Tag Archives: restemming a pipe

Restemming and Restoring a Bill Lator Handmade Bent Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

A fellow Vancouver Pipeman named Alex has been keeping me busy with working on the pipes he is picking up. He has picked up some interesting American and English made pipes. One of those is this Dublin that is engraved on the left side and underside of the shank. On the left side it reads Crafted Expressly for Roy Garrett. On the underside it reads Lator Handcrafted. It is a nice piece but has some unique features that are visible in the photos that follow. It has a sculpted/rusticated portion on the left side of the bowl and a crowned rim top. There was a thick cake in the bowl and lava overflowing onto the rim top. The rim top has some scratching and dents that will be more visible once the lava coat is gone. It appears that the edges of the bowl are in good shape – both inner and outer. The finish was very dirty with grime and oils ground into the smooth and rusticated portions. The stem did not fit well in the shank and appeared to be a replacement stem. The diameter of the stem was less than that of the bowl and left a large edge exposed on the shank end. I believe that the pipe originally had a taper stem rather than the fancy, damaged turned one that was on it when I received it. To my mind it would need to have a new stem fit to the shank. Here are some photos of the pipe when I first received it.I took a close-up photo of the rim to show the condition of the rim top and the inner edge of the bowl. The rim top had some dents and damage to it and the inner edge appeared to have some charring and darkening. The stem was an obvious replacement of necessity. It did not fit the shank and it was actually quite worn out with a chip out of the button and stem on the top side. I would need to fit a replacement.  The engraving on the left side and the underside of the shank are shown in the photos below. It reads as noted above.    I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the flow of the pipe. When I crafted a new stem for it I would work with the same angles to get the same look.When Alex dropped it off the first of the Lator pipes that he wanted me to work on I asked him to do a bit of research on the brand and see what he could find out about the pipemaker and the brand. He said he would and over the next couple of days sent me several emails with information that he had found out about the pipe. Here is a link to the first blog on the Canadian that is referred to in the following information (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/02/07/removing-an-annoying-whistle-from-a-handmade-canadian-by-bill-lator/).

The first email was the description given of the pipe on the SATX Pipes site – the company he purchased it from. They gave a pretty detailed description of the pipe and the stamping on the pipe.

This is a very rare handmade Canadian by Bill Lator. In addition, it bears the customer’s name on it that it was commissioned for. Bill Lator was a pipe maker from Indiana who operated two small pipe shops with his family. This particular Lator is in fine shape. Stem is shiny black and free from any chatter. Beautiful grain and color is offset by a sterling silver band. This is a non-filtered pipe. Pipe has been sanitized, polished and waxed, and comes ready to smoke. Pipe Dimensions: Length Overall: 6 1/8″ Height Overall: 1 3/4″ Width Overall: 1 1/4″ Chamber Width: 7/8″ Chamber Depth: 1 5/8″ Weight: 1.1 oz

Alex also sent along picture of a Magazine cover showing …Bing with a BL Canadian on the cover of a magazine.He also included an excerpt from a local newspaper article about the Lators from 1976:

Pipemaking is a family affair for the Bill Lator family. The family owns and operates “The Pipemaker,” 109 N. Broad. Father Bill, Sr. and all three sons, Paul, 28, Bill, Jr., 20 and Kurt, 14 have taken up the rare trade of pipemaking. According to Lator, there are only about 20 pipemakers in the United States. “And three of them are in Griffith,” he quipped. Lator said his pipe making started as a hobby, “a way to relax after a busy day as an executive.” Lator also began doing extensive research into pipe making going through a number of west coast libraries and learning everything he could. About a year ago, his friends started suggesting he open a pipe shop and after more urging by his son Paul, Lator moved to Griffith. The fame of his handmade briar pipes combined with the skills of his wife, Hellen, in blending pipe tobacco made the shop an instant success. Lator said his oldest son turns out artistic pipes, “he is the artist in the family-Son, Bill is the “perfectionist.” His creations have a machined perfection according to his father, “which appeals to certain customers.” The youngest, Kurt, is still an apprentice, learning the trade of pipemaking with the discards and making tampers. Mrs. Lator has gained a reputation as a master tobacco blender.

Alex sent a follow-up email and included a paragraph from Bill Lator’s obituary: “Bill was very artistic and in 1973 found he could make beautiful smoking pipes carved of briar. In 1975 he along with his 2 sons, Paul and Bill, opened The Pipemaker Pipe and Tobacco Shop in Griffith, Indiana. He loved that shop and all the customers. He made a very successful business that lasted 13 years. In 1986 he decided it was time for him to retire…”

From this I know that the pipe came from Bill Lator’s Griffith, Indiana Shop – The Pipemaker Pipe and Tobacco Shop. It had been made between 1975 and 1986 when Bill retired.

Now it was time to work on the pipe itself. I reamed the thick cake back to the walls with a PipNet pipe reamer using the first two cutting heads. I followed up – cleaning the remnants of cake on the walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. The final step for me to assess the condition of the walls of the bowl is to sand it with 220 grit sandpaper on a piece of dowel. I sanded the walls smooth. I was happy with the condition of the inside walls of the chamber.  I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with a tooth brush and undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap to get the grime and debris out of the briar. I rinsed it with running water and dried it off with a towel. With that the outside was clean… progress!   I worked on the damage to the rim top to remove the darkening, charring and dents and nicks. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing it with 400 grit sandpaper. The top is looking much better at this point.I cleaned out the shank and airway in the bowl with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and 99% isopropyl alcohol. I would do the stem once had the replacement shaped and fit.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad. The grain is really beginning to stand out and the rim top is blending in quite well.     I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm 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. I am very happy with the results.      I set the bowl aside and went through my stems to find one that would fit well. There was a nice acrylic stem without a tenon that was the right diameter as the shank end. I took a photo of the new stem with the one that came with the pipe. I took a photo of the tenon that would work on the stem and in the shank.  I repaired the tooth marks in the acrylic with the new Black Loctite 380 Adhesive. I set the stem aside to let the repairs cure.      I glued the new tenon in place in the stem with clear super glue. The tenon looks long but it is the same length as the mortise.I used a needle file to recut the edges of the button and flatten out the repairs. I sanded them with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth them out and blend them into the surface. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.Bending this stem was a challenge! I heated it with a heat gun and was unable to bend it. I heated it in boiling water for over 5 minutes and the bend I was able to achieve was not as much as I wanted. I repeated the process multiple times and the photo below shows what I accomplished.I am not happy with the bend. It had taken a lot of work to get to this point but I did not like what I was seeing. I went back through my can of stems to find a different stem that would work better. I found one that would work, it had the correct bend  but needed to be cleaned up and polished.I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and 340 grit sandpaper paying particular attention to the tenon and the curve of the saddle stem.       I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cloth.   This Lator Bent Dublin with a new fit acrylic saddle stem turned out to be a real beauty. It has a unique carved rustication on the left side of the bowl and a crowned rim top that rolls from the outer edge into the bowl. Lator really maximized the grain with the shape of the pipe. Everything about the pipe – the rustication on the side, the crowned rim top and the cut of the briar work well to highlight the shape of the bowl. I polished stem and the bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel and the finish just popped and came alive. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The pipe took on life with the buffing. The rich brown finish works well with the polished acrylic stem. The finished pipe has a rich look that is quite catching. Have a look at it with the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The pipe will back in the box of pipes that I am working on fro Alex. I am looking forward to what he will think of this one. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another estate pipe.

Restemming and Rejuvenating a NOS Unsmoked Calabria Billiard Made by W&R Diehl Munchen, Germany


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table came to me from one of the estates that Jeff and I purchased in 2019. Jeff and I pick up many together at estates and on pipe hunts. Between us we pick up quite a few pipes for restoration. I try to work them into the restoration queue so that I can keep them moving. This next one is an interesting unsmoked NOS Billard bowl without a stem. The pipe is stamped on the left side of the bowl and reads Calabria in a gold stamped oval. On the right side of the bowl it is stamped Bruyere [over] Garantie. On the underside of the shank it reads W&R Diehl in an oval over Munchen. The stamping was readable and clear. The bowl was dusty and dirty but unsmoked. The rim top and edges of the bowl looked to be in good condition. When Jeff sent me photos before he purchased it I was interested in it. The bowl showed promise once it had a new stem. Jeff took some photos of the pipe before he started the cleanup work. He took a photo of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the condition of the bowl and rim top. The top is beveled inward but it is very clean.Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to give a picture of what the briar looked like around the pipe. The grain is mixed and there are a few fills in the bowl around the sides.    He took photos of the stamping around the shank sides. It is clear and reads as noted above.  I had not heard of the brand before so I did a bit of research to see what I could find. I googled the pipe assuming the brand was W&R Diehl from Munchen, Germany. I found the following listing on Google that took me to a bagged pipe from the Wilh and Rich Diehl Company. Here is the link to the site: (https://www.sportscards.com/item/superb-rare-hand-made-wr-diehl-vintage-naturell-estate-pipe-pipa-pfeife-tuyau/163334880617/). I am including the information on the site as well as a copy of a photo with the pipe bag included.

