Tag Archives: restemming

A Challenging Restoration of a Peterson’s System 3, Irish Free State Stamped Pipe


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

This pipe had been on my ‘to do list’ for long but since it came without a stem and as I did not have one, this project was kept pending since long. Now that I have received my large consignment of estate vulcanite and bone/ horn stems, including one Pete System P-lip stem, I couldn’t help but fish out the Pete stummel again to work on.

Most of my fellow pipe restorers would have turned away from this project that I had decided to work on next. To be honest, I would have led the pack in just consigning this pipe to history, but for the provenance of this Peterson’s System pipe. This pipe had once belonged to my grandfather and from the condition that it was in; it was apparently one of his favorite pipes!!

Well, the pipe that is now on my work table is in a pretty badly battered condition and came without a stem. There are ample signs of this pipe having been repaired earlier and extensively smoked thereafter. The stampings are all but worn out and can be seen under a bright light and under a magnifying glass. The left side of the shank bears the stamp “PETERSON’S” over “SYSTEM” over an encircled # 3. The pipe bears the COM stamp of “IRISH” over “FREE STATE” that is stamped perpendicular to the shank axis in two lines and very close to the shank end. The ferrule has the usual three cartouche with first having Shamrock, the second a Prone Fox and lastly a Stone Tower. Stamped above the cartouche are the letters “K & P” and is stamped below as “PETERSON’S” over “DUBLIN”. Having worked on quite a few old Peterson pipes from my inheritance and few from my Mumbai Bonanza, I was pretty sure that this pipe dates to 1920- 30 time period. To confirm this and also refresh my memory, I turned to my favorite site rebornpipes.com and to a write up “A Peterson Dating Guide; a Rule of Thumb” by Mike Leverette, here is the link (https://rebornpipes.com/2013/08/11/a-peterson-dating-guide-a-rule-of-thumb-mike-leverette/)

Here is what I have found and I reproduce it verbatim from the write up:-

The Irish Free State was formed on 15 January 1922. So the Free State Era will be from 1922 through 1937. Peterson followed with a COM stamp of “Irish Free State” in either one or two lines, either parallel or perpendicular to the shank axis and extremely close to the stem.

Thus, it is confirmed that this pipe is from the period 1922 to 1937 and this has to be one of the earliest Peterson’s pipes that was in my grandfather’s rotation and probably one that was his favorite.

INITIAL VISUAL INSPECTION
The stummel is covered in dirt and grime. All that catches your eyes is the dirty darkened upper portion of the stummel something like a flume, but not quite like it!!! Closer examination confirmed my worst fears….. CRACKS!! Yes, crack with an ‘s’. There are a couple of major cracks, one to the front of the stummel in 11 o’clock direction and the second major crack is at the back of the stummel. It is from the end of this big crack that three smaller and fine lined cracks emanate creating a web of cracks at the back and extending to the sides of the stummel. These cracks appear to have been repaired at some point in the past, definitely more than 40 years back, and these repairs have been camouflaged under a blotchy coat of black stain. The exact extent of damage can be assessed only after the external surface of the stummel had been completely cleaned and under magnification. The foot of the stummel has a number of dents and dings which needs to be addressed. In spite of all the cracks and its subsequent repairs, this pipe had been in continuous use as is evidenced by the thick layer of cake in the chamber. It seems that my grandfather even took the efforts to keep the thickness of the cake to a dime, not successfully though and so unlike him!! The rim top surface is completely out of round with the cracks extending over the rim top in to the chamber. The extent of these cracks in to the chamber and damage to the walls will be ascertained only after the chamber is cleaned off the complete cake. The rim top is covered in a thick layer of lava overflow. The ghost smells are ultra-strong, I say.The mortise, shank and especially the sump are chock-a-block with old oils, tars, grime and residual flecks of tobacco. The air flow through the draught hole is laborious and will require a thorough cleaning.There being no stem with this pipe, the biggest challenge will be to find one that fits. Nonetheless, this particular pipe, though I desire to restore and preserve, I am not sure what the real condition of the stummel would be under all the dirt and grime and even if it’s worth the efforts that would be needed.

THE PROCESS
The first obvious issue that I wanted to address was to find a correct stem, preferably original P-lip stem, for the pipe. I rummaged through the parcel of estate pipe stems that had only recently reached me and I knew it contained a Pete System P-lip stem. I fished it out and tried the fit of the stem in to the mortise. Here is what I saw. Though the fit appears to be good in pictures, that is not so!! There are these following issues which are difficult to gauge from the pictures:

(a) The stem does not seat firmly into the mortise. There is a play between the tenon and the walls of the mortise; this, in spite of the rubber packing that the tenon came with. Or is this play a result of the rubber packing?

