Tag Archives: pipe refurbishing

Life for a Beautiful Sandblast Il Ceppo Made By Hand Triangle 1 Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

I have finished many of the pipes on my desk for refurbishing or repair and decided it was time to do something a little different that was a lot less work. I turned again to the group of 42 pipes that Jeff and I purchased from a pipeman who can no longer smoke because serious illness. It is a pleasure to be able to support this Brother of the Briar in this very hard season of his life. He had some beautiful pipes in his collection and with some work we will get them cleaned up and into the hands of other pipemen and women who can carry on the legacy of the briar.

The fourth of the pipes that I am working on is a large Il Ceppo Sandblast Billiard. It has a very nice sandblast with different brown stains highlighting the peaks and valleys. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Il Ceppo in an arch. On the right side of the shank it is stamped C3068. On the underside of the shank it is stamped Made by Hand over in Italy. Just over that stamp there is a small triangle with a 1 in the center. It is another nice piece of briar that is shown by the sandblast. The tapered stem is acrylic and has a large C inlaid in the top. When it arrived at Jeff’s house and he opened the box he could see it was a beautifully grained piece of briar and an interestingly carved pipe. The pipe was dirty but there was no significant damage to the bowl or stem. The rim top had darkening and tars in the sandblast of the inward beveled rim. But it did not appear to be burned or charred. There was a thick cake in the bowl. The acrylic stem was in good condition – just a little dirty and tooth chatter on both sides of the stem near the button. There was also a small chip in the left side of the button on the underside. Overall the pipe was a beautiful and a dirty pipe that must have been a favourite smoker. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his clean up work.Jeff took photos of the bowl and the rim top to show the condition of the bowl and rim. You can see the lava and darkening on the rim top. You can also see the cake in the bowl and the tobacco debris stuck to the walls. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish – the grime and grit all over the sides and bottom of the bowl. The overall finish looks good. It is a dirty pipe but the sandblast grain is absolutely stunning.   He took photos of the stamping on the left and underside of the shank. He missed the number on the right side of the shank. The stamping was very readable as noted above. It is a beauty!  The acrylic stem has an inlaid C inlaid top side. He took some photos of the acrylic stem surfaces to show their condition. There were not any tooth marks just some calcification and light chatter ahead of the button on both sides. You can also see the chip on the underside of the button. I have pointed it out with a red arrow to help identify it quickly.I turned then to Pipedia to see what I could find out about Il Ceppo pipes. I read through the Il Ceppo page written by the pipemaker and then the next section of the page written by RD Field. Here is the link to that page on Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Il_Ceppo). I will quote from the section on the line below.

The IL CEPPO brand has been in production since the late 1970’s but, in spite of its overall good value, is not well known in all parts of the United States. Partly this is because of a limited supply of pipes and partly because the brand has not been put in front of the pipe smoking public through a national venue.

The Il Ceppo brand is made in Pesaro, Italy and is part of the famous Pesaro school of design that has also produced Mastro de Paja and Ser Jacopo. That all three brands have similar characteristics can be seen at a glance, but they all have significant differences as well.

Giorgio Imperatori, an architect, had a passion for pipes, and in 1978 began to design and make Il Ceppo. Always considered a good value and very good for smoking, the brand did not make folks stop and take notice until 1995 when Franco Rossi joined the firm. He brought with him a true elegance of design and a unique flair that now helps Il Ceppo stand apart. Giorgio has retired to his farmhouse, and the pipes are now all made by Franco and his sister Nadia.

Individuals involved in the creation and continuation of the Il Ceppo brand are; Giorgio Imperatori (now retired from pipe making); Franco Rossi who, along with his sister Nadia, are the current Il Ceppo pipe makers; Mario Lubinski, the distributor of the Il Ceppo brand in Italy; Massimo Palazzi who worked with Il Ceppo until 1998 when he founded his own brand, L’Anatra.

I turned to Pipephil’s site (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-i.html) to gather additional information. I have included a screen capture below of the section on the brand.From the notes on that page it confirms RD Field’s information. Brand founded by Giorgio Imperatori in 1977 (first period) and bought by Franco Corinaldesi Rossi (second period, about 1996) when Giorgio retired. Franco and his sister Nadia are the current (2011) Il Ceppo pipe makers.

I also found that the section on the grading system on the Pipephil site was really helpful in identifying and reading the stamping on the pipe in my hands.

Grading system.

Pipes from the first period:

    “Il Ceppo” stamping slightly curved

    A to H and a 4-5 digit number

    Group number in a triangle

Putting together all of the information on the pipe I can summarize what I have learned. I knew now that the pipe on my table war from the First Period (1977-1996). The Il Ceppo stamping is slightly curved on this one. It is also stamped on the right side of the shank C3068. The group number in the triangle on this one is 1.

Now I had the information I wanted to know on the brand it was time to begin to work with it and clean it up. It really is a beautiful pipe. I am getting more and more used to Jeff cleaning up the pipes before I work on them. So much so that when I have to clean them it is a real chore! This pipe was dirty just like the other ones in the collection. I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looked really good once it was clean. There was no damage and the sandblast stood out with stark contrast around the bowl. The rim top showed some beautiful sandblasted birdseye on the beveled surface. He cleaned the stem internals and scrubbed the exterior and the result looked very good. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it was impressive. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show what an amazing job Jeff did in the cleanup of the rim top. It was a real beauty. The sandblast really highlighted the grain patterns on the rim top and they were very clean! I also took close up photos of the stem to show condition it was in. It would not take a lot of work – just sanding out the light tooth chatter and polishing with micromesh sanding pads. There was also a chip out of the underside of the button on the left that needed to be addressed. (I have pointed it out with a red arrow.)I took photos of the stamping on the shank of the pipe. On the left it read il ceppo. On the right side was the number as explained above – C3068 and underside of the shank it reads Made by Hand in Italy.   Because Jeff had done such a great job cleaning this pipe and the end result really shone my work on the bowl was very minimal. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl, the rim top and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of stain really made the grain stand out. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The pipe really looks good at this point. I am very happy with the way the pipe is looking at this point in the process.  I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I filled in the chipped area on the button with clear Super Glue first as it hardens very quickly and provides a solid bond to the existing acrylic material. I followed that with several layers of black Super Glue to get the transition right. I used a needle file to recut the button and shape the area. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to finish shaping and started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I sanded the light tooth chatter on the top side and the repaired area and sanded area on the underside of the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the sanding debris. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I hand buffed it with a cloth. This was another fun pipe to work on since Jeff had done the heavy work in cleaning it. Once I was finished I put the acrylic stem back on the bowl and polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The dimensionality of the sandblast is vibrant. The pipe polished up really well. The polished acrylic stem seemed to truly come alive with the buffing. This is a big pipe and it feels great in my hand and I am sure that the sandblast finish will make feel even better radiating the heat of a good smoke. It must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it from the pipeman who we bought it from. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This is one beauty that is eye catching. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding it to your collection email or message me. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman.

