Tag Archives: reshaping a button

Reshaping the stem on a Butz-Choquin Maitre-Pipier Deluxe Special


Blog by Steve Laug

A friend on Facebook reached out to me to see if I would have a look at a pipe he picked up off EBay. It was a Butz-Choquin pipe that was stamped on the left side of the shank Butz-Choquin over Maitre-Pipier over Deluxe over Special. On the right side it was stamped Fait Main over St. Claude France. It had a canted egg shape to it and a square shank. It had an orange acrylic shank extension – lots of undulating oranges. There was an inset BC logo in the shank extension. It was rounded on one end and set up for a military style bit. The bit itself was a freehand style. The pipe had been cleaned up nicely. What he wanted was to have me have a look at the rim top to see if I could remove some of the damage and at the stem to see if I could build up the button. When it arrived I took a few photos to capture the look and feel of this handmade pipe. I took a picture of the rim top to show the condition that he had asked me to deal with for him. It did have some significant darkening and the closer I looked at it I could also see that there appeared to be a groove around the bottom inside of the bowl. I also took photos of the stem to show the condition of the button. It was worn and ill-defined.I started working on the pipe by cleaning up the darkening on the rim top with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I was able to clean off much of the darkening and leave the rim top looking much better.I cleaned up the inside of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and was able to remove what had appeared to be a groove around the bottom of the bowl. It turned out to be a cake that had been left behind when the pipe had been reamed originally. I wrapped a piece of 220 grit sandpaper around a piece of dowel and sanded the walls of the bowl to smooth them out.I rubbed down the smooth briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the smooth surface of the bowl. I worked it into the bowl and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let it sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The rim looks much better than when I started but still needs to be polished and buffed to raise a shine on it. I built up the surface of the button with black super glue. I layered it repeatedly until the surface was thicker. I defined the edge of the button with a needle file and sanded it with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the file marks. I layered more on the surface and sanded it smooth. I took the following photos to show the progress.I worked on the button to smooth out the surfaces and shape it more finely. I used 220 grit sandpaper to do the shaping. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil after each grit pad. I gave it a final polish with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to remove the minute scratches that remained. I gave it a last coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to let it dry. I the polished stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches and raise the shine. 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 hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. I am hoping the owner will be pleased with the redefined button on the stem and the cleaned up rim top. I think it came out beautifully. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked this interesting handmade Butz-Choquin canted egg. It will soon be heading back to its owner in New York. Thanks for looking.

Salvaging a Kaywoodie All Briar Rhodesian 50B with a Serious Issue


Blog by Steve Laug

I have reworked a lot of stems over the years – from cutting them back in my early days and reshaping a button on the gnawed and damaged end to rebuilding a chewed button with charcoal and super glue. I have fit stem blanks on shanks to replace damaged and what were at that time in my assessment, irreparable stems. Today I am more conservative and lean towards rebuilding the stem as best as I can. That being said there are even challenges to that work. The pipe on my worktable now is a challenge to my current bent. It is an All Briar Rhodesian. I have only refurbished one other All Briar pipe in the past – a beautiful LHS Purex Bullmoose. It was in excellent condition other than being dirty and worn. I had heard nightmare tales of gnawed and chewed all briar stems and what a pain they are to work on. However, until this pipe came to my attention in a recent pipe hunt with Jeff I had never seen such a badly gnawed briar stem up close. Jeff took photos of the pipe’s condition before he cleaned it up. I have included those photos in the first part of this blog.I have read a lot of information in the past on other Kaywoodie pipes I have worked on and spent time on the Kaywoodie Collectors Forum to help educated myself on the various lines and historical periods of Kaywoodie production. On Pipedia.org there is a helpful summary of the history of the brand that has been condensed in one place. It is called the Collectors Guide to Kaywoodie Pipes (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Collector%27s_Guide_to_Kaywoodie_Pipes). I found the All Briar line of pipes included in the section of the Guide for 1955. I quote here the pertinent sections with the references to the All Briar pipe underlined and highlighted in bold.

The line-up of pipes in the 1955 catalog (Table 3 below) was more extensive than in previous years. The catalog presented an expanded line of meerschaum pipes and introduced a 4-pipe set of Matched Grain Pipes, as well as several pipes with “special features”. The number of shapes available… was not substantially different from the number offered in the 1947 catalog…

The Twin-Bowl Kaywoodies were available in an all-meerschaum model (two removable inner bowls of meerschaum) and a meerschaum and Flame Grain model (outer bowl of flame grain briar and removable inner bowl of meerschaum). Other meerschaum pipes presented in the 1955 catalog included the Gourd Calabash; the Coral (“dimpled”) Meerschaum; the All Briar (briar bit) and Flame Grain pipes with inlaid meerschaum bowls; and the “Doctor’s” pipe…Included in the guide was a helpful list of pipe grades and prices. I have included the list below and noted the pipe I am working on by highlighting it in bold print and underlining the reference. It is in this list that I found confirmation that Kaywoodie made an All Briar with a meerschaum bowl insert and an All Briar without the meerschaum insert. The All Briar I am working on is not meerschaum lined. It is fascinating for me to see that the addition of a meerschaum bowl was only $2.50 in 1955.

Table 3. 1955 Kaywoodie Pipe Grades and Prices

    Meerschaum Character Pipes: $100.00

    Block: 15.00-50 (According to size)

    Meerschaum Twin Bowl: $35.00

    Meerschaum/Flame Grain Twin Bowl: $25.00

    Sandblasted “Doctor’s” Pipe: $25.00

    Centennial: $25.00

    Coral Meerschaum: $20.00-25 (According to size)

    Gourd Calabash: $15.00-25 (According to size)

    Ninety-Fiver: $20.00

    Oversize: $10.00-25(According to style and finish)

    Connoisseur: $15.00

    All Briar w/Meerschaum Inlaid Bowl: $12.50

    Flame Grain (Meerschaum Inlaid) $12.50

    Export Pipes: $5.00-15 (According to grade)

    All Briar (Briar Bit): $10.00

    Flame Grain: $10.00

    Fit Rite: $10.00

    Silhouette: $10.00

    Carburetor: $7.50

    Relief Grain: $7.50

    Chesterfield: $5.00-15 (According to grade)

    Chinrester: $5.00-10 (According to grade)

    Stembiter: $5.00-10 (According to grade)

    Streamliner: $4.00-10 (According to grade)

    Super Grain: $5.00

    Carved Super Grain: $5.00

    White Briar: $5.00

    Standard: $4.00

    Filter Plus: $4.00

    Drinkless pup: $3.50

    Drinkless Tuckaway: $3.50

    Drinkless In-Between: $3.50

    Two-Pipe Companion Setsb: $10.00-25 (According to grade)

