Tag Archives: replacing a broken tenon

Restoring a Preben Holm Hand Cut Sandblast Freehand in Pune, India


Blog by Steve Laug, Jeff Laug, Dal Stanton, Paresh, Abha and Pavni Deshpande

The restoration on this beautiful Preben Holm freehand may appear to be just another pipe restoration but it was not. Let me assure you that it was definitely far more than that. It was really an East and West adventure in pipe restoration. My brother Jeff and I traveled to Pune, India where we met Dal Stanton of Pipe Steward and had an incredible visit with Paresh Deshpande, his wife Abha and his daughters Mudra and Pavni. With that cast of players – from the US, Canada, Bulgaria and India it was going to be a unique and memorable week of fellowship and pipe restoration. Each of us played a role in this restoration. I will try to include the contribution of each in the story as it unfolds. Paresh and I had spoken of the pipes that he wanted us to work on together while staying with him. This pipe was one of them. We had talked about the Preben Holm via Whatsapp in the past months and he wanted me to replace the broken tenon on the pipe so that he could learn the process.

Lest you might think that all we did was work on pipes, I can assure you that while staying in Pune we enjoyed the sights of the city, fellowship and great food along with working on pipes together. Paresh and his family did a magnificent job of hosting the event and making us all feel like we were part of his family. The hospitality, the amazing food provided by Abha and the joy and laughter of Mudra and Pavni were all part of making this an unforgettable visit. In the next weeks there will be several blogs written about the pipes that we worked on. Dal is working on a blog about the restoration of a BBB bent billiard that had belonged to Paresh’s grandfather that was a real group effort. Both Paresh and I will also be posting blogs on some of the other pipes that we worked on together including meerschaums and briars. We thoroughly enjoyed the time together while smoking our pipes and sharing beer and scotch to celebrate each restoration and to close each day. We exchanged tips and processes that we used. It was a time of sharing and learning for all of us.

