Tag Archives: Karl Erik pipes

Restoring a Karl Erik Mixed Finish Freehand with a Plateau Rim


Blog by Steve Laug

Every so often I receive pipes from pipemen and women who want them to be sold and the proceeds go to the NGO I work for in my real job! It is an organization called the SA Foundation Canada (www.safoundation.com) and it provides long terms housing, recovery and skill development for women and their children escaping sexual exploitation and trafficking. The organization is based in Vancouver, Canada but has projects in 7 countries and 12 cities globally. It is an organization that is cutting edge in the recovery process for these women and their kids with a success rate of over 70% globally. That simply means that out of every 100 women who enter our program 70 do not go back to their previous lifestyle. It is an amazing organization to work for and it has big vision and a commitment to thinking globally and acting locally. The admin and fundraising costs are 10% meaning that of every dollar donated $.90 goes to the work of providing for the recovery, care and training of the women and their children.

I am posting four pipes that have been donated for this cause. I am donating the restoration work on them and the individuals are donating the income generated by the sale of the pipes. This is the third of those pipes – first was a Nording Brandy 13, second was a Chimera Churchwarden, the third was the Karl Erik Ekstravagant Tulip and now this Karl Erik Freehand. It is a beautiful pipe that has stunning grain, interesting rustication and a plateau rim. The stamping on the shank reads Karl Erik in a circle. The pipe is in excellent condition. The plateau rim looks very good. There is raw briar in the bottom quarter of the bowl which leads me think that it was never really broken in. The bowl and shank were dusty from sitting around and dirty from light use but there was no cake in the bowl. The stem is acrylic with a gold fancy KE on the top. It has some light tooth chatter and marks near the button. I took some photos of the pipe before I started working on it. It is a beautiful, well laid out pipe and feels great in the hand. I took photos of the rim top to show the plateau finish. There was a little grime and dust stuck in the valleys but otherwise it was very clean. The inner and outer rim edges were flawless. I took photos of the stem as well to try to capture the condition of the stem. Both the top and underside of the stem were dirty and dull and had light tooth marks and chatter. The button edge also has chatter. The stylized KE is faint so I will need to have a look at redoing that.I took a photo of the COM stamp on the left side of the shank and it reads as noted above. It is clear and readable with the stamp in an oval shape as shown below.I decided to clean up the bowl first. I cleaned the plateau top with a brass bristle wire brush to remove the dust and debris.I cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipes cleaners. The mortise and the airway in the shank was more dusty than dirty and the airway in the stem was pretty clean.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to get it into the rustication and the plateau top. I let it sit for about 10 minutes. I buffed it off with a soft cloth. It is a product that I have really come to appreciate. Mark Hoover crafted it to enliven, clean and protect briar. I use it on every pipe I work on and find that with a single application the briar comes alive with deep glow. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to address the stem. The stem had some scratches and marks on the surface. The top was worse than the underside but both had them. It was hard to capture the issues with the camera. There were also some light tooth marks on the button surface that needed to be addressed. I sanded out the marks with a folded, worn piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I wanted to remove the marks but not make more scratches. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I used some Rub’n Buff Antique Gold to touch up the KE stamp on the stem top. I apply the product with a tooth pick making sure to work it into the grooves of the stamped letters. I let it short time and wipe it off and polish with a 3200 micromesh pad.Denicare Mouthpiece Polish is a gritty red paste that I have been using as a pre-polish for the mouthpieces. It removes a lot of very minor scratches and works well in removing the hard to get area in the crease of the button. I work it on with my fingers and then scrub the stem with a cotton pad and wipe it off when finished.  I was careful around the gold stamping on the topside to protect it from over buffing.I polished the acrylic stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down with a damp cloth between each set of pads. The stem began to take on a deep shine. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to finish the polishing. By this point the stem is looking better! Once I finished I put the stem back on the shank and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond polish using a lightly loaded pad and a soft touch. I wanted to raise a shine and buff out some of the small scratches in the briar and the acrylic stem. I gave the stem a vigorous polish being careful around the stylized gold KE on the stem top. I gave the bowl and the stem several coats of carnauba. I gave the plateau top and rusticated portions of the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a great looking Karl Erik Freehand shaped pipe with a mixed finish. The money from the sale of this pipe is going for a great cause. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outer Bowl Diameter: 1 ½ inches, Chamber Diameter: ¾ of an inch. The pipe will soon be on the rebornpipes store and you can purchase it and support a very worthy cause. Thanks for walking with me through the restoration.

Restoring a Karl Erik Ekstravagant Handmade In Denmark Tulip


Blog by Steve Laug

Every so often I receive pipes from pipemen and women who want them to be sold and the proceeds go to the NGO I work for in my real job! It is an organization called the SA Foundation Canada (www.safoundation.com) and it provides long terms housing, recovery and skill development for women and their children escaping sexual exploitation and trafficking. The organization is based in Vancouver, Canada but has projects in 7 countries and 12 cities globally. It is an organization that is cutting edge in the recovery process for these women and their kids with a success rate of over 70% globally. That simply means that out of every 100 women who enter our program 70 do not go back to their previous lifestyle. It is an amazing organization to work for and it has big vision and a commitment to thinking globally and acting locally. The admin and fundraising costs are 10% meaning that of every dollar donated $.90 goes to the work of providing for the recovery, care and training of the women and their children.