    Matched Grain Set (4-Pipes): $50.00

    Matched Grain Set (7-Pipes): $125.00

Further reading on Pipedia under the general listing for Kaywoodie Pipes provided me with a magazine advertisement that included the All Briar pipes. It is a great Father’s Day Ad and the bottom items in the ad show the All Briar line. I have included both the link and a copy of the ad for your reading pleasure (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Kaywoodie).Jeff sent me some close up photos of the pipe so I could see what it looked like when he started his clean up. The bowl had a thick cake that had overflowed onto the rim top with a thick coat of lava. The two photos below give two different views to show the condition of the both. You can see the flaking lava on the rim and the hard cake in the bowl. This pipe had been smoked hard and was obviously someone’s favourite.The finish on the bowl and shank was worn. There was a thick varnish coat that was peeling on the bowl sides and bottom that would take some work to remove.The stamping on both sides of the shake is faint but readable in the next photos. The pipe is stamped ALL BRIAR over Kaywoodie on the left side of the shank. On the right side it is stamped All Imported Briar over 50B (the shape number) and underneath that the letter C.The all briar stem has an inlaid black cloverleaf in a white circle on the left side. It is in decent shape and should polish out nicely.When it comes to the stem it is a serious issue. Making a new vulcanite stem for the pipe would certainly be an option but to me that would cause the pipe to lose its charm and detract from it being an All Briar pipe. I would need to do something different to bring it back to life or salvage it. It appeared to me that I had only one serious option on this pipe but I would make the final decision once it arrived.The stem had a screw in/threaded tenon with a four hole stinger. The stinger was stamped Drinkless as shown in the photo below. On Pipedia in the Kaywoodie article, there was a great advertisement for the Drinkless style of stinger so I have included that here as well. I decided to look on my other go to site – PipePhil (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-kaywoodie-1.html) to see what added information I might garner from his site. Under the Kaywoodie All Briar listing it said that the pipe had a twin-bore stem, meaning that instead of a slot in the button there were twin holes that formed a Y with the airway in the stem itself. The pipes were made between 1952 – 1955. It included a series of pictures of a typical briar Kaywoodie stem that showed a vertical hole near the button that was an innovation that they called Stembiter to prevent a stem biter from gnawing through the stem. Evidently, the pipe I am working on had that kind of set up on the mouthpiece as nothing is left of that portion of the stem. The Stembiter innovation came out in the early 1950s as well so now I had confirmation of the period when the pipe was made. I have included an advertisement for the Stembiter innovation following the photo below. I know that at present I will not be able to reproduce this feature on the stem when I rework it. Jeff continued using his established process of thoroughly cleaning the pipes he sends to me. He did not vary in his procedure just because of the briar stem on this one. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and touched it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol and cleaned the exterior of the threaded tenon and four hole stinger with cotton swabs and alcohol. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the grime and grit on the bowl. Sadly it did not even touch the thick varnish coat on the bowl. He worked over the rim and removed the heavy lava overflow. He scrubbed it with a tooth brush and the oil soap until he removed the buildup. His cleaning of the top cut through the varnish coat on that part of the bowl. He cleaned up the gnawed end of the stem so that at least it would be clean when I began my work on it. I took photos of the pipe to show the condition it was in when it arrived in Vancouver. Jeff cleaned up the rim really well – the tars and buildup were gone and fortunately so was much of the varnish coat. There were just a few shiny spots on the rim that would need to go. The bowl had been reamed back to bare briar.The stem while clean was an absolute disaster. It had been gnawed back through the stembite protection and the entire end of the stem was missing. I am guess that there was probably about 3/8 to ½ inch of the stem missing and the button was totally missing.I started the restructuring work on the stem with a Dremel and a sanding drum. I took the damaged areas back until I had some solid briar to work with. I did not want to remove too much of the stem material. The twin airways in the stem were very close to the surface in the stem at this point so I would need to do something a little different from the standard recutting a new button on the existing material.I started the rebuilding the end of the stem with clear super glue. I wanted to fill in the small divots in the surface of the stem on both sides and make the stem smooth and the end crisp. I built up the area where the new button would be with clear super glue first to stabilize the gnawed stem and begin with a solid edge. I put briar dust on top of the super glue and layered the dust and the glue until I had a workable portion on the stem surface. I needed enough of the new material to be able to reshape a button. In the second set of photos you can see the button area beginning to take shape. I used a needle file to recut the edge of the button and square it off with the surface of the stem. I wanted a sharp delineation from the button surface to the stem surface. I also reshaped the button surface as well with the files. The new button is beginning to be visible at this point.I filled in the air bubbles on top and underside surface of the button with clear super glue to make it smooth. I sanded the areas in front of the button on both sides of the stem with 220 grit super glue to blend it into the rest of the stem surface.I used a needle file to open the twin bore airways and smooth them out. I began to polish the stem and button with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding the button and stem area with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cotton pad to see what the progress looked like. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads and then stained the stem with a Medium Brown Stain pen. I finished polishing the stem with 6000-12000 grit pads and wiped it down after each grit pad to keep the work surface clean. While the button is definitely darker than the stem body at this point it is still looking pretty good in my opinion and it feels good in the mouth. I sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the varnish finish. It was spotty and peeling in places so it had to go. Once I had the finish removed I wiped the bowl down with acetone to remove any of the finish that remained. Then I used the same regimen to polish the bowl as I had used on the briar stem. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and wiped it down with a damp cloth. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit micromesh and wiped it down after each pad. Each grit pad brought more of the grain to light. There is a great mix of birdseye and cross grain on the bowl and shank. It is a beauty. I decided to not stain the bowl. The medium brown I put on the stem made the stem and bowl match so I was pleased with that. I put the stem in place on the bowl and buffed it with Blue Diamond to polish out any remaining scratches from my sanding and polishing. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect it from damage and to preserve the briar. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to polish the briar. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The repair and rebuilt button, though darker than the briar, works well and the pipe is fully functional again. The small amount of length I had to remove does not visibly change the overall look of the pipe. Thanks for walking with me through this restoration. It was one with challenges but it was a fun one to work on.

