Tag Archives: drilling out a broken tenon

Resurrection for a Hand Made Pipa Croci Bent that was dropped

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe up for repairs and restoration (from nine from the fellow who brought them for repair) is a Hand Made Pipa Croci. It is stamped on the left side and continuing to the underside of the shank with the words Pipa Croci (long-tailed P) over fatta a mano over Mantova, Italia and dal 1983. On the right side is stamped PC in a circle with a tail over A3 (shape number for a bent billiard). Next to that is stamped *True*. Fatta a mano means Hand Made. It would have been a great looking pipe when purchased. I am pretty sure that it is the nicest one that he left for me to work on and the one with the most issues. Somewhere along the way he dropped the pipe on concrete and the tenon snapped. If that had been all then that was a simple fix. It was not all! The bowl cracked two places on the bottom, not deep cracks but cracks nonetheless. There was a crack on the left side mid bowl that ran from close to the bottom up to a ½ inch below the rim and a small one on the top of the rim on the left toward the front of the bowl. I took a close up photo of the rim and bowl to show the condition. The cake is thick and the rim has a lava overflow from the bowl and some damage on the outer edge near the front.The next two photos, though a little out of focus show the crack in the bowl bottom circled in red. I will continue to show them in the photos as I clean up the bowl.The Lucite/acrylic stem was rough. There were tooth marks on both the top and underside of the stem in front of the button and a deep bit mark on the top of the button. The broken tenon would need to be replaced and there were some nicks in the sides of the stem close to the button end.I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and took the cake back to bare briar. I cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. There would still need to be more work done to smooth things out but the bowl was clean and I could see that the cracks did not go all the way through to the inside walls.I topped the bowl to remove the rim damage, particularly that on the outer edge. I also wanted to expose the crack on the rim top and see how bad it was. This pipe really took a beating when it was dropped – fissures all over the place in the briar. I have circled the crack on the bottom to show the largest one. There is a small one next to it that is hard to see in this picture though it will show in later pictures.I scrubbed the bowl down with acetone to remove the finish and reveal more clearly the cracks on the bowl. I have circled them in the next set of photos and drawn arrows to the points of origin that will need to be drilled. The number of cracks is amazing to me – all from a drop on concrete. This briar is quite stunning with some birdseye and cross grain. I drilled with a microdrill bit in the Dremel at each terminus of the cracks. Some of them had spidered a bit so they took multiple holes. I clean out the cracks with a dental pick and wiped the bowl down with alcohol on a cotton pad. I filled in the holes with briar dust and clear super glue. I sanded the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper to blend the repairs into the rest of the bowl. I sanded them with a medium and fine grit sanding sponge to polish the scratches away. I set the bowl aside for a while and worked on the stem. I flattened out the broken tenon on the face of the stem with a Dremel and sanding drum. Once it was smooth I used a drill bit about the same size as the airway in the stem to start the process of opening the airway to take the new tenon. I put the drill bit in a stationary drill and turned the stem on to the bit by hand. I increased the size of the bit incrementally so as not to split the stem and to keep things aligned. I put a tape on the bit that marked the depth of the threaded tenon. Once the airway was opened to the diameter of the tenon I used a tap to thread the inside walls of the newly drilled opening. I turned the stem onto the tap carefully to keep it straight and aligned.The next two photos show the newly tapped stem and the new tenon that was going to be turned into the stem. The tenon was slightly larger than the mortise so I used the Dremel and sanding drum to take it down to the right size. I dabbed some slow drying glue on the threads of the new tenon and turned it into the stem until it sat tight against the face of the stem. With that done the stem repair was complete. There were some nicks and scratches in the stem around the junction area with the shank that needed to be sanded and cleaned up. I used some 220 grit sandpaper to do that. The stem was ready for the fit and all that remained was to push it into the mortise and check it out once the glue set.I put the stem in place in the mortise to check the alignment and was happy with the overall results. As normal there were some slight adjustments that needed to make to the stem and shank but nothing radical so I was happy with the fit. Now all I had to do was finish the fit and repair the stem. I noticed in the photos below that there was some roughness to the inside of the bowl so I would also need to sand that smooth. I wrapped a piece of 220 sandpaper around my finger and sanded the inside walls of the bowl until I had smoothed them out.I cleaned out the airway in the stem and the bowl as well as the mortise with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until they were all clean. I also scrubbed the darkened end of the shank to remove the stain that was there.I stained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain thinned 50/50 with alcohol and flamed it to set it in the grain. I repeated the process until the coverage was even around the bowl.  I wanted it to be dark enough to blend the repairs into the sides and bottom of the bowl and hide the drill holes and cracks. I set the bowl aside to let the stain dry overnight and called it a day.In the morning I started the polishing process on the bowl. I sanded it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh and a small amount of olive oil to help the grit cut into the briar. I wiped it down afterwards and inserted the stem to see what was happening. The alignment of the stem was slightly off to the left in the photos so it appears not to fit. However, the fit is actually quite good. I still need to polish and clean up the stem. I continued polishing the bowl with the micromesh pads using 3200-12000 grit pads to really add to the shine of the briar. Each successive grit of micromesh raised the shine more on the briar. The grain really pops on this one… I turned back to the stem. I adjusted the fit with 220 grit sandpaper until the transition was smooth. When the fit was correct I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each grit of pad to clean off the sanding debris and gave it a final wiped down after the 12000 grit pad. I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to remove any remaining scratches or marks and raise a shine. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The cracks are all sealed and since they do not go all the way through into the interior of the bowl I think that they will hold up well. The pipe has a lot of life in it still and I know that the owner will be glad to get it back in far better nick than it was when he left it here. Thanks for journeying with me on this resurrection.




