Tag Archives: banding a shank

Restoring a Restemmed Oscar Aged Briar 310KS Poker

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from a pipe hunt in Utah. It is a nice looking Poker with cross grain and birdseye grain and has a taper vulcanite stem. I am pretty certain the stem is a replacement. The bowl has a rich reddish brown colour combination that highlights grain. The pipe has some grime ground into the surface of the briar. The finish had a few small fills around the sides but they blended in fairly well. This pipe is stamped on the sides of the shank. On the left it reads Oscar [over] Aged Briar. On the right it has a Savinelli “S” Shield and next to that was the shape number 310KS [over] Italy. The replacement stem was slightly larger than the shank diameter and had rounded shoulders. There is a thick cake in the bowl and an overflow of lava on the top beveled inner edge of the bowl. The rim top looks good but it is hard to be certain with the lava coat. There were some tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the vulcanite stem near the button. The pipe looks to be in good condition under the grime. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup. He took photos of the rim top to show the thick cake and the thick lava coat. It is hard to know what the condition of the rim top and edges is like under that thick lava. It is an incredibly dirty pipe but obviously one that was a great smoker. The replacement stem was poorly fit to the shank and it had light tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button.   He took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the beautiful grain around the bowl and the condition of the pipe. You can see the grime ground into the surface of the briar.   He took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above. On the right side of the shank it is stamped with the Savinelli “S” Shield and the shape number 310KS [over] Italy. I turned first to Pipephil’s site to look at the Savinelli write up there and see if I could learn anything about the Oscar Aged Briar line (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-savinelli3.html). There was a listing for the Oscar Aged Briar and I did a screen capture of the pertinent section.I looked up the Savinelli brand on Pipedia to see if I could find the Oscar Aged Briar line and the 310KS Shape (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Savinelli). There was nothing that tied directly to the line I am working on. There is a detailed history of the brand there that is a good read. I also captured the shape chart and boxed in the 310KS shape in red. The shape is identical to the one that I am working on. The stem on this one would have originally been a saddle stem with a shooting star logo on the left side of the saddle. The one I have has a replacement taper stem with no logo and with a poor fit to the shank.It was time to work on the pipe. As usual Jeff had done a thorough cleanup on the pipe. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. One of the benefits of this scrub is that it also tends to lift some of the scratches and nicks in the surface of the briar. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He cleaned the internals and externals of the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water and cleaned out the airway in the stem with alcohol. Other than the damaged rim top the pipe looked good. I took a photo of the rim top and stem to show the condition. The rim top looked very good. The rim top and the inner edge of the bowl had darkening and some nicking on the crowned edge. The vulcanite taper stem had light tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of the button and on the button edges. The diameter of the stem was larger than that of the shank. It also had rounded edges.   The stamping on the sides of the shank is clear and readable as noted above.     I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. It is a nice looking Poker that should clean up very well. I started working on the pipe by dealing with the rounded shoulders of the stem.  I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper smooth out the transition. One of the issues with the stem was that the stem was not completely round with less material on the left side of the stem. I worked on the left side to make it round. I also needed to address some light damage to the shank end so I decided to use a thin brass band to make the transition smooth and repair the edge of the band. I spread some super glue on the stem and pressed the band in place on the shank. I took photos of the banded shank. I like the look of the pipe with the band.  I worked over the rim top and inner bevel of the rim with 220 grit sandpaper. I smooth out the damage and gave the  rim top and edge a clean look that would polish out nicely. I wiped the rim top down with a damp cloth to remove the dust and debris. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped down the bowl after each sanding pad.    I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The Balm did its magic and the grain stood out.    There was a spot on the right side of the inner bowl wall that look like a crack in some of the photos. I sanded it out with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it out.  I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth marks on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing process with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. The photo below shows the polished stem. This nicely grained Savinelli Made Oscar Aged Briar Poker with a replacement vulcanite taper stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. I put a thin brass band on the shank to clean up the fit of the stem to the shank. The briar is clean and really came alive. The rich reddish, brown stains gave the grain a sense of depth with the polishing and waxing. The grain really popped. I put the vulcanite stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Oscar Aged Briar Poker is a beauty and feels great in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Reworking a Medico Apple – A Save this Pipe Project of My Own!

