Tag Archives: polishing an acrylic stem

Restoring and Restemming an Interesting Nording F Freehand


Blog by Steve Laug

It was time to turn back to another one of the pipes that Jeff and I picked up. Neither of us had any memory of where this pipe came from but it is another interesting geometrically shaped Freehand with a variety of angles in the carving in the bowl and shank that really follow the grain on this piece of briar. The rim top and shank end is plateau and is stained black. You can see the flow of mixed grain around the bowl and shank. It is stamped on the underside of the shank F over NORDING over MADE IN DANMARK just before the plateau end of the shank. There is no other stamping on the pipe. The stem was missing and the tenon was broken off in the shank. Jeff had definitely cleaned up the pipe sometime along the way. He had reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to clean off lava on the rim top and shank end. He had cleaned up the internals of the shank, mortise and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove all of the oils and tars in the pipe. I would need to pull the broken tenon and fit a new stem to the shank but it was a nice bowl. I took photos of the rim top and shank to show the condition of the pipe before I started working on it. You can see the condition from the bowl and rim top in the first photo. The inner edge of the bowl was in very good condition and was smooth to the touch. The second photo show the shank end plateau. It also looked very good. I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It was faded but still readable as noted above.Before I started my work on the pipe I wanted to learn more about where this pipe fit into the Nording lines so I turned to the first of two sites that I always check to gather information on a brand. I turned first to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/N%C3%B8rding). Nording’s were exclusively freehand shapes, graded from A, B, C, D, up to its highest grade, extra. Later an “F” grade was added—less expensive than the “A.” I could find no other information on the rest of the stamping on the pipe.

I did find a great collage of photos of Erik Nording that I have included below. I turned to the second information site – Pipephil’s (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-n2.html) did not find any more helpful information on the Nording Danmark stamp.

Armed with the information on the F stamp being a lower end midgrade Freehand, I knew a bit about the pipe at hand. I turned to address the pipe itself. When it arrived here in Vancouver it was a clean pipe and I knew what I had to work with. To begin my work on it, I removed the broken tenon from the shank with a drill bit turned into the shank on low speed. I took a photo of the broken tenon once I had it removed. I went through my can of stems and found this straight acrylic stem that had been partially turned for another pipe somewhere along the way. It would need some work but the fit was close. I sanded the tenon end of the new stem to get a strong fit in the shank of the pipe. I would need to refine the fit but it was looking quite good. I would also need to heat and bend the stem for a proper fit. I used a heat gun to bend the stem to match the flow of the stem. I used the lowest setting on the heat gun and bent the stem at the proper angle. I put it in the shank and took photos of the newly restemmed pipe. It is looking good at this point. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. The bowl began to take on a rich shine and grain was beginning to stand out. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the finish on the bowl and shank. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I worked it in with my fingers to get it into the briar. I used a horsehair shoe brush to work it into the plateau top and shank end. After it sat for a 15 minutes I wiped it off and buffed it with a soft cloth. The briar really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. It is a beautiful bowl. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem at this point in the process. I sanded the tenon area to shape the fit in the shank with 220 grit sandpaper fit snugly in the shank. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I used the Before & After Pipe Polish to remove the small minute scratches left in the acrylic even after the micromesh regimen. I finished by wiping the stem down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the pipe and took the pipe to the buffer. I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish the briar and the acrylic. Blue Diamond does a great job on the smaller scratches that remain in both. I gave the bowl and the stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up really nicely with a great contrasting stain look to the briar. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is a unique Nording Freehand for me – the amber acrylic stem and plateau shank end gives the pipe a different look. The polished acrylic   stem looks really good with the reds and blacks standing out in the grain. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 7 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches wide x 2 ½ long, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 93 grams/3.28 ounces. This is another pipe that I will be putting it on the rebornpipes online store shortly, if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on this beauty!

Restoring a Unique Jobey Designer Bent Egg Sitter


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table was purchased on 05/10/22 from an antique mall in Astoria, Oregon, USA. This unique Jobey has a flat base with a short tail that stabilizes the sitter. It has a rugged, finish that looks like a combination of sandblast and rustication (blastication) with lots of nooks and crannies in the briar. The top of the shank and the upper 1/3 of the bowl are smooth briar. The come together and really are quite beautiful! The pipe is stamped on a smooth panel on the topside of the shank and reads Jobey [over] Designer. The valleys and ridges of the “blasticated” grain showing through the grime and dirt are a mixture that leaves a rich texture. It had rich dark and medium contrasting brown stains that do not look too bad. There was a thick cake in the bowl with remnants of tobacco stuck on the walls. There was a lava overflow on the crowned top of the rim and covering the inner edge. It was hard to know if the rim edges were damaged. It was a beautiful pipe that was dirty and tired looking but there was a thick coat of shiny varnish or shellac covering the whole thing. The stem was golden variegated acrylic that had fancy turnings on the saddle. The tenon was the patented Jobey Link System that was developed to protect the shank. There was a hairline crack on the top of the stem where the tenon fit but it was not open and was very fine. There were tooth marks and chatter on the stem near the button on both sides. There is a brass Jobey oval logo on the top of the stem identifying it as a Jobey pipe. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he cleaned it up. He took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava build up on the rim top and edges of the bowl. It was thick and hard but hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage. It was hard to know for sure from the photos. Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the tooth chatter, scratching on the stem surface and wear on the edges of the button. The airway in the stem was stained with the tars and oils that would need to be cleaned up. Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish. You can see the rugged dark look of the blastication. There is a lot of dust and grime filling in the valleys. The smooth portions on the top 1/3 of the bowl, the underside of the shank and foot as well as the patch on the top of the shank.  He took a photo of the stamping on the smooth panel on the topside of the shank. The stamping was readable as you can see from the photos and read as noted above. He also captured the logo brass insert on the top of the stem.  I turned to Pipedia to see if I could find a Jobey Designer or any information on the line  (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Jobey). Along with the history of the brand that is there which you can read if you are interested there was also a photo of the same pipe that I am working on with a dark stem rather than the yellow of the one on the table. The shape and stamping are identical so I have included them below. I am also including and advertisement that was included on the site. I have included it below along with an enlargement of the section on Jobey Designer pipes. The Designer series combines real craftsmanship with a unique pipe design. This perfectly balanced briar features a smooth walnut finish, complemented by a golden Lucite stem. It sold for $50USD