The blog I am writing now was on the restoration of a really well made Preben Holm freehand. Paresh had picked this pipe up off eBay for a good price because of the condition. I am sure that if the pipe had been complete it would have sold for a much higher price than it did. The sandblast finish was dirty but very well done – showing bother the underlying grain and the cross grain in the blast. The stain colour was a contrast of browns and blacks. The rim top and the shank end were both plateau. They were dirty but still quite stunning. The inner and outer edge of the bowl was in great condition. The exterior of the bowl was also in good condition under the grime of the years. The tenon had been broken off cleanly at the stem and whoever had pulled it had drilled through the broken tenon in the process of pulling it out of the shank. The stem had some tooth marks and chatter on the top and underside and some wear on the button edge but otherwise it was in very good condition. There was some oxidation on the surface and in the grooves of the fancy stem that would need to be addressed. We took photos of the pipe at this point in the process to show the parts and the condition. I took a picture of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It was clear but showed some wear. It read Preben Holm over Hand Cut over Made in Denmark. There is also a circle with a number in it; sadly I failed to write down the number. I believe it is either a 1 or a 7. Perhaps Paresh can confirm this.Now it was time to start on the stem repair on this pipe. I want to document the process on this restoration so that both Dal and Paresh have the information for their future tenon replacements. The first step is preparing the end of the stem for drilling out the airway. The remnants of the broken tenon need to be removed in order to have a smooth surface for drilling out the airway to receive the end of the new tenon. I did this be using a piece of 220 grit sandpaper on a topping board. I worked on the stem until the surface of the end was smooth.Once the end of the stem was smooth I used a sharp knife to give the airway a slight inward bevel to guide the drill bit when I started the drilling. I find that doing this helps facilitate a straight drill in the airway. The key for me in tenon replacement is to let the airway be the guide for the drilling. Doing this keeps things aligned and the airway straight. I started the drilling with a bit that was slightly larger than the existing airway. I proceed through a series of bits until I have drilled the airway with the final bit the same size as the end of the replacement tenon that I will use. I generally use a cordless drill to do this work but in this case I used a Hand Drill that Paresh had available. I tightened the bit in the chuck and carefully turned the stem onto the bit. I proceed with caution as I want to make sure that I keep the airway straight for a good fit of the new tenon. I use the length of the end of the tenon to determine the depth of the drilling. I generally mark the bit with a line of a piece of tape to ensure that I do not drill too deep.I worked my way up through a successive series of drill bits, to slowly open the airway to receive the tenon. I find that this process keeps the stem from chipping as I drill and creating more problems for me to repair in the process. As I finshed using the first three bits I decided to use the power drill. Paresh gladly became the human vise to hold the drill. I aligned the bit and stem and pressed the trigger to drill the airway further. It was great to have extra hands in this process. Dal took photos as we worked on the stem.I used the 4.8 and 5 mm drill bits to finish drilling out the airway.The airway was open to the right dimension to receive the new tenon. At home I have a tap set and would have threaded the airway to receive the tenon. In this case I did not have a tap so I used a file to knock off the threads on the tenon end enough to pressure fit it in place in the stem. Once they were knocked off enough I put some super glue on the tenon end and pressed it into the airway. I carefully checked the alignment to make sure the tenon was straight on the stem before setting it aside to cure. Once the glue had cured on the tenon repair we put the stem in Mark Hoover’s Before & After Deoxidizer to let it do its work on the oxidation. I also wanted to experiment with how the deoxidizer affected the glue in the tenon repair. We set it aside for several hours while we worked on the bowl.I turned the bowl over to Jeff to do the cleanup work and show us his process. Abha, Paresh’s wife joined in the cleanup process on this pipe as well as the others on the work table the week that we were all together. In watching him do the work we all learned some new tools and techniques to add to our arsenals of restoration. He reamed it with the Castleford Reamer that I brought as a gift for Abha. He took the cake back to bare briar so that we could check out the condition of the chamber walls. It looked very good. He cleaned the rim top and shank end with a brass bristle wire brush to clean the grime out of the plateau. He scrubbed out the interior of the pipe with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. (Forgot to take pictures of this point of the process.) Jeff scrubbed the surface of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and debris from the plateau and the sandblast finish. Somehow we forgot a picture of this point of the process. He took it to the sink and rinsed it off and scrubbed the interior and exterior of the briar with dish soap. He scrubbed it further with the dish soap and tooth brush. He rinsed the pipe off with warm water in the sink.He dried the bowl off with a soft cloth and buffed it with a microfiber cloth to give some shine to the briar. We rubbed the surface down with some Before & After Restoration Balm to enliven, enrich and protect the briar. We buffed it once more with the microfiber cloth. The photos show the look of the cleaned briar. With the bowl done we set it aside and turned our attentions to the stem. Jeff took it out of the bath and squeezed the excess deoxidizer off the stem into the bath. He rinsed it under warm water and ran water through the airway. He blew on the stem to clear out any deoxidizer in the airway. He ran a pipe cleaner with alcohol through the stem to remove any remaining dexodizer. He buffed it rigorously with a microfiber cloth to remove the remaining oxidation and polish the vulcanite. The tenon glue held up well in the bath and the tenon was tight in the stem. I “painted” the stem surface with the flame of a Bic lighter to lift the tooth chatter and dents in the surface. Paresh sanded the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth chatter and minimize the tooth dents on the button and the surface of the stem. He wiped it down with alcohol and filled in the dents with clear super glue. When the glue had cured we smoothed out the repairs with a needle file and sanded them with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth and blend them into the surface of the stem. We polished the stem surface with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with all grits – 1500-12000 grit and rubbing the stem down with a microfiber cloth to give it a shine. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the bowl with a shoe brush that Paresh had in his kit. I rubbed the bowl and stem down with another coat of Balm and buffed it further with the brush. Dal, helped me install a new photo app on my phone to take the photos. (I have lots to learn about how to use the enhancements of the app but I took the photos and the lack of precision reflects my aptitude not Dal’s instruction.) The pictures below show the finished pipe. It is a beautiful Preben Holm Hand Cut Danish freehand that has a full life ahead of it in Paresh’s rotation. The process I use in putting a new tenon on the stem and revitalizing the finished pipe has been recorded. Jeff’s process on cleaning up the stem and briar has also been documented in the process. Paresh’s daughter Pavni polished the inside of the bowl with sandpaper bringing it to a shine that is unparalleled. This is a feature of all of Paresh’s restorations that none of us knew before. Thanks Pavni for your patient labour in bringing beauty to the inside of the bowl. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I look forward to hearing from Paresh how the pipe smokes as we did not get around to this one while we were in Pune. Thanks for looking and reading the blog. We all hope the documentation has been helpful.

