Tag Archives: needle files and reshaping a button

Salvaging a Kaywoodie All Briar Rhodesian 50B with a Serious Issue

Blog by Steve Laug

I have reworked a lot of stems over the years – from cutting them back in my early days and reshaping a button on the gnawed and damaged end to rebuilding a chewed button with charcoal and super glue. I have fit stem blanks on shanks to replace damaged and what were at that time in my assessment, irreparable stems. Today I am more conservative and lean towards rebuilding the stem as best as I can. That being said there are even challenges to that work. The pipe on my worktable now is a challenge to my current bent. It is an All Briar Rhodesian. I have only refurbished one other All Briar pipe in the past – a beautiful LHS Purex Bullmoose. It was in excellent condition other than being dirty and worn. I had heard nightmare tales of gnawed and chewed all briar stems and what a pain they are to work on. However, until this pipe came to my attention in a recent pipe hunt with Jeff I had never seen such a badly gnawed briar stem up close. Jeff took photos of the pipe’s condition before he cleaned it up. I have included those photos in the first part of this blog.I have read a lot of information in the past on other Kaywoodie pipes I have worked on and spent time on the Kaywoodie Collectors Forum to help educated myself on the various lines and historical periods of Kaywoodie production. On Pipedia.org there is a helpful summary of the history of the brand that has been condensed in one place. It is called the Collectors Guide to Kaywoodie Pipes (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Collector%27s_Guide_to_Kaywoodie_Pipes). I found the All Briar line of pipes included in the section of the Guide for 1955. I quote here the pertinent sections with the references to the All Briar pipe underlined and highlighted in bold.

The line-up of pipes in the 1955 catalog (Table 3 below) was more extensive than in previous years. The catalog presented an expanded line of meerschaum pipes and introduced a 4-pipe set of Matched Grain Pipes, as well as several pipes with “special features”. The number of shapes available… was not substantially different from the number offered in the 1947 catalog…

The Twin-Bowl Kaywoodies were available in an all-meerschaum model (two removable inner bowls of meerschaum) and a meerschaum and Flame Grain model (outer bowl of flame grain briar and removable inner bowl of meerschaum). Other meerschaum pipes presented in the 1955 catalog included the Gourd Calabash; the Coral (“dimpled”) Meerschaum; the All Briar (briar bit) and Flame Grain pipes with inlaid meerschaum bowls; and the “Doctor’s” pipe…Included in the guide was a helpful list of pipe grades and prices. I have included the list below and noted the pipe I am working on by highlighting it in bold print and underlining the reference. It is in this list that I found confirmation that Kaywoodie made an All Briar with a meerschaum bowl insert and an All Briar without the meerschaum insert. The All Briar I am working on is not meerschaum lined. It is fascinating for me to see that the addition of a meerschaum bowl was only $2.50 in 1955.

Table 3. 1955 Kaywoodie Pipe Grades and Prices

    Meerschaum Character Pipes: $100.00

    Block: 15.00-50 (According to size)

    Meerschaum Twin Bowl: $35.00

    Meerschaum/Flame Grain Twin Bowl: $25.00

    Sandblasted “Doctor’s” Pipe: $25.00

    Centennial: $25.00

    Coral Meerschaum: $20.00-25 (According to size)

    Gourd Calabash: $15.00-25 (According to size)

    Ninety-Fiver: $20.00

    Oversize: $10.00-25(According to style and finish)

    Connoisseur: $15.00

    All Briar w/Meerschaum Inlaid Bowl: $12.50

    Flame Grain (Meerschaum Inlaid) $12.50

    Export Pipes: $5.00-15 (According to grade)

    All Briar (Briar Bit): $10.00

    Flame Grain: $10.00

    Fit Rite: $10.00

    Silhouette: $10.00

    Carburetor: $7.50

    Relief Grain: $7.50

    Chesterfield: $5.00-15 (According to grade)

    Chinrester: $5.00-10 (According to grade)

    Stembiter: $5.00-10 (According to grade)

    Streamliner: $4.00-10 (According to grade)

    Super Grain: $5.00

    Carved Super Grain: $5.00

    White Briar: $5.00

    Standard: $4.00

    Filter Plus: $4.00

    Drinkless pup: $3.50

    Drinkless Tuckaway: $3.50

    Drinkless In-Between: $3.50

    Two-Pipe Companion Setsb: $10.00-25 (According to grade)

    Matched Grain Set (4-Pipes): $50.00

    Matched Grain Set (7-Pipes): $125.00

Further reading on Pipedia under the general listing for Kaywoodie Pipes provided me with a magazine advertisement that included the All Briar pipes. It is a great Father’s Day Ad and the bottom items in the ad show the All Briar line. I have included both the link and a copy of the ad for your reading pleasure (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Kaywoodie).Jeff sent me some close up photos of the pipe so I could see what it looked like when he started his clean up. The bowl had a thick cake that had overflowed onto the rim top with a thick coat of lava. The two photos below give two different views to show the condition of the both. You can see the flaking lava on the rim and the hard cake in the bowl. This pipe had been smoked hard and was obviously someone’s favourite.The finish on the bowl and shank was worn. There was a thick varnish coat that was peeling on the bowl sides and bottom that would take some work to remove.The stamping on both sides of the shake is faint but readable in the next photos. The pipe is stamped ALL BRIAR over Kaywoodie on the left side of the shank. On the right side it is stamped All Imported Briar over 50B (the shape number) and underneath that the letter C.The all briar stem has an inlaid black cloverleaf in a white circle on the left side. It is in decent shape and should polish out nicely.When it comes to the stem it is a serious issue. Making a new vulcanite stem for the pipe would certainly be an option but to me that would cause the pipe to lose its charm and detract from it being an All Briar pipe. I would need to do something different to bring it back to life or salvage it. It appeared to me that I had only one serious option on this pipe but I would make the final decision once it arrived.The stem had a screw in/threaded tenon with a four hole stinger. The stinger was stamped Drinkless as shown in the photo below. On Pipedia in the Kaywoodie article, there was a great advertisement for the Drinkless style of stinger so I have included that here as well. I decided to look on my other go to site – PipePhil (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-kaywoodie-1.html) to see what added information I might garner from his site. Under the Kaywoodie All Briar listing it said that the pipe had a twin-bore stem, meaning that instead of a slot in the button there were twin holes that formed a Y with the airway in the stem itself. The pipes were made between 1952 – 1955. It included a series of pictures of a typical briar Kaywoodie stem that showed a vertical hole near the button that was an innovation that they called Stembiter to prevent a stem biter from gnawing through the stem. Evidently, the pipe I am working on had that kind of set up on the mouthpiece as nothing is left of that portion of the stem. The Stembiter innovation came out in the early 1950s as well so now I had confirmation of the period when the pipe was made. I have included an advertisement for the Stembiter innovation following the photo below. I know that at present I will not be able to reproduce this feature on the stem when I rework it. Jeff continued using his established process of thoroughly cleaning the pipes he sends to me. He did not vary in his procedure just because of the briar stem on this one. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and touched it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol and cleaned the exterior of the threaded tenon and four hole stinger with cotton swabs and alcohol. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grime and grit on the bowl. Sadly it did not even touch the thick varnish coat on the bowl. He worked over the rim and removed the heavy lava overflow. He scrubbed it with a tooth brush and the oil soap until he removed the buildup. His cleaning of the top cut through the varnish coat on that part of the bowl. He cleaned up the gnawed end of the stem so that at least it would be clean when I began my work on it. I took photos of the pipe to show the condition it was in when it arrived in Vancouver. Jeff cleaned up the rim really well – the tars and buildup were gone and fortunately so was much of the varnish coat. There were just a few shiny spots on the rim that would need to go. The bowl had been reamed back to bare briar.The stem while clean was an absolute disaster. It had been gnawed back through the stembite protection and the entire end of the stem was missing. I am guess that there was probably about 3/8 to ½ inch of the stem missing and the button was totally missing.I started the restructuring work on the stem with a Dremel and a sanding drum. I took the damaged areas back until I had some solid briar to work with. I did not want to remove too much of the stem material. The twin airways in the stem were very close to the surface in the stem at this point so I would need to do something a little different from the standard recutting a new button on the existing material.I started the rebuilding the end of the stem with clear super glue. I wanted to fill in the small divots in the surface of the stem on both sides and make the stem smooth and the end crisp. I built up the area where the new button would be with clear super glue first to stabilize the gnawed stem and begin with a solid edge. I put briar dust on top of the super glue and layered the dust and the glue until I had a workable portion on the stem surface. I needed enough of the new material to be able to reshape a button. In the second set of photos you can see the button area beginning to take shape. I used a needle file to recut the edge of the button and square it off with the surface of the stem. I wanted a sharp delineation from the button surface to the stem surface. I also reshaped the button surface as well with the files. The new button is beginning to be visible at this point.I filled in the air bubbles on top and underside surface of the button with clear super glue to make it smooth. I sanded the areas in front of the button on both sides of the stem with 220 grit super glue to blend it into the rest of the stem surface.I used a needle file to open the twin bore airways and smooth them out. I began to polish the stem and button with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding the button and stem area with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cotton pad to see what the progress looked like. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads and then stained the stem with a Medium Brown Stain pen. I finished polishing the stem with 6000-12000 grit pads and wiped it down after each grit pad to keep the work surface clean. While the button is definitely darker than the stem body at this point it is still looking pretty good in my opinion and it feels good in the mouth. I sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the varnish finish. It was spotty and peeling in places so it had to go. Once I had the finish removed I wiped the bowl down with acetone to remove any of the finish that remained. Then I used the same regimen to polish the bowl as I had used on the briar stem. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and wiped it down with a damp cloth. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit micromesh and wiped it down after each pad. Each grit pad brought more of the grain to light. There is a great mix of birdseye and cross grain on the bowl and shank. It is a beauty. I decided to not stain the bowl. The medium brown I put on the stem made the stem and bowl match so I was pleased with that. I put the stem in place on the bowl and buffed it with Blue Diamond to polish out any remaining scratches from my sanding and polishing. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect it from damage and to preserve the briar. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to polish the briar. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The repair and rebuilt button, though darker than the briar, works well and the pipe is fully functional again. The small amount of length I had to remove does not visibly change the overall look of the pipe. Thanks for walking with me through this restoration. It was one with challenges but it was a fun one to work on.


