Tag Archives: Butz Choquin Pipes

Renascence of a stunning billiard from Butz-Choquin


Early this morning I received an email from Joris about posting a restoration on rebornpipes. I wrote back and this is what he sent me. It is a great restoration and one that is only fitting to share with our global restoration community of rebornpipes. Welcome Joris. Thanks for your work and your post.

Blog by Joris De Sutter

Hi everyone. I’m a pipe restorer from Flanders, the northern half of Belgium, where I live in the beautiful town of Brugge (Bruges). It’s only once in a while that I restore old pipes to their former glory. I’m a bit of a Canadian and Lumberman fan and within those shapes I tend to specialize in the French brand Butz-Choquin. So when purchasing the pipes I like, occasionally other shapes are present in those lots. This particular pipe was one of those. I picked up this rather big billiard from a French second hand website, together with four other promising briars. They apparently all formerly belonged to the same gentleman, judging from the identical signs of use. And boy: they were used! The current pipe shows this quite clearly… The general shape of the pipe is a really handsome Billiard. It was apparently one of the favorite pipes of its previous owner. He seems to have loved his pipes, but perhaps not to the level that he really cared for them. What a mess! How does one even reach such a thick cake build up in the chamber? The dirty bowl with those black patches of grime around it? The heavily oxidized stem with all that calcification? I wonder how one is able to let it come to that. Didn’t the previous steward have the need to clean his pipe once in a while? Whatever. I did notice the extraordinary pipe underneath all that muck.

The markings on this pipe are quite standard for a Butz-Choquin. On the left side of the shank is the standard curved Butz-Choquin logo. Just underneath this logo the name of the series appears in all capitals : PRELUDE. And then in the lower right hand corner is the word Extra at an angle. This Extra stamping indicates that the wood of this pipe has no flaws and there are no fills present. This was indeed the trigger for me to purchase this pipe despite its sorry state. At the same height on the stem there is an engraving of the two BC letters forming the Butz-Choquin abbreviation. They were once filled white, but now only a hint of this remains at the bottom of the B. The letters themselves are however quite deep enough to allow for a full restoration. From the 1970’s onward, Butz-Choquin used an acrylic round insert on her stems for the higher end pipes they produced. If this pipe would have been made in the seventies or later, it surely would have had that acrylic insert on its stem. Since it is not present, I’m assuming this pipe dates from the 1960’s. The shape number on the right side of the stem reads 1398. On top of that it reads ST CLAUDE – FRANCE. Finally underneath the shape number is an A. I can only speculate on this solitary A, but since this pipe is clearly top of the line I suspect it to indicate just that.

The Butz-Choquin brand is one of the oldest in France. Most people unfortunately associate it with cheap basket pipes. They did indeed make plenty of those, but likewise they also made really good high quality pipes and those were sold at accordingly high prices.

The bowl is always first on my list. If the bowl turns out to be too far gone to justify a full restoration, then why would I still put some effort in the stem? I start by taking my own manufactured reaming knife and carefully scrape the top rim of the bowl. There is quite some lava coming off of it.   Now the most daunting part: addressing the very thick cake in the bowl. This took me about an hour, carefully scraping away all that carbonized tobacco till the briar became visible again. I do own the commonly available reaming tools, but I hardly ever use them anymore. My own tool turns out to be just the perfect reamer. The picture hardly illustrates the amount of carbon cake that came out of the bowl. That mountain was almost as high as it is wide! Not shown in the pictures is the condition of the briar underneath. It was excellent! No heat fissures, no burns.

From here, I always open up the draught hole. I like my pipes to have a 4mm draught hole. Most BC pipes are drilled at 4mm, but since this pipe was so extensively smoked, there must be a lot of tars in there. Drilling those out before further cleaning helps a lot. I have two drill bits for this. One has a tapered tip, while the other is a standard, although very long, 4mm straight drill. First the one with the tapered tip. I clamp the drill bit in my bench vise and then carefully turn the bowl by hand. Never ever use a power drill for this. The tapered drill bit is ideal to find the way through possible clogging inside the draught hole. If the straight bit would be used before the tapered bit, the clogging could steer the straight bit into the briar. After clearing the draught hole, a dentist tool is used to scrape away hardened tars from inside the mortise. And then both bowl and stem go into the water. I use an oil based black soap to clean the stummel and stem inside out. Some drops of soap on the bowl and stem, and then an old tooth brush together with some effort cleans both parts. A piece of very fine steel wool is used to remove the last remaining lava from the bowl’s top rim. Luckily it revealed that the previous owner didn’t knock his pipes on hard surfaces to remove ash and dottle.While I still have that piece of steel wool at hand, I use it to remove the calcification from the stem and already some of the oxidation. The biggest part of oxidation removal will follow later. I can now already notice to my relief that there are no tooth marks on the stem, apart from a small notch like indentation on the upper part of the button.To finish off the wet part of the cleaning, I have some fine round plastic bristle brushes. I use them to roughly clean out the insides of both stem and shank. This will make the process of deep cleaning later a lot easier since the water will already soften the tars a little bit.I let the stummel dry a bit and then proceed into the preparations of deep cleaning it. For this I use two main ingredients: isopropyl alcohol and paper towels. Notice the absence of cotton wool or salt? I used to do this with cotton wool in the past, as is shown on this blog and others, but found that my own method yields far better results. From the paper towel, I turn a corner of the towel into a wick. I turn this wick into the draught hole from the mortise and make sure it extends into the chamber. Then I slightly turn it into the other direction and push onto it. This way it will also fill the mortise completely. I then cut the excess that sticks out of the mortise. Then I make a small wad of the same towel and put it at the bottom of the chamber covering the small bit of the wick that protrudes from the draught hole into the chamber. Now I put the isopropyl alcohol onto the wad in the chamber until the wad is completely drowned, but not much more than that. This amount of alcohol is sufficient to percolate into the wick and do its work.Is it necessary to completely fill the chamber with cotton wool (or salt for that matter) to have the chamber also deep cleaned with the alcohol? I have done some experimentation on this in the past and found that the deep cleaning with alcohol is mostly important for the draught hole, not so much for the chamber. The reason is quite simple: While smoking your tobacco, the oils, tars and other volatile components of the tobacco will either get burned or lower down with the smoke. They will hardly stick to the chamber’s walls due to the heat and the cake build up. They will however primarily condensate in the draught hole.The result after some three hours of soaking. The wick end has turned into a nice brown colour. The wad in the chamber however remains white. Let’s see what happens when the wick gets removed.Wow! The wick part that was inside the draught hole has turned to black! Lots of tar have been removed. The new wick that is present in the picture is then used to immediately turn it inside the pipe again. Since the previous wick has been soaking in alcohol for three hours, the draught hole is still moist with it. The new wick can then easily take up another load of softened tars. So stick it in, turn and turn and pull it out. Look at the blackness that came out on that second wick in the following picture. A third wick is then prepared to put inside. This time the alcohol treatment of three hours is repeated. The following picture shows the result of that third wick. Not so black as the first one. And the fourth wick cleans up a bit more after it. This continues until the wick comes out without muck on it. With this pipe I had to do four full alcohol soaks of three hours. That means eight wicks in total, of which the bottom wick shows that it came out clean.Don’t I use normal pipe cleaners then? Sure, but not for this deep cleaning itself. Sometimes in between I enter a normal pipe cleaner soaked in alcohol to check on the remaining work. But other than that I use normal pipe cleaners primarily for the stem, not so much on the stummel.

To finish off the work on the insides of the stummel, I sanded the inside of the chamber with a piece of 220 grit sand paper wrapped around a dowel. I prefer doing that step of the process after the deep cleaning of the draught hole to avoid the black grinding dust to stick onto the tars and thus worsening the cleaning afterwards. That’s all for the stummel for now. Let’s first give the stem some attention. The outside of the stem was already washed with the black soap and a light scrubbing with the fine steel wool. Before I start to clean it any further, I decided to improve its mortise end by giving it a tapered air inlet. This will reduce turbulence during smoking so that the pipe doesn’t have the tendency to gurgle. Then the insides can be cleaned. I used two types of pipe cleaners. One hard type and a soft type. Starting with the hard one soaked in isopropyl alcohol. Some blackness came out of there, but much less than I anticipated.I then cut of the black part of the pipe cleaner, soaked the remaining cleaner in alcohol and entered it again in the stem. It now came out a lot cleaner already. Time to finish it off with the soft pipe cleaner. It came out clean! Quite amazing when compared to the state of the stummel. I guess the previous owner must have at least used some pipe cleaners once in a while. Once this process was done, it was time to address the outside of the stem. I don’t use any liquid pipe stem oxidation remover. I only use micromesh sanding pads. It will take a bit more effort, but the end result is just as good. I always use these micromesh pads with water. The first pad is the most important one. That’s the one which will remove most of the oxidation. Look at the colour of the water before and after that first pad…The following pads then follow in quick succession with clean water. After the last pad the stem almost looks as good as new. I then proceed to the buffer. I don’t have the need for a semi-professional buffing station with large cotton wheels and variable speeds. Would be nice, but a bit of an overkill for my needs. So this simple old Philips power drill will do. A small cotton wheel is fitted and white diamond buffs the stem to a bright shine.Time to restore the two BC letters on the stem. I paint the area carefully and let it fully set before proceeding. The BC ultimately emerged from the restoration quite satisfactory. After this I oil the stem with some mineral oil and let it sit a few hours before hand buffing with a microfibre rag. Back to the stummel. The washing and cleaning had left the outside quite dull. To address this, I use special micromesh pads for wood working. The first one is a 1200 grit pad. This is followed by a 2000 and finally a 3000 grit pad. The bowl begins to take a shine and the grain begins to pop into view showing all its glory. To end work on the stummel it needs a carnauba finish. For this I have fitted a felt wheel on my power drill. I have found that a felt wheel is better at transferring the wax onto the pipe. The dimensions of this beautiful Butz-Choquin Billiard are as follows: length 165 mm/6 ½ inches; height 60 mm/2 ½ inches; bowl diameter 40 mm/1 ½ inches; chamber diameter 21 mm/ ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 58 grams/2.04 ounces. I hope you enjoyed reading the story of this restoration as much as I did in the work itself and writing it down. Thank you very much for reading and I welcome and encourage your comments.

