Tag Archives: cleaning meerschaum pipes

Cleaning up a pair of No Name Turkish Made Meerschaums

Blog by Steve Laug

As you might have figured out from the title I am working on a pair of Turkish Meerschaum pipes – two bent eggs with no stamping or identifying marks regarding the maker. Both have similar shapes and stems. The stems both are stamped on the left side – Made in Turkey. The smaller of the two has a small S in a box. The bowls were very dirty on the outside of the bowl. There was a lot of marks on the meer and sticky substances that made the bowls feel and look dirty.The larger bowl was unsmoked and the smaller one is lightly smoked. Both had been sitting a very long time unused as there were cobwebs in the bottoms of the bowl. The shanks both had a metal mortise insert much like Kaywoodie metal inserts. The tenon on the stems was a metal single unit aluminum stinger and tenon. The Bakelite stems were in excellent condition and did not have any tooth chatter or marks in the surface. They were dirty but otherwise in good condition. The alignment of the stems in the shank was perfect. I took photos of the pipes before I started my work on it. I took a close up photo of the bowls and rim tops to show the condition of the pipe before I started my cleanup work. Both bowls were dirty but there was no cake. The larger of the two was unsmoked and you can see that the smaller one has been lightly smoked. The rim tops were both dirty but undamaged. The stems look pretty good with no tooth chatter and marks on either the top or underside. Metal spacer on the smaller pipe was oxidized and dirty.  I took a photo of the stamping on the stems of both pipes. The top pipe (larger one) is stamped MADE IN TURKEY. The bottom pipe stem is stamped with an S in a box followed by MADE IN TURKEY. Both stems have an older style orifice button that can either speak of age or of precast unshaped stems.I took the stems off the bowls and took photos of the parts. The metal tenon on the larger of the two eggs (one on the left below) was very clean and unused. The metal tenon on the second pipe (one on the right) was lightly used and had a little tobacco stain.I decided to try cleaning the meerschaum a little differently this time around. I am currently experimenting with a new product from Mark Hoover of Before & After Products. This one is a product he labels briar cleaner and it has the capacity of absorbing grime and dirt from the surface of briar. I decided to try it out this pair of meerschaum pipes. I rubbed the bowl down with some of his Briar Cleaner to see how it would work in this setting. In speaking to Mark he noted that the product is completely safe to use. The main product is even FDA approved edible. I rubbed it onto the bowl with my finger tips and worked it into the grime and grit on both bowls. I rubbed it on the second bowl while letting the product sit on the first bowl. It worked the whole time I was applying it to the second bowl. It probably sat about 2-3 minutes before I went back and rubbed it off with a microfibre cloth. The second bowl sat the whole time I was rubbing down the first bowl with the cloth. Again the time lag was 2-3 minutes minimum. I rubbed down the second bowl with the cloth and was pleasantly surprised by how clean the surface on both bowls looked when I was finished. Since the cleaner had worked so well I decided to try out the Restoration Balm on the meerschaum as well. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the meerschaum and let it sit for a short time. I buffed it off with a microfibre cloth to bring it some life. Once again I was very surprised at how well it worked. I sent Mark Hoover a note about this experiment. He was pretty amazed at the results and said he had not thought of using it for meerschaum but was not surprised as it was made to absorb grit and grime from the surface of a pipe. I scrubbed the internals of the bowls, shanks and stems with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. They were surprisingly clean and the dust and debris came out quickly on the pipe cleaners and the cotton swabs. The smaller pipe that had been presmoked was also quite clean.I polished the metal spacer on each shank end with 1500 micromesh sanding pads. I was able to remove the oxidation and leave the spacers both shiny.I set the bowls aside and worked on the stems. I sanded the surface of both stems with 1500 -12000 grit micromesh pads to polish it. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil on a cloth after each sanding pad. I finished polishing the stem with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine polishes. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil afterwards and buffed it on the buffing wheel with Blue Diamond and the finished it with a soft microfiber cloth. I put the bowls and stems back together. I polished them with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the Bakelite. I gave the bowls and stems of both multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed the pipes with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed them with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipes polished up pretty nicely. The contrast of the beautiful clean meerschaum with light colouring of age and the polished golden Bakelite stems looked amazing. These are beautiful egg shaped Meerschaum pipes that will only get better with age. The finished pipes are shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the larger egg shaped pipe with fuller bent stem (upper pipe in the first two photos below) are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. The dimensions of the smaller egg shaped pipe with lesser bent stem (lower pipe in the first two photos below) are Length: 5 3/4 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 5/8 of an inch.  I have restored quite a few meerschaum pipes over the years this pair though not particularly high end still have a special beauty. I will be putting them on the rebornpipes store shortly. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me. Cheers.

