Tag Archives: Repairing a broken tenon

The Rebirth of an Unmarked Horn

Blog by Steve Laug

When my brother sent me photos of this particular pipe I could not see what he saw in it. It was just ugly in my opinion. The shank was crooked, the plateau crown had been sanded slightly, the shank was cracked and missing a chunk of briar, the copper ferrule looked like it fit better under a sink than on the shank and the finish had warts in it all around the bowl. To top it off the stem was clunky, thick Lucite and had lots of divots and tooth marks. It did not look like it belonged at all. The entire pipe looked like a failed shop project to me – one that took its own direction as it was being made. He purchased it and took photos of it before he cleaned it up thinking I might be charmed by it as he was.The next photo from the top shows the bow in the shank. I figured that the drilling would be way off once I got it and took it apart. I was pretty certain this one was going to interesting to work on to see if I could get anything resembling a nice looking pipe out of the concoction that it was in the photos. Note also the thick cake in the bowl and the overflow of lava on the rim filling in the smoothed out plateau. It was hard to know at this point if there was damage to the inner edge of the rim because of the thick cake and lava. Only a thorough clean up would reveal the condition. The next three photos show the warts on the sides of the bowl. The finish was rough. It was hard to tell if these were fills or if the pipe had not been sanded smooth when it was originally finished. In the photos, they look like scratches but they are actually standing above the finish on the briar. Some of them have scratches around the edges on the surface of the bowl. As I looked at the horn, I had to admit there was something strangely alluring to the shape and it was growing on me. The copper fitting is not snug on the shank it rattles around and is only held in place by the stem. You can see the gap between the cap and the shank. The shank under the band is coated with grime and there is a dark oxidized buildup.When the stem is removed the cap falls off and reveals the damaged shank. You can see the crack in the shank end and up the side on the right side of the photo below. The tars and oils that have built up on the end of the shank and in the mortise are quite thick. In the second photo below you can see the missing piece of briar. The third photo is a close up of the shank end. It shows the damage clearly as well as thick tars on the shank  under the cap. The stem is Lucite and in rough condition. It is the thick kind of stem that came out when Lucite first came on the market. It thick and poorly shaped. There are major dents in the surface and many tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem at the button. I do not intend to reuse the stem as it is not my kind of stem. I will replace it with a vulcanite stem and fit it to the shank. Jeff did his usual thorough clean up even on this ugly, old pipe. He reamed it with a PipNet reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl and shank with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsed it under running water. He scrubbed the rim on the bowl to clean out the lava on the plateau. It took much scrubbing to get it free of the tars. He dried it off with a soft cloth. The bowl itself was very light weight. It is a good looking piece of briar and has flame grain all around the bowl and shank with some birdseye on the shank top and bottom. He cleaned up the Lucite stem with the oil soap as well and was able to remove much of the debris. There were tooth marks and tooth chatter on both sides of the stem. The freehand style stem had a tapered tenon that sat tightly in the copper end cap. The copper cap was loose and fell off when the stem was removed from the pipe. I spent time turning the pipe over to see if I could find any identifying stamping that would help me know who made it and when it was made. There was nothing there. It was an unstamped pipe by an unknown maker at an unspecified point in time. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. Jeff did a great job on the rim top and the bowl. The inner edge of the rim was in good condition with little damage. There was still a little lava on the back side of the rim top that would need to be taken care of.The Lucite stem was clean but looking at it close up I knew that I did not want to keep the stem. I would need to go through my can of stems to find one that would work on this pipe.I removed the stem and the end cap and looked closely at the damage to the end of the shank. Once Jeff had cleaned it up the damage was really clear. The end of the shank had deteriorated and chunks of briar were missing. The surface of the shank end was rough and damaged. There was a large crack on the right side near the underside going from the shank end up the shank for ½ inch. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to remove the damaged shank end. I evened up the end of the shank and took off all of the compromised briar. I cleaned up the end so that a regular stem would work with it. I smoothed out the inside of the mortise. During this cleanup is when I discovered that the mortise and the airway in the shank were drilled at an angle. The airway was high in the end of the mortise and came out at the bottom of the bowl. The mortise itself curved and was poorly drilled in the shank. I cleaned up the briar that had been under the copper band. The briar was black with the colour going deep in the briar. I sanded it smooth and used a microdrill bit to drill a pin hole at the end of the crack to stop it from spreading further. I filled in the hole and the crack with clear super glue and let it cure.When the glue repair had dried, I sanded it smooth and pressure fit a nickel band over the end of the shank. I heated the band with a lighter to expand it and pressed the shank end and band so that the band went up the shank to cover the crack and the repair. I think that the band was a far better look for the pipe than the copper shank cap had been. I scrubbed the plateau top with a brass bristle tire brush to remove the remaining lava in the crevices of the surface. I worked on it until the rim top was clean.I sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the warts from the surface and smooth out the scratches and dents. I wanted the surface to be smooth the way it should have been when the pipe was made. I worked on it until it was smooth to the touch. When I finished I washed the surface of the bowl and shank with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the last of the dust and the remaining finish from the briar. I buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond to polish it a bit and see where I needed to do some work before the final buff. I hand polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each buffing pad. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth after the 12000 grit pad. The pictures below show the progress of the polishing on the briar. I used a black Sharpie Pen to colour in the crevices on the plateau top. I wanted the smooth high spots to shine through the deep black in the grooves. The contrast would look really good once the pipe was given a finish coat of stain and was buffed and waxed.I stained the briar with a Danish Oil Cherry stain to highlight the red colours in the briar and bring about a contrast with straight grain. I stained the plateau as well to give red hues to the high spots and contrast with the black of the crevices on the top. I hand buffed the bowl with a soft cotton cloth and then with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine. The bowl looks really good and the grain stands out. The straight grain all around the bowl sides looks really good. I chose a vulcanite saddle stem for the replacement for the Lucite stem. I knew it would be a bit of work to get things lined up because of the drilling in the shank. I measured the angles in the shank and figured I would need to bend the tenon at the angle shown in the photo. I heated the tenon and put it in the shank while it was still pliable and set the angle to match the angle of the mortise. The photo below shows the angle on the tenon. Bent at that angle the stem sits tight against the mortise. It gives you a good idea of the how poorly drilled the pipe was and what measures I had to take to line things up. I gave the tenon a coat of clear fingernail polish to make it fit snug in the mortise and let it dry. I roughened it up with the edge of a needle file to give it a bite in the shank. I tried the fit and all was well.I sanded the stem surfaces with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the light oxidation and the tooth marks and chatter on both sides of the stem. I worked on it until it was black and there was no remnant of oxidation or tooth marks.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad to give traction to the next pad and also bring a little life to the vulcanite stem. After the final pad I gave it a last coat of the oil and set it aside to dry. I left the tenon with a few ridges to add bite to the inside of the mortise and hold it firmly in place. Some oxidation showed up on the top side of the stem near the saddle in the photos above so I worked it over in that area once again. When I finished I buffed the pipe on the wheel using Blue Diamond Polish and worked over the stem and bowl to remove any remaining scratches. I buffed the nickel band to give it a shine. I gave the pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The warts and nicks that I had sanded out were gone and the grain just popped on this old pipe. The new stem, with the angled tenon brought things into line and to me the pipe looked much better. The black of the polished vulcanite and the polished briar work well together to present a beautiful pipe. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It really is a beauty. Thanks for looking.