I am posting four pipes that have been donated for this cause. I am donating the restoration work on them and the individuals are donating the income generated by the sale of the pipes. This is the third of those pipes – first was a Nording Brandy 13, second was a Chimera Churchwarden and now this Karl Erik Ekstravagant Tulip. It is a beautiful pipe that has stunning grain. The stamping on the shank reads Karl Erik in a circle over Handmade in Denmark with Ekstravagant underneath that. The pipe is in excellent condition. There was some damage and burn marks on the rim top and inner edge as well as some darkening on the rim edges. The stem is acrylic with a golden fancy KE on the top. It has some light tooth chatter and marks near the button. There was also a long scratch on the underside of the stem running mid stem toward the button. The bowl and shank were dirty from light use but there was no cake in the bowl. I took some photos of the pipe before I started working on it. It really is a stunning pipe and feels great in the hand. I took photos of the rim top to show the damage that is present on the top and on the inner edge of the bowl. It almost looked as if the bowl had been knocked out against concrete. I took photos of the stem as well to try to capture the condition of the stem. The top side was dirty and dull but there were no tooth marks or chatter. The underside looked good other than a deep scratch that ran from the button edge forward on the stem for about an inch. I took a photo of the COM stamp on the underside of the shank and it reads as noted above. It is clear and readable with the stamp running around the circle.I wanted to know a bit more about the Ekstravagant stamping on this pipe. I have worked on quite a few pipes from Karl Erik (Karl Erik Ottendahl) over the years but this was the first with the Ekstravagant stamping. I turned to the Pipedia article on KE pipes for help with this (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Erik). From there I learned that these pipes were large pipes entirely handmade by Karl Erik Ottendahl.

I quote in part from that article below.

During all periods he had made some of his own handmade pipes, but he felt that the responsibility of managing the factory did not give him the freedom he wished he had. Accordingly, in 1990, he went back to work on his own. He believed that he could produce better work if he worked alone, though his principle reason was simply that he missed the quiet, pleasant atmosphere that a one man shop afforded him. According to him, he has been much happier since he returned to make pipes all by himself. Certainly, the results reflect his rediscovered happiness with the pipe making craft.

Though Karl Erik’s favorite briar mostly came from Morocco or Greece, but he frequently purchased elsewhere, too. He didn’t consider the briar origin to be particularly important provided the briar was well cured. Therefore, he simply purchased the best briar he could find, rather than purchasing from only one or two regions.

Concentrating on more classical influenced shapes Karl Erik’s style emphasized the wood over all other contributing factors by allowing the grain to determine the ultimate shape of the piece. He further emphasized the natural, organic, flowing shape of his bowls with hand cut stems and a broad variety of decorating materials.

Now it was time to work on the pipe. I decided to address the issues with the rim top first. I chose to use the least intrusive method first. I steamed the nicks and dents to no effect. I sanded it with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to try to remove the damage. You can see the effectiveness of this in the first photo below. I carefully worked on the inner edge of the rim with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I worked slowly so as not to damage the rim top. It took a little work but I was able to remove some of the burn damage that marred the inner edge but there were some deep burns on the back edge of the bowl that would require stronger methods. I turned to stronger measures and carefully top the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. I needed to address the deep nicks in the surface and the edges – both inner and outer and this was the means I chose. It took care of the majority of the issues and minimized the burn mark at the front and back of the bowl. It was not gone but it looked better. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to work on the inner edge. I wanted to give it a slight bevel to clean up the burn damage. While it was not perfect it was much better. I did not want to sacrifice the roundness of the bowl to do more work on it so I left it.I polished the rim top and edges of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads and wiped it down with a damp cloth after each pad. The rim top came out looking very good. The darkening was lessened and the damage was smoothed out. The rim was looking very good at this point.  I stained the top of the bowl with a blend of Oak and Cherry stain pens. This combination matched the stain on the rest of the bowl perfectly. I am pretty happy with the look of the rim top at this point in the process.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and let it sit for about 10 minutes. I buffed it off with a soft cloth. It is a product that I have really come to appreciate. Mark Hoover crafted it to enliven, clean and protect briar. I use it on every pipe I work on and find that with a single application the briar comes alive with deep glow. Because the pipe looked so clean I forgot to clean out the internals. I went back and cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipes cleaners. The shank was quite dirty but the airway in the stem was pretty clean. I repeated the scrubbing until the cleaners came out clean.I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to address the deep scratch in the stem. It was really a gouge that had carved a line from the button forward. It was not a crack lest you might think so. I examined it in detail with a lens and the stem was solid. I wiped down the area with a cotton swab and alcohol and then filled in the gouge with clear Krazy Glue. Once the repair cured I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to blend the repair into the stem surface. I polished the area I had sanded with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.Denicare Mouthpiece Polish is a gritty read paste that I have been using as a pre-polish for the mouthpieces. It removes a lot of very minor scratches and works well in removing the hard to get area in the crease of the button. I work it on with my fingers and then scrub the stem with a cotton pad and wipe it off when finished.  I avoided the gold stamping on the topside to protect it from over buffing.I polished the acrylic stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down with a damp cloth between each set of pads. The stem began to take on a deep shine. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to finish the polishing. By this point the stem looks great and the gouge is gone! Once I finished I put the stem back on the shank and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond polish using a lightly loaded pad and a soft touch. I wanted to raise a shine and buff out some of the small scratches in the briar and the acrylic stem. I gave the stem a vigorous polish being careful around the stylized gold KE on the stem top. I gave the bowl and the stem several coats of carnauba. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a great looking Karl Erik Ekstravagant Tulip shaped pipe whose sale price is going for a great cause. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outer Bowl Diameter: 1 ½ inches, Chamber Diameter: ¾ of an inch. The pipe will soon be on the rebornpipes store and you can purchase it and support a very worthy cause. Thanks for walking with me through the restoration.

