Tag Archives: reshaping a slot in a button

An Interesting Welsh Pipe Find: A C.A. Sander Sandhurst Bent Bulldog

Blog by Steve Laug

I came across this beautiful sandblast bent bulldog on Ebay and put a bid in for it. I was the sole bidder and won it for a decent price plus reasonable shipping from Great Britain. The pipe is stamped on a smooth spot on the bottom left side of the shank. It reads SANDHURST #16 and next to that it is stamped C.A. SANDER over SWANSEA. The seller stated that the pipe was in a good used condition, and had some wear. He also said that the measurements of the pipe are 135mm or 5.5 inches long, bowl size 35mm or 1.4 inches x 28mm or 1.10 inches. From the photos he included in the sale the finish on the bowl looked to be in excellent shape. The rim was very clean. I could not see the inside of the bowl but the way the rim looked I was guessing that it was very clean. The sandblast was nicely done with some deep craggy ring grain. There was no ring around the cap on the bowl. The stamping on the shank was clear but was weak in spots. The stem was lightly oxidized but had no tooth chatter or bite marks.Swan1




Swan5 I knew next to nothing about the maker of the pipe. I could ascertain from the stamping that the pipe was made by a C.A. Sander in Swansea. I remembered that Swansea is in Wales so I had something to start with. I looked in Who Made that Pipe and also in Lopes book and could find nothing listed for that maker. I used Google to see if I could find any information on the company and looking a company of that name in Swansea, Wales. I actually found out that the company started in 1977 and closed in 1998. It appears from the information that I found to have been a family owned and operated company with broad interests. There was no mention of pipes in any of the company documents that I could find. I wonder if the brand was not just one of many avenues for the company to expand its horizons. I found two pipes online with the CA Sander stamping these included the Oxford and the Sandhurst. Both the Oxford and the Sandhurst are sandblast finish pipes with a dark stain. There was no other information available that I could find listed online. Does anyone have any information on the brand? (I have included a photo of the stamping on a stemless Oxford Bulldog that I just purchased on eBay for comparison.)Swan6 When the pipe arrived it was in far better shape than the seller intimated. The bowl was lightly smoked if at all. There was no cake and the darkening did not extend to the bottom of the bowl. I ran a pipe cleaner through the shank and the stem and it came out clean. There was dust in the shank that came out but no tobacco oils or tars. The stem was actually less oxidized than I expected and would clean up very easily. There were some tiny tooth chatter next to the button on the top and the bottom side of the stem. There were some small nicks in the vulcanite on the top right side midstem.Swan7



Swan10 I took a close up photo of the rim and bowl to show the excellent condition of the rim and bowl. The second photo below shows the nicks in the stem that I spoke of above. This should be an easy clean up.Swan11

Swan12 The slot in the button was very thin and I was unable to get a pipe cleaner into the airway from that end. I used three different needle files to open it wide enough to take a thick pipe cleaner easily. Once it was open I sanded the inside of the slot to make it smooth. The draw on the pipe is much better after opening the slot. The narrowness of the slot makes me wonder if that is why the pipe was not smoked more.Swan13


Swan15 I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation, smooth out the tooth chatter and the two nicks on the right side. Once they were gone and the stem was smooth I used a medium and fine grit sanding sponge to begin to minimize the scratching. I put a plastic washer between the stem and the shank to keep the shoulders sharp and protect the shank while I was sanding.Swan16




Swan20 I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and then rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil. The oxidation is disappearing and the dark black of the rubber is beginning to stand out. I dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit micromesh pads, gave it another coat of oil and finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and then set it aside to dry.Swan21


Swan23 I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the wheel and then gave them multiple coats of carnauba wax. I polished the pipe with a clean flannel buff and then gave it a final buff by hand with a microfibre cloth. The stem cleaned up amazingly well. The pipe is ready for a inaugural smoke. The draw is wide open and easy! Thanks for looking.Swan24



Swan27Addendum: 06/06/18 I received an email from Andrew  in answer to a question I asked in my two blogs on CA Sander pipes. I quote in full his email because of the information that it includes.

Comment: You asked about C A Sander

C A Sander were tobacconists based in Wind Street Swansea. I don’t know exactly when the business started but it it passed to my Grandfather from his father (both were C A Sander) and by the 1920 was a successful and well established retail business with shops all over south wales. They were importers and blenders (if that is the term) of tobacco and the shops sold smoking paraphernalia. At my grandfathers retirement late 60’s to business went to my uncle again C A Sander but known generally as Jim. He developed a business supplying cigarette machines around South Wales and moved out of retail he eventually sold the business to Rothermans and went into other business ventures, I expect that was when the limited company you found was formed. Uncle Jim has now retired but still lives in the area.

