Tag Archives: polishing a stem

Restemming and Reconditioning a Rungsted Mariner by Preben Holm


Blog by Steve Laug

I don’t know when I learned that the Rungsted line of pipes was another line that Preben Holm carved. But I learned that he made several lines outside the Ben Wade contract pipes he was producing for Snug Harbor/Lane. This was confirmed when I looked online and found a thread on PipesMagazine.com. The discussion covered a brand called Britta Bech and one of the members there happened to mention and confirm what I already knew about the Rungsted line. From my memory and the speaker’s the pipes were mostly carved in the mid to late 70’s or early 80’s during the height of the Danish Freehand pipe craze in the US. The speaker there said that though some refer to these as seconds he did not think that was accurate and that really it was a totally separate line from Preben Holm. I would agree with his assessment on this. I am pretty certain looking at the various Rungsted pipes that I have worked on that there are no flaws. They all combine both smooth and sandblast finishes and present a really interesting finished pipe. (mlaug on pipesmagazine.com http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/preben-holm-info-needed).

This particular pipe came in a lot that Jeff and I purchased from a fellow in Idaho. Jeff had purchased the pipes shown in the photo below from him. The Rungsted is circled in red at the top right side of the photo. The photo came because I asked Jeff to send me a picture of the pipes he picked up. I have written about the find on a previous blog that you can read if you are interested at the link that follows: https://rebornpipes.com/2016/10/07/a-good-day-hunting-orchestrated-between-british-columbia-and-idaho/ 

Jeff did a great job cleaning off the debris and grime on this old bowl. It did not have a stem when it came to us, one would have to be made to fit it. He reamed it with a PipNet reamer and smoothed the walls of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim and shank with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to the oils and tars on the bowl, rim and shank. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. Once the grime was removed the finish underneath was in stellar condition. The rich patina of the older briar was a variegated finish of smooth and sandblast looked great. I took photos of the bowl to show its condition before I started my work on it. The shank of the pipe was stamped on the smooth underside. It read RUNGSTED over MARINER over Hand Made in Denmark. The stamping was quite legible, though the lower portion was lighter than the upper.I had a stem in my can of stems that I had started shaping for another pipe some time ago and abandoned. It needed to have a little more of the tenon end taken down to fit in the mortise but it had the correct look for the pipe. I took pictures of the stem before I did the work to make it fit.I sanded the tenon end down with 220 grit sandpaper until it fit snugly in the shank. I put it in place on the pipe and took the next set of photos. Lots of sanding to do, but it gives an idea of what the pipe will look like when it is finished. In my ongoing experiment with Mark Hoover’s Before & After Restoration Balm I am using it on this mixed finish pipe. It should be a good test of how it works in the transitions between the smooth and sandblast portions as well as on the plateau on the rim and the shank end. I have used it individually on each of those finishes but not on a pipe that had all three features. Mark describes the product being designed for use on briar or stems – whether vulcanite, acrylic or horn. It was formulated to pull the dirt off of the briar as well as polish it at the same time. It includes anti-oxidants to keep the briar from getting damaged from UV rays and water as well as something that enlivens the briar. I worked it into the sandblast portions with my fingers and rubbed it on the smooth portions. I wiped it down with a cotton pad to see if it pulled out the dirt. It worked very well on all the different parts of this bowl. I took the following photos to show the results. As always, I will continue using it for a while and see how it works in a variety of settings before I give an opinion of the product. I buffed the bowl with a clean buffing pad to polish the briar and see what the finished bowl would look like and if areas that needed a bit more attention. The buffed bowl can be seen in the photos that follow. It has a rich patina that really has a deep glow to it. The two finishes really flow into each other and give the pipe a warm look. I sanded out the casting marks and scratches on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. I opened the slot in the end of the button with needles files and sandpaper to make it easier to push a pipe cleaner into the stem and shank. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with Obsidian Oil to give the next pad more bite when I sanded. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and again wiped it down with the oil after each pad. After the final pad I wiped it down with a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish the stem and the smooth portions of the briar. I used a soft touch around the stamped areas as I did not want to flatten them polish them away even more that they already were. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and rubbed it into the sandblast and the plateau areas. I buffed it with a shoe brush and then with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The variegated finish on the bowl and stem combine to present a beautiful pipe. The pipe really does look fresh and new to me and I like the finished look with the new stem. The dimensions of this pipe are Length: 6 1/2 inches, Height: 2 inches, Bowl diameter: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 inches. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I will soon be adding it to the rebornpipes store if you are interested in adding to your collection. It is a beauty and will serve someone very well. Email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

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New Life for Heritage Diplomat 8 Panel Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

As I mentioned in the first blog I did on the Heritage threesome – the 45S Antique, earlier this summer I was relaxing and surfing Ebay on my iPad and I came across three listings for Heritage Pipes. All were square shank pipes and all were in decent condition. Two of them had original stems while the third had a well done replacement stem. Several years ago I had learned about the brand through Andrew Selking who writes for rebornpipes. Since then I have kept an eye out for them. There do not seem to be too many showing up on Ebay but every so often there is one. This time there were three. I contacted my brother with the links and he bid and won the threesome. I am working on the middle pipe in the threesome now. If you missed the first blog on the Heritage Antique I thought I would once again summarize a bit of the history of the brand that Andrew wrote on a previous blog on rebornpipes. Here is the link: https://rebornpipes.com/2014/12/23/refurbishing-a-heritage-heirloom/. I am including a brief summary of what he found in the next two short paragraphs to set the stage for the pipe on my work table.

