Tag Archives: micromesh sanding pads

An Interesting Shape and an Amazing Transformation – An Italian Custom Shape


Blog by Dal Stanton

There are times a pipe gets your attention just because it has an interesting twist, a surprising shape, or it is just different.  This one falls under this category.  I remember acquiring this pipe when my wife and I were in the US for several months and we joined our son and daughter-in-law for Christmas in Dearborn, Michigan – just a stone throw from Detroit, a new, vibrant city in many ways.  It was December 30th and I was sitting next to the blazing fireplace in their beautiful home that was built by well-known icon, Henry Ford.  From this home, back during those turbulent years, Henry Ford and his press secretary would air their radio broadcasts that reached the entire country.  A very nice place to celebrate Christmas.  I was tooling through the eBay offering on the app in my iPhone and saw this interesting looking pipe. I think what attracted me to the pipe was the stout, get-a-hold-of-me bowl and the shank/stem shape.  The shank flared out from the bowl and rose to the fancy stem, and then the stem tapered away with a gentle bend.  It was marked with a non-descript ‘Italian’ over ‘Import’ and to the right ‘Italy’.  The pipe looked newer and the seller said it had been lightly smoked.  I won the auction and with free shipping, I was pleased with my unique looking acquisition.  The Italian Custom Shaped pipe made it back to Bulgaria with me and waited patiently in my ‘Help Me!’ basket until a fellow colleague saw him along with two other pipes.  The shape also attracted Taylor’s attention.  Taylor commissioned the Italian Custom along with another Italian, a Savinelli Oscar which I found in Athens, Greece.  I already restored the Oscar and Taylor and I enjoyed a few bowls together for that inaugural smoke on my Man Cave – 10th floor balcony!  In queue also for Taylor is an Amphora Bent Bulldog of Holland.  Taylor has started his collection of pipes and I’m glad to add to it!  Of course, each pipe I restore for Taylor benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria, women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks Taylor!  When I get the Italian Custom on my worktable, I take a few more pictures to take a closer look. The pipe is in good condition.  There is very little cake in the chamber and little tooth chatter.  I do detect some oxidation on the upper side of the stem.  The finish on the briar stummel is dark and cloudy.  The question that comes to mind is the dark finish hiding fills in the briar – what is being intentionally masked?  I look and see one apparent fill on the front of the bowl, but no others are obvious.  I’ll look forward to simply cleaning the bowl and to see if removing the grime will brighten up the finish.  There are normal nicks and small dents on the briar surface.  I begin the restoration of the Italian Custom for Taylor by putting the stem in an OxiClean bath to rise the light oxidation from the vulcanite.  I leave it in the bath overnight.While the stem is soaking, I turn to the stummel.  The cake is very light, but I want to clean it out for a fresh start.  I use the Pipnet Reaming Kit to do the job.  I only use two blades and follow with using the Savinelli Fitsall tool to scrape the walls of the chamber.  I then sand the chamber using a piece of 240 grit paper wrapped around the Sharpie Pen.  Finally, I wipe the fire chamber using a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.  The chamber looks good – no problems detected. Now, to clean the external briar I use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap to clean using a cotton pad.  I take a couple of pictures to mark the beginning point – I want to compare before and after the cleaning.  I clean with Murphy’s and a cotton pad and when finished I rinse the stummel with tap water.  Well, I can tell that the surface is cleaner, but the finish is not improved.  It remains a dull and not very exciting, and I wonder again if the briar underneath the finish is in bad shape and if the dark stain was intentional to cover the imperfections… I switch now to the internals of the stummel.  Using pipe cleaners and cotton buds I clean the mortise and the airway.  As I was cleaning the mortise and airway, I began to take note that the pipe cleaners and cotton buds were coming out with a reddish hue.  It appears that the stain used to color the stummel was also in the internals – that I don’t think is a good situation.  I wouldn’t want to be smoking a pipe with the normal moisture that happens in the pipe mixing with the heated stain….  Not on my watch!  I decide to put the entire stummel into an alcohol soak to clean and to remove the stain residing in the mortise and airway walls.  Time to turn out the lights.The next morning early, I get up with the birds and look at the two bottles on my workbench – one an alcohol bath and the other an OxiClean bath.  I decide to fish the stummel out of the alcohol bath and have a look.  The dark stain on the stummel weathered the alcohol bath and I run a cotton bud in the mortise to see if there was any color.  There wasn’t.  The primary purpose of the alcohol bath was accomplished.  Next, I fish the stem out of the OxiClean bath and take a few pictures to show the raised oxidation.  I adjust the aperture on the second picture to reveal better what I can see with the naked eye.  I then take the stem to the sink and wet sand the raised oxidation with 600 grit paper and following this with 0000 grade steel wool.  The minor tooth chatter I detected earlier on the bit was removed during the process of removing the oxidation.  The fancy stem looks good.I look back to the stummel.  The overnight alcohol bath lightened the finish slightly, but it is not to my liking. The fogginess of the finish is the problem – I like to view the grain not fuzz.  The stummel also has normal signs of wear – bumps, small scratches and some small dents.To remove the finish and nicks and dents I use sanding sponges.  Starting first with a coarser sponge I sand the stummel staying clear of the nomenclature stamping on the shank.  To guard the stamping from the sanding, I apply acetone with cotton pads to remove the finish.  It takes a while to break down the finish, but it eventually does the job.  I follow the coarse sponge with a mid-range sponge and then finish with a light grade sponge.   The pictures show the sponge sanding process. With the use of micromesh pads, I then wet sand the stummel using pads 1500 to 2400. Following this, I dry sand using pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Pray tell!  Look what was hiding beneath all the fuzzy, foggy finish!  The grain is coming out nicely!  I feel like I’m on a roll with this pipe – just a makeover, no major issues!  These easier projects are nice when they come.  I have been thinking about the finish.  I want to bend the tint of the stummel to the original darker brown, but I don’t want to go real dark.  I’ve been going back and forth in my mind about using Fiebing’s Saddle Tan Pro Dye, which would keep it closer to the natural briar color I’m seeing now.  Or, I’ve also considered Fiebing’s Light Brown Leather Dye that would cast the hue in a brown direction.  Both dyes are aniline based, or alcohol, and gives the flexibility of lightening either dye by wiping the dyed surface with an alcohol wetted cotton pad.  I decide on Fiebing’s Light Brown because it will be in the same scheme as the original color. After getting all the setup tools out and mounting the stummel on a cork to serve as a handle, I wipe the bowl down with alcohol to assure that it is clean.  I then heat the stummel over a hot air gun which expands the briar grain thus making it more receptive to the dye.  I then apply Fiebing’s Light Brown Leather Dye to the stummel using a folded pipe cleaner.  I make sure that the entire surface is covered.  I then flame the wet aniline dye which combusts the alcohol in the dye setting the pigment in the grain.  After a few minutes, I repeat applying more dye to the stummel and then firing it.  I set the stummel aside to allow it to rest – thus helping to ensure that the dye will not later come off on the hands when the newly restored stummel is heated up during use.  The pictures show the staining progress. While the newly stained bowl rests, I return to the stem.  Using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 I wet sand the stem.  Following this, I dry sand using pads 3200 to 4000 then 6000 to 12000.  After each set of three pads, I apply a coat of Obsidian Oil to reinvigorate the vulcanite.  The stem looks great!  It’s been several hours since I dyed the Italian Custom’s stummel and it’s time to unwrap the bowl!  I like this part because it is always a question as to how the grain receives the dye.  I mount a felt buffing wheel onto the Dremel dedicated for use with Red Tripoli compound.  I set the speed to the slowest and I first purge the buffing wheel with the Dremel’s adjustment wrench – cleaning the wheel of old compound.  I then use the Tripoli and the felt wheel to ‘unwrap’ the fired dye crust revealing the briar beneath. I take a picture of the ‘unwrapping’ – and my, what a kaleidoscope of grain is revealed!  I’m amazed at what I see!  After I complete the ‘unwrapping’ with Tripoli compound, I wet a cotton pad with alcohol and lightly wipe the dyed surface of the stummel.  My goal is not so much to lighten, because I like the shade of browns I’m seeing.  The purpose is to blend the dye more evenly over the surface and remove any excess dye on the surface. I follow by applying Blue Diamond to the reunited stem and stummel.  To do this I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel and increase the speed of the Dremel to about 40% full power.  After the compounds are completed, I give the pipe a wipe down with a felt cloth to remove the compound dust from the surface.  I then finish by applying a few coats of carnauba wax with another cotton cloth buffing wheel mounted to the Dremel at the same speed.  Then I give the entire pipe a brisk hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine more.

