Tag Archives: repairing bite marks

Reuniting an older Ropp Panel 062 Rhodesian with its original stem


Blog by Steve Laug

I looked through my box of bowls and came across this older Ropp Panel Rhodesian that caught my eye. The shape was really nicely done – a Rhodesian with a thick shank. The bowl was a paneled hexagon. The rim cap was smooth and the bowl top was smooth. The inner edge was nicked like it had been reamed with a knife. The outer edge of the bowl was in good shape. The rim top had some scratches. There were some dents on the bowl but the finish looked good. It appeared to have been cleaned up by Jeff somewhere along the way. The bowl had been reamed and scrubbed. The shank was clean and was lined with a metal shank tube. On the left side of the shank it was stamped ROPP in an oval. On the right it was stamped 062. I took some photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank and they read as noted above. They were clear and readable. I also took a photo of the shank end to show the metal tube that lines the mortise.I went through my can of stems and found a stem that I thought would probably work with the bowl. It had a metal tenon and a metal tube. There were some deep tooth marks on the top and underside near the button. In the third photo below you can see a stamping on the left side of the stem. Under a light with a lens I believe it reads ROPP. I am pretty certain that I have reunited the bowl with its original stem. I took some photos of the bowl and stem together to get a sense of how the pipe looked.I put the stem on the bowl and the fit in the shank was really good. The thickness of the shank and the stem match perfectly. Everything about it looked right. The stem is hard rubber and has an orific hole in the button end.  I decided to start my clean up of the pipe by address the damage on the rim top and inner edge. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the edge and to polish out the scratches in the rim top. It worked quite well and I was happy with the results.I wiped the bowl down with alcohol to remove the shiny spots of the previous varnish coat on the bowl. It came off very well and the grain began to stand out nicely! I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each sanding pad to remove the debris. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 10 minutes then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The grain really came alive. It looks better than when I began. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the stem surface with the flame of a Bic lighter to try to lift them. I was able to raise them quite a bit. I filled in the remaining marks and the nicks in the hard rubber stem surface with clear super glue. I used a small file to flatten out the repairs on the top and underside of the stem at the button. I also flattened out the repairs round the rest of the stem. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it out. I started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I tried to touch up the ROPP stamp on the left side of the stem. I rubbed it into the stamp with a tooth pick and rubbed it off with a soft cloth. Much of the stamping was not deep enough to hold the Antique Gold Rub’n Buff. The amount of gold in the stamp was not too much but it is still slightly readable.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. This older style Ropp Panel 062 Rhodesian is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored and reunited with its stem. The finish around the bowl is quite beautiful and highlights the grain and works well with the polished taper stem. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Ropp Panel Rhodesian fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.94 oz./55 gr. I will probably be putting it on the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.

Restemming a Drummond Imported Briar Squashed Tomato


 Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table is bowl that needed to be restemmed. It has a finish that is reminiscent of Custom-Bilt fame but this one is not one of those. It is a squashed tomato shaped bowl with a smooth rim top and rusticated bowl bottom and shank. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Drummond in script [over] Imported Briar. There was some darkening on the shank end where there had been a band that covered the edge of the final d in Drummond. The band was gone. The bowl had been cleaned with the thoroughness that usually is a sign that Jeff has worked on it. It had been reamed and cleaned. The inside of the bowl and shank looked and smelled clean. The inside edges looked to be in good condition. The briar was dry and lifeless looking and it was without a stem. I took some photos of the bowl before I worked on the new stem for it. It is a very interesting looking old pipe. I took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank. It reads as noted above and faint but very readable. I went through my can of stems and found an interesting hard rubber stem with an inset tenon that would fit the shank with a little bit of work. It was a little larger in diameter than the shank so I would need to reduce that. There were some interesting marks on the top and underside ahead of the button that looked like it had been repaired somewhere along the way. It was pretty clean otherwise. I also found a thin brass band that would fit nicely on the shank end and replace the one that had been there previously. I could find nothing listed on either Pipedia or Pipephil’s site on the Drummond Brand. I did a quick search of the name and came across quite a few photos of tins of tobacco and pouches of tobacco made by Liggett & Myers. It is labeled as Antique Pipe Chewing Tobacco Tin that is called The Genuine Drummond Natural Leaf Thick. Have a look at the photos I have included below (https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/antique-pipe-chewing-tobacco-tin-253303793).

Antique Pipe Chewing Tobacco Tin Genuine Drummond Natural Leaf Liggett & MyersI am pretty certain that the pipe was a Tobacco Company Coupon pipe possibly that was earned by tobacco coupons. I cannot prove that but that appears to be what is happening with this mystery brand. Now on to working on the pipe.

Now to work on the pipe itself. I pressed the band in place on the shank and put the stem on the shank to get a feel for the look. I took some photos to show the general look. You can see that the stem is slightly larger in diameter than the shank and will need to be reduced. Even so I really like the slight bend in the stem and the look of the pipe as it stands with the stem.  I started my work on the bowl and permanently pressed the brass band on the shank end against my desk top. It was a tight fit and though it is only cosmetic gave the shank a nice touch of bling. I polished the smooth portions of the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth. I used the final three grits on the rusticated portion as well. It really began to take on a rich shine. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 10 minutes then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The grain and the rustication patterns came alive. It looks better than when I began. I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. The fit of the tenon in the shank was loose so I heated an ice pick and inserted it in the tenon to expand the diameter slightly. It did not take much and the fit was perfect! The next photos are slightly out of order. Before I pressed the band in place on the shank I used the Dremel and sanding drum to take down the diameter of the stem to get a clean fit on the shank. I removed as much of the excess as possible with the sanding drum and would finish the fit with sand paper afterwards. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the fit to the shank and band as well as smooth out the repairs near the button that stood out on the stem in the photos above. I started the polishing of the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry.  This Drummond Imported Briar Squashed Tomato is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored and restemmed. The mix of rusticated and smooth finishes around the bowl is quite beautiful and highlights the grain and works well with the polished taper stem. The stem looks very good but the repaired areas ahead of the button on each side are solid but visible. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Drummond Squashed Tomato fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¼ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: 1 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.66 oz./47 gr. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.

Renewing a tired older 1945 Dunhill Shell 111/1 Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

This is another of those pipes that has been laying around here for a very long time. It was in a small bag with a very dirty and calcified stem that I had assumed belonged to it. It was loose in the shank but the length and the diameter was correct. The bowl was very clean and had all the marks of having been cleaned up by Jeff. However, the stem really throws me as it has not been cleaned, sanitized or anything. It is a general mess. It reminds me a lot of some of the older estate Dunhill pipes that I have restored over the years. It really makes me wonder if somewhere along the way either Jeff or I threw in the Dunhill stem because it fit! I am pretty certain it is not the correct one but it will work. I don’t know if I will ever truly know where and when we received it. The stem was in very rough shape. The calcification on the stem surface was thick and hard. I had to use a knife to scrape the heavy thickness off. I forgot to take photos of the stem before I scraped it but the next photos give a fair idea of what I was dealing with. There was a bite through on the underside of the stem next to the button and some deep tooth marks on both sides. The tenon had a thick shiny coat that would need to be sanded down and smoothed out.I took a photo of the stamping on the shank underside. The stamping on the pipe is 111/1 (smaller text) on the heel of the bowl with an upside down 125 above it and toward the shank. That is followed by Dunhill Shell [over] Patent No. 41754/34. Following the Dunhill Shell stamp is Made in England on one line with a superscript underlined 5. From what I can find I would date it to 1945. I spell out my process in the text that follows.I turned first to Pipephil’s site because it has a great set of charts for dating Dunhill pipes that is kind of a flow chart. I find it incredibly helpful. I turned first to the section on Dunhill pipes to see if I could find similar stamping on the pipes he shows. I have included the following photos below (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/dunhill/patent3.html#a1). The stamping is very similar on the first one from 1943 while the patent number on the second one (1950) is the same as mine. I turned then to the dating flow chart on the site (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/dunhill/cledat-en1b.html). I have included Page 2 of the dating key below. I have circled the pertinent section in red in the photo below.Armed with that information I knew I was working on a 1945 Dunhill Shell 111 Billiard. I was uncertain about the stem being the original but it fit well and with some repairs it would serve to make the bowl smokable. Now it was time to work on the pipe itself.

