Tag Archives: acrylic stems

Rebirthing an Oldrich Jirsa Bent Octagonal Panel 138 Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The picture to the left is the pipe carver Oldrich Jirsa (photo from Pipephil). He is the carver of the next pipe I have chosen to work on. It is octagonal paneled pipe with smooth and rusticated finishes around the panels. The rim top is beveled inward and smooth. It is an interesting looking pipe. We purchased it from an antique mall in Utah on 03/05/21. it has a mixture of various brown coloured finishes with amazing grain around the smooth panels on bowl sides and shank and a nice looking rustication on the other panels. It was stamped on the underside of the shank and read Jirsa over the shape number 138. It was in filthy condition when Jeff brought it to the table. There was a thick cake in the bowl and lava and debris rim top and the beveled inner edge of the bowl. The acrylic stem was oxidized and had tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside on and near the button. There is an inserted briar ring around the saddle stem. Jeff took photos of the pipe before his cleanup work to give a picture of its condition. Jeff took photos of the rim top and stem to show the general condition of the pipe. The bowl is heavily caked and the rim top and edges have a thick lava overflow on the beveled inner edge of the bowl and on the rim top. The stem has grime and tooth marks on the top and underside near the button. Jeff took photos of the tenon and the briar insert on the stem.Jeff took some photos of the bowl sides and heel to show the grain that was around this bowl. It is a nice looking pipe. He took photos of the sides of the shank to show the stamping. The stamping is readable in the photos below and is as noted above. The logo stamp is also readable on the top of the saddle stem.I turned to Pipephil’s site to see what he had on the Jirsa brand (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-j2.html). He had an entry that I did a screen capture of and also the following information on the brand. Artisan: Oldrich Jirsa (born 1962) makes pipes since 1994. I turned to Pipedia for more information on the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Jirsa). I quote from the article below.

Jirsa is a Czech Republic brand owned by the family company headed by the artisan Oldrich Jirsa. They use Ebonite and cumberland stems. Best Grading: SG (Grain), three stars. Symbol: stylized J coming out of an oval. I knew that I was working on a Czech made pipe by Oldrich Jirsa. The stem on the one I was working on was acrylic and had a briar insert like the one in the photo above. Now it was time to work on the pipe.

Jeff had done a great job cleaning up the pipe as usual. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer and cut back the cake back to the bare briar. He cleaned up the walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the finish. He worked on the rim top and beveled edge lava and darkening with the soap and tooth brush. He scrubbed the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Briarville’s Pipe Stem Deoxidizer. He washed it off with warm water to remove the deoxidizer. The pipe looked very good when it arrived here. I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. The rim top and the beveled inner edge looked very good. The stem was clean and the tooth marks and chatter were few. I took photos of the stamping on the underside of the shank. You can see that it is stamped as noted above. It is clear and readable. The logo on the stem top is also readable. I took the pipe apart and took a photo of the parts. It is a good looking pipe and has some nice looking grain and rustication around the bowl. The briar came out looking very good so I did not need to polish it with micromesh. Instead immediately worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process.I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I filled in the deep tooth marks in the acrylic with clear CA glue and set it aside to let the repairs cure. Once they cured and hardened, I sanded out the repairs on the top and underside of the stem ahead of the button with 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I used Rub’n Buff Antique Gold to repaint the logo on the stem top. I worked it into the stamp with a tooth pick and buffed off the excess. It looks quite good.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine.I am excited to finish this Jirsa Octagonal Panel Bent 138 Billiard. I put the pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I hand buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the grain popping all around the smooth panels and the interesting rustication on the other panels. Combining that finish with the black, fancy acrylic stem with a briar ring all work to make this a beautiful pipe. This smooth Octagonal Panel Bent Billiard is nice looking and the pipe feels great in my hand. It is light and well balanced. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 55grams/1.94oz. It is a beautiful pipe and one that will be on the PIPES FROM VARIOUS MAKERS – CZECH, BELGIAN, GERMAN, ISRAELI, SPANISH PIPEMAKERS ALONG WITH METAL PIPES section of the rebornpipes store soon. If you are interested in adding it to your collection let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog.