Restoring a W.O. Larsen 11 Handmade Bent Brandy

Blog by Steve Laug

Charles Lemon of Dadspipes blog picked up a batch of pipes that included a lot of Danish made ones from an estate not long ago. He has been writing about their restoration on his blog. He sent me some photos of the pipes and offered to sell some to me. I chose two of them. The first one was the Larsen that is pictured below. The description of the pipe said that it was stamped on the underside of the shank 11 over W.O. LARSEN over Handmade over Made in Denmark. On the topside of the shank next to the stem/shank junction it was stamped SUPER. The stem had a broken tenon and it was stuck in the shank. Charles had mentioned that he thought it looked like it had been glued in so it would take a bit of work. When I saw the grain on it I decided that it would be a fun piece to work on for my own rack. It has some stunning flame grain on all around the bowl sides and birdseye grain on the rim and the bottom of the bowl and shank.Larsen1I looked up some background on W.O. Larsen and found a great summary on this site. It was helpful and brief so I quote it in full below: https://www.finepipes.com/pipes/danish/w-o-larsen?sort=20a&page=1&zenid=debcdee8f415c1977fb5c359652d6aeb W.O. Larsen was one of the most famous tobacco shops in Copenhagen, with a beautiful store located on Copenhagen’s famous “Walking Street.” During the flowering of the Danish pipe in the ’60’s, they first began retailing pipes by such carvers as Sixten Ivarsson, Sven Knudsen, Poul Rasmussen, and Brakner. Urged on by his store manager Sven Bang, the owner, Ole Larsen, decided to begin making pipes in the basement of the shop. He first hired Sven Knudsen as the pipe maker, who soon passed the job to his protégé Hans “Former” Nielsen. Larsen’s fortunes rose along with the rest of the Danish pipe business and Former was soon managing a group of carvers in the old Larsen cigar factory. Among these were Teddy Knudsen, Tonni Nielsen, Jess Chonowitch, Peter Hedegaard and others, who were responsible for the Select and Straight Grain series before they branched out on their own. After Former left to start Bentley pipes in Switzerland, his duties were taken over by Soren Refbjerg Rasmussen, while the straight grains were made by Teddy’s student Benni Jorgenson. As Ole’s health began to fail, the reins were taken over by his son Nils. Nils became convinced that the way for Larsen to prosper was by entering the low-end market, and acquired the Georg Jensen pipe factory to make an array of less expensive pipes. This turned out to be a fatal error, and Larsen was recently sold to Stanwell, who continue to produce so-called “Larsen” pipes in their huge factory. Thus ended an important part of Danish pipe history.

