Tag Archives: JM Boswell Pipes

An Easy Restoration of a JM Boswell 2013 Bent Poker Sitter

Blog by Steve Laug

I have been doing a fair bit of work on the last few restorations so I thought it was about time to work on an easy one next. I took another of the Boswell pipes out of box of pipes to be restored to be my next project. I cleaned up an unsmoked JM Boswell volcano recently and posted the blog on it here (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/04/08/life-for-a-j-m-boswell-2013-bent-volcano-with-a-twist/). I also restored a second estate Boswell – a bent billiard with a twist. Here is the link to that blog (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/04/08/life-for-another-j-m-boswell-2013-bent-billiard-with-a-twist/). In both of those blogs I gave quite a bit of background information on the brand and its maker. If you would like to know more about the brand you can click on either link and have a read.

The next Boswell is also a 2013 pipe and this one has more of a standard shape to it. It is a bent Poker or Cherrywood Sitter shaped smooth briar with an acrylic saddle stem. The pipe was dusty and dull looking but had great grain around the bowl and rim. The rim top is smooth and clean with no darkening or lava overflow. The finish was very dirty from sitting around. There was a moderate cake in the bowl. The inner edge of the rim appeared to be in excellent condition. The pipe was signed on the underside of the shank with JM Boswell’s signature and 2013 U.S.A. There are no other stampings on the pipe and no shape numbers. The saddle acrylic stem was in good condition with just a few light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. Jeff took the following photos before he started his cleanup work on the pipe. He took close-up photos of the bowl and rim top from various angles to capture the condition of the rim top and edges of the bowl. There was a little darkening along the back edge of the bowl but otherwise it was clean.He took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish and the grain around the bowl. You can see the small minor sandpits on the left side and on the heel of the bowl but otherwise it a clean piece of briar. Jeff took a photo of the signature and date on the underside of the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable. The next photos show the top and underside of the stem. You can see the light tooth marks right next to the button edge.Now it was time to look at it up close and personal. Jeff had done his usual thorough job in removing all of the cake in the bowl and the lava on the rim top. He had reamed the bowl with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He took the cake back to bare briar so we could check the walls for damage. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime on the bowl and rim and was able to remove the lava and dirt. He cleaned out the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until they came out clean. He cleaned the stem with Soft Scrub to remove the grime on the exterior and cleaned out the airway with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I took photos of the pipe before I started my part of the work. To show how clean the rim top and stem really were I took a close-up photo of the rim and stem. The bowl was clean and cake free. The inner edges of the bowl look good. The acrylic stem cleaned up nicely. The surface had some tooth marks but the button edge looked really good.I took a photo of the signature on the under side of the shank.I removed the stem from the bowl and took photos of the parts. It really is a great looking pipe.I polished the briar with 1500-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad to remove the dust and debris. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the finish on the bowl and shank. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I worked it in with my fingertips into finish on the bowl and shank. I let it sit for 10 minutes to let it do its magic. I buffed it with a soft cloth. The briar really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. The bowl was finished so I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. To address the tooth marks on the stem surface I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to blend in the tooth marks. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with a cloth containing some Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. I put the bowl and stem back together again and buffed the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem several coats of carnauba wax. I carefully buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I finished buffing with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe looks very good. The grain is a mix of patterns around the sides, top and bottom of the bowl and is quite beautiful. The pipe feels great in the hand. It is comfortable and light weight. The finished JM Boswell 2013 Bent Poker/Sitter is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This great looking Boswell Poker turned out very well. It should be a great pipe. It will be going on the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.

Restoring a Pipe Carved by an American Living Legend – “J.M. Boswell”

Blog by Paresh Deshpande

I shall be honest with you; I love vintage English made pipes! I love vintage British bikes and own a couple; I love vintage British fountain pens and have a decent collection of the same. It is something about the simplicity yet unique British craftsmanship, robustness and reliability factor of British made products that I find most appealing. However, after having worked on a number of pipes made by various pipe carvers from USA like Tracy Mincer, Custom-Bilts, Kaywoodies, John Bessai etc, I realize that American pipe carvers are artistic, technologically inventive and the pipes they made are robust, life lasting with a nice feel and heft and of very high quality. Am I gravitating towards American pipes? May be……. The next pipe on my work table is a 22 years old and completely handmade freehand full bent billiard made by an iconic pipe maker from Pennsylvania, USA. Yes, I am working on a pipe made by J M Boswell from the year 1996.