Restoring A Beautiful Older Butz-Choquin ‘A Metz’ Pipe


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

The next project that I selected to work on is a beautiful Horn shaped pipe with a horn stem and nickel ferrule. This pipe came to be in my possession as a part of 40 odd estate pipes that I had purchased from a French Seller a few years ago. Unfortunately, I had neither chronicled nor taken pictures of this lot when it reached us, as at that point in time I had no intention of passing these restored pipes in to the trust (as my Mentor Steve points out) of fellow Pipers.

This beautiful elegantly shaped pipe on my work table has stunning cross grains and swirls over the sides and back of the stummel while the front and lower surface boasts of distinct bird’s eye grains. It is stamped as “BUTZ- CHOQUIN” over “A” over “METZ”. The nickel ferrule bears three faux hallmark stampings and a rhombus with two letters. All these markings on the ferrule are severely worn out and do not contribute in any which way in establishing the provenance of this pipe.I have previously worked on Butz- Choquin pipes with A METZ stamping and from what I recollect; this stamp was used when BC pipes were made out of the French town of A Metz, i.e. prior to 1950s. To refresh my memory, I visited the write up that I had posted on rebornpipes. Here is the link to the write up (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/10/19/restoring-an-early-butz-choquin-a-metz-no-2/).

I have reproduced some of the information from the write up and also arrive at an approximate date based on this information.

I searched pipedia.org to see if it contained the details that I sought. The site has very scant information about the brand with lots of pictures, but what is available makes it an interesting read and I quote;

“The pipe, from Metz to Saint-Claude. Jean-Baptiste Choquin of Metz started out as a tobacconist. This enterprise was prosperous; he had several employees. Among those, there was a certain Gustave Butz who was its first workman and who became his son-in-law by marrying Choquin’s daughter Marie in 1858.

In 1858 Jean-Baptiste Choquin created, in collaboration with Gustave Butz, the Choquin pipe. This bent pipe with a flat-bottomed bowl was finished with an albatross-bone mouthpiece, fixed with silver rings. (The above describes the CHOQUIN A METZ pipe I had worked on earlier dating it to 1858)

In 1858, still in Metz, Gustave Butz built an establishment for the manufacture of the Choquin pipe which took the name of Butz-Choquin. In 1951, the Berrod-Regad company bought the trademark, continuing manufacture until 2002. Departing from Metz, the workshop was relocated to Saint-Claude, then also called “the world capital of the briar pipe,” under the Berrod-Regad group. The Berrod-Regad group would go on to completely rebuild the network of representatives until finally entering the export market in 1960 and has since won several prizes, as well as the Gold Cup of French good taste.

In a few years, the brand’s collection increased from ten to seventy series. 135 years after it was founded, the pipe is still well-known not only in France but throughout the world. In 2002, the Berrod family, wishing to preserve manufacture of pipes in Saint-Claude, handed over the company to Fabien Guichon, a native of the area, who will continue to develop the brand during the 21st century.”

From the above reading, this pipe is pre-1951 when Berrod- Regad purchased the trademark and relocated the workshop to Saint- Claude. The stampings of A METZ is the proof pointing towards pre-1951, the birth town of Butz- Choquin pipes. Secondly, the horn stem with the round orifice points towards the early 1920s when vulcanite was the preferred choice of material for making stems. However, it is equally true that during World War II, since rubber was an essential war material and was difficult to obtain it for making stems, horns/ bone stem came in to favor again till the end of the Great War. Thus I think that this pipe is either from the period 1939 to 1945 (higher probability) or from between the era 1910 to 1920s.

Initial Visual Inspection
The pipe currently on my work table is an excellent example of quality craftsmanship using equally high quality briar wood. It appears that the carver followed the grains in the briar to decide on the shape and not the other way round. There is a thin layer of cake in the chamber with no overflowing lava over the rim top, in fact, the rim top is clean. The stummel surface is dull and lackluster and would benefit from a nice cleaning and polishing regime. The cross grains and the bird’s eye grains will come to the fore once the stummel is polished. The inner rim edge is beveled and is smooth and even. The outer rim edge is uneven with a couple of deeper dents and dings along the edge. The tapered horn stem has bite marks on both surfaces in the bite zone. The seating of the longish wood tenon in to the mortise is loose but otherwise in good condition. The nickel band is oxidized and sans any damage. Below are pictures of the pipe before I started my restoration work. Detailed Inspection
The chamber has a very thin layer of even and crumbly cake. It seems that the chamber was reamed prior to the pipe being put away. The rim top surface is clean with no signs of lava overflow or charring. The inner edge has a slight bevel which I think is not original to the pipe. However it has been well carved and does not detract from the beauty of the pipe. The outer rim edge has a number of dents and ding most likely caused due to striking the rim edge against a hard edge. The rim top surface has circular scratches akin to sanding marks left behind after topping the surface. The chamber has very little odor and the little ghost smells that remain will be eliminated once the stummel internals are cleaned. The stummel is covered in oils that have attracted dust and grime and the stummel appears dull and lackluster. The cross grains and bird’s eye and swirls across the briar surface that can be seen through from under all the grime. The stummel surface does show a few scratches, noticeably to the front and foot of the stummel. There is a small chip off from the upper shank surface near the nickel band. The mortise shows remnants of old oils, tars and ash, but not stinking stuff!! The nickel shank band itself is oxidized and all the faux markings are well rubbed and worn out. I am especially not too worried about the worn out stampings of the band as these are just for decorative purpose only. The tapered horn stem has tooth marks on both the upper and lower surface of the stem in the bite zone. The button lips, however, are sans any damage. I was unsure, from the appearance, if the tenon was a bone or made of wood. To confirm, I ran a sharp thin blade over the surface. The movement was smooth and easy without any bite. This confirmed that the hard surface could only be bone!! The round slot and tenon end opening has old residual oils and tars. The seating of the stem in to the mortise is not flush and very loose. The Process
I started the process of refurbishing by reaming the chamber first. Using reamer head sizes from 1 to 3 of the PipeNet pipe reamer, I took the cake down to the bare briar. The amount of carbon that was dislodged from the chamber was really surprising as I had appreciated a thin layer of carbon and the quantity of carbon that was removed was anything but a thin layer. With my fabricated knife, I removed all the cake and took it down to the bare briar. I further sand the chamber wall with a folded piece of 180 grit sandpaper to smooth out the wall and remove the last bit of stubborn carbon that remained stuck to the chamber. To finish the reaming process, I wiped the chamber walls with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol to clean the last traces of residual carbon dust. I was happy to note a clean and well seasoned solid chamber. Next I cleaned out the shank internals. Early on, I realized that I could not pass a pipe cleaner trough the draught hole due to blockages in the shank airway. I used the drill bit of a Kleen Ream reamer to dislodge this block of dried oils and gunk. I further scraped out all the dried and crumbly oils and tars from the walls of the mortise with my fabricated tool. I cleaned out the mortise and shank walls with q-tips and pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol. I shall continue further cleaning of the shank and mortise while going through the other processes.I kept the stummel aside and cleaned the internals of the stem with a thin shank brush and anti-oil dish washing soap. This ensures a thorough cleaning of the stem airway while saving me number of pipe cleaners, elbow grease and most importantly, time. With the stem internals cleaned, I scrubbed the external surface with the dish soap and Scotch Brit pad. I was particularly careful while cleaning the tenon surface as the old residual oils and tars were deeply embedded in to the surface. I rinsed the stem under warm running water and wiped it with a paper napkin to dry it.I addressed the tooth chatter in the bite zone by sanding the bite zone with a folded piece of 150 grit sand paper followed by 220 grit sand paper. I could have filled the tooth indentation with clear superglue, sanded and polished the stem, but decided against this since the stem was thick and the tooth chatter was superficial enough to be addressed just by sanding it out.Next, I cleaned the exterior of the stummel. I used a hard bristled tooth brush, Scotch Brit pad and Murphy’s Oil soap to scrub the stummel. After the scrub with oil soap, I washed the stummel, stem and shank extension under running warm water with anti oil dish washing detergent till the surface was clean and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I simultaneously cleaned the internals of the shank with the detergent and hard bristled shank brush and set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. The stummel surface has cleaned up nicely with the beautiful grain patterns on full display. Following the external clean up of the stummel, I spot filled the small chipped off surface from the shank’s upper surface near the nickel band and also the dings that were seen over the outer edge of the rim with CA superglue. I set the stummel aside for the glue to cure.While the stummel repair was curing, I dry sand the horn stem with 220, 320, 400 and 600 grit sandpapers followed by wet sanding with 800 and 1000 grit sandpapers. I applied a small quantity of EVO to the stem and set it aside to be absorbed by surface.With the stem set aside, using a flat head needle file, I sand the repairs over the upper shank surface and the outer rim edge to achieve a rough match with the rest of the stummel surface. I further blend in the repairs by sanding the entire stummel surface with 220 grit sandpaper.To bring a nice shine and eliminate the scratch marks left behind by the abrasive sandpaper, I wet sand the entire stummel with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads, wiping frequently with a moist cloth to check the progress. I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful grain patterns displayed in their complete splendor. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush. The contrast of the dark browns of the grains with the natural patina of the rest of the stummel adds an interesting dimension to the appearance of the stummel. I completed the mundane but equally important task of polishing the nickel band. I used a local product that is available only in India to polish the band. The liquid polish was applied to the band and wiped it out after a few seconds. The polish completely removed the oxidation and gave a nice shine to the band by polishing it with a jeweler’s cloth.This brings me to the most important process indicating the completion of this restoration which is imparting a high gloss finish to the pipe by polishing. I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel onto my hand held rotary tool and polished the stummel and stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks that remain from the sanding. Next, I mounted another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I mounted a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and gave the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe with the aged patina to the briar looks amazingly beautiful. P.S.: Astute readers must have noticed that there were two issues that I had brought out during my detailed visual inspection, first was the loose seating of the stem in to the shank and the second was that this seating was not flush, but does not find a mention in the entire process of repairs/ restoration. Well, truth be told, I had not addressed these issues specifically. However, somewhere along the way these issues resolved themselves.