I was looking forward to seeing it firsthand so I paid Charles and he shipped it on Friday. Wonder of wonders, Canada Post delivered it on Monday. I came home from work to find the awaited box on the table. I opened it and found the Larsen in a bag with the label printed on the outside enumerating it’s stamping. I took it out of the bag and immediately took it to the work table. The photos below show the pipe as it looked when it arrived. It was much lighter in colour than the photo had led me to believe.Larsen2The bowl was dirty and there were some dents and marks in the briar. The rim had a thick coating of tars and the back edge of the rim was worn down from knocking the pipe out to empty it. There was an uneven cake in the bowl. The tenon was stuck in the shank and there were dried bits of glue on the end of the shank and around the end of the stem where someone had glued the stem onto the end of the shank. Fortunately the stem did not stick to the briar but the tenon certainly did. The stem was clean of bite or tooth marks and was lightly oxidized.Larsen3 Larsen4 Larsen5I took a photo of the end of the shank to show the glue spots on the briar and around the broken tenon.Larsen6When I had looked at the initial photo I was uncertain that the stem was original as it looked to be bigger in diameter than the shank. I lined up the broken tenon in the shank with the rough end on the stem and took some photos to see if it actually fit the pipe.Larsen7I decided to try pulling the tenon with my normal screw and it did not budge. It began to shatter and break apart.Larsen8Thus I knew that I would have to resort to drilling out the broken tenon. I set up my cordless drill and put a drill bit slightly larger than the airway in the chuck. I slowly drilled out the tenon, increasing the size of the drill bit until it was the just slightly smaller than the mortise. The last bit I used broke the tenon piece free from the shank and the mortise was clear.Larsen9While I had the drill out I also drilled out the broken tenon in the stem in preparation for the replacement tenon I would use.Larsen10Once the airway was drilled out on the stem I used a tap to thread the newly drilled airway to accommodate the threaded replacement Delrin tenon.Larsen11I used the topping board and 220 grit sandpaper to clean off the glue residue on the end of the stem before I put the new tenon in place. I want a clean, flat surface to work with against the shank when I was finished.Larsen12I used some clear super glue on the new tenon and twisted it into the stem. I put it in the shank to check the alignment several times before putting a few more drops of super glue around the tenon stem union.Larsen13Once the glue dried I put the stem in place in the pipe and took some photos to evaluate the fit.Larsen14 Larsen15With the tenon repair completed it was time to address the bowl. I took some close up photos of the bowl/rim and the stamping on the shank.Larsen16I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer using the third cutting head and took the cake back to bare briar. I cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Pipe Knife.Larsen17 Larsen18I sanded the inside of the bowl with a tube of sandpaper. This smoothed out the walls of the bowl and began to clean up the damage on the inner edge of the rim.Larsen19The rim damage on the back side needed to be dealt with so I topped the bowl to remove the damaged area.Larsen20I scrubbed the briar with acetone on cotton pads to remove the wax, grime and oils in the wood. The grain is really beautiful in the photos below.Larsen21 Larsen22I scrubbed out the mortise and airway in the shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners until they came out clean.Larsen23I mixed three of the stain pens together to get the correct brown on the rim. Once it was blended and sanded I stained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain and flamed it. I repeated the process until the coverage was even on the bowl.Larsen24 Larsen25 Larsen26I wiped down the bowl with alcohol on cotton pads to make it more transparent and make the grain show through. It still needed more work but it was definitely getting there.Larsen27 Larsen28The inner edge of the rim needed more work to remove the damage but the colour was correct.Larsen29I used a folded piece of 180 grit sandpaper to bevel the inner rim of the bowl to remove the damaged areas. I followed up by sanding it with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper and continued to sand the inner edge. I sanded the inner edge and rim with 1800-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads.  I restained the inner bevel with a dark brown stain pen to match the finish on the bowl.Larsen30With the bowl finished I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil and dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads. I gave it another coat of oil and sanded it with 6000-12000 grit pads. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and let it dry.Larsen31 Larsen32 Larsen33I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and then gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. By now you are all probably very familiar with my process. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine and then hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to add depth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is one I plan on hanging onto for my own rack and I am happy with how it turned out. Thanks for looking.Larsen34 Larsen35 Larsen36 Larsen37 Larsen38 Larsen39 Larsen40 Larsen41