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Replacing a Broken Tenon in a Dunhill 196F/T Shell Briar


Blog by Steve Laug

This is one of the Dunhill Shell Briar pipes that I sold earlier this year. It is a 196F/T Shell Billiard. Not too long ago I received an email from Bill the buyer of the pipe saying that there had been an accident and that the stem had broken off the pipe leaving the tenon in the shank. He was a bit forlorn in asking if it was repairable or not. I assured him that it could be fixed and told him to send it up to me in Vancouver. I had to laugh in that when it arrived it was in the original box that I had used to ship it to him – all the packing etc. was the same. Great use of the boxes. It will soon make its second trip to Bill. This is a well-traveled box and pipe – twice to the East Coast of the US from Canada and once back to me for repair. I put the pipe in queue as I have a large backlog of pipes to work on from several estates that the families are waiting on. I figured I would be able to slip into the work somewhere along the way.

Today was the day. I finished a lot of pipes lately so I felt ok about working on this one. I figured it would be pretty straight forward to pull the broken tenon and replace it. Boy was I wrong. The broken tenon was stuck in the shank. My usual tricks for pulling a broken tenon – a screw in the airway and wiggling it free – did not work. Even a trip to the freezer did not work. I had to resort to more serious tools.I got out my cordless drill and chucked up a series of drill bits to see if I could pull it that way. I have often found that in the process of drilling out the tenon it will stick to the bit and come out as I back out the drill. That did not happen on this pipe! I ended up working through the bits until I finally was finished and the mortise was smooth and clear of the old tenon.With the airway cleared in the mortise I measured it for a new tenon. Yet again another setback. I did not have any tenons that were the right diameter for the mortise! I chucked the PIMO tenon turning tool in my cordless drill and reduced the diameter of a threaded tenon replacement that I had in stock until it was the right diameter to fit the mortise. I tried to hold the tenon by hand and turn it but soon realized that did not work this time. I used a pair of needle nose pliers to hold it until the tenon was finished.When I finished there was a small hip between the threaded portion and the smooth portion of the new tenon. I worked the tool back and forth to remove that. I also held a needle file against the hip while the tenon was spinning on the drill. It did not take too long to remedy that issue. The new tenon was almost ready to use. I would still need to reduce the diameter of the threaded portion before I could use it but it was good for the moment.I drilled out the airway in the stem to receive the new tenon. This is always a little tricky as you need to keep the stem absolutely straight so that you do not angle the airway. I always start with a bit slightly larger than the airway and work my way up to the size of the tenon insert. In this case I also needed to be careful not to drill the stem too deeply as the tape is quite long and it would be easy to ruin the stem. With the airway opened in the stem to take the threaded tenon end I used a tap to thread the airway inside the bowl. I had to open the airway a little more so I used a penknife to widen the diameter to take the tap. I used a Dremel with a sanding drum to reduce the diameter of the threaded portion of the new tenon until it could be screwed into the stem.I coated the threaded end of the tenon with super glue and turned it into the end of the stem. I pressed it completely in place against the table top so there was not a gap. I filled in the slight gap with some clear super glue and laid the stem aside to let the repair cure.When the glue cured I addressed some oxidation at the shank end of the stem. I sanded it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper until the oxidation was removed from the stem surface. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil and let it dry.I polished the stem surface with micromesh sanding pads to bring back the shine to the vulcanite. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil after each pad and a final coat after the 12000 grit pad. I polished the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and gave it several coats of carnauba wax. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax. I buffed the finished pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below and I think it came out looking pretty good. I just got back from the Post Office and sent it back to Bill. I look forward to seeing what he thinks once it is in hand once again. Thanks for reading this.