Let me explain. The reason for loose seating of the stem in to the mortise was primarily due to drying up of the briar wood and the bone tenon from years of disuse. When the internal and external surfaces of the stummel were cleaned and rinsed using warm water, the briar absorbed some moisture causing the briar to swell and ultimately resulting in a snug fit of the stem in to the mortise.

The reason for the stem face not seating flush with the shank face was the old oils and gunk that had accumulated in the mortise and along the shank walls. Once the mortise and shank internals were thoroughly cleaned and the shank briar wood was adequately moistened, the seating was flush and snug.

This pipe had caught the fancy of a fellow piper here in India and has now reached him. I wish him many happy and blissful smokes in the years ahead.

I wish to thank all esteemed readers for your time in reading through the write up and being a part of this project. Looking forward to your comments…

New Life for a Butz-Choquin Regate 1282 Zulu


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table is one that came to us from Australia. It went to Jeff first then was shipped to me. It is a well traveled pipe that was purchased in 2020 from the estate of a fellow pipeman in Australia, shipped to the US and then to Canada. The shape is very nice, with the forward canted bowl and the quarter bent stem. It is a great shape with a taper vulcanite stem. The finish was dirty with grime ground into the finish around the bowl sides. There was a thick cake in the bowl and lava overflow on the top of the rim – heavier on the backside of the rim top but nonetheless on the entire rim top. There was some burn damage on the right front inner beveled edge of the bowl. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Butz-Choquin at an angle [over] Regate. On the right side it reads St. Claude – France [over] the shape number 1282. The stem was lightly oxidized and there were tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. The taper stem also has a BC stamped on the left side. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started the clean up work. He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and well as the nicks, lava and darkening on the rim top. The inner edges showed some burn damage on the inner bevel of the bowl. The outer edges of the bowl appeared to be in great condition. He also took photos of the top and underside of the stem to show the light oxidation and the chatter and tooth marks. Jeff took a photo the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of the beautiful grain around the bowl and shank. There were also shiny spots of varnish around the bowl and shank sides. The stamping on the sides of the shank is clear and readable and read as noted above. There is also BC stamp on the left side of the stem. I turned to Pipephil’s site and looked for information on the Butz – Choquin Regate I was working on (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-butzchoquin.html). As always there was a good, brief description of the history of the brand.

I turned to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Butz-Choquin) to see what I could find on the brand that the Regate line there. I found a catalogue page from Doug Valitchka on the Regate that listed the pipe line and a description (https://pipedia.org/wiki/File:BC10.jpg). I have captured that image below. The description under the Regate heading reads –

Regate (and the description below is in both French and English)

Les veines classique qui rallie les suffrages de la plupart des fumeurs

A great classic which meets with the approval of the majority of smokers.

I have also included another picture from Doug Valitchka that shows the shape of the pipe that I am working on (https://pipedia.org/wiki/File:BC06.jpg). It is the second shape that is shown on the page – Shape 1282. The shape is called a Genoises. Now it was time to work on the pipe. Jeff had cleaned up the pipe following his usual procedures. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with 99% isopropyl alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took photos of the pipe once I received it.  The rim top cleaned up really well. But the cleaning revealed some serious burn damage on the rim top and front inner edge toward the right side. The stem surface looked good and the light tooth marks and chatter would be easy to address. The stamping on the sides of the shank is readable and reads as noted above.I removed the stem and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the shape and the grain on the bowl and shank. It was a great looking shape and would be a beautiful pipe when I was finished. I decided to start my work on the pipe by wiping the bowl down with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the heavy stain around parts of the bowl sides. I wanted really be able to see the grain on the bowl. I dealt with the damage to the rim top by topping it on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. I cleaned up the beveled inner edge of the rim with 220 grit sandpaper to remove as much of the burn damage as possible. I polished the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad.  It was beginning to look good to my eyes. I stained the inner edge and rim top with an Oak Stain Pen to match the rest of the surrounding bowl. It helps to blend in the burned area some more. The rim top and edges definitely look better than when I started.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 ten minutes then buffed the bowl with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” both sides of the stem with the flame of a lighter to lift the tooth marks. It did a great job and left only one deep mark on the underside and some lighter tooth marks on the topside along the button. I filled them in with clear CA glue and once it cured I used a small file to sharpen the edge of the button and smooth out the repair. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the repairs. I started polishing it with 400 grit sandpaper.  I used some white acrylic fingernail polish to touch up the BC stamp on the left side of the stem. I painted it on with the brush and once it dried scraped it off and sanded it with a 1500 grit micromesh sanding pad.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. This Butz-Choquin Regate 1282 Zulu is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The combination of various brown stains around the bowl is quite beautiful and highlights grain very well. The finish works well with the polished curved vulcanite taper stem. I put the 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 and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Butz-Choquin Regate Zulu sits nicely in the hand and feels great. 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 inch. The weight of the pipe is 35 grams/1.23 ounces. I will be putting it on the French Pipemakers section of the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come! 

Resurrecting a Tired Warrior – a Butz-Choquin Casino 1575 Spigot Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table is a Butz-Choquin Spigot style pipe with a polished nickel ferrule and a polished nickel stem end. The pipe had classic shape and at first glance looked very good. We purchased this from an online auction late in 2020 in Elgin, South Carolina, USA. It had a rich finish somewhere underneath all of the debris, grime and damage to rim edges and sides. There was a thick cake in bowl and lava on the rim top. The rim top was uneven with dips and burns on the top. The front of the bowl had significant burn damage from the rim top down into the surface of the briar on the front. The left side had the same issue and had been worn away over time so that it was canted inward making that part of the bowl thinner on the side. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank Butz-Choquin at an angle [over] Casino and on the right side it was stamped St Claude in an arch over France [over] the shape number 1575. The nickel ferrule and stem end were oxidized and scratched. The stem was oxidized but had deep tooth marks on the top and underside near the button. The deepest marks were on the underside with one that was almost a bite through. The BC logo on the topside was faded and needed to be touched up. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his clean up work. I like to have an idea of how the pipe was smoked before we got it and what the bowl and rim top looked like. Jeff always takes some photos of the bowl and rim from various angles to show what it looked like. This bowl and rim top were in rough condition. The stem was a real mess with deep tooth marks and damage on both sides. He took a photo of the nickel ferrule and stem end to give a picture of their condition when we received the pipe. It definitely needs work. He took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a sense of the grain on the pipe. You can also see the damage around the top front and sides in the photos. Jeff captured the burn damage on the front of the bowl in the next photo and some of the nicks and gouges in the sides of the bowl in the second photo. There is work to do on this one!The next photos show the stamping on the left and right side of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above. Jeff also captured the BC stamp on the topside of the stem. I turned to Pipephil.eu and read through the listing on the brand. It is always a quick reminder to me of the basics of a brand. The Casino line was not listed there. I include the short summary of the history below.

The origin of the brand reaches back to 1858 when Jean-Baptiste Choquin in collaboration with his son-in-law Gustave Butz created their first pipe in Metz (France). Since 1951 Butz-Choquin  is a brand of the Berrod-Regad group (Saint-Claude, France).

Jean Paul Berrod managed the company from 1969 to 2002 when he retired and sold the corporate to Mr Fabien Gichon. Denis Blanc, already owner of EWA, took over the S.A. Berrod-Regad in 2006.

I could not find anything specific in Pipedia about the Casino line, but a simple search on the internet will show many different shapes available in the Casino line from Butz-Choquin.   Now it was time to work on the pipe.

Jeff had done a great cleanup on the pipe. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the bowl exterior with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grime on the finish of the bowl and the lava from the rim top. He rinsed it under running water. One of the benefits of this scrub is that it also tends to lift some of the scratches and nicks in the surface of the briar. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He cleaned the internals and externals of the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. He soaked the stem in Briarville’s Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water and cleaned out the airway in the stem with alcohol. When I received it the pipe looked very good.  I took a photo of the rim top and stem to show the condition. The rim top and the inner edge of the bowl were in rough shape. The outer edge had a lot of burn damage on the front and the left side. The rim top and inner edge also has significant burn damage and was not flat. The stem was vulcanite and there were some deep tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. The stamping on the pipe is clear and readable as noted above. The BC logo on the stem is deep and needs to be repainted with white (as seen in the photo of the top of the stem above).I started my work on this pipe by dealing with the damage to the outer edge of the bowl and rim top. I topped the bowl first on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. I flattened out the rim top and made the top of the rim consistently flat. I removed much of the burn damage to the bowl top. I worked on the damaged areas on the left side and front of the bowl by building them up with briar dust and clear super glue. I built up the left side of the inner edge with super glue and briar dust as well. There the burn damage was shallow but it made the bowl out of round. I topped it once again to smooth out the repair on the rim top. I used a piece of dowel wrapped in sandpaper to sand the inner edge of the rim and smooth out the repair in that area. It worked well.I smoothed out the repairs on the left and front of the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper and blended them into the surrounding briar.I gave the inner edge of the bowl a slight bevel with 220 grit sandpaper to help reshape it and bring it back to round. The rim top and edges looked good at this point in the process.I restained the pipe with a light brown aniline stain. I applied it with a dauber and flamed it with a Bic lighter to set it in the grain. I repeated the process until I was happy with the coverage.Once the stain had dried I wiped the bowl down with 99% isopropyl alcohol to make it a bit more transparent. I find that doing a wipe down at this point evens the finish before I start polishing it with micromesh.I polished the briar with 1200-1500 micromesh sanding pads and wiping it down with damp cloth after each sanding pad. As I worked through the cycle of pads the shine developed with each change of pad. The damage on the rim sides looks better. I left some of the nicks and sandpits as they really are a part of the pipe’s story. 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 10 minutes, then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The Balm did its magic and the grain stood out on the briar. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I decided to address the tooth marks on the stem. They were ragged, with sharp edges and heat did not lift them at all. I filled them in with clear super glue. I let the repairs cure and once they hardened I flattened and shaped them with a small file. I sanded them with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the stem. I started the polishing of the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I touched up the BC stamp on the left side of the stem with white acrylic nail polish. I worked it into the stamp with a tooth pick and then sanded off the excess once it had dried with a 1500 micromesh sanding pad.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. The photos below show the polished stem. This Butz-Choquin Casino 1575 Spigot Billiard with a polished nickel ferrule and stem cap on a vulcanite stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. It was a lot of work and I took a decision to leave some of the journey of the pipe in the finish so it is far from flawless but it is a beauty. The rich browns of the stain made the grain come alive with the polishing and waxing. I put the 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 and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished BC Casino 1575 Spigot really is a beauty and fits nicely 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 ¼ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.87oz./53grams. This beauty will be going off to its new trustee in Michigan along with several other nice pipes. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

