Tag Archives: bowl rusticating

Carving and Rusticating My First Pipe


Blog by Greg Wolford

Last winter sometime I got myself a pre-drilled pipe kit from an eBay auction; it is from Mr. Brog and is pear wood. I don’t remember exact how I did it but I really messed it up with a terribly wavy cut on the front using a coping saw; I made a few other small cuts that weren’t bad but made the block a mess added to the front cut. I was very unhappy with myself over it and put the kit away, forgetting about it, figuring it was a total loss.

Last week my son found it while he was carving a briar kit I’d bought him a few months ago and gave it to me. I decided that I was going to go ahead and try my hand at carving it, to get a feel for the process and maybe even salvage it. Considering the bad start I had, I didn’t plan on writing about this so I didn’t take many photos. But I’ve been asked about how I rusticated it so here we go.

I used only files and sandpaper, no more sawing (LOL), to do all of the rest of the pipe except for two things: the rim I carved lightly with a Dremel and I buffed it lightly on the buffer. This is an idea I’d where I started, with the wavy face:

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I used various files, including the above pictured vulcrylic file, to shape the block; my plan was to get a volcano type shape and hide the poor face-cut in the process. This proved to be a challenge since the front couldn’t be shaped too much or I’d end up with a much too thin wall.

I filed and sanded, slowly bringing out, more or less, the shape I had in mind. I also worked at the shank to a decent transition to the stem, which was a fair amount of work with all the material that needed to be removed. After I had gotten as far as I felt I could go with the shaping and was fairly happy with it I decided this would be a rusticated pipe; it would blend the faults better I thought and, being pear, there was no grain to speak of.

I’ve been wanting to try my hand at rustication and make a tool for a while. I’ve read many ideas on how to do this, mostly on this blog, so I knew what I wanted to try. I have many small screwdriver bits lying around from cheap screwdriver kits I’ve had over the years. The bits are usually not very hard and of low quality, often stripping out on tough screws/bolts; one of these would be my starting point. I held the number 2 Phillips head bit I chose in a pair of vice grips while using a Dremel cutting disk to cut the “X” on the bit tip. This is what I ended up with:

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There are now four cutting “teeth” on the bit, one which is slightly longer than the others (by accident I might say). I then chucked this up in a battery-powered screwdriver that had an adjustable handle; it can be used anywhere from straight to a 90-degree angle. I pressed the bit into the wood, depressed the switch, and began rusticating the stummel. This turned out to be a rather fun and enjoyable process I soon found. By varying the pressure, time the bit was rotating, and letting the tool “walk”, I was able to get a pretty interesting and fairly consistent pattern.

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I used a small carving bit in the Dremel to lightly carve the rim because the smooth rim didn’t match the pipe in my opinion.

I then scrubbed the stummel with a wire brush, to knock off the dust and debris from the process. I applied Fiebing’s mahogany leather dye, two coats which I dried with the heat gun rather than flaming because my grandson was helping me with this entire project. I hand buffed the extra stain off with an old rag and steel wool. Next I sanded the wood lightly with 320-grit paper to knock down the really sharp edges that remained. Them I buffed the stummel with Tripoli to further reduce harsh edges and give it a very small amount of contrast. Lastly, I waxed it with Halcyon II and buffed it by hand with a shoe brush.

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In the end I saved the kit, though it’s not as nice a project as I’d hoped for. But this system of bits ground into various shapes and used with the battery-powered screwdriver is an idea I really think made the project a success. I think that making different tools from different bits coupled with the variations one can achieve with the driver are a great tool to play with in the future, one that I hope others will find useful, too, and maybe find better variations on the idea to share with us for future use. Below is the driver, bit, and extension I used.

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Procedure for hand rusticating a pipe


I have rusticated quite a few pipes over the years and by much experimenting, with successes and failures have learned a few tricks in the process. I am by no means an expert in the process. I continue to experiment with developing different patterns of rustication and deeper, craggier finishes. I have done some rustications that have the look of old leather and others that are gritty and rough. I love the process of experimenting and seeing what I can make with the tools that I have close at hand. I am including some photos of the finishes I have done to illustrate the variety of patterns that can be achieved.

