Tag Archives: removing oxidation

Recommissioning a Mysterious Freehand, Made in Denmark – Preben Holm?


Blog by Dal Stanton

I came into possession of this attractive Danish Freehand when I acquired what I call the St. Louis Lot of 26 which my son, Josiah, helped me secure when he was a student in St. Louis.  He texted me from St. Louis about this box of pipes that were for sale at an antique shop he found.  Josiah wanted to split the cost of the Lot with me so that I could pick out a pipe in the Lot that would join my personal collection and would be his gift to me. The rest of the pipes would benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria – our work here in Bulgaria with women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  It was a win/win proposition!  I chose as his gift to me the Champion Churchwarden in the center of the picture below.  The rest of the Lot of 26 went to my online collection I call For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! where pipe men and women can choose a pipe – or a pipe chooses them – to be commissioned for restoration.

Andy has commissioned pipes from The Pipe Steward before and I love it when pipe men (and women) keep coming back!  The pipe calling his name from the St. Louis Lot of 26 is the Danish Freehand marked in the picture below.As a return patron of The Pipe Steward which benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria, Andy’s contribution has been appreciated.  His first commission was a striking Monarch Bent Ball (see: Link) and then a Churchwarden I fashioned from a throw-away bowl (see: Link) which was on his list to add to his personal collection.  Andy came back again and commissioned a Trent Lev-O-Lator Half Bent Billiard (see: Link) that turned out beautifully.  His three previous restorations are pictured below. Now, the striking Danish Freehand now on the worktable. Here are pictures of the Freehand that got Andy’s attention. When I first acquired this Lot of 26 and it made its way here to Bulgaria, I was anxious to get a closer look at this Freehand.  When I first saw it in the pictures that Josiah sent, I thought that it might be a Karl Erik.  When I finally looked at the Freehand on the worktable here in Sofia, I had to work hard to find any identifying markers.  With the help of a magnifying glass and carefully angled lighting, I could only make out with certainty extremely ghosted lettering, ‘Made in Denmark’.  The next two pictures show this ghosted lettering.Yet, in the two pictures following with the light angled differently, the second picture being a blow-up of the first, I can make out just above the ‘Made’, I think I can see two letters: ‘N’ and possibly another ‘N’ or a ‘W’?  And to the far right, possibly the number ‘5’ or another letter?  Often these are phantom letters that form from the grain and our desire to see something that’s not there!  Phantom or not, there’s not a lot to go on.With this meager information I looked at Pipephil.eu where you can search by country.  I clicked on Denmark and as you might expect, several options surfaced of Danish pipe names and carvers.  With the possibility of the phantom ‘N’ being the first letter of a name, I looked at the N section to see if any of the names and pipes made by these might resemble the Danish Freehand on my worktable – reaching at straws!With no leads, I sent a note and pictures of this Freehand off to Steve with his rebornpipes.com depth of experience to draw upon again!  Perhaps there was something he would see in the pipe that would lean toward a Danish style and maker.  The next day I received Steve’s reply which was encouraging:

It has the look of a Preben Holm… under the pipes he made is a group of them – freehands labeled Monte Verde I wonder if that is not what is there.

Steve included the Pipephil.eu link that took me to the Monte Verde panel attributed to Preben Holm.  Wow! Again, I look at the lettering on the lower panel of the Freehand and it could be….  The ‘Made in Denmark’ looks like the same, all cap letters.  With Steve’s input the likelihood of Freehand being a Preben Holm is enhanced.Not long ago, wishing to add to my personal collection a Freehand with Preben Holm’s name on it, I landed on eBay a beautiful piece of his workmanship. This Freehand is still in need of restoration but putting it along side of the smaller Freehand on my worktable, one can easily see why Steve says that it has the ‘look of a Preben Holm’.  Looking at the curves, the angles of the cuts, even the grain pattern presentation – the resemblance is there. I’m looking forward to restoring this big boy one of these days!The Pipedia ‘Preben Holm’ article is full of information and examples of his work.  The opening paragraph is enough to capture the impact that his work has had – why, like me, adding a Preben Holm Freehand to one’s collection checks a box on most pipe men and women’s pipe bucket list:

Preben Holm (1947 – 1989) has set some marks in pipe history. Just before his 16th birthday in 1963 he sold pipes to the legendary Pipe-Dan shop and at the age of only 22 he headed 45 employees. He was among the first Danish artisans who made “Danish pipe design” famous in the USA in the 1960’s. More than that he was one of the very first carvers who exceeded this moderate Danish design which based on the classical shapes. “Chaising the grain” they turned out wild and dramatic fancy pipes. Combining smooth with blasted surfaces, showing big areas of the original bark at the top of the bowl and at the end of the stem, these pipes were quite shocking to many elder and more conservative pipesmokers.

When he started to sell his pipes to Lane Ltd. under the Ben Wade label, he caused a hype fairly beyond comparison. Especially in the U.S., as most of his pipes were sold there.

