Tag Archives: pipe restemming

Restoring & Restemming a Celtic Craft Block Meerschaum from Bob Kerr’s Estate


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I have chosen from the four remaining pipes from Bob Kerr’s Estate is a Genuine Block Meerschaum with a damaged stem. This is the last of Bob’s Block Meerschaum pipes that I have to work on. (Bob’s 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 most of the restorations of the estate to date I thought that I would leave it out this time. Check out some of the recent Dunhill restoration blogs (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/01/restoring-the-last-of-bob-kerrs-dunhills-a-1962-dunhill-bruyere-656-f-t-bent-billiard/).

This Meerschaum is stamped Celtic [over] Craft on the left side of the shank. On the underside it is stamped Genuine Block Meerschaum. Over that on the shank end was stamp GT at the top and below the stamp read N14 which is probably the shape number. The fancy vulcanite stem is oxidized, calcified and has a large chunk missing from the underside of the button and stem. From the damage it looked to me like it needed to be replaced. The exterior of the bowl is grimy and dirty. The black flumed top was worn and tired looking on both the rim top and the shank end. There is a thick cake and lava overflow on the rim top. It is thick enough that it is hard to know if there is any damage on top and edges but it looked like there was some damage. Jeff took photos of the pipe to show its general condition before he did his cleanup.   The exterior of the pipe was very dirty – grime and grit ground in from years of use and sitting. This one was obviously one of Bob’s favourites. The rim top was covered with a coat of thick lava that overflowed the bowl. There was also some damage on the rim top and edges 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 and the heel of the bowl to give a better feel for the condition of the bowl. It is dirty but the rustication is interesting. The next photos show the stamping on the sides of the shank. The left side is clear and readable and reads as noted above. The stamping on the underside of the shank was also clear and readable as noted above. Jeff also took photos of the stem shank connection with the stem in place and the stem removed. The tenon was metal and inset in the end of the stem. The shank end was filthy and worn.  The stem was dirty and extremely oxidized, calcified and had tooth marks on both sides ahead of the button. It was missing a large chunk of vulcanite from the underside of the stem and button.   I have not heard of the Celtic Craft brand but the way it was made and the stamping style and placement on the pipe and the finish on the pipe was identical to the look and feel of the block meerschaum pipe that restored earlier – a BELT (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/06/11/restoring-a-heavily-smoked-belt-meerschaum-peterson-like-pipe/). I turned to that blog to check if it was possible that the CELTIC CRAFT pipe was made by the same company. While there was nothing definite I am convinced that it is made by the same company. I quote from that blog:

The BELT brand is not one that I am familiar with. I have never heard of the brand in my years of doing this work. I decided to pause before I started my part of the work on the pipe and see what I could learn on the web. I looked on Pipephil’s site and could find nothing listed. I did the same on Pipedia and initially found nothing either. I did a google search for the brand and low and behold the brand came up under Danish Pipe Making Companies under the heading London Meerschaum (https://pipedia.org/wiki/London_Meerschaum). I quote the brief article below as taken from Jose Manuel Lopes book.

“London Meerschaum made some pipes under the name of BELT or THE BELT, I had this confirmed by Bonds of Oxford St. who have 5 smooth bowl versions in stock at the time of writing, these look very similar to standard system full bent Peterson Meerschaums, the smooth versions have silverware stamped L&JS {Les & Dolly Wood, Ferndown} and has Belt and Genuine Block Meerschaum stamped on the bowl. I have seen 1 rusticated version with the same silverware and 2 of which I own 1, have gold plated ware with no hallmarks and are also stamped Belt and Genuine Block Meerschaum. Both smooth and rusticated have P-Lip type stems though the air hole is not on top but at the end as with most non Peterson P-Lips that I have come across. I do not know when London Meerschaum ceased trading but I can say from the one Belt that I own, it’s a very fine pipe and not cheap, well over the £100 mark when new.”

These pipes were evidently sold at least as early as the 1950’s. These may have been made by, or are affiliated with Pomeroy & Cooke Ltd., (Pipes, Artisans and Trademarks, by José Manuel Lopes).

One of the readers of that blog responded with the following information. It cleared up the information above and called the information that it was a Danish Company called London Meerschaum into question.

Jambo/Belt was based in Nothhamptonshire, a small town north of London.

In my mind it was a Manx Made African Meer and now the information trail was twisted. It is now purported to have been made in Denmark, or in Nothhamptonshire near London or on the Isle of Man. Confusing and strange provenance for this old meer but I personally lean toward the Manx Pipes Connection. Now it was time to work on the pipe itself.

With over 125 pipes to clean from Bob’s estate I took a batch of them to the states with me when I visited and left them with Jeff so he could help me out. Jeff cleaned the pipes with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. Once he finished he shipped them back to me. This one was a real mess and 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 meerschaum and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with an interesting rustic finish around the bowl and shank. Jeff scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked a lot better. I took photos before I started my part of the work.  I took close up photos of the rim top and the stem surfaces. The rim top looked better but was rough. Some of the surface had been worn smooth. It was clean however and the flumed colour on the rim and shank end had faded with the cleanup work. The stem was another story all together. The metal tenon was good but the threads in the shank were worn so that it would not align. The issue for me was that the metal would continue to wear down the meer and make the fit looser over time. There were deep nicks on all the sharp edges of the diamond stem. The large chip out of the underside of the button and stem was bigger and rougher than I expected. Even though I could rebuild the damaged area I decided that the stem would need to be replaced on this one.    I took photos of the stamping on the shank of the pipe. It is readable and clear. The text reads as noted above.   I took the stem off the shank and took a photo to give a sense of the flow of the pipe. The stem is a bit of a turned freehand stem so I pretty much could use any other turned freehand stem as a replacement.I started my work on the pipe by dealing with the rim top. I used a brass bristle brush to clean up the rim top. I wanted to check out damage to the rim top so the brass bristle brush would remove any remaining grit in the rustication.I used a black stain pen to touch up the flumed top of the bowl, edges and the shank end. The rim top and shank end looked much better.   I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to replacing the stem. I went through my can of stems and found one that would look interesting with the shape of the pipe. It was a new cast stem. I would need to cut off the tenon and drill out the stem for a new tenon.I used the Dremel and sanding drum to cut off the tenon. I had a Delrin tenon that was made to screw into the stem. I found that reversing it and turning it into the shank was a perfect fit. I used a series of drill bits to drill out the end of the stem to receive the smooth end of the tenon. I used the Dremel and sanding drum to remove the excess vulcanite from the stem so that when the tenon was screwed into the shank the stem sat flush in the shank. I glued the tenon in place in the stem with clear super glue and set it aside to let the glue cure.Once the glue cured I turned the stem into the shank and took photos of the pipe as a whole. Still lots of sanding to do but I like the fit of the stem to the shank.   I cleaned up the stepped down stem area on the end of the stem with a needle file to fit in the inset shank end. I also used the file to reduce the thickness of the button. I then heated the stem with a lighter flame to soften the vulcanite. Once it was soft I bent the end of the stem to match the stem that I was replacing. I screwed the stem into the shank and took a photo of the pipe at this point in the process. I am starting to like the looks of this pipe.   I removed the stem from the shank and sanded out the file marks and shaped the button with 220 grit sandpaper and followed that with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to start the polishing.   I used a potter cutting tool to open up the slot in the end of the button. I wanted to reshape it and open it enough that a pipe cleaner would easily move through the airway.   I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.    I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank 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 and shoe brush to raise the shine. This interestingly finished rusticated Celtic Craft Genuine Block Meerschaum Freehand/Poker from Bob Kerr’s estate looks very good. Even though it is not my personal favourite it must be a great smoking pipe. The finish cleaned up well on the pipe is in great condition and works well with the polished vulcanite taper replacement stem. I carefully buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Clapham’s Beeswax Polish and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Meerschaum fits nicely in the hand and I think the rustication will feel great when it heats up during smoking. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in carrying on Bob’s legacy with this pipe send me a message or an email. I have more to work on of various brands. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.

Is New Life Possible for this Rough Old Custom-Bilt Billiard?


Blog by Steve Laug

Sometimes when we are caught up in the Adrenalin of a pipe hunt often sympathy for an old pipe surpasses logic. That was certainly the case with this tired and damaged old Custom-Bilt Billiard. We just picked it up and said it was going with us. Later in looking at it I wondered what we had done. The thick cake in the bowl and the fact that the pipe was filthy were not huge problems for us so ignore those. Here are just a few of the issues with the pipe. There appeared to be serious burn damage to the rim top and inner edge of the bowl. The stem was an obvious replacement which is not a problem but it appeared to be crooked. Was the issue the stem or the shank? Taking it out of the shank it was clear that the issue was both. The stem was too large and the tenon was off centre. However it was also clear that the shank had been hacked off at an angle and was not straight. There were chips of briar missing on the shank end. Fortunately it appeared that the mortise was straight and still functional. Those were just the issues I saw without spending a lot of time looking. But there was still some charm in the old pipe that made me want to try. Jeff took the pipe home with him to do his work on it. He took the following photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup. Jeff took photos of the damage to the rim top. You can see the damage on the inner edge of the bowl where there is some serious burn damage. There is also damage on the rim top itself. The rustication is filled in with lava and it is hard to see the extent of the damage.He took photo of the rustication around the sides and heel of the bowl to show both the damage and the grime ground into the bowl sides. He took a photo of the stamping on the shank side showing the Custom-Bilt stamp. It is readable but fainter toward the bottom of the stamp. The second photo below shows the fit of the stem to the shank and it is clear how it is both larger and off in terms of the fit.The next photos show the condition of the stem. I am not too concerned with it because it will need to be replaced.I turned to Pipephil (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-c8.html) to get a quick view of the brand once again. I knew that I was working with one of the older pipes and   probably made by Tracy Mincer himself. He stopped making the Custom-Bilt pipes in the early 1950s. The screen capture I included below shows a brief history of the brand.I turned to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/File:CustomBilt_Stamp1.jpg) for a quick read. The majority of the information there was two book reviews of the Custom-Bilt Story by Bill Unger. The one line I culled was the following: “Tracy Mincer started the original Custom-Bilt pipes it appears in 1934”.

I did a screen capture of the stamping that matched the stamping on the pipe that I am working on.What I learned from that is that the stamp was used by Tracy Mincer in Indianapolis in the US from 1938-1946 and possibly in Chicago before 1938 as well. So now I had a possible date for this pipe. It was an old timer and it was well worth working on.