 

This one was just plain ugly it was such a mess


Blog by Steve Laug

When my brother sent me the link for this one and I scrolled through the pictures the seller included, I almost said to pass on it. It was such a mess that the ugliness made me not want to even deal with this one. But there was something challenging about the pipe and through the gunk it looked like it might have some interesting grain. I know in the early days of my estate buying on EBay I did not pay attention to the measurements on the pipe. I figured it would be a moderately sized Banker or Author with an oval shank. I also ignored the brand stamping on the pipe. It read La Strada Forte on the top of the shank which also should have been a bit of a giveaway. Even the photos below that the seller included of the pipe in a rest should have been a clue. But I missed the clue because I was blown away by the sheer disaster of the pipe. As you look at it below try to catalogue the issues that you see.La1 La2 La3 La4Let me tell you what, no matter how much I prepared myself by cataloging the issues I saw in the pictures they in no way captured the reality of the mess this pipe was in. It was actually quite unbelievable. First off, I should have read the measurements. This pipe was huge. The length was average really, at 5 ½ inches long. The width of the shank was a bit bigger at 1 1/8 inches wide. The diameter of the bowl exterior was 2 1/8 inches. The chamber appeared to be an inch in diameter but the cake in it reduced it to about ¾ inch. The cake was thick and it was hard. It overflowed onto the top of the bowl and part way down the sides. The inner edge of the rim looked like someone had hacked at it with a knife so underneath the thick cake I could see the chop marks of the knife in the edges of the bowl. The finish was more than shot – it was gone and in its place was thick oily grime ground into the briar. The stamping was black with the oils. It was thick enough that the grime was flaking off on the bottom of the bowl. The stamping was readable and said LA STRADA over FORTE on the top side. On the underside was the shape number 538 and next to the shank stem junction was stamped Italy. The stem was not only oxidized but really worn. The top edge of the button was almost flattened and there were tooth marks in the top of the stem. The underside was another story – there was a chunk of vulcanite missing and the button was gone. The airway was collapsed and the inside surface was gouged with file marks. This poor pipe was looking pretty desperate and I thought about cannibalizing it for briar and parts.La5Then I looked at the briar through the grime. The bottom of the bowl had some really nice grain – a few fills popping through – but still really nice. The sides of the bowl also had some promise under the grime. And, I liked the shape of the pipe even though it was a war club. Maybe…just maybe…La6I took a close-up photo of the top of the bowl and the cake inside. I still shake my head when I see the state of the bowl and the damage to the inner rim. It was really in bad shape. Just look at the hack job that had been done to that inner edge.La7I also took a couple of close-up photos of the stem to show the extent of damage that had been done to it as well. It was in very rough shape.La8I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer starting with the smallest cutting head to clean up the walls of the bowl slowly. I worked through all four reaming heads ending with the largest one. I used the Savinelli Pipe Knife to do some clean up to the edges and try to smooth out some of the rim damage. La9Between the largest PipNet cutting head and the pipe knife I was able to do a lot of redeeming work on the inner edge of the rim.La10I topped the bowl on the topping board to remove the damaged finish and to reduce the damage to the inner edge of the rim.La11I scrubbed the surface of the briar with acetone on cotton pads to remove the dirt and grime in the grain as well as the oils. It was amazing how much grit came off the bowl. La12 La13Once the surface was clean I worked on the inner rim. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to bevel the edge inward and clean up the cuts and nicks in the edge. I did not take a picture at this point but you will see the cleaned up rim in the pictures that follow the work on the stem.

I set the bowl aside to work on the stem. To take care of the damaged stem I made a wedge out of cardboard and covered it with clear strapping tape so that the super glue mixture I was going to use would not stick to it. I wanted it thick enough to leave an airway/slot in the stem. I mixed up a paste of charcoal powder and black super glue. The glue has a slow drying time so I was able to mix a thick paste with the combination.La14 La15I used a dental pick and spatula to put the mixture in place on the top and the bottom of the stem and build up the area that would become the button on the top side and the repair and button on the underside. I also built up a slope on the stem underside to give me a bit more thickness over the airway. At this point I sprayed the repair with an accelerator to harden the surface of the glue. I set it aside to let the glue repair cure/harden.La16Once the repair had hardened I used the sanding drum on the Dremel to smooth out the repair. I would still need to sand it by hand but the Dremel took a lot of the heavy spots out of the mix and also allowed me to rough shape the button.La17The next photos show the repairs after a lot of filing and sanding. The shape is very clear and distinct. The repair is rock solid. You can also see the inner rim bevel on the rim of the bowl in the first photo.La18The slot was really tight in the button. It was partially closed off and need to be reopened. I used different shaped needle files to open the slot and to reshape it. I also reshaped the button with the needle files. The three photos below show the development of the slot and the button.La19I reshaped the button edges with needle files and reshaped the taper of the stem from the saddle to the button. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the surface of the vulcanite stem. The photos show the progression in the shaping. There is still a lot of sanding to do to finish the shaping and polishing of the stem but I set it aside and worked on the bowl for a while.La20 La21 La22I cleaned out the inside of the mortise and the airway in the shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. It took a lot of scrubbing to clean out the airway and mortise.La23I heated the briar with a blow dryer and then stained it with a dark brown aniline stain mixed 50% with isopropyl. I used a black Sharpie to darken the fills on the bowl and shank then applied the stain with a cotton swab and flamed it with a lighter to set it in the grain.La24I wiped the bowl down with alcohol cotton pads to blend the stain and to make it more transparent. The photos below show the bowl after the wipe down. The scrubbed bowl looks quite a bit lighter but once it is waxed it will darken again.La25 La26I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 micromesh sanding pads and rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads and gave it a final coat of oil and let it dry. (The photos below show both sides of the stem with each set of micromesh pads.)La27 La28 La29I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the wheel and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to polish the wax. I buffed it by hand with a microfibre cloth to add depth to the shine. I am pleased with the overall look of the pipe and considering what it was like when I first looked at it the improvement is vast. The stem repair is quite extensive. It has cured and is hard now and I am curious as to how it will hold up over time. The pipe looks good and should have a long life ahead of it. Thanks for looking.La30 La31 La32 La33 La34 La35 La36 La37

Reworking a Lucite stem on a Sasieni Litewate Deluxe 71F Long Shank Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

This pipe caught my eye as I was browsing through the for sale section of the Dr.Grabow Collectors Forum. It was in very clean condition. The finish on the bowl and rim were like new. The pipe was stamped Made in England in a circle on top of the shank next to the stem and in the center of the shank it was stamped Litewate over De Luxe. On the underside of shank near the stem was the shape number 71F. The pipe was barely smoked and was very clean. The stem was obviously a replacement Lucite stem in a bright yellow swirl pattern. In the photos it looks more green than it truly is. In reality it is very yellow.Litewate1