New Life for a Karl Erik Made in Denmark 5A Freehand


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table was a beautifully grained Freehand. The bowl and shank had a smooth finish with mixed grain. The top of the bowl and the end of the shank was plateau. The shape of the bowl top was oval. The walls of the bowl are scooped on the sides and front of the bowl. Toward the back of each side there is a ridge running from the top to the bottom of the bowl. The bottom of the bowl is shaped almost like a spade. The shank is quite thick and the underside is stamped toward the shank end. It reads Karl Erik over Hand Made in Denmark over 5 over A. The bowl had a dull and dirty finish. There was a thin cake in the bowl and lava overflow and grime in the plateau on both the top and the end of the shank. The stem was oxidized but the Karl Erik KE logo was in perfect condition on top. There was tooth chatter on the top side and some deep tooth marks and chatter on the underside. I took photos of the pipe before I cleaned it up. I took a close up photo of the bowl and rim to show the condition of the pipe before I started to work on it. The plateau rim top was dirty and cake with lava overflow. The bowl had a thin cake but looked to be solid. The finish of the bowl was dull and looked tired. The second photo shows both the plateau top and the shank end. I reread the blog that Robert M. Boughton did for us on his “Grade O” Karl Erik to refresh my memory on the brand and the grading system (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/07/28/a-three-card-draw-for-an-inside-straight-with-an-old-karl-erik-hand-made-grade-o-freehand/). It was enlightening and from there I went on and looked up the brand on both Pipephil’s site and Pipedia to add some details to my knowledge.

Photo courtesy of Pipedia

From the Pipephil site I got a quick overview of the history of the brand. I quote: Brand created in 1965-66 by Karl Erik Ottendahl (1942 – 2004 †). In the best years he employed up to 15 craftsmen among which Bent Nielsen (see Benner) and Peder Christian Jeppesen. Former grading (ascending): from 4 to 1, and “Ekstravagant” (entirely handmade).  http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-k1.html

From Pipedia here is a bit more detailed history of the brand.

Karl Erik Ottendahl (1942 – 2004) was born in Aalborg (Jutland), just a few miles from the very northernmost tip of Denmark. He began smoking a pipe when he was 14 and upon leaving school he started an apprenticeship…as a lithographer at the age of 16.

While working as an apprentice he began hand carving pipes as a hobby. Many were given as gifts to his more senior colleagues. Upon completion of his apprenticeship he moved to Nairobi, Kenya to work as a lithographer during the 1962 war. While in that war torn country, he was unable to procure pipes for himself. In the face of such a predicament, he chose to continue to make pipes for his own use rather than go without.

Returning to Denmark after three years he couldn’t find a well paid… job, and so he began making a few pipes on the side to boost his income choosing his prenames “Karl Erik” – logo “KE” – for his label. When he managed to find some major Copenhagen pipe stores willing to sell his pieces his reputation grew little by little and he was finally able to purchase more and better machinery and began working full time as a pipe maker. https://pipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Erik

Pipedia also included a short description of the grading system that was used. From what I can discern the numbers ascended (6-1) and the letters ascended as well.