Armed with that information I turned to work on the pipe itself. Jeff had done a great job cleaning up the pipe as usual. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer and cut back the cake back to the bare briar. He cleaned up the walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the finish. Jeff cleaned up this stem even though it would probably be replaced. He scrubbed the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer. He washed it off with warm water to remove the deoxidizer. The pipe looked far better. I took photos of the pipe when I received it before I started working on it. You can see the misfit stem. I took a photo of the rim top to show how well it cleaned up and the damage on the front and rim top. I also took a series of photos to show the angles of the misfit stem. You can see that the fit is at an angle. The shank end is also not straight. I went through my collection of stems and found one that was the right profile and right length. I found a perfect stem that even had a turned tenon that would just need adjustment. I took some pictures of the shank end to show the cut angle of the shank. It is just slightly off not a huge amount but when a stem was against the shank it was obvious. The right side was longer than the left and the top was longer than the bottom.I used the topping board to lightly sand the shank end but it was not to be without removing more of the shank end than I wanted. The chips out of the shank end made it necessary to sand deeper. I decided to use a thin brass band that also capped the end of the shank. I coated the shank end with some all-purpose glue and pressed the band in place. I put the new stem on the shank and adjusted the band to take care of any deviation in the face of the shank. I removed the stem and set the bowl aside to let the glue cure. Once the glue on the band had cured I put the new stem in place in the shank to show the fit to the shank end. There is a lot of material to remove from the diameter of the stem at this point but the fit is perfect. I used my Dremel and sanding drum to carefully remove the excess material. I always start this process with the stem in place on the shank. I get it as close as possible to the shank size as I can without nicking the band. Once I have it close I remove the stem and finish it without the shank. The photo below is one I sent to Jeff to show him the progress. It shows the stem after the rough fitting. Lots of work still to do but you can see that it is coming along well.Now the shaping work began in earnest. I used folded 220 grit sandpaper to sand the stem and remove the scratching left behind by the Dremel and sanding drum. I also adjusted the fit to the shank by repeatedly taking photos of the fit. I have included some of those below so you can see the progress.I continued to sand the stem until all of the sanding marks from the drum were gone and the stem was smooth. I started the polishing of the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. The photos below show the stem at this point.I set the stem aside at this point and rubbed some Before & After  Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar. I worked it into the nooks and crannies of the briar with my fingertips and a horse hair shoe brush. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the briar. I let it sit for 10 minutes while I worked on the stem. After the time passed I buffed it with a cotton cloth to deepen the shine. The briar came alive with the balm. When I am doing a restemming job I like to put it on the bowl and get a look at the pipe all along the way. There is something satisfying in watching the new pipe take shape. I was pleased with how the pipe was looking. I liked the flow of the stem and new shank band. It definitely was a step up from where I started. All that remains now is to finish polishing the stem and then buffing the pipe and waxing it. I was definitely getting there! I removed the stem from the bowl and set the bowl aside. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. This early Tracy Mincer made Custom-Bilt billiard was an absolute disaster when we found it. I cleaned up the shank, banded it to smooth it out and made a new stem. It is a great looking pipe. The brown stain on the mixed grain shining through the rustication is quite nice. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition and the contrasting stains work well to give some contrast to the finish of the pipe. The polished black vulcanite taper stem adds to the mix. With the grime, debris and burn marks minimized from the finish the bowl it is really is eye-catching. The thin gold coloured band looks really nice on the shank. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel, carefully avoiding the stamping on the shank. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished chunky, rustic Bulldog is quite nice and feels great in the hand. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that like the other pipes I am working that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. 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. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another interesting pipe. This rustic Mincer Custom-Bilt Billiard will be going on the rebornpipes store shortly. Keep an eye on the American Pipe Makers section of the store. If you want to add it to your collection send me an email or a message! Thanks for your time.

I am not sure I would call this AFG III Freehand pipe anything other than ODD


Blog by Steve Laug

Jeff picked up this pipe sometime in 2016 and I have had it in a box of bowls since he sent it to me. I have looked at it several times but it never called my name. It is a strange pipe. The upwardly curved portion of the shank is joined to the bowl and straight shank about mid shank. The grain is quite nice though there is a large pit on the left side of the shank. The pipe is a sitter with a strange notched rim top. The notches have a faux plateau pattern in the groove on the front and back of the bowl. The top of the rim is almost calabash like with a wide flat top. The curve of the shank made the drilling of the bent portion a mystery until you turn the pipe over and see the screw that is inset in the back of the shank where it is parallel with the airway in the straight portion. It was lightly smoked and dirty. The shank is stamped AFG III on the left side of the upper portion. The stem was pirated from a WDC Wellington and made to fit in the shank. The shank end was out of round and the mortise was quite large. The end was not flat so fitting any stem would be a trick. Maybe that is why the Wellington stem was used. The stem had deep tooth marks in the surface and really did not work with the bowl to me. Jeff took the following photos before he did his clean up on the pipe. Jeff took photos of the bowl top to show the condition of the bowl and rim top and edges. The pipe has almost a floral look to it from this angle. It is a dirty pipe and the interior of the bowl has some roughness on the right side. He took a photo of the screw in the underside of the shank. It looks like a brass wood screw that has been inset in the shank.He took photos of the sides of the bowl and the heel to give a clear look at the grain on the briar. It is actually a nice looking piece of briar that some how the shape follows in a strange way all its own. The stamping on the left side of the shank reads AFG III which is not a brand I can find listed anywhere on the net so I have no information on the maker.The stem that had been made to fit is a WDC Wellington P-lip knockoff. It really did not fit in the shank and it was pretty chewed up. I would need to replace it.Today when I was sorting through my box of bowls without stems that I have and pitching out the worst of them I picked this bowl up and was drawn to seeing what I could do with it. I took it to my worktable and looked it over. Jeff had done a great job cleaning up the pipe as I have come to expect after 4 years of working on pipes. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer and cut back the cake back to the bare briar. He cleaned up the walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the finish. He scrubbed the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. Since the stem was not going to be used he did a quick clean up on it and sent it along. I had long since thrown it in the bottom of the box of bowls. The pipe was indeed an odd one. I took photos of the pipe when I received it before I started working on it. I took a photo of the wood screw in the shank and the flaw in the briar on the topside of the shank. You can also see the joint of the bowl and shank with the upward turned shank extension in the photos below. I drew a red box around then in the photos below. I went through my cans of stems to find one that would work with the diameter of the shank. I would need to turn the tenon to make it fit and also adjust the shank end and face it to make the taper stem fit.I took a photo of the shank end to show its condition. It was not flat and it was not round. The thickness of the shank around the mortise was also different on each side. The second photo below shows that angle of the shank end.I went through my brass bands to find one that would fit the end of the shank. I smoothed out rounded end on a topping board to smooth it. I also used my Dremel and sanding drum to bring the shank end back to round. I heated the band and pressed it onto the end of the shank. It looked good and it provided a straight flat edge on the shank end that would work well with the newly turned stem. I unscrewed the wood screw from the shank and found that it actually cut off the flow of air through the shank. When it was in place it extended into the airway. I used the Dremel and a grinding stone to take the screw down so that it would end at the wall of the airway. I used some all purpose glue to anchor the screw in the shank. It could be removed with a screw driver but it also was air tight.I filled in the flaw on the left side of the shank with briar dust and super glue. When the repair cured I sanded the repair smooth again with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing with 400 grit sandpaper. I used the PIMO tenon turning tool on my cordless drill to reduce the diameter of the tenon and face the stem surface for a good fit on the shank.Once I had the fit right to the shank I used a heat gun to give the end a bend that matched the flow of the bowl.  I may bend it a bit more but I like it at the moment. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad. I worked over the repaired spot on the shank to blend it in more. I touched up the stain around the band edge and the repaired pit on the shank using a blend of Oak and Maple stain pens. The colour matched well and once it was buffed would be perfect.I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the briar. I let it sit for 10 minutes while I worked on the stem. After the time passed I buffed it with a cotton cloth to deepen the shine. The briar really comes alive with the balm. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the newly fit stem. I did some fine tuning of the diameter of the stem at the shank/stem junction with 220 grit sandpaper and began the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I rubbed the stem down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish – a red, gritty Tripoli like substance that is a paste. I rubbed it into the surface of the stem and polished it off with a cotton pad. I have found that is a great intermediary step before polishing with micromesh pads. I am not sure what I will use once the final tin I have is gone!I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.  This oddly shaped handmade briar pipe is strange enough to actually be quite interesting. From the shape of the extended shank to the flair of the bowl sides to the different looking top with the smooth top on the sides and the “dips” in the front and rear that are rusticated to look a bit like plateau. The mix of brown stains that the maker used really highlights some great grain around the bowl sides and the heel. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition and the contrasting stains work well to highlight the grain on the pipe. The band and the newly shaped vulcanite stem seem to work well with the pipe. The pipe is a beauty and really eye-catching in its own way. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Freehand is quite nice and feels great in the hand and is a sitter as well. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. This is not a pipe for everyone but someone is bound to love it. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. This pipe will be added to the American Pipe Makers section of the rebornpipes store soon. If you want to add it to your collection send me an email or a message! Thanks for your time.