Now it was time to work on the pipe. Jeff reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals of the shank and stem 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 looks very good with good looking sandblast around the bowl and shank. Jeff scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and rinsed it with running water. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked a lot better. The airway in the stem still had some darkening and would need to be cleaned up some more. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show what cleaned bowl and rim top looked like. The rim top and edges looked very good. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the light tooth marks and the staining in the airway on the stem.  The hairline crack is in the darkened spot near the shank end.I took a photo of the stamping on the topside of the shank and it is clear and readable. I also took a photo of the Jobey oval brass inset on the top of the stem.  I took the stem off the shank and took a photo to give a clear picture of the pipe from the left side profile and the top looking down. It is a really pretty pipe.I wiped down the briar with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the shiny varnish coat. It took some scrubbing but the grain really stood out on the smooth portion much better. I polished the extension with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the surface off after each pad to remove sanding debris. It is becomes more shiny with each sanding pad.  I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for 10 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth and shoe brush to raise the shine. Mark Hoover’s Balm is a product that I have come to appreciate and one I use on every pipe I have been working on. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to trying to get some of the tars from the stem. I removed the Jobey Link Tenon from the stem and worked it over with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol. It was amazing how much grit and grime came out of the stem. I then used some Soft Scrub on the pipe cleaners and continued to work on the airway and was able to remove a lot of it. I flushed it a final time with alcohol. It was much better when I finished. The only draw back (if it is one) is that the hairline crack was very visible after cleaning.There was a tooth mark that was deep on the top left side of the stem next to the button. There was also a small crack in the turned area of the stem and top. I filled both of them both in with clear CA glue and set the stem aside to cure. Once it cured I sanded the repaired areas smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the Lucite stem 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. This Unique Jobey Designer Egg Sitter turned out to be a great looking pipe. The mix of dark stains highlights the smooth and rusticated portions around the bowl sides, top and bottom. The golden coloured acrylic stem works very well with the natural and dark finish on the bowl. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad followed by hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished full bent Jobey Designer Bent Egg Sitter fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 2.26 ounces/64 grams. I will be adding it to the American Pipe Makers Section on the rebornpipes store soon. If you are interested in carrying on the pipeman’s legacy with this pipe send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.

Cleaning up a Preben Holm made Monte Verde Twin Finish Freehand


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table was purchased from an estate lot on 06/13/22 from Fort Myers, Florida, USA. It has that verve that I have come to associate with pipe made by Preben Holm and the fellow we purchase this lot from obviously love Preben Holm pipes because we acquired several from him in this lot from the IIS pipes to a Danish Pride still to come. They are unique and beautiful. The pipe is stamped on a smooth panel on the underside. It reads Monte Verde over Made in Denmark by Hand. Underneath that there is a script stamp that reads Twin Finish. I have refurbished several Monte Verde pipe so if you are interested in the brand here is a link to one I did back in 2019 that is very similar to this one (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/02/09/new-life-for-a-preben-holm-monte-verde-twin-finish-freehand/). It was quite dirty, like the rest of the pipes in this collection. There was a thick cake in the bowl and a heavy lava overflow on the rim top that filled in the rustication. The inner and outer edges of the bowl looked very good. The stem had some light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button but really was in quite remarkable condition. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup process. The next photos show a close up of the bowl and rim top as well as both sides of the stem. You can see the thick cake in the bowl and heavy overflow of lava on the rim top. The close up photos of the stem show the light tooth marks in the surface near the button on both sides. He took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the look the double rustication on the sides and heel of the bowl. The curved shape of the pipe makes it a tall Dublinesque Stack but the rustication gives it a tactile look that can only mean an added dimension to the pipe when it is smoked.  The next photos show the stamping on the underside of the shank and the top of the saddle stem. It is quite clear and legible. The top of the stylized saddle stem has a Crown MV stamped into the surface. It appears to have originally been gold.   I turned to Pipephil’s site to get a read on the brand (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-m6.html). It confirms that the Monte Verdi line was made by Preben Holm. The pipe in the photo had a very similar rustication to the Monte Verdi I was working on. I did a screen capture of the section on Pipephil. I have included it below.   There were also photos that were included on Pipephil of what this particular pipe looked like when it left Denmark. The rustication around the bowl and shank is very similar. The pipe I have does not have a shank extension but otherwise the finish is much the same. The pipe in the photo had a fancy turned vulcanite stem. The stem on the one I have in front of me is the original stem on the pipe and it is a fancy double saddle pearlized acrylic or Lucite stem.I also Googled the brand and found a thread on Pipes Magazine about the brand that gave me some more information (http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/monte-verde-pipes). I include that below.

The Monte Verdi line was indeed a pipe style offered by Holm. It usually features heavily blasted and rusticated briar and smaller group sizes than some of his other lines. Some refer to this line as a “second”, but it provided an outlet for briar that had flaws and therefore unsuitable his other lines. Holm marketed many different lines featuring a variety of finishes in both stains and carvings and this is merely one of those. The ones I own are good pipes and smoke well. The blast finish is very interesting to look at and the tactile sensations make it fun to hold.

Jeff reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove most of the lava build up on the rim top and you could see a little remaining in the depths of the rustication. He cleaned out the inside of the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. He scrubbed the surface o the stem with Soft Scrub Cleanser. The stem looked very good. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. I took close up photos of the bowl and rim top as well as the stem. You can see the condition of the rim top and bowl in the first photo. Jeff was able to remove almost all of the tar and oils but there was some deep lava in the rustication at the back of the rim. The Lucite stem had light tooth chatter and tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem near and on the button surface. The swirled browns, tans, blacks and greys of the Lucite looked good with the variegated browns of the briar.   I also took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. The stamping is very clear and readable. You can also see the scratches in the smooth finish of the area in the photo below.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the parts. It is a nice looking pipe with the flumed top, the rugged double rustication and the double saddle smoky acrylic stem.I started by working on the rim top. I used a brass bristle wire brush to clean off the remaining lava debris on the rim top. I was able to remove all of the remaining debris and the rim top looked really good. The deep rustication and the second wire rustication gave the pipe a very unique look.With the rim top cleaned I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the rusticated surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. It took some time to really get it into the grooves and valleys of the rustication but I was able to work it in. I used a shoe brush to make sure it was deep in the grooves. I let the balm sit for 10 minutes and then buffed it with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The bowl and the rim top look really good and the darkening and lava are gone. I am very happy with the results.  I set aside the bowl at this point and turned my attention to the stem. I repaired the tooth marks with clear super glue. Once the glue cured I sanded the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the rest of the stem surface. I polished the sanding marks with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. The photos tell the story. I touched up the stamping on the saddle portion of the stem with some Rub’n Buff Antique Gold. I let it dry in the stamping for a bit then buffed it off with a cotton pad. It looked much better. The MV was legible and the crown looked good. The side of the M was a little faint as the stamping was worn. I polished the Lucite stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish and wiped it down a last time with the damp cloth.  This beautiful, double rusticated Preben Holm carved Monte Verde Twin Finish Large Freehand is a special looking pipe and it feels amazing in the hand. I polished stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The multi-coloured grain shining through the rustication came alive with the buffing. The rich contrasting brown colour works well with the polished swirling brown, tan, black and white Lucite stem. The finished pipe is a beauty and feels great in the hand. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 ½ inches, Height: 3 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: 1 inch. The weight of the pipe is 2.75 ounces/ 78 grams. I will be putting this Monte Verde by Preben Holm on the Danish Pipe Making Section on the rebornpipes online store soon. It is such an interesting tactile pipe and if you have been looking for a freehand then this might be the one for you. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on this interestingly shaped Preben Holm Hand made pipe.