A Tiny Apple Reborn – new stem and new finish

Blog by Steve Laug

This morning I decided to work on an interesting little pipe that I picked up in an eBay batch from England. All of the bowls in that batch had broken tenons stuck in the shank. All were no name bowls or so worn that the name had long since worn off. This one was the smallest pipe in the batch. The bowl and shank are 2 ½ inches long and 1 ½ inches tall. The bowl is drilled at 5/8 inches and I can insert my little finger. The shank was spliced somewhere along the way and done quite well. It is a smooth splice. I wonder if it was a repair or if it came out that way when briar was scarce during the war. The finish was spotty – varnish was peeling from the bowl and shank. The tenon appears to have had a metal tube in the middle of the vulcanite and both had snapped off when they broke. I have circled this bowl in red in the next three photos. The first shows the batch of pipes that I picked up. The second is an enlargement of the bowl itself and the third photo shows the snapped tenon in the shank.Apple1
Apple3 The photos above came from the seller. I took the next series of photos before I worked on the pipe this morning. The rough finish is visible in the photos as are the fills on both sides of the bowl. They were shrunken and hard so they would have to be repaired. You can also see the splice in the shank about 2/3 of the way up the shank to the bowl. The bowl had a thick cake that was crumbly and rough. The bowl still was half full of tobacco that had been stuffed into it evidently before the stem broke. The rim had lava overflow and some damage to the inside edge and the top of the rim.Apple4
apple7 For a stem for this pipe I turned to my stem can and found a long narrow stem that needed a little adjustment to the tenon and the diameter of the stem at the shank before it would fit. I turned the tenon with a Dremel and sanding drum and finished by sanding it by hand.Apple8 The photos below show the stem in the pipe. The diameter of the shank and the diameter of the stem do not match.Apple9 I used the Dremel and sanding drum to reduce the stem diameter to match the diameter of the shank. I always rough in the fit with the Dremel and then fine tune the fit by hand sanding.Apple10 I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and took the cake back to bare wood. I wanted to look at the inside of the bowl and rim to see what needed to be done at those points.Apple11
Apple12 I stripped the finish off the bowl with acetone on cotton pads. With all of the fills and dents in the no name bowl it was another candidate for sanding and refinishing. Looking down the shank with a light it appears that the splice of shank was done with a metal tube in the shank. The bowl and the added shank also appear to be different wood.Apple13 I topped the bowl to remove the rim damaged and to clean up the edges of the rim.Apple14 I tried to pick out the fills on the bowl but they were tight and were rock hard. I cleaned up around them and filled in the shrinkage with clear superglue.Apple15 I sanded the repaired areas and the rest of the bowl and shank with 220 grit sandpaper. I sanded the repairs smooth and followed up by sanding with a fine grit sanding sponge.Apple16
Apple17 I gave the bowl a black under stain to help hide the fills and the splice. They would always show but the dark under stain would blend them into the finish better. I applied the stain and flamed the bowl and repeated the process to get good coverage.Apple18
Apple19 I wiped down the bowl with alcohol and cotton pads to remove the black from the surface of the briar and leave it in the grain patterns.Apple20
Apple23 I sanded the bowl with a fine grit sanding block and the stem with the fine grit sanding sponge and fit it in the shank to get a feel for the new look. I took the next series of photos to see how the pipe was developing. I liked what I saw. The black stain had done a good job covering the fills and the splice. I used a black permanent marker to fill in some light spots and drew in some grain lines in the bald spots.Apple24
Apple27 I gave the bowl a top coat of Danish Oil with Cherry stain and then again used the permanent marker to fill blank spots and darken the fills. I wiped the Cherry stain over the bowl several times until the coverage was good and then set the bowl aside to dry.Apple28
Apple30 While it dried I worked on the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and gave it a coat of Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished with 6000-12000 grit pads, gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and let it dry.Apple31
Apple33 I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the wheel and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean flannel buff and then by hand with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I like the looks of it with a long thin stem. It is a like a pencil shank Bing with an apple shaped bowl. Thanks for looking.Apple34

