Tag Archives: fitting a new tenon on a stem

Restoring a Preben Holm Hand Cut Sandblast Freehand in Pune, India

Blog by Steve Laug, Jeff Laug, Dal Stanton, Paresh, Abha and Pavni Deshpande

The restoration on this beautiful Preben Holm freehand may appear to be just another pipe restoration but it was not. Let me assure you that it was definitely far more than that. It was really an East and West adventure in pipe restoration. My brother Jeff and I traveled to Pune, India where we met Dal Stanton of Pipe Steward and had an incredible visit with Paresh Deshpande, his wife Abha and his daughters Mudra and Pavni. With that cast of players – from the US, Canada, Bulgaria and India it was going to be a unique and memorable week of fellowship and pipe restoration. Each of us played a role in this restoration. I will try to include the contribution of each in the story as it unfolds. Paresh and I had spoken of the pipes that he wanted us to work on together while staying with him. This pipe was one of them. We had talked about the Preben Holm via Whatsapp in the past months and he wanted me to replace the broken tenon on the pipe so that he could learn the process.

Lest you might think that all we did was work on pipes, I can assure you that while staying in Pune we enjoyed the sights of the city, fellowship and great food along with working on pipes together. Paresh and his family did a magnificent job of hosting the event and making us all feel like we were part of his family. The hospitality, the amazing food provided by Abha and the joy and laughter of Mudra and Pavni were all part of making this an unforgettable visit. In the next weeks there will be several blogs written about the pipes that we worked on. Dal is working on a blog about the restoration of a BBB bent billiard that had belonged to Paresh’s grandfather that was a real group effort. Both Paresh and I will also be posting blogs on some of the other pipes that we worked on together including meerschaums and briars. We thoroughly enjoyed the time together while smoking our pipes and sharing beer and scotch to celebrate each restoration and to close each day. We exchanged tips and processes that we used. It was a time of sharing and learning for all of us.