When I began the restoration of the Italian Custom Shape, my expectations of what this pipe might look like at the end in no way matched the result.  The briar on this pipe is a brilliant kaleidoscope of grain swirls, circles and tunnels.  It is mesmerizing to look at what was hidden underneath the old finish – God’s beauty in creation.  Not an old pipe, it appears that the manufacture simply aimed to produce an interesting shape without an appreciation for what this pipe could be and what it now has become.  This Italian Custom was commissioned by Taylor and he will have first dibs on it when I place it in The Pipe Steward Store.  This pipe will benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  This pipe earns a ‘before and after’ shot – what a transformation! Thanks for joining me!   

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Rescuing Another L. J. Peretti Oom Paul: An Upside-Down Stem and Other Hurdles!


Blog by Dal Stanton

As with people, when you look at pipes, the way you look at them can be cursory – like walking down the sidewalk in the city center of Sofia.  You see colors, fashions, groupings of people, a quick intake of information and not much of the information reaches longer term memory in our brains.  I’ve been looking at the Peretti Lot of 10 that has been my focus over the past weeks as I’ve recommissioned each, one by one.  Interestingly though, not until a pipe reaches the status as “the one” on the worktable do you really start seeing it. The difference might be like walking the city sidewalk as I described above and then comparing this to looking at your new granddaughters for the first time just after their births – which I’ve had the pleasure of in the past several months!  Oh my, you look at toes, each one, fingers, how the ears hang and curl…. There is no end to the enjoyment of taking in the fulness of the detail!  When looking at the ‘the one’ close-up – the detail of an estate pipe in need of restoration, the detail will not be tented with the rose-colored glasses affixed when looking at grandchildren!  Here are the pictures I took from the city ‘side walk’ of the next Peretti Oom Paul now on my worktable when I was cataloging the Peretti Lot of 10 when they arrived here in Bulgaria together. After restoring several of these Perettis, all having the same steward, I’ve become familiar with what to expect.  Each Peretti has the former steward’s ‘MO’.  This Peretti falls in line.  It has thick cake in the chamber and thick, crusty lava covering the rim.  The left side of the chamber/rim is scorched and charred from the tobacco lighting habit of excessively pulling the fire over the side and damaging the briar.  Even as I do what I can to correct it, this Peretti will also leave the worktable with the same limp as his 9 brothers and cousins did in different degrees – an imbalanced and out of round rim/chamber.  Additionally, this Peretti Oom Paul’s stem is dented and chewed with almost the same ‘finger prints’ as the others.  These are the issues stemming from the former steward’s pipe smoking practices.  And yet, the stummel shows great potential – like the others, the grain on this large Oom Paul stummel is quite eye catching under the dirt and grime.  I see normal nicks and bumps of being a faithful servant in the rotation – the briar will clean up well, I’m sure of this.

Unfortunately, there’s more to the story.  In my previous write ups of the other Perettis, I had commented that some of the Oom Pauls’ stems were not aligned well with the shanks due to less than ideal drilling precision.  I have never made a pipe and my hat is off to those whose interests and creativity take them in this direction – there are many beautifully done Free Style pipes I see all the time posted by fellow pipe men and women.  I understand that the drilling of a stummel is one of the more complex parts of making pipes – especially when sharp angles require multiple drillings.  When I took a closer look at the pipe my eyes focused on the fact that there was a huge ridge overhanging the shank.  As I turned the pipe over looking at it from different angles, it appeared that somehow the wrong stem was mistakenly joined with this shank!  I looked at the other Oom Paul I have left in the basket to restore, in the queue for a new steward, and it was obvious that the other stem was not matching this stummel.  I came to the sad conclusion that this drilling job simply was shoddy.  Here’s what I see of ‘the one’ on my work table: No matter which angle I chose or how I squinted my eyes it didn’t make what I was looking at any better!  Oh my.  The next thought I had was of Abraham, a Californian and fellow pipe man and member of the Facebook group, ‘The Gentlemen’s Pipe Smoking Society’.  What would he think when he reads this blog after having commissioned this pipe, waiting patiently over the weeks as it slowly moved up in the queue!  Fortunate for him, I AM a man of prayer and this pipe WILL benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria!  I’m already wondering what I will do to rescue this ailing Oom Paul!  I remembered my research on Peretti for my first Peretti restoration a few years ago.  I wondered where the Boston-based L. J. Peretti Co., manufactured their pipes.  I sent an email to the Peretti Tobacconist in Boston and was amazed that I received a response. Here is what I learned:

Hello Dal,

We have been sourcing our proprietary pipes from a number of different manufacturers. That said, it is most likely that Arlington Briars made the pipe you have in your possession. Photos would help us identify the pipe further. I will have to look through some of our old content and see what I can find.

Hope this helps, Tom  LJP

Per Pipedia: Arlington Briar Pipes Corporation was founded in 1919 in Brooklyn, New York, and produced the Arlington, Briarlee, Firethorn, Krona and Olde London brands among dozens of others, primarily acting as a subcontractor making pipes to be sold under other brand names. Among others, in the 1950’s, Arlington turned pipes for the famed Wilke Pipe Shop in New York City. The corporation was dissolved by the State of New York as inactive on December 6, 1978. 

I don’t know for certain that Arlington Briar Pipes produced the Peretti Lot of 10, but when I looked at the Pipedia page, this picture of Arlington’s own brand, this Oom Paul was staring at me.  He looks very familiar!  Well, we won’t know for sure, but the history of L. J. Peretti and the drilling of this Oom Paul interests me!  In the back of my mind as I begin restoring this pipe, is the huge misalignment of the stem and stummel.