Hope this helps with your research.

Andrew I received this followup email from someone who would like to get in touch with you. Here is her email

Hi there – I stumbled upon your website when looking for anything to do with C.A. Sander tobacco shop and I saw the pipe you restored – which is amazing! and then saw the comment below left by Andrew. Since that shop was owned by my grandfather, and Andrew’s grandfather – it would seem that we are cousins – but we have never met. I would love to get into contact with Andrew. Would you be able to assist in that? If possible, could you ask him to contact me at my email address pianokey88@hotmail.com?
Many thanks for your help! Georgina

Restoring a Comoy’s Tradition Shape 225 Bent Dublin

Blog by Steve Laug

The second Comoy’s I picked up on the recent hunt was a beautifully shaped 225 Tradition. It is a shape that I love for its graceful flow and bend. The stamping on it was weak but visible under a lens. The left side of the shank was stamped Comoy’s over Tradition and the right side was stamped 225. I looked up the shape on Chris Keene’s Pipe Pages and found this page on a 1960’s catalogue http://pipepages.com/64com19s.htm . It is the 225 shape at the bottom of the page.

When I picked it up the pipe the stain on the briar was slightly faded. The stamping was weak. On the side where Comoy’s Tradition was stamped it is very faint, though still visible with light. On the side of the shank where the shape number was stamped the 2 and the 5 are clear and the middle 2 is very light. The bowl was caked and the rim was caked with tars and carbon build up. The inner bevel was clean and undamaged though dirty with tars and the outer edge was also very clean. The exterior of the pipe had no dents of dings. The stem was a replacement and was missing the usual step down tenon that I have come to expect and the existing tenon was shorter than normal. The stem itself was oxidized and had a large bite through on the underside. Of the six pipes (GBD and Comoy’s) that I picked up all but the little bulldog have the same issue.




The photo below shows a closer look at the bite through on the underside of the stem. It’s size, the length of the stem and the fact that it was an obvious replacement stem made my decision of whether to try to repair the hole or to cut the stem back quite easy to make.

I used a Dremel and sanding drum to cut the stem back to solid vulcanite and remove the damaged spot and the button. This would necessitate recutting and shaping a new button on the stem as well as reshaping the slot in the button.


After cutting it off I took it back to the worktable to prepare it for the new button. I wiped the stem down to remove the dust from cutting and to clean the surface so that I could get a good clean line on the button.


I used files, a wood rasp and various needle files to cut an edge for the new button on both the top and the bottom sides of the stem. I also used the files to cut back the stem on the slope before the new button on both sides of the stem. The stem needed to be thinned down from the button forward to the shank for more comfort in the mouth and to keep the graceful lines of the shape intact. I used the needle files to carve back the stem thickness and smooth out the lines so that the button did not look choked and pinched at the line. Once I had a clean slope on the stem previous to the button I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to further highlight the angles of the button.



I sanded the end of the new button to give it a slope toward the slot and to remove the sharp edge look of the new cut. I opened up the button to give it a funnelled shape to the airway and also made it oval. The side profile photos give a clear look at the stem and the angle of the stem previous to the new button.





I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer to get rid of the cake and to clear away the debris from the inner edge of the bowl. I cleaned the rim with saliva on a cotton pad and scrubbed until I had removed the tars and buildup from both the top and the inner bevel of the rim.

I sanded the stem to further define the button and shape it using 220 grit sandpaper and a medium grit sanding sponge. When I was happy with the overall shape of the stem, I sanded its entirety to remove the oxidation. I finished sanding it with my usual regimen of micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12,000 grit pads.






When I had finished sanding with the final grits of pads I put the stem in the shank and buffed it with red Tripoli to remove some of the scratches that still remained on the underside of the stem near the button and then buffed the whole stem with White Diamond. I lightly buffed the pipe as well before taking it back to the worktable to give it a top coat of red mahogany Minwax stain. I rubbed the stain on the bowl to bring back some of the reddish colour that I have found in my other Tradition pipes and used them to match the colour on this pipe.




I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil to preserve the vulcanite. And when the stain was dry I gave it a light buff with White Diamond. I finished by giving the entire pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax to preserve and give it a shine. The finished pipe is picture below. It is cleaned and ready to continue a life of service.