Just a few minor details – a Broken Tenon and a Cracked Shank on a Hardcastle Special Selection 7 Bulldog

Blog by Steve Laug

Not too long ago I received an email from a reader of rebornpipes regarding a pipe he was restoring. It was a beautiful little Hardcastle Bulldog that is stamped on the left underside Hardcastle over Special Selection over the number 7. He had finished cleaning and restoring it and it was looking good. He had done a thorough job, as I would see later in this post. He went on to tell me about how he had repeated my misadventure when buffing the pipe. Not long ago I posted about having finished a pipe and having the buffer snatch it from my hands and fling it against the floor. I snapped the tenon off a pipe I had finished while doing the final buffing. He wrote that he had done the same thing exactly. He wanted to know if I would be willing to put a new tenon on the stem. He noted a hairline crack at the shank/bowl junction and wondered if I would be willing to deal with that at the same time. We wrote back and forth and he sent me the following photos. The first one shows the cleaned up pipe ready for buffing.The next photo he sent shows the crack at the top of the shank on both topsides of the diamond. It stopped on both sides before it got to the edge of the diamond.The third photo shows the stem with the snapped tenon. He did a far better job snapping it off than I had done on mine. My broken tenon was jagged and needed to be sanded smooth before I could replace the tenon.He sent the pipe to me Vancouver for me to work on. It is funny in that it took a longer time to arrive from Idaho than pipes I have received from the east coast. But when it arrived I took photos of it. I have a container of threaded tenons here that I use for replacement tenons on pipes. I like the way they grip in the drilled out stem. Once they are anchored in place with glue on the threads, there is little chance that they will come out. I went through my tenons and found one that would fit the mortise with a little adjustment – the fit was tight and it was a little long for the shank.I set up my cordless drill and chose a bit that was close to the size of the airway in the stem. I have learned to work my way gradually through bits until I get to the size of the threaded portion of the new tenon. Doing it this way keeps the stem material from chipping or breaking away with the pressure of the drill bit. I turn the stem onto the stationary drill by hand so that I can control the depth of the bit. I mark the bit with scotch tape ahead of time to measure the depth of the drilled out airway that I need to have when I am finished.Once I had the airway opened enough to take the threaded end I used a tap to cut threads on inside of the newly opened airway. I turned the tenon in place on the stem to check the fit against the face of the stem.I checked the fit against the end of the mortise and found that the tenon was too long. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to bring it down to the correct length and cleaned up the end of the tenon with the topping board.I glued the new tenon in place in the stem with medium viscosity black superglue. It allows me time to adjust and align it so that it fits the mortise well and leaves no gaps.I set the stem aside overnight to allow the glue to cure. In the morning, I fine-tuned the fit so that it sat well in the shank. I chamfered/beveled the airway in the end of the new tenon to maximize the airflow into the stem.I put the stem in place in the shank and took photos of the newly repaired stem. This little Hardcastle Bulldog is a really beauty and extremely lightweight. The Cumberland stem looks good with the briar and gives the pipe an elegant appearance. I polished the stem and the tenon with micromesh sanding pads to remove any remaining scratches. I set the stem aside and turned my attention to the crack on the shank/bowl junction. I examined the crack with a bright light and a lens to make sure I could see the ends of the crack on both sides of the shank. It was a tight hairline crack so I just needed to stop it from spreading further. I drilled the end of the crack on both sides of the top of the shank using my Dremel and a microdrill bit. I slow the Dremel down to a speed of 10 so that I can carefully put the holes at the crack ends without it either going too deep in the shank or bouncing across the surface of the shank. It did not take too long to drill the holes.I took it back to the work table and took photos showing the two drill holes. The plan now was to use a dental pick to see if I could open the crack at all. I wanted to be able to put superglue into the crack to seal the two sides. It did not budge so I scratched it with the pick to provide a rough surface for the glue to adhere.I ran a bead of clear super glue the length of the crack from drill hole to drill hole. I put a drop of glue into each drill hole to fill them in. Since they are so tiny, I don’t bother with briar dust. I used the end of the dental pick to push the glue deep into the drill hole and refilled it to a bubble.Once the glue hardened I sanded it smooth to match the surface of the shank using 220 and 320 grit sandpaper folded to fit the angle of the junction. I sanded the area until the repair was smooth with the surface of the shank. I wanted the transition to be seamless. I took a close up photo of the repair on both sides of the shank to show what I had to deal with in terms of blending it into the finish of the bowl and shank.I sanded the repair with micromesh sanding pads to remove the scratches left behind by the sand paper. I worked through 1500-4000 grit pads to polish the shank. I polished the gold band with the higher grades of micromesh as well to give them a richer gleam. The repairs were slightly lighter in colour than the rest of the shank and the bowl so they would need to be restained. I restained the repaired area with a medium brown stain pen to blend it into the colour of the bowl and shank. I buffed the stained areas by hand with a microfibre cloth.I wrote to the pipeman who owned it and told him I had finished the repair to the shank and the stem and was touching up the stain. He wrote back to say that I had carte blanche to finish the pipe in any stain I saw fit. That was the go ahead I needed. I wanted to highlight the red hues in the briar that stood out in the bright light. I also knew that a red stain would allow me to blend in the repaired areas on the shank/bowl junction better. So I chose to stain the pipe with Danish Oil with Cherry stain. I am really happy with how the red of the stain works to highlight the grain. It also goes really well with the Cumberland stem and its red striations.I warmed the briar and applied the stain with a cotton pad. The nature of Danish Oil stain is that it highlights grain and breathes life into the wood. I let it sit for 10 minutes and hand buffed it off the bowl and shank. I took the next four photos of the finished bowl once I had hand buffed it. I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel to polish out any remaining scratches in the finish of the briar or the Cumberland. I gave them multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect the finish and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. I hand buffed the gold band on the shank with a jeweler’ cloth to polish and shine it. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I really like the finished look of the pipe. It is a beautiful and well executed Bulldog and it should serve its owner well. I plan on letting him know that if it does not fit his collection it will always have a home here. Thanks for looking.