Restoring an old CPF Gourd Calabash Pipe

Blog by Steve Laug

In my grab bag from the antique mall was a gourd calabash bowl. It has the original silver band with the CPF logo stamped on it and some faux hallmarks – an anchor, star and a figure. The CPF stands for Colossus Pipe Factory – a brand I researched and wrote about previously on the blog – https://rebornpipes.com/2013/04/14/so…-on-cpf-pipes/. The hallmarks on the band are an anchor with chain, a star and a figure of a man. From my research these are faux hallmarks. CPF pipes were made in New York and later became linked with KB&B pipes. Here is a link to an old catalogue linking the brand to KB&B that I posted previously on the blog https://rebornpipes.com/2014/03/05/an…cpf-catalogue/. Sadly there are no meerschaum pipes in the catalogue so I cannot ascertain the date for sure. I am fairly confident from comparing the band with others that I have which have similar bands that the pipe can conservatively be dated to the early 1900s or late 1890s. So it is a gourd bowl that has some age on it.
The bowl came with the band and a threaded bone tenon that was easily removed from the mortise. The gourd had darkened areas around the exterior of the bowl from the hand of the previous owners. There were several nicks in the gourd on the bottom of the shank next to the band and on the right side next o the band. The band had been pressed onto the gourd and it was obvious from the fit and the way it pressed into the shank ahead of it that it was original. The inside of the gourd had hard tars and tobacco oils on the walls down into the shank itself. There was nothing soft or sticky in either the shank or bowl. A pipe cleaner came out clean regardless of whether it was dry or wet. The top edge of the rim was pristine with no dents or nicks. There was a slight crack that ran down about ½ inch on the front of the bowl. I liked the shape of the gourd from the moment I took it out of the bag. It was not oddly shaped but was elegant in both the flare of the bowl and the curve of the shank. It would be well worth bringing back to life.

I measured the diameter of the bowl and the diameter of the bone tenon and made a call to Tim West at J.H. Lowe (http://www.jhlowe.com/) with the dimensions to see what he had in terms of a meerschaum bowl and a potential stem for the pipe. He asked for a photo of the bowl so he could have a look before recommending sizes of the stem or bowl. I told him that I was thinking about an amber acrylic a Bakelite stem. Once he saw the pictures Tim talked me out of that and said a vulcanite stem would be perfect for it. I asked if he would tap the stem for me before he shipped it. He said he would do it, no problem. He did a bang up job and sent it along with the meerschaum cup. Both of them arrived here in Vancouver quite quickly. I unpacked the bowl and stem from the box that Tim sent and that was the beginning of the issues that I faced with restoring this pipe. I will spell them out in detail as I write about the restoration of the pipe.

I tried fitting the meer cup into the gourd and found that there were several issues that I would have to deal with before it would fit well. The diameter of the bowl was perfect. The mushroom cap was big and draped over the top of the gourd and looked passable to me. The first problem was that the bowl had a lip around the top edge under the cap that was shaped the wrong direction – absolutely the opposite of the angle of the bowl. Because of that ridge the bowl would not sit in the gourd bowl correctly. Secondly I found that even without the ridge the cup was too deep to fit the depth of the gourd. The gourd tapered much more sharply than the meer cup so the bottom of the cup sat high in the gourd bowl. I would need to change the taper on the cup and shorten it so that it would sit in the gourd correctly and I would need to remove the lip around the top under the cap.

