Tag Archives: pressure fitting a band

Repairing a broken shank and crooked alignment on a Joh’s Churchwarden


Blog by Steve Laug

I received an email a few weeks ago from a fellow in Vancouver named Chris, asking if I would have a look at a cracked shank on his Joh’s churchwarden. He figured that it was not repairable but wanted to know if I would cut back the broken shank and refit the stem. I asked him to send me some photos of the damaged shank so I could see it myself. He sent me two photos of the pipe – one from the left side and the other from the top. The photos showed some extensive damage to the shank. There were cracks on the top, the bottom, the right and the left side of the shank. There was a large chunk of briar missing on the left side of the shank. It also appeared to me that the diameter of the stem was smaller than the diameter of the shank and that the stem sat toward the left side of the shank.Chris brought the pipe by my office for me to have a look at. We sat in my office and he went over the pipe with me. It was a nice looking pipe with two rusticated panels on the left side of the bowl and the rest of the bowl and rim were smooth. The pipe was in good shape other than the broken shank. The rim had some darkening and oils on the back side. The stem was in excellent condition with no tooth marks at all on either side. We made the decision to work on it and see what I could do repairing the damage. I took photos of the pipe when I brought it home from work and put it on the work table.I took close up photos of the cracked and broken shank. You can see the extensive damage and the difference in the diameter of the shank and the stem. I used a microdrill bit on the Dremel and drilled pin holes at the end of each crack to stop the cracks from spreading further.I used a combination of super glue and briar dust applied in layers to build up area where there was a missing chunk of briar in the left side of the shank. I built it up until the missing chunk was replaced with the mixture. It was not pretty but it was better than it was when I started the process.I sanded the repair with a sanding drum on my Dremel. The sanding drum smoothed out the repair on the exterior of the shank. The next series of three photos show the repaired area of the shank. I used a needle file to smooth out the inside of the mortise and to begin to return it to round. I would do more work on that once I had pressure fit a nickel band on the shank. I heated the nickel band with a Bic lighter to expand it and pressed it onto the shank of the pipe until the edge of the band and the edge of the shank end were even.I remembered that I had not filled in the pinholes that I had drilled. I used clear super glue and a tooth pick to put a bead of glue on top of each pin hole. When the glue had dried I sanded the shank repairs smooth with 220 grit sandpaper until they were blended into the surface of the briar.I polished the sanded areas of the briar and the dirty top of the bowl with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wiped the shank down with a damp cotton pad to remove the dust. I used a medium brown stain pen to touch up the sanded areas around the shank. The medium brown blended perfectly with the existing stain. I polished the bowl and shank with 3200-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads and wiped it down with a damp cotton pad to remove the sanding dust on the surface after each pad. Before I took photos of the polished stummel after using the 12000 grit pad, I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed the pipe on the buffer with a clean buffing pad to give it a shine. The polished pipe is shown in the photos below. I took close up photos of the shank repair and band to show the look of the repaired shank. If you look closely you can see the repaired cracks and the tiny pinholes but the pipe looks very good with the new nickel band and blended stain. I reshaped the mortise with needle files and built up the left side of the tenon with clear super glue to move the stem toward the centre of the shank. Once I had finished the alignment was far better than when I started and the stem looks more centred in the shank. I used a tooth pick and super glue to fill in the gap between the band and the right side of the shank. You can see from the photo that the shank was not round but more oval and slanted to the left. With the band and the repair the shank is round and the mortise end looks far better.I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect it. I used a very light touch on the rusticated portions of the left side of the bowl. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe is well proportioned with the following dimensions Length: 10 inches, Height: 2 inches, Bowl diameter: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inches. The finished pipe is shown in the photos that follow. I think Chris will be happy to see one of his favourite pipes returned to his rotation looking better than when he left it with. Chris if you read this – tell us what you think. Enjoy. Thanks for looking.

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Resurrecting a Butz Choquin Commander 1028 Rhodesian