A Resurrection for a C.P.F. Fancy Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

Back in November of 2019 I received an email from a fellow pipe man and restorer who I regularly communicate with regarding a C.P.F. pipe. He keeps an eye out for these as he knows that I have a love of the old American brand. He sent the email below and piqued my interest in the pipe.

Steve, I just picked up a CPF pipe that needs some TLC.  Will send to you if you are interested.  No strings attached.  Marked French Briar CPF with some Brass fitments.  Half-3/4 bent bulldog shape.  Bowl looks solid from the outside but can’t really tell what it looks like from the inside.  Might have an amber stem that is pretty much shot – complete, but has problems that probably cannot be repaired – holes near button, crack near shank. – Curtis

I asked him to send me some photos of the pipe but he had already put it in the mail to my brother Jeff. He did however send the photos from the EBay seller that I have included below. Curtis certainly has a gift for understatement… TLC is definitely not all that will be needed with this old timer. But I have a soft spot for hopeless old pipes and this was a C.P.F. as well so it would need to get some attention. At least it could be an ongoing project for me to fiddle with while working on pipes for others. It would be one that stayed in my C.P.F. collection so there was no rush.

You can see some of the issues that came with this old pipe in the photos below. The rim cap and shank end cap are brass and they were oxidized and the grooves and filigree of the pieces were filled in with grime and some rust as well. The rim cap had been hammered almost completely out of shape which will show up later in the photos Jeff took when he received the pipe. The bowl itself had a thick cake in it and an overflow of lava onto the rim cap. The finish was tired and dirty with many small scratches. The C.P.F. oval with French Briar around the oval was still readable but worn. The issues with the stem were many. First appearances show that it is held onto the tenon with thread wound around the tenon. The amber is crystallized and cracked. There is a split on the right side of the shank end. There are two bite throughs – one on the top and one on the bottom. These bite throughs do not align. Patching them will be a challenge. The button itself is worn as well with chips and nicks. The airway is filled with tars that have caused it to turn black. This old pipe will need a lot of work but I can see potential. Curtis shipped it to Jeff so that he could do the cleanup work on it before sending it on to me in Canada. Jeff took photos of the pipe to give me a better idea of the condition before he started his cleanup. The first photo shows the look of the pipe and for me shows the promise I saw in the tired old timer.Jeff also took a photo of the rim top and bowl to show the thick cake and the damage to the brass cap. The second photo shows the bone tenon in the shank and the stem with the string wrap removed to show the issues with the size of the airway into the stem that would have originally been threaded to accommodate the tenon. The threads were long gone and the opening was now cavernous.He took some photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to shows the scratches and nicks in the finish and gives a good picture of what will need to be done to bring the finish back to life. Jeff took photos of the shank cap to give an idea of the condition of the oxidation and the darkening on the surface of the carvings in the brass. It was still solid even with the debris and oxidation.He took a series of photos of the stem to show the crystallization and cracks in the surface as well as the bite through areas and damage to the airway. The stem almost looked to be a lost cause but I had a few ideas and nothing to lose. I am getting more and more used to Jeff cleaning up the pipes before I work on them. So much so that when I have to clean them it is a real chore! The above photos told the story of the condition of the pipe when Jeff received it so I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. II was pretty amazed at what I saw. Yes it had a lot of issues but it was CLEAN! He removed the bowl cap and reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim brass rim cap and shank cap. The finish looked surprisingly good once it was clean. The brass rim cap showed its damage clearly and I was not sure how much of that I could remove but I would give it a try. He cleaned the stem internals and scrubbed the exterior and the result looked very good. The airway and bite through holes were clean but the crystallization was very evident. I have to say that when the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it was impressive. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some close up photos of the rim cap and shank cap. I wanted to show what an amazing job Jeff did in the cleanup of the caps. Even though they were damaged there were quite nice. The briar also cleaned up very nicely and you could see the grain! I also took close up photos of the stem to show condition it was in. It would not take a lot of work – stabilizing the crazing or crystallizing of the amber and also repairing the bite throughs.I took the pipe apart so I could work on the various components. You can see the bowl, the rim and shank cap and the stem in the photos. Each piece needed special attention.I used a small ball-peen hammer and a screwdriver and a Robertson head to tap out as many of the dents as I could.I used a brass bristle wire brush to polish the shank and rim cape and then glued them both in place on the shank and rim top respectively. I tapped the top of the rim cap with the hammer and was able to flatten it slightly. I knew that I would never get the bone tenon out of the shank and that the interior of the stem was far too big to receive the tenon. I wrapped the end of the tenon with Teflon tape to get a good fit on the stem.I coated the exterior of the stem with clear Krazy Glue to stabilize the crazing of the amber. I let it dry and then the stem was ready to sand. I tried to repair the bite through marks on both side of stem with the normal procedure of a greased pipe cleaner in the airway and building the hole up with the glue. It did not work this time at all.I used my Dremel and sanding drum to take off the damaged button. I was able to remove the majority of the bite through on the top side. Having that completed, I then was able to repair the one on the underside. I put the greased pipe cleaner in the stem and filled in the hole on the underside. This time it held. I also was able to build up the area just ahead of where the button had been on the topside. It truly looks ugly at this point in the process but would look better when I was finished.I sanded the surface on both sides of the stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper and then filled in some of the pits in the repair with more Krazy Glue.With that repair done I started to build up the glue around the stem end to make a new button. I layered on the glue and sprayed it with an accelerator and re-layered and resprayed until the button edge was present. I used a needle file to cut a sharp edge on the new button. Once it was clearly defined I sanded the button and stem surface with 220 and 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to smooth out the surface and blend it into the stem.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the sanding debris. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I hand buffed it with a cloth. I wiped it down with Briarville’s No Oxy Oil to protect and preserve the stem. The progress on both sides of the stem is clear in the next series of photos. Curtis was correct in telling me that this would be a challenging pipe to work on. Jeff had done the heavy work in cleaning it so that was a major boost for me. Once I was finished I put the repaired amber stem back on the bowl and polished it by hand with a microfiber cloth. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed the pipe with a shoe brush to raise the shine. I hand buffed it again with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe has come a long way from where it was when Jeff received it. Thank you Curtis, for believing that I could do something with this one. That kept me moving forward during some rough moments with the restoration. The pipe polished up really well. The polished amber stem seemed to truly come back to life with the buffing. This little pipe feels great in my hand and I am sure that it will feel even better radiating the heat of a good smoke. It must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This is interesting piece of late 1890s early 1900s history and even with the warts and wrinkles has beauty that is eye catching. I will be putting it in my C.P.F. Collection. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman. This is the push behind the work I do.