Unorthodox Thoughts and Actions on the Care and Waxing of Meerschaums

Blog by Norman Skiba

This is written with all due respect to the late Meerschaum master Fred Bass.  I have tried to read all I could by Fred, and I have learned a lot; however, some things are maybe a bit over the top for me and my life.  His knowledge and skill about caring and reworking meers is also most impressive, and again, way beyond my means and knowledge and needs.  So after recently picking my way through more than half of the stuff I have collected by Fred (writings, thoughts, and comments he has made in relation to others on a smokers forum), I have been pondering as well as observing what I do when smoking and caring for my meers.

At the outset, I must say that I am quite anal about my meers.  I never touch the bowls – hot or cold – and I handle them with an old clean piece of white t-shirt that is multi folded so it is not just single thickness.  When cleaning or filling the pipe I always touch the pipe with this material.  I use as many cleaners as I need depending on the bowl, the pipe, and the fact that my tobacco of choice is a very heavy English Latakia blend.  I use a clean pipe cleaner after the bowl is emptied.  I smoke anywhere from 2-4/5 bowls before they are taken apart for better cleaning. Again it really depends – I am being generous in my 5 bowl total. I usually smoke 2 bowls back-to-back.  Then maybe another bowl or two the next day. I then would clean it.  Between the 2nd and the 3rd bowl I usually run a clean pipe cleaner with the end dipped in vodka to clean the funk out of the stem. Makes the next bowl or 2 a nice smoke – not from the vodka, but from the light cleaning it offers.  A tasty smoke as opposed to a funky off tasting smoke.  I then take the pipe apart and clean it out. After I do a bowl or two in a day I also twist a paper towel into the bowl chamber to wipe out the remnants.  I also do this when I do a good pipe cleaning.  I use regular pipe cleaners and maybe a heavy pipe cleaner for the actual shank along with Q-tips.  I Have never used a shank brush but have thought about getting a few, but after 45 plus years of meers it seems to work for me  the way I have been doing it so why change. As an old deceased friend of mine used to say re: Linux which we both run – ‘If it is not broke then don’t fix it; and if you can’t fix, then don’t break it!’  So once again, this seems to be the original premise behind my thoughts on this little bit of prose.  I never used Everclear even though Fred and others use it – it always seemed to me that a cheap vodka worked nicely, so why change it.

I learned and practiced 45 years ago to hold meers by their stems and not touch them.  I have pondered just handling them in various ways; however, I never made the plunge.  With good waxing they are sticky.  I also am ‘into’ the coloring of the meer.  So why taint it with my fingerprints and smeers.  It makes it tough as an old fart with 30 yrs of crippling arthritis throughout my body and with fingers and hands that are all bent out of shape – literally.  And swollen.  So I am so very careful and have come close to an accident or two.  (I actually dropped a beautiful fine smoking Preben years ago – lucky – no dent at all on the briar, but the stem snapped.  It hit a clump of grass and dirt.  Mike Myers of Walker Pipe Repair did a super job in replacing the stem with a similar or same stem – I do not remember the specifics now – and it also was a very speedy job too.  He expedited the fix for me.)  So they are more fragile as such.  When tamping the tobacco and especially when cleaning the ash and funky tobacco out if that be the case at the end of a bowl – be very careful to not hit the edge of the bowl when tamping or use the edge of the bowl to pry the leftover tobacco out.  I accidentally hit the edge ever so lightly with the tamper on a signed I. Baglan Bacchus I had years ago and a chip was out of the rim.  I cried!  Man I did not want to do that.  I was so upset and eventually just went with the flow.  So – Be Careful!  Aesthetically – that just blows it.  The smoke will still be whatever the smoke was before the nick happened.  Just been there and done that!