The first step in the restoration of this L. J. Peretti Oom Paul is to add the stem to a bath of Before and After Deoxidizer.  After several hours in the bath with other stems, I take out the stem and drain it of Deoxidizer and wipe it down with a cotton pad wetted with light paraffin oil (mineral oil) to remove the oxidation that was raised during the soak. I then use Before and After Fine Polish followed by Extra Fine Polish to further condition the vulcanite and remove oxidation.  I work the polishes in with my fingers and after a time, wipe them with a cotton cloth.Turning to the Oom Paul stummel, I see that there is still tobacco at the floor of the chamber.  I clear that, and I ream the thick cake using the Pipnet Reaming Kit.  I start with the smallest blade and working to the larger blades as the cake is incrementally removed.  I use three of the four blades in the Pipnet Kit.I then turn to the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to fine tune the reaming job.  This is the most painful part for me – carefully removing the charred briar on the rim and watching the rim grow thinner on the damaged side and out of round!  The good news is that the chamber itself looks stellar. To clean the chamber further I use 240 grit paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen and sand the chamber.  Finally, I wipe the chamber out with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to remove the carbon dust for all the reaming.  The pictures show the process. With all the other Perettis, the basic cleaning of the external surface and the rim revealed beautiful grain underneath the grime.  I have the same expectations for this Oom Paul stummel.  Using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a cotton pad I go to work on the briar surface and the lava on the rim.  I also use a brass brush to work at removing the lava on the rim.  To carefully scrape the rim, I utilize the flat sharp edge of the Savinelli Fitsall Tool.  I rinse the stummel with tap water.  The pictures show the progress, before and after.  Quite a difference!  My eye is drawn to a spider web grain pattern on the stummel’s left side – shown in the first two pictures – very nice! I turn now to clean the internals and it doesn’t take too much. I use pipe cleaners, cotton buds and a shank brush to work on the draft hole and mortise.  Even though the internals are cleaning up nicely, I like to utilize a kosher salt and alcohol soak to freshen and clean even more thoroughly preparing the pipe for a new steward.To prepare the soak, I form a wick using a cotton ball.  I stretch and twist it and then push it down the mortise and draft hole. I use a straight piece of an old wire clothes hanger to push and guide the wick. This wick acts to draw out the residual tars and oils as the salt and isopropyl 95% do their job.  I then position the stummel in an egg carton for stability and fill the chamber with kosher salt.  I asked the question when I first saw this method used, why kosher?  The answer I received was that it didn’t leave an aftertaste as does iodized salt.  Sounded reasonable to me.  I then give the stummel a shake with the chamber cupped to displace the salt.  Then, using a large eye dropper I fill the chamber with isopropyl 95% till it surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes I top it off with a bit more alcohol because it has absorbed into the fresh cotton wick and salt.  I put the stummel aside and let the soak do its thing. The next morning as expected, the darkening of the salt and wick indicate that more tars and oils were pulled out of the internals.  I thump the stummel on my palm releasing the expended salt in the waste.  I wipe the bowl with paper towel, blowing through the mortise to dislodge remaining salt.  I also use a multi-sized shank brush to do this.  Finally, I run another pipe cleaner and cotton bud dipped in isopropyl 95% in the mortise and draft hole to finalize the cleaning.   After reuniting the stem and stummel again, I take another long, hard look at the goblin stem that was lurking in my subconscious!  I have been mulling over the stem/shank junction and what it would take to repair –  counting the cost in sanding and lost briar.  As I fiddled with the stem, twisting it around checking the looseness of the fit, I stumbled onto the solution to the alignment conundrum!  When I reversed the stem, so that it was upside down, the saddle of the stem and the shank lined up almost perfectly!  The old 70s song came to mind, “Oh happy day!” I have absolutely no idea what was going on in the production line of the Arlington Briar Pipes factory that day, if indeed it was there, but there was a breakdown in communication between the drill man and the stem bending man (or women!).  My mind wonders whether they had a few beers over lunch….  I’m scratching my head, but this restoration was just made a little less difficult!  The junction between the end of the shank and saddle stem shows a bit of gap (daylight) but that can be addressed.  My plan: re-bend the upside-down stem, thereby turning the upside-down stem to right-side up!  Did you follow that? The pictures show the discovery! To make sure I retain the same angle of bend, which seems to be on the money, I trace the stem’s angle on a piece of paper which I’ll use as a template for the reversing bend.  I use a narrow-rounded glass bottle to provide the back-board for the bending.  I then insert a pipe cleaner through the draft hole to help to maintain the stem’s integrity during the heating and bending.  Using a heat gun, I gradually heat the stem in the bend area and when the vulcanite becomes pliable I bend it over the glass and size it up on the template.  When I think I have it right, I place the stem under cool tap water to cool the vulcanite and set the bend.  The first time through, I’m not satisfied that I create enough bend.  I repeat the process again.  The second time was the charm.  I like the bend – the fit is now much, much better in the shank. While I’m on the stem adjustment, I now address the gaps or ‘daylight’ I can see between the shank base and the stem saddle.  I start using by 600 grade paper on the topping board and I VERY gently top the shank base primarily to clean and start with a flat surface.  I then use a piece of 600 grade paper, folded over once, inserting it between the shank base and saddle of the stem as a two-side sanding pad.  I work on sanding down the high spots so that the gaps close.  After a while, I’m not making progress too quickly, so I switch to 470 grade paper – a little coarser, and it does the trick.  It takes quite a while sanding and testing repeatedly and making sure the stem stays in proper straight alignment during the sanding. I’m able to sand the high spots and achieve a much better, not perfect(!) union between the stem and shank. Another adjustment is needed with the fit of the tenon and mortise.  The fit now is looser than I prefer.  I will tighten the fit hopefully by heating the tenon while inserting a slight larger drill bit into the tenon’s airway and expanding it.  I heat the tenon with a Bic lighter and gradually work the smooth end of the drill bit down the airway.  I cool the vulcanite with tap water to hold the expansion and withdraw the bit and test in the mortise.  The fit is now snugger and that is good.  That completes the mechanical adjustments to the stem – its working well!  Even after the stem was turned ‘upside down’ to achieve better alignment, the saddle of the stem is enlarged over the shank at different places creating a ridge as I move my finger toward the stem over the junction.  To correct this, I use 240 sanding paper to work on these ridges of vulcanite.  I keep the stem inserted into the shank to do this.  As I sand at the edge, dealing with the ridge, I’m also sanding up the saddle to taper the angle.  I don’t want a mound of vulcanite to circle the saddle, so I blend the angle through the entire saddle – rounding it as well.  The first picture shows the evidence of a ridge with the vulcanite dust collecting.  The rest of the pictures show the stem flush with the shank and the tapering work on the saddle.  Of course, the ‘L. J. Peretti Co.’, stamping on the shank is carefully safe-guarded during the sanding. After the 240 grade paper, I go over the same area with 470 grit paper followed by 600 which goes much faster because the purpose is to erase the scratches of the previous sanding paper.  I am truly amazed at the recovery of this Oom Paul’s shank/stem alignment issues.  The entire structure of the pipe is now tighter and sharper.  The pictures show the completion of this part of the restoration for which I am thankful!  Now I remove the stem from the stummel and flip the stem over to the bit area to repair the tooth chatter and dents.  I take pictures of the upper and lower bit as well as a severe dent on the lower button lip to mark the starting point.  The first step is to employ the heating method. I use a Bic lighter and paint the vulcanite with the flame.  As a rubber composite, the vulcanite expands with the heating and so the dents will rise reclaiming their original place in the whole – or almost.  The dents have been lessened but not removed.  The lower bit’s dents have almost vanished and will probably only need sanding.  The upper bit and the button lip still have quite a bit of damage. I then take 240 grit paper and sand the bit and button to see what is left to patch. While I’m at it I sand the entire stem since it was re-bent in the extreme opposite, I want to remove any residual ripples in the vulcanite.  The lower bit dents sanded out completely.  The upper bit and button need to be patched.  Pictures show the progress – first, upper then lower bit and button after sanding with 240 grit paper. Now I will patch the upper bit using BSI Maxi-Cure Extra Thick CA glue mixed with activated charcoal dust. I will patch the two dents as well as the left side of the button lip.  It needs to be rebuilt.  After I put a small amount of charcoal dust on an index card, I drop a little CA glue next to the activated charcoal dust.  