Tag Archives: banding a pipe

Reworking and Restemming What Looked Like a Lost Cause


Blog by Ryan Thibodeau

I have been following Ryan’s work on FaceBook’s Tobacco Pipe Restorers Group and have been impressed with his work. When he posted the work on this old Canadian stummel with a lot of issues I wrote and asked if he would be willing to post it on rebornpipes. He said sure and sent me the following write up. I am happy to welcome Ryan to the pages of the blog. It is a pleasure to have you here. Without further ado I will let Ryan introduce himself to you all. — Steve

My name is Ryan Thibodeau, I live in the Hamilton Ontario region I stumbled upon this hobby by accident. When my Father learned of my new hobby, he gave me his 1959 Dunhill shell briar pipes. They hadn’t been smoked in 38 years and needed some TLC. I had them restored and they were the first two pipes in my rack.

From there I joined various Facebook Groups and happened upon Steve’s blog “Reborn Pipes”, I was inspired immediately. Since that time I’ve been collecting tired worn out pipes and testing my ability to return them to a condition that I would be proud of. It is a wonderful hobby, that doesn’t require a lot of space to do.

Every pipe has a story! Usually the smoker who owned it, and their story, is more interesting than the pipe itself.

I purchased this pipe in a lot of 12. There were only one or two pipes in the lot that I really wanted and the price was right, so I wasn’t heartbroken if the rest came to rest in the bottom of my box of pipes. One of them came in a case that was meant for a meerschaum, and it looked decent when in the picture, but further investigation revealed a lot of issues that would need to be repaired. I started by removing the silver band, which came off without any effort and used Heirloom Stripper to remove all the dirt, grime, old finish and lift some of the stain. This allowed me to get a real good look at the damage to this pipe. Next I used my Castleford reamer to remove all the cake out of the bowl. There was very little cake lining the bowl, however; once I removed the cake I found that walls of the tobacco chamber were severely charred. I suspect this pipe was smoked very hot and the briar was charred to charcoal. I wanted to see how much of the chamber was damaged ( I prefer to ream my bowls right back to fresh briar. This way I can see if there are any heat fissures or major issues that would make a restoration go sour after the first smoke)

I removed the charred wood. The reamers will shave away the charred wood, once you feel the resistance of the blades rubbing the fresh briar you know you’ve removed the charring.I used a combination of Briar dust and CA Glue to create a patch for the gouge on the side of the bowl. Using a flat file, I filed the patch down to the profile of the pipe. Afterwards I topped the bowl to level out the rim and the patch. The bowl was also over reamed by its previous owner so I added a bevel to the inside of the bowl at the rim to blend everything in.

There was a lot of filing and sanding through this process to get it just right. Unfortunately I get hyper focused during this process and forgot to take step-by-step pictures.

The grey patches you see inside the bowl is a product called JB Weld. I mixed up a batch and filled the problem areas in the chamber, afterwards I sanded it down to blend with the rest of the chamber. In my experience the product is completely inert once cured. It is handy for a reconstruction of this kind, but I’d recommend adding a bowl coating as an added barrier.This pipe came to me without a stem. Fortunately I had a stem that would be the perfect length, I just needed to shape the tenon to fit the pipe. For this I used the Pimo Tenon cutter from Vermont Freehand.

I also used the opportunity while I was at this end of the pipe to drill a hole ahead of the crack in the shank and filled used briar dust and CA Glue. As sometimes happens with restorations, I thought I stopped the crack from spreading, well I was wrong and it continued from the patch further up the shank about ¼ of an inch. So I drilled another hole and patched it again. This time I seemed to have everything under control.

The stem was quite simple to shape to the profile of the pipe and was a welcome change from the frustrations of the other repairs that didn’t go according to plan.

Once I had all the parts and repairs completed. I sanded the entire pipe and stem with 320 grit sandpaper up to 8000 grit (1500-8000 with micro mesh pads) Rustication

At this point I had to consider how I was going to finish this pipe. Originally this was a smooth finish Canadian Billiard, but those days were long behind this tired old pipe. I originally thought of using a really dark stain to hide all the imperfections, polish it and call it a day, then I thought I’d take a risk and create something new, and breath new life into this pipe. For all the effort I put into this pipe up to this point I figured I’d let my creativity flow.

I decided that I would rusticate this pipe and leave a smooth patch somewhere, where I hadn’t determined yet. Using a Dremel and a 107 Carving bit I started to rusticate the shank and worked my way to the heel, then up the stummel. Halfway up the stummel the pipe revealed its final design-leave the top of the bowl smooth! I wasn’t sure at first because it would mean I had to blend in that CA patch, but I now avoided trying to rusticate it.