The first pipe is an author carved by John Bessai. It had so many fills in the briar that it was a mess in my opinion. It was a prime candidate for a new look. I used the handmade tool – nails in a piece of pipe to achieve the rustication and then buffed it with Tripoli to smooth out the high spots. I stained it with a black undercoat and dark brown top coat.
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The second one is one of my own carvings. I wanted a look similar to the one on the Bessai by smoother and more leatherlike in terms of a finished look. I rusticated it with nails in a pipe, wire brushed the finish and then sanded to smooth out the high spots. I used a black understain and medium brown top stain to get the finish. finishedcarving003-1
The third pipe was a small Canadian with many fills in the shank and bowl. I did a shallow rustication with the pipe and nails and then used a dark brown and medium brown stain to get the look. All three of the first pipes have a leatherlike finish to them that was achieved by sanding or buffing the highspots on the finish after rusticating.IMG_6503 IMG_6504 IMG_6506
The fourth pipe pictured below was one of my creations, my first Frankenpipe composed of three different pipes. I used a Philips screwdriver that I made into a rustication tool to achieve the rustication pattern on the shank. I left areas in the pattern that were smooth. I stained the gouges with a black stain and the rest of the pipe with a medium brown stain. I wire brushed the rustication and then buffed it with Tripoli. img_6556
The fifth pipe pictured is another Canadian I rusticated. This one was a pipe that I finished shaping and made a stem for. The briar was bland with poor grain. It had a lot of bald spots in the briar so I decided to do a black and tan finish on it. IMG_2575 IMG_2577
The next two rustications were done with the Philips screwdriver. I tried for two different finishes on these pipes. The first is quite deep but then brushed and buffed before staining. The idea was to give a random broken look to the pattern. I stained it with a medium brown stain. The second is a very craggy rough finish. I used the screwdriver and went over the briar three times to roughen it and give it the roughness I wanted. I reversed the stains on this one and did a medium brown understain and a black topcoat. IMG_7749 photo3
I have rusticated many other pipes using a variety of tools that I have developed or repurposed to experiment with over the years. I have used a pipe with nails, a handmade wooden handle with nails, a floral frog, a modified Philips Screwdriver a flat blade screwdriver notched and sharpened, and a Dremel tool with a variety of burrs. I have used different sizes and clusters of nails in the pipe and each one achieves a slight variation of pattern on the finished briar. Each tool delivers a different finish and look. Even with the same tool a variety can be achieved by wire brushing the finish, buffing or sanding. I have also used a combination of tools at times – the nails and the floral frog work well together to make a tighter smaller rustication while the screwdrivers and the nails also give a unique looking pattern.

However, no matter which tool I use I always follow the same process. I have broken it down into steps in the list below for ease of use.

1. Clean the surface of the wood – I clean the surface of the briar with either acetone or isopropyl alcohol to remove the grime and the existing finish on the pipe. I do this because I like working on a clean surface. I know that others do not do this before rustication so the choice is yours.

2. Stain the surface with a dark stain to show contrast when rusticating – Many stain the briar with a dark stain before rusticating to make it easier to see the developing pattern in the rustication. Personally I only do this if the briar is raw and unstained. A stained pipe already has colour and the rustication shows up quite well.

3. Tape off any spots that you want to leave smooth using masking tape or painters tape. I wrap it with several layers of tape to protect the smooth wood underneath from an accidental slip when I am working the tools. I have also used scotch or cellophane tape. The idea is not to abuse the tape but use it as a straight edge to work toward and around. I often tape the shank end but you can also tape the line around the rim as well.

4. If partially rusticating a bowl mark off the area that you will rusticate with a permanent marker. On the Frankenpipe above I marked the angle of the shank and bowl junction that I wanted to rusticate.

5. Choose the place on the briar to start – personally I always start on the side of the bowl when rusticating. I remove the stem and work on the bowl alone. I have seen others snap a tenon while rusticating so I remove it. I work from the side down to the bottom of the bowl. I work the bottom of the bowl and then move to the shank and work the side that connects to side I have rusticated. I then work my way around the rest of the bowl.