Since the bowl was very clean I decided to rub it down with some Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the sandblast finish with my fingertips and a horse hair shoe brush to get it into the crevices. I let the product sit for 10 minutes before buffing it off with a soft cloth. The product works to clean, enliven and protect briar and I have found that it certainly does a great job of that on the pipes I work on. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I scraped off the rest of the calcification on the stem with a pen knife and lightly sanded it to clean it up. I “painted” the stem surface with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift the tooth marks and the area around the bite through on the underside. There was still work to do but it was getting there. Notice the tenon still needs attention as there is some build up on it as well. I cleaned off the surface of the stem with alcohol and a cotton swab and then greased a folded pipe cleaner with Vaseline in preparation for the stem repair. I slide a greased pipe cleaner into the slot below the bite through and fill it in with black super glue. I built up the damage on the topside of the stem at the same time. I spread the glue with a dental pick to make sure the bite through was well covered. I sprayed the repair with an accelerator to harden the repair more quickly. Once it had hardened to touch I removed the pipe cleaner. Once the repair had cured overnight I used a small file to reshape the button edges on both sides and flatten the stem surface. The repair worked very well. I sanded the repaired areas with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing process with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I also worked on the tenon to smooth out the previous work that had been done. It is looking better.At this point I decided to put the stem on the bowl and take some photos of it to get a sense of what the pipe looked like. I have included those below. There was still a lot of work to do on the stem. But the general shape and condition were looking much better. I spent quite a bit of time working on the shape of the stem with a 1500 grit micromesh sanding pad to smooth out the transition between the shank and the stem. I also worked on the button edge and the part of the stem just ahead of the button (some call it the bite zone, but honestly that name pains me given the number of chewed up stems I have worked on). I continued to polish the stem with the rest of the micromesh pads (2400-12000 grit pads). I rubbed the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished the stem with Before & After Pipe Stem polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and let it dry. Though the stem I have with the pipe is probably not the correct one for this 1945 Dunhill Shell 111 Billiard it will work and make the pipe usuable. It is far from perfect as far as stems go but it will work while I am on the lookout for the correct one. The stem cleaned up well and the finished pipe looks very good. The rugged looking sandblast and the polished black vulcanite stem work very well together to give the pipe a slender profile that is quite pleasing. The sandblast finish on the bowl came alive with the buffing. I used Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel on both the bowl and stem. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the wheel then buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The Dunhill Shell 111 Billiard feels great in the hand. It is lightweight and the contrast in the stains on the briar and the polished vulcanite stem with the rugged sandblast bowl is quite amazing. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outer diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.06 ounces/30 grams. It really is a beauty. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me. If any of you happen to have a Dunhill narrow stem or fishtail that you would be willing to part with let me know! Thanks!

A Simple Refurbishing Of A Boxed “Brakner # 129”


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

This is the third and the last Brakner pipe in my inherited collection that came in original Brakner box duly tagged, but I don’t think the box is original as the shape code on the pipe and the box do not match. I had been delaying restoring this pipe as I had my hands full with pipes that I had received for repairs and ones that were selected by brother pipers to be restored/ refurbished by me. In between these commitments, I took the time out to refurbish pipes for my personal collection and this is one such pipe. This uniquely rusticated stacked billiard shaped pipe is stamped on the smooth surface on the left side of the shank as “BRAKNER ANTIQUE” over “DENMARK”. The smooth surface on the right side of the shank is stamped as “HAND-CUT” followed by # 129, the shape number. The vulcanite stem is adorned with a green dot (larger than a Dunhill stem logo), I think made of Jade stone, not sure though. There is a smooth band around the end of the shank.  I have worked on Brakner pipes before and had read about Peter Brakner and his unique “micro-rustication” technique, which has been lost to the pipe community with his demise as he never did share this technique that he had developed. To refresh my memory, I revisited pipedia.org and read the article published therein. One can refer to the article at this link Brakner – Pipedia.

Peter Micklson (†) started his career at the Teofil Suhr workshop, Suhr’s Pibemageri, in Copenhagen, where Sixten Ivarsson was the foreman. He brought in Poul Rasmussen and taught him the two or three important things about pipemaking in a six weeks crash course, before he went off to join Poul Nielsen, the later Mr. Stanwell.

Micklson, who later changed his last name to Brakner,cannot have worked under Rasmussen too long before he felt to be good enough to go off on his own. Indeed he carved himself quite a good name as it was proudly announced 1955’s World Championship of Pipe Smoking was won by a smoker who employed a Peter Brakner pipe.

His fame based fairly on developing an unique and very special “micro-rustication” he called Antique. According to Kai Nielsen, Brakner kept this technique as a secret and only once he showed it to one person – Kai’s mother. Both have passed away, so this secret technique is lost. Kent Rasmussen was recently inspired by Brakner’s Antique finish when he created his new technique of rustication.

Brakner was a close friend of Ole Larsen, the proprietor of the famous W.Ø. Larsen tobacco shop and sold a lot of his pipes there, before Larsen hired his own indoor carvers. From the Larsen Export Catalog 1960/61 we learn a bit about Brakner pipes:

  • Antique Antique finish in tan or black. Smooth pipes also. Each pipe 7.50 $.
  • Bella Danica Antique finish in tan or black. Each pipe 10.00 $.
  • Royal Danois Antique finish in tan or black. Each pipe 12.50 $.

The latter were named after the Royal Danish Guard Regiment, founded in 1689.

Brakner was one of the first high-end carvers from Denmark to enter the US market and was considerably successful there in the early 1970’s. After his sudden death Peter Brakner’s name faded back from the forefront, but his pipes speak to the injustice of that. His body of work has earned him a place in the important history of Danish pipemaking.

Further down the article, there were a few pictures of Brakner Pipes from the 1961-62 catalogs that I have reproduced below which has the shape code of the pipe currently on my work table, albeit in a smooth finish and indicated with a red arrow.Having read the detailed account, I feel blessed to be holding a piece of Danish pipe history.

Initial Visual Inspection
As is generally observed with most of my grandfather’s pipe, the chamber of this pipe too is filled with a thick cake with overflowing lava covering the rim top surface. The thick cake hides the condition of the inner walls of the chamber and will be ascertained only after the cake has been taken down to bare briar. Similarly, the condition of the rim top surface will be commented once the overflowing lava has been scraped off. However, the inner rim and outer rim edge appears to be in good condition with no tell tale signs of damage. There are strong smells emanating from the entire pipe and would need to be addressed. Unlike the other two Brakners in my collection, this one does not have a smooth band below the outer edge of the rim, but has one at the shank end. It has smooth surfaces on either side of the shank which bears the stampings seen on this pipe. The unique rustications on the stummel surface are covered in oils, tars, grime and dust of all these years of use and storage. However, once cleaned up, the dark of the stummel should contrast beautifully with the smooth brown shank end band. The mortise and the shank air way are clogged as expected making the air flow anything but laborious. However, with the draught hole being right at the bottom of the chamber and the perfect alignment of the stem airway, tenon and the shank airway should make this one a fantastic smoker. The vulcanite stem is heavily oxidized with deep tooth marks on both the upper and lower stem surfaces. The buttons on the either surfaces are deformed due to tooth indentation and would have to be rebuilt and reshaped. The trademark green dot on Brakner pipe stem has dulled a bit and would benefit from a nice polish. The tenon end and the slot end showed heavy accumulation of dried oils and gunk.The cardboard box that housed the pipe for these many years does show its age. The edges have separated at the seams at a couple of places and the whites of the insides have yellowed. However, the posters and external surface are bright and in good condition. All in all, judging from the initial examination, I do not envisage any major/ serious issues to present themselves in the course of restoring this beauty and should be an easy project.