Replacing a broken tenon on a L’Anatra dalle Uova d’Oro Apple

Blog by Steve Laug

I got a call from a customer of a local pipe shop about a possible pipe repair. He had dropped his L’Anatra dalle Uova d’Oro pipe and the stem had snapped at the tenon. He wanted to know if I could repair it for him. He stopped by yesterday afternoon for me to have a look at it and today I had the time to work on it. This kind of break is actually a nice one if you are going to have them. It snapped off pretty close to the stem end and he was able to pull it out of the shank. This is actually the first L’Anatra pipe that I have worked on and one I could easily have added to my collection. It is my kind of shape. I have looked at them in various pipe shops and always like the look and the feel but this is the first one that has crossed the work table. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank with the name of the brand L’Anatra, under that it read dalle Uova d’Oro. Underneath it reads Made in Italy. L’Anatra dalle Uova d’Oro in English means “The Duck that Lays Golden Eggs”. On the underside of the shank it is stamped with three eggs which refers to the grade of the pipe.

When he dropped the pipe off, I took some photos of the broken tenon. The first three photos show the pipe before I started the repair. I used the Dremel and sanding drum to flatten out the end of the stem and finished it on the topping board to make a flat surface for the new tenon to sit against. I started drilling out the airway with a drill bit slightly larger than the airway and worked my way up to the same size as the threaded end on the new tenon. I do not use the power on the drill but rather carefully turn the stem onto the drill bit slowly making sure to hold the stem straight against the bit.Once the airway is opened to the length of the threaded portion of the new tenon I used a tapping tool to thread the sides of the newly drilled airway so that I could screw in the new tenon.Once the airway was tapped I used a knife to cut a small bevel in the end of the stem so that the new tenon would sit tight against the face of the stem. I used the knife to also bevel the end of the tenon to match the original tenon that had broken off. With all the preparations done I screwed the tenon in place to check the fit. Once I knew that the fit was correct I unscrewed it from the stem, brushed the threads with some slow drying epoxy and turned the new tenon into the stem. This was a case of a perfect fit. The photo below shows the newly replaced tenon.I noticed there was some light tooth chatter on the stem so I polished it out with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I polished the tenon with micromesh sanding pads to remove the sanding marks and scratches in the Delrin. I put the stem in place in the shank and buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and then gave the stem and bowl several coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to give it a deep shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The owner will soon pick up his pipe and fire it up again with his favourite tobacco. Thanks for looking.

Repairing and restoring a Paradis 1989 Freehand Dublin 93

Blog by Steve Laug

I picked up a lot of seven pipes from a craigslist seller in Vancouver. The first one I decided to work on was the Paradis with the broken tenon pictured at the top left in the photo below. craig5 It included quite a few nice pipes including this virtually unsmoked Paradis pipe. It was stamped Paradis in script and underneath that 1989 on the left side of the shank. On the right it was stamped 93. The pipe is Canadian made coming from Saintes-Foy, Quebec. Paradis pipes are made by two brothers. They sell their pipes on the Pipesworld website at this link. The prices are quite reasonable. http://www.pipesworld.com/pipes/search.php3?PIPEMAKER=Paradis&SEARCH=&x=29&y=4

NonameThe finish appeared to be a natural colour, unstained and clean though it was coated with at thick coat of Polyurethane. There appeared to be a deep scratch on the left side of the bowl near the top side. The tenon was snapped and stuck in the shank. Looking at it the tenon was threaded and it had snapped inside the stem. There was a portion in the stem. The stem was orange/amber coloured acrylic. It was stamped with a script “P” on the left side. From the looks of it the pipe had been smoked once and the stem broke during that initial smoke. There was a bit of darkening on the top ¼ inch of the bowl and the rest of it was raw briar. The stem was clean on the inside so I had a virtually unsmoked pipe to work on.