Heritage pipes were Kaywoodie’s answer to Dunhill. According to one of their brochures, Heritage pipes were made from “briar burls seasoned and cured for up to 8 months,” with only “one briar bowl in over 300 selected to bear the Heritage name.” “Heritage stems are custom fitted with the finest hand finished Para Rubber stems. Mouthpieces are wafer thin and concave.”

The Heritage line began in the early 1960’s, with the trademark issued in 1964. The line was started at the request of Stephen Ogdon, (who worked for Kaywoodie in 1962). Mr. Ogdon had previous experience working for Dunhill, either running the New York store or working for Dunhill North America. Mr. Ogden was made President of Heritage Pipes, Inc., Kaywoodie Tobacco Co.,Inc. and Kaywoodie Products Inc. as well as a Vice President of S.M. Frank & Co. Heritage Pipes were produced from 1964 until 1970 (Source Kaywoodie.myfreeforum.org).

The second pipe I chose to work on first from the threesome I had on the table was the number 45 an Octagon, Square Shank, Taper stem billiard. I have circled it in the page below. Interestingly, the one thing the Heritage line shared with Kaywoodie was the size and shape numbers. Unlike Kaywoodies, the Heritage pipes are normal push tenons.I am also including another page from Andrew’s blog post that highlights the line of Heritage pipes that the Octagon Billiard comes from. It is a Heritage Diplomat which is described in the page below. Its “Hand rubbed finish accents the richness of the fine grain”.  The brochure goes on to describe it in these terms, “…The distinguished grain of the Heritage Diplomat is a joy to behold. The virgin bore insures easy break-in and full flavor of the tobacco. Heritage Diplomat is truly distinctive in character, becoming mellow and enriched with time and smoking.”When the pipes arrived in Idaho, Jeff took photos of them before he did his cleanup work. The 45 Octagon Billiard was in good condition. There was a light cake in the bowl and a light overflow of lava on the rim. The grain on the eight sides of the bowl is quite interesting being a combination of cross grain, birdseye and mixed. The finish was dirty but appeared to be in good condition under the grime and grit the years. The bowl and square shank were clean and undamaged. There was a small fill on the back side of the bowl just above the bowl/shank junction and one on the front of the bowl. It was stamped Heritage over Diplomat over Imported Briar on the left side of the shank and has the shape number 45 on the right side of the shank. The stem had light oxidation and some tooth chatter and some light tooth marks on both sides of the stem just ahead of the button. The double diamond logo on the left side of the stem was in good condition. The quality vulcanite had held up well through the years.Jeff took some photos of the sides and bottom of the bowl and shank to show the condition of the pipe, the rich stain on the pipe and the lovely grain all around.The next two photos show the condition of the rim and the bowl. They are surprisingly clean with only a light cake and lava overflow. They should clean up nicely. The first photo also shows the fill on the back side of the bowl. I have circled it in red so it is readily identifiable. The next two photos show the stem. There is minor tooth chatter on both sides of the stem at the button. There at tooth marks on the top side of the stem are quite deep.Jeff once again worked his magic in cleaning up this pipe. He reamed it with a PipNet reamer and smoothed the walls of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim and shank with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to the oils and tars on the bowl, rim and shank. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. Once the grime was removed the finish underneath was in stellar condition. The rich patina of the older briar was a mix of grain around the bowl and shank. The cleaning of the stem left a light oxidation in the vulcanite. The tooth marks were clean but visible. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. The rim top and edges are very clean. There is some darkening and light scratching on the top and inner bevel of the rim that will need to be taken care of but otherwise it looks good.The stem was clean but needed to be worked on in terms of the bite marks and chatter. The light oxidation needed to be polished out. The square stem and shank were also eight sided which gave the pipe an interesting appearance.I “painted” the stem with the flame of a lighter to lift the tooth marks and dents in the rubber. I was able to raise the dents considerably. Some of them disappeared. Others would need to be sanded out and repaired. The stem certainly looked better after heating.I used the Savinelli Fitsall Knife to clean up the small bit of remaining cake on the backside of the bowl a little more.Three of the marks on the top side of the stem were deep enough that I could not sand them out. I used some clear super glue to fill in the marks. Once the repairs dried I used a file to smooth out the repairs and bring them down even with the surface of the stem. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to further smooth it out.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with Obsidian Oil to give the next pad more bite when I sanded. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and again wiped it down with the oil after each pad. After the final pad I wiped it down with a damp cloth and set it aside while I finished the bowl. I turned my attention back to the bowl. I repaired the fill in the back of the bowl with clear super glue. I sanded out the repaired area to blend it into the surface of the briar. Once it was smooth to touch I used a black Sharpie to blend in the light coloured fill.I am continuing to test out Mark Hoover’s new product that he calls Before & After Restoration Balm. I have used it on rusticated, sandblast and smooth briar bowls. Mark is the creator of the Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and Polishes that I have written about in earlier blogs and reviewed. I am including Mark’s description of the product once more so that if you have not read this you will have an idea of the rationale for the product.  He says that the product can be used on briar or stems – whether vulcanite, acrylic or horn. He said it was designed to pull the dirt off of the briar as well as polish it. He added some anti-oxidants to keep the briar from getting damaged from both UV rays and water. I rubbed it into the finish on the bowl and shank with my fingers and worked it into the finish with a cotton pad to see if it pulled out the dirt. It seemed to work very well and I took the following photos to show the results. I will continue using it for a while and see how it works in a variety of settings before I give an opinion of the product. I lightly buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond to polish it to see where I needed to do some work before the final buff. I hand polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I worked on the beveled inner edge of the bowl to clean it up some more. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth after the 12000 grit pad. The pictures below show the progress of the polishing on the briar. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish the briar. I used a soft touch around the stamped areas as I did not want to flatten them polish them away even more that they already were. I gave the stem and bowl multiple coats of carnauba wax buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The octagonal shaped bowl, shank and stem combine to present a beautiful pipe. The pipe looks fresh and new. The dimensions of this pipe are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Bowl diameter: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inches. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I will soon be adding it to the rebornpipes store if you are interested in adding to your collection. It is a beauty and will serve someone very well. Email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