Jen’s Trove No. 4 – Reclaiming a Kaywoodie ‘Flame/Super Grain’ #11 Large Billiard

Blog by Dal Stanton

I think the reason this Kaywoodie stood out to Jen as she was rummaging through my baskets and boxes of ‘Help Me!’ pipes, was the ‘fancy stem’ and the strong, full look of the stummel.  The grain is impressive and it will clean up nicely.  Jen is leaving Bulgaria soon after working with us for a few years.  She’s taking a trove of pipes back to the US to give to the men in her family.  For her too, is the fact that each pipe she purchases will benefit our work with the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked in Europe and sexually exploited.  This is the second Kaywoodie she has chosen.  The first was a beautiful Kaywoodie Author (See: LINK) that needed extensive rim repair.  The Kaywoodie now on the work table got my attention too, on the eBay auction block from a seller in North Carolina.  After Jenny rescued it from the basket, I take some pictures of the Kaywoodie she chose. Generally, the pipe is in pretty good shape other than normal time wear and tear issues, but the stem bit might need some work.  The rim and fire chamber are both in good shape, but in need of cleaning and the removal the light carbon cake to bring it to fresh briar for a new start.  In the picture immediately above shows two fills – one filled and one emptied.  The hole looks like a drill hole and I first suspected it was part of a cracked shank repair, but no cracks are evident.  Only these two fills on the stummel will need to be refilled and I’ll see if the other needs to be replaced.  The ‘Fancy Stem’ (I spent time trying to find a name for this type of stem and this is what I came up with via Steve’s assistance!) has serious tooth dents on the upper button lip and a significant dent and chatter on the lower bit.  I also detected that the classic Kaywoodie Synchro-Stem threaded tenon is underclocked a bit – which over time, I discovered, is a normal happening with metal threaded tenons (See from Reborn Pipes: About Stem/Bit Shapes).The nomenclature on the sides of the shank are in bad shape – almost warn off and beyond history’s grasp.  I had to take several looks at the stamping with a magnifying glass at different angles of light – lamp light and sunlight outside on my ‘Man Cave’ balcony on the 10th floor of our former Communist Blok apartment building.  What I can decipher with much effort, is a phantom “Kaywoodie” [over] “***in” offset to the far right of the Kaywoodie stamping above it (under the ‘-die’).  On the shank’s right side, I make a guess at ‘11’ which is a shape number.  These two pictures try to show what I can barely see!  I mark with yellow pen where the ‘K’ starts of Kaywoodie and I underline the ‘***in’ and the 11 in the second picture.With a passion to understand as much as I can about the provenance of the pipes I restore, I know that I’m on a steep learning curve with this only being my second Kaywoodie.  I’ve benefited much from Troy’s expertise, of Baccy Pipes, with Kaywoodie pipes and his help on this Kaywoodie.  I’ve picked up some of the markers that help establish a Kaywoodie’s identity.  The first thing to look at is, what is the “***in” refer to?  Identifying the Kaywoodie line, at least partially, can help place a pipe.  It did not take long as I search Pipedia for a listing of the names of the Kaywoodie lines (see LINK).  What I found is that throughout the years, Kaywoodie has put forward several lines with the word “Grain” making sense of my mystery “***in”:  Straight Grain, Super Grain, Flame Grain, Bird’s Eye Grain, Relief Grain, and Custom Grain – were the Kaywoodie lines that I cataloged from Pipedia.  My next step was to go to the Kaywoodie section of Pipe Phil’s inventory of examples and to see if I could find an example of what appears to be the same script style for the ‘Kaywoodie’ [over] ‘*** Grain’ in cursive, simply to visualize.  The only example I found of the same script for both ‘Kaywoodie’ and ‘Grain’ was this Flame Grain, Meerschaum from the 1947 catalogue that Kaywoodie produced.  A close look of the script follows in picture two.  I think this is a pretty good visual match of the nomenclature style.So, I think it’s safe to say that the Kaywoodie before me was a line suffixed by ‘Grain’.  I don’t know how rare or common the use of the cursive script was with Kaywoodie ‘Grain’ lines, but it could possibly help in identification if one knew.  Another concrete marker I identified was the shape number, ‘11’ which is identified as a ‘Large Billiard’ in the Pipedia Kaywoodie Shapes Guide.   This description seems to be right on with the Kaywoodie before me – a handful of wonderful Billiard briar!  The other marker that I was aware of was the iconic Kaywoodie stem shamrock or club.  From PipePhil.eu, I found this concise description that indicates that the black shamrock in the white dot started to emerge on pipes since 1937:

The cloverleaf logo: the round logo (black cloverleaf in white circle or white cloverleaf in black circle) was first used in 1937. Up until the late 40’s this logo was used on all of the upper grades pipes. The concomitant use of the plain white cloverleaf and the disk inlaid logo continued until the early 80’s.

Up until the late 1940’s/early 50’s, the logo was on top of the stem. After that the logo was moved to the side of the stem (exceptions exist).

The other solid marker that I investigated was the No. ‘11’ shape number.   In Pipedia’s Kaywoodie Shapes Number section, shape number 11 is described:

Shape # Description Years Produced
11 Large billiard 1935-1972

Troy later sent me another helpful link from Kaywoodie My Free Forum that allowed me to see all the Kaywoodie Billiard offerings with the comparison of 2 and 3-digit shape numbers.From the same Forum article, the center column reflects the 2-digit system employed from 1927 to 1972, when the system was changed to a 3-digit system when pipe production (for Kaywoodie, Yello-Bole and Medico) was moved to the Medico factory in Richmond Hill Queens NY as plans for new plant were in process.  The left-hand column above was the 3 digit numbers used during this period for all Kaywoodie and Medico pipes, from 1972 to 1980.  The same article indicated that the 2-digit numbers were only for Kaywoodies produced in the US – that Kaywoodie of London to Cadogan had their own three-digit system.