The blog I am writing now was on the restoration of a really well made Preben Holm freehand. Paresh had picked this pipe up off eBay for a good price because of the condition. I am sure that if the pipe had been complete it would have sold for a much higher price than it did. The sandblast finish was dirty but very well done – showing bother the underlying grain and the cross grain in the blast. The stain colour was a contrast of browns and blacks. The rim top and the shank end were both plateau. They were dirty but still quite stunning. The inner and outer edge of the bowl was in great condition. The exterior of the bowl was also in good condition under the grime of the years. The tenon had been broken off cleanly at the stem and whoever had pulled it had drilled through the broken tenon in the process of pulling it out of the shank. The stem had some tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside and some wear on the button edge but otherwise it was in very good condition. There was some oxidation on the surface and in the grooves of the fancy stem that would need to be addressed. We took photos of the pipe at this point in the process to show the parts and the condition. I took a picture of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It was clear but showed some wear. It read Preben Holm over Hand Cut over Made in Denmark. There is also a circle with a number in it; sadly I failed to write down the number. I believe it is either a 1 or a 7. Perhaps Paresh can confirm this.Now it was time to start on the stem repair on this pipe. I want to document the process on this restoration so that both Dal and Paresh have the information for their future tenon replacements. The first step is preparing the end of the stem for drilling out the airway. The remnants of the broken tenon need to be removed in order to have a smooth surface for drilling out the airway to receive the end of the new tenon. I did this be using a piece of 220 grit sandpaper on a topping board. I worked on the stem until the surface of the end was smooth.Once the end of the stem was smooth I used a sharp knife to give the airway a slight inward bevel to guide the drill bit when I started the drilling. I find that doing this helps facilitate a straight drill in the airway. The key for me in tenon replacement is to let the airway be the guide for the drilling. Doing this keeps things aligned and the airway straight. I started the drilling with a bit that was slightly larger than the existing airway. I proceed through a series of bits until I have drilled the airway with the final bit the same size as the end of the replacement tenon that I will use. I generally use a cordless drill to do this work but in this case I used a Hand Drill that Paresh had available. I tightened the bit in the chuck and carefully turned the stem onto the bit. I proceed with caution as I want to make sure that I keep the airway straight for a good fit of the new tenon. I use the length of the end of the tenon to determine the depth of the drilling. I generally mark the bit with a line of a piece of tape to ensure that I do not drill too deep.I worked my way up through a successive series of drill bits, to slowly open the airway to receive the tenon. I find that this process keeps the stem from chipping as I drill and creating more problems for me to repair in the process. As I finshed using the first three bits I decided to use the power drill. Paresh gladly became the human vise to hold the drill. I aligned the bit and stem and pressed the trigger to drill the airway further. It was great to have extra hands in this process. Dal took photos as we worked on the stem.I used the 4.8 and 5 mm drill bits to finish drilling out the airway.The airway was open to the right dimension to receive the new tenon. At home I have a tap set and would have threaded the airway to receive the tenon. In this case I did not have a tap so I used a file to knock off the threads on the tenon end enough to pressure fit it in place in the stem. Once they were knocked off enough I put some super glue on the tenon end and pressed it into the airway. I carefully checked the alignment to make sure the tenon was straight on the stem before setting it aside to cure. Once the glue had cured on the tenon repair we put the stem in Mark Hoover’s Before & After Deoxidizer to let it do its work on the oxidation. I also wanted to experiment with how the deoxidizer affected the glue in the tenon repair. We set it aside for several hours while we worked on the bowl.I turned the bowl over to Jeff to do the cleanup work and show us his process. Abha, Paresh’s wife joined in the cleanup process on this pipe as well as the others on the work table the week that we were all together. In watching him do the work we all learned some new tools and techniques to add to our arsenals of restoration. He reamed it with the Castleford Reamer that I brought as a gift for Abha. He took the cake back to bare briar so that we could check out the condition of the chamber walls. It looked very good. He cleaned the rim top and shank end with a brass bristle wire brush to clean the grime out of the plateau. He scrubbed out the interior of the pipe with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. (Forgot to take pictures of this point of the process.) Jeff scrubbed the surface of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and debris from the plateau and the sandblast finish. Somehow we forgot a picture of this point of the process. He took it to the sink and rinsed it off and scrubbed the interior and exterior of the briar with dish soap. He scrubbed it further with the dish soap and tooth brush. He rinsed the pipe off with warm water in the sink.He dried the bowl off with a soft cloth and buffed it with a microfiber cloth to give some shine to the briar. We rubbed the surface down with some Before & After Restoration Balm to enliven, enrich and protect the briar. We buffed it once more with the microfiber cloth. The photos show the look of the cleaned briar. With the bowl done we set it aside and turned our attentions to the stem. Jeff took it out of the bath and squeezed the excess deoxidizer off the stem into the bath. He rinsed it under warm water and ran water through the airway. He blew on the stem to clear out any deoxidizer in the airway. He ran a pipe cleaner with alcohol through the stem to remove any remaining dexodizer. He buffed it rigorously with a microfiber cloth to remove the remaining oxidation and polish the vulcanite. The tenon glue held up well in the bath and the tenon was tight in the stem. I “painted” the stem surface with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift the tooth chatter and dents in the surface. Paresh sanded the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth chatter and minimize the tooth dents on the button and the surface of the stem. He wiped it down with alcohol and filled in the dents with clear super glue. When the glue had cured we smoothed out the repairs with a needle file and sanded them with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth and blend them into the surface of the stem. We polished the stem surface with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with all grits – 1500-12000 grit and rubbing the stem down with a microfiber cloth to give it a shine. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the bowl with a shoe brush that Paresh had in his kit. I rubbed the bowl and stem down with another coat of Balm and buffed it further with the brush. Dal, helped me install a new photo app on my phone to take the photos. (I have lots to learn about how to use the enhancements of the app but I took the photos and the lack of precision reflects my aptitude not Dal’s instruction.) The pictures below show the finished pipe. It is a beautiful Preben Holm Hand Cut Danish freehand that has a full life ahead of it in Paresh’s rotation. The process I use in putting a new tenon on the stem and revitalizing the finished pipe has been recorded. Jeff’s process on cleaning up the stem and briar has also been documented in the process. Paresh’s daughter Pavni polished the inside of the bowl with sandpaper bringing it to a shine that is unparalleled. This is a feature of all of Paresh’s restorations that none of us knew before. Thanks Pavni for your patient labour in bringing beauty to the inside of the bowl. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I look forward to hearing from Paresh how the pipe smokes as we did not get around to this one while we were in Pune. Thanks for looking and reading the blog. We all hope the documentation has been helpful.

Making Work for myself – Restoring a GDB Rainbow 347

Blog by Steve Laug

I have worked on and collected many GBD pipes over the past 20 years. I have some great resources that I use to identify the nomenclature, shape and date of the various lines that GBD issued. However, all of my sources and resources regarding GBD are from the time prior to the merger (Cadogan) or shortly thereafter. The Rainbow Line is not mentioned in any of them. I also looked on the pipephil Logos and Stampings site and Pipedia and again there is no mention of the line. In my online research, I found several people who think that it is probable that the pipe was made during the 70’s through 90’s. Several things point to this – the chunky Lucite stem, the name of the line itself and the brightly coloured stems used. One fellow on Pipes Magazine’s online forum had a great quote that caught my attention. He said, “If you’re old enough you might remember that Rainbow was a popular theme in the late 70’s to early 90’s due to Sesame Street, “The Rainbow Connection,” The Rainbow Reading Room, etc.” http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/help-with-info-on-a-gbd-pipe I think this is as close as I am going to get to a time period when the pipe was made.

