Tag Archives: Banding a cracked shank

Something about the grain on this one called my name – a No Name Canadian


Blog by Steve Laug

I don’t know how to explain this any other way than the title says. I looked at this pipe at least two times when Irene and I were on the Oregon coast with Jeff and Sherry. We went to this shop at least twice and each time I looked at the pipe and thought about it. I turned it over in my hands and examined it. There was no stamping on the shank or stem and it was a filthy pipe. However the grain just spoke to me and I think something about the compact shape did as well. I finally put it in the purchase pile and moved on. Jeff took the lot we found home with him to clean up and this one went along. He took some photos of the pipe before he cleaned it up and the photos revealed a crack in the shank that I had not noticed. It just goes to show you I was so caught up in the shape and grain that I missed the crack. Ah well just another pipe to fix. The photos of the rim top and bowl show the thick cake, tobacco debris and thick lava overflow on the rim top. The pipe was a mess. You can also see some chipped areas on the outer edge of the bowl and nicks in the sides of the bowl. He captured the grain around sides of the bowl in the next photos. You can also see the nicks and chips out of the briar but it is still quite pretty beneath the wear and tear and grime!The vulcanite stem was heavily oxidized and was pitted. There were tooth marks on both sides ahead of the button and some wear on the button as well.I saved the next photo for last as it shows the surprise that I don’t believe I saw when I examined the pipe in the basement of the antique mall.Jeff out did himself on the cleanup of this pipe and when I received it I was not disappointed as it showed what I had seen through the grime on the bowl. The grain was quite nice and the colour was very good. Jeff had reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the debris left behind with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the internals in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the externals of the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush and rinsed it off with running water. He scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer. The pipe looked quite amazing. I took photos of it before I started my part of the restoration. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the damaged areas and how clean it was. You can see damage all the way around the inner edge of the rim. The larger one was at the back of the bowl. There was burn damage and darkening. You can also see the damage to the outer edge of the bowl. The stem looked good other than the slight nicks on the button surface and the light chatter on the surface ahead of the button.I took the stem off the shank and took a photo of the parts. It is a great looking pipe.I decided to start on the rim edges – both inner and outer and the rim top. I built up the chipped edge on the right side and front of the bowl with super glue and briar dust. I filled them in to even out the edges. Once the repair had cured I sanded the repaired areas with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the repaired areas. I went through my bag of bands and found one that was oval and would work to bind together crack. It was already oval and slightly dented but it would work and I could tap it out and make it smooth again. The crack was hairline and closed so I ran a thin bead of clear super glue on it and let it soak in before banding.  I fit it onto the shank end and tapped it to fit well and be smooth against the shank and the shank end. I took photos of the pipe to show the look of the banded shank. I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to reduce the damage on the rim top and the edges of the bowl. I also used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the rim edge and to bring the bowl back into round. The second photo below shows the rounded rim edges on the inside and outside. The rim top also looks much better though the burn spot remains.I polished the bowl and rim with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding it with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth to remove the dust left behind from sanding. In order to mask the burn mark on the rim and to make the grain really stand out I stained the pipe with a Tan aniline stain. I flamed it to set it in the grain. I repeated the process until I was happy with the coverage and set it aside overnight to cure.In the morning I hand buffed the bowl with a cotton cloth to see what I was working with. I still needed to buff it on the wheel but I liked what I saw. I buffed bowl on the wheel with Blue Diamond to polish the briar and bring the grain out. I rubbed it down with Before & After Refurbishing Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips and let it sit for 20 minutes. The Balm works to preserve, protect and enliven the briar. The pipe is starting to look very good at this point. I set the stained, polished and banded bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth marks and the oxidation remaining on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and followed that by starting the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I continued polishing the stem with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish – a red gritty paste that feels a lot like Tripoli. I find that it works well to polish out some of the more surface scratches in the vulcanite left behind by the 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I rub it into the stem surface with my fingertips and buff it off with a cotton pad.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 cloth containing some Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. This little Canadian really is a nice looking pipe. I put the bowl and stem back together again and buffed the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl 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 grain is quite beautiful a mix of straight and flame around the bowl sides and birdseye on the rim top and heel. The pipe feels great in the hand. It has an interesting shape that fits well in either the right or left hand. The finished no name Canadian is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This great looking Canadian pipe 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.

Continuing My Practice on Tenon Replacement… Working on a Connoisseur, NYC Pipe


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

Any learning consists of three phases; first is being taught, second is practice and the third phase is mastering!! Continuing on my learning curve, I wanted to practice replacing broken tenons on pipes to make them smoke worthy again.

The pipe that I chose to practice on is a free hand that boasts of straight / flame grains all around the stummel with bird’s eyes on the heel of the bowl with a plateau rim top. It is stamped on the left of the shank as “CONNOISSEUR” over “N.Y.C.”. These stampings are crisp and easily readable. There is no other stamping seen on either the stummel or the stem. This is the first time that I am working on a Connoisseur and am keen to know more about this pipe brand, carver and also dating this pipe. As is my habit, the first site that I visit is rebornpipes where, over the years, it seems like Steve has chronicled almost all the pipes that were and are in existence. True enough, Steve has restored and researched a pipe from this maker. Here is the link for a detailed information on this pipe; https://rebornpipes.com/2015/05/23/restoring-an-ed-burak-connoisseur-tall-stack/

Further down the write up, he also gives out the dating methodology adopted by Ed Burak and the same is reproduced for immediate reference.

I also learned on Pipephil’s website (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/about-en.html) that the stamping did indeed give some information that helped in identifying the period that a particular pipe was made. There I found that one may generally separate Connoisseur pipes’ date of manufacture into three periods.

From late 1960’s until 1974: no stampings
From 1974 until 1981: CONNOISSEUR over N.Y.C.
From 1981 on: CONNOISSEUR over N.Y.C. and Ed Burak’s signature.

Thus from the above information, it’s evident that this beautiful Connoisseur pipe in my hand is from the period 1974 to 1981!

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The first and foremost issue that I noticed and was aware of from the description given by the seller is that of the broken tenon. When I saw the pictures of this pipe for the first time, I had observed, apart from the most obvious broken tenon a number of other issues which presented a challenge of their own. The briar was natural and unstained. It had darkened slightly with age. This was how the pipe had reached me…discerning readers will easily make out other major issues that need to be addressed on this pipe. The chamber has a thick uneven layer of dry and hard cake with the inner rim edge showing darkening in 6 o’clock direction (marked in yellow). The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be checked and ascertained only after the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. However, I do not envision any damage to the chamber walls. There is heavy lava overflow and debris embedded in the plateau of the rim top surface. The condition of the inner rim edge will be commented upon once the lava overflow has been removed. There are very strong and all pervading smells of old tobacco emanating from the chamber. Hopefully this issue should be addressed once the cake has been removed and the mortise is thoroughly cleaned. The stummel boasts of beautiful straight/flame grain all around and extend over the shank surface too!! The surface is covered in lava overflow, dirt and grime. The stummel briar is without a single fill and through all the dirt and grime, exudes a very high quality briar and craftsmanship. The foot of the stummel shows beautiful bird’s eye grains and is sans any damage. The slightly tapered end of the shank has the broken end of the tenon still embedded within. A prominent crack is visible over the shank on the right side. This pipe, in all probability, has suffered this catastrophic damage as a result of having fallen in stem down position. The mortise has the broken tenon stuck inside. I did try to wriggle it out with a screw driver, but the broken tenon wouldn’t budge. This will require more invasive technique. The heavy build up of cake in the chamber, dirty plateau rim top and the sorry condition of the stem all point towards a clogged mortise. This will be ascertained once the broken piece is removed from the shank end.The fancy stem has blobs of sticky oils and tars on both the surfaces as well as in between the nooks and crannies at the tenon end. There are significant tooth indentations on both the upper and lower buttons, to the extent that they would need to be rebuild completely. The slot just does not appear correct. It appears to be a orifice, but it is not a perfect round and  there are horizontal extensions on either side. Even this opening is clogged with old oils and tars. The broken tenon end of the stem is jagged and sharp at the place where the tenon has snapped. In my opinion, there is something which is not right about this stem. The quality of the stem is not something which is to be expected on a Connoisseur pipe. THE PROCESS
I began the process of refurbishing this pipe with cleaning the internals of the stem using pipe cleaners with isopropyl alcohol (99.9% pure) and dunking the stem in to “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution developed by my friend Mark Hoover. The solution helps to draw out heavy oxidation to the surface making its removal a breeze, while the minor oxidation is eliminated to a very great extent. I usually dunk stems of 5-7 pipes that are in-line for restoration and this pipe is marked in pastel blue arrow. I generally allow the stems to soak in this solution overnight for it to work its magic.With the stem soaking in the deoxidizer solution, I decided to remove the broken portion of the tenon from the shank. I select a drill bit that was slightly bigger than the tenon airway opening and mount it on my hand held drill. Very gently holding the drill absolutely straight, I give the drill machine a few forward turns. Once the drill bit is firmly embedded in to the broken tenon, I turn the drill machine in reverse. The reverse turns pull the broken end of the tenon out from the mortise. I breathe a sigh of relief as this is a very delicate step and a lot of things can go wrong if not executed with precision and patience. I further work the stummel, reaming the chamber with my PipNet reamer using head sizes 1 to 3. Using my fabricated knife, I further ream out the cake from places where the PipNet reamer could not reach and follow it with sanding the chamber walls with a 220 grit sand paper. I wipe the chamber with isopropyl alcohol and a cotton swab to remove all the carbon dust. This final cleaning of the chamber reveals a minor indentation in the wall opposite the draught hole, a result of over enthusiastic use of pipe cleaners to clean the mortise (marked in yellow semi- circle)!! Though not a major issue now, one will have to be careful with using pipe cleaners in future. Next, I clean the mortise with hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I scrub the external surface of the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dry it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I carefully clean the plateau rim top with a soft brass wire brush to remove the accumulated dirt and debris from the surface. Thereafter, I clean the mortise, plateau rim top and stummel surface with anti-oil dish washing soap on a shank brush and a tooth brush. The entire stummel, including the plateau rim top, cleans up nicely. I set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. The smells from the pipe, though reduced, are still very strong. Close observation of the stummel reveals the culprit to be the now moistened accumulated gunk in the mortise. Using my dental tools, I assiduously pick out and clean the mortise of all the gunk. I also clean the mortise with q-tips and alcohol. The amount of old grime that is scraped out from the mortise itself tells the story. The mortise is now clean and smells fresh.Moving ahead, I now address the crack that is seen on the right side of the shank, extending from the shank end to nearly half distance towards the stummel. Firstly, I clean off all the debris that is lodged in the crack using dental floss. The thin floss cleans the crack of all the dirt without widening it.I follow up this cleaning of the crack by marking the end points and turning points of the crack with a sharp dental pick. These marks help to guide the drill bit when drilling the counter hole. I take care that the drill is just sufficiently deep enough to arrest the further spread of the crack and not a through hole.I fill this crack with a mix of CA superglue and briar dust. To ensure a tight fill I clamp it down with pliers till the mix had cured, which by the way, is instantaneous!! Once the repair has cured for couple of hours, I sand it down with a flat needle file to achieve a rough match with the rest of the stummel surface. I fine tune the match with  220, 400 and 600 grit sand paper.To further stabilize the crack and prevent it from splitting again, I decide to place a band over the shank end. I select a band that is a tad bit smaller than the shank end diameter. When I place this band over the shank end, I realize that the last two letters of the stamping are being masked. I decide on grinding away the excess material from the band with my sanding drum mounted on a hand held rotary tool to a size which while being appropriate to stabilize the crack will not mask the stampings. The process is long and fraught with mistakes… The band has flown out of my hands a few times, since it can not withstand the stress of the sanding drum and is deformed , not to mention the time factor involved. However, through all these difficulties, I have prevailed to shape a band for the shank end. This is the pictorial depiction of the process and the result. Once I am satisfied with the fit, I heat the band with a heat gun in order to expand it and fix it over the shank end. I have avoided gluing it securely in place just in case I may have to revisit the entire process and go for a fresh band. Here is how the band fits over the shank end. Truth be told, I am not very confident that the band would be a success given the fitting of the band over the shank end. I set the stummel aside and decide to replace the tenon on the stem. I have explained in great detail the procedure that I have learnt and followed while replacing the tenon on a Preben Holm # 7 FH pipe. To avoid repetition of the process, I would request all to refer to the write up and other literature on the subject that is available on rebornpipes.