Repairing a Broken Tenon on a House of Robertson War Club


Blog by Steve Laug

Back in February of 2018 (almost a year ago now) I posted my restoration of an interesting House of Robertson Pipe that was made by a carver in a pipe shop in Boise, Idaho. It was not only an interesting pipe but also one that had some history that was interesting to me as I was raised in Idaho for the better part of my childhood and adolescence. It was a huge piece of wood and had both smooth and rusticated portions on the shank and bowl. It was a flat bottom sitter with a square shank. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 7 3/8 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside Diameter: 1 5/8 inches, Diameter of the chamber: 7/8 inches. I sent it back to a fellow in Idaho who collected House of Robertson pipes and who used to frequent the Boise shop. He was excited to add it to his collection. (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/02/28/restoring-a-rusticated-house-of-robertson-war-club/). Here is what it looked like when I sent it to him. About the same time I picked up the Calich, I received an email from the collector in Idaho asking for help. This is what he wrote to me:

Steve, I purchased the rusticated House of Robertson War Club pipe earlier this year. I have thoroughly enjoyed it. The bad news is i was polishing it and dropped it. The stem broke at the tenon and is still lodged in the briar. Hopefully you can repair or replace it. If so, please let me know and then how to proceed with mailing and payment. Thanks…

I wrote him back pretty quickly and he put it in the mail. It arrived here yesterday and was waiting for me when I got home from work. I opened the envelope that it had been mailed in and took out the two plastic Ziploc bags and the bubble wrap that was around the bowl and stem. I took them out of the mailer and unwrapped the protective layers and took them out of the Ziploc bag. This is what I saw. The stem had snapped off almost perfectly against the stem end. There was a small ledge but really nothing stuck out from the original tenon.I took an end view photo to show the snapped off tenon in the shank of the pipe. You can see in that photo that it is also a clean break.This morning I was “chatting” with Charles Lemon on the Tobacco Pipe Restorers Group on Facebook about Jobey Links and how easy they were to work with when replacing a tenon. I went through my container of tenons and I did not have one that would work in this shank without a lot of work. I took out my box of Jobey Link replacement tenons and one of them was absolutely the perfect size for this shank. I would need to use it backwards and do some modifications but it was exactly what I wanted for this repair. I used a topping board to flatten out the remnants of the broken tenon on the stem. I used a knife to bevel the airway to make drilling it easier. I took the following photo to show the parts of the repair.I tried my usual method for removing a broken tenon from the shank – a drywall screw turned into the airway in the shank until it was tight and then wiggling the broken tenon out of the shank. It failed to produce any results. It was almost like the tenon was glued/bonded to the walls of the shank. I used a cotton swab to dribble alcohol down the shank around the broken tenon. I left the shank and tenon sitting while I went to work for the day. When I came home I tried the screw again and still absolutely no movement on the tenon… it was stuck.

