Tag Archives: replacing putty fills

New Life for a Unique Kaywoodie Original Imported Briar Freehand Stack

Blog by Steve Laug

Recently my brother Jeff sent me a very interesting pipe. It has a plateau bottom on the shank and bowl with fluted sides merging upward with a stack shape billiard bowl. The shank looks quite normal but it has plateau on the bottom. It is quite unique looking and combines some of the features of a freehand and some of the features of a stack. The left side of the shank was stamped Kaywoodie over Original over Imported Briar. There is no other stamping on the shank or the bowl. When Jeff received the pipe it was in pretty decent condition – dirty but really not too bad. The finish was dusty and dirty with grime worked into the lovely grain of the briar and particularly into the underside plateau. The bowl had a moderate cake in it but it did not go all the way to the bottom of the bowl – in fact the pipe was not even broken in. The rim top was free of lava but there was some darkening on the backside of the rim top. The inner and outer edges of the bowl were in great condition. The stem had a white circle with the Kaywoodie Club on the left side of the taper stem. It had a Kaywoodie 3 hole stinger and a threaded metal shank that screwed into a metal mortise and spacer ring. The stem had some light tooth marks on both sides at the button. It was oxidized but in decent condition. Jeff took these pictures of the pipe to show its condition before he started his cleanup work. On the left side of the shank the stamping was very clear and readable. You can see that the pipe has some interesting grain even on the shank.He took photos of the stem to show the oxidation and tooth marks and chatter on the stem. Surprisingly the marks and chatter were on the surface.Jeff had reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the bowl, rim and shank. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove the majority of darkening on the rim top without harming the finish underneath it. Without the grime the finish looked good. There some large and ugly pink fills in the finish. There was one on the rim top on the right side, there was a pair of them on the top of the shank at the joint of the shank and bowl and the final one was in the fluted area to the right of the shank near the bottom of the bowl. Other than the oxidation and chatter the stem was actually in pretty good condition and would only need to be polished. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. I took close up photos of the rim top that shows the clean bowl and the light burn damage around the inner edge toward the back of the bowl. (You can also see the small fill on the top of the rim at the top of the photo, right side of the pipe.) The stem was clean and Jeff had used Before & After Deoxidizer to soak and remove much of the oxidation. He rinsed out the inside of the stem and rinsed off the exterior as well. The photos of the stem show how good the stem actually looked after this treatment.I unscrewed the stem to show the three hole stinger and the threaded tenon.I took some photos of the pink putty fills in the briar on the rim top and on the shank and on the lower right side of the bowl near the shank.I picked out the fills on the bowl and shank with a dental pick and a sharp pen knife point to remove as much of the putty as I could.I filled in the freshly dug out fills with briar dust and clear super glue. I put glue in the fills and used a dental spatula to fill briar dust into the glue repairs. When the fills had cured I used a needle file to flatten the repairs and sanded the patches with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I followed that by sanding with a folded piece of 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the repaired areas with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding them with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the areas down with a damp cloth to clean off the sanding dust. I touched up the sanded and polished areas with an Oak coloured stain pen. It matched really well with the rest of the bowl and shank. Once it is waxed and polished they will blend in a lot better than the pink ones.I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the briar, particularly the sanded areas. I worked it into the plateau on the bottom of the bowl. 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. I buffed the bowl with a horsehair 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 turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the tooth chatter and marks as well as the oxidation.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I used the Before & After Pipe Polish to remove the small minute scratches left in the vulcanite. I finished by wiping the stem down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I polished the stem and bowl with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl and the stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I worked some Conservator’s Wax into the plateau on the underside of the bowl and shank. 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 have never seen a Kaywoodie quite like this one. It is not only unique in having the plateau on the underside but also the fluting on the side of the bowl. The stamping Kaywoodie Original is also a new one for me. The dimensions are Length: 6 1/4 inches, Height: 2 1/2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I will be adding it to the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding it to your collection email me at slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this Kaywoodie Original.

Medico VFQ – Save This Old Pipe Project

Blog by Greg Wolford

I saw this old Medico V.F.Q. go through two or three eBay auctions with no bids. I have recently been admiring pipes with Cumberland stems and thought this one would make an excellent “project” pipe to see how well I could repair a Cumberland stem. (A side not here: This is not a Cumberland stem I have found out; it is nylon/plastic.) So I wrote to the seller and offered $5/shipped for the pipe, noting that I didn’t care how she shipped it, just safely and cheaply would suffice. She posted a seven-day auction with an opening bid of $5 with free shipping; I was the only bidder.

