Tag Archives: pipe restemming

Restoring and Replacing a Broken Tenon on a Scandia 263 Danish Freehand


Blog by Steve Laug

I am currently not taking on anymore restoration work from the internet or groups that I am part of on Facebook because of the large amount of estate pipes that I am working on to sell. But I have my name in at a local pipe shop here in Vancouver, British Columbia to do repair work for the shop as it comes in. there are no other pipe repairers in Western Canada that I am aware of so I feel a bit of an obligation to take care of these folks as they come. Fortunately there are not a lot of referrals but periodically they get pipemen or women stopping by with work – that is where I come in. They give them my number and email and then the repair work is between us. On Wednesday this week I received an email from one of their customers, Ron in Victoria, B.C. about a pipe that had been dropped and had a broken tenon. He described the broken stem and that left me with some questions. I had him send me photos of the broken pipe so I would be sure to have a clear picture of the issues. He said that the shank was not cracked and really the only issue was the tenon. He send the photos below so I could see what he was speaking of. Not too big an issue really – a cleanup and tenon replacement and the pipe would be good to go.After our emails back and forth he put it in the mail to me. It arrived on Friday and I took it out of the box to see what I was going to be dealing with on this pipe. Descriptions and photos are one thing but I like to have the pipe in hand to examine for myself. This is what I saw. The pipe was dirty and dull looking. There was some faint stamping on both sides of the shank. It was stamped Scandia over Made in Denmark on the left side and had the shape number 263 on the right side. There was a very uneven cake in the bowl that was crumbling. The tenon had snapped off almost smooth against face of the stem. The stem had some tooth marks and was oxidized. There was a faint SC on the left side of the saddle. It appeared that someone had tried to glue the tenon back on the stem – unsuccessfully. There was a lot of sloppy glue on the end of the stem and tenon. I took some photos of the pipe as it looked when it arrived. He had taped the broken tenon on the underside of the stem. The bowl itself was dirty with a crumbling cake about half way up the bowl from the bottom. The plateau rim top had tars and some darkening on the right top and edges. There was a large sandpit on the left side of the bowl near the rim and one on the underside of the shank that would need to be dealt with.  I removed the taped on broken tenon from the stem. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to take down the sharp edges of the old tenon remaining on the face of the stem. I wiped the face down with acetone on a cotton swab to remove the old glue. It was a sticky mess but came off quite easily with the acetone. When it was clean I used a series of drill bits to drill out the airway to accommodate the new threaded tenon. I usually start with a drill bit slightly larger than the airway and work my way up to the one that fits the tenon end. I used my cordless drill and the airway as the guide for each successive drill bit. This keeps things lined up.Once I have the airway drilled to accommodate the end of the tenon. I use a tap to thread new airway. The tenon replacements I use have a hip around the middle that I need to take down. I use a Dremel and sanding drum to smooth things out. I also rough up the threads to reduce the diameter to make room for the glue that I use to set the tenon in the stem.I used a needle file to smooth out the slight ridge at the end of the tenon. I sanded the tenon smooth to clean up the fit. I would further polish it once it was in place in the stem. I dribbled some Krazy glue on the threads and quickly turned it into the stem making sure that the alignment was correct.I took photos of the new tenon before I polished and finished it. The tenon is solid and the alignment in the shank is perfect. I set it aside to cure and turned my attention to the bowl.With the stem repaired I remembered that Ron had asked me to give him some background information on the brand so I paused at this point to gather the info. I turned to Pipephil’s site (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-s4.html) to get a quick overview. As expected the Scandia brand is a Stanwell second line. In this case the sandpits make it clear why it has this designation. I have included a screen capture of the pertinent section from the site.I turned then to the section on Pipedia that dealt with the Stanwell Sub-brands the Scandia pipe listed there (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Stanwell#Sub-brands_.2F_Seconds). I followed several other links listed on the article to check who designed this particular shape for Stanwell (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Stanwell_Shape_Numbers_and_Designers). Bas Stevens, a dear friend who know longer is living compiled a list of the shape numbers and their designer. The 263 was not listed there however, I remembered that the shape was actually a Stanwell shape 63. That shape was a Freehand with a plateau top and a saddle mouthpiece and was designed by Sixten Ivarsson.

To verify that my memory was correct I did a quick Google search for images of the shape 63 for comparison purposes. I include the photo below with thanks to http://www.Bollitopipe.it for the image (https://www.bollitopipe.it/en/hand-made-polished-royal-guard/18983-stanwell-royal-guard-63-bark-top.html). You can see that the shape is identical so that it is clear that the 263 and the 63 are the same shapes.With the background information gathered and summarized I turned my attention to the cleanup of the bowl. I reamed the crumbling and uneven cake out of the bowl. I left a very thin cake on the walls of the bowl. I cleaned up the small bits toward the bottom of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe knife. I finished by smoothing out the slight cake on the walls with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around some doweling. I a soft bristle brass brush to clean off the debris in the plateau finish on the rim top. I was able to remove most of the darkening at the same time. While not flawless it looks significantly better.To clean the surface of the briar and remove the oils and dirt I scrubbed the briar with a tooth brush and undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap. I rinsed off the bowl under warm water and dried it off with a soft cotton cloth. The finish looks much better with stunning grain. The sandpits are quite visible now that the pipe is clean. I repaired the sandpits with a few drops of Krazy Glue. I slightly overfill the pit with the glue as it shrinks as it cures. Once the repairs cured I sanded them with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the rest of the bowl. I polished the entire bowl with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper in preparation for the micromesh polishing. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. After each pad I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. The photos tell the story. I used a black Sharpie pen to darken in the deep grooves on the plateau as it would help to mask the darkening on the right and left side of the rim top and it would highlight and give depth to the finish. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the plateau rim top and the rest of the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I really like watching the Balm do its magic and bring the briar alive. With the bowl finished I turned my attention to polishing the stem. I sanded the surface of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the remaining oxidation in the vulcanite and the last of the light tooth chatter.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I used some liquid paper to touch up the “SC” on the left side of the stem. I applied it and let it dry and cure. Once it had cured I scraped the excess off with a tooth pick. The “SC” looks very good.  I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it a coat of a new product I am experimenting with from Briarville Pipe Repair. It is called “No Oxy Oil” and it is made to protect the stem from oxidizing. I set it aside to dry.I am happy with how this pipe looks compared to what it looked like when it arrived in pieces. It definitely has that Stanwell look to it – very Danish Freehand looking. I am excited to be on the homestretch with it and took it to the buffing wheel and polished it on the wheel with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. 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 pipe polished up pretty nicely. The grain really pops with the wax and polish. The shiny black vulcanite stem is a beautiful contrast to the blacks and browns of the bowl and shank. This Scandia Made in Denmark Freehand was fun to bring back to life. It really is stunning piece of briar whose shape follows the flow of the grain. The pipe is comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This beautiful pipe will be going back to Ron tomorrow. If the mail is as fast as it was bringing it to me he should have it in hand by the first part of the week. I hope that he enjoys this beauty and that it serves him well. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting one to bring back to life.

