Tag Archives: polishing a metal band

Spiffing up a KBB Blue Line Bakelite Poker 1908-1914

Blog by Troy Wilburn

Here is my old KBB I got from EBay after some light cleaning and buffing. I had found out these were quite rare and was lucky to win the bid on it.

I was thinking after some initial research that these pipes were from around 1910 – early 1920s. Seems it’s a little older than I thought. I got this info from a Kaywoodie and early KBB collector who has had several Blue Lines.

“Your pipe is made by Kaufman Brothers and Bondy, or KB&B, which later (1915) created the Kaywoodie line we all know. But this pipe is Pre-Kaywoodie, as they were making pipes under the KB&B branding from about 1900 to 1914. Bakelite was invented in 1907, so this pipe was likely made from 1908 to 1914, as the Bakelite was quite the technological wonder of the time, and was used in many products (still in use today). These “Blue Line Bakelite” pipes are rare pieces, seldom seen.”

All Blue Lines came with a case but sadly the one for this one is missing. Most pics I’ve seen so far of the Blue Lines, the metal banding has stampings of Sterling Silver and KBB. Mine has none and I don’t believe it’s silver (I think nickel as I could not get all the discoloration from it). Mine may be a lower priced model.

The pipe as it arrived.Blue1 The pipe was in remarkable shape for its age. It was not caked up and the pipe was nice and clean, ready to smoke. All I did was go over it very lightly with some 2500 grit and 000 steel wool over the banding lightly. Then I applied some light buffing and a new coat of wax. The pipe was too original to mess with much .The stem has a gorgeous red color that was bought out with a little brown and then white Tripoli before waxing.Blue2





Blue7 The stampings are very nice for a 100 year old pipe. As you can see it looks like it was repaired once. The repair looks quite old in person and don’t think it was done anytime recently.Blue8

Blue9 It’s a smaller poker. It is in between the size of a Medico Poker and a Dr.Grabow 85 Poker. It’s around 4 11/16 inch long with a 1 1/2 tall bowl. I will probably dedicate it to my new favorite flake tobacco.Blue10

Shaping a Round Metal Band to Fit a Square or Diamond Shank

I have been working on refining the process of shaping the nickel bands that I use in repairing cracked shanks. The pressure fitting of round or oval bands is relatively easy. The round bands merely need to be heated and then pressed into place. The oval bands need to be “squashed” to size. This is a bit trickier in that you need to figure out the diameter of the “unsquashed” circle of the shank and match that with the band size that will be used. Doing this has been a bit of an experimental process for me. I am getting to where I can estimate the size and when it is shaped accordingly it fits well. But that took time. I have no special tools to help with the measurements other than a tape measure that enables me to get close to the size I want to begin with.

Tools of the trade

Tools of the trade

The starting point - a round band

The starting point – a round band

But when it comes to shaping a diamond shanked band or a square shanked band that is a different matter altogether. I begin with a band that has the same diameter as the shank of the pipe I am going to work on. I squeeze it to an oval and try to pinch both ends to get a fold. I then squeeze it into an oval the other direction and pinch the ends. This gives me a band that is in essence a square with a bulge on each side.
Squashed to an oval - step 1

Squashed to an oval – step 1

Squashed to an oval the other direction - leaving an odd shaped almost square

Squashed to an oval the other direction – leaving an odd shaped almost square

Once I have the basic shape squared as it appears above, I use a flat blade screwdriver to square up the corners. I place the blade of the screwdriver flat against the inside edge from one side to the other and then push the outside edge with my fingertips working my way around the square on both sides. With this process I have roughly squared up the band and it is ready to be placed on the shank of the pipe.
I slide it on the shank of the pipe as far as it will go without binding and then use a small furniture hammer (picture above) to square the edges of the band. I then reverse the band and do the same thing a second time. I am very careful with the hammer as I do not want to crack the shank. I merely want to get the band as square as possible before I heat it and pressure fit it on the shank. The next two photos show the squared band after it had been put on the shank and tapped into shape with the hammer. I finished by reinserting the screwdriver and squaring off the corners.
The square is done

The square is done

The band is squared and ready to be pressure fitted.

The band is squared and ready to be pressure fitted.

The new band is in place on the shank.

The new band is in place on the shank.

That is the journey in photos and words from a round to a diamond/square band. As you work with bands and improve upon my method keep us posted. I am always open to learning better and more efficient ways of working. One thought I have had is to get square blocks of various sizes of either hardwood or metal and use these inserted in the band to allow me to flatten the band more thoroughly and sharpen the corners. But until then what you see in this article is what I do and so far it works for me.