Looking now more specifically at the ‘possible’, perhaps probable, Preben Holm on my worktable, the 1 5/8-inch-deep chamber has a light to moderate layer of cake and the plateau is full of grime and lava flow.I am struck by the vertical grain that the carver took advantage of as he shaped the pipe. In the Pipedia Preben Holm article quoted above, I took special note of the phrase, ‘“Chaising the grain” [sic].  Breaking out of the classic shape mold where shape dictated the pipe, in the Freehand movement Preben Holm revolutionized, ‘chasing the grain’ challenged the carver to allow the grain to shape the pipe’s presentation.  This Freehand definitely chased the grain!  The large briar landscape of the peaked stummel is dirty with thick grime as well as some minor dings and scratches from normal use. The fancy stem has deep oxidation and calcium build-up on the bit.  The bit and button have been mercilessly chewed like cud!  The former steward saved money on not purchasing bite guards but it’s obvious this pipe was loved!  To smoke the pipe hands-free would require this kind of clenching with the size of the stummel.To begin the restoration, using pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95%, the fancy stem airway is cleaned.With the oxidation so thick and with calcium caked on the mouthpiece, before putting the stem into a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer, I decide to get a head start on breaking up the crud.  I use 000 grade steel wool on the stem.  I recently read Jeff Laug’s rebornpipes blog on his cleaning methods (Got a filthy estate pipe that you need to clean?) which is very helpful.  One thing he mentions about stem cleaning is to use ‘Soft Scrub’ which unfortunately I didn’t have for this stem.  I used alcohol with the steel wool, but next time I’ll try to find a comparable product to use here in Bulgaria.After attacking the oxidation and calcium build-up with the steel wool, I’m hopeful that the Before & After Soak will prove to be more productive than in the past with heavily oxidized stems.  The Danish Freehand joins other stems of pipes in the queue for a soak of several hours.After soaking for some time, I use a stiff wire to fish the fancy stem out of the Deoxidizer and allow the fluid to drain.  Notice that I have surgical gloves on – I squeegee the excess fluid off the stem with my fingers.I then wipe/scrub the surface with a cotton pads wetted with isopropyl 95% to remove the raised oxidation.  The Before & After Deoxidizer seems to have done a good job after prepping the oxidation first with the steel wool.At this point, I apply paraffin oil to the stem to begin the rejuvenation of the vulcanite.  I put the stem aside and turn to the stummel.With the stummel in hand, I take a closer look at the conical chamber and the minor/moderate carbon cake build-up.  I’m not sure how well the Pipnet Reaming Tool’s blade heads will fit this chamber, but I’ll give it a go. I use the first two smaller blade heads, but as I suspected, the chamber narrows too much for the blades to reach the floor of the chamber, so I use the blades simply to scrape the walls. It was then that I remembered a reamer that I picked up a few years ago at a flea market somewhere in Kentucky when my wife and I were in the States.  The Kleen Reem Pipe Tool has some years on it.  I remember when I found it, I thought that it might come in handy. I love old boxes and paraphernalia.  The company printed underneath the name is W. J. Young Co. Peabody.  A quick look on the internet revealed that Peabody is in the US state of Connecticut.  The reamer is in a case with several shortened pipe cleaners.  I’m not sure what the function is of the pipe cleaners. Taking a closer look at the reamer I discover the smaller knob on the end unscrews and sheathed inside I withdraw a drill bit.  As I rotate the end knob of the reamer, the three blades expand in unison as a metal cylinder pushes the blades open.  The workings are solid. With my curiosity piqued, I dig a bit more on the internet to see if I can find more information.  I find a classic owner’s leaflet (See: LINK) extolling the benefits of keeping one’s pipe clean and the benefits of the Kleen Reem Pipe Tool. Below the text, a schematic of the reamer clearly describes the critical working parts.The next page of the leaflet solved the mystery of the miniature pipe cleaners.  The picture shows a pipe cleaner hooked on the end of the shank reamer.  I look at mine and discover that its not a hook, but a small hole through the pipe cleaner is threaded.  I would imagine that it puts a lot of torque on the crud in the airway when the shank reamer is rotating. After reading the ‘Directions for Use’ below, I decide to see for myself if the claim holds true: ‘The Kleen Reem Pipe Tool fits any pipe….’ The claim held true, at least for this Danish Freehand!  The end of the reamer blades reached down to the floor of the chamber and I expanded the blades gradually as I rotated the reamer moving up the chamber.  A great debut for this vintage old boy Kleen Reem Pipe Tool!  I follow the Kleen Reem by scraping the walls further with the Savinelli Fitsall Tool and finish by sanding the chamber with 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen. After wiping the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to clean the carbon dust, I inspect the chamber walls to find everything looking great.Transitioning to cleaning the external briar surface, using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap, I scrub the surface using a cotton pad as well as a bristled toothbrush on the plateaus – rim and shank. I then transfer the stummel to the kitchen sink where I continue the cleaning using shank brushes with anti-oil dish liquid soap (out of Jeff Laug’s Playbook!) and using warm to hottish water, I clean the mortise and airway.  I also use the brass wire brush on the rim plateau where the lava overflow is still hanging on.  After the cleaning, a few pictures show the results.  The plateau is cleaned of the caked crud and most of the dark color is gone.  The old wax build-up and finish, if there was much of a finish, seems now to be gone.  Fresh briar. Continuing the internal cleaning, pipe cleaners and cotton buds wetted with isopropyl 95% go to work on the mortise and airway. I also employ a small dental spoon to scrape the mortise walls.  When I was doing this I suddenly thought, ‘Why am I not testing out the Kleen Reem shank reamer?’  I pull it out of the Kleen Reem case again and rotate it into the airway.  The reamer grabs with traction and begins to move slowly through the airway as I rotate the reamer.  It makes it through to the draft hole and I retract it without difficulty.  It works!I decide to drink the Kool Aide and try out the miniature pipe cleaners.  I thread one through the hole on the tip of the reamer per the directions I read earlier.  I’m wondering to myself, how is all of this going to fit and move through the airway??  I decide to wet the pipe cleaner some with isopropyl 95% as I do regular pipe cleaners.  I push it into the mortise and the halves of the pipe cleaner fold back like slanted wings as I begin rotating the reamer as I did before.  As before, the reamer grabs and gains purchase while the rotation of the reamer pulls the tool into the airway.  It makes it to the draft hole and as before, before trying with the pipe cleaner, I retract it without trouble.I am amazed!  When I extract the reamer, I discover that the pipe cleaner was neatly embedded in the troughs of the reamer – sweet!  The pipe cleaner provides a slightly expanded ‘brushing’ activity while the reamer does the plowing with its blades.  The second picture below shows the pipe cleaner unwrapped a bit.  I’m impressed with the engineering of this tool. After several more cotton buds and pipe cleaners, they begin to emerge lighter and cleaner and I call it ‘cleaned’ for the moment.The hour is late and before the lights go out, I’ll continue the internal cleaning with a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  This both continues to clean the internal briar walls, but also refreshes the bowl for the new steward’s enhanced enjoyment!  I first fashion a mortise ‘wick’ by pulling and twisting a cotton ball.  The wick serves to help draw the tars and oils out of the briar. I then guide the wick down the mortise into the airway with the aid of a stiff wire.  With the wick in place, the chamber is filled with kosher salt.  Kosher salt leaves no aftertaste unlike iodized salt. With the bowl in an egg crate to keep it stable, I add isopropyl 95% to the chamber with a large eyedropper until it surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes the alcohol is drawn into the pipe and I again add some alcohol to top it off.  I put it aside, turn out the lights and let it soak through the night! The next morning the soak has done the job.  The soiling of the wick and salt indicates the absorbing action of drawing the tars and oils out of the briar.  After tossing the expended salt in the waste, a paper towel and blowing through the airway clears the pipe of salt crystals.I put the stummel aside to address the chewed-up stem.  I take a few pictures to show the upper, lower then a lateral view of the button.  The results of the biting and clenching are not only the severe teeth damage but also that the button is so compressed, there’s essentially no lip left to hang the pipe normally.  This is not good even when you’re not a clencher.  My approach will first seek to expand and raise the tooth compressions and chatter as much as possible on the upper and lower bit.  I’ll attempt this using the heating method with a Bic lighter.  I don’t believe there’s any way to avoid having to rebuild the button to restore a proper lip to hang the Freehand.  First, using a Bic lighter, I paint the upper and lower bit with the flame.  My hope is to minimize the compressions so that sanding is all that will be necessary on the bit. I take a start picture of upper and lower, then after using the Bic lighter for comparison.