Restoring a Savinelli Nonpareil 9101 Plateau Freehand


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe is another one that has been here for a long time  – so long in fact that I cannot remember where I picked it up. I know it came to me from a trade or my own hunt because it had not been cleaned or reamed by Jeff. There was a thick cake in the bowl and lava overflowing on to the plateau and the smooth portion of the rim top and inner edge of the bowl. The exterior of the pipe was dirty but the grain really shone through the grime. The pipe was stamped on the heel of the bowl and read Savinelli [over] Nonpareil. The left side of the shank is also stamped and had a Savinelli S shield followed by the shape number 9101 [over] Italy. The vulcanite taper stem had a single brass dot on the left side. Here is the pipe! I took close up photos of the rim/bowl and stem. The cake in the bowl was thick and there was a thick coat of lava overflow on the rim top and edge. The valleys of the plateau were quite filled in. The stem was dirty and had light tooth marks on the top and underside near the button. I took photos of the stamping on the underside of the bowl and the left side of the shank. It is clear and readable as noted above.  I removed the stem from the shank and took a picture of the pipe. It is quite an attractive shape and should clean up well. I turned to Pipephil (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-savinelli3.html) to get a quick view of the Nonpareil Line. I did a screen capture of the site’s information and have included that below. I am also including a screen capture of the Shape and code chart introduction that is link in the above capture.It appears that the Nonpareil 9101 that I am working on is made before 1970 so it is at least 50+ years old. It is in great shape. I am not sure what the exception noted above is about.

I turned to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Savinelli) for a quick read. The site is worth reading the history of the Savinelli brand and it philosophy of pipemaking. There was nothing specific on the Nonpareil line however so it was time to work on the pipe.

I used a PipeNet pipe reamer (first 3 cutting heads) to strip back the cake to bare briar. I cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife. I sanded the bowl with a dowel wrapped with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the walls. I worked on the lava in the rim top plateau with a brass bristle wire brush. I was able to remove much of the lava with that. Scrubbing it would remove the rest. I scrubbed the externals of the bowl and rim top with a tooth brush and some undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap. I rinsed it off with warm water and dried it off with a soft cloth. Now it was time to scrub the inside of the shank and rid it of the tars and oils. I scrubbed the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and 99% isopropyl alcohol. There was some stain in the inside of the shank that came out.   I polished the briar on the rim top with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the briar down with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. The briar really took on a rich shine with the polishing.    I rubbed the bowl down with some Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my finger tips and a horse hair shoe brush on the plateau rim top to clean, revive and preserve the wood. It really brings the grain alive once again. I let it sit for 15 minutes then buffed it off with a soft cloth. The grain really pops at this point in the process. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. I smoothed out the tooth marks on the stem and button surface with 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. It was starting to look better.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down between each pad with some Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to deepen the shine. I gave it a final wipe down with Obsidian Oil.      I put the Savinelli Nonpareil 9101 Plateau Freehand back together and buffed it 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 and hand buffed it to raise the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the grain popping around the bowl and shank. Added to that the polished acrylic variegated brown stem was a beautiful touch. It is light and well balanced. 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: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 65 grams/2.29 ounces. It is a beautiful pipe and one that will be on the rebornpipes store in the Italian Pipemakers section. If you are interested in adding it to your collection let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. I want to keep reminding us of the fact that 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 trustee.  

Restoring a Jess Chonowitsch Designed Stanwell Zebrano 163 Faceted Hexagonal Freehand


Blog by Steve Laug

I went through my pipes to choose what to work on next and this one caught my eye. It is a great looking Hexagonal Faceted Freehand. It is stamped on the left underside of the hexagonal shank and read Stanwell [over] Zebrano. On the right side underside it is stamped Made in Denmark and on the top right side it was stamped with the shape number 163. Zebrano pipes have a shank extension of Zebra wood on the end, sandwiched between two wafers of orange acrylic. Jeff was travelling in Europe for a holiday with his wife  bought this pipe on 09/16/2017 in Frankfurt, Germany at a bazaar. It has been sitting here in Vancouver cleaned and awaiting my part of the work for almost 5 years. When he found it the finish had thick grime and oils ground into the outside of the bowl and shank. The Zebrano insert had dried out and was rough to the touch. The rim top and inner edge of the bowl had burn damage and was slight out of round. There as a thick cake in the lower ¾ of the bowl and lighter cake on that ¼ of the bowl. The black acrylic stem was scratched and filthy and the inside of the filter tenon sans filter was filthy. It was made for a 9mm filter that I would need to replace. There were deep tooth marks and chatter on both side of the stem near the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe when he got home and got around to cleaning it. Jeff took photos of the rim top to show the condition of the bowl and edges. You can see the damage on the top and edges. You can see that the bowl is slightly out of round as well. He took photos of the stem surface to show the deep marks and damage on both sides. He took photos of the sides and the heel of the bowl to show the interesting grain patterns in the briar through the thick grime. He took a photo of the Zebra wood insert with the acrylic spacers as well. It was quite beautiful.  He took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It is readable but faint in places. Before I started working on the pipe I decided to do a bit of digging on the shape and the design. I turned first to a blog on rebornpipes by Bas Stevens the was a compilation of Stanwell shapes (https://rebornpipes.com/2013/09/03/stanwell-shapes-compiled-by-bas-stevens/). There I found the shape number 163. The information given there said that the shape was a Freehand, “Facet”, hexagonal, with brass ring by Jess Chonowitsch. It was a shape designed by Jess Chonowitsch and that was interesting to me.

I also looked on Pipedia and on Pipephil’s site and while I could read the history of the brand and gather background the Zebrano line was not mentioned. I did a Google search for the Zebrano 163 shape and found a gallery of photos and information on the pipe. I am including both the information on the brand and a few photos of the pipe. It was helpful information regarding what the pipe looked like originally (https://bn-dev.com/pipes-estate/galerie/galerie.php?pipe=3cb469b6b1b5237bdfe99cec04ff4c5feb267fc0). I quote below:

Marque / brand           Stanwell

Marquages / stamping            Stanwell zebrano made in denmark 163

Finition / finish           lisse / smooth

Longueur / length       14.8 cm / 5.83 in

Hauteur / height          4.49 cm / 1.77 in

diamètre tête / bowl diameter             4.22 cm / 1.66 in

diamètre fourneau / chamber diameter          1.93 cm / 0.76 in

Profondeur / depth      3.41 cm / 1.34 in

Poids / weight 43 gr / 1.52 oz

Forme / shape             freehand

Matière tuyau / Stem material            acrylique / acrylic (lucite)