The Process
I began the restoration process by first cleaning the stem internals. I cleaned the internals of the stem using hard bristled pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol and followed it by cleaning the air way using a small shank brush with anti oil dish cleaning soap. This helps in reducing the number of pipe cleaners required while ensuring a spotless and a very clean stem air way. Once the stem internals were clean, I sand the entire stem surface with a piece of 220 grit sand paper and cleaned the stem surface with Murphy’s Oil soap on a cotton pad. This step helps to remove surface oxidation to some extent while preparing the stem for a dunk in deoxidizer solution for better results. To address the issue of bite marks and tooth chatter on the stem surfaces, I flamed the surface with a lighter. Vulcanite has the property to attain its original shape when heated and this is exactly what was being done. The tooth chatter and deeper bite marks were raised to the surface to a great extent. The remaining minor tooth indentations would be subsequently filled with a mix of clear super glue and activated charcoal. At this stage, I immersed the stem in to the De-oxidizer Solution developed by Mark Hoover. I generally allow the stem soak in the solution overnight.While the stem was soaking in the De-oxidizer solution, I reamed the chamber with size 1 head of the PipNet pipe reamer. I removed the carbon from the areas where the reamer head could not reach with my fabricated knife. To completely remove the residual carbon from the walls of the chamber and smooth out the walls, I sand the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper followed by cleaning the chamber with a cotton swab wetted with isopropyl alcohol. The chamber walls are in pristine condition. I deliberately avoided scraping off the lava build up over the rim top to avoid damage to the micro-rustications over the surface. I cleaned the mortise and shank airway using dental pick and hard/ soft bristled pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I shall continue with further cleaning of the shank internals once I clean the external stummel surface.Once the internals of the chamber and shank were cleaned, I cleaned the external surface of the stummel with Murphy’s Oil soap and cotton swabs followed by scrubbing the rusticated surface with a toothbrush and dish washing soap. This rid the stummel rustications of all the accumulated dust, dirt and grime and the smooth brown band around the shank now contrasts beautifully with the dark stummel surface. Using a soft brass brush, I deliberately cleaned the rim top micro-rustications till clean. I also cleaned the shank internals with dish washing soap and shank brush.I had expected that after such a thorough cleaning of the chamber and shank internals, the ghost smells would have been greatly reduced or eliminated completely, but that was not so. I decided to subject the chamber and mortise to cotton and alcohol bath. I packed the chamber with cotton and drew out a wick from the cotton and along with a folded regular pipe cleaner, inserted it into the mortise and through the draught hole into the chamber. I tightly packed cotton balls in to the remaining portion of the mortise. Thereafter, I soaked the cotton balls with isopropyl alcohol up to the brim. About half an hour later, the level of alcohol had gone down, having being absorbed by the cotton. I topped it up once again and set it aside overnight. By next afternoon, the cotton and alcohol had drawn out all the remaining oils and tars from the chamber and mortise. I removed the cotton balls and the dirt can be gauged by the appearance and coloration of the cotton balls and the pipe cleaner. With my fabricated knife and dental tools, I spent the next hour scrapping out the entire loosened gunk from the mortise. I ran pipe cleaners through the mortise and draught hole to clean out all the loosened tars and gunk that was lodged in the draught hole and mortise. The chamber and mortise now smelled clean, fresh and looked it too. I set the stummel to dry out naturally. To enhance the contrast and break the monotony of the black stained stummel and the soon-to-be shining black stem, I polished the smooth briar band at the shank end, dry sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads.To enliven the briar wood and further enhance the contrast of the band with the rest of the dark stummel surface, I rubbed a little quantity of “Before and After” balm in to stummel surface and set it aside for 20 minutes for the balm to be absorbed in to the briar. Thereafter I hand buffed it with a microfiber to deepen the shine. The stummel looks nice and vibrant.With the stummel refurbishment almost complete, I turned my attention to the stem which had been soaking in the solution now for nearly 24 hours. I cleaned the stem and the stem airway under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the surface using a Scotch Brite pad and the airway with thin shank brush. I further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool. Once the stem was dried with paper towels, I sand the bite zone to completely eliminate the raised oxidation in preparation for filling the tooth indentations and applied a little olive oil to rehydrate the stem.I prepared a mix of CA superglue and activated charcoal and spot filled the tooth indentations and set it aside to cure overnight.Once the fills had cured completely, I sand the fill with a flat head needle file till I had achieved a rough match of the fill with the rest of stem surface. I continued the sanding cycle by dry sanding with 320, 400, 600 and 800 grit sand papers. I wet sand the entire stem with 1000, 1500 and 2000 grit sand papers. This not only ensured a nice blend of the filled areas with the rest of the stem surface, but also removed the oxidation from the surface. I rubbed the stem surface with some EVO and set it aside to be absorbed in to stem surface. Thereafter, I launched a second determined assault on the stem, subjecting it to the complete cycle of micromesh polish. The end result is a gorgeous, smooth and shiny looking black of the vulcanite stem.When the stem and the stummel were united for a polish using carnauba wax, I saw a mysterious gap appear between the stem and shank face. This gap was definitely not noticed during my initial inspection and neither the stem face was shouldered during the polishing process. I really am not aware about the reasons for this happenstance, but now that it has been noticed, it needs to be addressed. I attach the stem to the shank and insert a piece of 320 grit sand paper between the two and sand the shank face opposite to the gap. I also gave a few turns to the tenon end over the same sand paper. I continued the micro adjustments till I had achieved a perfect seating of the stem in to the shank end. Just a word of caution here; please be extremely diligent and careful during this step as it has the potential to ruin the pipe completely due to over sanding. Remember “LESS IS MORE” and “SAND ONCE AND CHECK TWICE/ THRICE”.  This was followed by the routine regime of polish with carnauba wax using my hand held rotary tool. The Brakner looks unique and oozes quality.To deepen the shine, I gave a vigorous rub to the entire pipe with a microfiber cloth. This is truly a beautiful pipe and will be joining my now increasing personal collection. Here are a few pictures that should give you a fair idea about the end results…. Thank you all for being a part of this journey and support extended.P.S.- I had requested my youngest daughter, Pavni, to help me repair the box which housed the pipe. This kind of work is right up there in her alley and she did oblige me. The box has been repaired solid and cleaned. Here are a few pictures of the box with the pipe.Praying for the health and safety of you and your loved ones…

So long until the next project.

An Amazing Transformation Of a “Capitol” Hand Made # 81 Pipe


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

This horn stemmed billiard had been around for so long a time that I do not even remember where it came from. It is really a beautifully shaped billiard with perfectly proportioned size and shape. I would call the bowl an average sized one. There are a few fills in the briar and remnants of what appear to a lacquer coat on the surface which has been worn out over time or could be that attempts were made to get rid of it. There is a brass band at the shank end and covers the shank end face. The stem is a tapered bone with some damage to the bite zone on either surface. The pipe as it sits on my work table is shown below: The pipe is stamped on the left shank as “CAPITOL” in capital letters in gold while the right side is stamped as “HAND MADE” also in capital gold letters followed by shape code “81” which I initial had thought to be 1 (indicated with red arrow) but during the course of my initial inspection the brass band came off revealing “8” (indicated with yellow arrow). It also provided me an opportunity to inspect the shank end face to check for any cracks or damage and was happy to note that there was none. Also, the letter “C” (again indicated with red arrow) in gold was embossed on the left side of the horn stem and revealed when I polished the stem with micromesh pads. When I had read about Savinelli pipes while working on the Savinelli Dry System pipe, I recollected having read that CAPITOL was a Savinelli second/ Sub brand. However, the lack of COM stamp and the trade mark Savinelli shield raised doubts in my mind and I decided to research further. I visited pipephil.eu site and searched the index for stem logo with one letter. I found both the letter C as well as brand CAPITOL both of which matched the stampings on the pipe in front of me (Pipes : 1 letter on the stem (pipephil.eu). Further exploration took me to the page that had the information about the pipe I desired (Can-Car — Pipes : Logos & Markings (pipephil.eu)). I have reproduced a screenshot of the page below.The stampings shown above perfectly match those of the pipe currently on my work table. Thus far, the only thing I have learned is that this pipe could be either from R M Littaur & Co, Great Britain, or KB & B.