I believe the process did minimize the damage as the heated vulcanite expanded toward its pre-damage condition, but we’re a long way from where we need to be! The button was so thin on the top that the flame burned a small bit of the upper lip in the center and it broke off leaving a divot in the middle of the upper lip. To rebuild the button, I mix activated charcoal with BSI Extra Thick Maxi-Cure CA glue.  To help in cleaning, I put scotch tape down on a plastic disk that serves as my mixing pallet, and then clean the bit with a cotton pad and alcohol.  I place a small pile of charcoal on the disk and then a dollop of the glue next to it.  I gradually mix as I pull charcoal into the glue using a toothpick.As the mixture thickens, I trowel the charcoal/CA mixture onto the button to build a mound over the repair site for the button and on the bit area to fill tooth compressions remaining in the vulcanite.  An accelerator is used on each side of the bit to quicken the curing time.After cleaning up, the flat needle file is first used to begin the rough shaping of the button.Starting with the upper side, I file and gradually shape the button.After making progress on the upper bit and button, the patch just above the small air slot that was thin earlier and burned some, is not adequately filled.  With a magnifying glass I see a gap in the patch.To do a quick patch fill above the slot, I fashion a piece of index card into a sharp point that will fit into the slot to form a mold barrier.  I cover the tip of the card stock with a piece of scotch tape to keep the glue from sticking. Using a medium-thick black CA glue, I spot drop the glue in the center above the slot and spray it with accelerator.After waiting a few minutes for the black CA glue to thoroughly cure, I wiggle the card stock out of the slot with no problems of sticking.  The patch above the slot looks good and I continue filing.I finish the roughing out of the upper button with the flat needle file.I transition to filing and shaping the lower button and bit.With the lower roughing out completed, I transition to 240 grade paper and sand to smooth more and to erase the scratching left from the file. Next, using 600 grade paper, I wet sand the entire stem.  I follow this by applying 000 grade steel wool to the entire fancy stem.  It takes some time to work sand in the grooves and around the bulges of the stem.Stem work is the most time consuming and meticulous part of a pipe’s restoration, usually.  I look at the possible Preben Holm Freehand stummel waiting for attention and I would rather put the stem aside and switch to the ‘milk and honey’ part of a restoration, but I press on with the stem applying the full battery of micromesh pads starting with wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400.  I follow this by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  In between each set of 3 pads, I apply Obsidian Oil which helps rejuvenate the vulcanite stem as well as helping retard the development of oxidation. After finishing the micromesh process, I note that the button rebuild patch material has air pockets showing.  This happens often with this repair. To remedy this, I use clear acrylic nail polish to paint the button with the small brush that comes with the bottle.  The acrylic fills the pockets.  After applying, I put the fancy stem aside for the acrylic polish to cure.With the stem on the side, I now take another look at the Danish Freehand stummel.  The grain is beautiful, and the surface is in very good shape but shows normal nicks and scratches from normal wear. I will use micromesh pads to refresh the briar surface but first I cover the area of the last vestiges of the nomenclature.  I do not wish to contribute to its demise.Using pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand the surface.  Following this, using pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000, I dry sand the large briar landscape.  It’s exhilarating to see the metamorphosis of the grain through each minute gradation of grade provided by each successive micromesh pad.  It’s as if the grain is coaxed out.  I love the grain on the Danish Freehand.  If this is indeed a work of Preben Holm, it is truly ‘chasing the grain.’ To tease out further the natural hues of the briar, Mark Hoover’s product (www.ibepen.com), Before & After Restoration Balm, does the job well. After putting some Balm on my fingers, I work it into the briar surface including the rim and shank plateaus.  I then put the stummel aside for about 20 minutes, then wipe/buff the excess using a microfiber cloth dedicated to this. I follow with another microfiber cloth to buff the surface further.Next, I use another product of Mark Hoover, Before & After Fine and Extra Fine polishes.  Not only does the polishes revitalize the vulcanite, Mark says that it also has properties that continue to fight or remove oxidation.  Starting with the Fine polish, like the Balm, after placing a small amount on my finger, I work it into the vulcanite and let it set for a few minutes.  With the polishes, I like removing the excess initially with a paper towel – it absorbs and is a bit rougher which seems to help in the polishing at this stage.  I follow the Fine with the Extra Fine polish in the same manner.  The stem looks great.Next, I address the plateaus of rusticated briar – a hallmark characteristic of many Freehand pipes.  This Freehand appears to have had a darkened plateau originally and I use a fine point black Sharpie Pen to do the highlighting and darkening. I also darken and freshen the straight highlight carvings on the heel. I focus on the inner two thirds of the rim plateau intentionally leaving some of the rustication on the outer edge natural briar – I like contrasting and texturing.  I do the same with both plateaus and the heel sculpting. In order to ‘weather’ the freshly darkened plateaus so that the black doesn’t look new, I lightly sand the plateaus with the roughest micromesh pad, 1500 grade.  What this also does is lighten the peaks of the rustication giving more depth of contrast – I like this! The home stretch – after mounting a cotton cloth to the Dremel with the speed set at about 40% full power, Blue Diamond compound is applied to stem and stummel. Following Blue Diamond, another cotton cloth buffing wheel is mounted on the Dremel, and maintaining the same speed, carnauba wax is applied to the Freehand.  After applying the wax, I use a microfiber cloth to give the pipe a rigorous hand buffing to raise the shine.If this Danish Freehand is not a Preben Holm, it’s an excellent facsimile.  The vertical grain is mesmerizing.  It reaches up the 2 1/2 inch height of the Freehand’s front bowed bowl section and culminates in the classic rusticated plateau.  The plateau measures 1 3/4 inches across surrounding a 1 3/4 inch deep chamber that will hold an ample load of tobacco.  The length from the front point to the button is 5 3/4 inches.  The button re-build came out well – I’m pleased.  Andy commissioned this Made in Denmark Freehand and will have the first opportunity to claim it in The Pipe Steward Store benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria.  Thanks for joining me!

Wow – Restoring a Huge Mario Grandi Blowfish!


Blog by Steve Laug

I have finished many of the pipes on my desk for refurbishing or repair and decided it was time to do something a little different that was a lot less work. I turned again to the group of 42 pipes that Jeff and I purchased from a pipeman who can no longer smoke because serious illness. It is a pleasure to be able to support this Brother of the Briar in this very hard season of his life. He had some beautiful pipes in his collection and with some work we will get them cleaned up and into the hands of other pipemen and women who can carry on the legacy of the briar.

The fifth of the pipes that I am working on is a monstrously large Mario Grandi Blowfish with a dual finish of smooth and sandblast. The smooth portions have great grain and the sandblast portion on the right side adds depth to the shape. The sandblast portion has some darker brown stain in the valleys of the blast that really are a nice touch. There is an acrylic black insert in the shank and a smooth shank cap. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Mario Grandi over Fatta in Italia. It is another nice piece of briar that the carver accommodated the shape to highlight. The turned fancy, vulcanite stem shifts shape from the round bead to a four sided panel in the blade of the stem. When it arrived at Jeff’s house and he opened the box he could see it was a beautifully grained piece of briar and an interestingly carved pipe. The pipe was dirty but there was little damage to the bowl or stem. There was some chipping on the right side of the shank extension – almost like tooth marks. Perhaps it had fallen prey to a dog’s attention. The rim top had darkening and tars flowing up from the thickly caked bowl. But it did not appear to be burned or charred. The stem was in good condition – just lightly oxidized and a little dirty. There was calcification and tooth chatter on both sides of the stem near the button. Overall the large unique pipe was a beautiful piece that must have been enjoyed by the previous pipeman who had held it in trust. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his clean up work. Jeff took photos of the bowl and the rim top to show the condition of the bowl and rim. You can see the lava and darkening on the rim top. You can also see the cake in the bowl and the tobacco debris stuck to the walls.   Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish – the pipe looked pretty good and the grain on the sides and bottom of the bowl was very pretty. The contrast between the smooth and the sandblast portions was quite nice. The next three photos show the damage to the shank extension. It almost looks the pipe was bitten by a dog or dropped on a rough surface without the stem in place. He took photos of the stamping on the left and underside of the shank. He missed the number on the right side of the shank. The stamping was very readable as noted above. It is a beauty!  He took some photos of the fancy vulcanite stem surfaces to show their condition. There were not any deep tooth marks just some calcification and light chatter ahead of the button on both sides.I turned then to Pipedia to see what I could find out about Mario Grandi pipes. I read through the page to gather some information. Here is the link (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Mario_Grandi). I will quote from the article.