I was very pleased with the result.

Staining & Finishing

I used Fiebings Dark Brown alcohol based dye over the entire pipe as a base, then wiped on Fiebings Oxblood till I achieved the colour I wanted. To seal the stain in the pipe I applied a thin layer of shellac which gave it a glossy look I didn’t like. I left it, and just stayed the course with this experiment to see how it turned out.

In the morning the Shellac had cured. I began the polishing process at this point. I don’t have a buffing wheel yet, so I use cotton wheel buffing bits that fit to my dremel.

I started with Tripoli and thoroughly went over the entire pipe and stem. The tripoli did a good job of taking down the shellac, and making it less pronounced. I followed that up with white diamond and then finally carnauba wax.  I used a fluffy felt bit to polish the whole pipe.

Bowl Coating

You will find a variety of recipes and opinions on bowl coatings. I use them when needed and I prefer the waterglass recipe that a pipe maker shared with me. It is a combination of Sodium Silicate, Activated Charcoal and White Pumice. Once cured it provides a refractory layer on the inside of the bowl, and it feels like 800 grit sandpaper which promotes new cake build up without putting a lot of heat stress on the worn out briar.

This pipe definitely tested the limits of my abilities  and I learned some new techniques that I had only seen others use. Here’s the finished pipe!

 

 