Thus the provenance of this pipe is ambiguous and through informed guess work, I would place this pipe as being sold by R M Littaur & Co of Great Britain.

Initial Visual Inspection
The chamber has a thin layer of carbon cake and appears to have been reamed recently. There are a couple of scratches and dings over the smooth rim top surface (encircled in red). The draught hole is dead center and at the bottom of the bowl and this geometry should make it a good smoker. The chamber walls are solid to the touch and I do not foresee any major issues with the walls of the chamber. The stummel displays some beautiful cross grain on the front and aft of the bowl and also over the upper and lower shank surfaces. However, the beauty of the stummel is marred by a few fills (indicated with yellow arrows). There are scrub marks all over the stummel, noticeably more over the shank surfaces and at the foot of the stummel (encircled in green). The dark shiny clear coat of lacquer is blotchy over the stummel surface but completely removed from the shank surfaces and the foot of the stummel. Playing Sherlock Holmes, it is most likely that a start for restoring this pipe was undertaken, but for reasons best known to the person it was shelved. The mortise has a layer of something akin to a parchment paper that is beginning to turn in to white powder like substance. This was placed to ensure a snug fit of the tenon in to the mortise. Since this packing was crumbling, I would be removing it completely. The tapered horn stem is in a relatively good shape. There are a few bite marks at the base of the button edge in the bite zone on both upper and lower surfaces. This has exposed the tissue fibers and it has been my experiences that filling it with clear superglue always leaves behind a patchy white clump of tissue fiber peeking out from under the fill after the stem has been polished. The aluminum tenon is threaded and has a screw-in flat stinger. The horizontal slot is clean but has the airway opening skewed to the extreme right of the stem slot (indicated by a green arrow). Though this did not affect the usability of the pipe itself, but the draw was laborious and not smooth. This would need to be addressed. The stem airway is clean and so are the aluminum stinger and tenon. The contrasting dark and light tissue strands will be a visual treat once the stem has been polished. The Process
I first decided to tackle the stummel as the repairs to the fills would require additional time for filling, curing and shaping. As I had noted earlier, the chamber appeared to have been reamed and a thin layer of cake was left behind. With my fabricated knife, I removed all the cake and took it down to the bare briar. I further sand the chamber walls with a folded piece of 180 grit sandpaper to smooth out the walls and remove the last bit of stubborn carbon stuck to the walls. To finish the reaming process, I wiped the chamber walls with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol to clean the last traces of residual carbon dust. I was happy to note a clean solid chamber with no signs of any heat lines or fissures. Next I cleaned out the shank internals. I scraped out all the dried and crumbly parchment paper like packing with my fabricated tool. I cleaned out the mortise and shank walls with q-tips and pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol. I shall continue further cleaning of the shank and mortise while going through the other processes.Staying with the internal cleaning of the stummel, I subjected the chamber and shank internals to a cotton and alcohol bath and left it overnight to allow the alcohol to draw out the old oils and tars and the cotton to trap them. By next day evening, the cotton and alcohol had fulfilled its intended task. I ran a couple of hard bristled pipe cleaners to remove the moist and loosened out gunk and now the chamber and shank smells fresh and clean and looks it too. While the stummel was soaking in the cotton and alcohol bath, I used the time to address the stem issues. I separated the threaded stinger from the tenon and ran a couple of pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol through the stem airway. The pipe cleaners came out quite clean. With a sharp dental tool, I scraped out the little dried oils and gunk from the slot end.Next I addressed the tooth chatter and the issue of exposed tissue fiber in the bite zone. As brought out earlier, repairs using CA superglue leaves behind clumps of dirty grey fibers visible through the shine and thus I decided to sand the tooth indentations down till I reached the intact surface below. That the stem was adequately thick in the bite zone also helped in making this decision. With a flat head needle file, I went to town sanding the exposed fibers on either surface till they were eliminated. I followed it up by sanding the bite zone with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to evenly match the bite zone surface with the rest of the stem surface. I finished the stem refurbishing by wet sanding the entire stem surface with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. It helps to keep wiping the surface intermittently with a moist cloth to remove the sanding dust and gauge the progress being made. I applied a little EVO to the surface and set the stem aside for the oil to be absorbed. The finished stem is amazingly beautiful as can be seen in the pictures below.With the stem refurbishing completed and the stummel internals all cleaned up, it was time for the external cleaning of the stummel surface. I cleaned the external surface with a hard bristled toothbrush and Murphy’s Oil soap and rinsed it under running warm water. Using a shank brush and anti-oil dish washing soap, I cleaned the mortise and shank internals till all I had was white foam. I used a Scotch Brite pad with dish washing soap and diligently scrubbed the stummel surface. This helped in removing the residual lacquer coat from over the stummel surface to a great extent. I dried the stummel internals and externals with paper towels and soft absorbent cotton cloth and set it aside overnight to completely dry out before I worked on it any further. By next afternoon, the stummel had dried out and I decided to address the issue of fills over the surface. With a sharp dental tool, I extracted the old and loosened fills and cleaned the area with a cotton swab and alcohol. I masked the stampings on either side of the shank surface with a tape as one of the fills was frighteningly close to the stamping and it was best to take precautions now rather than repent later. Using a mix of CA superglue and briar dust, I filled up the pits over the stummel surface and set it aside to cure. While the stummel fills were set aside to harden, there was one issue that needed attention. The brass band at the shank end (for adornment purpose only) was masking the model/ shape code. I addressed this issue by sanding the band over a piece of 180 grit sandpaper to a width which did not cover the shape code. I checked and confirmed that the shape code is visible and set the band aside for fixing it subsequently.Once the fill had hardened, I first sand the fills with a needle file to roughly match the fill with the rest of the surface. I further sand the entire stummel surface with a 220 grit sandpaper and achieved three aims in the process; firstly, blend the fills with the rest of the surface, secondly, completely remove the lacquer coat and lastly, eliminate the minor scratches and dings from the surface. I was careful to remove the scratches and minor dings from the rim top surface. A couple of slightly deep scratches are still visible, but I shall let them be as is.I followed the sanding by the 220 grit sandpaper with further dry sanding using 400, 600, 800 and wet sanding with 1000 grit sand papers. I completed the polishing cycle by wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful grain patterns displayed in their complete splendor. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush and gave a vigorous buff with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The dark brown hues of the stummel with its nearly black grains across the stummel look striking and blend the fresh fills nicely. In fact, to the naked eye, the fills are not made out easily. Now it was time to fix the brass band and refresh the gold lettered stampings as seen before the start of the project. I applied Favicol wood adhesive along the shank end and press fitted the band in to place and held it for a few minutes till the adhesive had cured a bit. Using a metallic gold acrylic paint marker, I coated the stampings on either sides of the shank and after a few minutes, I removed the excess paint with a toothpick. I applied the same process to refresh the stem logo C. With this I come to the final polishing of the entire pipe that removes the very fine scratches that remain and enhance the shine and gloss to the stummel and stem. I first mount cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for Blue Diamond, on to my hand held rotary tool and polish the entire pipe. This compound is abrasive enough to remove the very fine minor scratches that remain over the stummel and stem surface while imparting a deep shine to the surface. Next, I mount the cotton buffing wheel that has been earmarked for Carnauba Wax and apply a coat over the stem and stummel surface and buff it till the entire wax has been used up to polish the surfaces. I give a once over buff to the entire pipe with a fresh plain cotton buffing wheel to remove any residual wax while imparting a fine glaze to the stem and stummel surface. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks amazing with a nice deep dark brown color to the stummel with the contrasting shining bone stem with its dark tissue fiber providing a contrast within the stem surface. This pipe is all set and ready for a long second inning and if the beauty of this pipe tugs at your heart, you may like to let me know in the comments section along with your email address. Here are a few pictures of the completed pipe. P.S.- This is one handsome pipe for sure. In the above pictures, the fills are visible, but in person, these fills are well blended in with the rest of the stummel surface. I did have, and still do, the option to stain the stummel with a dark brown stain but that would be over kill and so I have decided to leave it be. However, if you are interested to make it your own and want it stained, I shall be glad to accommodate your request.

