Tag Archives: Kriswill Handmade in Denmark pipes

Breathing New Life into a Kriswill Handmade Count 370


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table is one that has been around here for quite a while and today was its day to be cleaned up. It is a Kriswill Handmade pipe. It is a pretty pipe with a nice looking shape. The condition is a bit rough. The left side of the shank is scratched and there is a significant road rash toward the bottom of the bowl. There was a think cake in the bowl and there was a thick lava overflow on the rim top. The pipe was dirty and grimy feeling. The pipe is stamped on the left and underside of the shank and reads Kriswill Count over Handmade in Denmark on the left side and on the underside it has the shape number 370 at the shank/stem junction. The vulcanite taper stem is not too bad – there is light oxidation and tooth marks and chatter near the button on both sides. It has the Kriswill Snowflake Logo on the left side of the stem. I took photos of the pipe before I started my clean up work. I took photos of the rim top and stem to show the condition of the bowl, rim top and edges and stem. The bowl has a thin cake and a thick overflow of lava on the rim top. The inner edge is dirty and caked so it is hard to know what the condition was like. I was hopeful that the edges were in good condition! The next photos show the condition of the stem. It is also clean and has light oxidation. There are tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button.I took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank. You can see that it is clear and readable. I forgot to take a photo of the shape number 370 stamp on the underside. There is also the snowflake logo on the left side of the taper stem. I took a quick photo of the damaged area on the lower left side of the bowl – the road rash!I took the stem off the shank and took a photo of the pipe.I turned to the Pipephil website to do a quick review of the brand and try to see if there was any information on the Count line (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-k3.html). I have included a screen capture of the section on the site:I quote from the side bar on the above screen capture:

Kriswill is a brand of Kriswork Briar Trading, in Kolding (Denmark) established about 1955.

Some of Kriswill pipes were designed by Sigvard Bernadotte, Swedish prince and brother to the late Queen Ingrid of Denmark. He collaborated with his Danish partner Acton Bjørn.

When the company went bankrupt in the late 1970s it was on a level with Stanwell. Dan Pipe Cigar & Company (Hafenstrasse 30 D-21481 Lauenburg/Elbe, Ge) bought the rights to use the name and it is Holmer Knudsen and/or Poul Winsløw who make the Kriswill line. Nørding, on its side, bought the plant and introduced a Kriswell line.

I turned to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Kriswill) and sure enough I found catalogue page Circa 1970, courtesy Doug Valitchka. Unfortunately it did not have the 370 shape on the page.

I also have included a large part of the history from the article.

Founded in the late 1950s, Kriswill was one of two large pipe manufacturers in Denmark during the 1960s and 1970s, on par with Stanwell as measured by number of employees, pipes produced, and quality. The Kriswill catalog cover reads “By Appointment to the Royal Danish Court, KRISWILL, Kriswork Briar Trading, Briar Pipes Hand Made in Denmark.”

Kriswell began immediately after World War II. Karl Robert Kris, an engineer for the shipping company AP Møller at the time, was in port (undoubtedly in the Mediterranean) when he encountered a shipment of briar. The briar blocks awakened his curiosity and he took some home. About this time the the shipping trade become difficult due to the war, causing Kris to consider other business opportunities. In 1947, Kris (then 47 years old) established himself as a pipe maker in his hometown of Kolding.

Kris started his pipe making operation in a house located at Haderslevvej 115 in Kolding, and was soon joined by 3-4 employees. The pipes were sold under the name Rocky and supplied the domestic market. Within 6 months the company had grown, more employees hired, and their sales expanded to markets abroad.

Due to increasing production and marketing, Karl Robert Kris decided in the mid-1950s to expand. An entirely new factory was built at Sdr. Ring road on the outskirts of Kolding. At that time the pipes were branded Kriswell. That name did not last long, however, as Stanwell believed that name was too close to theirs. The compromise was to change the name to Kriswill. Krisill soon grew to become a serious competitor to Stanwell, especially in the export markets. The Kriswill factory logo, stamped on the stem, became the stylized compass rose – as a reference to the manufacturer’s maritime background.