6. I rusticate by pushing the rusticator into the wood and twisting it to gouge the briar. The harder you push the tool into the briar the deeper the rustication will be. So decide how deep or rough a rustication you are aiming for and press accordingly. Do not be afraid to rusticate too deeply. Most people are too timid and end up with mere scratches on the wood the first time they try the process.

7. Use a wire brush to knock off loose pieces of briar and chips that are left behind on the surface. I brush quite aggressively as there is no fear of scratching the briar. The idea is to clean up the rustication pattern. The more aggressively you brush the more variation you will get in the pattern. You can also buff the bowl and shank at this point as well to further smooth out the surface. If it is still too rough for your liking then lightly sand the high spots with 220 grit sandpaper to knock it down further.

8. Clean off the bowl with isopropyl alcohol on a soft cloth to remove the dust left behind by rusticating and wire brushing. I do this to prepare the finish to be stained. It dries very quickly so it is not a problem to stain immediately afterwards. I also use an aniline (alcohol) based stain so it is truly not an issue.

9. Stain the bowl with either the final stain or a base coat. I generally use a dark base coat and flame it with a lighter. Once it is dry wipe the high spots down with isopropyl or buff them with Tripoli. I then give the bowl a top coat of a lighter or the final stain and flame it again. I like the contrast look of dark valleys and lighter ridges on a rusticated pipe.

10. Buff the pipe lightly with White Diamond and then use Halcyon II wax to give the bowl a light shine. I have also used olive oil at this point instead of wax. I use a folded paper towel that has been dampened with olive oil and wipe down the bowl making sure to get into all the crevices or valleys in the finish.

That is the process I use to rusticate. The results are worth the effort to me. I like the feel of the rustication as the bowl warms in my hand. I like the looks of the finished bowl as it takes on age through use. Why not try it out on one of your own pipes or an estate that you have that is just too bland to draw your eye? Go for it and enjoy the process.