Matière pipe / pipe material   bruyère / briar

Filtre / filter    9mm With that information and a visual idea of what the pipe looked like originally, I turned to work on the pipe itself. Jeff had thoroughly cleaned up the pipe. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. There was some darkening on the inner edge of the rim and top that would need to be dealt with. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the filter tenon and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the stem with Soft Scrub to remove as much of the oxidation as possible. The acrylic stem was clean but had tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. There was no stamped logo on the left side of the stem. I took photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. I took photos of the rim top and bowl as well as the stem to give a sense of the condition of both. The rim top had some damage and darkening to the inner edge and rim top on the right front and back side. The stem cleaned up well and there were tooth marks on the top and underside ahead of the button.I took photos of the stamping on the underside of the hex shank. The are faint but readable as noted above. I took the stem out of the shank and took a photo of the overall look of the pipe.I decided to start my work on the pipe by addressing the darkening and damage on the inside edge of the bowl and the rim top. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the bevel on the inner edge and the top of the bowl. I wiped the top and edges down with a damp cloth and the rim top and edges looked much better.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. 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. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I filled I the deep tooth mark on the underside of the stem with clear CA glue. Once it cured I sanded the repair smooth to blend it into the surface of the acrylic. I sanded out the rest of the tooth chatter and marks with the 220 grit sandpaper to smooth them out. I started the polishing of the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. The stem was looking better with the repairs and polishing.   I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. 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.  I have a box of Vauen 9mm System Filters that fit perfect in the tenon on the Stanwell Zebrano. I put one in place in the tenon and took some photos of the fit.This Jess Chonowitsch Designed Stanwell Faceted Hexagon Freehand 163 with a hexagon acrylic saddle stem fit for 9mm filters is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The beautiful grain on the briar and the Zebra wood shank extension that shines through the polished finish is stunning. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully 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 the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Stanwell Zebrano 163 fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 40 grams/1.41 ounces. I will soon be adding it to the rebornpipe store in the Danish Pipe Making Companies Section. If you are interested in this pipe send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Repairing and restoring a Unique Tom Spanu Freehand Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I have chosen is smooth finished Dublin with a plateau top and a horn shank end. The stem is acrylic with a briar saddle and two strips of briar running down the sides. It came to us on September, 2020 from a lady in Salina, Kansas USA. The contrast of the brown and black stains make the grain stand out. It was stamped at an angle on the left side of the shank and read Tom Spanu. On the underside it is stamped F 3 followed by S P. The pipe was very dirty in the plateau on the rim top. All of the grooves were filled in with a thick coat of lava. The bowl was heavily caked so it was hard to know for sure what the condition of the edges was under the lava. The interesting stem with briar inlays was good in the saddle and inlaid sides. The acrylic blade of the stem had tooth chatter and deep marks on the top and underside on and near the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before his cleanup work. They tell the story and give a glimpse of the pipe. Jeff took photos of the rim top and stem to show the general condition of the pipe. The bowl is heavily caked with a thick overflow of lava on the top and edges fills in the plateau finish. The stem has deep tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside near the button. Jeff took photos of the bowl sides and heel to show the grain and around this bowl. Underneath all the grime it is a nice looking pipe. He took photos of the left side and underside of the shank to show the stamping. The stamping is readable in the photos below and is as noted above. He also included a photo of the inlaid silver dot in an acrylic ring on the topside of the stem to show the condition. To get a short history reminder about the brand I turned to Pipephil’ sites to read what he had written there in the side bar (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-t7.html#tomspanu). I quote below and also include a screen capture of the pertinent section.

Artisan: Tommaso Spanu (born 1944 in Chiaramonti Sardinia) is an independant pipe maker since 1979. He was established in Laerru (Sardinia) from 1979 to 1999 where he used to harvest, cut and condition his own ebauchons. During this period he often worked for Paronelli. The workshop moved to Sassari (Sardinia) in 1999. He crafts Briar but also Lemonwood, Olivewood, Boxwood, Juniper, Oak and even Cork Oak.I turned to Pipedia for more information (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Spanu). I quote below:

Novarte S.N.C. di Spanu Tommaso

Update: We are sad to report that it has come to our attention that Tommaso Spanu passed from this World in the Fall of 2015 to join the many great Italian pipe makers that came before him. Our hope is that Tommoso’s sons and brother will continue the Spanu pipe making tradition. We can also enjoy the legacy he leaves in the many pipes he has made over the years.

In 1963 Tommaso Spanu left his home in Sardinia and wandered to Northern Italy to become a pipemaker. His uncle had managed an apprenticeship for him in Gavirate, in the province of Varese, with it’s many pipe manufactures. His exceptional talent soon attracted the attention of Alberto Paronelli (→ Paronelli), the grand seigneur of Italian pipe business. Paronelli, a famed pipe designer himself, arranged that the best pipe craftsmen schooled his young fosterling and personally taught him in pipe design and styles. Soon Spanu reached a remarkable level of skills and began to work on the Clairmont pipes, a high-grade brand produced for and distributed by Paronelli. A little later the bulk of the Clairmonts was made by Spanu who was even allowed to stamp them with his own name additionally.

All in all Tom Spanu spent 16 years in the North where he worked with many other famous pipemakers like Guiseppe Ascorti and Luige Radice e.g. In 1979 he finally felt it was time now to continue on his own. So he returned to Sardinia where he established his own workshop with some help from his brothers. A firm was founded to market the pipes, the Novarte S.N.C. di Spanu Tommaso. Furthermore he purchased a licence from the local government and following Spanu is the only pipemaker worldwide who grows, harvests, mills and conditions his own briar!

Today his brother and two sons carry on the family tradition, making more than a thousand pipes a year. Mostly more classic models for Italy, but also a good amount of more stylish designs for the foreign markets. Now, if it comes to talking about “entirely handmade pipes” … Just as when Tommaso started carving pipes, only hand tools are used. Not a lathe or drill is to be found in his workshop!

Around 1997 Spanu was approached by Mercedes-Benz and asked to design briar-burl dashboards for their most luxurious sedans. And he replied “Maybe tomorrow!” We can assume that the envoys looked quite dumbfounded to be turned down that way, and so Spanu explained that while the project would be fun, his first love was pipes, and only once he was not making as many pipes he would consider it. Mercedes-Benz is said to have taken the rebuff in good nature, and even this automobile manufacturing giant is still waiting on Mr. Spanu to finish some pipes.

Beside the all-briar pipes Spanu loves to work with a wide variety of others woods ranging from the traditional olivewood to beech, oak, boxwood and juniper. He often produces hybrids composing different woods.