Then, using a tooth pick, I draw charcoal dust into the dollop of glue mixing it as I go.  Gradually, as I draw more charcoal dust into the CA glue it begins to form a thicker putty.  When it reaches the right consistency – like molasses, I use the tooth pick as a trowel and apply the patch putty to both dents and to the left side of the lower button lip to rebuild it.    I put the stem aside to allow the patches to cure.With the stem patches curing, I now look to the rim damage.  I take another close-up to get another look….  It’s amazing how things jump out – when I took the picture of the rim to begin working on cleaning it up, in the picture I notice what I hadn’t seen before – look beyond the rim to the shank….When I first saw it, I thought it might simply be a wet line left over from cleaning the stummel.  But after closer examination with a magnifying glass it confirmed what I was hoping against!  A crack in the shank emanating from the ‘crook’ or where the shank and bowl join.  I had almost the same thing in a previous Peretti Oom Paul restoration (See: Two of Boston’s L. J. Peretti Oom Pauls Recommissioned) – a shank crack that came from the crook and worked up toward the stem but did not reach the shank end.  I closely inspect the mortise for evidence of an internal crack and I see none.  I really don’t know how this crack started – it appears to be trauma created from the inserted tenon pushing forcefully toward the top of the mortise because of a drop which forced the stem down – my guess.  I would think if this were the case, you would expect more trauma on the back of the shank – as a reaction force.  But I see no indication of this.  I take a few close-ups of the crack to see it more clearly.The good news is that the crack is localized in the briar and has not crept all the way to the end of the shank.  As I did before, to block the ‘crack creep’ I drill small holes at both ends of the crack which will arrest its growth.  Drilling in the crook is not easy!  With the aid of a magnifying glass, I mark the ends of the crack with the sharp point of a dental probe.  I use these as a drill guide (first picture below). I then mount a 1mm drill bit into the Dremel and I VERY carefully drill the holes – not an easy feat holding the Dremel free hand!  I wipe off the area with a cotton pad this apply thin CA glue to both holes as well as along the line of the crack.  The thin CA glue will seep more deeply into the crack helping to seal it.  I then sprinkle briar dust on the entire repair area to help blending later when I sand.  I set the stummel aside to let the crack repair cure. While I’m working on the stummel, I also detect two places that have very small gaps in the briar that I want to fill.  I apply a drop of regular CA glue to each gap.  After applying the first drop, I wait an hour or so for the glue to set so that I can flip the stummel and apply the other patch.  After the first patch sets, I apply the drop of glue on the other side and set the stummel aside to allow the CA glue patches to cure. With stummel patches curing I turn again to the stem and the charcoal dust and CA glue patches are ready to be filed and sanded on the bit and to reshape the button.  I start by using a flat needle file to bring the patch mounds down to the vulcanite surface level.  I also shape the new button with the file.  The pictures show the filing progress.  Switching to sanding paper, I first use 240 grit to bring the patch mounds down to the vulcanite surface and to blend, erasing the file scratches.  I continue to shape and blend the button profile.  Then I switch to 600 grade paper and sand the entire stem to erase the scratches left by the 240 grade paper.  Finally, I use 0000 grade steel wool to sand/buff the entire stem to smooth out the scratches left by the 600 grade paper.  I like the results.  The reformed button looks good.  With a closer look at one of the patches, I detect very small air pocket cavities in the patch which is common.  To rectify this, using a tooth pick, I paint both patches, to be on the safe side, with a thin layer of thin CA glue to fill the cavities.  I wait a few hours for the CA glue to cure and I sand the patch again with 600 grade paper and then again with the 0000 steel wool.   I have sanding patch projects on the stummel to address.  I start first with the crack repair on the shank.  Using 240 grit paper I sand down the patch over both holes on each side of the crack as well as the crack itself.  I then follow with 600 grit paper over the entire area.  The repair looks good and will blend well as I finish the pipe.  The main thing was to protect the pipe from a creeping crack – this is done.Turning to the patches on both sides of the stummel, I use a flat needle file, then 240 grit paper followed by 600 on both sides.  As I file/sand, I try to stay on top of the patch mound to minimize impact on surrounding briar. Patches on the stummel are finished.  Now I turn to the rim repair. I feel like I’ve been around the block a few times with the repairs to the stummel and now I’m finally looking at the rim repair.  I take another picture to get a closer look and mark the starting point.  In the picture below, the bottom of the picture is the left side of the rim that has sustained the most damage from burned briar because of the former stewards practice of lighting his tobacco over the side of the rim instead of over the tobacco. I cannot replace the lost briar but what I try to do as I remove the damaged briar is to restore the balance to the rim as much as possible.  I do this through beveling. First, I take the stummel to the topping board which for me is a chopping board covered with 240 grit paper.  After inverting the stummel, I rotate it over the board in an even, circular motion.  I check the progress often to make sure I’m not leaning in the direction of the damaged area.  It is especially a challenge topping an Oom Paul because his shank is extended beyond the plane of the rim.  So, I hang the shank off the side of the board as I top.  I utilize a flat sanding block as well to direct the topping in specific areas.  When I’ve taken enough off in topping, I switch the paper to 600 grit on the topping board to give the rim a quick smoothing by removing the 240 scratches.  You can see in the pictures below how I unintentionally nicked the shank in the process….Next, to remove the internal ring of scorched briar I use a tightly folded piece of coarse 120 grade paper to cut a bevel around the internal edge.  I increase the bevel on the ‘fat’ areas of the rim seeking to balance the roundness a bit – even though nothing will solve it completely!  The goal is to give the appearance of more balance.  After completing the main shaping of the bevel with the coarser 120 paper, I continue using a rolled piece of 240 grit paper.  I take a picture at this point to mark the progress.I take the stummel back to the topping board with 600 grit paper to define the rim lines again.One last step in the rim repair.  The external edge of the rim is sharp because of the topping.  To soften the appearance of the rim and to enhance the overall presentation of the rim, I cut a small, gentle bevel on the external edge.  I do this with 240 grit paper rolled, then follow with 600 grit paper.  I pinch the paper on the edge of the rim with my thumb and move methodically and evenly around the circumference.  We live in a broken world and many people live their lives with a limp – it reminds us of our frailty.  This Peretti Oom Paul will always have a limp of a bowl that is out of round because of the damage he sustained in the past.  Despite this, the rim looks pretty good considering from where we’ve come! Anxious to move the stummel along, I now address the briar surface.  Using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 I wet sand the stummel.  I follow this with dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 then 6000 to 12000.  I enjoy watching the briar grain emerge through this process! With the previous Peretti restorations, and with this one, I strive to maintain the original Peretti light, natural grain motif.  I have used Before and After Restoration Balm to deepen and enrichen the natural grain color.  I’ve been more than satisfied with the previous restorations and will apply the Balm to this Peretti Oom Paul as well.  I apply Balm to my finger and then I work it into the briar surface with the ends of my fingers.  The Balm starts with an oily feel then it gradually transforms into a thicker wax-like substance.  After I work it in, I set it on the stand to allow the Balm to work.  I take a picture of this and then after several minutes I wipe/buff the Balm off with a microfiber cloth.  The results look great. With the stummel awaiting a stem to catch up, I turn to the stem.  The CA glue painting of the air pocket cavities in the bit patch is ready for sanding and I use 240 grade paper to sand down to the stem surface.  I then use 600 grade paper followed by 0000 grade steel wool to finish it out.  The bit repair is done, and it looks good.  All the air pockets have been removed.I move on to the micromesh pad cycles.  First, I wet sand using pads 1500 to 2400.  I follow by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 then 6000 to 12000.  After each set of 3 pads I apply Obsidian Oil to the stem which rejuvenates the vulcanite.  I love the glassy shine of polished vulcanite! After reuniting stem and stummel, I mount the Dremel with a cotton cloth buffing wheel and apply Blue Diamond compound to the pipe.  I set the Dremel to its slowest speed and apply the compound in a methodical way – not applying too much pressure to the wheel but allowing the speed of the Dremel and abrasiveness of the compound to do the work.  I then wipe the pipe with a felt cloth to remove compound dust.  Then, mounting another cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel, and increasing the speed to about 40% full power, I apply a few coats of carnauba wax to the stem and stummel.  I finish the process by giving the pipe a good hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine.