Reworking a No Name Pipe Bowl – Adding Rustication and Bling


Blog by Steve Laug

Andrew is turning out to be a great source of older pipe bowls in need of stemming. I received this old bowl in the mail from him not to long ago. It had a look to it that was interesting to me. The shank had been reworked somewhere along the way. I think that originally it may have had a diamond shank. Someone had carved it by hand into an almost round end and flattening as it moved toward the bowl. They had added three bands of coloured tape to the shank to dress it up. The first two bands were thin gold tape and the third was a wide swath of dark brown tape. The bowl was clean and reamed and the inside of the shank was also clean. The underside of the shank and bowl were rough. I think that the person who had reworked this bowl had used a knife to work on it and had not sanded it smooth after his work. There were also some pretty deep dents and grooves on the bottom of the bowl.
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This old pipe bowl provided a challenge to me. The tape had to go but I had no idea what was underneath and hidden by it. The funky shape of the shank also needed to be reworked to give it a more artistic and shapely appearance. The restemming would also be a challenge in that the shank was not round at this point but very oddly shaped with all sides being unequal. I found an old saddle stem in my box of stems and tried that first – to me it was too long and gave the pipe an unbalanced look so I dug through my can of stems and found a saddle stem that was shorter that would look nice on the pipe.
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I peeled off the tape and underneath the two gold tape bands was a small crack in the shank. Underneath the brown tape was a huge fill on the top and underside of the shank. I used a Dremel with a sanding drum to reshape the shank and bowl union and also to reshape the end of the shank. I had a nice sterling silver wedding ring band that would work well on this pipe bowl so I reshaped the end of the shank with 220 grit sandpaper after the Dremel work and then applied all purpose white glue on the shank and pressed the silver band into place. Once it was in place I could see that the end of the shank was not straight but had been cut off at an angle. With the band in place I used the Dremel and sanding drum to straighten up the end of the shank. I finished that work by using the same sanding board set up I use for topping bowls. With all that finished I put the stem in place and sanded the bowl and shank until it was a clean smooth shape. I wiped the surface down with acetone on cotton pads to remove the urethane finish that the previous person put over all the bowl and tape. In the next four photos below the size of the large fill is obvious.
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With the shaping of the bowl and shank finished and looking more balanced I had to make a decision on how to deal with the large fills on the shank. There were also several sand pits on the bottom of the bowl that needed to be addressed. I weighed my options and decided to rusticate the shank. I used the modified Philips screwdriver to rusticate the shank first. At this point I left the bottom of the bowl smooth and just worked on the shank. Once I had rusticated it I used a small brass tire brush to smooth out the roughness of the rustication. I find that the brush knocks off the loose pieces of briar and gives the finish a contrast of highs and lows. The rustication looked good against the wedding band and the smoothness of the vulcanite. I also liked the look of the rustication against the smoothness of the bowl.
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I stained the shank with a black aniline stain. I applied it heavily with a cotton swab and flamed and repeated the process until I had a good matte black finish on the shank. At that point I decided to carry the rustication to the bottom of the bowl and slightly up the sides and curve it into the top of the shank bowl union.
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I stained the bottom of the bowl to match the shank colour. I applied a black aniline stain to the bottom and restained the shank at the same time. I flamed the stain and repeated the process until I had the coverage that I wanted on the bottom of the bowl. I then sanded the rest of the bowl with 200 grit sandpaper and then a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge. I finished by sanding it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wanted to have the briar clean and smooth on the upper portion of the bowl. The grain on that part of the bowl was quite nice. I wiped down the bowl with isopropyl on a cotton pad to remove the sanding dust. The state of the bowl at this point is shown in the next four photos below.
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It was time to bend the stem so I heated the stem until it was pliable with a heat gun set on the lowest setting. I bent is over a rolling pin to the angle that I wanted and set the angle with cold water. This particular stem evidently was good quality vulcanite as it did not have any oxidation and the water did not bring any to the surface. That was a real gift in this process as I would have had to work out the oxidation on the stem as well. The next series of photos shows the process and the finished look of the bend.
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At this point I reflected on what I wanted to do with the upper part of the bowl. I could stain it with a variety of colours to contrast with the rusticated black portion of the shank and bowl bottom but I was not certain I wanted to do that. I finally decided to rub down the bowl with olive oil to bring out the grain. I rubbed it in by hand and repeated that until it was finished. I gave the bowl a light buff with White Diamond to give it a shine. I will still need to give it several coats of carnauba wax but the look works for me. The grain pops with the oil finish. The next series of four photos show the bowl finish at this point in the process.
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I liked the overall appearance of the pipe. It was certainly significantly different from the bowl that it was before I started. The old bowl had a more elegant look to it now and felt great in the hand. The chunky wedding band contrasts well with the shape and the finish of the bowl. Now it was time to work on the stem. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the casting marks on the sides of the saddled and blade of the stem. I followed that by sanding with medium and fine grit sanding sponges to further remove the scratches to the vulcanite. I finished the sanding with my usual list of 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 let it soak in to the stem material.
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I buffed the finished pipe and stem with White Diamond and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I was careful to not get wax on the rusticated portion of the bowl and shank. The finished pipe is pictured below. It seems to me to have a much more dignified appearance than what it started with. I like the tactile feel of the bowl in my hand while at the same time maintaining the beautiful straight and flame grain on the bowl. I think this one will stay in my collection for quite awhile.
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Giving a Brewster Round Top Billiard a Face Lift


Blog by Steve Laug

I was gifted a pipe bowl from a friend in exchange for some work on his Peterson. He had no idea of the brand or maker but thought I could have some fun with it. I dug it out of the refurb bin the other evening and began to work on it. I would need to clean it up and then restem it in the process as it did not come with a stem. It was stamped Brewster over Imported Briar on the left side of the shank with no other identifying stamping.
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The finish seemed to be a very heavy lacquer that was cloudy with age. The shape was very interesting to me – a billiard like shape with a crowned rim, rounded and quite elevated. I like the looks of it. It is a small pipe – group 2 sized. There were a lot of putty fills on both sides of the bowl, the shank and the rim that would definitely show up once the lacquer finish was removed.
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The bowl was in great shape with a light build up of cake that was the right thickness. There was no heavy smell of aromatics clinging to the pipe. The shank was clean and the metal insert in the mortise was also clean and in good shape. The thread pattern and the look of the metal fitment looked exactly like a Dr. Grabow set up.
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I had an old Dr Grabow stem here that was missing the stinger apparatus but the threaded tenon was in working order. I took it from the can of stems I have and gave it a try on the shank. It threaded in perfectly. It was overturned but it fit. This added some objective evidence to my assumption that this pipe had some connection to Dr. Grabow.
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Back Story of Brewster Pipes (If you get bogged down in the history you can skip ahead to the section on the refurbishing process).