I took my search for a Kaywoodie ‘Something Grain’, shape #11 to the latest Kaywoodie Catalog that would have a representation of the #11 Billiard at Chris’ Pipe Pages that is consistent with the older Kaywoodie catalogues leading up to it (See: LINK).  See the 5th pipe down on the left:That is the Large Billiard stummel on my work table.  There is one thing that doesn’t line up. The Fancy Stem. I spend extensive time trying to find the No. 11 with a fancy stem flipping through all the Kaywoodie catalogs (referenced above) and found no specimen – not even on another shape.  During this exploration, I sent my forensic findings and some pictures to Troy whose experience with Kaywoodies is extensive.  I wanted to know what I might be missing.  After an enjoyable time of communicating back and forth – pipe restorers’ cyber fellowship, Troy’s experience with Kaywoodie pipes cut through my fog quickly.  Regarding the nomenclature of the Kaywoodie Jenny chose as part of her trove, I’ll let Troy’s observations conclude this Kaywoodie origins adventure!  Thanks Troy!

if the shank is straight then the only thing I can think of is someone took a pre-1972 #11 and re-stemmed it with a 1970’s type quarter bent stem.  If that is the case then it’s a 1955-1972 #11 Flame Grain with a different stem…. Or it could be a Super Grain (1955-1972) with a later Flame Grain type stem.

With a better understanding of this Kaywoodie in front of me, I start the restoration by reaming the fire chamber.  Since the cake is so thin, I use the Savinelli Pipe Knife to do the job.  After spreading out paper towel to catch the carbon, I employ the knife and it makes short work of the cake.  I follow by sanding the fire chamber with a coarse 120 grade paper, then a 240 grade paper – in both cases wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  I finish by wiping the bowl with cotton wetted with isopropyl 95% to remove the residue carbon dust.  The pictures show the initial clean up.

Next, using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap I address the grime on the stummel using cotton cloth pads.  After scrubbing, I rinse the soap off the stummel with cool tap water, not allowing water in the internals. While the stummel is still wet, I probe the fill on the left side of the shank to see if it had softened and might come out.  It was solid.  The pictures show the progress. I now turn to cleaning the stummel internals because I like working on clean pipes.  Using pipe cleaners and cotton swabs dipped in isopropyl 95%, I go to work.  The internal gunk is thick – I use a curved, spaded dental probe to scrape the sides of the mortise and I remove a lot of old tars and oil built up. After some time working like this, I decide to switch tactics and use a retort to clean the internals and make more efficient headway!  After setting up the system, putting a cotton ball in the bowl, and lighting a candle to heat the alcohol in the capped test tube, the alcohol heats and eventually boils.  When it boils, the expansion forces the hot fluid into the stummel.  Much of the alcohol is initially absorbed into cotton ball so I replenish the alcohol and continue the process.  The rhythm of boil, expansion and then removing from the flame and tipping the stummel so that the expanded alcohol runs back into the test tube, is repeated several times. I pour off the first cycle into a Lord of the Rings commemorative shot glass to compare.  I refill the test tube with alcohol, and continue several more cycles, pouring out the expended alcohol in another shot glass and refilling with fresh alcohol for a 3rd and final cycle.  There is a gradual lightening of the expended alcohol as I picture all three for comparison.  After finishing use of the retort, I finish up again using pipe cleaners and cotton swabs.  The pictures show the progress. Looking at the stummel surface, the old finish does not look uniform so I use cotton pads and wipe down the stummel with acetone to remove vestiges of the old finish.  The acetone worked very quickly.  I again look at the suspect fill on the left side of the shank, and this time I detect a gap on the edge of it. I use the sharp dental probe to remove the old fill. Looking now more closely at the rim, there is a dark ring around the external edge simply indicating wear.  I take a picture of the right side of the rim that shows more wear.  To freshen the rim lines, I decide to lightly top the KW Billiard.  Using a chopping board topped with 240 grit paper I evenly rotate the inverted stummel, checking to make sure I’m staying true. After making sufficient progress with the 240, I switch to 600 grade to smooth further the top surface.  The pictures show the topping progress. With the topping completed, I fine tune the rim freshening by beveling the internal edge of the rim.  I use 120 grit paper rolled tightly to cut the initial angle of the bevel.  I follow the 120 with a rolled piece of 240, then 600.  To me an internal bevel adds class to a stummel.  This #11 Large Billiard stummel looks good.  I also lightly sand around the edge external rim.  This softens the lines.  The pictures show this rim fine-tuning process.To address the small holes on the left side of the shank, using a toothpick, I drop fill the holes using HOT STUFF Special ‘T’ – thick CA glue.  I put a little CA glue on close to the end of the toothpick and allow gravity to run it to the tip to allow a surgical application of the glue.  After applying the thick CA glue, I spray it with an accelerator to cure it more rapidly.  In a few minutes, using a flat needle file then a rolled-up piece of 240 grit paper, I bring the CA patch mound down to the briar surface. I finish by using a rolled-up piece of 600 grit paper to smooth the patches more and blend.  The pictures show the process. To prepare the stummel for sanding, to preserve what is the precious little of this Kaywoodie’s nomenclature, I cut small pieces of masking tape to cover the remnants.  First using a medium grade sanding sponge, I sand the stummel gently removing very small nicks and pits to smooth the stummel.  I follow with a light weight sanding sponge.  Using strategically placed thumb and fingers the masking tape guards did the job.Now to the micromesh pad cycles to bring out the grain on this already attractive Kaywoodie Large Billiard.  Using pads 1500 to 2400 I wet sand the stummel, followed by dry sanding with 3200 to 4000 and then 6000 to 12000 – throughout, guarding the nomenclature.  I am impressed by the quality of the briar grain emerging in the Kaywoodie Large Billiard.  The pictures show what I’m seeing. Putting the stummel aside, it’s time to tackle the Fancy Stem.  Using pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95% I work on the internals.  I also employ the use of long wired brushes that more easily work up into the Kaywoodie 3-hole stinger/tenon system.  Following this, I use a brass bristle brush on the exterior of the stinger/tenon and finish with shining it with 0000 steel wool.With stem internals clean, I look again at the work needed on the upper and lower bit.  The upper button area has tooth chatter but more significant is the compression on the button lip that may need rebuilding.  Looking at the upper lip from the slot side, the lip has a dent that compresses toward the slot.  The lower bit has a significant tooth dent and chatter.  The lower button lip is in better shape.  I take some pictures to mark the problem areas. I decide to use the heating method first to see if this will minimize the damage.  By heating the vulcanite over a flame, the expansion of the rubber will seek out its original shape – at least in part.  I’ll give it a try, then move to sanding and filling.  With a candle lit, I pass the button area over the flame – back and forth several times.  The technique helps on the lower bit but not sufficiently.  The upper bit, button repair was not helped much.  So, using 240 grit paper, I work on the lower and upper bit. Using a flat needle file, I also try to remove dents from the upper button lip.  Pictures show the progress. The first pictures below show the sanding/filing progress on the upper lip.  I’m not satisfied with the results as I will need to remove more of the button than I want to remove the dents.  I wanted to see if I could repair the lip without rebuilding the lip, but this will not be possible.  I’ll need to mix activated charcoal powder with CA glue to rebuild the upper button lip and fill the dent on the lower bit.I open one capsule of activated charcoal and mix it with Hot Stuff Special ‘T’ CA glue. This CA glue is extra thick.  After cleaning the patch areas with a cotton ball and isopropyl 95%, I place a small puddle of ‘T’ CA glue on an index card, and use a toothpick as a mixer and trowel. After reaching a molasses-like viscosity with the mixture, I apply the mixture to the dent and the upper button lip.  I apply more mixture than necessary to enable later sanding down, shaping and blending the patches.  To shorten the curing time for the patches, I spray each with an accelerator.  The pictures show the progress. Back to filing and sanding.  Using a flat needle file, I file the patches down.  I follow by using 240 grit paper to fine tune bringing the lower bit dent patch down to surface level.  I blend the patch further using 600 grit paper. I do the same with the lower button lip.  After shaping the bit with the flat needle file, I use 240, 600 grit papers. The process with the button is a gradual filing, sanding and shaping until the button emerges and looks balanced.  Pictures show the progress. Above the slot, during the sanding, I notice a pinhole – what appears to be a small air pocket.  There are also very small air pockets on the upper button lip repair.  This is normal and I use a toothpick and drop-fill the hole with CA glue. I then paint a thin coat of CA glue over the button lip to fill the air holes.  I quickly spray the glue with an accelerator to shorten the curing.  I then finish the button sanding out the air pocket fills. I complete this phase of repair by using 0000 steel wool to the upper and lower bit.   The lower bit patch will blend more as I polish the stem.  The button looks good.  The pictures show progress. With the repair to the bit completed, I now turn to the Fancy Stem.  Even though there is no oxidation, I use 0000 steel wool to buff the entire stem to remove many small nicks and scratches on the surface.  I then begin the micromesh pad process by wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400.  I follow by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 then 6000 to 12000.   After each cycle, I apply Obsidian Oil to revitalize the vulcanite.  The Fancy Stem is looking good.  The pictures show the progress. I again take the stummel after completing the stem sanding.  During the stem work, I had in the back of my mind the consideration of the next step working with the Kaywoodie ‘Flame/Super Grain’ stummel.  The stummel’s natural briar color is dark and rich with grain flow – horizontal, bird’s eye and flame.  My idea is to add some pop to the grain by staining the stummel with a light brown dye.  This will not darken the stummel, but perhaps it will lighten the softer wood grains.  We’ll see!  I take a few pictures of the stummel to mark the progress.  Using a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%, I wipe the stummel down to assure it’s clean. I use a cork inserted into the bowl to use as a handle and I warm the stummel using the heat gun to warm and expand the grain helping it to be more receptive to the dye.  I then apply a generous amount of Fiebing’s Light Brown Leather Dye to the stummel using a folded pipe cleaner.  When covered thoroughly with dye, I ‘flame’ the stummel with a lit candle which immediately burns off the alcohol in the aniline based dye.  This sets the hue in the grain.  After a few minutes, I repeat the process again and then set the stummel aside to rest.  The pictures show the process. After several hours, the stummel is ready to ‘unwrap’.  Using the Dremel, mounting a felt buffing wheel, at the slowest speed, I apply Tripoli compound to the surface to remove the fired crust.  I take a picture to show the contrast from the crust, and the emerging grain.  After the Tripoli, I lightly wipe the stummel with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% to blend the dye further.  After this, using a cotton cloth buffing wheel mounted on the Dremel, and notching up the speed to ‘2’ (fastest is 5), I apply the slightly less abrasive compound, Blue Diamond.  I love to see the rich tones of the briar grain emerge during this process.   Before I apply the carnauba wax to the stummel, I have a couple of corrections to apply.  The first is to correct the under-clocked stem.  Using a lit candle, I heat the metal tenon so that the vulcanite loosens its grip and I quickly screw the tenon in until it tightens and I apply pressure carefully to advance the stem.  I repeated the heating process a few times until I reached the desired stem position.  The pictures show the process. The second thing I wanted to do before applying the carnauba wax was to coat the fire chamber with pipe mud.  I have this tutorial bookmarked on Reborn Pipes here: LINK.  I noticed minor heat fissures in fire chamber earlier which is shown in the first picture below.  Applying a coat of pipe mud will simply coat the chamber, filling the fissures, and provide the foundation for a new cake to develop.  To create the pipe mud, I use a mixture of cigar ash (thanks to my colleague, Gary!) and water.  I make sure that the cigar ash is finely ground using the flat end of a pipe nail and I remove any solid debris.  I put ash in a shot glass and water in a small bottle and I add water using a large eye-dropper and mix with the pipe nail until I achieve a paste like viscosity.  I then use a pipe cleaner to paint the mud to the chamber wall and tamp it using the spoon end of the pipe nail tool.  I’ll wait about an hour for the mud to fully set up.  The pictures show the process. Now for the home stretch.  With stummel and stem reconnected, I apply several coats of carnauba wax to the Large Billiard stummel of this Kaywoodie Flame/Super Grain.  I use a cotton cloth buffing wheel mounted on the Dremel at the same speed (2) and methodically apply the carnauba using the sheen reflection on the surface to guide my application.  After applying carnauba, I change to a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and go over the surface again to bring out the shine and more fully blend the wax.  Finally, I hand buff the pipe with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine more.

