Blog by Steve Laug
I received a call from a local fellow who had picked up my phone number from a local pipe and cigar shop. He had just returned from a trip and the tenon on his little Civic Zulu had snapped off. As it was his only pipe he wondered if I would be willing to take on the job of repairing it. He had tried to glue it on with epoxy but it had not worked. The pipe was relatively new and half the bowl was not even darkened by smoking. There was raw briar on the bottom half of the bowl. The briar was dirty on the outside from being pocketed in his coat of backpack. The stem was oxidized and had tooth chatter on both sides at the button. The oxidation is deep in the vulcanite. I told him I would take on the project. I took photos of the pipe before I started working on it.I found a Delrin tenon replacement in my box that would fit well once the diameter was reduced. We talked and he decided to get rid of the stinger to make it a better smoking pipe. The broken angle on the end of the stem would need to be sanded smooth and faced so that the new tenon would fit well. I took some photos of the pipe, stem, broken tenon and new tenon.In preparation for drilling out the stem for the new tenon I used a sharp knife to open and bevel the edges of the airway in the stem. I have found that doing this keeps the drill bit centred and straight in the airway.I used the Dremel and the sanding drum to reduce the diameter of the new tenon. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the tenon. I worked on it until the diameter was the same as the broken tenon and the fit in the mortise was snug.I started drilling the airway with a bit slightly larger than the diameter of the airway. I slowed the speed on the cordless drill to make sure it moved slowly and straight. I worked my way up to a bit that was the same diameter as the new tenon end, but not too large to compromise the strength of the stem.I removed some of the diameter on the threaded end of the tenon to get a proper fit in the stem. I cleaned up the inside of the newly drilled end of the stem with a needle file to smooth out the walls. When it was smooth I cleaned up the new tenon, applied glue to the end and pressed it into place in the stem.I sanded the tenon with 4000 grit wet/dry sandpaper to clean up the marks and scratches in the tenon. Once the glue had cured I put the stem on the shank of the pipe. As is usual with these repairs the alignment was not perfect but close. I sanded the shank/stem junction smooth to clean up the alignment. I took pictures of the newly fit stem. I cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol. I worked on them until they were clean. Since the pipe was barely smoked it was a pretty simple clean up.I reamed out the debris in the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I wanted the bowl to be clean and smooth.I stained the area where I had sanded the shank with an oak stain pen to blend it into the rest of the shank. It is a bit streaky at this point in the process but that would blend together once I buffed and polished the pipe. I worked Before & After Restoration Balm deep into the briar to clean, enliven and protect it. I worked it into the finish with my fingertips. I worked it into the rim and shank end. I set it aside for a few minutes to let the balm work. I wiped it off and buffed it with a soft cloth to polish it. The briar really began to have a deep shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. The grain on the bowl is really beginning to stand out and will only do so more as the pipe is waxed. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I finished polishing the stem with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish both Fine and Extra Fine to remove the last of the scratches. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. With the stem polished I put it back on the pipe and lightly buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond. I buffed the stem with a more aggressive buff of Blue Diamond. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I will call the pipeman soon so he can pick up his pipe and begin to enjoy it once more. He called several nights ago and said he had ordered some new tobacco and it had arrived. He was excited to try it out with his repaired pipe. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked this pipe over.