Replacing a Broken Tenon on a Stanwell RP Freehand


Blog by Steve Laug

Yesterday a fellow pipe smoker called to say he was in front of my house and had a pipe that he had dropped while on a walk and needed a replacement tenon. He put the pipe in my mail box and I picked it up and while he was on the front side walk I chatted with him from the front porch – very much observing social distancing. The pipe was a beautiful Stanwell RP Freehand. Sure enough the tenon was stuck in the shank and snapper off just ahead of the fancy turned ball on the stem. Tenon replacements on these freehand styles are some of the easiest to do. It means that the stem end is flattened and drilled out to accommodate a new tenon. He also pointed out some road rash on the left side of the bowl where the pipe had bounced off the sidewalk. While I am not taking on new work what could I say to a previous customer standing at my gate asking for help. Of course I took the pipe in and today decided to address the broken tenon. I took pictures of the pipe to show its condition before I started. I took some photos of the shank end to show the snapped tenon in the shank and the broken end on the stem. I tried to pull the tenon with some simple tricks and it was stuck in the shank. It would not budge no matter how I tried. I put the bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes to see if a change in temperature would loosen the tenon.I took the bowl out of the freezer and screwed a drywall screw into the airway in the tenon. It did not take much effort at all to wiggle it and pull out the broken tenon. I kept the piece of tenon so that I could match the replace tenon to the diameter of the broken tenon.Before moving on to make the new tenon I decided to address the road rash on the side of the bowl. I have circled it in red in the first photo below. For this application I used a wet cloth and heated the blade of a butter knife over the flame of my gas stove. I put the wet cloth over the damaged spot and when the knife became hot I touched it to the wet cloth. The heat generated steam from the wet cloth and began to lift the damaged spot. I knew that it would not come up totally as it was a rough area but I knew that I could improve the look. The second photo shows the area on the bowl side after the steam application. I enclosed the repaired damage with a red circle.The damage looked much better after the steaming, not perfect but better! I stained the upper portion of the bowl with an Oak stain pen to blend it into the rest of the surrounding briar. Once it was polished it would blend in very well.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for about ten minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I find that it also helps to blend a newly stained area into the rest of the bowl. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to replacing the tenon. I had a threaded tenon that I had started turning down to size for another pipe that would work perfectly. It is shown in the photo below next to the broken chunk of the original tenon. I would need to use a Dremel and sanding drum to finish turning the tenon portion down to match the diameter of the broken one. I would also need to reduce the diameter of the threaded tenon end because of the size of the end of the stem.I set the tenon aside and flattened the jagged portion of the broken tenon on the stem with the Dremel and sanding drum. Once it was flat I began the process of drilling out the airway to receive the new tenon. I always start with a drill bit slightly larger than the existing airway so that I do not chip of damage the stem. I don’t want create more work! I worked my way up to a ¼ inch drill bit as it was the largest one that I could get away with drilling into the stem end without damaging the external surface.I reduced the diameter of the portion of the tenon that fit in the shank and the portion that would be anchored in the stem using a Dremel and sanding drum to rough fit it. I straightened out the edges of the insert portion with a rasp and squared up the edge so that it would seat in the stem. Once I had a good fit in the stem and the shank I used slow setting super glue to anchor the new tenon in the stem. I coated the edges of the tenon and then set it in place and aligned it so that it was straight.Once the glue had cured I cleaned up the surface of the tenon so that it was not scratched with sandpaper and so that it fit well in the shank. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads.  I wiped down the stem after each pad with a damp cloth. I polished the fancy turnings on the stem and area around the new tenon with Before & After Pipe Polish (both Fine and Extra Fine) using a cotton swab to get into the grooves and angles. When I was finished I rubbed the entire stem down with the polish and buffed it with a microfibre cloth. With that the pipe is complete. I buffed it on the buffing wheel with Blue Diamond Polish and gave the entire pipe several coats of carnauba wax on the wheel. I buffed it with a clean buffing wheel and then hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe is now ready to go back to the pipe man who dropped it off Friday afternoon. I look forward to hearing what he thinks of his repaired pipe when he picks it up. Thanks for walking with me through this restoration. Cheers.

Continuing My Practice on Tenon Replacement… Working on a Connoisseur, NYC Pipe


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

Any learning consists of three phases; first is being taught, second is practice and the third phase is mastering!! Continuing on my learning curve, I wanted to practice replacing broken tenons on pipes to make them smoke worthy again.

The pipe that I chose to practice on is a free hand that boasts of straight / flame grains all around the stummel with bird’s eyes on the heel of the bowl with a plateau rim top. It is stamped on the left of the shank as “CONNOISSEUR” over “N.Y.C.”. These stampings are crisp and easily readable. There is no other stamping seen on either the stummel or the stem. This is the first time that I am working on a Connoisseur and am keen to know more about this pipe brand, carver and also dating this pipe. As is my habit, the first site that I visit is rebornpipes where, over the years, it seems like Steve has chronicled almost all the pipes that were and are in existence. True enough, Steve has restored and researched a pipe from this maker. Here is the link for a detailed information on this pipe; https://rebornpipes.com/2015/05/23/restoring-an-ed-burak-connoisseur-tall-stack/

Further down the write up, he also gives out the dating methodology adopted by Ed Burak and the same is reproduced for immediate reference.

I also learned on Pipephil’s website (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/about-en.html) that the stamping did indeed give some information that helped in identifying the period that a particular pipe was made. There I found that one may generally separate Connoisseur pipes’ date of manufacture into three periods.

From late 1960’s until 1974: no stampings
From 1974 until 1981: CONNOISSEUR over N.Y.C.
From 1981 on: CONNOISSEUR over N.Y.C. and Ed Burak’s signature.

Thus from the above information, it’s evident that this beautiful Connoisseur pipe in my hand is from the period 1974 to 1981!

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The first and foremost issue that I noticed and was aware of from the description given by the seller is that of the broken tenon. When I saw the pictures of this pipe for the first time, I had observed, apart from the most obvious broken tenon a number of other issues which presented a challenge of their own. The briar was natural and unstained. It had darkened slightly with age. This was how the pipe had reached me…discerning readers will easily make out other major issues that need to be addressed on this pipe. The chamber has a thick uneven layer of dry and hard cake with the inner rim edge showing darkening in 6 o’clock direction (marked in yellow). The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be checked and ascertained only after the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. However, I do not envision any damage to the chamber walls. There is heavy lava overflow and debris embedded in the plateau of the rim top surface. The condition of the inner rim edge will be commented upon once the lava overflow has been removed. There are very strong and all pervading smells of old tobacco emanating from the chamber. Hopefully this issue should be addressed once the cake has been removed and the mortise is thoroughly cleaned. The stummel boasts of beautiful straight/flame grain all around and extend over the shank surface too!! The surface is covered in lava overflow, dirt and grime. The stummel briar is without a single fill and through all the dirt and grime, exudes a very high quality briar and craftsmanship. The foot of the stummel shows beautiful bird’s eye grains and is sans any damage. The slightly tapered end of the shank has the broken end of the tenon still embedded within. A prominent crack is visible over the shank on the right side. This pipe, in all probability, has suffered this catastrophic damage as a result of having fallen in stem down position. The mortise has the broken tenon stuck inside. I did try to wriggle it out with a screw driver, but the broken tenon wouldn’t budge. This will require more invasive technique. The heavy build up of cake in the chamber, dirty plateau rim top and the sorry condition of the stem all point towards a clogged mortise. This will be ascertained once the broken piece is removed from the shank end.The fancy stem has blobs of sticky oils and tars on both the surfaces as well as in between the nooks and crannies at the tenon end. There are significant tooth indentations on both the upper and lower buttons, to the extent that they would need to be rebuild completely. The slot just does not appear correct. It appears to be a orifice, but it is not a perfect round and  there are horizontal extensions on either side. Even this opening is clogged with old oils and tars. The broken tenon end of the stem is jagged and sharp at the place where the tenon has snapped. In my opinion, there is something which is not right about this stem. The quality of the stem is not something which is to be expected on a Connoisseur pipe. THE PROCESS
I began the process of refurbishing this pipe with cleaning the internals of the stem using pipe cleaners with isopropyl alcohol (99.9% pure) and dunking the stem in to “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution developed by my friend Mark Hoover. The solution helps to draw out heavy oxidation to the surface making its removal a breeze, while the minor oxidation is eliminated to a very great extent. I usually dunk stems of 5-7 pipes that are in-line for restoration and this pipe is marked in pastel blue arrow. I generally allow the stems to soak in this solution overnight for it to work its magic.With the stem soaking in the deoxidizer solution, I decided to remove the broken portion of the tenon from the shank. I select a drill bit that was slightly bigger than the tenon airway opening and mount it on my hand held drill. Very gently holding the drill absolutely straight, I give the drill machine a few forward turns. Once the drill bit is firmly embedded in to the broken tenon, I turn the drill machine in reverse. The reverse turns pull the broken end of the tenon out from the mortise. I breathe a sigh of relief as this is a very delicate step and a lot of things can go wrong if not executed with precision and patience. I further work the stummel, reaming the chamber with my PipNet reamer using head sizes 1 to 3. Using my fabricated knife, I further ream out the cake from places where the PipNet reamer could not reach and follow it with sanding the chamber walls with a 220 grit sand paper. I wipe the chamber with isopropyl alcohol and a cotton swab to remove all the carbon dust. This final cleaning of the chamber reveals a minor indentation in the wall opposite the draught hole, a result of over enthusiastic use of pipe cleaners to clean the mortise (marked in yellow semi- circle)!! Though not a major issue now, one will have to be careful with using pipe cleaners in future. Next, I clean the mortise with hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I scrub the external surface of the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dry it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I carefully clean the plateau rim top with a soft brass wire brush to remove the accumulated dirt and debris from the surface. Thereafter, I clean the mortise, plateau rim top and stummel surface with anti-oil dish washing soap on a shank brush and a tooth brush. The entire stummel, including the plateau rim top, cleans up nicely. I set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. The smells from the pipe, though reduced, are still very strong. Close observation of the stummel reveals the culprit to be the now moistened accumulated gunk in the mortise. Using my dental tools, I assiduously pick out and clean the mortise of all the gunk. I also clean the mortise with q-tips and alcohol. The amount of old grime that is scraped out from the mortise itself tells the story. The mortise is now clean and smells fresh.Moving ahead, I now address the crack that is seen on the right side of the shank, extending from the shank end to nearly half distance towards the stummel. Firstly, I clean off all the debris that is lodged in the crack using dental floss. The thin floss cleans the crack of all the dirt without widening it.I follow up this cleaning of the crack by marking the end points and turning points of the crack with a sharp dental pick. These marks help to guide the drill bit when drilling the counter hole. I take care that the drill is just sufficiently deep enough to arrest the further spread of the crack and not a through hole.I fill this crack with a mix of CA superglue and briar dust. To ensure a tight fill I clamp it down with pliers till the mix had cured, which by the way, is instantaneous!! Once the repair has cured for couple of hours, I sand it down with a flat needle file to achieve a rough match with the rest of the stummel surface. I fine tune the match with  220, 400 and 600 grit sand paper.To further stabilize the crack and prevent it from splitting again, I decide to place a band over the shank end. I select a band that is a tad bit smaller than the shank end diameter. When I place this band over the shank end, I realize that the last two letters of the stamping are being masked. I decide on grinding away the excess material from the band with my sanding drum mounted on a hand held rotary tool to a size which while being appropriate to stabilize the crack will not mask the stampings. The process is long and fraught with mistakes… The band has flown out of my hands a few times, since it can not withstand the stress of the sanding drum and is deformed , not to mention the time factor involved. However, through all these difficulties, I have prevailed to shape a band for the shank end. This is the pictorial depiction of the process and the result. Once I am satisfied with the fit, I heat the band with a heat gun in order to expand it and fix it over the shank end. I have avoided gluing it securely in place just in case I may have to revisit the entire process and go for a fresh band. Here is how the band fits over the shank end. Truth be told, I am not very confident that the band would be a success given the fitting of the band over the shank end. I set the stummel aside and decide to replace the tenon on the stem. I have explained in great detail the procedure that I have learnt and followed while replacing the tenon on a Preben Holm # 7 FH pipe. To avoid repetition of the process, I would request all to refer to the write up and other literature on the subject that is available on rebornpipes.

