Tag Archives: repairing cracks in exterior of the bowl

Giving New Life to a Kaywoodie Connoissuer Dublin Shape 45C


This is the third old-timer I received in my gift box from Jim. It is stamped Kaywoodie over Connoissuer on the left side of the shank and 45C on the right side near the bowl. It was in rough shape. The finish was gone and the bowl was almost black with grit and grime. There were places on the sides and bottom of the bowl that had black spots of a sticky, oily substance. The rim was heavily caked and damaged as well. There were rough outer edges on the rim on the back right side and the front as well. The bowl was badly caked and appeared to be out of round from reaming with a knife. The stem was in pretty decent shape however. There was a buildup of calcium on the end of the stem about ½ inch from the button forward but there was only minimal tooth chatter and no deep bite marks. The stem even fit correctly and was not over turned in the shank.IMG_1710 IMG_1711 IMG_1712 IMG_1713 IMG_1714 I looked up an old Kaywoodie shape chart to make sure the shape number 45C was indeed a Dublin, in fact a Large Dublin. I found it in the second column, third entry down that column in the chart below. I think that the name is quite relative as the size is not that large and would easily be a group 3 sized bowl in Dunhill terms. I also found that the Connoisseur line was the top of the line (at least in this chart of pipes). Read the notes on the bottom of the page, the last line that shows a price of $27.50 – the highest priced KW on this chart. Kaywoodie_shapes70_71 When I removed the stem the stinger was black with buildup but was not damaged. It only had two holes in it, a flattened head rather than a ball and a space on the top of the stinger where the air went through. This was obviously a pre-Drinkless stinger. IMG_1715 I reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and used a dental pick to clean out some of the scale around the edges of the airway. IMG_1716 IMG_1717 I started with the smallest reaming head and worked up to one approximately the size of the bowl. I wanted to try to minimize the rim damage and bring the bowl back to as close to round as possible with the reamer. IMG_1718 The amount of damage to the edges of the outer rim and the broken spots on the inner rim required that I top the bowl. I set up a topping board and 220 grit sandpaper and sanded the top of the bowl. I press the bowl into the sandpaper, taking care to keep the rim flat against the board so as not to slant the top of the bowl. I worked it until the top was clean and the outer edge was sharp once again. The second photo shows the topped rim and the damage down to the roundness of the bowl inner edge. It was going to take some work to work this back to round as much as possible. IMG_1719 IMG_1720 I sanded the inner edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to even it out and give it more of a round shape once again. I wiped the bowl down with acetone on cotton balls to remove the grime on the finish. I decided against using the oil soap this time around as the finish was basically gone any way so the acetone would make short work of removing the finish. I scrubbed it longer and harder than I expected to remove the grime. The next series of photos show the bowl after scrubbing. There was some nice grain under the blackness. IMG_1721 IMG_1722 IMG_1723 I sanded the bowl and the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and also with a medium and fine grit sanding sponge and fine grit sanding block to further clean things up on the surface of the bowl and stem. IMG_1724 IMG_1725 IMG_1726 The photo below shows the bowl after the work on the inner edge of the rim. It certainly has come a long way from the beat up inner edge pictured above. IMG_1727 IMG_1728 I dropped the bowl into the alcohol bath to soak out some more of the grime from the briar. I turned my attention to the stem. I cleaned up the stinger with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton balls until the aluminum shined once again. I continued to sand the stem with the medium and fine grit sanding sponges to remove the surface scratching. I cleaned out the area around the slot with a dental pick and finally after many pipe cleaners was satisfied with the cleanness of the internals of the stem. IMG_1729 I sanded the stems with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed the stems down with Obsidian Oil between each set of three pads. I buffed the stem with White Diamond and polished it with a coat of carnauba wax to raise a shine. IMG_8249 IMG_8250 IMG_8252 I took the bowl out of the alcohol bath and dried it off with a cotton cloth. I sanded it lightly with a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the last of the grit and grime softened by the bath. The bowl is shown in the photo below. It is cleaned and ready for staining. IMG_8253 There were two areas that were dark on the bowl – the left side midbowl toward the front and the right side midbowl toward the back. I cleaned and stained the bowl with some Danish Oil and walnut stain and in the dark spots two small minor cracks showed up. At this point the cracks are not visible in the inside walls of the bowl. They may well be there and not seen in the darkening of the interior walls. Once the oil dried I exposed the two cracks with a dental pick to make them accessible. I then used superglue and briar dust to repair the cracks. I overfilled them with the glue and briar dust to ensure that the repair is solid and would have no pits in the surface once I sanded them. I sanded the repairs with a well used piece of 220 grit sandpaper and followed that with a fine grit sanding sponge and 1500-2400 micromesh sanding pads.IMG_1730 IMG_1731 I wiped the sanded bowl down and then gave it a coat of Danish Oil with Walnut stain to touch up the repairs and the entire bowl. IMG_1732 IMG_1733 IMG_1735 IMG_1734
When the pipe was dry I buffed it with White Diamond and polished the bowl and stem. I gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect and give it a shine. I buffed it with a soft flannel buff. The pipe is finished. It has come a long way from the pipe that I started with when I took it from the box. The repairs, though visible look pretty good. I expect them to hold for a long time and provide a quality smoke in an old Kaywoodie for whoever ends up with this old pipe. It is cleaned and ready for the next pipeman. IMG_1741 IMG_1742 IMG_1743 IMG_1744