KE’s new grading used numbers ascending from D to A. The unique “Ekstravagant” pipes C, B, A, AA to AAA. These superb pieces of remarkable quality were, almost certainly, the least expensive high- quality hand made pipes coming from Denmark today! https://pipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Erik

I used a brass bristle brush to clean up the plateau on the rim top and shank end. I scrubbed it dry to remove the buildup of grime and tars on both surface. The bristles are hard enough to remove the grime and soft enough not to scratch the surface. It is a tool I always have close at hand when working on Freehand pipes.Once the buildup was gone from the top and shank end I scrubbed the entire exterior with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the dirt on the surface of the briar and the remaining dust in the plateau. I rinsed it under running water to remove the soap and debris from the pipe. I dried it off with paper towels and twisted the paper towels into the bowl to remove the light cake that was there. The pipe was starting to look really good. The grain stood out and the contrast was nice. I took a photo of the underside of the shank to show the stamping. You can read the stamp easily and the grade markings though more faint are still readable.I scrubbed out the shank – working on the mortise with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until it was clean. I cleaned the airway in the shank and stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners as well. I always use 99% isopropyl alcohol because of the low percentage of water in it and the quick evaporation rate.With the interior and exterior of the pipe clean I rubbed down the briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the plateau on the rim top and shank end as well as into the smooth briar on the rest of the bowl and shank. The Balm works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips and the help of a horsehair shoe brush. I let the balm sit for a little wall and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The briar came alive with the balm. I took the following photos to give a picture of the pipe at this point in the process. With the bowl finished at this point (other than the final buffing and waxing) I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I painted the deep tooth mark on the underside of the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter to raise the dent. It worked better than I expected and reduced the size of the bite mark significantly. (The first photo below is the stem prior to heating with the flame).The KE logo on the stem was in perfect condition so I worked around that so as not to damage it. I lightly sanded the stem down with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation and cleaned out the debris from the tooth marks with a cotton swab and alcohol. Once the stem was cleaned up I filled in the tooth mark with black super glue and set the stem aside to let the glue cure. Later in the afternoon when the glue had hardened I sanded the repair smooth with 180 and 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the rest of the stem surface.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 pad with Obsidian Oil to preserve and protect the rubber. After the final pad I gave it a final coat and set it aside to dry. I the polished the bowl and stem on the buffing wheel with Blue Diamond to remove the remaining small scratches and raise the shine. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. This turned out to be a beautiful pipe in terms of shape and finish. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 3 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful Karl Erik Freehand. I will be adding it to the rebornpipes store shortly so if you are interested in adding it to your collection send me an email or a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

A THREE-CARD DRAW FOR AN INSIDE STRAIGHT WITH AN OLD KARL ERIK HAND MADE GRADE O FREEHAND


Blog by Robert M. Boughton

Copyright © Reborn Pipes and the Author except as cited

https://www.facebook.com/roadrunnerpipes/

You’ve got to sing like you don’t need the money
Love like you’ll never get hurt
You’ve got to dance like nobody’s watchin’
It’s gotta come from the heart if you want it to work.

— In “Come from the Heart” (1987), a country music song by Susanna Clark and Richard Leigh

INTRODUCTION
The free-spirited quote I chose for today’s blog is a chorus of sorts to the darker, harder to control song of myself I change a little at a time, but concerning Danish freehands, at least, it shouts out.  In regular prose as opposed to verse, the words have been attributed to many folks, the most famous of whom are Leroy “Satchel” Paige and Mark Twain.

Really?  Satchel Paige and Mark Twain?  Can anyone even summon to the mind an image of Satchel, showman though he was, hurling three evanescent fast balls for a strikeout and then sauntering off the mound, doffing his cap as for the National Anthem, to spout what would have been considered insane gibbering in his day and gotten him run out of town on a rail or worse?  Or the wry and often hilarious Great American Writer – who can still leave readers today ROFL from his literary accounts of the myriad outrageous frays he entered with zeal and turn wickedly acerbic in his social commentary – wearing his famous white Southern suit and taking the cigar out of his mouth as he steps onto a gazebo to pronounce such life-affirming, feel good modern sentiments?  I think not.

But I like the way Kathy Mattea sings those four lines, although I can’t recall any of the others, and the lively, high-strung electric fiddle plucking of an unsung but talented musician.

To the point, the pictures of a nine-pipe lot I bought at the beginning of the month, before the package arrived, had a magnetic pull on me.  The main attraction was a pair of Danish freehands, and the other was the presence of at least two and maybe three other nice finds, about which the seller might have been oblivious.  With no order whatsoever to the description and only three brands identifiable (Kaywoodie, Falcon and Missouri Meerschaum), the seller did reveal that one of the freehands was a Knute of Denmark and the other a Karl Erik.  I had heard of Knute and was unfamiliar with the brand, but I’ve owned several Karl Eriks and was pretty sure the behemoth in the lower right side of the following photo was it.  I was correct.

9-pipe eBay lot courtesy stwok74075

I restored the freehands from the lot first.  Of those, I decided to start with the Knute for two reasons, the lesser being my inexperience with the brand and the more significant that, although both were large pipes, the Karl Erik was enormous and therefore had much more area to repair.  Had I any idea there was something greater about the KE than its massive potential for beautiful geometric symmetry and fine example of chasing the grain, I might have chosen the opposite order.  KE, by the way, is my abbreviation for convenience, not to be confused with the maker’s earliest pipe mark)

The pipe’s bleak façade of thick gunk at first hid the small block of nomenclature on the stem end of the shank.  Before I would have taken photos of the pipe as it arrived, I used a thick cotton rag and more than a little force to wipe away the muck that at one point I thought might require alcohol.  I stopped breathing a moment when I saw the mark.  Instead of the regular two lines of imprint, there were three: KARL ERIK/HANDMADE IN DENMARK/O.