Given below are a series of sequential pictures explaining the procedure. Here I would also like to note that as I had mentioned earlier, the quality of the stem appeared circumspect and this was corroborated while drilling the stem air way to accommodate the new tenon. The plastic or some such low quality of the stem did pose a lot of resistance during the drilling and a straight drill was very difficult. However, my persistence has paid off and I am happy with the replaced tenon. Once the tenon is replaced, I try the fit of the stem in to the mortise. The fit though snug, reveals gaps and the seating of the stem in to the mortise is not flush. No amount of tweaking and minor adjustment by sanding of the tenon can ensure a flush seating. I feel that I have botched up the banding of the shank end and that is what has caused this issue. Here is how the seating appears after all the adjustments and tweaking. At this point in restoration, I shared pictures of this issue and then later in the day had a FaceTime chat with my Guru, Steve. Steve, with his vast experience and having worked on and researched a Connoisseur pipe before, immediately commented that the stem is not the right style for Connoisseur pipes and could be a replacement stem. I have another Connoisseur pipe (which awaits restoration) with a saddle stem in my collection and when the stem of this freehand was compared, it was no where near the quality that was seen on the other saddle stem. The pictures below show the difference in quality of the stem material and finish between the two pipes. Thereafter we discussed the shank band and he suggested to reband the shank end while going in for a completely new stem. Thereafter, we went through my can of spare stems and selected one that would be the best match for this pipe. Here are the pictures of the shortlisted stem. The slightly bent stem with all the calcification is the one that would replace the one that the pipe came with. The shortlisted stem, I am afraid, is not in the best of condition. The tapered slightly bent vulcanite stem is nearly the same length as the replaced one while being very thick at the tenon end. The quality of the re-replacement stem is very good. The stem is heavily oxidized with significant calcium deposition and deep tooth indentations in the bite zone on either surfaces of the stem. A couple of deep chips are seen along the seam on either sides as well as on the lower and upper surfaces of the stem. The button surfaces on either side has bite marks and the edges are equally damaged and deformed. The tenon and the horizontal slot shows heavy accumulation of oils, tars and gunk. All in all, the refurbishing and shaping of this stem presents a ton of effort and time.I begin the refurbishing and reshaping of the stem by first cleaning the stem, both internally and externally. With my fabricated knife and a paper cutter, I remove the entire calcium sediments from the bite zone. Using a dental tool, I dislodge all the dried oils and tars from the tenon and slot end. I clean the stem internals with pipe cleaners and shank brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I sand the entire stem surface with a folded piece of 150 grit sand paper to remove some oxidation as well as to even out some tooth chatter from the bite zone. Once the initial cleaning is done, I move ahead for shaping/sizing the stem. The tenon is too thick for the mortise and that is my start point. I mount a sanding drum on to my hand held rotary tool and sand the tenon till I achieve a rough fit in to the mortise. During the entire process, I frequently check the progress being made as I do not want to sand too much material from the tenon, making for a loose fit.I fine tune the fit of the tenon in to the mortise by hand sanding with flat head needle file and 180 grit followed by a 220 grit sand paper. The tenon attachment with the stem is shaped with a triangular needle file. I check the seating of the stem in to the mortise after I remove the shank band. The stem fit is nice and snug. Before I move to the final fit and shaping of the stem, I decide to reband the shank end. This time I select a band that was a snug fit as against a size smaller as I have done earlier. To reduce the thickness of the band, this time I manually sand it over a 150 grit sand paper instead of using my rotary tool and a sanding drum. It does take a long time, but the end result is much better. The last letter “R” has been masked, but I shall deal with it later (will I…?). I still have not glued the band in place, just to be on the safer side!!Now with the band in place, I move ahead with shaping and aligning the stem. The first thing that I proceed to do is to shave of the excess meat from the shoulders at the tenon end. Readers, when I say excess, please be aware that the word excess does not convey the quantum of excess… It  was hell of a lot of material to shave off!! I mount a 150 grit sanding drum on to the rotary tool and go to town sanding off the material from the shoulders of the stem. Once I have achieved a rough match, I use a flat head needle file to further match the fit. I progress to manual sanding with a 180 grit sand paper to fine tune the match. This is how the stem profile matches with the shank end of the stummel…not quite there but getting close. I feel that the mid region of the stem needs to be trimmed a bit and do so with a flat head needle file and a 180 grit sand paper. Here is where I have reached at this stage. Truth be told, eye balling the shape is not the easiest way to achieve the exact shape since I am always seeing it, shaping it and matching it. It’s something akin to optical illusion that I am experiencing. There is a bit of overhang at the shoulders of the stem and I need to shave off some more material from the area above it. Also a slight gap is seen at the lower end and on the left side of the stem that needs to be addressed. I decide to take a break from all the sanding of the stem and move on to shaping the stem to match the profile of the stummel. I insert a pipe cleaner through the stem’s air way to prevent it from collapsing once the stem is heated. I first straightened the stem by heating it with a heat gun. To impart the requisite bend, I try to adopt the technique that my friend, Dal Stanton of PipeSteward fame, uses and that is to draw a diagram marked with the plane of the stummel rim top, a parallel plane that is required, the present profile of the stem and thereafter, the exact place and shape of the bend that is needed. Well, it is an attempt that I made, but ended up eye balling the exact bend to be imparted. I heat the stem with my heat gun till the vulcanite becomes pliable and gives it the necessary bend. I hold it in place till the stem had cooled down a bit and thereafter, hold the stem under cold water for the bend to set. The next issue that is addressed is of the stem repairs. I insert a triangle shaped index card covered in transparent tape in to the slot. The tape prevents the mix of superglue and charcoal from sticking to the index card. I mix superglue and activated charcoal powder and generously apply it over the bite zone, including over the button. I also fill the couple of deep chips along the seam on either sides as well as on the lower and upper surfaces of the stem with the charcoal mix and set it aside to cure. Once the mix has cured, I remove the index card from the slot. While the stem fill is set aside to cure, I polish the stummel with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 pads. This time around, I do not repeat the mistake of polishing the plateau rim top as I had done with the PH # 3 earlier! I wipe the surface with a soft cloth at the end of the micromesh cycle. The stummel looks amazing with a deep shine and beautiful straight grains popping over the stummel surface. I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar. I rub this balm deep in to the nooks and crannies of the plateau rim top surface with my fingers and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the dark brown hues of the grain contrasting with the rest of the stummel surface. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. The appearance of the stummel at this stage motivates me further to complete this project at the earliest. I set the stummel aside and all that remains was to shape, align and polish the stem! Now motivated with the appearance of the stummel, I turn my attention to the stem repair. The fills have cured nicely and I move ahead and began the process of filing and shaping the button end with a flat head needle file. At this stage, I get in touch with Steve on Face Time and discuss the progress on the stem. He suggests that a slightly sharper bend to the stem from near the bite zone would accentuate the shape and flow of the shank with that of the stem. He also suggests that the profile of the stem near the shoulder and mid region needs to be more slender. So, it is back to heating the end of the stem with the heat gun and giving it the desired bend, of course, eyeballing it to the desired shape!As discussed with Steve, with a flat needle file, I shave off some more vulcanite from the shoulder and the mid region of the stem. I further sand the stem with 220, 320, 400, 600, 800 grit sand papers and finally with 0000 grade steel wool. I wipe the stem with a cotton pad dipped in alcohol to remove the resultant dust and rub some extra virgin olive oil onto the stem and set it aside to be absorbed.I polish the stem with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I rub a little extra virgin olive oil in to the stem at the end of the micromesh pads polishing cycle. I complete the polishing regime of the stem by rubbing a small quantity of Extra Fine Stem polish developed by my friend Mark Hoover, and giving it a final polish with a soft cotton cloth. The stem is now nice, smooth and shiny.To apply the finishing touches, I first mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and apply a coat of Blue Diamond to the stummel and the stem to polish out the minor scratches. Boy, am I glad to finally have reached the home run stretch to complete this project!! I shared these images with Steve for his comment. He suggested that the shoulder overhang needs to be reduced and under belly to be straightened out more.Well, here I was back with a flat needle file and 220 grit sand papers as against carnauba wax and rotary tool!! I again diligently worked on these issues, frequently checking for progress being made. Once I am satisfied that the shoulder overhangs and under belly issues have been resolved, I check the seating of the stem in to the mortise. The seating is canted backwards. I address this issue by heating the tenon and slightly pushing it upwards (that is, in the opposite direction). I check the seating and am quite pleased by the overall appearance of the stem and its seating. Thereafter, I go through the entire regime of sanding and polishing as explained above. At the end of the micromesh pads, I complete the polishing regime of the stem by rubbing a small quantity of Extra Fine Stem polish developed by my friend Mark Hoover, and giving it a final polish with a soft cotton cloth. The stem is now nice, smooth and shiny. With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of carnauba wax to the stummel and stem and continue to work on it till the complete coat of wax is polished out. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. I finish the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine further. The finished pipe is shown below. P.S. – This project was more tedious than I had anticipated, mostly because of my own faults and errors in judgement.  But then, isn’t this the fun part of being of the learning curve? I shall be avoiding the following in my future restorations:

(a) Using a band that is a tad smaller then the shank end diameter. I would rather use a band that has a snug and perfect fit over the shank end.

(b) Using a rotary tool with a sanding drum to get the band to the desired size. It’s better, safer and precise to manually sand the band on a sand paper.

(c) Clamping the shank end after filling a crack. I am not sure, but I think that the clamping down may have caused a slight deformation that had caused me such grief with the seating of the stem.

(d) Less reliance on “eye balling” for sizing and shaping…need to get on with hunting for a “PIMO TENON TURNING TOOL” and a set of “VERNIER CALIPERS”.

I am really fortunate to be in the process of learning the nuances of pipe restoration and cannot thank Steve enough for his support and guidance.