Given below are a series of sequential pictures explaining the procedure. Here I would also like to note that as I had mentioned earlier, the quality of the stem appeared circumspect and this was corroborated while drilling the stem air way to accommodate the new tenon. The plastic or some such low quality of the stem did pose a lot of resistance during the drilling and a straight drill was very difficult. However, my persistence has paid off and I am happy with the replaced tenon. Once the tenon is replaced, I try the fit of the stem in to the mortise. The fit though snug, reveals gaps and the seating of the stem in to the mortise is not flush. No amount of tweaking and minor adjustment by sanding of the tenon can ensure a flush seating. I feel that I have botched up the banding of the shank end and that is what has caused this issue. Here is how the seating appears after all the adjustments and tweaking. At this point in restoration, I shared pictures of this issue and then later in the day had a FaceTime chat with my Guru, Steve. Steve, with his vast experience and having worked on and researched a Connoisseur pipe before, immediately commented that the stem is not the right style for Connoisseur pipes and could be a replacement stem. I have another Connoisseur pipe (which awaits restoration) with a saddle stem in my collection and when the stem of this freehand was compared, it was no where near the quality that was seen on the other saddle stem. The pictures below show the difference in quality of the stem material and finish between the two pipes. Thereafter we discussed the shank band and he suggested to reband the shank end while going in for a completely new stem. Thereafter, we went through my can of spare stems and selected one that would be the best match for this pipe. Here are the pictures of the shortlisted stem. The slightly bent stem with all the calcification is the one that would replace the one that the pipe came with. The shortlisted stem, I am afraid, is not in the best of condition. The tapered slightly bent vulcanite stem is nearly the same length as the replaced one while being very thick at the tenon end. The quality of the re-replacement stem is very good. The stem is heavily oxidized with significant calcium deposition and deep tooth indentations in the bite zone on either surfaces of the stem. A couple of deep chips are seen along the seam on either sides as well as on the lower and upper surfaces of the stem. The button surfaces on either side has bite marks and the edges are equally damaged and deformed. The tenon and the horizontal slot shows heavy accumulation of oils, tars and gunk. All in all, the refurbishing and shaping of this stem presents a ton of effort and time.I begin the refurbishing and reshaping of the stem by first cleaning the stem, both internally and externally. With my fabricated knife and a paper cutter, I remove the entire calcium sediments from the bite zone. Using a dental tool, I dislodge all the dried oils and tars from the tenon and slot end. I clean the stem internals with pipe cleaners and shank brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I sand the entire stem surface with a folded piece of 150 grit sand paper to remove some oxidation as well as to even out some tooth chatter from the bite zone. Once the initial cleaning is done, I move ahead for shaping/sizing the stem. The tenon is too thick for the mortise and that is my start point. I mount a sanding drum on to my hand held rotary tool and sand the tenon till I achieve a rough fit in to the mortise. During the entire process, I frequently check the progress being made as I do not want to sand too much material from the tenon, making for a loose fit.I fine tune the fit of the tenon in to the mortise by hand sanding with flat head needle file and 180 grit followed by a 220 grit sand paper. The tenon attachment with the stem is shaped with a triangular needle file. I check the seating of the stem in to the mortise after I remove the shank band. The stem fit is nice and snug. Before I move to the final fit and shaping of the stem, I decide to reband the shank end. This time I select a band that was a snug fit as against a size smaller as I have done earlier. To reduce the thickness of the band, this time I manually sand it over a 150 grit sand paper instead of using my rotary tool and a sanding drum. It does take a long time, but the end result is much better. The last letter “R” has been masked, but I shall deal with it later (will I…?). I still have not glued the band in place, just to be on the safer side!!Now with the band in place, I move ahead with shaping and aligning the stem. The first thing that I proceed to do is to shave of the excess meat from the shoulders at the tenon end. Readers, when I say excess, please be aware that the word excess does not convey the quantum of excess… It  was hell of a lot of material to shave off!! I mount a 150 grit sanding drum on to the rotary tool and go to town sanding off the material from the shoulders of the stem. Once I have achieved a rough match, I use a flat head needle file to further match the fit. I progress to manual sanding with a 180 grit sand paper to fine tune the match. This is how the stem profile matches with the shank end of the stummel…not quite there but getting close. I feel that the mid region of the stem needs to be trimmed a bit and do so with a flat head needle file and a 180 grit sand paper. Here is where I have reached at this stage. Truth be told, eye balling the shape is not the easiest way to achieve the exact shape since I am always seeing it, shaping it and matching it. It’s something akin to optical illusion that I am experiencing. There is a bit of overhang at the shoulders of the stem and I need to shave off some more material from the area above it. Also a slight gap is seen at the lower end and on the left side of the stem that needs to be addressed. I decide to take a break from all the sanding of the stem and move on to shaping the stem to match the profile of the stummel. I insert a pipe cleaner through the stem’s air way to prevent it from collapsing once the stem is heated. I first straightened the stem by heating it with a heat gun. To impart the requisite bend, I try to adopt the technique that my friend, Dal Stanton of PipeSteward fame, uses and that is to draw a diagram marked with the plane of the stummel rim top, a parallel plane that is required, the present profile of the stem and thereafter, the exact place and shape of the bend that is needed. Well, it is an attempt that I made, but ended up eye balling the exact bend to be imparted. I heat the stem with my heat gun till the vulcanite becomes pliable and gives it the necessary bend. I hold it in place till the stem had cooled down a bit and thereafter, hold the stem under cold water for the bend to set. The next issue that is addressed is of the stem repairs. I insert a triangle shaped index card covered in transparent tape in to the slot. The tape prevents the mix of superglue and charcoal from sticking to the index card. I mix superglue and activated charcoal powder and generously apply it over the bite zone, including over the button. I also fill the couple of deep chips along the seam on either sides as well as on the lower and upper surfaces of the stem with the charcoal mix and set it aside to cure. Once the mix has cured, I remove the index card from the slot. While the stem fill is set aside to cure, I polish the stummel with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 pads. This time around, I do not repeat the mistake of polishing the plateau rim top as I had done with the PH # 3 earlier! I wipe the surface with a soft cloth at the end of the micromesh cycle. The stummel looks amazing with a deep shine and beautiful straight grains popping over the stummel surface. I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar. I rub this balm deep in to the nooks and crannies of the plateau rim top surface with my fingers and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the dark brown hues of the grain contrasting with the rest of the stummel surface. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. The appearance of the stummel at this stage motivates me further to complete this project at the earliest. I set the stummel aside and all that remains was to shape, align and polish the stem! Now motivated with the appearance of the stummel, I turn my attention to the stem repair. The fills have cured nicely and I move ahead and began the process of filing and shaping the button end with a flat head needle file. At this stage, I get in touch with Steve on Face Time and discuss the progress on the stem. He suggests that a slightly sharper bend to the stem from near the bite zone would accentuate the shape and flow of the shank with that of the stem. He also suggests that the profile of the stem near the shoulder and mid region needs to be more slender. So, it is back to heating the end of the stem with the heat gun and giving it the desired bend, of course, eyeballing it to the desired shape!As discussed with Steve, with a flat needle file, I shave off some more vulcanite from the shoulder and the mid region of the stem. I further sand the stem with 220, 320, 400, 600, 800 grit sand papers and finally with 0000 grade steel wool. I wipe the stem with a cotton pad dipped in alcohol to remove the resultant dust and rub some extra virgin olive oil onto the stem and set it aside to be absorbed.I polish the stem with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I rub a little extra virgin olive oil in to the stem at the end of the micromesh pads polishing cycle. I complete the polishing regime of the stem by rubbing a small quantity of Extra Fine Stem polish developed by my friend Mark Hoover, and giving it a final polish with a soft cotton cloth. The stem is now nice, smooth and shiny.To apply the finishing touches, I first mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and apply a coat of Blue Diamond to the stummel and the stem to polish out the minor scratches. Boy, am I glad to finally have reached the home run stretch to complete this project!! I shared these images with Steve for his comment. He suggested that the shoulder overhang needs to be reduced and under belly to be straightened out more.Well, here I was back with a flat needle file and 220 grit sand papers as against carnauba wax and rotary tool!! I again diligently worked on these issues, frequently checking for progress being made. Once I am satisfied that the shoulder overhangs and under belly issues have been resolved, I check the seating of the stem in to the mortise. The seating is canted backwards. I address this issue by heating the tenon and slightly pushing it upwards (that is, in the opposite direction). I check the seating and am quite pleased by the overall appearance of the stem and its seating. Thereafter, I go through the entire regime of sanding and polishing as explained above. At the end of the micromesh pads, I complete the polishing regime of the stem by rubbing a small quantity of Extra Fine Stem polish developed by my friend Mark Hoover, and giving it a final polish with a soft cotton cloth. The stem is now nice, smooth and shiny. With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of carnauba wax to the stummel and stem and continue to work on it till the complete coat of wax is polished out. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. I finish the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine further. The finished pipe is shown below. P.S. – This project was more tedious than I had anticipated, mostly because of my own faults and errors in judgement.  But then, isn’t this the fun part of being of the learning curve? I shall be avoiding the following in my future restorations:

(a) Using a band that is a tad smaller then the shank end diameter. I would rather use a band that has a snug and perfect fit over the shank end.

(b) Using a rotary tool with a sanding drum to get the band to the desired size. It’s better, safer and precise to manually sand the band on a sand paper.

(c) Clamping the shank end after filling a crack. I am not sure, but I think that the clamping down may have caused a slight deformation that had caused me such grief with the seating of the stem.

(d) Less reliance on “eye balling” for sizing and shaping…need to get on with hunting for a “PIMO TENON TURNING TOOL” and a set of “VERNIER CALIPERS”.

I am really fortunate to be in the process of learning the nuances of pipe restoration and cannot thank Steve enough for his support and guidance.

Thanks for your patience and looking forward to input about the write up. Cheers…

Repairing, Banding and Restoring a Damaged Hand Made Ascorti Business Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

Not too long ago I received an email from an online friend and contributor to rebornpipes, Joe. He had picked up a great estate that he was cleaning and selling for the family. He sent me a list of the pipes. I purchased a nice Bari Freehand pipe from the lot. We came to an agreement on the price and I paid him for it. In the email interaction he talked about one of the Ascorti Business pipes that he was cleaning. He wrote:

…Now, I have a question. When cleaning one of the Ascorti Business, I found two cracks in the stummel. I know you have fixed cracks before. I’m attaching photos. Is it repairable and how much would it cost?

I looked at the photos that he attached which I have included to the left of this paragraph for you to see. The next paragraph of the email he came up with an interesting possibility.

Second thought. If I ship it with the Bari, would you be interested in fixing it and selling it?… (He went on to make a business proposition regarding the sale of the pipe.)

We struck a deal and the Bari I purchased and the Ascorti were in the mail to my brother Jeff’s place so he could work his magic on the pipe.

When the pipe arrived Jeff showed me the pipe while we were on Facetime. He showed the entirety of the pipe and also the shank end. It looked to both of us that there were actually three cracks in the shank. The stem was very loose fitting because the cracks had opened the mortise enough that it would not snugly hold the stem in place. The rusticated finish was quite dirty and the rim top had an overflow of lava on the smooth crown. The bowl was caked and between that and the lava I was not sure what to expect of the inner edge of the bowl underneath the grime. Time would tell. Jeff took some photos of the pipe to show the general condition of the pipe before he started his clean up. He took some photos of the rim top and bowl from various angles to give me a clear picture of the condition of the rim top and bowl. You can see the cake in the bowl and the thickness of the lava coat. It also looks like these is some damage on the inner edge and bevel in the photos. Jeff took some photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the rusticated finish on the pipe. Under the oils and grime it was a nice looking bowl. I think it was well worth the effort to repair the shank as there was a lot of life left in this old timer. He took some photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. On the left side is the Ascorti logo with a pipe forming a “t” in the brand name. On the left side of the saddle stem was the Ascorti slanted A stamp. On the right side it was stamped Hand Made over Italy. You can also see part of the crack on the left of the third photo. Jeff took several photos of the cracks in the shank. Interestingly they both are on or alongside of the smooth panels on the sides of the shank.The next two photos show the top and underside of the stem. It is good condition with tooth chatter and some light tooth marks. It should clean up nicely.Before I started my part of the repair and restoration I wanted to have a clear picture of what the stem logo looked like on the Ascorti Business pipe. I turned to Pipephil as he often has some photos that give me the information that I am looking for (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-a8.html). Sure enough he had a photo showing the rough stamped A on the stem. It is white and it is rough which is exactly how this one looks. Hopefully in the restoration process I can get it back a bit. I did a screen capture of the picture on the site and include it below.Jeff once again did an amazing job cleaning the pipe. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and got rid of the cake so that we could see the walls of the bowl and assess for damage. He cleaned the internals of the shank and stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and alcohol. He scrubbed the exterior with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsed the pipe under warm water. He dried it off with a cloth and then let it air dry. The rim top cleaned up pretty well and there was indeed some damage to the crowned top and inner edge of the bowl. I took pictures of the pipe to show how it looked when I unpacked it. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the damage to the rim. You can see the damage on the back crowned rim top and on the inner edge on both the front and the back. There is some roughness and marks on the surface of the rim top as well.I took photos of the cracks in the shank sides and also of the shank end. I have circled the three cracks in red on the last photo of the shank end.I opened the cracks with a dental pick and pressed CA glue into the cracked areas. I clamped them together until the CA cured. I went through a bag or brass bands that I picked up through a friend online. I had one that was a perfect fit and when pressed onto the shank would fully bind the glue. I heated the band with a lighter and pressed it onto the shank. I put the stem in place and it was snug! The repair had cured the cracks and the loose fitting stem. I took a photo of the pipe with the band and the stem in place to have a look.  I took the stem off and set it aside so that I could work on the crowned rim and inner edge damage. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the inner edge and the top of the crowned rim. It was slow and tedious but the results were what I was hoping for. I polished the smooth panels on the sides of the shank and the rim top with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the rim down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad to remove the sanding debris. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the smooth portions with my finger tips and the rustication with a horsehair shoe brush. The product is a great addition to the restoration work. It enlivens, enriches and protects the briar while giving it a deep glow. It is a product I use on every pipe I work on. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth chatter and marks in the acrylic with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper and polished out the scratches with 440 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the stem with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish from a tin of it I have in the drawer here. It is a gritty red paste that I rub on with my finger tips and work into the surface of the stem and button and buff off with a cotton pad. It gives me a bit of a head start on the polishing work.I used some Paper Mate Liquid Paper to repair the white in the A stamp on the left side of the shank. Once it dried I used a 2400 grit micromesh sanding pad to remove the excess. While not flawless it definitely looks better.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 buffed the stem with a soft cloth to raise the shine. Looking forward to hearing what Joe thinks of the restoration on this Ascorti Business pipe that he sent to me. As always I am excited to finish a pipe that I am working on. I put the pipe back together and buffed it using a light touch with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad and hand buffed it to raise the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the grain popping through on the rim top and the variations of colour in the rustication around the bowl and shank. Added to that the polished black acrylic stem with the briar band on the saddle was beautiful. The new brass band sets off the bowl and stem really well and I am pleased with the classy look it gives to the pipe. The shank repair and band take care of the cracked shank and it should work well for a long time. This is nice looking pipe and I am sure that the tactile nature of the rustication will feel great as the bowl warms up during smoking. It is light and well balanced. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. It is a beautiful pipe and one that will be on 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. I want to keep reminding us of the fact that we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman.