In regard to waxing: I do not and never have melted wax and plugged the bowl’s airways and dipped it.  For me; not going there.  I have also read numerous times that wax, and I guess they are all different, have certain flash points that will become flammable.  I am not sure how many people have had such a negative experience, but i do not want to go there either.  Some never apply wax or rarely.  I apply wax quite a bit and as Fred says it becomes a ritual in a sense.  Wax protects the block of meerschaum as well as aiding in the coloring.  CAO in the 1970’s used to sell a whitish wax in a lip balm applicator.  I now use 100% pure beeswax that I get from Mohawk Valley Trading Company in Utica, New York.  https://www.tenonanatche.com/beeswax.htm The olfactory Quality is wonderful and when you apply it to the pipe the aroma is really nice.  I have bought from them 2x and no problems ever.  I used to apply it from the bar; however, I recently read that Fred pours his own and he then cuts the thinner small sheets into diamonds or triangles.  So I recently just randomly cut them into various triangular looking pieces and found that the edges and the pointed areas can aid in applying was to complex carved pieces — like eyes, beards, nooks and crannies, and florals and lattice work unlike the bar. (So you see – an old dog CAN learn a new trick.)  I am glad I read that.  It makes a big difference.  Fred tends to rub off the excess wax and maybe even pick out the excess wax from places; and I have done, and still do the opposite.  I tend to get wax chunks into the eyes and beards etc. and as I smoke and warm the pipe – especially after a couple or few bowls – the wax starts melting and running down into other areas.  I leave what I can and after numerous smokes it soon is absorbed into the block.  Since I smoke Latakia – you do get black particles and dust on certain places on the top of the pipe from filling.  Some gets wiped off with the white cloth and other I just let go.  I may try a soft toothbrush in the future but maybe not.  Fred also uses Everclear on the outside of his meers.  I never have.  But he knows what he is doing, I am just trying to take care and use and enjoy my pipes and be as diligent as I can.  Maybe if I was younger and know what I know now, and had a cheaper pipe to experiment with I would develop more aspects to care and cleaning and maintenance.  But that is the way it goes.  I also have not painted wax on a pipe either.  But as Fred says, on 3D complex lattice pipes that seems to be a good way to apply wax to the intricate hard to get areas.  I also have read about smoking chambers.  Not for me. Why make it more complex?  Smoke the pipe, and clean it, and wax it, and let the pipe color as it is going to color.

Years ago I also heard of blowing the smoke onto the pipe to aid in coloring.  I used to do it, but now I smoke it and that is it!  Lastly – one overlooked aspect of smoking a pipe – briar or meer – is admiring and looking at the piece and studying and taking pleasure on what the pipe maker/carver has offered for your pleasure.  I think many people look at the beauty of a pipe and that is that.  It seems as isolated from the actual smoking experience. Pipe is empty and you like at and admire it.  You purchase it because it is so nice.  Others see it or you show it off and that is just what it is. But it is an isolated experience that is fine as it is, but it is not integrated into the actual art and experience and pleasure of smoking that pipe with your favorite tobacco.

So sit back and light up a bowl and enjoy the complete experience of a pipe. And don’t forget to wax.