Thanks for your patience and looking forward to input about the write up. Cheers…

Fashioning a Churchwarden from a Blasted French Dr. Geo Deposée Bowl


Blog by Dal Stanton

This is the second commissioning project for the pipe man, clam man, Jon, from South Florida.  His first commissioning (see: A Striking Savinelli Fiammata 2 Briar Calabash for a Clam Man Pipe Man) turned out to be a diamond in the rough!  He had commissioned this pipe not from the usual perusal of my online ‘Help Me!’ baskets in the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection, but he had visited us here in Sofia, Bulgaria, along with a team of folks from his church.  During this visit, Jon went through the boxes and baskets of the inventory and found the Savinelli Fiammata and pulled him aside to commission.  During this visit, Jon also saw my personal collection of Churchwardens and offered to give one of them a new home!  In the end, Jon also commissioned a CW project which also benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria, our work here in Bulgaria working among women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  This was also important to Jon, who as a father, had brought his daughter with him to Bulgaria.  My goal in fashioning Churchwardens from bowls that were either orphaned or in their current states had little hope of being put in service again.  I liken it to Santa’s mythical island of misfit toys.  Repurposed bowls mounted on CW stems can rise from ash heap, as it were, to live and serve again.  I sent Jon a picture of different bowls to see which would speak to him as his new Churchwarden.  He had told me he preferred a bent shank – here were the candidates with differing characteristics.Our emailing back and forth between South Florida and Bulgaria to identify the bowl speaking Jon’s name, resulted in the French Blasted Dr. Geo Deposée, the second pipe pictured above.  I acquired the Dr. Geo during one of our summer vacations on a pipe picking expedition to the Bulgarian coastal city of Burgas on the Black Sea.  I found the ‘Burgas Lot of 9’, at a secondhand shop on the main walking street.  The Dr. Geo is at the end of the line of 7 pipes pictured below which were part of the haul – 2 others were added to these that were eventually posted in the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection from which pipe men and women can choose and commission.The Dr. Geo I acquired I called a Prince shape.  I knew nothing about a Dr. Geo line, but what attracted me to the pipe was the blasted bowl – it was tired and dull, but had potential, though the pipe itself was unimpressive and attracted no attention when it had its time in the Dreamers collection.With the bowl now on my worktable to transform into a Churchwarden, I found some information online about the origins of Dr. Geo Deposée.  Pipephil.eu’s panel gave some information confirming that it was of French origins from the Gichard & Cie Company.Pipedia adds some additional information in its list of French made brands.  It lists that Dr. Geo was produced in the 1940s from Guichard & Cie, and later sold by M. Marmet Regge, with Ebonite stems.  Interesting to me is that my guess is that The Dr. Geo I’m looking at was from the later, M. Marment Regge ownership with the specific reference to the use of Ebonite stems.  I have another Dr. Geo in my Dreamers inventory from another Lot I purchased from France, it has a horn stem, which most likely places it in the earlier dating when rubber was in short supply during WW2.  The listing for Marmet in Pipedia, called M. Marmet-Regge, also sold the Dr. Geo brand which were produced in Saint-Claude. The meaning of the French, “Deposée”, attached to Dr. Geo is a bit cryptic, at least to one who is relegated to Google Translate to make sense of the meaning.  The direct primary English translation provided is “deposited” which is a past tense rendering.  Looking at other definitions provided by Google Translate, the possible meaning could be tied to the idea that “Dr. Geo” attests to or is behind the goodness of this pipe brand like Dr. Grabow!  It seemed like I was grasping at straws until I see the ‘info link’ on the Dr. Geo panel provided by the Pipephil.  The link goes to a French site called  ‘Ces pipes pas comme les autres’ (These pipes like no other) to a May 2006 listing selling ‘Two Doctors’ pipes with information about each.  A ‘Dr. Geo’ is described as one of the doctors with the possible clue pointing to a rational for the sub-name of ‘Deposée’:

Many pipe brands have earned the doctoral title. This makes smokers smile during these times of heightened hunting.

During the post-war years this title was more a guarantee of seriousness or of a search for perfection rather than the sign of a healthy practice. We did not allow ourselves to be disturbed by medical considerations. Everyone knew that smoking was not very healthy and took responsibility. But that has changed a lot today with the new globalized MacCarthyism.

José Manuel Lopes (1) counts seventeen brands of pipes that bear the famous title! I would like to introduce you to an 18th: Dr Arthur recognizable by his “A” circled on the pipe. No further information on this doctor there Maybe you thought I was going to present you with a leather-wrapped pipe, stamped with the most famous of these doctors? It would be bad to know me. But fear not: in this section you will not escape the famous Franco-English doctor whom I have already mentioned in the section of Cavalier pipes.

The pipes of Dr Géo – French brand of Gichard & Cie which is no longer produced – do not have an exceptional notoriety but sufficient to be cited here and there.

(1) José Manuel Lopes (President of Pipe Club of Portugal), Pipes, Artisans and Trademarks. Quimera Editores, 2005

The listing shows a picture of each Doctor cited with dimensions and a pricing.  I find interesting the dismissive gesture for the listing for the Dr. Geo: “…no longer produced – do not have an exceptional notoriety but sufficient to be cited here and there”.  My hope is to change the demeanor of the Dr. Geo Blasted Prince bowl on my worktable transforming him into a Churchwarden. Churchwardens as a classic pipe shape are unique among pipes.  Bill Burney’s description of Churchwardens on his great Pipedia shapes page, describes why they are unique among pipes:Working on my Man Cave 10th floor balcony, I take a few more pictures to get a closer look at the Doctor Geo Prince bowl, which is essentially an Apple shape without the Prince stem – hmmm, an exception to the CW stem principle? The blasted finish is nice – the smooth 3-D picture of the bowl’s grain structure is nice. The finish on the stummel appears to be a very dark brown.  There are minuscule red flecks visible through the cloudiness of the old finish.  At this point, my thinking is to refresh the finish seeking to apply the ‘Dunhill’ finish that I learned from fellow-restorer and rebornpipes contributor, Paresh.  First, after applying all the paces in cleaning the stummel, I’ll assess the condition of the stummel and how to proceed.  Following this, fashioning the CW stem will come.  To start, the Dr. Geo chamber is moderately caked. To address this, I employ the Pipnet Reaming Kit using only the smallest of the 4 blade heads available in the kit.  I follow by scraping the chamber walls with the Savinelli Fitsall Tool and complete the carbon cake removal by sanding the chamber walls with 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen. After wiping the chamber with a cotton pad to remove the carbon dust, an inspection reveals a healthy chamber.Transitioning to cleaning the exterior surface, using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap, I go to work using a cotton pad and a bristled toothbrush. The brass bristled brush also works on the rim.Next, I take the bowl to the kitchen sink to continue the cleaning with shank brushes and anti-oil liquid dishwashing soap to clean the internal mortise and airway.  After giving the bowl a thorough rinsing with warm water, I transfer it back to the worktable.Through the cleaning, the finish has started to come off.  This is an indicator that a fresh start is needed. The finish is old and unstable.I decide to remove the old finish to get to the fresh briar beneath.  Isopropyl 95% is the first agent I try scrubbing the blasted finish with a cotton pad.  It is not effective.Transition next to using acetone is much more effect.  The cotton pad is evidence of the old stain which appears black and purple.  I decide to put the entire stummel into an acetone soak to fully remove the finish.  I leave it in the soak for a few hours. After a couple hours the jar containing the stummel soaking in acetone is clouded with leeched finish.  After taking the stummel out, I use a cotton pad to continue rubbing the finish off as well as employing a little steel wool. The light spots that appeared first are areas that were filled, at least partially, with wood putty which have weakened due to the cleaning.  I use a sharp dental probe to test the fills and they are solid. With the rough texture of the blasted surface, these areas will not be visible after applying new dye to the stummel. Before doing more work on the stummel, I switch the focus to fashioning the CW stem.  The first thing I do is to bring out the electronic caliper and measure the diameter of the mortise which gives me the target size of the tenon that needs to be shaped. This measurement is 7.81mm.  I add about 40mm to this to form my ‘fat target’ – the size I’ll cut the tenon and then follow by sanding to form a customized fit to the mortise.  The fat target is about 8.20mm. Next, with the drill bit provided by the PIMO Tenon Turning Tool, I predrill the airway to accommodate the guide pin of the TTT. Next, after mounting the PIMO tool on the hand drill, I do a test cut on the raw tenon of the precast CW stem and measure it – 8.01mm on the button. Whoops – that is 20mm less than I was aiming for as the ‘fat target’ but I decide to cut the tenon at this size and then sand.  This gives less margin of error, but I’m not too concerned. Keeping the same adjustment of the PIMO tool, I continue the test cutting to form a I have made several Churchwardens and one of the mistakes I have learned is to cut the tenon all the way through the precast uneven molding to create a true stem facing.  Not to do this will leave what appears to be shouldering over the edge of the stem facing.  The picture below shows a sharp 45-degree angle which is the goal.Next, using 240 sanding paper, I sand the newly cut tenon to bring it closer to the target mortise size – 7.81mm.  The rough end of the precast tenon is flattened and smoothed using the flat needle file.After a short time of sanding and fitting, the tenon seats into the mortise.Looking closer, there is a small gapping on the right side which I can close during the fine-tuning sanding.What is also the case is that there is a small overhang of the shank over the seated stem.  This will need to be sanded so that the transition between stummel and stem is smooth.I use masking tape to protect the nomenclature as well as to give a sanding boundary around the shank.I start the sanding on the shank/stem transition.  What is helpful shown in the picture below is that it shows what the ‘low-spot’ is in the pre-cast stem in the darker area passed over by the sanding indicating where sanding continues to be needed. As often is the case with the pre-cast CW stems I purchase, the shank facing along the casting seam has a dimple.  This is a pain because these dimples simply mean more sanding required at those points.Progression with the dimple – I don’t want to take off more than needed.  Note, the darkened area has disappeared on the stem indicating that the sanding paper is making seamless contact between shank and stem.With the shank/stem transition sanding completed, I move to sanding the entire pre-cast CW stem.  To start, I use a coarse 120 grade paper to do the initial sanding.  The casting seams along both sides of the stem need to be erased.  The following picture again shows the differences in the surface of the pre-cast stem.  The pre-cast stem has ripples – unevenness, even though it is new.  The dark stretch below shows a ‘valley’ in the rippling that means I sand more there to bring the edges of the valley flush with the valley floor.  The following pictures show the progression in the 120 sanding.With the CW stem smoothed after the 120 grade sanding, I switch to fine-tuning the button.  As with the stem, the button is rough. The bit needs filing to flatten it and to bring more definition to the button edges.  The slot facing on these CW stems is curved and the upper button extends out a bit more than the lower. This helps in identifying the up/down orientation of the stem.  The pictures show the progression with upper and lower bit.  Upper first:Lower :After the main filing is completed, 240 grade paper is employed to fine-tune the bit and button as well as to sand the entire stem after the 120 sanding.  Upper and lower first: Next, to continue the smoothing, 600 grade paper is used to wet sand the entire stem.  This is followed by applying 000 grade steel wool.A closeup of the button area shows the nice progression!Next, the full regimen of 9 micromesh pads is applied from 1500 to 12000. Between each set of 3 pads, Obsidian Oil is applied to condition and protect the vulcanite from future oxidation.  I only show one orbital view and a couple closeups of the finished process focusing on the upper and lower bit. With the CW stem’s sanding completed, its time to bend the stem.  The general principle I follow in stem bending is that the mouthpiece at the end of the stem, should be generally on the same horizontal plane as the rim.  It’s helpful for me to draw templates to visualize the finished stem.Where the original stem template starts with and estimation of where the bend should take place.I use the hot air gun to focus the heat on the lower side of the stem first – the thicker part.  I want it to become supple before heating the upper, thinner area of the stem which heats faster and wants to be the first place the bend begins.  I want the bend to start in the thicker part of the stem then followed by the thinner.As the stem warms over the hot air gun, I gently coax the bend as the stem softens.  After bending to a point that looks good, I bring the stem to the template holding it there for some minutes for the orientation to take hold.  I then take the stem to the kitchen sink and run cool water over it to solidify the bend.  The first try works well.  I like the look and feel of the pipe in my hand.With the stem sanding and bending completed, focus is again transitioned to the Dr. Geo blasted bowl.  Before moving to the staining process, the stummel needs some preparatory work.  One of the things I really like about working with a combination of blasted and smooth briar surfaces is the contrast that this produces.  I love to see both presentations of the grain – the smooth 2-D viewpoint as well as the rough, blasted 3-D viewpoint of the grain.  This bowl provides an opportunity for the striking contrasting. The rim is angled in a beveled slope from the external rim’s edge downward toward the chamber to the internal rim’s edge.  This rim, I believe, will look great after it is sanded to bring out the smooth briar contrast.The other sanding will bring out smooth grain over the nomenclature panel on the left shank flank as well as the newly sanded area transitioning to the stem.  To begin, 240 grade paper is used on these smooth briar patches followed by dry sanding with 600 grade paper. The full regimen of 9 micromesh pads, from 1500 to 12000, is applied to the smooth briar patches next.I’m loving what I’m seeing!  That grain contrast is great.  In the second picture, the rough area from the old fill is still visible and looks shaky, but it should disappear as it blends with the surrounding briar after the staining process.The staining process is next.  I assemble my desktop staining module with all the component parts.  I recently used the method I learned from my fellow restorer from India, Paresh, of creating the rich Dunhill look.  With this bowl being originally darker, I thought that this approach would be good.  It starts with an undercoat of Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye that is followed with the washing with red dye. After wiping the bowl with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to clean it, I warm it with the hot air gun to open the briar helping it to be more receptive to the dye which is applied using a folded over pipe cleaner.  Using the pipe cleaner, I paint sections of the bowl with the Dark Brown Dye and then immediately ‘flame’ it with a lit candle.  This combusts the aniline dye burning away the alcohol leaving the dye pigment embedded in the briar.  After applying the dye, the stummel is set aside for several hours – through the night, for the dye to ‘rest’ and settle in.  This helps the dye to take hold in the briar.The next morning, it’s time to ‘unwrap’ the flamed stummel.  To do this, a felt cloth buffing pad is mounted onto the Dremel set at the slowest speed, and Tripoli compound is applied to help remove the crusted shell exposing the dyed briar beneath.After the Tripoli compound removes the flamed crust, I wipe the bowl to rid it of the compound dust.  When this is completed, I apply a wash of red overcoat to the briar surface and lightly wipe it with a cotton cloth.  I apply and wipe until I’m satisfied with the hue.  I like what I see.  The rich red tones give a depth to the blasted finish.Next, since it’s easier to handle the stem and stummel separately, after mounting a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel set at about 40% full power, Blue Diamond compound is applied to the long Churchwarden stem and Dr. Geo bowl.  One more step to guard against dye leeching.  Often, bowls that have been newly stained, dye will come off on the steward’s hand the first times the bowl is heated up and put into service. To emulate this, I heat the bowl with the hot air gun and then wipe it with a cotton cloth to pick up leeched dye.  Hopefully, this will keep the bowl from leeching later!I complete the fashioning of the Dr. Geo Churchwarden by giving the reunited stem and bowl a vigorous hand buffing bringing out the shine.  I’m very pleased with the results of the ‘Dunhill’ approach to finishing the bowl that I learned from Paresh.  The Dr. Geo Prince bowl serves well mounted on a long, flowing Churchwarden stem. The contrasting with the smooth and blasted briar surfaces also work very nicely. This was Jon’s second commissioned pipe and he will have the first opportunity to claim this French Dr. Geo Churchwarden from The Pipe Steward Store benefitting the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