Litewate2

Litewate3

Litewate4 I looked up the brand on the pipedia site and found that the Litewate was produced by Parker and also sold by R.M. Littaur & Co. Ltd. It was also made by Sasieni. The circular com stamp on the shank and the shape number identified this particular pipe as a Sasieni made pipe. http://pipedia.org/index.php?title=Litewate I copied the next photos from the PipePhil stamping and logos site. The stamping on the pipe I have is exactly like that on these photos. He also noted there that brand was solely distributed in the US Market.Litewate5 When the pipe arrived I was surprised by the sheer size of it – I knew it was small but I had no idea that it would be this small. It was very light weight and reminded me in both the size and the weight of the Stanwell Featherweight series. I unpack it and looked over the stem. It was chunky and thick. The descent of the slope to the button was not even and had a slight flat spot about ½ inch from the stem/shank joint. The button was sloppily cut and the stem was very thick in front of the button. The button itself was thick both in terms of height and in terms of width from the outer edge to what should have been a sharp angle to the slope of the stem. It did not have that angle but was rather another slope to the top of the button. Where there should have been a slot in the stem there was merely an airway – a single hole in the end. This is the way that stem blanks arrive before they have been shaped and fit to the pipe. Overall it looked like a quickly done stem to make the pipe useable. I took some photos of the pipe when it arrived.Litewate6 The next photos show the stamping on the top of the shank and the rim. Whoever did the restem did a great job fitting the stem against the shank. It is a great snug fit that shows no light. The bowl is clean and lightly smoked.Litewate7 I took a few photos of the stem that shows the chunkiness of the button and the thickness of the angle from shank to button. The third photo below shows the single hole airway in the end of the button.Litewate8 I used three different needle files to cut a slot in the end of the button and shape it and the Y in the airway. I used a round, a slight oval and a flat oval file to cut and shape the slot.Litewate9 I straightened the edge on the button and thinned out the button with a flat needle file. I wanted a 90 degree angle rather than the slope that was there originally.Litewate10 I sanded out the newly cut slot with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I reworked the taper on the stem and thinned it out with 220 grit sandpaper. In the photo above you can see the overall thickness of the stem and the short taper from the hip of the stem to the button. This needed to be thinned and the taper increased. I sanded and shaped the button and cleaned up the straight edge against the stem body.Litewate10a I sanded the stem with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge and finish the initial reshaping with 400 grit sandpaper.Litewate11 I sanded out the inside of the slot with a folded piece of 400 grit wet dry paper.Litewate12

Litewate13

Litewate14 I polished the Lucite with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads.Litewate15

Litewate16

Litewate17 I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and then gave the pipe several coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a clean flannel buff and then by hand with a microfiber cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The newly shaped stem is far more comfortable in the mouth now that the taper is more flattened and the thickness reduced. Thanks for looking.Litewate18

Litewate19

Litewate20

Litewate21

Litewate22

Litewate23

Repairing a Hole in a Briar Bird Pipe Stem


Blog by Steve Laug

Last evening a fellow pipeman stopped by with a few pipes for me to look at and see if I wanted to do the work on them. Several of them were in need of general clean up. But two of them had a fairly large hole in the surface of the stem about ½ inch from the button. The first of them was a little Briar Bird Nosewarmer with an amber coloured acrylic stem. This hole was the smaller of the two. I figured I could repair it for him. He also wanted me to do a general ream and clean on the pipe as well. The rim had some darkening and some charring on the inner edge that would need to be addressed.

I sanded around the hole with 220 grit sandpaper. I cleaned the surface of the acrylic with a cotton pad and a little alcohol.Theo1 I reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer to take the cake back to almost nothing so that I could address the issues with the inner edge of the rim on the back side.Theo2

Theo3

Theo4 I do not have any amber cyanoacrylate glue so I used clear one instead. I greased two pipe cleaners with Vaseline and inserted them in the airway from each end as the airway was quite large. I then dripped the glue on the hole in several layers and coats to build it up and effectively patch the hole. I have found that the glue has an interesting effect on the acrylic when it is first added to the surface. The glue bubbles and hisses and there is a small puff of smoke/steam. When it dries it is a hard white surface. It does not seem to damage the stem as once it is sanded off it is unnoticeable. But it is something that gives you a little bit of a scare the first time it happens.Theo5 Once the glue patch had dried the work of sanding could begin in earnest. The glue dries very hard on the acrylic. It seems to be much harder than with vulcanite. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to flatten the patch and begin smoothing it out with the surface of the stem.Theo6

Theo7 Once I had flattened the patch and blended it with the 220 grit sandpaper I moved on to sand it with a medium and then a fine grit sanding sponge. When I had finished with the sanding sponges the repair looked quite good as can be seen in the next two photos below.Theo8

Theo9 I went on to polish the stem and the patch with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12,000 grit pads.Theo10

Theo11

Theo12 The photo below shows a close-up of the repair to the stem surface. While it is not amber it is a hard clear patch that picks up some of the colour from the airway below.Theo13 When I finished I buffed it with Blue Diamond plastic polish on the buffing wheel to raise the shine and polish it.Theo14 I scrubbed the rim with Magic Eraser to clean up as much of the darkening as possible. I also beveled the inner edge of the rim to minimize the damage there. I used 220 grit sandpaper folded and held at an angle to do the beveling and then smoothed out the sanding with a micromesh pad.Theo15 The finished pipe is shown below. I buffed it lightly with carnauba to give it a shine and then buffed it with a clean, soft flannel pad to polish it. The patch on the stem, while not exactly beautiful, effectively solves the issue with the hole in the stem surface. While I was at it I used a needle file to clean up the slot in the end of the button to give it more of a Y taper.Theo16

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Building a Better Button on a 1930’s Yello Bole Oom Paul


Blog by Andrew Selking

Have you ever found that Holy Grail pipe only to realize that it has a major flaw? For me, this pipe ticked all the boxes, a KB&B pipe made between 1933 and 1936, it was a less common shape and looked to be in decent condition. The only problem I could see was that a previous owner had filed off the button.Andrew1

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Andrew4 I’ve been experimenting with super glue and ground charcoal for stem repair and I had an idea how I might use that to re-create the button. Now just a quick disclaimer. I am not a medical professional and I do not pretend to know any potential health hazards to the use of super glue on something you put in your mouth. On the other hand, I am aware that the state of California has found that pipe smoking is not healthy for pregnant women or their unborn children. As an adult, I accept these risks as the relaxation benefit outweighs the health risks.

