Tag Archives: cutting a new button

Restoring a Republic Era Shamrock 999 Rhodesian

Blog by Steve Laug

peterson When I saw this pipe on Ebay I immediately threw in a low bid. The seller included two photos the clear side view of the pipe shown below and the second photo below – an out of focus picture of the stem end. It was obvious there was damage to the stem and that it would take some work but it was still interesting to me. I was the only bidder so the pipe became mine.Shamrock1

Shamrock2 It was stamped Shamrock on the left side of the shank in capital letters (once it arrived I saw that on the right side of the shank it bore the stamping “A Peterson Product” over Made in the Republic of Ireland with 999 stamped next to that). While the seller never revealed the data stamped on the right side of the shank or the shape number it was clearly a Peterson 999 – one of my favourite shapes. I am particularly fond of the thick shanked older versions of the shape but this one looked workable. While I waited for it I did some research on the brand. I have several Shamrock pipes and fortunately all of them are very nicely grained briar.

I wrote to a favourite source of all things Peterson, Mark Irwin, to inquire about the mark. He responded with the following helpful information. “There were two Shamrock lines—the Rogers Import U.S.-only line with the nickel band, and the Peterson unmounted line with a white “S” stamped on the mouthpiece. This line—which is what your pipe is from—debuted in the 1945 catalog in the 30 classic shapes then being offered, in both smooth and sandblast, always with a fishtail mouthpiece, and continued with the same finish and “S” stamp until the 1975 catalog. It was a “Product” line, so look carefully for fills, as Peterson always strives to get the most mileage out of their briar. If it does indeed lack fills, someone messed up in the workshop, as it would normally have been released in a much higher line. The name was subsequently used on newer “Shamrock” lines with various finishes and stains until very recently, but always as an entry-grade line.”

I also was a bit more information on the stamping on the other side of the shank so I read more on dating Peterson Pipes in an article here on the blog by Mike Leverette. In it I found that pipes that bore the Republic of Ireland stamping came from the Republic Era which extended from 1949 until the present. “The Republic of Ireland was formed on 17 April 1949. From 1949 to present the stamp for this era is “Made in the Republic of Ireland” in a block format generally in three lines but two lines have been used with or without Republic being abbreviated.”

Mike also addressed a further question on the stamping “A Peterson Product”. He wrote: “Also, we must address the stamp “A Peterson Product.” During the last few years of the Pre-Republic era and throughout the Republic era, Peterson began stamping their other lines, such as Shamrocks and Killarneys, with “A Peterson Product” over the COM stamp. So a pipe stamped thusly will have been made say from 1948 to the present with the COM stamp identifying it as a pre-Republic or a Republic pipe.”

That was helpful information. With Mark’s and Mike’s information I had learned a lot about my pipe even before it arrived. It came from the earlier Shamrock line which debuted in 1945 and continued until 1975. It certainly fit in the description of a classic shape and an unmounted line with a white S on the stem. It was a Republic Era pipe which put it after 1949 and bore the Peterson Product stamp which put it in the same time frame. That is as specific as I can get in dating this pipe.

When the pipe arrived I opened the box and took it out of the bubble wrap. The stem was frozen in the shank and did not fit against the shank. The grain was beautiful and the natural finish was dirty. The bowl had a thick cake and still had a half bowl of unsmoked tobacco. The rim had a build up of tar on it that was thick. The inner and outer edge of the rim was undamaged and the bowl was still round. The stem was oxidized and the button end had significant damage as can be seen in the third photo below.Shamrock3