At that point in the process I slowed down the cleanup and went to the computer. I was hooked and wanted to see what I could find out about the Dr. Grabow connection to Brewster, if there was one. I wanted to know who made the pipe so I did some research on the web and in some of my books to see what I could find out about the brand. From the book Who Made that Pipe I learned that the brand was Italian made followed by the words unknown maker. I looked on Pipedia and there found much the same information – Italian made followed by question marks as to the maker. After working the web with Google and other search engines the most I could find out was that slight information – the pipe was an export brand of an unknown Italian company.

I decided to take a different tack. I found the Grabow Company site online and wrote an email to their information centre seeking information on the brand. I decided to follow-up on my hunch from the stamping and the metal insert in the shank that somehow this pipe was related to Dr. Grabow pipes. I had no clue how but it certainly had the signs so I went to the Dr. Grabow forum on-line and posted my questions http://drgrabows.myfreeforum.org/index.php . I also did some reading on the forum of back posts and found one series of posts on the brand. I read the following and immediately had more questions. The Grabow connection was not clear but I had found that the pipe may have been a promotional item. Here is the quote that gave me the information”

“A couple months back, I scored a Brewster off eBay for five bucks. Research on this forum and the wild, untamed internet tells me the Brewster pipes were all made in one batch in 1964 as a promotional item for Sir Walter Raleigh.”

Last evening while relaxing, my iPhone vibrated notifying me of a new email. I picked up the phone and saw that I had a response to the questions that I had posted on the forum. Dave Whitney, author of the book on refurbishing called Old Briar, had responded to my request for information. What he sent me was extremely helpful and a true goldmine of information. His answer affirmed the Grabow connection and gave critical information that I had not been able to find anywhere. I have included that information in part below.

Dave Whitney: Here’s what I have from my accumulated notes on Brewster – much of it looks like it came off this forum, ted/td being one of the early ones to help build this forum and a former Sparta CEO:

All the Brewsters were “made” in about 64’… Brewster… is probably from Fratelli Rossi from 64’… Ted, an older pipe smoker than me, suggested the Brewster pipes are comparable to the Willard pipes, and that Brewsters were often sold either with tobacco, or in a coupon offer. For example Brewster was sold as a redemption offer with Brown and Williamson for Sir Walter Raleigh tobacco.

Further information came from Dr. B… I think (in my feeble state of mind, after today) that Brewster was sold as a redemption offer with Brown and Williamson for Sir Walter Raleigh tobacco. But, Mastercraft in 74 had a LOAD of them left. We (Mastercraft) sold them as closeouts along with several pipes in baskets of 4 dozen at $3.98. We also included a bunch of Mastercraft from F. Rossi at the same price……..Rossi pipes are another story……Remind me of the “sticky lacquer” and I’ll tell it…….ted

Mastercraft was founded by Bernard Hochstein, an Orthodox Jew. Old, White Haired, Santa Claus looking (still alive at 96, last time I knew), and he was REKNOWNED for his ability to “strong arm” the European pipe suppliers into selling pipes to M/C at a bargain. Probably the best (never say nothing) negotiator that I’ve ever met. He sold a business (Mastercraft) to UST for 6 million in STOCK. He’s probably worth 60 million today. Mr. Hochstein could negotiate a peace in the Middle East in a very few days, and talk all parties outta’ their pants in the process.

OK, so Mr H “rapes” the Italian suppliers even up till 1964 when the Surgeon General’s (SG) report comes out. As it turns out, “rape” works both ways. A supplier, Fratelli Rossi, (still in business) took an order in 1963 for over 1 million pipes at 1/2 dollar (US) per pipe. When the SG’s report comes out, Rossi has filled a small part of the order for Hochstein, and had orders for a great many more pipes than Hochstein ordered. Rossi decided to experiment with his lacquer …Whose pipes did he experiment on? Hochsteins.