Breathing Life into a Caminetto Business 127KS Pot


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on my worktable is another Caminetto Business pipe but different from the others that I have worked on in that it is a Pot (really quite similar in shape to a Castello 55). With each one that I have worked on I am increasingly impressed by the craftsmanship. The pipe has a rugged rusticated finish and a stepped variegated brown acrylic saddle stem. It had come to us from an antique mall in Utah, USA. It was a filthy pipe with grime and oils ground into the rusticated finish on the bowl. The pipe had some rustic beauty shining through the dust and debris in the valleys of the rough finish. The rustication covered the rim top, bowl and shank with a smooth panel on each side of the shank. The finish was dull and lifeless and dirty from sitting around. There was a very thick cake in the bowl with lava flowing out of the bowl and over the rim top. The lava had filled in the deeper grooves of the finish on the rim top. The inner edge of the rim appeared to be in good condition under the lava coat but we would know more once it was cleaned. The stamping on the left side of the shank read Caminetto in script over BUSINESS. To the right of that toward the stem was the shape number 127 in a cartouche and below that it read KS. On the right side of the shank it was stamped MADE IN ITALY [over] CUCCIAGO (CO). The taper stem was variegated brown and had the classic Caminetto Moustache on the top side. The surface was dirty and there was light tooth chatter and marks on both sides near the button. Jeff took the following photos before he started his cleanup work on the pipe. He took close-up photos of the bowl and rim top from various angles to capture the condition of the bowl and rim top edges. You can see the lava overflow and debris in the rustication of the rim top. You can see the cake in the bowl. This was a dirty pipe but it was the finish was in great condition. The stem is also very dirty with tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. He took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the beautiful incredibly deep rustication around the bowl. It is the same kind of rough finish that I really like on Castello Sea Rock and Savinelli Capri Pipes. You can see the oil, dust and debris in the finish on both sides of the bowl. There is also some red ink or paint on the sides of the bowl. Jeff took a photo of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It reads as noted above. The stamping is clear and readable. I have worked on several Caminetto in the past so I turned to one of the restorations on the rebornpipes blog and reread the background information on the brand. I am including that info here with this restoration (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/04/19/pretty-tired-and-dirty-messy-restoration-of-a-caminetto-business-tomahawk-182/).

When the pipe arrived I turned to Pipephil (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-c1.html) to see if he included not only information on this Caminetto Business 182. He gave some interesting information about the brand. It was created in 1986 by Guiseppe Ascorti, Luigi Radice and Gianni Davoli as the distributor. It states that in 1979 the first Caminetto period ended with Luigi Radice leaving the company. Guiseppe Ascorti continued making the pipe with his son Roberto. In 1986 the New Caminetto period began by Roberto Ascorti.I turned to Pipedia for more information on the Caminetto and how to date the pipe I had in hand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/The_History_of_Caminetto_(shapes,_stamping,_articles,_etc.). I quote a pertinent paragraph:

Stampings and dating: First off, dating earlier Caminetto’s is nearly impossible. Nevertheless, there were three phases, some in which were much earlier, of development that occurred in the stamping process of Caminetto. Before that though, every pipe had the stamp of Caminetto in one of two ways: Caminetto in script or Caminetto within quotation marks in block letters (I do not know how it was decided which pipe got which stamp, as I have had EARLY Caminetto’s with both)…

The stampings are shown in the photo to the left. The stamping on this pipe is like #2.

…Now, the question is which stamps are earlier and more likely to have been made by Ascorti and/or Radice. The answer is #1. The differences in #2 and #3 seem to be minute, as Cucciago is simply a suburb of Cantu. Pipes stamped like #1 are the most valuable Caminetto’s as they are the earliest production of the brand, as well as what some would claim the most perfect of Ascorti and Radice’s work. The last tidbit is, of course, debatable…

… There is also another factor in stamping, that is, which series the pipe falls in. The majority of Caminetto’s one sees are those of the “Business” series, which are stamped such with their collective shape (see photo of shapes below). Another stamp that sometimes follows the “Business” one is “KS,” which from what I know means “King-size” (this could be wrong, as there are pipes stamped with KS1, KS2, and KS3).