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. He worked on the rim top lava with the soap and tooth brush. He scrubbed the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Soft. He rinsed it off with warm water to remove the Deoxidizer. It looked very good when I brought it to the worktable.   I took close up photos of the rim top and the stem surface. I wanted to show how well it had cleaned up. The rim top looked very good. The beveled inner edge had some damage on the right side toward the front that would need to be cleaned up in the process. I took photos of the stem to show the tooth marks on the surface ahead of the button and on the sharp edge of the button itself. I took a photo of the stamping on the left side and the underside of the shank. You can see that it is stamped as noted above. It is clear and readable. I took the pipe apart and took a photo of the pipe. It is a good looking pipe and has a few deep scratches around the bowl and shank. There were three small worm holes I the horn shank band where it met the briar stem. They were round and quite deep. They would need to be filled in and repaired to make the band round and smooth once more.I began my work on the pipe by dealing with worm holes in the horn shank band. I filled them in with clear super glue. I repeated the fill until the surface was smooth. I blended the repairs into the surrounding horn and it looked good. I put the stem on the shank and sanded the junction as well. I worked on the beveled inner edge of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it our and lessen the darkening. It cleaned up well and looked very good.I worked on the deep cuts in the left side of the bowl with sandpaper and filled them in with clear CA glue. I sanded the repaired areas with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth them out. I polished the repairs with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. By the end of the process they looked very good. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar and plateau rim top with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. I filled in the deep tooth marks on the stem sides with black super glue and set it aside to cure. When it cured I flattened the repairs with a small file. I sanded out the repaired areas with 200 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I am excited to finish this Tom Spanu F3 SP Freehand Dublin with a Plateau Rim Top. I put the pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the rugged rustication all around it. Added to that the polished triple brass and emerald acrylic band and the black vulcanite stem was beautiful. This Spanu Freehand Dublin is nice looking and the pipe feels great in my hand. It is light and well balanced. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 1 inch. The weight of the pipe is 76 grams/2.68 ounces. It is a beautiful pipe and one that will be on the Italian Pipe Makers Section of the rebornpipes store soon. If you are interested in adding it to your collection let me know. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this pipe. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog.

Restoring a Castello Sea Rock Briar 87P Poker


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table is a beautiful Castello Sea Rock Briar Poker. I love the Sea Rock Briar finish and this was one that is quite exemplary of the finish. It has a less rugged and more refined rustication that is still tactile and I think will be a great smoker. It is a pipe that we purchased in September 2020 from a fellow in Los Angeles, California, USA.

This Castello Sea Rock Poker is stamped on the heel and the underside of the shank and reads 87P on the heel of the bowl. That is followed on the shank by Castello [over] Sea Rock Briar followed by Made in Cantu [over] Italy. The numbers and stamping tell me that the pipe is a Sea Rock rusticated finish and it is a Poker. The underside of the Lucite stem also had stamping that read Hand Made over Castello [over] the number 3. The finish was incredibly dirty with spots of grime and debris ground into the crevices and valleys of the rustication. The bowl had a thick cake in the and a heavy lava overflowing onto the smooth rim top. The rim top appeared to rough and beat up with dents. The inner and outer edge of the rim looked very good. The acrylic stem had tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button and on the button itself. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his clean up work on it. My brother took some close up photos of the rim top and the cake in the bowl to show what it looked like when we received it. You can see how thick the cake is and how much of the rim rustication has filled in with the overflow. The photos of the stem show the faux diamond logo on the top left side of the saddle. You can see the tooth marks and chatter near the button on both sides of the stem. Jeff took photos of the rusticated finish around the bowl sides and heel. It is nice looking if you can see through the grime and dust ground into the rugged, deep rustication.   He took a photo of the stamping on the left underside of the diamond shank. The stamping is readable but filthy. It reads as noted above. I recently wrote a blog on the Castello Sea Rock Briar Bulldog SC 54P. I reread the information and quote from a 54P Blog I wrote earlier (https://rebornpipes.com/2016/12/18/an-estate-sale-find-a-castello-sea-rock-sc-54p-bulldog/). It gives a short summary of the information I found.

Before I worked on the pipe I wanted to do a bit of research to see if I could shed some more light on the pipe I had in hand. I learned from the pipephil website that the rhinestone logo was originally on pipes for the US market. There was no hint as to why that was done only that it was and that it is occasionally still used http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-castello.html

I have an older article called PCCA’s Castello Grade & Style Guide. It was written by Robert C. Hamlin (c) 1988, 1992, 1994. Robert gathered some remarkable information on the Castello lines and I have often used his guide in the past to give me pertinent data. There I found more information regarding the shiny logo on the side of the stem.

“American logo’d Castello pipes use a small round “Diamond” (referred to and looking like, but it is NOT actually a diamond) inlaid into the mouthpiece. This was originally done so that the standard Castello white bar logo did not conflict with another brand and logo that was sold by Wally Frank called the “White Bar Pipe” (in the 1950’s).”

The above quote and the remainder of those following come from the same article by Robert Hamlin. You can read the full article at the following link: http://www.pipes.org/BURST/FORMATTED/196.016.html

I read further in the article to help me understand the stamping on the underside of the shank. My knowledge of Castello pipes is pretty limited so when I get one to restore I resort to this article and others to try to make heads or tails of the stamping.

I learned that the Sea Rock Briar stamp also signified something and told me more about the pipe. Robert pointed out:

“SEA ROCK [Carved Black or dark brown]: This is the lowest grade of the Castello line and is the most common in the USA. Sea Rocks are produced by taking a smooth bowl that has not been “final finished” and surface carving the finish with tools. This “carved” finish is then evened out using a steel wire brush, stained and then waxed. The Natural Vergin carved finish is left unstained and unwaxed as a rule, although we have seen waxed and partially waxed “Vergins”.” 

The remaining mystery for me was the meaning of the stamping on the stem. I of course understood the Hand Made and the Castello stamping but the number 3 was a mystery to me. I was not sure what it referred to. So once again Robert’s article gave me the information I needed to understand that last piece of the mystery.

“#2: All Castello standard shaped pipes have a number (3, 4, 5 or 6) stamped on the mouthpiece or sometimes on the Lucite ferrule. What does this number mean? Not much really, it is the number of the size for the proper straw tube or reed that fits the shank and stem of the pipe. These straw tubes are rarely used in the United States. The Castello reed is considered superfluous and useless to most, but with this number you will always know which one fits (the different numbers have to do with length, not diameter).”

Armed with that information I turned to work on the pipe itself. Before he sent it to me, Jeff had done an amazing job cleaning the pipe. It almost looked like a different pipe after his work. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer and removed the rest of it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with isopropyl alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. Even though the stem was acrylic he soaked the stem in Briarville’s Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and then rinsed it off with warm water. It really works well to remove internal and external grime and tars. He scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and a tooth brush and rinsed it off with warm water. It looked amazing when I took it out of the package of pipes he shipped me. I took photos of the pipe before I started my part of the restoration work.   The rim top was much cleaner and the edges looked good. However, the surface of the rim had been used as a hammer and it was in rough condition. Fortunately none of them were too deep – probably thanks to the think overflow of lava. It would take some work to clean up but it had great potential. The stem surface looked good but visible tooth marks and chatter showed clearly on either side of the stem. I took photos of the stamping on the underside of the bowl, shank and stem. It is clear and readable as noted above.I took the stem off the shank and took photos of the parts of the pipe. It is a great looking rusticated Poker. I worked on the rim top and the heel of the bowl to minimize the scratches and marks on both. I used micromesh sanding pads and wet sanded with 1500-12000 grit pads. I was fortunate that the scratches were not deep so I was able to polish them out and remove them. The rim top looked amazingly better and it is a pretty looking pipe. The bowl looked good at this point so I rubbed it down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl and shank with my fingertips and a horse hair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for about 10-15 minutes and buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the tooth marks out on both sides of the stem at the button using 220 grit sandpaper and also sanded the damage to the button surface itself. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.   I used micromesh sanding pads to polish the newly sanded areas on the Lucite stem surface. I dry sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped it down with the damp pad after each sanding pad. In doing so I was able to remove all signs of the damage to stem in those spots along the edge and top of the button. I put the stem in place in the shank and  looked this beautiful Castello Sea Rock Briar 87P Poker. I lightly buffed the bowl on the buffing wheel. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel I waxed the stem with carnauba wax on the wheel. I waxed the bowl with Conservator’s Wax and buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Castello Sea Rock Briar Poker is shown in the photos below. It is truly a beautiful little Poker. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 45 grams/1.59 ounces. The shape and the rustication make it a pleasure to hold in the hand. It fits snug with my thumb curled around the back of the bowl and the rest of the fingers holding the bowl. The finish is extremely tactile and should be interesting in hand as the bowl heats up during smoking. I can testify to how well Castellos smoke. I will be adding it to the Italian Pipe Makers Section on the rebornpipes store soon. Thanks for walking with me through the restoration process.