A Butz-Choquin Optimal 122 sitter that can sit flat on the heel or on the bowl front


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe that I chose to work on is an interesting looking short pipe that Jeff and I picked up this pipe in 2019 from an antique mall in Airdrie, Alberta. We finally got around to cleaning it up a year later and restoring it two years later. That is what happens when you have a lot of pipes to work on around you every day. It has a flat bottom making it a sitter. It also was flattened on the front of the bowl which allows the smoker to stand it on the front as well. The pipe was stamped on the flat front of the bowl and reads Optimal [over] Butz-Choquin [over] des.J. Colombo. On the heel of the bowl it is stamped: Selection [over] 122 [over] Made in France [over] Modele Depose [over] No.154221. The finish was dirty and tired looking but had some great grain poking through the grime. The bowl had a thick cake inside and a lava overflow on the rim edges and top. The vulcanite shank extension was oxidized and the glue anchoring it to the shank end had dried and it come loose. It had a white bar inlay going horizontally across the top.  The short, stubby vulcanite saddle stem was oxidized and had tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before his cleanup. He took photos of the rim top to show the condition of the top and edges of the bowl. The thick cake in the bowl, the lava on the rim top and the wear on the edges are visible. The stem had light tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. Jeff took photos of the shank extension removed from the shank  and also the stem removed from the extension.He took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the grain around the bowl and the condition of the pipe. It is a very unique looking pipe. He took photos of the stamping on the front and heel of the bowl. It is clear and readable as noted above. I turned first to Pipephil’s site to have a look at what was listed there and did a screen capture of the section (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-butzchoquin.html). In the side bar of the listing on the Optimal I found that pipes that were stamped like the one I was working on with des. J. Colomo dated from the 1960s and were designed by Joe Colombo. There was a photo of the designer on the site that gave an good look at the designer. It was a nice plus to be able to connect the stamping to the man who had designed the pipe.

I turned to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Butz-Choquin) to see what I could learn. I found a great read on the history of the brand but nothing on the specific Optimal brand.

I knew that I was dealing with a pipe that was designed by Joe Colombo and was made in the 1960s. He had designed some unique looking pipes and I was fortunate to be working on this unusual sitter. Knowing that I had a new appreciation for the brand and it was time to work on the pipe itself.

As usual Jeff had done a thorough cleanup on the pipe. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. One of the benefits of this scrub is that it also tends to lift some of the scratches and nicks in the surface of the briar. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He cleaned the internals and externals of the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. He soaked the stem in Briarville’s Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water and cleaned out the airway in the stem with alcohol. When I received it the pipe looked very good.  I took a photo of the rim top and stem to show the condition. The rim top and the inner edge of the bowl were in good condition. There were some nicks on the inner edge of the bowl and some nicks in the rim top but otherwise it looked good. The shank extension was loose and would need to be reglued. The stem was vulcanite and there were some tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button.The stamping on the front of the bowl and the heel are clear and readable as noted above.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. It is a unique looking Canadian and I am looking forward to seeing what I can do with it.I started working on the pipe by reattaching the shank extension to the shank. I painted the shank extension tenon with white all purpose glue and aligned the part in the shank. I pressed it home in the shank end and wiped off the excess glue that squeezed out. I set it aside for the glue to cure.During their separation the shank somehow was slightly larger in diameter than the extension. It was not a huge difference but it was bothersome to me. I sanded shank and the extension to remove the excess on the shank itself. I used a folded piece of 220 to smooth out the transition. It took a bit of work but it was finally suitable. I worked over the damage on the rim top and on the inside of the rim edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. With a bit of effort the rim top and edge were in good order.I sanded the bowl and vulcanite shank extension with micromesh sanding pads, dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads and wiping it down with damp cloth after each sanding pad. As I worked through the cycle of pads the shine developed with each change of pad. The pipe looks very good.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 rubbed it into the vulcanite shank extension to we what it would do. I let the balm sit for 10 minutes, then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The Balm did its magic and the grain stood out on the briar and the vulcanite shank extension took on a rich shine. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I heated the stem with the flame of a lighter until the vulcanite softened. Once it was soft I bent it so that it was like the bend in the one in the photo from Pipephil’s site.I sanded the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper blend in the tooth marks and scratches into the surrounding surface of the stem and 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. The photos below show the polished stem. This smooth finished Butz-Choquin Optimal Selection 122 Sitter designed by Joe Columbo with a flat heel and flat bowl front on which it could be laid or stood on a flat top. The rich medium brown finish looked amazing and with the polishing it really came alive with buffing and waxing. I put the stem back in the shank extension 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 Butz-Choquin Optimal Sitter 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 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch.The weight of the pipe is 2.12 ounces/60 grams. This pipe will soon be on the French Pipe Makers section of the rebornpipes store if you are interested in adding it to your rack. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Restoring a Butz-Choquin C’est bon 1689 Apple with an amber acrylic stem


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table – a Butz-Choquin Apple with a smooth finish purchased from Mandy Valsinger about a year ago when she was closing her husband’s estate. It came to us from Australia. The shape of the bowl is an apple with an acrylic stem. The pipe was in overall good condition but was very tired and dirty. It is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Butz-Choquin at an angle [over] C’est bon. On the right side of the shank it is stamped St. Claude France [over] the number 1689. The finish was dull and lifeless and a little dirty from sitting around. There was a thick cake in the bowl and an overflow of lava on the rim top toward the back. There were scratches around the sides of the bowl where it appeared that the pipe had been dropped. The amber acrylic stem had a deep tooth marks on both sides with a bit through on the underside ahead of the button. The BC logo inset in black acrylic and set on the left side of the taper stem. Jeff took the following photos before he started his cleanup work on the pipe. Jeff took close-up photos of the bowl and rim top from various angles to capture the condition of the bowl and rim top edges. You can see the cake in the bowl and the lava on the inner of the rim and the top at the back of the bowl. The photos of the stem show the general condition of the stem. He took the stem out of the shank and revealed a Delrin tenon with a lot of tars and oils on on the end of the tenon.He took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show condition of the briar. You can see the swirls of grain in the smooth bowl – both birdseye and cross grain around the sides and shank. There are scratches on the right side of the bowl. The stamping is very clear on both sides of the pipe. The third photo shows the BC inlay on the left side of the taper stem.I turned to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Butz-Choquin) and found a great read of the history of the brand. I did find a shape chart however, that had the 1689 shape. I have included that below.Now it was time to look at it up close and personal. Jeff had great job in cleaning up this BC C’est bon Apple. He had reamed the bowl with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He took the cake back to bare briar so we could check the walls for damage and also see the condition of the inner edge of the rim. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime on the bowl and rim and was able to remove much of the grime and dirt. He cleaned out the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until they came out clean. The rim top looked much better. The bowl looked very good. He cleaned the stem with Soft Scrub to remove the grime on the interior and the exterior and rinsed it off with warm water to remove the product. He cleaned out the airway with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I took some photos of the pipe as I saw it. To show how clean the rim top and stem really was I took a close-up photo of the rim and stem. The bowl was clean and cake free. The rim top is quite clean the inner and outer edges were darkened. The surface and the button edge of the stem had tooth marks and chatter on the top near the button on both sides. What I thought was a hole all the way through the stem on the underside turned out not to be that deep.I took some photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe from the left side to give a clear picture of the beauty of this particular pipe.I turned to Pipephil (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-butzchoquin.html) and found the C’est bon pipe shown below. I did a screen capture of the of the listing and have included it below.I started working on the pipe by dealing with the damage and darkening to the rim top and inner edge of the bowl. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage.I used to some clear CA glue to fill in the deep scratches on the right side of the bowl. Once the repairs cured I sanded them smooth with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I started polishing the areas of the repair with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I stained the sanded area with a Maple Stain pen. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth to remove the dust and debris. The began to take on a deep shine. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the bowl with my finger tips. The product is incredible and the way it brings the grain to the fore is unique. It works to clean, protect and invigorate the wood. I greased a pipe cleaner with Vaseline and inserted it in the button. I did not see the hole going through the stem but I put a pipe cleaner in just in case there was. I then built up the tooth marks and chatter on both sides with clear CA glue. I used a small file to reshape the button edge on both side and smooth out the repairs. I then sanded the repaired areas with 220 grit sandpaper until they were smooth and blended it into the surrounding acrylic. I started the polishing with a 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it 1500-12000 pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth to remove the dust and polishing debris. I polished it with Before  After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I am really happy with the way that this Butz-Choquin C’est bon Apple with an Amber Acrylic Stem turned out. It really is a great looking pipe with character. The rich brown stains gave the grain a sense of depth with the polishing and waxing. The grain really popped. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch. I gave the bowl and the acrylic 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 Butz-Choquin C’est bon Apple really 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: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 44 grams/1.55 oz. The pipe will be going on the rebornpipes store soon. It will be in the section on French Pipe Makers if you would like to add it to your collection.Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. It was a fun one to work on!