The pipe I picked up on a recent trip to Idaho is a nicely shape apple that was in pretty decent shape. I figured it would be an easy clean up. But things happened along the way and I made more work for myself. It is stamped GBD in an oval over Rainbow on the left side of the shank. On the right side stamped London, England in a straight line over 347 (shape number). On the underside of the shank near the stem/shank junction it is stamped D. The faint painted GBD in an Oval on the left side of the stem also suggests a later GBD. The nomenclature is consistent with usual smooth GBD markings (GBD over Grade (left side) and London England over style number on the right side.) The photos below came from the person I purchased the pipe from and show the general condition.He provided some close up photos of the bowl and rim. He said that the pipe had been reamed and clean. However, it was not reamed and clean to my liking. The bowl had a thick cake that I will need to remove, some rim darkening and some dents in the rim. My guess was that like the bowl, the shank and mortise would need some attention. The stamping on the shank was very clear. The first photo below shows that. Next to the shank/stem junction in the first photo, there is also the remnant of the GBD oval logo that had been originally painted on the stem. The stem had a lot of tooth chatter and some shallow tooth marks in the Lucite.While I was staying with my brother, I cleaned and reamed the pipe. I used the PipeNet reamer and took it back to the walls. I would need to clean it up more once I got home but it was better than when I started. Last evening I took the pipe out of the box to finish the clean up and restoration. I took some photos of it before I started to have a benchmark. I took a close up of the bowl and rim. It was better than when I started but still needed to be cleaned up some more. The rim had some darkening that I could reduce some more as well.I used the Savinelli Fitsall Reamer to scrape the remaining thin cake from the walls of the bowl. I personally like to remove all of the cake when cleaning up a bowl. I will sand a bowl interior a bit later to smooth things out. Little did I know at this point that the decision to sand the bowl would send me on a repair detour.I scrubbed out the mortise, airway in the bowl and in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I used the dental spatula to scrape the walls of the shank and remove the hard tars that had built up there. The airway in the stem was also dirty and had some darkening at the button and in the first few inches of the stem. I cleaned it with bristle pipe cleaners and picked the debris out of the button and from around the stem down tenon with a dental pick.The stem not only had tooth chatter but also some stickiness from a price tag on the top surface. The edge of the button also had some chatter. I sanded the tooth marks out with 220 grit sandpaper and reshaped the button at the same time. The stem was smooth when I finished. It was dull and needed a good polishing.I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cotton pad to remove the dust after each pad. I was finished with the stem at this point so I set it aside to work on the bowl. I had decided to use a dark brown aniline stain thinned by 50% with alcohol to darken the grain on the pipe and hide a couple of small fills. I applied the stain, flamed it and repeated the process until the  bowl was covered evenly. I wiped the bowl down with cotton pads and alcohol to make it more transparent. I hand buffed it and took the following photos. It was still too dark to my liking. I sanded the bowl with micromesh sanding pads to make it more transparent and to see if I could make the grain pop. I sanded it with 1500-2400 and took these photos. It was getting there. I continued to sand it with 3200-12000 grit pads to polish it and give it a shine. The next photos tell the story. The bowl was looking better and better. It is at this point that I made a decision that would inevitably cost me. That results of that decision turned out to be a mistake that made a lot more work for me! I put the stem on and decided to work on sanding out the inside of the bowl to remove the polishing compound and remnants of cake. Stupidly, I put the stem on the pipe to enjoy the look of the combination while I worked. Wrong thing to do! Understand, I was sitting at my work table, the top of which is a meter above the floor. I was carefully sanding the bowl interior so as not to damage the nice stain on the rim. Somehow, the pipe wiggled free from my hands and fell to the floor. If you could have watched it and my face at the same time you would have seen the look of horror on my face as it dropped to the floor. That horror changed to a moment of dread as I watched it bounce and heard a snap and watched as the bowl and stem went in opposite directions. I quietly picked up the bowl and stem. The tenon had snapped off in the mortise. It was a clean break. I don’t know about you but I find Lucite is much less forgiving than vulcanite. I have had pipes with vulcanite stem hit the floor with not breakage but not so with Lucite. It seems that the tenon inevitably snaps. Well this one certainly did.I sat and looked at it for a long time just sick at the thought that a pipe I was basically finished with was in pieces on my table. I know how to replace a tenon; that is not a problem. I just did not want to have to do that on this pipe. However, my own stupidity and carelessness had successfully sent me back to work on this pipe. Ahh well… just as well call it a night. Perhaps a good night’s sleep would give me better perspective on this new problem!