The grade mark, of course, was the part that surprised me.  I’ve owned four KE pipes not counting my latest addition, two of which were far more striking at a glance than this one even after I finished its restoration, but none of them was graded.

As fast as I could, I browsed to Pipephil and found a mention of “previous grading” from 4-1 ascending, meaning1 would be the highest, not counting the Ekstravagant releases that were entirely handmade.  Well, that was no help, and so I searched further, finding multiple sites that gave both the previous grades and the newer ones from D-A, again ascending.  Some of the latter sources, including Pipedia, expanded on the Ekstravagant grade, noting that it in fact was divided into degrees, C, B, A, AA and AAA.  I found no official mention of letter grading beyond D, but I did track down a Worthpoint auction that describes O as “[t]he highest grade in the old Karl Erik grading system.”  Needless to say, my breath was taken away again.  I’m calling on any readers with information on the maker’s early grading system to fill me in on it!

Speaking of the maker, his name was Karl Erik Ottendahl (1942-2004), and he was a lithographer struggling to make ends meet from his apprenticeship starting when he was 16 into his mid-20s when he took up carving pipes as a day job.  Young Ottendahl had made pipes as a hobby since he was 16 and gave most of them to friends and senior co-workers.  Never forgetting his “roots,” Ottendahl remained perhaps the most generous pipe maker in the history of the craft and trade.  He was devoted to the proposition that fine pipes should be affordable to the average smoker, and to that end he priced his works of art far below the going rate.  Likely for that reason, his brilliant work was underestimated and likewise valued during and after his lifetime, and it is only in recent years that the market has begun to appreciate their worth more.  I’m sure that fact makes Karl Erik roll over in his grave.

The poor, big lunk of fine Danish stock in this blog had fallen on hard times and was in a sorry state.  The following triple stem swap gets a little crazy, so try to follow this.  The KE came with a nice dark brown swirled acrylic fancy stem that was just way too short to support its gigantic stummel but was perfect for a Knute of Denmark from the same lot that I already restored, blogged and sold – with the KE stem.  The Knute, by the way, had a Vulcanite stem that was chomped, with a hole in the bottom below the button I fixed well but the absence of a full lip I knew I could mend enough for my own use but would never pass off to a customer.  So that was a no-brainer.  I decided on a temporary substitution of a bright orange Lucite stem from a Ben Wade by Preben Holm freehand I have.  For now, the half-eaten but semi-repaired Vulcanite stem from the Knute is on the BW.  I’ll just add that I’m anxiously awaiting replacements for both of them.

Here are photos of the KE as I received it minus the stem, and the Knute Vulcanite bollix I mended as far as I’m going to do for now, with no signs of the hole that was on the underside but a bit of a double lip there now and the pre-existing half lip topside. RESTORATION
Part of me knew, from the rich, dark briar grain that glowed through the long bottom of the shank after I vanquished the grime that had overcast its natural, smooth brilliance, that the rest of the wood could only be better.  But the Devil’s Advocate in me gave rise to the tomfool but nevertheless undeniable apprehension that nothing good could come from stripping away the sedimentary layers of anomalous substances.  I decided to be done with the majority of the business using an Everclear soak.

To keep my mind from its pointless and counterproductive negative preoccupation with the state of the stummel, I turned my attention to the Lucite stem that was taken off the BW to use in place of the lovely and too petite stem with which the pipe came.  Note the dark stains inside the stem’s airhole and the bore and tenon opening. Most of the inner stain came out with alcohol soaked bristly cleaners, and the rest of that later with the retort.  The bore and shank end, on the other hand, needed more wheedling.  At first when I tried the small end of a bristly cleaner dipped in alcohol, I had minimal results.  Switching to something more pointed, sharp and focused – an unwound paper clip – I scraped away the accreted blackness on both ends and used a 180 grit sanding pad on the tip of the shank end.  Either I forgot to snap shots of the results or misplaced them, i.e., tapped Save As on the computer and didn’t look where I did it, but I don’t have the proof of cleaning to display.  Later pictures will show all but the shank opening of the stem.