Thank you for sparing your valuable time in reading through the write up thus far and being an integral companion through my journeys through the pipe world.

Praying for you and your loved ones always…

A Pipe That Called Out To A Fine Gentleman…Restoring A James Upshall “Tilshead”


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

At the beginning of this month I had posted a write up on a briar calabash pipe with a bone stem (Resurrecting A Dreary No Name Briar Calabash Shaped Pipe | rebornpipes) that called out to Lance Dahl (remember the three beautiful cased D.P. Ehrlich Co, Boston Made Meerschaum that Steve had restored last month?). While exchanging emails, I shared a couple of pictures about the pipes that were seeking new ownership and Lance selected one. From what I have seen of Lance, he is one person with an exquisite taste for unique and quality pipes.

The pipe that Lance has selected and currently on my work table is stamped on the left of the shank as “TILSHEAD” over “ENGLAND”, all in block capital letters. The right side of the shank surface bears the stamp “MADE BY HAND” The high quality vulcanite tapered stem is without any stamp/ logo.I knew TILSHEAD to be the entry level pipe from James Upshall, but that was all I knew about the pipe company!! To get a better understanding of the brand and this grade in particular, I first visited James Upshall – Pipedia.

The entire article makes for an interesting read; however, I have reproduced only the relevant information on the grade of the pipe from the pipe company and particularly the grade of the pipe on my work table:

Grading & Sizing Information

James Upshall pipes are graded by various finishes, i.e. bark, sandblast, black dress and smooth etc. Then by cross grain, flame grain, straight grain and, last but not least, the perfect high grade, which consists of dense straight grain to the bowl and shank. The latter being extremely rare. In addition, the price varies according to group size, i.e. from 3-4-5-6 cm high approximately Extra Large. We also have the Empire Series which are basically the giant size, individually hand crafted pipes which come in all finishes and categories of grain. All our pipes are individually hand carved from the highest quality, naturally dried Greek briar. In order to simplify our grading system, let me divide our pipes into 4 basic categories.

  1. It begins with the Tilshead pipe, which smokes every bit as good as the James Upshall but has a slight imperfection in the briar. In the same category price wise you will find the James Upshall Bark and Sandblast finish pipes, which fill and smoke as well as the high grades.
  2. In this category we have the best “root quality” which means that the grain is either cross, flame or straight, which is very much apparent through the transparent differing color finishes. This group will qualify as the “S”- Mahogany Red, “A” – Chestnut Tan and “P” – Walnut. The latter having the straighter grain.
  3. Here you have only straight grain, high grade pipes, which run from the “B”, “G”, “E”, “X” and “XX”. The latter will be the supreme high grade. Considering the straightness of the grain the latter category is also the rarest. Usually no more than 1% of the production will qualify.
  4. Lastly, we have the Empire Series. These are basically Limited Edition gigantic individually hand crafted pieces, which again are extremely rare due to the scarcity of large, superior briar blocks.

Believe you me Readers, the slight imperfections which destined this pipe to be categorized as TILSHEAD has me in awe of the very high quality standards set by the pipe company. There is not a single fill in the entire stummel surface and the grain is beautiful all around. All in all, this is a beautiful pipe with a quality that would equal or surpass any of the highest grades of line production pipe!