Restoring an Amazing Looking Comoy’s Magnum Supreme


Blog by Steve Laug

I have finished many of the pipes on my desk for refurbishing or repair and decided it was time to do something a little different that was a lot less work. I turned again to the group of 42 pipes that Jeff and I purchased from a pipeman who can no longer smoke because serious illness. It is a pleasure to be able to support this Brother of the Briar in this very hard season of his life. He had some beautiful pipes in his collection and with some work we will get them cleaned up and into the hands of other pipemen and women who can carry on the legacy of the briar.

The third of the pipes that I am working on is a large Comoy’s. It has an octagonal shank that is a really nice touch. The bottom of the bowl and shank are flat so the pipe is a sitter. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Comoy’s over Magnum over Supreme. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Made in over London England. It is a stunning piece of briar with beautiful straight, flame and birdseye grain around the bowl. The saddle stem is Cumberland and has a C inset in clear acrylic inlaid in the left side of the saddle. When it arrived at Jeff’s house and he opened the box he could see it was a beautifully grained piece of briar and an interestingly carved pipe. The pipe was dirty but there was no significant damage to the bowl or stem. The rim top had darkening and tars on the bevel of the inner edge. But it did not appear to be burned or charred. There was a thick cake in the bowl. The Cumberland stem was in great condition – just a little dirty and tooth chatter on both sides of the stem near the button. Overall the pipe was a beautiful and a dirty pipe that must have been a favourite smoker. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his clean up work. Jeff took photos of the bowl and the rim top to show the condition of the bowl and rim. You can see the light oil and darkening on the inner edge of the beveled rim top. You can also see the cake in the bowl and the tobacco debris stuck to the walls.   Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish – the grime and grit all over the sides and bottom of the bowl. The overall dullness of the finish looks lifeless. It is a dirty pipe but the grain is absolutely stunning.   He took photos of the stamping on the octagonal shank. It is both artfully and tastefully done. The stamping was very readable as noted above. It is a beauty!  The Cumberland stem has an inset acrylic encased C inlaid on the left side of the saddle and is stamped faintly on the right side of the saddle with the words Hand Cut.  He took some photos of the Cumberland stem surfaces to show their condition. There were not any tooth marks just some calcification and light chatter ahead of the button on both sides.  I turned then to Pipedia to see what I could find out about this particular line of Comoy’s pipes. I read through the main Comoy’s page and looked at the page on dating the pipes by the stamping on both sides and neither one had any reference to the Comoy’s Magnum Supreme. I then turned to the article by Derek Green on Pipedia to see if there was any reference to the line there. Low and behold about half way down the article under the section entitled, The Names or Grades I found some information on the Magnum line. Here is the link to that page on Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/A_History_Of_Comoy%27s_and_A_Guide_Toward_Dating_the_Pipes#The_Names_or_Grades). I will quote from the section on the line below.

Extraordinaire. This designation was given to any pipe that was out of the ordinary in size or grain. The E/O was introduced in the 1930s, and “Extraordinaires” can be found with no other designation or also stamped, for instance, “Blue Riband” or “London Pride.” The 1936 advertisement lists the “Extraordinaire” at $13 to $23, and the 1965 catalogue also lists a “Specimen Straight Grain Extraordinaire” at $60, though I cannot imagine many of these were made! There seem to be two distinct-sized pipes that were called “Extraordinaire.” The very large or Magnum-sized variety are unique and were given shape numbers in the 800 series. My 1939 panel example is 803 and is 9 inches long, with a bowl 2 3/8” high and 1 ¾” wide. I understand that BBB, Comoy and Dunhill made these Magnum-sized pipes in the 1920s and 30s and that Dunhill purchased the bowls for their Magnums from BBB when they started producing them in 1921. Other Extraordinaires are somewhat larger than a Dunhill LBS, for instance 6 ½” long with a bowl height of 2” and 1 ½” wide. These are given normal shape numbers and are illustrated in the 1965 catalogue.

The Extraordinaire was reintroduced in 1979 as the “Extraordinaire 1,” which was priced at $100 in the 1979 catalogue in a light natural finish, and the “Extraordinaire 11,” a light two-tone walnut finish. Neither of these was as large as the 800 series.

Magnum. As mentioned above, the 800 series are “Magnum” sized, but I also have one pipe that is stamped “Magnum,” with the shape number 802 and is the same shape and size as my Extraordinaire 802. It dates from the 1960s, and Comoy’s may have used this name as a marketing exercise to supersede the 800 series. The name Magnum was re-introduced by Cadogan in the 1990s, but these were not really magnum sized.

From the site I determined that the pipe in my hand was most like made during the Cadogan time frame as it does not bear any shape number. It is large but I do not know that I would call it a Magnum sized pipe. That would make it a pipe from the 1990s which also goes along with the interesting acrylic encased C that is inlaid in the Cumberland stem.

Now I had the information I wanted to know on the brand it was time to begin to work with it and clean it up. It really is a beautiful pipe.

I am getting more and more used to Jeff cleaning up the pipes before I work on them. So much so that when I have to clean them it is a real chore! This pipe was dirty just like the other ones in the collection. I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looked really good once it was clean. There was no damage and the grain just popped around the bowl. The rim top was bursting with birdseye grain and was beautiful. He cleaned the stem internals and scrubbed the exterior and the result looked very good. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it was impressive. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show what an amazing job Jeff did in the cleanup of the rim top. It was a real beauty. The layout of the pipe absolutely captured the birdseye grain on the pipe. I also took close up photos of the stem to show condition it was in. It would not take a lot of work – just sanding out the light tooth chatter and polishing with micromesh sanding pads.I took photos of the stamping on the left, right and underside of the shank. The stamping reads as noted above.   I polished the bowl and rim with worn micromesh sanding pads. I sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped it down between pads with a soft cotton cloth. You can see the progress in the shine as you go through the photos.  I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl, the rim top and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of stain really made the grain stand out. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The pipe really looks good at this point. I am very happy with the way the pipe is looking at this point in the process.  I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the light tooth chatter on both sides of the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I finished by wiping it down with Briarville’s No Oxy Oil and set it aside to dry. This was another fun pipe to work on since Jeff had done the heavy work in cleaning it. Once I was finished I put the Hand Cut Cumberland stem with a Delrin tenon back on the bowl and polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The grain just pops and is almost multidimensional it is so deep. The pipe polished up really well. The polished Cumberland stem seemed to truly come alive with the buffing. This is a big pipe and it feels great in my hand and I am sure that it will feel even better radiating the heat of a good smoke. It must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it from the pipeman who we bought it from. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 ½ inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: 1 inch. This is one beauty that is eye catching. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding it to your collection email or message me. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman.

