Tag Archives: Polishing a Bakelite/Amberoid stem

Reviving another Old Timer – a French Made Real Briar Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

With the completion of the three pipes I just restemmed and wrote about I am returning to work on the bag of older NOS/unsmoked and lightly smoked pipes. I chose another old timer from the lot and this time picked another French Made pipe. It is buried in the pile in the photo below but it is clear in the second photo.In the photo of the poured out bag on my desk top I have circled the pipe that is next on the table. This was a lightly smoked Bent Billiard shaped pipe with a smooth finish that was dirty. The rim top had some light lava but there was minimal cake in the bowl. This little Bent Billiard really intrigued me, so it was next. The Bent Billiard was stamped in gold on the left side of the shank and read Real Briar [at an angle over] Made in France. The brass/nickel shank band was oxidized but still in decent condition. The bowl was lightly smoked and dusty but there was no cake. There was light lava on rim top toward the backside. The inner and outer edges looked good. The finish was dirty and the varnish top coat was spotty and peeling. The pipe had a Bakelite or Amberoid stem that was in good condition. There was one chip on the top near the shank joint. There were some light tooth marks and chatter on the stem. The button was orific – a round hole in the button end. The button had some wear and darkening but was in good condition. It has a push tenon that appears to be a synthetic material as well. Here are a few photos of the pipe before I did anything to it. I took photos of the bowl and stem. You can see the condition of the bowl. It is lightly cake and there is slight lava coat on the rim top. The edges look to be in good condition. The drilling is centered in the bottom of the bowl. It is a good sized bowl. The interior walls of the pipe are smooth and do not have drilling marks or checks or chips. The Bakelite/Amberoid stem is in good condition and has a push tenon and an orific button. There is a small chip in the Bakelite stem near the shank band and there are tooth marks on both sides near the button.I took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank. It reads as noted above. I removed the stem from the shank. You can see the brand new threaded bone tenon in the photo below. The proportions of this pipe are well done. The grain around the bowl is very nice. I knew from work on other older pipes that had the same stamp as this- Real Briar Made in France that there was not any clear cut information on that stamping on any of the usual sites. I also knew that the C.P.F. (Colossus Pipe Factory) that I had worked on bore this same stamp. My guess is that the pipe may have been made by them but I could not be sure.

Now it was time to work on the pipe. I started my work on the pipe by scraping out the light cake in the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I also scrubbed off the lava on the rim top with a damp cotton pad.I wiped down the bowl with 99% Isopropyl alcohol on a cotton pad to remove the peeling varnish coat and grime on the finish of the bowl sides. Wiping it down revealed some great grain around the bowl and shank sides. I polished the briar and the nickel plated band with micromesh sanding pads. I dry sanded with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. The briar began to really come alive. I touched up the stain on the rim top using a Mahogany stain pen and used a Black Sharpie Pen on the fills that became evident on the back of the bowl. I was able to blend the stain and pen into the surrounding briar and it looked very good.I used alcohol and cotton swabs to clean out the shank of any debris that may have gotten in from the reaming of the bowl. It was still quite clean.I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the finish with my fingertips. The product works to clean, enliven and protect briar finished. I let it sit for 10 minutes then buffed it off with a cotton cloth. The grain on the bowl really came alive with the buffing. It is really a beautiful pipe.While working on the bowl the band came off the shank. It was loose so while it was off I polished it with a jewelers cloth to remove the oxidation and protect the finish on it. I used a tooth pick to put all purpose glue on the inside of the band and pressed it back in place on the shank.I set the bowl aside and filled in the chip on the top shank end edge and the tooth mark on the top and underside of the stem near the button. I used clear CA glue. Once it cured I polished it with micromesh sanding pads.I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil to protect and enliven the stem. I finished the polishing with Before & After Pipe Stem polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry.This another interesting older pipe – Real Briar Made in France Bent Billiard turned out really well and it is a great looking pipe with a great shape to it. Once the varnish coat was removed the grain on the briar and the sheen on the stem really popped when the pipe was buffed with blue diamond on the buffing wheel. The brass/nickel band also took on a sheen. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished French Made Real Briar Bent Billiard is comfortable to hold and is quite distinguished looking. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 inches, Chamber diameter: 5/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 34 grams/1.20 ounces. It is a really beautiful pipe that I will be putting on the rebornpipes store in the French Pipe Makers section if you want to add it to your collection. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. Keep an eye out on the blog as I have several other older pipes that I will be working on.