Addendum: I wanted to add that I, and Fred also smoke the pipe and apply wax to it as the pipe is smoked and warm. As the pipe warms the wax will become soft and easier to apply, even to the not so warm or colder areas. He also cold waxes it too from what i have read. I have tried it a couple of times but hesitate to do that. At the end of the bowl(s) he empties the ash and residual tobacco and then he uses the warm pipe to keep applying the wax while it still is warm and you can then tip the pipe – clean of ash, etc. – and wax the underside areas of the pipe not easily done while the embers are still in the pipe and burning.

Refreshing a Lattice Work Meerschaum Bent Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

I really am enjoying working on the last batch of pipes that my brother sent me. He does such a great job reaming and cleaning them that I have a fun job of bringing life back to a clean pipe. The next one up on my work table came in its own black vinyl (leather-covered??) case. From the outside the case looked like it contained a large apple shaped or round shaped pipe. The brass latch on the front edge and the hinges on the back were in great shape. There was a circle on the top outside of the case that looked like it had originally had a sticker logo on the outside of the case. It had long since disappeared and left its imprint on the surface of the case. The black case looked promising and made me wonder what was going to be inside. Jeff said he had picked this one up at an auction and it was in great shape.I opened the case and inside it was lined with golden yellow coloured velour. Nestled in the base of the case was a nice looking lattice meerschaum pipe that I think some would call and egg but to me was a bent billiard. The stem was a red acrylic with a Teflon/nylon push tenon and a nylon mortise insert. There was some light tooth chatter on the top and underside of the stem near the button on both sides and a small chip mid button edge on the outside.I took the pipe out of the case and took pictures of it before I did my polishing and clean up on it. It really looks good. Other than the chatter on the stem and the chip in the top of the button the rim top had some darkening and light build up. Jeff had reamed the bowl and scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with a soft soap. He had also cleaned out the mortise and airway in the shank and the stem. It was very clean. I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem. You can see from the rim top that there was some darkening along the back edge of the bowl. There is some colouration happening on the top and underside of the shank and on the bottom and sides of the bowl. The rim is also taking on colour. It should not take too much work to clean off the darkening. The stem had some chatter than is visible around the button on both sides as well as a small chip that is visible in the photo of the top side of the stem.The thickness of the button lent itself to topping it slightly. I used the topping board and put the surface of the button face against the sanding board. I worked it against the sanding board and remove the chip that was on the face of the button. I filled in the remaining portion of the chip with clear super glue and set it aside to cure.I sanded nicks and the tooth chatter on both sides of the stem. I reshaped the button and blended the repair into the rest of the button surface with 220 grit sandpaper. With the sanding and reshaping there was sanding dust in the airway on the stem so I cleaned it with alcohol and pipe cleaners. I also cleaned off the white nylon push tenon. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Polish using both the fine and extra fine versions. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I polished the rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I polished the sides of the bowl and shank at the same time with the pads. I the polished stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I buffed the bowl with a soft microfiber cloth. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Clapham’s Soft Beeswax and the stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the entire pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 ½ inches, Height: 2 1/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 inches. I will be adding it to the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding it to your collection send me a message or an email to slaug@uniserve.com. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over beautiful lattice meerschaum.

Rejuvenating a Beautiful Koncak Pegasus Carved Meerschaum

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I chose to work on today is a nicely carved meerschaum by Koncak. I have never really collected meerschaum pipes so I do not have much knowledge of the various makers or carvers. I did some looking in some of the references I have here in the shop and found that Koncak is a Turkish meerschaum pipe brand. The meerschaum factory was founded by Ekrem Koncak in 1934 in Eskiehir, Turkey. It is one of that country’s oldest producing meerschaum pipe factories. They carve some highly unusual shapes. In 1974, Ekrem was succeeded by his son, Sadat, and in 1980 his daughter, Nurham took over the running of the company. In the meantime, Sedat Koncak bought the Austrian brand Bauer, and the two companies have maintained close commercial ties (from Pipes, Artisans and Trademarks, by José Manuel Lopes).

