Tag Archives: Bowls – refinishing

Restemming & Restoring a Malaga Second Long Shank Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

I have been on a restemming binge for the last week or so. I have a box of stummels (bowls) here that I periodically go through and see if I have a potential stem that would fit them. Yesterday when I finished the restoration and restem on the Viking Brandy, I went through the box and picked out three bowls and found workable stems for them. All were in different states of need but all had been thoroughly cleaned before I boxed them up. The first of those that I chose to restem and restore is a lovely Malaga Second Long Shank Billiard stummel. If you have followed me for long you will know that I have worked on a lot of Malaga pipes in the past so I am not a stranger to the brand. This particular bowl is actually quite beautiful and for the life of me I have no idea why is stamped a Second.

The bowl looked very good. The grain around the sides was quite nice and a mix of cross grain and birdseye grain. The rim top had light damage to the inner edge and some nicks of flaws in the outer edge. The rim top had been beat about a bit and showed the wear and damage and there was darkening around the top and edges. The interior of the bowl was clean and there was some light checking on the walls. Examining the mortise it was clean and well drilled with no issues. The finish was washed out and bit and tired but still quite redeemable. The stamping on the pipe was clear and readable. On the left side it read MALAGA [over] Second. I took some photos of the bowl before I started to work on it. I took a photo of the stamping on the side of the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable.I went through some of stems and found this shorter taper stem that needed some work on the tenon and diameter at the shank but it was exactly what I wanted. It has a few tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button but it would clean up well. I have worked on quite a few Malaga pipes and blogged their restorations, so rather than repeat previous blogs, I am including the link to one that gives some of the history of the Malaga brand and the Malaga Pipe Shop in Royal Oak, Michigan in the USA from a catalogue. It gives a sense of the brand and the history in their own words. Follow the link to get a feel for the brand and the pipemaker – https://rebornpipes.com/2013/02/09/george-khoubesser-and-malaga-pipes/.

Now it was time to work on the stem and fit it to the shank of the pipe. The diameter of the tenon was close. I used the Dremel and sanding drum to bring it close to a fit and then used two files that I have here that work well for me to do the fine tuning of the fit.I used a piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the file marks on the tenon and make sure it was round. It is an interesting stem in that it has a tube in the tenon for making it “unbreakable”. I fit it on the pipe and took photos of the fit at this point. The fit against the shank was perfect. There were spots where the stem diameter and the shank diameter did not match. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the transition between the two so it was smooth.I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the remainder of the stem. I “painted” the stem surface with a Bic lighter flame to raise the tooth marks. I was able to lift some of them to the surface. I filled in what remained with clear CA glue. Once it cured I flattened the repairs and reshaped the button with a small flat file. I then repaired areas 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the rest of the surrounding vulcanite. I finished this part of the process by starting the polishing of the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a cloth and Obsidian Oil. I finished the polishing with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I set the stem aside and turned my attention to the bowl. I started with the rim top issues. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the inner and the outer edge of the rim. I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out and minimize the damage on the rim top. The top and edges looked much better at this point in the process. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down with a damp cloth after each pad. It really began to shine. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the smooth briar with my finger tips. The product is amazing and works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let it sit on the briar for 10 or more minutes and then buff it off with a soft cloth. It really makes the grain sing. Before I finished the buffing on the pipe I wanted to address the checking on the inside of the bowl. I noticed it while I was taking the photos. Sometimes it is part of the cake and sometimes not. This time I was able to clean out the majority of it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and then sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. There is still some shallow checking on the front of the bowl toward the top and a little on the backside but it is far better and should be good for many years. I cleaned out the bowl, shank and stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners to remove the sanding and scraping debris.I put the pipe back together – the bowl with its new stem. This restored Malaga Second Long Shank Billiard is a real beauty and the chosen stem works well with it. I have no idea why it would be marked a second other than the pits on the rim top. The grain on the bowl is quite beautiful came alive with the buffing. I used Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel on both the bowl and stem. I gave both multiple coats of carnauba wax on the wheel then buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The Malaga Second Billiard feels great in the hand. It is lightweight and the contrast in the browns of the briar and the polished vulcanite stem is quite amazing. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outer diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.98 ounces/56 grams. It really is a beauty. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store in the American (US) Pipe Makers section shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for walking through the restemming and the restoration with me. Cheers.

A Rare Beauty


Blog by Kenneth Lieblich

Next on the chopping block is a spectacular freehand pipe that came in a group of pipes that I bought from Chicago. Freehand pipes have been all the rage among collectors for many years, thanks to the Danes. But this one is not from Denmark – it is from the United States. The pipe is absolutely beautiful and a superb example of American pipe-making craftsmanship. I have been wanting to work on this pipe for ages, but other things always got in the way. Now is the time. Carpe diem!The pipe is a American freehand pipe by the esteemed pipemaker, Sandor Herskovitz. You’ve never heard of him? Do not worry – few have! Not many of his pipes are available on the secondary market. The gorgeous briar wood on this pipe really makes an impression. I am not able to date the pipe, as the photo shows all of the markings to be seen. It simply shows the word Sandor on the left-hand side of the stummel.Little information exists on Pipepedia about him. What information they do have comes from the proprietor of the Red Door Consignment Gallery in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania:

Sandor Herskovitz (of Flushing, NY) used to make pipes and sell them out of a public park in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in the late 50s and early 60s. Tom Benz had a pipe created for his wife, Hilda, that is a foot with a big toe sticking up. Sandor signed it “Made for Hilda, Sandor”. Tom Benz gave the pipe to a friend who later passed. His daughter gave it to the Red Door Consignment Gallery in Harrisburg, PA to sell. Coincidentally, my father, Leonard Berman, saw the pipe and asked me to e-mail Tom Benz to ask who the man was who used to make pipes in the park. By sheer coincidence, Tom Benz wrote back with the name Sandor Herkovitz and said the pipe was originally his! Of course, I offered it back but he declined and is allowing the public to enjoy it at our gallery. I will continue to research this pipe maker and hope others will contribute as well.

I did my own sleuthing on Sandor Herskovitz. I do not know his life-span for certain, but US genealogical records indicate that a man named Sandor Herskovitz was born in Hungary in 1898, naturalized in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1923, and died in Erie, New York in 2002. This seems likely to be our man.