The Mario Grandi line was created in late 2006 by Aldo Pierluigi and his family as a sub-brand of their mainstay brand Mastro Beraldi.

Mario Grandi often show unusual and imaginative shapes – some really take getting used to. Every now and then you may find a pipe with some minor negligence concerning the workmanship. To give an example: the shank /stem junction sometimes shows a little split. Even though the quality is generally very high and you will hardly find any other (mainly) hand-crafted pipes at such affordable prices.

Outside Italy Mario Grandi pipes are officially offered by *futurepipes* on eBay. More than 2,000 pipes have been sold since December 2006. The offers change almost daily.

Now I had the information I wanted to know on the brand it was time to begin to work with it and clean it up. It really is a beautiful pipe. I am getting more and more used to Jeff cleaning up the pipes before I work on them. So much so that when I have to clean them it is a real chore! This pipe was dirty just like the other ones in the collection. I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals 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 looked really good once it was clean. There was no damage and the sandblast stood out with stark contrast around the bowl. The rim top showed some beautiful sandblasted birdseye on the beveled surface. He cleaned the stem internals and scrubbed the exterior and the result looked very good. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it was impressive. 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 the cleanup of the rim top looked like. It was a real beauty. The sandblast and the contrasting smooth areas on the rim really highlighted the grain patterns on the rim top and they were very clean! I also took close up photos of the stem to show condition it was in. It would not take a lot of work – just sanding out the light tooth chatter and polishing with micromesh sanding pads.I took a photo of the chipped/chewed area on the shank extension. It had cleaned up nicely and did not actually look too bad. In fact in many ways it matched the sandblast on the right side of the bowl. I would probably leave it as it is as a fill would definitely detract from the beauty of the pipe.I took a photo of the stamping on the shank of the pipe. On the left it read Mario Grandi over Fatta in Italia. I started my work on this pipe with the bowl. I polished the bowl and rim with worn micromesh sanding pads. I sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped it down between pads with a soft cotton cloth. You can see the progress in the shine as you go through the photos.  I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of stain really made the grain stand out. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The pipe really looks good at this point. I am very happy with the way the pipe is looking at this point in the process.  I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper and 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the remaining oxidation and tooth chatter on the surface of the stem on both sides.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the sanding debris. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I hand buffed it with a cloth. I gave it a coat of Briarville’s No Oxy Oil to protect and preserve the newly cleaned and polished stem.  This was another fun pipe to work on since Jeff had done the heavy work in cleaning it. Once I was finished I put the fancy vulcanite stem back on the bowl and polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond polish 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. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The depth and look of the sandblast portion stands out in real contrast to the smooth portions and makes the pipe vibrant. The pipe polished up really well. The polished stem looked very good after the buffing. This is a big pipe and it feels great in my hand and I am sure that it will feel even better radiating the heat of a good smoke. It must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it from the pipeman who we bought it from. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions of this large blowfish are Length: 8 inches, Height: 3 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This is one is a unique beauty that is eye catching. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding it to your collection email or message me. 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 the next pipeman or woman.

A Resurrection for a C.P.F. Fancy Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

Back in November of 2019 I received an email from a fellow pipe man and restorer who I regularly communicate with regarding a C.P.F. pipe. He keeps an eye out for these as he knows that I have a love of the old American brand. He sent the email below and piqued my interest in the pipe.

Steve, I just picked up a CPF pipe that needs some TLC.  Will send to you if you are interested.  No strings attached.  Marked French Briar CPF with some Brass fitments.  Half-3/4 bent bulldog shape.  Bowl looks solid from the outside but can’t really tell what it looks like from the inside.  Might have an amber stem that is pretty much shot – complete, but has problems that probably cannot be repaired – holes near button, crack near shank. – Curtis

I asked him to send me some photos of the pipe but he had already put it in the mail to my brother Jeff. He did however send the photos from the EBay seller that I have included below. Curtis certainly has a gift for understatement… TLC is definitely not all that will be needed with this old timer. But I have a soft spot for hopeless old pipes and this was a C.P.F. as well so it would need to get some attention. At least it could be an ongoing project for me to fiddle with while working on pipes for others. It would be one that stayed in my C.P.F. collection so there was no rush.