Transforming a Hornless Sculpted Bull’s Head into a Churchwarden with Horns


Blog by Dal Stanton

I would have never come up with this on my own.  Seth already commissioned the restoration of a French GEFAPIP 500 Bent Bulldog which he found calling his name in the online collection of pipes I call, For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!.  The Bulldog needed a lot of stem work which included deep oxidation, a button rebuild and re-seating the stem/shank fit.  I was pleased with the results of that transformation pictured below.While I was working on the GEFAPIP Bulldog, Seth emailed me with a question – could he commission a Churchwarden project by repurposing another pipe’s bowl listed in For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!.  A Sculpted Bull’s Head with a bent stem had gotten his attention and with a little ‘dreaming’ applied, Seth could envision the Bull’s Head mounted on a Warden stem.  I found the Bull’s Head in the inventory and pulled it out to look at through Seth’s eyes… Yep!  I could see it, too.  What was missing in the mix were the Bull’s horns.  I responded that we could do this and after working out the details, I added the Bull’s Head CW project to follow the Bulldog project! Here are pictures of the Sculpted Bull’s Head which got Seth’s attention: The Bull’s profile is detailed and a bit on the whimsical side, especially with his missing horns.  He seems to be smiling in the picture above.  There are no identifying marks on the pipe.  When the Bull made it to the worktable, the question that came to my mind was how would I fashion the missing horns?  I took this question to ‘Google search’ to find other sculpted bull heads to get some ideas.  I clipped a screen shot of the search results and you can see that the horns are not uniform which is true of real bulls.  I looked through the pictures to see if I could find a bull that resembled Seth’s Bull, but I could not.  The interesting thing was that I found that many bull heads were from Italy.  What I noticed as well, was the similarities and differences between the pipes.  The eyes were made of differing materials and also the shaping of the ears situated behind the horns were distinctive and showed bulls sculpted by the same ‘school’ or carver.  After concluding the online search, I decided that I would send a note to Seth asking him to do the same search and to let me know what horns looked best – with the understanding this Bull’s Head will be mounted at the front end of a Churchwarden stem.  I’m thinking about the balancing and general look.  After sending the email, I place the Bull’s Head stummel with a Warden stem to get an overall sense of proportion.  I like it!I begin the Sculpted Bull’s Head Churchwarden project with the general cleaning of the stummel before fashioning the stem.  I take a picture of the chamber showing very little cake buildup, but I do see vestiges of the former steward’s tobacco.  I use the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to scrape the walls of the narrower than usual chamber.  After wrapping 240 grade paper around a Sharpie Pen, sanding the chamber removes more carbon.  I finish this phase by wiping the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.  After inspecting the chamber, I determine that all looks good. Moving to the cleaning of the external surface, using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a bristled tooth brush I go to work scrubbing all the crevasses of the sculpting.From the worktable, I transfer the Bull’s Head to the kitchen sink where I rinse the surface with warm water as well as clean the internals.  Using anti-oil dish soap, long shank brushes scrub the internals.  Afterwards, the stummel is rinsed thoroughly – inside and out.The appearance of the Sculpting is realistic, especially the carving around the eyes. I continue cleaning the internals using cotton buds and a pipe cleaner – all dipped in isopropyl 95%.  The internals are good, and I move on.With the stummel clean, it’s time to begin fashioning the Warden stem.  The first step is to take some measurements using my German made electronic caliper – one of the best additions to the toolbox I’ve made.  I measure the internal diameter of the mortise to establish the target size of the tenon.  The measurement is 6.80mm.  Next, after mounting the drill bit provided by the PIMO Tenon Turning Tool set, the airway is drilled out to receive the Guide Pin of the TTT. After drilling the airway, the TTT is mounted.  The first cut of the tenon is intentionally larger to act as a starting point for the measurement.  In the picture below the guide pen is in the now enlarged airway.  In the past, I’ve learned the hard way that it’s critically to cut the tenon of the precast Churchwarden stem all the way to and through the raw stem facing.  I’ve put an arrow at the facing that is shouldered coming from the casting.  If this shoulder is not removed, it simply migrates to the pipe which is not good.I do the initial cut of the tenon through the ‘shoulder’ so that a sharp 45-degree angle is left which will be able to seat more exactly with the shank facing.Again, I measure and the tenon after the initial cut and it is 8.92mm.  The difference between the starting cut and the target size of the tenon (6.80mm) is 2.12mm. In order to approach the target size conservatively through sanding, 40mm is added to the target size of the tenon to create a ‘fat’ target – to leave a bit of sanding to be able to customize the fit.  Adding .40mm to 6.80mm gives a fat target of about 7.20mm.  This is what I aim for with the PIMO Tenon Turning Tool before transitioning to sanding the raw tenon.After a few cuts closing in on the ‘fat’ target, I settle for 7.31mm.  I now transition to sanding. Using a coarse 120 grade, I pinch the paper around the tenon as evenly as possible and rotate the stem while holding the paper stationary.  My goal is to size down the tenon evenly so that the whole tenon is maintaining contact snuggly on the mortise walls once seated.  Progress is patient as I sand and test the fit. As the progression moves closer to completion, I transition to 240 grade paper to do the final sanding.The tenon is fitting well – snug but not too tight.  The pictures below show the seated stem.  The stem is almost perfectly flush with the upper shank, but the stem is fat on the lower quadrant.After taping the shank with a layer of masking tape to buffer the briar from the heavy sanding, I attack the fat lip of the lower stem using coarse 120 grade sanding paper.  The goal is to sand the excess vulcanite to form a uniform shank/stem union.After achieving a good union at the shank, I continue the sanding with the 120 paper over the entire precast Warden stem.  The stem, even though it is new, has the casting seam down both sides that needs sanding and uneven rippling that needs smoothing. After the 120 grade paper, I follow by sanding the entire stem with 240.After the stem proper has been sanded, I switch the focus to the rough precast button.  Pictures of the upper and lower raw button show the imperfections that are first filed using a flat needle file.After doing the major shaping with the file, I follow with 120 and 240 sanding papers to fine tune the button shaping.Without a doubt, the least pleasing aspect of fashioning Churchwardens is sanding the stems and dealing with all the rubber dust!  I’m thankful to move to the fine sanding stage by wet sanding with 600 grade paper followed by applying 000 grade steel wool to the entire stem.Next, with the stummel and stem united, I remove the masking tape to begin sanding with micromesh pads.  At this point, I focus the sanding on the stem/shank junction and the stummel.  Sanding the shank with the stem engaged keeps the junction edges from shouldering.  I also sand the stummel to clean it up.  There’s no doubt that this Bull’s Head sculpting will remain ‘rough’ and rustic, but I want to sand the smooth briar points of the Bull’s head: shank, underside, muzzle and the high points of the sculpting ridges.  Pictures of the landscape show the smooth briar patches that will be the focus of the micromesh pads. I begin by first wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400, followed by 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000. Next, I address the stummel’s hue.  The original pictures of the Sculpted Bull’s Head indicate an original darker stummel.  What I believe will look good is to darken the stummel again and then lightly sand the peaks of the sculpting to bring out highlights giving the overall appearance more depth and contrast. The crevasses of the sculpting will hold on to the darkened hue while the peaks will lighten.  I’ll use Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye to do the job.  After removing the stem, I clean the stummel using a cotton pad and isopropyl 95%. It takes a bit of time as I get into each crevasse of the sculpting.I assemble the staining station and use the hot air gun to warm the stummel before applying the stain. This opens the briar to help its receptivity to the dye. Unlike my normal approach of flaming the aniline dye after painting it on the briar surface, with the rough texture I apply a simple dye wash and allow it to dry and set. I use the bent over pipe cleaner to apply dye in all the crevasses of the sculpted surface.  After applying the leather dye, I let the stummel rest for several hours.With the stummel resting now, I turn back to the stem.  Before, with the stummel attached, I have already applied micromesh to the junction area.  Now I continue with the rest of the stem starting with wet sanding with micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 then dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads, Obsidian Oil is applied to the stem.  Steve did an informative blog on comparing Obsidian Oil with Briarville’s, No Oxy Pipe Stem Oil (See LINK).  His conclusion was that both seemed to be equally good products.  What I didn’t know before reading Steve’s blog was about the anti-oxidation properties of Obsidian Oil.  It doesn’t remove oxidation if already present, but it hinders the growth of oxidation.  As a result, I’ve started using Obsidian Oil for the maintenance of my own pipes in rotation. Putting the stem aside for the time, I take up the stummel which has been resting for several hours after applying the dye.  I use a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to give the stummel a wipe to remove excess dye. Next, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel with the speed set at about 40% full power.  I apply a light application of Blue Diamond compound and I intentionally keep the compound light because I want to avoid caking in the crevasses.  My focus is primarily buffing on the smooth briar and the peaks of the sculpting.After application of the compound, I use a felt cloth to give the stummel a rigorous buffing to remove the compound dust from the surface.  I very much like the results.  The effect I was shooting for with the contrast between the smooth briar peaks and the darker crevasses is evident. The rough, rustic texture is preserved but the smooth briar pops in comparison.  I’m surprised also by the mahogany leaning hue resulting from the dark brown dye that I applied.  The following pictures show what I see. I decide to condition the dried Sculpted Bull’s Head stummel using Before & After Restoration Balm. I place some Balm on my fingers and work it well into the crevasses of the sculpting and over the smooth briar surfaces.  