I also found two newspaper articles that mentioned Herskovitz in the 1970s. The first article comes from the Washington Post on 13 April 1978, regarding the Spring Arts and Crafts Fair in Gaithersburg, Maryland:

Finding the unusual can be an important factor in the craftsman’s success. By applying his trade to his hobby, Sandor Herskovitz of Flushing, N.Y., found a distinctive way to sculpt briar pipes. For shapes, he found inspiration in the shoes he had been selling for years for Genesco, a shoe corporation. From making pipes in the shape of Benedict Arnold’s boot and Abigail Adams’ shoe he has gone on to make a camera shape for a Nikon executive, a foot shape for a podiatrist and a vertebra shape for an osteopath. His Liberty Bell pipe sent to Washington for the Bicentennial caught the eye of pipe-smoker Gerald Ford. “Maybe I got a little ham in me, maybe that’s why I do it,” said Herskovitz. “You take a piece of wood and you never know what’s inside.”

The second article comes from the Michigan Daily on 20 July 1978, regarding the Ann Arbor Art Fair in Ann Arbor, Michigan:

The vendor of another of the more unusual Art Fair wares is New York pipe carver Sandor Herskovitz. “The things I sell, nobody else sells,” said Herskovitz, puffing on a wooden pipe in the shape of a bare foot. The artist’s array of designs ranges from an abstract, roughly-textured wooden pipe to an intricate miniature replica of Benedict Arnold’s boot. “I sell all over the country, and these are the best handmade pipes in the world, I think,” Herskowitz said. “The people seem to like our pipes in Ann Arbor.”Clearly, Herskowitz was an experienced and talented pipe man. It seems likely that the pipe dates from the 1950s–1970s. I am delighted to be able to work on a pipe like this. One can not only see, but also feel, the quality of the briar and the work he put into it.

On to the pipe and, beautiful though it was, it had a few issues. The stem had some oxidation and plenty of tooth chatter and scratches. It desperately needed a polish. It also had problem with the tenon insofar as it did not fit properly in the stummel’s mortise. Meanwhile, the stummel also had some problems. There was plenty of lava on the rim (and some minor burning), lots of cake in the bowl, and the bowl was pretty darn dirty. In addition, there was a small crack in the wood of the face of the shank. It seems reasonable to deduce that the crack may have been as a result of the misfitting tenon on the stem. This pipe was going to require some work, but it was definitely worth it for such a beauty. The stem was first on my list. I took a BIC lighter and ‘painted’ the stem with its flame in order to lift the tooth marks. This was fairly successful in raising the dents. Then, I cleaned out the insides of the stem with pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. Once this process was done, the stem went for an overnight soak in the Pipe Stem Oxidation Remover. The following day, I cleaned all of the de-oxidizing mess off with alcohol, pipe cleaners, et cetera. The oxidation had migrated to the surface and would be fairly straightforward to remove. I scrubbed vigorously with SoftScrub on some cotton pads to remove the leftover oxidation. Next, I had to carefully remove some of the bulk from the stem’s tenon. Since I do not have a tenon-turning tool, I used my Dremel Rotary Tool. This was a bit scary, since the Dremel tends to have a mind of its own. I had to work precisely and gingerly. In the end, I managed to remove just enough and the stem now fits perfectly in the stummel.Before I moved on to the Micromesh pads, I built up the dents and the button on the stem with cyanoacrylate adhesive and let them fully cure. I then sanded the adhesive down with 220-, 400-, and 600-grit sandpapers to meld seamlessly into the stem. I did the same to the remaining tooth marks. I then used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to bring out the lovely black lustre on the stem. I also used Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil in between each pad scrubbing.On to the stummel, and the usual cleaning procedures were in order for this pipe. I used both the PipNet Reamer and the KleenReem to remove the built-up cake and followed that with 220-grit sandpaper to eliminate as much as I could. I took the bowl down to bare briar, as I wanted to ensure there were no hidden flaws in the walls of the bowl. Fortunately, there were none. I then proceeded to clean out the insides of the shank with Q-tips, pipe cleaners, and isopropyl alcohol. There was some nastiness inside this stummel, but fortunately not too much – it only took a handful of pipe cleaners etc. to sort that out. I followed that up by cleaning the insides with some dish soap and tube brushes. I then moved on to cleaning the outside of the stummel with Murphy’s Oil Soap and some cotton pads. That removed any latent dirt and the miserable stains that blighted the wood. I had to work especially hard on the rim of the pipe. Obviously, this is a freehand (with a freehand sort of rim) and, as a result, I do not have the luxury of using a topping board to remove some of the lava. I used a small butter knife to gently chip away at the lava. I then used more Murphy’s with a scrub brush to get into the crevasses. This actually worked quite well. As I mentioned earlier, there were some small burn marks on the rim of the stummel that also needed to be addressed. A lot of this was removed by the Murphy’s. For the burns that remained, I took some oxalic acid on a Q-tip and rubbed and rubbed and rubbed! As you will see, the treatment worked very well and the rim is much improved.On to another issue with this pipe: the crack in the shank. My first step was to ensure that the crack would not continue to creep after I had repaired it. To that end, I took a micro-drill bit, inserted it in my Dremel, and very carefully drilled a hole right through the wall of the shank. This was quite nerve-wracking, but it worked perfectly. Look how thin that drill bit is! I then needed to apply cyanoacrylate adhesive to the crack in order to seal and repair it. I covered the end of the shank with painters’ tape. That done, I carefully applied some adhesive to the tiny hole and the length of the crack. Finally, I clamped it shut and let it sit overnight to cure. This was a great success – obviously, the crack would always be visible, but I was really pleased with how the repair looked. After this, the entire stummel was treated to a scrubbing with all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) and some distilled water. A light application of Before & After Restoration Balm brought out the best in the stummel’s grain. The wood on this pipe is stunning! Now it was off for a trip to the buffer. A dose of White Diamond and a few coats of carnauba wax were just what this pipe needed. I had to be especially careful with the bench polisher on the stummel, since the edges have a tendency to catch on the buffing wheels. I have to admit, this did put my heart in my throat a few times!

This pipe was a delight from start to finish and its beauty only increased through the restoration process. I am pleased to announce that this pipe is for sale! If you are interested in acquiring it for your collection, please have a look in the ‘American’ pipe section of the store here on Steve’s website. You can also email me directly at kenneth@knightsofthepipe.com. The approximate dimensions of the pipe are as follows: length 6¼ in. (160 mm); height 2½ in. (60 mm); bowl diameter 1½ in. (40 mm); chamber diameter ¾ in. (20 mm). The weight of the pipe is 2 oz. (60 g). I hope you enjoyed reading the story of this pipe’s restoration as much I as I did restoring it. If you are interested in more of my work, please follow me here on Steve’s website or send me an email. Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments.