Calabash No Name from eBay


Blog by Dal Stanton

After celebrating our daughter’s wedding and family reunion in the US and returning to Bulgaria, I was anxious to begin a new restoration.  While in the US, I added a few pipes to the pool when my wife and I stopped at an antique store advertised on an interstate billboard between Nashville and Chattanooga – this story for the future.   I’ve developed a bit of an eBay purchases trove and I found in the ‘Help Me!’ basket what I believe is a Calabash shaped unmarked briar from a seller in New Mexico.  I was drawn by the shape and the lateral movement of grain – a very nice looking piece of briar with great potential.  I wasn’t sure on the shape and checked out Pipedia’s Pipe Shapes Chart (Link) and Calabash seems to be the best fit – please let me know if I missed!  The seller’s pictures provided a descent chronicle of the pipe’s strengths and needs.cal1 cal2 cal3The pictures reveal stummel externals in very good shape except for heavy oil and lava overflow on the rim.  The stem is heavily oxidized and has a tooth hole on the underside of the bit – definitely an eye tooth hanger!  Both upper and lower button areas have teeth bites and significant chatter.  The button lip will also need smoothing and redefinition.  By the looks of this pipe, it was someone’s well-loved and used partner in life.  When I put the Calabash on my worktable I take some additional close-ups to focus on the problem areas and I take a closer look.  In the bowl, I discover what appear to be cracks in the briar in the front and backsides.  At this point, I’m not sure if this is only superficial within the cake or if it presents other problems.  I also take a closer look at the stem hole after inserting a pipe cleaner.cal4 cal5 cal6Before I can make a clear assessment of the bowl and the cracks, I decide first to ream the bowl with the Pipnet reaming kit to reveal the wall’s condition and to clean up the rim.  I also remove the stem and plop it in a bath of Oxy-Clean to begin softening the heavy oxidation in the vulcanite.  I use 3 of the 4 blades available in the Pipnet kit.  The cake was light.  I finish the reaming process using the Savinelli pipe knife and clean the walls by sanding with 240 grit paper pinched with the Savinelli knife.cal7 inspect the cracks in the bowl and decide to shoot a question off and some pics to Steve to get his input.  I then use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and clean the stummel surface with cotton pads. In addition, to remove the thick lava on the rim, I utilize a brass brush which will not scratch the wood.cal8 cal9Putting the stummel aside, I retrieve the stem from the Oxyclean bath and wet sand the raised oxidation with 600 grit paper and follow dry sanding with 0000 steel wool.  In anticipation of working on the patch for the tooth hole I want to clean the internals of the stem.  I use several pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95% and things are cleaning up well.cal10With the stem cleaned up from I move to repair the tooth hole.  This is a first time for me so I fill my mental cup reading several different blogs regarding hole repair and techniques.  One of the necessary ingredients for a repair is activated charcoal powder mixed with superglue to create a putty for the hole patch.  Living in Bulgaria, I was not able locate activated charcoal in powder state but we do have pet stores and we do have aquariums which require charcoal for the filtering system.  The problem is that this charcoal comes in a granulated form.  This problem was solved with a technique and tool going back some millennia with the use of a pestle and mortar.  I pictured a comparison of before and after below.  My only concern is that the charcoal powder I am producing with the pestle and mortar is fine enough to form a smooth blended patch.  We will see.cal11With activated charcoal powder now in hand, I take another close-up of the damaged bit.  To provide a good bond between the patch and vulcanite I score and roughen the area with 240 grit sanding paper, working the paper around the hole and to loosen and remove debris in the hole itself.  I follow that with a Q-tip cleaning dipped in alcohol.  I want the area clean.  I cut a piece of an index card, fold it into a hard point that will fit in the button and wrap the end with tape and then put Vaseline over it to assure that the patch has a solid surface underneath so putty doesn’t leak into the airway and will easily slide out after the patch sets. I pour a small mound of charcoal on an index card then I drip a small puddle of Starbond Black Medium KE-150 glue next to the charcoal.  Using a toothpick, I begin to mix the glue and charcoal a bit at a time so that I can judge the viscosity of the emerging putty – I’m aiming for a honey-like thickness.  When the putty begins to thicken as I add charcoal, I arrive at what I hope is the accurate brew!  Using the toothpick as a trowel, I apply charcoal putty to the hole, tamping each application and making sure I reach the depths of the hole and over-cover the damaged area building a bit of a mound.  After the patch cures, I will remove the excess putty.  I’ll give it a full 48 hours before continuing the work to assure the patch is solid and good for years to come.  After the patch sets a bit, I flip the stem and apply drops of Starbond Black Medium KE-150 to the tooth dents on the upper bit area.  The pictures show the progress.cal12 cal13 cal14With the stem patches curing I return to the stummel.  Steve’s email arrived with his reply to my questions about dealing with the cracks in the inner bowl.  He described his method of applying a paste made from a mixture of cigar ash and water to the cracks and bowl wall.  Yes, I remember previously reading about this in one of his restores!  This will come later after I’m able to collect some cigar ash – Cubans are readily available in Bulgaria.  I want high quality ash!  I take another close-up of the stummel as I re-inspect the surface.  I find one small crevice which I will fill with clear super-glue.  