Restoring a Beautiful St. Claude Ben Wade Calabash


Blog by Steve Laug

This St. Claude, France Ben Wade Calabash is quite stunning. The shape and flow of the briar, the rich red stains and the curve of the Lucite stem all combine to create a shape that is elegant and beautiful. Jeff picked this pipe up from a favourite shop in Utah. I have never seen one of these before even though I have worked on a lot of both English and Danish Ben Wade pipes. This one is a French Made Ben Wade. It is stamped on the left side of the curved shank with the words Ben Wade in script over Calabash. The name is also stamped on the left side of the half saddle stem. On the right side it is stamped St. Claude arched over Bruyere Garantie. To the left is a very tight stamp France. On the underside of the shank it is stamped with the letter F. There appears to be remnants of gold leaf in the stamping on both sides of the shank. It can be seen in the photos below. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he began his cleanup work on it.The pipe was dirty and there were some worn spots on the plateau rim top. The original colour had been black but the dust had turned it almost grey. There was a cake in the bowl and some lava overflow on the plateau. The finish on the bowl was cordovan or oxblood. It was dirty as well with some nicks in the finish. You can see the chipped areas around the rim top and the lava in the plateau in the photos below.Jeff took photos of the bowl from various angles to give a picture of the grain and the condition on the finish of the pipe. It is a beautifully grained and finished pipe. The oxblood stain really works well to highlight and showcase the grain. Jeff also took photos of the stamping on the shank and the stem. The first two photos show the left side of the shank and stem. The third photo shows the stamping on the right side and the fourth shows the stamping on the underside. The acrylic/Lucite stem was dirty and there were tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside. There was one deep tooth mark on the underside up against the button edge. The flat surface of the button had tooth chatter and wear on both sides. Jeff also took a photo of the gentle curve of the half saddle stem and I have included that below. Jeff did his usual extensive cleanup of the pipe. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer removing the cake from the bowl so that we could see what was going on underneath the surface. The interior of the bowl looked very good. He cleaned the internals of the pipe and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners until it was very clean. He scrubbed the externals with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush. He worked over the plateau rim and edges with the brush and the soap and rinsed the pipe down with warm water. He cleaned the stem as well so that the externals and internals were clean. He did scrub the stem with Soft Scrub on cotton pads to remove the grime on the surface. It was acrylic so it was not oxidized so it was not necessary to soak it in a deoxidizer. I took photos of the pipe when I unpacked it and brought it to my work table. I took close up photos of the stem and the rim top to show the condition. The cragginess of the plateau is clean and shows the peaks and valleys in their fullness. You can also see some of the worn spots on the rim top where the finish has been removed. The stem looks good. The photo of the underside shows the deep tooth marks next to the button (third photo).I took some photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank to confirm what I mentioned above. The stamping is crisp and readable.I took the stem off the shank and took two photos to give a clear idea of the gentle curves of the pipe and the look of the rugged plateau rim on the delicate bowl. It really is a beauty! The tenon is drilled for a 6mm filter but could easily be smoked without one or with an adapter.Jeff and I were talking on Facetime and he was showing me how well the pipe had cleaned up. We do that often as he is in Idaho and I am in BC Canada. While he was carefully turning the stem into the shank we both heard and audible “POP”. That sound is a pipe restorer’s nightmare. If you have not heard that sound I can guarantee you will one day. Jeff groaned and showed me the crack in the shank. So when it arrived here in Vancouver I had a look. I took a photo of the crack and have included it below. It is on the top left side of the shank and is a good ½ inch long. That would need to be repaired. I also found some small hairline cracks on the top right side near the plateau top. They were not deep or serious but nonetheless they were present.I decided to deal with the cracked shank first. I went through some brass bands that I have that are polished gold in colour and would go well with the gold stamping on the stem and shank. They were quite thin and some have an inward bevel on the shank cover. I chose the band on the right and used my topping board to reduce the depth of the band by half. I wanted to retain as much of the stamping as possible and still bind the cracked shank together.I spread the crack in the shank and pushed some CA Glue into the space. Because of the way the curve in the shank I could not drill and hole at the end of the crack. I clamped it together until the glue cured. I did not glue the band on at this point because I wanted to touch up the gold stamping before I put it in place. Once the repair cured I put the stem on the shank and took a photo to give an idea of what the band looked like with the stem in place.   With that repair complete it was time to deal with the hairline cracks on rim edge. I used a tiny bit to put a hole at the end of each crack and filled them in with a bead of CA glue. The photo below is very blurry but shows the glued are well enough(I apologize for the lousy picture). I also filled in some of the pits in the back side of the bowl.Once the repairs had cured I sanded them smooth with a 1500 grit micromesh pad to blend them into the surface of the surrounding briar.I have found that the Mahogany stain pen I have blends really well with oxblood or cordovan stain. I touched up the sanded areas on the shank top, right side of the bowl at the topo and the back of the bowl with the pen and let it cure. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad to remove the debris. The bowl began to look very good. I also really like the look of the polished brass band on the shank end. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips and into the plateau with a horsehair shoe brush. I let it sit for about 10 minutes and buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth. The product cleans, protects and preserves the briar and leaves it enriched and beautiful. I set the bowl aside and turned to the stem. I sanded the tooth chatter on both sides of the stem with particular attention to the large tooth mark on the underside of the stem just ahead of the button. I cleaned the tooth mark with alcohol on a cotton swab. I filled it in with a bead of clear CA glue and set it aside to cure. When the repair cured I used a needle file to sharpen the edge and flatten the repair.I sanded the repaired area and the rest of the tooth chatter areas on both sides of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and followed up with a piece of 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the stem with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish from a tin of it I have in the drawer here. It is a gritty red paste that I rub on with my finger tips and work into the surface of the stem and button and buff off with a cotton pad. It gives me a bit of a head start on the polishing work.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 buffed the stem with a soft cloth to raise the shine. I paused in my polishing of the stem to touch up the gold leaf on the stem side and the sides of the shank. I used Rub’n Buff Antique Gold and pressed it in the stamping with the end of a tooth pick. I let it sit for a few minutes then buffed it off with a soft damp cloth to remove the excess. I went back to polishing the stem with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed the stem with a clean cotton rag. The stem looks really good at this point.I used a dental spatula to spread some white glue around the shank end. Once the glue was evenly spread I pressed the band in place. I adjusted it so that it fit well. I set it aside to cure for a while as I wanted the band to be permanent. It looks very good now.I am excited to finish this beautiful Ben Wade Calabash from St. Claude France. It is both a rare one in terms of availability but also for me as I have never seen one before. 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 through on the bowls sides and the contrast of the black plateau rim top. The brass band on the shank adds a touch class to the overall look in my opinion. When you add to that the polished black acrylic stem with the shining gold stamping you have a winning combination. The gold stamping also looks great on the shank and stem. This grain on the smooth finish Ben Wade Calabash is nice looking and the pipe feels great in my hand. It is light and well balanced for a large pipe. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 ¾ inches, Height: 3 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. It is a beautiful pipe and one that will be on 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. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman.    

Replacing a Broken Tenon and Restoring a Kriswill Bernadotte Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

This is another one of the pipes that came to me from a fellow in Kitchener, Ontario that needed some cleaning and in this case a tenon replacement. He had been referred to me by my local pipe and cigar shop. While I am not currently adding more pipes to my queue of repairs I have made a commitment to the shop to work on pipes for their customers. Generally they have one or two pipes that need a bit of work. This fellow sent me the following email:

I just came across my smoking pipes that I’ve had in storage for about 40 years. I’m wondering what you’d charge to have them refurbished. There are 17 in total (11 are Brighams and 6 are various).

It turns out he said he had 17 pipes. That was certainly more than I expected but I communicated that there was a large queue ahead of him and I would have to fit them in as I could. He was fine with whatever time it took. He sent me the following photos of his collection that he wanted restored. The first photo shows his eleven Brigham pipes – all very interesting shapes. The second photo shows the six various pipes in the collection – A Republic Era Peterson’s System 1312 (Canadian Import), A Bjarne Hand Carved Freehand, a Comoy’s Everyman London smooth billiard, a GBD Popular Dublin 12, an English made Kaywoodie Rustica 72B, a Kriswill Bernadotte 60 with a broken tenon. When the box arrived there were two additional pipes included for a total of 19 – a Ropp 803 Deluxe Cherrywood Poker and a Comoy’s Sandblast Everyman Canadian 296. It was a lot of pipes! I have been randomly choosing the next pipe to work on and chose the Kriswill that needed a tenon replacement and general over haul. I have drawn a red box around it in the photo below.Unlike the other pipes that I unwrapped this one needed much more work than the Brighams that I had worked on so far. It was a Kriswill Bernadotte Oval Shank Dublin. It was stamped on the top of the shank Kriswill over Bernadotte over Hand Made Denmark. On the underside of the shank next the shank/stem junction it bears the shape number 60. It had great grain that the shape not only followed but captured. The rim top had a lava overflow from the thick cake in the bowl and some darkening and lava on the beveled inner edge of the rim. It was a dirty pipe but appeared to be in okay condition under the grime. There was some shiny substance in the stamping of the portion that read Hand Made Denmark. As I examined it I saw a small hairline crack in the shank area just below the stamping and into that portion noted above. It appeared to have been glued. I would need to clean that up and re-glue it. The tapered stem was oxidized and had tooth marks and chatter near the button on both sides. There was a classic Kriswill snowflake logo on the top of the stem. The tenon was snapped off cleanly in the shank and was stuck there. I took close up photos of the bowl and rim top to show the condition of the bowl and rim as well as the thick cake and lava overflowing onto the rim top. I also took close up photos of the stem to show its condition as mentioned above.   I took a photo of the stamping on the top and underside of the shank to show what I was speaking about above. It is very clear and readable. You can see the shiny substance in the Hand Made Denmark portion of the stamp. I have also drawn an oval around the hairline crack in the shank in the photos below. The repair seems to have left glue in the stamping as the crack is not that long. I also have included a photo of the shape number stamp on the underside of the shank. There was also a hairline crack in the underside of the shank to the right of the shape number.I remembered that Pipephil had a great summary of the brand so I turned to that site and reviewed the history (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-k3.html). It was much as I expected but there was a part of the history there that I had not noted before. I have included a screen capture of the section on the site regarding Kriswill pipes.I quote the new information (at least for me) regarding the Bernadotte line. Kriswill is a brand of Kriswork Briar Trading, in Kolding (Denmark) established about 1955. Some of Kriswill pipes were designed by Sigvard Bernadotte, Swedish prince and brother to the late Queen Ingrid of Denmark. He collaborated with his Danish partner Acton Bjørn.