You can see some of the issues that came with this old pipe in the photos below. The rim cap and shank end cap are brass and they were oxidized and the grooves and filigree of the pieces were filled in with grime and some rust as well. The rim cap had been hammered almost completely out of shape which will show up later in the photos Jeff took when he received the pipe. The bowl itself had a thick cake in it and an overflow of lava onto the rim cap. The finish was tired and dirty with many small scratches. The C.P.F. oval with French Briar around the oval was still readable but worn. The issues with the stem were many. First appearances show that it is held onto the tenon with thread wound around the tenon. The amber is crystallized and cracked. There is a split on the right side of the shank end. There are two bite throughs – one on the top and one on the bottom. These bite throughs do not align. Patching them will be a challenge. The button itself is worn as well with chips and nicks. The airway is filled with tars that have caused it to turn black. This old pipe will need a lot of work but I can see potential. Curtis shipped it to Jeff so that he could do the cleanup work on it before sending it on to me in Canada. Jeff took photos of the pipe to give me a better idea of the condition before he started his cleanup. The first photo shows the look of the pipe and for me shows the promise I saw in the tired old timer.Jeff also took a photo of the rim top and bowl to show the thick cake and the damage to the brass cap. The second photo shows the bone tenon in the shank and the stem with the string wrap removed to show the issues with the size of the airway into the stem that would have originally been threaded to accommodate the tenon. The threads were long gone and the opening was now cavernous.He took some photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to shows the scratches and nicks in the finish and gives a good picture of what will need to be done to bring the finish back to life. Jeff took photos of the shank cap to give an idea of the condition of the oxidation and the darkening on the surface of the carvings in the brass. It was still solid even with the debris and oxidation.He took a series of photos of the stem to show the crystallization and cracks in the surface as well as the bite through areas and damage to the airway. The stem almost looked to be a lost cause but I had a few ideas and nothing to lose. I am getting more and more used to Jeff cleaning up the pipes before I work on them. So much so that when I have to clean them it is a real chore! The above photos told the story of the condition of the pipe when Jeff received it so I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. II was pretty amazed at what I saw. Yes it had a lot of issues but it was CLEAN! He removed the bowl cap and reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals 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 brass rim cap and shank cap. The finish looked surprisingly good once it was clean. The brass rim cap showed its damage clearly and I was not sure how much of that I could remove but I would give it a try. He cleaned the stem internals and scrubbed the exterior and the result looked very good. The airway and bite through holes were clean but the crystallization was very evident. I have to say that when the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it was impressive. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some close up photos of the rim cap and shank cap. I wanted to show what an amazing job Jeff did in the cleanup of the caps. Even though they were damaged there were quite nice. The briar also cleaned up very nicely and you could see the grain! I also took close up photos of the stem to show condition it was in. It would not take a lot of work – stabilizing the crazing or crystallizing of the amber and also repairing the bite throughs.I took the pipe apart so I could work on the various components. You can see the bowl, the rim and shank cap and the stem in the photos. Each piece needed special attention.I used a small ball-peen hammer and a screwdriver and a Robertson head to tap out as many of the dents as I could.I used a brass bristle wire brush to polish the shank and rim cape and then glued them both in place on the shank and rim top respectively. I tapped the top of the rim cap with the hammer and was able to flatten it slightly. I knew that I would never get the bone tenon out of the shank and that the interior of the stem was far too big to receive the tenon. I wrapped the end of the tenon with Teflon tape to get a good fit on the stem.I coated the exterior of the stem with clear Krazy Glue to stabilize the crazing of the amber. I let it dry and then the stem was ready to sand. I tried to repair the bite through marks on both side of stem with the normal procedure of a greased pipe cleaner in the airway and building the hole up with the glue. It did not work this time at all.I used my Dremel and sanding drum to take off the damaged button. I was able to remove the majority of the bite through on the top side. Having that completed, I then was able to repair the one on the underside. I put the greased pipe cleaner in the stem and filled in the hole on the underside. This time it held. I also was able to build up the area just ahead of where the button had been on the topside. It truly looks ugly at this point in the process but would look better when I was finished.I sanded the surface on both sides of the stem with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper and then filled in some of the pits in the repair with more Krazy Glue.With that repair done I started to build up the glue around the stem end to make a new button. I layered on the glue and sprayed it with an accelerator and re-layered and resprayed until the button edge was present. I used a needle file to cut a sharp edge on the new button. Once it was clearly defined I sanded the button and stem surface with 220 and 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to smooth out the surface and blend it into the stem.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the sanding debris. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I hand buffed it with a cloth. I wiped it down with Briarville’s No Oxy Oil to protect and preserve the stem. The progress on both sides of the stem is clear in the next series of photos. Curtis was correct in telling me that this would be a challenging pipe to work on. Jeff had done the heavy work in cleaning it so that was a major boost for me. Once I was finished I put the repaired amber stem back on the bowl and polished it by hand with a microfiber cloth. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and buffed the pipe with a shoe brush to raise the shine. I hand buffed it again with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe has come a long way from where it was when Jeff received it. Thank you Curtis, for believing that I could do something with this one. That kept me moving forward during some rough moments with the restoration. The pipe polished up really well. The polished amber stem seemed to truly come back to life with the buffing. This little pipe feels great in my hand and I am sure that it will feel even better radiating the heat of a good smoke. It must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This is interesting piece of late 1890s early 1900s history and even with the warts and wrinkles has beauty that is eye catching. I will be putting it in my C.P.F. Collection. 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 the next pipeman or woman. This is the push behind the work I do.

Restoring an Amazing Looking Comoy’s Magnum Supreme


Blog by Steve Laug

I have finished many of the pipes on my desk for refurbishing or repair and decided it was time to do something a little different that was a lot less work. I turned again to the group of 42 pipes that Jeff and I purchased from a pipeman who can no longer smoke because serious illness. It is a pleasure to be able to support this Brother of the Briar in this very hard season of his life. He had some beautiful pipes in his collection and with some work we will get them cleaned up and into the hands of other pipemen and women who can carry on the legacy of the briar.

The third of the pipes that I am working on is a large Comoy’s. It has an octagonal shank that is a really nice touch. The bottom of the bowl and shank are flat so the pipe is a sitter. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Comoy’s over Magnum over Supreme. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Made in over London England. It is a stunning piece of briar with beautiful straight, flame and birdseye grain around the bowl. The saddle stem is Cumberland and has a C inset in clear acrylic inlaid in the left side of the saddle. When it arrived at Jeff’s house and he opened the box he could see it was a beautifully grained piece of briar and an interestingly carved pipe. The pipe was dirty but there was no significant damage to the bowl or stem. The rim top had darkening and tars on the bevel of the inner edge. But it did not appear to be burned or charred. There was a thick cake in the bowl. The Cumberland stem was in great condition – just a little dirty and tooth chatter on both sides of the stem near the button. Overall the pipe was a beautiful and a dirty pipe that must have been a favourite smoker. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his clean up work. Jeff took photos of the bowl and the rim top to show the condition of the bowl and rim. You can see the light oil and darkening on the inner edge of the beveled rim top. You can also see the cake in the bowl and the tobacco debris stuck to the walls.   Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish – the grime and grit all over the sides and bottom of the bowl. The overall dullness of the finish looks lifeless. It is a dirty pipe but the grain is absolutely stunning.   He took photos of the stamping on the octagonal shank. It is both artfully and tastefully done. The stamping was very readable as noted above. It is a beauty!  The Cumberland stem has an inset acrylic encased C inlaid on the left side of the saddle and is stamped faintly on the right side of the saddle with the words Hand Cut.  He took some photos of the Cumberland stem surfaces to show their condition. There were not any tooth marks just some calcification and light chatter ahead of the button on both sides.  I turned then to Pipedia to see what I could find out about this particular line of Comoy’s pipes. I read through the main Comoy’s page and looked at the page on dating the pipes by the stamping on both sides and neither one had any reference to the Comoy’s Magnum Supreme. I then turned to the article by Derek Green on Pipedia to see if there was any reference to the line there. Low and behold about half way down the article under the section entitled, The Names or Grades I found some information on the Magnum line. Here is the link to that page on Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/A_History_Of_Comoy%27s_and_A_Guide_Toward_Dating_the_Pipes#The_Names_or_Grades). I will quote from the section on the line below.

Extraordinaire. This designation was given to any pipe that was out of the ordinary in size or grain. The E/O was introduced in the 1930s, and “Extraordinaires” can be found with no other designation or also stamped, for instance, “Blue Riband” or “London Pride.” The 1936 advertisement lists the “Extraordinaire” at $13 to $23, and the 1965 catalogue also lists a “Specimen Straight Grain Extraordinaire” at $60, though I cannot imagine many of these were made! There seem to be two distinct-sized pipes that were called “Extraordinaire.” The very large or Magnum-sized variety are unique and were given shape numbers in the 800 series. My 1939 panel example is 803 and is 9 inches long, with a bowl 2 3/8” high and 1 ¾” wide. I understand that BBB, Comoy and Dunhill made these Magnum-sized pipes in the 1920s and 30s and that Dunhill purchased the bowls for their Magnums from BBB when they started producing them in 1921. Other Extraordinaires are somewhat larger than a Dunhill LBS, for instance 6 ½” long with a bowl height of 2” and 1 ½” wide. These are given normal shape numbers and are illustrated in the 1965 catalogue.

The Extraordinaire was reintroduced in 1979 as the “Extraordinaire 1,” which was priced at $100 in the 1979 catalogue in a light natural finish, and the “Extraordinaire 11,” a light two-tone walnut finish. Neither of these was as large as the 800 series.