First, using a cotton pad I clean the surface of the stummel with acetone to remove any residual finish.  I then apply a drop of super glue on the small crevice above the shank junction and put the stummel down for the night to let the superglue fill to cure.cal15 cal16The next day, ready to move forward, I strategically sand down the superglue fill with 240 grit paper removing the excess glue bringing the patch down to the briar surface assuring a good blend.cal17When I think of the classic Calabash look, the stummel shape is crowned with a distinct cap.  To enhance this look and to remove some damaged, colored briar around the inner rim, I want to enhance and augment the bevel already present.  Using a coarser 120 grit paper tightly rolled, I cut the fresh bevel then I follow using a rolled-up piece of 240 grit paper to smooth the new bevel.  Pictures show the progress.cal18 cal19Before continuing with the rim repair and the stummel finish, I want to clean the stummel internals with a retort but I’ll need to return to the stem bit repair and do the sanding on the patches first.  The retort’s rubber hose will not expand enough to attach directly to the shank so I need to utilize the stem.  I am anxious to see how my first attempt at a hole repair faired.  Utilizing a flat needle file and 240 grit paper I sand the patch down to the stem surface. The patch is blending well but I detect very small, what I assume are air pockets, emerge during the sanding.  From my reading, I found that this is normal, but these appear to be too small to treat with a bit of superglue. I’ll keep my eye on this during the stem finishing phase.  On the upper bit, I also sand the superglue patches of the tooth dents to the stem surface with 240 grit paper.  With a needle file, I redefine the button lip a bit smoothing out where there were tooth bites.  The pictures show the progress on both the underside and the upperside of the bit – I’m liking what I see.cal19a cal20I don’t want to proceed any further until cleaning the internals of the stummel.  I will use the retort to accomplish this.  With cotton ball in the bowl, alcohol boiling in the test tube I begin the process.  I take a couple of shots of the progressive dirtying of the alcohol.  I forgot to take the final where the used alcohol was almost clear.  After the pipe cools from the retort, I remove the stem and finish the internal cleaning with some Q-tips and pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol 95%.   Internals are clean!cal21 cal22 cal23Turning again to the stem, I begin the micromesh process.  I wet sand with micromesh pads 1500 to 2400. Before applying Obsidian Oil, I want to take a close look at the tooth hole patch on the underside of the bit.  I’m not happy with what I find. With the first set of micromesh sanding pads the pocketing in the patch is more pronounced.  Air pockets?  Or, perhaps my charcoal powder was too coarse?  I’m not satisfied with these results so, even though it is a detour, I want to try to rectify the problem.  I apply a thin coat of CA Instant Glue over the area.  I’m hoping that the glue will fill the pocket and allow a smoother surface to emerge – enhancing the blend with the native vulcanite.  I clean the area with a bit of alcohol on a cotton pad then I apply the CA Glue.  I’m hopeful that this will do the trick.cal24Turning now to the stummel externals, I first use a medium and then a light grade sanding sponge, focusing on the rim to work out pits and roughness left over from the lava clean up.  Following the sanding sponges, I wet sand the stummel using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, then dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  As I watched the beauty of the grain emerge, I made the decision not to apply a stain but to keep the natural briar – a rich, thick, swirl of honey.  This no name Calabash is dressing up nicely.cal25 cal26Time to return to the stem and complete the lower bit tooth hole patch and to prepare the stem for the waiting bowl.  I ‘gently’ approach the sanding with 240 grit paper to lightly smooth the re-superglued patch down to the stem surface.  The ‘gentleness’ is due to not wanting to sand deeper than the reapplication, increasing the potential of uncovering new pockets.  I also again apply the flat needle file to define the lower button lip and then remove the file marks with the 240 grit paper.  I follow with 600 grit sanding paper and finally, I finish with 0000 steel wool.  I think the hole patch is improved and now I’ll trust the rest of the finishing and polishing process to blend the patch as much as possible.  In the picture below one can still detect the patch boundaries but the surface is much smoother.cal27With tooth hole charcoal superglue putty patch officially completed, I restart the micromesh sanding process by wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400 followed by an application of Obsidian Oil to absorb into the vulcanite surface. Then dry sanding with micromesh pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000, completing each set with an application of Obsidian Oil.  The pictures show the progress.  The last picture in this set I flip the stem to show the hole repair.  I think it’s ok, and as they say, “It is what it is.”cal28 cal29I have two mini-projects left before I begin the final polishing and waxing processes with the Dremel.  I want to dress up this ‘No Name’ Calabash with a band.  The beauty of this pipe emerged along the way and the classy Calabash shape just cries out, “Band!”  So, band it is.  I think it will look great.  The other project is to fill the cracks in the bowl with ‘Pipe Mud’ per Steve’s email response to my questions earlier in the restoration. I recalled reading about ‘Pipe Mud’ before and it didn’t take long to find it in the vast Rebornpipes.com archives.  Steve’s tutorial was helpful and to the point by point as usual (See: Link), but also of value for newbies to the hobby are the comments following – more links and practices to add to the mix!