There was a small line at the bottom of the section that said Portrait of Sigvard Bernadotte. I clicked on it and was taken to the second screen capture I have included.From the site and the information on Sigvard Bernadotte I learned that the pipe I had in hand was designed for Kriswill by Sigvard Bernadotte, Swedish prince and brother to the late Queen Ingrid of Denmark. That was new information to me. I have worked on a lot of Kriswill pipes before but never made that connection. But now I knew… a pipe designed by royalty! I would never have guessed that prior to reading this.

Armed with that information I was ready to start on the Bernadotte pipe. I decided to start my work by addressing the broken tenon. I put the bowl in the freezer for about 10 minutes and then pulled the broken tenon from the shank with drywall screw. It was an easy pull. I then cleaned up the glue on the stamping with acetone on a cotton pad. I opened the hairline crack on both sides of the shank and put clear superglue in the crack. I pressed it together and clamped it until it cured. With the crack on both sides I am going to recommend to the pipeman that we put an elegant thin band on the shank. I set the bowl aside to let the repairs cure while I waited to hear from the pipeman regarding possible banding of the pipe. I turned my attention to replacing the tenon. I used the Dremel and sanding drum to flatten the face of the stem and remove the broken bits of vulcanite from the broken tenon.I started drilling out the airway with a bit slightly larger than the existing airway in the stem. I complication was that the airway was not centered in either the broken tenon or the stem at this point. I used a sharp pen knife to funnel the airway and straighten it out before I drilled. I was able to center the airway. I worked my way through three different drill bits to get the airway open enough to receive the new tenon. The next photo shows the threaded tenon before I went to work on it with the Dremel. My issue with this replacement was that the stem tapered quickly and did not allow much room. I used the Dremel and sanding drum to remove the hip on the new tenon and reduce the diameter of the portion going into the stem. I glued it into the stem with thick super glue. In the photo it looks like it is tapered a bit. I cleaned that up with a file so that the flow was smooth and the fit was snug in the airway.Once I made the flow of the tenon straight and smooth I slid it into the repaired shank to have a look. Some fine tuning to do for sure but I like the look of the new fit.I set the stem aside to let the tenon cure. I turned back to the bowl. I reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer. The bowl was conical so I started with the small reaming head to take care of the bowl and worked my way up to the third head. I cleaned up the transitions with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and trimmed the cake back so I could examine the walls. I sanded the walls of the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper on a piece of dowel. I scraped off the lava on the inner beveled rim with the Savinelli Fitsall knife. I worked on the inner beveled edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it out and clean off the darkening.I scrubbed the bowl with a tooth brush and some of Mark Hoover’s new Briar Cleaning product. He sent me some to experiment with so this was the first test. I tried the Extra Strength version. It worked fairly well. The verdict is still out for me whether it is better than Murphy’s Oil Soap. I rinsed it off with warm water and dried the bowl off with a cotton cloth. I cleaned out the mortise area and airway to the bowl and the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol.I wet sanded the rim top and the bowl sides with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the bowl surface down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad to remove the sanding dust. Once I finished the bowl looked good.   I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed it with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. It really makes the grain stand out on this pipe. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. When I was in the US visiting Jeff and his wife I picked up some Soft Scrub. Jeff swears by this stuff as the first tool to use to remove a lot of the oxidation on the stem. I rubbed it on with a cotton pad and sure enough it removed the oxidation and the calcification build up. It looked a lot better.I cleaned out the marks with alcohol and a cotton swab. I filled them in with clear super glue and set the stem aside to cure.   While the repairs to the stem surface were curing I made a call to Neil in Eastern Canada to talk with him about banding the shank on this beautiful little pipe. I have some small brass bands that I can reduce to 1/8 of an inch in height that will allow me to band the pipe and still keep the stamping free and readable. He gave the go ahead so I worked on the band. I found a band that was the right diameter in my collection of bands. I tapped it with a small hammer to make it oval and put it on the shank. I tapped around the shank to smooth out the fit. I tapped the end of the shank to smooth out the small dents. I took it off and used the topping board to reduce the depth of the band to just under 1/8 of an inch. I topped the dented top of the band as well.Once I had it smoothed out and the shape correct for the shank I spread some all-purpose glue on the shank and pressed the band in place on the shank. The band looks great to me and should do the job in binding the cracked shank together.I took photos of the newly banded shank to give and idea of the new look to the pipe. What do you think? I set the bowl aside and returned to the stem. I smoothed out the repairs and sanded out the remaining oxidation with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I rubbed down the stem with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish and a cotton pad to remove the remnants of oxidation and to blend in the sanding. The stem is starting to show promise at this point in the process.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with a cotton pad to remove the sanding debris. I finished polishing the stem with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I finished by wiping it down with Briarville’s No Oxy Oil and buffing it to a shine. I always look forward to this part of the restoration when all the pieces are put back together. 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 new brass band on the shank end. The combination of grain and the thin band add some elegance to the pipe when combined with the polished black vulcanite stem. This royalty designed Kriswill Bernadotte 60 Dublin is nice looking and feels great in my hand. The pipe is another light weight that could be clenched and smoked while doing other things as it is very well balanced. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This is the fifth of the pipes sent to me from Eastern Canada for restoration. Once again I am looking forward to what the pipeman who sent it thinks of this restoration. Lots more to do in this lot! Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman.

A New Beginning for Jennifer’s Dad’s E—-rum Cured Italy Crosby Long Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

I decided to change things up a bit and work on another of Jennifer’s Dad’s pipes. For the next pipe from the estate of George Rex Leghorn I have chosen another long shank/stem Billiard (Crosby style) with a sandblast finish. You may not have read about this estate before, so I will retell the story. I received an email from Jennifer who is a little older than my 64+ years about whether I would be interested in her Dad’s pipes. My brother Jeff and I have been picking up a few estates here and there, so I was interested. Here is the catch – she did not want to sell them to me but to give them to me to clean up, restore and resell. The only requirement she had was that we give a portion of the sales of the pipes to a charity serving women and children. We talked about the organization I work for that deals with trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and their children and she decided that would be a great way to carry on the charitable aspect of her Dad’s character. With some great conversation back and forth she sent the pipes to Jeff and he started the cleanup process on them. Once he had finished cleaning them all he sent them to me to do my work on them.

Using a lens and a bright light I could see that the mystery long shank/stem billiard is stamped on a smooth panel on underside of the shank E—–RUM CURED  ITALY. The bowl had nice grain on the sides, front, back and rim top that is visible through the sandblast finish. The finish is very dirty making it hard to see beyond that to the nice grain underneath that. There was a thick cake in the bowl and it had overflowed with lava onto the rim top. It was a dirty and tired looking old pipe. The stem was badly oxidized and there were George’s usual tooth marks and chatter on both sides just ahead of the button. The button was also damaged. It had been sitting in boxes for a lot of years and it was time to move ahead with the restoration. Jennifer took photos of the pipes she was sending. I have included the three photos of this pipe below.   When the box arrived from Jennifer, Jeff opened it and took photos of each pipe before he started his cleanup work on them. This mystery long stem/shank billiard was a nicely shaped pipe and that caught our attention. This was going to be an interesting restoration. When I work on pipes that I can find little information about the mystery adds a different element to the pleasure of working on them. The shape on the mystery pipe seems to really capture the flow of the grain on the briar. The briar appeared to be in good condition underneath the grime. The finish looked intact under the grime and oils on the bowl sides from George’s hands. The bowl had a thick cake that had hardened with time. The lava overflow on the rim top was very thick but it could very well have protected the rim from damage. We won’t know what is under it until Jeff had cleaned it off. The stem was oxidized and also had some calcification on the surface. There were deep tooth marks on both sides just ahead of the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started working on it. I include those below. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava build up on the plateau rim top and dust and grime in the shank end as well. It was thick and hard but hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage. The lava coat looks horrible but it points to a well-used, favourite smoking pipe. George must have enjoyed this old timer a lot judging from the condition of the pipe.Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish – the grime and grit all over the sides and bottom of the bowl. It is a dirty pipe but it has a stunning grain around the bowl sides and cross grain on the front and back. Jeff took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. Half of it is blurred and worn. The readable part looks like it reads Rum Cured Italy. There is a capital E on the front of the stamp but the rest is unreadable.Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the scratching, oxidation and tooth marks on the stem surface. The tooth marks are quite deep on both sides of the stem.I did as much digging as I could in Pipedia, Pipephil and Who Made That Pipe and came up empty handed. This one was truly a mystery. But even though I had no information I could start my restoration of this beautiful long billiard. But before I get on to restoring the pipe I thought I would once again include the tribute that Jennifer wrote to her Dad for the blog. She also sent some photos and an article that her Dad wrote for Jeff and me to be able to get a feel for him. I have included those below. Note in each of them that he is holding a pipe in his left hand. I asked her to also send me an email with a brief tribute to her Dad. Here is her tribute from an email to me.