Now it was time to look at it up close and personal. Jeff had done an amazing job in removing all of the cake and the lava on the rim top. He had reamed the bowl with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He took the cake back to bare briar so we could check the walls for damage. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime on the bowl and rim and was able to remove the lava and dirt. He cleaned out the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until they came out clean. He cleaned the stem with Soft Scrub to remove the grime on the exterior and cleaned out the airway with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I took photos of the pipe before I started my part of the restoration.  To show how clean the rim top and stem really was I took a close-up photo of the rim and stem. The bowl was clean and cake free. The rim top is very clean with no residual lava in the finish. The inner edges of the bowl look good. The variegated brown acrylic taper stem cleaned up nicely. The surface had some light tooth marks (heavier on the top side than the underside) but the button edge looked really good.   I took a photo of the stamping on the smooth panels on each side of the shank. The stamping was clear and readable and reads as noted above.   I took the stem off the bowl and took a picture of the pipe to give an idea of the look of the rustication and the stem. It is going to be a pretty pipe.The bowl looked very good so I did not need to do any further work on it. 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 and with a horse hair shoe brush to get it into the nooks and crannies of the deep rustication of the finish on the bowl and shank. I let it sit for about 20 minutes to let it do its magic. I 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.   The bowl was finished so I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. There was one deeper mark on the top side of the stem near the button. I filled it in with clear super glue and let it cure. I sanded out the light tooth marks and chatter with 200 grit sandpaper and started to polish it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.     I touched up the moustache stamp on the topside of the saddle stem with Rub’n Buff Antique Gold. I rubbed it into the stamp and pressed into it with a toothpick. I buffed it off with a soft cloth and left the gold in the moustache to bring it back into place.   I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and worked it into the crevices with a shoe brush. I buffed it with a soft cloth and a shoe brush to raise the shine. Once I put the stem in place I would buff it with a clean buffing pad to deepen the shine.  This Caminetto Business 127KS Pot is shaped a lot like a Castello 55 shape and it is a real beauty and has a lot of life left. I put the bowl and stem back together again and buffed the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I used a soft touch on the rusticated bowl so as not to fill it in with the polishing product. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem several coats of carnauba wax. I carefully buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I finished buffing with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe looks very good. The rustication is very tactile and feels great in the hand. It is comfortable and light weight. The finished Caminetto Business Pot is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This great looking rusticated Caminetto turned out very well. It should be a great pipe. It will be going on the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.

New Life for an Ascorti Peppino 137 Handmade Brandy


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table is an interesting Ascorti that I picked up somewhere along the way in a trade. Jeff and I picked this one up on a pipe hunt in Utah. It is a rusticated bowl and rim with a smooth panel on the underside and a band around the shank end. The pipe is stamped on the smooth panel and reads Ascorti over Peppino on the heel of the bowl followed by the shape number 137 then Hand Made over Italy. Along the bottom of the panel it also is stamped For Tinder Box. The finish was mottled and dirty with some flume around the rim and rim top that darkened it. There was a thick cake in the bowl and some lava overflow in the grooves of the rustication on the rim top. The acrylic oval stem is in good condition with some small tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button edges. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. I took a close up photo of the rim top. It is hard to see the cake in the bowl. The cake was much thicker than it appears in the photo. The top of the bowl looks dirty with lava overflow. The inner edges of the bowl look very good. The stem has some light tooth marks on both sides that do not show up well in the photos. Overall the tooth marks are light and should be able to be sanded smooth. The stem bears an AP logo that I will need to look into in the cleanup and research.I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. The stamping is clear and reads Ascorti over Peppino followed by the shape number 137 and Hand Made Italy. Underneath all of it is stamped For Tinder Box.I was intrigued by the FOR TINDER BOX stamp on the pipe so I did some searching on the internet and came to the Tinder Box site where there was a page on the Peppino line. Here is the link (http://www.tinderboxinternational.com/ascorti_peppino.htm). I am including that article in full below as well as a picture that was included on the site.