But there’s good news!  The Everclear soak was finished!  The color and grain I wanted to see were there.To remove the remaining odd caliginosity obscuring the fine wood, I gave the bowl and shank a quick rub with 600-grit paper and the rim with super fine “0000” steel wool.  The difference was marked. The plateaux rim and shank opening needed a little more Everclear soaking.  That done, I grabbed my handy sanding pad again and spot-scrubbed those places. I reamed and sanded the chamber with 150, 220-, 320- and 600-grit paper that took the char far enough down to the wood for the retort to handle what remained. For me, the most gratifying part of a pipe restore, if the wood has been prepped properly beforehand, is micro meshing from 1500-12000, for this is where the mettle of the pipe is revealed.  The deep, shiny, shimmer that should result is something to behold with wonder.  And the grain on the block of wood chosen for this pipe is spectacular.  I also ran four Pyrex tubes of Everclear through the pipe afterward for the retort. Staining the rough rim and shank opening with Lincoln Medium Brown boot stain before flaming them, I took off the char with 8000 and 12000 micro mesh.  The second of the next two pics shows before I finished it with a light touch of steel wool.With that, the pipe was finished except for buffing the stummel and stem with red rouge and carnauba wax.  I’m out of Halcyon II and therefore could not use it on the plateau areas. CONCLUSION
One look at this pipe out of the box the lot came in and I fully intended to offer it for sale.  The gentleman from one of my pipe smokers’ forums who bought the Knute was also more than eager, to put it lightly, to get his hands on the Karl Erik I told him I had.  But all that was before I started unearthing – in a sense that may be literal given the fact that the pipe looked to have been buried for some time – the way Ottendahl chased the grain on this splendid example of one of his earlier works, when he graded them on an as yet undocumented scale.  For all I know, O being the fifteenth letter of the English alphabet, my newest freehand may not be near the top end, but it’s still graded.  That means it meant something to its maker, and I’m certain he would remember it if he could be reached where he is now.  Besides, as his newer scales are ascending, meaning from “best” to “worst,” and I being more of a glass half-full kind of guy, I like to think it’s two grades closer to the sidewalk than the middle if the road.

SOURCES
http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-k1.html
https://pipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Erik
https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/karl-erik-freehand-estate-pipe-521847614
https://rebornpipes.com/2016/07/06/a-stellar-find-a-gbd-prestige-1451-oval-shank-billiard/
https://rebornpipes.com/2018/07/17/finding-the-natural-beauty-of-a-knute-of-denmark-freehand/
https://pipedia.org/wiki/Knute

New Life for a Wenhall Dane Craft B Freehand


Blog by Steve Laug

Jeff has developed quite an eye for interesting pipes and this one is no exception. He picked this up from a guy in Texas who was selling some of his Grandfather’s pipes. This was one of the cleaner ones in the lot. The freehand shape and the unusual stem combination caught his eye I am sure. It is an unusual piece with some grooves and twists in the shank that make it very comfortable in the hand. It has some nice straight grain on the bowl sides and shank. The rim top is plateau and is rectangular in shape. The stem is different in that it is one that I would expect on a Danish Made Celius pipe or possibly some of the British style Hardcastle freehands. The chairleg style stem seems to be made of high quality vulcanite as it is not oxidized. The pipe is very dirty but you can see the beauty through the grime. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he worked his magic in the cleanup process. Jeff took some close up photos of the bowl top and the side of the bowl to give an idea of the filthy condition the pipe was in when he received it. I am sure glad that this was one that he worked on. The bowl has a thick cake and the plateau rim top is almost filled in with the lava overflow and grime of the years. The finish is speckled with debris and grime deep in the finish. The next series of photos capture the stamping. The stamping is faint on the edges but together you can see that it reads Wenhall over Dane Craft over the letter B. The last photo in this series shows the fit of the stem to the dirty shank. There is a gap that should disappear with cleaning. The stem was pretty worn, but it was thick enough that I would be able to reshape it easily enough with heat, files and sandpaper. The button was worn down and would need to be reshaped. There was a calcification on the surface of the stem and some minor oxidation.In the back of my mind I remembered a connection between Wenhall and Karl Erik pipes. I could not remember the details of the connection but I remembered there was one. I tell you what even that is pretty good for this old bird. I looked it up on the pipephil pipes, logos and stampings website and found nothing on that site. I turned to Pipedia and looked it up in the Pipe Makers list that is included there. I found the link to Wenhall pipes that I was looking for. Here is the link, https://pipedia.org/wiki/Wenhall. It was a short article but it made a lot of connections to names that I was familiar with from working on pipes. I include the majority of the article because of the pertinent information that it provides.

Wenhall Pipes Ltd. was a distribution company out of New York City.

By the end of the 1970’s Wenhall approached Michael Kabik and Glen Hedelson, at that time operating from a farm house in Glen Rock, Maryland to create a line of freehands called Wenhall. The situation was favorable, because Kabik & Hedelson had ended their cooperation with Mel Baker of Tobak Ltd. to produce the famed Sven-Lar freehands shortly before.

Upon Wenhall’s offer the partners got a bank loan and set up a studio of 2000 square feet in a fairly new industrial park in Bel Air, Maryland and took on the name Vajra Briar Works. Wenhall initially wanted 500 pipes a week! But Kabik & Hedelson doubted that they could move that much product and told them they would produce 250 pipes per week. Happily, some of the old crew from Sven-Lar joined them at Vajra Briar Works, and thus they rather quickly met the production demands.

Furthermore during this time, Wenhall requested to create a line of pipes consisting of 12 different shapes. The line was called “The Presidential” and, while they repeated the same 12 shapes for this series, each one was freehand cut. Although they came up with interesting designs, mainly developed by Hedelson, especially Kabik was never really happy with the line or the concept, but, by this time, they had nine people on full-time payroll.