Before tackling the button I needed to clean up the pipe. I started the process by giving the bowl an alcohol bath.Andrew5 While the bowl marinated, I dropped the stem into a solution of Oxyclean. After a good long soak, I reamed the bowl.Andrew6 After reaming the bowl, I retorted the stem and bowl. I forgot to take pictures of the bowl during this process.Andrew7 The stem was pretty clean, which I expected based on the minimal amount of chatter and the lack of cake build up in the bowl. A couple of fuzzy sticks dipped in alcohol did the trick.Andrew8 The alcohol bath serves two purposes, it loosens up the internal gunk and it helps remove the old finish. On this particular pipe, I noticed that the bowl was stained a purplish read and had a heavy varnish on it. That’s usually a sign of inferior briar and lots of fills. With great trepidation, I used acetone and 0000 steel wool to see what was under the old finish.Andrew9 I was pleasantly surprised to find beautiful grain and not a single fill.Andrew10

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Andrew13 I was not happy with the purple tint of the wood though, I mean who does that? My guess is, this pipe could have made the cut as a Kaywoodie, maybe they were short on the Yello Bole line so they put a Yello Bole stem on it and that hideous varnish. Interestingly enough, this pipe has the identical shape number as the Kaywoodie medium billiard Oom Paul. Just to give you an idea how many pipes Kaywoodie used to make, they had three models of the Oom Paul shape.Andrew14 I decided the best way to take care of the purple stain was with some judicious sanding. Since the bowl didn’t have any scratches or dents, I didn’t have to go too heavy. I started out with 1500 grit micro mesh and worked my way up to 12,000 grit. You will notice the washer between the stem and shank. I’ve learned that the best way to get a sharp shoulder on the shank and the stem is by using the washer to prevent the sanding medium from rounding it off.Andrew15 This is what the bowl looked like after the micro mesh pads.Andrew16

Andrew17 I decided to keep the stain light, so I diluted some Pimo Pipe Supply mahogany and used a single coat. Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture of that process, I was kind of excited about fixing the stem.

I removed the oxidation on the stem with a progression of 1500-2400 grit micro mesh pads with water. I didn’t have the bowl attached, so I just held the washer over the tenon to prevent rounding.Andrew18 With the oxidation addressed, it was time to start building the new button. I’m not the best when it comes to carving the bottom side of the button so I decided to use clear tape to create definition.Andrew19

Andrew20 I built up layers of tape until it was the thickness that I wanted for the underside of the button. Next, I mixed some ground charcoal and super glue and started applying it. After each application I put a drop of accelerator on the end and applied another layer. It was not looking the way I wanted it to look.Andrew21 I remember Steve said that when he used activated charcoal it was very fine. So I sanded off the mess and started over. To get a finer charcoal I used our coffee grinder, which did a pretty good job, but still left some larger chunks.Andrew22 To solve that problem, I used a tea strainer. The result was very finely ground charcoal.Andrew23 I mixed the super glue and charcoal and applied it as before.Andrew24 I sanded between applications and filled in any remaining divots.Andrew25 Once I had the button shaped to my liking, I used a progression of micro mesh pads from 3200-12,000. Then I used my rotary tool with white diamond and carnauba wax to bring out the shine.Andrew26 I gave the bowl a quick spin on the buffing wheel with white diamond and carnauba wax. Here is the result.Andrew27

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Andrew37 I am happy to say that this pipe smokes as well as it looks. It is a system pipe. I couldn’t be happier with the button. The thing I like about using the charcoal and super glue is, it polishes and shines just like the vulcanite. This pipe is a keeper. Thanks for looking.

My Process for Cutting off and Reshaping Broken Stems


Blog by Steve Laug

It seems like lately I have had a few of these pipes with broken stems. I have gotten several emails through the blog asking for more information about how I go about cutting back a stem and reshaping it. Since I just finished working on the Yves St. Claude pipe where I did cut back the stem and reshape the button I thought I would use it as an example of the process. I figured that this provided the perfect opportunity to spell out more of the details that I hinted at in the full blog on the restoration of the pipe. The pictures below will show the progress from broken stem to a short saddle stem. It is only one of the methods for addressing a broken stem. Stem splicing and stem replacement are also possible solution. Soon I hope to have another blog on stem splicing but until then have a look at the piece by Jacek Rochacki where he demonstrates his method. https://rebornpipes.com/2014/02/28/some-remarks-on-dealing-with-damaged-stems-of-smoking-pipes-by-jacek-a-rochacki/

1. Before I cut off anything on a stem I spend quite a bit of time examining the broken stem. For me that means checking out the thickness of the stem material above and below the airway in the stem. There needs to be enough thickness that I can shape a button on the cut off portion. I check out the stability of the vulcanite to see if it crumbling or if the break is clean. Sometimes you need to cut quite a ways back into the stem to get either the correct thickness or stability to reform a button. I always try to imagine what the pipe will look like with a shorter stem. To help me see it I have devised a simple method. I clasp it between my thumb and finger making a straight line across the stem. Using my finger and thumb I can slide the stem as far as I want between the fingers and get a good picture of what the pipe will look like with a shorter stem. If all of these steps are passed then I get ready to cut off the broken portion.

This stem passed all the tests. The break not straight across the stem but actually was slightly diagonal. It was a very clean break with no crumbling material. The airway appears to be close to the surface on the top side of the stem but because of the angle of the break there was sufficient material there for me to cut and shape a button. I was ready to cut of this stem.YSG5

YSG6 2. I marked the stem with a pencil to delineate how far I planned on cutting the stem. I use a Dremel with a sanding drum to cut off the broken portion of the stem to the point of my line. Others use coping saws or hacksaws to remove the material. Choose whatever tool you are comfortable with to do the work. For me I hold the Dremel in my right hand and the stem in my left. I keep the stem stationary while cutting but frequently rotate it in my hand to keep the edges straight. I am always conservative in the first cut only taking off what looks to be necessary. I want a solid surface to work on with the button. Once I have the cut finished I use the drum to slightly round the corners of the line. In the end I wanted to have a slight crown on the finished button so I plan for that at this point. In the two photos below you can see the slightly bow in the cut off. The cut off edge is vertical to the surface of the stem forming a 90 degree angle.YSG16

YSG14 3. When the cut off is finished I take time to look at the profile of the stem. In this case the stem was quite thick. I was going to need to shave off the surface and thin the stem down but I would not do that until I had cut the button and roughed in the shape. Looking at it I could also see that I would need to flatten the stem near the new button as it had a definite rounding that would make it uncomfortable in the mouth.YSG15

YSG17 4. The first tools that I use are a knife shaped needle file that has a thin edge like a blade and squared edge for the initial cuts and a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the newly cut edge.YSG23 5. I cut the edge with the straight edge of the file. I eyeball the line to make sure it aligns on both sides of the stem. This is a bit tricky at first but I rotate the stem to and angle where I can see both sides at once and begin the second cut. At this point in the process I am not finishing the cut but only drawing the line with the file. With the line cut and the button edge defined there is a lot of finishing work that needs to be done but you can get a clear picture of what the button will look like.