Ascorti Peppino Series Pipes

He was very young boy, when Giuseppe Ascorti, “Peppino” to all his friends began his career working as a joiner in a small furniture factory for his father. When he was about 30 years old, his passion for design and his great desire to create, he began to make pipes. In a very short time he became a great master with his revolutionary ideas to create new pipe shapes while still maintaining the classic lines of Italian pipe design. In the 1970’s, a chain of upstart pipe shops named Tinder Box while traveling in Italy, immediately realized his talent, and together collaborated in bringing the Ascorti Pipe to pipe smokers around the world. Peppino taught all his pipe making secrets to his son Roberto, who also had a natural talent as well. Today, after 25 years since Peppino’s disappearance, Roberto Ascorti and Tinder Box has a pleasure to produce a great once in a life time series of smoking pipes to be treasured forever.

Inspired from the original pipe designs, handcrafted in the 1970’s and 1980’s by his father Peppino, Roberto has remade the original designs, with the same hand making process used in those years, the same seasoned and selected briar, and the same care in working that his father was able to do. The pipes are also fitted with the same acrylic mouthpieces that are being specially remade from 30 years ago. Each design will include a certificate that shows the original copy of the old Peppino design drawings. These pipes have a special logo with “A.P.” and stamp with the Peppino name in honor of him and thanking him for the teachings of his passion to his son Roberto.

Roberto now has retired all shapes that were introduced as part of the original set in 2006. These shapes are never to be made again as part of the Peppino Serie. There is still availability but quantities are limited. Contact your local Tinder Box to see what finishes and shapes are available. In 2008…Roberto carved two new shapes from the old shape chart to be part of this marvelous series of pipes. 2009 was a very special year in the history of Ascorti Pipes. Roberto reintroduced and carved one shape for the Peppino Series. This shape is in remembrance of the passing of his father, Peppino in 1984…From the reading I knew that the pipe I was working on was made and released as one of the 2007 shapes. The shape has since been retired. All were carved by Roberto from shapes done by his father Peppino. They were done to honour his memory. All of them were released with the unique AP logo on the top of the stem. Now I had the background information in hand it was time to work on the pipe.

This morning I started by reaming the pipe. It had a thick cake but it was quite soft. I reamed it with a PipNet reamer and worked my way through two of the four cutting heads. I cleaned up the rest of the cake with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I sanded the walls of the bowl with a piece of dowel wrapped in 220 grit sandpaper. I removed the cake from the walls and they are smooth and clean. I scrubbed the bowl and rim with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush. I was able to remove much of the grime from the rim top and the grooves and valleys of the sandblast finish. I rinsed it under warm running water to flush away the grime and dust in the soap. The following photos show the cleaned rim and bowl sides. I worked on the remaining debris and darkening on the rim top with a brass bristle wire brush. I was able to remove all of it and leave behind a clean rim top.I scrubbed out the airway in the shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I cleaned out the mortise area so that all of the oils have been removed.I rubbed the bowl and rim down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the rim top and rusticated briar with my fingertips and with a horsehair shoebrush to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed the pipe with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I really like watching the Balm do its magic and bring the briar alive.  With the bowl done it was time to address the stem. I sanded the stem surface with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper and was able to remove the dents in the surface. I followed that up with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to start polishing out the sanding marks.I rubbed the stem down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish. I have found it is a great pre-polish for my use as it shows me areas that I need to work on with the micromesh sanding pads. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I buffed it with a soft cloth to raise a shine. I put the bowl and stem back together again and buffed it lightly with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to raise the shine on the briar and the acrylic stem. The buffing also removes minute scratches in the two materials and adds depth to the shine. I gave the stem several coats of carnauba wax and the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing wheel and then by hand with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe was alive now and look great to me. It has a great feel in the hand that is very tactile and should really pop when smoked. The bowl will also develop a deeper colour with smoking. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This rusticated Ascorti Peppino 137 Italian Hand Made Brandy is a beauty should make someone a great pipe. It is one that will be on the rebornpipes store very soon. If you are interested let me know. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.