What an interesting Butz-Choquin Roquebrune 1710 Cherrywood


Blog by Steve Laug

So when this Butz-Choquin Cherrywood with a mixed finish carved and smooth showed up in an online auction Jeff was watching we went for it and picked it up. This pipe was purchased from in 2018 from a seller in Barbourville, Kentucky, USA. The shape of the bowl is a cherrywood sitter with a vulcanite shank extension. The bowl has carved spots that almost look like leaves around the bowl and shank. The pipe was in overall good condition. It is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Butz-Choquin at an angle [over] Roquebrune. On the right side of the shank it is stamped St. Claude France [over] the number 1710. The mixed finish was dull and lifeless and a little dirty from sitting around. There was dust and debris in the carvings. There was a thick cake in the bowl and an overflow of lava on the rim top toward the back. The vulcanite shank extension was lightly oxidized along with the stem. The stem had a scratch on the top side mid stem and some tooth chatter on both sides near the stem. Jeff took the previous and the following photos before he started his cleanup work on the pipe. Jeff took close-up photos of the bowl and rim top from various angles to capture the condition of the bowl and rim top edges. You can see the cake in the bowl and the lava on the inner of the rim and the top at the back of the bowl. The photos of the stem show the general condition of the stem and the vulcanite shank extension. He took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show condition of the briar. You can see the swirls of grain in the smooth bowl side and the carvings on the front, sides and shank. The stamping is very clear on both sides of the pipe. Interestingly the stamping on the left side of the shank is over the carving there so it is blurred in spots. The third photo shows the stamping on the side of the shank extension. I turned to Pipedia to see if I could learn anything about the Roquebrune line of carved finishes but there was nothing listed. I also turned to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Butz-Choquin) and found a great read of the history of the brand. There was nothing there on the line either. I did find a shape chart however, that had the 1710 shape. I have included that below.Now it was time to look at it up close and personal. Jeff had great job in cleaning up this Origine. He had reamed the bowl with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He took the cake back to bare briar so we could check the walls for damage and also see the condition of the inner edge of the rim. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime on the bowl and rim and was able to remove much of the grime and dirt. He cleaned out the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until they came out clean. The rim top looked much better. The bowl and shank extension looked very good. He cleaned the stem with Soft Scrub to remove the grime on the exterior. He soaked it in Briarville’s Stem Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water to remove the product. He cleaned out the airway with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I took some photos of the pipe as I saw it. To show how clean the rim top and stem really was I took a close-up photo of the rim and stem. The bowl was clean and cake free. The rim top is quite clean the inner and outer edges were clean with just some light scratching. The vulcanite shank extension looks very good. The surface and the button edge of the stem look really good. There are no issues that are there to address other than the scratch on the stem top.I took some photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above.I remove the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe from the left side to give a clear picture of the beauty of this particular pipe. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth to remove the dust and debris. The began to take on a deep shine. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar of the bowl with my finger tips and a horse hair shoe brush to work it into the grooves of the carving. The product is incredible and the way it brings the grain to the fore is unique. It works to clean, protect and invigorate the wood. I touched up the BC stamp on the vulcanite extension with some white acrylic nail polish. I rubbed into the stamp with a tooth pick to get it into the grooves. I polished off the excess with a 1500 grit micromesh sanding pad. I took a photo of the reworked stamp below. It is a beauty. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it 1500-12000 pads. I wiped it down with some Obsidian Oil each pad to remove the dust and polishing debris. I polished it with Before  After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I am really happy with the way that this Butz-Choquin Roquebrune 1710 Cherrywood turned out. It really is a great looking pipe with character. The vulcanite shank extension is a unique feature of this pipe gives the stem the look of a military bit. The finish and carvings really came alive with the buffing. The rich brown stains and black carvings gave the grain a sense of depth with the polishing and waxing. The grain really popped. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch. 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 Butz-Choquin Roquebrune Cherrywood really 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 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 40 grams/1.41 oz. The pipe will be going on the rebornpipes store soon. It will be in the section on French Pipe Makers if you would like to add it to your collection.Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. It was a fun one to work on!

What an interesting Sandblast Butz-Choquin 2nd Generation A Metz Origine


Blog by Steve Laug

So when this Butz-Choquin A Metz Origine sandblast showed up in an auction Jeff was watching we went for it and picked it up. It was purchased late in 2020 from an online auction in Bloomingdale, New York, USA. I have worked on the older Origine and also one of these newer ones. While the 1858 Origine had an albatross wing bone for the shank extension the new one had a shorter acrylic look alike. The other one I had worked on was a smooth finished pipe while this one is sandblasted. The shape of the bowl is the same but the 1858 version’s horn stem was replaced by an acrylic stem that was nowhere near as elegant as the first. The pipe was in overall good condition. It is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Butz-Choquin at an angle over A Metz over Origine. On the right side of the shank it is stamped St. Claude France over the number 2. The sandblast  finish was dull and lifeless and a little dirty from sitting around. There was a thin cake in the bowl and a light overflow of lava on the rim top toward the back. There also appears to be some burn/charring damage on the inner edge in the same area. The acrylic shank extension had come loose from the metal end cap that fit in the shank. The silver (polished nickel) that caps the shank and the faux “bone” extension was tarnished but in good condition. The stem was amazingly clean with just some tooth chatter on both sides near the stem. Jeff took the previous and the following photos before he started his cleanup work on the pipe. Jeff took close-up photos of the bowl and rim top from various angles to capture the condition of the bowl and rim top edges. You can see the darkening around the inner edge of the rim and the top at the back of the bowl. The next photos of the stem show the general condition of the stem and angle of the stem. It is very similar to the shape of the original 1858 horn stem. The next photos show the metal end caps on the shank extension. The end that fits in the end of the shank is stuck in the shank and the acrylic extension was loose. The other end is fitted with the stem that was not able to be removed.He took photos of the sides and heel of the sandblast bowl to show condition of the briar. You can see the swirls of grain in the blast on the sides of the bowl.The stamping is very clear on both sides of the pipe. The next two photos confirm what I wrote about the stamping above.I had written a previous blog on a restoration of a second generation Butz-Choquini A Metz Origine (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/04/13/new-life-for-a-second-generation-butz-choquin-a-metz-origine/). It was a smooth briar pipe but the information that I included was helpful and applicable. I am including some of that below.

I turned to Pipephil (www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-butzchoquin.html) to get a bit of background on the second or the modern version of the Origine pipe. I have included a screen capture of the pertinent section below.Now it was time to look at it up close and personal. Jeff had great job in cleaning up this Origine. He had reamed the bowl with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He took the cake back to bare briar so we could check the walls for damage and also see the extent of the burn damage on the back of the inner edge of the rim. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime on the bowl and rim and was able to remove much of the grime and dirt. He cleaned out the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until they came out clean. The rim top looked much better when you compare it with where it started. The damaged area is very clear now and the extent of the damage was clear. He cleaned the stem with Soft Scrub to remove the grime on the exterior and cleaned out the airway with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I took some photos of the pipe as I saw it. To show how clean the rim top and stem really was I took a close-up photo of the rim and stem. The bowl was clean and cake free. The rim top is quite clean and the damage to the back rim top and inner edge of the bowl is clear. The tan/bone coloured acrylic stem looks very good. The surface and the button edge look really good. There are no issues that are there to address. The tarnished silver ends on the shank ends have a rich shine to it now as well.I removed the stem from the bowl and took photos of the parts. The shank extension came apart at the shank end but not at the stem. The metal end on the acrylic shank extension came loose from the extension and was stuck in the shank. The stem was glued to the shank end and unmovable. The pipe looks pretty amazing – kind of a shorter version of the 1858 Origine.I decided to address the shank endcap that was stuck in the shank. I heated it with a Bic lighter and wiggled the end cap. I repeated the process until it finally came loose. Once it was loose I cleaned the inside of the cap and shank extension end so that I could reglue it.I coated the end of the shank extension with all purpose white glue using a dental spatula. I spread it around with my fingers and pressed the cap on the shank extension. I wiped off the excess of the glue and let it cure and harden. I took photos of the repaired shank extension and have included them below. I cleaned out the shank end with alcohol and cotton swabs to remove the tars and oils that had hardened in the metal end cap locking in the shank cap. I sanded the shank cap with 180 and 220 grit sandpaper to reduce the external diameter of the cap. I needed to reduce it so that it fit in the shank end but did not lock it in place.I checked the fit in the shank and it was smooth and snug. I polished the shank cap with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth. At the same time I also polished the acrylic stem to remove the tooth chatter and marks with the micromesh pads. I set the stem and shank extension aside and turned my attention to the damage rim top. I used a set of burrs to replicate the blast pattern on the burn damaged part of the bowl. It took all three burrs to replicate the pattern. Once it was finished I stained the top of the bowl with a Mahogany Stain Pen to match the rest of the bowl.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar of the bowl with my finger tips and a horse hair shoe brush to work it into the grooves of the sandblast. The product is incredible and the way it brings the grain to the fore is unique. It works to clean, protect and invigorate the wood.I am really happy with the way that this Butz-Choquin A. Metz Origine 2 turned out. It really is a great looking pipe with character. The long acrylic shank extension is a unique feature of this pipe and I was able to repair the loose end cap. The blast really came alive with the buffing. The rich brown and mahogany stains gave the grain a sense of depth with the polishing and waxing. The grain really popped. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch. 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 Butz-Choquin A Metz Origine really 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: 8 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 45 grams/1.59 oz. The pipe will be going on the rebornpipes store soon. It will be in the section on French Pipe Makers if you would like to add it to your collection.Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. It was a fun one to work on!

What an Odd Little Butz Choquin Bosco 1040 Snub Nose Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to us from an antique mall in Logan, Utah, USA early in 2020. It is a unique snub nose bent Billiard with cross grain and birdseye grain and has a short saddle vulcanite stem. The bowl has a rich medium brown colour combination that highlights grain. The pipe has some grime ground into the surface of the briar. It really has some stunning grain on the bowl and shank. This pipe is stamped on the sides of the shank. On the left it reads Butz Choquin [over] Bosco. On the right it read St. Claude [over] France [over] the shape number 1040. There is a moderate cake in the bowl and a thick overflow of lava on the rim top and edges. The rim top looks good but it is hard to be certain with the lava coat. The saddle stem has BC stamped on the left side. There is also a strange metal pin in the top below the saddle stem. It had been filled in with a clear/golden epoxy that was chipped and broken. I have no idea if this is original or some previous pipe owner’s addition. There were some tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the vulcanite stem near the button. The pipe looks to be in good condition under the grime. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup. He took photos of the rim top to show the thick cake and the thick lava coat. It is hard to know what the condition of the rim top and edges is like under that thick lava. It is an incredibly dirty pipe but obviously one that was a great smoker. The stem is another strange part of the pipe. It is short and stubby but is original. It has that odd pin and gold epoxy on the top of the stem. The stem also has tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. The stem was made for a 6mm filter.He took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the beautiful grain around the bowl and the condition of the pipe. You can see the grime ground into the surface of the briar as well as the sandpits. He took a photo of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above. He also captured the BC stamp on the saddle stem. I wondered about the name of the pipe and did a quick Google search on the word as a name. the search turned up the following:

Italian: topographic name for someone living or working in a wood, from Late Latin boscus ‘shrub’, ‘undergrowth’ (of Gallic or Germanic origin), or a habitational name from a place named with this word.