Initial Visual Inspection
The pipe that is currently on my work table has a Dublin shape (though not a classic Dublin but more of a freehand, the carver’s take on the classic shape while following the grain of the briar block) with thick walls. The stummel has a natural stain and is covered in dirt and grime through which beautiful angel hair grain can be seen all around with loosely packed Bird’s eye grain over the rim top surface. There is a thin layer of cake in the chamber and the outward sloping rim top surface is clean. The rim’s inner and outer edge surfaces is pristine. The vulcanite tapered stem is oxidized with severe damage to the bite zone on either surface. The buttons on both surfaces show bite marks with the upper half button missing. The following pictures will give the Readers an idea of the overall condition of the pipe as it sits on my work table. Overall, the thin layer of cake and excellent condition of the stummel are pointers to the fact that the pipe seems to be well looked after, though the stem damages are a proof of the previous owner’s cavalier chomping of the stem. It should be an easy restoration project, unless some gremlins pop up during the process. Detailed Visual Inspection
A thin and even layer of cake is seen in the chamber; however, the cake is very hard. The rim top surface is sans any overflow of lava, dirt, dust and grime, though a number of dents and dings (indicated with pastel blue circles and arrows) can be seen on the outward sloping rim surface. The exact condition of the inner walls of the chamber will be known once the cake has been taken down to bare briar. The chamber odor is strong and should be addressed to some extent once the cake has been taken down and the shank internals have been thoroughly cleaned. The stummel feels solid to the touch and I do not foresee any major issues with the condition of the chamber walls. To be honest with you, this pipe being at the start of the ascending order of grading for James Upshall pipes, I had expected to find a few fills and some non-descript graining on the stummel briar. However, I was surprised to note that there are absolutely no fills on the stummel surface and it boasts of some beautiful angel hair flame grains around the sides, front and aft of the stummel surface while loosely packed Bird’s eye adorns the outward sloping rim top. The stummel surface is covered in dirt and grime giving the stummel a dull and dirty appearance. The stummel surface shows a few dents and dings (indicated by yellow arrows). It does have a quality which is seen on some very high end pipes. The mortise shows accumulation of old oils and tars which would need to be cleaned. The dents and dings to the rim surface and over the stummel surface would be addressed by steaming and sanding the surface. A nice polish with micromesh grit pads will bring a nice shine to the stummel and highlight the grains. The vulcanite stem is oxidized and severely damaged. The bite zone on either surface shows some severe tooth indentations with deformed button on either surface. The upper stem surface has a portion of the button lip missing (encircled in green) and would need to be built up again. The lower surface has a very deep bite mark, the causative pressure of which has resulted in a crack (indicated with yellow arrows) that extends over the lower button edge and up to the horizontal slot. The tenon and slot end are clean. All in all, the stem presents the most major damage on this pipe.The Process
Since the stem on this pipe was most severely damaged and would demand most efforts, I started the restoration process with the stem repairs. I ran a pipe cleaner dipped in alcohol through the stem airway and was pleasantly surprised to find a nice clean pipe cleaner emerge from the other end. There is no doubt that the pipe was kept nice and clean by the previous owner. I flamed the bite zone of either surface over a lit candle to heat and expand the tooth indentation to the surface. It was well worth the try and the surface evenness is much improved than earlier.This step was followed by sanding the entire stem surface with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper to remove the oxidation from the surface. I wiped the stem with a cotton pad and isopropyl alcohol to clean the surface in preparation for reconstruction of the button edge. I placed a triangulated index card, which has been wrapped in cello tape, into the slot. The tape prevents the superglue from sticking and makes for easy extraction after the glue has cured. I mixed CA superglue with activated charcoal and applied it over the area to be rebuilt / repaired. I set the stem aside for the mix to harden before I could further work on the fill. Little did I know at this stage that this stem was to be such a pain to restore and would lead to a delay of many a day…and yet the end result is not what I usually achieve with my stem rebuilds. While I was working on the stem, Abha cleaned out the chamber of the stummel.  With a fabricated knife, she scraped the chamber walls to remove the thin, hard carbon deposits and also scraped out the lava overflow from the rim inner edge, though there was not much! Once the cake was reamed back to the bare briar, she used a 220 grit sand paper to remove all the traces of remaining cake and also to smooth out the inner walls of the chamber surface. Finally, to remove the residual carbon dust, she wiped the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. Next, I cleaned out the internals of the shank and mortise. Using my dental tool, I scraped out all the dried oils, tars and gunk that had accumulated in the draught hole and on the walls of the mortise. I finished the cleaning by running a few pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol through the mortise. I shall continue with further cleaning of the shank internals when I clean the internals with cotton and alcohol bath and further during external cleaning of the stummel surface.I continued the cleaning of the chamber and shank internals with a salt and alcohol bath. I used cotton balls which are an at par substitute as I have realized over the years. I drew out a wick from the cotton and along with a folded regular pipe cleaner; inserted it into the mortise and through the draught hole into the chamber. Thereafter, I packed the chamber with cotton balls to about quarter of an inch below the inner rim edge and soaked the cotton balls with isopropyl alcohol up to the brim. About half an hour later, the level of alcohol had gone down, having being absorbed by the cotton. I topped it up once again and set it aside overnight. By next morning, the cotton and alcohol had drawn out all the remaining oils and tars from the chamber and mortise, fulfilling it’s intended task. I removed the cotton balls and ran pipe cleaners through the mortise to clean out all the loosened tars and gunk and further cleaned it with alcohol and q-tips. The chamber now smelled clean and fresh. I set aside the stummel to dry out naturally. With the bowl internals clean, I moved to clean the exterior of the stummel. I used a hard bristled tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil soap to scrub the stummel and rim top. I rinsed the stummel under running warm water with anti oil dish washing detergent till the stummel surface was clean and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I simultaneously cleaned the shank internals with the detergent and hard bristled shank brush and set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. Now that the stummel surface was nicely cleaned up and the beautiful angel hair grains exposed, the flip side was that the damages too are exposed! The dents and dings to the rim top surface were now plainly visible and I marked the areas with black sharpie pen as it helps in identifying and placing of the towel while steaming. I steamed out all the minor dents and dings by heating my fabricated knife on a candle and placing it on a wet towel covering the dents. The generated steam pulls the dents to the surface. Most of the dents have been raised to the surface, however, a couple of ones that remain, will be addressed by sanding with a folded piece of 320 grit sand paper. With this, I handed over the stummel to Abha for further polishing and turned my attention to the stem repairs. The stem repairs had hardened considerably over the past 18 odd hours. I used a flat head needle file to achieve a rough match of the patch with the rest of the stem surface. I further evened out the patch with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. And it was at this stage in the restoration that my nightmares began! The sanding had revealed what every pipe restorer fears during stem repairs and that is air pockets in the repaired patch. Also I could clearly make out the crack over the button edge on the lower surface of the stem. I had to mix CA superglue and activated charcoal again and apply over the repaired area with a hope and prayer that the air pockets are filled. In all, I had to repeat the process five times and even changed the glue as well as charcoal powder. I even went through the entire process of sanding with sandpapers and polishing with micromesh pads. However, the repairs were not up to my acceptable standards. The following pictures will give the readers an idea of the entire process. After I had been through the entire process of sanding and polishing, the issues of air pockets and visibility of the crack on the lower surface were still apparent and I went to town filing away the repair work with needle file till I reached the bottom of the patch. I reapplied the mix of CA superglue and charcoal powder for the sixth time. On sixth attempt I decided to accept the minor flaws in the aesthetics of the repairs as long as the repairs are solid and lasting. The stem after sixth attempt at repairs is shown in the last two pictures after it was sanded and polished. During the course of my battle with the stem repairs, Abha had been unobtrusively working on the stummel. She sanded the entire stummel with a piece of 320 grit sand paper to remove the minor dings and scratches from the rim top and rest of the stummel surface. She followed it up by wet sanding the stummel with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads to a nice even shine. She wiped the stummel with a moist cloth after every grit pad to remove the sanding dust left behind by the pads. This also helps in monitoring the progress being made and provides an opportunity to take early corrective action, if required. Next, she rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” into the briar with her finger tips and worked it deep in to the surface and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful angel hair flame grains and Bird’s eye grain patterns over the rim top, on full display. The contrast of the dark browns of the grain with the light natural hues of the rest of the stummel adds an interesting dimension to the appearance of the stummel. She further buffed it with a horse hair brush to further deepen the shine. To put the finishing touches, I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and polished the stummel and stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks that remain from the sanding.Next, I mounted another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I mounted a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and gave the entire pipe a once over buff. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and is now on its way to Lance, all ready for its long second innings with him. P.S.- I had tried my level best in addressing and blending in the repairs to the stem with the surrounding surface but to no avail. It would be immensely helpful if our esteemed readers could share a trick or two that I could learn and adopt.

However, I feel the repairs are solid and Lance, if you are reading this, should the stem give you any troubles, just send the pipe back and I shall replace the complete stem at no cost, including shipping! I hope you enjoy the pipes that have traveled across the seas…

Praying for the health and safety of all the readers and their loved ones in these troubled times…

Restemming a No Name (Anonymous) Oval Shank Sandblast Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe is bowl that I have had in the box for a very long time. The rugged and very tactile sandblast really caught my eye and the cocobolo shank extension (at least it looks like that to me) and the thin ivory coloured spacer looked really good. I figured some day I would restem it and bring it back to life again. Since I am in the mood to restem a few pipes today turned out to be that day! It had a broken tenon in the shank when I put it away but the stem had disappeared long before it arrived in my care. The sandblast is very visible in the photos below. The pipe was very clean with no cake in the bowl and a decent finish in good condition. The cocobolo wood shank extension was lightly scratched but otherwise in good condition. It really is a beautiful looking oval shank Billiard. (I had already started wiggling out the broken tenon when I remembered to take these photos.)    I started to work on the pipe quickly as there was no stamping or identifying features that I could dig into regarding the maker of the pipe. The first thing that had to be done was to remove the broken tenon from the shank. I used a drywall screw with coarse threads to lock into the airway in the tenon and remove it. It took a bit of wiggling to do so but it came out.I went through a can of stems that I have here and almost immediately found one that looked like it would work with the pipe. I took some photos of it. There were some tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. The tenon fit perfectly. The stem was a little wide on the right side and would need to have the shape reduced to fit snugly against the shank like the left side. Otherwise it was a perfect fit. I have to say that does not happen very often but it keeps me picking up used stems because one day “I will need them!”. In the second and third photo below I gave them a quick sand to see how deep the tooth marks were. I was pleasantly surprised.I wiped off the stem with some Obsidian Oil and put it in place in the shank. I took photos of the fit to the shank to give a clear picture of what the stem looked like. It would only take a bit of adjusting on the right side and clean up of the tooth marks. It would be a great looking pipe with the addition of this stem. I moved on to sand the shape of the stem fit it evenly to the shank. The stem diameter needed more work so I worked on it with 180 grit sandpaper to match it to the right side of the shank. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it out. I repaired the tooth marks on each side o f the stem at the same time. I smoothed out the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper. I started the polishing of the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I set the stem aside and polished the cocobolo shank extension with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down with a damp cloth after each pad. It really began to shine.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the smooth briar with my finger tips. The product is amazing and works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let it sit on the briar for 10 or more minutes and then buff it off with a soft cloth. It really makes the grain sing. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention back to the stem. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a cloth and Obsidian Oil. I finished the polishing with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I put the pipe together – the bowl with its new stem. This restored and restemmed No Name (Anonymous) Sandblast Oval Shank Billiard is quite stunning and I think the chosen stem works well with it. The sandblast on the bowl came alive and showed the depth of the crevices with the polishing. I used Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel on both the shank extension and stem (carefully avoiding the bowl so as not to fill in the crevices). I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem carnauba wax on the wheel then buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The attractive Anonymous Sandblast Billiard feels great in the hand. It is lightweight and the contrast in the browns of the briar, the cocobolo shank extension and the polished vulcanite stem is quite amazing. The dimensions of the pipe are Length:5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outer diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.34 ounces/38 grams. It really is a beauty. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store in the American Pipe Makers section shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for walking through the restemming and the restoration with me. Cheers.