During this process, I note that the dye applied to the stummel earlier is coloring the Balm somewhat as it’s worked into the briar.  I also see some coloring on my fingers.  After working the Balm in well, I place it aside to allow the Balm to do its thing and then I use a cotton cloth that I will discard to wipe the excess Balm which is also colored somewhat with the fresh brown dye that is lifting off the stummel. To address the leaching dye issue, which is normal for newly dyed woods – briar is no exception, is to heat the stummel with the hot air gun which helps the dye to fully leach.  When the stummel is heated, I wipe it first with a cotton cloth and then with a paper towel.  The hopeful result of this is after the pipe reaches his new steward, when the steward fires it up for the first few uses, dye will not leach on his hands from the heated stummel – or be minimized greatly!Next: bending the Warden stem.  After reuniting the stem and stummel I place the pipe on a piece of paper to sketch the angle of curve needed to help as a template.  I first draw a horizontal line to serve as the plane of the plateau.  I use the horizontal shelf behind the angled chamber stack to line up with the horizontal plane.  After outlining the unbent angle, I sketch the bend to bring it into alignment with the horizontal to serve as my template.Even though the bend needed is not great, a pipe cleaner is inserted into the end of the stem to guard the airway integrity during the bend.  Using the hot air gun, the middle of the stem is heated because this is where I want the bend to be so that the end of the stem resolves nicely along the horizontal plane.  I remove the stummel so that I can place the stem flat on the template after it is heated so that the stem is not angled or twisted to the left or right during the vulcanite’s supple stage.As the stem heats, I’m careful to keep ‘up’ up, so that the fit of the stem in the mortise isn’t accidentally flipped!  As the rubber heats, I gently apply pressure to the bend area.  When the heating has sufficiently warmed the vulcanite, I bring the stem to the template and create the bend according to the template and hold it in place for a few minutes as the rubber cools and the bend is held in place.  The first attempt renders perfect results!  I move on.With the stem now bent, I catch it up with the stummel by applying Blue Diamond compound to the entire stem.  After mounting a cotton cloth buffing wheel onto the Dremel and with the speed set at about 40% full power, I apply compound to the stem.  After finishing the application, I wipe/buff the stem with a felt cloth to remove the leftover carbon dust.I’m very pleased how things are shaping up.  Before the final polishing, I have one project left which is a little daunting: the horns.  I’ve been thinking throughout (and even before starting!) the restoration how I was going to address the fashioning of the horns.  The sides of the Bull’s head have holes which provide the diameter of the horn mass.  As I looked at many examples on the internet of sculpted Bull’s heads, I found that there are a several varieties of horn style which is true with real life bulls!  To narrow in on a style, I described sending Seth an email asking him to do some online research.I received his reply stating that he liked the shorter, stockier horns that turn up slightly on the ends.  He also sent a couple pictures to illustrate his desires which were very helpful.  As I’ve thought about this part of the project, fashioning one horn is not the greatest challenge, but fashioning two is!  The challenge is to match the two but in reverse orientation – left and right horns!  The pictures Seth provided are helpful, but there is a contrasting complexity even between the two examples he sent.  The picture on the left shows the horns set on a vertical platform shaped on the side of the bull’s head to allow the visible horn to have more mass with (I’m assuming) a smaller peg inserted into the holes.  Whereas, the example on the right, more like what I have on my worktable, the horn diameter and mass are confined to the diameter of the hole.  It seems to be that the general proportion of the examples Seth sent below and many of the online examples I’ve seen is that the visible horn is about half the width of the bull’s head. Unfortunately, in my 10th floor flat in the formerly Communist period apartment block, I do not possess much in the way of precision wood working equipment, like a lathe!  Shaping the horns will be by hand using a Dremel, files and sanding paper.  I plan to use cherrywood as the material for the horns.  Cherry trees grow almost everywhere in Bulgaria and there are several in the green area in front of our block.  A couple years ago I harvested a couple very straight branches from a cherrywood tree in the front green area to dry out and to use with a project of restoring a French made cherrywood Ropp stummel and stem.  I trimmed them down and they’ve been in my bucket waiting for some time – now, very much dried and ready.  The Ropp project will continue to wait! I begin with horn number one.  First, I cut a length of the cherrywood stem the width of the bull’s head.  I know that roughly half of this will be the horn.  The other half will be what is eventually inserted in the hole which is the ‘peg’ side.In order to give a center orientation for the peg, I use a small sanding drum to trace a guide circle.After drawing a line around the piece of wood to mark the extent of peg shaping, I use a sanding drum in a circular motion around the end  and gradually shape out the peg. As I was progressing on shaping the horn peg, I notice the line of a grain crack – ugh.  I decide to see if it might work after some sanding and filing, but the crack will be a problem.  I’m hoping that this is not characteristic of this wood! I move on and start over.With the second start, I decide not to cut the short piece of cherrywood but to shape the horn peg first.  I do this so that I can save wood if I must cut it off again and restart.  Again, I mark the center horn peg template and use the sanding drum mounted on the Dremel to shape the peg.I sanded and tested the fit a few times until the horn peg finally found home in the side of the bull’s head! Next, I cut off the smaller piece measuring to leave a little more than half the width of the Bull’s head.  I leave extra length to enable me to sand down to a good fit.Next, with the picture that Seth sent to me showing the horn style he likes, I draw a horn template on the cherrywood inserted into the hole.  The most critical thing at this point is to have a guide to help me stay within close parameters of proportion as I shape the horn step by step.Remembering that the first horn is easier than the second, I use the rounded angle of the sanding drum to create a consistent angle for the upswing of the horn tip.  I’ll do the same for the second horn to minimize differences.  With the Dremel set to slow, I press the drum into the wood to create the horn tip upswing angle. I then remove the remaining excess wood on the upper side of the horn bringing the top parallel with the upper side of the peg. Next, I turn the horn shaping over, with the horn tip facing down, to now work on the bottom of the horn. The hand saw cuts the excess off the cherrywood piece so that the cut is very close to the end of the horn.  This saves on sanding.Again, using the sanding drum mounted on the Dremel, I begin to take wood off the lower side of the horn piece.  I start by sanding a horizontal base-line which identifies the horn’s lower side.As the sanding moves toward the end of the cherrywood – toward the horn tip that is facing downwardly, I curve the sanding so that the angled underside of the horn is shaped toward the inverted horn tip.The roughing out of the upper and lower horn is looking good and it resembles a paddle at this stage.  The next 3 pictures show the horn from the different angles and the excess wood on the end identified by the template is still needing to be sanded to better define the horn tip. I insert the rough horn into the bull head to make sure I’m tracking in a good direction.  I’m looking for good proportions. So far, very nice – but again, the first horn is easier!I transition to a smaller sanding drum to begin the removal of the excess wood on the front and back portions of the rough horn.  The horn starts to emerge very nicely during this part of the sanding which is patient – I am very careful sculpting with the sanding drum.  I can’t replace wood!After patient shaping, I test the emerging horn and it looks great!  The proportions are good on both the horizontal and vertical axis.With the challenge of now replicating the roughed-out horn, but in reverse, I try to emulate the same process and patiently move step by step.  I draw the peg template and again use the drum to shape out the peg.When the peg arrives in time with a good fit, I use the finished horn to draw a template on the second horn piece.Again, using the sanding drum, the angle is notched out creating the pitch toward the horn tip.As before, I then remove the excess on the top bringing it roughly parallel to the upper side of the peg.  With this done, I cut the cherrywood for a more manageable piece.To shorten this part of the write-up, after much careful sanding, shaping and test fittings, I arrive at two roughed-out horns.They aren’t identical but close enough to pass for the real deal!To leave the horns in semi-rough condition with some texture, I sand both with 240 and 600 grade papers.  This smooths the cherrywood but keeps the horns more rustic.I’m not sure what it will do with the raw cherrywood, but I apply Before & After Restoration Balm to see what happens.  After applying the Balm with my fingers, I let the Balm do its thing for about 20 minutes.  The light cherrywood didn’t change much, but there is a more of a ivory-like hue to it now. Not bad.Almost in the home stretch.  Using BSI Maxi-Cure Extra Thick CA glue, I glue the horns in place.  After placing a drop in each hole, with a toothpick, I spread the glue around the circumference of the hole.  I then insert each horn and pitch it up as Seth requested.Now the home stretch.  All that is lacking is applying carnauba wax to the pipe.  After reuniting stem and stummel, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel and set the speed to about 40% full power.  I apply carnauba wax to the stem and Sculpted Bull’s Head stummel and horns.  I’m careful to go light on the wax in the sculpting staying primarily on the smooth briar and peaks. After application of the wax, I give the Churchwarden a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine.Oh my!  I love it, and I trust that Seth will as well.  His idea of turning this Sculpted Bull’s Head into a Churchwarden is a winner hands down.  The sculpting cleaned up nicely and the dark brown dye with the contrast highlighting with smooth briar is attractive, but the rustic air of the pipe is preserved.  I’ve never fashioned horns in a restoration before this project, but I believe the Bulgarian cherrywood looks good and does a good job emulating the horns.  Fashioning the horns wasn’t easy, but I’m pleased with the outcome. As the commissioner of this project, Seth will have the first opportunity to acquire this Sculpted Bull’s Head Churchwarden from The Pipe Steward Store.  This pipe benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria, women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