Steve, I want to thank you again for accepting my dad’s pipes.  They were so much a part of my dad’s life that I could not simply discard them. But as his daughter, I was not about to take up smoking them either. *laughing* I think my dad would like knowing that they will bring pleasure to others.  I know that I do.

I’m not sure what to say about his pipes. I always remember Daddy smoking pipes and cigars.

First a bit about my dad. Though my father, George Rex Leghorn, was American (growing up in Alaska), he managed to join the Canadian Army at the beginning of WWII, but in doing so lost his American citizenship.  He was fortunate to meet a Canadian recruiting officer who told him the alphabet began with “A” and ended with “Zed” not “Zee”, and also told him to say that he was born in a specific town that had all its records destroyed in a fire.  When the US joined the war my dad, and thousands of other Americans who had made the same choice*(see the link below for the article), were given the opportunity to transfer to the US military, and regain their citizenship.

After WWII, my dad, earned his degree at the University of California Berkeley and became a metallurgist. There is even a bit about him on the internet.

He loved taking the family out for a drive, and he smoked his cigars on those trips. (As a child, those were troubling times for my stomach.)

I most remember my father relaxing in his favorite chair with a science fiction book in one hand and a pipe in the other… Sir Walter Raleigh being his favorite tobacco… and the pipes themselves remind me of him in that contented way.  If I interrupted his repose, he’d look up, with a smile on his face, to answer me.

It seemed he smoked his Briarwood pipes the most, though he had others.  At the time, it was only the Briarwood I knew by name because of its distinctive rough shaped bowl.  And it was the Anderson Free Hand Burl Briar, made in Israel, which I chose for his birthday one year, because I thought he might like that particular texture in his hand.

At least two of his pipes, he inherited from his son-in-law, Joe Marino, a retired medical laboratory researcher (my sister Lesley’s late husband)… the long stemmed Jarl (made in Denmark), and the large, white-bowled, Sherlock Holmes style pipe.  I believe Joe had others that went to my dad, but Lesley was only sure about those two.

The Buescher, corncob pipe my older sister Lesley bought for Daddy while on one of her travels around the States.

A note on the spelling of my sister’s name…

My dad met my mother, Regina, during WWII and they married in Omagh, Ireland.  My mother was English and in the military herself.  The English spelling of Lesley is feminine, and Leslie masculine, in the UK… just the opposite of here in the United States.  I guess my mom won out when it came to the spelling of the name…

This pipe was a real mess just like the other ones in the collection. I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. Jeff reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looked really good when I got it. The rim top looked much better but had some darkening on the inner and outer edges. There was a small fill on the left side of the bowl high and toward the front. It would need to be dealt with (I circled it in red in the photo below). He had cleaned the internals and scrubbed the exterior of the stem and soaked them in Before & After Deoxidizer bath to remove the oxidation. The stem looked very good other than the deep tooth marks in the surface. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I took photos of the pipe before I started my part of the restoration.    I took close up photos of the rim top and bowl to show the condition of the bowl and the darkening on the rim top. You can see the light damage on the front inner edge of the bowl that was covered by the thick lava coat. The stem looks much better but the tooth marks are visible in the vulcanite. The button looks very good.I took a photo of the stamping on the shanks as it looks the same even after Jeff’s cleanup work.I decided to address the damage to the top of the bowl first. I sanded the inner edge of the rim top with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to give the rim a slight inward bevel. The slight bevel took care of the charring on the front inner edge and cleaned up the rest of the inner edge as well.I picked out the small fill on the bowl with a dental pick. The fill was bright white and it just stuck out too much for me. Once I had cleaned out the pit I filled it in with clear super glue and briar dust. When the fill cured I used a brass bristle wire brush to blend it into the surface of the surrounding briar. The second photo shows the area that is filled. It is virtually invisible.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl and the rim top and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of stain really made the grain stand out. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The pipe really looks good at this point. It was getting late so I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. The sharp edges of the tooth marks made it clear that heat would not lift them so I decided to repair them instead. I filled them in with black super glue and set the stem aside to dry over night. The next morning when the repair had cured, I used a needle file to redefine the sharp edge of the button and begin to flatten out the repaired areas.  I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to smooth out the repair and blend it into the stem surface. I rubbed the stem down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish and a cotton pad to remove remnants of oxidation and to further blend in the sanding. The stem was showing some promise at this point in the process. At this point in the process I wanted to see how the stem looked on the bowl. I picked up the bowl and lightly buffed it with a cloth. In doing so I noticed what looked like a hairline crack on the topside of the shank. I examined it with a lens and sure enough there was a tiny crack in the groove of a sand blast groove. It was not large and extended about 1/8 of an inch up the shank (I have inserted a red arrow to identify the crack in the shank). I went through my small brass/rose gold coloured bands thinking that if I had one it would be a perfect look on this pipe. I found the perfect band shaped to cover the shank end as well! I cleaned the shank end with a cotton pad and alcohol and put a thin coat of all-purpose glue on the shank and end. I pressed the band in place and wiped off the excess glue with a damp cloth. The photos show the process. I set the bowl aside once again to let the glue set and went back to the stem. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I finished by wiping it down with Briarville’s No Oxy Oil and set it aside to dry.  I always look forward to this part of the restoration when all the pieces are put back together. I put the pipe back together and buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the grain popping, the new band on the shank shining and the black vulcanite almost glowing. The long stemmed billiard is beautiful and feels great in my hand. It is one that could be clenched and smoked while doing other things as it is very light weight and well balanced. It must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it from Jennifer. There should be a lot of life left in this old mystery pipe. The band adds a touch of understated elegance to the long shank and stem. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 ¾ inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This is one that will go on the rebornpipes online store shortly. If you want to carry on the pipe trust of George Rex Leghorn let me know. Thank you Jennifer for trusting us with his pipes. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman.

Repairing a Cracked Shank and Restoring a Larsen Super Tulip


Blog by Steve Laug

Jeff picked up this interesting Larsen Hand Made from an auction in Columbus, Michigan in March, 2019. The shape and design of this pipe caught his eye and mine. It has a great shape and sandblast finish. The shape is what I would call a tulip and has a forward tipping bowl and a gently curved shank from the bowl through the curve of the stem. The finish is very dirty with dust and grime filling in the grooves of the blast. The bowl has a thick cake that overflows onto the rim top. The rim top has some darkening and perhaps some damage around the thin edge. The shank has about a ½ inch crack on the left side that has spread slightly due to the thick tar and oil in the shank. The stem is oxidized and has tooth chatter and tooth marks on both sides near the button and also damage to the button edge on both sides. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. The conditions noted above are evident in the photos. Jeff took close up photos of the rim top from various angles to show the general condition of the bowl and rim. The first photo shows the thickness of the cake in the bowl and the lava build up on the back edge. The edges look like they have been protected by the thick cake so they will probably be fine once the bowl is reamed. The second and third photos give a clear picture of the bowl sides and rim edges. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give an idea of the beauty of the sandblast and the condition of the bowl.The underside of the shank is stamped Super over Larsen over Handmade over Made in Denmark. The stamping is faint toward the edge of the shank/stem junction. Between the Larsen and Handmade there appears to be something stamped but it is unclear. There is a crack in the shank that is evident in the third photo and it almost looks like there was a thin band on the shank at some point before it came to me. You can see a light strip at the shank end in the photos above and the one below.The photos of the stem show the condition of the stem on both sides. The first one shows the tooth marks and chatter on the top of the stem and on the button.I turned to Pipephil’s site to get a quick review of the brand (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-l2.html). There was a sidebar on the site that gave the following information:

In the 1960s Ole Larsen, owner of the Copenhagen tobacco store, retails pipes carved by Sixten Ivarsson, Poul Rasmussen, Sven Knudsen or Peter Brakner. Faced with the success and urged by Sven Bang (store manager), Sven Knudsen and Former (Hans Nielsen) are successively hired to carve pipes in the basement of the shop at the beginning and in the old Larsen cigar factory afterwards. Carver like Teddy Knudsen, Tonni Nielsen, Jess Chonowitch, Peter Hedegaard work a while in this context.

When Nils, son of Ole Larsen, succeeds his father he acquires the Georg Jensen pipe factory to focus on less expensive pipes. This turns out to be an error ending with the sale of W.O. Larsen trademark to Stanwell.

The famous tobacco shop at Strøget, Amagertorv 9 closed down for good on Dec 31, 2004.

I turned to Pipedia and read the history of the brand. It is a short article and a very good read. It seems that W.O. Larsen was a famous pipe retailer in Denmark who employed many of the famous pipemakers such as S. Bang, Former, Teddy Knudsen, Tonni Nielsen, Jess Chonowitsch, Peter Hedegaard and others. Give the article a read as it is very interesting. The link follows below: (https://pipedia.org/wiki/W.%C3%98._Larsen).