The broken tenon came out of the shank fairly easily. It was not stuck and there was some of the threaded portion of the tenon extending out of the shank. I was able to get a good hold on it with a pair of pliers and pull it out of the tenon. It had broken in the threaded area inside of the stem so it was going to be a relatively easy repair. The stem was not damaged so I could glue it into the stem and then fill in the gap around it with glue to give a solid repair. I cleaned the end of the break on the tenon piece and then put super glue on it. I pressed it into the stem and pressed the two parts together until the glue set. I filled the open area around the tenon with glue and pushed it down in the gap with a dental pick. I set the stem aside to dry.Paradis1


Paradis3 I took the next photos of the pipe and stem as it was drying.Paradis4

Paradis5 On the left side of the bowl near the top was what appeared to be a large horizontal dent. In the photo below you can see the dent looking almost like a line on the briar. It was about 1 inch long and followed the curve of the bowl.Paradis6 I tried to steam out the dent using a damp towel and a hot butter knife.Paradis7 The next photo shows the look of the dent even more clearly. After steaming I examined it more closely and found that the dent had lifted and what remained was a run in the polyurethane coating that was on the bowl. It was like a long sag in the coating.Paradis8 I took the pipe back to my work table and sanded the sag in the finish with a medium grit sanding sponge. I knew that I would have to remove the entire polyurethane coat from the bowl to clean up the sag completely.Paradis9 I sanded the bowl and shank with a medium grit sanding sponge and then wiped it down with acetone on cotton pads to break through and remove the finish.Paradis10

Paradis11 It took a lot of sanding and scrubbing before the polyurethane finish was gone and a clean smooth briar surface remained.Paradis12


Paradis14 When I finished cleaning up the surface of the bowl and removed the finish completely I set the bowl aside and addressed the stem. There were no tooth marks or chatter to deal with so all I had to do was polish the dull surface with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with the 3200-12,000 grit pads. I buffed the stem with White Diamond to polish the acrylic.Paradis15


Paradis17 I dry sanded the bowl with micromesh sanding pads using all of the grits to raise a shine in the briar and smooth out the surface of the briar.Paradis18


Paradis20 I gave the bowl a light buff with Blue Diamond polish and did the stem separately. I gave the bowl and stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a soft flannel buffing pad to raise the shine. The finished, repaired and refinished pipe is shown in the next series of photos.Paradis21





An Experimental Tenon Repair – Fixing a Broken Tenon

Blog by Steve Laug

I wrote about the refurbishing and repair of a Savinelli de Luxe Milano 431 recently on the blog. I had to trim back the broken stem and refinish the bowl. One part of that repair that was not planned on came about when I dropped the pipe and the stem snapped off with the tenon stuck in the shank. At that point I had a decision to make – restem the pipe or figure out some way to repair the one in hand. I could have drilled out the broken end of the tenon in the stem and then tapped it and fitted it with a threaded Delrin tenon. I have done a lot of those repairs but wanted to try something different with this one. I wanted to see if I could figure out a way to repair the broken tenon and reuse it. It would be an experiment for sure – would a repair to the tenon hold up to removing and putting the stem back in the shank repeatedly? Would the twist and pull on the stem make a repair unreliable and not durable? What could I do to try to mitigate the lack of integrity in the repaired stem?Sav47 This particular stem came with an aluminum tube in the end of the tenon – an inner tube like Dunhill used for a time. This one was short. When the tenon broke off in the shank I used a dental pick to push the inner tube out of the broken tenon and into the shank so that I could have the room in the airway to thread in a screw. I keep a couple of drywall screws in a cup on my work table so that when I run into a broken tenon in a shank I can use it to pull the tenon. I twist the screw into the tenon by hand and then use a Philips screwdriver to push it in the last couple of turns. I want it to have a good bite in the tenon so that I can use it to pull the broken part. I then use a pair of pliers to wiggle the broken tenon out of the shank. I then tipped the inner tube out of the shank. At this point I had an idea. I had no clue whether it would work long term or not but it was worth trying. The idea was to open the airway in the tenon piece and in the stem so that I could insert the tube. The tube would go into the stem with the sharp end in first. I would press it in and then glue it. I would slide the broken tenon piece over the tube and glue the tube and the broken end of the tenon to the end of the stem.Sav48 I used a round needle file to open up the airway in the tenon and the stem. It did not take too long to open it enough for the tenon to slide over the tube. I still needed to open the airway in the stem in order to fit the tube.Sav49 I used a drill bit slightly larger in diameter as the tube. I set up the drill on my worktable and then hand turned the stem onto the drill bit. I did not want to use power as it could potentially go too far into the stem. I measured the length of the tube so that the length leftover after the broken tenon was slid over the top would extend into the stem.Sav50 I used the round needle file to clean up the airway and smooth out the slight ledge left behind by the drill. Once the tube was in place I did not want it to have a lip that a pipe cleaner would get caught on or cause a whistle when air was sucked through it.Sav51