STOP1 STOP2When the pipe arrived it looked as bad, maybe worse, than I had expected. The stem was really chewed up and the finish was shot. There were also several fills that I hadn’t been able to see in the (above) auction photos. I decided to work on the stem first so I broke out some tools.

The first thing I did was to try to raise the dents with the heat of a tea candle. Not being actual rubber (which I didn’t realize yet), this had little effect. Next I began with needle files to take off some of the roughness. This made some improvement and gave me a better surface to work with for patching with super glue, which I applied at this point. You can also see the shape of the pipe as a whole here when I got it.

Medico STOP (32) Medico STOP (69) Medico STOP (9) Medico STOP (42)Medico STOP (23) Medico STOP (19)I worked in stages over a few days on the stem: allowing the patch to cure, adding more as it shrank, touch it up a little as I went with files or sandpaper. Once it had finally cured into a patch that filled and covered all the dents on both sides I began to shape and smooth it with files and 220 grit sandpaper. The button was ragged and kept getting that way when I worked on it; it was at this point I think that I realized I was working with nylon not rubber. When this revelation struck I decided to begin working it toward the best finish I could get with micro mesh and not spend a lot more time on this stem.

Medico STOP (7)Medico STOP (28)Medico STOP (13)Medico STOP (6)Medico STOP (33)Medico STOP (45)Medico STOP (79)

From beginning to final end.

From beginning to final end.

I had been doing a running post on Pipe Smokers Unlimited forum with this project. Steve, our humble leader and blog owner, contacted me with the welcome news that he had a very nice VFQ stem that he would send to me for this pipe. I excitedly accepted his gracious offer and sent him my address. When the stem shows up, if it fits, I will add photos of the end product; thank you again, Steve.

It was now time to get the bowl going, starting with a good leaning, inside and out. The pipe needed reaming and the shank was clogged with gunk, too. So I reamed it back to bare wood, pretty much, and cleaned the shank with many pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and a set of shank brushes until the final cleaners can out white; I also cleaned the stem at this point.

The finish was terrible so I took some cotton balls and acetone to the stummel, scrubbing off the years of grime and broken layer of what I assume is/was lacquer. With the old finish gone there were a few things now obvious: there were a couple of large fills to address and the bowl needed to be sanded to remove some scratches, and it needed topped.

Medico STOP (30) Medico STOP (63) Medico STOP (14) Medico STOP (41)I started with the topping process, using 220 grit sandpaper. I realized that the rim char was too deep to get all of it out without getting into the large fill near the top of the bowl’s front so I rounded the edges of the bowl to remove the edge char and see how deep that was; it wasn’t bad. I decided to leave the top for now and work on the fills; after the fills were done I came back and sanded the top smooth.

I wanted to use this pipe to experiment on, not just the stem but also the fills. In the past when I have used super glue and briar dust to patch a fill it is usually much darker than the rest of the pipe; sometimes I can blend it in well and other times not so much, so I wanted to try something different here, with an eye toward a future project. A few months ago I bought some black and amber super glues from Stewart McDonald; they offer black, amber, clear, and white. The black I plan to use on stems but the amber I thought might work well on patching fills and this was the project to try it on.

I removed one fill to start, just in case the experiment didn’t go well; the dry time on this stuff is very long so I suggest you try the accelerator if you order from them (I forgot it).

Medico STOP (60)

Medico STOP (4)

I used my dental pick, a beading awl, and a file to pick out the old putty. After the putty was out I dripped a bit of the amber glue into the hole, leaving extra to feather when I sanded it. I also used the end of the awl to make sure the glue went all the way into the hole. Then I waited until it cured a few hours, tapped it down with a tamper, in case there was any air pockets, and let it finish curing. Medico STOP (44)When it was set through, several hours, I began to sand with 220 grit paper. And I was really pleased with the initial results: an almost perfect match to my eyes!Medico STOP (53)I then decided to take out all the fills and patch them the same way, with amber glue and nothing else.Medico STOP (66)Medico STOP (51)Medico STOP (77)The waiting game began again. Some hours later I noticed that the large fill at the top needed more glue so I dripped in another layer and waited more. This morning I finally got to start sanding the new fills down, and the entire bowl as I went. The results on these fills were a bit varied from the first one I soon saw.Medico STOP (73) Medico STOP (10) Medico STOP (25) Medico STOP (35) Medico STOP (12)Even when sanded smooth a couple of the fills weren’t as nice and I have a few ideas why: I didn’t use the awl to make sure the glue went in all the way, I didn’t go back and tamp it part way through the curing process, and I may not have gotten all the pink-filler out. The next time I do this I will be sure to remember these items!