Restoring a Castello Sea Rock Briar SC 54P Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table is a beautiful Castello Sea Rock Briar Bulldog. I love the Sea Rock Briar finish and this was one that is quite exemplary of the finish. It has a rugged and deep rustication that is very tactile and I think will be a great smoker. It is another pipe from the group of pipes which Jeff and I purchased on 04/26/2022 from a woman who contacted us from Cleveland, Ohio, USA. They had belonged to her husband’s father. We spent time chatting with her and arrived at a price and she sent the pipes to Jeff. It included 28+ pipes along with this one.

This Castello Sea Rock Bulldog is stamped on the left underside of the shank and reads SC [over] 54P. That is Castello [over] Sea Rock Briar [over] Made in Cantu [over] Italy. The numbers and stamping tell me that the pipe is a Sea Rock rusticated finish and it is a bent Bulldog. The underside of the left side of the Lucite stem also had stamping that read Hand Made over Castello [over] the number 5. The finish was very dirty with spots of grime and debris ground into the crevices and valleys of the rustication. The bowl had a thick cake in the and a heavy lava overflowing onto the rim top into the grooves. The rim top appeared to be in very good condition with no damage to the inner edge. The acrylic stem had tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. The button itself appeared to be in good condition. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his clean up work on it. My brother took some close up photos of the rim top and the cake in the bowl to show what it looked like when we received it. You can see how thick the cake is and how much of the rim rustication has filled in with the overflow. The photos of the stem show the faux diamond logo on the top left side of the saddle. You can see the tooth marks and chatter near the button on both sides of the stem. Jeff took photos of the rusticated finish around the bowl sides and heel. It is nice looking if you can see through the grime and dust ground into the rugged, deep rustication. He took a photo of the stamping on the left underside of the diamond shank. The stamping is readable but filthy. It reads as noted above.I remembered that I had written a blog on the same shaped Castello that now was in my rotation and did a quick search on rebornpipes for the link to see if I could remind myself of the information that I had collected there. I found the link, reread the information and quote from it below (https://rebornpipes.com/2016/12/18/an-estate-sale-find-a-castello-sea-rock-sc-54p-bulldog/).

Before I worked on the pipe I wanted to do a bit of research to see if I could shed some more light on the pipe I had in hand. I learned from the pipephil website that the rhinestone logo was originally on pipes for the US market. There was no hint as to why that was done only that it was and that it is occasionally still used http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-castello.html

I have an older article called PCCA’s Castello Grade & Style Guide. It was written by Robert C. Hamlin (c) 1988, 1992, 1994. Robert gathered some remarkable information on the Castello lines and I have often used his guide in the past to give me pertinent data. There I found more information regarding the shiny logo on the side of the stem.

“American logo’d Castello pipes use a small round “Diamond” (referred to and looking like, but it is NOT actually a diamond) inlaid into the mouthpiece. This was originally done so that the standard Castello white bar logo did not conflict with another brand and logo that was sold by Wally Frank called the “White Bar Pipe” (in the 1950’s).”

The above quote and the remainder of those following come from the same article by Robert Hamlin. You can read the full article at the following link: http://www.pipes.org/BURST/FORMATTED/196.016.html

I read further in the article to help me understand the stamping on the underside of the shank. My knowledge of Castello pipes is pretty limited so when I get one to restore I resort to this article and others to try to make heads or tails of the stamping. First of all I had no idea what the SC stamped ahead of the Sea Rock Briar stamping meant. I had seen Castello’s with the signature of Carlo Scotti on them but not this stamping. Robert gave me the information I needed.

“Older Castello pipes will usually include the “REG No.” and have the letters “SC” stamped as a part of the nomenclature. The SC stamp was for Scotti, Carlo (in Italy all names are listed last, first). Today the full name of Carlo Scotti, contained in a small oval, has replaced the SC stamp.”

I learned that the Sea Rock Briar stamp also signified something and told me more about the pipe. Robert pointed out:

“SEA ROCK [Carved Black or dark brown]: This is the lowest grade of the Castello line and is the most common in the USA. Sea Rocks are produced by taking a smooth bowl that has not been “final finished” and surface carving the finish with tools. This “carved” finish is then evened out using a steel wire brush, stained and then waxed. The Natural Vergin carved finish is left unstained and unwaxed as a rule, although we have seen waxed and partially waxed “Vergins”.” 

The remaining mystery for me was the meaning of the stamping on the stem. I of course understood the Hand Made and the Castello stamping but the number 5 was a mystery to me. I was not sure what it referred to. So once again Robert’s article gave me the information I needed to understand that last piece of the mystery.

“#2: All Castello standard shaped pipes have a number (3, 4, 5 or 6) stamped on the mouthpiece or sometimes on the lucite ferrule. What does this number mean? Not much really, it is the number of the size for the proper straw tube or reed that fits the shank and stem of the pipe. These straw tubes are rarely used in the United States. The Castello reed is considered superfluous and useless to most, but with this number you will always know which one fits (the different numbers have to do with length, not diameter).”