Shamrock6 I put the pipe in the freezer and left it overnight so that the temperature change would do its magic and loosen the stem in the shank. In the morning I took it out and was able to remove the stem with no problems. The photo below shows the damage to the button very clearly. There is also a sand pit visible in the side of the bowl. It is unfilled and from what I could see of the rest of the bowl there were not any fills.Shamrock7 I left the tobacco in the bowl while I worked on the rim. I scrubbed it with saliva and cotton pads until I was able to remove all of the tarry build up. I also scrubbed down the rest of the exterior of the bowl and shank.Shamrock8 I removed the tobacco with a dental pick and then reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer and took the cake back to bare wood.Shamrock9 I used the dental pick to also clean out the twin rings around the bowl. These were packed with dust and wax from previous buffing.Shamrock10I set up my retort and put the tube on the broken stem. I loosely stuff a cotton ball in the bowl and heated the alcohol over a tea light candle. I ran the alcohol through until it came out a rich brown. I emptied the test tube and refilled it with alcohol and repeated the process. The second time the alcohol came out clean. I removed the retort and cleaned out the shank and bowl with cotton swabs and pipe cleaners.Shamrock11


Shamrock12 I debated for a long time what to do with the damaged stem. I could try a stem splice or replace the stem. I could also cut off the stem and reshape the button. In looking over the stem I decided there was enough length and material to allow me to cut if off and reshape it. I used a Dremel with a sanding drum to remove the broken part of the stem. I squared it off on the topping board and I was ready to recut the button.Shamrock13


Shamrock15 I use needle files to cut the lines of the new button. They give me a good square edge and let me cut the basic shape of the button.Shamrock16

Shamrock17 Once the line is cut I use a variety of tools to trim back the taper from the line back toward the shank. I used an emery board to work on the shape of the stem. Often this is all I need but in this case it was not enough.Shamrock18

Shamrock19 I used a knife blade shaped needle file to shave the stem back to the button. With this blade I removed a lot of the excess material and the button began to take shape. I also used the file to begin to shape the oval of the button and to open up the slot in the end of the button. I continued to work on the taper of the stem and smoothed out the flow o the stem to the button using 220 grit sandpaper.Shamrock20


Shamrock22 Once I had the shape and the taper of the stem correct I put a washer on the tenon and inserted it in the shank so that I could work on the stem. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation and then sanded it with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge. I carefully avoided damaging the logo stamp on the stem. I also rubbed the bowl down with a little olive oil on a cotton pad. It really enlivened the grain on the pipe. I buffed it lightly with White Diamond and then gave it several coats of carnauba wax.Shamrock23



Shamrock26 Once the oxidation was taken care of I used some liquid paper to re-whiten the S on the stem. The photos below show the shape of the button and the stem at this point in the process. The new button works well and the shortening of the stem did not too seriously damage the appearance of the pipe.IMG_3070



IMG_3073 I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil between each set of three grits of micromesh sanding pads.Shamrock31



Shamrock34 I rubbed it down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and once it had been absorbed into the vulcanite I hand buffed it with a soft cloth and took the next two photos to show the finished look of the stem.IMG_3091

IMG_3092 The finished pipe is shown below. The two profile photos show the look of the new button and the revised taper of the stem. It feels great in the hand and in the mouth. The bend matches my other 999 pipes and the overall length actually is the same as the chunkier stemmed early 999s that I have in my collection. I buffed the pipe and stem with White Diamond and gave it several coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a soft flannel buff to raise the shine on the pipe. It looks and smells fresh and clean. It is ready to load with a bowl of Virginia and give an inaugural smoke. In closing look at the grain on this old Shamrock – for the life of me I can find no fills in the briar. It is clean – two or three smalls sandpits but they in no way effect the overall look of the pipe. Amazing, I think that it did indeed slip through during production. No problem for me, I will enjoy it.Shamrock37




Cutting and shaping a new button on a severely damaged stem

Blog by Steve Laug

I have actually come to enjoy the process of cutting a new button on a stem. It has taken a lot of practice but I can honestly say that I am getting better at it. I still have more to learn; as I am sure will always be the case. But the method I use now can be fine-tuned and personalized by others who choose to use it. That is why I thought that for this article I would walk you through the steps I take when cutting and shaping a new button.

1. A stem that is unrepairable and has sufficient meat to it that if I remove the first ¼ inch or less still has material above and below the airway in the end of the stem. This is a candidate for reshaping and reforming a button. I often take a picture of the remaining button and angles before I trim it back.