I must admit, I was so occupied with the technical aspects of this restoration that I didn’t fully appreciate the beauty of this pipes color and grain until now.  I especially like the ‘burst’ on the left side of the large Oom Paul stummel.  Earlier I called it a spider web effect – now it looks more like a center of clustered circles, the bird’s eye grain, and sunburst expanding out from it.  Very striking grain showcased on this classic Oom Paul shape. He’s overcome an upside-down stem, a crack in the crook of the shank, a chewed up bit and a burned up rim – I would say he’s looking good now for what he’s been through!  This Peretti was commissioned by Abraham in California and he will have first dips on this L. J. Peretti Oom Paul when he goes into The Pipe Steward Store.  This pipe benefits the work of the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls (and their children!) who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thank you for joining me!

Sprucing up one that I have always wanted – BC Origine Mava


Blog by Steve Laug

A few weeks ago I received an email from a reader of the blog living in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada about some pipes that he was selling. There were some Bari’s, Stanwell’s, Svendborgs, and a Butz-Choquin. He sent me pictures of the lot and I was hooked. He is primarily a cigarette smoker so these pipes are relatively clean. He said that the Butz-Choquin had hardly been smoked. We did an etransfer and the pipes were on their way to me. They arrived in Vancouver in a couple of days (quite different from the ones I pick up in Eastern Canada or in the US). I opened the box and looked through the eight pipes I purchased and the pipe rack that he included. I was pleased with the purchase. I decided to work on the BC one first. I took photos of my own discovery of what the Butz-Choquin pipe looked like. I took photos of the box to give an idea of the process of discover. When I opened the box there was an interesting looking pipe – not very big but one that I had wanted to see for a long time. It also had a tag in the box that I took a photo of as well.I took a photo of the card that was in the box with the pipe. It can be seen in the next two photos with English on the one side and the other side in French. It reads: Origine de Butz Choquin. The oldest pipe in the collection, which made its inventor, Mr. Choquin famous in 1858. It embodies all the charm and elegance of the 19th century. Its aged briar enhanced by a very fine middle section, formed from a hollowed out albatross bone gives a mild and light smoke. The fellow who sent it to me had packed it in a pipe bag. It was not original but it did the job. I took the pipe out of the bag and took photos of it from different angles to give an idea of the uniqueness and beauty of this pipe. The pipe is 7 ½ inches long, 1 ¾ inches tall, the diameter of the bowl is 1 1/8 inches and the chamber diameter is 5/8 inches. The sandblast finish is a little dusty but in very good condition and really quite attractive. The shape of the bowl has a foot on the bottom, almost like a clay tavern pipe and sits easily on the foot. The albatross bone is in great shape. It has a silver coloured end cap on it that is a bit tarnished. The stem is acrylic with Tortoiseshell amber or Bakelite look to it and it is in excellent condition. The bowl is lightly smoked and not even broken in; my guess is that maybe one of two bowls were smoked in it. There is still raw briar in the bottom third of the bowl. I took some close up photos of the underside of the shank to capture the stamping there. It reads Butz-Choquin over MAVA with the number 025 on the shank end. As the pipe is turned it is also stamped on the underside St. Claude France.I took a photo of the end of the shank to show brass ring inset in the end to strengthen the briar with the long stem and the metal end cap on the stem.I took the pipe apart and took pictures of the pieces. The first one below shows the bowl. You can see the raw briar in the bottom of the bowl and the slight darkening to the rest of the bowl. It is quite clean with a slight aromatic smell. I took photos of the albatross wing bone and the acrylic stem that was permanently attached to the bone.I took some close up photos of the stem to show its general condition. It is hard to tell from the photos but the stem has a Tortoiseshell pattern in the reds of the acrylic. There was some light tooth chatter on both sides of the stem at the button – nothing to deep or damaging. I also took a close up of the metal end cap on the shank end of the wing bone. It is tarnished where it is inserted in the shank but otherwise just dull.It was time to do a bit of reading about this pipe. The one I have is a little different from the one that is described in the quote below. It is not a billiard shape but rather a cutty shaped pipe. The extended stem on the one I have appears to be true bone rather than the white acrylic that is shown in the photos that accompany the article. The stem itself is reddish, amber or Bakelite colour rather than the black as noted. It is very light weight and actually quite delicate looking.

On the GQ Tobaccos site I found some interesting information about the brand and this particular pipe. The link is; http://www.gqtobaccos.com/pipes/butz-choquin-origine-sandblasted/. I quote in full from the website.

The Butz Choquin Origine pipes represent one of the first designs created by Jean-Baptiste Choquin and Gustave Butz in the mid 1800’s. The Original Origine made use of an albatross wing bone, for the long, extended stem. The deep billiard style bowl, sports a slight foot on the base and is finished sandblasted with a brown stain. The stem extenders is made from Acrylic (faux bone effect) and fitted with a nickel spigot and matching band near the mouthpiece. The black acrylic mouthpiece is curved, making this demi warden/reading pipe ideal for hands free smoking. The spigot fitting makes the use of the common 9mm filter impossible, but it can be used without easily.