Restemming & Restoring a Made in Denmark Viking Brandy


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I chose to work on was another bowl from my box of bowls to restem. This one is a nicely grained mixed finish Brandy. The right side and half of the front of the bowl is sandblast and left side and remainder of the bowl is smooth. It has some amazing looking grain around the bowl and shank. The sandblast is deep on that portion. It is stamped on the underside of the shank and reads MADE IN DENMARK [over] VIKING. The stamping was clear and readable with a lens. I think that the pipe is probably made my Bjarne but I would do some digging and see what I could learn. The bowl had been cleaned and reamed somewhere along the way by either Jeff or me. I honestly don’t remember when or where we got this bowl. It looked very good and I was looking forward to seeing the finished Brandy. The shank had a Delrin insert and the mortise was slightly inset for a freehand style stem. The original stem was long gone so I would need to go through my stems and find one that would work for a restemming. It would be a different stemming job because of the inset mortise. I took some photos of the bowl to give a sense of the condition of this nice looking Brandy. There was a smooth panel on the underside of the shank. It is stamped as noted above and is clear and readable with a lens.The next photo shows the rim top and edges. It also shows the condition of the bowl and rim top/edges. It is clean looks quite good. Now it was time to begin my restemming work on this pipe. I went through my can of stems and chose two stems that would give the pipe a completely different look. The first was a thick taper that I had used as a replacement for a Dunhill with a missing stem. It was close to the right diameter but the dot would need to go. The second was a freehand style stem that fit in the inset mortise in the shank. Now I would need to make a decision.

First the bowl with the taper stem:  Second the bowl with the freehand stem:I took a photo of the inset mortise to give a sense of what I was working with restemming this pipe. I decided to put the taper stem in place on the shank for a look. In order to use it required that I place a thin band on the shank end to take care of the rounding of the shank end and facilitate a flush face for the taper stem to sit against. I slipped one in place on the shank and put the stem in place on the shank and took photos. I removed the band and the stem and put the freehand stem on the pipe to have a look at what it would like with this kind of stem. I put it in place and took some photos of it so I could see what I thought. I am personally leaning towards the taper stem. I worked on the fit of the stem to the shank with a file to reduce the diameter of the stem. It took some slow and tedious work to get the stem diameter very close. Once I was finished I liked the way the stem was starting to look. More work to do on it for sure but it is getting there. I was definitely ready to go with the taper stem at this point!I made a decision to go with the thick taper stem as I really like the look of a classic Brandy. I pressed a thin band on the shank end to give me a flat surface for the stem to face against. I like the look of the shank with the band. I continued the shaping of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to bring the diameter of the shank and stem in sync. Once I had it where I wanted it I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished the stem with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it with a cotton cloth. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. With the stem finished I turned my attention to the bowl. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding debris and dust. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the smooth and the sandblast bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The Balm did its magic and the sandblast grain really took on dimension and colour. I am excited to be on the homestretch with this mixed finish (smooth/sandblast) Made in Denmark Viking Brandy with a taper vulcanite stem. This is the part I look forward to when it all comes back together, polished and waxed. I put the bowl, the thin brass band and the new stem together and polished them with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the vulcanite and give a light shine to the bowl. 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 hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The smooth part of the finish and the sandblast finish on the front and right sight looks really good with the band and the new polished black taper vulcanite stem. This Viking Brandy was another fun pipe to work on and came out looking great. It is a comfortable sized pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 2 ¼ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 59 grams/2.08 ounces. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your rack it will be on the rebornpipes store in the Danish Pipemakers Section soon. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.

Restemming & Restoring a French Made GBD Sauvage 1345 Poker/Pot


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I chose to work on was another bowl from my box of bowls to restem. It is a different looking bowl that combines both a Pot and a Poker shape. It has a inward beveled rim, flat bottom and worm trails curled around the bowl sides. When I examined the shank it had a small hairline crack on the right side that would need to be repaired but otherwise it was solid. It was unique enough I wanted to work on it. It is stamped on the left side of the shank and has a GBD oval logo next to the bowl/shank union followed by Sauvage. On the right side of the shank it is stamped FRANCE [over] the shape number 1345. The stamping was clear and readable with a lens. The bowl had been cleaned and reamed somewhere along the way by either Jeff or me. I honestly don’t remember when or where we got this bowl. It looked very good and I was looking forward to seeing the finished pipe. The stem was long gone so this would be a restemming job. I took some photos of the bowl to give a sense of the condition of bowl. The stamping was on both sides of the shank and it is clear and readable as noted above. I have also drawn a red rectangle around the area where the crack in the shank is located in the photo below.The next photo shows the rounded rim top and edges. It also shows the condition of the bowl and rim top/edges. It is clean and looks quite good. There is some burn damage on the inner edge of the bowl and on the beveled rim top at the front and the back of the bowl.Now it was time to begin my restemming work on this pipe. I went through my can of stems and chose a stem that would work. I would need to remove some the diameter of the tenon and the saddle portion to fit the thin almost pencil shank of the pipe. I used a flat file to remove the small amount of excess on the tenon. It was a close fit but I did not want to make the crack in the shank worse by a tenon that was not correct.When I had finished shaping the tenon I sanded it with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper and inserted it in the shank. It was looking pretty good. I would need to trim back some of the diameter of the saddle portion but I liked it! I generally use a Dremel and sanding drum to reduce the diameter of the stem. I do this with the stem in place on the shank so that I do not overdo it. It is a touchy exercise and one slip and I could easily damage the shank and make more work for myself. I move carefully and take it back as close as I can at this point. Once I band the shank I will need to do some more work on it but it is starting to look right. With the fit close enough it was time to band the shank. I generally do the final adjustments on the stem diameter after I have fit the band in place. I picked a band out that would fit when heated. I took a photo of the crack in the shank to show what I was working with. I sanded the shank end and gave it a slight bevel to facilitate pressing the band in place. Once it was ready I put the band on the shank. It was tight so I heated it with a lighter and when it had expanded I pressed it against the pad on my desk and pushed it all the way onto the shank. It covered the “e” on Sauvage slightly but the length of the crack defined what I needed to band it. I used some 220 grit sandpaper to once again take a little bit off the diameter of the tenon and the band compresses the crack and the diameter of the mortise changes. When I was finished I put the stem in the shank and took photos of the newly banded shank. It was going to look good once I finished shaping the stem diameter but it is very close at this point. What do you think of the new look? I finished adjusting the fit of stem diameter with 220 grit sandpaper and everything was aligned. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper and the stem was looking very good at this point. Now I needed to deal with the tooth marks and chatter on the end of the stem. I “painted” them with the flame of a lighter to lift them as much as possible. I filled in the ones that remained with clear super glue. Once the glue cured I flattened out the repairs with a small flat file. I followed that by sanding the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished the stem with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it with a cotton cloth. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. With the stem finished (other than to buff the pipe at the end)I set it aside and I turned my attention to the bowl. I used a wooden ball that Kenneth gave me with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the bevel. I finished with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to further minimize the burn damage. I touched up the stain with an Oak Stain pen to match the surrounding briar of the bowl. It looked much better at this point. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding debris left behind. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the smooth and worm trails on the bowl and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The Balm did its magic and the grain really took on dimension and colour. I am excited to be on the homestretch with this petite French Made GBD Sauvage 1345 Poker/Pot. This is the part I look forward to when it all comes back together, polished and waxed. I put the bowl and the new stem together and polished the stem and bowl with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the vulcanite and give a light shine to the bowl. 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 hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The worm trail carving on the bowl actually looks okay with the rest of the smooth finish. The banded shank and new polished black saddle vulcanite stem works well with this little sitter. This GBD Sauvage Poker/Pot was another fun pipe to work on and came out looking great. It is a comfortable sized pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 33 grams/1.16 ounces. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your rack it will be on the rebornpipes store in the French Pipemakers Section soon. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.