Armed with that information I turned to work on the pipe itself. Before he sent it to me, Jeff had done an amazing job cleaning the pipe. It almost looked like a different pipe after his work. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer and removed the rest of it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank and the airway in the stem with isopropyl alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. Even though the stem was acrylic he soaked the stem in Briarville’s Pipe Stem Deoxidizer and then rinsed it off with warm water. It really works well to remove internal and external grime and tars. He scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and a tooth brush and rinsed it off with warm water. It looked amazing when I took it out of the package of pipes he shipped me. I took photos of the pipe before I started my part of the restoration work.  The rim top was much cleaner and the rustication was in good condition. The inner and outer edges of the bowl looked very good. The stem surface looked good but visible tooth marks and chatter showed clearly on either side of the stem. I took a photo of the stamping on the left underside of the shank and stem. It is clear and readable as noted above. I also took a photo of the faux diamond in the top left of the saddle stem. It is also in good condition.I took the stem off the shank and took photos of the parts of the pipe. It is another great looking Rusticated Bulldog with twin rings around the cap of the bowl.I did a quick work over of the rim top grooves with a brass bristle brush to clean up the small particles that still remained in the grooves of the rustication. It did not take too much to remove what was left and leave the rim clean. It really is a pretty looking pipe.The bowl looked good at this point so I rubbed it down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl and shank with my fingertips and a horse hair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for about 10-15 minutes and buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the tooth marks out on both sides of the stem at the button using 220 grit sandpaper and also sanded the damage to the button surface itself. I started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I used micromesh sanding pads to polish the newly sanded areas on the Lucite stem surface. I dry sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped it down with the damp pad after each sanding pad. In doing so I was able to remove all signs of the damage to stem in those spots along the edge and top of the button. I put the stem in place in the shank and  looked this beautiful Castello Sea Rock Briar 54P Bent Bulldog. I lightly buffed the bowl on the buffing wheel. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel I waxed the stem with carnauba wax on the wheel. I waxed the bowl with Conservator’s Wax and buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Castello Sea Rock Briar Bulldog is shown in the photos below. It is truly a beautiful little bulldog. The finished Castello Sea Rock Briar Bulldog is shown in the photos below. It is truly a beautiful little bulldog. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 41 grams/1.45 ounces. The shape and the rustication make it a pleasure to hold in the hand. It fits snug with my thumb curled around the back of the bowl and the rest of the fingers holding the bowl. The finish is extremely tactile and should be interesting in hand as the bowl heats up during smoking. I can testify to how well both Castellos and this shape smoke. I will be adding it to the Italian Pipe Makers Section on the rebornpipes store soon. Thanks for walking with me through the restoration process.

Breathing New Life into a Brebbia Collection Hand Carved Pura


Blog by Steve Laug

I have sold a few pipes to a fellow in Israel over the past year and he is great to work with. He has great taste in pipes and the ones he has purchased from me have been beautiful. Not long ago I received and email from him about another pipe he was interested in purchasing EBay. He sent me the link and wanted my opinion on it. It was a nice Brebbia Collection “Freehand” with a rim top carved to emulate plateau. I really liked the look and the flowing shape of the pipe and stem. The pipe appeared to be in decent condition. Not too many days after that he wrote me to say he had won it and he had it shipped to me rather than to him in Israel. We chatted back and forth about it via email and I would let him know when I received it. Here are the pictures that the seller included with the advertising.  The seller took a large photo of the rim top to show the condition. You can see the cake in the bowl and darkening on the inner edge. You can also see the faux plateau (carved briar to look like it is plateau when it is not). He also included a photo of the top and underside of the stem the light tooth marks, chatter and scratches. It also has a nice inlay of various woods as a band on the shank end of the stem. He also took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It was readable and will be described once I have the pipe in hand and can examine it.He took the stem off the shank and took a picture of the mortise and the tenon to show the condition of those parts of the pipe. It looked solid.The pipe arrived this week in a well packed box from the seller. When I opened the box I examined the pipe carefully to assess both the condition of the pipe and what I needed to do with it. There was a moderate cake in the bowl with darkening on the inner edge of the rim. The rim top looked quite good. The pipe was stamped on the on the sides the shank and on the left side read Brebbia [over] the signature of Enea Buzzi. On the right side it was stamped Collection. On the underside it has the most stamping and read Hand Carved Real Briar in a circle around a Hand. To the right of that it is stamped PURA in a scroll and then ITALY at the stem shank junction. The finish was dirty but you could see some interesting grain underneath. The stem had the brass Brebbia diamond logo inlay on the top of the taper. The acrylic was dirty and there were tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside. It was going to take some work to clean up but I thought it would work out fairly well. I think the pipe would clean up amazingly well. I took some photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. I have included them below. I took a photo of the bowl and rim top to show the thickness of the cake in the bowl and the darkening on the inner edges of the bowl. The faux plateau looks quite good. I took photos of the stem surface to show the condition and tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. I took photos of the stamping on the shank sides. It is readable as noted above and is very clear. I took a photo of the Brebbia brass diamond logo on the stem as well. It is in excellent condition.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe parts. It is really going to be quite a stunning piece.I wanted to know more about this particular model of the company – The Brebba Collection so I turned to Pipephil first for a summary of  information available (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-brebbia.html). I quote below and also have included a screen capture of the model that was pictured.

The Brebbia brand is named after the locality of Bosco Grosso di Brebbia (Prov. Varese, Reg. Lombardia). A first corporate was founded by Enea Buzzi and Achille Savinelli in 1947. They split in 1953. Buzzi ketp the factory and created the MPB brand (Maniffatura Pipe Brebbia). After 1968 the brand was shortly called “Brebbia”.

Luciano Buzzi son of Enea manages the company since the 1990s.I turned then to Pipedia for more detail (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Brebbia). I quote from the article on the site. There is some interesting history there. I also have included a photo of the company provided by Doug Valitchka

Pipe Brebbia Srl, or better the M.P.B. (Manifattura Pipe Brebbia) was born in 1953 from the denouement of the association between Achille Savinelli and Enea Buzzi in 1947, where the first was employed in the marketing and the second in manufacturing of pipes under the name of Savinelli. It was made in exclusive up to 1953 and extended without further rights up to 1956.

The production, which is always careful and perfect, has continued in a traditional way for 60 years, using old lathes for the first steps, but finishing every piece by hand.

The secret of their manufacture, if we may put it this way, is the respect for the traditions with the experience acquired in several years of successful work, which could be summed up in two words: high quality.

The factory is currently managed by Enea’s son, Luciano.

For the last few decades, many of Brebbia’s pipes have been made by a number of small, otherwise independent pipe manufacturers, being marketed under the trade name Brebbia. For the northern European market, 9mm filter pipes are being produced, some of which employ VAUEN‘s Konex system (which ensures a good seat of the filter).

Courtesy of Doug Valitchka

I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and took the cake back to bare walls. I cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I sanded the bowl walls with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. I examined the walls with a lens and they were solid and undamaged. I scraped out the tars and oils in the shank/mortise with a thin pen knife to get rid of the build up on the walls. I cleaned out the airway in the shank and the stem as well as the mortise with isopropyl alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. It was quite dirty and now smells much better. I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the finish of the bowl and rim top. I rinsed off the bowl with warm water and then dried the bowl with a cotton cloth. The grain that came to the surface once it was clean is quite stunning. I worked over the darkening on the inside edge of the bowl and the rim top with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. It began to look a lot better.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. After each pad I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth to remove the sanding debris. It really took on a shine by the last three sanding pads. To remove the heavy Latakia smell I stuffed the bowl with cotton bolls and filled it with 99% isopropyl alcohol. I put a cotton boll plug in the shank and set it aside to do its work. In the morning you can see that it had pull a lot of the oils out of the briar. I removed the plug and cleaned the shank one more time. The pipe smells fresh.I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar where it works to clean, restore and preserve the briar. I let it do its magic for 15 minutes then buffed it off with a cotton cloth. The pipe looks incredibly good at this point in the process. With that the bowl had come a long way from when I started working on it. I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I continued to polish the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and wiped it down with Obsidian Oil one more time. I am excited to finish this Brebbia Enea Buzzi Collection Pura Freehand. I put the pipe back together and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I hand buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with beautiful mixed grain all around it. The polished grain on the pipe looks great with the black vulcanite stem. This smooth Hand Carved Enea Buzzi Brebbia Collection is great looking and the pipe feels great in my hand. It is light and well balanced. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 58 grams/2.05 ounces. It turned out to be a beautiful pipe. I will be packing it up and sending it to my friend in Israel. I think he will enjoy this beauty once it is in his hands. Thanks for your time reading this blog and as Paresh says each time – Stay Safe.