Blog by Steve Laug

This is the third pipe that I a working on for the pipe smoker who stopped by my house last week and dropped off his pipes for repair. This one is a Butz Choquin Rhodesian. It is stamped Butz Choquin over Commander on the left side of the shank and under that it is stamped Filtre Extra. On the right side, the shape number 1028 is stamped. It was another one that had a replacement stem that is a tight fit in the shank. The owner was pretty sure that the replacement stem is what cracked the shank in two places and that certainly could be true. The stem was oxidized and had tooth marks on both sides just in front of the button. The briar is in rough shape. The rim had a coating of lava that overflow from the bowl and had a lot of nicks and dings from where the pipe had been knocked against a hard surface to remove the dottle. The bowl had a thick crumbly cake that was uneven. There were burn marks around the outer edges of the rim. The double ring had been nicked and some of the band around the top of the bowl was broken. The shank had two cracks on it – one on the right side that extended half way along the shank and one on the top left that was about a ¼ inch long. The finish was gone and the stamping had been over buffed somewhere along the way so it was hard to read. I took a close up photo of the rim and bowl to show the damage and overflow onto the rim. The nicks and roughness are visible in the bowl. It appears that the bowl had been over reamed somewhere along the way and there was a gap between the bottom of the bowl and the entrance of the airway into the bowl. The second photo below shows the crack in the shank on the right side. It was quite long and rough to touch.The next photos show the condition of the replacement stem. You can see the oxidation and tooth marks on both sides and on the button top itself.I took some close up photos of the cracked shank. I circled both cracked areas in red. (I apologize for the blurry second photo. I should have checked the pic before I move on but did not. The crack is still visible.)I drilled a small hole with a microdrill bit at the terminus of both cracks to stop the crack from expanding further. (Again they are circle in red in the photos below.)I pressed briar dust into the cracks and put super glue on top of the dust to fill in the crack and the drilled hole. I sanded the fills until they were blended into the shank.I put the band onto the end of the shank and heated it with a heat gun to expand it. Once it was hot, I pressed it down against a board that I use for this purpose. Make sure to hold the shank straight up and down to keep the band moving up the shank evenly.Once the band was in place on the shank and the end was even with the end of the shank I let is cool. As the band cooled, the cracks were held tightly together and from the end of the shank were visible only if you knew where to look. I took photos of the newly banded shank to show the look of the pipe with the band. I lightly topped the bowl on the topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the rim damage and burn marks.I reamed the bowl with the PipeNet reamer and the Savinelli Fitsall Reamer to take the cake back to the bare walls. I sanded the bowl with sandpaper to smooth it out. I scrubbed the rim and airway in the shank and the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. There was still work to do but it was getting there. I sanded the oxidation and build up on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove it and the tooth marks. Those that could not be sanded out I filled with black super glue.I cleaned out the grooves around the bowl with a thin blade and wiped it down with alcohol. I sanded the rim cap and the ring to smooth out the damage and give me a clear picture of what I needed to do to repair these areas. The two photos below show the damaged areas.I filled in the missing spots on the ring with super glue and briar dust. I used a sharp knife to clean out the rings from the excess glue and fill. I used a piece of sandpaper to sand the edges on the centre ring. I was able to fill in the majority of the damage though there were still some spots on the ring that showed damage.As I cleaned and sanded the rim cap with micromesh sanding  pads I noticed one more small crack on the left side of the bowl from the edge of the rim down the side of the bowl. It was not all the way through the bowl into the inside of the bowl but it was there. I used a microdrill bit on the Dremel to drill small holes at the end of the top edge and also on the hook of the bottom edge of the crack. I filled in the holes and the crack with super glue and briar dust. I sanded the spots once the glue had dried. I smoothed out the repair to blend it into the rest of the briar.I stained the bowl with dark brown aniline stain and flamed it with a lighter to set it in the grain. I repeated the process until I was happy with the coverage on the briar. The stain blended the repairs on the shank and the bowl with the rest of the briar. They are still visible if you know where to look but really look like small black spots in the briar.I hand buffed the bowl with a microfibre cloth and took the following photos to show the state of things at this point in the process. I am pretty happy with the finish at this point. I opened the slot in the button with needle files – both a flat oval and thicker oval to make it easier to pass a pipe cleaner through to the bowl. Once it was clearly opened I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the file marks in the slot.I turned my attention to the surface of the stem. The oxidation was deep and it took some work to get it out. I worked on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the surface oxidation. It removed much of the oxidation but there was still work to be done. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads. The photo below shows that there was still some oxidation to work on. I buffed it with red Tripoli to further remove the oxidation. I was happy with it once it was buffed. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads. The second photo shows the stem after that buffing. The oxidation was finally conquered. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with the last three grits of micromesh – 6000-12000 grit pads and rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. I set it aside to let the oil dry.I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish out the last of the scratches. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax with the wax wheel. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine and with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The third pipe is finished for the pipe smoker who dropped them by for me to restore. This one had a few challenges but I think they were met and the pipe looks better than when I began. Thanks for looking.

