from Bill Boyle (I just got his Rusticated Apple — love it!) and will be coming back regularly to see what you’re up to; and to get pointers. Thanks for the great writing and work!! LarryG

    Reply
  27. Chris

    Steve,
    Do you do repairs for other or just as a hobby for yourself? If so, could you get in touch with me through my email?
    Chris

    Reply
    1. rebornpipes Post author

      Chris, I generally do repairs for myself as a hobby and help others facilitate their own repairs. I have done some work for others but I am very selective.

      Reply
  28. Ajax

    Steve, Nice work! I appreciate your attention to detail and the bit work you do. The home made rustication chisel is a nice touch. I have several Color Duke’s that need attention and I may go this route. Keep up the good work.

    Reply
  29. Nick

    Just wanted to say how much I’m enjoying your blog mate – amazing resource and well written 🙂
    Cheers from New Zealand

    -Nick

    Reply
  30. Ricsi

    Hi
    Sorry for my bad english… I read the Red Point Old Briar pipe renewal (the end result is very nice), and wondering if you know any more about this brand(Red Point Old Briar). I also have a pipe.I can not find information about it (making year, value).
    Ricsi

    Reply
    1. rebornpipes Post author

      Hi Ricsi. Thank you.
      No I have been seeking more information on teh Red Point pipes but have not been able to find any more. If you fins out something let me know.
      Steve

      Reply
  31. gerald steck

    enjoy the blog Steve–really about the only one i read regularly–articles on refurb are very informative, and Father Tom is priceless–

    Reply
    1. rebornpipes Post author

      Thanks Gerald. Writing is something I enjoy almost as much as refurbishing. It is great to know that people appreciate it. Father Tom is the fruit of 35 years of work combined with roughly the same amount of enjoying the pipe. I have a few other Father Tom pieces that I am working on and look forward to putting up in the days ahead. Thanks again for your comments.

      Reply
  32. dana

    Hi Steve,
    Truly enjoyed your blog so much that I bookmarked it. I live in Indonesia where pipe smoking is not our culture so refubrishing pipe originally begun as a necessity for me – refubrishing old-dirty pipes that i got from my flea market 🙂

    I look forward to coresponds with you further, seeking your advice and reccomendation. Is there anyway we exchange emails ?

    Thank you and warm regards from Jakarta, Indonesia.

    Reply
    1. rebornpipes Post author

      Hi Dana, you can email at slaug at(@) uniserve.com
      I am glad that you are enjoying the blog. It is online for just the reason that you note. Many of us are in places where we must work on our own pipes. It is a pleasure and some how the sweat equity of working on your own pipe makes it mean more. Send me an email and I will gladly respond.
      Warm Regards
      Steve

      Reply
  33. Andy Camire

    Glad to read your blog Steve as I have done restoration work and enjoy the hobby as well for the last 30 + years. It’s fun to see techniques other pipe repair men utilize. Your article on stem restoration fixing holes is the first I’ve seen on the subject and extremely well done. Thanks for sharing your knowledge with the pipe community and I look forward to reading your posts.
    AC

    Reply
    1. rebornpipes Post author

      Welcome to the blog and thanks Andy. If you have any techniques or ideas feel free to chime in. I would love to post anything you may have written that gives different info or comes at things from another direction. It would be great to collect the best of techniques in one spot to pass on to others.

      Reply
    2. rebornpipes Post author

      Thanks Andy. Let me know if you would like to post any write ups on work you have done as well. It would be great to have some more depth here.

      Reply
  34. Brant Ross

    Thanks for your excellent blog.I had considered entering the world of pipe refurbishing as a relaxation hobby and find that your refurbishing essays are quite informative. I have also enjoyed several of your Father Tom stories and plan to read more as time permits. Thanks and well done, sir! BR

    Reply
    1. rebornpipes Post author

      Thanks Brant, glad you found the blog helpful. Refurbishing has been a relaxation hobby for me as well. It also is a great creative outlet for me. I love taking the old beaters and restoring them or if I feel like reforming them. Enjoy yourself here.

      Reply

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