Magnum. As mentioned above, the 800 series are “Magnum” sized, but I also have one pipe that is stamped “Magnum,” with the shape number 802 and is the same shape and size as my Extraordinaire 802. It dates from the 1960s, and Comoy’s may have used this name as a marketing exercise to supersede the 800 series. The name Magnum was re-introduced by Cadogan in the 1990s, but these were not really magnum sized.

From the site I determined that the pipe in my hand was most like made during the Cadogan time frame as it does not bear any shape number. It is large but I do not know that I would call it a Magnum sized pipe. That would make it a pipe from the 1990s which also goes along with the interesting acrylic encased C that is inlaid in the Cumberland stem.

Now I had the information I wanted to know on the brand it was time to begin to work with it and clean it up. It really is a beautiful pipe.

I am getting more and more used to Jeff cleaning up the pipes before I work on them. So much so that when I have to clean them it is a real chore! This pipe was dirty just like the other ones in the collection. I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals 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 looked really good once it was clean. There was no damage and the grain just popped around the bowl. The rim top was bursting with birdseye grain and was beautiful. He cleaned the stem internals and scrubbed the exterior and the result looked very good. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it was impressive. 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 an amazing job Jeff did in the cleanup of the rim top. It was a real beauty. The layout of the pipe absolutely captured the birdseye grain on the pipe. I also took close up photos of the stem to show condition it was in. It would not take a lot of work – just sanding out the light tooth chatter and polishing with micromesh sanding pads.I took photos of the stamping on the left, right and underside of the shank. The stamping reads as noted above.   I polished the bowl and rim with worn micromesh sanding pads. I sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped it down between pads with a soft cotton cloth. You can see the progress in the shine as you go through the photos.  I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl, the rim top and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of stain really made the grain stand out. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The pipe really looks good at this point. I am very happy with the way the pipe is looking at this point in the process.  I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the light tooth chatter on both sides of the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I finished by wiping it down with Briarville’s No Oxy Oil and set it aside to dry. This was another fun pipe to work on since Jeff had done the heavy work in cleaning it. Once I was finished I put the Hand Cut Cumberland stem with a Delrin tenon back on the bowl and polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond polish 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. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The grain just pops and is almost multidimensional it is so deep. The pipe polished up really well. The polished Cumberland stem seemed to truly come alive with the buffing. This is a big pipe and it feels great in my hand and I am sure that it will feel even better radiating the heat of a good smoke. It must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it from the pipeman who we bought it from. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 ½ inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: 1 inch. This is one beauty that is eye catching. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding it to your collection email or message me. 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 the next pipeman or woman.

Rebirthing a Stem for Jennifer’s Dad’s Second Champ of Denmark 4 Freehand


I decided to change things up a bit and work on another of Jennifer’s Dad’s pipes. For the next pipe from the estate of George Rex Leghorn I have chosen a nicely shaped Champ of Denmark Freehand. This one has been sitting for a while now while I debated what to do about the broken stem. I find that sometimes the best solutions come to me when I wait! You may not have read about this estate before, so I will retell the story. I received an email from Jennifer who is a little older than my 64+ years about whether I would be interested in her Dad’s pipes. My brother Jeff and I have been picking up a few estates here and there, so I was interested. Here is the catch – she did not want to sell them to me but to give them to me to clean up, restore and resell. The only requirement she had was that we give a portion of the sales of the pipes to a charity serving women and children. We talked about the organization I work for that deals with trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and their children and she decided that would be a great way to carry on the charitable aspect of her Dad’s character. With some great conversation back and forth she sent the pipes to Jeff and he started the cleanup process on them. Once he had finished cleaning them all he sent them to me to do my work on them.

The Champ of Denmark pipe is stamped on the underside of the shank CHAMP over of Denmark and below that is the number 4. It came to us with a broken stem about an inch, inch and ½ above the tenon. The beautiful straight and flame grain around the bowl and up the shank is visible through the very thick coat of grime. It seemed like it had a dark stain but hard to tell. There were oil stains from George’s hands on both sides of the bowl obscuring the grain. It was so dirty that it was hard to see the colour well. There was a thick cake in the bowl and it had overflowed with lava into the plateau on the bowl top and shank end. It was a dirty and tired looking old pipe. The stem was badly oxidized but there were not any tooth marks or chatter on the surface. The button was in good shape. It had been sitting in boxes for a lot of years and it was time to move ahead with the restoration. Jennifer took photos of the pipes she was sending. I have included two she included from this pipe. I had some decisions to make regarding this stem. Should I replace it or should I fiddle with a repair? I would have to think that through.When the box arrived from Jennifer, Jeff opened it and took photos of each pipe before he started his cleanup work on them. There were two Champ of Denmark Freehands in the box – both were in bags and both had broken tenons and stems. There is something about classic Danish Freehands that is intriguing and I like working on them. The shapes seem to really capture the flow of the grain on the briar and this second pipe is no exception. The briar appeared to be in good condition underneath the grime. The finish looked intact under the grime. The bowl had a thick cake that had hardened with time. The lava overflow on the plateau rim but it could very well have protected the rim from damage. We won’t know what is under it until Jeff had cleaned it off. The stem was broken in the middle between the turned four sided decorative bead and the blade. It looked as if it had snapped when George was trying to remove a stuck stem. But that was a piece of the history of the pipe I would never know for certain. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started working on it. I include those below.Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava build up on the plateau rim top and on the shank end as well. It was thick and hard but hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage. The lava coat looks horrible but it points to a well-used, favourite smoking pipe. George must have enjoyed this old timer and when the stem broke he must have been frustrated.Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish – the grime and grit all over the sides and flat bottom of the bowl. It is a dirty pipe. Jeff took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It is very clear and readable. It reads as noted above.Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the broken stem showing the scratching, oxidation and tooth chatter on the stem surface. You can also see where the stem snapped – it is a very clean break and it is totally fixable. I will need to see if I have a small piece of tenon that can serve to join the two parts of the stem.When I worked on the previous Champ of Denmark back in June of 2019 I had done some research on the brand (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/06/22/restoring-jennifers-dads-champ-of-denmark-4-freehand/). I turned to that previous blog and quote that here in full:

I looked on the Pipephil site to get a quick overview of the brand. In the back of my mind I remembered a connection to Karl Erik. I could not remember the details of the connection (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-c4.html). I did a screen capture of the section on the brand that was shown on the site. I have included it below.In summary it says that the brand was distributed by Larsen & Stigart a tobacconist in Copenhagen, Denmark. The warehouse had a workshop that had such famous carvers as Soren Eric Andersen, Karl Erik Ottendahl and others.

I turned then to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Champ_of_Denmark) to see if I could get a bit more information. I quote in full from that site:

“Champ of Denmark” were made for and distributed by Larsen & Stigart by Karl Erik Ottendahl. Larsen & Stigart had some indoor carvers at certain times, too (e.g. Søren Eric Andersen) and among other things they managed to supply Dunhill with wild Danish fancy pipes.

In an endnote under the article on Karl Erik (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Erik) I found some more information. I quote the endnote in full.