Refreshing a Dunhill Root Briar 708 F/T Oval Shank Canted Stack for Alex


Blog by Steve Laug

Around Christmas time I got together with Alex to enjoy some great hot cocoa, smoke our pipes and talk about all things pipes. I always have a great time when we get together and this time was no exception. He greeted me at the door with slippers and an old smoking jacket. I took my seat in the living room among his latest pipe finds and was handed a great cup of cocoa. I set it down and we both loaded out pipes with some new Perretti’s tobacco that he had picked up. We touched the flame of the lighter to the tobacco and sat back and blissfully enjoyed the flavour. As we did Alex walked me through his latest finds. There were some amazing pipes to look at and savor. He had found several really nice pipes – 3 different Dunhill pipes that he wanted me to work on for him. I have already written a blog on the Dunhill Wanghee Tan Shell Briar with a Bamboo shank (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/08/refreshing-a-dunhill-tanshell-w60-t-1962bamboo-lovat-for-alex/). I have also written a blot on the reconstruction of a nice little Shell Briar Lovat(https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/11/breathing-life-into-a-worn-and-beat-up-dunhill-shell-briar-ec-canadian-for-alex/). The third Dunhill he had picked up is a shape number I could find little information on – a shape 708F/T Root Briar. For lack of a better title for the shape I have called it a canted stack.

Alex had reamed the pipe and cleaned the pipe very well. The bowl was clean. The rim top had a lot of damage including burn marks and dents. The bowl was also very far out of round with damage around inner edge. There were burn marks on the inner and outer edge toward the right front side of the bowl. The finish looked very good around the bowl other than the burn mark on the left side where it looked like the bowl had been laid in an ash tray against a hot ash. He had already enjoyed smoking it and was hooked on it. He asked if I could take it home with me and see what I could do about the rim top damage and the burn mark on the bowl. I told him I would take it home and have a go at it. The pipe was stamped on the left side of the shank with the following nomenclature: 708F/T at the bowl shank junction followed by Dunhill over Root Briar. The Dunhill Root Briar stamp is faint but readable with a lens and light. The right side reads Made in England followed by what looks like a 2 (another 1962?) and a Circle 4 A. The 4 is the size of the pipe and the A is the designation for Root Briar. The stamping on the right side of the shank is also faint.