Butz Choquin started life back as a tobacconist in Metz, during 1850’s run by Jean-Baptiste Choquin. One of Jeans longest serving members of staff was a young Gustave Butz who had a desire to not only sell pipes, but also create them. In 1958 Gustave married Jeans eldest Daughter Marie and become an actual part of the family.

The pair set about creating a unique and distinct pipe, the now world famous “BC Origine” was first created in same year. This flat bottomed bowl was fitted with a long albatross bone shank and dual silver rings. To this day this pipe is one of the most iconic from Butz Choquin range, although sadly it no longer has the natural shank, replaced with acrylic.

Over the years the pair created a large range of pipes which not only sold within their own, but exported all over Europe and further field. The popularity of the pairs pipes grew and grew and by the 1951 the Berrod-Regad company brought out the family company. Production continued in Metz until 2002 when the whole operation was shifted to the mountain community St Claude. This picturesque village had been the centre of the worlds Briar trade for generations and the local craftsmen continued to produce high quality pipes.

To this day Butz Choquin are renowned for their desire of making more interesting and left field colour schemes. Using high quality briar, original equipment and colourful dyes/acrylic rods.

With that information I turned to the relative simple refurbish on this pipe. Looking at the bowl it is very different from the photos of the ones that I have seen online. The extension is not the white acrylic and the plumbing for holding it all together is very different from the current photos. It makes me wonder the age of the pipe. I wrote to the fellow who sold it to me to see if he remembers when he purchased it… the verdict is out on this one for now.

I started my clean up by working some Before & After Restoration Balm into nooks and crannies of the sandblast finish on 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 sandblast finish shows the character of the grain on the underlying briar in the photos below. It is a really nice piece of wood and the shape is quite unique in terms of the finished look. I decided to use the Before & After Restoration Balm on the extended shank. If it was bone then it would enliven it and add protection to it. If it is acrylic the same would be true. Whatever the material is it is an oval piece with a slight bend in it. It is set in the stem and in the metal end cap. I rubbed it in by hand and buffed it off with a soft cloth. I polished the end cap with micromesh sanding pads – using 1500-12000 grit pads to bring a real sheen to the metal. It is probably nickel as it does not have any silver standard stamps on the cap. I polished it with a jeweler’s cloth as a finishing touch. It looks far better after cleaning.I cleaned out the mortise and airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners to remove the lingering aromatic smell and any tars or oils that had collected in those spots. It was pretty clean so it did not take too much to clean those spots.  The bowl and shank extension were clean and polished. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. I sanded out the tooth chatter with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I carefully polished bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl, shank extension and the stem multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed the bowl separately with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the extended shank and pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The dark brown stain worked really well with the mottled “wing bone” extension and the Tortoiseshell acrylic stem. The finished pipe has a truly unique look to it that I had not seen before. I really like the looks of it. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 7 1/2 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outer diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 5/8 inches. This unique is staying with me as an addition to my collection. I look forward to loading it with some rich, aged McClellands 5100 and enjoying a quiet and reflective bowl. Hopefully this refurbishment was worth your time to read. Thank you for walking with me as I worked over this beauty. 

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. 

Working on Paresh’s Grandfather’s Barling’s Make Ye Olde Wood Fossil 271


Blog by Steve Laug

As I mentioned in my previous blog, Paresh, my friend in India reached out to me over Whatsapp to talk about a few more of his Grandfather’s pipes. He was confident in working on many of them but there were a few that he wanted me to try my hand on. His wife Abha would ream and clean them for me so I would be able to start with a relatively clean pipe. The third pipe was a sandblast Barling’s Make billiard with a vulcanite stem. It was another pipe that was in rough condition when Paresh and Abha started working on it. They reamed the thick hard cake with a KleenReem pipe reamer and clean up the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap. They also cleaned the interior with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. The pipe was in very rough condition. There were cracks in the bowl on the front and the left side. The rim was beat up and out of round. It had been reamed with a knife sometime in its life. The stamping on the underside of the bowl and shank read Barling’s in an arch over Make over Ye Olde Wood. Next to that was the shape number 271. Further down the flattened shank it was stamped with an EL followed by Made In England, Fossil and T.V.F. The stem was lightly oxidized and had some tooth chatter and marks on both sides. It had a faint Barling’s cross logo on the top. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition when it arrived. I took some close up photos of the damage on the bowl to give a better idea of what I was working with on this pipe. The rim top was a real mess with nicks, chips and damage under a coat of tars. The bowl was out of round but workable. There were two cracked areas – one on the front of the bowl from the rim down and one on the left side from the rim down. Paresh and Abha had reamed the bowl for me so the inside was quite clean. The stem was in pretty decent shape with a few tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem near the button and some oxidation. The bowl was a real mess and it would be a challenge. I took photos of the stamping on the underside of the shank. As noted above it reads Barling’s in and arch over Make and the Ye Olde Wood over 271 on the bottom of the bowl. The shank is stamped EL followed by Made in England, Fossil and T.V.F.I decided to clean up the remaining thin cake in the bowl to get back to bare briar. I wanted to see the extent of the damage on the walls of the bowl interior before I addressed the damage on the outside of the bowl. I used a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to scrape away the remaining cake. Once it was clean, I sanded the inside of the bowl with a piece of dowel wrapped with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the bowl walls and the inner edge of the rim.To clean up the rim top and remove the serious damage on that portion of the pipe I topped it with 220 grit sandpaper on a topping board. I remove the damage portion and flattened the top of the rim. I would need to repair the cracks in the rim top and then rusticated it to match the finish on the bowl.I wiped down the surface of the briar with alcohol on a cotton pad to clean off the grime. I drilled tiny pin holes at the end of each crack on the exterior of the bowl in hopes of stopping the spread of the crack. I filled in the damaged areas around the bowl and on the rim with briar dust and clear super glue. At this point in the process the repairs appear quite crude. Lots of work still remains to blend them into the sandblast finish of the bowl. I used a brass bristle tire brush to work over the repaired areas on the front and side of the bowl. I wanted to clean up the rough edges of the repair and try to blend it into the finish around it. The bristles are stiff enough to remove the edges and I think works well to blend it into the surface of the surrounding sandblast. I lightly topped the bowl again to smooth out the roughness of the repairs on the rim surface.I used some small burrs on my Dremel running at a slow speed of 5 to try to recreate the look of the sandblast on the rim top. It took a bit of doing but I think it gives the rim top a better look than the smooth finish. I blended a walnut and a Maple stain pen to approximate the mottled finish on the rest of the bowl. It worked pretty well I think. I will show full photos shortly. To fill in the cracks on the inside of the bowl and to protect it from burn out or further cracking I mixed up some JB Weld. It dries hard, is heat resistant and when dry is inert and does not gas off or breakdown (according to all I have been able to read). I used a dental spatula to apply it to the inside of the bowl. Once it cures for a day I will sand it out and remove the majority of it other than what will remain in the damaged areas. I wiped off the rim top with a cotton pad and alcohol to remove the small drops of JB Weld that were on the surface and restained the rim top and the repaired areas on the side and front of the bowl. I will still need to buff the bowl and wax it but it is getting very close to the look I am aiming for with this repair. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the grooves and crevices of the sandblast finish 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. I set the bowl aside and went to work on the stem. I cleaned the inside of the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol. Once the stem was clean I checked it with a light for more potential problems inside. It was clear and spotless. I sanded the stem surface with worn 220 grit sandpaper to break up the oxidation (carefully avoiding the stamping on the top of the saddle).I filled in the tooth dent on the top of the button on the top side of the stem and the two tooth dents on the underside with clear super glue.Once the glue hardened and cured I filed the repairs flat and reshaped the button with 220 grit sandpaper. I worked over the surface of the stem again with the sandpaper to blend in the repairs.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 rubbed the stem down with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to polish out the scratches. I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I avoided the stamping on the top of the saddle. There is still some oxidation there that I left because I did not want to damage the stamp. It is a nice looking stem nonetheless. I carefully polished bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and lightly 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 transparent mixed brown stain worked really well with the black vulcanite stem. The sandblast finish looked really good. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outer diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inches. This is the third of the three of Paresh’s Grandfather’s pipes that he sent me to finish. I will pack the pipes up and send them back to India this week after I give the bowl a bowl coating. I look forward to hearing what he thinks of them once he gets to load them with his favourite tobacco and carry on the pipe man’s legacy of his Grandfather. Thanks for walking through this restoration with me as I worked over this beauty. 