An Easy Restore – Big Ben Presidential Imperial 188 Canadian


Blog by Steve Laug

Not too long ago my wife and I had dinner with some good friends here in Vancouver – first time since COVID-19 so it was good to see them. At the beginning of the meal he handed me a box that he said was for me. In it were some pipes that he was giving to me and a bunch of cigars. The pipes included a very nice, lightly smoked Big Ben Canadian that I have included photos of below. It came in a black vinyl bag with the Big-Ben logo and name embossed on it. I took the pipe out and it was a well carved hefty Canadian with a smooth finish. It is stamped on the underside and reads Big-Ben [over] Presidential [over] Imperial. On the end of the underside of shank next to the stem it read 188 [over] Made in Holland. There was an inlaid cursive “B” on the top of the acrylic stem and there was light chatter on both sides near the button. The stem was quite shiny and included a silver spacer. It was going to be a beauty once cleaned up. I took photos of the pipe when I took it to the work table. There was a light cake in the bowl and the rim top had some dirty spots. The edges of the bowl – internal and external were in excellent condition. The shank and airways were lightly dirty with tars and oils. The finish was clean with a light dust on the surface. The stem was shiny with some light tooth chatter on the top and the underside near the button. The button itself was undamaged. Overall the pipe looked good even in its lightly used condition. It really was a stocky looking pipe with its thick oval Canadian shank and taper acrylic stem. I took photos of the rim top and the bowl to show the condition. The rim top was smooth and other than some grime and debris it was in great shape. It is hard to see the light cake in the bowl but it is present (some is visible on the back side of the bowl in the photo below). I also took photos of both sides of the stem to show the light tooth chatter. Over all the pipe was in great condition. I took photos of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It is clear and it reads as noted above.I took a photo of the pipe with the stem removed to give an overall picture of the pipe. It really is quite beautiful.For historical background for those unfamiliar with the brand I turned to Pipephil’s site (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-bigben.html). There were not any pictures of the series but the introductory information was helpful so I am including that.

Big-Ben is a brand of the Elbert Gubbels & Sons – Royal Dutch Pipe Factory. The company has gone bankrupt on March 2012. Production (2009): 250000 pipes/year See also: Amphora, Humbry, IRC, Roermond, Royal Dutch, Thompson and Porsche Design

I then turned to Pipedia for more information (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Big_Ben). I quote below:

The brand name Big Ben was originally owned by a small trade company in Amsterdam which was already well established in several countries selling pipes among other goods. The firm was bought by Elbert Gubbels & Zonen B.V. – see Gubbels – who were in search for a suitable brand name to further expansion on international markets. Big Ben became Gubbels’ mainstay brand with it’s own website

There was a further link to the Gubbels listing on Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Gubbels).

With the help of his family the father of Elbert Gubbels Sr. started a retail shop for tobacco pipes and other smoker’s equipment in 1870.

In 1924 Elbert Gubbels Sr., now father/grandfather of the present owners, transformed it into a wholesale trade business. The company grew steadily and imported pipes from various countries as there were no factories producing briar pipes in the Netherlands. The most important suppliers came from France and England.

When German troops occupied the Netherlands in May of 1940, a period of almost five years began in which the Gubbels family could hardly operate their business at all. During this years of forced rest Elbert Gubbels had a notion to become independent of foreign suppliers and he drew up plans to start his own production of tobacco pipes after World War II.

Immediately succeeding the war it was very difficult to obtain good pipes for the import of foreign pipes was limited and so the time was right to go for something new. In 1946 he launched pipe production at Godsweerdersingel No. 20 in Roermond with a couple of new machines and some workers, a couple of them being foreign specialists and considered himself to commence. Yet the cramped accomodations and the needy equipment of the workshop showed the limits all too soon. It was obvious that the workshop was inadequate and Mr. Gubbels invested in another building covering an area of 900m² that also offered a sufficient warehouse. Now the production could be increased going hand in hand with developing new models and improving the quality of the pipes being produced.

The production grew steadily but it showed now that an “international” brand name was required for further expansion on international markets – obviously no one cared too much for pipes made in the Netherlands. Feeling that the time involved to get a new brand established was too lengthy, Mr. Gubbels bought a small trade company in Amsterdam which owned all the rights to the brand Big Ben and was already well established in other countries selling pipes among other goods. A real happenstance – Gubbels products could be marketed now in all European countries, the USA, Canada and many other countries, and nowadays they can be found in almost every country world-wide.

In December 1972 the company opened new and very modern factory in Roermond at Keulsebaan 505. With the official opening by the Governor of the Province of Limburg, the Gubbels company was, on behalf of Her Majesty Queen Juliana of the Netherlands, granted the title “Royal” so that the official name became: Elbert Gubbels & Zonen – Koninklijke Fabriek van Tabakspijpen (Elbert Gubbels & Sons – Royal Dutch Pipe Factory).

Armed with that history and having a sense of the brand it was now time to do a bit of spiffing with the pipe itself.

I reamed the pipe with a PipNet pipe reamer to remove the light cake from the bowl walls. It was uneven and needed to be removed so I took it back to bare briar. I cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and then sanded the bowl with a dowel wrapped with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the walls. I cleaned out the internals with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners to remove the debris and the oils from the shank and tenon as well as the airway into the stem and bowl.I scrubbed the rim top with a damp cotton pad to remove the debris and lava. It worked very well. With the top cleaned off I rubbed the bowl down with some Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips and a horse hair shoe brush. The product works to clean, renew and protect briar. I let it do its work for 15 minutes then buffed it off with a soft cloth. The pipe is really quite a beauty. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I polished the surface of the acrylic stem on both sides using micromesh sanding pads. I dry sanded the stem with the 1500-12000 grit pads, then wiped it down with a cloth impregnated with Obsidian Oil. I finished polishing it with Before & After stem polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I am excited to finish this Big-Ben Presidential Imperial 188 Canadian. I put the pipe back together and buffed it lightly 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 and hand buffed it with microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the polished black acrylic stem with the silver spacer. It really was a beautiful pipe. The grain shining through the rich red stain on this Big-Ben Canadian is nice looking and the pipe feels great in my hand. It is light and well balanced. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.83 ounces/52 grams. It is a beautiful pipe and one that will be on the rebornpipes store in the Pipes From Various Makers Section soon. If you are interested in adding it to your collection let me know. Thanks for walking through the cleanup with me as I worked over this pipe. 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 those who follow us.