While we don’t know with 100% certainty whether this Kaywoodie #11 Large Billiard is a Flame Grain or a Super Grain, I believe the grain is a cut above the norm looking at its quality.  It has a beautiful flow of grains and is quite attractive.  The Large Billiard fills the hand well with an interesting, tapered Fancy Stem, that probably came later and is not original with the older #11 stummel.  I’m happy to provide this Kaywoodie to add to Jenny gift trove as she goes back to the US.  Jen’s purchase benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria, our work here in Bulgaria with women and girls sexually exploited and trafficked.  For more information about this work, take a look at The Pipe Steward.  Thanks for joining me!


Reworking a Lucite stem on a Sasieni Litewate Deluxe 71F Long Shank Dublin

Blog by Steve Laug

This pipe caught my eye as I was browsing through the for sale section of the Dr.Grabow Collectors Forum. It was in very clean condition. The finish on the bowl and rim were like new. The pipe was stamped Made in England in a circle on top of the shank next to the stem and in the center of the shank it was stamped Litewate over De Luxe. On the underside of shank near the stem was the shape number 71F. The pipe was barely smoked and was very clean. The stem was obviously a replacement Lucite stem in a bright yellow swirl pattern. In the photos it looks more green than it truly is. In reality it is very yellow.Litewate1



Litewate4 I looked up the brand on the pipedia site and found that the Litewate was produced by Parker and also sold by R.M. Littaur & Co. Ltd. It was also made by Sasieni. The circular com stamp on the shank and the shape number identified this particular pipe as a Sasieni made pipe. http://pipedia.org/index.php?title=Litewate I copied the next photos from the PipePhil stamping and logos site. The stamping on the pipe I have is exactly like that on these photos. He also noted there that brand was solely distributed in the US Market.Litewate5 When the pipe arrived I was surprised by the sheer size of it – I knew it was small but I had no idea that it would be this small. It was very light weight and reminded me in both the size and the weight of the Stanwell Featherweight series. I unpack it and looked over the stem. It was chunky and thick. The descent of the slope to the button was not even and had a slight flat spot about ½ inch from the stem/shank joint. The button was sloppily cut and the stem was very thick in front of the button. The button itself was thick both in terms of height and in terms of width from the outer edge to what should have been a sharp angle to the slope of the stem. It did not have that angle but was rather another slope to the top of the button. Where there should have been a slot in the stem there was merely an airway – a single hole in the end. This is the way that stem blanks arrive before they have been shaped and fit to the pipe. Overall it looked like a quickly done stem to make the pipe useable. I took some photos of the pipe when it arrived.Litewate6 The next photos show the stamping on the top of the shank and the rim. Whoever did the restem did a great job fitting the stem against the shank. It is a great snug fit that shows no light. The bowl is clean and lightly smoked.Litewate7 I took a few photos of the stem that shows the chunkiness of the button and the thickness of the angle from shank to button. The third photo below shows the single hole airway in the end of the button.Litewate8 I used three different needle files to cut a slot in the end of the button and shape it and the Y in the airway. I used a round, a slight oval and a flat oval file to cut and shape the slot.Litewate9 I straightened the edge on the button and thinned out the button with a flat needle file. I wanted a 90 degree angle rather than the slope that was there originally.Litewate10 I sanded out the newly cut slot with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I reworked the taper on the stem and thinned it out with 220 grit sandpaper. In the photo above you can see the overall thickness of the stem and the short taper from the hip of the stem to the button. This needed to be thinned and the taper increased. I sanded and shaped the button and cleaned up the straight edge against the stem body.Litewate10a I sanded the stem with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge and finish the initial reshaping with 400 grit sandpaper.Litewate11 I sanded out the inside of the slot with a folded piece of 400 grit wet dry paper.Litewate12


Litewate14 I polished the Lucite with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads.Litewate15


Litewate17 I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and then gave the pipe several coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean flannel buff and then by hand with a microfiber cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The newly shaped stem is far more comfortable in the mouth now that the taper is more flattened and the thickness reduced. Thanks for looking.Litewate18






My Process for Cutting off and Reshaping Broken Stems

Blog by Steve Laug

It seems like lately I have had a few of these pipes with broken stems. I have gotten several emails through the blog asking for more information about how I go about cutting back a stem and reshaping it. Since I just finished working on the Yves St. Claude pipe where I did cut back the stem and reshape the button I thought I would use it as an example of the process. I figured that this provided the perfect opportunity to spell out more of the details that I hinted at in the full blog on the restoration of the pipe. The pictures below will show the progress from broken stem to a short saddle stem. It is only one of the methods for addressing a broken stem. Stem splicing and stem replacement are also possible solution. Soon I hope to have another blog on stem splicing but until then have a look at the piece by Jacek Rochacki where he demonstrates his method. https://rebornpipes.com/2014/02/28/some-remarks-on-dealing-with-damaged-stems-of-smoking-pipes-by-jacek-a-rochacki/

1. Before I cut off anything on a stem I spend quite a bit of time examining the broken stem. For me that means checking out the thickness of the stem material above and below the airway in the stem. There needs to be enough thickness that I can shape a button on the cut off portion. I check out the stability of the vulcanite to see if it crumbling or if the break is clean. Sometimes you need to cut quite a ways back into the stem to get either the correct thickness or stability to reform a button. I always try to imagine what the pipe will look like with a shorter stem. To help me see it I have devised a simple method. I clasp it between my thumb and finger making a straight line across the stem. Using my finger and thumb I can slide the stem as far as I want between the fingers and get a good picture of what the pipe will look like with a shorter stem. If all of these steps are passed then I get ready to cut off the broken portion.