Lifting Tooth Marks from a Lucite Stem with a Heat Gun


A normal pattern of behaviour for me in my refurbishing work is that once I figure something out that works on one kind of material I want to try it on a variety of similar items. In this case once I had used the heat gun to lift the tooth dents on a vulcanite stem I wanted to experiment with Lucite stems. I had no clue whether it would work or even if Lucite had some kind of memory that would bring the dents back to a smooth surface on the stem. There was only one way to find out since I could find no answers online and that was to give it a try. I figured the worst that could happen if I was careful was that the stem would remain the same – dented or a bit melted and I would have to do a different kind of repair. I had a nice little Stanwell bulldog that was given to that had a Lucite stem that had some tooth dents in the stem – just ahead of the button. There was one dent on top and one underneath.

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The two pictures below show the depth of the marks (Again I ask your forgiveness the poor quality of the photos, several of them are a bit blurry but I think that they give you a good idea of the nature of the problem. The dents look far worse in person than the pictures show). The top photo shows the top of the stem and the second photo the underside. I decided to continue my experiment with lifting the tooth dents with my heat gun on this Lucite stem as it seemed like a good candidate for the trial.

I personally like working with a clean surface when I am doing this kind of work so I scrubbed the tip to clean it of any grime or grit that might be in the dents. I used a soft cloth dampened with Isopropyl alcohol to clean the surface then I buffed it with a quick light touch on a White Diamond wheel.  The pictures below show the stem just before I used the heat gun on it. You will see in the photos that there are small pits close to the button as well as the larger dents on both sides. The crevice between the button and stem body also has some scratches that would need to be sanded out once the tooth dents were dealt with.

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As I explained in the post on the vulcanite stem I once again stood the heat gun on its end pointing upward. I used the wire stand built into the handle to stabilize the gun in this position (see the picture previous post on lifting tooth marks from vulcanite). I wanted to be able to have both hands free to maneuver the stem over the heat so having the gun positioned in this manner allows me to do that. I set the heat gun on low heat as before because I did not know how the heat would affect the Lucite. I have found that high setting can too easily burn the vulcanite so I was assuming the same thing would be true of the Lucite.

I worked the stem over the heat keeping it about 4-6 inches above top of the gun tip as it allows it to thoroughly heat the Lucite. I move the stem constantly back and forth across the heat. I kept the stem on the pipe as before and used the bowl as a handle. In this instance I worked to just keep the first 3/4 inches of the stem from the button forward in the heat. I stopped frequently to check on the progress and see if there was any blistering on the stem. It took a bit longer for the heat to work on the Lucite. I think it must be the density and hardness of the Lucite that makes the difference. With the application of heat the Lucite began to return to its original smoothness. I kept the heat on the stem until all the dents were gone. The reason I believe the process worked was because the dents in the Lucite were not cuts in the surface but actual dents. The application of the heat did the trick.

Once the surface was smooth I took it off the heat and cooled it the same way I did the vulcanite. I did not want the stem to bend accidentally while it was soft so I dipped the tip in some running cool water to set the new surface. I dried off the tip and then sanded the area with 400 and 600 grit wet dry sandpaper (with water on the stem as I sanded) and then moved through the grades of micromesh pads – 1500, 1800, 2400, 3200, 4000 and 6000 grit. By the 3200 grit micromesh pad I found that the Lucite was beginning to have a smooth and glossy finish. The sanding with the final two grades of the pads really polished the stem and gave it the glassy finish that polished Lucite has. I finished by giving it a final polish on the buffer with White Diamond polishing compound and a coat of carnauba wax.

Here are some pictures of the top and the underside of the finished stem.

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