A Long Awaited Addition for my rack – A Grant Batson Blowfish


Blog by Steve Laug

Every so often when I am scrolling through the Gentlemen’s Pipe Smoking Society (GPSS) group on Facebook a pipe for sale catches my attention. I have already purchased at two pipes since I joined that group. Well the count is now three pipes as it happened again. I was scrolling through the GPSS page looking at the pipes, minding my business and enjoying a quiet moment over lunch at my office. Then it happened. There was a pipe for sale that immediately got my attention. I did not even have to read it because I recognized the carver at a glance. The seller described the pipe as a Grant Batson Blowfish Nosewarmer. He said that it was a great smaller pipe with a full-sized bowl, a unique finish and amazing grain. He said that the pipe had been well taken care of. The dimensions were: Length: 4 1/4 inches, Height: 2 inches, bore: ¾ inches, depth: 1 1/2 inches, Weight: 48 grams. I have included the photos that he used on GPSS that caught my attention. The backstory on this pipe is that I have longingly scrolled through Grant Batson’s website (http://gbatsonpipes.com/) and followed his work for a long time. I have been hoping that I would be able to acquire one of his pipes. There is something distinctive about his work and I seem always know when I see one of his pipes. The shapes the finishes, the stem work and other things get my attention and all say Batson. I have watched as they have gone up in price and I had pretty well concluded that I would just enjoy his work from a far. I would probably never own one. I sent a private message to the seller, asking if it was still available. I asked about the price if it was still on sale. I fully expected him to write back and say that it already sold. That would have been par for the course. Instead he wrote back and said it was mine if I wanted it and that the price was thus and so. I swooped and said I wanted it. We talked about shipping and decided to have him ship it to my brother in the US. It would be simpler than shipping it to Canada. I asked for his Paypal information so that I could pay for it while it was still unsold. He sent the address and I paid the bill. All of this transaction took a total of less than 15 minutes. I saved the photos so that I could enjoy looking at the pipe until I actually got to have it in hand.The combination of sandblast on the sides and top of the bowl and shank and the smooth cross grain ridge running from the hand cut stem to the front edge of the bowl on the underside of the shank worked well for me. The mix of colours on the pipe was interesting and I was looking forward to seeing it in person. The rich medium brown tones and the darkening on the sides toward the top of the bowl and carrying over to the rim top worked.The flared shank and wide hand cut stem were really nice and the stem looked like it would be comfortable in the mouth. The next four photos show the ridge that flows up the pipe on the underside. It is off centre in keeping with the Blowfish shape. The grain is quite stunning and Grant did a great job shaping the pipe to maximize the grain. Though the next photo is out of focus it is readable. I asked the seller to send me a picture of the stamping on the shank. It has the Batson logo and the 2015 date over the signature.My brother and his wife were traveling in Europe when the pipe arrived in Idaho so I had to wait until they returned before I could find out if the pipe was as nice as the pictures the seller posted. When he got home, unpacked and bit rested I gave him a call and asked about the pipe. I don’t know about you but I am not a patient “waiter”. I like to open and see what I got so waiting a few days was hard to do. Jeff opened the package and took some photos of the pipe for me. It is kind of virtual excitement to be part of the process of opening a package over Facetime. He opened the package and I watched. Jeff went over it and said that it was very nice. The photos show that it was as nice as the seller said and in excellent condition. Jeff did a quick cleanup on the pipe for me so when it arrives it will be ready to fire up with a bowl of my favourite tobacco. He cleaned the inside with his usual regimen of pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. He wiped down the outside of the bowl and shank with a cloth and some Murphy’s Oil Soap, rinsed and dried it off. I can’t wait to see the pipe when it arrives in Vancouver. It may arrive in time for an early birthday present for me! We shall see.

