Tag Archives: removing a broken tenon

Replacing a broken tenon on a shank extension on a Meerschaum Figural

Blog by Steve Laug

A local friend named Trevor dropped by my porch with a pipe that his boss had given him for his hard work through the years. The pipe had belonged to his boss’s father and he was quite clean to bringing to life so that he could actually smoke it. His boss’s father had never smoke it so it remained an unsmoked Figural Meerschaum in a presentation box. The box had a satin pillow lining and small pillow that sat on top of the pipe. He opened it up and a musty smell emerged from the long unused pipe. In the box sat a carved Meerschaum bowl, a small Meerschaum shank extension and an acrylic stem. The bone tenon in the stem was intact and undamaged. That is not what I was expecting when he had called about a repair on a broken tenon. What had broken was a plastic/nylon tenon that held the shank extension on the bowl and shank of the pipe. A portion of it was stuck in the bowl/shank and a portion of it was in the extension itself. It had snapped off without leaving anything to grab onto to pull it out. The fact that it was a threaded tenon also made this a challenging pipe to work on. Unfortunately I forgot to take photos of the pipe before I started working on it but I have a picture of the parts. You can see the bowl and extension in the photo below. You can also see the bone tenon at the bottom of the photo that goes in the stem. The broken plastic one is between the shank extension and the short shank.I had run out of bone tenons so I was just going to order some when Jeff called and reminded me that I had boxes of them at his place. I asked him to put together an assortment for me to go through and find the proper one for this pipe. While I waited for them to arrive I put the pipe aside and reflected on how I would remove the broken tenon pieces from the bowl and shank extension. I wrote to Charles Lemon and asked if he had any ideas for a quick and painless removal. Unfortunately he did not. His suggestion was the same as my initial thoughts which was to drill out both portions of the tenon. The threading was problematic if I wanted to keep those parts original but it could be done. However, I was not ready to give up yet on searching for another option.

This week the box of pipes and the bone tenons arrived here in Vancouver. This what he sent me… just a few tenons to choose from. There must be one that would fit in that assortment don’t you think?Now that the replacement tenons were here I had to come to some decisions on removing the broken tenon from the two parts of the pipe. I have often heard people say that they don’t like bone tenons but I have to say this plastic/nylon was far worse than any bone tenon I have worked on in the past.

Yesterday (Friday) I came to a possible solution. I have a set of Spiral                                                 Screw Extractors like those to the right. The idea is to twist them into the head of a damaged screw and then reverse the drill and pull the screw out. I thought possibly I could turn the one that was the same size as the airway in the broken tenon until it bit. Then with a pair of pliers reverse it out. With apprehension about cracking the meerschaum I cast my worries to wind and tried it out. I turned it carefully into the broken tenon in the shank. It bit into the nylon/plastic. I used a pair of pliers and carefully turned the bit to unscrew the broken tenon. It worked very well and within a few minutes the tenon piece was out of the bowl portion of the shank.

I was a little more reticent with the shank extension as it seemed more fragile and there was a small crack on each side of the meer already (at least I am pretty sure it was already there but I cannot be certain as it is certainly there now). I proceeded slowly and carefully with the same procedure and within minutes that piece of the broken tenon was also free of the shank extension. I let out a sigh of relief that it had work and not actually done more damage to the pipe. I took photos of the work and the results and have included them below.I went through the bag of tenons and found the perfect one. I took a photo of the parts of the pipe to show what I was working with. The tenon on the left is the one that joined the shank and shank extension. The one on the right is the one for the stem and shank extension. The smaller end screws into the stem itself.I turned the first tenon into the shank of the bowl to check the fit. The threads fit well but there was a little sloppiness at the shank end that I would need to deal with. You can see how it looks in the photo below.I turned the shank extension on to the tenon and took a photo. You can see the looseness at the joint. If you look closely you can also see the fine hairline crack in the middle of the extension next to the bowl. It is tiny and I repaired it with clear CA glue and clamped it together.I wrapped the bone tenon with some Teflon tape to assure that there was a snug fit in the shank and help tighten it. I taped the shank extension end with a little less of the to align things on the shank and extension and to snug the fit as well. I also wrapped the end of the tenon that fit in the stem end of the extension as well. I turned the stem onto the shank extension and lined it up. It looks good. I screwed parts together and everything lined up very well and the draught on the pipe was clear and unobstructed. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process. It is a nice looking old pipe that is ready for its initial smoke. The pipe is ready for Trevor to pick up next time he stops by. I want to check with him about the hairline cracks in the shank extension to see if he remembers them or if perhaps it happened while it was in my care. I am hoping all is well. The cracks have sealed and do not seem to be growing at all. It is really a nice looking old pipe. Thanks for reading along as I worked on the process of this repair.