A New Beginning for Jennifer’s Dad’s Karl Erik Knute of Denmark Freehand


Blog by Steve Laug

I decided to change things up a bit and work on another of Jennifer’s Dad’s pipes. For the next pipe from the estate of George Rex Leghorn I have chosen a nicely shaped Knute of Denmark Freehand. You may not have read about this estate before, so I will retell the story. I received an email from Jennifer who is a little older than my 64+ (65 now – sheesh, I forget how old I am) years about whether I would be interested in her Dad’s pipes. My brother Jeff and I have been picking up a few estates here and there, so I was interested. Here is the catch – she did not want to sell them to me but to give them to me to clean up, restore and resell. The only requirement she had was that we give a portion of the sales of the pipes to a charity serving women and children. We talked about the organization I work for that deals with trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and their children and she decided that would be a great way to carry on the charitable aspect of her Dad’s character. With some great conversation back and forth she sent the pipes to Jeff and he started the cleanup process on them. Once he had finished cleaning them all he sent them to me to do my work on them.

The Knute Freehand pipe with plateau on the rim top and shank end is stamped on the left side of the shank Knute of Denmark. The bowl had nice grain on the sides and cross grain on the front and back and rugged plateau on the rim top and shank end. The finish is very dirty making it hard to see beyond that to the nice grain underneath that. There was a thick cake in the bowl and it had overflowed with lava onto the inward beveled rim top. It was a dirty and tired looking old pipe. The stem was badly oxidized and there were George’s usual tooth marks and chatter on both sides just ahead of the button. The button was also damaged. The other issue with the stem is that it did not really fit the pipe. The tenon was a bit large and I just had a feeling it was the wrong stem. The pipe had been sitting in boxes for a lot of years and it was time to move ahead with the restoration. Jennifer took photos of the pipes she was sending. I have included the two photos of this pipe below.When the box arrived from Jennifer, Jeff opened it and took photos of each pipe before he started his cleanup work on them. This Knute Freehand was a nicely shaped pipe and we have both worked on quite a few Knute pipe. This was going to be an interesting restoration. Knute pipe are well made and I have found that they not mentioned much in the online pipe communities that I frequent. I enjoy working on them. The shape on the Knute seems to really capture the flow of the grain on the briar. The briar appeared to be in good condition underneath the grime. The finish looked intact under the grime and oils on the bowl sides from George’s hands. The bowl had a thick cake that had hardened with time. The lava overflow on the rim top filled in much of the plateau. It was very thick but it could very well have protected the rim from damage. We won’t know what is under it until Jeff had cleaned it off. The stem was oxidized and also had some calcification on the surface. There were deep tooth marks on both sides just ahead of the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started working on it. I include those below. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava build up on the plateau rim top and dust and grime in the shank end as well. It was thick and hard but hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage. The lava coat looks horrible but it points to a well-used, favourite smoking pipe. George must have enjoyed this old timer a lot judging from the condition of the pipe. Jeff took a photo of the side 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 was also a deep gouge in the heel on the right side. It is a dirty pipe but it has a stunning grain around the bowl sides and cross grain on the front and back.Jeff took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank. It is very clear and readable. It reads Knute of Denmark.Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the scratching, oxidation and tooth marks on the stem surface. The tooth marks are quite deep on both sides of the stem. I turned to Pipedia to refresh my memory regarding the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Knute). I had recollections that the pipe was made by Karl Erik Ottendahl as one of his sub brands so I wanted to confirm that. I quote from that article below:

Knute of Denmark pipes are said to be made by Karl Erik, see his listing herein.

Karl Erik Ottendahl was born in Aalborg in 1942, just a few miles from the very northernmost tip of Denmark. He began his career as a Lithographer as an apprentice in the craft at the age of 16. While working as an apprentice he began hand carving pipes as a hobby and to give as gifts to his more senior colleagues. He began his career making pipes for various labels in Denmark and the United States. Often he would make the higher grade pipes for a well known brand that was known for their midrange or low end pieces such as Wally Frank. While doing this he administered a factory of fifteen craftsmen. During this period he did make of some of his own handmade pipes, but he felt that the responsibility of managing the factory did not give him the freedom he wished he had.

Other brands confirmed to be from Karl Erik are: Champ of Denmark, HTL, Jobey Dansk, Knute, Golden Danish, Lars of Denmark, Larsen & Stigart (Copenhagen pipe shop), Shelburne, Sven Eghold and Wenhall (for Wenhall Pipes, New York), some Ben Wade and pipes marked IS and IIS.

I could start my restoration of this beautiful freehand with the knowledge that I was dealing with a Karl Erik Ottendahl made freehand. But before I get on to restoring the pipe I thought I would once again include the tribute that Jennifer wrote to her Dad for the blog. She also sent some photos and an article that her Dad wrote for Jeff and me to be able to get a feel for him. I have included those below. Note in each of them that he is holding a pipe in his left hand. I asked her to also send me an email with a brief tribute to her Dad. Here is her tribute from an email to me.

Steve, I want to thank you again for accepting my dad’s pipes.  They were so much a part of my dad’s life that I could not simply discard them. But as his daughter, I was not about to take up smoking them either. *laughing* I think my dad would like knowing that they will bring pleasure to others.  I know that I do.

I’m not sure what to say about his pipes. I always remember Daddy smoking pipes and cigars.

First a bit about my dad. Though my father, George Rex Leghorn, was American (growing up in Alaska), he managed to join the Canadian Army at the beginning of WWII, but in doing so lost his American citizenship.  He was fortunate to meet a Canadian recruiting officer who told him the alphabet began with “A” and ended with “Zed” not “Zee”, and also told him to say that he was born in a specific town that had all its records destroyed in a fire.  When the US joined the war my dad, and thousands of other Americans who had made the same choice*(see the link below for the article), were given the opportunity to transfer to the US military, and regain their citizenship.