Addendum: I forgot to add the Leather pipe bag to the blog. It is a nicely tanned pipe bag/sock. Here is the photo.

Restoring a Savinelli Made Estella 614 Full Bent


Blog by Steve Laug

I have always liked the rocky rusticated finish on the Savinelli Made Estella pipes. I have worked on many of them over the years and by and large they seem to have been a well-loved, good smoking and almost indestructible pipe. The finish is a rustication that almost looks like a “blastication” (rustication then sandblasted). It is knobby and very tactile. It feels good in the hand. I have worked on panels, billiards and bulldogs but never a full bent. This one was in good shape. The finish was dirty but was undamaged. The inner edge of the rim was clean and the outer edge had some wear from knocking it out against hard surfaces. There was a light cake in the bowl and the rustication on the rim top was covered with a thick coat of lava. The Lucite stem had tooth marks on the top and the underside of the stem at the button. There was a dark tar stain in the airway in the stem.  The button was in great shape. Jeff took the next series of photos to show the condition of the pipe before he cleaned it. The next photo shows the rim top and you can see the tar buildup in the rustication of the rim. It is almost smooth there is so much tar.The next photo shows the stamping on the underside of the bowl and shank. It reads Estella followed by the shape number 614 over Italy. Often there is a Savinelli Shield logo but it is not on this pipe. There is also an E stamped on the left side of the staggered saddle stem. The next two photos show the tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem at the button. There was one deep mark on each side of the stem at the button.Jeff did an amazing job cleaning up the light issues on this pipe. He reamed it with a PipNet reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim and shank with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the dust of the years. He removed the lava coat on the rim surface so that it was clean. He was able to clean up the outer edges of the rim so that the damage was removed and matched the rest of the rustication. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. Once the dust was removed it was clear that the finish underneath was in stellar condition. The random style of the rustication and the high spots gave it a very rough feel that was like rock. Very well carved. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. The rim looked really good. The grooves and carved surface was very clean and the lava that had filled in all of them was gone. The bowl was clean as well.The stem cleaned up well. The majority of the tar stains in the airway came out with the scrubbing with alcohol. What was left was probably not going anywhere. The tooth marks on both sides were dents that were not too deep and could be sanded out.I stained the rim top and the outer and inner edges of the bowl with a dark brown stain pen to blend it in with the colour of the rest of the pipe. There was ring of smooth briar at the end of the shank where the stem sat against it.In my ongoing experiment with Mark Hoover’s new product that he calls Before & After Restoration Balm I used it on the blastication of the bowl and shank. Mark is the creator of the Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and Polishes.  He says that the product can be used on briar or stems – whether vulcanite, acrylic or horn. He said it was designed to pull the dirt off of the briar as well as polish it. He added some anti-oxidants to keep the briar from getting damaged from both UV rays and water. I chose to use it on this pipe because of the roughness of the rusticated finish on this bowl. I rubbed it into the finish on the bowl and shank with my fingers and worked it into the finish with a shoe brush to see if it pulled out the dirt. It seemed to work very well and I took the following photos to show the results. I will continue using it for a while and see how it works in a variety of settings before I give an opinion of the product. I used a sharp knife to bevel the airway in the tenon. Funneling the airway at that point adds to the smooth flow of air to the button.I sanded the tooth marks on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper until they disappeared into the surface of the stem. When I finished sanding the stem it was smooth and there were not any damaged areas on the stem at the button.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with Obsidian Oil to give the next pad more bite when I sanded. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and again wiped it down with the oil after each pad. After the final pad I wiped it down with a damp cloth and set it aside while I finished the bowl. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish the briar. I used a soft touch on the rusticated areas as I did not want to flatten them or fill in the grooves with polishing compound. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and I gave the rusticated bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The rough rusticated finish with its dark brown and medium brown highlights works well with the golden swirled Lucite stem. The pipe looks fresh and new. The dimensions of this pipe are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 2 inches, Bowl diameter: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 inches. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is one that will be going on the rebornpipes store shortly. It will make a nice addition to someone’s pipe rack. If you are interested email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.