Restemming & Restoring a Bertram 60 Bent Bulldog


Blog by Steve Laug

Sometimes the repetitive work on similar pipes and stems gets tiring to me and to alleviate the inevitable boredom I change things up a bit to refresh me. I have a box of stummels (bowls) here that I periodically go through and see if I have a potential stem that would fit them. Sunday afternoon I went through the box and picked out two bowls and found workable stems for them both. They were in different states of need but all had been thoroughly cleaned before I boxed them up. The pipe I chose to work on next is a nicely grained Bulldog stummel. The bowl looked very good. The grain around the sides was quite nice and a mix of flame and birdseye grain. There was one small fill on the right side of the shank but it was in good condition. The rim top was in excellent condition with a bit of darkening toward the rear of the bowl. The interior of the bowl was clean and there were not any chips, cracks or checking on the walls. The finish was dull and bit and tired but still quite redeemable. The stamping on the pipe was clear and readable. On the left side it read Bertram in script [over] Washington DC in a ribbon. The grade 60 stamp was on the same side near the bowl/shank junction. I took some photos of the bowl before I started to work on it.   I took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable.I went through some of stems and found this diamond saddle style stem that was close to the right diameter and had a tenon that would work as well. It has some file damage on the surface near the button but it would clean up well. I also took a photo of the stem and bowl together to give a sense of the look.The pipe is a Bertram from the Bertram Pipe Shop in Washington DC. I have posted a lot of different blogs on the brand so the information available is quite accessible. I am including pic of a post card that a reader of the blog sent me. It is a great memento that I love to spend time looking at. I started my work on the pipe by fitting the new stem to the shank. I trimmed down the tenon diameter slightly with a file so that the fit in the shank was snug. The stem diameter needed more work so I worked it with a file to match it to the shank. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it out. I removed the stem and polished the briar (bowl and sanded shank end) with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down with a damp cloth after each pad. It really began to shine. I restained the shank end where I had sanded it to make the transition to the new stem smooth with an Oak stain pen. The colour was a perfect match. Once the bowl was buffed the newly stained section will blend in even better. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the smooth briar with my finger tips. The product is amazing and works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let it sit on the briar for 10 or more minutes and then buff it off with a soft cloth. It really makes the grain sing. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I flattened out the file marks as much as possible with a flat file. I knew I would not remove them this way but I wanted make them flatter. I filled in the deeper cut marks with clear CA glue and once it was hard smoothed out the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a cloth and Obsidian Oil. I finished the polishing with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I used my heat gun to bend the vulcanite stem to match the angles of the bowl and give it a proper Bent Bulldog look. I put the pipe together – the bowl with its new stem. This restored and restemmed Bertram Washington DC Grade 60 Bent Bulldog is a real beauty and I think the chosen stem works well with it. The grain on the bowl came alive with the buffing. I used Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel on both the bowl and stem. I gave both multiple coats of carnauba wax on the wheel then buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The Bertram Bent Bulldog feels great in the hand. It is lightweight and the contrast in the browns of the briar and the polished vulcanite stem with the popping grain on the mixed brown stained bowl is quite amazing. The dimensions of the pipe are Length:5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outer diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.31 ounces/37 grams. It really is a beauty. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store in the American Pipe Makers section shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for walking through the restemming and the restoration with me. Cheers.

Restemming & Restoring a “The Londoner” Bent Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

Sometimes the repetitive work on similar pipes and stems gets tiring to me and to alleviate the inevitable boredom I change things up a bit to refresh me. I have a box of stummels (bowls) here that I periodically go through and see if I have a potential stem that would fit them. Sunday afternoon I went through the box and picked out two bowls and found workable stems for them both. They were in different states of need but all had been thoroughly cleaned before I boxed them up. The pipe I chose to work on first is a lovely Bent Dublin stummel. The bowl looked very good. The grain around the sides was quite nice and a mix of flame and birdseye grain. There were a few fills on the right side of the bowl and shank but there were in good condition. The rim top was in excellent condition. The interior of the bowl was clean and there were not any chips, cracks or checking on the walls. The finish was dull and bit and tired but still quite redeemable. The stamping on the pipe was clear and readable. On the left side it read The Londoner in script and there are no other stamping on the pipe. I took some photos of the bowl before I started to work on it.   I took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable.I went through some of stems and found this saddle style stem that was close to the right diameter and had a tenon that would work as well. It has a few tooth marks and chatter near the button but it would clean up well.The pipe is stamped “The Londoner” which is not listed with that style of stamp on either Pipephil or Pipedia. There was a Londoner made by Barlings but it is stamped differently than this one and does not have the article in front of the name. So the maker of the pipe remains a mystery for now. Now it is time to work on the pipe.

I started my work on the pipe by fitting the new stem to the shank. I trimmed down the tenon diameter slightly with a file so that the fit in the shank was snug. The stem diameter needed more work so I worked it with a file to match it to the shank. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it out. I removed the stem and polished the briar (bowl and sanded shank end) with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down with a damp cloth after each pad. It really began to shine. I restained the shank end where I had sanded it to make the transition to the new stem smooth with a Cherry stain pen. The colour was a perfect match. Once the bowl was buffed the newly stained section would blend in well. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the smooth briar with my finger tips. The product is amazing and works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let it sit on the briar for 10 or more minutes and then buff it off with a soft cloth. It really makes the grain sing. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the stem surface with a Bic lighter flame to raise the tooth marks (no pictures). I was able to lift some of them to the surface. I filled in the remaining spots with clear CA glue and once it was hard smoothed out the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a cloth and Obsidian Oil. I finished the polishing with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I put the pipe together – the bowl with its new stem. This restored and restemmed “The Londoner” Bent Dublin is a real beauty and I think the chosen stem works well with it. The grain on the bowl came alive with the buffing. I used Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel on both the bowl and stem. I gave both multiple coats of carnauba wax on the wheel then buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. “The Londoner Dublin” feels great in the hand. It is lightweight and the contrast in the browns of the briar and the polished vulcanite stem with the popping grain on the mixed brown stained bowl is quite amazing. The dimensions of the pipe are Length:5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outer diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.62 ounces/46 grams. It really is a beauty. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store in the British Pipe Makers section shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for walking through the restemming and the restoration with me. Cheers.