Here we have a superb and rare vintage “Naturell” briar estate pipe in the ‘bent billiard’ style, with an excellent grain to the briar. The pipe is branded “W&R Diehl” over “Munchen” on one side of the shank, with “Made by Hand”on the reverse, and “Naturell” on the underside. It comes complete in its original “Diehl” branded pipe pouch. I believe this pipe would have been custom made for W&R Diehl (a famous Munich pipe retailer)The second site it took me to was the company website of Pfeifen Diehl in Munich, Germany (http://www.pfeifen-diehl.de/pfeifen-diehl_english/philosophy.htm). I am including a picture of the Company workshop and a few screen shots of information on the site. Jeff had cleaned up the pipe to remove the dust grit. The bowl had a coat of varnish that gave it a shine. The bowl was raw briar on the inside and was clean. Jeff polished the band on the shank and it took on rich shine.  I went through my collection of assorted stem to see what I could find that would work with the bowl. It had a slightly bigger diameter than the shank but it would work with a bit of adjustment. It was unused but the tenon had been turned previously and would still need to be turned down a bit more for a snug fit. I used a PIMO tenon turning tool to take the stem down. I did the first pass to get closer to the adjustment. The second pass cleaned it up for snug fit.   The tenon fit perfectly in the shank of the pipe. The stem was not round with decidedly more vulcanite on the top and right side of the stem. I took the top and the right side down with a Dremel and sanding drum to match the underside and the left side. Once I was finished it was round again. The fit against the shank end was perfect. It was going to look really good once I finished sanding out the scratches left behind by the Dremel.    I sanded the tooth marks and scratches out of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.   I polished the newly fitted vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.  This beautifully grained German Made W&R Diehl gold banded billiard with the newly fit taper stem is a great looking pipe. I buffed the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond on the wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished W&R Diehl Calabria Billiard fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼   inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Restoring & Restemming a Celtic Craft Block Meerschaum from Bob Kerr’s Estate


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I have chosen from the four remaining pipes from Bob Kerr’s Estate is a Genuine Block Meerschaum with a damaged stem. This is the last of Bob’s Block Meerschaum pipes that I have to work on. (Bob’s photo is to the left). If you have not “met” the man and would like to read a bit of the history of the pipeman, his daughter has written a great tribute that is worth a read. Because I have included it in most of the restorations of the estate to date I thought that I would leave it out this time. Check out some of the recent Dunhill restoration blogs (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/01/restoring-the-last-of-bob-kerrs-dunhills-a-1962-dunhill-bruyere-656-f-t-bent-billiard/).

This Meerschaum is stamped Celtic [over] Craft on the left side of the shank. On the underside it is stamped Genuine Block Meerschaum. Over that on the shank end was stamp GT at the top and below the stamp read N14 which is probably the shape number. The fancy vulcanite stem is oxidized, calcified and has a large chunk missing from the underside of the button and stem. From the damage it looked to me like it needed to be replaced. The exterior of the bowl is grimy and dirty. The black flumed top was worn and tired looking on both the rim top and the shank end. There is a thick cake and lava overflow on the rim top. It is thick enough that it is hard to know if there is any damage on top and edges but it looked like there was some damage. Jeff took photos of the pipe to show its general condition before he did his cleanup.   The exterior of the pipe was very dirty – grime and grit ground in from years of use and sitting. This one was obviously one of Bob’s favourites. The rim top was covered with a coat of thick lava that overflowed the bowl. There was also some damage on the rim top and edges of the bowl. The bowl itself had a thick cake with flecks of tobacco stuck in the cake on the sides.  Jeff took photos of the sides and the heel of the bowl to give a better feel for the condition of the bowl. It is dirty but the rustication is interesting. The next photos show the stamping on the sides of the shank. The left side is clear and readable and reads as noted above. The stamping on the underside of the shank was also clear and readable as noted above. Jeff also took photos of the stem shank connection with the stem in place and the stem removed. The tenon was metal and inset in the end of the stem. The shank end was filthy and worn.  The stem was dirty and extremely oxidized, calcified and had tooth marks on both sides ahead of the button. It was missing a large chunk of vulcanite from the underside of the stem and button.   I have not heard of the Celtic Craft brand but the way it was made and the stamping style and placement on the pipe and the finish on the pipe was identical to the look and feel of the block meerschaum pipe that restored earlier – a BELT (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/06/11/restoring-a-heavily-smoked-belt-meerschaum-peterson-like-pipe/). I turned to that blog to check if it was possible that the CELTIC CRAFT pipe was made by the same company. While there was nothing definite I am convinced that it is made by the same company. I quote from that blog:

The BELT brand is not one that I am familiar with. I have never heard of the brand in my years of doing this work. I decided to pause before I started my part of the work on the pipe and see what I could learn on the web. I looked on Pipephil’s site and could find nothing listed. I did the same on Pipedia and initially found nothing either. I did a google search for the brand and low and behold the brand came up under Danish Pipe Making Companies under the heading London Meerschaum (https://pipedia.org/wiki/London_Meerschaum). I quote the brief article below as taken from Jose Manuel Lopes book.

“London Meerschaum made some pipes under the name of BELT or THE BELT, I had this confirmed by Bonds of Oxford St. who have 5 smooth bowl versions in stock at the time of writing, these look very similar to standard system full bent Peterson Meerschaums, the smooth versions have silverware stamped L&JS {Les & Dolly Wood, Ferndown} and has Belt and Genuine Block Meerschaum stamped on the bowl. I have seen 1 rusticated version with the same silverware and 2 of which I own 1, have gold plated ware with no hallmarks and are also stamped Belt and Genuine Block Meerschaum. Both smooth and rusticated have P-Lip type stems though the air hole is not on top but at the end as with most non Peterson P-Lips that I have come across. I do not know when London Meerschaum ceased trading but I can say from the one Belt that I own, it’s a very fine pipe and not cheap, well over the £100 mark when new.”

These pipes were evidently sold at least as early as the 1950’s. These may have been made by, or are affiliated with Pomeroy & Cooke Ltd., (Pipes, Artisans and Trademarks, by José Manuel Lopes).

One of the readers of that blog responded with the following information. It cleared up the information above and called the information that it was a Danish Company called London Meerschaum into question.

Jambo/Belt was based in Nothhamptonshire, a small town north of London.

In my mind it was a Manx Made African Meer and now the information trail was twisted. It is now purported to have been made in Denmark, or in Nothhamptonshire near London or on the Isle of Man. Confusing and strange provenance for this old meer but I personally lean toward the Manx Pipes Connection. Now it was time to work on the pipe itself.

With over 125 pipes to clean from Bob’s estate I took a batch of them to the states with me when I visited and left them with Jeff so he could help me out. Jeff cleaned the pipes with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. Once he finished he shipped them back to me. This one was a real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the meerschaum and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with an interesting rustic finish around the bowl and shank. Jeff scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked a lot better. I took photos before I started my part of the work.  I took close up photos of the rim top and the stem surfaces. The rim top looked better but was rough. Some of the surface had been worn smooth. It was clean however and the flumed colour on the rim and shank end had faded with the cleanup work. The stem was another story all together. The metal tenon was good but the threads in the shank were worn so that it would not align. The issue for me was that the metal would continue to wear down the meer and make the fit looser over time. There were deep nicks on all the sharp edges of the diamond stem. The large chip out of the underside of the button and stem was bigger and rougher than I expected. Even though I could rebuild the damaged area I decided that the stem would need to be replaced on this one.    I took photos of the stamping on the shank of the pipe. It is readable and clear. The text reads as noted above.   I took the stem off the shank and took a photo to give a sense of the flow of the pipe. The stem is a bit of a turned freehand stem so I pretty much could use any other turned freehand stem as a replacement.I started my work on the pipe by dealing with the rim top. I used a brass bristle brush to clean up the rim top. I wanted to check out damage to the rim top so the brass bristle brush would remove any remaining grit in the rustication.I used a black stain pen to touch up the flumed top of the bowl, edges and the shank end. The rim top and shank end looked much better.   I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to replacing the stem. I went through my can of stems and found one that would look interesting with the shape of the pipe. It was a new cast stem. I would need to cut off the tenon and drill out the stem for a new tenon.I used the Dremel and sanding drum to cut off the tenon. I had a Delrin tenon that was made to screw into the stem. I found that reversing it and turning it into the shank was a perfect fit. I used a series of drill bits to drill out the end of the stem to receive the smooth end of the tenon. I used the Dremel and sanding drum to remove the excess vulcanite from the stem so that when the tenon was screwed into the shank the stem sat flush in the shank. I glued the tenon in place in the stem with clear super glue and set it aside to let the glue cure.Once the glue cured I turned the stem into the shank and took photos of the pipe as a whole. Still lots of sanding to do but I like the fit of the stem to the shank.   I cleaned up the stepped down stem area on the end of the stem with a needle file to fit in the inset shank end. I also used the file to reduce the thickness of the button. I then heated the stem with a lighter flame to soften the vulcanite. Once it was soft I bent the end of the stem to match the stem that I was replacing. I screwed the stem into the shank and took a photo of the pipe at this point in the process. I am starting to like the looks of this pipe.   I removed the stem from the shank and sanded out the file marks and shaped the button with 220 grit sandpaper and followed that with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to start the polishing.   I used a potter cutting tool to open up the slot in the end of the button. I wanted to reshape it and open it enough that a pipe cleaner would easily move through the airway.   I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.    I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth and shoe brush to raise the shine. This interestingly finished rusticated Celtic Craft Genuine Block Meerschaum Freehand/Poker from Bob Kerr’s estate looks very good. Even though it is not my personal favourite it must be a great smoking pipe. The finish cleaned up well on the pipe is in great condition and works well with the polished vulcanite taper replacement stem. I carefully buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Clapham’s Beeswax Polish and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Meerschaum fits nicely in the hand and I think the rustication will feel great when it heats up during smoking. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in carrying on Bob’s legacy with this pipe send me a message or an email. I have more to work on of various brands. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.