I resorted to the next best method – drilling the tenon out of the shank with my cordless drill. I started with a bit a little larger than the airway and turned it into the airway with the drill and then reversed the drill to see if I could pull it out. Nope. It still did not move. I tried a larger drill bit and repeated the process still no movement at all. I tried a third bit – a little bit smaller than the diameter of the original tenon. I drilled it in and backed it out – no luck. I then decided to just drill out the tenon all together. It did not take too much to drill it with the ¼ inch drill bit and then take out the pieces of the old tenon. The fourth photo below shows the clean airway in the shank. The tenon is gone. Now with that half of the job done I set the bowl aside and picked up the stem. I used a drill bit slightly smaller than the threaded portion of the Jobey Link. I drilled out the airway in the stem with increasingly larger drill bit until it was the perfect size for the Link. I still needed to tap the newly drilled airway so that I could turn the tenon into the stem. I used a tap set that I have and tapped threads into the newly drilled airway in the stem. It did not take long to tap thread into the vulcanite. I tapped the airway until it was deep enough for to take the threaded tenon. I shortened the threaded end of the tenon to deal with the taper of the stem. I used a Dremel and sanding drum and then smoothed it out on the 220 grit sandpaper topping board. I used the Dremel and sanding drum to remove the hip on the Jobey Link. I flattened it out to match the smooth part of the tenon that would go into the shank. The added length of the tenon fit perfect in the depth of the mortise on the pipe. I turned the tenon into the airway with a pair of pliers.I sanded out the scratch marks from the Dremel removal of the hip on the tenon with 220 grit sandpaper and polished it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh and took a photo of the stem with the new tenon and the tools I used to work on it.When I looked over the stem I could see a few tooth marks on the surface on both the top and underside near the button. I figured that since I was working on it anyway I would remove those areas. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage and polished the sanding marks with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. When I finished the last pad I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I set the stem aside and turned my attention to the bowl. I examined it and found that there were a few small nicks and chips around the rim top and outer edge of the bowl. I touched these up with a walnut stain pen to blend them into the rest of the finish on the bowl. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to enliven the wood and protect the newly finished portions of the briar. I took these photos after to show the bowl and the repairs are unnoticeable. I put the stem back on the shank and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to bring a shine back to the bowl and stem. I gave it several coats of Conservator’s Wax and continue the buff. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. Tomorrow I will box it up and send it back to Idaho. Can’t wait to see what he thinks when he has it in his hands. Thanks for reading this. Cheers.

Replacing a Broken Tenon on a Civic Select 14 Zulu


Blog by Steve Laug

I received a call from a local fellow who had picked up my phone number from a local pipe and cigar shop. He had just returned from a trip and the tenon on his little Civic Zulu had snapped off. As it was his only pipe he wondered if I would be willing to take on the job of repairing it. He had tried to glue it on with epoxy but it had not worked. The pipe was relatively new and half the bowl was not even darkened by smoking. There was raw briar on the bottom half of the bowl. The briar was dirty on the outside from being pocketed in his coat of backpack.  The stem was oxidized and had tooth chatter on both sides at the button. The oxidation is deep in the vulcanite. I told him I would take on the project. I took photos of the pipe before I started working on it.I found a Delrin tenon replacement in my box that would fit well once the diameter was reduced. We talked and he decided to get rid of the stinger to make it a better smoking pipe. The broken angle on the end of the stem would need to be sanded smooth and faced so that the new tenon would fit well. I took some photos of the pipe, stem, broken tenon and new tenon.In preparation for drilling out the stem for the new tenon I used a sharp knife to open and bevel the edges of the airway in the stem. I have found that doing this keeps the drill bit centred and straight in the airway.I used the Dremel and the sanding drum to reduce the diameter of the new tenon. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the tenon. I worked on it until the diameter was the same as the broken tenon and the fit in the mortise was snug.I started drilling the airway with a bit slightly larger than the diameter of the airway. I slowed the speed on the cordless drill to make sure it moved slowly and straight. I worked my way up to a bit that was the same diameter as the new tenon end, but not too large to compromise the strength of the stem.I removed some of the diameter on the threaded end of the tenon to get a proper fit in the stem. I cleaned up the inside of the newly drilled end of the stem with a needle file to smooth out the walls. When it was smooth I cleaned up the new tenon, applied glue to the end and pressed it into place in the stem.I sanded the tenon with 4000 grit wet/dry sandpaper to clean up the marks and scratches in the tenon. Once the glue had cured I put the stem on the shank of the pipe. As is usual with these repairs the alignment was not perfect but close. I sanded the shank/stem junction smooth to clean up the alignment. I took pictures of the newly fit stem. I cleaned out the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol. I worked on them until they were clean. Since the pipe was barely smoked it was a pretty simple clean up.I reamed out the debris in the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I wanted the bowl to be clean and smooth.I stained the area where I had sanded the shank with an oak stain pen to blend it into the rest of the shank. It is a bit streaky at this point in the process but that would blend together once I buffed and polished the pipe. I worked Before & After Restoration Balm deep into the briar to clean, enliven and protect it. I worked it into the finish with my fingertips. I worked it into the rim and shank end. I set it aside for a few minutes to let the balm work. I wiped it off and buffed it with a soft cloth to polish it. The briar really began to have a deep shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. The grain on the bowl is really beginning to stand out and will only do so more as the pipe is waxed. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I finished polishing the stem with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish both Fine and Extra Fine to remove the last of the scratches. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. With the stem polished I put it back on the pipe and lightly buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond. I buffed the stem with a more aggressive buff of Blue Diamond. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I will call the pipeman soon so he can pick up his pipe and begin to enjoy it once more. He called several nights ago and said he had ordered some new tobacco and it had arrived. He was excited to try it out with his repaired pipe. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked this pipe over.