The Prince of Pipes


Blog by Kenneth Lieblich

One of my dearest friends contacted me recently to inquire if I could repair and restore a pipe that belongs to his father. His father told me that the pipe had been given to him by his wife (my friend’s mother) as a graduation gift in 1967. I was only too happy to oblige – not just to help my friend, but to raise this beautiful pipe back to life. The pipe is from The House of Bewlay and is a Prince shape. Just as an aside, the shape was named after Prince Albert, the Prince of Wales, who later became King Edward VII (1841–1910). What a gorgeous pipe! I must admit that the prince is one of my favourite pipe shapes (and possibly my outright favourite). This one is the epitome of elegance in pipe smoking. The pipe’s markings read Bewlay [over] Deluxe [over] London Made. The other side of the pipe read Made in [over] England and the shape number, 258. This corresponds nicely with a Bewlay catalogue from the late 60s, as you can see in the photo below. One additional piece of information that was useful was the date of the gift: 1967. This certainly gives us a good idea of the time period from which this pipe dates. Let us read a bit more about Bewlay from the Pipedia article:

The English brand of Bewlay & Co. Ltd. (formerly Salmon & Gluckstein Ltd.), was in business from the early 20th century until the 1950s. The brand ended up being sold and taken over by Imperial Tobacco Co. The shop chain closed in the 1980s but there seems to be one shop still in business on Carr Lane in the city of Hull. Bewlay pipes were made by prestigious firms. Notably Barling, Charatan, Loewe & Co., Sasieni, Huybrecht, and Orlik. So understandably, the English considered a Bewlay pipe a quality pipe.Anyway, on to the pipe – and what a beauty it was. However, it was not without its issues. The stummel had the following problems: lava on the rim, a notable burn to the rim, plenty of cake in the bowl, strange stain patterns, and – most serious of all – a nasty crack to the shank. Meanwhile, the stem had its own set of problems: the ‘B’ logo was nearly obliterated, some oxidation and calcification, and minor tooth marks and dents. This pipe was not going to be too tough, but I needed to be especially careful to ensure the crack would be repaired perfectly – so it could be used for many years to come. The stem was first on my list. I took a BIC lighter and ‘painted’ the stem with its flame in order to lift the tooth marks. This was reasonably successful in raising the dents. Then, I cleaned out the insides of the stem with pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. It was dirty, but not too bad and I went through a decent number of pipe cleaners in order to clean it up. I also soaked the stinger in lemon-infused isopropyl alcohol. This loosened everything up and I was able to clean it up very nicely. Once this process was done, the stem went for an overnight soak in the Before & After Hard Rubber Deoxidizer. The following day, I cleaned all of the de-oxidizing sludge off with alcohol, pipe cleaners, et cetera. The oxidation had migrated to the surface and would be fairly straightforward to remove. I scrubbed vigorously with SoftScrub to remove the leftover oxidation. Before I moved on to the Micromesh pads, I built up the small dents on the stem with cyanoacrylate adhesive and let them fully cure. I then sanded it down with 220-, 400-, and 600-grit sandpapers to meld the repair seamlessly into the stem. This ensures that it keeps its shape and looks like it should. I then used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to bring out the lovely black lustre on the stem. I also used Obsidian Pipe Stem Oil in between each pad scrubbing.I then took the opportunity to repair the “B” logo on the stem. It had faded – both by loss of paint over time and also by fingers inadvertently smoothing out the “B” over time. So, I added some acrylic paint with a paint brush, let it dry, and buffed it to make it look good. The “B” is back, but, as later photos reveal, a little bit has disappeared into history.

On to the stummel, and the usual cleaning procedures were in order for this pipe. I used both the PipNet Reamer and the KleenReem to remove the built-up cake and followed that with 220-grit sandpaper to remove as much as I could. I wanted to take the bowl down to bare briar to ensure there were no hidden flaws in the walls of the bowl. Fortunately, there were none. I then proceeded to clean out the insides of the shank with Q-tips, pipe cleaners, and isopropyl alcohol. There was some nastiness inside this stummel, but fortunately not too much – it only took a handful of pipe cleaners etc. to sort that out. I followed that up by cleaning the insides with some dish soap and tube brushes. I then moved on to cleaning the outside of the stummel with Murphy’s Oil Soap and some cotton pads. That removed any latent dirt. By the way, I deliberately did not de-ghost this pipe – I wanted to leave as much of the original tobacco essence as I could for the owner.As I mentioned earlier, there was some lava and a substantial burn on the rim of the stummel that also needed to be addressed. In order to minimize the impact of both, I “topped” the pipe – that is to say, I gently and evenly sanded down the rim on a piece of 220-grit sandpaper. This effectively removed the lava and most the damage, without altering the look of the pipe. However, I had to stop short of removing it all, otherwise the look of the pipe would have been altered. For the remaining bits of burn, I took some oxalic acid on a Q-tip and rubbed and rubbed and rubbed! The burn site did improve but never fully disappeared. It would be a permanent feature of the pipe going forward. I took solace from the fact that the burn did not affect the integrity of the wood. I then took a solid wooden sphere, wrapped sandpaper around it, and gently sanded the opening of the tobacco chamber. This was to achieve on the inner part of the rim the same thing that I achieved by “topping” on sandpaper. On to the major issue with this pipe: the crack in the shank. Naturally, Steve had the answers to all of this pipe’s problems. He explained that my first step was to ensure that the crack would not continue to creep after I had repaired it. To that end, I took a micro-drill bit, inserted it in my Dremel, and very carefully drilled a hole right through the wall of the shank. This was quite nerve-wracking, but it worked perfectly. I then needed to apply cyanoacrylate adhesive to the crack in order to seal and repair it. First, however, I used a Q-tip and a folded pipe cleaner to coat the inside of the shank with petroleum jelly. This would prevent the adhesive from dripping inside the shank and creating further problems. That done, I carefully applied a bead of adhesive to the tiny hole and the length of the crack. Finally, I clamped it shut and let it sit overnight to cure. This was a great success – obviously, the crack would always be visible, but I was really pleased with how the repair looked.Before moving on to sanding, there were a couple of small nicks on the underside of the stummel that I needed to sort out. I dug out my iron and a damp cloth to try and raise the nicks. The hot and moist steam created can often cause the wood to swell slightly and return to shape. There was some movement – not a lot, but it was better than doing nothing. I filled the remaining divots with cyanoacrylate adhesive. Now, with the crack repaired and the nicks filled, it was time to sand down the stummel. Just like the stem, I used all nine Micromesh pads (1,500 through 12,000 grit) to sand everything smooth. A light application of Before & After Restoration Balm brought out the best in the stummel’s grain. All of the work I had done to this point had taken its toll on the colour of the wood. Originally, there was a lovely sort of brownish-Burgundy colour on this pipe, and I wanted to restore this as best I could – and I also wanted to ensure that we got rid of that weird mottling. In order to bring back some life to this pipe, I opted for aniline dye. I dragged out some of Fiebing’s Oxblood Leather Dye, but it looked too reddish to me. Instead, I experimented with mixing to see what I could come up with. I made my own concoction of Oxblood and Medium Brown dyes, painted the stummel, and then applied flame in order to set the colour. Furthermore, since it is an alcohol-based dye, I was able to adjust the colour to my liking by applying my own isopropyl alcohol to the colour. Let it sit overnight and it worked like a charm!Then it was off for a trip to the buffer. A dose of White Diamond and a few coats of carnauba wax were just what this pipe needed. Now that the wood was looking all spiffy, I had to circle back and complete the repair on the crack in the shank. It needed a tight-fighting band to ensure that the crack would never open up again. I went to my jar of bands and picked one that looked good. I heated it up and then messed it up! See the photos. I did not apply even pressure as I was attaching the band, so it went mush. Fortunately, I had more bands and I did a much better job of getting the next one on. I glued it in place and let that set. It looked very dapper. I polished up the band with a 12,000-grit MicroMesh pad. I also went back to the buffer with both the stem and stummel, gave them a final application of White Diamond and carnauba wax, and brought out that lovely shine.In the end, what a beauty this pipe is! It is an elegant pipe, from a very fine maker. It obviously meant a great deal to its owner, and I was delighted to bring it back to life. Once the pipe was returned to its owner, he told me that it looked better than when it was new! Although I am not sure I agree with that, I am very pleased that he is very pleased. As I mentioned before, the prince is one of my favourite shapes and it was great fun to work on this one. I hope you enjoyed reading the story of this pipe as much I as I did restoring it. If you are interested in more of my work, please follow me here on Steve’s website or email me directly at kenneth@knightsofthepipe.com. Thank you very much for reading and, as always, I welcome and encourage your comments.