Restoring and restemming the first of two Television pipes – a Pot

Blog by Steve Laug

The first Television pipe of the two that came to me in a gift box of bowls needing stems was this pot shaped bowl. I had not heard of the brand before so I put a question on the online pipe forums that I frequent and got two responses with information. The first was a link to the Smoking Metal website which has become a standard place I check for metal pipes that I pick up or pipes with screw on bowls. I had not thought of looking on that site as the Television pipes that I had found were regular briar pipes. The link follows and gives a look at a unique Television pipe with a threaded bowl http://www.smokingmetal.co.uk/pipe.php?page=277. The second response came from Jose Manuel Lopes – Pipes Artisans and Trademarks. Lopes states that the brand was sold by A. Grunfield Co. and was produced by Gasparini. They were known to be an English brand with long stems.

The first bowl I had was a pot shape without a stem. Like the second bowl it had a thick coat of varnish. There was a large fill on the right side of the bowl toward the top. It was a putty fill and was lighter than the briar. The grain on the pipe was very mixed. On the back and front of the bowl was cross grain and on the sides was some nice birdseye. The rim had a tarry buildup and a burned area on the back right side of inner rim. The bowl had an uneven cake on the inside. The right side of the shank was stamped Imported Briar over Italy and the left side was stamped TELEVISION. The second pipe bore identical stamping. There were no shape numbers on either bowl or shank. Both pipes had a broken tenon in the shank. IMG_7559 IMG_7562 IMG_7561 I used a wood screw I keep around for pulling out the broken tenons. I screw it in by hand and the wiggle it until it comes out. I removed the broken tenon from both of the pipe shanks while I was at it. IMG_7563 IMG_7564 I found a vulcanite stem in my can of stems that would work with the pipe and make it a standard pot shape pipe and stem. I turned the tenon on the PIMO Tenon Turning Tool until it was close and then fine tuned the fit with 220 grit sandpaper. The diameter of the stem was larger than that of the shank so I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to match the two. IMG_7780 IMG_7784 IMG_7785 IMG_7794 I decided to replace the large ugly fill on the right side of the bowl. It was a light brown/pink colour and stood out from the rest of a decently grained pipe. I picked it out with a dental pick and found that underneath the surface it was a white hard putty. IMG_7786 IMG_7788 There was also a fill on the underside of the bowl that I picked out and one on the rim. I decided to top the bowl to see how close to the side fill the top one was. I set up the sanding board and topped the bowl. Once it was topped I could see the fill on the rim and I decided to leave it as it was close to the inner edge of the bowl. IMG_7790 IMG_7791 I wiped off the surface of the bowl with isopropyl alcohol and spent time scrubbing the large fill on the side of the bowl. I then took some briar dust that I had and began to work on the patching material for the hole. I poured some Fiebings Dark Brown stain into the briar dust and mixed it until the briar dust was evenly stained a dark brown. IMG_7792 IMG_7793 photo b I then mixed in some Weldbond multipurpose white glue into the stained briar dust. Once it began clumping I worked it into a dough and kneaded in the briar dust until it was evenly mixed. photo c photo f The mixture was tacky but not wet. I tamped it into the two repairs on the bowl, the bottom and the left side. I pushed it down into the deep parts of both fills with a dental pick and a pipe nail. photo e photo i When the patch had cured overnight it looked like the photo below. It was a solid bump on the side of the bowl. It took a lot of sanding with 180 grit sandpaper and 220 grit sandpaper to reduce the footprint of the patch and level it with the surface of the briar. The next series of photos show the process of sanding the patch. IMG_7797 IMG_7800 IMG_7805 IMG_7810 I also sanded the shank to smooth out the junction of the stem and the shank at the same time I worked on sanding the patch. I used 220 grit sandpaper and then sanded both the bowl and shank with medium and fine grit sanding sponges. IMG_7801 IMG_7803 IMG_7804 IMG_7802 When all the sanded areas were smooth I sanded them again with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-3200 grit pads and dry sanding with 3600-6000 grit pads. When the scratches no longer stood out I stained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain (same colour I had used in the briar dust patch). I applied the stain and flamed it and repeated until the coverage was even. I wiped the bowl down with acetone and isopropyl alcohol on cotton pads to make it less opaque. It took quite a few wipes to get it to the colour I wanted. The next series of photos show the progress of the wipe down. (The stained briar dust and wood glue dough patch did not work well in terms of blending with the briar. It still stood out but now was a dark brown.) IMG_7816 IMG_7818 IMG_7819 photo o photo p I still needed to do more sanding on the bowl – particularly in the area of the patch as it looked grainy. I wanted it to be smooth to the touch so I worked on it with the micromesh sanding pads and tried to blend it in more with the stain on the bowl. I also sanded the bowl and stem with the micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded as usual with 1300-2400 grit pads and 3200-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down between each three grits of pads with Obsidian Oil. IMG_7821 IMG_7824 IMG_7828 I decided to use a walnut stain and boiled linseed oil. I wiped it on the bowl and then wiped it down. I used a cork and candle stand to hold the bowl while I let the linseed oil dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and then buffed both the bowl and stem with White Diamond and gave them multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed with a soft flannel buffing pad between coats of wax to give it a deep shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is ready to load and smoke an inaugural bowl of tobacco by whoever owns it next. IMG_7844 IMG_7845 IMG_7846 IMG_7847