Fashioning a Churchwarden by Reclaiming an East German Howal Sculpted Apple Bowl


Blog by Dal Stanton

One of the ways I can help benefit women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited – the Daughters of Bulgaria,is by fashioning Churchwardens from discarded repurposed bowls.  I enjoy taking discarded bowls, no longer serving any purpose, and after restoring them, mounting them on the fore of a long, flowing Warden stem.  Suddenly, the metamorphosis is realized – the neglected and discarded again becomes a treasure, sought after with great value.  John, from Utah, saw another CW I created – Fashioning a Churchwarden from a Dimpled Bent Billiard Bowl when I posted it on the Old Codgers Smoking Pipe Facebook group, and he reached out to me to explore commissioning a Churchwarden for himself.  This was the Dimpled Bent Billiard Churchwarden got his attention:After some months, John’s CW project finally worked its way through the queue, patience always appreciated(!) – and as I told him before, when his project was on the worktable, I would contact him with choices for a bowl.  I spread out a selection of bowls next to a Warden stem and ruler.  The selection included bent and straight shanks and smooth and rusticated surfaces – and different shapes.  The unique thing about the Churchwarden shape is that its designation is not determined primarily by the shape of the bowl but by the length of the stem.  After taking a few pictures, and sending them to John, he made his choice.John’s chose a very nice-looking sculpted Apple shape pictured on the right, in the middle.  Through this choice, he expressed that he preferred a straight rather than a slightly bent Warden stem.  When I pulled that bowl aside and took a closer look at the shank, I discovered that on the left side was stamped the name, ‘Howal’ [over] ‘Bruyere’.Howal is not a well-known name in the West, but I became familiar with it after seeing several Howals here in Bulgaria – formerly under the Warsaw Pact, behind the Iron Curtain of the Former USSR.  Having previously restored a Howal – a rusticated Dublin, I enjoyed the research of the Howal name which was a mystery to me.  My research uncovered not only the origins of the pipe in former East Germany, but that the city where Howals were produced was a historical center for pipe manufacturing in Germany that pre-dated WW2.  A fascinating story that I wrote of in this restoration: Checkered History and Heritage of an East German Howal Old Briar Rustified Dublin.

Pipedia’s article that I sited in that write up was both interesting and helpful in understanding the predecessor of and origins of the Howal name:

C.S. Reich was founded by Carl Sebastian Reich in Schweina, Germany in 1887. By its 50th jubilee in 1937 C.S. Reich was the biggest pipe factory in Germany.  In 1952, however, the owners of the company were imprisoned and the company itself was nationalized as Howal, an abbreviation of the German words for “wood products Liebenstein” or “Holzwaren Liebenstein”.  By the 1970’s Howal, after acquiring many other smaller pipe making firms, was the sole maker of smoking pipes in East Germany. In 1990, with the fall of the Berlin Wall and reunification of the Germanys, the company was closed.

As I reread that previous research on the history of the Howal name for this write-up, I decided to restate my observations in full because I don’t restore Howals often and the history and human story draws me to retell the story as I transform this Howal bowl into a Churchwarden.  From the previous restoration (my present comments in brackets):

While helpful for a broad sweep, I discovered much missing from this [Pipedia] summary and it raises more questions.  From another interesting source, Edith Raddatz’s lecture on tobacco pipe production in Schweina [a link which unfortunately is no longer working!] at the Tobacco Pipe Symposium in 2003, it describes a history of pipe production in this central German village that was reminiscent of my research into France’s pipe mecca, St. Claude.  A strong development of the pipe making industry can be traced in the 1800s to the apex of the C.S. Reich Co. being Germany’s largest pipe producer in 1937, but Raddatz’s lecture reveals that other producers of pipes were also based in the German village of Schweina.  Pipedia’s article above describes how the owners of the C.S. Reich Co. were arrested and imprisoned followed by the nationalization of the Reich Co. and becoming ‘Howal’, an acronym for “Wood Products Liebenstein” – Bad Liebenstein was the town that bordered and absorbed the village of Schweina. The question begs to be asked – which, unfortunately introduces the human tragedy wrapped around the name ‘Howal’ – Why were the owners arrested?  In an unlikely source, the website of the ‘Small Tools Museum’ adds the names of those imprisoned: shareholders Robert Hergert and Karl Reich.

Edith Raddatz’s lecture (referenced above) brings more light to the difficult geopolitical realities these people faced (Google translated from German – brackets my clarifications):

By 1945 the company, which had meanwhile [passed to] the next generation – Kurt Reich And Walter Malsch – [had] about 100 employees.   Among them were many women who mainly did the painting work.  At the beginning of the 1950s, an era ended in Schweina. The first [oldest] tobacco pipe factory in Schweina closed their doors. There were several reasons for this. Kurt Reich passed away in 1941, [and] Walter Malsch [in] 1954.  The political situation in the newly founded GDR made the conditions for private entrepreneurship difficult. The heirs of the company “AR Sons” [Reich family] partly moved to West Germany. The operation was nationalized, and later toys were made there.

In post WWII occupied Germany, the Soviet occupied section was declared to be a sovereign state and the German Democratic Republic (GDR) was established in 1949 (See link).  With a rudimentary understanding of Marxism and the economic philosophy undergirding it, it is not difficult to deduce what brought the demise of the C. S. Reich Co. and the formation of Howal.  Solidification of the FDR’s hold on power paralleled the necessity to nationalize private ownership and to institute a State-centered command economy.  These efforts gained momentum and forced companies/workers to work more with no additional pay.  In 1952, the year that the owners of C. S. Reich Co., were arrested, this edict was advanced (See link):

In July 1952 the second party conference of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) took place in East Berlin. In SED General Secretary Walter Ulbricht‘s words, there was to be the “systematic implementation of Socialism” (planmäßiger Aufbau des Sozialismus); it was decided that the process of  Sovietization should be intensified and the importance of the state expanded. The party was acting on demands made by Soviet premier Joseph Stalin.[2]

As a result, today Germany remembers the Uprising of 1953 which started in East Berlin, as factory workers revolted against the repression of the GDR, and spread to all East Germany.  Many lost their lives as Moscow responded to squelch the unrest with tanks on the streets.  In play also, was the mass exodus of people fleeing to West Germany, which included, per Edith Radditz’s lecture, the Reich family, who would have been heirs of the family’s legacy and company – pipe making.  Also, in 1953, completing the State forced abolition of any Reich claim, the largest pipe making company of Germany was seized, nationalized, and changed from C. S. Reich Co. to Howal.  As ‘Howal’, pipes continued to be produced, undoubtedly with the same hands and sweat of the people of Schweina, along with other wooden products, such as toys.  In the Pipedia article I quoted above, it said:

By the 1970’s Howal, after acquiring many other smaller pipe making firms, was the sole maker of smoking pipes in East Germany. In 1990, with the fall of the Berlin Wall and reunification of the Germanys, the company was closed.

My curiosity piqued, what does it mean when it says that Howal acquired many other smaller pipe making firms?  Should we question whether these words can be understood in the normal free market enterprise way we are accustomed?  Doubtful.

…So, as I had written before regarding the checkered history of the Howal name.  Now, as I look again at the Howal sculpted Apple bowl on my worktable, I take a few more pictures to mark the starting point and to take a closer look. I very much like John’s choice of a bowl to fashion a Churchwarden.  The sculpting of the classic Apple shape will look very nice as a Warden – with a rustic, ‘Olde World’ look to it.  The condition of the Howal bowl is generally good.  The chamber has a heavy cake which will be removed to give the briar a fresh start and to check the chamber wall for heating problems.  The rim has some crusting lava overflow that needs cleaning. The rusticated surface with the intricate ribs carved into the sculpting also needs scrubbing to remove grime lodged in the wood.  Before working on the stem, I start the Howal Churchwarden project by using the Pipnet Reaming Kit.  After taking a picture of the chamber showing the tightening chamber as the cake thickens, I use the two smallest blade heads of the 4 available and ream the chamber.  The cake proves to be stubborn – hard as a brick.  After the Pipnet Kit, transitioning to the Savinelli Fitsall Tool, clearing the cake continues as the tool scrapes the chamber wall. Finishing this phase, I wrap 240 paper around a Sharpie Pen and sand the walls and then wipe the excess carbon dust with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.