Restoring and Reshaping a stem on a beautiful “Malaga” Imported Briar 3 Cutty


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I chose to work on from my box of pipes to be restored is a lovely “Malaga” Cutty with a poorly fit stem. We bought the pipe off eBay back in January, 2017 from Gilroy, California, USA. The stamping on the pipe was clear and readable. On the left side it read “MALAGA” and on the right side it read IMPORTED BRIAR. On the heel of the bowl it was stamped with the number 3. It was an interesting looking Cutty shaped pipe. The grain around the sides was quite nice and a mix of cross grain and birdseye grain. There was a thick cake in the bowl and a thick lava coat on the rim top. The inner edge of the bowl was so caked it was hard to know what the edge looked like underneath. The stem was oxidized, calcified and had a lot of deep tooth mark and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. It was a bit of a mess. Jeff took some photos of the bowl before he started to work on it. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava coat on the top and on the inner beveled edge of the bowl. I am hoping that it protected the edge from damage. He also took photos of the stem to show the deep tooth marks and chatter on the oxidized stem. He took photos of the bowl and heel to show the condition of the finish. Though the finish is dirty and grimy you can see some nice grain showing on the bowl sides. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank and the heel of the bowl. It read as noted above and was readable. I have worked on a lot of Malaga pipes in the past so I am not a stranger to the brand. I have blogged their restorations, so rather than repeat previous blogs, I am including the link to one that gives some of the history of the Malaga brand and the Malaga Pipe Shop in Royal Oak, Michigan in the USA from a catalogue. It gives a sense of the brand and the history in their own words. Follow the link to get a feel for the brand and the pipemaker – https://rebornpipes.com/2013/02/09/george-khoubesser-and-malaga-pipes/.

I took some photos of the pipe as I took it out of the box. Here is what I saw. I could see that Jeff had cleaned it well. The bowl had been reamed with a PipNet reamer and Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He had scrubbed the exterior with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap. He rinsed it with warm water. He cleaned out the internals with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. The stem was twisted and tweaked to the right as can be seen in the photos of the top and underside of the pipe. The grain on the bowl is quite nice with just a few small fills that are solid and well blended in with the surrounding briar. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. The rim top had cleaned up very well and you can see the damage to the inner edge of the bowl at the back as well as some darkening on the rim top and outer edges. The stem cleaned up well but the tooth damage is quite deep and messy. I took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank and heel of the bowl. The stamping is clear and readable as noted above.I took the stem off the shank and took a photo of the pipe. I really like the look of the Cutty shape and the grain on the bowl. It is a beauty. The stem will look good once it has gone through some surgery on the diameter and the shank and the chomping on the button end.I started my work on the pipe by cleaning up the damaged inner edge and top of the rim with a folded piece of 220 sandpaper. Once it was finished it definitely is an improvement.I polished the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped down the bowl after each sanding pad. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The Balm did its magic and the grain stood out.   I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I decided to address the fit of the stem to the shank. They were significantly different in diameter. I wanted to address that first while at the same time dealing with the deep tooth marks. I took photos of the fit of the stem to the shank. I think you can see the variation in diameter in the photos. The stem is bigger on the top an don the right side. If I turn it over it is the reverse but the fit is better against the shank face in the way it is in the photos below.I sanded the shank end of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to reduce diameter to a close fit. I got I close then decided to deal with the tooth marks on the stem surface so that I could sand the entire stem to shape and it to the shank. I “painted” the tooth marked area with the flame of a lighter and was able to lift many of them significantly. Those that remained I filled in with clear CA glue and set aside to cure. Once the repair had cured I used a small file to flatten it out and to redefine the button area and edges. It looked much better. I followed that by sanding the repaired area with 220 grit sandpaper to further blend in the repairs to the surrounding vulcanite. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. With that work down on the button end I could go back to fine tuning the stem to shank fit.I went back to fitting the stem to the shank with 220 grit sandpaper and after some more adjustments the fit works well with the shank and I am pleased with the smooth transition to the shank.I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads (somehow the photo of the 1500-2400 grit pads was inadvertently lost). I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. Once I finished refitting and repairing the stem, this “Malaga” Imported Briar 3 Cutty was another beautiful pipe. The briar around the bowl is clean and really came alive. The rim top looks much better than when I began. The rich brown stains gave the grain a sense of depth with the polishing and waxing. The grain really popped. I put the vulcanite stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished “Malaga” Cutty is a beauty and feels great in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of pipe is 1.34 ounces /38 grams. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store soon. Look for it in the American Pipe Makers section. If you would like to add it to your collection let me know. This is another pipe that has the possibility of transporting the pipe man or woman back to a slower paced time in history where you can enjoy a respite. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.

Cleaning up a Television Imported Briar Italian Made Churchwarden


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table was purchased from an antique store on 10/14/17 in Pocatello, Idaho, USA. It is a nice looking Rusticated Billiard Churchwarden with a long straight stem. It is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads TELEVISION [over] Imported Briar [over] Italy. The stamping is very clear and readable. The rusticated finish had a spotty coat of varnish around the rusticated rim, sides and shank but it was primarily on the high spots with little of it going into the depths of the rough rustication. The bowl had a thin cake and dust and debris in the rustication on the rim top and the rest of the bowl and shank. The stem was acrylic and in decent condition with some ripples in the underside from when it had been heated to bend it. It had some tooth chatter and marks on both sides near the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe when he unpacked it and before he started his clean up work. It is a great looking piece of briar. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the light cake bowl and the debris in the rustication. He also took photos of the stem to show the wrinkles in the middle of the underside as well as the light tooth marks and chatter on the acrylic stem. He took photos of the bowl and heel to show the condition of the finish. Though the photos show the deep rustication around the bowl sides and heel. It is a rugged, tactile looking pipe with a nickel band on the shank. The stamping is on a smooth portion of the shank. You can also see the spotty finish on the bowl and shank. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the left side of the shank. It read as noted above and was readable. It took two photos to capture the full stamp on the shank. You can also see the crackle in he varnish coat on the shank. Jeff also took photos of the shank band. The photos show that it had an EP in a diamond stamped on it and underneath were some faux hallmarks.I have worked on quite a few Television Pipes over the years – old timers, billiards and at least one Churchwarden pipe. I checked all the usual sites for information and I could find nothing about the brand. I decided to leave the hunt behind and just work on the pipe.