Calabash No Name from eBay


Blog by Dal Stanton

After celebrating our daughter’s wedding and family reunion in the US and returning to Bulgaria, I was anxious to begin a new restoration.  While in the US, I added a few pipes to the pool when my wife and I stopped at an antique store advertised on an interstate billboard between Nashville and Chattanooga – this story for the future.   I’ve developed a bit of an eBay purchases trove and I found in the ‘Help Me!’ basket what I believe is a Calabash shaped unmarked briar from a seller in New Mexico.  I was drawn by the shape and the lateral movement of grain – a very nice looking piece of briar with great potential.  I wasn’t sure on the shape and checked out Pipedia’s Pipe Shapes Chart (Link) and Calabash seems to be the best fit – please let me know if I missed!  The seller’s pictures provided a descent chronicle of the pipe’s strengths and needs.cal1 cal2 cal3The pictures reveal stummel externals in very good shape except for heavy oil and lava overflow on the rim.  The stem is heavily oxidized and has a tooth hole on the underside of the bit – definitely an eye tooth hanger!  Both upper and lower button areas have teeth bites and significant chatter.  The button lip will also need smoothing and redefinition.  By the looks of this pipe, it was someone’s well-loved and used partner in life.  When I put the Calabash on my worktable I take some additional close-ups to focus on the problem areas and I take a closer look.  In the bowl, I discover what appear to be cracks in the briar in the front and backsides.  At this point, I’m not sure if this is only superficial within the cake or if it presents other problems.  I also take a closer look at the stem hole after inserting a pipe cleaner.cal4 cal5 cal6Before I can make a clear assessment of the bowl and the cracks, I decide first to ream the bowl with the Pipnet reaming kit to reveal the wall’s condition and to clean up the rim.  I also remove the stem and plop it in a bath of Oxy-Clean to begin softening the heavy oxidation in the vulcanite.  I use 3 of the 4 blades available in the Pipnet kit.  The cake was light.  I finish the reaming process using the Savinelli pipe knife and clean the walls by sanding with 240 grit paper pinched with the Savinelli knife.cal7 inspect the cracks in the bowl and decide to shoot a question off and some pics to Steve to get his input.  I then use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and clean the stummel surface with cotton pads. In addition, to remove the thick lava on the rim, I utilize a brass brush which will not scratch the wood.cal8 cal9Putting the stummel aside, I retrieve the stem from the Oxyclean bath and wet sand the raised oxidation with 600 grit paper and follow dry sanding with 0000 steel wool.  In anticipation of working on the patch for the tooth hole I want to clean the internals of the stem.  I use several pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95% and things are cleaning up well.cal10With the stem cleaned up from I move to repair the tooth hole.  This is a first time for me so I fill my mental cup reading several different blogs regarding hole repair and techniques.  One of the necessary ingredients for a repair is activated charcoal powder mixed with superglue to create a putty for the hole patch.  Living in Bulgaria, I was not able locate activated charcoal in powder state but we do have pet stores and we do have aquariums which require charcoal for the filtering system.  The problem is that this charcoal comes in a granulated form.  This problem was solved with a technique and tool going back some millennia with the use of a pestle and mortar.  I pictured a comparison of before and after below.  My only concern is that the charcoal powder I am producing with the pestle and mortar is fine enough to form a smooth blended patch.  We will see.cal11With activated charcoal powder now in hand, I take another close-up of the damaged bit.  To provide a good bond between the patch and vulcanite I score and roughen the area with 240 grit sanding paper, working the paper around the hole and to loosen and remove debris in the hole itself.  I follow that with a Q-tip cleaning dipped in alcohol.  I want the area clean.  I cut a piece of an index card, fold it into a hard point that will fit in the button and wrap the end with tape and then put Vaseline over it to assure that the patch has a solid surface underneath so putty doesn’t leak into the airway and will easily slide out after the patch sets. I pour a small mound of charcoal on an index card then I drip a small puddle of Starbond Black Medium KE-150 glue next to the charcoal.  Using a toothpick, I begin to mix the glue and charcoal a bit at a time so that I can judge the viscosity of the emerging putty – I’m aiming for a honey-like thickness.  When the putty begins to thicken as I add charcoal, I arrive at what I hope is the accurate brew!  Using the toothpick as a trowel, I apply charcoal putty to the hole, tamping each application and making sure I reach the depths of the hole and over-cover the damaged area building a bit of a mound.  After the patch cures, I will remove the excess putty.  I’ll give it a full 48 hours before continuing the work to assure the patch is solid and good for years to come.  After the patch sets a bit, I flip the stem and apply drops of Starbond Black Medium KE-150 to the tooth dents on the upper bit area.  The pictures show the progress.cal12 cal13 cal14With the stem patches curing I return to the stummel.  Steve’s email arrived with his reply to my questions about dealing with the cracks in the inner bowl.  He described his method of applying a paste made from a mixture of cigar ash and water to the cracks and bowl wall.  Yes, I remember previously reading about this in one of his restores!  This will come later after I’m able to collect some cigar ash – Cubans are readily available in Bulgaria.  I want high quality ash!  I take another close-up of the stummel as I re-inspect the surface.  I find one small crevice which I will fill with clear super-glue.  