After completing the removal of the cake and cleaning the walls, an inspection reveals no heating problems.  I move on.Next, using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap I begin the external cleaning. I also employ a bristled toothbrush to get into the crevasses of the sculpted vertical sweeps, which are more detailed upon closer inspection. Within each crevasse, fine lines have been carved to provide a classier sculpted appearance. I like it. From the picture above, the lava flow caking on the rim is evident. A brass brush helps with removal of the crusting without damaging the briar underneath. The sharp edge of my Winchester pocketknife also helps as I carefully scrape the rim surface. From the worktable, I take the bowl to the sink and there using different sized long shank brushes with some anti-oil dish soap, I scrub the internal mortise under warm water.  After a thorough rinsing of the soap, I bring the bowl back to the worktable. The cleaning did a good job. I can now see the rim more clearly with a cut on the right side and some light damage on the left. The cleaning also reveals the residue of old finish on the smooth briar which shows up dark and shiny in the picture.  I’ll remove these patches with sanding.Starting with the rim, I take another picture showing the damage on the top and the bottom of the picture’s orientation.  The rim is sloped downwardly to form beveled rim peak. This is attractive and accentuates the Apple shape’s peaked rim. Going with this flow, I use 240 grade paper and sand the rim to freshen the lines and to remove the damage.  I show a few pictures to show the freshening progression. I follow the 240 paper by dry sanding with 600 grade paper on the rim.  I’m liking the emergence of a smooth grain contrast underneath.  A few blemishes remain on the rim at this point but I like the more rustic look – some imperfections on the rim accents the overall look.Next, to address the patches of old, dark shiny finish on the bowl’s surface, I dry sand using a 1500 micromesh pad to remove the old finish patches from the smooth briar surfaces of the sculpted motif.  I intentionally leave the rough rusticated briar in the sculpting untouched to preserve the original, darkened patina.  I’m aiming for an attractive contrast between the smooth briar, which will naturally lighten through the restoration process, revealing briar grain, with the rough, darkened sculpted briar. Not forgetting where I am in the cleaning process, I return to working on the internals with cotton buds and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95% – the strongest rubbing/cleaning alcohol available to me here in Bulgaria.  For a smaller Apple bowl, the internals were rife with old oils and tars.  I also did much excavation of tars and oils using the small dental spoon as well as drill bits.  With the bits, I hand turn a bit that is the same size as the drilling diameter which scrapes the wall.  The gunk seemed to have no end, yet finally, the cotton buds started to lighten, and I call the cleaning provisionally finished.  Later, I’ll continue the cleaning and refreshing of the internals by using a kosher salt and alcohol soak. Now to the stem fabrication.  I cease the stummel work at this point because there will be additional sanding as I size and sand the stem with the shank.  I take a few pictures to mark the starting point.  John prefers a straight stem for his Churchwarden which is not a problem.  The precast Warden stem has a very slight bend as it arrived on my table.  This will remain as it helps with maintaining the up/down orientation of the mounted stem.  The picture below shows the rough tenon oversizing which will be shaped to form a good junction with the Howal shank and tenon seating in the mortise. No shank/stem fitting is the same which means that sanding and finetuning the junction is always required.  The picture below illustrates this – the mortise drilling is slightly higher in the mortise which means that the upper thickness of the shank/mortise briar will be thinner and the lower will be slightly thicker.  Shaping the stem fit must factor this offset.The first step in fashioning the CW stem is to size the tenon.  I use the PIMO Tenon Turning Tool that I purchased from Vermont Freehand.  I keep the instructions tacked on the wall in front of me for a reminder and safe keeping!  A very useful tool to have for fashioning tenons.First, using an electronic caliper to measure the diameter of the mortise marks the target sizing of the tenon of the precast stem.  The mortise measurement is 7.95mm in diameter.  Using Charles Lemon’s (of Dad’s Pipes) methodology, I add about 50mm to this exact measurement to give me my ‘fat’ target.  The ‘fat’ target is what I will aim for when bringing the tenon down to size using the PIMO Tenon Turning Tool.  The ‘fat’ target (7.95mm minus 50mm) is about 8.45mm.  From this ‘fat’ point, I will sand the tenon by hand which gradually and patiently custom sizes the tenon to the mortise.The first thing needed is to pre-drill the tenon airway with the drill bit provided by the PIMO tool.  This enlarges the airway slightly enabling the insertion of the PIMO tool guide pin.  I mount the drill bit to the hand drill and drill out the airway.Next, the PIMO Tenon Turning Tool is mounted on the hand drill and I cut a small test sizing to give me the distance between the test cut and the ‘Fat’ target.  After cutting the test, I measure with the caliper and record 9.23mm and subtract the ‘Fat’ target, 8.45mm, leaving about .78mm to remove using the PIMO tool. Using the Allen wrench provided with the PIMO tool, I close the gap of the cutting arm and cut again.  I only cut a small portion out of the end of the tenon and then measure – this additional test cut guards from taking off too much.  The measurement of this test cut after closing the gap of the carbide cutter arm is 8.45mm.  On the button!  I finish the cut to the stem facing and begin sanding the tenon down. Using 240 grade paper, I uniformly sand the tenon so that the fit is snug, but not too snug.  As I sand the tenon, I often test the progress by inserting the tenon into the mortise.  I NEVER force the tenon to make it fit – a cracking sound of a shank is not a happy thing!I come to a point where the end of the tenon was butting up against the closing ridge from the mortise drilling.  I could detect the bump in the mortise.  Using the sanding paper and a flat needle file, I focus on tapering the end of the tenon so that it can navigate the narrowing mortise.  I don’t want to cut off the end of the tenon as a longer tenon provides a bit more strength for the longer stem’s reach.Finally, a good snug fit it accomplished and the stem is seated well.  The next step in the project is to fashion the shank around the new stem.  The pictures following show the overbite of the shank which needs sanding.To protect the Howal nomenclature and provide a sanding barrier, I wrap masking tape around the shank.  Using 240 sanding paper, I begin the process of sanding to bring the shank and stem into alignment. After making good progress, I discover a dimple at the seam of the precast stem just at the tenon facing. I’ve seen this before. To take the dimple out by sanding also will remove the corresponding briar on the shank side.  This I don’t wish to do more than is necessary.  I could also use the PIMO Tool to shave off more of the facing to remove the dimple.  Yet this would shorten the overall length of the Warden stem – not a good solution either. To remedy the dimple, after cleaning the area with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol, I spot drop regular CA glue on the dimple and immediately give it a spray of an accelerator so that the glue patch stays in place.  I don’t want CA glue running down the tenon facing!Shortly after, I rejoin the stem and Howal stummel and continue sanding the patch area.  The patch did the trick. The pictures show the results and the shank and stem are now in alignment.  I move on. Even though a precast Warden stem is new, it doesn’t arrive on the scene ready for action. Precast stems will usually not have smooth surfaces but tend to be ‘wavy’ – a leftover from the casting process. Therefore, sanding the entire stem is necessary. To do the initial rough sanding of the stem I use a coarse 120 paper to do the heavy lifting. As I sand the stem, the first picture below reveals what I’m describing as sanding reveals the rippled surface. After much sanding and bothersome rubber dust(!), the stem is shaping up well.  I’m liking what I’m seeing.With the rough sanding of the stem-proper done, I shape the button using the 120 grade paper and a flat needle file.  The first two pictures show the starting point and sanding – upper then lower. My day is ending, and the final project is to continue the internal cleaning and refreshing of the stummel.  To do this I use kosher salt and isopropyl 95% to give the internals a soak which helps draw out the tars and oils embedded in the internal briar.  I first stretch and twist a cotton ball to serve as a ‘wick’ that helps draw the oils out of the mortise walls.  Using a stiff wire, I guide the wick down the mortise and airway.  I then fill the bowl with kosher salt – kosher doesn’t leave an aftertaste as iodized salt. After placing the stummel in an egg carton that keeps it stable, with a large eyedropper I fill the bowl with isopropyl 95% until the alcohol surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes, the alcohol is absorbed, and I refill the bowl with alcohol.  I put the stummel aside to soak through the night. The next morning, the salt and wick are soiled indicating the activity of the soak through the night.  I toss the expended salt in the waste, wipe the chamber with paper towel and blow through the mortise to dislodge any salt crystals left behind.  To make sure all is clean, I again employ a pipe cleaner and cotton buds dipped in isopropyl 95% to finish the cleaning.  Not long after, the buds are emerging clean.  I move on. I return now to a reunited stem and stummel, using 240 sanding paper I now start the fine tuning of the stem after the coarse 120 paper. To show the completed condition of the stem after the 240 grade paper sanding, two close-ups show the improved texture of the sanded surface.Next, for more fine tuning of the stem’s surface, I wet sand with 600 grade paper and follow by applying a buff with 000 grade steel wool.  I love to see the emergence of the buffed-up vulcanite stem!  I keep the stem and stummel united throughout the sanding process to assure that the stem’s tenon facing remains sharp and in alignment with the shank – shouldering the stem is not an option!Turning back to the Howal bowl, I remove the masking tape and take some pictures marking the stage of progress. I like the rustic look this bowl already has.  My approach will be to run the bowl through the full regimen of micromesh pads to bring out the shine and briar of the smooth briar surfaces – going over for the most part, the sculpted surfaces.  At that point I’ll determine if I need to darken the shank end that was lightened because of the stem sanding.  I also will freshen the darker sculpted sections with a stain stick.  I’ll keep the stem and stummel joined through this process which will aid me later when I continue with the micromesh process on the stem. I take pictures of the bowl to mark the starting point. Beginning with micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  The pictures show the progression. The grain came out of the smooth briar nicely.  Now, to freshen the sculpted sections.  With the fine lined carvings in each sculpted section, briar dust has collected from all the sanding.  I first brush the carvings with a bristled brush.  This removes a good deal.  Following this, with an alcohol wetted cotton bud, I wipe out each carved section.  Next, using a very dark brown dye stick which turns out to be a mahogany, which looked the best after blending with the original surface, I trace the carvings darkening the sculpted briar.  After finishing, I give another quick sanding over the smooth briar surface with the last of the micromesh sanding pads, 12000.  I do this to clean off any inadvertent overrun of the dye stick onto the smooth briar and to sharpen the lines. Using Before & After Restoration Balm, I place some on my fingers and work the Balm into the briar surface.  I’m careful to work it into the crevasses of the sculpting.  B&E Restoration Balm is an excellent product from Mark Hoover at www.ibepen.com that raises the natural hues in subtle ways that enhances the presentation of the pipe.  After thoroughly working the Balm into the briar surface, I set the bowl aside for 20 minutes to allow the Balm to do its thing.  The second picture shows this state.  After 20 minutes, I wipe the excess Balm with a cotton cloth and then buff the stummel with a microfiber cloth to thoroughly remove the excess Balm and to raise the shine.The next step is to apply Blue Diamond compound to the entire pipe.  After reuniting stem and stummel, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel, set the speed at about 40% full power and apply a light application of the compound focusing primarily, but not exclusively, on the smooth briar sections.  I keep it light because I do not want the compound to cake up in the rusticated ridges of the sculpting.  I apply the compound to the smooth and rusticated surfaces and to the stem.Following the compound, I use a felt cloth to wipe the pipe to clean it of compound dust.  I don’t want compound mixing with the waxing phase.After switching to another cotton cloth buffing wheel, maintaining the same speed, carnauba wax is applied to the entire pipe.  As with the compound, I go easy on the rusticated ridges not wanting wax to cake.  After applying wax to the entire pipe, I use a microfiber cloth to give the Howal Churchwarden a rigorous hand buffing to remove excess wax and to raise the shine.The Howal Sculpted Apple bowl looks great mounted on the bow of the Churchwarden stem!  I’m pleased how the smooth briar surfaces cleaned up and how the grain provides a striking contrast with the sculpted design.  The added rusticated ribs in the carvings adds a nice detail.  The overall presentation of the Howal Sculpted Churchwarden gives a very old, rustic feel.  I’m glad John was patient waiting for this Churchwarden to come to life.  He will have the first opportunity to add this pipe to his own collection from The Pipe Steward Store.  This Churchwarden project benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