It turns out to be a fitting name for a pipe made of the shrub Briar! I like the connection but I am not certain that it is what is referred to… but it could be right?

I turned then to Pipephil’s site to look at the Butz Choquin write up there and see if I could learn anything about the line (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-butzchoquin.html). There was a nothing listed for the Bosco pipe but there was a short history of the brand that is worth a read.

I looked up the Parker brand on Pipedia to see if I could find the Butz-Choquin Bosco Line (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Butz-Choquin). There was nothing that tied directly to the line I am working on. There is a detailed history of the brand there that is a good read.

It was time to work on the pipe. As usual Jeff had done a thorough cleanup on the pipe. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. One of the benefits of this scrub is that it also tends to lift some of the scratches and nicks in the surface of the briar. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He cleaned the internals and externals of the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. He soaked the stem in Briarville’s Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water and cleaned out the airway in the stem with alcohol. This odd little pipe actually was quite stunning! I took a photo of the rim top and stem to show the condition. The rim top looked very good. The rim top and the inner edge of the bowl had darkening and the varnish coat had peeled. The vulcanite saddle stem had light tooth chatter and marks on both sides ahead of the button and on the button edges.I removed the stem and the extension from the shank and took a photo of the pipe to give a sense of the whole. It is a nice Straight Grain Billiard that should clean up very well.   I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped down the bowl after each sanding pad.    I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The Balm did its magic and the grain stood out.     I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I filled in the tooth marks near the button and the pitting around the pin in the top of the stem. Once the repairs cured I used a small file to flatten out the repairs and start to blend them into the stem surface. I sanded the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing process with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I used Rub’n Buff Antique Gold to fill in the BC stamp on the left side of the saddle stem. I rubbed it on with a cotton swab and buffed it off with a cotton pad. The stamp is faint but readable.   I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. The photo below shows the polished stem.     While working on the stem I decided to see what would fit in the wide open tenon. It was obviously drilled for a 6mm filter. I did not have any, but I did have a Savinelli 6mm Balsa wood filter. Some how a pipe with the name Bosco (shrub/wood) just matched that style of filter. I fit it in place. Then it dawned on me that the pin on the top of the stem was made to keep the filter from going to deep in the stem. It worked well.   This nicely grained Butz Choquin Bosco 1040 Bent Billiard Nosewarmer with a vulcanite saddle stem is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The briar is clean and really came alive. 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 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 Short Butz Choquin Bent Billiard 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: 4 ¼ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 41grams/1.45oz. The pipe will be going on the rebornpipes store soon. It will be in the section on French Pipe Makes if you would like to add it to your collection.Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

A True Test – A Cracked Acrylic Ferrule and Shank Break to Restore a Rusticated Butz-Choquin Costaud 1597


Blog by Dal Stanton

This Butz-Choquin Costaud came to me from the auction block in January of 2017 as one in a Lot of 13 pipes from a seller in Nevada.  Several of these pipes have already found their way to new stewards who found them in online ‘Help Me!’ baskets in the ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!’ collection.  It was in the ‘Dreamers’ section that Craig spied the BC Costaud 1597 and reached out to me about commissioning the BC.  The BC Costaud is at the 12 o’clock position in the picture below.

I was interested to find out from Craig later that he lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where I also met a young woman at Covenant College atop Lookout Mountain, who in time, became my wife – I married up!  Few in the US haven’t seen signs, bird houses and barn sides with the famous, ‘See Rock City’ or ‘Ruby Falls’ both of which are located on Lookout Mountain overlooking Chattanooga.  I was interested to hear that Craig was also an automotive engineer at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga and along with enjoying pipes he races cars on the weekends!  I appreciate Craig’s patience and the pipe he commissioned is now on the worktable.  Here are some pictures of the attractive Butz-Choquin Costaud:   The nomenclature is stamped on the underside shank panel.  The chiseled cursive, ‘Butz-Choquin’ is stamped over ‘Costaud’.  Below this is stamped a very ghosted, ‘ST. CLAUDE-FRANCE’.  A quick look in Google Translate renders ‘Costaud’ as ‘Strong’ in English.  I liked the other adjectival renderings offered: beefy, hefty, husky, and strapping.  The pipe’s deep, rustic, carved style fits this name.If one does a quick search of the BC Costaud line, one discovers quickly that this line was offered by the French pipe maker in many different shapes and each with the very distinctive carved rustication and the same acrylic shank cap.  Here are a few examples from the search results.  The shape number is listed in a picture of BC pipes in the Pipedia Butz-Choquin article.  The 1597 is an attractive, stout square shanked paneled Billiard with a saddle stem friction mounted.  The only difference in the general 1597 shape with the Costaud is that the Costaud’s stem is a friction mounted fishtail.Looking at the condition of the BC Costaud, the obvious elephant in the room is the cracked acrylic ferrule or shank cap.  The crack appears to be a trauma that opened on the left side of the cap and followed the bottom of the ‘BC’ stamping perfectly.  My guess is that the break was caused by the stem hanging on something and the force on the acrylic snapped it.  It is only on the left side and I want to keep it that way!Craig commissioned a striking pipe.  The cracked acrylic ferrule gets the attention quickly and overshadows other issues.  The chamber needs to be cleaned of the cake buildup and the rusticated rim has blackened lava overflow that needs cleaning.  The rusticated stummel is eye catching but needs cleaning in the deep crooks and crevasses of the briar surface.  The fishtail stem has light oxidation and tooth chatter on the upper and lower bit. To begin the restoration of this Butz-Choquin Costaud, I start with the fishtail stem.  The airway is cleaned using a pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 99%.To begin working on the light oxidation in the vulcanite stem, 0000 grade steel wool scrubs the surface with Soft Scrub.  I do this in preparation of putting the stem in a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer.Next, after rinsing the stem with water, the Fishtail is put in the Deoxidizer with other pipes in the queue.  The stem is left in the Deoxidizer for several hours.After the stem has soaked for some time, a stiff wire helps to fish out the Fishtail stem and drain the excess Deoxidizer.  I also squeegee the fluid off the stem using my fingers.A pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 99% is run through the airway to push out the fluid and to clean.  I cotton pad wetted with alcohol is used to wipe off the raised oxidation from the stem surface.Finally, to help condition the vulcanite, paraffin oil, a mineral oil, is applied to the vulcanite rubber stem.  The stem is then put to the side to absorb the oil.Before going through the process of cleaning the stummel, I decide to move forward with repairing the acrylic ferrule.  I’m doing this first because what often is the case is that during the cleaning process, which uses water, the briar wood in the mortise expands.  I don’t know for certain if this would be the case with the shank during the cleaning process, but I would rather repair the shank cap now than risk a more difficult fix because of a changed environment.  The cap has separated or moved down the shank.  The result is that there is a large gap between the external shank edge and the acrylic shank cap. The first thing needed is to remove the shank cap from the shank.  I need to be careful because I don’t want to put too much pressure on the acrylic as I’m trying to remove it.  I don’t know if old glue used when the cap was originally seated may be hindering an easy removal.  My first attempts to pull and then hand-twist the cap off were unsuccessful.  It feels like it’s glued – no movement at all.  The next thing I try is to wedge first a flat dental spoon into the gap and gingerly try to pry loose the acrylic cap.  Next, the sharp edge of a pocketknife was wedged into the gap to apply gentle even pressure to break the cap loose.  This was not easy avoiding damage to the briar shank and further carnage to the shank cap!As I puzzle and pull and puzzle more, another mystery is birthed.  With the gap between the briar and acrylic, my assumption is that the cap has partially become unseated – perhaps someone was trying to remove it and that caused the acrylic to break?  I would guess that there would also be a gap internally – between the acrylic and the beginning of the briar mortise.  To test my assumption on a second gap, a sharp dental probe is inserted into the mortise and the internal surface is scraped with the point I am expecting to detect another gap indicating that the ferrule had shifted down.  I find no internal gap.  The surface between briar and acrylic is smooth.  This is important because I had been thinking, if I’m unable safely to remove the shank cap then I could try to reseat the shank cap by pressing it back into place on the shank and doing my best to close the gap from the acrylic break.  Yet, if there is no internal gap, there’s no room for any movement of the shank cap to be reseated flush with the shank.  It’s hard to believe a BC pipe left the Saint Claude workshop with a gap that large between the cap and the briar shank….  Three ideas begin to float in my mind  regarding removal of the ferrule.  First, to put the stummel in the freezer.  This is a general method of unsticking things that are stuck.  When the material cools, it contracts and often loosens stuck things.  The second idea, if the freezer method doesn’t help, is to drip some acetone in the gap and the crack.  If the shank cap is stuck because of being glued, acetone can help break down the glue.  This might help, but I’m doubtful.  The third idea is that the acrylic could be heated with a hot air gun and made more pliable – like vulcanite.  This might avoid another break.

First, into the freezer and we’ll see what happens.  Well, the next morning arrived and I was hopeful that the shank cap would break free after cooling and contracting.  To keep the cap stable, I wrap it in a felt cloth and put it in the vice with a gentle snugness.  With the stummel extended, I very gingerly apply a twisting pressure on the shank with hope that the acrylic cap will break free.  Much to my chagrin, the cap did not break free but instead the wood shank insert broke off.  Oh my….  I look at the following pictures of the carnage as one is often drawn to look at a car crash on the interstate…. What to do?  After recovering from the initial nauseated feeling, my first thoughts were to drill out the wood inside the now freed shank cap, to repair the acrylic crack and then figure out the next step.  It did not take long after these initial thoughts to realize I needed to reach out to Steve with pictures to get his feedback and direction – the Sage of rebornpipes!  I recall writing a few years ago in the ‘Helps for Newbies’ section of The Pipe Steward website, that mistakes often are the best way to learn and recording mistakes or mishaps in the writeups helps others and expands one’s abilities in the pipe restoration world.  I have not tackled anything like this before, so the opportunities are there to learn!  Recording the troubleshooting thought processes I believe, are helpful to learn as well.  Here is my initial email to Steve with the above pictures outlining the challenges as I saw it:

Hey Steve,

Ran into a bit of a snag and need your advice.  This pipe came to me with the cracked acrylic shank cap.  My attempts to remove it from the shank obviously failed with me breaking off the briar portion inserted into the cap.  Now I’m looking at cleaning out the wood glued in the cap and setting an insert into the shank that will form the new ‘post’ for the cap.  This is something I’ve not done before and reaching out to you and Charles was the first step.  Of course, I need to clean the wood out of the cap and close and repair the cap.  To connect –  I have the acrylic or Delrin(?) push/pull tenons on hand, but that doesn’t seem like the right configuration.  I know that you and Charles have used Delrin – but I’m not sure what this process is.  Another thought is to take an old stem and flatten the shank facing and counter sink holes in the briar to seat a new mount of sorts for the cap….  Any thoughts to steer me in the right direction – an old write up?  Thanks!