I woke up early this morning and dragged my feet about going back to work on the pipe. I think I was hoping at some level that it had not actually happened. I sipped my coffee as long as possible postponing the inevitable. I talked with my eldest daughter who is in Kathmandu for work. I took the dog for a walk around the yard… but finally I made to the basement and the work table. It was not a dream the tenonless stem and the bowl was sitting waiting for me.

I used the Dremel to remove the remnants of the old tenon that were on the face of the stem. I flattened it against the topping board. I went through my assortment of threaded Delrin tenons until I found one that was slightly larger than the broken one. I needed to reduce the diameter slightly to make it work but it would do!I set up my cordless drill and put in a bit slightly larger than the airway and turned the stem onto it by hand. The first photo below shows the bits I used as I repeated the process until the hole was large enough for me to use a tap to thread it to match the tenon. The second photo below shows the last drill bit I used the piece of tape on the bit is to show me how deep I needed to go with the bit to accommodate the new tenon threads.I roughened the tenon surface so I could grip it enough to turn it into the newly drilled stem end. It was a good fit. I painted the end with some epoxy and turned it back in place and set it aside to cure and harden.Once the tenon was set firmly in place I used the Dremel and sanding drum to reduce the diameter to a close fit. I finished the fitting with 180 and 220 grit sandpaper. I polished the new tenon with micromesh sanding pads. Now came the telling moment. Would the stem match up with the shank? Would the fit be tight against the shank end? Even though I have done this many times I always have the same questions. I placed the new tenon in the mortise and carefully pushed the stem against the shank end. It was a very close fit and all I would need to do was sand the left side and top a little bit to make the fit even better. I was relieved and happy. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and cleaned up the fit. I was almost back to where I was last night before the pipe dropped and the tenon broke. I have to polish the stem once again but the stem fits well. I took photos of the pipe at this point to check it out. The newly fit stem and the stain on the pipe worked well together. Now to polish it all and get it finished. I polished the bowl and stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads to raise the shine.I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen that shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I am pretty happy with the way it turned out – even with the detour. The stain accomplished what I hope it would in making the grain pop. The grain stands out like it never did in the pipe when I received it. Now it is visible. It is a nice looking pipe that feels good in the hand. Thanks for looking.


Restoring the third Classic Find – a Charatan’s Make 0120 Canadian

Blog by Steve Laug

My brother and I recently purchased some pipes from an estate sale from an old pipeman named Gene in Pocatello, Idaho. There were a lot of great pipes in the lot. I have written about the pipes on a previous blog: (https://rebornpipes.com/2016/10/07/a-good-day-hunting-orchestrated-between-british-columbia-and-idaho/). I wrote of how he had stopped at an antique shop and four found prestigious finds. These included a Four Dot Sasieni Pembroke with a patent number, Pat.No. 150221/20, a Dunhill Root Briar Canadian EC 4R, a Charatan’s Make Canadian Sandblast 0121 and a Jost’s Supreme Diamond Shank bent billiard. I wrote about the restoration of the Sasieni and the Dunhill earlier in two other blogs: (https://rebornpipes.com/2016/11/05/restoring-a-classic-find-a-sasieni-four-dot-london-made-pembroke/) (https://rebornpipes.com/2016/11/06/restoring-another-classic-find-a-dunhill-4r-root-briar-canadian-ec/). The third pipe that I have chosen to restore is the sandblast Charatan’s Make 0120 Canadian.

The Charatan pipe also had a replacement stem as there was no sign of a CP logo stamp on the top side. The stamping was on the smooth underside of the shank and it read Charatan’s Make and underneath it read London, England. At the end of the brand stamping was the number 0120 which is the shape number of a Canadian. I did some searching online and read the Charatan’s entry in Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Dating_of_Charatans). I quote from there: “Pipes that belong to eras till the 1960 have the engraving ‘CHARATAN’S MAKE LONDON, ENGLAND’ in two lines, the shape code is composed by numbers only. The X and the DC appear only on pipes after 1960.