Next I prepared the bowl for staining. I finished sanding with 220, then 320, and finally 400 grit paper and wiped the bowl down with alcohol to remove any dust left behind. Then I began staining the bowl with a medium brown stain marker. I applied one coat as evenly as I could and let it dry about 10 minutes. Then, the secret I think to using these, I applied a second coat in small segments, wiping it with a paper towel to even out the color as I went. The rim got 3 coats of stain.Medico STOP (38) Medico STOP (22) Medico STOP (70) Medico STOP (68)Next I gave the stummel a light buff with Tripoli, and the entire pipe a buff with white diamond and a few coats of carnauba wax, then a buff on a clean wheel before a final hand buffing with a microfiber cloth.Medico STOP (36) Medico STOP (65) Medico STOP (17) Medico STOP (40) Medico STOP (24) Medico STOP (43)I’m very happy with the end results of this multi day project. I think the fills look and blend much better, especially the first one. And I believe with a little more tweaking and experimenting this is a very good option for patching fills. From a $5 eBay catch to, well, it’s probably still not worth much – but I’m glad in the end that I took the time to Save This Old Pipe.


The new stem that Steve sent me arrived in the mail. I have written about and post the story, along with new photos, here.

Restoring an Astor Belge

This was one of the pipes I picked up recently on a trip to the US. It is a small Astor Belge shape which is one of my favourite shapes of pipes. Astor pipes were made by Comoy as a second line of pipes. From the number of fills on this one it can easily be seen why it is a second. It is a shame as it also has some amazing cross grain on the front and back and some beautiful birdseye among the fills on both sides. The extent of the birdseye grain can be seen in the second photo below.


The pipe was dirty but really in pretty good shape for its age. I reamed the bowl and cleaned the bowl and shank with Isopropyl alcohol (99%) to remove the tars and oils from the inside. Then I dropped the stem in some oxyclean to soak and wiped the bowl down with acetone (fingernail polish remover) to remove the finish. I dropped the bowl in the alcohol bath for awhile to give it a good soak and worked on several others for awhile.

After an hour in the bath, I removed the bowl and dried it off. The next series of three photos show the pipe after removal from the bath. I used micromesh 1500 grit sanding pads to remove the grime and tar from the rim and the inside bevelled edge. It took a bit of work to smooth this out and keep the angles the same all the way around. The third photo below shows the finished bevel and the top after quite a bit of sanding. The top took a bit more sanding with the micromesh to remove the darkening as it was on the surface and not too deep into the briar.


At that point I decided to remove the fills from the bowl as I personally dislike the pink putty fills that are often used on these old timers. I used the dental pick to remove the as can be seen in the next series of three photos. They were all pretty deep and would need to be repaired. After picking out the fill I wipe the bowl down with a soft cloth and Isopropyl alcohol to clean the surface of any remaining bits of putty. When they are clean and dry I fill them with briar dust that I have saved for this purpose.


After filling them with briar dust I drip the super glue/krazy glue into the dust and it dries almost instantly. The next three photos show the newly filled holes at various stages of the repair. The first photo shows the dust and super glue in the bottom holes before I sanded them. The top holes in the photo have been sanded a bit to smooth them out but are not finished. The second photo of the front of the bowl shows both the sanded ones and a newly filled hole with the super glue patch before it dried. The final photo in this series of three shows all the holes filled and the initial sanding completed.


The next two photos sow the holes patched and sanded smooth. The super glue and briar dust turned black in this case. This does not always happen but it did this time. I have no explanation for that in this case but they do look better than the previous pink fills. I have also learned that they can be hidden a bit with a dark understain. In this case I decided to stain the entire bowl with black aniline stain for a first coat. I flamed the stain and when it dried I took the pipe to the buffer and buffed the entire bowl with Tripoli to remove the excess stain and leave the black in the grain and around the fills. You can also use black permanent marker to build the grain pattern around the fills to help hide them though I did not use that method on this pipe. I then sanded the bowl with the 1500 and 1800 grit micromesh pads to remove more of the overstain. I washed the bowl down several times with acetone to also lighten the black. Once it was at the saturation I wanted it was ready for the overcoat of stain.


I decided to use oxblood coloured aniline stain for the finish coat on this one. I wiped it on and then wiped it off before it dried to get good coverage I repeated that several times and finally gave it a full coat and flamed the stain to set it. When it was dry I took it to the buffer and buffed it with Tripoli and White Diamond to give the final coat a real shine.

I finished the stem with my usual regimen of micromesh pads from 1500-6000 before putting it back on the bowl and buffing the pipe with White Diamond. I coated the stem with several coatings of Obsidian Oil and then gave the whole pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax to finish. The pictures below show the finished pipe. Though the fills are still visible they are diminished in their overall presence in the pipe. They no longer stand out in the finish. I personally love the depth of colour that this old Belge has with the new stains.