This stem passed all the tests. The break not straight across the stem but actually was slightly diagonal. It was a very clean break with no crumbling material. The airway appears to be close to the surface on the top side of the stem but because of the angle of the break there was sufficient material there for me to cut and shape a button. I was ready to cut of this stem.YSG5

YSG6 2. I marked the stem with a pencil to delineate how far I planned on cutting the stem. I use a Dremel with a sanding drum to cut off the broken portion of the stem to the point of my line. Others use coping saws or hacksaws to remove the material. Choose whatever tool you are comfortable with to do the work. For me I hold the Dremel in my right hand and the stem in my left. I keep the stem stationary while cutting but frequently rotate it in my hand to keep the edges straight. I am always conservative in the first cut only taking off what looks to be necessary. I want a solid surface to work on with the button. Once I have the cut finished I use the drum to slightly round the corners of the line. In the end I wanted to have a slight crown on the finished button so I plan for that at this point. In the two photos below you can see the slightly bow in the cut off. The cut off edge is vertical to the surface of the stem forming a 90 degree angle.YSG16

YSG14 3. When the cut off is finished I take time to look at the profile of the stem. In this case the stem was quite thick. I was going to need to shave off the surface and thin the stem down but I would not do that until I had cut the button and roughed in the shape. Looking at it I could also see that I would need to flatten the stem near the new button as it had a definite rounding that would make it uncomfortable in the mouth.YSG15

YSG17 4. The first tools that I use are a knife shaped needle file that has a thin edge like a blade and squared edge for the initial cuts and a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the newly cut edge.YSG23 5. I cut the edge with the straight edge of the file. I eyeball the line to make sure it aligns on both sides of the stem. This is a bit tricky at first but I rotate the stem to and angle where I can see both sides at once and begin the second cut. At this point in the process I am not finishing the cut but only drawing the line with the file. With the line cut and the button edge defined there is a lot of finishing work that needs to be done but you can get a clear picture of what the button will look like.

6. I use the knife edge of the file to shave the surface of the stem on the top and bottom sides. Be careful not to gouge the surface but smoothly shave it. I hold the blade at slight angle against the surface of the stem and carve toward the button. I have the stem on the table and work the blade away from myself sometimes and other times I have it in hand with the new button against the heel of my palm and work the blade toward the button. I work the blade until I have defined the line of the button and flattened the crown on the surface of the stem. Remember this is all initial carving. It will be cleaned up and smoothed out with the sandpaper and other files.YSG24

YSG25 7. When I have the material in front of the button cut away and thinned down I sand it with the folded 220 grit sandpaper to get an idea of how it looks and of how much more I will need to remove from the crown on both sides of the stem. In the case of this stem I have enough material removed. I still need to shape the button and clean up the edges of the sharp edge. The top and bottom surface of the button still need to be shaped and sanded but the overall look is good to go.YSG26

YSG27 8. With the rough shape finished I cut the slot in the end of the button and flare the airway. The first photo below shows the way the airway looked once I cut of the stem. You can see that there is plenty of material above and below the airway. I started the process by sanding the face of the button on my topping board and sandpaper. It is important to make sure that stem is absolutely vertical and does not tilt either way when doing this. You want to make a smooth face to work on the slot.YSG28 9. I use several different needle files to open the slot. The first file I use is a flattened oval file shown in the photo below. I work it against the right and left edges of the airway to open the slot. I don’t worry about the finished look at this point but am concerned to rough it in with the file. The flattened oval does the initial shaping work. I like a slot that is oval and tapers to a point on each side. I also work the file into the airway to taper the internals into a Y shaped funnel ending at the airway.YSG29 10. I work the top and bottom edges with the second file – an oval blade that is not flattened and almost round. I use it to work the internals into more of a smooth Y and then open the top and bottom of the slot. I follow this with a round needle file that has a thin point to clean up the opening and shape it. The photo below shows the slot after I have used all three files.YSG30 11. I fold a piece of sandpaper into a rectangle that I can fit into the slot. I work it in the slot to sand the internals and remove the file marks. I sand the face of the button to remove file marks and also sand the slot to refine the shape of oval.YSG31 12. The next photo shows the slot after I have worked it with the sandpaper. The internals are clean and smooth. I then use a pipe cleaner and isopropyl alcohol to remove any dust from the inside of the airway. The face of the stem still shows some light scratching that will be taken care of with wet sanding using micromesh sanding pads. However, you can see the new shape of the slot and how it sits on the button. That portion of the reshaping of the new button is finished and all that remains is to sand and polish the stem with the micromesh and the buffer.Button1 13. I sanded the stem – all surfaces including the button face with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the scratches left behind by the 220 grit sandpaper. I worked on giving the surface of the button a slight bevel downward toward the slot. I personally like a gentle slope so I don’t overdo it with the sanding.YSG32

YSG33 14. With the scratches removed the stem is ready for polishing. I used micromesh sanding pads to do this work. Others use high grit wet dry sandpapers or micromesh papers. I like the way the pads fit in my fingers and how I can push the edge up against the slot to work that angle. I wet sand with 1500-2400 grit pads – wetting the surface of the stem and then sanding with the pads. I wipe it off regularly to remove the grime and check on the smoothness of the surface. I sand with each of the three grits until the particular grit no longer takes off any of the vulcanite. Once I finish with the three pads I rub the stem down with Obsidian Oil as I find it highlights the remaining scratches and also helps the micromesh to bite into the surface of the stem. I have used olive oil to do the same thing, applying it sparingly with a fold piece of cloth or paper towel. At times I have applied the oil between each of these three grits – essentially replacing the water with the oil. It works very well.YSG34 15. I dry sand (no oil or water) with the remaining grits of micromesh. I sand with 3200-4000 grit pads and then rub the stem down with oil again for the same reasons as above. I then either go back to the 1500-2400 grit pads to rework areas of concern or move on to sanding with the 6000-12,000 grit pads.YSG35

YSg36 16. I buff the stem with White Diamond at this point in my process. If you do not have a buffer you can buff with a plastic polish on a cotton pad or cloth. The idea is to remove any of the remaining scratches (micro scratches really at this point) and give the vulcanite a high sheen. When I finish buffing I give the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. When I did not have my buffer I used Kiwi neutral shoe wax which has carnauba in it and hand buffed the stem with a shoe brush. Sometimes I revert to using the shoe brush even now. Especially when buffing areas around stamping and logos.

17. The finished stem is shown below. The button looks like it has always been there. I like giving it a look that fits the age of the pipe. I don’t want it looking like a brand new button that has been tacked onto an old pipe. Rather I want it to look as if it has been there for the life of the pipe and has seen some smoothing from use. You can be the judge if I have achieved that but at least that is the aim. You can also decide how you want the buttons that you shape to look. Don’t be afraid to experiment and add your own steps or modify these so that they work for you. The end result is really all we are interested in anyway and the methods for getting there are many.YSG37


Restoring a Republic Era Shamrock 999 Rhodesian

Blog by Steve Laug

peterson When I saw this pipe on Ebay I immediately threw in a low bid. The seller included two photos the clear side view of the pipe shown below and the second photo below – an out of focus picture of the stem end. It was obvious there was damage to the stem and that it would take some work but it was still interesting to me. I was the only bidder so the pipe became mine.Shamrock1

Shamrock2 It was stamped Shamrock on the left side of the shank in capital letters (once it arrived I saw that on the right side of the shank it bore the stamping “A Peterson Product” over Made in the Republic of Ireland with 999 stamped next to that). While the seller never revealed the data stamped on the right side of the shank or the shape number it was clearly a Peterson 999 – one of my favourite shapes. I am particularly fond of the thick shanked older versions of the shape but this one looked workable. While I waited for it I did some research on the brand. I have several Shamrock pipes and fortunately all of them are very nicely grained briar.

