Tag Archives: CPF French Briar Pipes

A Small C.P.F. French Briar Horn captured my attention


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I chose to work on from the lot of pipes my brother and I picked up on our virtual pipe hunt in Montana is another C.P.F. French Briar. This one is a classic horn shape with a chubby shank and a horn stem. It is delicate in terms of size (4 inches long and 1 ½ inches tall) but chunky feeling at the same time. Like the other banded pipes in this lot the band on the shank is loose and has turned so that the faux hall marks are on the other side. The finish is very dirty and the rim is damaged around the inner and outer edges. The horn stem is worn and there is tooth chatter on the top and underside of the stem near the button. The stem is overturned in the shank. The photos below show what it looked like before my brother did his clean up on it. If you would like to read about some of the others I have restored I have written about them in individual blogs. They include a CPF horn stem bulldog, a CPF French Briar bent billiard, a CPF Remington French Briar military mount billiard and a CPF French Briar Rhodesian. Just a reminder – CPF stands for Colossus Pipe Factory. The brand was made in the late 1880s and 1890s.Jeff took the above photos as well as the photos that follow to show the condition of the pipe before he cleaned it up. This sad little Horn comes from the same era as the other pipes in this find – the late 1880s – early 1890s. The finish was worn dirty but the grain underneath showed promise. There one large sandpit on the bottom left side of the bowl toward the front. The rim of the bowl and top edge of the pipe were in rough shape. The outer edge had been beat up pretty good by someone knocking their pipe out against something hard (if you are tempted to knock out your pipe on a railing or a garden rock please think twice before you do so). The inner edge of the rim appeared to be out of round and carved up by the same person who had used a knife to ream the others in this lot. There was a thick, crumbling cake buildup in the bowl and the lava from the bowl overflowed onto the damaged top of the rim. The band on the shank end was oxidized and the stamping on it was almost illegible. The horn stem had tooth marks on the top and underside near the button. Jeff took close up photos of the rim top to show how bad it looked before he started the cleanup. The thick cake and lava overflow on the rim filled in a lot of the damage. The full extent of the damage would be revealed once the cake was removed and the lava was cleaned.The next photos show the condition of the bowl sides and the flaking finish. The damage on the rim edge also can be seen in the pictures. The third picture shows the sandpit on the bottom left side of the bowl. You can also see the potential in the lovely grain that is peeking through the grime and flakes of old finish peeling off. The stamping on the left side of the shank is readable – it has the C.P.F. logo in an oval with the words French Briar above and below the oval. The stamping on Briar is fainter than the rest of the stamping. The silver band on the shank has the faux hallmark stamps that I have come to associate with C.P.F. pipes. The horn stem had some great looking striations and colour underneath the wear and tear. There was some tooth chatter and bite marks on both the top and underside at the button. I am very spoiled due to the excellent cleanup work that my brother Jeff does on these old pipes before I ever get them here in Vancouver. He has a pattern to his work and it rarely varies. Jeff thoroughly cleaned the pipe reaming the bowl with a PipNet reamer and tidying up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grime and grit on the bowl. He scrubbed the rim top with a tooth brush and the oil soap. He scrubbed the band and stem at the same time to clean it. I took photos of the pipe to show the condition it was in when it arrived in Vancouver. I took a close up photo of the rim top and the sandpit on the lower left side. You can see the damage along the inner and out edges of the rim and the size and location of the sandpit in the photos. The general condition of the briar is rough though the grain patterns are promising.The horn stem is dry and lacklustre but it seems to be solid. There was no delamination happening along the sides or length of the stem and the tooth marks and chatter at the button were relatively minor. This horn stem was in the best condition of all of the horn stems I have worked on in this lot from Montana. The stem was overturned to the right due to wear on the mortise and the threaded bone tenon.I repaired the sandpit with a few drops of super glue and let it dry. Once the glue had dried I sanded the repair with 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the surface of the briar.I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage and minimize the damage to inside and outside edges of the rim. I did not have to take off too much so I checked as I worked over the rim. Once I had the rim smooth I stopped sanding and wiped the bowl down with alcohol on cotton pads to clean off the dust from the surface. I filled in the nicks around the outer edges of the bowl with clear super glue. I carefully over filled the spots around the rim so that I could sand it smooth and leave a smooth flow to the rim. I sprayed the repairs with an accelerator so that I could sand it sooner. The next photos show the repair process and the end results.I gently topped the rim again on the topping board to smooth out the repairs on the rim top and sanded the outer edge of the bowl and inner edge of the bowl with 180 and 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to remove the excess repair material and smooth out the rim edges on both the inside and outside. The overall look was far better than when I started the restoration and it was minimally intrusive.I polished the band with a 1500 grit micromesh sanding pad to remove the tarnish