Sav52 I used a flat needle file to score the surface of the metal tube. I wanted a rough surface for the glue to bind the tube to the vulcanite. I mixed a two part epoxy and coated the end of the tube that was going into the stem portion of the break. I inserted the tube and pressed the epoxy into the airway around the tube with a needle file. I tamped it down and made sure that the tube was straight up and down. To assure that it was I slid the broken tenon over the tube and aligned the broken ends. I set the stem portion aside until the epoxy set. It would still need to cure but the glue sets quite quickly to touch.Sav53 When the glue had set to touch I coated the tube with epoxy and the broken ends on both the stem side and the tenon side of the stem. I slid the tenon onto the tube over the glue and pressed it in place. In retrospect I should have let the glue in the stem cure for several days before sliding the tenon piece over the tube. I would regret that in the days ahead.Sav54 I pressed the tenon in place until the excess glue squeezed out. I let it set so that I could scrape off the excess once it had hardened.Sav55

Sav56 I took the next photo to show how the tube was set in the end of the tenon. I wanted it far enough down into the tenon that I would be able to chamfer the end of the tenon if I needed to do so.Sav57 As the glue hardened I used a dental pick to peel away the excess glue. It took time to do it carefully and slowly so as not to damage the repair and peel glue out of the crack. When I had finished cleaning it up I checked the tenon and low and behold it came out of the stem portion. The glue had not cured. I had not let it sit long enough before working with it. I had to reglue the tenon on the stem.Sav58


Sav60 This time I let the stem dry and cure for another week. Then I carefully used the sharp blade of a knife to clean up the glue around the crack and to smooth out the surface of the repair. I sanded the surface of the tenon with 220 grit sandpaper to remove what the knife did not take way. I was careful to not change the shape of the tenon.Sav61

Sav62 I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12,000 grit pads.Sav63 I set aside the stem and let the tenon repair cure for two days and then checked it. The glue in the tenon part was solid. The line around the crack was also solid. I worried about the glue inside the airway of the stem portion. With no air movement around the tube and glue I wondered if it would set properly. I let the repair sit for another seven days to ensure that it cured and dried.Sav64

Sav81 Once it had dried I gingerly inserted it into the shank of the pipe. I pushed it slowly into place, careful not to twist and turn it yet. It fit well. I would need to make some adjustments to the top and bottom sides of the stem but it would work.Sav65 I pushed it in place and finished polishing the stem with micromesh. The repair had been sitting for a week and the glue seemed to be cured. I decided to let it sit for another week before smoking the pipe. It seemed that the repair was working well and the tenon would hold. Time would tell but it looked to me that the tube insert gave the stem and tenon stability that would keep it in action. The stem is easily removed and can even be twisted in and out of the shank without loosening the repair. I will keep you posted on the longevity of this repair but if it works it will save quite a few of the tenon repairs I am doing. In the meantime it would be great if a few of you gave it a try with pipes you are working on and let us know what you think.Sav93




A Savinelli de Luxe Milano 431KS Reborn Twice – PART 2: repairing a broken tenon

Blog by Steve Laug

In Part One I wrote about the refinishing of this pipe and how I cut off the broken stem and reshaped the button. I wrote of the time and energy it took to rebirth this pipe. I also ended with the sound of the click as the pipe hit the floor and the tenon snapped off in the shank. You have to understand the sick feeling that settled into the pit of my stomach. I knew I could cut a new stem and reshape it to fit the pipe – no problem. I knew I could drill out the stem and put in a new replacement tenon – again no problem. I had done both of those things many times. But you also need to understand that I am stubborn. I hated, having invested the time and energy into this repair to this point to throw it away and start over. To me that is a frustration that I did not want to deal with. Besides I would lose the straight brass insert in the stem that is so much a part of these older Savinellis.