When I started at Mastercraft we had 1215 cartons of pipes from Rossi…Mastercraft Standard….72 dozen per carton, with lacquer so “tacky” that if you held the pipe as if you were smoking it, you’d have to “shake” it out of your hand. Rossi left out the curing agent. Ever touched wet paint?……..After 10 years they were still STICKY…..after 20 years, they were still STICKY.

We fought these SOB’s for years, when finally Luther Marlow (you’ll see topics about him) concluded that we could re-spray them with the Grabow lacquer and sell em’. We did, and we did. Through a “drive” by the UST salesforce, we sold every one. So if you have a Mastercraft Standard with what looks to be “heavy” lacquer, you are probably right.

Hussar…..Rossi also made Brewster. Better lacquer job though… Brewster was sold as a redemption offer with Brown and Williamson for Sir Walter Raleigh tobacco. But, Mastercraft in 74 had a LOAD of them left. We (Mastercraft) sold them as closeouts along with several pipes in baskets of 4 dozen at $3.98.

When I started with Mastercraft in the early 70’s we had over 400 cartons of pipes from Hully. Each carton contained 60 to 80 dozen, most of which were stamped Brewster or Stetson and these had a base cost (from the 60’s or earlier) of $2.80 /dz. Some of the smaller pipes, called Southern Assortment were $1.90 / dz. May be partly to blame for them going out of business.

That was very helpful information on the brand. It gave a definitive date and origin to the pipe. The Italian connection was also clear. The Dr. Grabow link was also clear in Dave’s answer. Now I wanted to know something about maker, Rossi. Dave kindly included that information in his answer as well. It is as follows:

From approximately 1946 up to the end, Ferdinando Rossi II, a grandchild of the founder, headed the company. But after World War II the world of the pipe changed dramatically. Especially in Italy, where those big pipe factories mainly turned out pipes for the lower priced segments of the international mass markets. The demand for these pipes shrunk considerably as more and more smokers turned to cigarettes. Rossi got into this vortex as well. Little by little the number of pipes produced sank. This evolution was accelerated by the upcoming fame of pipes from Denmark. As well, new Italian brands established after the war like Castello, Brebbia or little later Savinelli operated cleverer and thus were more successful.

So the decline went on through the 1960’s and 1970’s, even though Rossi offered more than 800 possible shapes in dozens of lines and uncounted finishes. Besides the completely machine made pipes there were also some lines of semi-freehands and even quite considerable freehands were made. But all these efforts could not stop the fall anyway. Due to increasing financial difficulties Rossi closed down in 1985, just one year before the 100th anniversary.

In the years around 1870 and still later the bulk of Italian pipes was made by time taking and laboriously manual work. Mainly based on families who sold their pipes to travelling purchasers handing them on to some wholesaler. Most pipes were still made of box or olive wood.

Ferdinando Rossi from Milan was one of the most important wholesalers for tobacco related goods of northern Italy. When he attended one of his pipe suppliers in Saint-Claude in 1880 he got hooked on the idea to establish this manner of industrialised briar pipe production in Italy as well. Rossi went abroad several times to buy the hardware here and there because the special features of machines for pipemaking were secrets – well kept by the French in those days. Many machines and tools had to be modified on Rossi’s defaults.

[From the Catalogue “La Regina della Pipa” (1896)] He acquired a large area of land in Barasso in the province of Varese and founded the Fabbrica di Pipe di Radica Rossi in 1886. For sure there was no lack of skilled workers and Rossi personally recruited 30 craftsmen of different occupations from the environment to get started. After a few years the enterprise had developed well and entered into export trades. In 1892 e.g. the ledgers registered the first pipes shipped to Brazil.

One reason of success was the ultramodern conception of the factory and its equipment at the given time. To give an example: a system of canals invented by Rossi drove water to turbines propelling downstream generators, which supplied the entire machinery with electricity. Also lighting and heating were already electrically operated.

In the first years after 1900 Rossi grew steadily and became one of the ten biggest pipe manufacturers of the world. Rossi’s rapid ascent produced further foundations of pipemaking firms in the area.

I love finding out the old company histories of the pipes that I refurbish. I find that it gives a colour and flavour to the pipe I hold in my hands and rework. It gives me the back story on the pipe and adds another dimension to the work of refurbishing. I have included it here for those who enjoy the same kind of history.