Jeff bought the pipe on EBay because the carving and shape stood out to him as beautiful. It is a large bowled unique. The sides and back of the bowl are carved with fronds of leaves possibly tobacco leaves. The front of the bowl is carved with reclining Pegasus – winged horse with some pock-marked stone around him. The end of the shank is smooth culminating in a silver band with a rope twist and a single line and a beaded line on each side of the rope. The shank is lined with Delrin and the push tenon is either Delrin or nylon. The stem is Lucite/acrylic and had a saddle and a wide blade that has tooth marks and file marks on both the top and bottom sides in front of the button.

The first photos below on the green background were taken by the seller. I include them here so that you can appreciate what caught my brother’s eye when he saw this beauty.

The photos on EBay show the dirty condition of the pipe but also show that it is in excellent shape under the grime and the dirt. My brother was wise in bidding and winning this beautiful example of Koncak workmanship. The photo of the bowl front shows the winged horse, Pegasus in a reclining position. The carving is quite well done. The details of the feathers on the wings, the mane on the horse’s head and the surrounding foliage around Pegasus are well done.

The bowl was shown with a thick cake that was spread throughout the bowl and there was an overflow of lava on the top. The shank and the underside of the bowl was already beginning to show a golden colouration and once the bowl was scrubbed clean I was pretty certain that the rim top and edge would also show the same kind of developing colour. My brother did very well in his purchase of this one. Now I just need to decide whether I keep it or let it go on the rebornpipes store. I guess that by the time I finish the pipe and do this write up for the blog the decision will have been made. I will let you know once the post has been completed. Thanks.

The EBay sellers photos also showed the condition of the stem (at least from the top view).When the pipe arrived in Idaho, Jeff took some more photos of it so that I could see the condition of the pipe. While it looked much like the seller’s photos it was both in better condition and worse condition at the same time.The case it came in was well fitted to the pipe. It was in good condition though there were places that the leather cover would need to be reglued. (When it arrived in Vancouver this was the first thing I took care of and set the case aside to let the glue cure.) There was a sewn in Koncak logo on the inside top of the case. The dirtiness of the pipe was as shown in the seller’s photos and surprisingly there were no areas that were damaged or broken. I was grateful that the pipe was in dirty but undamaged state.The next two photos show the condition of the cake in the bowl and the lava overflow on the rim top. The cake was thicker than it had appeared in the seller’s photos and the lava overflow was heavier and thicker.The next series of photos show the ornate leaf carvings around the bowl and shank leaving the centre of the front piece open for the carving of Pegasus, the winged horse. The next two photos show the stem and band work on the pipe. The silver band is quite beautiful and really stands out against the colouring meerschaum shank. The next photos that my brother took show the condition of the stem far better than the seller’s photos had. It had a lot of tooth chatter and dents on both the top and underside near the button extending about one inch up the stem. Jeff reamed the bowl carefully with a PipNet reamer and a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife scrapping the cake back to the meerschaum wall of the bowl. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe and rim with Murphy’s Oil Soap and was able to remove the entire lava overflow on the rim and the dust and grime from the nooks and crannies of the carving. He cleaned the internals with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until the surface was clean and refreshed. I took photos of the pipe when it arrived in Vancouver to show his craftsmanship in the cleanup phase of refurbishing. He does very good work and it makes my job much easier on this end. His work on the rim top is an example of how clean he gets the pipes. He was able to remove all of the lava overflow and leave behind a bit of patina.He had cleaned up the tooth chatter with the soap and scrubbing and what tooth chatter was left behind was minimal. There were also some tooth marks that would need to be addressed.I sanded out the tooth chatter and the tooth marks with 220 grit sandpaper to clean them up as much as possible. I wiped down the surface of the stem with a damp cotton pad to remove the sanding dust. I filled in the deeper tooth marks with clear super glue and set the stem aside to wait for the repair to cure. While the repairs cured I worked on polishing the bowl. I used micromesh sanding pads to polish the smooth portions of the pipe. I wet sanded them with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiped the bowl down with a damp cotton pad between each grit of micromesh. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and repeated the wipe down after each pad. By this time the glue had cured so I sanded the repairs on the stem smooth with 220 grit sandpaper blending them into the surface of the stem on both the top and bottom sides. At this point the stem is looking really good. Still work to do in reshaping the button but the repairs are getting there.I recut the sharp edge of the button with a needle file and smoothed out the edge with the thin edge of the file. The button was looking right. Now I needed to polish the stem.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cotton pad to remove the dust. I buffed the stem with red Tripoli on the buffing wheel before continuing to polish it with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. When I had finished the polishing I wiped it down with a damp pad and gave it several coats of Conservator’s Wax. I buffed the stem with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. I gave the bowl a coat of softened white beeswax called Clapham’s Beeswax Polish and hand buffed it with a shoe brush. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. It is a large pipe whose dimensions are length: 6 inches, height: 2 ½ inches, outer diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, chamber diameter: 7/8 inches. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. Well the decision has been made as I hoped it would by this time in the write up of the restoration. While working on the pipe and cleaning it up I realized that it is too big for my liking and thus I will part with it on the rebornpipes store. I will list it shortly and if it is a pipe that you want to add to your collection you can email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a private message on Facebook. It truly is a stunning pipe. Thanks for walking with me through the cleanup.