I took some photos of the pipe as I took it out of the box. Here is what I saw. I slid it out of the wrapper around it. I could see that Jeff had cleaned it well. The bowl had been reamed with a PipNet reamer and Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He had scrubbed the exterior with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap. He rinsed it with warm water. He cleaned out the internals with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. The stem was twisted and tweaked to the right as can be seen in the photos of the top and underside of the pipe. The grain on the bowl is quite nice with just a few small fills that are solid and well blended in with the surrounding briar. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. The rim top had cleaned up very well and the rim top and edges looked very good. The stem was in decent condition other than light tooth chatter on both sides at the button. The stem also has some casting marks on the sides and a wrinkle on the underside from when it was heated and bent originally. I was surprised to see that the stem was acrylic rather than vulcanite. It really does shine. I took a photo of the stamping on the smooth panel on the left side of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above.I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to show the proportion of the stem to the bowl. It is a nice looking pipe.I decided to start work on this pipe by addressing the spotty varnish coat on the bowl. It was a bit odd in that it was on the high spots not in the crevices of the rustication as much. I scrubbed it with a brass bristle wire brush and acetone to try and break it down. Once finished it did look better. I would at least be able to stain the valleys and crevices! I stained the bowl with a dauber and a light brown aniline stain. I put the stain on quite heavy to let it get down in the crevices. I flamed it with a lighter to set the stain in the grain and repeated the process until I was happy with the coverage.When the stain dried I buffed the finish with a clean buffing pad and a horsehair shoe brush to raise the shine. I also polished the Electro Plated band with a jewelers cloth to bring out the shine. It is quite nice looking at this point. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the casting marks along both sides of the stem as well as the wrinkle in the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. I also smoothed out the tooth chatter on both sides. It became exceptionally clear that I was working with an acrylic stem. The sanding dust was almost blue looking and plastic feeling dust. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. Once I finished working on the stem, this Television Imported Briar Italy Churchwarden was another beautiful pipe. The rusticated briar around the bowl is clean and really tactile. The rim top and edges are in great condition. The rich brown stains gave the grain a sense of depth with the polishing and waxing. The depth of the rustication really stood out. I put the acrylic stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Television Italian Churchwarden is a beauty and feels great in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 11 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of pipe is 1.38 ounces /40 grams. It is another one that is much more beautiful in person than these photos can capture. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store soon. Look for it in the Italian Pipe Makers section. If you would like to add it to your collection let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.

Firing Up the Carburetor


Blog by Kenneth Lieblich

Next on the chopping block is an amazing, old Yello-Bole Carburetor. It has lovely proportions and very nice lines. It was clearly a well-made pipe, but it was a mess. It came to me in a lot off of Craigslist, here in the Vancouver area. There were several interesting pipes in this lot, but I grabbed this one because I wanted to learn more about carburetor systems in pipes. This seemed like a good starting point. The pipe turned out beautifully, but it was not clear that that was going to be the case when I started! This is a bent-egg-shaped pipe – and a really pretty one too. It felt very nice. There is plenty of information to be had on Yello-Bole pipes, but this one is slightly tricky to date. The markings on the left of the shank read Yello-Bole [over] Carburetor [over] Genuine Briar. On the right side of the shank is the model number 9567. Also, on the stem, there is a whitish circle, unlike the yellow circles of old. RebornPipes has a few write-ups on Yello-Bole Carburetors, but none quite like this one. I believe this pipe to be a bit newer than the previous restorations – certainly dating after 1955 and before 1972. I say “certainly” because when S.M. Frank & Co. Inc. bought out Yello-Bole et al from KB&B in 1955, they ceased using the KB&B clover-leaf logo. This pipe does not have the clover. The history of Yello-Bole’s carburetor system is quite interesting. I am borrowing from an old post of Steve’s to relay the following information:

I decided to look up the patents on the US Patent site and see what I could find about about them and the date they were filed (https://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/srchnum.htm). I searched first for the US. Pat. 2,082,106 that was stamped on the top and left side of the shank. I assumed it referred to the Patent for the Carburetor but I was not certain. I found a drawing and description of the carburetor system of a patent filed by R. Hirsch on April 21, 1936 and granted on June 1, 1937. I have included those pages below. For those interested in the problematic dating of Yello-Bole pipes, please refer to this link which has some useful information: https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/kaywoodie/dating-yello-bole-pipes-t86.html.

Anyway, on to the pipe, and – as I mentioned – it was very attractive, but a bit of a mess. The stem was dark and dreary. It had significant oxidation and plenty of tooth chatter and scratches. Meanwhile, the stummel also had some problems. There was plenty of lava on the rim, some small burns, cake in the bowl, and a few scratches here-and-there. The staining of the wood needed to be revivified too. The finish on the wood had come off in spots and that was going to need attention. Also, the carburetor itself was impregnated with gunk. This pipe was going to require quite a bit of elbow grease, but I was looking forward to working on this one. It is a pipe that still has many decades of use in it.