My brother had found another good one. The stamping gave me information about the time frame it was made. I knew that it was made prior to 1960 by the style of the stamping. It came from what the article identified as the Reuben era of Charatans that went from 1910-1960.  Like the Dunhill the only thing that would have been better was if it had come with the original stem. My brother took the photos that follow. They show the pipe before he cleaned it up and sent it to me. It had a nice sandblast that deep and craggy on the bowl and shank. From mid shank back to the stem it appeared that the pipe had been rusticated to match the blast pattern. He took some photos of the pipe to give a feel for the overall look of it when he received it. These photos show the pipe before he cleaned and reamed it.char1He took some close up photos of the bowl and sandblast on the bottom of the bowl. The bowl had a thick cake that had flowed over the top of the rim in hard tarry lava. It was thick but it appeared that the outer rim was undamaged and with any luck the inner one would be as well. The blast is interesting in that it also has a rustication pattern on the bowl bottom and also on the shank. It follows the pattern of the grain on the bowl.char2The next photo shows the clear and sharp stamping on smooth underside of the shank. It reads as noted above – Charatan’s Make over London England with the shape number 0120 on the stem end of the shank.char3The stem had a lot of tooth chatter and some shallow tooth dents. There was oxidation and also calcification.char4My brother did his normal thorough job of cleaning the pipe. He scrubbed it with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap. He cleaned out all of the dust and debris in the grooves and crevices of the “blastication”. The stem does not fit tightly against the shank at this point. The next photos below show the pipe as it looked when I brought it to my work table.char5 char6I took some close up photos of the rim to show how well it cleaned up. My brother was able to get the lava out of the grooves on the rim and also on the underside of the shank. The stamping was still very clear.char7He cleaned out a lot of the gunk in the shank but the stem still did fit tightly against the shank end. He did get the calcification and some of the oxidation off the stem. You can clearly see the tooth chatter and the tooth dents now that the stem was clean.char8I scraped out the inside of the mortise with a dental pick with a flattened blade end. I scraped the stepped down area of the mortise as it entered the airway in the shank. I took a lot of tar and gunk out the shank area.char9I scrubbed the mortise, the airway in the shank and the stem with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol. Once it was clean the stem fit more closely against the end of the shank.char10I scrubbed down the bowl and shank with acetone on cotton pads to remove the finish that remained on the pipe.char11 char12I restained the pipe with a dark brown aniline stain thinned 50/50 with isopropyl alcohol. I flamed the stain and repeated the process until the coverage was even.char13I put the stem in the shank and took the pipe to the buffer. I buffed it to polish the stain. When I was just about finished I could not believe what happened. It is that moment when you are buffing a pipe where you get a sick feeling. The wheel grabbed the pipe out of my hand, off my finger and threw it against the table top under the buffer. It was not far – a mere 2 inches but I heard the snap as the tenon broke. I was sick to my stomach. I was almost finished with the pipe and then this had to happen. I took a photo of the broken tenon once I had pulled it from the shank. It was almost a clean break at the end of the stem. Oh the frustration.

I used a Dremel to flatten the broken edge of the tenon against the face of the shank. It took a few moments to smooth out the broken part. I used the topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to face the end of the stem. I went through my box of threaded tenons and actually had one left in the box that was not a Jobey Link system tenon. It was the same diameter as the broken tenon.char14I chucked a drill bit in the cordless drill that was just a little larger than the air way in the stem. I turned the stem onto the drill bit the length of the threaded portion of the replacement tenon. I put two more drill bits in the drill and turned the stem onto the bits. Once it was the same diameter as the threaded portion I shortened the threaded end slightly so that it would fit tight against the stem. I roughed up the threads with the Dremel and a sanding drum. I left the threads in place so that I could turn it into the stem.char15I screwed it into the stem as far as it would go by hand and then used a pair of pliers to finish turning it tight against the stem face.char16I put the stem in place in the shank and the fit was tight against the shank. 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 it down with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads. After the final set I rubbed it down with a last coat of oil. I set the stem aside to dry. (In the photos below of the shank and stem I did not push the stem in against the shank so it shows a small gap at that point. You will notice in the final photos that I pushed it back in place.)char17 char18 char19With fear and trepidation I took the pipe back to the buffer. I did not want to repeat the broken tenon so I was very careful. I worked the pipe against the buffing wheel that had been charged with Blue Diamond polish. I buffed it until the stem shone. I lightly buffed the bowl with the polish as well – being careful to not let it build up in the grooves. I polished the stem with carnauba wax and put Conservator’s Wax on the sandblast finish of the bowl and shank. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The fit of the stem against the shank was better than when I started. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me and also through the frustrating need to replace the tenon.char20 char21 char22 char23 char24 char25 char26 char27

Repairing and Restemming a York (KBB) Diamond Shank Bent Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

When I was traveling in Idaho my brother and I took the family for a trip to Jackson Hole, Wyoming. On the way we stopped in a little town called Victor, Idaho. There was an antique shop there in the town and I found four more old pipes. The first of these reminded me of an old WDC Diamond shank billiard that I have. This one was stamped YORK on the left side of the shank and from research it may have been made by KBB. It was in rough shape. The shank had been cracked and repaired with glue and a piece of twisted wire. The stem obviously had a broken tenon and the previous owner had carved it down to fit in the shank anyway. The bowl had a thick cake and the finish was gone. The rim was damaged on the front outer edge and there was some tar on the rim.York1



