Tag Archives: repairing an out of round rim

Another Piece Pipe History – a Lovely CPF French Briar Bent Billiard

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I brought to the work table was a little bent CPF French Briar billiard. The photos below shows what it looked like before my brother did his clean up on it. It is another one from the lot of pipes my brother and I picked up on our virtual pipe hunt in Montana. I have written about several of the other CPF finds with the latest being a nice little CPF horn stem bulldog. Just a reminder – CPF stands for Colossus Pipe Factory. The brand was made in the late 1880s and 1890s. This little bent billiard comes from the same era as the other pipes in this find. It was very worn and looked to be in rough condition. The finish was non-existent and there were a lot of nicks, scratches and grime on the surface all around the bowl. There was a thick, crumbling cake buildup in the bowl and it overflowed on to the top of the rim. It looked like the inner edge of the bowl was damaged from reaming with a knife but I could not be certain until the cake was gone. The gold band on the shank was so badly oxidized that it was impossible to see what was under the grime and sticky debris on it. The horn stem had tooth marks on the top and underside near the button and looked like it was delaminating along the edges and the bend on the underside. The horn was very dry. Jeff took some close up photos of the bowl and rim from the top. You can see the crumbling condition of the cake in the bowl and the thick overflow on the rim top. It was really hard to see the condition of the inner edge of the bowl.The grain underneath all of the grim on the sides of the bowl was really quite stunning, even through the debris, grime and buildup. The birdseye and cross grain stain out really well even through the dirty surface. The oxidation on the band was also heavy and very rough. It is hard to know what is underneath the corrosion.The stamping on the left side of the shank has the standard C.P.F. logo in an oval with French arched over the oval and Briar arched underneath. The stamping on the C.P.F. is fainter than the stamping on French Briar. The second photo shows the junction between the band and the horn stem. The horn looks rough and grainy.The next four photos show the stem from various angles. The first and second photos show what looks like delaminating on the left side near the button. The third and fourth photos show tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem at the button. The tooth marks on the top are deep. Jeff thoroughly cleaned the pipe. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and cleaned it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grime and grit on the bowl. He scrubbed the tenon with a tooth brush and removed the tars and oils. I took photos of the pipe to show the condition it was in when it arrived in Vancouver. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the condition it was in after my brother had cleaned it up. It is amazing to me that he was able to remove the thick buildup on the rim top and the crumbling cake in the bowl and leave no debris behind. It was better than I had expected. The rough spots would be easy to sand out and smooth the ridges and bring it back to round. It appeared that the pipe had never been smoked to the bottom of the bowl as the bottom of the bowl is raw briar.The next two photos show the condition of both sides of the stem after the cleanup. Note the roughness on the underside of the stem and the tooth marks/chatter on both to top and the bottom near the button.You can see the oxidation on the band in the photos above. It is not clear what colour it is. The sticky grime was cleaned off but the oxidation would need to go. I sanded the band with 1500-2400 grit micromesh pads to remove all of the sticky substance and the oxidation on the surface. It came off really easily with some polishing. I glued the band in place on the shank with white glue and let it dry.I smoothed out the damage on the inner edge of the rim with 220 grit sandpaper and gave it a light bevel to minimize the damage. I stained the beveled edge on the bowl with a black Sharpie pen to blend it in with the inside walls of the bowl. I wet sanded the bowl and rim with 1500-2400 grit micromesh pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads.  I wiped it down with a damp cotton pad to remove the sanding grit. I polished the band while I worked on the bowl with the same grits of micromesh pads. The following photos showed the polishing on the briar. I touched up the gold leaf on the CPF French Briar logo with European Gold Rub’n Buff. I applied it with a cotton swab and wiped down the excess gold. The light of the flash showed more of the gold buff that needed to come off.I stained the bowl with a 50/50 mix of dark brown aniline stain and isopropyl alcohol. I applied the stain and flamed it with a lighter. I repeated the process until I felt the coverage was even. Once it dried I took some photos of the stained bowl. It is too dark to my liking but the coverage was even. I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on cotton pads to make it more transparent and let the grain show through. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads to further remove the stain and make the grain show through. The process of unveiling the grain is shown in the photos that follow.With the bowl finished I worked on the stem. I used some small drops of super glue to fill in the tooth marks on the stem surface and the button. Once the repairs had dried I sanded them smooth to blend them into the surface of the stem. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil on a cotton cloth. I gave it a final coat after the last pad and set it aside to dry. I buffed the stem and bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel to polish it. I gave the stem and bowl multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the waxed bowl and stem with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos that follow. The old timer looks really good and should have long years of life in it. I look forward to enjoying this pocket sized pipe. Thanks for walking with me through the process of the restoration.