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Some remarks on dealing with cracks and splits in briar pipes – by Jacek A. Rochacki, Bydgoszcz, PL, 2014


This morning I received the following email and article from Jacek A. Rochaki from Poland. I have included Jacek’s email in full as he gives a great introduction to himself. He comments on his English and does not need to as it is very good. Thank you Jacek for a wonderful article on repairing cracks in briar pipes.

My name is Jacek A. Rochacki – Jacek for Friends. I am a retired sculptor, silver and goldsmith, conservator, also author of texts on history, theory and practice of applied art in metal and applied art in general plus on conservation; my second professional “incarnation” is historian of applied art. I have been also teaching these subjects in Denmark and in my native Poland.

My imperfect command of English has prevented me from writing much, but my sincere wish to help in repair/restoration of pipes and thus saving them has prompted me to write some remarks with hope, that you will kindly forgive my eventual linguistic mistakes. Let me say that this text in much shorter form has been already published in English-speaking pipe-internet, unfortunately it somehow disappeared so after revision I decided to make the second edition. I should also say that it should be rather written in past tense, not in present tense, as I am not anymore active in my studio.

With kindest regards, Jacek in Poland

Jacek A. Rochacki
Skype: jarochacki

Cracks and/or splits in the stem and in the bowl of briar pipes are often repairable; let me indicate step by step how I have been dealing with such problems. Let me begin by dealing with cracks in the bowl.

1. On the very end of the crack/split the tiny hole should be drilled by a drill of, say, 0.5-0.6 mm in diameter. But kindly keep in mind that this hole should not go through the wall of the bowl just should be drilled deep enough to serve as “stopper” preventing the crack/split to continue. This is an old technique known to woodworkers and restorers/conservators knowledgeable in techniques, tools, workshop of applied art objects. In case of the bowl (or shank) of briar pipe it is not necessary to use the drilling machine but you can twist the drill bit with your fingers.

2. Delicate but thorough cleaning of the crack/split in order to remove any sort of dirt, especially to degrease the crack/split itself and the adjoining/neighboring area. I often use “pure” alcohol, say, 98-99%. Then the cleaned bowl should dry for a period of, say, two-three days.

3. When the crack/split and the adjoining area of the briar is clean and dry, I simply use the properly chosen glue. Some sources recommend the cyano-acrylic glue, possibly in the consistency of gel rather, then in very liquid form. I was told that so called Super Glue should do the job, but I use a two part epoxy resin with a hardener, which meets two conditions: it is heat-resistant, and it creates a “flexible” joint. This is important because during thermal operations (pipe smoking) the briar “works” – gets larger and smaller according to the change of temperature.

The two part epoxy resin which I use, according to the representative of the manufacturer of this glue will be “working” – getting larger and smaller when “exposed” to change of temperatures in a way similar to briar. This very glue – as I’ve been informed – is heat resistant up to 200 C/392 F. Unfortunately I was given the epoxy as a gift in two small samples and not the original jars, so I can’t give more precise information. All I know is that the manufacturer is Chester Molecular Company. So when I have the glue ready, I apply it into the crack/split as deeply as possible; the experienced restorer, “clever with his hands” may even try with utmost possible care to split the crack a little wider in order to let the glue penetrate as deeply as possible. Here I do not have to mention, that it is an extremely risky operation, because the widening of the split may cause the bowl to break! When the glue is applied, you have to press the glued bowl in order to let the glue do its job. I often place the glued bowl (wrapped in some soft textile, leather or felt in order to prevent damage of the surface) in a vice jaws and carefully apply the force; a simpler method would be just to use thread wrapped tightly several times around the glued briar. I let it sit for rather long time to dry thoroughly – details should be provided by the glue manufacturer.