When I got home I laid it aside and today took it up to work on it. I examined the pipe to see what I was working with and took some photos. You can see from the first photo below that there was a burn mark on the left side mid bowl. It was a cosmetic burn marks in the finish but not too deep. It was like the pipe had been laid down in an ashtray. The rim top had significant darkening and damage. The stem was in good condition other than tooth chatter on both sides just ahead of and on the top of the button. Overall the pipe was in good condition. I took a close up photo of the rim top. You can see the darkening on the rim top and the damage on the front inner and outer edge of the bowl. The inner edge was hacked up like it had been poorly reamed with a pocket knife. There were also nicks and deep scratches in the rim top. It was in rough shape. The stem looked pretty good. There was tooth chatter on the top and underside of the stem and on the button surface itself. Otherwise the stem was in very good condition.I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the bowl. You can see that it reads as noted above. It is indeed faint but with a lens and light it is very readable.I decided to start the refurbishing by addressing the issues with the rim top and inner edge of the bowl. I lightly topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. Once it was smooth I worked on the inner edge of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I also cleaned up the burned outer edge on the rim front. I sanded the burn mark on the left side of the bowl with the 220 grit sandpaper and was able to minimize the burn a bit. It was deeper than I initially thought. I polished the rim top and bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the bowl down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth to remove the dust and debris left behind by the sanding. I used a Maple Stain Pen to blend the sanded area on the side of the bowl and the rim top with the rest of the finish on the bowl. I have found that this particular stain pen works well to match the stain on the Root Briar.With the finish cleaned I rubbed it down with Before and After Restoration Balm. It is a product developed by Mark Hoover to clean, enliven and protect briar. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips. I let it sit while I went and had some lunch. When I came back I buffed it off with a cotton cloth. You can see the results below. While the burn mark did not disappear it is significantly lighter than when I started. The rim top also looks much better. I set the bowl aside and turned to address the tooth chatter on the stem surface. The stem was in excellent condition other than that so it did not take a lot of work. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to sand out the tooth marks and then started the polishing with 400 grit sandpaper.I polished it further with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish – a red paste that does a great job in removing the oxidation remnants in the crease of the button and also polish out some of the lighter tooth chatter.I finished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cotton pad to remove the dust. I polished it with Before and After Pipe Polish – both fine and extra fine. I finished by wiping the stem down with some No Oxy Oil that I received from Briarville Pipe Repair to experiment with. Once I finished I put the stem back on the shank and carefully buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond polish. I wanted to polish out the minute scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and the stem several coats of carnauba. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth. The finished Root Briar pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a great pipe and certainly looks better than when I began the process. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outer Bowl Diameter: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber Diameter: ¾ of an inch. The pipe will soon be heading back to Alex so he can continue to enjoy it. This is a beauty that he can enjoy as he carries on the trust of these Dunhill pipes. Thanks for walking with me through the restoration.

Restoring a Beautifully Grained Leonard Payne Original Apple with a Unique Stem


Blog by Steve Laug

After brief foray into restoring a couple of other pipes I am back to Bob Kerr’s estate (his photo is to the left). If you have not “met” the man and would like to read a bit of the history of the pipeman, his daughter has written a great tribute that is worth a read. Because I have included it in over 60 restorations to date I thought that I would leave it out this time. Be sure to check out some of the recent Dunhill restoration blog (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/01/restoring-the-last-of-bob-kerrs-dunhills-a-1962-dunhill-bruyere-656-f-t-bent-billiard/).

Bob Kerr seemed to enjoy collecting Canadian pipes as much as I do. He had quite a few Canadian made pipes including some nice older Brigham pipes and some specific pipes made by Peterson’s of Dublin for import into Canada. When I was cataloging Bob Kerr’s Estate and came across this pipe I examined it with a light and lens and could read the stamping. On the left side of the shank it read Leonard Payne in his characteristic looped signature. Under that it was stamped Original. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Made in Canada. The finish on the bowl was dirty but undamaged. There was some lava build up on the front edge of the rim top. There was darkening around the inner edge of the bowl and there was some damage on the inner edge. The bowl had a thick cake on the walls and there were shards of tobacco stuck in the cake. The stem was lightly oxidized and there was some tooth chatter on the top and underside of the button. The button end of the stem was quite unique. There was an airway coming out of either side of the stem and a round slot in the end of the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started the cleanup work. Jeff took photos of the rim top and bowl to show its condition. The rim top was covered with a coat of thick lava that overflowed the bowl. It was primarily on the front side of the bowl. The bowl itself had a thick cake with flecks of tobacco stuck in the cake on the sides. Jeff took photos of the sides of the bowl to give a better feel for the beautiful grain around the sides and heel of the bowl. It is truly a beautiful pipe. He took a photo of the left and right sides of the shank. The stamping is clear and reads as noted above. The tapered stem has a capital ‘P” on the left side.The stem was lightly oxidized and seemed to be high quality vulcanite. There were no tooth marks or chatter which was unusual for Bob’s pipes. It is a unique stem in that there was an airway exiting on both sides of the stem at the button. The main slot on the button end was an oval hole so in essence the stem seemed to introduce air from the sides to the main airway to deliver a cool smoke. I turned to a previous blog that I had written on the first Leonard Payne pipe that I worked on to gather the information on the brand and remind myself of the background of this pipe. Here is the link (https://rebornpipes.com/2013/11/16/a-pipe-maker-i-had-never-heard-of-leonard-payne-pipes/). I quote the pertinent parts of that blog below:

The stamping was Leonard Payne on the left side of the shank and Made in Canada on the right side. The stem bears a green dot in the centre of a white circle on the left side of the stem. I decided to do a bit of research on the web and found the following advertisement that highlighted the pipes. Further digging with Google came up with this short note from alt.smokers.pipes forum. It was written by Mike Glukler of Briar Blues. I quote it below in full. (https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/alt.smokers.pipes/RrICLiVgE2o) “Leonard Payne was based in B.C. for many years. He came to Canada from England. He had shops in Surrey, B.C. and Kelowna, B.C.Interesting fellow. Gruff as the day is long. When you bought a pipe it was handed to you in a paper bag. No sock, no box. Most of his pipes carried a “carburetor” system at the shank / stem junction.Another Payne idea was his shanks. Almost all his pipes were two pieces. He’d turn the bowl and shank, then cut off the shank and reattach with glue (not always with the same piece of briar, so many did not match grains). His thinking was that the shank being the weakest link, if cut and glued would never break and thus “correcting”the weakest link.You may find his pipes on E-Bay on occasion listed as a Len Cayne. The P in his stamping looks more like a fancy upper case C.”