Repairing an Out of Round Bowl

On the recent post I made regarding the Dublin that I cut the shank off of and reworked I neglected to work on the out of round bowl. https://rebornpipes.wordpress.com/2014/03/28/cutting-back-a-broken-shank-and-reworking-a-no-name-dublin/ A friend on one of the online forums sent me a message and asked me why I had not bothered to rework the out of round bowl. My answer to him was that I had done minimal work on it and then turned my attention to the shank. His words niggled at me all day at work and I wrote him and told him I would work on the bowl when I got home this evening. So, I did and decided it was worth a write-up of its own. Many times in refurbishing pipes for myself or others I am face with a bowl that has suffered at the hands of a “mad reamer” who leaves the bowl with all kinds of nicks and dents in the inner rim of the bowl. Often the inner edge is so out of round that it almost appears to be oblong (at best) or ragged and jagged (at worst). Either way if left as it was the ragged inner rim detracts from the overall beauty of the refurbished pipe. I dedicate this post to Chiz, the friend who called me on my skipping of the inner rim. Thanks Chiz, without your urging I don’t know if I would have even given this a second thought.

The first photo below shows the bowl as it was when I received it. The inner rim edges are a mess. On the left side of the photo you can see the major cut and damage to the bowl and on the right side of the photo there is also major damage. The bowl is badly out of round on the inner rim.
I scrubbed off the top of the bowl with acetone on cotton pads. Sometimes this is unnecessary as you will be topping the bowl anyway but I always want to know how deep the cuts and scarring goes into the surface of the rim. This gives me an idea of how much I will have to top the bowl to remove the damage.
I topped the bowl on a hard surface that holds a piece of sandpaper flat. I place the bowl face down on the 220 grit sandpaper and sand it in a clockwise direction. If you were to ask me why clockwise, I would have to say I don’t honestly know! I suppose it is because I am right-handed and it seems that everything I turn goes that direction. The point however, is to keep the bowl flat against the sandpaper. Check it often to see if you have removed enough of the rim surface to deal with the problems.
In the photo above the bowl has been topped but will need further topping to take care of the damage to the outer rim. I am always careful to not change the profile of the bowl when I am doing the topping. It is too easy to remove more briar than is necessary and it is impossible to put it back. I returned the bowl to the topping board and worked to remove more of the damage. You can also see the extent of the damage to the inner edge of the rim clearly. Once I had it finished, I sanded it with medium and fine grit sanding blocks and then with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads to remove the scratches.

I stained the bowl with an aniline stain to highlight the great grain patterns on this particular block of briar and buffed it with red Tripoli to remove some of the black stain. I sanded and resanded with multiple grits of sandpaper, sanding blocks, and micromesh sanding pads to get a clean smooth finish on the rim. In the photo below you will still note the out of round bowl. I did minimal work in smoothing out the roughness but did not address the problem of the out of round bowl.
I sanded the bowl with a small folded piece of sandpaper to even out the edge a bit more. I still did not address the major issue. I think at one level I was avoiding it. There is nothing that bugs me more than this kind of careless reaming that leaves a nice pipe in such a state. I have seen this in high-end pipes to Dr. Grabows and everywhere in between. The careless wielding of a reamer or knife knows no economic bounds.
At this point in the process I buffed the pipe, gave it several coats of wax and set it aside. I posted it on the blog and on a pipe forum. That is the pipe as it was when Chiz saw the finished pipe and asked his “immortal question” WHY.
When I got home from work today, with that WHY ringing in my ears I sat down at my work table and used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to work on the inner rim of the bowl. I proceeded carefully so as not to damage the finish on the rim itself. This would sure have been easier had I done it before I refinished the bowl! I sanded the inner edge of the rim to minimize the damage and give the bowl a slight bevel on the edge. The next photo shows the first step in the sanding process. Already the bowl is beginning to take a better shape.
I continued to work on the inner edge with the folded piece of sand paper (approximately 1inch square). I wanted to not only smooth out the edges but I wanted to also bevel the inner edge to a point where the damage blended into the flow of the circle. This involved working the edge to get the distance between the inner and out diameter of the bowl the same/or close to the same the entire way around the bowl. The next three photos show the progressive reshaping of the inner rim. By the third photo the rim is almost finished.


I finished the sanding with a small square of medium and fine grit sanding sponge to remove scratch marks on the bevel and get it ready for a buff. I did not intend to stain the inner rim at this point merely smooth it out.

I took the pipe to the buffer and buffed it with White Diamond. I then polished it with carnauba wax to bring up the shine and give it some protection. The next two photos show the finished rim.