 

Fashioning a Churchwarden Stem for a Mario Grande Freehand


Blog by Steve Laug

A while back I was contacted by a fellow named Chris who was referred to me by the local pipe and cigar shop. He needed a repair on a Joh’s Churchwarden with a broken shank. I repaired the shank, banded it and cleaned it up. You can read about that repair on a previous blog at this link:  (https://rebornpipes.com/2017/08/26/repairing-a-broken-shank-and-crooked-alignment-on-a-johs-churchwarden/). He also had a big Mario Grande Freehand that he wanted me to make a churchwarden stem for. He really likes the long stems and wondered if I could make him one that he could use interchangeably on his Mario Grande pipes. He wanted a really long stem but the only stems made are 8 inches long. I contacted him and he said to go ahead order one for this pipe. Several weeks went by and the stems finally arrived. I took some photos of the pipe.The pipe was a big piece of briar and it was in good shape. The existing stem was oxidized on the top side and the ball at the tenon insert. I decided that I would both clean up the existing stem and make a new stem for it.I took a photo of the top of the bowl that shows the beautiful plateau top and the size and shape of the chamber. For a block of briar this large the chamber was only 3/4 inches in diameter. It is a small chamber for a pipe this large.I took photos of the stem to show that the oxidation was heavier on the top side of the stem than the underside.I took the stem out of the mailing bag and wiped it down. It had the casting marks on both sides of the stem and on the tenon and button end. Those would need to be cleaned up. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to remove the casting marks on both sides and the button and tenon end. I drilled the airway open enough to hold the pin on the PIMO tenon turning tool. I put the tool in my cordless drill and pushed the stem onto it. I adjusted the cutting head to cut the tenon to the same diameter as the tenon on the existing stem. I held the stem and used the drill to cut away the excess material so that it would fit snugly in the mortise.I put the stem in the shank and took photos of the new look of this handmade Mario Grande. The pipe looks really good and will be a great sitting pipe. There is no way that the weight of this piece of briar will ever work as a clencher. I put a pipe cleaner in the airway in the stem and put it on a cookie tray. I turned the setting on the oven to 350 degrees F and put the cookie sheet and stem in the oven. I let it heat for 10 minutes until the stem was absolutely straight and pliable. I put the stem in the shank and bent it to an angle that matched the flow of the bowl and shank. I held it until the stem cooled and the bend was set.In my continued experiment with the new product from Mark Hoover – the creator of the Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and Polishes. He calls it Before & After Restoration Balm and it can be used on briar or stems – whether vulcanite, acrylic or horn. He said it was designed to pull the dirt off of the briar as well as polish it. He added some anti-oxidants to keep the briar from getting damaged from both UV rays and water. This is the second smooth briar pipe that I chose to use it on. I figured it would be a good test to see how it worked on a smooth briar bowl and a lightly oxidized vulcanite stem. I applied it and worked it into the crevices of the plateau on the shank and the rim top with a shoes brush. It worked well, so I took the following photos to show the results. The bowl and the stem have a rich shine. I would need to polish the stem a bit more to remove all of the oxidation but it was far better than when I started. I will continue using it and see how it works on a variety of pipes before I give a review.I buffed the stem with red Tripoli and Blue Diamond polish to remove as much of the oxidation as I could with the wheel. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads to remove the oxidation that remained – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and again wiped it down with the oil after each pad. After the final pad I gave it another coat of the oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem in the shank and took photos of the new Churchwarden look of the Mario Grande. I sent the photos to Chris to see what he thought of the new stem. I turned my attention to the Churchwarden stem. I sanded away the marks from the castings and shaped the tenon end of the stem into a cone to fit into the conical drilling at the end of the shank. I buffed the stem with red Tripoli and Blue Diamond polish to remove as much of the scratching in the vulcanite as I could with the wheel. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads to further remove the scratches – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and again wiped it down with the oil after each pad. After the final pad I gave it another coat of the oil and set it aside to dry. I put the churchwarden stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish the briar and vulcanite. I switched stems and buffed the short stem with Blue Diamond as well to polish it. I gave the bowl and both stems multiple coats of carnauba wax and I gave the plateau areas on the rim and shank end with several coats of Conservator’s Wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The rich medium brown stain and the rough plateau on both the rim top and shank end the polished black vulcanite of both stems worked well together to give a rich look to the pipe. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I took photos of it with the churchwarden stem and with the original short stem to give an idea of how it looked all polished and shining. Thanks for looking.

Another Frankenpipe – Salvaging a Lido Root Briar Dublin Bowl


Blog by Steve Laug

My brother Jeff picked up a nice looking Brebbia pipe on one of his trips to Montana. It was a Brebbia Lido Root Briar Dublin. It had an almost Castello Sea Rock finish on the bowl and shank. It was stamped on a smooth spot on the underside of the bowl and shank. It read Lido over Root Briar over 9004. Next to that it read Brebbia over Italy. Jeff showed me the pictures and it was a nice looking pipe as far as I could see. The shank looked a little short and the angle of the stem was funny but it was nice. The oval shape of the bowl was different and made the pipe interesting. When Jeff examined it at his hotel he discovered that the stem had been glued into the shank. The close he looked the more convinced he became that the shank had been broken and that this was a quick fix either to keep the pipe smokable or to make it sellable. Either way it was no longer a good find in his mind.