The stem was first on my list. I wiped down the outside of the stem with Murphy’s Oil Soap on some cotton pads. I also took a BIC lighter and ‘painted’ the stem with its flame in order to lift the bite marks and dents. This was somewhat successful in raising the damage. Then, I cleaned out the insides with pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. Once this process was done, the stem went for an overnight soak in the Before & After Hard Rubber Deoxidizer. The following day, I cleaned all of the de-oxidizing sludge off with alcohol, pipe cleaners, et cetera. The oxidation had migrated to the surface and would be fairly straightforward to remove. I scrubbed vigorously with SoftScrub on cotton pads (and a toothbrush) to remove the leftover oxidation. Before I moved on to the Micromesh pads, I built up some tiny dents on the stem with cyanoacrylate adhesive and let it fully cure. I then sanded it down with 220-, 400-, and 600-grit sandpapers to meld seamlessly into the stem. I then used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to bring out the lovely black lustre on the stem. I also used Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil in between each pad scrubbing.I also decided to paint the “O” on the stem with some white nail polish. This sort of “paint” works very well in filling in the markings and is quite resistant to wear-and-tear.This stummel was quite a mess. The lava on the rim was so substantial that I first gently scraped it with a knife to remove as much as possible. I then decided to ream out the bowl. I used both the PipNet Reamer and the KleenReem to remove the built-up cake and followed that with 220-grit sandpaper to eliminate as much as I could. I took it down to bare briar, as I wanted to ensure there were no hidden flaws in the walls of the bowl. Fortunately, there were none. I then proceeded to clean out the insides of the shank with Q-tips, pipe cleaners, and isopropyl alcohol. There was a lot of nastiness inside this stummel and – boy-oh-boy – it took a lot of cotton to get this thing clean! I also used some cotton balls, isopropyl alcohol, and a straight pin to clean the carburetor. I followed that up by cleaning the insides with some castile soap and tube brushes. But that was just the inside! I then moved on to cleaning the outside of the stummel with Murphy’s Oil Soap, a toothbrush, and some cotton pads. Wow – I got a lot of filth off the stummel and I began to see some signs of real beauty in the wood. A sign of good things to come! But I still needed to address the patchy finish on the wood. It may have looked good once upon a time, but no longer. So, I opted to soak the stummel in isopropyl alcohol for a few hours. This will usually remove the sort of deteriorating finish I was faced with. When I took the stummel out of the alcohol bath, I scrubbed the wood with a brush (to remove any remnants) and left it to dry. In order to remove the lingering bits of finish (and eliminate any nicks on the rim), I “topped” the pipe – that is to say, I gently and evenly sanded down the rim on a piece of 220-grit sandpaper. This effectively removed the damage, without altering the look of the pipe. I opted to carry on sanding the whole stummel with 220-, 400-, and 600-grit sandpapers to even everything out. I then used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to finish it off. After that, a light application of Before & After Restoration Balm brought out the best in the stummel’s grain. There is some beautiful wood after all – and look at that bird’s-eye! On to another problem: the colour. During the course of its previous life and my vigorous cleaning, this pipe had lost some vibrancy of colour. So, in order to accentuate the external beauty of this pipe, I opted for aniline dye. I applied some of Fiebing’s Light Brown Leather Dye. As usual, I applied flame from a BIC lighter in order to set the colour. What a difference that made! It looked so much better with a fresh coat of stain.I applied some Before & After Restoration Balm and then it was off for a trip to the buffer. A dose of White Diamond and a few coats of carnauba wax were just what this pipe needed. The lovely shine made the wood very attractive. This is a very elegant pipe and will provide many years of smoking pleasure.

This Yello-Bole Carburetor is back to its old glory and ready to be enjoyed again by the next owner. I am pleased to announce that this pipe is for sale! If you are interested in acquiring it for your collection, please have a look in the ‘American’ pipe makers section of the store here on Steve’s website. You can also email me directly at kenneth@knightsofthepipe.com. The approximate dimensions of the pipe are as follows: length 5¾ in. (145 mm); height 2¾ in. (50 mm); bowl diameter 1⅛ in. (29 mm); chamber diameter ¾ in. (19 mm). The weight of the pipe is 1⅜ oz. (40 g). I hope you enjoyed reading the story of this pipe’s restoration as much I as I did restoring it. If you are interested in more of my work, please follow me here on Steve’s website or send me an email. Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments.

New Life for Savinelli Churchwarden Aged Briar 404


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table was purchased off eBay on 01/19/18 from Dallas, Texas, USA. It is a nice looking Dublin Churchwarden with a long straight stem. It is stamped on the top of the shank and reads Churchwarden [over] Aged Briar. On the underside it is stamped with the Savinelli S shield followed by the shape number 404 then Savinelli [over] Italy. The stamping is readable but on the topside the middle of the stamp is faint. The finish worn and dirty around the shank and sides. The bowl had a thick cake and a thin coating of lava on the rim top and inner beveled edge. The stem was warped to the right and turned downward. It had some tooth chatter and marks on both sides near the button. It was lightly oxidized along the entire length. Jeff took photos of the pipe when he unpacked it and before he started his clean up work. It is a great looking piece of briar. Jeff took the following photos before he started his work on the pipe.Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava coat on the top and on the inner beveled edge of the bowl. I am hoping that it protected the edge from damage. He also took photos of the stem to show the light tooth marks and chatter on the oxidized stem. He took photos of the bowl and heel to show the condition of the finish. Though the photos are slightly out of focus you can see some nice grain showing on the bowl sides. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the top and underside of the shank. It read as noted above and was readable. The Churchwarden stamp on the topside of the shank was faint in the middle but could still be read.If you want a great read on the history of the Savinelli brand give the one on Pipedia some attention as it is well written (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Savinelli). There is a shape chart on the site so I did a screen capture and have circled the 404 shape in read in the photo below. The shape number is correct and a Churchwarden long stem has been added. It works very well with that particular shape.I took some photos of the pipe as I took it out of the box. Here is what I saw. I slid it out of the wrapper around it. I could see that Jeff had cleaned it well. The bowl had been reamed with a PipNet reamer and Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He had scrubbed the exterior with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap. He rinsed it with warm water. He cleaned out the internals with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. The stem was twisted and tweaked to the right as can be seen in the photos of the top and underside of the pipe. The grain on the bowl is quite nice with just a few small fills that are solid and well blended in with the surrounding briar. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. I removed the stem and took some photos of the bowl and stem to show the overall look and proportions of the pipe. The shape really does work for a Churchwarden.The rim top had cleaned up very well and all that remained was some darkening on the inner edge on the back left of the bowl and a little on the rim top in the same place. I took a photo of the stamping on the top and underside of the shank. The stamping is clear and readable with some faint spots as noted above.I started my work on the pipe by cleaning up the beveled inner edge and top of the rim with a folded piece of 220 sandpaper.I polished the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped down the bowl after each sanding pad. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The Balm did its magic and the grain stood out. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I decided to address the tweak and twist to the stem first. I used my heat gun to straighten out the vulcanite. Fortunately vulcanite has “memory” and will return to its original shape with heat. I worked on it until it was straight once again. Then heated it a final time to give it a slight bend mid-stem. It looked much better.The chatter and marks were very light and could be polished out. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry.Once I finished straightening the stem, this Savinelli Made Churchwarden Aged Briar 404 was another beautiful pipe. The briar around the bowl is clean and really came alive. The rim top looks much better than when I began. The rich brown stains gave the grain a sense of depth with the polishing and waxing. The grain really popped. I put the vulcanite stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Savinelli Made Churchwarden is a beauty and feels great in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 11 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of pipe is 1.38 ounces /40 grams. It is much more beautiful in person than these photos can capture. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store soon. Look for it in the Italian Pipe Makers section. If you would like to add it to your collection let me know. This is another pipe that has the possibility of transporting the pipe man or woman back to a slower paced time in history where you can enjoy a respite. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.