An Old Meerschaum Bowl Restemmed and Reborn

Blog by Greg Wolford

Over the past couple of months I’ve been moving my workshop upstairs to an empty bedroom. With winter’s quick approach, I wanted to be ready for the bone-stiffening cold so I could do more restorations this year. All but the buffer had been moved into its new home and was close to being tidily organized when my plan went south; our son was moving back home and would need my new space back for his room!

It was a rather quick transition so all of my supplies were hastily packed up and moved back to the basement garage. In my rush, I didn’t think to make notes on boxes or anything else to help me sort through it later, I only packed quickly and securely and moved it all out. I felt like I got evicted! (Please note, that is not what happened to my son.) So finding any of the half-dozen projects I had in the works is now a daunting challenge; our garage serves as a catch-all of sorts, with our laundry area, my workshop, my wife’s “over flow” from her antique booth, and all of my son’s extras now piled in there.

The other day I did manage to find an old meerschaum bowl that I’d began to work on. It came to me in a lot I had gotten a couple of months ago I think, along with another bowl and aOld Meer couple of pipes (this is the only before photo I have).  In fact, this bowl was the main reason I got the lot; it looked old and interesting to me.

After doing a little research and getting some comments from friends on Instagram and Facebook I think it may be an Austrian meerschaum; I originally thought it was African. If I am correct, this pipe, well, bowl, is probably over 100 years old. It originally had a wooden shank extension which is now long gone. At first I thought of trying to make some sort of extension to replace it but soon decided that was more than I was willing to risk/attempt on this bowl.

(I forgot to take photos along the way; sorry folks.)

There was a think but soft and crumbly cake in the bowl and lots of oily build up in the shank. I gently reamed the cake back to very close to the meerschaum walls with my Castleford reamer, followed by an old round-ended, dull knife that I use for this purpose. Then I used some 400 grit wet/dry paper to get the last of the cake out and leave a nice, smooth bowl.

For the shank I stared with the poker-end of a Czech-tool, opening up the airway very gently. Then I moved to pipe cleaners that were dampened with isopropyl alcohol. Then I used alcohol dampened and dry cotton swabs to clean the shank. Do note the term dampened here; you do not want to get the meerschaum too wet. It took some time and many cleaners and cotton swabs to get the shank clean; there were also bits of meerschaum that were loose or came loose in the cleaning process that had to be removed. I also wiped out the bowl with several dampened cotton swabs after cleaning the shank. I also wiped off the outside of the bowl with alcohol dampened cotton balls; other than the rim, the exterior was quite clean. Then I let the pipe rest, to dry, overnight.