Restemming a “Malaga” Billiard from Kathy’s Dad’s Pipes


Blog by Steve Laug

I have been working on a lot of different estate pipes and selling them for different families. This morning I was looking through the bag of pipes that I have left from George Koch’s estate. There are only three of them and all were in pretty rough shape. The rims were well knocked about and the stems were either chewed off or through and really would need to be carefully worked over and have new stems fit to them. The second of these three Malaga pipes that need a lot of attention was the next one I picked up this morning. It is a Billiard with a chewed through stem. Once again the rim top was used as a hammer or at least spent a lot of time being knocked against hard surface. The rim top was scored and originally had a bit of sunburst look around the chamber. But sides of the bowl had a mix of grain styles that was fascinating. It is the second of the last three Malaga pipes that came to my brother and me in several shipments of pipes from George’s daughter Kathy. Alex had gone through the bag in essence had passed on these three. Jeff unwrapped the pipes when they came to him and took the following photo to give an idea of the volume of the pipes that we purchased. In each of the previous blogs that I have written on the restoration of George’s pipes I have told his story. If you have followed the restorations you will have read the information and the background piece that Kathy did on her father. Here is a link to one of the previous blogs on his Malaga pipes where I included her tribute in full (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/01/26/back-to-kathys-dads-pipes-restoring-a-%c2%bc-bent-malaga-author/). You can also read the bio on her Dad, George Koch. It is an interesting read and one that shows just how far our pipe collecting passion can go when we find a brand of pipes that we enjoy. I am going to only include the portion on the Malagas at this point. If you wish to read the rest follow the link above.

Kathy writes…We lived in Livonia, and that’s where his love for Malaga pipes began. After a few years he returned to Allis Chalmers and we moved back to Springfield. I remember that when we went back to Michigan to visit friends, Dad had to go to the Malaga store and acquire a few new pipes. Many a year I wrote to Malaga and they picked out a pipe for me to purchase that I could give Dad for a Christmas or birthday present. He was always pleased. His favorites were the straight stemmed medium sized bowl pipes, but he liked them all. 

He had some other pipes, but the Malagas were his favorites. I remember him smoking them sitting in his easy chair after work, with feet up on the ledge by the fire burning in the fireplace.  Growing up it was my job to clean them and he liked the inner bowl and stem coated with Watkins vanilla, leaving a little of that liquid in the bowl to soak in when I put them back on the rack…I’m very happy they are being restored by you and your brother and hope they find homes who enjoy them as much as Dad did. Thank-you for your care and interest. — Kathy, the oldest daughter

The “Malaga” Billiard on the table is another on that is in rough condition. But even under the damage and dirt I can see the great grain on the briar. There was an interesting sunburst pattern of grooves carved in the rim top. The large bowl, round shank and chewed through acrylic stem give a clear picture of what the pipe must have looked like when George bought it at the shop. Again, I did not bother Jeff for the pre-cleanup photos because really it was obvious what the pipe must have looked like. From the condition of the bowl and rim post cleanup I could see that it originally had a thick cake that overflowed with lava onto the rim so that there was damage on the inner edges. The rim top had been knocked hard against rough surfaces to knock out the dottle and left damage. The sides of the bowl and shank are very dirty with grime and oils from prolonged use. The stamping on the left side of the shank read “MALAGA”. The acrylic stem had been gnawed through leaving a useless stem that would need to be replaced. Since Paresh is not here in Canada it will be replaced rather than rebuilt! 😉 I took photos of the pipe before I started my work. The condition of the pipe will be shown in the photos below. I took a photo of the  rim top and bowl to show the condition of the pipe. You can see why I said it was used as a hammer. The surface of the rim is very rough but you can see the carved sun burst like grooves.  The inner edge of the rim looks good while the outer edge has some damage. There is some darkening on the back edge and surface of the rim top. I think that this pipe must have been another shop pipe or knock about pipe for George as it was very well smoked! I took photos of the stem to show the broken and chewed condition it was in. Remember this is hard acrylic so it took some real gnawing to do this to it!I took a photo to capture the stamping on left side of the shank. The photo shows the stamping “MALAGA” and is very readable.I am also including the link to a blog that I wrote that gives some of the history of the Malaga brand and the Malaga Pipe Shop in Royal Oak, Michigan in the USA. I have written an earlier blog to give a little history of the Malaga Brand and the pipemaker, George Khoubesser. Here is the link – https://rebornpipes.com/tag/malaga-pipes/.That blog also includes links to a catalogue and the history of the pipemaker George Khoubesser. Follow the link to get a feel for the brand and the pipemaker.