This Greenwich House Antique Imported Briar Crowned Pot Turned into a Nightmare


Blog by Steve Laug

Sometimes when I start working on a pipe there is can be a sense of gloom or expectant trouble. That was the case with this one. I thought it would be a straightforward clean up and restoration. Little did I know what lay ahead for me in this restoration. Time would tell and I would share it here with you my readers. It started as usual. I recognized the brand on this pipe but could not remember any of the details. Jeff picked this pipe up from an antique store in Ogden, Utah, USA back in 2019. It is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Greenwich House [arched over] Antique and on the right side Imported [over] Briar. It was the Greenwich House tag that grabbed my attention. You know how sometimes a name just sits on the edge of your memory beyond your reach but you still know it? That is what this name did to me. The finish is quite dirty with a cake in the bowl and lava overflow on the rim top. The worm trails on the sides and base reminded me of a Custom-Bilt but a bit more smooth. The crowned rim top was more elegant. The saddle style stem was old vulcanite and other than deep tooth marks it was quite clean, Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started. He took close up photos of the rim top, bowl and stem to give a better picture of what he was seeing as he prepared to clean it up. You can see the cake in the bowl and the lava on the rim top. The inner edge appears to be burned and damaged but it was hard to tell for sure. The stem had some deep tooth marks on both sides just ahead of the button and some light calcification at the sharp edge.Jeff took his characteristics photos of the bowl sides and heel to give a clear picture of the grain around the bowl and the style of the worm trails carved into the sides and heel. It is a nice piece of briar.The stamping was readable though a little faint on the left side of the shank. It read Greenwich House arched over Antique on the left. On the right side it was very clear and read Imported [over] Briar.I turned first to my blog on a previous restoration of a Greenwich House pipe. I had worked on one that was stamped Thoro-Kleen, a metal pipe (https://rebornpipes.com/2016/02/24/a-piece-of-art-deco-greenwich-house-thoro-kleen/). I read through that blog and have included a pertinent piece of information on the brand below.

According to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Thoro-Kleen) the Greenwich House Thoro-Kleen was a metal pipe system from the same family as the Roybrooke, Comet, and Original Gridiron pipes, and parts from all are believed to be interchangeable. The pipes were sold by the Greenwich House Corporation, located in 1947 at 939-M 8th Avenue, N.Y. 19, N.Y…

From that I knew it was an American Made pipe that had been carved for or by a company known as Greenwich House Corporation in New York City.

I turned to the listing of American Brands on Pipedia to see if there was a listing for the Greenwich House itself (https://pipedia.org/wiki/American_Pipe_Brands_%26_Makers_G_-_H). I found that there was not an article but the list of makers identified the brand and said that The Antique was made of Aged Algerian Briar. One more piece fell in place. The pipe I was working on was stamped Antique so I now knew the source of the Imported Briar.

But I still wanted a bit more information so I did a Google search and was taken to pipes made by Greenwich House on smokingpipes.com and other sites. Worthpoint, an auction site had several and also had one stamped Antique (https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/vintage-greenwich-house-carved-1992675965). I have included the description from the sale item below as it is quite descriptive of the pipe in my hands.

Vintage Greenwich House Carved Antique Aged Algerian Tobacco Pipe. Good condition. Measures about 6.25″ long.

It is similarly stamped as mine and also similarly sized. Now it was time to work on the pipe itself. Jeff had cleaned up this nicely grained Pot with his usual pattern. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and then cleaned up the inside of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl and shank with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime on the rim top and bowl. He cleaned the internals of the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until the airways were clean and the pipe smelled fresh. The pipe looked much better once the bowl and stem were clean. He scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub to remove the oxidation and then let it soak in Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer. He rinsed it with warm water when he took out of the soak. Before I started my part of the work I took photos of the pipe. I took close up photos of the bowl and the rim top to show the condition. The photo clearly shows the burn damage to the inner edge and the rim top at the back of the bowl. You can also see the roughening of the rest of the inner edge and rim top. It was going to take some work to bring it back. I also took photos of both sides of the stem to give a sense of the condition of both sides at the button. There is deep tooth marking and damage on both sides ahead of the button. I took a photo of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It was readable but was more faint on the left than the right side. It read as noted above.I removed the stem from the shank and saw to my chagrin a stinger. I fiddled with it a bit to see if it was pressure fit or screwed into the tenon. There was no give to it. (This portends what is ahead, keep reading.) I set the stem down with the bowl and took a photo to give a general look at the proportions of this pipe.I started work on this one by using a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the inner edge of the bowl and the rim top at the back. I was able to clean and reshape the bowl by slowly working through the process. So far the restoration was going well.I polished the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped down the bowl after each sanding pad. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and a horse hair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The Balm did its magic and the grain stood out.   So far so good! I filled in the deep gouges on the top and underside of the stem and set it aside for the repairs to cure.After the repairs cured things took a horrible turn! If you have read this blog for long you know how much I dislike metal stingers. I find that they indeed condense moisture and fill the shank with horrendous muck. Soooo… I decided I would try to remove this one and give the stem a thorough cleaning. I have found that most stingers are either threaded and screwed into the tenon or are pressure fit. Either way a little heat loosens the glue or gunk that hold it tight and it is easily removed.

Well… the heat did absolutely nothing with this one. It did not twist or wiggle free. It was solid with or without heat… or cold for that matter. I was frustrated at this point and tried to pull it with pliers and the “wicked” thing snapped off! Now that usually does not matter either. I can easily drill it out with a small bit.

Again not so!! The remaining tube went well beyond the saddle on the stem. I drilled and drilled then filed the edges to smooth it out. At this point I should have just left it. But I DID NOT DO THAT. NO! I tried to pull out the remnant of the tube with a small file. And then a chunk of the tenon cracked off. You can see the offending tube in the tenon stubbornly laughing at me. Arggh… This was becoming much more of a  problem. Each step I took to remedy it made it actually worse. Now I would need to cut off the remaining tenon and the drill the stem and make a new tenon for it. OH MY! THIS IS NOT WHAT I WANT TO DO!!