Replacing a tenon on a 1983 Pipa Croci Bent Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

The local pipe and cigar shop sent a fellow to me the other day with a broken tenon that needed to be replaced. He had dropped it in the snow while shoveling the walks and the tenon had snapped. He pulled the broken tenon out of the shank and tried to reglue the tenon in place with the broken part. Needless to say it did not work. He wanted to have the tenon replaced so he left it with me. The pipe was a nice little Pipa Croci sandblast Dublin. The bowl and rim were both sandblasted and there was a smooth band around the shank and up the underside where it was stamped. It read Pipo Croci over Fatta a Mano (Hand Made) over Mantova, Italia and finally the date – dal 1983. It is a light weight well-made pipe with an acrylic stem. The stem has the insert bar and dot logo on the top side. There were tooth marks on both sides at the button but otherwise the stem was in good condition. He wanted the new tenon and a basic cleanup on the pipe. I found the replacement Delrin tenon and took the following photos. I took a photo of the logo and the stamping on the underside of the shank. I rolled the shank and took a second photo to show the dates stamp.I flattened the broken remnant of tenon on the end of the stem to give it a smooth face. I drilled the airway with a bit a little larger than the airway. I moved through 3 other drill bits until it was large enough for the threaded tenon.I used a Dremel and sanding drum to reduce the diameter of the tenon to fit the mortise of the pipe. While I was at it I roughed up the threads on the tenon to give the glue something to grip.I cleaned up the threads on the tenon and the inside of the drilled out airway and coated the tenon end with black super glue gel. I fit it in the stem and adjusted the stem and tenon for a clean fit against the shank. I set the stem aside to let the glue cure on the new tenon. I scrubbed the briar with Before & After Restoration Balm, working it deep in the grooves and valley of the sandblast. I scrubbed it with a cotton swab to work it into the briar. The balm cleans, protects, restores and enlivens the briar. I buffed it with a horsehair shoe brush and rubbed it to a shine with a cotton cloth. Once the glue cured I put the stem on the pipe and buffed it with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The following photos show the finished pipe. It is ready to go back to its owner who I am sure is looking forward to smoking a bowl in it once more.