Turning now to the restoration of this beautifully grained Leonard Payne smooth apple. Jeff cleaned this filthy pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. This one was a real mess and I was looking forward to seeing what he had done with this one when I took it out of his box. It looked amazing and CLEAN and other than the stem work needing very little effort on my part. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks good with great looking grain around the bowl and shank. The rim top and front of the bowl was severely damaged with burns. The condition of the inner and outer edges was rough. The stem looked a lot better but damage was evident on the button. Jeff soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. The pipe was ready for me to carry on the next part of the process.  I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show how well it had cleaned up. The rim top was clean and undamaged.  The inner edge had some damage that left it rough and slightly out of round. The outer edge of the bowl looked good.  I also took close up photos of the stem to show the tooth marks on the stem and the button surface.  The last photo shows the twin bore stem with the twin airways coming out in the button.I took a photo of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It reads Leonard Payne with a curled L and P and under that is stamped Original. There is a P stamped on the left side of the taper. The right side of the shank reads Made in Canada.I decided to start my restoration work on this one by dealing with the rough inner edge of the bowl. The rest of the pipe looked very good and some polishing would give it some depth and life. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to give the inner edge a light bevel and bring the bowl back to round.I wet sanded with 1500-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads to polish the bowl. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the dust and debris from sanding. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to get it deep in the briar. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded both sides of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the remaining oxidation. I followed that by sanding them with a folded piece of 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to begin the polishing.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I wiped the stem down with Briarville’s No Oxy Oil to preserve and protect the stem. I am so glad that I went back to work on a pipe that Jeff had cleaned up for me. It certainly makes things go faster and easier for me. I put the stem back on the bowl and polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The bowl looks really good. The contrast between the browns of the briar and the polished black vulcanite stem work very well. The pipe feels great in my hand and I am sure that it will feel even better radiating the heat of a good smoke. It must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was in when I received it from Bob’s estate. Have a look at it with the finished photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. A fellow in Eastern Canada sent me a message on Facebook saying he was looking for a Leonard Payne pipe and wondering if I had one. This was one of those times when I could say YES. I am looking forward to what he thinks of his “new” pipe. I think he will enjoy it for many years to come and perhaps it will pass to the next pipeman who will hold it in trust. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog.

Cleaning up a Lightly Smoked Savinelli St. Nicholas 2017 320KS


Blog by Steve Laug

Jeff picked this beautiful 2017 Christmas pipe from an antique dealer in Utah. It is stamped Savinelli St. Nicolas on the heel of the bowl. That is followed by the Savinell ‘S’ Shield logo and the shape number 320KS over Italy. It is an attractive pipe with a multi-hued brown stain that highlights the nooks and crannies of the rustication. It has a white acrylic stem with twin red bands around it at the stem shank union. The pipe was lightly smoked with some debris in the bowl but there was no real cake in the bowl. The rim top had some dust and debris in the crevices of the finish but no tars or lava overflow. The stem had some tars and oils in the airway but it was also clean. There was light tooth chatter on the stem just ahead of the button on both sides.

I did a quick online search to see what information was available on the pipe. I found out on the Pipes & Cigars Website (https://www.pipesandcigars.com/p/savinelli-saint-nicholas-2017-pipes/2005051/) that “Savinelli Saint Nicholas 2017 Pipes are Savinelli’s Holiday release for 2017, and are briars that should put you in the Christmas mood. The pebble rustication finished in deep red mated to a creamy white acrylic stem makes for a cheery appearance. Dual vivid red rings on the stem are truly eye-catching accents.” That certainly described the one that Jeff had found. Jeff took the following photos when he brought the pipe home to clean it.

I found another site selling the pipes that describes the Savinelli Saint Nicholas 2017 Pipes as: Savinelli’s Holiday release for 2017, and are briars that should put you in the Christmas mood. The pebble rustication finished in deep red mated to a creamy white acrylic stem makes for a cheery appearance. Dual vivid red rings on the stem are truly eye-catching accents. The stem will accept Savinelli 6mm balsa filters, and come with an adapter to convert it to an unfiltered pipe. Best of all, they’ve chosen to make this line in some of their most popular shapes, including the fashionable author-shaped 320 and 321. Get yourself ready for some great holiday experiences with Savinelli Saint Nicholas 2017 pipes! He took some close up photos of the bowl and rim to show the condition. You can see the dust in the finish and the debris and light carbon on the bowl walls. The bottom of the bowl was still raw briar so the pipe really had not been broken in.Jeff took photos of the bowl sides to show how good the finish looked on the entire pipe. You can see the rustication style and it is quite stunning. He took a photo of the stamping on the heel of the bowl. The stamping is very clear and reads as noted above. The white acrylic stem also has a golden Savinelli “S” Shield logo on the top of the taper.Jeff took photos of the stem surface at the button. You can see that it looks very good.The pipe came in its original box so Jeff took a photo of the labels on each end of the box. One end identifies it as a St. Nicholas 2017 6MM 320 Pipe. That means that it will fit the 6MM Balsa filters that Savinelli makes. Interestingly the pipe also came with the adapter in place that replaces the filters all together. The other end of the box has a bar code and reads Saint Nicholas 2017 (320KS) 6mm.I did a bit more investigation and found that Savinelli has issued St. Nicholas pipes in a wide variety of shapes from at least 2013 if not earlier. Each year the banding and the stem are different colours but they are an interesting take on colours.Jeff cleaned up the pipe and sent it my way in a recent box. I did not have to do too much work on it as he had done the cleanup before he sent it. He had reamed it with a PipNet Reamer and a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and removed the thin cake/coating on the walls. He scrubbed the interior with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners – working over the mortise and the airways in the shank and stem. He scrubbed down the exterior of the bowl and rim with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsed it off. He dried it and buffed it with a soft cotton cloth. When I opened the box he sent I took out the red Savinelli box and opened it. It included a red pipe sock, a booklet, a package of Balsa filters, an instruction sheet on breaking the pipe in, a quality control tag and an Italian flag decal. The pipe was impeccably clean and ready for the next person to smoke. I gave it a light buff and took photos of the finished pipe. It really is a beauty. The finish was described above as a pebble finish and that is as good a description as I can find for it. The colours are a mix of various brown stains. The finish works really well with twin red banded white acrylic stem. It is a beautiful pipe. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5.28 in./134.11 mm, Weight: 2.60 oz./73.71 g, Bowl Height: 1.62 in./41.15 mm,    Chamber Depth: 1.31 in./33.27 mm, Chamber Diameter: 0.91 in./23.11 mm, Outside Diameter: 1.98 in./50.29 mm. This will be going on the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding this beauty to your rack. Thanks for reading.