(b) The seating of the stem is too high. The tenon end does not reach anywhere near the draught hole, let alone reach slightly below it for the system to work.

(c) The stem, if pushed further in to the mortise would put additional pressure on the walls of the mortise, subsequently resulting in cracks at the shank end.

(d) The plane of the bowl and the bend of the stem are not aligned. The stem is too straight making for an awkward appearance.

With certain modifications to the stem, I feel confident that I could make the stem work efficiently in a system pipe. The saddle is deeply gouged all around. The upper and lower surface of the stem has significantly deep tooth indentations in the bite zone. The button edges are badly deformed with deep bite marks. Following pictures show the condition of the stem as I received it. The tenon is clogged with heavy accumulation of oils and tars which is seen through the tenon opening. The rubber packing cap is also covered in dirt and grime.With a sharp knife, I removed the rubber cap by separating it from the tenon end, expecting to find a chipped or badly damaged tenon. However, the tenon is intact and apart from being clogged the stem is in decent condition. After I had removed the rubber cap, I rechecked the seating of the stem in to the mortise. The seating was still loose and too high!! Next I moved ahead and reamed the chamber with a Castleford reamer head size 2 followed by size 3. With my sharp fabricated knife, I removed the cake from the chamber where the reamer head could not reach and gently scrapped away the lava overflow from the rim top surface. Thereafter, using a folded piece of 180 grit sand paper, I sanded out the last traces of cake and exposed the walls of the chamber and wiped the chamber with a cotton pad dipped in isopropyl alcohol to remove the carbon dust left behind by all the reaming and sanding process. Even though there are no heat fissures/ lines along the chamber walls where the cracks do not extend (a big solace, I say!!), the stummel cracks are a different story which I shall come to subsequently. The chamber ghosting is still significantly strong which may further reduce once I clean the sump/ reservoir and the mortise. The two major cracks (marked in red arrows) that were observed in the external stummel surface extend well in to the chamber with the old repair fills in these cracks in plain view. Further sanding and close scrutiny of the walls confirmed my gut feeling that the minor cracks originating from the major cracks will also be seen as heat fissures in the chamber walls. These have been marked in yellow arrows. As I was contemplating my further course of action to address the chamber issues, I set the stummel aside and decided to work on the stem. I cleaned the internals of the stem using hard and normal bristled pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. With a pointed dental tool, I scraped out the entire dried gunk from the tenon end.I decided that I would first undertake the cleaning, both internal and external, of the stummel before proceeding with further repairs. This cleaning will not only give me a clear picture of the extent of damage but also the efforts that would be needed are justified or otherwise.

I cleaned out the internals of the shank and mortise. Using my dental tool, fabricated knife and specifically modified tool, I scraped out all the dried oils, tars and gunk that had accumulated in the draught hole, airway and sump. The amount of crud that was scrapped out and the condition of the pipe cleaners that were used leaves no surprise why the air flow through it was restricted. I finished the cleaning by running a few pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I also wiped the sump with cotton buds and alcohol. I gave a final cleaning to the sump with a paper napkin moistened with isopropyl alcohol. This, however, did not address the issue of ghost smells in the stummel.I decided to address the issue of old odors in the chamber and shank by subjecting it to a cotton and alcohol bath. I wrapped some cotton around a folded pipe cleaner, keeping the tip of the pipe cleaner free of wrapped cotton as this would be inserted through the draught hole in to the chamber. This would form the wick for the shank. I tightly packed the chamber with cotton balls and filled it with 99% pure isopropyl alcohol using a syringe and set it aside. By next day, the cotton and alcohol had drawn out the all the old tars and oils from the chamber and max from the shank. With my dental tool, I further scrapped out the loosened gunk from the sump and mortise. I cleaned the external surface using a hard bristled toothbrush and Murphy’s Oil Soap. With a soft bristled brass wired brush, I removed the overflowing lava from the rim top surface and cleaned the internals of the shank with a shank brush and dish washing soap to remove what little crud remained in the shank. I rinsed it under running tap water and wiped the stummel dry with an absorbent soft cotton cloth. Fortunately for me, the blotchy coat of black stain that was applied to mask the repairs came off with use of Murphy’s Oil Soap and dish washing soap. Had this not worked, an alternative method of removing this coat would be to wipe the stummel with pure acetone and/or isopropyl alcohol on cotton swabs. With the stummel nice and clean, the damage is now all too apparent and it did not present an encouraging picture. The major cracks are quite deep and the secondary minor cracks emanating from the major crack are restricted at the back of the stummel. Here is what I saw. I shared these images with Steve and sought his opinion if this project was even worth the effort. A few minutes later, Steve responded in his characteristic manner. I reproduce the exact exchange that took place between us

Steve: What a mess

Me: What is the best way ahead? Worth the effort? Grandpa collection…

Steve: That was my question… is it worth it? With the Grandpa connection, I would probably work on it. I would thoroughly clean the inside and outside. Once that is done, I would line the bowl with J B Weld to completely bind the inside together. Once that is done, then fill and repair the outside with glue and briar dust.