Jeff had gone to the trouble to ream the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. All of his work gave me a clean pipe to work on to say the least. I decided to start with the new stem. I went through my collection of stems to find one that was the same dimensions as the ruined stem. I found one in my can that would fit the bill. Interestingly it is a twin bore bite proof stem like the other ones that Malaga used when they restemmed pipes.I set up my cordless drill with the PIMO Tenon Turning Tool in the chuck and started turning the tenon on the new stem back to match the broken one. I usually do the turning in several passes, adjusting the depth of the blade between each cut. In this case I did it in three passes. I got it close and finished the fit with my Dremel and sanding drum.I sanded off the castings on the sides and slot end of the stem with the Dremel and sanding drum and did a few turns on the tenon with the sanding drum. You can see from the first photo below that it was very close. I cleaned it up with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. You can see the fit in the photos below.I set the stem aside and turned my attention to the bowl. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the outer edge on rim top. Once I had the edges smooth I filled in the deeper nicks and chips in the outer edge of the rim with clear Krazy Glue. Once the repairs cured I sanded them smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and a piece of 400 grit sandpaper. I used a pen knife to clean up the cut marks on the rim top. Some of them were worn so I recut them to give them more definition. I cleaned up the carving with a brass bristle wire brush to clean up the repairs. The second photo shows the cleaned up rim top.I scrubbed the briar with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush. I rubbed it into the surface of the briar with my finger tips and let it sit for about 10 minutes then rinsed it off with running water. I dried it off with a soft cloth. I polished the bowl with micromesh sanding pads to smooth out the rim edge repairs and the nicks in the bowl sides. I wet sanded with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad. The photos show the progress. I used a Mahogany Stain Pen to stain the carvings on the rim top to blend all of the darkening together and make it stand out. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad. You can see from the photo below that I was able to blend it into the rest of the bowl.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I am very happy with the results. I turned to the stem and started by sanding the surface. I wanted to smooth out the surface of the vulcanite to remove the castings and the sanding marks. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper and 400 grit sandpaper to clean up the stem.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad Obsidian Oil. I finished by polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish both Fine and Extra Fine and then wiped it down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil. This is a restemmed and restored “Malaga” Billiard with a vulcanite tapered “bite-proof” stem. The new black vulcanite stem looks good in place of the yellow acrylic stem. It has a great look and feel. The shape of the bowl, the reshaped and repaired rim top and the cut of the briar work well to highlight the grain around the bowl sides. I polished stem and the bowl 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 pipe polished up pretty nicely. The grain took on life with the buffing. The rich oil cured colour works well with the polished vulcanite stem. The finished pipe has a rich look that is quite catching. Have a look at it with the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 6 ¼ inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I will be adding the pipe to the finished Malaga pipes that I have completed. I am looking forward to a new pipeman picking up this pipe and will carry on the trust for George Koch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another one of Kathy’s Dad’s Pipes.

I Guess I did not have enough to restore – breaking a tenon on a Ben Wade Spiral


Blog by Steve Laug

The photo below shows a group of five pipes that Jeff and I picked up at an antique mall near Calgary. There were five different pipes and all were nice, but the best of the lot was a nice looking Ben Wade Spiral Freehand. It had a spiral shank and the fancy turned stem also had a spiral saddle. When we took it out of the display case we already knew it was a Preben Holm made pipe. We had no doubt, as Preben Holm’s pipes are always very recognizable. This one had a great sandblast around the bowl and shank with a smooth portion on the front, right and rear about 1/3 of the way down the bowl from the rim edge. It had a plateau rim and shank end. We examined it and sure enough it was a Ben Wade pipe by Holm. It is stamped on a smooth twist on the underside of the shank and reads Ben Wade over Spiral Sandblast over Hand Made in Denmark. There was a crown with BW inside on the topside of the stem. It was in decent condition and the price was right. The finish on the bowl was dirty and dull. The plateau rim top and shank end were dirty. The plateau rim top had some lava overflow and darkening and there was a thick cake in the bowl. It was a dirty pipe but should clean up well. The stem was acrylic and dirty and had light tooth chatter on both sides. When got back to where we were staying I took photos of the group of pipes to highlight the find. They were some nice looking pipes.We were very excited about the finds from the trip and the last day Jeff and Sherry were with me we divided them up. Jeff would take the ones that needed to have his magic worked on them before I restored them and I would take the ones that were in decent condition. This was probably the first mistake we made. But the gravity of not sending them in Jeff’s car would become evident once I returned home.

Ben Wade Ad in a Tinder Box catalog, courtesy Doug Valitchka

I wrapped all the pipes in packing tissue and rolled them in some of my clothes before packing them in my hard shell carry-on bag. I carefully put it in the overhead bin in the plane and then rolled it out once I was back in Vancouver. I put the bag aside and in the morning opened the suitcase and unpacked the pipes. Each pipe I took out and unwrapped was in excellent condition. No damage at all. I had purposely saved the Ben Wade for last and when I unwrapped it I almost cried. The tenon had snapped and the stem and pipe were apart. I have no idea how it happened but now I had a damaged pipe from the trip and it was truly one of the nicer finds! Here is a photo of what I found.I put the pipe in a baggie and set it aside until I had dealt with the feelings of stupidity for not having sent it with Jeff or at least packing it better. I cleaned up several other pipes before I even looked at this one. Then last evening I finally felt like dealing with it. I took it out of the bag and took photos of the pipe before I started working on it. (You have to agree it truly has a great sandblast!) I decided the first order of business was to pull the broken tenon. I used a pair of needle nose pliers and clamped down on the broken end of the tenon and wiggled it free. Fortunately the snapped tenon was not stuck in the shank and it came out quite easily as you can see from the photo below. Now I needed to drill out the stem and fit it with a replacement tenon.The first step in the process of fitting a replacement tenon is cleaning up the damage on the stem. I smoothed out the broken tenon with my Dremel and a sanding drum. I knocked off the sharp remnants of the broken edges and smooth it out. If you are paying attention you can see that the airway in the stem is not centered. This would make opening the airway and centering a new tenon a challenge to say the least. It could be done but I would need to pay attention and there would be some extra steps that would have to be done to fit it properly.I used a pen knife to chamfer the airway and bring it to a centered position so that when I drilled it I could follow it in and keep it centered. I started with a drill bit that was slightly larger than the airway in the stem. I drilled it as deep as the length of the threaded portion of the replacement tenon. I worked my way up to a drill bit as large in diameter as the tenon end.I used a tap to thread the inside of the stem to receive the new tenon. I twisted it into the stem until it was the depth of the threaded tenon end. I also used the Dremel to take the hip off the replacement stem so that it would fit flush against the stem. Once the stem was threaded I gave the threads on the tenon a light coat of epoxy and twisted it into the opening in the stem with a pair of pliers. I took photos of the stem with the tenon in place and set it aside for the glue to cure. I took close up photos of the bowl and rim top as well as the stem surface. You can see the condition of the rim top and bowl in the first photo. There was some lava overflow on the rim top on the left and rear of the bowl. There was also some darkening around the inner edge of the bowl and some on the rim top. The cake in the bowl was quite thick. The stem showed some tooth chatter on both sides near and on the button surface.I remembered a bit of history on the brand that thought that the Preben Holm pipes were marketed under the Ben Wade label in the US and imported through Lane Ltd. I turned to Pipedia and read the listing on the brand to refresh my memory and flesh out the knowledge of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Wade). I have included a photo from that site that was taken from a Tinderbox advertisement.

Ben Wade Ad in a Tinder Box catalog, courtesy Doug Valitchka

I quote the portion of the article that summarizes the Danish period of the history of the brand:

Young Copenhagen master pipemaker Preben Holm had made a meteoric career heading a pipe manufacture employing 45 people at the age of 22! But around the turn of 1970/71 he was in major financial difficulties. His US distributor, Snug Harbour Ltd. in New York City, left him in the lurch. Holm had three unpaid invoices on his desk and another large shipment was ready for the USA, when Snug Harbour’s manager told him on the phone that there was no money at all on the account to pay him.