Gluing stems pressed by “force wrapping” with thread

Gluing stems pressed by “force wrapping” with thread

4. When the glued bowl has dried, there is time to clean the surface. At first I would got rid of eventual “overflow” of the glue from the surface by use of engraving tools, scrapers or even ordinary, but sharp pocket knife. Since I often deal with a sandblasted bowl I would not go for sandpapers, just do the job with sharp tools mentioned above, trying to follow texture/grooves of the sandblasted finish. In case of various Dunhills that came through my hands I didn’t find necessary to improve the color by staining the bowl. I just ordinarily use a professional polishing/buffing machine with polishing textile mops with turning with speed of approximately 2200 – 2800 r.p.m. with use of (gradually):

a. A pre-polish paste/material (like German Menzerna, or other modern equivalent of traditional Tripoli compound).

b. A”white” polishing material (like White Dialux (ed. White Diamond in North America).

c. Carnauba wax/resin, known to the pipe world does the job well.

In many cases it is enough; typing this text I am smoking my Dunhill ES Shell Briar, vintage 1967 which came into my possession with a bowl severely damaged, and since I applied the procedures described above it smokes perfect, with no signs of reappearing cracks that are repaired.

Restoration of crack in a Dunhill ES

Restoration of crack in a Dunhill ES

Restored Dunhill ES

Restored Dunhill ES

But in some cases it would not be amiss to enforce the glued bowl by applying the element of metal – possibly of silver of high quality – a ring. In some cases it would make sense to create not just a top ring/band but whole “cap”, sometimeswith metal “mustaches” that will cover and enforce the fixed cracks.

Top “cap” and stem band

Top “cap” and stem band

Band with LK monogram

Band with LK monogram

Top “cap” with “mustaches”

Top “cap” with “mustaches”

Top “cap” with “mustaches”

Top “cap” with “mustaches”

Continuing the topic of repairing cracks or/and splits: I know about different metal – often silver – elements, used in repair procedures. They are used mainly in order to re-enforce the construction/structure weakened by the crack/split/mechanical damage, and to mask the place that has been damaged as well. This simple sentence/statement should be a topic for longer explanation; let me just say, that “silver” – more precisely: the two component alloy of silver and copper is recommended because of its softness – thus it has a better ability for three dimensional forming – but it is also (unfortunately) a good conductor and “keeper” of heat. So I would keep this in mind, and always take this under consideration, when thinking on using large portions of silver element to be fixed on the surface of the bowl. The wrong distribution of the heat may result in a burned/charred smoking chamber at the place, where the fairly large piece of the “heat keeper”=silver element is permanently fixed on the outside of the bowl. I say this with regard to what I read sometimes on the internet about the usage of metal – maybe silver – fairly large elements in the process of repairing such or similar damages.

I believe that we should pay attention to the kind of silver – silver alloy employed in the repairing process. Remember, that the higher amount of pure silver (or gold) in the alloy, the easier the process of forming will go (of course after proper “softening” which goldsmiths and silversmiths call annealing). So I am a smith, who, for dealing with many cases, instead of using “Sterling Silver”, so common these days which is an alloy of 92.5% of pure silver and 7.5% of copper, will go for “old fashioned” alloy once popular among British top silversmiths, named Britannia Standard and which consists of 95.8% of pure silver. For some purposes I would use even pure silver plate or elements like clasps, because of the absence of copper prevents the “bad” chemical processes which may eventually trigger out, when elements containing copper contact with condensate and make foul taste in a carelessly repaired pipe. The higher amount of pure silver or gold in the alloy, the more such alloy is usable for forming.

I mentioned clasps. I use them often when repairing long cracks/splits in the shank of a pipe, especially at the bottom of Canadian shaped pipes, when the use of “traditional” silver or gold band would cover part of the signature or, because of technical reasons I do not want to go over the whole area of the shank at the repaired area. I want to avoid intrusion into the markings area at all costs as I am an applied art conservator. But sometimes it is impossible to make a repair band with sort of “windows” showing the signature – the whole area or part of it. I put strong accent on this aspect as signatures/markings must never be masked/covered/destroyed, like in restoration of other objects of art. I make my clasps usually of 0.4 mm in diameter pure silver wire and I place them in specially elaborated/carved grooves/”nests”, always keeping their tops at the level of briar surface of the repaired area. Then I usually cover the area repaired in such way with very thin (0.3-0.4 mm) plate of silver, leveled up to the surface of the outer briar area at repaired place.