Gary, my friend and colleague who lives in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, happily responded to my plea for ‘quality’ cigar ash.  I am now in possession of ash the byproduct of 2 Cubans – the second of which he smoked with me Thanksgiving Day evening as we gathered to celebrate together in Sofia – I smoked my favorite black Cavendish blend, Lane BCA, in the pipe I call, Ole Pot.  I take a couple close-ups to get a look at the cracks in the bowl. I’m not sure the source of these crevices but they appear to be grouped mid-way down the bowl both in the front and back of the bowl wall.  On a hunch, I look at the exterior and I think my hunch is correct.  The grain of the stummel moves horizontally though the bowl.  When I look at the front and back of the external grain patterns, I find birds eye grain pattern – which represent the cut through, perpendicular perspective of the grain.  The sides of the stummel reveal the side of the grain – the horizontal flow.  So, these cracks appear to me to be the grain splitting – it appears like dry split wood.  Not sure ‘why?’ but this is my theory.  The third and fourth pictures below show the external theory:cal30 cal31First, to prepare to make the pipe mud, I take the Cuban ash and crush it with the end of a pipe nail.  With tweezers, I picked out debris and make sure there are no large chunks.  The gray powder in the pictures is the aim.cal32Next, I use a dental probe to dig a bit in the cracks to make sure there is no loose debris.  Then I take a few bent pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl and clean the bowl wall.  I put the ash in a shot glass and slowly add water with an eyedropper and mix the mud with the pipe nail.  When the consistency of the mud is like paste, I use a bent pipe cleaner to paint the mud on the wall – careful to tamp in to fill the crevices.  I keep an eye on the areas with crevices as the mud dries in the bowl, making sure that it doesn’t shrink, but remains even with the bowl wall – as Steve’s tutorial instructed.  In about a half hour the mud is dry and forms a pretty hard surface.  The pipe mud will form a foundation for a cake to develop which provides a protective layer for the briar.  Until this happens, care is given to not ream or aggressively scrape the bowl wall.   The pictures show the progress.cal33The next project is adding a band to dress up the No Name Calabash – a touch of class.  The shank diameter is 17.5 millimeters in diameter and I fish out a 17.5 band to match the diameter.  Some months ago, I purchased an assortment of bands to have on hand from J. H. Lowe’s online store.   I’ve done one band previous to this, my first restoration which Steve published on rebornpipes (A Newbie Restore of a Dr. Plumb 9456) which went well.  The mantra I remember from Steve’s tutorial on banding (Link) was the need for patience in applying heat and micro-inching the band up the shank – a hot band could tear if forced to quickly. I set up a handy work station on a solid wooden stool that I can straddle.  I fold a towel and place it over a chopping block to provide a firm, but soft foundation to use as I press the stummel inching the heated band up the shank.  My air gun fits nicely on the platform as well.  About 1/10th of the band fit over the end of the shank at the beginning.  I heat the band rotating it, careful not to burn the wood then put it to the toweled surface and press – firmly but only a bit.  Repeating the process several times.  The pictures below show this.  The last in the set shows the progress of the band’s movement up the shank – almost home!cal34 cal35It was going so well, until it wasn’t!  With millimeters left before the band was flush with the shank, a press against the surface caused a portion of the band to crimp (pictured).  This was not part of the plan.  Different possible scenarios fill my mind for next steps to try to back out of the situation and to salvage the banding project.  I’m concerned that the band has torn at one of the crimp points because I can detect a sharp edge to the touch.  Time for an ‘SOS’ message to Steve with the picture below.cal36Steve’s response was helpful – to heat the band as before and with a small flat screw driver, straighten out the crimping and then continue again with the heating and pressing to bring the end of the band flush with the shank.  The following pictures show the salvage operation.  I begin by heating and bringing the bent edge back out using a small flat head screw driver.  As this progressed, I improvised, using the round head of a pipe nail to help reestablish the round of the band by heating and placing the head in the lip of the band and rolling it like a wheel while rotating the stummel.  Once things start regaining normal, I use a needle file gently filing the edge to remove sharp splinters.  I also filed a bit on the external ‘pucker points’ that help reestablish roundness and a smoother surface, but not perfect.cal37 cal38 cal39As I return now to heating and pressing to complete mounting the band on the shank, my concern is the weakened area of the band will simply crimp again with the process.  I decide to heat the band up a bit more than I did before, hopefully to enable the band expansion more economically and to add more towel padding between the band and the hard surface below.  I return to heating and pressing and thankfully, the result is a seated band with a few battle scars along the way!cal40 cal41When I attempt to rejoin the stem and new banded stummel, I find that increased compression on the shank from the new band has created a tighter mortise/tenon fit.  To release some of the tightness of this fit I wrap the tenon with 240 grit paper and rotate it to reduce the size of the tenon but keep it in round.  I rotate and test the new fit several times until I get it right.  I don’t want to take too much off the tenon and have a loose fit.  I get my first look at the reunited stummel and stem and I like what is before me! I take a close-up on the underside of the shank to show the area of the band crimp and repair.  I’m satisfied now with the repair job; I will see if I can improve it through the polishing process.cal42 cal43Now the fun begins!  With stem and stummel united, I begin the polishing phase using Tripoli over stummel and band.  I mount the Tripoli wheel in the Dremel’s hand-held extender and power it up at the lowest setting (RPMs) and after purging the wheel with the tightening tool, I light tap the wheel on the Tripoli bar and apply it to the surface.  With all the compounds, I do not apply too much vertical pressure to the wheel but allow the speed of the Dremel and compound to do the work.  After the Tripoli, I switch to the Blue Diamond wheel and repeat the process above but include the stem as well as stummel and band.  After this, I give the pipe a good rub down to remove powder left over from the compounds.  With the carnauba wheel mounted (after purging) I apply several applications of carnauba wax then change the Dremel to a clean wheel and buff the entire stem and stummel.   I complete the polishing with a brisk buff with a micromesh cloth to bring out the depth of the briar even more.