Hole in stem

2. I cut off the damaged end of the stem using a Dremel with a sanding drum. I know others use various other tools for cutting it off – saws, carving tools, knives, Exacto knives and a variety of others. The idea here is to remove the damaged material just far enough back on the stem to leave a solid base to recarve the button. At this point the goal is to cut off the material and leave a straight line at the end.







3. Once I have the straight edge I often trim the corners and round them slightly. My goal is to match the original button as much as possible.

4. I use a sharp, straight rasp or a needle file to cut the sharp edge of the button being careful to align the top and the bottom sides of the stem. At this point I am merely marking the button area. The key here is not to make the button to broad but to aim for the original width from the end of the stem to the edge of the button.




5. I use the same needle file to carve back the stem angle from about half way up to reduce the angle to the button and give more depth to the button. This involves using the file like a draw knife and working it from mid stem to the edge that you cut with the file.





6. I generally start with the top of the stem and then work the underside to match the angles of the top. You have to be careful not to draw too deeply with the file as you work it. The end product of the cutting is a gentle taper that when sanded out looks natural. This process also give shape to the button.

7. When I have the taper trimmed and even I work it over with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove the file marks. I continue to work and shape the stem. I try to crown the flat blade of the stem slightly by sanding the edges to give the stem a thin profile. This also gives shape to the button.


8. I use the sandpaper to also shape the button in a flattened oval or eye shape. If there is room above and below the airway I also gently slope the button toward the end. I am always using the stems and buttons that I have that like as models for the final look of these reshaped buttons.



9. I use three different needle files to open up the slot on the end of the button. I first use a round file to open the airway and start to cut the funnel in it. When I am done with this first file the airway is beginning to look oval. I then use a slightly oval needle file to further shape the funnel and widen it toward the outer edges of the button. The third file is a flattened oval that gives me the ability to open the edges of the slot and the funnel so that finished airway has a flattened oval or eye shaped look to it. In general I work so that the slot has a shape similar to the shape of the button.



10. I sand the inside of the newly cut airway/funnel with folded sandpaper until it is smooth. I have also used emery boards that I found in the cosmetics department of local drug stores. They are commonly used on fingernails but work well for the inside of the slot.

11. I fine tune the slope of the taper with medium and fine grit sanding sponges to make sure that the slope top and bottom matches. I also work on the sharp angle of the inside edge of the button to give it distinction from the slope of the stem.


12. I sand the stem with micromesh sanding pads from 1500-12,000 grit to polish and bring back the deep shine. I use these on the end of the button and on the edges of the airway to make sure that the slot is smooth.




13. I buff the newly cut button and stem with White Diamond and then give it multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect and preserve it.

14. At this point the stem repair is complete and the new button looks like it was designed for the pipe it graces. (In the first photo below the Perspex stem is pictured next to another identical stem in vulcanite. Compare the two buttons.)






Restoring a Comoy’s Tradition Shape 225 Bent Dublin

Blog by Steve Laug

The second Comoy’s I picked up on the recent hunt was a beautifully shaped 225 Tradition. It is a shape that I love for its graceful flow and bend. The stamping on it was weak but visible under a lens. The left side of the shank was stamped Comoy’s over Tradition and the right side was stamped 225. I looked up the shape on Chris Keene’s Pipe Pages and found this page on a 1960’s catalogue http://pipepages.com/64com19s.htm . It is the 225 shape at the bottom of the page.

When I picked it up the pipe the stain on the briar was slightly faded. The stamping was weak. On the side where Comoy’s Tradition was stamped it is very faint, though still visible with light. On the side of the shank where the shape number was stamped the 2 and the 5 are clear and the middle 2 is very light. The bowl was caked and the rim was caked with tars and carbon build up. The inner bevel was clean and undamaged though dirty with tars and the outer edge was also very clean. The exterior of the pipe had no dents of dings. The stem was a replacement and was missing the usual step down tenon that I have come to expect and the existing tenon was shorter than normal. The stem itself was oxidized and had a large bite through on the underside. Of the six pipes (GBD and Comoy’s) that I picked up all but the little bulldog have the same issue.