Restoring and Restemming a Beautiful L’Anatra dalle Uova d’Oro Bent Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

I am doing periodic repairs for a local pipe/cigar shop. They called in February about a pipe that one of their customers had dropped off for repairs. He was hoping for another L’Anatra stem but he had either lost or thrown away the original after the tenon had snapped off in the shank. That was too bad as it would have been fairly straight forward to put a new tenon on the stem and fit it in the shank. We spoke a bit about it and as I do not have access to L’Anatra stems with the goose head on the top that are hand turned acrylic I figured the repair had been dropped. Fast forward to June! On Friday evening they called and said that one of them would drop a pipe by for restemming with a vulcanite stem as the customer just wanted to be able to smoke it and enjoy it again. We arranged for the drop off at my house on that evening after the shop closed. Friday evening there was no pipe. All day Saturday and into the evening there was no pipe so I figured they had changed their minds. Then this morning around 9am the doorbell rang and there was a fellow with a City Cigar Bag in hand with a large box. We chatted and he handed me the bag.

I don’t know what I was expecting but it certainly was not what I found inside the box. It is a large box like others I have seen with L’Anatra pipes. Inside were a note and a draw string pipe bag. With the box, the bag and all I was expecting a large Italian pipe sans stem. I had no idea what shape it would be and no idea what size pipe it was. You can imagine my surprise when I open the bag and removed the pipe pictured below. It was absolutely smooth and quite stunningly grained. The shape was very nice and the condition was better than I expected. I examined the bowl for dings and nicks from the fall that snapped the tenon and found none. It was stamped L’Anatra [over] dalle Uova d’Oro [over] Fiuma and 2 eggs for the grade of the pipe. Underneath that it was stamped Hand Made in Italy. So far you see what I saw. Now let me tell you the size of the pipe. The bowl is 2 ½ inches long, 1 ½ inches tall, the outer diameter of the bowl is 1 ¼ inches and the chamber diameter is ¾ of an inch. It is a lot smaller and petite than I expected from the box and bag.  I took a photo of the stamping on the left and underside of the shank. It was very clear and readable. It was stamped as noted above – L’Anatra [over] dalle Uova d’Oro [over] Fiuma and 2 eggs [over] Hand Made in Italy.      I looked up the L’Anatra brand on PipePhil’s site (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-l1.html). It gives a great brief history of the brand that is a quick overview of the Company. The pipes are carved by Massimo Palazzi and Andrea Pascucci and graded 1, 2, or 3 eggs. The brand also had a goose head standing on the top of the stem.I looked up the brand on Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/L%27anatra). The article there was very informative about the background and history of the brand. Give the article a read if you are interested in a great article. Now it was time to begin the process of the restoration on this pipe. I quote in part:

L’Anatra pipes feature a cast silver goose head on the stem! This is demonstrative not only of their playfulness, but also of their willingness and desire to be different from the norm. They do not strive to impress, they strive to make a truly delightful and pleasing pipe. Perhaps it is this attitude that makes L’Anatra pipes so superb that pipes should first be a joy to make, to smoke and to peruse and then, only once those most important attributes are satisfied, the true artistry of the maker will shine through.

The issue that brought the pipe to me in the first place was the missing stem. Before I could fit a new stem I needed to pull the broken tenon. I tried with my usual method of turning a large screw into the airway and wiggling the tenon piece free. The tenon was stuck and did not move at all. I wrapped the bowl in a paper towel and put it in the freezer for 20 minutes. I took it out and turned the screw into the airway in the tenon. It took very little effort for the broken tenon to easily come out of the shank.    I decided to see what kind of stem I had to replace the missing stem. I had a vulcanite stem that was a close fit. The diameter of the stem was slightly larger than that of the shank. I forgot to take pictures of the stem before I worked on it. I used a Dremel and sanding drum and took the diameter down to as close to the shank diameter as I could. The rest of the work would be by hand. I took photos of the pipe with the initial fit of the stem to the shank. It is looking pretty good at this point.   I continued to reduce the diameter of the stem with 220 sandpaper to remove the excess. It took a lot of sanding to get it to have a proper fit. I followed that up sanding it with 400 grit sandpaper.   The stem was looking much better. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine.    I set the new stem aside and turned my attention to the bowl. I needed to clean out the bowl and shank before I fit the new stem on it. I reamed it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and wiped the bowl out with a piece of paper towel to remove the dust. I polished the darkened area on the back of the rim top and the rest of the bowl with 1500-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp paper towel after each pad. I rubbed the bowl and rim down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I really like watching the Balm do its magic and bring the briar alive. The pipe looked good – the natural finish allowed me to blend in the sanded and polished areas.    As usual at this point in the restoration process I am excited to be on the homestretch. I look forward to the final look when it is put back together, polished and waxed. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The grain really pops with the wax and polish. The shiny black vulcanite stem is a beautiful contrast natural browns of the bowl and shank. This L’Anatra dalle Uova d’Oro Bent Billiard was another fun pipe to work on thanks the fact that I could in essence start over with it. The thin taper stem looks really good with the natural finish of the bowl and shank. The pipe is a quite stunning piece of briar with great grain around the bowl. The pipe is comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¼ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This newly restemmed pipe will soon be going back to City Cigar to pass on to the customer who dropped it off. I hope that he soon can enjoy a few bowls in this newly stemmed pipe. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an pipe to bring back to life.

New Life for a Comoy’s Second – A Town Hall Made in England 136 Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

I am getting to the bottom of the current box of pipes for restoration. I think there were probably 40+ pipes in the box when I started. I am down to the last two. I took out an interesting older billiard that Jeff and I had picked up on our Oregon Coast Pipe Hunt. It was a well-shaped billiard that was absolutely filthy but there was something about it that ticked the boxes for me. The exterior of the bowl was coated with sticky oils and grime around the walls. The rim top was beat up pretty badly and there was a thick coat of lava and burn marks on the rim top and inner edge. There was a thick cake in the bowl. Between the lava and the cake overflowing the bowl it was hard to know what the inner edges looked like. The exterior edge was nicked and chipped with quite a bit of damage. The stem was oxidized and had tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. There was also a large hole in the underside of the stem – a large bite through that covered about half of the area ahead of the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his work on it. Jeff took some photos of the rim top from various angles to show the condition. You can see the thick lava on the top and the dust and debris as well as some damage on the rim. There is a thick cake in the bowl and lava on the inner edge. The next photos show the bowl sides and heel. The finish around the bowl was very worn and tired looking. There were spots of paint on the briar as well as quite a few fills on the heel and the front of the bowl. There was some amazing grain showing through the thick grime on the finish. The next photos capture the stamping around the shank and band. Jeff did not get a good photo of the shape number and worn stamp on the right side of the shank so I have not included that. The stamping read as noted above and they are faint but readable with a light and lens. The silver band is also stamped Sterling London.The stem was oxidized and calcified and the photos below show the tooth marks and chatter on the surface. The second photo shows the large bite through on the stem surface ahead of the button. This stem will need to be replaced.  I turned to Pipephil to try and figure out any information regarding the Town Hall brand. I was not familiar with and was hoping I would get some info (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-t7.html). I did indeed find out that it was a Comoy’s Second. The photo of the stamping looks like what I have. The stamp on the right side of the shank in the photo below is very faint on the pipe I am working on. I have included the screen capture of the section on the brand below. I then turned to the Pipedia article on Comoy’s pipes (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Comoy%27s). I read through the article until I came to the section entitles “Seconds made by Comoy’s”. I scrolled through the list of brands and the Town Hall was listed. (There is a typo in the name in the list as it runs the two words together.) I have emboldened and underlined the name in the list below.

Ace of spades, Ancestor, Astor, Ayres, Britannia, Carlyle, Charles Cross, Claridge, Coronet?, Cromwell, Dorchester, Dunbar, Drury Lane, Emerson, Everyman, Festival of Britain, Golden Arrow, Grand Master, Gresham, Guildhall, Hamilton (according to Who Made That Pipe), Kingsway, Lion’s Head, Lord Clive, Lumberman, Hyde Park, Lloyds, Mc Gahey, Moorgate, Newcastle, Oxford, O’Gorman, Rosebery Extra, Royal Falcon, Royal Guard, Royal Lane, Scotland Yard, St James, Sunrise, Super Sports, Sussex, The Academy Award, The Golden Arrow, The Mansion House, The Exmoor Pipe, Throgmorton, Tinder Box Royal Coachman, Townhall, Trident, Trocadero, Westminster, Wilshire

