Tag Archives: Real Briar Pipes

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

Blog by Steve Laug

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

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

Repairing a Trio of His Dad’s Pipes for a fellow here in Vancouver – Part 3

Blog by Steve Laug

Last week I received a call from a fellow pipeman, Keith here in Vancouver who had been referred to me by City Cigar, a local pipe and cigar shop in the city. He was a soft spoken gentleman who had a request for me. In January  this year his Dad died and he had three of his Dad’s pipes that he wanted restored in memory of his Dad. He also was a pipe smoker so he fully intended to enjoy them for a long time as he smoked them in his Dad’s honour. I told him to send me some photos of the pipes so I would know what I was dealing with.

I received the email below from Keith that included the photos of the pipes that he wanted me to work on. He even went to the trouble of marking the trouble with each of the pipes that needed work.

Hi Steve,

Glad your call back today, my name is Keith, I got your contact from City Cigar. My dad has three pipes include two Dr Plumb DINKY and one not sure brand. My dad passed this year January and I looking for fix those pipes which had broken and cracked, understand they are not expensive pipes but for me is priceless memory…

…Have a wonderful day!

Best regards


I called him as soon as I received the photos and talked over what I saw when I looked them over. We struck a deal and he dropped them off to me late on Friday afternoon and I started to work on them a bit over the weekend. All three pipes needed varying degrees of work on them. Two were Dr. Plumb Dinky Bent Billiards and one was a Real Briar Dublin. I decided to work on them in the order of the photos that he sent me. I completed the restoration of the first one and posted the blog (https://rebornpipes.com/2021/03/16/repairing-a-trio-of-his-dads-pipes-for-a-fellow-here-in-vancouver-part-one/). I finished the second Dr. Plumb Dinky Bent Billiard as well (https://rebornpipes.com/2021/03/17/repairing-a-trio-of-his-dads-pipes-for-a-fellow-here-in-vancouver-part-two/). Give them a read.

The third of them is Real Briar Straight Billiard. It was in rough shape with burn damage on the rim top and inner edge as well as many fills that were damaged around the bowl. There was a crack in the shank on the top side. The rim top was damaged on both the front side and there was a thick cake in the bowl. In the first two photos show what the pipe looks like as a whole. You can see the damage on the outer edge of the rim on both as well as the damage at the stem shank junction. The third photo Keith included show the damage to the rim top – he identifies it as ring damage. The crack in the top of the shank is also visible in the photo. I took pictures of the pipe when Keith dropped it off before I started my clean up work. The rim top was darkened and damaged with burn and charring on the front left rim top and inner edge. It appeared to also have been lit with a torch lighter. There were chips around the outer edge of the bowl and shrunken fills in the finish. You can also see the crack in the topside of the shank at the end of the shank. I took a close up photo of the rim to show the condition of the bowl and the rim. You can see the thick cake in the bowl and the damage to the rim top and inner edge of the bowl as noted above and shown in the photo below. The cracked shank is also visible. I also took photos of the stem to show the general condition as noted above.I took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank – it was clear and readable (though double stamped) and read REAL BRIAR.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe. There is something quite winsome about this pipe though it was a little bigger than the two Dr. Plumb Dinky Bent Billiards.  I took a photo of the crack and damaged shank. It was missing a piece of briar and was a significant issue. The stem had been held in place with a build up of wax or white glue around the tenon. Fortunately it had dried before being put on the shank.I decided to address the cracked shank first. Interestingly it turned back on itself so it was not going further up the shank. The missing chip was the other side of the crack. That made this quite simple. I squeezed the shank together and pressed some briar dust into the crack. While holding it I dribbled some CA glue in the crack and held it until the glue cured. I filled in the spots on the shank again with CA and more briar dust until they were smooth. I put a small bead of glue around the shank end and pressed the band I had chosen for the shank onto it. It was a snug fit and the glue would guarantee the fit to the shank. That was the end of the crack. I topped the bowl on a topping board using 220 grit sandpaper. I wanted to remove the damage to the rim top and minimize the damage to the inner and outer edges.I paused and took photos of the banded shank to give an idea of that it looked like repaired and banded. I finished topping the bowl and gave the inner edge a bevel to minimize the damage on the front inner edge. The pipe was beginning to look very good.I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife. I took the cake back to bare briar and the bowl looked to be in good condition under the cake.I filled in the badly damaged fills around the bowl with clear CA glue and then sanded them smooth to blend them into the surface of the briar. I sanded the bowl with 1500-2400 micromesh sanding pads to remove the shiny varnish coat and then restained the bowl with a light brown stain. I applied the stain then flamed it to set in the briar. I repeated the process until the coverage was acceptable. I set the bowl aside for an hour and let the stain coat cure.Once the stain had cured I wiped it down with a cotton pad and alcohol to make it more transparent. There was not a lot of grain around the bowl but I really wanted to give the bowl a sense of depth. 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. As the finish becomes more transparent I like what I see. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the bowl and shank with my fingertips 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 turned my attention to the stem. Earlier, when I was working on the first Dinky pipe I had taken the stem out of the Briarville Pipe Stem Deoxidizer Bath and dried it off with a cotton pad. It looked better. I scrubbed the softened oxidation with Soft Scrub All Purpose Cleaner and removed the remaining oxidation. I cleaned out the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners and it was surprisingly clean. I went back and did the same with the shank and it also was relatively clean other than the debris from when I reamed the bowl.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry 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 gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. With the bowl and the stem finished I put the third pipe – a Real Briar Straight Dublin, back together and buffed it on the wheel using Blue Diamond to give it a shine. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the wheel. 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. It really is a great looking pipe. The dimensions of the pipe are – Length: 5 inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ inch. The weight of this small pipe is .88 ounces /25 grams. This third pipe from the estate is a small Real Briar Dublin that will be another great reminder for Keith of his Dad’s pipe smoking and one that he can enjoy for a long time. With the completion of the last of the pipes I am sure he will want to pick them up soon. Once he does he will be excited to load them with a memorable tobacco and slip back into the memories of his Dad. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.