The photo below shows a closer look at the bite through on the underside of the stem. It’s size, the length of the stem and the fact that it was an obvious replacement stem made my decision of whether to try to repair the hole or to cut the stem back quite easy to make.

I used a Dremel and sanding drum to cut the stem back to solid vulcanite and remove the damaged spot and the button. This would necessitate recutting and shaping a new button on the stem as well as reshaping the slot in the button.


After cutting it off I took it back to the worktable to prepare it for the new button. I wiped the stem down to remove the dust from cutting and to clean the surface so that I could get a good clean line on the button.


I used files, a wood rasp and various needle files to cut an edge for the new button on both the top and the bottom sides of the stem. I also used the files to cut back the stem on the slope before the new button on both sides of the stem. The stem needed to be thinned down from the button forward to the shank for more comfort in the mouth and to keep the graceful lines of the shape intact. I used the needle files to carve back the stem thickness and smooth out the lines so that the button did not look choked and pinched at the line. Once I had a clean slope on the stem previous to the button I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to further highlight the angles of the button.



I sanded the end of the new button to give it a slope toward the slot and to remove the sharp edge look of the new cut. I opened up the button to give it a funnelled shape to the airway and also made it oval. The side profile photos give a clear look at the stem and the angle of the stem previous to the new button.





I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer to get rid of the cake and to clear away the debris from the inner edge of the bowl. I cleaned the rim with saliva on a cotton pad and scrubbed until I had removed the tars and buildup from both the top and the inner bevel of the rim.

I sanded the stem to further define the button and shape it using 220 grit sandpaper and a medium grit sanding sponge. When I was happy with the overall shape of the stem, I sanded its entirety to remove the oxidation. I finished sanding it with my usual regimen of micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12,000 grit pads.






When I had finished sanding with the final grits of pads I put the stem in the shank and buffed it with red Tripoli to remove some of the scratches that still remained on the underside of the stem near the button and then buffed the whole stem with White Diamond. I lightly buffed the pipe as well before taking it back to the worktable to give it a top coat of red mahogany Minwax stain. I rubbed the stain on the bowl to bring back some of the reddish colour that I have found in my other Tradition pipes and used them to match the colour on this pipe.




I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil to preserve the vulcanite. And when the stain was dry I gave it a light buff with White Diamond. I finished by giving the entire pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax to preserve and give it a shine. The finished pipe is picture below. It is cleaned and ready to continue a life of service.




A Transformation from a GBD Billiard to a GBD Lovat

Blog by Steve Laug

I picked up this little GBD New Era Billiard while traveling awhile back. It had a cracked and broken stem. The GBD roundel was still intact and in good shape. The bowl was a mess in that the rim was hammered. The top of the rim was chipped and rough. It was also out of round from over reaming. Since I had found it I had been looking for a new stem for a replacement. I had searched EBay and some of my other usual spots to see if I could pick up a GBD stem or even broken pipe that would work for me. This evening I gave up on the hunt and decided to see what I could do with the existing stem. I set out to transform the pipe from a billiard to a lovat by shortening the stem.


The first step in that process was the shortening of the stem – the removal of the damaged portion of the stem would have to go. I used my Dremel with the sanding drum to remove the broken part of the stem and cut a straight line across it. The next three photos show the stem before the cutting and after. The fourth photo in the series shows the airway in the stem. There was plenty of vulcanite for me to cut a new button on the stem and to open a slot in the button.


The next series of six photos show the process and results of topping the bowl. I used emery cloth on a solid board to sand away the damage to the rim. I chose the emery cloth because the damage was quite deep and extensive and I wanted to be able to remove the rough briar before sanding the rim with higher grit sandpaper. I hold the pipe with the rim flat against the sandpaper and work the pipe over the surface of the sandpaper in a clockwise motion. I find that this works better than using a horizontal or vertical motion and minimizes the scratches on the surface of the briar. I sanded the top until all of the damage was removed on the rim. There was one spot at about 5 o’clock on the rim where there was a large chunk taken out of the briar. I minimized that as best as I could but could not remove it all without damaging the profile of the pipe.