We talked when he was doing the cleanup and he was going to throw it away. He did not take pictures of the pipe as it was when he got it for this reason. The bowl had a thick cake and the rim had a copious overflow of lava that filled in the finish. I asked him to clean it up anyway and send it to me. He was dubious but he did it. He reamed and cleaned the bowl and shank to a point where it was spotless. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush and was able to get the rim clean of the lava. It was clean when it arrived in Vancouver. I unpacked the box and looked at it briefly and tossed it back in the box. I had no inspiration as to what to do with it at that point so I figured I would just let it sit for a while.

Yesterday I woke early to an idea for the Brebbia bowl. I don’t know if that happens to you but it does to me. Probably means I am thinking too much about pipes but it is what it is. I knew what I wanted to do with the bowl so I dug it out of the box and turned it over in my hands. I did not take photos of it at that point though I should have. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to square up the broken shank end. It was at an angle so it needed to be made flat. I sanded it on the topping board to smooth out the end of the shank and face it. I cleaned out the inside of the shank end with alcohol and cotton swabs to remove the dust and debris and ready for the next part of the process.

I went through my box of parts and found a one inch long piece of bamboo with one knuckle that I had cut off in a repair on another pipe. It was a thick hard piece of bamboo that would work well. The end with the knuckle was the same basic diameter as the shank end so that would work well. I also keep broken chunks of Delrin and vulcanite tenons to use for this kind of thing so I salvaged a one inch long piece of Delrin that was perfect. I roughed up the surface a bit and took down the outer diameter with the Dremel and sanding drum so that it would insert into the shank end. The photo below shows the accumulation of parts ready to be joined together.In the past I have used epoxy to glue the parts together. This time I chose to use clear super glue. I applied the glue to the end of the tenon that went into the shank and pressed it into place. I made sure that things lined up well and let the glue cure. It does not take long – which is why I chose to use it this time. You have to work quickly to assure all is aligned before it sets. Once it was set I painted the end of the shank and the bamboo with super glue and applied it to the tenon as well and pressed the bamboo over the extended piece of tenon. I lined everything up so the fit was correct. I wanted the groove in the bamboo on the top side of the shank so once it was done I held it until it set. The following photos show the bowl and shank repair at this point in the process. I liked the look of the pipe at this point. I cleaned up the reaming a bit as I saw some remaining cake on the back side of the bowl during the process. I used the Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to cut it back and smooth out the surface of the bowl interior.I used a brass bristle brush to clean up the top of the rim a bit more. There still seemed to be remnants of lava in the nooks and crannies of the rustication that needed attention. Nothing does the job on this kind of surface like a brass bristle tire brush.I am continuing to experiment with a new product from Mark Hoover – the creator of the Before & After Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and Polishes. He calls it Before & After Restoration Balm and it can be used on briar or stems – whether vulcanite, acrylic or horn. He said it was designed to pull the dirt off of the briar as well as polish it. He added some anti-oxidants to keep the briar from getting damaged from both UV rays and water. I chose to use it on this third pipe – because of the roughness of the rusticated finish on this bowl. I figured it would be a good test to see if it reached deep into the rustication and pulled out the dirt. I applied it and worked it into the crevices with a shoes brush. It seemed to work very well and I took the following photos to show the results. I will continue using it for a while and see how it works in a variety of settings before I give an opinion of the product. I decided to see what stem I would use for this pipe. I needed something close to the diameter of the end of the bamboo. I went through my can of stems and found one that was perfect. It was the same diameter and would match well. It was oxidized but there were no tooth marks in the vulcanite so it would be a simple clean up. It did not have a tenon so I would need to replace the tenon in the stem. The photo below shows the parts. The thing I neglected to photograph was the end of the stem. The drilling was perfect for being able to turn the new threaded tenon in place. I coated the threads with a coat of super glue and turned the tenon in place on the stem. I quickly aligned the tenon and made sure it was straight before the glue set. You have to work quick with the super glue to achieve this before it sets. I sprayed the tenon with accelerator to harden the glue. It leaves behind a white residue that is shown in the photo. It easily comes off with a damp cloth.I set the stem aside for a while and turned back to the end of the bamboo where it would meet the stem. I used the Dremel and sanding drum to flatten it out. I pressed it against the sandpaper on the topping board to face it and make it square. Once I had that done I looked through my box of parts and found a hard rubber button that I had drilled to use as a spacer on a previous pipe. It would work perfect in this situation. I glued it in place on then end of the shank with super glue. I filled in around the joint against the bamboo with the tip of the superglue to seal it and allow no air or moisture to seep through the joint. Once the glue had hardened I would need to trim it back to the diameter of the stem. It would serve as a smooth surface for the end of the stem to sit against and make the fitting of the stem much easier. The final photo in this series shows an end view of the space on the bamboo. You can see how it looks from that perspective in the photo. I neglected to take photos of the process of trimming back the spacer. Once the glue set (several hours) I used the Dremel and sanding drum to take back the excess material of the space close to the diameter of the stem. I sanded the spacer with the stem in place using a worn piece of 180 grit sandpaper to smooth it out and also to remove the oxidation on the stem. I did take a photo of the pipe to send to my brother.There will still need to be a lot of sanding to match these two parts a bit more but you can see the general idea in the photos below. I like the way the pipe looks so far. Given the parts I had available this Frankenpipe is coming together quite well. Once everything lined up well it was time to polish the spacer and the stem. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and again wiped it down with the oil after each pad. After the final pad I gave it another coat of the oil and set it aside to dry. I polished the spacer at the same time  using micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and again wiped it down with the oil after each pad. After the final pad I gave it another coat of the oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish the briar. I used a soft touch on the sandblasted areas as I did not want to flatten them or fill in the grooves with polishing compound. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and I gave the sandblasted bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The rough sandblast finish with its dark brown and oxblood contrast stain and the newly added bamboo shank work well with the tapered stem I fit to the shank to make a beautiful pipe. The pipe looks fresh and new. The dimensions of this pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 1/8 inches, Bowl diameter: 1 3/8 inches wide and 1 3/4 inches long, Chamber diameter: 7/8 inches. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I like it! It came out pretty well in my opinion – not too bad for a Frankenpipe. Thanks for looking.