and corrosion (I would use the other grits of micromesh pads later in the process to polish the band). Underneath the film and corrosion the band was gold in tint just like the other C.P.F. pipes that I have been restoring. I coated the shank end with white all-purpose glue and pressed the band in place. I aligned the faux hallmarks with the stamping on the shank. I wiped down the glue that squeezed out around the edge of the band before it dried so that it would not hamper staining the shank end when I was ready.I carefully heated the bone tenon with a Bic lighter, moving the flame constantly and not letting it get to hot. My purpose was to loosen the tenon and turn the stem straight once again. I repeated it several times and was able to get quite a bit of turn on the stem but not enough. I backed it off and let the glue in the stem harden again. I would need to come up with another method to address the worn threads in the mortise and on the tenon.I set the stem aside for a bit and turned my attention to polishing the briar in anticipation of staining it. I went through the full range of micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cotton pad between pads. The pictures show the way the polishing brings the grain out on the bowl. I needed to stain it to blend the repairs into the rest of the bowl surface. The trick would be to stain it with light enough colour to highlight the grain and not mute it. I mixed 1 part of dark brown aniline stain with about 3 parts of isopropyl alcohol to make a medium brown wash for the bowl. I stirred it to get a good mix. I heated the briar and applied the mixture to the bowl. I flamed it and repeated the process until I was happy with the coverage on the bowl.Once the stain dried I wiped it down with alcohol and cotton pads to remove the excess and make it more transparent. I still found that the colour was too dark so I decided to polish it with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiped it down with alcohol on cotton pads to remove the finish I had sanded free. I touched up the shallow gold stamping with Rub’n Buff European Gold using a cotton swab. I rubbed of the excess with a cotton pad. I finished polishing the bowl by dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with alcohol after each pad to clean it. The pictures tell the story of the process and the end. With the bowl finished it was time to work on the stem. I sanded the tooth marks out and smoothed the flow of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. After the last pad I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I painted the tenon with clear fingernail polish to build up the threads. I layered it on until the threads sat well in the mortise. I put the stem on the shank and it lined properly. I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish out the scratches in those surfaces. I buffed the brass coloured band with Blue Diamond as well. I gave the pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect the aged briar and the horn. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a beautiful piece of pipe history and I only wish it could tell its story so I could know a bit of its travels. Until such a time that pipes can talk I am left to my own imagination. Thanks for walking with me through the process of the restoration.

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This Old CPF French Briar Rhodesian was in rough shape


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I chose to work on from the lot of the lot of pipes my brother and I picked up on our virtual pipe hunt in Montana is another C.P.F. French Briar. This one is a Rhodesian shape with a chubby shank. It is an interesting shape and the carving around the band separating the cap from the body of the bowl. The band on the shank is loose and has turned so that the C.P.F. stamp on the band is on the other side. The finish is very dirty and the rim cap and top is heavily damaged. The horn stem is worn and there is tooth chatter on the top and underside of the stem near the button. There is a wrinkle in the horn on the underside mid stem. The stem looks like someone has either wrapped it or there is a gasket to keep it in place. The photos below show what it looked like before my brother did his clean up on it. If you would like to read about some of the others I have restored I have written about them in individual blogs. They include a CPF horn stem bulldog, a CPF French Briar bent billiard and a CPF Remington French Briar military mount billiard. (You can access them by clicking on the CPF Name above for a hyperlink to the blog). Just a reminder – CPF stands for Colossus Pipe Factory. The brand was made in the late 1880s and 1890s.Jeff took the above photo and the photos that follow to show the condition of the pipe before he cleaned it up. This sad little Rhodesian comes from the same era as the other pipes in this find – the late 1880s – early 1890s. If I thought the silver mount billiard was in bad shape this one was in worse condition than any of previous pipes I had worked on from this lot. It was worn and was in rough condition. The finish was worn off and appeared to be flaking in place. There were a lot of nicks, scratches around the outside of the bowl. The outside of the bowl was covered with grime, grit and was peeling. The rim of the bowl and top edge of the pipe were in abysmal condition. The rim had been knocked out on hard surfaces and burned. There were huge chunks missing all around the rim top. The front of the bowl was in worse condition than the back and sides. The height of the top cap was different all the way around. Once again there was a thick, crumbling cake buildup in the bowl and the lava from the bowl overflowed onto the damaged top of the rim. The band on the shank end was oxidized and the stamping on it was almost illegible. The horn stem had tooth marks on the top and underside near the button. There is a wrinkle in the horn on the underside mid stem.Jeff took close up photos of the