I measured the thickness of the bottom of the bowl and the thickness of the walls of the bowl around the cup to make sure I could remove the ridge and shorten the bowl without ruining the meer cup. I was happy to see that I had a lot of room to work with and could easily remove what was needed for a proper fit in the bowl. I used the Dremel to remove the ridge from under the cap edge. It was big enough that hand sanding would have taken a very long time. I took it down to match the rest of the bowl. I also used the Dremel to shorten the bowl. I flattened it out and took off approximately ½ inch. I then hand sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper to reshape it and smooth out the Dremel work. I reshaped the taper of the cup to match the taper of the gourd. I sanded the flat edges of the bottom and reshaped it into a gentle curve. The photo below shows the newly reworked bowl. It fit well in the gourd after all of this work.


I set aside the meer cup and cleaned out the inside of the gourd removing the tars and build up. I washed down the outside with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grease and buildup on the gourd. I did not want the soap wet as I did not want to wet the gourd. I rubbed the soap on with a cotton pad and scrubbed and removed it the same way. Once it was clean I noticed that the small hairline crack along the front of the bowl was slightly open. I opened it slightly and dripped some super glue in it to bind the crack and clamped it until the glue cured. Fortunately for this impatient man the super glue dries very quickly and I could move on to the inside of the gourd. I sanded it out with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to reach quite far down into the shank and sanded the ridges of tars and oils out of the bowl. There was a thick ridge at the bottom where the original cup had rested against the walls of the gourd. I used a dental pick to loosen that area and then sanded it smooth. All of this cleaning work served to renew the inside of the gourd but also made a smooth base for the new meer cup.
I cut a piece of cork to fit the inner edge of the gourd. It had to be trimmed in both height and length to fit properly. I glued it into place with white all-purpose glue. I pressed on it to make sure that it sat tightly against the gourd. This cork would serve as a gasket for the cup and also it fit perfectly against the small crack that I had repaired on the exterior. Together they would bind together the crack and provide a functional repair to that surface.
Once the glue dried I sanded the cork with 220 grit sandpaper (my go to sandpaper for much of the initial work I do on the pipe). I wanted it to be a smooth pressure fit that would hold the bowl in place. I rubbed down the cork gasket with Vaseline to soften it after the sanding. I find that cork left unused gets dry and brittle and the Vaseline brings it back to life. I pressed the bowl in place to check the fit and found that it still needed some adjustment to sit properly in the bowl. The top edge under the cap needed to be sanded some more to reduce the diameter of the cup.
I took it out of the gourd and sanded it with the 220 grit sandpaper until it fit correctly. I polished the cup exterior with a fine grit sanding sponge and 1500 grit micromesh sanding pads before pressing it back into the gourd.
This time it fit was far better. The cup sat in the gourd like they were made for each other. The two photos that follow show the fit and look of the new bowl. At this point the calabash is showing great promise.

I cleaned up the mess of the meerschaum sanding dust that was everywhere on my work table. It is a messy fine powder that gets into everything if left to its own devices. Once I had done that I wiped down the exterior of the bowl and cup one more time and took a couple of photos to get a good look at the pipe.

With the work on the bowl and cup finished I turned my attention to the stem. Tim’s drilling was spot on. The diameter was exactly what I had sent him – ¼ inch. The second problem I faced with this old calabash was that the bone tenon was not quite the 1/4 inch measurement I gave him. It would not fit in the tapped hole in the stem. I measured it again and found that is was closer to 3/8 inches than a ¼ inch. I re-tapped the stem to 3/8 and was able to thread the tenon into the stem. It looked great and it fit well in the mortise. I glued the tenon in place in the stem with all-purpose white glue and set it aside to cure over night.