I knew that I was working on a Comoy’s Made pipe and once I read that I could see the classic Comoy’s Billiard shape and the shape number confirmed that. Armed with that information and a clearer picture of the original pipe I turned to work on the pipe on my work table. Jeff had done a great job cleaning up the pipe as usual. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer and cut back the cake back to the bare briar. He cleaned up the walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the finish. He worked on the rim top lava and darkening with the soap and tooth brush but it was in rough condition. He scrubbed the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer. He washed it off with warm water to remove the Deoxidizer. The pipe looked far better. I took photos of the pipe when I received it before I started working on it.  I took a photo of the rim top showing the damage to the rim top and the damage on the inner edge of the bowl. It was in rough condition. There was some darkening and nicks around the outer edge of the bowl and some burn areas on the inner edge. The stem was also in rough condition with a large bite through on the underside.I took a photo of the stamping on the shank. The stamping is clean and still readable.I decided to start with finding a new stem for the pipe. I took the stem off and looked for a replacement. I have so many pipes to work on that I am not bothering with filling in bite throughs at this point. I am leaving this to the master Paresh Deshpande to do! I found a suitable estate stem that was the right diameter and right tenon size. It is slightly shorter and a bit less tapered than the one that was on the bowl but it would work. I cleaned the airway in it with alcohol and pipe cleaners to get a good start on it then put it in place on the shank and took some pictures of the new stem. I decided to address the damage to the rim and the edges of the bowl – both outer and inner. I topped the bowl with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I sanded the inner and outer edges with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove them and to remove the damages. Once it was finished it looked a lot better. There were a lot of fills around the sides and heel of the bowl. I checked them for soundness and filled in some of the more damaged ones with clear super glue. Once the repairs cured I sanded them with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth them and blend them into the surrounding briar.I polished the rim top and bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped the bowl down after each sanding pad. The fills were very obvious on this pipe and to me they were just ugly enough to bother me. I could have stained just the rim top to match but figured I would try to mask the fills a bit with a darker stain. I used what is labeled as a Light Brown stain to cover the bowl and rim. I applied the stain and then flamed it to set it in the grain of the bowl. It was dark but I think it will look good once I am finished. I let it sit for several hours then buffed it off with Red Tripoli on the buffing wheel to get a feel for what it looked like at this point. I wiped the bowl down with isopropyl alcohol to make the stain coat a little more transparent and show the grain on the bowl. I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the briar. I let it sit for 10 minutes while I worked on the stem. After the time passed I buffed it with a cotton cloth to deepen the shine. The briar really comes alive with the balm. I set the bowl aside and turn to address the issues with the stem. The stem was in decent condition with no bite marks. It was dirty and oxidized as could be seen in the photos above. I sanded out the oxidation with 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down after each pad with some Obsidian Oil to preserve the stem and to give some bite to the sanding. I finished the polishing with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine polishes. I rubbed the stem down with the polishes and buffed it with a cotton pad. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. This Comoy’s made Town Hall 136 Billiard was one I was looking forward to seeing come together. The new light brown stain hides the fills nicely while still highlighting the grain around the bowl – sides, top and heel. The polished black vulcanite taper stem that I fit to the shank works very well with the look of the pipe. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. I polished the silver band with a jeweller’s cloth. The finished Billiard is quite nice and feels great in the hand. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. This pipe will be added to the British Pipe Makers section of the rebornpipes store soon. If you want to add it to your collection send me an email or a message! Thanks for your time.

Is New Life Possible for this Rough Old Custom-Bilt Billiard?


Blog by Steve Laug

Sometimes when we are caught up in the Adrenalin of a pipe hunt often sympathy for an old pipe surpasses logic. That was certainly the case with this tired and damaged old Custom-Bilt Billiard. We just picked it up and said it was going with us. Later in looking at it I wondered what we had done. The thick cake in the bowl and the fact that the pipe was filthy were not huge problems for us so ignore those. Here are just a few of the issues with the pipe. There appeared to be serious burn damage to the rim top and inner edge of the bowl. The stem was an obvious replacement which is not a problem but it appeared to be crooked. Was the issue the stem or the shank? Taking it out of the shank it was clear that the issue was both. The stem was too large and the tenon was off centre. However it was also clear that the shank had been hacked off at an angle and was not straight. There were chips of briar missing on the shank end. Fortunately it appeared that the mortise was straight and still functional. Those were just the issues I saw without spending a lot of time looking. But there was still some charm in the old pipe that made me want to try. Jeff took the pipe home with him to do his work on it. He took the following photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup. Jeff took photos of the damage to the rim top. You can see the damage on the inner edge of the bowl where there is some serious burn damage. There is also damage on the rim top itself. The rustication is filled in with lava and it is hard to see the extent of the damage.He took photo of the rustication around the sides and heel of the bowl to show both the damage and the grime ground into the bowl sides. He took a photo of the stamping on the shank side showing the Custom-Bilt stamp. It is readable but fainter toward the bottom of the stamp. The second photo below shows the fit of the stem to the shank and it is clear how it is both larger and off in terms of the fit.The next photos show the condition of the stem. I am not too concerned with it because it will need to be replaced.I turned to Pipephil (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-c8.html) to get a quick view of the brand once again. I knew that I was working with one of the older pipes and   probably made by Tracy Mincer himself. He stopped making the Custom-Bilt pipes in the early 1950s. The screen capture I included below shows a brief history of the brand.I turned to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/File:CustomBilt_Stamp1.jpg) for a quick read. The majority of the information there was two book reviews of the Custom-Bilt Story by Bill Unger. The one line I culled was the following: “Tracy Mincer started the original Custom-Bilt pipes it appears in 1934”.

I did a screen capture of the stamping that matched the stamping on the pipe that I am working on.What I learned from that is that the stamp was used by Tracy Mincer in Indianapolis in the US from 1938-1946 and possibly in Chicago before 1938 as well. So now I had a possible date for this pipe. It was an old timer and it was well worth working on.

Armed with that information I turned to work on the pipe itself. Jeff had done a great job cleaning up the pipe as usual. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer and cut back the cake back to the bare briar. He cleaned up the walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the finish. Jeff cleaned up this stem even though it would probably be replaced. He scrubbed the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior with Soft Scrub and then soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer. He washed it off with warm water to remove the deoxidizer. The pipe looked far better. I took photos of the pipe when I received it before I started working on it. You can see the misfit stem. I took a photo of the rim top to show how well it cleaned up and the damage on the front and rim top. I also took a series of photos to show the angles of the misfit stem. You can see that the fit is at an angle. The shank end is also not straight. I went through my collection of stems and found one that was the right profile and right length. I found a perfect stem that even had a turned tenon that would just need adjustment. I took some pictures of the shank end to show the cut angle of the shank. It is just slightly off not a huge amount but when a stem was against the shank it was obvious. The right side was longer than the left and the top was longer than the bottom.I used the topping board to lightly sand the shank end but it was not to be without removing more of the shank end than I wanted. The chips out of the shank end made it necessary to sand deeper. I decided to use a thin brass band that also capped the end of the shank. I coated the shank end with some all-purpose glue and pressed the band in place. I put the new stem on the shank and adjusted the band to take care of any deviation in the face of the shank. I removed the stem and set the bowl aside to let the glue cure. Once the glue on the band had cured I put the new stem in place in the shank to show the fit to the shank end. There is a lot of material to remove from the diameter of the stem at this point but the fit is perfect. I used my Dremel and sanding drum to carefully remove the excess material. I always start this process with the stem in place on the shank. I get it as close as possible to the shank size as I can without nicking the band. Once I have it close I remove the stem and finish it without the shank. The photo below is one I sent to Jeff to show him the progress. It shows the stem after the rough fitting. Lots of work still to do but you can see that it is coming along well.Now the shaping work began in earnest. I used folded 220 grit sandpaper to sand the stem and remove the scratching left behind by the Dremel and sanding drum. I also adjusted the fit to the shank by repeatedly taking photos of the fit. I have included some of those below so you can see the progress.I continued to sand the stem until all of the sanding marks from the drum were gone and the stem was smooth. I started the polishing of the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. The photos below show the stem at this point.I set the stem aside at this point and rubbed some Before & After  Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar. I worked it into the nooks and crannies of the briar with my fingertips and a horse hair shoe brush. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the briar. I let it sit for 10 minutes while I worked on the stem. After the time passed I buffed it with a cotton cloth to deepen the shine. The briar came alive with the balm. When I am doing a restemming job I like to put it on the bowl and get a look at the pipe all along the way. There is something satisfying in watching the new pipe take shape. I was pleased with how the pipe was looking. I liked the flow of the stem and new shank band. It definitely was a step up from where I started. All that remains now is to finish polishing the stem and then buffing the pipe and waxing it. I was definitely getting there! I removed the stem from the bowl and set the bowl aside. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. This early Tracy Mincer made Custom-Bilt billiard was an absolute disaster when we found it. I cleaned up the shank, banded it to smooth it out and made a new stem. It is a great looking pipe. The brown stain on the mixed grain shining through the rustication is quite nice. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition and the contrasting stains work well to give some contrast to the finish of the pipe. The polished black vulcanite taper stem adds to the mix. With the grime, debris and burn marks minimized from the finish the bowl it is really is eye-catching. The thin gold coloured band looks really nice on the shank. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel, carefully avoiding the stamping on the shank. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished chunky, rustic Bulldog is quite nice and feels great in the hand. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that like the other pipes I am working that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another interesting pipe. This rustic Mincer Custom-Bilt Billiard will be going on the rebornpipes store shortly. Keep an eye on the American Pipe Makers section of the store. If you want to add it to your collection send me an email or a message! Thanks for your time.