There were several links to Larsen catalogues at the end of the article. The screen captures below give some pipes that look very similar to the one I am working on . It is like the Larsen Handmade No.71 in the first photo below and like the Larsen Handmade No. 75 in the second photo below. (https://pipedia.org/images/5/5c/Wo1.pdf) (http://www.danishpipemakers.com/pdf/wo1.pdf) Jeff cleaned the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. This one was a real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Jeff soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show what an amazing job Jeff did in the cleanup of the rim top. The bowl and the rim top look very good. There was some darkening on the back top of the rim and some wear in the finish on the front of the rim top.  I also took close up photos of the stem to show the tooth marks and chatter on both sides at the button.  As I examined the crack I the shank under a lens I could see that it actually was two cracks running parallel and then connected at the top. I carefully remove the chip of briar from the shank and took the following photo. I have some older thin bands that looked like rose gold and were the right size to achieve the repair without covering the majority of the stamping on the underside of the shank. I glued the chip back in place on the shank with clear super glue. Once it hardened I coated the outside of the shank (the width of the band) with an all purpose white glue and pressed the band onto the shank to hold the piece in place and stabilize the repair. I put the stem on the shank and took photos of the pipe to get an idea of what it looked like with the delicate rose gold band on the shank end. I like the way it looked. It achieved the repair but did not sacrifice the dignity of the pipe. I restained the rim top to blend the lighter front with the darkening on the rear portion using a Mahogany stain pen. It blended the colours well matching the rest of the bowl.I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. Mark Hoover’s Balm is a product that I have come to appreciate and one I use on every pipe I have been working on.   I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the stem surface ahead of the button and on the button surface on both sides of the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter. The heat lifts the tooth marks on the surface and because of the “Memory” of vulcanite I was able to make them almost invisible with the heat. All I would need to do to finish the repairs was to sand the stem surface and polish it.I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to break up the oxidation. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the scratching. It is starting to look good. The tenon was very tight in the shank. I believe that it was the cause of the cracks in the shank. So, to deal with the issue I reduced the diameter of the tenon with the sandpaper at the same time I sanded the stem surface. I began the polishing work on the stem by rubbing it down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish. It is a gritty red paste that I work into the surface of the vulcanite and then buff off with a cotton pad. It does a great job minimizing the scratching on the surface. I have a few tins of this laying around so I am trying to use them up. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it final coat of oil and set it aside to dry.    I am excited to be on the homestretch with beautiful Larsen pipe. This is the part I look forward to when it all comes back together, polished and waxed. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I 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 new band on the repaired shank adds a nice touch to the look of the pipe. The sandblast finish looks really good interesting grain patterns popping through the blast. The band, the blast and the polished black vulcanite went really well together. This Larsen Super freehand shape Tulip was another fun pipe to work on thanks to Jeff’s cleanup work. It really has that classic Danish look that catches the eye. The combination of various brown stains undulating in the nooks and crannies of the blast really makes the pipe look attractive. It is another comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 ½ inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I like the looks of the repaired shank and the flow of the gold band on the shank. It sets off the brown of the briar and the black of the vulcanite. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.

Restemming a London Made Pencil Shank Crosby


Blog by Steve Laug

Sometimes restoring pipes can be very frustrating. This evening I was working on an estate Dunhill Tanshell Zulu and the tenon broke off in the shank. I don’t know if it was cracked but I do know that I did very little and the stem was in one hand and the bowl in the other. It is at times like that when a repair person feels like packing it in and doing something else. But that is really not optional so I turned to do something else… still pipe repair related but still something different. I have a box of pipes that my brother sent me recently and in that was a very nice looking long, pencil shank billiard bowl without a stem. I had a cracked shank but otherwise it was a pretty piece of briar and it needed some TLC – a band and a new stem. It seemed like just the thing to take my mind off the frustrating Dunhill. I wrote Jeff about it and he sent me the following photos of what it looked like before he cleaned it. It was a frustrating piece for him even in the clean up. The stem was with it but the tenon had snapped off in the shank. In removing the tenon from the shank the pencil shank had snapped. Maybe I was moving from one frustration to another! The first photos is the parts grave yard – a snapped shank, a chunk of briar, a broken tenon and a broken stem…oh my.Jeff took a couple of photos of the snapped shank and the piece of briar that had come off. At least it was a very clean break. After cleaning the pipe Jeff glued the piece of briar back on the shank and when it arrived it was tight.The bowl and rim were in awful condition. There was a thick lava coat on the rim top and a thick cake in the bowl. There was tobacco debris in the cake and the lava on the rim it was a mess. It was obviously a great smoking pipe and someone’s favourite – though it always surprises me how far some pipemen and women let their pipes go.Even the exterior of the bowl was a mess with spots of grime and tar on the outside of the bowl as can be seen in the following photos. There were nicks and dents in the bowl but beside all that it was a beautiful piece of briar.Jeff took a photo of the only stamping on the pipe – London Made was stamped on the right side of the shank.He had done a great job cleaning up the pipe. When I took it out of the box it did not look much like the pipe pictured above. The bowl had been reamed and cleaned (Jeff followed his usual regimen of reaming and cleaning). The exterior had been scrubbed and the internals were spotless. The piece of briar had been glued in place and the repair was solid. The broken stem/tenon was gone. It was a clean and beautifully grained stummel when brought it to the worktable and took the following photos. I took a photo of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before I started my part of the restoration work. The rim was clean but there was some nicks and dents in the top. The inner and outer edge were in excellent condition and there was darkening toward the back side of the rim top.The shank had a crack in it but had been glued. It would need to be banded. The photo is a little blurry but I have circle the crack in red so that you can identify it.I went through my can of straight stems and found two that had possibilities as well as taking out a band that would fit the shank. I took a couple of photos of my options at this point. I decided to go with the tapered stem as I liked the look of the pipe with that stem.I decided to band the shank first. I rubbed some all-purpose white glue on the shank end and pressed band onto the shank. I cleaned off the excess glue with a damp cloth. The glue would dry and bind the pieces together and hold the band onto the shank end. Once the glue had cured I would fit a new stem. I took some photos of the newly banded shank to show the progress at this point. While the glue on the band was curing I use a needle file to reduce the diameter of the tenon. I had measured previously so I knew what I needed to remove. I sanded it with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the tenon.I fit the stem to the shank and took a few photos to show what the pipe would look like with the new stem. The diameter of the stem at the shank was a little off so it would need to be sanded to reduce it to fit and there were a few tooth marks and some chatter on the stem but otherwise it was looking good. I sanded the rim top with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage and to minimize the darkening. I polished the rim and the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the rim down with a damp cloth after each pad. The photos show the progress. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The bowl and the rim top look very good with the beautiful grain popping around the rim and sides of the bowl. With the bowl finished I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the stem and button surface with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the tooth marks and chatter on the surface of the stem and the button. The stem surface looks better at that point. I forgot to take photos of the process of removing the excess material on the diameter of the stem so that the fit against the band and shank looked better. Once that was done then I started the polishing of the surface with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cloth after each pad. I further polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I wiped it down with a coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. With both parts of the pipe finished I put it back together. I carefully polished the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I carefully worked around the band so I would not get the polishing from the band get on the shank. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I 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 beautiful natural finish and the grain came alive with the buffing. The rich finish on the briar works well with the polished nickel band and new black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is very light weight and looks quite stunning with its slender shank and stem. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 1/2 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This one will be going onto the rebornpipes online store soon. It is a nice one for sure and one that will fit well into someone’s collection. Thanks for walking through the restoration and restemming with me on this thin, pencil shank Crosby billiard. It should be a great smoker!

A Tiny 2 Star BBB 8881 Apple/Globe Provided An Interesting Challenge


Blog by Steve Laug

When I spoke with a fellow here in Vancouver who had a pipe that he wanted me to fix it sounded like a simple repair. He said that it had a very loosely fitting stem. He asked if he could drop by to show it to me and see if I could fix it. From past experience I have learned to never jump to conclusions about what sounded like an easy repair. When he arrived he showed me his GBD Faux Spigot. It turned out to need far more work than just tightening a loose stem. I wrote about that restoration in a previous blog (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/11/03/redoing-a-poorly-restored-ebay-gbd-super-q-9436/). We talked about his GBD for a bit and he made the decision to have me do a restoration on it. Then he reached into his pocket and pulled out a small plastic bag with a little BBB 2 Star apple of globe shaped pipe. It was stamped BBB in a diamond on the left side of the shank with two ** – one on either side of the diamond. ON the right side it was stamped Made in England over the shape number 8881. He said that he had found it at his parents’ house and really no one there knew where it came from.