I learned three new skills to put in my tool box – making and applying Pipe Mud, rescuing a botched band mounting, and repairing a tooth hole using a charcoal super glue putty.  Not bad.  I’m very pleased with this ‘No Name Calabash’.  The honey-colored briar is stunning as it flows through the stummel – the depth of the grain almost appears 3-dimensional.  The band is a nice addition – it dresses it up, like putting on a tux. I trust that this pipe finds a good home.  Thank you for joining me!cal44 cal45 cal46 cal47 cal48 cal49 cal50 cal51

 

A Note of Clarification on the Monarch Apple Fiasco – Robert M. Boughton


Guest Blog by Robert M. Boughton
Member, North American Society of Pipe Collectors
http://www.roadrunnerpipes.com
http://about.me/boughtonrobert
Photos © the Author

Last week, a blog of mine called “Giving It the Old College Try, As a Favorite Substitute Teacher Used To Put It” [https://rebornpipes.com/2014/09/24/giving-it-the-old-college-try-as-a-favorite-substitute-teacher-used-to-say-robert-m-boughton/], about a Monarch apple with an absurd tenon contraption that screwed into the shank with more or less permanence. Really, the nice-looking briar apple, as it was designed, was the worst example of pipe engineering I can imagine – and the maker even had the nerve to patent the monstrosity.Robert1I described my great difficulty trying to keep the pipe intact with its worse than useless tenon and my eventual semi-success by removing an obnoxious, bulbous extension that protruded from the shank to connect to the stem, much as a Space Shuttle docks with a station way up beyond the limit of the Earth’s atmosphere. However, at the time, I was so caught up with the notion that the tenon was necessary as to miss the obvious. Here was my final effort, which was far from perfect in its sturdiness.Robert11After writing that I wouldn’t even give the ridiculous pipe away to anyone who purchased another one on my Web store, I became more and more fixated on finishing the project some unknown right way – using the right stuff, so to speak. I considered all kinds of possibilities, including tracking down a replacement rod of appropriate length and design to replace the original. Now that, I must admit, was stupid.

Then I showed the pipe with all due meekness to Chuck Richards, my friend and mentor, describing its imperfections and showing him the reason. But all he had to say was that the stem had a minor crack in the lip anyway, and it would break altogether in time. I figured that meant sooner than later. And so my immediate brainstorm was to go ahead and offer the pipe for free with another purchase and include both the original and a prepared replacement stem.

Still, the only real solution eluded me! But at last, by George, I got it! Remove the whole wretched tenon and replace the stem!

And so, that I did, spending hours sanding down the new stem’s tenon to fit. I even added a brass band to make up for the dorky faux band that was attached to the original tenon-lunar module piece.Robert1Satisfied of a job done right, I filled the bowl halfway with some good Gawith Full Virginia Flake and spent the next hour or so puffing away in delight. I could taste the natural sweetness of the Virginias all the way through. Minus the tenon and with a stem that attached without it, the old Monarch became a good pipe after all.

I have decided either to keep the unique but dreadful tenon as a souvenir or maybe donate it to the local space museum.

That is all.

A Renewed WDC Bakelite and Briar Pipe Restemmed


I received the Bakelite bowl base in a lot that I picked up on EBay. At first glance I figured I would trash it and not worry about working on it at all. However, I tend to be drawn to working on things that others would throw away so I decided to see what I could do with it. The two bowls pictured below are threaded and both fit the base. The Dublin like bowl, once on the base, was too narrow for the base but the bulldog bowl fit well. It was packed with a cake and there were chips out of the double line band around the bowl. The bowl rim was damaged and the finish was absolutely shot with dark black stains in the briar all around the bowl where the thumb and fingers held the bowl. The Bakelite shank had the WDC in a diamond stamped on it. The ornate band that usually adorned the shank as well as the metal washer like band on the top of the bowl base was missing. The shank had a broken metal tenon stuck deep within it. The surface had scratches in it but none of them were too deep.

Bakelite bowl base and two potential bowls before beginning the process of refurbishing.

Bakelite bowl base and two potential bowls before beginning the process of refurbishing.


The bowl is pictured below. You can see the thickness of the cake and the rough surface of the rim where a previous owner had damaged it when emptying the bowl. The second photo shows the exterior damage and the finish on the pipe. I reamed the bowl to clean out the cake. I decided to take it back to bare wood and start over with the cake. I checked the bowl for cracks and damage but surprisingly there were none to be found. Eventually I would top the bowl.
SIde view of the bowl before refurbishing.

SIde view of the bowl before refurbishing.