So the Dane went to New York for an almost desperate search for a new distribution partner. He made contacts with Lane Ltd. and met Herman G. Lane in February 1971. Lane Ltd. had no interest in Holm’s serial pipes produced at that time but so much the more in the hand-carved freehands because the hype for Danish freehands and fancies in the States was still on its way to the climax then. The meeting resulted in an agreement to start a cooperation. Lane insisted to improve the quality considerably and in return he assured to be able to sell essentially larger quantities.

Holm went back home to work on new samples with all-new designs and altered finishes for Lane. Both, Lane and Holm, agreed that it would be unwise to sell the pipes under Preben Holm’s name as long as Snug Harbour had a considerable stock of Preben Holm pipes and might sell them pipes at very low prices just to bring in some money.

So on Mr. Lane’s proposal it was determined to use the name Ben Wade belonging to Lane Ltd. Lane spent considerable amounts of money for advertising the new brand in the big magazines– the centerpiece being whole-page ads showing a very exclusive Seven Day’s Set.

The cooperation with Lane Ltd. proved to be an eminent business success for both partners. Within a very short time Ben Wade Handmade Denmark sold in much larger quantities and at higher prices than they had ever dreamed of. And the hype these freehands and fancy pipes caused went on unbroken long after Herman G. Lane deceased. Preben Holm – obviously much more brilliant in pipe making than in pipe business – was in major troubles again in 1986 and had to sack most of his staff. The Ben Wade production was significantly lowered but continued until his untimely death in June of 1989.

Up to now Preben Holm made Ben Wade pipes are cult and highly sought for on the estate markets.

With that information my initial thoughts were confirmed. This pipe was a Preben Holm made Freehand distributed in the US by Lane Ltd under the name Ben Wade. The freehand rage occurred in the late 70s and the pipes were made until Preben’s death in 1989. My guess would be that this pipe was made sometime during that time period and potentially in the late 70s.

Armed with that information I followed the regular regimen that Jeff and I use for cleaning estates. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer using the largest cutting head as this pipe has a particularly large bowl. I followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the remaining cake and smooth out the walls. I finished the bowl cleanup by sanding the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel to smooth out the inside walls of the bowl. I also scrubbed the rim top plateau with a wire brush to knock of the lava that was built up there. I scrubbed the briar with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush. I worked to remove the remaining lava and minimize the darkening. I rinsed it under warm running water. The photos show the rim top after scrubbing. It looked much better at this point. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and into the plateau rim top and shank end with a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. 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. With the outside cleaned and shining I moved on to clean up the inside airways and mortise in the shank and the stem. I scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners.  I set the cleaned bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth chatter with 220 grit sandpaper and started to polish it with a folded piece of 400 wet dry sandpaper. Once it was finished it began to shine.I used some Denicare Mouthpiece Polish that I have in my kit to start polishing out some of the scratches and remaining oxidation on the stem. I rubbed it in with a cotton pad and my finger tip and buffed it off with a cotton pad.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with some Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it off with a cotton cloth. When I finished I gave it another coat of Obsidian Oil. This is a beautiful Preben Holm made Ben Wade Spiral Freehand with a fancy, twisted, black acrylic/Lucite stem. It has a great look and feel. The shape fits well in the hand with the sandblast giving a nice tactile sense when held. I polished stem and the bowl 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 pipe polished up pretty nicely. The rich combination of sandblast and smooth finishes took on life with the buffing. The rich colour of the briar works well with the polished stem. I like the grain and finished look of this Preben Holm Ben Wade Spiral pipe. Have a look at it with the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 6 ¾ inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: 1 inch. This Danish Freehand is a real beauty. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe.

 

 

Redemption for an Old Pipe – a Briar Basket Holding a Meerschaum Egg Bowl


Blog by Steve Laug

One of my favourite finds from Jeff and my recent trip to Alberta was this old timer. It is in its original case with a broken amber stem and a brass filigreed band. The thing that made me buy this pipe was not the age or even the case. What made it stand out to me was the uniquely carved entangled vines and stump forming a basket for the egg shaped meerschaum bowl that sat inside of it. We found it in a little shop in in Innisfail, Alberta that had some interesting antiques but only this one pipe. The case is in decent condition though the hinges and clasp are shaken and will need to be repaired. There is no stamping on the shank that is readily visible and there is no logo that I can see on the faded lining of the case. I will need to inspect it more closely to be sure. The pipe was dirty and caked when we picked it up. The rim top had a thick buildup of lava flowing over from the thick cake in the bowl. It was hard and dense. The exterior of the bowl and shank are very dirty with grime and oils from prolonged use. The grooves of the intertwining vines of the briar were filled with dust and were dull and lifeless.  The meerschaum bowl insert had some patina to it but was also scratched and nicked in the spots where it showed through the vine. The stem that was with the pipe was amber and broken. The shape of the stem made me wonder about it as it was oval rather than round like the shank. The band was conical and held the stem end against the shank end. There was no tenon in the shank or stem piece. I took photos of the pipe before I started the cleanup. I took some close up photos of the briar exterior bowl to show the details in the carving. It is wrapped by vines and leaves and on the front of the bowl is ram’s head with a cluster of grapes between the horns. The shank is the thick vine from which the vines around the bowl flow. The briar and the meerschaum are dirty and dust is deep in the grooves of the briar and in the spaces around the connection to the bowl.I carefully removed the band from the shank and could see that there was no tenon in the shank. The shank itself was clogged up with tars and oils. The stem was fit into the filigreed band with wraps of paper that had locked into the band. I carefully wiggled the broken amber stem out of the band and was surprised by the mess that came out with it. The wraps of paper lined the band and needed to be scraped out and the stem itself was oval! This was definitely not the correct stem for this pipe. The band and the shank were both round and a oval stem without a tenon did not work with the original design of the pipe. With the band removed from the shank and the bowl freed of the stem it was time to work on the cake in the bowl. Because of the delicate nature of this inserted bowl I decided to scrape out the cake with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife. I took the cake back to bare walls on the meer bowl. I sanded out the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. I scraped the rim top with the knife and then sanded off the lava build up with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I wanted to remove the grime without removing the patina that was underneath. I scraped out the inside of the shank with a pen knife to clean out the build up of tars and oils on the inside. There was a lot of buildup in the shank that needed to be removed. Once it was scraped clean I cleaned it out with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the remainder of buildup and open the airway in the shank. Once I was finished, the pipe not only smelled clean but was very clean. The airflow in the shank was clear and draw was perfect.I went through my can of stems to see if I could find one that could possibly work. I knew that I did not have an amber one but I probably had an acrylic one that I could shape. It was not long before I found one that would work for this pipe. I would need to reduce the diameter of the tenon to get a good fit and to shape the diameter of the stem at the tenon make it fit with the filigreed shank band.Once I had the tenon reduced I put the band on the shank and inserted the stem to get an idea of what I needed to do to adjust and adapt the stem. I took photos of the pipe and stem from various angles to see what needed to be done. You can see the bulging around the band that I will need to take down. My brother Jeff called it a belly!I used a rasp to remove the excess material on the “hips” of the stem. I sanded it smooth and put it in the shank to see the progress. The photos below show the progress! I used a Dremel and sanding drum to take off more material and to smooth out the marks left behind by the rasp. I sanded the stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it out further and inserted the stem in the shank to check the progress. I further sanded the “hips” until I was happy with the overall look of the stem at this point. I polished the sanding marks on the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I wanted to remove as much of the scratching as I could before using micromesh sanding pads.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and buffed it with a cotton pad. I heated water in a cup in the microwave to bend the stem. Once the water was boiling I put the Lucite stem in the water and let it sit until the stem was pliable. I carefully bent it to match angle of the case.I wet sanded the stem once again with the full range of micromesh sanding pads from 1500-12000 grit and wiped it down after each pad with a damp cloth. The stem was finished after this regimen.I set the stem aside and turned my attention to cleaning up the externals of the bowl. I scrubbed the briar and meerschaum with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to get in to all the nooks and crannies of the twisted vine and ram’s heard. I rinsed it in warm water and dried it off with a soft cotton cloth. I worked Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar with my fingertips and a horse hair shoe brush. I made sure to get it into all the nooks and crannies of the briar. I buffed it with a soft cotton cloth to raise a shine. This newly restemmed old timer looks really good to me. The new Lucite stem approximates the look of amber without the fragility. It fits the pipe well and has a great look and feel. The shape is very tactile with the vines and leaves wrapped around the meerschaum bole. It feels great in the hand and should be very nice as it warms up with a bowl of tobacco inside. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a soft cotton cloth to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The grain on the vines and leaves entwining the bowl came alive with the buffing. The rich contrasting browns and patina on the meerschaum works well with the polished acrylic stem. The finished pipe has a rich look that is quite catching. Have a look at it with the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over the next of the finds of Jeff and my Alberta pipe hunt. It is an old timer that is unlike anything that I have ever seen before. The combination of briar and meerschaum is catching and unique. Give the blog a read and if any of you have seen one like this let me know in the comments below. Any help will be appreciated.