I got out my hacksaw and carefully cut all the way around the broken tenon. I purposely did not cut the tube as I wanted to see how far into the stem it actually went. I pulled it out with a pair of pliers and took a photo of the length of the offending tube once it was free of the airway. You might laugh at this point and I invite that. This was a lot of work to go to just to clean out the airway in the stem. But now I could replace the tenon. I went through my tenons and had one that was a close fit to the shank of the pipe. I would need to drill out the stem to take the threaded replacement tenon but I was hoping that this part would proceed without more things going awry. I started drilling with my cordless drill and a bit slightly larger than the airway in the stem. I continued going through various bits up to ¼ inch which was the size I would need to receive the threaded tenon end with some modifications. You will notice the repairs to the deep tooth marks still have not been smoothed out.I modified the threaded tenon with a Dremel and sanding drum. I removed the should on the middle of the tenon and reduced the diameter of the threaded portion so that I could glue it in place in the stem. I cleaned up the edge between the thicker portion and the threaded portion with a flat rasp to make the fit smooth when inserted in the stem. I inserted it in the stem and took a photo.Before gluing the tenon I the stem I put all the parts together to make sure that everything lines up correctly. It looks good so I take photos to show it at this point in the process. With the alignment correct I coated the threaded end of the tenon with black super glue and pushed the tenon in place in the stem. I set the stem aside to let the glue cure and went and had a cup of coffee with Irene. I needed to lick my wounds a bit on this whole mess!After coffee I went back to the stem to clean up the repairs on the top and underside of the stem. I flattened out the repairs with a flat file to begin to blend them into the surface. I followed that up with 220 grit sandpaper to further blend it in. I started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. While I liked the look of the new stem on the shank it felt like it was missing something to me. I really wanted to give it a special touch that would set it apart and make the look spectacular. I went through my band collection and found a perfect 14K Gold band that would do just what I wanted. I took down the end of the shank to enable a snug fit. I heated the band with a lighter and pressed it onto the shank end. I finally finished this nightmarish restoration of a pipe that should have been quite simple. The Greenwich House Antique Import Briar Crowned Pot with a vulcanite saddle stem is a great looking pipe now that everything came together. The briar around the bowl is clean and really came alive. The rim top looks much better than when I began. The rich brown stains gave the grain a sense of depth with the polishing and waxing. The grain  on the smooth portions really popped and the worm trails carving look good as well. I put the vulcanite stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine.

The finished Greenwich House Antique Pot is a beauty and feels great in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of pipe is 2.29 ounces/65 grams. It is much more beautiful in person than these photos can capture. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store soon. Look for it in the American Pipe Makers section. If you would like to add it to your collection let me know. This is another pipe that has the possibility of transporting the pipe man or woman back to a slower paced time in history where you can enjoy a respite. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.

New Life for an Italian Briar Church Warden with a Great Story Attached


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table was purchased off eBay on 11/16/2017 from Chesapeake, Virginia, USA. I think what captured Jeff was what he read on the paper wrapper around the pipe. It read as follows: The pipe belonged to W.W. Hallbrook (Wales). Janet’s father – died 5/1/37 in Oil City, PA. That alone attaches a story to the pipe. It also provides a date for the pipe – pre-1937. The pipe was a Dublin with a long straight stem. The finish had a peeling, worn varnish coat over a dark oxblood stain. The bowl had a thick cake and a thick coating of lava on the rim top. The stem had some tooth chatter and marks on both sides near the button. It was heavily oxidized along the entire length. Jeff took photos of the pipe when he unpacked it and before he started his clean up work. It is a charming pipe with an interesting journey. I wish it could talk and tell us the story of its journey from Italy to Wales and then to Oil City, Pennsylvania, USA. From there it traveled to Idaho Falls, Idaho and then to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the thick lava coat on the top and on the inner edge of the bowl. I am hoping that it protected the edge from damage. He also took photos of the stem to show the light tooth marks and chatter on the oxidized stem. He took photos of the bowl and heel to show the condition of the finish. You can see the peeling varnish coats and the wear and tear around the bowl. It has some nice grain poking through the varnish and is a rich reddish colour. Jeff took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank. It read as noted above and was faint but readable. There is not a lot of information to be gleaned from the stamping on the pipe. Not much can be learned from the Italian Briar stamp. It is hard to know for certain about the maker but there is something KB&B like about the shape and the finish of the pipe. One can imagine origins of the pipe can’t one? LOL! Makes a great tale anyway. I don’t know why but the pipe sat in a box of pipes to be restored until this morning. That is just over 4 years it sat here moldering with the other pipes in the box. But today is the day for its rebirth. I raise a bowl and say, “Here’s to you Janet’s Father – W.W. Hallbrook”.

I took some photos of the pipe as I took it out of the box. Here is what I saw. I slid it out of the wrapper around it. I could see that Jeff had cleaned it well. The bowl had been reamed with a PipNet reamer and Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He had scrubbed the exterior with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap. He rinsed it with warm water. He cleaned out the internals with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. The stem was still lightly oxidized – probably from sitting here this long. The varnish coat was still peeling some but the grime was totally gone. I could see some great grain poking through. Time to work. I removed the stem from the shank and took photos of the pipe and stem to give you a sense of what the pipe looks like. The stem is an older style straight one with no flare at the button end. There is also a very different style stinger pressure fit in the tenon.The rim top had cleaned up very well and all of the varnish was gone from the top. The inner and outer edges of the rim looked very good with no burn damage. There were some scratches in rim top.  I took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank. The stamping is clear and readable as noted above.I started my work on the pipe by removing the peeling varnish coat. I removed the stem and wiped the briar down with acetone to strip back the varnish coat.I wiped off the bowl with an acetone dampened cloth pad to remove any remnants of varnish that remained on the finish of the bowl. I took the following photos to show what the pipe looks like at this point. The grain is peeking through and it looks really good. The first photo below shows the flaw in the finish. Jeff captured it and the photo shows  that is a flaw/fill that came out. I filled in the chip/flaw in the underside of the shank with clear super glue and briar dust. I am happy with the way it blended in. I have drawn a red circle around it in the photo below.I polished the bowl and rim top with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped down the bowl after each sanding pad. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The Balm did its magic and the grain stood out. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I scrubbed off the oxidation on the stem with Soft Scrub and cotton pads. I was able to remove the majority of it.Once the oxidation was removed was in good condition. The chatter and marks were very light and could be polished out. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. Once I stripped off the varnish and refinished this Italian Briar Churchwarden with a long vulcanite stem is a beautiful pipe. The briar around the bowl is clean and really came alive. The rim top looks much better than when I began. The rich reddish-brown stains gave the grain a sense of depth with the polishing and waxing. The grain really popped. I put the older style vulcanite stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Italian Briar Churchwarden is a beauty and feels great in the hand and looks very good. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 12 inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of pipe is 1.34 ounces /37 grams. It is much more beautiful in person than these photos can capture. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store soon. Look for it in the Italian Pipe Makers section. If you would like to add it to your collection let me know. This is another pipe that has the possibility of transporting the pipe man or woman back to a slower paced time in history where you can enjoy a respite. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.