rim top to show how bad it looked before he started the clean up. The thick cake and lava overflow on the rim filled in a lot of the damage. The full extent of the damage would be revealed once the cake was removed and the lava was cleaned. The third photo below shows the rim from one side and you can see the damage on that side. The next two photos show the condition of the bowl sides and the flaking finish. The damage on the rim edge also can be seen in the pictures.The stamping on the left side of the shank was readable – it had the C.P.F. logo in an oval with the words French Briar above and below the oval. The band on the shank end had the faux hallmark stamps that I was familiar with as well as the C.P.F. oval. The second photo shows something in between the shank and the stem. The first photo below shows the stem and the wrapping or gasket between the shank and stem. It is followed by photos that Jeff took when he removed the stem showing the wrapping – a thread of twine wrapped around the tenon to hold it in place in what appeared to be worn out threads in the mortise itself.The horn stem showed some tooth chatter, bite marks and what looked like wrinkles on the underside, but it was in better condition than the other previous horn stems I had worked on.Following his usual pattern, Jeff thoroughly cleaned the pipe. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and tidied up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grime and grit on the bowl. He scrubbed the damaged rim top with a tooth brush and the oil soap. He scrubbed the band and stem at the same time to clean it. I took photos of the pipe to show the condition it was in when it arrived in Vancouver. You can see the damaged rim top and edges and the fill on the right side of the bowl. The condition of the briar is rough and the stem is oxidized. The band was loose so I removed it from the shank to clean it. I took a photo of the pipe parts.I took a close up photo of the rim top to show how great a job my brother did on it but also the extent of the damage that would need to be addressed in the repair.The stem was clean in decent shape. Very few tooth marks were on the top and bottom sides and those would be easy to deal with. The button was in excellent condition.I mixed a putty of super glue and briar dust to use for rebuilding the rim on the bowl and the top edge. The damage was quite significant so the repair would be extensive. I was hoping that it would work. Once it dried I topped the bowl on the topping board with 220 grit sandpaper and worked the inner edge with a folded piece of the same sandpaper. The repair came out quite well and gave me something to work with in the finished pipe. I polished the band with 1200-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads to remove the tarnish and corrosion from the surface. It worked really well and left behind a polished brass band. When I finished polishing the band I used an all purpose glue to glue it in place on the shank with the stampings aligned with those on the briar. I wiped down the bowl with alcohol on a cotton pad to remove the remaining sanding dust from the bowl and any grit that had accumulated in the carvings from my sanding. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cotton pad to remove the dust after each set of pads. I stained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain mixed with isopropyl alcohol in a 50/50 ratio. I flamed it and repeated the process until I was happy with the finish. I wiped the bowl down with cotton pads wetted with isopropyl to thin the stain and give it more transparency. When I finished that I buffed it with red Tripoli and sanded it down with 1500-12000 grit micromesh pads to polish it and give it the look that I was aiming for. The pictures tell the story. With the bowl done, except for the final buffing I turned my attention to the stem. The first thing I had to deal with was the worn threads in the mortise. I decided to fill in the threads on the tenon with super glue and make the stem a push stem. I could have removed the threaded tenon and inserted a new push tenon like those on meerschaum pipes but I wanted to keep the original look of the tenon and mortise so I figured that I could convert the stem to push status by simply building up the threads. I layered on clear super glue until I had the build up shown in the photos below. I still needed to sanded it smooth and reapply a final coat but you can see the process.I sanded out the tooth marks in the stem and worked on the “wrinkles” in the underside of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper until they were smooth. I worked on some of the marks at the tenon end of the stem at the same time as it seemed rough to touch.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad to give the horn some needed oil to help with the dry feel that it had after over a hundred years of smoking. You can follow the development of the shine in the photos that follow. I love the feel and look of polished horn. There is nothing quite like it for translucency and feel. I had forgotten to touch up the gold leaf in the stamping on the shank up to this point so I applied some Rub ‘n Buff European Gold to the stamping with a cotton swab and rubbed off the excess. The stamping on this pipe was in excellent condition so it came out really readable.I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish out the scratches that remained and to give it a shine. I was careful to avoid damaging the gold stamping on the shank. I gave the pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect the horn and the briar. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine on the horn and the stem. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown below. I am pretty happy how it came out considering what I started with. The rim and cap look the age of the pipe but the damage is gone and the pipe is ready for another 100 years. Thanks for going through the process with me on this challenging restoration.