The stint with Wenhall lasted a couple of years, at which time they asked them to join Wenhall in a move to Miami, Florida. But by this time Kabik and Hedelson felt very uncomfortable with the owners of Wenhall and decided that they’d rather close the shop than make the move. Time proved that decision very wise, as Wenhall folded shortly after the move. All the same they had to close Vajra, but scaled down to the two of them and moved the operation to the farm house Glen was currently living in.

I could see the link to Michael Kabik and Glen Hedelson and the Svenlar line of pipes that I have worked on in the past. The problem was that these were American made pipes and I was pretty sure that they would have been stamped accordingly. Even though were Danish style I don’t know if they would have stamped their pipes Danish Craft. The next short paragraph made the link to Karl Erik that I was looking for.

Presumptively for a shorter period only Wenhall had pipes made in Denmark by Karl Erik. (BTW K.E. Ottendahl ceased all sales to the USA in 1987.)…

The article went on to tie the pipes to some Italian makers as well. I stopped reading at this point and tried to summarize what I had found out so far. I knew that the pipe I held in my hand was made between the late 1970s and 1987. It possibly could have been made by Michael Kabik and/or Glen Heldelson or even by Karl Erik. Something about the flow of the shape and the way the bowl flows with the grain reminds me a lot of Karl Erik pipes that I have worked on. Either way the pipe is between 31-39 years old and in great condition for an older piece.

Jeff had reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the bowl, rim and shank. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. The lava mess on the rim was thoroughly removed without harming the finish underneath it. Without the grime the finish looked really good. He soaked the stem in Before and After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer. He rinsed it under running water and dried it off with a clean cloth. He cleaned out the airway with pipe cleaners and alcohol. When it arrived here in Vancouver it did not even look like the same pipe it was so clean. I forgot to take photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work, but took some right after I had rubbed in some Before and After Restoration Balm and before I buffed it.  Jeff had been able to get the grime and lava out of the plateau on the rim top and it looked pretty incredible. There was some darkening on the high spots on the plateau and lighter brown colouring in the valleys and crevices. The stem looked amazingly clean. The tooth marks and chatter were very visible and would need to be addressed. I took close up photos of both the rim top and the stem.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the grooves and crevices of the plateau rim top and the smooth finish of the bowl and shank with my fingers and a horsehair shoe brush. I want the product to go deep into the finish because it works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. Once I was confident that it was deeply worked into the blast I wiped it off and buffed it with a soft cloth to polish it. The pipe 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 grain really stands out in the photos below. I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. I painted the tooth marks on the surface of the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter and was able to raise the dents on both top and bottom sides to the point that sanding the stem would remove the remaining damage.I sharpened the edge of the button and cleaned up the angles of the button with a needle file. I would need to sand out the stem to smooth things out but the edges of the button were very sharp and renewed.I smoothed out the remaining tooth marks and file marks with 220 grit sandpaper and blended them into the surface of the stem. It did not take too much sanding to do the work and after I polish the stem they will be invisible.I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both the Fine and Extra Fine polishes. I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I polished bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The medium brown stain worked really well with the black vulcanite stem. The darkened plateau really sets of the pipe and gives it a unique look. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 2 1/2 inches, Outer diameter of the bowl: length is 2 inches and width is 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 inches. This unique freehand is heading to India with the three of Paresh’s Grandfather’s pipes that I repaired and restored. I will pack the pipes up and send them back to India this week after I give the bowl a bowl coating to the repaired Barling. I look forward to hearing what he thinks of the lot of them once he gets to load them with his favourite tobacco and enjoy them. Thanks for walking through this restoration with me as I worked over this beauty. 