This is a large sized full bent billiard freehand pipe with a nice heft and hand feel. The shape of the pipe is unique in that the proportionate shank has a sudden taper towards the shank end and this size is carried forward on to the saddle of the stem, tapering a bit along the stem before flaring out at the stem end. Wow!!!! That was one hell of a description which has left me exhausted and brain drained!!!! The stamping on the left side of the shank was clear and readable. It read “Boswell” in script signature over “96 USA”. The pipe was made in 1996.The saddle stem bears no stampings.I was keen to know more about J M Boswell the carver, his pipe making techniques and philosophy. I searched rebornpipes.com and sure enough, Mr. Steve has worked on a Boswell before!!! As is his habit, he has thoroughly researched this carver and has included valuable information in his write up. Therefore, instead of reinventing the wheel, here is the link to this write up for detailed information; (https://rebornpipes.com/2017/07/19/refurbishing-a-boswell-2003-spiral-twist-bent-billiard/). Do give it a read.

Is there not a single brand that this gentleman has not worked on before??? Is there never going to be an opportunity for me to research and contribute one pipe make on rebornpipes??? Well, I have just started on my journey as against his decades of dedicated hard work and as Robert Frost wrote in his poem “……..and miles to go before I sleep”. The quest for excellence and contribution continues!

The stummel surface boasts of beautiful straight grains on the right side and most of the front while the left side has lovely swirls of grain interspersed with bird’s eye. The bottom of the shank has unique hand carved rustication which taper towards the right side and extends in a thin and straight line towards the rim on the right side. Lovely bird’s eye can be seen on the top of the shank surface with straight grains on either side of the shank.  The stummel is covered in oils, tars and grime from the overflowing lava. The crevices in the rustication are filled with dirt, dust and grime. The briar is dull and lifeless and has taken on a layer of aged patina, through which one can make out the beautiful grains all round. This one should clean up nicely. This pipe has seen heavy use and the chamber has a nice thick consistent layer of cake, about the size of dime, as is recommended. The cake has been regularly reamed to maintain correct thickness. This seems to be a well cared for pipe. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be ascertained only after the cake has been removed completely and taken down to bare briar. The bowl feels robust and solid to the touch from the outside. However, the mortise does show signs of accumulated dried oils, tars and remnants of ash, greatly restricting the air flow. This issue should be a breeze to address.The rim top is covered in a thick overflow of lava from the chamber. This is the only part of the stummel which appears to be neglected. The condition of the inner edge and rim top can be commented upon only once the rim has been cleaned. However, I have a feeling from looking at the appearance, that the right side of the inner edge in 3 o’clock direction may be charred from frequent lighting. Well, we’ll see about it later. Thankfully, the outer edge is pristine and shows no signs of damage!!The vulcanite stem is without any bite marks or tooth chatter. The upper and lower lip does show one bite mark each. The stem was apparently used with a rubber bit as can be seen from the calcification marks on the stem (Come on!! One does not have to be a Sherlock Holmes for this deduction!!). The saddle stem is heavily oxidized. The tenon is covered in dried oils and tars and so is the airway. The air flow through the stem is laborious to say the least. The fit of the stem in to the mortise is very loose, which will loosen further after the mortise and tenon have been cleaned. These issues will need to be addressed.THE PROCESS
I started this project by reaming the chamber, starting with size 2 head of PipNet reamer and moving on to size 3 head. I used a 220 grit sand paper, pinched between my thumb and forefinger, to sand the inner walls of the chamber. Once I had reached the bare briar, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol. This removed all the residual carbon dust and also rid the chamber of all ghost smells. Using a sharp knife, I gently scraped the rim top to remove the lava overflow. I followed up the reaming by cleaning the mortise and air way using hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners, q-tips dipped in alcohol. The mortise and the draught hole was chock-a- block with all the dried tars, oils and gunk that I had to use my fabricated spatula and the drill bit from the Kleen Reem pipe reamer!!!! I gave a final clean with shank brushes dipped in alcohol and dried the mortise with a rolled paper napkin. The shank internals and the draught hole is now nice and clean with an open and full draw.I cleaned out the internals of the stem using hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol. I scraped the dried oils and tars from the tenon with the sharp edge of my fabricated dental spatula.Now, it was the turn of the stummel to get cleaned up. Using a hard bristled tooth brush dipped in undiluted Murphy’s oil soap, I very deliberately scrubbed the stummel, cleaning the surface thoroughly. Special attention was paid to scrub out all the dirt and dust from the crevices in the rustication on the bottom of the shank and right side of the bowl. I cleaned the rim too. The stummel and rim top was dried using paper napkins and soft cotton cloth. I was not happy with the way the rim top had cleaned up. There were darkened areas on the rim top, which kept drawing my attention, as well as very light, almost negligible damage to the outer edge in the form of dents. For the sake of my own satisfaction, I decided to address these blemishes. I topped the rim top on a 220 grit sand paper. I was careful to avoid excessive topping and frequently checked the progress. It was at this stage that I realized that the left inner edge has a slight char in 8 o’clock direction. And all this while I had anticipated this damage to be on the right!! So much for playing Sherlock Holmes!! I address the issues to the inner and outer edge by creating a slight bevel using a 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger. It’s looking good now, I say, save for a black spot on the left side!!! I wanted to highlight the grains seen and further blend all the repairs carried out to the stummel. To achieve this aim, I sand down the stummel and rim top using micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. The stummel now has a deep shine with grains popping out with magnificent contrast. Though this part of restoration is the second most time consuming and laborious, the end results are also the most satisfying. The play of grains, the contrast and the smooth surface are well worth the efforts. I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to briar and let it rest for a few minutes. I took some extra efforts to work the balm in to the hand carved rustications on the bottom of the bowl. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. With the stummel nice and clean and attractive, I worked the stem. I sharpened the lip edges using a needle file and sand the entire stem with 220 followed by 400 and 800 grit sand paper. This helps to reduce the sanding marks left behind by the more abrasive 220 grit paper. By mere sanding itself, the minor tooth marks seen on both stem surfaces were addressed completely. To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem with alcohol after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil. The internals of the stem was cleaned out using alcohol and pipe cleaners. The pictures of the process and final results are shown below. To finish, I re-attach the stem with the stummel. I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my local machine which is similar to a Dremel.  I set the speed at about half of the full power and applied White Diamond compound to the entire pipe. I wiped/ buffed the pipe with a soft cotton cloth to clear it of any leftover compound dust. I then mounted another cotton cloth wheel on to the polishing machine and applied several coats of carnauba wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The completed pipe, with the dark brown hues of the stummel contrasting with the shiny black stem, looks lovely, fresh and vibrant; the photographs speak for themselves. The beauty, size and shape of this pipe make it one of my favorites and will find a place of pride in my modest collection. If only the pipe could tell the story of its journey till date…………… Cheers!! PS: The last functional aspect which I addressed at this stage was the protection of the walls of the chamber against the possibility of a developing serious heat fissures. I mix activated charcoal and yogurt to a consistency which allows for an easy and even spread and evenly apply it on the inner walls and set it aside to dry out naturally. This coating helps in protecting the wall surface and assists in quicker formation of a cake.