Once the rim was finished I decided to clean the pipe inside and out. I used Everclear and pipe cleaners and cotton swabs to clean out the interior of the pipe and stem and then some acetone on a cotton pad to wipe down the bowl surface. I also sanded the rim with 320 grit sandpaper and went on to use 400 and 600 grit wet dry sandpaper to wet sand the rim. In the four photos below you can see the little lovat being born.


Once the pipe was clean I decided to work on the slot in the end of the stem before cutting the button. There is no logical order to what I worked on next; it was more a matter of whatever I wanted to look at first. I opened the slot with needle files and started to shape the slot into the oval opening I was aiming for. Once it was roughed in I cut the button on the surface of the stem with needle files. The first two photos show the slot taking shape. The next seven photos show the progress of the button and the adjustments to the slope of the stem. I carved the stem with my files removing vulcanite on the top to flatten the profile of the rounded stem. It took quite a bit of sanding to the top and bottom of the stem to achieve the right angles. I also used folded emery cloth to smooth out the flow and remove the file marks from the surface of the stem. By the seventh photo you can see the progress of the button and the slope quite clearly.


The next series of six photos show my next steps in shaping the stem. I put it back on the pipe and continued to work on the slope of the stem surface and the definition of the button. By the sixth photo the stem is virtually done in terms of shaping. I finished cutting the slot and smoothing it out by a folded piece of sandpaper. I also sanded the remaining parts of the stem on the saddle to remove the oxidation that was prevalent on that stem as a whole.


Once the shaping was finished and the rough sanding done to the surface of the stem I progressed through 320 grit sandpaper and 400 and 600 wet dry sandpaper used wet to remove the scratches left behind by the emery paper. It took quite a bit of fine sanding to work around the roundel and not damage the stamping of the brass. When I finished with the sandpapers I worked with micromesh sanding pads. I used the first three grits – 1500, 1800 and 2400 and wet sanded the stem. I find that the rounded corners of the sanding pads allow me to work closely around the roundel and clean up the oxidation and scratches.


I then polished the stem with Maguiar’s Scratch X 2.0 to remove the surface scratches and to see what remained to work on in terms scratches and marks. I rub the polishing compound on with my finger and work it over the surface of the stem and into the angles of the button. Once it is applied that way I scrub it with a cotton pad to polish and remove the compound. I then sanded it with the next three grits of micromesh – 3200, 3600 and 4000. I dry sanded with these grits and began to see a deep shine emerging. Once finished with the 4000 grit I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and set it aside. I then stained the pipe with medium brown aniline stain that I thinned down 2:1 with isopropyl. I flamed the stain to set it and then reapplied the stain, flamed it again and then reapplied it to the rim a third time and flamed it. I took it to the buffer and used Tripoli and White Diamond to buff it. I wiped the bowl down with isopropyl on a soft cotton pad to lighten the stain and make the grain variations more visible. I put the stem back on the pipe and finished sanding it with the final three grits of micromesh – 6000, 8000, 12,000. After dry sanding with these pads I took the pipe to the buffer and buffed it with White Diamond. I finished by giving pipe and stem several coatings of carnauba wax and buffing with a soft flannel buff. The new little lovat is pictured in the four photos below.


Reworking the Stem on a Weber Oom Paul

I decided to save the final pipe of the six I picked up in the states a few weekends ago for last. I knew it would take a bit more work to redo and wanted to take time focusing on it at the end of the cleanup work on the six. It was a Weber Imported Briar smooth finish in an Oom Paul shape. It is stamped on the left side of the shank with Weber in the oval and underneath it in script is stamped Imported Briar. The briar on this was in fairly decent shape and the stem was good other than a chunk that had been bitten or broken out of the button on the top edge. It was solid and the oxidation was actually quite light. The shape of the stem and the thickness of the vulcanite material left me lots of room to work with in reshaping the button. The next series of photos show the pipe as it was when I picked it up.