Another Piece Pipe History – a Lovely CPF French Briar Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I brought to the work table was a little bent CPF French Briar billiard. The photos below shows what it looked like before my brother did his clean up on it. It is another one from the lot of pipes my brother and I picked up on our virtual pipe hunt in Montana. I have written about several of the other CPF finds with the latest being a nice little CPF horn stem bulldog. Just a reminder – CPF stands for Colossus Pipe Factory. The brand was made in the late 1880s and 1890s. This little bent billiard comes from the same era as the other pipes in this find. It was very worn and looked to be in rough condition. The finish was non-existent and there were a lot of nicks, scratches and grime on the surface all around the bowl. There was a thick, crumbling cake buildup in the bowl and it overflowed on to the top of the rim. It looked like the inner edge of the bowl was damaged from reaming with a knife but I could not be certain until the cake was gone. The gold band on the shank was so badly oxidized that it was impossible to see what was under the grime and sticky debris on it. The horn stem had tooth marks on the top and underside near the button and looked like it was delaminating along the edges and the bend on the underside. The horn was very dry. Jeff took some close up photos of the bowl and rim from the top. You can see the crumbling condition of the cake in the bowl and the thick overflow on the rim top. It was really hard to see the condition of the inner edge of the bowl.The grain underneath all of the grim on the sides of the bowl was really quite stunning, even through the debris, grime and buildup. The birdseye and cross grain stain out really well even through the dirty surface. The oxidation on the band was also heavy and very rough. It is hard to know what is underneath the corrosion.The stamping on the left side of the shank has the standard C.P.F. logo in an oval with French arched over the oval and Briar arched underneath. The stamping on the C.P.F. is fainter than the stamping on French Briar. The second photo shows the junction between the band and the horn stem. The horn looks rough and grainy.The next four photos show the stem from various angles. The first and second photos show what looks like delaminating on the left side near the button. The third and fourth photos show tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem at the button. The tooth marks on the top are deep. Jeff thoroughly cleaned the pipe. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and cleaned it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grime and grit on the bowl. He scrubbed the tenon with a tooth brush and removed the tars and oils. I took photos of the pipe to show the condition it was in when it arrived in Vancouver. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the condition it was in after my brother had cleaned it up. It is amazing to me that he was able to remove the thick buildup on the rim top and the crumbling cake in the bowl and leave no debris behind. It was better than I had expected. The rough spots would be easy to sand out and smooth the ridges and bring it back to round. It appeared that the pipe had never been smoked to the bottom of the bowl as the bottom of the bowl is raw briar.The next two photos show the condition of both sides of the stem after the cleanup. Note the roughness on the underside of the stem and the tooth marks/chatter on both to top and the bottom near the button.You can see the oxidation on the band in the photos above. It is not clear what colour it is. The sticky grime was cleaned off but the oxidation would need to go. I sanded the band with 1500-2400 grit micromesh pads to remove all of the sticky substance and the oxidation on the surface. It came off really easily with some polishing. I glued the band in place on the shank with white glue and let it dry.I smoothed out the damage on the inner edge of the rim with 220 grit sandpaper and gave it a light bevel to minimize the damage. I stained the beveled edge on the bowl with a black Sharpie pen to blend it in with the inside walls of the bowl. I wet sanded the bowl and rim with 1500-2400 grit micromesh pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads.  I wiped it down with a damp cotton pad to remove the sanding grit. I polished the band while I worked on the bowl with the same grits of micromesh pads. The following photos showed the polishing on the briar. I touched up the gold leaf on the CPF French Briar logo with European Gold Rub’n Buff. I applied it with a cotton swab and wiped down the excess gold. The light of the flash showed more of the gold buff that needed to come off.I stained the bowl with a 50/50 mix of dark brown aniline stain and isopropyl alcohol. I applied the stain and flamed it with a lighter. I repeated the process until I felt the coverage was even. Once it dried I took some photos of the stained bowl. It is too dark to my liking but the coverage was even. I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on cotton pads to make it more transparent and let the grain show through. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads to further remove the stain and make the grain show through. The process of unveiling the grain is shown in the photos that follow.With the bowl finished I worked on the stem. I used some small drops of super glue to fill in the tooth marks on the stem surface and the button. Once the repairs had dried I sanded them smooth to blend them into the surface of the stem. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil on a cotton cloth. I gave it a final coat after the last pad and set it aside to dry. I buffed the stem and bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel to polish it. I gave the stem and bowl multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the waxed bowl and stem with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos that follow. The old timer looks really good and should have long years of life in it. I look forward to enjoying this pocket sized pipe. Thanks for walking with me through the process of the restoration.