Refurbishing a Boswell 2003 Spiral Twist Bent Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

Another interesting pipe that Jeff picked up was a Boswell Spiral Twist Bent Billiard made in 2003 by the Boswell father and son team. It was in excellent condition and came in its original packaging. It had some beautiful grain and was well laid out on the piece of briar. The stem was vulcanite and was lightly oxidized on the left side and top. It looked like it had been on display and the sun had oxidized the stem over time. The spiral of the cut in the briar worked itself across the bowl and around the shank. The gracious curves of the pipe are highlighted by the spiral pattern of the carving.My brother took some photos of the pipe to show the condition before he started his clean up work on it. The pipe had been smoked and had a light cake but it had been well cared for by the previous pipe man. There was also some tooth chatter on the stem on the underside near the button though the top side was clean of chatter. The rim top was very clean without any tar or lava overflow from the bowl. The stamping on the underside of the shank was clear and readable. It read Boswell in script over 2003 USA. The pipe was made in 2003.The close up of the shank stem junction shows a clean, tight fit. The close up photos of the stem shows its overall condition. (The oxidation on the top and left side of the stem does not show up well in the stem photos but it is present.) I did some reading to reacquaint myself with Boswell pipes. I read their website and also the entry on Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/J.M._Boswell). I find that reading the information on a pipe brand before I work on it gives me a sense of the passion and art of the craftsmen who made the pipe. That was true of this pipe as well. I quote from that entry now to give you a sense of the information that I found on the Boswells and their craftsmanship.

Photo courtesy of the Boswell’s Pipes Website

J.M. Boswell is considered to be one of the finest Master pipemakers in the world. His reputation is exemplary, and his craftsmanship is legendary. Working from sun up till the midnight hours, 7 days a week for most of the past 40 years, J.M. has produced thousands of handmade pipes for folks to enjoy. His dream, back in the 70s, was to make the best smoking pipes with the highest quality briar wood at an affordable price. J.M. Boswell has succeeded in doing so.