¹ It is almost impossible to draw a sharp line between some of these brands… Larsen & Stigart – once a famous Copenhagen pipe shop, now almost forgotten – offered pipes produced by KE stamped “Larsen & Stigart” as well as pipes stamped “Larsen & Stigart” + “Champ of Denmark” or “Larsen & Stigart” + “Shelburne”. Almost needless to say, there are pipes stamped “Champ of Denmark” or “Shelburne” only. And the only reason is inconsistent stamping??? (BTW Larsen & Stigart employed own indoor carvers for appr. one decade – e.g. Søren Eric Andersen. They even managed to supply Dunhill with wild Danish fancy pipes.)

Now I had the verification of the link to Karl Erik Ottendahl. The pipe was most probably made by him for the pipe shop in Copenhagen. Before I get on to cleaning up the pipe I thought I would once again include the tribute that Jennifer wrote to her Dad for the blog. She also sent some photos and an article that her Dad wrote for Jeff and me to be able to get a feel for him. I have included those below. Note in each of them that he is holding a pipe in his left hand. I asked her to also send me an email with a brief tribute to her Dad. Here is her tribute from an email to me.

Steve, I want to thank you again for accepting my dad’s pipes.  They were so much a part of my dad’s life that I could not simply discard them. But as his daughter, I was not about to take up smoking them either. *laughing* I think my dad would like knowing that they will bring pleasure to others.  I know that I do.

I’m not sure what to say about his pipes. I always remember Daddy smoking pipes and cigars.

First a bit about my dad. Though my father, George Rex Leghorn, was American (growing up in Alaska), he managed to join the Canadian Army at the beginning of WWII, but in doing so lost his American citizenship.  He was fortunate to meet a Canadian recruiting officer who told him the alphabet began with “A” and ended with “Zed” not “Zee”, and also told him to say that he was born in a specific town that had all its records destroyed in a fire.  When the US joined the war my dad, and thousands of other Americans who had made the same choice*(see the link below for the article), were given the opportunity to transfer to the US military, and regain their citizenship.

After WWII, my dad, earned his degree at the University of California Berkeley and became a metallurgist. There is even a bit about him on the internet.

He loved taking the family out for a drive, and he smoked his cigars on those trips. (As a child, those were troubling times for my stomach.)

I most remember my father relaxing in his favorite chair with a science fiction book in one hand and a pipe in the other… Sir Walter Raleigh being his favorite tobacco… and the pipes themselves remind me of him in that contented way.  If I interrupted his repose, he’d look up, with a smile on his face, to answer me.

It seemed he smoked his Briarwood pipes the most, though he had others.  At the time, it was only the Briarwood I knew by name because of its distinctive rough shaped bowl.  And it was the Anderson Free Hand Burl Briar, made in Israel, which I chose for his birthday one year, because I thought he might like that particular texture in his hand.

At least two of his pipes, he inherited from his son-in-law, Joe Marino, a retired medical laboratory researcher (my sister Lesley’s late husband)… the long stemmed Jarl (made in Denmark), and the large, white-bowled, Sherlock Holmes style pipe.  I believe Joe had others that went to my dad, but Lesley was only sure about those two.

The Buescher, corncob pipe my older sister Lesley bought for Daddy while on one of her travels around the States.

A note on the spelling of my sister’s name…

My dad met my mother, Regina, during WWII and they married in Omagh, Ireland.  My mother was English and in the military herself.  The English spelling of Lesley is feminine, and Leslie masculine, in the UK… just the opposite of here in the United States.  I guess my mom won out when it came to the spelling of the name.

I’ll send you photos of my dad soon, along with his WWII experience story.

Jennifer

*https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2013/10/22/the_americans_who_died_for_canada_in_wwii.html

I am getting more and more spoiled on working on pipes that Jeff cleaned up. So much so that when I have to clean them it is a real chore! This pipe was a real mess just like the other ones in the collection. I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals 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 looked really good when I got it. The rim top plateau looked lifeless but clean. We were not sure what I would do with the stem so Jeff cleaned the internals and scrubbed the exterior in case I chose to try to repair it. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I actually forgot to take many photos before I started my part of the work but I did have one with the pipe and the broken stem. The briar is beautifully grained and clean. The rim top plateau is cleaned as well. It looked good. The shank extension was vulcanite and it was badly oxidized and would need to be sanded and polished.My first thought was to replace the broken stem with another freehand stem. I went through my stems and chose the one that is shown in the photo below. The length was right and the tenon was close. I set up my cordless drill with the PIMO tenon turner and adjusted the diameter of the tenon to fit the shank extension. I put it in the pipe and took a photo of the pipe to get a sense of how it looked. I actually did not like the shape of the stem or the way it looked. I would need to think through how to address the snapped stem. I was not happy with the look of the new stem. It was too think and clunky looking to me to fit the style of the pipe. I decided not to use it so I did not even bother bending it. I turned back to the broken stem and thought long and hard about it. I went upstairs and had a coffee and a short nap before I finally came up with a plan. I headed back downstairs and dug through my parts boxes for broken tenons. I even keep those around when I pull them from a shank. I have a good assortment of them in various diameters. I picked two possibilities and laid them out. From the two I chose the smaller one. Now the plan was beginning to take shape. I was going to drill out the two parts of the stem and rejoin them together with the piece of tenon. (Forgive the blurry photo but you get the idea. I would drill a hole in each end and use the tenon to rejoin them.I started opening the airway in both halves of the stem with a drill bit slightly larger than the airway. I worked my way up to the bit that is shown in the photos. It was the slightly smaller than the piece of tenon that I was going to use for the joint.I reduced the diameter of the short tenon piece with a Dremel and sanding drum. I worked on it until the fit in the drilled airway was perfect. Once that was done I used the Dremel and sanding drum to take down the diameter a bit more on the second half of the tenon. I topped it on the topping board using the blade side as a handle. Once the fit was right on both sides I glued it in the blade side with clear Krazy Glue and pressed it into the hole.  I cleaned up the end of the tenon and coated it with a layer of clear Krazy Glue. I pressed the second half of the stem in place on the tenon insert and aligned the four sided bulb on the tenon end of the stem.I set the stem aside to let the repair cure and turned my attention to the oxidized shank extension. I sanded the oxidation off with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. The third photo shows the plateau top and how the nooks and crevices look on the rim top. I polished the bowl and rim with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped it down between pads with a soft cotton cloth. You can see the progress in the shine as you go through the photos. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl and the plateau on the rim top and shank end with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of stain really made the grain stand out. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The pipe really looks good at this point. I am very happy with the way the pipe is looking at this point in the process.  Jeff’s clean up of the rim top looked very good. I decided to leave the darkened areas and darken the remaining valleys in the plateau with a Black Sharpie Pen to give the rim top a contrast look with the high smooth spots. It also gives the plateau more definition and gives it a clean look. The finished rim top looks very good.I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I inserted a pipe cleaner in the stem to protect the airway from collapsing when I heated it. I painted the surface of the stem with the flame of a BIC lighter until the vulcanite was soft. Once it was pliable I bent it to match the angle of the bowl top. I held it at that angle and cooled it under cool water to set it.I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to smooth out the repair in the middle of the stem and to remove the oxidation that remained on the stem surface. I smoothed out the repair in the mid-section of the stem with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper on the edge of my pen knife blade. I followed that with the 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I rubbed the stem down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish and a cotton pad to remove remnants of oxidation and to further blend in the sanding. The stem was showing some promise at this point in the process.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I finished by wiping it down with Obsidian Oil after each pad and set it aside to dry. I carefully buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and did the same for the bowl and vulcanite shank extension. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax separately as the angle of the stem and shank made buffing this a bit tricky. 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 polishing of the briar makes the grain really pop. The polished black vulcanite bit seemed to truly come alive with the buffing. This Freehand feels great in my hand and is what I would call and Egg/Oom Paul. It is one that could be clenched and smoked while doing other things as it is very light weight for a pipe this size It must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it from Jennifer. There should be a lot of life left in this Champ of Denmark by Karl Erik. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 ¼ inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This is one that will go on the rebornpipes online store shortly. If you want to carry on the pipe trust of George Leghorn let me know. Thank you Jennifer for trusting us with his pipes. 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 the next pipeman or woman.