I laid the pipe aside and went to bed. I was irritated and frustrated with myself for even carrying it upstairs in the first place. A good night’s sleep would give me a different perspective. I woke up with a kernel of an idea regarding the broken pipe. Really it was a bit of an experiment for me as I had never tried the idea in reality. I think it was born out of conversations with Troy about repairing a cracked shank on a LHS billiard that he was working on and from my recent putting together my latest Frankenpipe. If a metal tube could provide a strong bond in joining two parts of a shank together why wouldn’t it work to bond a broken tenon to the stem? I know that the repair works well on a stable, unmovable shank but would it work on a removable stem and tenon? Would it be stable enough to endure repeated removal from the shank for cleaning and just observing that pipe smokers do? I had no idea but figured it was an experiment worth trying and also worth documenting.

In Part 2 I want to look at that experiment in from the idea to the execution and see what develops. I want to look at the challenges and the issues that arose in executing this repair. And ultimately I want to document it so that I can come back to it and report on its durability and feasibility as a long term solution to a broken tenon. I took the first photo below just after the event happened. I took the pipe back to the worktable to lay it aside and before I did I thought I would take a photo to document the damage. Those of you who have snapped a tenon will well know the thoughts going through my mind. And those of you who restore old pipes only to have a fiasco occur at the end of a long clean up will know the “pain” of the moment.Sav47 In the morning when I got up I pulled the tenon out of the shank using a screw that I keep on the work table for that purpose. I screw it into the tenon and then work the tenon out of the shank. This time it would be both easy and difficult. The shank was clean and the pipe had not been smoked so it would not be stuck in the shank – that was the easy part. The hard part was the metal inner tube that was in the end of the tenon. It would be in the way of the screw when I turned it into the shank. On an off chance that the tube would pop free of the tenon I inserted an ice pick into the end of the shank and push on the tube. I let out a sigh of relief when I heard it drop into the airway and bowl. I inserted the screw and with no effort popped the broken tenon free. I tipped the shank back and the tube fell out of the airway. It was at this moment that my idea was born. The metal tube lay on the table next to the tenon and stem. Why not use that already fitting tube to try to join the broken parts? It was worth a try.Sav48 I tried to run the tube through the broken tenon only to find that it did not go all the way through. It stopped ¾ of the way in and would not go through. I used a needle file to open up the airway until the tube could be pressed all the way through. I removed the tube and opened it further so that once it had a coat of epoxy on it the tube would still fit through the airway. I had decided to sacrifice the inner tube to this purpose.Sav49 With the tube easily fitting through the tenon I then tackled the airway in the stem portion of the break. It was too small for the tube to fit. It would need to be opened up considerably for the tube to slide in place with the epoxy. I decided to begin opening it with a drill bit. I set up my cordless drill with the proper sized bit and hand turned the stem on the bit. I do this without powering up the drill as I find that I can turn it by hand without risking going too far with the bit.Sav50 Once I had the airway opened far enough into the stem to give it a decent depth for the tube when inserted I cleaned up the airway with needle files to ensure a smooth transition from the tube to the remainder of the airway. I did not want a lip between the two that a pipe cleaner would catch on when cleaning the pipe.Sav51

Sav52 With the airway open on the tenon and the stem I used a flat knife blade needle file to score the smooth surface of the inner tube. Smooth aluminum does not provide a surface that epoxy will bind to so I need to score. I then coated the sharp end of the tube with a two part epoxy and pushed the tube into the stem portion of the break. I slide the tenon on to ensure that the tube was straight and the tenon when glued on would still fit tightly against the shank.Sav53 When the epoxy had set in the stem I gave the tube a quick once over with the file to further score the surface and then brushed on the epoxy mix. I pressed the tenon onto the tube and before pressing it in place used a tooth pick to coat the broken surfaces of the tenon and stem with epoxy.Sav54 When pushed into place the excess epoxy squeezed out.Sav55