Here is what I saw. Starting with externals. The pipe was small – kind of a pocket pipe. The grain on the bowl was quite stunning – a mix of flame and birdseye all around the bowl and shank. The rim top was coated with a thick lava coat and it went into the bowl. The inner edge of the bowl was in rough shape having been hacked clean with a knife. There was a crack on the right side of the shank curving to the underside. It looked to me it was made by the poorly made stem being shoved into the shank. The stem was larger in diameter than the shank and had been rounded over with a file. There were deep bite marks on the surface ahead of the button on both sides. Moving to the internals. The end of the tenon was carved with a knife to make it fit the mortise in the small shank. The inside of the shank was dirty but less so than I expected. The inside of the bowl had a light cake but most of that was gone from the knife job that had left a wounded inner edge on the rim. Looking at the pipe I explained what I would have to do to bring it back to life and restore it to use. It would need, cleaning, reshaping on the rim, a band on the cracked shank that would leave the stamping readable, and a reworking of the stem to make it a fitting addition to the lovely briar of the bowl. The pipe was going to be a fun challenge. I took these photos to give you an idea of what I saw. The previous pipeman who had fit a new stem to an old favourite pipe had done a functional job but it looked rough. It was pretty clean on the inside so it was cared for. It must have been a great smoking pipe for him to fit a new stem and not give up on it when the previous one broke or was lost. It was smokable. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the condition. It is hard to see but the rim top was not smooth. The lava build up was pretty thick and there were some deep nicks and chips in the flat top. The close up photos of the stem reveal the scratches in the vulcanite, the tooth marks and the worn and ill-defined button.  The oversized diameter – prettified to look nice is clear in the photos. I took photos from the side of the pipe to show the stamping on the shank and the prettified stem. In the second photo you can see the crack in the shank curving downward to the underside.I decided to address the cracked shank first. With the crack as large as it was and movable I did not want to further damage it when I worked on the stem and fit of the tenon. I knew that it needed to be banded but that would cover the stamping on the shank so adjustments would have to be made. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to reduce the size of the shank to fit the band I had chosen. I did not take of too much briar and I only damaged the M in Made In England as part of it would end up being covered by the band.I repaired the crack in the shank with super glue and pressure fit the band onto the shank to the point of the end of the sanded portion. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to cut back the band to the width that I wanted. Compare the photos above with the one below to see how much I took off of the band. I topped the band on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper and smooth out the sharp edge with 1500 grit micromesh. I decided that since I was already working with the Dremel and sanding drum that I would take down the excess diameter on the stem as well. I reduced it to sit snugly against the band giving the pipe a classy look.I cleaned up around the inside edge of the band and edge on the shank with a folded piece of 2220 grit sandpaper to smooth things out and make the fit and transition smooth. I lightly sanded the blade portion of the stem and the area of the tooth marks next to the button with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation and clean it up. I fit the stem in the shank and took a photo of the pipe at this point in the process. It was beginning to look like a classic BBB to my eye. With the stem roughly fit to the shank it was time to address the bowl top. I topped it on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. At that point I called it a night. I had to catch a train down to the southern part of Washington from Vancouver in the morning so I thought I would bag up a couple of pipes I was working on and take them with me.I caught the train south from Vancouver, BC at 6:30am. Once we had our seats we were in for an 8 hour train ride. I figure it would be a good opportunity to work on these two pipes. You can see my work table in the photo below. I used the fold down table. It had a lip around it so I spread out a couple of napkins for the dust and went to work on the pipes.I started working on the BBB by addressing the damage to the inner edge of the rim. It was significant with cuts and burns. My topping worked had helped with the top damage and smoothed that out but I need to work on the rim edge. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the sharp edges and bring the bowl back to round. Once I had the rim as round as I could get it and smoothed out the damaged edge I polished it with micromesh sanding pads. I polished the bowl and the rim at the same time. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp napkin after each pad. I touched up the stain around the front of the band and stained the rim top and inner edge with Maple and Cherry stain pens. Together the two stains matched the rest of the bowl.I rubbed down the briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the smooth surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little wall and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The rim matches well but still needs to be polished and buffed to raise a shine on it. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to reshape the button and also to smooth out the marks left by the Dremel when reducing the diameter of the stem. I sanded the tooth marks near the button on each side of the stem to smooth them out.I polished the stem, tenon and metal work with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I was able to remove the damage on the tenon and polish out the dripping varnish on the metal adornment. The stem looked much better at this point in the process. I the polished stem and bowl with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches and raise the shine. I gave the bowl and the stem several coats of carnauba wax and 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. This turned out to be a beautiful little pocket pipe in terms of shape and finish. The new nickel band adds a touch of class in my opinion and gives the pipe a new elegance. I look forward to hearing what the fellow who dropped it off for repair thinks of it once he has it in hand and is smoking it. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 4 inches, Height: 1 3/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 inch, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.

Crafting a thin band for a cracked shank in a Tracy Mincer Large Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

A good friend from New York, who I met over email and I have talked about all things pipes and tobaccos over the months. We have Skyped together and compared notes on our favourite pipes and tobaccos as well as the aging process in our lives. We have become pretty good friends sending tobaccos and pipes back and forth across the continent and chatting together regularly. A month or so ago he showed me one of his favourite old Tracy Mincer billiards. It was a beautiful pipe that only bore the Tracy Mincer stamp on the underside of the shank. He told me that he was cleaning it and removed the stem and heard that fearsome crack sound that pipemen have come to know as a shank cracking. Sure enough the shank cracked on his beautiful pipe. We spoke of options that were available for a repair. One of those was to insert a Delrin or stainless tube in the shank, reduce the tenon diameter and the repair would be complete. Another option would be to band the shank. He wanted me to have a go at the repair so he shipped it to me to work on. He did not want a band on the shank as he liked the original look of the pipe.

When the pipe arrived it was far larger than I imagined. It really was well rusticated and beautiful. The rim top, the rustication on the sides and shank as well as the smooth band around the shank/stem union really stood out against the rustication. The high quality vulcanite had some light tooth marks and a light oxidation in the surface. I removed the stem and measured the shank with a micrometer to see what I needed in terms of an insert tube. I opted for a stainless tube. I drilled it out and smoothed out the inside of the tube. It was ready to be inserted and set in the mortise. I set it aside and picked up the stem. That is when I realized that there was a problem. Airway in the tenon was drilled off centre to the top left. If that was not bad enough it was drilled at a bit of an angle. The combination of the off centre drilling and the angle of the airway meant that if I reduced the diameter of the tenon I would end up opening up the airway on the upper left side and essentially destroying the tenon. I thought about removing the tenon, drill the airway open and replacing it but that was problematic because of the angled drilling.

With the facts in hand I did a Skype call with New York and explained the issues and showed my friend the airway in the stem and tenon. I showed him the off centeredness and the angular drilling and told him that I would send the pipe back to him as he did not like metal bands. We spent some time talking about options – even leaving it as it was with the crack and just enjoying it while being careful. He said that he knew it was there and it would bother him. We went online and looked at some of the bands available – all of them were too large and covered too much of the shank. They just would not do on this particular pipe. At that point I had an idea – I could cut the band down so that it was a much thinner band and the profile would actually work well with the look of the pipe. We discussed the pros and cons of that solution and he gave the go ahead. I ordered a 20.5mm nickel band for the shank of his pipe. It was the largest band available and it was a close fit to the shank. It would need some work but it would look good I thought once it was completed.

When the bands arrived I was so anxious to get started on the repair of the pipe that I forgot to take photos of the pipe. I sent a message to my friend and asked if he had any photos of the pipe before he sent it to me. He laughed and said he too forgot to follow his normal habit of taking a full set of photos before he mailed it. He did have one photo of the pipe that I could use. He sent it to me and I have included it below.I cleaned up the end of the shank and used a Dremel and sanding drum and a small flat needle file to cut a channel in the shank end for the band to rest in once it was in place. The diameter of the band was slightly smaller than the shank so this was necessary. I sanded the area smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to fit the band in place. I pressed the band on the shank and used a Dremel and sanding drum to remove over half of the depth of the band. I wanted it to be significantly thinner and cover less of the briar. When I got close to the right depth I used a topping board and 220 grit sandpaper to take it down even more. With the band on the shank I wanted the edge of the band and the shank end to be flush so that the stem sat firmly in place as it had before. The next two photos show an original 20.5mm band with the one that I cut down. You can see from the photo how high on the shank the band would have gone. The new band was less than half the size of the original band.Once the band was the right height I smoothed out the cut off edge to take away the sharpness of the metal. I rubbed some white all-purpose glue on the cracked area and on the freshly sanded area that the band would sit on and pressed the band onto the shank. I wiped off the excess glue that was squeezed out but the band with a damp cotton pad and took the following photos. I polished the area in front of the band where I has sanded it smooth using micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-6000 grit pads. Once it was smooth I restained it by mixing a medium and a dark brown stain pen to match the colour of the rest of the pipe. The colour was good. I took photos of the pipe at this point before I buffed and polished it. I polished the nickel band and the restained shank with micromesh sanding pads. I dry sanded with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each pad. I wiped it down after the final set of pads one more time. I buffed the bowl and shank with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to raise a shine and blend the stains together. There were some tooth marks and tooth chatter on both sides of the stem just ahead of the button. I sanded out the chatter in the vulcanite with 220 grit sandpaper. It did not take too much work to remove all of the marks. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish Fine and Extra Fine. I wiped it down a final time with the oil and put it aside to dry. With the stem polished I put it back on the pipe and lightly buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond being careful to not fill the grooves in the blast with the polishing compound. I used a regular touch on the stem to polish out any remaining scratches. The bowl had a good coat of wax when it arrived so I gave the stem several coats of carnauba wax and 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 finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I will get it in the mail to my friend in New York on the weekend. I am looking forward to hearing what he thinks once he sees the finished pipe both on the blog and in hand. Thanks for walking through the banding process with me. This was a pipe that I really enjoyed working on. Cheers.

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