Top view of the unreamed pipe bowl showing its condition before cleaning

Top view of the unreamed pipe bowl showing its condition before cleaning


I wiped the bowl down with acetone on a cotton pad, used a dental pick to clean out the grooves and screwed bowl on the base to get an idea how the pipe would look. I also wiped down the bowl base with Everclear to clean off the grime and buildup on that surface. I went through my can of stems in search of a diamond shaped stem that would finish out the look of the pipe. I came up empty-handed so I chose a round stem of the right diameter and length that I could shape to fit the shank. I drilled out the shank to remove the metal tenon and also to open the diameter of the mortise. The original stem had been a screw on one and the metal mortise and the metal tenon were firmly welded together so the drill was the only way to remove it. I opened it as wide as possible while still leaving enough material on the shank to maintain strength. I turned the tenon with the PIMO tenon turning tool and then a Dremel to bring it to the correct size for the new shank. The next two photos show the stem and the fit of the stem to the shank.
WDC base in need of a diamond shaped stem. Necessity is the mother of invention. I used a round Lovat stem.

WDC base in need of a diamond shaped stem. Necessity is the mother of invention. I used a round Lovat stem.


I turned the tenon to fit the mortise and then inserted the stem against the shank.

I turned the tenon to fit the mortise and then inserted the stem against the shank.


Now I needed to shape the stem and remove material to transform the round saddle bit to a diamond saddle bit. I used a Dremel to cut the basic shape in the stem. I proceeded from side to side with the stem on the shank to make sure to match the angles of the shank. I wrote a post on the process for the blog and posted that earlier. You can read about the details of that process on this link https://rebornpipes.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/shaping-a-diamond-shaped-stem-from-a-round-one/ The next eleven photos give a quick look at the shaping work on the stem. It took time and I had to be careful to not damage the shank when I was using the Dremel and sanding drum on the stem.
Figure 3 I used a Dremel to shape the stem to match the diamond angles of the shank. I worked on one side at a time.

Figure 3 I used a Dremel to shape the stem to match the diamond angles of the shank. I worked on one side at a time.

Figure 4 Pipe resting against the Dremel with a sanding drum. Shaping progressed quite quickly. This picture shows one side beginning to take shape.

Figure 4 Pipe resting against the Dremel with a sanding drum. Shaping progressed quite quickly. This picture shows one side beginning to take shape.

5 Top view of the shank. Both sides of the round stem are beginning to take on the shape of the shank.

5 Top view of the shank. Both sides of the round stem are beginning to take on the shape of the shank.

Figure 6 Top view after more shaping with the Dremel.

Figure 6 Top view after more shaping with the Dremel.

Figure 7 Bottom view before the Dremel did its work.

Figure 7 Bottom view before the Dremel did its work.

Figure 8 Left side view after the first side has begun to take shape.

Figure 8 Left side view after the first side has begun to take shape.

Figure 9 Bottom view after both sides have begun to take shape.

Figure 9 Bottom view after both sides have begun to take shape.

Figure 10 Right side view of the stem after it began to take shape.

Figure 10 Right side view of the stem after it began to take shape.

Figure 11 Back to the worktable and the hand sanding.

Figure 11 Back to the worktable and the hand sanding.

Figure 12 Hand sanding continues.

Figure 12 Hand sanding continues.

Figure 13 Hand sanding continues.

Figure 13 Hand sanding continues.


The original shank had sported an ornate band and the stain in the Bakelite showed the marks of the band. I did not have any ornate bands in my collection of bands so I chose instead to band it with a nickel band. I shaped the band to fit, beginning with a round band. This took a bit of fussing to get the shape and fit correct. I have written that process up in detail in a previous blog post as well. You can read about the process at this link https://rebornpipes.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/shaping-a-round-metal-band-to-fit-a-square-or-diamond-shank/ Once the band was shaped correctly I heated it with a heat gun until it was pliable and then pressure fit it on the shank of the pipe. The next series of five photos show the process I used to pressure fit the band on the shank. Once it was in place I carefully used my furniture hammer to flatten the band against the shank.
The square is done

The square is done

Fitting a nickel band on the shank

Fitting a nickel band on the shank

Fitting a nickel band on the shank

Fitting a nickel band on the shank

Nickel band fitted on the shank

Nickel band fitted on the shank

Nickel band fitted on the shank

Nickel band fitted on the shank


The next series of four photos show the newly shaped stem in place on the banded pipe. There was still a lot of work to do on the pipe including cleaning the internals and reworking the bowl and rim but the overall look of the “new” pipe is intriguing.
New band and stem in place.