6. I use the knife edge of the file to shave the surface of the stem on the top and bottom sides. Be careful not to gouge the surface but smoothly shave it. I hold the blade at slight angle against the surface of the stem and carve toward the button. I have the stem on the table and work the blade away from myself sometimes and other times I have it in hand with the new button against the heel of my palm and work the blade toward the button. I work the blade until I have defined the line of the button and flattened the crown on the surface of the stem. Remember this is all initial carving. It will be cleaned up and smoothed out with the sandpaper and other files.YSG24

YSG25 7. When I have the material in front of the button cut away and thinned down I sand it with the folded 220 grit sandpaper to get an idea of how it looks and of how much more I will need to remove from the crown on both sides of the stem. In the case of this stem I have enough material removed. I still need to shape the button and clean up the edges of the sharp edge. The top and bottom surface of the button still need to be shaped and sanded but the overall look is good to go.YSG26

YSG27 8. With the rough shape finished I cut the slot in the end of the button and flare the airway. The first photo below shows the way the airway looked once I cut of the stem. You can see that there is plenty of material above and below the airway. I started the process by sanding the face of the button on my topping board and sandpaper. It is important to make sure that stem is absolutely vertical and does not tilt either way when doing this. You want to make a smooth face to work on the slot.YSG28 9. I use several different needle files to open the slot. The first file I use is a flattened oval file shown in the photo below. I work it against the right and left edges of the airway to open the slot. I don’t worry about the finished look at this point but am concerned to rough it in with the file. The flattened oval does the initial shaping work. I like a slot that is oval and tapers to a point on each side. I also work the file into the airway to taper the internals into a Y shaped funnel ending at the airway.YSG29 10. I work the top and bottom edges with the second file – an oval blade that is not flattened and almost round. I use it to work the internals into more of a smooth Y and then open the top and bottom of the slot. I follow this with a round needle file that has a thin point to clean up the opening and shape it. The photo below shows the slot after I have used all three files.YSG30 11. I fold a piece of sandpaper into a rectangle that I can fit into the slot. I work it in the slot to sand the internals and remove the file marks. I sand the face of the button to remove file marks and also sand the slot to refine the shape of oval.YSG31 12. The next photo shows the slot after I have worked it with the sandpaper. The internals are clean and smooth. I then use a pipe cleaner and isopropyl alcohol to remove any dust from the inside of the airway. The face of the stem still shows some light scratching that will be taken care of with wet sanding using micromesh sanding pads. However, you can see the new shape of the slot and how it sits on the button. That portion of the reshaping of the new button is finished and all that remains is to sand and polish the stem with the micromesh and the buffer.Button1 13. I sanded the stem – all surfaces including the button face with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the scratches left behind by the 220 grit sandpaper. I worked on giving the surface of the button a slight bevel downward toward the slot. I personally like a gentle slope so I don’t overdo it with the sanding.YSG32

YSG33 14. With the scratches removed the stem is ready for polishing. I used micromesh sanding pads to do this work. Others use high grit wet dry sandpapers or micromesh papers. I like the way the pads fit in my fingers and how I can push the edge up against the slot to work that angle. I wet sand with 1500-2400 grit pads – wetting the surface of the stem and then sanding with the pads. I wipe it off regularly to remove the grime and check on the smoothness of the surface. I sand with each of the three grits until the particular grit no longer takes off any of the vulcanite. Once I finish with the three pads I rub the stem down with Obsidian Oil as I find it highlights the remaining scratches and also helps the micromesh to bite into the surface of the stem. I have used olive oil to do the same thing, applying it sparingly with a fold piece of cloth or paper towel. At times I have applied the oil between each of these three grits – essentially replacing the water with the oil. It works very well.YSG34 15. I dry sand (no oil or water) with the remaining grits of micromesh. I sand with 3200-4000 grit pads and then rub the stem down with oil again for the same reasons as above. I then either go back to the 1500-2400 grit pads to rework areas of concern or move on to sanding with the 6000-12,000 grit pads.YSG35

YSg36 16. I buff the stem with White Diamond at this point in my process. If you do not have a buffer you can buff with a plastic polish on a cotton pad or cloth. The idea is to remove any of the remaining scratches (micro scratches really at this point) and give the vulcanite a high sheen. When I finish buffing I give the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. When I did not have my buffer I used Kiwi neutral shoe wax which has carnauba in it and hand buffed the stem with a shoe brush. Sometimes I revert to using the shoe brush even now. Especially when buffing areas around stamping and logos.

17. The finished stem is shown below. The button looks like it has always been there. I like giving it a look that fits the age of the pipe. I don’t want it looking like a brand new button that has been tacked onto an old pipe. Rather I want it to look as if it has been there for the life of the pipe and has seen some smoothing from use. You can be the judge if I have achieved that but at least that is the aim. You can also decide how you want the buttons that you shape to look. Don’t be afraid to experiment and add your own steps or modify these so that they work for you. The end result is really all we are interested in anyway and the methods for getting there are many.YSG37

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Restoring a Republic Era Shamrock 999 Rhodesian


Blog by Steve Laug

peterson When I saw this pipe on Ebay I immediately threw in a low bid. The seller included two photos the clear side view of the pipe shown below and the second photo below – an out of focus picture of the stem end. It was obvious there was damage to the stem and that it would take some work but it was still interesting to me. I was the only bidder so the pipe became mine.Shamrock1

Shamrock2 It was stamped Shamrock on the left side of the shank in capital letters (once it arrived I saw that on the right side of the shank it bore the stamping “A Peterson Product” over Made in the Republic of Ireland with 999 stamped next to that). While the seller never revealed the data stamped on the right side of the shank or the shape number it was clearly a Peterson 999 – one of my favourite shapes. I am particularly fond of the thick shanked older versions of the shape but this one looked workable. While I waited for it I did some research on the brand. I have several Shamrock pipes and fortunately all of them are very nicely grained briar.