The Chambersburg store is located on the historic Lincoln Highway (rt 30), about 20 miles west of Gettysburg.

J.M. became a U.S. importer for Briar wood so that he could supply briar to other pipemakers. By doing this, he was able sell his own pipes at an affordable price. With the finest quality Briar available in the world, years of skill and his pipe master’s hands working to form the most beauty from a block of prime briar, a Boswell pipe is born…

J.M. and his son, Dan take great pride in making high quality handcrafted, American made smoking pipes. Admired for their craftsmanship, their handmade pipes are created for the rigors of everyday use and truly made to last.

Boswell’s is a family – owned business with a family environment. Every family member has a role within the business. J.M.’s wife Gail takes all of the photos – for the website, Instagram, and Pinterest; she also maintains the museum and store. Daughter Rachel manages estate pipes online, while Dan’s wife Julie takes the phone orders, and runs the shipping department.

J.M. and Dan, who work full time, side by side together, have created pipes that range from the smallest to the largest smoking pipes made in the world. Dan has known he wanted to follow in his fathers’ footsteps since he was a young boy, helping J.M. after school and during summer vacation. He has been working for the family business full time since he graduated high school, and plans on continuing the proud family tradition for many years to come.

Gail’s family background has involved pipes since long ago- her Father, Uncles, and Aunt made pipes in the late 1930s for the Weber Pipe factory in Jersey City, New Jersey. Her father’s family lived on Cator Avenue, the same as the factory, and they would walk to work each day. Their family history brings an incredible depth and passion for pipemaking!

“Over 70 years of pipe history in our family, and still continuing.”

The pipe arrived in Vancouver after my brother had done a thorough cleaning. He had reamed out the thin cake from the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He had cleaned out the internals – the mortise and the airways in the shank and the stem. I scrubbed off the grime on the surface of the briar and lightly buffed it with a cloth to dry it. It was ready for a very easy refurbishing. When I brought it to my work table I started by taking a photo of the box.The backside of the box reads:

Dear Pipe Smoker: J.M. Boswell crafts each of his pipes exclusively by hand! From the bare briar block to the final stain and polish, each step is a hands on procedure in old world tradition. Boswell pipes feature individual craftsmanship and style.

Additionally, J.M. Boswell has developed an exclusive bowl coating that greatly shortens the “break-in” time of a Boswell pipe and gives a sweet smoke from the very first bowl full. This coating is applied to each new pipe that Boswell makes.

One more compelling feature of Boswell pipes: “Their cost”! Boswell pipes can be had at a fraction of what most import pipes are. This is a feature pipe smokers find gratifying.

Our second feature is repairs by Boswell. J.M. Boswell has no peers in the quality and speed in which he gives “Turn-around” on pipe repairs, from stem replacement to banding, to reaming and cleaning.

I will be glad to answer any questions that you have regarding all the features of Boswell’s pipes, my repair work, plus the crafting process which can be witnessed first hand at our store and pipe making shop at 586 Lincoln Way East in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.

Cordially J.M. Boswell, Owner.

Here is what the pipe looked like when I opened the box at my work table. The stain and the finish are really well done. The shape is quite compelling and the hand feel is very good. I took a close up photo of the rim and bowl to show the condition. The rim and inner and outer edges are very clean. There are remnants of the Boswell bowl coating mentioned on the box that can be seen in the photo.The next two photos show the oxidation on the topside and the tooth chatter on the underside of the stem.Since the bowl was in such great condition I started with the stem. I sanded out the tooth chatter on the underside of the stem and the oxidation on the top and left side with 220 grit sandpaper being careful not to damage the thin edge of the saddle that sat against the shank. I polished it 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 pad and after the final pad I set it aside to dry. I ran a pipe cleaner and alcohol through the mortise and shank to see if there were any issues there. My brother’s cleaning job was excellent so there was only dust from my clean up in the shank and mortise.I decided to give the bowl a coat of Conservator’s Wax to see if there were any spots that needed a bit more attention. I applied the wax, let it dry and buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth. The next photos tell the story. The pipe was in excellent condition. I put the stem back in place on the shank and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe is a beauty and one that is tempting to hold onto for my own collection. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Diameter: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inches. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I will soon be adding it to the rebornpipes store. If you would like to add it to your collection send me an email at slaug@uniserve.com or a private message on Facebook. Thanks for walking through the refurb with me.