Working on Paresh’s Grandfather’s Linkman’s Zulu


Blog by Steve Laug

As I mentioned in my previous blog, Paresh, my friend in India reached out to me over Whatsapp to talk about a few more of his Grandfather’s pipes. He was confident in working on many of them but there were a few that he wanted me to try my hand on. His wife Abha would ream and clean them for me so I would be able to start with a relatively clean pipe. The second pipe was a Linkman Zulu with a vulcanite stem. It was in rough condition when Paresh and Abha started working on it. They reamed the thick hard cake with a KleenReem pipe reamer and clean up the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap. They also cleaned the interior with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. The pipe was in very rough condition. The sides of the bowl, the rim top had been beaten up heavily. There were gouges all over the sides and rim top of the bowl. It was a mess and it was very dirty. The stamping on the shank read Linkman’s over Dr Grabow with a silver shield next to the stem/shank junction. On the underside of the shank it was stamped De Luxe over Bruyere with a shape number 9700. On the left side of the shank it was stamped PAT. No. 1896800. The stem was oxidized but in decent condition. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition when it arrived. The tenon is the patented threaded Linkman shovel stinger apparatus. It is a single unit rather than an inserted stinger as in later models. The top of the stem has a Linkman propeller logo.I took some close up photos of the damage on the bowl to give a better idea of what I was working with on this pipe. The rim top was a real mess with nicks, chips and damage under a coat of tars. Paresh and Abha had left the cake in the bowl to me to work on because of the other damage to the pipe. The stem was in pretty decent shape with a few tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem near the button and some oxidation. The bowl was a real mess and it would be a challenge. I took photos of the stamping on the top, bottom and left side of the shank.I checked some of my usual sources to get some information on the brand and how it fit into the Linkman/Grabow hierarchy. The first link I checked was the Pipephil logos and stampings site. I include the link as follows http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-l4.html. I quote as follows.

The M. Linkman and Co. was established by Louis B. Linkman and August Fisher in 1898. The company closed down in the 1950s and the Dr Grabow branch was sold to Henry Leonard and Thomas Inc.

I then went to the Pipedia website to get some more details and information. There was also a photo of Linkman that I thought added a nice touch to the work I was going to do on this pipe. Here is the link from the site if you want to check it out in full. https://pipedia.org/wiki/M._Linkman_%26_Co.

The name is often said to stand for Mary Linkman & Company. Mary Linkman was the mother of Louis B. Linkman, originator of the Dr. Grabow pipe. This Chicago company produced meerschaums and briars both.

BACK IN 1898, two ambitious young men reached the momentous decision to go into business for themselves. They were Louis B. Linkman and August Fisher. From the time they were in knee pants they had worked for a pipe jobber in the mid-west.

Diligently saving a portion of their earnings, they accumulated a few hundred dollars, and in 1898 formed a partnership under the name of M. Linkman & Company. They opened a small shop on Lake Street, Chicago, employed two additional people, and started to manufacture pipes. {The article never mentions what the “M” stood for, or the reason for the name chosen.}

In 1890 {? — 1899, perhaps?} another young man, Anton Burger, who had also been employed by a pipe jobber in the mid-west, approached them and was taken in as a partner. M. Linkman & Company proceeded as a partnership; the business developed rapidly through the untiring efforts of these men in producing quality pipes and rendering good service to their customers.

The business continued to grow, and in 1907 M. Linkman & Company was incorporated with Louis B. Linkman as president, August Fisher, vice-president, and Anton Burger, secretary and treasurer. In 1914, Richard J. Dean, who had joined the firm in 1911 was appointed general sales manager.

The business was growing and expanding rapidly, and the executives soon realized the quarters in the Wells Street Bridge Building were inadequate, so in 1922 Linkman built a modern three-story reinforced concrete building at the corner of Fullerton Avenue and Racine, housing one of the most complete and modern pipe plants in America.

I finished by doing a Google search to find the US Patent Search site so that I could see if there was a patent document on file there for this patent number. http://patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/srchnum.htm. I entered the patent number and found a patent filed by L.B. Linkman for the pipe on April 11, 1932 and granted on February 7, 1933. I include that below. I decided to clean up the bowl interior before I addressed the damage on the outside of the bowl. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer starting with the smallest cutting head and working up to the second head which was the same size as the bowl. I reamed the cake back to bare briar to see if there was any internal damage to the bowl. I sanded the inside of the bowl with a piece of dowel wrapped with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the bowl walls and the inner edge of the rim. I sanded the rim top with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the damage and reshape the inward bevel on the rim. I wiped down the surface of the briar with alcohol on a cotton pad to clean off the grime. I filled in the damaged areas around the bowl and on the rim with briar dust and clear super glue. I sprayed it with an accelerator (that is why it appears white in the following photos). The extent of the damage is very clear in the photos below. I started to sand the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper to begin to smooth out the repairs. It would take a lot of sanding to smooth out the filled areas. The patches were rock hard. The photos that follow show the progress of the sanding. I polished the sanded briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cotton pad after each sanding pad. The briar took on a shine and the filled spots though dark were better than all of the damage present before. To help hide the repairs on the bowl I decided to stain it with a dark brown aniline stain. I applied the stain with a folded thick pipe cleaner, flamed it and repeated the process until I was pleased with the coverage on the bowl. The photos below tell the story. Once the stain had dried, I wiped the bowl down with alcohol to make it a bit more transparent without making the repairs stand out. It is a tricky balance to work out as too much transparency reveals all of the blemishes while not enough makes it opaque and lacklustre. Once I polish the pipe I will know if I did enough or too much… time will tell. I forgot to take a photo of the stem before I put it in the Before & After Deoxidizer overnight and forgot about it. Today after lunch I remembered it and took it out of the mix. I wiped off the excess and ran it under warm water to rinse off the mixture. I was unable to run water through the stem so I dried it off to have a look. It looked better but it was absolutely plugged tight. That generally means there is something like a pipe cleaner broken in the stem but I would need to take it apart to tell for sure.I tried several different ways of opening the airway. I tried to push stiff pipe cleaners through the stem from the button. By measuring the length of the pipe cleaner with the stem I could see that the blockage was in the stinger itself. I tried pushing a straightened paper clip through the blockage from both ends – the button and the airway in the stinger. Nothing worked. I heated the stinger and tried again with the paper clip and again no luck. It was time to move forward. I heated the stinger with a lighter to loosen the tars holding it in place. Since it was a 1930 era pipe I figured it would be a threaded end the stem. Sure enough, once it was heated I unscrewed from the stem.