I am not sure I would call this AFG III Freehand pipe anything other than ODD


Blog by Steve Laug

Jeff picked up this pipe sometime in 2016 and I have had it in a box of bowls since he sent it to me. I have looked at it several times but it never called my name. It is a strange pipe. The upwardly curved portion of the shank is joined to the bowl and straight shank about mid shank. The grain is quite nice though there is a large pit on the left side of the shank. The pipe is a sitter with a strange notched rim top. The notches have a faux plateau pattern in the groove on the front and back of the bowl. The top of the rim is almost calabash like with a wide flat top. The curve of the shank made the drilling of the bent portion a mystery until you turn the pipe over and see the screw that is inset in the back of the shank where it is parallel with the airway in the straight portion. It was lightly smoked and dirty. The shank is stamped AFG III on the left side of the upper portion. The stem was pirated from a WDC Wellington and made to fit in the shank. The shank end was out of round and the mortise was quite large. The end was not flat so fitting any stem would be a trick. Maybe that is why the Wellington stem was used. The stem had deep tooth marks in the surface and really did not work with the bowl to me. Jeff took the following photos before he did his clean up on the pipe. Jeff took photos of the bowl top to show the condition of the bowl and rim top and edges. The pipe has almost a floral look to it from this angle. It is a dirty pipe and the interior of the bowl has some roughness on the right side. He took a photo of the screw in the underside of the shank. It looks like a brass wood screw that has been inset in the shank.He took photos of the sides of the bowl and the heel to give a clear look at the grain on the briar. It is actually a nice looking piece of briar that some how the shape follows in a strange way all its own. The stamping on the left side of the shank reads AFG III which is not a brand I can find listed anywhere on the net so I have no information on the maker.The stem that had been made to fit is a WDC Wellington P-lip knockoff. It really did not fit in the shank and it was pretty chewed up. I would need to replace it.Today when I was sorting through my box of bowls without stems that I have and pitching out the worst of them I picked this bowl up and was drawn to seeing what I could do with it. I took it to my worktable and looked it over. Jeff had done a great job cleaning up the pipe as I have come to expect after 4 years of working on pipes. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet reamer and cut back the cake back to the bare briar. He cleaned up the walls with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the interior of the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol to remove the tars and oils. He scrubbed the exterior of the pipe with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime from the finish. He scrubbed the inside of the stem with alcohol and pipe cleaners. Since the stem was not going to be used he did a quick clean up on it and sent it along. I had long since thrown it in the bottom of the box of bowls. The pipe was indeed an odd one. I took photos of the pipe when I received it before I started working on it. I took a photo of the wood screw in the shank and the flaw in the briar on the topside of the shank. You can also see the joint of the bowl and shank with the upward turned shank extension in the photos below. I drew a red box around then in the photos below. I went through my cans of stems to find one that would work with the diameter of the shank. I would need to turn the tenon to make it fit and also adjust the shank end and face it to make the taper stem fit.I took a photo of the shank end to show its condition. It was not flat and it was not round. The thickness of the shank around the mortise was also different on each side. The second photo below shows that angle of the shank end.I went through my brass bands to find one that would fit the end of the shank. I smoothed out rounded end on a topping board to smooth it. I also used my Dremel and sanding drum to bring the shank end back to round. I heated the band and pressed it onto the end of the shank. It looked good and it provided a straight flat edge on the shank end that would work well with the newly turned stem. I unscrewed the wood screw from the shank and found that it actually cut off the flow of air through the shank. When it was in place it extended into the airway. I used the Dremel and a grinding stone to take the screw down so that it would end at the wall of the airway. I used some all purpose glue to anchor the screw in the shank. It could be removed with a screw driver but it also was air tight.I filled in the flaw on the left side of the shank with briar dust and super glue. When the repair cured I sanded the repair smooth again with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing with 400 grit sandpaper. I used the PIMO tenon turning tool on my cordless drill to reduce the diameter of the tenon and face the stem surface for a good fit on the shank.Once I had the fit right to the shank I used a heat gun to give the end a bend that matched the flow of the bowl.  I may bend it a bit more but I like it at the moment. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping the bowl down with a damp cloth after each pad. I worked over the repaired spot on the shank to blend it in more. I touched up the stain around the band edge and the repaired pit on the shank using a blend of Oak and Maple stain pens. The colour matched well and once it was buffed would be perfect.I rubbed the briar down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips. The product works to clean, enliven and preserve the briar. I let it sit for 10 minutes while I worked on the stem. After the time passed I buffed it with a cotton cloth to deepen the shine. The briar really comes alive with the balm. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the newly fit stem. I did some fine tuning of the diameter of the stem at the shank/stem junction with 220 grit sandpaper and began the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I rubbed the stem down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish – a red, gritty Tripoli like substance that is a paste. I rubbed it into the surface of the stem and polished it off with a cotton pad. I have found that is a great intermediary step before polishing with micromesh pads. I am not sure what I will use once the final tin I have is gone!I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.  This oddly shaped handmade briar pipe is strange enough to actually be quite interesting. From the shape of the extended shank to the flair of the bowl sides to the different looking top with the smooth top on the sides and the “dips” in the front and rear that are rusticated to look a bit like plateau. The mix of brown stains that the maker used really highlights some great grain around the bowl sides and the heel. The finish on the pipe is in excellent condition and the contrasting stains work well to highlight the grain on the pipe. The band and the newly shaped vulcanite stem seem to work well with the pipe. The pipe is a beauty and really eye-catching in its own way. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Freehand is quite nice and feels great in the hand and is a sitter as well. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. This is not a pipe for everyone but someone is bound to love it. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. This pipe will be added to the American Pipe Makers section of the rebornpipes store soon. If you want to add it to your collection send me an email or a message! Thanks for your time.

Continuing My Practice on Tenon Replacement… Working on a Connoisseur, NYC Pipe


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

Any learning consists of three phases; first is being taught, second is practice and the third phase is mastering!! Continuing on my learning curve, I wanted to practice replacing broken tenons on pipes to make them smoke worthy again.

The pipe that I chose to practice on is a free hand that boasts of straight / flame grains all around the stummel with bird’s eyes on the heel of the bowl with a plateau rim top. It is stamped on the left of the shank as “CONNOISSEUR” over “N.Y.C.”. These stampings are crisp and easily readable. There is no other stamping seen on either the stummel or the stem. This is the first time that I am working on a Connoisseur and am keen to know more about this pipe brand, carver and also dating this pipe. As is my habit, the first site that I visit is rebornpipes where, over the years, it seems like Steve has chronicled almost all the pipes that were and are in existence. True enough, Steve has restored and researched a pipe from this maker. Here is the link for a detailed information on this pipe; https://rebornpipes.com/2015/05/23/restoring-an-ed-burak-connoisseur-tall-stack/

Further down the write up, he also gives out the dating methodology adopted by Ed Burak and the same is reproduced for immediate reference.

I also learned on Pipephil’s website (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/about-en.html) that the stamping did indeed give some information that helped in identifying the period that a particular pipe was made. There I found that one may generally separate Connoisseur pipes’ date of manufacture into three periods.

From late 1960’s until 1974: no stampings
From 1974 until 1981: CONNOISSEUR over N.Y.C.
From 1981 on: CONNOISSEUR over N.Y.C. and Ed Burak’s signature.

Thus from the above information, it’s evident that this beautiful Connoisseur pipe in my hand is from the period 1974 to 1981!