York4 On the right side of the bowl near the shank junction there was a pink putty fill that was coming out. Most of the putty had fallen out of the briar. This would need to be repaired.York5 When I got back home I took the pipe out of the bag to have a look. The silver end cap had some hallmarks but they were the faux hallmarks that I have found on older American made pipes to give them a touch of class. All four edges of the band were split. I removed the stem and looked inside the mortise and could see that a major part of the briar was missing on the right side of the shank under the cap. With little effort I removed the cap and sure enough a huge chunk was missing out of the briar. In fact the whole right side under the cap was gone. There was a small crack that had been repaired earlier. There was a small hole in the shank to stop the crack and the crack was glued and clamped with the wire. This was going to take a bit of work to bring it back from the brink of destruction. York6 I clipped the wire with a pair of wire cutters so that I could work on repairing the broken portion of the shank. This repair would take some careful and time consuming work to rebuild the missing portion of briar.York7 I reamed the bowl to clean out the thick cake. It was crumbling so I wanted it removed so that the repair of the shank would be less dirty. I use a PipNet reamer to take the cake back to the bare briar.York8

York9 The first step in rebuilding the broken area was to clean up the damaged ends of the remaining briar. Once it was clean I put clear super glue on the raw edge of the broken spot and tamped the end into some briar dust. I repeated the process until the edge was repaired as much as possible with this method.York10

York11 During the process I also picked out the broken putty fill and replaced it with briar dust and super glue.York12 I sanded the flat surface of each of the four sides of the diamond shank smooth with 220 grit sandpaper until the cap slid easily over the shank. I also faced the end of the shank on the topping board.York13

York14 The next step in the process of rebuilding the shank and the mortise was a little more difficult than the briar dust and super glue rebuild. It involved working on the internals of the shank. I glued the end cap in place with wood glue and clamped it in place to take care of small splits in the edges of the metal cap. Once that dried and set, I mixed white wood glue with briar dust to make putty. I tamped the mixture into the remaining areas of the shank with a dental pick and dental spatula until the area was filled solid looking once again. The next two photos show the rough repair on the inside of the mortise and shank. The broken area is gone! The holes are filled in and the repair is complete. Once the glue set I would have to clean up the mortise and make the walls smooth. The edges of the metal cap, looking at it from the end are damaged and I will not be able to repair them.York15

York16 While the shank repair cured I worked on the rim. There was a thick tar build up that was like rock on the back edge and the front edge of the rim had been knocked against something hard and was rough.York17 I decided to top the bowl to remove the rock hard tar and also minimize the damage to the front of the bowl. I used a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper and worked the rim against the sandpaper until the damage was minimized. Once I had it smoothed out I put some briar dust and super glue on the remaining divot on the front edge of the bowl as a fill. When it dried I sanded it smooth and lightly topped the rim once more to even out the repair with the rest of the rim. (That picture will be shown shortly.)York18 The stem that came with the bowl was damaged beyond repair. It had been repeatedly been cut off by the previous owner and hacked at until it fit in the damaged tenon. It was not a stem I would use again on this pipe. I went through my can of stems and found a faux p-lip stem – the airway came out the end of the button rather than on the top. It was old enough to work on this pipe and with some modification I thought it would look just right. The problem was that it did not have a tenon. When I found it the tenon was missing and the end of the stem had been drilled out to receive a replacement tenon. I am currently out of Delrin tenons so I used a thin vulcanite stem as the sacrificial tenon. I glued the tenon on the donor stem in place in the diamond shaped stem with super glue and then cut off the stem with a hacksaw. I left a piece of vulcanite that was longer than necessary so that I could work it to a proper fit in the repaired shank.York19

York20 The next photo shows the repaired stem and tenon and the topped bowl before I put the two parts together. I used a Dremel to remove the excess material on the new tenon and shortened it to the depth of the mortise in the shank.York21 The next photo shows the repaired fill on the bowl side with another photo of the new stem.York22 Once the shank repair was dry I used a needle file to clean up the rough areas and smooth out the inside of the mortise. I gave it several more coats of glue and briar dust to buildup the areas that had shrunk as the glue dried. I continued to work it with the files and sandpaper until the fit was correct. I cleaned out the airway to the bowl and the inside of the mortise with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners in preparation for putting the new stem in place.York23 The next two photos show the newly fit stem. There was still work to do to fine tune the flow of the diamond stem sides to match the flow of the diamond shank but the look is clear at this point in the process.York24

York25 I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to fine tune the fit. When I had it the way I wanted, it was time to bend the stem. I used my heat gun to do the work. In this case I quickly set it up on the dryer in our laundry room (shh don’t tell my wife I did this) and heated the stem. I bent it over an old rolling pin that I use for this purpose until the bend in the stem matched the curve of the bottom of the bowl. I set the bend by holding the stem under cool running water.York26