A Challenging Makeover for a GBD New Standard 9242 Rhodesian


Blog by Steve Laug

I finished the restoration work on Mark’s uncle’s pipes and a few of his own and sent them back to him in late January of this year. I wrote a blog on each of the restorations. They were a fun batch of pipes to restore for him. He sent me another package a few weeks ago that had just three pipes in it – A GBD Classic Straight Bulldog, a GBD 9242 Rhodesian (one of my holy grail pipes) and a long Churchwarden pipe. Each pipe had a different set of issues that would provide a variety of challenges. The Bulldog was in excellent condition other than the first ½ inch of the stem missing in chunks. The Churchwarden had a broken tenon stuck in the shank. By far the worst of the lot was the 9242 pipe. When I saw it in the bag I was excited. When I took it out of the bag I was saddened at the condition of the pipe. The bowl was dirty and there was some lava and rim darkening on the top. There were a few nicks in the edges of the bowl. The finish was dirty but the grain on the pipe was really nice. If I had stopped my observation at this point I would have been quite happy.

But to stop there would not begin to tell the story of the abuse carried out on this pipe. Someone (I cannot call them other than a hacker) had taken upon themselves to do a stem repair for a broken tenon and in doing so almost destroyed an otherwise nice looking stem. I think that it had a broken tenon so the hacker had pulled out the broken tenon from the shank. He had drilled out the end of the stem – so far so good right. If he had quit then it would have been good. But he did not. He found a piece of steel tubing and drilled out the mortise to fit it – but did so at an angle and hacked up the inside of the mortise. The stem itself was not only drilled but had been opened up even more to accommodate the tube. In fitting it in the stem he had cracked the stem on one side. Fortunately it appeared that it did not go all the way through. He then slopped glue – an amber looking goop, all around the sides of the scored tube and shoved it into the airway on the stem. It was not even close to straight. Then he smeared some of the same glue on top of the crack, wiped it off a bit and called it good. This poor pipe really was in awful condition.

When I wrote Mark to give him my assessment I laid out the issues on this pipe I think he must have laughed. He knew that once I saw it, because it was a shape that is on my hunt list, I would be hooked and have to try to fix it. He as much as said so in his email back to me. Sooo… here we go on that restoration project. The photos show the look of the pipe when it arrived in all of its tattered splendour. Note the beautiful grain on the bowl. It was a beautiful looking piece of briar. Note the stem damage and obvious angle of the stem in the shank. Note the repaired split in the stem. Note the tooth marks on the stem on both the top and underside on and in front of the button. This was a project for certain and I figured I could not really make things worse… but then again who knows. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the general condition of the pipe. You can see the nicks in the briar rim top and on the inner edge. You can also see the fit of the stem to the shank as well as the tooth marks and damage to the stem from the “repair” that had been done to the stem.I took the stem off the bowl to show the metal tubular tenon on the stem end. It looks to me that the drilling out of the stem and the moving the tenon around in the stem caused the damage in the stem surface.I took photos of the end of the stem showing the tenon and the drilled out mortise in the shank. You can see the damage to both. The metal tenon is not totally round and it is heavily scored and damaged. The fit in the stem is crooked so there is no way to align the stem and the shank.I smoothed out the light damage on the rim top with 220 grit sandpaper and then with 1500-4000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the briar and the smooth rim. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers and wiped it off with a soft cloth and buffed it with a shoe brush to polish it. The briar really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I set the bowl aside and worked on the stem. I used a cotton swab to dribble acetone around the stem/tenon joint. I repeated that process for several weeks on a daily basis. I wanted to dissolve the epoxy that held the metal tenon in place in the stem. While it sat I filled in the damaged areas on the stem surface and the deep tooth marks in the top and underside of the stem at the button with black super glue and set the stem aside to dry. Once the glue had cured I sanded the repairs smooth with 220 grit sandpaper and blended them into the surface of the stem. There were still some small spots that needed work but overall it was starting to look better. I dribbled acetone into the area around the metal tenon every morning and evening after work. I was pretty certain that after a matter of time the epoxy would give way and I would be able to remove the tenon. I wiggled it daily with a pair of pliers to loosen it. This afternoon it finally came loose and I was able to remove it from the stem.With the metal tenon removed from the stem I was able to clean out the airway in the stem and the drilled out area of the stem. I used pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to clean out the debris and tobacco oils.The replacement tenon was a little larger than the mortise and needed to be sanded down. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to reduce the diameter of the tenon. I also carefully sanded the face of the stem to smooth out the damage there, Once I had the fit correct in the shank I worked on anchoring it in the drilled out stem. I coated the threaded tenon with some thick gel glue and inserted it in the hole in the stem. I lined things up with a pipe cleaner in the airway and set the stem aside to dry. While the glue on the new tenon cured I cleaned up the inside of the mortise. I hand turned a drill bit that was the same size as the tenon slowly into the mortise to clean up the jagged drilling on the inside of the mortise. I turned it into the mortise to smooth out the misdrilling that had been done to fit the metal tenon. Once I was finished I sanded it lightly and then put the stem in the shank to have a look. The fit was pretty good at this point. Once the tenon had cured I worked on the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each micromesh pad. After I finished with the 12000 grit pad I gave it another coat of oil. I polished the stem down with Before & After Pipe Polish – Fine and Extra Fine. I finished by giving it one more coat of Obsidian Oil and put it aside. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave it several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The repair on the right side of the stem is still visible and I will need to work on that a little bit more but the overall look and fit of the stem is far better than when I began on this project. It won’t take too much more work before it is ready to head back to Mark for his smoking pleasure. This is one of those pipes that suffered much at the hands of someone trying to repair something and actually making it worse. I think it is better than it was… thanks for looking.