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The first and foremost issue that I noticed and was aware of from the description given by the seller is that of the broken tenon. When I saw the pictures of this pipe for the first time, I had observed, apart from the most obvious broken tenon a number of other issues which presented a challenge of their own. The briar was natural and unstained. It had darkened slightly with age. This was how the pipe had reached me…discerning readers will easily make out other major issues that need to be addressed on this pipe. The chamber has a thick uneven layer of dry and hard cake with the inner rim edge showing darkening in 6 o’clock direction (marked in yellow). The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be checked and ascertained only after the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. However, I do not envision any damage to the chamber walls. There is heavy lava overflow and debris embedded in the plateau of the rim top surface. The condition of the inner rim edge will be commented upon once the lava overflow has been removed. There are very strong and all pervading smells of old tobacco emanating from the chamber. Hopefully this issue should be addressed once the cake has been removed and the mortise is thoroughly cleaned. The stummel boasts of beautiful straight/flame grain all around and extend over the shank surface too!! The surface is covered in lava overflow, dirt and grime. The stummel briar is without a single fill and through all the dirt and grime, exudes a very high quality briar and craftsmanship. The foot of the stummel shows beautiful bird’s eye grains and is sans any damage. The slightly tapered end of the shank has the broken end of the tenon still embedded within. A prominent crack is visible over the shank on the right side. This pipe, in all probability, has suffered this catastrophic damage as a result of having fallen in stem down position. The mortise has the broken tenon stuck inside. I did try to wriggle it out with a screw driver, but the broken tenon wouldn’t budge. This will require more invasive technique. The heavy build up of cake in the chamber, dirty plateau rim top and the sorry condition of the stem all point towards a clogged mortise. This will be ascertained once the broken piece is removed from the shank end.The fancy stem has blobs of sticky oils and tars on both the surfaces as well as in between the nooks and crannies at the tenon end. There are significant tooth indentations on both the upper and lower buttons, to the extent that they would need to be rebuild completely. The slot just does not appear correct. It appears to be a orifice, but it is not a perfect round and  there are horizontal extensions on either side. Even this opening is clogged with old oils and tars. The broken tenon end of the stem is jagged and sharp at the place where the tenon has snapped. In my opinion, there is something which is not right about this stem. The quality of the stem is not something which is to be expected on a Connoisseur pipe. THE PROCESS
I began the process of refurbishing this pipe with cleaning the internals of the stem using pipe cleaners with isopropyl alcohol (99.9% pure) and dunking the stem in to “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution developed by my friend Mark Hoover. The solution helps to draw out heavy oxidation to the surface making its removal a breeze, while the minor oxidation is eliminated to a very great extent. I usually dunk stems of 5-7 pipes that are in-line for restoration and this pipe is marked in pastel blue arrow. I generally allow the stems to soak in this solution overnight for it to work its magic.With the stem soaking in the deoxidizer solution, I decided to remove the broken portion of the tenon from the shank. I select a drill bit that was slightly bigger than the tenon airway opening and mount it on my hand held drill. Very gently holding the drill absolutely straight, I give the drill machine a few forward turns. Once the drill bit is firmly embedded in to the broken tenon, I turn the drill machine in reverse. The reverse turns pull the broken end of the tenon out from the mortise. I breathe a sigh of relief as this is a very delicate step and a lot of things can go wrong if not executed with precision and patience. I further work the stummel, reaming the chamber with my PipNet reamer using head sizes 1 to 3. Using my fabricated knife, I further ream out the cake from places where the PipNet reamer could not reach and follow it with sanding the chamber walls with a 220 grit sand paper. I wipe the chamber with isopropyl alcohol and a cotton swab to remove all the carbon dust. This final cleaning of the chamber reveals a minor indentation in the wall opposite the draught hole, a result of over enthusiastic use of pipe cleaners to clean the mortise (marked in yellow semi- circle)!! Though not a major issue now, one will have to be careful with using pipe cleaners in future. Next, I clean the mortise with hard bristled and regular pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I scrub the external surface of the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dry it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I carefully clean the plateau rim top with a soft brass wire brush to remove the accumulated dirt and debris from the surface. Thereafter, I clean the mortise, plateau rim top and stummel surface with anti-oil dish washing soap on a shank brush and a tooth brush. The entire stummel, including the plateau rim top, cleans up nicely. I set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. The smells from the pipe, though reduced, are still very strong. Close observation of the stummel reveals the culprit to be the now moistened accumulated gunk in the mortise. Using my dental tools, I assiduously pick out and clean the mortise of all the gunk. I also clean the mortise with q-tips and alcohol. The amount of old grime that is scraped out from the mortise itself tells the story. The mortise is now clean and smells fresh.Moving ahead, I now address the crack that is seen on the right side of the shank, extending from the shank end to nearly half distance towards the stummel. Firstly, I clean off all the debris that is lodged in the crack using dental floss. The thin floss cleans the crack of all the dirt without widening it.I follow up this cleaning of the crack by marking the end points and turning points of the crack with a sharp dental pick. These marks help to guide the drill bit when drilling the counter hole. I take care that the drill is just sufficiently deep enough to arrest the further spread of the crack and not a through hole.I fill this crack with a mix of CA superglue and briar dust. To ensure a tight fill I clamp it down with pliers till the mix had cured, which by the way, is instantaneous!! Once the repair has cured for couple of hours, I sand it down with a flat needle file to achieve a rough match with the rest of the stummel surface. I fine tune the match with  220, 400 and 600 grit sand paper.To further stabilize the crack and prevent it from splitting again, I decide to place a band over the shank end. I select a band that is a tad bit smaller than the shank end diameter. When I place this band over the shank end, I realize that the last two letters of the stamping are being masked. I decide on grinding away the excess material from the band with my sanding drum mounted on a hand held rotary tool to a size which while being appropriate to stabilize the crack will not mask the stampings. The process is long and fraught with mistakes… The band has flown out of my hands a few times, since it can not withstand the stress of the sanding drum and is deformed , not to mention the time factor involved. However, through all these difficulties, I have prevailed to shape a band for the shank end. This is the pictorial depiction of the process and the result. Once I am satisfied with the fit, I heat the band with a heat gun in order to expand it and fix it over the shank end. I have avoided gluing it securely in place just in case I may have to revisit the entire process and go for a fresh band. Here is how the band fits over the shank end. Truth be told, I am not very confident that the band would be a success given the fitting of the band over the shank end. I set the stummel aside and decide to replace the tenon on the stem. I have explained in great detail the procedure that I have learnt and followed while replacing the tenon on a Preben Holm # 7 FH pipe. To avoid repetition of the process, I would request all to refer to the write up and other literature on the subject that is available on rebornpipes.

Given below are a series of sequential pictures explaining the procedure. Here I would also like to note that as I had mentioned earlier, the quality of the stem appeared circumspect and this was corroborated while drilling the stem air way to accommodate the new tenon. The plastic or some such low quality of the stem did pose a lot of resistance during the drilling and a straight drill was very difficult. However, my persistence has paid off and I am happy with the replaced tenon. Once the tenon is replaced, I try the fit of the stem in to the mortise. The fit though snug, reveals gaps and the seating of the stem in to the mortise is not flush. No amount of tweaking and minor adjustment by sanding of the tenon can ensure a flush seating. I feel that I have botched up the banding of the shank end and that is what has caused this issue. Here is how the seating appears after all the adjustments and tweaking. At this point in restoration, I shared pictures of this issue and then later in the day had a FaceTime chat with my Guru, Steve. Steve, with his vast experience and having worked on and researched a Connoisseur pipe before, immediately commented that the stem is not the right style for Connoisseur pipes and could be a replacement stem. I have another Connoisseur pipe (which awaits restoration) with a saddle stem in my collection and when the stem of this freehand was compared, it was no where near the quality that was seen on the other saddle stem. The pictures below show the difference in quality of the stem material and finish between the two pipes. Thereafter we discussed the shank band and he suggested to reband the shank end while going in for a completely new stem. Thereafter, we went through my can of spare stems and selected one that would be the best match for this pipe. Here are the pictures of the shortlisted stem. The slightly bent stem with all the calcification is the one that would replace the one that the pipe came with. The shortlisted stem, I am afraid, is not in the best of condition. The tapered slightly bent vulcanite stem is nearly the same length as the replaced one while being very thick at the tenon end. The quality of the re-replacement stem is very good. The stem is heavily oxidized with significant calcium deposition and deep tooth indentations in the bite zone on either surfaces of the stem. A couple of deep chips are seen along the seam on either sides as well as on the lower and upper surfaces of the stem. The button surfaces on either side has bite marks and the edges are equally damaged and deformed. The tenon and the horizontal slot shows heavy accumulation of oils, tars and gunk. All in all, the refurbishing and shaping of this stem presents a ton of effort and time.I begin the refurbishing and reshaping of the stem by first cleaning the stem, both internally and externally. With my fabricated knife and a paper cutter, I remove the entire calcium sediments from the bite zone. Using a dental tool, I dislodge all the dried oils and tars from the tenon and slot end. I clean the stem internals with pipe cleaners and shank brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I sand the entire stem surface with a folded piece of 150 grit sand paper to remove some oxidation as well as to even out some tooth chatter from the bite zone. Once the initial cleaning is done, I move ahead for shaping/sizing the stem. The tenon is too thick for the mortise and that is my start point. I mount a sanding drum on to my hand held rotary tool and sand the tenon till I achieve a rough fit in to the mortise. During the entire process, I frequently check the progress being made as I do not want to sand too much material from the tenon, making for a loose fit.I fine tune the fit of the tenon in to the mortise by hand sanding with flat head needle file and 180 grit followed by a 220 grit sand paper. The tenon attachment with the stem is shaped with a triangular needle file. I check the seating of the stem in to the mortise after I remove the shank band. The stem fit is nice and snug. Before I move to the final fit and shaping of the stem, I decide to reband the shank end. This time I select a band that was a snug fit as against a size smaller as I have done earlier. To reduce the thickness of the band, this time I manually sand it over a 150 grit sand paper instead of using my rotary tool and a sanding drum. It does take a long time, but the end result is much better. The last letter “R” has been masked, but I shall deal with it later (will I…?). I still have not glued the band in place, just to be on the safer side!!Now with the band in place, I move ahead with shaping and aligning the stem. The first thing that I proceed to do is to shave of the excess meat from the shoulders at the tenon end. Readers, when I say excess, please be aware that the word excess does not convey the quantum of excess… It  was hell of a lot of material to shave off!! I mount a 150 grit sanding drum on to the rotary tool and go to town sanding off the material from the shoulders of the stem. Once I have achieved a rough match, I use a flat head needle file to further match the fit. I progress to manual sanding with a 180 grit sand paper to fine tune the match. This is how the stem profile matches with the shank end of the stummel…not quite there but getting close. I feel that the mid region of the stem needs to be trimmed a bit and do so with a flat head needle file and a 180 grit sand paper. Here is where I have reached at this stage. Truth be told, eye balling the shape is not the easiest way to achieve the exact shape since I am always seeing it, shaping it and matching it. It’s something akin to optical illusion that I am experiencing. There is a bit of overhang at the shoulders of the stem and I need to shave off some more material from the area above it. Also a slight gap is seen at the lower end and on the left side of the stem that needs to be addressed. I decide to take a break from all the sanding of the stem and move on to shaping the stem to match the profile of the stummel. I insert a pipe cleaner through the stem’s air way to prevent it from collapsing once the stem is heated. I first straightened the stem by heating it with a heat gun. To impart the requisite bend, I try to adopt the technique that my friend, Dal Stanton of PipeSteward fame, uses and that is to draw a diagram marked with the plane of the stummel rim top, a parallel plane that is required, the present profile of the stem and thereafter, the exact place and shape of the bend that is needed. Well, it is an attempt that I made, but ended up eye balling the exact bend to be imparted. I heat the stem with my heat gun till the vulcanite becomes pliable and gives it the necessary bend. I hold it in place till the stem had cooled down a bit and thereafter, hold the stem under cold water for the bend to set. The next issue that is addressed is of the stem repairs. I insert a triangle shaped index card covered in transparent tape in to the slot. The tape prevents the mix of superglue and charcoal from sticking to the index card. I mix superglue and activated charcoal powder and generously apply it over the bite zone, including over the button. I also fill the couple of deep chips along the seam on either sides as well as on the lower and upper surfaces of the stem with the charcoal mix and set it aside to cure. Once the mix has cured, I remove the index card from the slot. While the stem fill is set aside to cure, I polish the stummel with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 pads. This time around, I do not repeat the mistake of polishing the plateau rim top as I had done with the PH # 3 earlier! I wipe the surface with a soft cloth at the end of the micromesh cycle. The stummel looks amazing with a deep shine and beautiful straight grains popping over the stummel surface. I rub a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” in to the briar. I rub this balm deep in to the nooks and crannies of the plateau rim top surface with my fingers and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the dark brown hues of the grain contrasting with the rest of the stummel surface. I further buff it with a horse hair shoe brush. The appearance of the stummel at this stage motivates me further to complete this project at the earliest. I set the stummel aside and all that remains was to shape, align and polish the stem! Now motivated with the appearance of the stummel, I turn my attention to the stem repair. The fills have cured nicely and I move ahead and began the process of filing and shaping the button end with a flat head needle file. At this stage, I get in touch with Steve on Face Time and discuss the progress on the stem. He suggests that a slightly sharper bend to the stem from near the bite zone would accentuate the shape and flow of the shank with that of the stem. He also suggests that the profile of the stem near the shoulder and mid region needs to be more slender. So, it is back to heating the end of the stem with the heat gun and giving it the desired bend, of course, eyeballing it to the desired shape!As discussed with Steve, with a flat needle file, I shave off some more vulcanite from the shoulder and the mid region of the stem. I further sand the stem with 220, 320, 400, 600, 800 grit sand papers and finally with 0000 grade steel wool. I wipe the stem with a cotton pad dipped in alcohol to remove the resultant dust and rub some extra virgin olive oil onto the stem and set it aside to be absorbed.I polish the stem with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I rub a little extra virgin olive oil in to the stem at the end of the micromesh pads polishing cycle. I complete the polishing regime of the stem by rubbing a small quantity of Extra Fine Stem polish developed by my friend Mark Hoover, and giving it a final polish with a soft cotton cloth. The stem is now nice, smooth and shiny.To apply the finishing touches, I first mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and apply a coat of Blue Diamond to the stummel and the stem to polish out the minor scratches. Boy, am I glad to finally have reached the home run stretch to complete this project!! I shared these images with Steve for his comment. He suggested that the shoulder overhang needs to be reduced and under belly to be straightened out more.Well, here I was back with a flat needle file and 220 grit sand papers as against carnauba wax and rotary tool!! I again diligently worked on these issues, frequently checking for progress being made. Once I am satisfied that the shoulder overhangs and under belly issues have been resolved, I check the seating of the stem in to the mortise. The seating is canted backwards. I address this issue by heating the tenon and slightly pushing it upwards (that is, in the opposite direction). I check the seating and am quite pleased by the overall appearance of the stem and its seating. Thereafter, I go through the entire regime of sanding and polishing as explained above. At the end of the micromesh pads, I complete the polishing regime of the stem by rubbing a small quantity of Extra Fine Stem polish developed by my friend Mark Hoover, and giving it a final polish with a soft cotton cloth. The stem is now nice, smooth and shiny. With a cotton buffing wheel that I use for carnauba wax, I apply a coat of carnauba wax to the stummel and stem and continue to work on it till the complete coat of wax is polished out. I mount a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and give the entire pipe a once over buff. I finish the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine further. The finished pipe is shown below. P.S. – This project was more tedious than I had anticipated, mostly because of my own faults and errors in judgement.  But then, isn’t this the fun part of being of the learning curve? I shall be avoiding the following in my future restorations:

(a) Using a band that is a tad smaller then the shank end diameter. I would rather use a band that has a snug and perfect fit over the shank end.

(b) Using a rotary tool with a sanding drum to get the band to the desired size. It’s better, safer and precise to manually sand the band on a sand paper.

(c) Clamping the shank end after filling a crack. I am not sure, but I think that the clamping down may have caused a slight deformation that had caused me such grief with the seating of the stem.

(d) Less reliance on “eye balling” for sizing and shaping…need to get on with hunting for a “PIMO TENON TURNING TOOL” and a set of “VERNIER CALIPERS”.

I am really fortunate to be in the process of learning the nuances of pipe restoration and cannot thank Steve enough for his support and guidance.

Thanks for your patience and looking forward to input about the write up. Cheers…

A Blasticated Capri Bent Billiard that came with a story


Blog by Steve Laug

A few days ago I received a call at work from a fellow who was just leaving the local pipe shop in Vancouver that refers people to me for repairs. I have to tell you this guy had a story that I had not heard before. He was driving and chatting at the same time. He said that he had picked up a pipe that fast becoming a favourite of his. He was driving and smoking it when he accidentally dropped it out of the window. It seems like the car was moving – at least slowly in his story. The bowl went one way and the stem took off. He stopped and picked up the bowl and could not find the stem. What was not clear to me was what happened to the stem. He said that there was no broken tenon in the shank. He only had the bowl. He stopped by my house and left the bowl in his Autoplan Car Insurance plastic bag in my mail box. He had his phone number and name on the bag. This morning I called to see what kind of stem he wanted on the pipe and it turns out he is a tugboat captain. He said the stem was tapered and rubber. He would be back to Vancouver in two weeks and would get a hold of me then. So that is the story of this pipe.

I actually had no idea what to expect when I returned to my house. My wife had brought the bag inside when she came home. I asked about the pipe and she handed me the Autoplan bag. I took the pipe out of the bag and took photos. The pipe appeared to have what I call a blasticated finish. It is typically done when someone rusticates a bowl and then sandblasts it afterwards. It gives it a very interesting look. The finish was almost new other than several rough spots of road rash around the rim top, heel and sides. The beauty of this type of finish is that it is very forgiving when it has this kind of damage. I took some photos of the pipe before I did any work on it. You can see it is a bent billiard, it is made by Capri and it is sans stem. I went through my cans of stem options and found only one thick tapered stem that would actually work on this pipe. The tenon was not turned and it was an unused blank that still had some casting marks on the sides and button. I quickly sanded the tenon to see what I was working with. I could see that with a bit of work it would be a good fit for this pipe.I used a wire brush to knock off the loose bits from the road rash and then used a walnut stain pen to touch up the damaged areas on the finish.Now it was time to work on the stem. I set up my cordless drill and put the PIMO tenon turning tool in the chuck. I set the cutting head for the first pass on the tenon and spun the stem on the drill to remove excess rubber.I measured the diameter of the mortise again and reset the cutting head on the PIMO. I spun the stem once more and took it down to a close fit. I filed and sanded it the rest of the way.The shoulders on the cast stem were slightly rounded and the diameter of the stem was a little bigger than the diameter of the shank. I used a rasp to remove the excess material and reduced the stem to a very close fit on the shank.I sanded the file marks out of the stem sides with 220 grit sandpaper. There still needs to be some fine tuning but the stem is beginning to look like a fit. I took photos of the pipe with the new stem at this point to have a look. I worked on the sides of the stem diameter to fine tune it. It was definitely looking better. It was time to bend the stem to fit the flow of the bowl. I set up my heat gun. I put a pipe cleaner in the airway of the stem to keep the airway from crimping. I moved the stem over the heat until the vulcanite softened. I used round handle of a chisel for the shape of the bend and bent the stem until it looked right on the bowl. I always try to bend the stem to get the same angle on the bend as the flat top of the bowl.I put the stem back on the bowl and took photos of the look of the pipe now. I like the look of the stem and the flow of the pipe. I still want to shape the shank stem fit some more so the flow is uninterrupted. I removed the stem and turned my attention to finishing the restoration of the bowl. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar with my fingertips and a horse hair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of stain really made the rustication shimmer and show depth. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The pipe really looks good at this point. I am very happy with the way the pipe is looking at this point in the process. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded it with 220 grit and 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to smooth out the remaining marks on the stem. I had coated the tenon with a light coat of clear fingernail polish to protect the fit during all of the fiddling and sanding I was doing.  I have experienced damaging a tenon because I was careless so I will often do this when restemming a pipe now. I still needed to smooth out the tenon a bit but it was starting to look really good.I polished the stem surface with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the sanding debris. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I hand buffed it with a cloth. I gave it a coat of Briarville’s No Oxy Oil even though it does not work as well on acrylic as it does on the vulcanite it was designed for. It works to give a top coat to protect and preserve the newly cleaned and polished stem.  This was a change of pace to the normal day to day restoration I have been doing. Fitting a stem to a bowl is interesting and it is time consuming. Once I was finished I put the new vulcanite stem back on the bowl and polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservators Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The Capri Bent Billiard with the new stem polished up really well. The polished stem looked very good after the buffing. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions of this pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. For a low cost pipe this little billiard is eye catching. I will be calling the fellow who dropped it off and let him know the pipe is finished. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman.

A New Beginning for Jennifer’s Dad’s Karl Erik Knute of Denmark Freehand


Blog by Steve Laug

I decided to change things up a bit and work on another of Jennifer’s Dad’s pipes. For the next pipe from the estate of George Rex Leghorn I have chosen a nicely shaped Knute of Denmark Freehand. You may not have read about this estate before, so I will retell the story. I received an email from Jennifer who is a little older than my 64+ (65 now – sheesh, I forget how old I am) years about whether I would be interested in her Dad’s pipes. My brother Jeff and I have been picking up a few estates here and there, so I was interested. Here is the catch – she did not want to sell them to me but to give them to me to clean up, restore and resell. The only requirement she had was that we give a portion of the sales of the pipes to a charity serving women and children. We talked about the organization I work for that deals with trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and their children and she decided that would be a great way to carry on the charitable aspect of her Dad’s character. With some great conversation back and forth she sent the pipes to Jeff and he started the cleanup process on them. Once he had finished cleaning them all he sent them to me to do my work on them.