York27 The next two photos show the newly bent stem and give an idea of how it will look with the pipe once it is finished.York28

York29 With the easiest part of fitting a stem completed I went on to do the laborious and tedious part of sanding and more sanding to get the fit just right. To do this without rounding the edges of the stem at the shank stem junction I use a plastic washer placed between the two areas. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the transition and make the angles square (or at least as square as possible on these old pipes where every side has a different angle and width).York30 When I had the fit of the stem correct it was time to polish it. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil.York31 I needed a break from the stem work so I turned my attention to the bowl. I rubbed it down with a light coat of olive oil to highlight the grain. I took a few photos to show what it looked like at this point. It is certainly looking far different than it did when I started working on it. There is a deep richness in the red tones of the briar.York32



York35 I decided to highlight those tones with a dark brown aniline stain thinned by 50% with some isopropyl alcohol. I applied it and flamed it to set it in the grain.York36 I hand buffed it with a cotton cloth to get an idea of the coverage. It was still too dark to my liking so I would need to address that.York37

York38 I wiped the bowl down with some acetone on a cotton pad to remove some of the stain and make the grain show through better.York39

York40 I buffed the bowl with White Diamond and then gave it the first of many coats of carnauba. I don’t know about you but by this point in a long refurbishment I get a bit anxious to see what I have accomplished. It always seems that it is going to go on forever so I rewarded myself by putting the stem in place and taking a few photos to see what I had achieved.York41

York42 For comparison purposes I took the next two photos of the pipe with the old stem next to the new one. You can see how badly hacked the vulcanite was from the previous owners salvage work on his broken pipe. The pipe is beginning to look like a very different pipe than when I started. That always encourages me!York43

York44 Now it was time to finish up with this long project and get the stem done. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit micromesh sanding pads and then rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil once again. I then dry sanded it with 6000-12000 grit pads and gave it a final coat of oil and let it soak into the vulcanite.York45

York46 I buffed the stem and bowl with Blue Diamond and then gave them both multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed them with a clean soft flannel buff to raise the shine and then hand buffed the pipe with a microfibre cloth to finish. The completed pipe is shown below. It has come a long way from the pipe I started on this morning. I had a quiet day at home and between reading and napping finished the work on this old timer. From what I can find out in my research and from Who Made That Pipe, the pipe may well be from the old KBB pipe works. Thanks for looking.York47






Reclaiming an EPW Bulldog – Restoring it Twice

Blog by Steve Laug

This old time long shanked bulldog was a mess when I got it. At first glance it looks pretty good. But it was not. The shank had previously been banded and that band was lost. It was a deep band and filigreed so it left marks. There were also two large cracks in the shank that extended about an inch into the length. The rim was clean but the top portion of the bulldog shape – above the double rings was also stained and filled with holes from the nails that had held the decorated rim cap in place. There were four holes – back, front and both sides. There were also deep gouges where the decorative border had cut into the briar. The stamping was faint and read EPW in an oval. There was no stem with this one either so it would need to have one made. The overall finish on the bowl was not too bad in that it was not dented or burned or damaged on the sides and undersides of the bowl.  I decided to try banding the shank and see what I could do about the cracks on the top right side of the shank and the lower left side of the shank. They would in all likelihood be an issue. I did not have a deep band so I tried with a narrower band (about ½ inch deep). I shaped a round band with a flat blade screwdriver and a hammer until it was the right shape to fit the shank. I heated the band and pressed it into place.


The next three photos show the band in place. If you look close in the photos below you can see the crack on the top of the right side shank. The one on the left underside of the shank did not come out in the photos. You can also see the nail holes in the bowl above the double rings.

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The next series of three photos shows the fitting of a new tenon. I drilled the stem and then used a tap to thread the stem so that I could screw in the new tenon. In the photos below you can see the tap in the stem and the new threaded tenon just above the bowl at the centre of the picture. The third photo shows the hole in the stem threaded and ready for the new tenon.

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Once the stem was ready I dripped a little superglue on the tenon and screwed it into the stem. The next two photos show the tenon in place. I still needed to turn it with the Pimo tenon turner to reduce the size to fit the shank of the pipe.


I used the tenon turner and reduce the diameter of the tenon until it was close to fitting and then hand sanded it until it fit correctly. With the cracked shank the fit was critical. I did not want the tenon too big as it would open the cracks. The two photos below show the tenon after turning. It still needed a bit more hand sanding to make a perfect fit.


The next four photos below show the restemmed pipe. The stem fit perfectly against the band and the look was exactly what I was aiming for. The issue that remained was the two cracks that extended further than the band.


The next three photos show the work of patching the nail holes and the cracks with briar dust and superglue. I packed in the briar dust with my dental pick until they were filled and then I dripped the superglue into the spots. Once they were dry I sanded them down to remove the excess and blend them into the surrounding bowl. I wanted them to be less visible and be able to be blended in with the stain when I got around to staining it.


