Tag Archives: Ben Wade Royal Grain Freehand

Ben Wade’s in the House, Part 2

Blog by Joe Gibson

Finished Pipes, ready for an afternoon smoke. The tobacco is last tin of out of production Viking Odin’s Wind.

Which Stem for Which Pipe?

When the Ben Wades arrived, the Martinique came with a beautiful, amber colored but transparent acrylic stem. There was a minor amount of tooth chatter near the bit, but nothing I felt the need to repair. The airway, on the other hand, was black from being smoked. The stem was tight in the mortise and didn’t readily pull out.

The Royal Grain, as I mentioned in the previous post, still had a vulcanite tenon stuck in the mortise. I decided to work on the Martinique stem first and deal with finding a stem for the Royal Grain later.

Cleaning the Perspex Stem

The Perspex stem before cleaning.

The first problem was separating the stem from bowl without breaking anything. Since I planned on soaking the bowl in alcohol, I dipped the pipe and stem in the jar and let it set for a minute or two. The stem then came off the pipe easily and I rinsed it off in clean water.

With oxidized vulcanite stems, I do an Oxyclean soak to bring the oxidation to the surface. I’ve never tried an Oxyclean bath on acrylic or Perspex stems. With those, I usually just wipe the outside down with alcohol and do the inside with pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol. The one thing you never want to do is soak the stems in alcohol. It could possibly cause “crazing” or cracks in the airway. Some

people even report stems breaking after soaking in alcohol.

Tip #1: The shank brush tool is great for cleaning tobacco residue from the bit. I find it does the job faster than just pipe cleaners.

I was hoping dipping regular, tapered pipe cleaners in alcohol would remove the discoloration from the airway and sterilize it. And it did, to an extent. After 10 pipe cleaners the airway was a little cleaner, but I could still see the old tobacco stain. I probably would have gone to my bristle pipe cleaners, but I didn’t The solution for this situation? I switched to a shank brush pipe tool. It’s ideal for cleaning the shank and  the tenon and airway of a pipe stem. I dip it in alcohol and run it through the stem until it comes out fairly clean. I follow that with pipe cleaners dipped in water.

The Royal Grain Stem Replacement. Maybe?

Initially I planned to have a stem made for the Royal Grain. Then I remembered the Preben Holm stem I had sitting in my desk. It’s a mismatched stem from a Søren freehand I bought in early August. I easily removed the broken tenon by inserted a drill bit into the airway by hand and twisting and pulling it out.

Tip #2: When buying pipes in “junktique” shops and malls, check the stems for stamps or logos. It will help you identify the pipes and may also tell you if the stem is the correct one for the pipe. I use mismatch stems as a point in talking the seller into lowering the price.

Black Vulcanite Preben Holm stem and a Perspex Ben Wade

Stems are usually made to fit the pipe it’s going with and I have never found one stem to perfectly fit a pipe other than the one it’s made for.

The Preben Holm stem fitted the Royal Grain. Maybe a tighter fit than I like, but it a fit and I can always work on the mortise or tenon to make it better. On top of that, a friend from one of the pipe forums, had a Ben Wade stem he is sending me. One way or the other I have a stem for the Royal Grain. Or, did I?


But Which Stem for Which Pipe?

So, there I was. Sitting with two clean and polished pipe bowls and two stems. I picked up the Perspex stem and inserted it back into the Martinique. And, the bowl almost slipped off the stem. The logo on the Perspex is the Ben Wade logo. This should fit.

I’m guessing that the fit was so tight at the start because both the mortise and the tenon was so dirty. Once the cleaning removed the residue, it became loose.

Just on a lark, I decided to try the Perspex stem on the Royal Grain and it slid into place easily and looked like it was made for it. I also liked the way the amber color matches to the darker finish of the Royal Grain.

I then inserted the vulcanite Preben Holm stem into the Martinique. It is a snug fit but not a tight fit. May not be the original stem, but it is close enough.

Part 1: Ben Wades in the House

© J. Gibson Creative Services. September 5, 2018

A Large Ben Wade Royal Grain Freehand brought back to life

Blog by Steve Laug

One of the recent acquisitions that my brother sent me is a beautiful freehand briar pipe. The briar is a piece of plateau with mixed flame and straight grain. The plateau is on the top of the bowl and also the end of the shank. The plateau was faded with most of the dark stain washed out. The smooth portions of the bowl were also faded and washed out. The stem was oxidized and had deep teeth marks on the top and the bottom of the stem near the stem. There were some scratches on the bowls sides but none of them were deep. The bowl was large – 1 inch in diameter. The inside of the bowl was also quite clean. The photos below show what the pipe looked like when my brother received it.Ben1 Ben2The pipe is stamped Ben Wade over Royal Grain over Hand Made in Denmark. The stamping is clear and readable.Ben3The next photo shows some of the scratches in the bowl. They are not deep but they are visible.Ben4My brother scrubbed the briar with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a soft tooth brush. He rinsed it under running water and cleaned out the interior with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol.Ben5 Ben6I took a close up photo of the plateau rim. It is clean and undamaged. I took a close up photo of the stamping on the shank as well. The grain and the stamping are in great shape.Ben7 Ben8I stained the plateau on the rim and the shank with black aniline stain and flamed it to set it in the grain. I used a pipe cleaner to apply the stain because the fuzz on it went into the grain and high spots. I find that it works amazingly well to apply the stain.Ben10I wiped down the bowl with a little bit of olive oil to see what the grain looked like and also so I could sand the bowl with micromesh sanding pads. I sanded it with 1500-4000 grit sanding pads until it was smooth.Ben11 Ben12Once I had sanded the scratches out of the grain I stained it with a mixture of dark brown stain and alcohol – 50/50 mixture. I flamed it and repeated the process until the coverage was good. I kept the brown stain off of the plateau areas of the bowl and shank.Ben13My brother washed the stem with Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsed it off. The oxidized stem has deep tooth marks on the top of the stem that crossed the top of the stem and the button on the left side. The underside had three deep grooves in it that did not penetrate into the airway. The fact that they did not break through into the airway was the only real blessing in the mess.Ben14I sanded the stem to smooth out the oxidation and to remove the debris around the tooth marks. I wanted the stem area clean so that I could patch it. I used black super glue and let it dry for one hour and then sprayed it with an accelerator to harden it.Ben15I used a needle file to recut the button edges and clean up shape of the button. I sanded it with 220 grit sand paper to remove the excess black super glue patch and blend it into the surface of the stem. The Ben Wade Crown stamp was faint but still slightly visible. I planned on maintaining it as much as possible.Ben16I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded the stem with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads, gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry.Ben17 Ben18 Ben19I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and then gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I finished by hand buffing it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a large pipe. The dimensions are: length – 7 inches, height – 2 ½ inches, inside diameter of the bowl – 1 inch, outside diameter of the bowl – 2 ½ inches. If this beauty is of interest to you send me a message or leave a response below. It could easily be added to your rack and provide years of service. If it is anything like my Ben Wade Freehand this is likely to be great smoking pipe. Thanks for looking.Ben20 Ben21 Ben22 Ben23 Ben24 Ben25 Ben26