I wrote to a favourite source of all things Peterson, Mark Irwin, to inquire about the mark. He responded with the following helpful information. “There were two Shamrock lines—the Rogers Import U.S.-only line with the nickel band, and the Peterson unmounted line with a white “S” stamped on the mouthpiece. This line—which is what your pipe is from—debuted in the 1945 catalog in the 30 classic shapes then being offered, in both smooth and sandblast, always with a fishtail mouthpiece, and continued with the same finish and “S” stamp until the 1975 catalog. It was a “Product” line, so look carefully for fills, as Peterson always strives to get the most mileage out of their briar. If it does indeed lack fills, someone messed up in the workshop, as it would normally have been released in a much higher line. The name was subsequently used on newer “Shamrock” lines with various finishes and stains until very recently, but always as an entry-grade line.”

I also was a bit more information on the stamping on the other side of the shank so I read more on dating Peterson Pipes in an article here on the blog by Mike Leverette. In it I found that pipes that bore the Republic of Ireland stamping came from the Republic Era which extended from 1949 until the present. “The Republic of Ireland was formed on 17 April 1949. From 1949 to present the stamp for this era is “Made in the Republic of Ireland” in a block format generally in three lines but two lines have been used with or without Republic being abbreviated.”

Mike also addressed a further question on the stamping “A Peterson Product”. He wrote: “Also, we must address the stamp “A Peterson Product.” During the last few years of the Pre-Republic era and throughout the Republic era, Peterson began stamping their other lines, such as Shamrocks and Killarneys, with “A Peterson Product” over the COM stamp. So a pipe stamped thusly will have been made say from 1948 to the present with the COM stamp identifying it as a pre-Republic or a Republic pipe.”

That was helpful information. With Mark’s and Mike’s information I had learned a lot about my pipe even before it arrived. It came from the earlier Shamrock line which debuted in 1945 and continued until 1975. It certainly fit in the description of a classic shape and an unmounted line with a white S on the stem. It was a Republic Era pipe which put it after 1949 and bore the Peterson Product stamp which put it in the same time frame. That is as specific as I can get in dating this pipe.

When the pipe arrived I opened the box and took it out of the bubble wrap. The stem was frozen in the shank and did not fit against the shank. The grain was beautiful and the natural finish was dirty. The bowl had a thick cake and still had a half bowl of unsmoked tobacco. The rim had a build up of tar on it that was thick. The inner and outer edge of the rim was undamaged and the bowl was still round. The stem was oxidized and the button end had significant damage as can be seen in the third photo below.Shamrock3



Shamrock6 I put the pipe in the freezer and left it overnight so that the temperature change would do its magic and loosen the stem in the shank. In the morning I took it out and was able to remove the stem with no problems. The photo below shows the damage to the button very clearly. There is also a sand pit visible in the side of the bowl. It is unfilled and from what I could see of the rest of the bowl there were not any fills.Shamrock7 I left the tobacco in the bowl while I worked on the rim. I scrubbed it with saliva and cotton pads until I was able to remove all of the tarry build up. I also scrubbed down the rest of the exterior of the bowl and shank.Shamrock8 I removed the tobacco with a dental pick and then reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer and took the cake back to bare wood.Shamrock9 I used the dental pick to also clean out the twin rings around the bowl. These were packed with dust and wax from previous buffing.Shamrock10I set up my retort and put the tube on the broken stem. I loosely stuff a cotton ball in the bowl and heated the alcohol over a tea light candle. I ran the alcohol through until it came out a rich brown. I emptied the test tube and refilled it with alcohol and repeated the process. The second time the alcohol came out clean. I removed the retort and cleaned out the shank and bowl with cotton swabs and pipe cleaners.Shamrock11


Shamrock12 I debated for a long time what to do with the damaged stem. I could try a stem splice or replace the stem. I could also cut off the stem and reshape the button. In looking over the stem I decided there was enough length and material to allow me to cut if off and reshape it. I used a Dremel with a sanding drum to remove the broken part of the stem. I squared it off on the topping board and I was ready to recut the button.Shamrock13


Shamrock15 I use needle files to cut the lines of the new button. They give me a good square edge and let me cut the basic shape of the button.Shamrock16

Shamrock17 Once the line is cut I use a variety of tools to trim back the taper from the line back toward the shank. I used an emery board to work on the shape of the stem. Often this is all I need but in this case it was not enough.Shamrock18

Shamrock19 I used a knife blade shaped needle file to shave the stem back to the button. With this blade I removed a lot of the excess material and the button began to take shape. I also used the file to begin to shape the oval of the button and to open up the slot in the end of the button. I continued to work on the taper of the stem and smoothed out the flow o the stem to the button using 220 grit sandpaper.Shamrock20


Shamrock22 Once I had the shape and the taper of the stem correct I put a washer on the tenon and inserted it in the shank so that I could work on the stem. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation and then sanded it with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge. I carefully avoided damaging the logo stamp on the stem. I also rubbed the bowl down with a little olive oil on a cotton pad. It really enlivened the grain on the pipe. I buffed it lightly with White Diamond and then gave it several coats of carnauba wax.Shamrock23



Shamrock26 Once the oxidation was taken care of I used some liquid paper to re-whiten the S on the stem. The photos below show the shape of the button and the stem at this point in the process. The new button works well and the shortening of the stem did not too seriously damage the appearance of the pipe.IMG_3070



IMG_3073 I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil between each set of three grits of micromesh sanding pads.Shamrock31



Shamrock34 I rubbed it down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and once it had been absorbed into the vulcanite I hand buffed it with a soft cloth and took the next two photos to show the finished look of the stem.IMG_3091

IMG_3092 The finished pipe is shown below. The two profile photos show the look of the new button and the revised taper of the stem. It feels great in the hand and in the mouth. The bend matches my other 999 pipes and the overall length actually is the same as the chunkier stemmed early 999s that I have in my collection. I buffed the pipe and stem with White Diamond and gave it several coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a soft flannel buff to raise the shine on the pipe. It looks and smells fresh and clean. It is ready to load with a bowl of Virginia and give an inaugural smoke. In closing look at the grain on this old Shamrock – for the life of me I can find no fills in the briar. It is clean – two or three smalls sandpits but they in no way effect the overall look of the pipe. Amazing, I think that it did indeed slip through during production. No problem for me, I will enjoy it.Shamrock37




A GBD “Dublinish” Poker Brought Back to Life

Blog by Steve Laug

The fourth pipe I have refurbished from the lot I just picked up is an oval shanked “Dublinish” Poker that has a GBD on the brass stem roundel. It is stamped on top of the shank with GBD in an oval over New Standard in script. On the underside of the shank it is stamped London England over 9558. I looked up the shape number on the GBD shape site and was unable to find a listing for a pipe of this shape. I looked other places on the web and did not find this shape either listed or pictured. It is certainly not a shape that I have seen for the years that I have been working on pipes and collecting GBD pipes.


The picture below shows the state of the bowl when I brought it to the work table. It had a thick and crumbly carbon cake and carbon and tar build up on the concave surface of the rim. The front of the outer edge had burn marks from repeated lighting. The GBD roundel on the stem was badly oxidized and looked to be corroded. The stem was badly oxidized and on the bottom had a large hole where the previous owner had bitten through the stem.


The picture below shows the size of the bite through and gives a pretty clear picture why I chose not to patch the stem but rather to cut the bite through off and rework the stem and button.

I cut off the end of the stem with a Dremel and sanding drum attachment. I cut it back to the place behind the bite mark that was solid and undamaged. The next four photos show the pipe with the damaged portion of the stem removed and a straight cut made across the end of the stem.




I took it back to the work table and reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer. I used three of the cutting heads from the smallest up to remove the cake and clear out the debris in the bowl. I wanted to remove the cake to assess the soundness of the rim and the bowl of the pipe. I scrubbed the rim down with saliva and cotton pads. It took a lot of elbow grease to finally get the rim clean of the buildup and tars. In the photo below the burn mark on the front of the bowl is visible.

I used files, a wood rasp and needle files to cut the line on the button across the top and the bottom of the stem. I trimmed the thickness of the stem tapering toward the shank with the needle files. I wanted to thin down the stem and taper is more smoothly into the new button making for an even transition from the saddle to the edge of the button.


I used the needle files to open the end of the button and shape it into and oval and a funnel into the airway. I wanted a good open airway that would easily take a pipe cleaner.

After working with the files I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation and to continue to shape the stem into a smooth taper from the saddle to the button.




I sanded the end of the button to angle it back toward the slot and to smooth it out and shape it. I also used the needle files to clean up the straight edge of the button.