First, using a cotton pad I clean the surface of the stummel with acetone to remove any residual finish.  I then apply a drop of super glue on the small crevice above the shank junction and put the stummel down for the night to let the superglue fill to cure.cal15 cal16The next day, ready to move forward, I strategically sand down the superglue fill with 240 grit paper removing the excess glue bringing the patch down to the briar surface assuring a good blend.cal17When I think of the classic Calabash look, the stummel shape is crowned with a distinct cap.  To enhance this look and to remove some damaged, colored briar around the inner rim, I want to enhance and augment the bevel already present.  Using a coarser 120 grit paper tightly rolled, I cut the fresh bevel then I follow using a rolled-up piece of 240 grit paper to smooth the new bevel.  Pictures show the progress.cal18 cal19Before continuing with the rim repair and the stummel finish, I want to clean the stummel internals with a retort but I’ll need to return to the stem bit repair and do the sanding on the patches first.  The retort’s rubber hose will not expand enough to attach directly to the shank so I need to utilize the stem.  I am anxious to see how my first attempt at a hole repair faired.  Utilizing a flat needle file and 240 grit paper I sand the patch down to the stem surface. The patch is blending well but I detect very small, what I assume are air pockets, emerge during the sanding.  From my reading, I found that this is normal, but these appear to be too small to treat with a bit of superglue. I’ll keep my eye on this during the stem finishing phase.  On the upper bit, I also sand the superglue patches of the tooth dents to the stem surface with 240 grit paper.  With a needle file, I redefine the button lip a bit smoothing out where there were tooth bites.  The pictures show the progress on both the underside and the upperside of the bit – I’m liking what I see.cal19a cal20I don’t want to proceed any further until cleaning the internals of the stummel.  I will use the retort to accomplish this.  With cotton ball in the bowl, alcohol boiling in the test tube I begin the process.  I take a couple of shots of the progressive dirtying of the alcohol.  I forgot to take the final where the used alcohol was almost clear.  After the pipe cools from the retort, I remove the stem and finish the internal cleaning with some Q-tips and pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol 95%.   Internals are clean!cal21 cal22 cal23Turning again to the stem, I begin the micromesh process.  I wet sand with micromesh pads 1500 to 2400. Before applying Obsidian Oil, I want to take a close look at the tooth hole patch on the underside of the bit.  I’m not happy with what I find. With the first set of micromesh sanding pads the pocketing in the patch is more pronounced.  Air pockets?  Or, perhaps my charcoal powder was too coarse?  I’m not satisfied with these results so, even though it is a detour, I want to try to rectify the problem.  I apply a thin coat of CA Instant Glue over the area.  I’m hoping that the glue will fill the pocket and allow a smoother surface to emerge – enhancing the blend with the native vulcanite.  I clean the area with a bit of alcohol on a cotton pad then I apply the CA Glue.  I’m hopeful that this will do the trick.cal24Turning now to the stummel externals, I first use a medium and then a light grade sanding sponge, focusing on the rim to work out pits and roughness left over from the lava clean up.  Following the sanding sponges, I wet sand the stummel using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, then dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  As I watched the beauty of the grain emerge, I made the decision not to apply a stain but to keep the natural briar – a rich, thick, swirl of honey.  This no name Calabash is dressing up nicely.cal25 cal26Time to return to the stem and complete the lower bit tooth hole patch and to prepare the stem for the waiting bowl.  I ‘gently’ approach the sanding with 240 grit paper to lightly smooth the re-superglued patch down to the stem surface.  The ‘gentleness’ is due to not wanting to sand deeper than the reapplication, increasing the potential of uncovering new pockets.  I also again apply the flat needle file to define the lower button lip and then remove the file marks with the 240 grit paper.  I follow with 600 grit sanding paper and finally, I finish with 0000 steel wool.  I think the hole patch is improved and now I’ll trust the rest of the finishing and polishing process to blend the patch as much as possible.  In the picture below one can still detect the patch boundaries but the surface is much smoother.cal27With tooth hole charcoal superglue putty patch officially completed, I restart the micromesh sanding process by wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400 followed by an application of Obsidian Oil to absorb into the vulcanite surface. Then dry sanding with micromesh pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000, completing each set with an application of Obsidian Oil.  The pictures show the progress.  The last picture in this set I flip the stem to show the hole repair.  I think it’s ok, and as they say, “It is what it is.”cal28 cal29I have two mini-projects left before I begin the final polishing and waxing processes with the Dremel.  I want to dress up this ‘No Name’ Calabash with a band.  The beauty of this pipe emerged along the way and the classy Calabash shape just cries out, “Band!”  So, band it is.  I think it will look great.  The other project is to fill the cracks in the bowl with ‘Pipe Mud’ per Steve’s email response to my questions earlier in the restoration. I recalled reading about ‘Pipe Mud’ before and it didn’t take long to find it in the vast Rebornpipes.com archives.  Steve’s tutorial was helpful and to the point by point as usual (See: Link), but also of value for newbies to the hobby are the comments following – more links and practices to add to the mix!