The Refurbishing Process (for those of you who have skipped ahead to see the work here is where it begins.)

I screwed the old Grabow stem into the mortise fitment and found that it was overturned. I used a Bic lighter to heat the metal tenon in the stem to loosen the glue. I put the stem back in place and tried to turn it straight, to clock it, but it was not loose enough. I reheated and retried until it was loose. I then turned the stem into place and aligned it with the bowl. I then cooled it under cool running water to set the glue. From the photos below it can be seen that the diameter of the stem was off. In looking at it from the tenon end it was also not round. The bottom part of the stem and the sides were wider than the top portion.
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I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to decrease the diameter but soon grew tired of hand sanding and decided to give myself a head start on the work. I used a Dremel with the sanding drum to remove the excess vulcanite of the stem. I then brought it back to the work table and sanded the shank to make the transition between the shank and the stem smooth and the bowl to remove the lacquer finish.
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Once I had removed the finish I could see that the number and the size and shape of the fills would make them hard to blend into the new stain. I made a decision to rusticate the bowl at that point in the process. I used the modified Philips screw driver to rusticate the bowl.
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With the bowl rustication finished and the stem fit finished I set up my heat gun and heated the stem to take out the bend. This particular Brewster shape had a straight stem. I held it above the heat gun until the vulcanite softened and the stem began to straighten on its own.
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Once it was straight I set the shape by putting it under running water. The straightened stem can be seen in the photo below.
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I took the pipe back to my work table and went over the surface with a brass bristle brush to knock off the rough spots on the surface of the bowl. I also buffed it with Tripoli to smooth it out. I took the photos below to show the new look of the Brewster. The stem and the rustication looked good to me. The smooth rim and the patch with the stamping would look good once the pipe was restained.
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I decided to give the pipe a contrast stain. For the bottom coat I used a dark brown aniline stain. I applied it with a cotton swab and flamed it. I repeated the process until the stain had covered the bowl evenly. The dark brown went deep into the crevices of the rustication.
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For the topcoat of stain I chose an oxblood aniline stain. I rubbed it onto the high points of the rustication with a cotton pad. My plan was to leave the dark brown in the crevices and the oxblood on the high points. I flamed the stain and then buffed the pipe with Tripoli.
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I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to finish the shaping and then used medium and fine grit sanding sponges to removes the scratches left behind by the sandpaper. I followed that up by sanding the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit micromesh pads and dry sanded with the 3200-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and when it was dry buffed the stem with White Diamond.
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I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the whole pipe with White Diamond. I then lightly buffed the bowl and buffed the stem with carnauba wax. I wanted to preserve the vulcanite and give it a shine. I also wanted to give a shine to the high points of the rustication on the bowl and also polish the rim. The finished pipe is shown in the pictures below. The old Brewster, with all of its history since 1964, is ready to enter a new phase of its own personal history. The face lift I gave it brings it to a new place. It is my hope that this old timer will give someone a great smoke and endure beyond me. That, after all, is what refurbishing work is all about – extending the life of the old pipes and delivering them intact to the next generation of pipemen.
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Another Rustication Tool


Blog by Steve Laug

Last week I was chatting with Dan Chlebove of Gabrieli Pipes about how he accomplishes the rustication pattern he uses on the rusticated pipe that he makes. I have liked Dan’s rustication style since I first started following his work. One of the Gabrieli pipes that I have in my collection displays his rustication. It has a tactile, pebbly feel to it and is comfortable in the hand.

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We talked about it for a while as he described the tool he uses. He sent me some photos of the tool. He says that the tool was a gift from Alberto Bonfignoli, maybe 12 yrs ago. Dan had met him in Richmond and talked with him, As Alberto looked at Dan’s early work and he asked if he had a tool to rusticate. When Dan told him no Alberto insisted on having Dan’s mailing address and promised he would send him one. Dan says, “VERY kind of him to a new
pipemaker I thought. It looks very Medieval eh?”

The tool is made up of small nails held in place by a perforated piece of aluminum and held in place with a hex screw.
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Thanks Dan for the photos. Now I have to figure out how to craft one for myself. That looks far more kind to the palm as it is twisted into the briar than the tools that I use.