In the morning I slowly and carefully turned it into the bowl. Things were going really well. It looked like I would need to reduce the diameter of the stem slightly on one side and the top to match the diameter of the shank band. As I was turning it I heard a noise that is dreadful to me and to anyone who has heard it. It generally is not a good sound when you are this far along in a repair and signifies more work. The bone tenon broke in half. It obviously had been cracked and I had not seen that when I examined it. When I had turned it into the shank it had shattered. I was left with the broken half glued into the stem and the threaded half stuck in the shank of the pipe. Talk about frustration. I set the pipe aside and took a deep breath. Now I would have to go back to the drawing board in terms of how to attach a stem. I would have to drill out both the stem and the shank in order to move forward.
I pulled out a can from my drawer where I keep replacement tenons – threaded Delrin, straight Delrin rods cut to fit as tenons and some push stem conversion kits that had a mortise insert and tenon for converting threaded shanks in old meers to accommodate a push tenon. The conversion kit would work nicely in this situation. I would have to modify the shank of the calabash as the diameter of the mortise insert was too big for the 3/8 inch opening. I had to drill out the end of the gourd and then re-tap it to be able to put the insert in place. The thickness of the shank did not give me much wiggle room so I would only have one chance at this. I was able to drill it and tap it. I mixed the two part epoxy and inserted the mortise in place in the shank.

The tenon was a much simpler to repair. I carefully drilled out the broken bone tenon in the stem and was able to salvage the threads. Once I had blown out the dust from the stem the push tenon screwed neatly into the 3/8 inch tapped end of the stem. I removed it a final time and epoxied it in place. However, it too was not trouble-free. The tenon had a 1/16th inch lip that would not sit in the end of the drilling on the stem. I ended up having to carve it with a sharp knife to remove the lip. In the photo below you can see the epoxied insert in the shank and the tenon in the stem. The insert still needed to be countersunk and cleaned up and the tenon needed to have the lip trimmed away.
I set aside the calabash until the epoxy set. Once the stem was set I decided to work on the other end of the mouthpiece. It had a very tight slot on the end that was hard to push a pipe cleaner through so I opened that up with needle files. I used a flat oval file, an oval and a round file to do the majority of the work. I finished opening it with a flat angle file to open the top and bottom of the slot.
When the epoxy had cured I carefully pushed the stem into the shank to check out the fit. The next two photos show the look of the pipe at this point. I removed the stem and countersunk the mortise slightly. I did not want to use a drill and countersink to do the work so I used a very sharp knife and did it by hand. Once it was completed I replaced the stem in the shank and the fit against the band was clean and snug. My initial mission was accomplished. I had not only broken the bone tenon, I had removed it from the shank and stem and converted the pipe to a push stem. There was still work to do but at least I had salvaged the pipe from the damage I had done in my initial repair. Whew…

I sanded the stem with a medium and fine grit sanding sponge to remove the scratches left behind by the 220 grit sandpaper. I gave it a light buff with Tripoli on the wheel and then set up a heat gun to bend the stem. I held the stem about three inches above the heat and moved it around as it heated. I have learned that to leave it in one place as you heat it can damage the vulcanite and create more work. Once the stem was pliable I bent it over a wooden rolling pin that I use for that purpose. Lately I slid a cardboard tube over the pin to give a softer, smoother surface to bend the stem over. I had to do it twice to get the bend correct. It takes a bit longer to heat the thicker portion of the stem that needed to be bent so the repeated step made that possible.

The finished bend is shown in the next two photos. I still needed to polish the stem before it was finished but the finished look is beginning to appear. The calabash is just about reborn.

I removed the stem and worked on it with the sanding sponges and the micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with the 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with the 3200-12000 grit pads. Between the wet and dry sanding I rubbed the stem down with Meguiar’s Scratch x2.0 and then buffed it with White Diamond. I finished the sanding and then rubbed the stem with Obsidian Oil. Once it was dry I gave it a quick buff with White Diamond and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a soft flannel buff.


I scrubbed the surface of the gourd with Oil Soap and a light sanding with the fine grit sanding sponge to remove some of the deeper grime and oils in the gourd. I then applied several coats of Paragon Wax and hand buffed the gourd with a shoe brush to raise a shine. I polished the silver band with some silver polish and then reinserted the stem. I gave the whole pipe a final buff with the brush before setting the meerschaum cup in place. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a deep bowl and should hold a good pack of tobacco. The broad mushroom cap of the meerschaum cup looks good to me. The pipe is ready for its inaugural smoke. Now the only problem remaining is what tobacco to use to christen this restored calabash. Ah well that will sort itself out soon enough. Time to post this on the blog.