With the nail holes filled on the front and back of the bowl I was finished with the patching for now. I still was bothered by the ones on the sides of the bowl but would deal with them later. I sanded down the patches one more time with a fine grit sanding sponge and then wiped the bowl and shank down with an alcohol dampened cotton pad to remove the dust and remaining finish. The next series of eight photos shows that process as I prepared the bowl to be restained.


I restained the pipe with an oxblood aniline stain. The next series of four photos shows the pipe after staining. The nail holes and small holes on both sides of the bowl really bothered me. The cracks, while well bonded stood out clearly and made me wonder about how well they would hold up. I laid the pipe aside for a couple days to think about some solutions to the problem. I mulled over whether I should order a deeper band for the shank or whether I should cut down the shank and make it a normal sized bulldog. I did nothing to the pipe for two days and then on the third evening I came home and went to my work table to see what I could do to deal with the damage on the old pipe.


I decided to cut off the shank at the inside edge of the nickel band. I wanted to use the nickel band as the straight edge for the saw. I have seen too many pipes where the cut off shank was poorly cut and at an angle. So I used a hacksaw that has a perfect blade for working with briar. The teeth are fine so they do not chip the wood as they cut it. The cut when completed is clean and smooth with no chips. The next three photos show the set up for cutting and the cutting process itself. (I apologize for the second photo – it is hard to saw and take a photo!) But you can get the idea. The third photo below shows the finished cut.


I took the two pieces back to my work table and removed the cut off piece of briar shank from the band. When they fell out they were in two pieces. I cleaned up the band and straightened out the angles to make sure it would fit the shortened shank. It was just a bit too deep and when in place would cover the W of the stamping but it would do a good job on the cracks. With the piece cut off the cracked shank had two very small cracks left that would easily be repaired by the band. I smoothed out the cut end with a piece of emery paper. In the second photo below you can see the cut off shank piece. It is cracked all the way through and in two pieces. Note also that the mortise was threaded for the older original screw tenon.


I put the band in place on the end of the shank. It was a good tight fit but would not slide all the way in place. So I set up my heat gun and heated the band (Photo 1 below). I then pressed it into place on the shank by squarely pushing the shank and band on a metal plate (Photo 2 below). The final three photos below show the shank with the newly fitted band in place. The shank is ready to be drilled deeper to fit the tenon.


I matched the drill bit to the mortise in the cut off piece of shank. I used a drill bit one size lower and drilled the mortise to the depth of the tenon. I then used the proper sized drill bit and drilled it a bit larger. Once I had the drilling down I sanded down the tenon with some emery cloth to make a clean tight fit and inserted the stem. Once the stem fit well I decided to rework the nail holes and holes in the sides of the top half of the bowl above the double rings. I packed in briar dust and dripped super glue in to them. The next two photos show the repaired/filled holes.


The glue and briar dust dried quickly so I sanded them with 320 grit sandpaper to smooth them out to the surface of the briar. The next four photos show the sanded patches and also the sanded stem. I used the same sandpaper to sand off the oxidation on the stem and clean up the surface of the stem so that I could work on it with the micromesh to bring out a deep black shine. (In the background of the photos I left the piece of cut off shank for a sense of the size of the piece I removed from the length of the pipe.)


At this point in the process I was ready to work the stem with micromesh sanding pads to remove all of the scratches and bring back the deep black. The shorter stem gave the pipe a great look in my opinion. The finished length is 5 inches as opposed to 5 ½ inches but it looks more balanced to me. The loss is the long shanked look of the original bulldog. The gain is a more solid pipe with less chance for the breakage to continue and render the pipe irreparable.

The next series of photos show the progress of sanding with the micromesh pads from 1500 – 12,000 grit. The first four photos show the stem after I wet sanded with the 1500, 1800 and 2400 grit micromesh. After wet sanding I polished the stem with some Maguiar’s Scratch X2.0 and then took it to the buffer and buffed the stem with Tripoli and White Diamond.


I then dry sanded with 3200 -12,000 grit micromesh sanding pads. The next series of seven photos show the progress of the developing shine on the stem. Once I finished with the 12,000 grit pad I wiped down the stem with Obsidian Oil and when dry buffed it with White Diamond for a final time. The only thing remaining was a final buff with carnauba wax.


The final four photos below show the finished pipe. I applied several coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe and stem with a soft flannel buff to give it the final shine. When I started on this pipe I would have never guessed that I would refurbish it twice, band it twice, stain it twice, work the stem twice, and on goes the list of second times on this one. But the end product speaks for itself. I like the look of the shortened shank and tight band. This one will outlast me in its service to pipemen in the days ahead.