Kriswill pipes excelled in design and craftsmanship. Karl Robert Kris was not afraid of new designs and had a good eye on the US market, where larger and more innovative designs were increasingly popular. Craftsmanship was given top priority throughout Kriswell’s production. A local designer / architect had designed the first models. Later, the famous architects Sigvard Bernadotte (Swedish prince and brother of Queen Ingrid) and Acton Bjørn designed their own series, which were known as Bernadotte designed.

Two other series were the Golden Clipper and the Chief. The Golden Clipper pipes were smaller, lighter, more reserved, and popular in Europe. The Chief series was especially designed for the Americans, who wanted larger pipes. These pipes were light for their size, however, very different from the “Danish Free Style” pipes that other Danish makers were sending to the US market. Kriswill pipes that did not meet the requirements of the main lines were sold as “seconds” under the names Danish Crown and Navigator…

…Karl Robert Kris died in 1966. The factory was well-run, and Kris’s widow wanted the family to continue the business. Karl’s son, Jens was groomed as director and remained with the company until 1975. The 1970s were difficult times for pipe-making in Denmark, as in the rest of the world. In addition to declining demand, they struggled with runaway inflation and annual wage increases of 18-20 percent. It was challenging to maintain the level of craftsmanship without raising prices, yet customers had difficulty accepting large price increases. As a result manufacturing become less profitable. Soon Jens Kris left Kriswell and new management and staff were hired at the factory.

Shortly after Jens departed Kriswill the company failed. The Kriswill name and model series were sold to the Norwegian pipe factory Lillehammer. The machines were acquired by Erik Nørding, and the property was sold.

After a few years Lillehammer also ceased production. Kriswills were made for a while in the 1980s at the Catalan factory, Iberica de Pipas. But these pipes were far from the quality of the originals, and became Kriswills in name only.

I now knew that the Count I had on the table was made between the start of the company in 1950 and the sale of the company in the late 1970s. Armed with that information I turned to work on the pipe. I started by reaming the cake back to bare briar with a PipNet pipe reamer so I could check out the integrity of the bowl. I cleaned up the remnants of cake with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe knife. I finished by sanding the walls of the bowl with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. I scrubbed the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. I scrubbed the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. The shank was very dirty and appeared to not have been cleaned. The stem was much better.I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl and rim top with a tooth brush and undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap. I rinsed it off under warm running water and dried it off with a soft towel. With the bowel cleaned inside and out it was time to address the remaining lava on the rim top. I scraped it off with the edge of the Savinelli Fitsall knife. I sanded off the remaining tars and cleaned up the darkening on the inner edge of the rim with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I started to polish the rim top and edges with a piece of 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. When I finished the rim top looked far better. I also sanded out the road rash on the lower left side of the bowl with 220 and 400 grit sandpaper. I was able to smooth it out and blend it into the surrounding briar. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the briar down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the briar. I let it sit for 10 minutes while I worked on the stem. After the time passed I buffed it with a cotton cloth to deepen the shine. The briar really comes alive with the balm.  I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the stem with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift the tooth marks and chatter on the vulcanite. I was able to lift all of them.I sanded what remained and blended them into the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. At this point it is starting to look much better.  I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.   This Kriswill Count 370 turned out to be a great looking pipe. The mix of brown stains highlights the mix of grain around the bowl sides, top and bottom. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition and the contrasting stains work well with the polished vulcanite taper stem. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Kriswill Count fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 ¼ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. This pipe will be going on the rebornpipes shortly. If you are interested in adding this one to your collection let me know. Thanks for your time.