Gary, my friend and colleague who lives in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, happily responded to my plea for ‘quality’ cigar ash.  I am now in possession of ash the byproduct of 2 Cubans – the second of which he smoked with me Thanksgiving Day evening as we gathered to celebrate together in Sofia – I smoked my favorite black Cavendish blend, Lane BCA, in the pipe I call, Ole Pot.  I take a couple close-ups to get a look at the cracks in the bowl. I’m not sure the source of these crevices but they appear to be grouped mid-way down the bowl both in the front and back of the bowl wall.  On a hunch, I look at the exterior and I think my hunch is correct.  The grain of the stummel moves horizontally though the bowl.  When I look at the front and back of the external grain patterns, I find birds eye grain pattern – which represent the cut through, perpendicular perspective of the grain.  The sides of the stummel reveal the side of the grain – the horizontal flow.  So, these cracks appear to me to be the grain splitting – it appears like dry split wood.  Not sure ‘why?’ but this is my theory.  The third and fourth pictures below show the external theory:cal30 cal31First, to prepare to make the pipe mud, I take the Cuban ash and crush it with the end of a pipe nail.  With tweezers, I picked out debris and make sure there are no large chunks.  The gray powder in the pictures is the aim.cal32Next, I use a dental probe to dig a bit in the cracks to make sure there is no loose debris.  Then I take a few bent pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl and clean the bowl wall.  I put the ash in a shot glass and slowly add water with an eyedropper and mix the mud with the pipe nail.  When the consistency of the mud is like paste, I use a bent pipe cleaner to paint the mud on the wall – careful to tamp in to fill the crevices.  I keep an eye on the areas with crevices as the mud dries in the bowl, making sure that it doesn’t shrink, but remains even with the bowl wall – as Steve’s tutorial instructed.  In about a half hour the mud is dry and forms a pretty hard surface.  The pipe mud will form a foundation for a cake to develop which provides a protective layer for the briar.  Until this happens, care is given to not ream or aggressively scrape the bowl wall.   The pictures show the progress.cal33The next project is adding a band to dress up the No Name Calabash – a touch of class.  The shank diameter is 17.5 millimeters in diameter and I fish out a 17.5 band to match the diameter.  Some months ago, I purchased an assortment of bands to have on hand from J. H. Lowe’s online store.   I’ve done one band previous to this, my first restoration which Steve published on rebornpipes (A Newbie Restore of a Dr. Plumb 9456) which went well.  The mantra I remember from Steve’s tutorial on banding (Link) was the need for patience in applying heat and micro-inching the band up the shank – a hot band could tear if forced to quickly. I set up a handy work station on a solid wooden stool that I can straddle.  I fold a towel and place it over a chopping block to provide a firm, but soft foundation to use as I press the stummel inching the heated band up the shank.  My air gun fits nicely on the platform as well.  About 1/10th of the band fit over the end of the shank at the beginning.  I heat the band rotating it, careful not to burn the wood then put it to the toweled surface and press – firmly but only a bit.  Repeating the process several times.  The pictures below show this.  The last in the set shows the progress of the band’s movement up the shank – almost home!cal34 cal35It was going so well, until it wasn’t!  With millimeters left before the band was flush with the shank, a press against the surface caused a portion of the band to crimp (pictured).  This was not part of the plan.  Different possible scenarios fill my mind for next steps to try to back out of the situation and to salvage the banding project.  I’m concerned that the band has torn at one of the crimp points because I can detect a sharp edge to the touch.  Time for an ‘SOS’ message to Steve with the picture below.cal36Steve’s response was helpful – to heat the band as before and with a small flat screw driver, straighten out the crimping and then continue again with the heating and pressing to bring the end of the band flush with the shank.  The following pictures show the salvage operation.  I begin by heating and bringing the bent edge back out using a small flat head screw driver.  As this progressed, I improvised, using the round head of a pipe nail to help reestablish the round of the band by heating and placing the head in the lip of the band and rolling it like a wheel while rotating the stummel.  Once things start regaining normal, I use a needle file gently filing the edge to remove sharp splinters.  I also filed a bit on the external ‘pucker points’ that help reestablish roundness and a smoother surface, but not perfect.cal37 cal38 cal39As I return now to heating and pressing to complete mounting the band on the shank, my concern is the weakened area of the band will simply crimp again with the process.  I decide to heat the band up a bit more than I did before, hopefully to enable the band expansion more economically and to add more towel padding between the band and the hard surface below.  I return to heating and pressing and thankfully, the result is a seated band with a few battle scars along the way!cal40 cal41When I attempt to rejoin the stem and new banded stummel, I find that increased compression on the shank from the new band has created a tighter mortise/tenon fit.  To release some of the tightness of this fit I wrap the tenon with 240 grit paper and rotate it to reduce the size of the tenon but keep it in round.  I rotate and test the new fit several times until I get it right.  I don’t want to take too much off the tenon and have a loose fit.  I get my first look at the reunited stummel and stem and I like what is before me! I take a close-up on the underside of the shank to show the area of the band crimp and repair.  I’m satisfied now with the repair job; I will see if I can improve it through the polishing process.cal42 cal43Now the fun begins!  With stem and stummel united, I begin the polishing phase using Tripoli over stummel and band.  I mount the Tripoli wheel in the Dremel’s hand-held extender and power it up at the lowest setting (RPMs) and after purging the wheel with the tightening tool, I light tap the wheel on the Tripoli bar and apply it to the surface.  With all the compounds, I do not apply too much vertical pressure to the wheel but allow the speed of the Dremel and compound to do the work.  After the Tripoli, I switch to the Blue Diamond wheel and repeat the process above but include the stem as well as stummel and band.  After this, I give the pipe a good rub down to remove powder left over from the compounds.  With the carnauba wheel mounted (after purging) I apply several applications of carnauba wax then change the Dremel to a clean wheel and buff the entire stem and stummel.   I complete the polishing with a brisk buff with a micromesh cloth to bring out the depth of the briar even more.