The last pipe in my box of pipes to refurbish was a Medico Apple that was stamped Medico over Imported Briar on the underside of the shank. It was a well-worn sandblast bowl that had dark stain marks on the front and back of the bowl. It appeared to be a dark blue India ink type of staining. The grooves in the blast were worn down almost smooth and what was left was dirty with light brown grime that raised the surface of the grooves smooth. The top of the bowl was damaged and worn from being struck against a surface to empty the bowl. The inside of the bowl was badly caked and crumbling when I received and I cleaned and dumped out the carbon and shreds of tobacco before throwing it in the box. The stem had been bitten through on both the top and the bottom sides next to the button. The nylon stem was in rough shape with many deep tooth dents around the holes. At one point I had taken the stem out thinking I would work on it and sanded down the tooth chatter and some of the lighter marks. I had heated the stem to raise them and gotten quite a few of them out-of-the-way. The holes in the stem left me questioning whether I even wanted to work on this poor worn pipe.



After reading Greg’s post about saving a pipe – the Medico VFQ I was moved to go and have a look at the last pipe in the box. I have four days off starting today and it is a rainy cool day in Vancouver. It is a perfect day for working on pipes so I took the pipe to the worktable. I knew all of the flaws that awaited me but the bones of the pipe, the briar was still sound. The damage truly was cosmetic. The stem was another question. But I figured it was worth the effort. I cleaned the surface of the nylon stem and wiped it down with alcohol. I folded a piece of cardboard and coated it with Vaseline before sticking it in the airway to provide a backing for the black super glue patches that I was going to use for the holes.

The super glue had become quite viscous which actually worked for me. It was not the thin liquid it had been when I purchase it several years ago. I shook it well and then applied it to the holes on the stem. I always do the patching in layers. I start quite wide around the edges of the hole and work toward the centre to close off the hole. I decided to work on both sides of the repair at the same time so I put the glue in both holes. I set the stem aside for the repair to cure before adding more layers of glue.

I scrubbed the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grime. I used a tooth brush to get into the remaining grooves in the briar. I used the soap undiluted as I find it is less liquid and works better on rounded surfaces as a gel. I wiped off the soap with cotton pads, rinsed the bowl with warm water and dried it off. The next four photos show the bowl after this cleaning. The sandblast was basically worn away and I needed to make a decision on what to do with the finish on this bowl.



The worn finish and the ink stains on the front and back of the bowl made the decision pretty easy for me. To clean and restain the pipe would still leave it worn and the ink stains visible. I decided I would rusticate the bowl with the rusticator I had received from Chris. I wanted the finish to look slightly different from the previous pipe that I rusticated so I had some ideas on what to do once I had rusticated the finish.





Once the bowl was rusticated I scrubbed the rough surface with a brass tire brush to knock of the edges. I carefully rusticated the rim and used the tool to round the edges on the outer rim to hide some of the obvious damage that had been present before. Once finished I stained it with a dark brown aniline stain. I had left the underside of the shank smooth and a portion of the shank next to the stem shank junction. I stained the bowl, flamed it, stained it and flamed it again until the coverage of the stain was even all over the briar.



I buffed the bowl with red Tripoli to further smooth out the high spots on the rustication and give a little contrast to the stain. I used the brass brush a second time on the surface. It still was not quite what I was aiming for but I laid it aside for a while to look at it and think about the options. It was while I was doing that I thought I would see if I had a new stem that would work. It gave me a second option to try should the repair or patches not work well.


I did not have a round taper or saddle stem in my can of stems that was the right diameter for the shank but I did have quite a few square stems that could be modified to fit the shank diameter. I found one that had the tenon already turned for a previous pipe I was working on and put it on the pipe to have a look. I could see some potential in the stem and the look of the wide blade saddle stem. It would certainly be worth a try. If it turned out well and the patch on the other stem worked then I would have several options to work with. The tenon on the square stem was too long but that could easily be adjusted for a tight fit against the shank. I did the adjustment with a Dremel and sanding drum.

With the stem in place against the shank I could see the very evident taper of the shank on the topside and the underside. It was significantly narrower than the rest of the shank. I wondered if the smooth briar at the shank/stem junction was not from a previous refitting of a stem. I looked over the stem I was patching and saw that it actually bore the F stamping on the top rather than the M stamp that I had expected. I had not paid attention to that before but combined with the shape of the shank I was relatively certain that the stem was a replacement and the damage to the shank was caused by a sanding the shank to more readily match the smaller diameter of the replacement stem. That made the stem choice easy – I would refit a new stem to the shank. I would use a nickel band to level the shank out and make the taper of the shank more even. This would also make fitting the new stem quite easy. I set up a heat gun, heated the nickel band and pressed it into place on the shank. The silver actually looked good against the rustication of the bowl.




I used the Dremel and large sanding drum to take off the square edges of the new stem. I worked on it until it was round. I started by taking off all the corners and creating an octagon first and then continuing to round out the stem until it was the same shape as the shank. The bottom of the shank on the pipe was flattened so the pipe would sit upright on its own so I left the bottom side of the stem slightly flattened as well. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and medium and fine grit sanding sponges to get the fit against the bowl and band perfect. I also sanded the rustication on the bowl to soften the high spots and flatten them out. I wiped the bowl down with alcohol after I had sanded. The next series of four photos show the sanded bowl and stem. The rustication is getting closer to the look that I was after when I started.



I continued to sand the stem with the fine grit sanding sponge and also the bowl. I once more wiped the bowl down with a soft cloth and alcohol to remove the dust. Each step in the process is flattening out the rustication slightly more and bringing a shine to the newly rounded stem.



I sanded the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12,000 grit pads.


I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and when it had dried I buffed the bowl and the stem with White Diamond. I sanded the bowl with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to further flatten he high points of the rustication and then buffed the bowl a final time with White Diamond. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed with a soft flannel buff between the coats of wax. I wiped the bowl down lightly with a coat of olive oil. The finished pipe is shown below. It has come a long way from the worn and tired looking old Medico with the bite throughs in the stem. The rustication came out the way I wanted it to with the high spots showing a lighter brown and the valleys in the rustication holding the dark brown stain. It is finished and ready for an inaugural smoke – if not by me at least by someone who will take it home to their rack.

Oh, and for those who wondered about the “original” stem that I was patching earlier in this post, I am continuing to work on the repairs. Both sides have had two layers of super glue and the holes are sealed. There are still more layers to go as the glue shrinks as it cures. It will be used on some other pipe in the future I am sure but for now once the patch is finished it will go back to the stem can to be used on another pipe.




CPF French Briar Bulldog Restemmed and Refurbished

This morning I decided to start working on one of the pipes that came in the lot of bowls I picked up off of EBay. I chose one of the CPF Bulldogs. It looks to be an old timer. It also looked like it had quite a different look in times past as there were signs of a band on the shank and something around the rim as well. It could well have been the gold/brass filigree that is often seen on these old timers but there is no way of telling for sure. The bowl rim was clean as if once the decoration was removed the briar underneath was raw stain. The bowl itself was also absolutely clean on the inside – taken back to bare briar. Around the inside of the rim there were several small nail holes that looked like they held the rim cap in place. These holes were also on the outside as well though they had all been patched. The shank was cracked and repaired. The repair looks to be old and may well have been under the band that had disappeared. The mortise was originally threaded but that had been drilled almost smooth. I had a stem in my box of stem that would fit with a little work. It was the right size and the angles on the diamond matched those on the stem – a rare feat to be sure. I would not have to do much sanding to bring it fit well. The finish was clean but there were lines on the bowl and the shank from the cap and band. The stamping was clear – CPF in an oval with French above and Briar below. It had a gold paint that had been applied to the stamping and it was very clean. The series of three photos below show the condition of the pipe and the new stem when I began this morning.


I asked Robert Boughton about the CPF brand stamp as he is currently refurbishing an old CPF Meerschaum and had done work on the brand. He sent me the following information:
“Chuck (Richards) assigned to me the challenge of finding out what CPF stood for and anything else I could learn… I found conclusive evidence that despite several other names associated with CPF, it indeed stands for Colossus Pipe Factory…Below are the links I sent to Chuck at the time and a few more. But again, it’s nothing Chuck didn’t already know. He also knew it would be good experience for me and that I would enjoy the task! Indeed, I was proud of my findings!”

http://pipedia.org/index.php?title=C…s_Pipe_Factory Bottom of center row of newspaper clip
http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-c1.html See CPF — includes briars

With that information in hand, thanks to Robert, I went to work on this older American bulldog to bring it back to life. I had an old nickel band that fit pretty well to the shank. It was shorter than the original band but it covered the repair in the shank. I heated it and pressure fit it to the shank. It was a bit dented and would need to be straightened once it was in place. I then worked on the stem to get it fit the shank and band connection. I used medium grit emery paper to remove some of the vulcanite to get the sides and angles of the stem to match the shank. This had to be done carefully so as not to change the angles. Each side had to have the same amount of material removed to keep the diamond angles even. The next series of four photos show the stem after it has been shaped and sanded to match the shank and the band.


I cleaned out the inside of the stem as it was very dirty. I had sanded down most of the oxidation and the calcification on the stem earlier but needed to work on that some more. I also used a dental pick to clean out the slot as it was packed tightly on both sides of a small centre hole what was left. I finished sanding with medium grit emery cloth and move on to 320 grit sandpaper to begin to work on the scratches in the stem. The next three photos show the stem after sanding with the emery paper (photo 1) and then the 320 grit sandpaper (photo 2-3).


At this point in the process I decided to bend the stem to get the flow of the pipe correct. In retrospect I could have waited until I had polished the stem to do the bend. But I was curious to see the look of the bent stem on the pipe bowl so I set up my heat gun and carried the stem to the gun. I have been using a hardwood rolling pin that my wife discarded as the curves to bend the stem over. I find that using this keeps the bend straight and also gives me the degree of curve I wanted. I adjust the curve by where I put the stem on the pin to bend it. I use low heat on my heat gun and move the stem quickly over the heat about 3 inches above the tip. It does not take long to heat it to the point it is ready to bend and then I lay it over the pin and bend it. I hold it in place until it cools enough to set the bend. The next series of three photos show my set up for bending the stem.


I then decided to work on the bowl of the pipe. I wiped it down with acetone on a cotton pad being careful to avoid the gold stamping in the shank. I also sanded the line around the rim and the shank with 320 grit sandpaper and then with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to try to minimize the line around both points. I used a flat tip screw driver blade as a smooth surface to hammer out the dents and rough spots on the band. I also laid the shank flat on a board and used the screw driver tip to smooth the inside edge of the band and square up the corners of the diamond. The next series of six photos show that process. I finished by inserting the stem and continuing to smooth out the band.


I wiped the bowl down with another acetone wetted cotton pad to remove the sanding dust from the bowl and the rings around the bowl. I used a dental pick and retraced the rings to clean them out as well of previous wax and dirt that catches in those spots. The photo below shows the pipe bowl ready to restain.


Before staining I worked on the stem some more to smooth out the remaining scratches and bring it to a shine. I used micromesh sanding pads from 1500-12,000 grit to bring the stem to a glossy finish. The next twelve photos show the progress shine developing after each successive grit of micromesh sanding pad was used.


Once the stem was done I was ready to stain the pipe. I used an oxblood aniline stain to restain the pipe. I applied it with a cotton swab, flamed it, restained and flamed it a second time. The next two photos show the bowl with the oxblood stain applied just before I flamed it. Once I had flamed it I took it to the buffer and buffed it with White Diamond.


After I buffed it with White Diamond I gave it repeated buffing with carnauba wax to protect the stem and the bowl. The next four photos show the finished pipe.


Restemming an Old Bruyere Garantie Billiard

This is yet another of the bowls that was in my box of stummels. It is stamped Bruyere over Garantie on the left side of the shank with no other stamping. The bowl was badly caked with an crumbling, uneven cake. The cake was thicker at the top of the bowl than in the bottom of the bowl. The rim was also caked with oils and hardened tars. It was also dented and had a slight burn mark at about 12 o’clock on the front of the bowl. The shank was misshapen and out of round where it met the stem. It was almost as if someone had sanded the previous shank to meet the stem. There was a large fill on the back side of the bowl near the shank bowl junction. The finish had a coat of lacquer or varnish on it. I fit a tenon to the shank and worked on the stem to be a good tight fit to the bowl. The next series of four photos show the newly turned tenon and the shape of the shank at the shank stem junction.


Once I had the tenon cut and sanded to a good snug fit I inserted it in the shank. The first two photos below show the fit of the stem to the shank. You can also see the taper on the on the shank that shows the misshaped nature of the shank. The stem fit very well but was much larger in diameter than the shank. I used my Dremel with a sanding drum to remove the excess diameter of the stem. The next series of six photos show the progress of removing the excess vulcanite with the sanding drum. The final photo of the six shows the newly formed fit of the stem to the shank. The taper on the shank is bothersome so that I wanted to have to address that issue before I finished the final fitting of the stem.


Once I had the stem fitting well I decided to band the shank to even out the flow and roundness of the shank. A wide nickel band would fit the shank well and flatten out the shank taper. I wanted an even flow from the shank bowl junction to the stem. The look of the taper on the shank was something that bothered me and that I decided to minimize with the band. The next five photos show the process and results of banding. I heated the band and then pressure fit it onto the shank. I then used some superglue to fill in the vacant areas in the inner diameter of the band.  The final photo in the series shows an end view of the band on the shank.


The next three photos show the fit of the new stem to the shank. The band sets off the stem shank junction well. The taper of the stem works very well in my opinion. More sanding needed to be done in making the fit smooth and the taper correct.


I worked on the stem with medium grit emery cloth to remove the scratches and to even out the taper on the stem and the flow of the sides of the stem from the shank to the button. The next two photos show the stem after sanding the stem.


At this point in the process of fitting the stem I decided to set it aside and work on the bowl of the pipe. I reamed it out using several different bits on the t handle of the Pipnet pipe reamer. I reamed the bowl back to bare wood so that I could rebuild the cake more evenly. The next two photos show the reaming process.


After reaming the bowl I decided to wipe the outside of the bowl down with acetone. I wet a cotton pad with the acetone and scrubbed the outside of the bowl. I also wiped down the rim to soften the tars and build up on the top. The next four photos show the bowl after I had wiped it down multiple times. I wanted to cut through the varnish or topcoat on the bowl so that I could restain it.


The next photo shows the bowl after I had topped it on the board and sandpaper. I was able to remove the damage of the dents and roughness with a minor topping on the sandpaper.Image

I also decided to remove the putty fill on the back side of the bowl. I picked out the putty with a dental pick. I wiped the bowl down after I had removed the fill to clean out the sandpit. I then picked it clean a second time and wiped it down again as well. Once it was clean I used the dental pick to pack the sandpit with briar dust that I had saved for this purpose. I packed it in and then tamped it down with the end of a pipe nail. I refilled the sandpit until the briar dust bulged slightly above the surface of the bowl. At this point I dripped superglue into the briar dust to anchor it in the hole. I repacked the dust and dripped in glue a second time. The first two photos below show the packed briar dust. The next two photos show the sandpit after the superglue has been dripped into the dust and dried. It blackens nicely with the superglue and instead of a pink fill the fill is now a black briar dust and superglue. I have found that the patch is much easier to blend in with stain than the putty fills.


The photo below shows the newly filled patch after I have sanded it. I sanded off the excess with a folded piece of fine grit emery cloth and then used a fine grit sanding sponge to smooth out the surface of the new fill to match the surface of the bowl.


At this point in the process I decided to continue working on the stem of the pipe. I sanded it with the sanding sponge. I worked on the fit of the stem to the band. My ideal was to have the stem sit evenly within the band so that the gap was even all the way around the band and the stem was centered in the mortise. The next five photos show the sanding process to this point. Remember the issue at stake was to work on the fit of the stem to the band and to remove the deeper scratches in the surface of the stem. I also used the sanding drum on the Dremel to taper the stem a bit more at the button. I wanted the button end to be narrow and give the pipe and older feel and look. The top view photo below shows the shape of the stem at this point in the process.


I then wet sanded the bowl and the stem with 1500 grit micromesh sanding pads and water. This process removed many of the remaining scratches in the surface of the stem and also removed the remaining finish on the pipe bowl and rim. I wanted the bowl to be cleaned of the varnish finish and as much of the stain colour as possible so that I could more easily blend the rim and the bowl colour. The next three photos show the pipe and the stem after wet sanding. The stem fit is working well at this point and the angles and flow of the taper on the stem is looking more and more finished.


I wiped down the stem with some of the water and then used the Maguiar’s Scratch X2.0 polish on the stem to get a clear view of the remaining areas that needed more work with 320 grit sandpaper before I moved on to the higher grits of micromesh.


I continued to wet sand the bowl and stem with 1800 grit micromesh sanding pads. The next three photos show the progress that was made on the smoothing and polishing of both the stem and the bowl. I continued to wet sand with the 1800 grit until the surface was smooth and matte finished.


I continued wet sanding with 2400 and 3200 grit micromesh pads. The next three photos show the progress of the sanding on the bowl and the stem at this point in the process. I also decided to sand the band with these two grits to polish the nickel.


At this point in the sanding process I switched to dry sanding the bowl and the stem with the 3600 grit micromesh sanding pad. I sanded the bowl, band and stem with this sanding pad to bring out the growing shine in both. I wiped down the bowl and the stem with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust and to prepare the bowl for staining.


For stain on this pipe I ended up using a two step process. I began with an oxblood stain as an undercoat. I applied it with cotton swabs and also a dauber. I rubbed it into the bowl and shank and flamed it and buffed it off.  The next three photos show the application of the stain.


I liked the look of the oxblood stain so I wanted to see what it looked like with a light coat of wax on it. I rubbed on some conservator’s wax and then buffed it off by hand. The next series of photos shows the bowl after a light coat of wax. I was not overly happy with the overall coverage of the stain and the fill still was highly visible on the bowl. It did not blend well. I buffed the pipe with White Diamond on my buffer to see if I could even out the coverage a bit. The fourth through seventh photos below show the pipe after buffing. The coverage was not acceptable to me so I decided to go on and give the pipe a second stain coat of dark brown aniline. I wiped the bowl off with a soft cloth pad dampened with alcohol to cut the wax coat and take the bowl back to the briar before staining it with the second colour.


The next series of three photos shows the pipe after the application and flaming of the dark brown aniline stain. It was mixed 2:1 with isopropyl alcohol to get the colour that I wanted to use as the top coat. I applied the stain with the dauber and flamed it with my Bic lighter. I reapplied the stain two other times and reflamed it each time. I wanted a rich brown top coat that would give depth to the finish.


The final series of four photos show the finished pipe. After the stain dried I buffed it with White Diamond and then applied several coats of carnauba wax. I also gave the stem a coat of Obsidian Oil and rubbed it into the stem. Once the stem dried I buffed it with White Diamond for a final time and then wax it as well. The finished pipe has a great looking stain now and the shape of the stem lends an air of antique to the pipe.



Restemming and Refinishing an Imported Briar Italian Billiard

Today I took another bowl out of my box of pipes to restem. I had previously turned the tenons with a Pimo tenon turner and fit it to the bowl and shank. I had not fit the stem when I started. The diameter of the stem was larger than the bowl. This bowl was a real mess. It is stamped Imported Briar in an arch over Italy on the smooth left shank of the pipe. It had originally had a band but that was no longer present with the bowl. The finish on the pipe was in bad shape. It was almost a yellow varnish that was chipping and peeling away. The rustication was filled with grit and grime and the colour of the bowl was an ugly yellow colour under the varnish. The bowl was still round and the reaming had already been done and it was pretty clean. The rim had some build up of tars and oils and a few dents. Looking it over I decided I would have to top it to clean it up.


The tenon was a good tight fit. I stepped down the end of it to sit in the stepped mortise in the shank. I needed to remove a good deal of vulcanite from the saddle portion of the stem to bring it to the same diameter as the shank. I used my Dremel to do that work. The next series of four photos show the process of removing the material from the stem. I use a Dremel with a sanding drum to do the work. I run it at a medium speed that allows me to float it over the stem without digging to deeply into the vulcanite. I find that a slower speed gives a very rough finish and a faster speed is harder to control the work.


The next series of three photos shows the finished fit of the stem. I have finished sanding it with the Dremel. The photos show that it is relatively smooth with no deep gouges or scratches in the surface of the saddle. I also used the Dremel to sand down the castings on the button and on the sides of the stem. You can also see the place on the shank where the band was previously.


One the stem fit well against the shank I decided to top the bowl. I set up my sanding board with the piece of sandpaper I use. I hold the paper on the board (it is a fine grit emery paper). Then I place the pipe on the paper and sand it by working it clockwise against the sandpaper. The next two photos show the bowl against the paper and the finished topping of the bowl. The final photo in this threesome is one of the brass bristled tire brush that I use to clean rusticated bowls. This one was quite easy to work as I could work it along the grooves of the rustication and work it until the bowl was clean.


After scrubbing the pipe with the brass brush and some alcohol it was ready for a new band. I sorted through my bands and found one that fit the shank well. The next three photos show the shank before banding and then after I pressure fit the band to the shank. The emery paper and the fine grit sanding sponge in the pictures was used to sand the stem and begin removing the scratches and make a good fit against the band.


The next series of four photos show the fit of the stem against the banded shank. More work needed to be done on the stem to remove the scratches and refine the fit against the shank. Once the scratches were removed from the stem then I would work on the fit. I wiped down the bowl with acetone on cotton pads to remove the finish. I scrubbed it with the wire brush a second time and then wiped it with acetone again. I also sanded the bowl surface with the sanding sponge to remove the finish from the shank and the high points on the rustication.


At this point in the restoration I decided to restain the pipe with a dark brown aniline stain mixed 2:1 with isopropyl alcohol. I applied it and flamed it, reapplied and reflamed it. I gave the rim two extra coats of the stain to match the colour of the bowl. The next series of three photos show the stained bowl. It was darker than I wanted for the end product so I decided to lighten it.


I wiped the bowl down with isopropyl alcohol on a cotton pad to lighten the stain. I wanted to see if I could clear it off the high points while still allowing it to remain in the grooves for contrast. The next three photos show the pipe after I had wiped it down.


When I had finished wiping it down I took the pipe to the buffer and buffed the bowl with Tripoli to remove some of the dark stain. I wanted to remove it from the high surfaces of the bowl while leaving the dark stain in the grooves of the rustication. The next four photos show the pipe after I buffed it with the Tripoli. I also buffed the stem with Tripoli and White Diamond to give it a bit of polish and see what I needed to do with the sandpaper.


I then removed the stem and wet sanded it with the micromesh sanding pads in 1500 and 1800 grits. I use fresh warm water and dip the sanding pad in the water and then sand the stem. I also used the Maguiar’s Scratch X2.0 after sanding. The next photo shows the stem after sanding and polishing.


I then dry sanded the stem with the remaining grits of micromesh 2400-12,000 and then gave it a final polish with the Maguiar’s. The photo below shows the stem after sanding with the 3600 grit sanding pad. The shine is beginning to rise on the surface of the stem. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil and let it dry. The final four photos show the finished pipe. I buffed the stem with White Diamond and then polished the bowl and the stem with carnauba wax to get the shine.


The pipe has come a long way from the stummel that was sitting in my repair box. I am happy with the finished pipe and the contrast stain. It feels great in the hand and will make a great smoking pipe for someone.

Old Croydon-Reborn

I have spent a bit of time on this old Croydon Bent (Peterson Line of seconds I believe). In fact I probably spent more time than I should have done, judging by other refurbishers throw away buckets. Sometimes I just have to see what I can make of an old tired ugly looking pipe. It is a challenge more than it is a labour of restoration. In fact it could probably be argued that when I am done with this one it really no longer should be considered a Croydon at all. I suppose it is a matter of how far one goes in the process of restoration before it becomes a totally new work of briar. In my mind this one would probably qualify for the removal of the name – or at least a hyphenated name CROYDON-REBORN.

When I received this one it was in pretty rough shape. In the pictures below you can see the state of the finish on the bowl. There were places where pieces of the lacquer finish were peeling away and falling off. The stain on the bowl was spotted and variegated. Even the many fills all over the bowl had shrunken significantly and what remained were dips and divots in the surface. The rim was one part of the pipe that was in pretty good shape. It had some tar build up and a bit of blackening but no nicks and dents. That is actually remarkable given the condition of the rest of the pipe. The silver shank cap was split in half and torn from the stem being jammed in and out of the bowl. The P-lip stem was also marked with tooth chatter, was oxidized and dented.


I did not have any end caps in my collection of pipe odds and ends so I decided to put a regular nickel band on the shank as it was thin and weakened from the broken shank cap. I cleaned the shank end with alcohol and dried it out. I heated a band and pressure fit it on the shank. There was a small gap at the edge that I filled with wood glue to give stability to the shank. I probably should have waited to apply the band but the shank seemed fragile and I wanted to stabilize it before further work on the bowl.

I have never liked the thin Peterson type stems so I decided to restem it with a saddle fish tail stem. I used my PIMO tenon turner and turned the tenon close and sanded it to a good tight fit. I used my Dremel to take down the excess diameter of the stem and worked on the ridges and seams with the Dremel. I sanded the roughness of the new stem until it was smooth with 240 grit sandpaper followed by 400 and 600 grit wet dry sandpaper and a bit of water. It was finished with the regular regimen of micromesh pads – 1500, 1800, 2400, 3200, 4000 and 6000 grit. The final polish was done on the buffer with White Diamond and carnauba wax.

The bowl was a major problem. I tried to strip the bowl using acetone and 99% Isopropyl alcohol and could not break through the finish – don’t what they coated it with but it would not let go. I resorted to sanding the bowl to try and remove the finish and sanded, sanded and re-treated it with acetone and alcohol. The finish was finally gone and I had a raw briar bowl with so many fills in it that it looked like it had freckles. I decided to try staining it with a dark brown stain to hide the fills and give it a good deep colour that was a bit opaque. Once it was dry I buffed it and polished it with wax. It looked really awful and I hated it!!! Soooo… I decided to rusticate it. I used my fist full of nails (pipe with nails inserted in it) to do the rustication that appears in the photos below. The previous coat of stain that I had applied helped with the process of rustication and I could clearly see where I needed to do a bit more work. This is when I wished that the band was not present as it would have been a bit easier to avoid contact with the band and the rusticator.



Once the rustication was acceptable to me, and the pipe felt good in the hand I prepared it for staining. On this one that involved using the floral frog to knock off any loose chips of briar and to smooth out the surface before I wiped it down with a damp alcohol cloth. I also sanded the rim smooth and used the micromesh to get rid of any scratches. A smooth rim and a smooth spot around the Croydon stamping would look good on the finished pipe. I decided to go for an aged leather like finish on this pipe as it seemed to fit the shape and the look. I gave the pipe a coat of black stain as an undercoat and then buffed it off the high spots. I gave the entirety a coating of Fiebing’s Medium Brown for the top coat. I flamed it and after drying took it to the buffer for a light buff. I waxed it with Halcyon II and buffed it with a soft cloth to give it the final look. Below are pictures of the finished pipe. In my book it is a significant improvement over the original!