The bowl needed to be reamed and the rim needed to be cleaned of the tars and build up. The finish was a dirty but looked like it would clean up easily. The stem was oxidized a slight bit and the bend in the stem had straightened and would need to be rebent after the new button was cut. The shank had a sump like the Peterson system pipes that was full of tars and grime. That would need to be cleaned out. The stinger apparatus that was a working part of the Weber pipes was tarred and black.

The next series of photos show the pipe after I wiped it down with some acetone to clean the finish and worked on the tars on the rim of the bowl. I also sanded the rim with some 320 grit sandpaper to remove the tars and smooth out the rim.


I decided to tackle the stem first and rework the button. The first photo below shows the chunk that is missing from the stem. It was quite deep and was not repairable with my usual fixes. So in order to use the same stem I would need to cut back the stem to remove the break and then to reshape the button and the slot. The Weber slot is quite open and oval shaped so I would need to reshape the opening in the slot once I had reshaped the button. I used my Dremel with a sanding drum to cut away the broken part of the stem and to even it out until I had some good thickness in the stem material above and below the airway to work with in cutting the new button. The second, third and fourth photos show the stem after I removed the broken part with the Dremel. You can also see the work that would have to be done in reshaping the button and opening up the new slot.


After I cut the stem I set it aside and reamed the bowl to remove the cake and even up the walls of the bowl. The existing cake was heavy in the top of the bowl and light in the lower portion. I wanted to ream it back to bare wood so I could build up a new even hard cake. I used a KleenReem pipe reamer at first to ream the bowl back (photos 1 and 2 below). The problem is that the KleenReem does not clean out the bottom of the bowl very well so I finished reaming it with my PipNet reamer and the T handle (photo 3 below). I also used the drill bit that comes with the KleenReem to clear out the airway to the bowl. It was pretty gummed up so that cleared out the airway. I also cleaned out the shank and mortise with cotton swabs and pipe cleaners and Everclear. Once the pipe cleaners and cotton swabs came out clean I was ready to work on the outside of the bowl. I have included a fourth photo in the series to show you the bowl after reaming.


I wiped the bowl down with acetone again to remove the lasts of the grime and the buildup on the rim of the bowl. Once that was done I set it aside and began to work on the stem. The wiped down bowl is visible in the photo below.


The next series of twelve photos shows the cutting of the new button on the stem. I used three different needle files to cut the button into the existing stem. You can trace the progress of the new button by the series of photos. I begin by cutting a straight line across the top of the stem and the bottom of the stem. I work to make both sides of the stem match one another so that the edge of the button is consistent on the top and the bottom. I do this initial cut with a flat rectangular blade needle file. I hold it firmly on the work table with one hand and work the file into the surface of the stem. Once I have the line defined on top and bottom I work the file like a carving knife against the new edge. I repeat the cut on the edge several times as the stem begins to taper into the button. I work the flat rectangular file first and then move through different flat edged files that have slightly different tooth patterns to keep carving away the vulcanite. By the last few photos you can see the shape of the button and the taper that works down the stem toward the new button.


Once the button is at the place pictured above I move to work on the slot in the button. I wanted to open up the airway to match the other Weber stems that I have in my collection. If you can picture an American football, that is about the normal shape of the Weber slot. The next series of four photos shows the progress of the slot. I used a variety of smaller needle files – round, oval, flat and rectangular – to open the airway. Once I had it opened and shaped I used a folded piece of sandpaper (320 grit) to sand the opening and smooth it out. The last two photos show the shape of the slot when I had finished this part of the process.