The photo below shows the culprit – a really stinky broken off pipe cleaner jammed in the stinger. The pipe cleaner was almost the length of the stem as well so it was clear that I was merely sliding by the jam with the stinger in place. With a pipe cleaner that old and worn I was worried I would just break off more in the stinger. I heated the stinger with the lighter and then carefully wiggled the pipe cleaner free of the stinger. The second photo shows the culprit freed from the stinger. You can also see that some of the fluff on the cleaner had come off inside the stinger and left it plugged. I could still not blow air through the stinger. (I have circled the ‘fluffless’ pipe cleaner end in the second photo below.)I tried to push through the clog with the paper clip pictured above, twisting it into the threaded end but was not able to break through. That left only one option for me. I chucked a 1/16 inch drill bit in my Dremel, set the speed to 5 and slowly worked my way through the rock hard plug. It took some doing to work it through the plug but I worked it back and forth until the airway was clean and I could blow air through it. I ran pipe cleaners soaked in alcohol back and forth through the stinger and removed all of the grit and tar that had built up around the plug. It was pretty nasty stuff. But after it was said and done I had a clear and clean stinger. I cleaned out the inside of the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. Once the stem was clean I checked it with a light for more potential problems inside. It was clear and spotless.I lightly greased the threads on the stinger and turned it back into the cleaned stem. I aligned it with the mortise in the shank. The stem was getting there. I still needed to work on some oxidation but it looked a lot better and I could blow through it easily. 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 the metal stinger as well at the same time.) I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. After staining the briar and wiping it down with alcohol, I touched up the repaired areas with a Black Sharpie Pen and blended in by rubbing it. I have been using Before & After Restoration Balm after staining to further blend and clean the briar. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers, working it into the exterior of the pipe. 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. I carefully polished bowl with 3200-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I polished the stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and lightly 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 transparent dark brownish red stain worked really well with the black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outer diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inches. This is the second of the three of Paresh’s Grandfather’s pipes that he sent me to finish. I will set it aside and when the others are finished I will pack them up and send them back to India. I look forward to hearing what he thinks of it once he gets to load it with his favourite tobacco and carry on the pipe man’s legacy of his Grandfather. Thanks for walking through this restoration with me as I worked over this beauty. 

Working on another of Paresh’s Grandfather’s pipes


Blog by Steve Laug

Paresh, my friend in India reached out to me over Whatsapp to talk about a few more of his Grandfather’s pipes. He was confident in working on many of them but there were a few that he wanted me to try my hand on. His wife Abha would ream and clean them for me so I would be able to start with a relatively clean pipe. The first of these was a beautiful older WDC Bulldog with an amber coloured Bakelite stem. It was in rough condition when Paresh and Abha started working on it. They reamed the thick hard cake with a KleenReem pipe reamer and clean up the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap. They also cleaned the interior with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. The rim top had a thick over flow of lava that hid the briar that Paresh topped to smooth out. There was some darkening to the rim top and down the sides of the bowl cap. The briar was very dirty. There was a gold stamped WDC triangle on the left side of the shank and a brass decorative band that was loose. The stem was a mess. There was a large chunk of the Bakelite missing on the underside and deep tooth marks on the top and underside near and on the surface of the button. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition when it arrived.You can see the work that Paresh and Abha had done to the rim top to clean it up and remove the damage. He had also worked over the inner edge of the bowl to smooth out the damage to the edge. You can also see the extensive damage to the stem in these photos.I took some close up photos of the bowl and stem to give a better idea of what I was working with on this pipe. The rim top was clean but there was darkening down the edges of the cap for about a quarter of an inch. The stem was a mess. Paresh had tried to repair the damage and tooth marks with some clear super glue that he picked up in India. He found that it was inferior and did not harden quickly. Once it did the repair tended to fall out. It was very frustrating. He was able to patch the tooth marks on the stem but not the missing chunk at the stem/shank union.The bowl was the easiest part of the restoration on this old pipe so I started there. I worked on the darkening along the top edge of the cap and was able to remove it with micromesh sanding pads. I used 1500-2400 grit pads to remove the damage and then polished it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cotton pad after each pad to check out the progress. I polished the rim top at the same time. The photos tell the story. With the rim darkening removed and the rim and cap polished it was time to touch up the stain to blend it into the rest of the bowl. I used a Mahogany stain pen and stained the cap and the rim top. The match was a little darker than I wanted and not as transparent either. I wetted a cotton pad with alcohol and wiped down the cap to blend the stain and make it more transparent. This did the trick and I was happy with the finished colour. The photos show the process. I slipped the loose brass shank cap/band off the shank and used a tooth pick to put some all-purpose glue around the shank end. I pressed the band in place on the shank and wiped off the excess glue that squeezed out with a damp cotton pad.The briar was clean but dried out and in need of some deep cleaning. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the briar bowl and shank. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers, working it into the exterior of the pipe. 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. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I used a needle file to clean up the edges of the button on both sides. I also used the file to smooth out the repairs that Paresh had made to the tooth marks on the surface of the stem. He had done a good job and now it was time to blend them into the surface of the stem.I sanded the file marks out of the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper and blended the repairs into the surface of the stem. I filled in the missing chunk of Bakelite with multiple layers of amber super glue. I could have used clear glue but I had the amber around and it is a thicker product so it used it. I use layers so that the repair does not get to thick. It makes the drying time shorter and I think it gives a better bond.I laid the stem aside and went to bed. I touched up the final layer of glue in the morning and went to work. The stem had the entire day to cure. When I returned in the evening I sanded the repaired area with 220 grit sandpaper and reshaped the entire stem surface to make the flow of the taper correct. I would need to add some more glue to the patch but progress was being made. Slowly but surely I was conquering this repair.I touched up the glue repairs and wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I took the next two photos to send on Whatsapp to Paresh and Abha. The stem is looking really good. There is still a lot of polishing to do but it is getting there.I polished the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the scratches and polish the Bakelite.I polished the 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 gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I carefully polished stem and bowl with Blue Diamond (using a soft touch) 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 gave the stem several coats of Conservator’s Wax and hand buffed it with a soft cloth. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The transparent medium brownish red stain worked really well with the golden/amber Bakelite stem. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 4 3/4 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outer diameter of the bowl: 1 inch, Chamber diameter: ¾ inches. This is the first of three of Paresh’s Grandfather’s pipes that he sent me to finish. I will set it aside and when the others are finished I will pack them up and send them back to India. I look forward to hearing what he thinks of it once he gets to load it with his favourite tobacco and carry on the pipe man’s legacy of his Grandfather. Thanks for walking through this restoration with me as I worked over this beauty.