I learned three new skills to put in my tool box – making and applying Pipe Mud, rescuing a botched band mounting, and repairing a tooth hole using a charcoal super glue putty.  Not bad.  I’m very pleased with this ‘No Name Calabash’.  The honey-colored briar is stunning as it flows through the stummel – the depth of the grain almost appears 3-dimensional.  The band is a nice addition – it dresses it up, like putting on a tux. I trust that this pipe finds a good home.  Thank you for joining me!cal44 cal45 cal46 cal47 cal48 cal49 cal50 cal51

 

Restoring a Semi-Churchwarden Pipe


Blog by Steve Laug

When I picked up the lot of pipes from my brother Jeff there was a small churchwarden, just seven inches in length among the assorted pipes. It was a dark sandblasted bowl with an undertone of dark brown and an overstain of medium brown. The bowl was in excellent shape and the rim was very clean. It was stamped on the underside of the shank with the words SEMI over CHURCHWARDEN over Italy. The shank was thinner on the top than on the bottom side. As I examined it I could see a small hairline crack on the right top side of the shank. The finish was perfect with no tars or build up on the rim and no cake in the bowl. The stem was oxidized to an ugly brown and the one side that looked like it had a ‘–‘ logo on the left side. The problem was that the side of the stem had been flattened in that area and if it was a logo it made the stem out of round. There was some tooth chatter on the top and the bottom of the stem at the button but there were not any deep tooth marks that I had to deal with. The way the pipe was made with the flat bottom made it a sitter.CW1I took some photos of the pipe when I brought it to the work table. These give a pretty clear picture of the condition of the pipe when I started cleaning it up. The shank needed to be repaired and the stem cleaned up and made round on the flat side.CW2 CW3I took a close-up photo of the rim to show the state of the inner and the outer edge of bowl. The sandblast finish was clean and the blast on the rim was well done. I also took some photos of both sides of the stem at the button to show the tooth chatter and the lack of deep dents or tooth marks. The fourth photo shows the stamping on the smooth bottom of the shank.CW4 CW5 CW6I cleaned out the inside of the mortise and the airway to the bowl and in the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol.CW7I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the surface oxidation and begin the process of cleaning it off.CW8I cleaned the flat surface on the left side of the stem and then began to build up the smooth area to bring the stem back to round. I sprayed it with an accelerator and then gave it a second coat of glue.CW9I put the stem in the shank and sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out and blend in the patch to the rest of the stem. I worked on it with the sandpaper until the surface was smooth to touch and blended well with the rest of the vulcanite.CW10Once it was smooth and round I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and wiped it down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. CW11 CW12I went through my assortment of bands to find one that was the correct diameter for the cracked shank. I measured it and then found the correct one. I heated it with a lighter and then pressed it into place on the shank of the pipe.CW13 CW14 CW15I took a close-up photo of the shank end to show the crack at the top of the photo under my finger. I have circled cracked area in red.CW16I finished sanding the stem with 6000-12000 grit micromesh pads and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I set it aside to dry.CW17I polished the band with a jeweler’s polishing cloth and then buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffer. I gave the bowl and stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. Thanks for looking. This one will show up on the rebornpipes store soon. Send me a pm or a message if you are interested in owning it.CW18 CW19 CW20 CW21 CW22 CW23 CW24

Restemming and Restoring a Potpouri Author


Blog by Steve Laug

I have a growing box of bowls that came to me without stems. It seems each time I clean it out and restem the pipes I inherit more of them. This is not a complaint as I actually enjoy restemming pipe bowls. It is always a challenge to get a new stem to align properly with the shank and to deal with cracks or damages to the bowl or the shank. This bowl came to me and I immediately fell for the rustic rocklike features of the rustication. It was gnarled and rough looking and felt great in the hand. The bowl was dirty and the deep grooves of the rustication had a lot of dirt and grime build up in them. The rim was caked and the rustication pretty much filled in the grooves making the rim surface smooth. The bowl had a rough cake in it and looked as if someone had started reaming the bowl but did not finish. There were some small fissures like cracks in the sides of the bowl near the entrance of the airway and on the bottom and the top of the airway. Someone had cleaned out the shank so it was not too dirty. There was a small crack on the top of the shank that was about 1/8 long. I could open it slightly with a wedge so it would need to be glued and banded. The pipe showed a lot of promise though and I could see it come alive if I had the correct stem for it.Pot1 Pot2In the photo below there is a small crack barely visible in the middle of the shank end between my fingers. I have circled it with red to focus your eye on it. The tip of the red arrow is on top of the crack in the shank. It extends about 1/8 to ¼ inch.Pot3 Pot4I took a close-up photo of the bowl and rim to give you an idea of the state of things when I started. It is hard to see but at this point I could see some small cracks around the entrance of the airway to the bowl.Pot5I went through my can of stems and found a green acrylic stem that would do the trick on this pipe. It would go well with the rustication and the length and width of the stem would carry through the thickness of the bowl. I sanded the tenon with the Dremel and sanding drum until it was a close fit to the shank. I finished sanding by hand with 220 grit sandpaper. It fit well in terms of the width of the shank but it was slightly thicker on the top and the bottom where it met the shank. I was careful inserting it as I did not want to crack the shank further.Pot6 Pot7 Pot8I used the Dremel and sanding drum to remove much of the excess thickness on the top and the bottom of the stem at the shank junction. I do this carefully with the stem in place in the shank so that I can get it as close as possible without damaging the finish on the shank. You can see in the next two photos that the junction is pretty smooth now and the thickness is almost a match.Pot9 Pot10I finished the fit with a file and took off the remaining thickness that had to go. I also used the file to remove the tooth indentations on both sides of the stem near the button.Pot11 Pot12With the fit nearly perfect it was time to sand out the filing marks and smooth out the stem. I have a medium grit sanding stick that works perfect for this application and I sanded with it until all of the file marks were gone and the transition between the shank and the stem was smooth.Pot13 Pot14With the stem fit roughed in I turned my attention to the bowl and shank. I wanted to have the shank and bowl clean so I could deal with the repairs to the airway in the bowl and the crack on the top of the shank. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer using the largest cutting head. I cleaned up the remaining cake with the Savinelli Pipe Knife.Pot15 Pot16I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush on the sides, shank and the bowl of the bowl. I scrubbed the rim with a brass bristle brush until all of the lava that filled the rustication was gone.Pot17I rinsed off the soap with warm water and dried the bowl with a soft towel. The cleaned and reamed pipe is shown in the photo below.Pot18With the bowl reamed and the finish clean I turned to the internals. I cleaned out the mortise and airway into the bowl with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. It did not take too much to clean out the pipe. I cleaned the stem the same way and used a dental pick to clean up the slot in the end of the button.Pot19 Pot20I lightly sanded the crack on the top of the shank and spread it open with a dental pick. I used a tooth pick to push super glue into the crack and then held the crack together until the glue set. Once it was dry I found a round band that had the right circumference to fit the shank and heated it with a lighter and pressed it onto the shank of the pipe.Pot21 Pot22With shank repair complete and the bowl cleaned and ready I put the stem in place in the shank and took some photos of the pipe. I really liked the look of the band breaking up the rustic bowl and the smooth green stem. The band fit perfectly and did not cover the stamping on the underside of the shank. I still needed to sand the stem some more to get a shine but you can see what the pipe will look like at this point. Pot23 Pot24I mixed a batch of pipe mud (cigar ash and water) and used a dental spatula to apply it to the bottom of the bowl. I inserted a pipe cleaner in the airway and used the spatula to apply the mud to the small cracks and fissures around the airway. Once the mud cured the pipe bowl would be in good shape until a new cake was built.Pot25I heated the stem in a cup of water in the microwave until it was pliable and then put a gentle bend in it to give it a more elegant look and comfortable feel.Pot26 Pot27I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to remove the scratches. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads and then finished with 6000-12000 grit pads. I rubbed away the sanding dust with a damp cloth.Pot28 Pot29 Pot30I gave the pipe a light buff with Blue Diamond on the wheel to bring some deep shine to the stem. I then gave the stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad. I finished by hand buffing it with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The green acrylic stem works well with the rough finish on the bowl. I like the finished look. What do think? Thanks for looking.Pot31 Pot32 Pot33 Pot34