Once I had the taper and the angles correct I sanded the stem with a medium grit sanding sponge to remove the scratches from the sandpaper.


When the stem was finished in terms of shaping I moved on to work on the bowl. I wanted to stain the rim and the edges of the bowl where the burn marks were. I used a red mahogany Minwax stain and rubbed it into the rim and gave the entire pipe a stain coat. Once I had wiped that off with a clean towel I gave it a second coat of medium walnut stain to blend it in even more with the rest of the bowl. I buffed it with White Diamond to polish it and give it a shine.




I sanded the stem with my regular regimen of micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with the 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with the 3200-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed in a coat of Obsidian Oil and when it had dried took the stem to the buffer and buffed it with White Diamond to give it a shine.



I buffed the entire pipe with White Diamond and then multiple coats of carnauba wax. I finished by buffing the bowl and stem with a clean buff with soft flannel to bring out a high shine. The finished pipe is shown below in the pictures. The shortened stem came out looking very good and the reduced length does not detract from the look of the pipe as a whole.




Restoring a Comoy’s Tradition Shape 225 Bent Dublin

Blog by Steve Laug

The second Comoy’s I picked up on the recent hunt was a beautifully shaped 225 Tradition. It is a shape that I love for its graceful flow and bend. The stamping on it was weak but visible under a lens. The left side of the shank was stamped Comoy’s over Tradition and the right side was stamped 225. I looked up the shape on Chris Keene’s Pipe Pages and found this page on a 1960’s catalogue http://pipepages.com/64com19s.htm . It is the 225 shape at the bottom of the page.

When I picked it up the pipe the stain on the briar was slightly faded. The stamping was weak. On the side where Comoy’s Tradition was stamped it is very faint, though still visible with light. On the side of the shank where the shape number was stamped the 2 and the 5 are clear and the middle 2 is very light. The bowl was caked and the rim was caked with tars and carbon build up. The inner bevel was clean and undamaged though dirty with tars and the outer edge was also very clean. The exterior of the pipe had no dents of dings. The stem was a replacement and was missing the usual step down tenon that I have come to expect and the existing tenon was shorter than normal. The stem itself was oxidized and had a large bite through on the underside. Of the six pipes (GBD and Comoy’s) that I picked up all but the little bulldog have the same issue.




The photo below shows a closer look at the bite through on the underside of the stem. It’s size, the length of the stem and the fact that it was an obvious replacement stem made my decision of whether to try to repair the hole or to cut the stem back quite easy to make.

I used a Dremel and sanding drum to cut the stem back to solid vulcanite and remove the damaged spot and the button. This would necessitate recutting and shaping a new button on the stem as well as reshaping the slot in the button.


After cutting it off I took it back to the worktable to prepare it for the new button. I wiped the stem down to remove the dust from cutting and to clean the surface so that I could get a good clean line on the button.


I used files, a wood rasp and various needle files to cut an edge for the new button on both the top and the bottom sides of the stem. I also used the files to cut back the stem on the slope before the new button on both sides of the stem. The stem needed to be thinned down from the button forward to the shank for more comfort in the mouth and to keep the graceful lines of the shape intact. I used the needle files to carve back the stem thickness and smooth out the lines so that the button did not look choked and pinched at the line. Once I had a clean slope on the stem previous to the button I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to further highlight the angles of the button.



I sanded the end of the new button to give it a slope toward the slot and to remove the sharp edge look of the new cut. I opened up the button to give it a funnelled shape to the airway and also made it oval. The side profile photos give a clear look at the stem and the angle of the stem previous to the new button.





I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer to get rid of the cake and to clear away the debris from the inner edge of the bowl. I cleaned the rim with saliva on a cotton pad and scrubbed until I had removed the tars and buildup from both the top and the inner bevel of the rim.

I sanded the stem to further define the button and shape it using 220 grit sandpaper and a medium grit sanding sponge. When I was happy with the overall shape of the stem, I sanded its entirety to remove the oxidation. I finished sanding it with my usual regimen of micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12,000 grit pads.






When I had finished sanding with the final grits of pads I put the stem in the shank and buffed it with red Tripoli to remove some of the scratches that still remained on the underside of the stem near the button and then buffed the whole stem with White Diamond. I lightly buffed the pipe as well before taking it back to the worktable to give it a top coat of red mahogany Minwax stain. I rubbed the stain on the bowl to bring back some of the reddish colour that I have found in my other Tradition pipes and used them to match the colour on this pipe.




I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil to preserve the vulcanite. And when the stain was dry I gave it a light buff with White Diamond. I finished by giving the entire pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax to preserve and give it a shine. The finished pipe is picture below. It is cleaned and ready to continue a life of service.




When I saw it I thought it was a Sasieni one dot billiard

I came across this little billiard in an antique shop last weekend and when I saw the blue dot on the stem and saw the classic English shape of the bowl I truly thought I had found an elusive Sasieni one dot pipe. Lots of things about it seemed to signal that is what I had. The stamping was hard to see under the grime but there were i’s and an e. I was hopeful and I guess also wishful in my thinking. The pipe was dirty as can be seen below. The stem had obviously been damaged and cut off by the previous owner and a new button filed into the stem. The bowl was badly caked and the rim was damaged with dents and chips. I took the picture below while I was relaxing in a pub near the shop and looking over the finds of the afternoon.

When I got home I took it to the basement and wiped down the bowl with acetone on a cotton pad to remove some of the grime. Once the outside was wiped down I tried to read the stamping with a magnifying lens. I could not make out the stamping – it was too faint. There was no stamping on the right side of the shank. On the underside it appeared that there had been stamping but it was no longer visible. The next three photos give a good idea of what the pipe looked like before I did a cleanup on the bowl and stem.



I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and took it back to bare wood. I picked at the inside of the bowl to check out the solidity of the walls and to check for potential burns. Everything looked and felt like it was solid so I dropped the bowl in an alcohol bath to soak over night.

The next day I took it out of the bath and dried it off. The bath had removed the old finish for the most part. I finished by once again wiping it down with acetone on a cotton pad. After soaking part of the stamping had become visible. I was disappointed that it appeared that the pipe was not a Sasieni. The stamping that showed up after it was dry read Genuine Briar, which seemed to point to an American made pipe post WW2. I believe it is post war as that is when it became necessary to identify genuine imported briar in contrast to the Manzanita and other alternatives used by American manufacturers during the war years due to a shortage in briar. The briar was a nice piece – birdseye on one side, nice grain on other parts of the pipe and a clean shape to the bowl. I knew it would clean up nicely.




I topped the bowl using my normal method of anchoring a piece of sandpaper on a flat board and twisting the top of the bowl into the sandpaper until the top is smooth. I started with 220 grit sandpaper and then used a medium and fine grit sanding block to smooth out the rim.


When I had finished topping the bowl I wiped it down with acetone and a soft cotton pad to remove the sanding dust and the grime from the topping process.



The stem had a poorly cut button on the end and the button as well as the taper on the stem needed to be reworked. I used a rasp and file to shape the taper on the stem and to take out the pinched look of the angle to the 90 degree cut on the button. The button was also not straight and not squarely cut so I also straightened out the flat edge of the button while I worked with the rasp and files. The next three photos show only the initial work on the stem and not the finished work. I removed quite a bit of the material and smooth out the slope of the taper so that it flowed evenly into the button on both the top and the bottom of the stem.



I sanded the newly shaped stem with 220 grit sandpaper and a medium grit sanding sponge to remove the scratches left by the rasp and files. Once I had the basic shape in place I decided to restain the bowl. I warmed the briar and then gave it several coats of a dark brown aniline stain thinned 1:1 with isopropyl alcohol. I flamed it between each coats to set the stain. The rim took extra coats to match the colour of the rest of the bowl.




I buffed the newly stained bowl lightly with White Diamond and then gave it a coat of a light cherry coloured Danish Oil. Once dry I buffed it by hand and then also gave it a light buff with White Diamond to polish it.



I then removed the stem and worked on the slot in the button. When the end of the stem had been cut off some of the flair of the original airway remained leaving the end of the button with a small rectangular opening. I used needle files to open the flair and widen the slot into more of an oval that extended the width and height of the button end.



Once I had the slot opened the way I like it I sanded the inner edges with a folded piece of sandpaper to smooth it out. I also did some more shaping with files to the taper of the stems. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper until I had the slope well-defined from the tenon back to the button. I also shaped the externals of the button to clean up the angle at the point the button and stem taper met. I also sanded it with a medium grit sanding sponge to remove the scratches left behind and to also remove the oxidation at the stem shank junction.