A Tiny Pair – Refurbishing and repairing an old couple

Blog by Steve Laug

This morning I decided to work on these two old timers – a little mini bulldog and a mini bent billiard. Both are old as is clear from the orific button on the stems and the shape of button on both (the round hole in a crowned surface of the button – see the photo below).


The first is a no name bulldog with a gold band on it. It has EP on the band which I believe means Electro Plated. The stem was in pretty fair shape though the previous owner had cut a small groove in the stem about a 1/8 inch ahead of the button on the top and the bottom. The bowl was in pretty good shape though it was darkened near the band and there was a deep cut on the shank about mid way along toward the bowl and on the bowl side – both on the right side and visible below. The photo with a penny (1 cent piece) gives a good picture of the size of this little dog. The bowl was pretty clean so all I needed to do was wipe it out with a cotton swab and isopropyl alcohol. I did the same with the shank and the stem as well. It was pretty black and tarry on the inside of the stem and shank. I had to use a paper clip to break through the clog that was in the shank about mid way to the bowl and also in the stem.


I worked on the bowl and shank exterior with sand paper to remove the finish around the two cuts in that I was going to work on. I washed off the surface after sanding with acetone to clean off the briar dust and the remaining finish. Once it dried I decided to fill the cuts with clear super glue. The process is pretty straight forward – I drip a drop in both holes and lay it aside until it dries. Then I add another drop, lay it aside and repeat until the cut is filled. I find that the clear super glue is a great way to fill the cuts or pits as it allows the briar to show through clearly and once it is stained it virtually disappears. Once the super glue dried I sanded the spots with 240 grit sandpaper and then with 400 and 600 grit wet dry and water to smooth off the spots and remove any of the over flow around the spots. I want the super glue to fill only the spot and not carry over onto the clean briar so I sand it down level with the surface it is filling. I then sanded the entire bowl with micromesh pads from 1500-6000 grit and then wiped the bowl down with isopropyl alcohol on a soft cloth.

I then worked on the stem and sanded down the grooves to make the stem smooth once again. I used the same pattern of sanding – 240, 400, 600 grit sandpaper and micromesh – 1500, 1800, 2400, 3200, 4000 and 6000 grit. Once I had the grooves and the stem clean and pretty polished I took it to the buffer and used White Diamond on both the stem and bowl. I took it back to the work table and gave it a coat of Obsidian Oil and set the stem aside while I stained the bowl. I wanted to keep a lighter look to the bowl so I used some oxblood stain and wiped it on and off before it had time to dry. I gave it two coats and then flamed it. I buffed the bowl with White Diamond and then gave it a coat of carnauba wax. I also polished the band and gave it a coat of wax. Here is the finished pipe. The two cuts or pits have disappeared on the right side of the bowl (top picture).


I finished it and put it aside to work on the bent billiard. It was in a bit rougher shape than the bulldog. It is also a no name old timer with a gold band – very tarnished. The bowl was very grimy on the outside and the finish was cloudy and dark. The stem was grooved in the same manner as the bulldog – probably same owner making his own comfort bit to enable him to clench these little guys.


I scrubbed the bowl down with acetone on a cotton boll and removed the finish and the grime. The top was a bit dented so I gave it a very light topping and then sanded out the inside of the bowl and worked on the roundness of the inner rim as it was a bit out of round.  I used a small piece of sandpaper to bevel the edge enough to repair the roundness. I cleaned out the shank and the stem. This pipe was also clogged in both the stem and the shank so I use a paper clip in the shank and to open the end of the stem from each end. I then used small pipe cleaners soaked with alcohol until they came out clean. I set the bowl aside to work on the stem.


The stem needed the same treatment as the one on the bulldog to remove the grooves from the previous owner. Fortunately on both pipes they were not very deep so it did not change the profile of the stem. I sanded the entirety of the stem down and used the same pattern of sandpaper and micromesh as above. I buffed this one with Tripoli before finishing with the micromesh. I gave it a coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to stain the bowl.

I cleaned the bowl exterior one last time and then stained it with oxblood stain – wipe on and wiped off pretty quickly several times to get good coverage. I polished the gold band with the highest grit micromesh pad (6000) and then gave the bowl and band a coat of wax by hand and once it dried buffed it by hand with a soft cloth. I put the stem back on and took it to the buffer and buffed the entirety with White Diamond followed by carnauba wax.


Here is a picture of the pair together so their diminutive size is clearly seen. They are incredibly light with group one sized bowls. They are clean and ready to smoke.