Pulling a Broken Tenon

Over the years I have had my share of broken tenons to remove. Some of them came from carelessness on my part but others I purchased that way. I took pictures of the process I use on two different pipes recently. The first was a little Barling with a broken tenon and a chewed stem. I ended up restemming this one. The second one was a Peterson 999 with a broken tenon that I hope to reuse the stem by drilling/tapping and inserting a new tenon to refit it.



Insert a screw part way into the airway on the broken tenon in the shank of the pipe. I use a dry wall or gyprock screw. I turn the screw in by hand. I do not want to expand the tenon at all I just want the screw to have a little bite to it so that I can use it to pull the tenon out by hand or with a pair of needle nose pliers. In this case in both pipes I was not able to pull out the tenon easily. Many times I am able to pull it out in a matter of seconds using this method. But both of these were exceptionally tight and immovable. I put them both in the freezer for an hour as I know that vulcanite and briar contract at different rates with a change in temperature. After an hour I removed the Barling from the freezer and was able to pull the broken tenon out very easily. I then unscrew the broken piece and lay it aside to use for a match on the new tenon I will cut as a replacement. It helps me to eyeball the fit. I also measure the mortise and set the tenon turner as closely as possible to the measurements. I then take the broken piece and slide it on the tenon turner to check the fit.

The tenon on the Peterson however, still did not budge after an hour in the freezer. I left it in for another half hour. Still it did not budge. I then dripped Isopropyl alcohol into the exposed mortise and hoped that it would work as a solvent to break the tenon free. I repeated this several times and left the pipe sitting with alcohol in it over night. The next morning the tenon still did not move.


I decided to not fiddle around with trying to pull the tenon. I used my small drill bit and began to drill out the tenon. I never start with the exact size of the tenon but rather work with the size of the airway and work my way up. I have found that in the process of working through the bits the tenon inevitably breaks loose or crumbles to pieces. In this case, by the time I got to the third drill bit, when I reversed it the tenon came out with the bit. You will notice that I also flattened the broken portion of the tenon on the stem so that the surface was flat and smooth. I wanted it to be ready for when I would drill it out or tap to receive the new tenon that I have ordered.


As I close this essay I want to just mention a couple of reminders:

  1. Do not turn the screw into the airway to deeply as it does expand the airway and can actually crack the shank on the pipe. BE CAREFUL and go slowly.
  2. Do not use a tool to turn the screw into the airway – do it by hand so you can feel the progress and the bite before damage is done.
  3. If the tenon is stuck and immoveable in the first try put the pipe in the freezer for an hour or more to expand and contract the tenon and mortise. This usually works to break it free.
  4. Should you have to drill it out – use a bit a little larger than the airway to begin the process and work your way up to larger bits. Do not use a drill bit that is the size of the mortise lest you damage the mortise.
  5. Use a T handle hand drill not a power drill to do this as you can easily drill right through the bowl and ruin the pipe.