An Exceptional Bjarne Hand Made Freehand


Blog by Robert M. Boughton

Copyright © Reborn Pipes and the Author except as cited

He could have been an ambassador for his country, but instead he became an ambassador for Danish pipes.

— Jan Anderson, author of Scandinavian Pipemakers (2012)

INTRODUCTION

Jan Anderson was speaking of Bjarne Nielsen, the great Danish pipe maker, who finished his studies at the University of Copenhagen with an MBA in the early 1960s and went to work for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in the export division.  Nielsen made his first pipes when he was 16 and gave them to friends then and later at the university, and of course he continued making pipes as a hobby.  Whether he knew it or not, he was bitten by the bug.  Call it Pipe Makers Disorder (PMD), if you like.  Bjarne was considered a likely candidate for appointment as ambassador to a foreign country, but he gave it all up to pursue his real ambition, which will come as no surprise to anyone with creative leanings was to form his own business.

Bjarne may never even have imagined turning his pastime into a career, but fate, if there is such a thing, is powerful.  The freehand pipe movement was first building speed when Bjarne was at the Ministry, and he was often asked to help find foreign buyers for the style of pipe that was more popular abroad than in Denmark, where it started.  Many older smokers, deeply rooted in the English tradition of the classic Dunhill style, considered the new direction outlandish, crazy and worst of all, ugly.  And every source Bjarne knew had orders for such pipes up the wazoo.  I’m sure he used more diplomatic words.

Then, out of the blue, again if there is such a phenomenon, Bjarne had the idea to send photos of some of his pipes to a few of those same foreign distributors.  I’m sure he put it out of his mind and wasn’t watching the pot until it started to boil over with so many positive responses he had to decide whether to stay with the Ministry or pursue his innate talent.  Not being the average man, fearful of taking such a huge risk – or, rather, being the typical young man he was, still full of dreams – Bjarne embarked on the journey that would make him a legend, meaning most of the world has never heard of him.

The hand-made Danish freehand in this blog has three lines of clear block nomenclature on the bottom of the shank, below the stem: BJARNE/HANDMADE/ IN DENMARK.  The stem also bears a mark – a lower-case b sitting in the curl of a lower-case j.

Courtesy Pipephil

This means Bjarne did not make the pipe himself, but instead delegated the job to one of three master carvers who were and are in business for themselves and did special work for him.  They are Mogens “Johs” Johansen, Jes Phillip Vigen Jertsen (Ph. Vigen) and Tonni Nielsen.  These pipes were sold by Bjarne as lower-grade pieces than those he carved and on which he ascribed his full name, in cursive script, above HANDMADE/IN DENMARK.  The pipes Bjarne carved himself also bore a grade of AX or A-J.  The man’s self-appraising standards were refined to the extreme.  They bear no mark on the stems.

Bjarne Nielsen Bulldog Grade O, photos, courtesy abel2antique on eBay

I didn’t mind that my new Bjarne, whichever of the fine craftsmen above made it, came with a box and sock as well.

RESTORATION Three long years ago, before I learned lessons beyond count and, more than anything else, that the process never ends, I wrote a blog here called “Ben Wade and the Chamber of Horrors,” in which I recounted the restoration of a huge BW poker with cake so gnarly it took me hours to repair.  As I can think of no better words to describe the terrors of uncovering layer after layer of hardened old carbon, only to reach a patch of almost perfect smoothness and then reaching spiraling new veins and lumps, I’ll give a brief quote from the BW blog.