I wrote to a favourite source of all things Peterson, Mark Irwin, to inquire about the mark. He responded with the following helpful information. “There were two Shamrock lines—the Rogers Import U.S.-only line with the nickel band, and the Peterson unmounted line with a white “S” stamped on the mouthpiece. This line—which is what your pipe is from—debuted in the 1945 catalog in the 30 classic shapes then being offered, in both smooth and sandblast, always with a fishtail mouthpiece, and continued with the same finish and “S” stamp until the 1975 catalog. It was a “Product” line, so look carefully for fills, as Peterson always strives to get the most mileage out of their briar. If it does indeed lack fills, someone messed up in the workshop, as it would normally have been released in a much higher line. The name was subsequently used on newer “Shamrock” lines with various finishes and stains until very recently, but always as an entry-grade line.”

I also was a bit more information on the stamping on the other side of the shank so I read more on dating Peterson Pipes in an article here on the blog by Mike Leverette. In it I found that pipes that bore the Republic of Ireland stamping came from the Republic Era which extended from 1949 until the present. “The Republic of Ireland was formed on 17 April 1949. From 1949 to present the stamp for this era is “Made in the Republic of Ireland” in a block format generally in three lines but two lines have been used with or without Republic being abbreviated.”

Mike also addressed a further question on the stamping “A Peterson Product”. He wrote: “Also, we must address the stamp “A Peterson Product.” During the last few years of the Pre-Republic era and throughout the Republic era, Peterson began stamping their other lines, such as Shamrocks and Killarneys, with “A Peterson Product” over the COM stamp. So a pipe stamped thusly will have been made say from 1948 to the present with the COM stamp identifying it as a pre-Republic or a Republic pipe.”

That was helpful information. With Mark’s and Mike’s information I had learned a lot about my pipe even before it arrived. It came from the earlier Shamrock line which debuted in 1945 and continued until 1975. It certainly fit in the description of a classic shape and an unmounted line with a white S on the stem. It was a Republic Era pipe which put it after 1949 and bore the Peterson Product stamp which put it in the same time frame. That is as specific as I can get in dating this pipe.

When the pipe arrived I opened the box and took it out of the bubble wrap. The stem was frozen in the shank and did not fit against the shank. The grain was beautiful and the natural finish was dirty. The bowl had a thick cake and still had a half bowl of unsmoked tobacco. The rim had a build up of tar on it that was thick. The inner and outer edge of the rim was undamaged and the bowl was still round. The stem was oxidized and the button end had significant damage as can be seen in the third photo below.Shamrock3

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Shamrock6 I put the pipe in the freezer and left it overnight so that the temperature change would do its magic and loosen the stem in the shank. In the morning I took it out and was able to remove the stem with no problems. The photo below shows the damage to the button very clearly. There is also a sand pit visible in the side of the bowl. It is unfilled and from what I could see of the rest of the bowl there were not any fills.Shamrock7 I left the tobacco in the bowl while I worked on the rim. I scrubbed it with saliva and cotton pads until I was able to remove all of the tarry build up. I also scrubbed down the rest of the exterior of the bowl and shank.Shamrock8 I removed the tobacco with a dental pick and then reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer and took the cake back to bare wood.Shamrock9 I used the dental pick to also clean out the twin rings around the bowl. These were packed with dust and wax from previous buffing.Shamrock10I set up my retort and put the tube on the broken stem. I loosely stuff a cotton ball in the bowl and heated the alcohol over a tea light candle. I ran the alcohol through until it came out a rich brown. I emptied the test tube and refilled it with alcohol and repeated the process. The second time the alcohol came out clean. I removed the retort and cleaned out the shank and bowl with cotton swabs and pipe cleaners.Shamrock11

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Shamrock12 I debated for a long time what to do with the damaged stem. I could try a stem splice or replace the stem. I could also cut off the stem and reshape the button. In looking over the stem I decided there was enough length and material to allow me to cut if off and reshape it. I used a Dremel with a sanding drum to remove the broken part of the stem. I squared it off on the topping board and I was ready to recut the button.Shamrock13

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Shamrock15 I use needle files to cut the lines of the new button. They give me a good square edge and let me cut the basic shape of the button.Shamrock16

Shamrock17 Once the line is cut I use a variety of tools to trim back the taper from the line back toward the shank. I used an emery board to work on the shape of the stem. Often this is all I need but in this case it was not enough.Shamrock18

Shamrock19 I used a knife blade shaped needle file to shave the stem back to the button. With this blade I removed a lot of the excess material and the button began to take shape. I also used the file to begin to shape the oval of the button and to open up the slot in the end of the button. I continued to work on the taper of the stem and smoothed out the flow o the stem to the button using 220 grit sandpaper.Shamrock20

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Shamrock22 Once I had the shape and the taper of the stem correct I put a washer on the tenon and inserted it in the shank so that I could work on the stem. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation and then sanded it with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge. I carefully avoided damaging the logo stamp on the stem. I also rubbed the bowl down with a little olive oil on a cotton pad. It really enlivened the grain on the pipe. I buffed it lightly with White Diamond and then gave it several coats of carnauba wax.Shamrock23

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Shamrock26 Once the oxidation was taken care of I used some liquid paper to re-whiten the S on the stem. The photos below show the shape of the button and the stem at this point in the process. The new button works well and the shortening of the stem did not too seriously damage the appearance of the pipe.IMG_3070

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IMG_3073 I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil between each set of three grits of micromesh sanding pads.Shamrock31

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Shamrock34 I rubbed it down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and once it had been absorbed into the vulcanite I hand buffed it with a soft cloth and took the next two photos to show the finished look of the stem.IMG_3091

IMG_3092 The finished pipe is shown below. The two profile photos show the look of the new button and the revised taper of the stem. It feels great in the hand and in the mouth. The bend matches my other 999 pipes and the overall length actually is the same as the chunkier stemmed early 999s that I have in my collection. I buffed the pipe and stem with White Diamond and gave it several coats of carnauba wax. I buffed it with a soft flannel buff to raise the shine on the pipe. It looks and smells fresh and clean. It is ready to load with a bowl of Virginia and give an inaugural smoke. In closing look at the grain on this old Shamrock – for the life of me I can find no fills in the briar. It is clean – two or three smalls sandpits but they in no way effect the overall look of the pipe. Amazing, I think that it did indeed slip through during production. No problem for me, I will enjoy it.Shamrock37

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A Great Piece of Briar – Restored Square Shanked GBD New Era 9489 Billiard