Refreshing a Dunhill Root Briar 708 F/T Oval Shank Canted Stack for Alex


Blog by Steve Laug

Around Christmas time I got together with Alex to enjoy some great hot cocoa, smoke our pipes and talk about all things pipes. I always have a great time when we get together and this time was no exception. He greeted me at the door with slippers and an old smoking jacket. I took my seat in the living room among his latest pipe finds and was handed a great cup of cocoa. I set it down and we both loaded out pipes with some new Perretti’s tobacco that he had picked up. We touched the flame of the lighter to the tobacco and sat back and blissfully enjoyed the flavour. As we did Alex walked me through his latest finds. There were some amazing pipes to look at and savor. He had found several really nice pipes – 3 different Dunhill pipes that he wanted me to work on for him. I have already written a blog on the Dunhill Wanghee Tan Shell Briar with a Bamboo shank (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/08/refreshing-a-dunhill-tanshell-w60-t-1962bamboo-lovat-for-alex/). I have also written a blot on the reconstruction of a nice little Shell Briar Lovat(https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/11/breathing-life-into-a-worn-and-beat-up-dunhill-shell-briar-ec-canadian-for-alex/). The third Dunhill he had picked up is a shape number I could find little information on – a shape 708F/T Root Briar. For lack of a better title for the shape I have called it a canted stack.

Alex had reamed the pipe and cleaned the pipe very well. The bowl was clean. The rim top had a lot of damage including burn marks and dents. The bowl was also very far out of round with damage around inner edge. There were burn marks on the inner and outer edge toward the right front side of the bowl. The finish looked very good around the bowl other than the burn mark on the left side where it looked like the bowl had been laid in an ash tray against a hot ash. He had already enjoyed smoking it and was hooked on it. He asked if I could take it home with me and see what I could do about the rim top damage and the burn mark on the bowl. I told him I would take it home and have a go at it. The pipe was stamped on the left side of the shank with the following nomenclature: 708F/T at the bowl shank junction followed by Dunhill over Root Briar. The Dunhill Root Briar stamp is faint but readable with a lens and light. The right side reads Made in England followed by what looks like a 2 (another 1962?) and a Circle 4 A. The 4 is the size of the pipe and the A is the designation for Root Briar. The stamping on the right side of the shank is also faint.

When I got home I laid it aside and today took it up to work on it. I examined the pipe to see what I was working with and took some photos. You can see from the first photo below that there was a burn mark on the left side mid bowl. It was a cosmetic burn marks in the finish but not too deep. It was like the pipe had been laid down in an ashtray. The rim top had significant darkening and damage. The stem was in good condition other than tooth chatter on both sides just ahead of and on the top of the button. Overall the pipe was in good condition. I took a close up photo of the rim top. You can see the darkening on the rim top and the damage on the front inner and outer edge of the bowl. The inner edge was hacked up like it had been poorly reamed with a pocket knife. There were also nicks and deep scratches in the rim top. It was in rough shape. The stem looked pretty good. There was tooth chatter on the top and underside of the stem and on the button surface itself. Otherwise the stem was in very good condition.I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the bowl. You can see that it reads as noted above. It is indeed faint but with a lens and light it is very readable.I decided to start the refurbishing by addressing the issues with the rim top and inner edge of the bowl. I lightly topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. Once it was smooth I worked on the inner edge of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I also cleaned up the burned outer edge on the rim front. I sanded the burn mark on the left side of the bowl with the 220 grit sandpaper and was able to minimize the burn a bit. It was deeper than I initially thought. I polished the rim top and bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the bowl down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth to remove the dust and debris left behind by the sanding. I used a Maple Stain Pen to blend the sanded area on the side of the bowl and the rim top with the rest of the finish on the bowl. I have found that this particular stain pen works well to match the stain on the Root Briar.With the finish cleaned I rubbed it down with Before and After Restoration Balm. It is a product developed by Mark Hoover to clean, enliven and protect briar. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips. I let it sit while I went and had some lunch. When I came back I buffed it off with a cotton cloth. You can see the results below. While the burn mark did not disappear it is significantly lighter than when I started. The rim top also looks much better. I set the bowl aside and turned to address the tooth chatter on the stem surface. The stem was in excellent condition other than that so it did not take a lot of work. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to sand out the tooth marks and then started the polishing with 400 grit sandpaper.I polished it further with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish – a red paste that does a great job in removing the oxidation remnants in the crease of the button and also polish out some of the lighter tooth chatter.I finished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cotton pad to remove the dust. I polished it with Before and After Pipe Polish – both fine and extra fine. I finished by wiping the stem down with some No Oxy Oil that I received from Briarville Pipe Repair to experiment with. Once I finished I put the stem back on the shank and carefully buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond polish. I wanted to polish out the minute scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and the stem several coats of carnauba. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth. The finished Root Briar pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a great pipe and certainly looks better than when I began the process. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outer Bowl Diameter: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber Diameter: ¾ of an inch. The pipe will soon be heading back to Alex so he can continue to enjoy it. This is a beauty that he can enjoy as he carries on the trust of these Dunhill pipes. Thanks for walking with me through the restoration.

Comoys Supreme Grain Bent Billiard Restoration


By Al Jones

This is the 2nd Comoys that I restored this weekend.  And, the first “Supreme Grain” that I’ve ever seen.  I found a few examples on the web.  The pipe was in very solid condition.  Unfortunately, I also lost the before pictures of this pipe and only have the sellers.  As you can see, it is aptly named, and better grain than some Blue Ribands that I’ve seen.

The pipe had very light oxidation and a few dings and bruises in the briar.  The shape 42 is the larger of the two Comoy’s bent billiards.

I initially thought it had a drilled C and started restoration the restoration with my usual regiment, which involves sanding right over the very durable logo.  I was horrified on closer examination to find out that the logo was not drilled.  However, it is seemingly quite deep and almost looks like an insert of sorts.  I’ve done a lot of Comoys pipes from every era, but not yet encountered one quite like this one.

I removed the very light oxidation with 800, 1,500 and 2,000 grit wet paper, this was followed by 8,000 and 12,000 micromesh. The stem was then buffed with White Diamond and Meguiars Plastic Polish.

The bowl was reamed and soaked with alcohol and sea salt.  I used an electric iron on high with a wet cloth to steam out most of the dings around the bowl.  The bowl was then buffed with White Diamond and several coats of Carnuba wax.

Below is the finished pipe.