Cracks reinforced by clasps of pure silver in order to avoid bad chemical reaction with condensate and ready for fixing silver plaquettes or repair ring with “window”

Cracks reinforced by clasps of pure silver in order to avoid bad chemical reaction with condensate and ready for fixing silver plaquettes or repair ring with “window”

Cracks reinforced by clasps of pure silver in order to avoid bad chemical reaction with condensate or ready for repair ring with “window” – before and after fixing silver plaquettes or repair ring

Cracks reinforced by clasps of pure silver in order to avoid bad chemical reaction with condensate or ready for repair ring with “window” – before and after fixing silver plaquettes or repair ring

Silver plaquettes with monograms covering cracks fixed with clasps

Silver plaquettes with monograms covering cracks fixed with clasps

Sometimes I put my signature, and even the stamp REP (repaired) on it as it should be done in professional conservation to mark change in the original object, or just an engraved ornament in order to make such plate looking nice. This we may consider as symbolic homage to great British and not only British tradition of silver craft, where the way of placing the hallmarks, maker’s marks etc. used to be an important part of the aesthetics of the composition of the stamped object. And I go similar way in case of repair band/ring if I deal with split at the end of the shank. I believe that we all are familiar with ornamental silver rings; some of them may be repair rings first of all. (The following photos show some of the ornamental rings that I have crafted and used.)
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Repairing and Reworking a Comoy’s J186 Billiard


Another part of the trade I got from Mark was this damaged Comoy’s Billiard. It has some great grain on it. The stamping is Comoy’s on the left side of the shank and J186 on the right side. It also has the characteristic circular Made in London over a straight line England. This circular stamp is next to the end of the shank. The stem was a replacement – it does not have the C logo on it. It had also been repaired. I believe that Mark must have used the black superglue to patch a couple of bite marks in the stem near the button. The shoulders on the stem were rounded and the stem shank junction was not smooth. Otherwise the finish was in fairly decent shape and the stem looked good.
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In the letter Mark included with the pipes he noted that there were small cracks in the exterior bottom of the bowl. I examined it with a light and saw that the three small cracks radiated from the three divots on the bottom of the bowl. These were flaws in the briar or dents, I am not sure which. The cracks radiated from the three points to a centre point where they met. They did not extend beyond the divots. Examining the inside of the bowl the bottom was not overly deep and there did not appear to be any cracks internally.
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I decided to work on the rounded shoulders on the stem and the stem shank junction first. This is a very easy fix and I thought I would give the cracks a bit of thought before I worked on them. I sanded the stem and shank with 220 grit sandpaper carefully avoiding the stamping. I also did not want to sand too deeply so as to taper the stem artificially from the junction forward. This took care but I was able to smooth out the rounded shoulders. I followed the 220 sandpaper with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the scratches.
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I wiped the bowl down with acetone to remove the finish and make the restaining easier. I also wanted to clean up the bottom of the bowl to be able to examine the cracks more closely.
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As can be seen in the photo below the cracks are virtually invisible to the eye. There is no burn or darkening around the cracks so I am pretty sure that it is not a burn out. I decided to restain the bowl and see how the stain took in the area of the cracks.
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I stained the pipe with a dark brown aniline stain mixed 2:1 with isopropyl alcohol to approximate the colour on other Comoy’s I have. In the photos below it appears far redder in colour than it is in reality. I flamed the stain and repeated as necessary. The cracks were still visible so they would take a bit more work to repair.
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I worked on the stem with my usual array of micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and let it dry. I buffed it with White Diamond paying particular attention to the patches around the top and bottom of the stem near the button. I was able to blend them in well and the black of the polished stem and the black of the superglue match.
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I decided to work on the cracks on the bottom of the bowl. I scratched out the cracks using a dental pick. I was able to clean out the debris in the cracks and open them slightly. They did not go deep into the briar and there was no internal darkening in the bottom of the cracks. I packed in briar dust and dripped superglue into the briar dust. The photo below shows the superglue briar mix after it had dried. I over filled the cracks to ensure good coverage of the repair.
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I sanded the patch with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the excess glue and followed that with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge. The photo below, though slightly out of focus shows the repair clearly. It is almost a Y shaped repair.
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I mixed a batch of pipe mud – cigar ash and water to make a paste. To ensure that the bottom was not damaged I picked it clean with the dental pick and then painted it with the pipe mud. Though there was no sign of damage on the inside of the bowl, the pipe mud was a precautionary measure for peace of mind.
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I buffed the pipe with White Diamond and gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect and to give it a shine. I have set it aside to allow the pipe mud to cure before using it. I want to see if the bowl bottom heats up at all during a smoke. I am happy with the overall look of the repaired pipe. If it turns out that the cracked area over heats then it may well be a candidate for a briar plug. The verdict is still out for now, but time will tell.
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