Restored a Pair of Older Real Briar Bent Billiards

The last two pipes I received in the gift package from a friend on Smokers Forums were these two older rusticated bent billiards. The pipes are both stamped Real Briar in an Oval on the shank. There is no other stamping to help identify country of origin or maker. The rustication on the pipe on the left is more refined and almost like a sandblasted look and feel. The rustication on the other one is rustic and less refined. The pipe on the left has an aluminum tenon with a thin aluminum wafer built into the stem itself and has a blade like stinger attachment. The pipe on the right has a push stem with a sterling silver band. The rims on both were chamfered into the bowl and both were heavily caked with tars and resins. The bowls were in need of a ream. The shanks were dirty and tarry. The finish on both was dirty with dust and grime set into the rustication on the bowl. The aluminum and the silver band were tarnished. The stems were both oxidized and both had matching tooth dents on the top and bottom of the stem about a quarter inch from the button. The first series of four photos shows the state of the pipes when they arrived to my work table.


I removed the stems and placed them in an Oxyclean bath and placed the bowls in an alcohol bath (99% isopropyl alcohol). I scrubbed the bowls in the bath with a soft bristle brass tire brush as seen in the pictures below. The bowls and stem soaked overnight to let the bath do its work. When I took them out the next morning I scrubbed the bowls some more with the brass brush and dried the bowls off. I also sanded the rims with 320 grit sandpaper to remove the tars and the damage to the surface of the rim. The rims were chamfered so this was done by hand with a small folded piece of sandpaper held at the angle of the chamfer. The next series of five photos show the bowls after the scrubbing and rim work.


I finished my work in cleaning the bowls by wiping down the bowl surfaces with acetone on a soft cotton pad. With that work they were ready to be stained. I chose a dark brown aniline stain thinned with alcohol 2:1. I applied it with the dauber and then flamed it to set the stain. Stained it a second time and flamed it. Then I took it to my buffer to buff with a light touch on a White Diamond wheel. The next six photos show the developing shine that the bowls and the rims took on with the buffing. I still needed to clean the sterling silver band on the one bowl.


At this point in my process I set the bowls aside and worked on the stems. The first two photos below show what they looked like when I took them out of the Oxyclean bath and dried them off. The oxidation was by no means gone but it had softened considerably and was easier to remove. The four photos that follow show the stem in the process of polishing it with Maguiar’s Scratch X2.0. I applied the scrub by hand and rub it into the stem surface and then wipe it and polish it with a cotton pad. I find on this kind of oxidation it works to remove the surface material that the Oxyclean raised and gives me a clean surface to work on with the micromesh sanding pads. The last two of the four photos show the stems after the polish with the cotton pads.


At this point I reinserted the stems in the bowls and worked on the stems in the bowl with fine grit sanding sponges to remove the remaining oxidation. I then removed them from the bowl and continued sanding them.


The next two photos show the stem after sanding with the sanding sponge and then reapplying the Maguiar’s polish. The remaining oxidation is very clear around the button and at the end of the stem near the tenon. I used the Bic lighter method and ran flame along the surface of the stem from front to back while really working over the button area and the tenon end of the stem with the flame. The idea is to move the flame fairly quickly along the surface of the stem while be careful not to burn or heat the stem too much. It burns off the oxidation and is easier to work with using the micromesh sanding pads afterwards.


After all the preliminary cleaning of the stems and removing the oxidation I worked on the stems with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-3200 grit micromesh pads. I found that the water gives the pads a bit of bite in the sanding process. I have a small cup of water that I dip the edge of the pad in when sanding. I then finished by dry sanding with 4000-12,000 grit micromesh pads. I then polished it a last time with Maguiar’s Scratch X2.0 and then coated the stem with Obsidian Oil and finally multiple coats of carnauba wax.


The final series of six photos shows the finished pair of Real Briar Pipes. I polished the silver band with some silver polish before giving them all a quick buff with carnauba wax and a soft flannel buff for polishing. Both pipes are cleaned, polished and ready to smoke.