Unzipped an old Pouch and found a Butz Choquin Oval Shank Capitan 1635


Blog by Steve Laug

My brother sent me another box of pipes that he had picked up on eBay and in different shops. Included in this lot was a suede leather pipe pouch. It was dried out and worn with a zipper on the top and a zipper on the bottom. I unzipped the top area and found that it was canvas lined and had an old 3 way pipe tool inside. I unzipped the bottom and found a small compact Dublin pipe. It was a mess and looked well smoked and poorly cared for. The finish was worn and dirty but had an interesting sandblast poking through. The rim was caked with lava and it was hard to see any of the blast on the surface. The bowl had a very thick, hard cake inside that would need to go. The pipe was stamped Butz Choquin over Capitan on the underside of the shank. At the stem shank union it had the shape number 1635. The mouthpiece did not sit against the shank. There was a gap on both sides with the stem touching in the middle. When held up the light this gap was angled and large. It was also wider on the underside of the stem than the topside. The stem was oxidized and dirty. The slot in the button was closed to the size of a small thumb tack.Butz1 Butz2 Butz3I took some pictures of the pipe before I started working on it (I remembered to do that once again!). You can see the issues that I pointed out above as you look at the photos.Butz4 Butz5 Butz6 Butz7I took some close up photos of the rim/bowl and the stem to try to capture how dirty this pipe was when I removed it from the pouch. In the photo of the stem you can see the gap I mentioned at the stem shank union.Butz8 Butz9I decided to try a variety of methods to try to tighten up the fit of the stem. I started by carefully facing the shank on a topping board. I have had success in the past with this and was hoping that it would solve the issue.Butz10I also used a sharp knife to bevel the end of the mortise thinking that it would better accommodate the rise around the tenon.Butz11But none of these measures solved the issue of the fit against the shank. The fit was better but the gap remained. I would need to come up with another solution.Butz12 Butz13I laid that issue aside and reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer.Butz14 Butz15After reaming I used a brass brush to clean off the buildup on the rim. I was able to get rid of the thick tars and reveal the sandblast that was underneath.Butz16I scrubbed the finish on the bowl with acetone and cotton pads to remove the grime and grit in the crevices of the blast.Butz17 Butz18 Butz19 Butz20The more I looked at the pipe the more I wondered if someone had not cut off the end of the shank to shorten it or to remove damaged areas. The number stamping was really close to the stem even before I faced it. I worked on the stem to clean it up. I used a dental pick to open the slot on the end and then used pipe cleaners and alcohol to clean out the tars and oils.Butz21I cleaned out the shank at the same time with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. While I was at it I thought a band might look good on the pipe and give me a clean edge to fit the stem against. I went through my box of bands and found a round one that was the correct diameter. I squashed it to the shape of the shank and heated it with a lighter. I pressed it onto the shank. It covered the shape number but did not affect the rest of the stamping.Butz22I liked the classic look of the nickel band on the shank of the Dublin and figured that once I had polished it and the stem I would have a good looking pipe.Butz23 Butz24I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the bite marks, the tooth chatter and the build up around the button. It also loosened the oxidation. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and gave it a rub down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit micromesh pads and then gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads and gave it a final coat of oil. I let the oil dry.Butz25 Butz26 Butz27I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to raise the shine on the stem and the band. I lightly buffed the bowl so as not to damage the sandblast. I gave the bowl a light coat of carnauba wax and the stem several coats of wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad and then by hand with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I think the band gave this particular pipe a touch of class. The pipe is a beautiful example of this shape. Thanks for looking.Butz28 Butz29 Butz30 Butz31 Butz32 Butz33 Butz34

Repairing a Broken Shank Acorn Shaped Pipe and giving it a New Look


Blog by Steve Laug

I have had this broken Acorn shaped bowl in my box of parts for a long time now. I remember breaking it. There were several fills around the shank at that point. The stem was absolutely stuck in the shank and no matter what I did I could not get it out. Heat, cold, alcohol bath or any other means would not work. Finally after I had dunked it in boiling water hoping to loosen things I twisted on the stem and the shank snapped. Then I could see the problem. The stem had an aluminum tenon that had basically begun to disintegrated and had bonded to the shank. It had a long aluminum stinger that extended virtually to the air hole. It was a mess. I clean up the shank and the bowl to remove all of the corroded aluminum and scraped it clean. I was undecided whether to fix it or just part it out so I put it in the box and left it there.