The Knute Freehand pipe with plateau on the rim top and shank end is stamped on the left side of the shank Knute of Denmark. The bowl had nice grain on the sides and cross grain on the front and back and rugged plateau on the rim top and shank end. The finish is very dirty making it hard to see beyond that to the nice grain underneath that. There was a thick cake in the bowl and it had overflowed with lava onto the inward beveled rim top. It was a dirty and tired looking old pipe. The stem was badly oxidized and there were George’s usual tooth marks and chatter on both sides just ahead of the button. The button was also damaged. The other issue with the stem is that it did not really fit the pipe. The tenon was a bit large and I just had a feeling it was the wrong stem. The pipe had been sitting in boxes for a lot of years and it was time to move ahead with the restoration. Jennifer took photos of the pipes she was sending. I have included the two photos of this pipe below.When the box arrived from Jennifer, Jeff opened it and took photos of each pipe before he started his cleanup work on them. This Knute Freehand was a nicely shaped pipe and we have both worked on quite a few Knute pipe. This was going to be an interesting restoration. Knute pipe are well made and I have found that they not mentioned much in the online pipe communities that I frequent. I enjoy working on them. The shape on the Knute seems to really capture the flow of the grain on the briar. The briar appeared to be in good condition underneath the grime. The finish looked intact under the grime and oils on the bowl sides from George’s hands. The bowl had a thick cake that had hardened with time. The lava overflow on the rim top filled in much of the plateau. It was very thick but it could very well have protected the rim from damage. We won’t know what is under it until Jeff had cleaned it off. The stem was oxidized and also had some calcification on the surface. There were deep tooth marks on both sides just ahead of the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started working on it. I include those below. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava build up on the plateau rim top and dust and grime in the shank end as well. It was thick and hard but hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage. The lava coat looks horrible but it points to a well-used, favourite smoking pipe. George must have enjoyed this old timer a lot judging from the condition of the pipe. Jeff took a photo of the side and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish – the grime and grit all over the sides and bottom of the bowl. The was also a deep gouge in the heel on the right side. It is a dirty pipe but it has a stunning grain around the bowl sides and cross grain on the front and back.Jeff took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank. It is very clear and readable. It reads Knute of Denmark.Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the scratching, oxidation and tooth marks on the stem surface. The tooth marks are quite deep on both sides of the stem. I turned to Pipedia to refresh my memory regarding the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Knute). I had recollections that the pipe was made by Karl Erik Ottendahl as one of his sub brands so I wanted to confirm that. I quote from that article below:

Knute of Denmark pipes are said to be made by Karl Erik, see his listing herein.

Karl Erik Ottendahl was born in Aalborg in 1942, just a few miles from the very northernmost tip of Denmark. He began his career as a Lithographer as an apprentice in the craft at the age of 16. While working as an apprentice he began hand carving pipes as a hobby and to give as gifts to his more senior colleagues. He began his career making pipes for various labels in Denmark and the United States. Often he would make the higher grade pipes for a well known brand that was known for their midrange or low end pieces such as Wally Frank. While doing this he administered a factory of fifteen craftsmen. During this period he did make of some of his own handmade pipes, but he felt that the responsibility of managing the factory did not give him the freedom he wished he had.

Other brands confirmed to be from Karl Erik are: Champ of Denmark, HTL, Jobey Dansk, Knute, Golden Danish, Lars of Denmark, Larsen & Stigart (Copenhagen pipe shop), Shelburne, Sven Eghold and Wenhall (for Wenhall Pipes, New York), some Ben Wade and pipes marked IS and IIS.

I could start my restoration of this beautiful freehand with the knowledge that I was dealing with a Karl Erik Ottendahl made freehand. But before I get on to restoring the pipe I thought I would once again include the tribute that Jennifer wrote to her Dad for the blog. She also sent some photos and an article that her Dad wrote for Jeff and me to be able to get a feel for him. I have included those below. Note in each of them that he is holding a pipe in his left hand. I asked her to also send me an email with a brief tribute to her Dad. Here is her tribute from an email to me.

Steve, I want to thank you again for accepting my dad’s pipes.  They were so much a part of my dad’s life that I could not simply discard them. But as his daughter, I was not about to take up smoking them either. *laughing* I think my dad would like knowing that they will bring pleasure to others.  I know that I do.

I’m not sure what to say about his pipes. I always remember Daddy smoking pipes and cigars.

First a bit about my dad. Though my father, George Rex Leghorn, was American (growing up in Alaska), he managed to join the Canadian Army at the beginning of WWII, but in doing so lost his American citizenship.  He was fortunate to meet a Canadian recruiting officer who told him the alphabet began with “A” and ended with “Zed” not “Zee”, and also told him to say that he was born in a specific town that had all its records destroyed in a fire.  When the US joined the war my dad, and thousands of other Americans who had made the same choice*(see the link below for the article), were given the opportunity to transfer to the US military, and regain their citizenship.

After WWII, my dad, earned his degree at the University of California Berkeley and became a metallurgist. There is even a bit about him on the internet.

He loved taking the family out for a drive, and he smoked his cigars on those trips. (As a child, those were troubling times for my stomach.)

I most remember my father relaxing in his favorite chair with a science fiction book in one hand and a pipe in the other… Sir Walter Raleigh being his favorite tobacco… and the pipes themselves remind me of him in that contented way.  If I interrupted his repose, he’d look up, with a smile on his face, to answer me.

It seemed he smoked his Briarwood pipes the most, though he had others.  At the time, it was only the Briarwood I knew by name because of its distinctive rough shaped bowl.  And it was the Anderson Free Hand Burl Briar, made in Israel, which I chose for his birthday one year, because I thought he might like that particular texture in his hand.

At least two of his pipes, he inherited from his son-in-law, Joe Marino, a retired medical laboratory researcher (my sister Lesley’s late husband)… the long stemmed Jarl (made in Denmark), and the large, white-bowled, Sherlock Holmes style pipe.  I believe Joe had others that went to my dad, but Lesley was only sure about those two.

The Buescher, corncob pipe my older sister Lesley bought for Daddy while on one of her travels around the States.

A note on the spelling of my sister’s name…

My dad met my mother, Regina, during WWII and they married in Omagh, Ireland.  My mother was English and in the military herself.  The English spelling of Lesley is feminine, and Leslie masculine, in the UK… just the opposite of here in the United States.  I guess my mom won out when it came to the spelling of the name…

This pipe was a real mess just like the other ones in the collection. I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looked really good when I got it. The rim top looked much better but had scratches and nicks in the surface and some darkening on the inner and outer edges. The silver band was oxidized and tarnished. Jeff had cleaned the internals and scrubbed the exterior of the stem and soaked them in Before & After Deoxidizer bath to remove the oxidation. The stem looked very good other than the deep tooth marks in the surface. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I took photos of the pipe before I started my part of the restoration. I was so pumped to get started on this Karl Erik made Knute that I totally forgot to take photos of what it looked like when it arrived.

I jumped in and addressed the gouge in the briar on the heel of the pipe. I filled it with briar dust and super glue. Once it cured I sanded it smooth with 220 and 400 grit sandpaper. I restained the sanded spot and the light spots around the rim and shank end of the bowl with a Maple stain pen to match the colour of the bowl and shank. I polished the bowl and the high spots on the plateau rim with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped it down between pads with a soft cotton cloth. You can see the progress in the shine as you go through the photos. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl and the plateau rim top and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of stain really made the grain stand out. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The pipe really looks good at this point. I am very happy with the way the pipe is looking at this point in the process.  I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I examined the diameter of the tenon and the mortise. The tenon was not the right length for the mortise. It was too short and stubby. The way that the tenon was turned also did not allow the stem to seat correctly against the plateau shank end. I went through my can of stems and found one that was the perfect fit. The length and diameter of the tenon was correct and the way the stem sat against the shank end was perfect. The length of the stem also worked better with the look of the pipe. The stem was bent a bit too much but that is easily corrected.  I put a pipe cleaner in the stem to keep the airway from collapsing or kinking. I heated the stem slowly and carefully with a candle until the vulcanite was pliable and then straightened out the bend to match the flow of the rim top of the pipe.I used running water to cool the stem and set the new bend. I sanded the stem to remove the oxidation that was on the surface with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper and a piece of 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. At this point the stem is looking better and I don’t have to deal with George’s tooth marks. I rubbed the stem down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish and a cotton pad to remove remnants of oxidation and to further blend in the sanding. The stem was showing some promise at this point in the process.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I finished by wiping it down with Briarville’s No Oxy Oil and buffing it to a shine. I always look forward to this part of the restoration when all the pieces are put back together. I put the pipe back together and buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. It is fun to see what the polished bowl looks like with the grain popping, the plateau on the rim and shank end contrasting well and finally the newly fitted black vulcanite stem almost glowing. This Karl Erik made Knute Freehand is beautiful and feels great in my hand. It is one that could be clenched and smoked while doing other things as it is very light weight and well balanced. It must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it from Jennifer. There should be a lot of life left in this Knute Freehand. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This is one that will go on the rebornpipes online store shortly. If you want to carry on the pipe trust of George Rex Leghorn let me know. Thank you Jennifer for trusting us with his pipes. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman.