Tag Archives: Bowl – refinishing

Chacom Churchwarden Resurrected


Blog by Joshua Fairweather

I received an email from Joshua about one of the Gourd Calabashes and a grab bag of pipes for refurbishing that I was selling. We made a deal on the pipes. At the end of his email he included some photos of some of the pipes he had already refurbished. His work looked really good so I invited him to submit a write up of some of his work to rebornpipes. Here is the first of those pieces that he submitted. A warm welcome and a thank you Joshua for your contribution to the blog. – Steve

I came across this pipe at an antique mall in London, Ontario. I almost passed it by had it not been for the vendor who was cleaning his case, he was kind enough to say ‘hi’ and ask what I was looking for. He just so happened to have a few pipes hiding in a glass case in the back of his store.

As you can see from the picture the pipe is heavily oxidized with little to no chatter marks. The bowl has a thick cake and tar on the bowl rim. Overall the bowl was in great condition with a small white mark on the bottom of the bowl (I think it was glue). The wood grain of the bowl also had nice appeal.

The brand of the pipe was marked on the bowl – ‘Chacom coin osseu’.

Now, I want to walk you through how I cleaned and restored this pipe. Step 1
When a pipe has a heavy cake inside the bowl, I like to put it through a salt and alcohol treatment. This method does a great job at cleaning the pipe, softening the hardened cake making it easier to remove from the bowl. It also, freshens up the bowl and gets ride of any ghosting left from prior tobaccos smoked.

I fill the bowl to the brim with larger grained salt. Using the syringe, I add the alcohol to the salt, topping it up to the bowl brim. I usually leave this treatment in the bowl overnight.Step 2
I prefer to use my old trusty friend (pocket knife) to clean the cake from the bowl. It has a more rounded tip and I find it a perfect tool to clean out most pipes without damaging the bowl.Step 3
With the same alcohol I use cotton pads to remove the finish off the pipe. Alcohol also does a great job at removing tar from the bowl rim. If the tar is heavy then a light sanding works better.Step 4
I don’t know what it is about sanding that brings so much satisfaction; I think it is the results you get on the pipe finish; it looks like glass. I use these foam padded Micro-Mesh pads to bring out the best finish on the briar wood. Step 5
Two of my favourite household products that do a fantastic job at cleaning pipe stems are OxiClean and Vim. Soak the stem in an OxiClean bath for about an hour maybe two hours. It will depend on how oxidized the pipe stem is, a heavy oxidized stem, leave in the solution for longer. This stem needed a longer soak.

After the bath I use Vim and a dry clean rag to wipe clean. Vim has a corrosive component that acts like a sand paper to buff the pipe stem back to a clean black colour again.

I will say, if the pipe stem is heavily oxidized it will take more than just Vim to bring out that black finish. I refer back to the Micro-Mesh foam sanding pads, which also do an amazing job at bringing out that preferred finish. I use alcohol and pipe cleaners to remove left behind tar inside the pipe stem. I repeat this process until the pipe cleaners come out clean.Step 6
To bring out the beauty of the natural grains of the wood, I use a variety of products and natural substances to do this. For this pipe I used an extra virgin olive oil.

With the combination of the sanded finish, adding the olive oil turns the pipe a darker colour. Well you can see the finished results for yourself!Conclusion:
Overall, I am pleased with the results. This pipe I will probably put into my private collection, as I do not have a churchwarden styled pipe as of yet.

Hope you have enjoyed my process.

Just a few minor details – a Broken Tenon and a Cracked Shank on a Hardcastle Special Selection 7 Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

Not too long ago I received an email from a reader of rebornpipes regarding a pipe he was restoring. It was a beautiful little Hardcastle Bulldog that is stamped on the left underside Hardcastle over Special Selection over the number 7. He had finished cleaning and restoring it and it was looking good. He had done a thorough job, as I would see later in this post. He went on to tell me about how he had repeated my misadventure when buffing the pipe. Not long ago I posted about having finished a pipe and having the buffer snatch it from my hands and fling it against the floor. I snapped the tenon off a pipe I had finished while doing the final buffing. He wrote that he had done the same thing exactly. He wanted to know if I would be willing to put a new tenon on the stem. He noted a hairline crack at the shank/bowl junction and wondered if I would be willing to deal with that at the same time. We wrote back and forth and he sent me the following photos. The first one shows the cleaned up pipe ready for buffing.The next photo he sent shows the crack at the top of the shank on both topsides of the diamond. It stopped on both sides before it got to the edge of the diamond.The third photo shows the stem with the snapped tenon. He did a far better job snapping it off than I had done on mine. My broken tenon was jagged and needed to be sanded smooth before I could replace the tenon.He sent the pipe to me Vancouver for me to work on. It is funny in that it took a longer time to arrive from Idaho than pipes I have received from the east coast. But when it arrived I took photos of it. I have a container of threaded tenons here that I use for replacement tenons on pipes. I like the way they grip in the drilled out stem. Once they are anchored in place with glue on the threads, there is little chance that they will come out. I went through my tenons and found one that would fit the mortise with a little adjustment – the fit was tight and it was a little long for the shank.I set up my cordless drill and chose a bit that was close to the size of the airway in the stem. I have learned to work my way gradually through bits until I get to the size of the threaded portion of the new tenon. Doing it this way keeps the stem material from chipping or breaking away with the pressure of the drill bit. I turn the stem onto the stationary drill by hand so that I can control the depth of the bit. I mark the bit with scotch tape ahead of time to measure the depth of the drilled out airway that I need to have when I am finished.Once I had the airway opened enough to take the threaded end I used a tap to cut threads on inside of the newly opened airway. I turned the tenon in place on the stem to check the fit against the face of the stem.I checked the fit against the end of the mortise and found that the tenon was too long. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to bring it down to the correct length and cleaned up the end of the tenon with the topping board.I glued the new tenon in place in the stem with medium viscosity black superglue. It allows me time to adjust and align it so that it fits the mortise well and leaves no gaps.I set the stem aside overnight to allow the glue to cure. In the morning, I fine-tuned the fit so that it sat well in the shank. I chamfered/beveled the airway in the end of the new tenon to maximize the airflow into the stem.I put the stem in place in the shank and took photos of the newly repaired stem. This little Hardcastle Bulldog is a really beauty and extremely lightweight. The Cumberland stem looks good with the briar and gives the pipe an elegant appearance. I polished the stem and the tenon with micromesh sanding pads to remove any remaining scratches. I set the stem aside and turned my attention to the crack on the shank/bowl junction. I examined the crack with a bright light and a lens to make sure I could see the ends of the crack on both sides of the shank. It was a tight hairline crack so I just needed to stop it from spreading further. I drilled the end of the crack on both sides of the top of the shank using my Dremel and a microdrill bit. I slow the Dremel down to a speed of 10 so that I can carefully put the holes at the crack ends without it either going too deep in the shank or bouncing across the surface of the shank. It did not take too long to drill the holes.I took it back to the work table and took photos showing the two drill holes. The plan now was to use a dental pick to see if I could open the crack at all. I wanted to be able to put superglue into the crack to seal the two sides. It did not budge so I scratched it with the pick to provide a rough surface for the glue to adhere.I ran a bead of clear super glue the length of the crack from drill hole to drill hole. I put a drop of glue into each drill hole to fill them in. Since they are so tiny, I don’t bother with briar dust. I used the end of the dental pick to push the glue deep into the drill hole and refilled it to a bubble.Once the glue hardened I sanded it smooth to match the surface of the shank using 220 and 320 grit sandpaper folded to fit the angle of the junction. I sanded the area until the repair was smooth with the surface of the shank. I wanted the transition to be seamless. I took a close up photo of the repair on both sides of the shank to show what I had to deal with in terms of blending it into the finish of the bowl and shank.I sanded the repair with micromesh sanding pads to remove the scratches left behind by the sand paper. I worked through 1500-4000 grit pads to polish the shank. I polished the gold band with the higher grades of micromesh as well to give them a richer gleam. The repairs were slightly lighter in colour than the rest of the shank and the bowl so they would need to be restained. I restained the repaired area with a medium brown stain pen to blend it into the colour of the bowl and shank. I buffed the stained areas by hand with a microfibre cloth.I wrote to the pipeman who owned it and told him I had finished the repair to the shank and the stem and was touching up the stain. He wrote back to say that I had carte blanche to finish the pipe in any stain I saw fit. That was the go ahead I needed. I wanted to highlight the red hues in the briar that stood out in the bright light. I also knew that a red stain would allow me to blend in the repaired areas on the shank/bowl junction better. So I chose to stain the pipe with Danish Oil with Cherry stain. I am really happy with how the red of the stain works to highlight the grain. It also goes really well with the Cumberland stem and its red striations.I warmed the briar and applied the stain with a cotton pad. The nature of Danish Oil stain is that it highlights grain and breathes life into the wood. I let it sit for 10 minutes and hand buffed it off the bowl and shank. I took the next four photos of the finished bowl once I had hand buffed it. I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel to polish out any remaining scratches in the finish of the briar or the Cumberland. I gave them multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect the finish and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. I hand buffed the gold band on the shank with a jeweler’ cloth to polish and shine it. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I really like the finished look of the pipe. It is a beautiful and well executed Bulldog and it should serve its owner well. I plan on letting him know that if it does not fit his collection it will always have a home here. Thanks for looking.

A difficult trust: Gift of a Grandfather – A BBB Double Star Made in England


Blog by Dal Stanton

When I study the venerable pipe on my work table, it is not a glamorous display of briar and silver bands.  Some might call it a basket pipe.  The two stars imprinted on the shank were an indication of a working man’s pipe – not high quality, but among those pipes accessible to normal, if not common, people who work, live, love and as is the case with us all, die.  This unremarkable Apple shaped, BBB [diamond over] Double Star, MADE IN ENGLAND [over] 152, is remarkable because of the story it represents.   I enjoy restoring ‘estate’ pipes because they were left to others and these pipes carry with them stories and memories of loved ones who once befriended and valued them.  Greg heard from my son, Josiah, who are college buddies, that Josiah’s old man (my words not theirs!) restored ‘old’ pipes.   This ‘old’ pipe came to Greg from his grandfather through his mother.  Josiah’s email came to me asking what I could do with these pictures from Greg. My understanding is that Greg was a bit reluctant at first to send his pipe off to Bulgaria to be restored, but after Josiah directed him to some of the restorations I’ve done, he felt he could trust me with the heirloom that had come to him.  Knowing that this pipe was from his grandfather I asked that Greg send me information about his grandfather so that I not only could place the pipe better in history, but Greg’s grandfather as well.  This is the letter he sent me:

Hi Mr. Stanton,

Thank you so much for agreeing to restore my grandfather’s pipe. I am sorry for the delay in getting you the below information, but it’s been a crazy couple of weeks.

My mother inherited the pipe from my grandfather when he passed away in 1998. I saw it in the china cabinet one day and asked her if I could have it, since I had taken up pipe smoking. She kindly agreed. She doesn’t really know when my grandfather got the pipe, but she said he must have bought it in Hong Kong.

My grandfather was from Hong Kong, and only emigrated to the United States in the 1980s. He was a malaria inspector for the Hong Kong government for his entire working career. He must have gotten the pipe at the latest in the late 1940s or early 1950s, as my mother remembers him having it when she was a child. He never smoked the pipe when I knew him, but from its condition, I assume it was well used at an earlier period in his life.

Having graduated from the University of Georgia Law School in Athens, Georgia, passed his bars and currently serves as a law clerk to a federal magistrate judge in Augusta, Georgia, AND as a young married man, I can understand why Greg “took up” smoking pipes!  Pipes are wonderful companions for blooming attorneys!  His letter concluded with an agreement to the cost of the restoration would benefit our work with the Daughters of Bulgaria!  Thank you, Greg!

The information Greg received from his mother was invaluable for placing this BBB in time and space.  Pipedia’s article about BBB is helpful.  BBB in the mid-1800s originally stood for “Blumfeld’s Best Briars”, but after the death of Blumfeld, the Adolph Frankau Company took over the company and BBB gradually became “Britain’s Best Briars”.

The “BBB Two Star” rating also is referenced in the same article in a discussion of quality descriptors for BBB pipes:

In the Thirties, the top-of-the-range one becomes “BBB Best Make” with alternatives like “Super Stopping” and “Ultonia Thule”. The BBB Carlton, sold with the detail with 8/6 in 1938, is equipped with a system complicated out of metal, system which equipped the BBB London Dry too. Blue Peter was not estampillées BBB but BBB Ultonia, and the BBB Two Star (* *) become the bottom-of-the-range one. 

When Greg’s pipe arrived in Bulgaria, thanks to a visitor’s willingness to carry it across the Atlantic and European continent, I unwrapped it and put it on my work desk and took these pictures to fill in the gaps. At PipePhil.eu an example of the BBB Two Star marking is pictured along with the stinger/tube style extending into the chamber as Greg’s grandfather’s BBB does ( as seen above).In Pipes Magazine, I found a thread discussing the dating of the BBB Two Star.  One threader’s opinion, ‘jguss’ corroborates Greg’s mother’s recollections:

My guess is that the Two Star line started at the end of WWII; the first mention I’ve found so far is dated 1945, which at least gives a tpq (that is, an approximate dating). I know the line lasted at least into the early sixties.

It is not too difficult to speculate about the provenance of Greg’s pipe.  During WW2, briar became a scarce commodity throughout Europe and pipe manufacturing companies made do with what they could acquire.  Two Star BBBs would be lower end but more than likely during this time, a very close second when rations were short.  Added to this backdrop is the origin of our story in Hong Kong.  Hong Kong, a British holding since 1841 (see LINK), lost control of Hong Kong during WW2 to Japan in 1941 during the Battle of Hong Kong.  Undoubtedly, Greg’s grandfather would have experienced this first hand.  When Japan unconditionally surrendered in 1945, the British regained control of Hong Kong, but to counter Chinese pressures to control Hong Kong, reforms were introduced that broadened and increased the stake of local inhabitants of Hong Kong:

Sir Mark Young, upon his return as Governor in early May 1946, pursued political reform known as the “Young Plan“, believing that, to counter the Chinese government’s determination to recover Hong Kong, it was necessary to give local inhabitants a greater stake in the territory by widening the political franchise to include them.[19] (Link)

During the years following the Second World War, the same article describes unprecedented economic development which resulted in the economic powerhouse that Hong Kong became.  This period would have been while Greg’s grandfather was working as a malaria inspector for the government of Hong Kong and during which he acquired this BBB Two Star.  The smaller Apple shape would have served him well as he performed his inspection duties but given the ‘stem forensics’ pictured above, he probably chewed on it a bit as well while he worked!

With a greater sense of the story that this BBB Two Star tells, from England, to Hong Kong, to America, and now to Bulgaria, I’m anxious to restore this precious family gift from Greg’s grandfather.  At Greg’s request, he’s hoping for a pipe that is as good as new and ready for a new lifetime of service.  Yet, with all restorations, undoubtedly there will be some marks and blemishes remaining – these an ongoing testament to the memory of those who those who went before.

The first order of approach is with the stinger.  When the pipe arrived, the stinger was already separated from the stem.  The stinger extends from the stem through the mortise into the chamber itself through a metal tube air draft hole.  Using a pair of plyers, I wrap a piece of cloth around the end to pull gently to dislodge the stinger from the mortise.  I can see in the mortise that there appears to be a metal sheath that the stinger is lodged in – at least, that is what it appears to be.  The stinger is not budging and I do not want to break the stinger off.  To try to loosen things up, I pour some isopropyl 95% in the chamber to allow it to soak into the draft hole.  Hopefully, in time, this will loosen the stinger. The alcohol soak did not work.  In fact, a few weeks have transpired since writing the words above.  This stinger has given me quite the challenge.  In the back of my mind constantly, is the concern that I not leverage too much pressure pulling on the stinger.  I’m concerned about damaging the shank.  After soaking the internals for some time with alcohol, I pulled with plyers hoping to break the grip.  I also attempt heating the stummel with a heat gun in hope of dislodging the stinger.  I also heat the protruding part of the stinger with a candle, hoping that this would break the bond.  It did not.   I also was concerned about the candle flame close to the briar while trying to heat the stinger.  I craft a tinfoil shield, but this was not successful.  Unfortunately, I singed the end of the shank and had to remove the damage by ‘topping’ the shank end, which leads to a bit of work lining up the stem and shank later.  As you might expect, the protruding end of the stinger did not hold up under the pressure and eventually broke off. After the stinger protrusion broke off, and after a second email to Steve for input, I’m at the point of using a drill bit in another attempt to remove the bonded stinger.  Starting with a very small bit, I hand turn the bit to allow the drill to find the center of the stinger and gradually, remove the stinger introducing the next larger drill bit.  The end of the broken stinger begins at about 1/4-inch-deep into the mortise.  Unfortunately, this method is not working either because the drill bit will not bite into the metal and remain straight.  At the end of the stinger slot that I’m boring into with the drill bit, my efforts are flummoxed by the stinger’s design.  It has a slanted metal airflow deflector that causes the drill bit to veer off mark.  After breaking the end of the drill bit in the slot (ugh!), and digging it out with needle nose pliers, I sit and begin to think I was facing failure.  Nothing was working.  I’m introducing more problems to the restoration as I try unsuccessfully to solve the stuck stinger problem.  I can’t move forward and I’m stuck and begin to compose an apology letter to Greg in my mind.  UNTIL, on a fancy, I insert a small flat head screw driver into the slot at the end of the broken stinger 1/4-inch-deep in the mortise and I twist it gently counter-clockwise, and it snaps.  Suddenly, it was loose and I easily extract the ‘middle’ of Grandpa’s old stinger – I’m sure he was the last one to see this artifact!  I see daylight through the mortise and I’m hoping that it might also be a metaphoric ‘light at the end of the tunnel’!  I’ve not forgotten that the other end of the stinger remains lodged in the draft hole tube at the foot of the chamber.  Thankfully, a larger drill bit was the perfect size and it reaches into the mortise and hand turning the bit, it clears the rest of the stinger shrapnel.  Finally!  Oh my….  I’ll be saving the stinger debris for Greg.  This BBB will continue without difficulty stingerless.  The pictures show the results. In the interest of full disclosure, these words are coming weeks after.  Why the hiatus?  Life’s normal twists and turns, work, some wonderful travel to Crete for an organizational conference, to Athens (not in Georgia) for a consultation on the Eastern Orthodox Church, AND my growing frustration with Greg’s grandfather’s pipe’s restoration as more complications arrived!  I’ll try to catch you up to the present:

With the stinger removed, I was anxious to continue the restoration with a ‘normal’ pattern – the stem goes into the Oxi-Clean bath to deal with the oxidation in the stem.  After some hours, the stem is removed from the bath and I wet sand with 600 grade sanding paper removing the raised oxidation followed by 0000 steel wool. To clean and protect the BBB stamping on the stem, I use a non-abrasive Mr. Clean ‘Magic Eraser’ sponge.  The pictures show the progress.The next step is to re-seat the tenon into the mortise.  After the arduous process of removing the stinger, and after singing the shank end with a candle flame, and after ‘topping’ the shank to remove the damaged briar, the tenon and mortise needed to be re-wedded with the new realities.  The tenon was too large for full insertion into the shank.  Using a combination of reducing the tenon size with sanding paper and steel wool, sanding and filing the throat of the mortise, and using a rounded needle file to cut a new internal mortise openning bevel to accommodate the broader tenon base, I patiently, slowly, methodically worked to re-seat the tenon in the mortise which included working and then testing the new fit – GENTLY!  I suppose the fact that I said to myself, ‘Dal, careful, don’t crack the shank’, at least a 1000 times only made the sinking feeling more intense when I heard the sickening sound during what proved to be my last, ‘gentle testing’ of the tenon inserted into the mortise.  The hairline crack is pictured below that I took only a day ago – I couldn’t bear to take it then, when it happened.  I was sickened and put Greg’s pipe aside.  I needed some time to work through my own sense of failure of the trust given me to restore this family heirloom.  Now, after several weeks, I’ve regrouped and have taken up Greg’s pipe again.  The travels that I described above during this time in some ways felt more like Jonah running from Nineveh not wanting to face the scene of his calling and his sense of failure!  Though, my trip did prove beneficial – I sold some of my finished pipes to colleagues to benefit and raise the awareness of the Daughters of Bulgaria that The Pipe Steward supports.  I’ve included my Nineveh travels below for you who may not be familiar with ‘my world’, the Balkans – Sofia to Crete to Athens and back. Before moving forward, I needed to repair the cracked shank.  With the help of a magnifying glass, I locate the terminus of the crack and mark it by creating an indentation with a sharp dental probe.  The arrow to the left below marks this.  Using the Dremel tool, I mount a 1mm sized bit and drill a hole at that point – but not going through!  This hole acts like a controlled back-fire to stop the progress of a forest fire.  This will not allow the crack to continue creeping.  With the use of a toothpick, I spot-drop Hot Stuff CA Instant Glue in the hole and along the line of the crack which I expanded microscopically by partially inserting the tenon into the mortise.  This allows the CA glue better penetration to seal the crack.  I remove the stem immediately after the application of CA.  With the CA glue still wet, I apply briar dust to/in the hole and along the crack to encourage better blending.  The pictures show the progress. After some hours allowing the CA glue to cure on the shank repair, using a round grinding stone bit mounted on the Dremel, I reestablish an adequate and uniform internal bevel on the end of the shank to accommodate the base of the tenon when it is fully inserted into the mortise.  My theory is this is what caused the crack – lack of a sufficient internal bevel giving room for the slightly enlarged tenon as it merges with the stem proper.  With the Dremel engaged at the slowest setting, I’m careful to apply minimal pressure as I rotate the ball a bit to make sure it’s centered.  It looks good – the pictures show the progress.Due to a lapse of sorts and the intensity of my focus on re-seating the stem again without re-cracking the shank, I failed (or perhaps, had little desire) to take any pictures.  The short of it is, the stem and stummel have been reunited after some difficult times.  Also, not pictured are some of the basic steps: reaming the fire chamber of carbon cake buildup, cleaning the internals of the stummel and stem with cotton swabs and pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95%, and cleaning the externals of the stummel with Murphy’s Soap.  Again, picking up the trail, pictured below is the micromesh pad process with the stem.  Using pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand the stem, followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and then 6000 to 12000.  I follow each cycle with an application of Obsidian Oil to revitalize the vulcanite.  The stummel surface shows quite a bit of pitting in the first picture shown again below.  The rim also shows nicks. On the larger pits shown below on the heel of the stummel, I spot-fill with a toothpick using CA glue and shorten the curing time by using an accelerator spray on the fills.  After filing and sanding the fills to the briar surface, using a progression of 3 sanding sponges from coarse, medium to light, I work out most the remaining pitting over the stummel surface.  Using 600 grit paper on the chopping block, I also give a light topping to the rim to remove nicks and create fresh lines for the rim.  Following the topping, I introduce an internal bevel to the rim, first using a coarse 120 paper rolled tightly, then with 240 and 600.  The internal rim bevel to me, always adds a touch of class but also helps create softer lines which enhances this Apples shape.  The pictures show the unhindered progress! I now take micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 and wet sand the stummel followed by dry sanding with micromesh pads 3200 to 4000 and then 6000 to 12000 taking a picture after each set to mark the progress.  I am careful to guard the BBB nomenclature on the shank sides.  As I move through these cycles, I realize that I have been so wrapped up in the technical aspects of this restoration for Greg, that I failed to see the beauty of this diminutive Apple shape.  The grain that emerges from Grandpa’s old timer is truly beautiful. Flame grain and swirls, with a few bird’s eyes accenting the whole – totally eye-catching for a Two Star sub-mark BBB I would say! To see the big picture to help determine the next steps, I reunite stem and stummel and stand back and take a good look.  This BBB Made in England is looking real good – in spite of everything!  I can see by the way the BBB Apple naturally sits on the surface, leaning slightly like a listing ship, but remaining upright, provides some clues regarding the significant pitting on the heel of the stummel – just off center. Greg’s grandfather undoubtedly and conveniently placed his pipe on a table or counter surface, or perhaps on a nearby crate, as he made his rounds as a malaria inspector for the province of Hong Kong.  The original BBB coloring leaned toward the favored darker hues of English pipe makers and client proclivities. I decide not to go that dark, but to stain the stummel using a light brown base with a touch of dark brown to tint it down that track a bit.  This will make for better blending, especially for the darker briar around the nomenclature on the shank.  Using Fiebing’s Light Brown Leather Dye as the base, I add a touch of Fiebing’s Dark Brown.  Using a folded pipe cleaner in the shank as a handle, I begin by warming the stummel with a hot air gun to expand the briar making it more receptive to the dye.  After heated, I apply the dye mixture to the stummel generously aiming for total coverage.  I then fire the wet stummel with a lit candle igniting the aniline dye, burning off the alcohol and setting the pigment in the grain.  After a few minutes, I repeat the process concluding with firing the stummel.  I put the stummel aside to rest for several hours.  The pictures show the staining process – yes, you can see my blue fingers – I’ve started wearing latex gloves when I’m staining. After some hours, I’m looking forward to ‘unwrapping’ the fired stummel to reveal the stained briar beneath.  Using a felt buffing wheel mounted on the Dremel, set at the slowest speed, I use Tripoli compound to remove the initial layer.  Moving in a methodical, rotating pattern, I work my way around the stummel not apply a great deal of down-pressure on the wheel, but allowing the RPMs of the felt wheel and the compound to do the work. After removing the crusted layer with Tripoli, I wipe the surface with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.  I do this not so much to lighten the finish, but to blend and even out the stain over the surface.  Following this, I mount a cotton cloth wheel on the Dremel, increase the speed slightly, and apply Blue Diamond – a slightly less abrasive compound.  After both compounds, I use a clean towel to hand buff the stummel to remove excess compound dust before applying the wax.  Pictures show the progress. Reattaching the stem and stummel, I apply several coats of carnauba wax to both.  Using a cotton cloth wheel, I set the speed of the Dremel to 2 with 5 being the fastest, I apply the carnauba and I like what I see.  With the carnauba wax applied, I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel and again buff the stummel and stem.  Finally, I apply a rigorous hand buff using a micromesh cloth to raise the shine more.

This BBB Double Star Apple has come a long way from England to Hong Kong to the US to Bulgaria, and now it’s ready to return to its new steward.  This restoration was a bit bumpy, but then, so is life.  I’m glad to help give this pipe a new lifetime and I hope Greg not only enjoys it, but that it provides a special connection with his past.  I’m sure Grandpa would be proud.  Thanks for joining me!

Breathing New Life into an Iwan Ries Jacques 169 Apple


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table from the estate sale to be refurbished is a small apple that is stamped JACQUES on the left side of the shank and Iwan Ries & Co on the right side. It is also stamped 169 (Shape Number) on the underside of the shank at the stem/shank junction. The piece of briar is really a beauty with a mix of grains. The right side of the bowl has some beautiful birdseye grain that just pops. The combination of the yellow, cream coloured Lucite stem with the medium brown stain on the bowl works well and brings out the reds in the briar. Jeff took some photos of the pipe when he brought it home and before he worked his magic cleaning it up. He took some photos of the pipe to show the condition. The first of these shows the cake in the bowl and the lava overflow on the rim top. The rounded rim top looked like it was also darkened but I would know for sure once he had cleaned the top of the bowl.The next three photos show the stamping on the bowl. It is sharp and readable. There are also three stars on the left side of the taper stem as well. On the underside of the stem it is also stamped France. I am not sure if that is in reference to the entire pipe or just the stem being made in France. The next series of close up photos of the bowl show the overall condition of the pipe. The first photo shows the damaged fills on the left front of the bowl. These will need to be picked out and repaired to take care of the crumbling putty. The following photos show the now familiar tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem near the button. Unfortunately they are a bit hard to see as the colour of the Lucite obscures them. The top has tooth chatter and the underside has both chatter and a few deeper tooth marks.My brother worked his cleanup magic on the pipe and when it came to me the bowl had been reamed and cleaned. The airway in the shank and stem had been scrubbed with alcohol and pipe cleaners and the mortise cleaned with cotton swabs and alcohol. The pipe was in pristine condition internally. All I had to do was rework the fills and sand out the tooth marks on the stem. The next four photos show the pipe upon arrival in Vancouver. Jeff had been able to remove the cake in the bowl and all of the lava from the rim top. There was indeed some rim darkening that would need to be taken care of but it was very clean.  The second photo shows the ugly, damaged fills on the left front of the bowl.The stem looked really good and the tooth marks and chatter are even harder to see than in the previous photos but they are there.I picked out the damaged putty fills with a dental pick until they were clean. I wiped down the area with an alcohol dampened cloth to remove any remaining debris. I filled the areas with briar dust and clear super glue. It dries dark but that will work in these fills that follow the grain pattern of the bowl.Once the patch had dried I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the excess fill and then with 320 sandpaper to smooth that out a bit. I polished the repair with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit sanding pads to smooth out all the scratches. I touched up the repaired area with a dark brown stain pen. The colour of the stain matched the bowl perfectly and the fills blended in better than they were before.I hand buffed the bowl with a microfibre cloth to have a look at the rest of it and get a feel for the finished look. I ran a pipe cleaner through the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem to check for any debris that might have collected from my sanding. They were still very clean.Now it was time to take care of the tooth marks on the stem. I sanded them out with 220 grit sandpaper and smooth that out with 320 grit paper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down between each pad with a water dampened cotton pad to remove the sanding debris. I put the stem back on the pipe and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I am skittish about buffing Lucite as it can heat up quickly and then make a mess of the work that has been done. I used a gentle touch to buff the stem and powered through buffing the bowl and shank. I took care not to damage the stamping on the shank. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The dimensions are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 5/8 inches, Outer diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inches. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It turned out to be a beautiful pipe and the repaired fills look better than when it left the factory. This one is available if you want to add it to your rack. Email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send a private message via Facebook if you are interested. Thanks for looking.

Breathing Life into an Antique Imported Briar Bull Moose


Blog by Steve Laug

There is something about these older Mincer style pipes that grabs my attention. I am drawn to their rustic appearance and feel in the hand. This one was a Bullmoose shape – though the “nose” on it is much more conservative than many of these that I have seen. The stamping on the left side of the shank is a standing lion inside of a shield and next to that ANTIQUE over Imported Briar. I have searched on the web and in my books for this logo and cannot find it but I did find a listing for the ANTIQUE in Who Made That Pipe for a company called Heritage Pipes Inc. NYC. The company is to be distinguished from the Heritage line made by Kaywoodie as a high end alternative to Dunhill pipes. I have looked for information on the company online but so far have not found any. Anyone have any information on the brand?

My brother took photos of the pipe before he cleaned it up. I have included those photos below. It is an interesting pipe.The next photos of the pipe show the damage on the rim top. The three different photos show the damaged areas from different angles. The rim top looked like it was damaged on the inner and outer edges of the bowl. The top looked like the finish was peeling but I would know more about it once I had it in hand. He took photos of the rusticated bowl sides. The smooth portions show grain. The double rings around the bowl cap have nicks and chips out of the top and bottom edges of the rims as well as the centre spacer. The next photo shows the stamping on the left hand side of the shank. Metal shank insert that separates the stem from the shank is oxidized.The stem is oxidized and has tooth chatter and tooth marks on both sides near the button. It is also overclocked making the stem sit crooked in the shank.My brother reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and cleaned out the insides. Pipes with the threaded metal mortise hold a lot of grime and tars so I will need to clean it further. The exterior was scrubbed with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush and the grime and deteriorating finish was removed completely. The stem oxidation came to the surface in the cleaning. The next four photos show the condition of the pipe when I received it. I took a close up photo of the rim to show what it looked like when it arrived. Fortunately the areas on the rim that looked like flaking in the early photos was only lava buildup and it was gone. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that.The next two photos show the stem. The tooth chatter was lighter on the top of the stem than the underside. There were two deep tooth marks on the underside. The button edge on the topside was dented from teeth as well.I took the stem off the shank and was surprised that the conical stinger apparatus was gone. I heated the metal tenon with a lighter until the glue softened and twisted the stem around in the mortise until it lined up straight on the shank.I sanded the rim top and the inner beveled edge of the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage and the darkening. It did not take too much work to smooth out the dents and nicks and clean out the darkened inner edge of the bowl.To repair the chip out of the ring around the cap on the bowl on the right side I filled in the gap with briar dust and put drops of clear super glue on top of the dust. I used a dental spatula and a knife to recut the twin rings around the cap. Once it dried I sanded the repaired area on the ring and the rim top with a medium and fine grit sanding sponge and with 1500-6000 grit micromesh sanding pads to smooth out the scratches left behind by the paper.I cleaned out the inside of the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until the cleaners came out white.I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation and then used black super glue to fill in the tooth marks on the top edge of the button and the underside of the stem.When the glue dried I sanded the stem with 320 grit sand paper and polished it with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. After sanding it with the 4000 grit pad I buffed it with red Tripoli on the buffing wheel then finished polishing it with the final three grits of micromesh. I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I stained the bowl with Cherry Danish Oil and wiped it down to give it a shine. I wanted to highlight the red colours in the briar. The colour came out really well and the grain shines through on the rim and the smooth portions of the bowl and shank. I buffed it lightly with a shoe brush. The photos below show the staining and the finished bowl. I buffed the stem some more with red Tripoli and with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish out the oxidation that still remained at the junction of the stem and shank. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax. I buffed the bowl with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The dimensions on the pipe are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 1/2 inches, Outer diameter: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 inches. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It really is a nice looking older piece of pipe history and should make a great addition to someone’s pipe rack. It will go on the rebornpipes store shortly. If you would like to purchase it contact me via private message on Facebook or through my email at slaug@uniserve.com. Thanks for looking.

 

New Life or an Oval Shank Whitehall Saratoga Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

Not long ago I received and email from Dave, a reader of the blog, asking about a couple of pipes that he had picked up. This is the second of the two pipes – the Whitehall Saratoga. I have included part of his email below. He gives his assessment regarding the pipes and what he wanted done.

Steve… I have recently been gifted 2 estate pipes that I would love to have reincarnated by your hands? I am not sure of the cost and wanted to speak with you first… The 2 pipes in question are not in bad shape, just have some age, cake and minimal wear; one is a Whitehall rusticated with saddle stem and the other a Pear shaped Dr. Grabow Westbrook… I have attached some images with this email so that you have some idea of how they look. If you need additional images please let me know. Thank you for your time and consideration.

Regards, Dave The pipe was in pretty decent shape over all. The rim was dirty but the inner and outer edges were in good shape. The finish was worn and dirty but the carved striations looked good. The smooth patches around the shank, the underside and the two panels on the bowl sides were scratched but otherwise clean. The stem was oxidized and had some deep tooth marks on both the top and underside near the button. The W stamp on the top of the saddle was faint and worn. I would need to be careful in cleaning the oxidation not to damage the logo stamp. The photos below show the condition of the pipe when I received it. I took a close up photo of the stamping on the shank. The stamp is clearly legible and reads Whitehall over Saratoga over Briar Italy. The second photo shows the rim and bowl condition. There was still a light cake that would need to be scraped out but it was really quite nice.I took photos of the stem. It is hard to see the tooth dents in the photos below but they are present. There was a W on the top of the saddle stem that was a decal and it was coming off. The button is worn from use. The oxidation is quite deep.When I took the stem out there was a small stinger in the tenon. It was dirty but was easily removed and would be polished and put back in place.I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to break up the oxidation on the stem and reshape the button. I sanded out the shallower tooth marks to remove them. I wiped down the stem and repaired the deeper marks with black super glue. I set the stem aside to let the repairs cure. I turned my attention to the bowl. I scrubbed it with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grime from the grooves in the briar on the bowl and rim. I rinsed the bowl down with warm water and dried it off with a towel. The freshened pipe is shown in the photos below. I reamed out the bowl to remove the last of the cake with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. It did not take too long to smooth out the remnants of the cake in the bowl. I scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. I went through a lot of pipe cleaners and cotton swabs before they came out clean.I restained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain and flamed it with a lighter. I repeated the process until the coverage was even and I was happy with the results. I wiped down the bowl with alcohol on cotton pads to lighten the stain and make the contrast between the rusticated part and the smooth ones more obvious. I gave the pipe a coat of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a shoe brush to give it a shine and check out what the colour looked like. I took some photos of the polished bowl to show how it looked at this point in the process. The pipe is beginning to look really good. I sanded the top of the shank to remove the dark colour and make it more transparent at the stem shank junction. Note the nicks in the smooth portions of the bowl and shank. They are deep so I will not be able to sand them out. They actually act like marks of history of the journey of this pipe. It was not quite right. I wanted a little more red in the finished briar. I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on a cotton pad to remove the wax so I could do a bit of a contrast stain. For the second coat I rubbed down the bowl with a coat of Cherry Danish Oil to highlight the red colour in the briar. The combination of stains gives a nice contrast look to the pipe. I polished it with a soft cloth and took photos of the finished bowl. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I talked with Dave regarding the W decal on the saddle and we decided to remove it as it was worn and kept me from removing the oxidaiton on the saddle while trying to protect it. I resanded the with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation and the remnants of the decal. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil between each pad. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and repeated the oil treatments. I buffed the stem with red Tripoli on the buffing wheel and followed that with Blue Diamond polish. I gave the stem several coats of carnauba wax and polished it by hand. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond to polish out some of the minute scratches in the surface. I gave the stem several coats of carnauba wax to protect and give it a shine. I hand waxed the bowl with Conservators Wax and buffed the bowl and stem with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I will be packing it up soon and sending it back to Dave so he can fire up a bowl and give this beauty a smoke. Thanks for looking.

Restoring an Unstamped Rhodesian Handmade


Blog by Steve Laug

When I saw this pipe that my brother picked up I was captivated by the grain. The unknown maker had done an amazing job of laying the shape out with the grain. The sides of the bowl and shank have stunning flame grain radiating from the point at the heel of the bowl. The heel and the cap on the bowl, as well as the top and the pointed bottom edge of the shank have beautiful birdseye grain. He sent me the following pictures to whet my appetite for this pipe. I like the Rhodesian shape and I like the combination of nice grain, a sterling silver band and a black vulcanite stem. This one had them all. The only oddities to me were the shape of the shank – it was an egg shape, pointed at the bottom and the freehand style panel stem. The bowl had a thick cake in it and it was scratched at about 11 o’clock in the photo below. It looked as if it could have been cracked but it was not once he had reamed it free of the cake. The finish was dirty and there was some darkening/burn marks on the back side of the cap. It appeared to me that it was originally a virgin finish but I would know more once I had it in Vancouver and had cleaned up the finish.The next two photos show the grain on the sides of the bowl and the bottom. There is birdseye toward the left side of the bottom of the bowl curving up to meet the grain on the sides.Underneath the oxidation and tarnish on the band it was stamped Sterling Silver in an arch. The stamping was centred on the top side of the shank.The stem was heavily oxidized and had tooth chatter on both sides near the button. On the underside of the button there were deep tooth marks and one of them was on the button. The chair leg style stem would be a challenge to clean up.My brother did his usual comprehensive clean up on the pipe. He was able to remove all of the cake in the bowl and on the rim. He cleaned up the dirty finish on the bowl and cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem. The stem was more oxidized from his cleanup but the oxidation was on the surface so it would be a bit simpler to work on. The next four photos show what the pipe looked like when I brought it to the work table. There was some rim damage on the back side of the bowl. You can see it in the photo below. There was some burn damage as well as some bad nicks in the burned area. The outer edge had been flattened at that point and would need to be reworked. I took close up photos of both sides of the stem to highlight the tooth marks and chatter on them. There were three sandpits on the bottom of the bowl. The first was on the right side and was the largest of the three. The second and third were on the opposite side and were mere pin prick flaws. I filled in the holes with clear super glue. When it dried I sanded it with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper and then with a medium and fine grit sanding sponge to blend it into the surrounding briar.I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the damaged rim and ready the back side for a repair. I was pretty sure that if I topped it most of the damage would be remedied and the burn mark would disappear. Fortunately it was not deep in the briar so the sanding took care of it. Once I had it smooth I sanded it with the medium and fine grit sanding sponge.I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on a cotton pad to remove any remaining oils and dirt on the on surface of the briar. The next set of four photos show the cleaned surface of the briar. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. The photos below tell the story of the polishing and interestingly the ring grain in the briar begins to show through by the polishing with the three final pads. I rubbed the polished briar down with a light coat of olive oil to highlight the grain and make it stand out. A little olive oil brings new life to the dry briar. This pipe truly  has some stunning grain as is evident in the following photos. I sanded out the tooth marks and chatter on the stem along with the oxidation with 220 grit sandpaper. The photo below shows the stem after the sanding. I rebuilt the dent in the button with black super glue. Once it was dry I sanded it to match the rest of the button.The stem had a very interesting tenon. It was short and it had what looked like threads on it. I decided to leave these in place rather than change the original shape of the tenon. I worked over the stem itself. I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil repeatedly during the sanding. The photo below shows the stem after being sanded with the first three pads. There is still evidence of oxidation in the rubber so it will take a lot more sanding and polishing before it is black again. I buffed it after this with red Tripoli on the buffing wheel and was able to remove more of it. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads (the second and third photos below) and again rubbed it down repeatedly with Obsidian Oil. Once it was finished I gave it a final coat of oil and let it dry. I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond a final time and worked to remove any remaining oxidation on the stem. The Blue Diamond is a plastic polish and it really brings a shine to the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I finished buffing by hand to deepen the shine. I polished the silver band with a jeweler’s polishing cloth and removed the remaining tarnish. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I wish I knew who the unknown maker was. He or she did a great job making this pipe. The shape, the layout with the grain and the craftsmanship make this a pipe that will outlive me that is for certain. It is truly a beautiful pipe. Thanks for walking with me through the process of the restoration.