After WWII, my dad, earned his degree at the University of California Berkeley and became a metallurgist. There is even a bit about him on the internet.

He loved taking the family out for a drive, and he smoked his cigars on those trips. (As a child, those were troubling times for my stomach.)

I most remember my father relaxing in his favorite chair with a science fiction book in one hand and a pipe in the other… Sir Walter Raleigh being his favorite tobacco… and the pipes themselves remind me of him in that contented way.  If I interrupted his repose, he’d look up, with a smile on his face, to answer me.

It seemed he smoked his Briarwood pipes the most, though he had others.  At the time, it was only the Briarwood I knew by name because of its distinctive rough shaped bowl.  And it was the Anderson Free Hand Burl Briar, made in Israel, which I chose for his birthday one year, because I thought he might like that particular texture in his hand.

At least two of his pipes, he inherited from his son-in-law, Joe Marino, a retired medical laboratory researcher (my sister Lesley’s late husband)… the long stemmed Jarl (made in Denmark), and the large, white-bowled, Sherlock Holmes style pipe.  I believe Joe had others that went to my dad, but Lesley was only sure about those two.

The Buescher, corncob pipe my older sister Lesley bought for Daddy while on one of her travels around the States.

A note on the spelling of my sister’s name…

My dad met my mother, Regina, during WWII and they married in Omagh, Ireland.  My mother was English and in the military herself.  The English spelling of Lesley is feminine, and Leslie masculine, in the UK… just the opposite of here in the United States.  I guess my mom won out when it came to the spelling of the name…

This pipe was a real mess 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 when I got it. The rim top looked much better but had scratches and nicks in the surface and some darkening on the inner and outer edges. The silver band was oxidized and tarnished. Jeff had cleaned the internals and scrubbed the exterior of the stem and soaked them in Before & After Deoxidizer bath to remove the oxidation. The stem looked very good other than the deep tooth marks in the surface. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I took photos of the pipe before I started my part of the restoration. I was so pumped to get started on this Karl Erik made Knute that I totally forgot to take photos of what it looked like when it arrived.

I jumped in and addressed the gouge in the briar on the heel of the pipe. I filled it with briar dust and super glue. Once it cured I sanded it smooth with 220 and 400 grit sandpaper. I restained the sanded spot and the light spots around the rim and shank end of the bowl with a Maple stain pen to match the colour of the bowl and shank. I polished the bowl and the high spots on the plateau rim with micromesh sanding pads. I wet 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 and the plateau 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 examined the diameter of the tenon and the mortise. The tenon was not the right length for the mortise. It was too short and stubby. The way that the tenon was turned also did not allow the stem to seat correctly against the plateau shank end. I went through my can of stems and found one that was the perfect fit. The length and diameter of the tenon was correct and the way the stem sat against the shank end was perfect. The length of the stem also worked better with the look of the pipe. The stem was bent a bit too much but that is easily corrected.  I put a pipe cleaner in the stem to keep the airway from collapsing or kinking. I heated the stem slowly and carefully with a candle until the vulcanite was pliable and then straightened out the bend to match the flow of the rim top of the pipe.I used running water to cool the stem and set the new bend. I sanded the stem to remove the oxidation that was on the surface with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper and a piece of 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. At this point the stem is looking better and I don’t have to deal with George’s tooth marks. I rubbed the stem down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish and a cotton pad to remove remnants of oxidation and to further blend in the sanding. The stem was showing some promise at this point in the process.  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 finished by wiping it down with Briarville’s No Oxy Oil and buffing it to a shine. I always look forward to this part of the restoration when all the pieces are put back together. I put the pipe back together and buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond 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. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the grain popping, the plateau on the rim and shank end contrasting well and finally the newly fitted black vulcanite stem almost glowing. This Karl Erik made Knute Freehand is beautiful and feels great in my hand. It is one that could be clenched and smoked while doing other things as it is very light weight and well balanced. It must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it from Jennifer. There should be a lot of life left in this Knute Freehand. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This is one that will go on the rebornpipes online store shortly. If you want to carry on the pipe trust of George Rex Leghorn let me know. Thank you Jennifer for trusting us with his pipes. 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!

Finally Getting to Finish a Churchwarden Stem for a Chimera Bowl that Alex gave me.


Blog by Steve Laug

Over a year ago Alex gave me a second bowl by Tedd Weitzman that needed a stem. I recall that when he passed it to me that he said that Tedd had given the bowl to him to finish some time. It was one of Tedd’s early pipes and one that he had never finished. Now the bowl had made its way with Alex from Atlanta, Georgia to Vancouver, BC he moved here. As we spoke about it over the past months Alex thought that maybe it would make a good churchwarden. I figured that it would but I did not have a stem that would work for that at the moment so it went in the box of pipes that I have to work on for Alex.

Sunday evening I took the bowl out of the bowl and had a look at it. I turned it over in my hands several times and studied it. It is an interesting bowl and not a shape that I have a ready name for. Alex has said that it was made around the same time as the Chimera pipe that I had worked on for him previously (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/07/06/adding-some-length-to-a-chimara-blowfish/). Tedd Weitzman commented on the previous pipe and remembered it well. The Blowfish pipe that I wrote about in the above blog was stamped Chimera while this one bore no stamping. It was an unmarked bowl so I was going with Alex’s memory about it. The way that the pipe was designed it worked as a sitter without a stem. Hopefully it would do the same with the new stem I was going to fashion for it. There was some rim darkening on the back side of the rim top and a small nick on the front edge. The mortise was drilled in the peak of the shank end that was almost a tortoise shell shape. Describing it is a bit of a challenge but this might work. If you can imagine a tortoise of turtle shell – the mortise came out where the head and neck would have extended. There was some damage around the thin edges of the shank end and some wear there as well. Here are some photos of the bowl. Tedd and I had another common friend besides Alex – John Offerdahl. I could not immediately get a hold of Alex this morning so I sent a quick message to John. For the life of me I could not remember Tedd’s name or the brand of the pipe that I had done previously. When it was finished Alex had me send it to John who passed it back to Tedd… the circle closes. John responded promptly this morning that the pipe was definitely on that was made by Tedd. It was made during the time that he and Tedd had made pipes under the Chimera name around 2010.

I remembered that the Chimera was a creature from Greek mythology that was often depicted as a creature that was a hybrid. It often was shown as having the head of a lion and a got and a snake’s head at the end of the tail. Throughout time it has been used to mean any fictional creature composed of multiple different animals. Knowing John’s love of literature I was pretty sure that this is what was in his mind when he came up with the brand name for the pipes.

One of the reasons for me taking the pipe out of the box on Sunday evening was that I had received a stem that my brother Jeff had picked up at an auction on Friday. It was an older KBB stem probably from a Yello-Bole. The threads on the screw in tenon were worn and thus the tenon was really not usable. There was a worn and damaged propeller logo on the stem top that was off centre. I think that the stem was a replacement and that the logo was an afterthought. Here is what the stem looked like after I had wiped off the sticky spots and spilled glue that was on the surface. There were some tooth marks and chatter on the button end and the airway and slot were filled with debris and tars. The curve of the stem was perfect and the straight button end worked far better for me than a flared or fishtail end.I heated the metal tenon with the flame of a lighter and softened the glue holding it in the stem. I unscrewed it from the stem with a pair of pliers and wiped down the end of the stem. I faced the stem end on a topping board to make it smooth and square and used my Dremel and sanding drum to give the end a slight taper so that it would fit in the mortise of the bowl. I took a few photos of the stem in place – very roughly with more work to do but you can see the direction I was heading with this one. Yesterday I took my wife and two of my daughters down to Bellingham, Washington to do a bit of shopping with their Christmas money. The mall is great because it has a large circular waiting area that is comfortable and well lit so I planned ahead for my wait. I took the stem and bowl with me along with several folded pieces of 220 grit sandpaper. The girls had a great time shopping and I had a nice coffee and worked on the fit of the stem to the shank. We both had a great day. In the photos that follow you can see the conical shape of the tenon end of the shank. It fits snugly in the shank. This morning I worked on polishing out the remaining oxidation with 220 grit and 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I like the overall look of the stem. I took photos of the stem after sanding it.I rubbed the stem down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish. I have a few tins of this laying around so I am trying to use them up. I have found it is a great pre-polish for my use as it shows me areas that I need to work on with the micromesh sanding pads.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I finished by rubbing the stem down with some “No Oxy Oil” to protect the vulcanite. I am experimenting with the product from Briarville and tracking how it works so I can write a review of it. I cleaned up the darkening on the back side of the rim top and the nick on the front edge with 220 grit and 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I also worked over the areas around the mortise that had nicks and damaged spots with the sandpaper. I was able to smooth them out using the same papers. I polished the rim top and shank end with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down with a damp cloth after each pad. I restained the sanded areas with an Oak stain pen to blend it into the rest of the finish.I rubbed the bowl and rim down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it 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 the pipe with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I really like watching the Balm do its magic and bring the briar alive. This interestingly shaped Chimera Bowl has some really beautiful grain all around the bowl and shank. The grain really is quite stunning. The bowl while uniquely shaped is very symmetrical. The placement of the mortise at the peak of the shank would have made fitting a stem difficult. I can see why it was left stemless and unmarked. I decided to go with a military style mount that would fit well without changing the shape of the shank end. The long, bent Churchwarden vulcanite stem is high quality and shined up well. I buffed the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond polish to raise the shine on the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 11 inches, Height: 2 ¾ inches, Outside Diameter: 1 ½ inches, Diameter of the chamber: ¾ inch. This uniquely shaped briar bowl and long stem work together to make a Churchwarden that feels great in the hand. Its length makes it a perfect pipe for sitting and reading a good book or watching a movie. It is light in weight which also adds to the charm. It was a pleasant one to work on and a definite change of pace from Bob Kerr’s estate. Thanks for walking through the restoration and restemming of this pipe with me.

Fashioning a Churchwarden as a Christmas Gift for my Son


Blog by Dal Stanton

One of the advantages of having ‘The Pipe Steward’ in the immediate family is that there’s a very good probability that his gifting patterns might reflect one of his favorite pastimes – restoring pipes!  Over the years, it has given me great joy to gift my loved ones – sons and daughters(!), with pipes that I’ve restored.  There are at least two reasons for this.  First, they receive a beautiful pipe which has been given the TLC that brings it again to a pristine condition – often better than new!  They can enjoy the composite beauty of its shape, grain formations and hues.  Additionally, understanding a pipe’s story through the research and write-up that accompanies each recommissioned pipe adds to the overall appreciation for the pipe.  The pipe itself is the first part of a growing legacy.  Secondly, the fact that the gift has passed through the care and attention of my hands, restoring the pipe’s condition, adds my personal part to the pipe’s legacy.  The ‘Giver’s’ story is added to the pipe and is then associated with the pipe by the loved one that that receives the pipe, becoming its new steward.