When I had the scratches removed as far as possible with the sanding sponge I went on to sand the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded the stem with 1500, 1800 and 2400 grit sanding pads and the dry sanded with the remaining grits.



I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and rubbed it into the surface of the vulcanite. I took it to the buffer and buffed the stem with White Diamond. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and polished the pipe with a clean flannel buff to bring up the shine. The finished pipe is pictured below. I still wish I knew what the stamping says in full. That blue dot certainly is a symbol of some unknown to me brand of pipe. The mystery remains but in the mean time I have a great little billiard to enjoy.




Refurb on a Two Point Billiard – Gnawed Stem

This is the second Two Point pipe that I had in my box to be refurbished. It obviously was owned by the same pipe man as the little Lovat as evidenced by the matching bite marks. The pipe had an uneven cake in the bowl making the bowl conical even though it was U-shaped in reality under the cake. The rim was dirty and tarred but not damaged with dents or knock marks. The finish was spotty and uneven so the bowl would need to be stripped and restained for good coverage. The biggest problem can be seen in the first two pictures below: the stem was very badly chewed. In the first picture it can be seen that the top of the stem had several deep bite marks and the button was eliminated on the left side. It was more of an upward slope to the tip than the sharp angular edge that was originally there. The round cap of the top of the p-lip button was smoothed out and no longer crowned. In the second picture you can see that the bottom tooth marks and bite throughs had been repaired with what appeared to be epoxy that was fairly caked on the stem tip to the point that the lip line and the button were gone. What remained was a working stem that had no beauty to my eye.


The third and fourth photos show the profile of the button and it can be seen to have been virtually eliminated with the slope of the epoxy on the bottom edge and the chewed top edge. You can also see the state of the finish on the pipe. The spottiness and grime that covered the outside of the bowl are visible. Obviously this was a good smoking pipe that the previous owner cobbed a repair on so that he could continue to enjoy smoking it.


The next two photos are enlarged to show the state of the stems. The first one shows the top of the stem and you can see the two large dents (interestingly they are in the same place as those on the other Two Point pipe).You can also see the wearing away of the edge of the button to a slope. The crown is also flattened. The second shows the underside of the stem and the remaining two dents – one next to the button on the bottom half of the stem and the second inward from that dent. You can also clearly see the epoxy patch that fills the bite through and the button. The usual line that separates the button on the p-lip from the stem is gone. To repair these two surfaces the dents need to be raised and the holes filled to the point where it is possible to cut a new button on the top and the bottom. The crown will need to be built up a bit and the epoxy patch hidden or blended into the black of the stem.


I decided to work on the top side of the stem first and heated the surface of the vulcanite to lift the dents as much as possible. Once that was finished I filled what remained of the two dents with black super glue (see the first photo below). The dent next to the button I over filled so that I could have room to recut the edge of the button. When the glue had dried I sanded it back with 240 grit sandpaper to even the surface. I also recut the button edge to give it more of a sharp distinction. The sanded top surface can be seen in the second photo below.



On the underside of the stem I decided to recut the button and the line with needle files before I refilled the dents and the epoxy patch. I sanded off the extra epoxy to get the surface smooth and level with the surface of the stem. I used 240 grit sand paper to bring the surface down and the needle files to cut the edge on both sides of the line. You can now see that line in the picture below and there is a definite break between the bottom of the p-lip and the stem. It is a duplicate of the button on the Two Point Lovat.


Once I had that recut the button area I filled the surface of the stem with black super glue as seen in the picture below. I propped it with a pen to keep the surface level as I did not want the super glue to run and pool. I also built up the epoxy patch on the edge of the button as well. Once the glue was dry I sanded the surface and did a bit of work with the needle files to redefine the edges. The second picture below shows the sanded stem with a smooth surface.



I finished sanding the stem with 400 and 600 grit sandpaper and water and then moved through the micromesh pads from 1500-6000 grit. The trick was to build a black coating on the epoxy patch. This took repeated coats of the black super glue. Once that was complete then the stem could be polished by hand until I finished with the bowl refinishing.

While I had been working on the stem the bowl had been soaking in the alcohol bath. Before dropping it in the bath I had wiped it down with a soft cloth and acetone (fingernail polish remover works very well) to remove the finish and the grime. It was time for it to be removed from the bath so that I could work on it. The three pictures below show the bowl after it has dried off from the alcohol bath. It now needed to be sanded with micromesh to remove any surface scratches and the rim needed to be thoroughly wiped down in preparation for the staining. I sanded and then wiped it down with a soft alcohol soaked cloth and set up the staining area.


The next four photos show the restained bowl. I used a medium brown aniline based stain (Fiebings Leather Dye) to stain the pipe. Once it was stained I flamed it and buffed it to polish the briar and make the grain stand out. The patterns of birdseye and swirls is quite unique. This is a clean piece of briar – no fills and no problem areas.


I then put the stem on the pipe and buffed the entirety with White Diamond and carnauba wax to bring it back to a shine. The final four photos show the finished pipe. Pay attention to the stem and button areas as they are now very distinct in the profiles and the build-up on the top and bottom give it back its original shape.


Rebuilding a chewed and dented stem with super glue

I just finished reworking this old stem from an Imperial Two Point Made in London Lovat. The stem was very unique in that it is a p-lip design though slotted in the airway. I have a second one that I am working on that has the same stem so I believe this is one of the hallmarks of the Two Point. That being the case I decided to restore the stem rather than cut a new one. You can see the state of the vulcanite from the three pictures below. The first picture is of the top of the stem. There were three major tooth dents in the surface of the stem, two chunks out of the edge of the button and a piece missing out of the edge of the lip of the slot. The second picture is of the underside of the stem. There you can see one major dent from teeth and also several smaller dents. There is also a dent in the edge of the lip of the pipe that has moved the straight line with a dip in it. The third picture shows the slot in the end of the stem, it is a bit out of focus but you can see the missing piece at the left side of the top edge.


I used my heat gun set on low to lift the dents as much as possible before working on the stem with sandpaper and superglue patches. I cleaned the surfaces of both the top and bottom of the stem after heating and then sanded them with 240 grit sandpaper to remove oxidation and anything that would prohibit the glue from sticking. In the first photo below you can see the two patches on the dents that remained after heating on the underside of the stem and the work that has been done straightening the line. I decided to work on the underside first as it needed a bit less repair. Once the glue was dry I turned the stem over and patched the top side. In the second photo below you can see the super glue patches on the surface of the stem, the two dents on the edge of the button to build up the edge. Once it was dry I planned on using needle files on both top and bottom to sharpen the edge of the button to a crisp restored look.


The next two photos show the top and bottom surfaces of the stem after sanding with 240 grit sandpaper to bring the glue patches flush with the surface and using the needle files to sharpen the edges of the patched button.


The next picture (I apologize for the blurriness but I think it still is clear enough to see the point I am making) shows the work that was needed to rebuild the lip of the button on the topside where the chip was. I carefully layered in black superglue making sure not to close off the airway. I used a greased pipe cleaner folded in half in the airway of the slot to provide a base to build on. Once the base was buildt I stood the stem on end and gradually layered in super glue to build up the top edge of the slot. The goal was to return it to a smooth rounded crown with a clean straight slot for the airway.


The next two pictures show the build up area on the end of the button. It is a shiny black spot in the photo at the bottom right edge of the button. Each one shows a bit more of the build up to give an idea of the process. I would have to recut the edge of the button on the top side when the build up was complete.


When I had the surface filled to satisfaction I recut the edge of the button with the needle files and also sanded the surface with 240 grit sandpaper and 400 and 600 grit wet dry and water to smooth out the fill. I then proceeded to use my normal list of micromesh pads from 1500-6000 grit to finish the stem. I put the stem back on the pipe and buffed it with White Diamond. I took it back to the work desk and gave it a coat of Obsidian Oil, wiped it off when dry and gave the stem a final coat of carnauba wax. The pictures below show the finished stem. The first one shows the topside and the rebuilt crown of the button. The glare and shadows on the picture do not allow you to see clearly the recut edge but it is straight and clean. The second picture shows the underside of the stem and the crisp straight edge of the button. The final picture is an end shot to show the slot and the curve and flow of the crown of the button.


Overall I am pleased with the repair and now have a renewed pipe.