Tag Archives: needle files and reshaping a button

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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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