New band and stem in place.

New band and stem in place

New band and stem in place

Bottom view of the newly banded and stemmed pipe

Bottom view of the newly banded and stemmed pipe

Top view of the new band and stem

Top view of the new band and stem


I have included one photo below to give you an idea of the shape of the new stem. I remove a lot of vulcanite to get it from its original round shape to the diamond shape pictured below. The fit and the angles match the shank perfectly. These older pipes are tricky to fit a diamond stem on because none of the sides of the diamond are the same dimensions. Each one is just slightly different so you have to do the fitting work with the stem in place on the shank.
View from the tenon end of the diamond stem at this point in the process.

View from the tenon end of the diamond stem at this point in the process.


With the stem fitting correctly it was time to tackle the bowl. I set up my board and emery paper so that I could top the bowl. The first photo shows the set up. The second photo shows the state of the bowl rim when I started the process.
Set up for topping the bowl

Set up for topping the bowl

Reamed and ready to top

Reamed and ready to top


Once I had it topped I decided to wipe it down with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the finish and the grime from the topping. The next three photos show the clean bowl and the topped bowl. The finish work would take some time but the bowl was ready to move on to the next stage of rejuvenation.
Wiping down the bowl with acetone

Wiping down the bowl with acetone

Wiping down the newly topped rim with acetone

Wiping down the newly topped rim with acetone

Wiping down the bowl with acetone

Wiping down the bowl with acetone


I sanded the bowl with 240 and 320 grit sandpaper and finished sanding with a fine grit sanding sponge. The next two photos show the cleaned and prepped bowl ready for staining. The dark oil stains on the sides of the bowl would not come out. I wiped the bowl down with repeated washings of acetone and the surface was clean. I also sanded the stem with the sanding sponge while I worked on the bowl.
Bowl sanded, in place and ready to stain.

Bowl sanded, in place and ready to stain.

Bowl in place, sanded and ready to stain.

Bowl in place, sanded and ready to stain.


I decided to restain this old timer with an opaque oxblood aniline based stain. I wanted the opacity so that the dark stains would be minimized beneath the new stain and would eventually be blended in through smoking the pipe. I applied the stain and then flamed it. After flaming I hand buffed it to remove the excess stain. I also used a cotton pad and a dental pick to clean out the grooves on the bowl.
Stained with oxblood stain.

Stained with oxblood stain.

Stained with oxblood stain.

Stained with oxblood stain.


The next series of four photos shows the hand buffed bowl in place on the pipe base. The finish was matte at this point and still needed to be taken to the buffer to raise the shine. The third photo shows the rim. The surface is smooth but there is still damage to the inner edge of the rim. I chose to leave that without reworking it too much. I did not want to change the roundness of the inner bowl and decided that I could live with the nicks in the inner edge.
Left side of the pipe with a hand buff on the newly stained bowl.

Left side of the pipe with a hand buff on the newly stained bowl.

Right side of the newly stained bowl with a hand buffed surface.

Right side of the newly stained bowl with a hand buffed surface.

Top view of the hand buffed newly stained bowl.

Top view of the hand buffed newly stained bowl.

View of the underside of the bowl and Bakelite bowl base.

View of the underside of the bowl and Bakelite bowl base.


The next three photos show the pipe after I had buffed it with White Diamond. The bowl shines and the dark marks around the bowl show faintly beneath the finish but add a flair of character to the old pipe.
Buffed with White Diamond

Buffed with White Diamond

Buffed with White Diamond

Buffed with White Diamond

Buffed with White Diamond

Buffed with White Diamond


The next series of three photos are included to give an idea of the polishing process that went into bringing the stem work to completion. Again I invite you to read the post mentioned above on the transformation of a round saddle stem to a diamond shaped one to understand the full work that the shaping took to bring it to this place.
Stem sanded with 320 grit sandpaper

Stem sanded with 320 grit sandpaper

IMG_1021

Stem sanded with 320 grit sandpaper

IMG_1022

Stem sanded with micromesh sanding pads


Once I had finished polishing the stem with the various grades of micromesh from 1500-12,000 grit I took the pipe to the buffer once again and buffer the entirety with White Diamond and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect it and to give it a deep shine. The next series of four photos show the finished pipe. It is ready to load up with a favourite tobacco and be gently sipped in the solitude of an afternoon on the porch.

IMG_1032

IMG_1033

IMG_1034

IMG_1035