Once the slot was cut I needed to sand the stem to remove all the cut marks from the files and smooth out the surface and flow of the stem. The next four photos show the work with sandpapers and emery cloth. I began with folded medium grit emery cloth and worked through the medium grit sanding sponge and then 220 and 240 grit sandpaper. When I finished sanding with these sandpapers the oxidation was gone and the file marks were removed. The new button is very visible and the edge is well defined. It feels great in the mouth and catches nicely behind the teeth. The slot is smooth and the draw is open.


In the last two photos above you can see that the stem needs to be bent to make it look right and hang correctly in the mouth. I set up my heat gun on the table and inserted a pipe cleaner in the stem. When I am bending a stem I do not want to put a kink in the airway or somehow collapse the airway in the process. Once I have this ready I turn the heat gun on the lowest setting and hold the stem about 2-3 inches above the tip of the gun. If you hold it to close the stem bubbles and the vulcanite can burn. I heat it until it straightens further and that gives me a good sign that the stem is pliable enough to bend. I either use a piece of dowel or some other round tool handle that has the proper bend that I am going for with the stem. I lay the heated stem over the handle or dowel and press the stem downward to comply with the bend. Once I have it where I want it I let it sit for a few moments and then submerge the end of the stem under cool water. The first two photos below show the process of heating the stem and bending it over the tool handle. I repeated this bending process several times to get the bend that I wanted in the stem. The third photo shows the stem after it has been cooled off. This was the angle that I wanted on the stem. All that remained was to do some more sanding to the surface to smooth it out.


The next series of four photos show the pipe after the sanding has been finished. I wet sanded the stem with 400 and 600 grit wet dry sandpaper to further remove the scratches left by the previous sandpapers. I then used micromesh sanding pads 1500, 1800 and 2400 grit with water and wet sanded the stem further. I sanded the stem on the pipe be careful around the shank. I removed it from the shank to really smooth out the scratches around the saddle area of the stem. I sanded the button and the slot edges with the same grit micromesh until they were smooth and matte finished. I then polished the stem with Maguiar’s Scratch X2.0 rubbed on by hand and then scrubbed with a cotton pad. I sanded further with micromesh sanding pads 3200, 3600 and 4000 grit this time using water on the first two grits and then finishing that trio up by dry sanding with the 4000 grit pad. I coated the stem with Obsidian Oil and let it soak in before taking it to the buffer and buffing with White Diamond both the pipe and the stem. I took it back to the table and finished dry sanding with 6000, 8000, 12,000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I buffed the stem and pipe with several coats of carnauba wax to bring it to a shine.


One of the perks of working on this pipe was that I did not need to restain it or remove the finish on the bowl and start over. The finish was salvageable and the darkening on the rim is smooth but in hand it is much lighter than it appears in the photo above.



A Second Bewlay Olde 49 Bent Billiard Repaired and Rejuvenated.

Here is the mate of the other Bewlay Olde 49 bent billiard that I posted about recently. They had both been sitting in my box of pipes to repair and refurbish for several years now. Yesterday I worked on the first one and restemmed it. This afternoon I decided to work on second one. The finish was exactly like the other one – grime ground into the surface and the wax and shine were gone. The top of the bowl was tarred and caked. The stem had been chewed through. The button was gone and the previous owner had made it into some kind of dental bit but cutting a groove in the stem along the end of the chewed off portion. It was a mess. I decided to cut off the chewed portion of the stem and then rework a button into the smooth surface of this one rather than restem it. I find that often this takes far more time to do this than it would just to cut a new stem for it. Such was the case with this one.

I used my Dremel with the sanding drum on it to cut back the damaged stem. I removed just under ½ inch of the stem. I cut it back until there was plenty of vulcanite over the airway on the top and bottom so that I could work in the new button and open the airway into a nice slot. The next series of pictures show the cut off stem. You can see that there is plenty of stem left for the work of shaping a new button.

The next four pictures show the stem from the end and then from the top and the bottom to give a good idea of what the stem looked like once I had removed the damaged material. I worked on the end of the stem to keep it a straight cut. I would eventually curve the ends of the new button but at this point I wanted to keep a straight edge to work with. You can see from the airway pictured in the first picture that there is plenty of vulcanite above and below the airway for the new button to be cut.