Restoring a Danish Handmade Kriswill Chief 50 Oom Paul


Blog by Steve Laug

This Kriswill is yet another one from a local pipe shop. It came from the estate of an older gentleman whose wife returned his pipes to the shop for restoration and resale. This one is a smooth finished Kriswill Full Bent/Oom Paul. The briar is a combination of mixed grain around the bowl. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Kriswill over Chief over Handmade in Denmark. On the underside near the shank stem junction it has the shape number 50. On the left side of the saddle stem is the Kriswill Snowflake logo. The pipe was very dirty with a thick cake in the bowl and some lava overflowing on to the rim top. It was hard to know what the inner edge of the rim looked like because of the lava and cake. The stem was lightly oxidized and had come calcification where a pipe Softee bit had been. There was some tooth chatter and tooth marks on both sides of the stem at the button.This was included in the pipes that I sent off to my brother for cleaning. This is probably the 24/25 pipe that I have brought to the work table from the lot of about 50 to rework. I can’t say enough how much I appreciate his willingness to clean and ream the pipes for me. It allows me to move through the repairs much more quickly. When he received the pipe he took a series of photos of it to show its condition. He took photos of the rim top to show the thick cake in the bowl and the overflow of lava on the rim top.He took photos of the sides and bottom of the bowl to give a clear picture of the beauty of the grain on this old pipe. Under the grime there is some great grain peeking through. Jeff took a photo of the stamping to capture the clarity of it even under the grime.The stem looked dirty and oxidized with the calcification left behind by a pipe Softee bit. The edges of the button had bite marks and there was some tooth damage to the surface of the stem next to the button on both sides.I have worked on quite a few Kriswill pipes over the years and have always enjoyed the shapes and the craftsmanship on each of them. This one is no different. It is well made and well-shaped. I reviewed the information I had on Kriswill and have included some of that here.Kriswill was one of the large pipe manufacturers in Denmark during the 1960s and 1970s, and closed around 20 years ago. Their catalog cover read “By Appointment to the Royal Danish Court, KRISWILL, Kriswork Briar Trading, Briar Pipes Hand Made in Denmark.” After the Danish Kriswill enterprise ended, pipes were made in Norway and in France under the Kriswill label. In the 1970s Kriswill was bought by Lillehammer, and in the 1980s the pipes were made for a while at the Catalan factory, Iberica de Pipas  (https://pipedia.org/wiki/File:Kriswill_Factory.jpg).

Jeff cleaned up the pipe for me. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to clean off the grime in the rustication and the heavy overflow of lava on the rim top. He cleaned up the internals of the shank, mortise and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove all of the oils and tars in the pipe. When it came back to Vancouver it a cleaner and better looking pipe. I took photos of it before I started the restoration. I took photos of the rim top and the stem to show their condition. Jeff was able to clean up the grime and darkening on the rim top. The inner edge of the bowl looked pretty good. The stem had light tooth chatter and some deeper tooth marks on both sides near the button. I took a photo of the stamping on the shank and the Kriswill Snowflake Logo on the left side of the saddle stem.I worked over the inner edge of the rim with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damaged portions of the inside edge of the rim. It did not take a lot of sanding to smooth out the damaged areas.I polished the rim top and the rest of the bowl and shank with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. The photos tell the story. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the briar on the bowl and rim. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers and worked it into the briar. I wiped it off with a soft cloth. I buffed the bowl with a horsehair shoe brush to polish it. 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. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. I repaired the tooth marks with clear super glue. I set the stem aside to let the repairs cure. Once the glue cured I cleaned up the edge of the button and the repaired areas with folded pieces of 220 and 400 grit sandpaper until the repairs were blended into surface of the stem. 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 a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I used the Before & After Pipe Polish to remove the small minute scratches left in the vulcanite. I finished by wiping the stem down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. The pipe has been sitting in the queue since late in 2017 so the stem was loose in the shank. I know from experience that once the pipe is smoked it will be good and snug. To take care of the interim period I gave the tenon a light coat of clear nail polish. Once it dries the stem will fit snugly in the mortise.I put the stem back on the pipe and worked it over with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl and the stem several 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. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. Though the briar has some fills on the left side of the bowl it is nonetheless a beautiful piece of briar. The shape is a Danish version of a classic Oom Paul pipe and with the restoration has been brought back to life. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 inches, Height: 2 1/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 inch. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes online store shortly, if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this interesting Kriswill Chief 50 Oom Paul.