Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe I have chosen to work on is a nice looking smooth brown bent Billiard with a brass and orange acrylic band/adornment on the acrylic stem that I picked up in a lot of 10 pipes from a fellow on Vancouver Island who was selling his collection. The stamping on the left side of the shank reads Savinelli [over] Sistina. On the right side it was stamped with a Savinelli Shield followed by the shape number 606 [over] Italy. The twin brass bands sandwiching a piece of golden acrylic on the stem has no stamping. The acrylic taper stem has a stamped gold shooting star on the left side. The pipe is a nice looking pipe with a black understain on the grain and a medium brown finish. It is light weight and comfortable pipe to hold. I picked up the pipe and turned it over in my hands. It was in good condition.
This is what I saw when I over the pipe.
- The finish was very good with only some light dust and grime ground into the finish around the bowl sides. The matte brown/black stain is dull but the it really highlights the grain around the bowl sides and shank
- The smooth rim top looked very good and the beveled inner edge and outer edges look very good. There was no lava build on the top and the edges were clean and undamaged.
- There was a light cake in the bowl. It held the aroma of the tobaccos smoked in it – fortunately not aromatic. The walls looked to be undamaged but once I removed the light cake I could confirm that.
- The band on the stem is twin brass bands sandwiching an amber/orange yellow piece of acrylic and looks to be good condition. It is undamaged and clean. The band looks really good with the finish on the bowl and the black acrylic taper stem.
- The acrylic taper stem has a gold shooting logo stamped on the left side that identifies it as a Savinelli pipe. It is in excellent condition with just some light tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside ahead of the button.
To summarize what I saw – this Savinelli Sistina 606 Bent Billiard is a well made pipe. It is a little dusty but otherwise in good condition. The acrylic stem is lightly tooth marked but otherwise undamaged. The tenon has a converter taking it from a 9mm to a standard unfiltered stem. There does not appear to be any calcification on the stem surface. The look and feel of the pipe in the hand is great. It is going to clean up very well. Here are photos of the pipe before I started my clean up. The bowl of the pipe looked very good. The rim top is clean does not seem to have any damage to the smooth finish. The edges of the bowl were undamaged and looked very good. I see no warning signs in the rim top or the edges of the bowl. I took photos of the stem to show the condition of each one. Though hard to see there are light tooth chatter on the surface of both sides ahead of the button but it should clean up easily with polishing. The next photos capture the stamping on the shank. It read as I have noted above. I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of it to give a sense of proportion. Now it was time to work on the pipe itself. I started my work on the pipe by cleaning the internals. The cake was quite thin but it can hold residual oils from previous tobaccos and I wanted to check the bowl walls for burn damage or checking. I reamed it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe knife and took the cake back to bare briar. I sanded the walls with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. I worked on them until they were smooth. There was no checking or burn damage to the bowl walls. It was quite clean.I cleaned out the internals of the shank and the airway in the stem with 99% isopropyl alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I also cleaned the adapter that had come with the pipe. I worked them over until they were clean. 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. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish on the bowl and shank. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the wood. Once the bowl was covered with the balm I let it sit for about 15 minutes and buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth and the shoe brush. I polished it with a microfiber cloth. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process to show what the bowl looked like at this point. The light sandblast finish looks very good and has a real touch of beauty. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. I dry sanded both sides of the stem with 1500-12000 grit pads to polish it further. I wiped it down with a cloth impregnated with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. Though I know that it does not do much with the acrylic I find that it still adds depth to the final shine on the stem which grew deeper with each sanding pad. I finished polishing the stem with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine polishes. I wiped the stem down with some Obsidian Oil afterwards and buffed it with a soft microfiber cloth. I took the Savinelli Sistina 606 Bent Billiard to wax and polish. I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the wheel to polish out the scratches in the acrylic. I gave the pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax on the wheel and then buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The contrast of the dark understain on the briar brings out the grain and the medium brown stain looks excellent with the shine of the polished acrylic stem is quite stunning. The rich finish around the bowl and shank is quite remarkable and gives the pipe an incredible presence. The Savinelli Sistina Bent Billiard is a beautiful pipe and one that will be a great smoking pipe. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below with each of the stems. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of the large pipe is a light and comfortable 53 grams/1.87 ounces. This is a great looking Bent Billiard. I will be adding it to the rebornpipes store in the Italian Pipe Makers Section. If you want to add it to your rack let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me. Cheers.