I am generally not a fan of square shanked pipes. I am not sure why but there is just something about them that has never caught my eye… that is until I saw this GBD New Era Billiard. It has stunning grain – cross grain on the back of the bowl and the top and bottom of the shank and the bowl. There is also some cross grain off centre on the front of the bowl. The left side has stunning birdseye and the same is also true on the right side of the bowl. The rim of the bowl is beveled inward and is also cross grain. The finish on the bowl was in excellent shape other than a heavy build up on the rim of tars and carbon. The stem was long, oxidized and had a huge bite through on the underside of the stem. It is stamped GBD in an oval over an arced New Era on the left side of the shank and London England over 9489 on the right side.
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I have included the photo below of the underside of the stem. The size of the hole made it unpatchable with my usual methods.
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I used the Dremel and sanding drum to cut off the end of the stem and remove the damaged portion of the stem. I would then recut a button on the end of the stem and rework the airway opening in the slot.
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I took the pipe back to my work table and used a file to cut the line for the button. For this initial part of shaping the new button I leave the stem on the shank as the bowl provides a good “handle” to hold on to when reworking the stem.
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I used a flat needle file to carve down the slope of the stem toward the button. I find that reworking the slope of the stem gives a smoother transition between the new button and the blade of the stem. I think we have all seen poorly cut buttons where the button looks pinched on the end – almost like someone squeezed the button out of the stem. I want the transition to move gently toward the new button and then have clean angles on the button.
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At this point I usually remove it from the shank as I have much more carving to do on the stem with needle files and I want to be able to turn it at various angles to get things the way I want them. I continued to work on the stem with various needle files and 220 grit sandpaper to shape and contour the stem. I sanded the rest of the stem as well carefully working around the GBD roundel to make sure not to damage it. When I had finished the shaping of the button I sanded the entirety with a medium grit sanding sponge to smooth out the scratches and further remove the oxidation. I probably could have soaked it in Oxyclean but since I was working the button over with sandpaper and files anyway I just sanded the stem.

I set the stem aside for a bit and scrubbed the bowl rim down with saliva on cotton pads scraping and rubbing until I got to the clean surface of the rim. I did not intend to restain this pipe so I was careful not to remove the finish in the process.
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I took it to the buffer after I had it cleaned up as shown above. I buffed the edge with White Diamond to remove the last of the detritus of the carbon on the rim. The first photo below shows the clean bowl rim. The three photos following that one show the bowl after it had been buffed with carnauba wax to polish it and protect it.
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I put the stem back on just to have a look at the work so far. Sometimes I need to get a bit of perspective on the stem work so I will stop and put things back together, take a few photos and study them to see what I need to do. Somehow the photos show things that my eye does not pick up as I work on the pipe.
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The pipe was looking good and the areas that needed work on the oxidation and scratches showed up clearly in the flash. I used micromesh sanding pads to work on the finish. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12,000 grit pads.
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When I finished sanding I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil and when it as dry buffed it with White Diamond once again. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean flannel buffing pad to give it a shine. It is important when buffing to not press to hard around the nomenclature. I generally use a very light touch in those areas and then hand polish them with a soft cotton cloth. The finished pipe is pictured below. The stem came out quite nicely There is a bit of oxidation around the roundel that still remains. I will continue to work on that with the micromesh pads and see what I can do but it is ready to load a bowl and smoke.
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A Piece of Tobacciana History – a Bakelite Bowl on a Bakelite Base


This is a new one to me. I have never seen this combination of parts. I have refurbished quite a few of the screw on bowls on Bakelite bases with either metal or vulcanite stems. I even recently completed a Bakelite base with a Bakelite stem on it. But never have I seen a Bakelite bowl. This one is solid Bakelite with no lining whatsoever. The bowl is like a cup. This one was another Chuck Richards gift. I think he takes delight in these surprises. And a surprise it truly is. There is not a single identifying stamp on the pipe so it is a mystery as to its manufacture. It is very unique. The brass ring between the bowl and base was loose and slide around as the pipe was moved. The bowl was lightly coated with tar. The rim had some dings in it and the base/stem unit was not even at the button. Each side of the angle coming down to the button was off and there were tooth marks in the stem. The inside cup of the base was dirty and the inside of the shank and stem unit was also dirty with tars. The end of the button and orific “o” opening was very clean and unstained which is a bonus. Once I get it cleaned up I intend to load a bowl and see what it is like to smoke. The first series of four photos show the pipe as it was when it arrived to my worktable.
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I took it to the work table this morning and took it apart. I cleaned all the parts of the pipe with Everclear and a soft pipe cleaner. I scrubbed out the cup in the Bakelite base with Everclear on a cotton pad. There was darkening to the Bakelite that I could not remove but the slight build up disappeared. I cleaned up the brass ring and then reglued it to the base. I used a white glue to anchor this to the base. The next series of three photos shows that process.
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I sanded out the interior of the bowl with 320 grit sandpaper, wiped it down with Everclear on a cotton pad and then sanded it again with a fine grit sanding sponge. I sanded down the rim of the bowl with the sanding sponge to remove the slight nicks in the edge of the bowl and clean up the rough edges. I followed up with a 1500 grit micromesh sanding pad. The picture below shows the cleaned bowl.
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I reshaped the stem and button area with needle files to repair the angles and remove the tooth marks. I sanded the newly shaped area with 240 and 320 grit sandpaper to remove the file scratches. I followed up with micromesh sanding pads 1500-12,000 grit to progressively polish and shine the stem and base. I sanded the entire base with the micromesh sanding pads. There were many small surface scratches in the surface that the micromesh took care of. The next series of eight photos show the reshaping of the button area from the use of the files through the sanding with 1500 grit micromesh sanding pads.
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The bowl did not seat well on the base. It seemed to sit at a bit of an angle and did not fit into the bottom of the cup. I sanded down the bottom of the bowl insert to remove a small portion of the material to reduce the depth of the threaded portion of the bowl. I also sanded the thread carefully to remove the nicks and chips to the surface. I used micromesh to sand the threads as I wanted to merely clean them up not damage or reduce them. Once this was completed the bowl threaded on more easily and also was seated well on the base. The next series of three photos show the reseating of the bowl.
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At this point in the process I sanded the entire pipe with micromesh sanding pads. I used all the grits from 1500-12,000 to polish the Bakelite and give it back its luster. This took quite a bit of time as I was trying to remove all of the minute scratches in the base and on roughness on the outer edges of the bowl. The seven photos below show the progress shine developing through the sanding with the micromesh sanding pads.
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When I had finished with the sanding and the bowl and base had a shine to them I hand buffed it with carnauba wax, applying several coats and buffing it with a soft cotton cloth. My only frustration with the finished pipe is that the area around the button that I changed and sanded is a bit lighter than the yellow/amberlike colour of the rest of the base. It shined up nicely but is lighter. Ah well, it is better than it was and it is certainly more comfortable than when I began. The final series of four photos show the finished pipe. Now it is time to load it and fire it up. The experience is about to begin.
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