Something about Karl Erik Freehands gets my attention


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table was a beautifully grained Freehand. It had a combination of a smooth and a rusticated patch made to look like plateau. The top of the bowl and the end of the shank was true plateau. The shape of the bowl top was almost rectangular. The walls of the bowl are scooped on the sides and front of the bowl. The bottom of the bowl is multi-sided. The shank is quite thick and the underside is stamped Karl Erik over Hand Made in Denmark over 6. The bowl had a dirty finish and there was some damage on the shank end plateau. There was a thick cake in the bowl and lava overflow and grime in the plateau on both the top and the end of the shank. There was some damage on the bottom right edge of the shank plateau. A piece of briar was missing from the shank edge but it was a clean break with no cracks. I have circled the chipped area in red on the second photo. The stem was oxidized and there was tooth chatter on both sides near the button. Jeff took quite a few photos of the pipe before he started his clean up. The next photo shows the rim top and the bowl. You can see the shadow of the cake in the bowl and the overflow of lava in the plateau of the rim top. The finish under the grime and lava looks like it is in pretty decent shape. The inner edge of the bowl looks smooth and damage free.Jeff took pictures of the bowl from various angles to show the condition and the overall look of the pipe. I was pretty hooked with what I saw. It was a beauty underneath the grim and the damage on the shank did not affect the overall condition of the pipe. The underside of the shank is stamped Karl Erik over Hand Made in Denmark. Underneath that is the number 6. There is also a picture of the stem in the shank. It shows the oxidation on the stem and the buildup of grime on the stem surface. The next two photos show the condition of the stem. It is pitted with oxidation and there are tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.Jeff worked his magic in cleaning up this pipe. He reamed it with a PipNet reamer and smoothed the walls of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim and shank with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to the oils and tars there and in the plateau finish on the rim and shank end. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. The cleaning of the stem raised more oxidation in the vulcanite. The tooth marks and chatter was clean but visible. I took the stem off and put it in a bath of Before & After Stem Deoxidizer along with a stem from a Peterson Mark Twain. Once again I totally forgot to take pictures of the pipe before I started.I did however; remember to take photos of the bowl to show its condition before I started my work on it. I really like the rustication work on the right side of the shank and the back of the bowl. Jeff did a great job removing the grime and lava from the plateau on the rim top. The inside of the bowl was incredibly cleaned and the finish on the plateau top looked good. The inner edge of the bowl looks good as well. The plateau on the shank end also looked really clean. The finish was dry but in good shape.The underside of the shank looks very good. The stamping on the shank looks really good. The damaged area on the edge of the shank end can be seen on the right side of the photo below. The grain on the shank looked really good. The contrast stain shines now that the finish has been cleaned.I scrubbed the briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I rubbed it into the briar with my finger working it into the plateau on the rim top and shank end with a shoe brush. The product worked to lift the grime and debris out of the grooves of the briar. I rubbed it down and scrubbed it deeper into the plateau on the top of the rim and end of the shank. I polished the briar with a soft cloth to remove the balm from the briar. I reworked the chipped area and stained it with a dark brown stain pen. The photos below show the repaired and stained area. Interestingly the shape of it and the angle matches the smooth area on the left side of the shank end.I set the bowl aside and turned back to the stem. I removed it from the soak in the Before & After Deoxidizer and wiped it down. I cleaned out the inside of the airway with alcohol to remove the product from the stem. I polished the stem with a soft cloth to remove all of the deoxidizer and give it a bit of a shine. It had removed much of the light oxidation though there were remnants in the rings and grooves above the tenon. There were still some oxidation that needed to be addressed and the button needed to be reshaped on both sides to remove the tooth marks and chatter. The photos below show what it looked like at this point. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to work on the tooth marks, chatter and to reshape the edges and surface of the button.  I worked over the oxidation on the flat portions and on the rings and grooves in the turned stem with the sandpaper at the same time to remove it from the surface of the hard rubber stem.I polished out the sanding scratches and marks in the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-4000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I brought it back to the table and sanded it with the final three 6000-12000 grit pads. After the final pad I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and worked the pipe over on the buffing wheel using Blue Diamond to polish the bowl and shank. I used a gentle touch on the briar when I was buffing it so that the grooves of the plateau and the rustication would not be filled in and make more work for me. I buffed the stem with a harder touch to raise the gloss on the rubber. I gave the pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The combination of rustication, plateau and smooth finishes make this an interesting and beautiful pipe. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 6 1/2 inches, Height: 2 3/4 inches, Diameter of the bowl: 2 inches, Diameter of the chamber: 7/8 inches. I will be adding this one to the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. It will make a fine addition to the rack. If you are interested email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

Refurbished a Karl Erik Apple


I picked this beautiful older Karl Erik apple up on EBay. When it arrived I loved the looks of it and decided to work on it immediately upon opening the package. It had many dents in the sides of the bowl and front and back. The bowl had some darkening along the back side of the bowl near the rim. It was not charred or burned just darkly stained. The rim was clean of tars and oils and the bowl had been reamed already. It was a very clean pipe other than the darkening and the dents on the rim and bowl sides. The stem was oxidized minimally and had a few bite marks on it that were not too deep. There was not a lot of work to do on this one so I went to work. ImageImage

I took it into the kitchen and turned on one of the gas burners on the stove. I wet a dish cloth so and laid it on the counter next to the stove. I heated my old butter knife over the flame. I placed the folded wet dish cloth on the dents that are visible on the sides of the bowl to steam them out. The hiss of the hot knife on the damp cloth generated the steam that lifted the dents. I worked on the dents on both sides of the bowl and on the rim. When I was finished the dents were gone. I washed the exterior of the bowl down with some isopropyl alcohol to clean off the darkening along the top edges of the bowl on the back side and on both sides. It came off quite easily. Once that was done I sanded the bowl with micromesh pads to smooth out the finish and prepare it for restaining. I stained it with a medium brown stain. I buffed it with White Diamond and then gave it several coats of carnauba wax.

I used my heat gun to lift the tooth marks on the stem near the button and then sanded it with 240 grit sandpaper and also the usual 400 and 600 grit wet dry sandpaper and water. Once they were smoothed out I sanded it with micromesh 1500-6000 grit and then put it back on the bowl. I  buffed and polished the whole pipe and waxed it again. It is a beautiful little pipe that I will enjoy smoking.
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