Giving a Second Chance to a Throw Away Bowl


Blog by Steve Laug

This morning I was looking through my boxes of pipes to restore to find what I wanted to do next. I went through several options and finally settled on a bowl that I brought back from Idaho. It was a Custombilt style bowl that we were ready to pitch in the trash because it was in rough condition. Someone had cut off the shank with a saw – a real hack job that left the shank end rough and the surface not flat. The bowl had a thick cake in it and an overflow of lava on the rim top. The inside and outside edges were dirty but it was unclear if there was damage. There was no stamping on the shank or underside. The finish was shot and there was a lot of dirt and grime in the grooves of the finish. There was also some shiny coat on the smooth portions of the bowl that made wonder if it had been varnished at some time in its life. It was an unbelievable mess. But it was enough of a challenge that I wanted to take it on. Here are some photos of the bowl when I started. I went through my cans of stems and found one that fit the mortise. I would need to work on the face of the shank itself to make it round again but it showed a lot of promise. The stem was lightly oxidized and the bend was too much but otherwise I liked the look of the saddle stem.I put the stem on the bowl and took a few photos of the pipe. To me it showed a lot of promise. It would take a bit of work to get the fit just right but the pipe had a lot of potential.I heated the stem with a heat gun to straighten out the bend. Once the vulcanite had become flexible I took the majority of the bend out so that the angle of the stem matched the angle of the top of the bowl. I took photos of it at this point in the process. I am happy with the progress. I set the stem aside and turned my attention to the bowl. I reamed it back to bare briar with a PipNet pipe reaming set. Once the bowl was smooth I cleaned up the reaming on the walls and scraped the rim top with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage and smooth out the surface of the rim. There was a lot of damage to the rim top and the topping took care of the damage to the rim top. I scrubbed the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush under running water. I rinsed off the grime and took the following photos of the bowl. I cleaned out the internals on the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with 99% isopropyl alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I worked until the shank and mortise was clean and smelled new.There were still some shiny spots on the shank and smooth portions of the bowl. I wiped them down with acetone on a cotton pad. I used the Dremel and sanding drum and 220 grit sandpaper to reshape the shank. I rounded it to match the diameter of the stem and also faced the shank end on the topping board. I was moving through this restoration while I was talking with my brother and totally forgot to take photos of this part of the process. I smoothed out the sanded and reshaped shank and stem with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding with 1500-6000 grit pads. I sanded the top of the bowl at the same time to smooth out the scratches.

Once I had finished shaping the shank I decided to continue my ongoing experiment with the Briar Cleaner on this pipe. I scrubbed it with the product from Mark Hoover of Before & After Products. He says that the briar cleaner has the capacity of absorbing grime and dirt from the surface of briar. I rubbed the bowl down with it to see how it would work in this setting. (Just a note: In speaking to Mark he noted that the product is completely safe to use. The main product is even FDA approved edible.) I rubbed it onto the bowl and rim top with my finger tips and worked it into the remaining sanding grit on the bowl. I let it sit on the pipe for about 5 minutes before I rinsed it under warm running water to remove the residue. I hand dried it with a microfiber cloth. I was pleasantly surprised by how clean the surface on the bowl looked when I was finished. The various surfaces of the carved briar just begged for a variety of stains to give the pipe some real dimensionality. I heated the briar and gave it the first coat of stain – a Tan Fiebings. This tan has some red tints in the dried and fired coat. I applied the stain with a dauber and then flamed it with a Bic lighter to set it in the grain. I repeated the process until the coverage was what I wanted. I buffed the bowl with a clean microfiber cloth and gave the bowl a light shine. All of this was preliminary for the next stain coat. I put the stem on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. The buffing really brought the reds to the surface of the briar. It helped me to make the next decision regarding the contrast stain. I touched up the rim top with a Mahogany stain pen to smooth out the finish. I then stain the entire bowl with the contrast stain coat using Watco’s Danish Oil with a Cherry stain. I rubbed it on with a soft cloth and let it sit for a while before buffing it off with a soft cloth. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed it with a horsehair shoe brush. I also buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to polishing the stem. I worked it over with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads. I buffed it on the buffing wheel with Red Tripoli to further remove the oxidation on the surface. I reworked it with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it apart. With both parts of the pipe finished I put the pipe back together again and I polished the bowl and the 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 pipe polished up pretty nicely. The rich finish and the interesting grain on this briar came alive with the buffing. The finish on the briar works well with the polished black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe looks almost like it came out of the factory like this. It is a well-proportioned, nicely grained shape that I would call Bent Apple. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This throw away, cut off bowl met a stem from another place and the pipe that came out is a beauty. The condition of the bowl showed that it was a great smoker so this new edition should also be one! I am not sure who made the bowl originally but from the looks of the finish it could very well be a Custombilt. I am not sure I will ever know with certainty but it has the look. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.

A Nightmare Restoration of an Oldenkott Munchen Huber Filter Pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

I have had this old pipe kicking around in my box for refurbishing for a long time now. I have picked it up numerous times and put it back as I just had no desire to do anything with it. That changed yesterday. I took it out and looked at it to think about what needed to be done to it. The stem was a mess – it had shattered when the guy who owned it tried to take it off. He sent me these photos of the pipe. It was green which did nothing for me and there was nothing about it that called my name. It was an Oldenkott pipe – a brand that I had worked on before but not a shape that I was interested in. The stem was broken and the pipe was a mess. After seeing the photos below, I had declined purchasing it as it really was not interesting to me. But even my declining it did not matter much – He had mailed it as part of a group of pipes that Jeff and I had purchased from him them.The pipes had been sent to Jeff and in the box was this one. Jeff opened the box and showed me this pipe and really it was in even worse shape than I imagined. The pipe came with the stem pretty well stuck in the shank and a small plastic bag with stem pieces was rubber banded to the tenon. Jeff chucked it in the freezer and the stem came off easily enough. It was a mess and it was a filter pipe! The bowl had a thick in it and a thick lava overflow on the rim top. It was hard to know the condition of the inner edge of the rim because of this. The bowl had a lot of bright green fills around the sides and heel. The stem was a disaster – broken off and shattered at the same time. It was definitely one for the garbage. He took photos of the pipe before he started working on it so I could see what he was dealing with. He took a photo of the rim top and bowl to try to capture the mess of both. The thick cake in the bowl and the overflow of lava are both visible. The cake was thick and hard and the lava overflow was a thick band around the bowl. One consolation is that considering the mess it was in, this must have been a great smoking pipe.The next photos show the side and bottom of the bowl and give a clear picture condition of the green stain. It was spotty and worn. The fills in the bowl were very green spots, like painters green tape and stood out like a sore thumb to me. They were just ugly and almost obscured the interesting grain around the bowl for me. Hopefully you get a feel for why I just kept putting it back in the restoration “to do” box.Jeff took photos of the stamping to capture the clarity of it even under the grime. The Oldenkott name is stamped on the left side of the shank. On the underside it is stamped Huber over Munchen. Jeff took photos of the stem to show the shattered condition. It really was not redeemable even by such a stalwart stem rebuilder as Paresh Deshpande! It was also a 9mm filter stem and to me that also was another strike against it. It was useless in my opinion. I knew I was dealing with a German pipe from previous ones that I had worked on. I had been told that the brand was the German equivalent of Dunhill pipes in England. This one certainly did not make a case for that assumption. I turned first to Pipephil to see if I could get a brief review (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-oldenkott.html). The site gave various lines that had been made by the factory before its closure in 1992.