Repairing a Broken Tenon on a Birks Savinelli “Lollo”


Blog by Steve Laug

I received a call from a local pipeman who said he had broken the stem off of his favourite pocket pipe. He had been given my name by a local pipe shop. He stopped by and dropped off a small bag with the parts of his pipe in it. He had dropped the pipe down the stairs and it had bounced down to the bottom in two pieces. He was able to remove the broken tenon but the damage was done. The pipe was stamped Birks and next to that it was stamped “Lollo” over Savinelli over Italy. The pipe was actually in really good shape. The bowl was clean and the briar had some nice grain all around the sides, top and bottom. The rim was clean and there was a very light cake inside. The broken tenon had a stinger in the tenon that he wanted to preserve. The stem was oxidized and showed some tooth chatter on both sides near the button. I told him I would have a look at the pipe and decide whether to replace the tenon or the stem. He was fine either way as long as the pipe was the same when he picked it up. I put the parts of the pipe on my work table and took photos of the pipe before I started working on it. I went through my box of tenons and found one that was the proper size for the mortise. I use threaded replacement tenons on stems like this. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to smooth out the rough edges of the broken tenon left on the stem. I used a sharp knife to bevel the edge of the airway in the end of the stem. Beveling it keeps the drill bit centred when I drill out the airway for the threaded end of the tenon.I chucked a drill bit the same diameter as the threaded end of the replacement tenon.  The photo below shows the tenon on the end of the drill bit. I lined it up before drilling it so that the stem was straight and the airway would not be curved. I drilled the airway to the same depth as the threaded end of the tenon. Once the airway was straight I used tap to cut threads in the airway in the stem so that I could turn the new tenon in place. I put a drop of glue on the threads of the tenon and quickly turned it into the stem until it sat flush against the face of the stem. I pushed the stinger into the tenon end and aligned it so that the slot in it was facing the top of the stem. I checked the alignment on the new tenon and all was straight and ready.The oxidation on the stem really showed up under the bright light of the flash. I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-4000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I brought it back to the table and sanded it with the final three 6000-12000 grit pads. After the final pad I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and gently worked the pipe over on the buffing wheel using Blue Diamond to polish the bowl and shank. I used a gentle touch on the pipe when I was buffing to polish the bowl. I buffed the stem with a harder touch to raise the gloss on the rubber. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It looks better than it did in the beginning. It is the first little Savinelli “Lollo” I have worked on. It is well made and a beautiful piece of briar. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 4 inches, Height: 1 1/2 inches, Diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Diameter of the bowl: 3/4 inches. I will be calling the pipeman who dropped it off for repair. I think he will enjoy his pipe!