“The ongoing task of removing all of the cake, every time I thought I achieved smoothness all around, only uncovered still more hidden holes, like microcosmic pits and craters on the moon, only black…the evil chamber walls in spots felt like the bowels of a volcano.”

But this pipe was so much worse, it took me days of concerted effort to get to the bottom of the years of iron-like cake.  I am certain that had this pipe come my way three years ago, I would have been forced to set it aside in the to-do pile.

I started with my Junior Reamer, which, due perhaps to the curve of the freehand chamber, made almost not even a dent. The coarsest sandpaper I had was a small old finger-length strip of 180-grit that has stood by me for years and is most often the roughest I need to get with a chamber’s walls.  A half-hour or so of that left my hand aching, my fingers burning and one of them torn open, as was the case to a much more serious degree with the BW chamber of horrors.  I put the chamber ordeal on pause and decided to see how awful the shank’s airway might be.  I admit my attitude sucked by then, but also that I was pleased with the relative ease of clearing the shank of grime with alcohol-dipped regular pipe cleaners.  The first one took some finagling to break on through to the other side, but only four cleaners were needed for the preliminary cleaning. I girded for another go at the chamber with the following armaments.I hoped I would not have to resort to either (and certainly not both) blades, but I was going to be prepared for anything.  As it turned out, the Dremel I used in the BW chamber of horrors case would have come in handy, but I had to borrow it and didn’t want to take the time.  The task was longer and more arduous than I can detail in photos, but here are some time lapses – during the first day.  I hope they show the bulges and veins that appeared hither and thither with each new attack.  Indeed, both the pen and utility knives were needed throughout the three-day process of perfecting the chamber. Another problem I’m sure has not gone unnoticed was the rim burn that was fairly bad, but on the plateau area of a freehand presented greater than average problems.  I did not want to use sand paper or even spot-soak the rim in alcohol, if black stain was under the char.  After debating the options available to me with my resources at hand, I opted for an approach that may seem unusual but I knew from experience would leave any black paint intact.  I submerged the entire stummel in alcohol for several minutes at most, and when I removed it I thought I had the desired result of eliminating the old stain and excess char. Scrutiny of the outer wood showed a perfect piece of briar, free of any blemishes or even a single scratch.  The only other such experience I recall after alcohol-stripping a stummel was with my previous blog about a Capitello Jonico Dublin.  I tried to tell myself the remaining blackness on the rim was natural or maybe left-over stain.

Other than the final sanding, which tore through the final layer of uneven cake, the time for micro-meshing had arrived.  Giving the stummel a final inspection, I overrode my misgivings about the dull murkiness that pervaded most of the rim, with random rays of nice red wood making it through the gloom. I remembered a Ben Wade by Preben Holm I restored and had to re-stain the rim black, and I’ve never quite been happy with it.  The whole approach to this project was to restore the freehand to a better look than it may ever have had, if I may be excused the apparent impertinence.  Still, I proceeded with the micro-mesh, which only confirmed my gut instinct. Before I return to the rim, there are a few minor wrap-ups to make.  First, look at the discoloration of the wood at the top of the front view above.  I figured Super Fine 0000 steel wool should do the trick, and it did.Then there were the stains on the tip of the Lucite tenon and inside the button of the stem.  I scraped out the difficult to reach crud from the button with a mashed end of a pipe cleaner dipped in alcohol and sanded clean the open end of the tenon with my trusty 180-grit fragment of paper.The retort went well, requiring only three Pyrex test tubes of alcohol – the first that was sucked up into the cotton stuffed in the chamber, the second coming out moderately dirty, and the third, after boiling through the pipe four times, was clear.The last step I imagined before the final wheel buffing – there would be no stain – was to fill in the congruent bj etching on the stem that had not been worn away.Unfortunately, the curl of the b is completely faded away.

I just could not see proceeding with either of the courses that presented themselves, leaving the dull, scorched earth look of the rim as it was and trying to make it shine or buying more black stain and hiding the beautiful wood I was sure was hidden.  And so, I gave the rim a spot-soak in alcohol to see what lay beneath.The result was a very pale rim, but I knew that would change with another, focused full course of the micro-mesh pads.  The semi-final result as I headed for the buffers was just what I wanted.  I buffed the stummel with brown Tripoli and a heavy coat of Carnauba, and the stem with Carnauba.

CONCLUSION

This restore was one of the biggest surprises I’ve had in the few years I’ve been learning a few of the myriad techniques and resources available.  Thinking at first it would be done overnight, three days later I knew never to underestimate the opponent each new pipe presents as.  I struggled with the question of to sell or not to sell, and gave in to my P.A.D.  All I have to say is, I’m glad I did, because, as the title says, this is one extraordinary freehand.

SOURCES

https://pipedia.org/wiki/Bjarne
http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-b5.html