The next morning I examined the shank and found it to be a little rough inside. There was also a small divot in the bottom of the “lip” where the extension was and the new tenon would enter. I took the same dull reaming knife and scraped the mortise very gently to smooth it out; this took only a couple of passes and removed very little material but made a bug difference. I put a drop of amber superglue in the divot and sprayed it lightly with glue accelerator (I used a cloth to cover the pipe from over-spray) and then let it cure for a little while as I piddled with other things in the garage. I repeated this a second time and the result was a nice hard, smooth mortise entrance. Now it was time to decide on a stem.

Since the extension was gone, the mortise was very large, which would limit my stem options. I looked through my stems and found two candidates that had tenons large enough to work: a fancy vulcanite one and a long, round tapered acrylic one. It was a pretty easy choice when I put them up to the pipe to compare: acrylic wins by a long shot! The amber/bronze color of the stem just looked “right” with this bowl to my eye so now it was time to fit it.

I used my PME tenon turning tool to slowly reduce the size of the tenon.I noticed as I was cleaning the shank that the mortise narrowed a bit, probably from material loss both previously and current, closer to the bowl. So, as I test fit the tenon and found it stopping at the point of the narrowing I began to turn the tenon only about halfway up the total length. By doing this in small increments I was able to tell when the tenon was almost a perfect fit, which is when I switched to 320 grit paper and sanded the tapered tenon smooth and to a very nice fit.

The new stem was in nice condition, without a lot of drawer-dings, so it didn’t require much polishing: a little sanding with 220 and 400 grits, some plastic polish and a buff (lightly) with Tripoli and white diamond. I then used a heat gun to soften the stem and put the bend in it that I wanted and was pleased with. One more round of plastic polish and then everything got a coat of Halcyon II wax.Old Meer (1) Old Meer (2)Old Meer (3) Old Meer (4)

I’d love to tell you how wonderful the old ‘meer smokes but I can’t. You see, my son, the source of my “eviction”, saw the bowl on my work table and fell in love with it, before it was even cleaned up. So, after I got it all finished I took it straight to him to “see what he thought”; he really went nuts over it all reborn! As you have probably guessed by now, the old ‘meer now has a new home in his pipe rack, his first meerschaum pipe, which I hope and expect will serve him well with many good smokes for many years to come.

Refurbishing a Barely Smoked Smooth White Turkish Meerschaum Dublin – Robert M. Boughton

Guest Blog by Robert M. Boughton
Member, North American Society of Pipe Collectors
Photos © the Author

“If it ain’tbroke, don’t fix it.”
—Thomas Bertram Lance (1931-2013), Director of the Office of Management and Budget during the Jimmy Carter Administration

Every now and then, a pipe comes my way that is in such good condition that I can only call what I have to do to clean it up a refurbish job as opposed to a real restoration, and for the most part I do not even bother with a blog. This is one of those rare but pleasant occasions with the exception that the smooth white hand-carved Turkish meerschaum in question is so elegant I just have to share it.

Almost all this simple looking Dublin needed was a simple bath with purified water and a little work on the rim and chamber.Rob1




Rob5 Starting with super fine steel wool on the rim, I encountered more difficulty than usual removing the thick char that seemed to have something else mixed in with it, but nothing worth griping about. As I worked through the char-grime, I saw more coloration emerge – along with a chip.Rob6 I even considered letting it be, but thinking better, added some elbow grease and focus to the steel wool. I removed enough of the chip and crack to be satisfied.Rob7 Then I buffed the rim with 1500 micromesh followed by 3200 and moved on to the chamber. Not about to assault it with the reamer that has been necessary for every meerschaum I have fully restored, I used 150-grit paper first and then 500 to smooth it out.

With all of the dirty work finished, I gave it the light bath it needed.Rob8




Of course, I ran a couple of bristly cleaners soaked in pipe freshener through the shank and around the chamber and one more through the stem, but that was all it took to clean this near-pristine pipe. Even the stem didn’t need any sanding or work of any kind.

And so, for once I cannot complain of a pipe abused. God bless the merry gentleman who owned and enjoyed this beauty, albeit for a short time.