Dal

Steve’s response came quickly:

Not sure what Charles would do but my process is simple.

  1. DO NOT Clean out the wood from the shank extension.
  2. I would take one of your tenons and shape it with your dremel to provide a tube or you can use stainless.
  3. Once you have that glue it in the shank end and let it set.
  4. Give the extending end a coat of glue (epoxy probably is best.)
  5. Put glue on the cracked ends and clamp it together and let it cure
  6. Fill in the split in the extension with super glue. Once it is filled in smooth out the shank extension and reshape it

    Steve

My response and further questions to hone in on a path forward:

Thanks, Steve.  So, you would NOT remove the wood in the shank cap to try to close the acrylic crack gap?  Also, there’s a gap between the extension and the shank before I broke it.  You would leave that??  Essentially, you would not have tried removing the cap to do these repairs.  I’m not sure how the cap would have come off cleanly having been glued on.  Fill the acrylic crack and leave the gap?

Dal

I appreciate Steve’s experience which provides an important component in dealing with the myriad of problems and possibilities that are ‘part and parcel’ of pipe restoration: improvisation.  With more information and thought, Steve was able to help me bring into focus the options:

Dal…. one thought since you mentioned the gap is to flatten out the broken piece on the shank and extension to smooth out the fit to the shank.

If you want to try to bind the crack in the shank extension since it is already off you could drill out the wood and try gluing and clamping the cracked shank extension.

On the Danish ones with the joint is typically done with a threaded tenon in the shank and the piece can be wiggled free and unscrewed… This did not allow for that.

As something completely different you could take a nice piece of smooth hardwood (walnut) and make a similar piece drill and anchor it to the shank as noted before. That would look really good and be your own touch.

My thought processes continue – I had already contemplated flattening the shank facing to remove that gap as Steve suggests.  The last option that Steve put forward of fashioning a piece of walnut or another hardwood and seating it into the shank would probably be the classiest repair but I’m not sure my tools are precision enough to drill out the shank to create the counter sink space for the hardwood ‘plug’.  Steve also mentioned removing the wood from the cap and repairing the acrylic gap, which was my first inclination.  This approach would also necessitate then, fashioning a wood plug to then seat the friction mounted Fishtail stem.

The bottom line is that I cannot suffer leaving the acrylic break there and not try to repair it! – especially since this was the primary reason for trying to remove the cap in the first place.  With Steve’s input, the course that I will follow is to fashion a hardwood joint.  Whether I simply drill a counter-sink hole in the shank or attempt the Danish method of threading the joint, I will continue to consider.   I do have a tap & die set that I’ve never used, and this would be a great opportunity perhaps!  The question between these two approaches – counter-sink hole along or threaded – has to do with how much wiggle room there will be when cementing the joint in the shank making sure the cap seats flush against the shank facing and not again, leave gaps.  Whichever way I end up proceeding, the first step is to drill out the briar wood that remains in the cap.