I went on to Pipedia knowing that there would be some more detailed information and I was correct in that assumption (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Oldenkott). I quote in full from that article.

Very little is known about the company. According to the albums the company was founded in 1760 in Amsterdam as Hermann Oldenkott, and in 1819, a subsidiary in Ahaus (Germany). There were likely other factories as well, as in 1838 August Kersten from Rees (Germany) bought the factories from Heinric Oldenkott in Elten (Germany) and Weesp (Holland), although it is not clear whether these were part of the of the original Oldenkott company. The German company increased rapidly and became one of the largest German tobacco companies. In 1929 the factories from Hermann Oldenkott in Ahaus and Neuss (Germany) were bought by the German Oldenkott company. The German company produced pipes starting in 1932. In 1972 the German company was bought by the Dutch company Niemeijer. Tobacco production ceased in 1974 and only pipes were made afterward. In 1987 the German pipe company was bought by the Kersten family again, but closed in 1992.

The pipes were machine made and in general of mediocre quality. The most important pipes of Oldenkott were the so called “Porsche” design pipe. The bowl was turned like the motor block of a racing car and was lacquered with a silver-grey color. Today these special pipes are very rare and expensive.

In spite of the apparent quality of both Oldenkott and VAUEN pipes, they are known as good smokers.

The site also quotes from the book “Pipes, Artisans and Trademarks, by José Manuel Lopes’ –“Oldenkott is an early 20th century German brand by Henry Oldenkott. His factory in Hallen closed in April 1982, with some of the workder moving to VAUEN. Oldenkott made ipes with and without filters. It was in this company that Porsche pipes were produced.”

Armed with that information I turned to address the pipe itself. Jeff had cleaned up the pipe before sending it to me. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to clean off the grime off the finish and the heavy overflow of lava on the rim top. He cleaned up the internals of the shank, mortise and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove all of the oils and tars in the pipe. He cleaned up the stem so that it did not stink and soil the other clean pipes he sent me. When it arrived here in Vancouver it was a clean pipe and I knew what I had to work with. I took photos of it before I started my part of the restoration. I took a close up photo of the bow and rim to capture the burn damage on the right side inner edge of the bowl. I also took photos of the shattered stem to show the extent of the damage.I took a photo of the left side and the underside of the shank to show the stamping on the pipe. It read as noted above. After the cleanup it was still readable.I decided to address the broken stem first. I went through my can of stems and found a suitable saddle stem that was roughly the same length as the broken one. It had a different saddle arrangement but to be honest I like the new one better. It was a new cast stem that I had picked up from a fellow who was selling out his father’s refurbishing supplies. I measured the diameter of the tenon on the broken stem and set the PIMO Tenon Turning Tool to crank out a tenon on the new stem that would match. I turned it carefully and once I took it off the tool and measured both were identical in diameter – BUT (and this part is very irritating to me) the new tenon though identical and in size was loose in the mortise!!!I filed out the nubs left behind from the tool and the new stem was now functional. I would need to expand the tenon to get a good snug fit but it was done. I gave the tenon a coat of clear fingernail polish to snug up the fit in the mortise. I set it aside to dry. While the stem was drying I decided to work on the damage to the inner edge of the bowl on the right side. I topped it on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper and removed as much of the damaged area as possible.I knew that I needed to deal with the uneven green stain coat on the bowl so that I could smooth it out. I also needed to deal with the fills in the bowl. I wiped it down with acetone on a cotton pad to evenly remove the stain. I picked out the largest fill on the right side of bowl with a dental pick. Under the bright green top coat the fill was bright white putty. Once I picked it out wiped it down with alcohol. I filled in the hole with briar dust and clear super glue to replace the fill. I put the stem on the shank and worked on the fit against the shank. I used a wood fill to reduce the diameter on the stem giving it a bit of a conical shape to match the flow of the shank. I also worked on the shank diameter because like everything else that is a bit of a deficit on this pipe the shank was not perfectly round and the stem had to be hand fit to the shank. I sanded the shank and stem with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out and shape the shank and stem union. I also sanded the repaired fill on the right side of the bowl to blend it into the surface. The stem was looking pretty good as was the new fill. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth to have a look at it at this point. I removed the stem and worked on polishing the bowl with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad. I decided to only use these three grits because I had decided to experiment with staining this pipe GREEN once again. (I have to tell you this was an experiment and in many ways a failed one. But I get ahead of the story!). Here is where the restoration took a horrible turn for me. I should have left well enough alone but I wanted to tryout the Kelly Green stain that I had picked up earlier for some Peterson’s St. Patrick’s Day pipes that I have not dealt with yet. I figured this would be a good place to learn about the idiosyncrasies of green stain. I heated the briar and stained and flamed the pipe to set the stain in the wood. I looked at it and just shook my head. The stain set really well. I wasn’t sure how the fills received it and was a bit worried when I saw them shining through the dark green stain. I set the bowl aside to let the stain cure. Once the stain was dry I moved to my next “normal” step which is to wipe the bowl down with alcohol on cotton pads to make it more transparent and make the grain stand out more. Here is where my next issue rose – I wiped it down with four pads and alcohol and kept repeating the wipe down and it did not become more transparent. All that happened was that the fills turned white. I touched them up with green but there was no remedy to the issue. I like the pipe better before I stained it green. Now what was I going to do to make it LESS GREEN? At this point the experiment was a failure in my opinion. The GREEN NOT ONLY SET IN THE GRAIN BUT IN THE WHOLE PIECE OF BRIAR. I have to admit that at this point it crossed my mind that I probably could have thinned the stain a lot and made a green wash but after thought is too late. I buffed the pipe with Red Tripoli to try to remove it from the briar but it really had little effect. I was getting pretty frustrated and know from experience it is time to change things up a bit before I make things worse!

So I decided to address the stem for a while instead of the bowl. I put the stem on the shank and heated it with my heat gun until it was soft. I bent it to match the angles of the bottom of the bowl and set the bend with cool water. It was a good diversion from the GREEN bowl.I took the stem off and went back to work on the bowl. I wiped it down with acetone to try to reduce the green stain and while it partially worked it still was too green to my liking. I sanded the bowl and shank with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to further reduce it. I still was not happy with the results. The green was just not to my liking. It needed to go. I restained the bowl with Tan stain and flamed and repeated the process until the coverage was good. I set it aside to cure and went to lunch with a friend. After lunch I buffed the bowl with Red Tripoli to unveil with the bowl looked like at this point. The tan stain had worked together with the Green stain to create a colour that I really liked. I buffed it with Blue Diamond to further polish it. I like the way the bowl looked at this point. I still needed to polish it and wax it but I wanted to finish the stem as well. I wet sanded it with 1500-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads to polish it. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. In looking at the photos above you can see a few nicks in the tenon. I filled them in with clear super glue to smooth them out and set the stem aside to dry. I sanded them smooth with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil and again let it dry.  With the parts finished it was time to polish up this nightmarish experiment that took me far longer than it rightly should have taken. I learned a ton in terms of Green stain – such as using it as a wash instead of as it comes in the bottle. I learned that it sinks deep into all of the grain not just the softer parts. I found that it is very hard to remove once it is once it is on the briar. Learning all of that I was finally glad that it was time to finish this pipe. I put the stem and bowl back together and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I polished the briar and the minute scratches still in the vulcanite of the stem until there was a rich shine. This Oldenkott turned out better than I expected and has some nice grain showing through. The finish really highlights the grain and hides the fills on a proportionally well carved pipe. Once I buffed the pipe the briar came alive and the mixture of grain popped with polishing. The black vulcanite replacement stem had a rich glow. The finished pipe is a beautiful grained bent Apple. The dimensions are Length: 5 1/4 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks for walking through the long, experimental restoration with me as it was a learning experience for me.