Sav56 The next photo shows the fit of the tenon on the metal tube. I pushed it in just below the surface of the face of the tenon.Sav57 I used a dental pick to clean off the excess epoxy from the joint then set aside the stem to let the epoxy set and cure for several days.Sav58


Sav60 Once I figured that the epoxy had cured and the joint was solid I cleaned it off with a dental pick, a sharp knife and sandpaper. I did not want a ridge at the joint that would catch when the tenon was pushed into the shank. I still needed to sand the joint and clean it up but the repair seems strong.Sav61

Sav62 I put the stem back in the shank and found that I had not let the epoxy cure enough. When I removed the stem from the shank the tenon remained in the shank. The epoxy holding the tenon to the tube was solid and rock hard. The epoxy on the stem side was dry but soft. It had not hardened enough. I am wondering if I should have glued it into the stem side first and let it harden before putting the tenon in place. Well, I will never know with this one. I cleaned off the metal tube and the airway in the stem and mixed a second batch of epoxy. I roughed up the surface of the metal tube even more to give the glue something to bite onto. I pressed the stem in place. This time I will let it cure for a longer before fussing with it. I wonder if the fact that it is in a confined space with limited airflow makes it take longer for the epoxy to harden. Time will tell. I am hoping that the fix works.

I let it dry for two days and then did some sanding with micromesh sanding pads to polish the stem. I did not put it into the shank at this point as I wanted it to have at least another day to cure. I did a quick, wet sand with 1500-2400 grit micromesh pads and then rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil then dry sanded with the 3200-4000 grit pads. I cleaned up the excess epoxy with a flat needle file to smooth out the joint and to clean up the face of the stem. All of this was done to prepare for refitting the stem in the shank.Sav63 After another day sitting and curing I decided to carefully put the stem in place. I once more sanded the tenon to make sure it was clean and smooth. I wanted a snug fit but not a tight fit.Sav64 I put the first half of the tenon into the shank, literally holding my breath as I pushed it carefully into the shank. I was fully expecting the epoxy to break loose again and leave the tenon in the shank. But it did not. I push the stem in and took it out carefully several times to check the joint. I checked the crack that I had repaired and it was holding. I let out the breath I must have been holding. It was working.Sav65




Sav69 With the stem in place and apparently solid I turned the pipe over in my hands to check it out. You cannot imagine the frustration when I saw that somehow the tenon was slightly lower than it had been and now the fit against the shank did not match. The two edges along the shank and the stem no longer lined up but were both equally off – maybe 1/16 of an inch, but off nonetheless. I set the pipe down and took a deep breath. I was not going to leave this alone. I was going to make the fit perfect. I sanded the shank and stem junction carefully with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the transition and remove the excess briar on the top of the junction and the excess vulcanite on the bottom of the junction. I worked on the sharp edge on both sides of the stem and shank to bring them back into alignment. Once I was done with the sandpaper I took a few photos to check the alignment.Sav70


Sav72 I sanded the stem and shank with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to minimize the scratches left by the sandpaper and smooth out the surface of both.Sav73

Sav74 I wiped off the sanding dust and rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and took the next two close-up photos.Sav75

Sav76 I took the stem off the pipe and cleaned out the sanding dust that had slipped in the joint of the stem and shank. I pushed the stem back in place and worked it over with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads.Sav77



Sav80 After all of the sanding I was worried that I might have jarred the repair to the tenon so I took the stem out and took a close look. The crack was still solidly close and the repair was holding well.Sav81 I put the stem back in place and took the next four photos of the pipe with the stem in place. The repair had worked so far.Sav82



Sav85 I wanted the portion of the shank that I had sanded match the colour of the rest of the pipe. Since I had oiled the bowl with olive oil, I did the same again. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with the oil and let it absorb. I then gave the bowl and stem several coats of Conservator’s Wax and hand buffed it with a shoe brush. The finished pipe is shown below. The repair is holding well and the pipe looks good as new. The new button on the stem worked well and the repaired tenon worked. Now comes the period of waiting to see if it will hold up to regular use and cleaning. Smoking it should be no problem as the airway is open and has a clean draught. All that remains is to fire up a bowl… and wait.Sav86