To remove the briar remains from the shank cap, I begin the process with drill bits.  Using a bit just larger than will freely pass through the airway, I hand turn the bit to ream out the wood a little at a time.  I then graduate to two larger bits, hand turning and expanding the bite each time and removing a little more briar.I also used different burrs mounted on the rotary tool to fine tune the clearing.  The following picture is after quite a bit of time of gradually removing the briar without further damaging the shank cap.  You can see just a small amount of wood left against the acrylic lip marking the beginning of the mortise where the stem is seated.These next pictures show all the tools used for the mini-project and the finished job.  Success with the first phase. Next, the crack in the acrylic needs to be glued.  The acrylic shank cap is placed in a small desk vice cradled by two cotton pads to protect the acrylic. The vice will provide constant pressure to allow the CA glue to cure fully through the night.The cap is situated lower in the grips.  I do this so that the press of the vice will focus on the top of the cap to close the gap and not put pressure on the entire cap.I  use Loctite Precision Pen semi-gel CA glue to lay a line down the crack to avoid too much excess on the acrylic.  Then a toothpick is used to push down and spread the CA glue on the crack edge to get maximum coverage and hopefully, effect.The vice is then gently closed to close the gap.  I’m careful not to put too much pressure on the cap with the vice – I don’t want it to crack again!  The day has come to an end and the lights go out allowing the glue to fully cure through the night. The next morning, I am anxious to release the vice and hopefully, the acrylic cap won’t snap open!  As hoped, the cap repair is successful – yes! Next, 240 sanding paper is used to surgically remove the excess glue from the acrylic surface.  My caution is to do hopefully little damage to the ‘BC’ cap stamp removing the glue.  After beginning to remove the excess patch material sanding with 240 paper, I noticed a separation in the crack.  It seems that the extended time the acrylic cap was cracked, the acrylic was memorizing the expanded orientation.  The excess glue over the crack was serving as reinforcement for the patch and when removed, the patch faltered.I may need to transition from CA glue to using an epoxy.  While the patch is still half-way holding, the thought came to mind about possibly relieving the expanded memorized orientation by heating the acrylic.  The cap is positioned in the vice with the crack away from the hot air gun.  The opposite side of the crack needs to relax.  With the vice gently closed on the crack side, the opposite side is heated.  If the theory is correct, as the tight side of the cap heats, the acrylic becomes more supple and relax and hopefully will un-memorize the broken condition – like a splint.  After heating for some minutes, the cap cools.Amazingly, this works like a charm!  The gap has closed, and the expansion torque has been released.  I wish I had thought of this before applying the patch.  Now, I may need to redo the patch but the complication with that is cleaning away the old patch material.  I’ll continue sanding with 240 to remove the excess and see how it looks.I continue to remove the old patch material with 240 grade paper trying to salvage as much of the BC stamping as possible – though I know that it will not remain unscathed.  The good news now is that with the torque issue resolved, when the cap is mounted on a newly fashioned briar plug later, there should be no stress on the acrylic.  The cap will simply go over the plug like a glove and glued in place.  The mounting and the glue on the inside will again reinforce the patch.  So, the crack repair doesn’t necessarily need to be uber strong but becomes more of a cosmetic issue – in theory!The sanding with 240 paper is complete and I continue sanding over the patch with 600 grade paper and then 0000 grade steel wool.Next, the entire acrylic ferrule is sanded with the full regimen of micromesh pads – from 1500 to 12000.Putting the cap aside for now, I use a sanding drum mounted on the rotary tool to remove the excess briar protruding out of the shank after the break. Even though it’s a bit anti-climactic, before continuing with the shank repair, I want to clean the stummel first.  After the shank cap is remounted, the last thing I’ll want to do is backtrack and start cleaning!  The chamber has carbon cake build up and to give the briar a fresh start, the chamber is reamed with the Pipnet Reaming Kit.  After taking a fresh picture of the chamber, reaming starts with the smallest of the blade heads and then the next larger one.  After this, the chamber walls are scraped with the Savinelli Fitsall Tool and then sanded with 240 sanding paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen for leverage. After wiping the bowl, and inspection of the chamber reveals healthy briar.Next, undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap is used to scrub the rusticated stummel and rim surface.  The rim has some lava flow and the distinctively carved BC Costaud stummel will undoubtedly have grime and dirt in the cracks and crevasses. A bristled toothbrush is used to get in the nooks and crannies and a brass bristled brush also assists with cleaning the rim. The stummel then goes to the sink where shank brushes continue the cleaning in the mortise with warm to hot water using anti-oil liquid dishwashing soap.  After the stummel is thoroughly rinsed the results of the cleaning are examined.The rim cleaned to a degree.  There remains dark charring on the internal rim edge.The briar seems parched throughout the rusticated surface.  With this much carving, it’s difficult to tell if the finish has disappeared for the most part.  It does look a bit ragged.  The third picture below of the nomenclature on the underside of the stummel seems to indicate this is true with the splotchiness.  Before contemplating adding dye to the mix, I decide to apply Mark Hoover’s Before & After Restoration Balm to the stummel to see how the dry briar responds.  The Balm does amazing things to smooth briar and the rough surface on the Costaud bowl may perk up nicely.  To apply the Balm, I put Balm on my finger and work it into the crevasses.  I think this pipe has won the award for the most Balm needed to do the job!  After the Balm is thoroughly applied, I allow the stummel to sit for a time to allow the Balm to do its thing (pictured below).  When I have this ‘liquid gold’ (Mark’s price isn’t cheap 😊), none is wasted.  I grab a blasted billiard off my own pipe rack and work the excess Balm in.  There seems to be a smile on the Billiard’s face!After 15 minutes or so, the stummel is buffed with a microfiber cloth to remove the excess Balm.  It takes a bit of work, but the bowl looks better; and for now, I will think about adding any additional coloring.  I move on. Earlier, the Fishtail stem went through a Before & After Deoxidizer soak.  The stem looks good with no apparent residual oxidation.  The upper and lower bit have tooth chatter, and the vulcanite surface is rough.  To address the chatter, I use a Bic lighter and paint the bit with the flame to heat and expand the rubber compound.  As the vulcanite heats, it also expands reclaiming its original disposition or at least in part.   The before and after pictures show the results.  This stem responded well which means that sanding will now be less. Next, the entire stem is sanded with 240 grade paper with a special focus on removing any residual roughness on the bit from tooth chatter.The 240 sanding is followed by wet sanding with 600 grade sanding paper and then 0000 grade steel wool is applied.Next, the full regimen of 9 micromesh pads is used starting with wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400.  Following the wet sanding is dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  I apply Obsidian Oil between each set of 3 pads to further condition the stem and to guard the vulcanite from developing oxidation. While restoring the stem, I’ve had more time to consider the next steps in the shank cap repair.  Since this is my maiden voyage doing this kind of repair, the brain has been ticking through the process one step at a time weighing the logical sequential steps. To get a frame of reference, I measure the width of the former joint or ‘plug’ and the corresponding internal width of the shank cap with the result of 7/16 inches or 11mm.  The standard airway is 3/16 inches, and this airway corresponds.The depth of the internal cavity of the shank cap where the joint plug would be seated is 9/16 inches or 15mm.  If this length were to be generally doubled to the depth of the countersink hole to be drilled into the shank, the total length of the joint would be about 1 1/8 inch or 30mm.In Steve’s earlier email, he suggested using walnut as the joint material or a hardwood of some sort.  I do not have walnut on hand, but I do have another hardwood – cherry.  The cherry wood is a flat piece serving as a shelf end on my worktable!  It used to be an extender of a cherry wood table that became my worktable!I cut a piece off the end of the piece which should give me enough ‘meat on the bone’ for a small margin of error in drilling the airway through the center.  I set the block of cherry in the table vice, and eyeball the drill hoping for the best!The exit hole is about 1/16 inch off center, but I think there’s enough margin to make this work.With the airway drilling ‘good enough’ for now, with enough excess cherry to make it work, the next step is to sand off the corners of the block to form the rough cylinder that will more easily mount on the PIMO Tenon Turning Tool.  To do this I use a sanding drum on the rotary tool.The following pictures show the corner-by-corner progression of rounding the block. This should do!  Progress! The closest thing in my tool chest to a lathe is the PIMO Tenon Turning Tool I acquired from Vermont Freehand.  I have only used the tool to fashion vulcanite tenons mainly for fashioning Churchwarden stems for repurposed bowls.  I’m hopeful that I can make the PIMO work for this application on cherry wood.  The challenge will be holding the wood firmly and having to do a flip-flop in order to cut both ends.  The reach of the carbide cutting arm is only 5/8 of an inch which means the joint for the Costaud will need to be reversed and cut from both sides to do the job.  The length of the joint now will mean that as I cut, a ‘donut’ of uncut wood will be left in the middle.  My thinking is that as I cut both sides to establish the drilled airway as the center axis point, then I can shorten the joint a bit to be able to remove the ‘donut’.  The key, as in most everything about pipe restoration, is patience in the shaping process.  The picture shows the flip-flop issue – the short reach of the cutting arm.The carbide cutter arm is adjusted to barely contact the cherry wood and tightened.  The target diameter is about 7/16 inches or 11mm – the diameter of the acrylic shank caps interior.After a few cuts and flip-flops, the anticipated donut is forming.I discovered that using a pair of pliers to hold the end of the joint work better than with my hand.After several more flip-flop cuts the donut is fully formed and the airway now is the center axis point. The ‘meat on the bone’ cherry wood, has equalized the slightly off centered airway drilling.  You can see in the picture below that the donut is almost flat/flush on the bottom side, but the top side is fat.  The cutting from the PIMO Tool stayed true to the center axis point and removed the uneven wood (or meat on the bones!) around it.As I mentioned above, at some point I would shorten the joint so that the donut could be removed.  That time is now.  30mm or 1 1/8 inches is about the target length of the needed joint (sorry for going back and forth between the metric and the standard systems! After living in Europe over 25 years the metric is more usable and precise to me!). With the mark made and after mounting the cutting blade onto the rotary tool, the excess is removed.  A few more cuts with the PIMO Tool and the donut is removed and now I am working with a uniform dimension.Flip-flop cuts continue until I’m down close to the width of 11mm.  I cut a test cut and measure.  The measurement is right at 11mm. I finish the cut after measuring and the fit is perfect in the shank cap.  It has a slight amount of wiggle room which is what I want to not put outward pressure on the repaired acrylic and to allow a little fudge factor when it is permanently attached later.The next step is to expand the joint airway to match the airway diameter of the Costaud.  That diameter measures 3/16 inches. I hand turn the drilling by gripping the drill bit end in the vice and turning the joint plug.  I start with a drill bit slightly larger than the current hole and turn.  It takes a bit of time to hand turn the drilling.  I carefully used pliers when the drill bit was advanced in the hole and became difficult to turn. It took 3 drill bits to arrive at the 3/16 inches.  Using metric drill bits too gave a half-step between sizes that made it a little easier between steps. The length of the joint is long now.  I’ll deal with that later after drilling the counter sink hole in the shank.  I’m nervous about this next step.  The diameter of the joint is a bit less than the diameter of the original looking at the shank, but I’m ok with this.  The picture below shows the narrowness of the outer shank structure.  I’ll stay a little bit more on the safe side as I drill a counter-sink hole.Starting with a drill bit that is a bit larger than the airway, the end of the bit is clamped in the vice and the stummel is rotated.  I hand turn the stummel allowing the bit to follow the airway’s path of least resistance.  The depth I’m aiming for is about 1/2 inch and I mark off drill bit with tape.  The most difficult part is starting the drill bit making sure it’s as straight as possible and avoiding wobbles.  Once the bit starts tracking down the airway it becomes easier.  Ten drill bits later, I reach a comfortable diameter as the counter-sink hole moves closer to the outer shank edge.  I haven’t cracked the shank yet and I want to keep it that way!  The hole is a bit small, but I transition to sanding the joint for custom fit. To sand down the shank side of the joint, a coarse 120 grade paper is used.  The paper is pinched around the joint and rotated.  This keeps the joint in round. In time the joint begins to make its way into the shank and finally about 1/2 inch is inserted.  Success!  The pipe cleaner confirms continuity through the airway. What a relief.The next step is to sand down the stem side of the joint so that the acrylic shank cap fits over the joint and is flush with the shank.  With the joint seated a half-inch in the shank, the picture shows the excess length – about 1/16 inch.A sanding drum is used to do this.  After mounting the sanding drum on the rotary tool, the end of the joint is gradually sanded down to a good length. The progress is checked along the way to make sure too much isn’t removed. The pictures show the alignment of the joint airway.  As I’m looking at the airway, I begin to think about how the military mount fishtail stem will fit into the shank cap.I size up the stem’s tenon with the now repaired shank cap opening and another puzzle unfolds but another puzzle is possibly solved.  The tenon simply does not fit.  Nor did it ever fit this shank cap.  The opening of the cap is 1/4 inch wide.  The tenon is 1/16 inch larger. I don’t believe the stem is the original BC Costaud stem but apparently a replacement stem that’s a good match, but had been previously used.  A quick look at the internet shows that this replacement stem looks BC authentic by comparing with other Costauds (LINK).  This is good news indeed.  The puzzle that is possibly solved now is the cause of the acrylic cap’s break – the original stem was lost, and the replacement stem was forced into the shank cap mortise without proper sizing and there just wasn’t enough room to accommodate the oversized tenon and the acrylic gave way.  After this possible scenario played out fully in my cerebral cinema the question that came to mind was, ‘Why didn’t I catch this earlier?’  The answer followed – when the acrylic crack was wide open, of course it fit!  After fixing the crack and closing the gap, my assumption of the stem fit was grandfathered in.   But looking back at earlier pictures, the stem was not fitting – the tenon was not fully engaged seated in the mortise.  This I HAD assumed, too.  This earlier picture shows that the tenon was simply hanging out on the entry lip of the acrylic cap, not seated in the briar mortise inside the cap.The pathway forward is to glue the joint in the shank making sure that it lines up with the acrylic cap.  After this the acrylic cap is permanently attached.  The mortise needs to be drilled out to be flush with the cap opening and deep enough to receive the tenon.  The tenon of the stem then needs to be custom resized to be able to friction mount the mortise so that the tenon facing is flush with the shank cap opening.

In seating the joint in the shank, it’s important that there’s a bit of play in the fitting so that the joint can be adjusted after the glue is applied.  To increase the hold of the CA glue, I use a burr to cut some channels in the joint. Thick CA glue is then applied around the base of the joint and then inserted into the shank counter-sink hole.  I use thick glue because thin CA glue is absorbed while thick spreads. I want the glue to spread fully around the joint.  While the glue is still pliable, the cap is mounted onto the joint to guide the orientation for the joint so that the airway is centered, and the shank cap is flush with the shank facing. I let the stummel sit for several hours to allow the joint’s position to become permanent as the CA glue fully cures. With the glue fully cured, seating the joint into the shank, the next step is to attach the acrylic cap.  Again, the joint is scored several times with the burr to increase the gripping of the CA glue.Thick CA glue is then applied around the joint and the shank cap is mounted onto the joint and while the glue is still pliable, I make sure the cap is lined up with the shank. Thankfully, the airway is centered in as well! To complete the structural issues, the replacement fishtail stem’s tenon needs to be properly sized to navigate safely the mortise.  To do this, the tenon diameter is decreased and the mortise is expanded to accommodate the resized tenon.  I use a coarse 120 grade sanding paper to sand down the tenon.  I do this by pinching the paper around the tenon and rotating the stem.The mortise is also expanded to match the diameter of the acrylic shank cap’s diameter.  A burr is carefully used to expand the mortise. To deepen the briar mortise – gradually, a drill bit is hand turned.The process was a dance between sanding the tenon to shape it and drill and smooth the mortise – testing a lot!  The goal is to seat the tenon so that the tenon facing is almost flush with the acrylic ferrule.  This picture shows a large gap between the tenon facing and the acrylic.After a lot of slow work, the tenon is seated without placing too much stress on the repaired acrylic shank cap.  The structural repair to the BC Costaud is done – I move on!What remains is now the cosmetic restoration – I am not finished yet!  The charred inner ring of the chamber needs to be cleaned. To do this, 240 sanding paper is used to sand the upper chamber edge. Looking again at the condition of the rusticated surface of the bowl, after applying the Before & After Restoration Balm earlier, I had hoped that that would be sufficient.  Looking now at the briar’s condition, it is apparent the finish is gone in places giving a light dried look.  The nomenclature panel on the underside shows an uneven splotched finish.