I used a rasp with a flat straight edge to do the initial cutting work on the button. I followed up with the flat needle file to clean up the work after the rasp did the initial work. The first two photos below show the freshly cut button. The first photo is of the underside of the stem. The button is cut to match an existing Bewlay stem that I have here. I also wanted it wide enough that I could taper it on the ends and the front edge after I had cut the slot. The second photo shows the topside of the stem after the initial cut of the new button. You can see from that photo that the left edge of the button has a slight indentation in it that will need to be worked on to make the button have a smooth and flowing shape.

The next series of four pictures show the stem after I have smoothed out the initial cut of the rasp with the needle file in the picture. The edge of the button is becoming distinct and clear. The first picture shows the underside of the stem and the clean flow of the button. The second picture shows the topside of the stem. Notice that the line is at a slight angle in the photo. That will be corrected once the left side of the button has been built up with some super glue. Pictures 3 and 4 show the shape of the button and how it is beginning to take the final shape – the oval or “football” shape that was on the old Bewlay pipes. At this point I had not begun to work on the airway to open it up and make a smooth slot into the stem.

I continued to work on the button and the surface of the stem to smooth out the transition and shape and to give some definition to the edge of the button. I used a variety of sandpapers and emery cloths to do the work. For emery cloth I used medium and fine grit and for sandpaper I used 240 and 280 grit. The next two photos show the look of the stem at this point. The line of the button on the top is now straightened out. The spot on the bottom edge of the button in the first photo is the cleaned up divot or dent in the button.

In the next two photos I wanted show the developing profile of the stem and button. The button is actually beginning to show quite clearly and is distinguishable from the surface of the stem.

Quite a bit more sanding needed to be done to clarify the edges and the cut of the button. In the next two photos you can see the new button very clearly. I also had used some clear super glue to build up the top of the button and fill in the divot. I sanded it smooth once it was dry. In the first picture below you can see that the divot is gone and a black spot is in its place. The second photo shows the ongoing development of the underside of the stem and button.

I then used my needle files to work on the slot and open up the airway from the button end. I used an oval needle file to begin to cut the ends of the slot open. The four pictures below show the development of the slot from the start to the finished shape that I was aiming for. It is a nice open draw and should deliver a good smoke. In the fourth picture you can also see that I have tapered the button back toward the slow so that it is a good smooth transition and is comfortable in the mouth. I used a folded strip of emery cloth and 240 grit sandpaper to sand the inside of the slot and smooth the internals.

At that point I decided to take a break from the stem and work on the bowl finish. I wiped down the bowl and rim with acetone to clean off the existing finish and give me a clear surface to work with. This one also has some interesting grain patterns under the old finish. It is a bit more mixed cross grain and birdseye with no real pattern to the grain like the other Olde 49. But it cleaned up nicely.

I sanded the stem some more with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12,000 grit to get rid of the file marks and sandpaper marks that were left behind. I wet the stem and sanded them through the various grits. The photos below show the rich blackness of the stem that has come back with all the sanding.

At this point I decided to restain the pipe. I did so with a Dark Brown aniline stain. I flamed it to set the stain and stained it a second time. I took pictures but the batteries on the camera gave out at this point and I was left with no photos of the stained pipe. It was dark like the other Bewlay pipe so I wiped it down with acetone on cotton pads to lighten the colour. The picture below gives a bit of a look at the pads and the dark stain that came off with the wash. The pipe is a little dark. This was the last of my batteries and the only picture that came out at this point in the process.

The next four pictures are of the finished pipe. The stain came out very nicely with the grain coming through very well. I buffed it with White Diamond once I had wiped it down with the acetone. The shine came up well on this one. I also buffed the stem with White Diamond and then gave the pipe several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a soft flannel buff.

The last picture is of the two Bewlay Olde 49 pipes together and ready to smoke. In person they are not quite as red as they come out in these photos. The rich older brown stain really matches these two well.