Yesterday I decided to take it out and have a look at it. I put the two parts back together and saw that the fit was actually quite clean. There were just two small places where the briar actually had chipped. I had a polished aluminum tenon that I had extracted from a broken stem and saved for just such a repair. I sanded it and used a file to score the surface of the metal tube so that the glue would have something to grab hold on in the shank. I mixed a batch of two part epoxy and a painted it on the tube with the mixing stick. I liberally coated the tube with epoxy and let it sit until it got a little tacky and then inserted it in the shank end of the break. I inserted the stem in the mortise end so that I did not set the tube too deeply in the shank. Once I had it positioned I let it cure for 30 minutes until the epoxy set and the tube was solidly in place in the shank.Broke1 I put epoxy on both sides of the exposed briar and then on the other end of the extended tube. I carefully pressed the two parts together and worked to make sure that I had them aligned correctly. The excess epoxy squeezed out and bulged around the enter repair. I used a dental pick and scraped away the excess leaving a smooth top coat of epoxy in the cracked area.Broke2

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Broke4 The top surface of the rim was quite damaged and the bowl was out of round. I topped the bowl on a topping board to remove the damage and burn marks that were present on the surface. I sanded it with a sanding block to remove the scratches and smooth out the finish.Broke5

Broke6 I sanded the epoxy on the shank back until it was smooth with 220 grit sandpaper. In the photo below you can still see the slight bulge of epoxy that needed to be removed but since I was planning on rusticating the bowl and shank I did not spend a lot of time sanding that out.Broke7

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Broke9 I sanded it a little bit smoother and then used the rustication tool that Chris Chopin made for me to do a deep rustication on the bowl and shank. As I rusticated it I then used the brass bristle wire brush to knock off the loose briar chips. (I collected the briar chips as I plan on using them as Joe suggested in fill repairs to see if I can get them to stay light). I left the rim smooth and would later top it lightly to smooth it out.Broke10

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Broke16 When I finished the bowl I wrapped a piece of cello-tape around the end of the shank to make a smooth area that I would later install a band on. The shank end was not straight so I would need to clean it up a bit and then band it to get a clean fit of the stem in the shank.Broke17

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Broke21 Once I finished rusticating the shank I removed the tape to show the smooth shank end.Broke22

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Broke25 I slid the band on the shank slightly and then heated it with a lighter until the metal expanded enough to press the band into place. I left about 1/8 of an inch extended to allow for the stem to fit properly in the shank and sit inside the band. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper until the diameter was a close fit in the band. I slid it in place and took the pictures below to show the look of the pipe at this point. I knew that there was a lot more sanding to do to get a snug fit in the band but I wanted to see a picture to look at the fit a bit removed from the pipe I held in my hands. I purposely chose a longer stem to give it a subtle elegance and length bordering on a mini-churchwarden pipe.Broke26

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Broke29 I lightly topped the bowl some more to take care of the burn marks on the right side of the rim top. Then I took a set of close-up photos of the bowl with the band to look at the rustication and figure out where I needed to do some touch up work on it. The shank was where I was the most concerned. I wanted it to match as much as possible with the bowl rustication. I could see that overall it looked good but that the left side of the shank would need some adjusting before it was finished.Broke30

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Broke33 I touched up the rustication on the left side of the shank and then wire brushed the entire bowl and shank with the brass bristle brush to knock of loose particles.Broke34

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Broke37 I brushed of the dust with a shoe brush and then took out some black aniline stain to give the rustication and undercoat of black. I applied the stain with the dauber and then flamed it with the lighter to set the stain in the bottom of the rustication.Broke38

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Broke41 I sanded the stem with a medium and a fine grit sanding pad and put it back in the shank to get a feel for the appearance of the pipe after staining.Broke42

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Broke45 I took the stem back out and worked on it with the micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil between each of the three grits.Broke46

Broke47 Between the 4000 and the 6000 grit pads I buffed it with White Diamond on the wheel and then finished with the higher grit micromesh pads.Broke48 I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond and gave it a coat of carnauba wax. The next two photos show the polished stem in place on the pipe.Broke49

Broke50 I sanded the surface of the rustication to knock off some of the high points and smooth it out slightly using a sanding block. The sanding made the rustication a bit more pebble like in appearance and once I had finished the sanding I gave the bowl a coat of oxblood aniline stain as a top coat. It added some red highlights to the rustication – particularly on the high spots. I then buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the wheel and gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I polished the band with silver polish and hand buffed it with a soft jeweler’s cloth. The finished pipe is shown below. It has a delicate look that gives it an air of elegance and class. I am looking forward to firing it up and enjoying a bowl soon.Broke51

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Broke54 Thanks for looking.