My son, Josiah, is coming from St. Louis to join his mother and I for Christmas here in Bulgaria.  He joins his sister, Johanna and her husband, Niko, who have come to Sofia from Nashville.  Both Josiah and Johanna, our two youngest, lived here with us when they were teens.  So, they are coming ‘home’ for Christmas and this is special for them and for us.  Two additional things add to the specialness of this Christmas reunion.  First, Josiah is bringing with him a young lady for mom and dad to meet!  They met in college and have cultivated a relationship.  She’ll be coming to meet his parents….no pressure!  Secondly, Johanna and Niko are also bringing a special gift – we just found out that they are expecting their first little one to add to our growing number of grandchildren!  Gifts are special during Christmas and they come in different ways.  The greatest gift is the reason we celebrate Christmas – God’s gift of his Son, Christ, given to a dying and broken world to bring the gift of life.

For this Christmas, a Churchwarden will be fashioned for Josiah.  I enjoy repurposing forgotten bowls to give them new life by simply mounting them to a long, flowing Warden stem.  The uniqueness of the Churchwarden is that it is not primarily the style of bowl that makes it a Churchwarden, but the length and style of the stem.  From Bill Burney’s description in Pipedia we discover this information.I found two bowls in my box that held CW potential.  A petite ‘Made in England’ Bent Billiard with the shape number 950 on the shank.  No other markings.  It’s a classic petite English pipe which is attractive by itself, but so far, no one has shown interest in adopting him from the ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!’ online collection where pipe men and women commission pipes for restoration benefitting our work here in Bulgaria with women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited – the Daughters of Bulgaria (Incidentally, if you go to this link you will see our daughter, Johanna, a few years ago painting a picture depicting our work with the Daughters).  I believe this bowl will serve as a gift for my son-in-law, Niko – next in queue.  The other bowl is a rusticated bowl with the sloppy stamping not fitting the smooth panel on the shank’s left flank.  Here are the candidates.As I evaluated the two, I decided on the rusticated bowl for my son, that is rustic and will give the newly fashioned CW an ‘Ole World’ feel.  I take a closer look at the ‘Rustic’s’ nomenclature.  The sloppy stamping shows ‘ERMOFILTER’ – with ‘’ER” running over onto the metal stem facing and stem, [over] ‘ORTED BRIAR’ (with the ‘IAR’ running over!) [over] ‘ITALY’, the COM.  Undoubtedly, the stamping’s aim was to reveal the name, ‘Thermofilter’ which is not found in Pipedia but Pipephil.eu has this panel of information with a ‘?’ indicating the COM.  The Thermofilter on my work desk adds Italy as the country of origin.I acquired this pipe while in the US a few years back at Madeline’s Antique Store in Manchester, Tennessee, just off Interstate 24.  It was a quick stop as we were traveling through and saw the billboard and decided to stop.  It was a very fruitful detour as I found a Dunhill in the wild and purchased it for a pittance.  In the picture below, the Dunhill (see link for this restoration: Another Wedding Trip Pick: A 1961 DUNHILL EK Shell Briar Made in England 1 4S) is visible (3rd from the bottom) and reminded me that this was on the trip when Johanna and Niko were married!  The Thermofilter is barely visible on the right edge in the pipe stand.I take some pictures of the rusticated bowl to get a closer look and to mark the start. The bowl is a perfect size for a Churchwarden, which tend to be on the diminutive side.  The half bend will provide a great sweeping trajectory for the Warden stem.  The rusticated surface is dirty and needs a thorough cleaning of the crevasses. I’m attracted to the deep burgundy red finish of the briar.  It should clean up very nicely.  To begin the project, an inspection of the chamber reveals almost no cake at all, if any.  I go directly to the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to scrape the sides and then sand the chamber using 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  To clean the chamber of debris, I wipe it with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.After cleaning the chamber, an inspection reveals no problems with heating cracks or fissures.  Yet, I discover something strange.  On opposite sides of the chamber wall I discover stampings of numbers and perhaps some letters.  I’ve never seen this before and I decide to send a note to Steve to find out if his rebornpipes experience would lend any help. Steve’s response to my inquiry was brief:

Nope never seen that. I have seen small numbers in the bottom of the bowl. Maybe heated like a branding iron. What is the nomenclature?

With no resolution to this mystery, I move on to cleaning the external surface. I clean the rusticated surface with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap.  A cotton pad starts the process, but I transition to a bristled toothbrush quickly to clean in the craggy cuts of the rusticated surface.   From the worktable scrubbing, I transfer the stummel to the kitchen sink where I continue to rinse the stummel with warm water and clean the internals using long shank brushes.  With warm water, I add anti-oil dish liquid soap and scrub using the shank brushes.  After rinsing again, returning to the worktable I take the following picture of the cleaned stummel.  I notice that the finish is partially removed from the smooth briar panel holding the nomenclature.To complete the removal of the finish on the panel, I wet a cotton pad with isopropyl 95% and rub the smooth briar panel as well as the smooth briar ring circling the shank end.  This will provide a distinct contrast later during the finishing stage. What I also notice from the soiled cotton pad is that the finish color appears to be an Oxblood hue.     Moving now to cleaning the internals in earnest with cotton buds and pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95%, I find that the mortise is clean!  This doesn’t happen often and I’m thankful for the shortened work!I now transition to fashioning the Churchwarden stem.  The first step is to fashion the oversized tenon of the precast Warden stem.  Using the electronic caliper – which was one of the best additions to my tool chest! – I take a measurement of the mortise diameter which is 7.86mm.  This represents the eventual sizing diameter of the tenon after sanding it down to size.The next step is to cut a starting test cut on the tenon using another great addition to my tool chest – the PIMO Tenon Turning Tool that I acquired from Vermont Freehand (https://vermontfreehand.com/).  I keep the directions on the wall in front of me for easy reference!  Before using the tool, the PIMO kit provides a drill bit to pre-drill the airway of the precast stem to fit the Tool’s guide pin.  After mounting the bit on the hand drill, I drill the airway.  Next, I mount the stem onto the PIMO tool which has replaced the drill bit on the hand drill.  Opening the carbon cutting arm to just a bit smaller than the diameter of the raw tenon, I make an initial cut of the tenon for measurement purposes.  The sizing is 9.79mm.  This is the starting point for sizing down the tenon.  Generally, it’s not a good idea to cut the tenon with the PIMO tool aiming for an exact finished target size (7.86) because of the danger of taking off too much.  It is also true that each fitting tends to be different.  So, the approach is to come to the target sizing in a more patient, conservative pace.  I add about .40 mm to the target size of 7.86 which identifies what I call the ‘fat’ target to aim for with the PIMO tool then transitioning to sanding by hand.  Adding .40mm to 7.86 results in a fat target of about 8.26mm.  This means I need to remove additionally about 1.50mm (9.79 minus 8.26) with the PIMO tool.Using the Allen wrenches to adjust the carbide cutting arm to a tighter cut, I first cut a test and measure.  I want to make sure I’m not over cutting before traversing the entire length of the tenon. And I’m glad that I did the test cut!  The test cut measured 6.72 – smaller than the target size!  The second test cut measures at 8.10mm – falling between the fat target and the target size – I go with it.  I cut the entire tenon as well as cutting into the stem facing just a bit to make sure that the edge is squared and not shouldered from the original precast stem.The cut is ideal.  The tenon is still larger than the mortise so that sanding now will ease into the fit and make it more customized.It doesn’t take too long with sanding for the mortise fully to receive the newly shaped tenon.  A coarse, 120 grade paper is used initially to do the heavy lifting then 240 follows to fine tune.  The fit is good.There is no perfect union and this picture shows the shank facing extending a bit beyond the stem facing.I wrap the shank with masking tape to provide some protection to the rusticated finish as I sand to bring the shank facing and stem into alignment.  As before, focusing on the fitting first, I start with coarse 120 and follow with 240 to sand the junction.    When the junction transitions smoothly from the shank to the stem, I transition to the stem proper.  The picture below shows the casting seam down the side of the stem.  This seam as well as the ripples that are always present in a precast stem are sanded out.After some effort, and a lot of rubber dust(!), the ripples and seams are sanded with coarse 120 grade paper.  These pictures are not easy to see detail, but if ripples remained, they would be evident with the different hues on the stem.Next, I work on the bit and button shaping.  You can see the rough condition of the button and the vulcanite excess on the slot.  The darkening of the vulcanite forming a ‘V’ in the middle of the bit shows how the surface of the precast stem dips as it flares out to the stem edge. This will be filed out and the button shaped using a flat needle file.   The following two pictures show the progress of filing.  To remove the valley dip of the surface, I file down the outside valley ridges that are higher.  At the same time, the filing sharpens the button lip.  The first picture shows the initial lateral filing to bring the bit surface into a more level state.The next picture shows the leveled bit surface after the outer quadrants have been rounded and shaped toward the stem edges.The final filing for the lower bit completed.The slot is rough.  After filing the excess vulcanite to level the slot facing, I see a small divot in the inner edge of the slot which I didn’t picture!  A round pointed needle file fits nicely into the slot allowing uniform filing of the inner slot edges – upper and lower.  With the heavy-duty sanding and filing completed. I use 240 paper to fine tune the bit and button shaping.  At this point, the button perimeter is sanded.I follow the fine tune sanding of the button by sanding the entire stem with 240 grade paper.The next picture was to remind me to remark about how nasty working in rubber dust is!  It, without question, is the least desirable part of fashioning new Churchwardens!  This Bulgarian designed work cloth will be going into the soak tonight!The Warden stem is transitioned to the kitchen sink where 600 grade paper is employed to wet sand the entire stem. During the entire sanding process, the stem and stummel remain joined so that the sanding creates a perfectly uniform union with stem and shank. Before transitioning to the micromesh phase, I file the end of the tenon where excess and rough vulcanite persists.  Using the flat needle file, it is dispatched quickly.The question in my mind is whether to bend the stem now or go directly into the micromesh phase.  By leaving it unbent at this point makes continued sanding easier, and this is what I do. Using 1500 to 2400 grade micromesh pads I wet sand the stem followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads I apply Obsidian Oil to condition the vulcanite.  I only show one picture of this process instead of the usual 3 because capturing the detail with the long stem is not possible. I do, however, take close-ups of the upper and lower bit.