Me: This is the condition of the shank and stummel joint…emotions dictate restoration while practical experience says it’s a gonner…

Steve: I have been there…go with emotions on this one…it will take time and be a real resurrection!!

Now that clarity has been established and hints for the way ahead have been spelt, I decided to complete this project.

I decided to address the stem issues first.

As noted earlier, the seating of the stem in to the mortise was loose and too high for the Pete’s famed system to work efficiently. I inserted a pipe cleaner in to the mortise and up to just below the draught hole, bending the pipe cleaner at this point to mark the depth that I desired. Next, I mark the same depth on to the saddle of the stem with a white correction pen. I wound a scotch tape along the marked white line extending towards the button end. This gave me a reference line beyond which sanding needs to be avoided. With this initial preparation completed, I next mount a 180 grit sanding drum on to my hand held rotary tool, set the speed at half of the full speed and proceeded to sand down the portion of the stem towards the tenon end. I frequently checked the fit of the stem in to the mortise to ensure a snug fit and avoid excessive sanding of the stem. Making steady progress, I was satisfied with the stem modifications at this stage. The tenon was just below the draught hole and there was no play in the seating of the stem in to the mortise. Next, using 150 grit sandpaper, I sanded the entire stem, especially being diligent around the saddle portion that was shaved off to achieve a snug fit of the stem into the mortise. Though I had to spend a considerable time, I was happy with the blending to a smooth transition at the edge which was sanded down. I wiped the stem with Murphy’s oil soap on a cotton swab to remove the sanding dust and oxidation. The stem looked good and should function as it is supposed to, making me very pleased with the fruits of my efforts at this stage.Just a word of caution here for all the first timers using the sanding drum and rotary tool; firstly, ensure that the rotary tool is set at 1/3 or ½ of the full rpm of the tool as too high a speed will fling the stem away from your grip and may result in excessive sanding of the stem surface. Secondly, keep the stem turning evenly at all times to achieve as evenly sanded surface as possible and avoid deep gouges. Thirdly, frequently check the progress being made and remember the mantra “LESS IS MORE”! Fine tuning is best achieved by eyeballing and working with hands and sandpapers.

Staying with the stem repairs, I mixed CA superglue and activated charcoal, filled all the deep tooth chatter and indentations and also over the button edges and set the stem aside for the fills to cure. I shall blend these fills and also sharpen the button edges once the fill has hardened considerably.Now with the stem set aside for the fills to cure, it was time for me to work the stummel. I topped the rim on a piece of 220 grit sand paper to even out the rim surface dents and dings and also to reduce the charred rim surface. The repairs to the cracks, marked with red arrows, are all too apparent now as can be seen in the following pictures. The rim top surface is charred and thin in 10 o’clock direction which have been marked in blue circle. The rim top repair towards the front of the bowl has resulted in thinning of the rim top. This is marked in a yellow circle. This stummel has some serious issues that need to be addressed. I preceded the stummel repairs first by coating the walls of the chamber with a slightly thick layer of J B Weld. J B Weld is a two-part epoxy Cold Weld in two tubes; hardener and steel which are mixed in two equal parts (ratio of 1:1) with hardening time of 5-6 minutes and complete curing time of 6-8 hours. I poured the contents of the two tubes and mixed it well. I applied this mix, as evenly as possible, over the entire chamber wall surface. I worked fast to ensure an even coat over the chamber walls before the weld could harden. I set the stummel aside for the application to harden and cure overnight. By the next afternoon, the J B Weld had cured and hardened considerably and will now be able to hold the stummel together as I move along with drilling counter holes, refreshing the fills in the cracks and further sanding and polishing processes. I gouged out the old fills from the cracks. I was careful not to apply too much pressure or dig deeper than absolutely necessary to remove the old fills. Using a magnifying glass and a white correction pen, I marked the points for the counter holes at the start, the turning and the end points along the extent of all the cracks seen on the stummel, and mark my words all Readers, there were plenty and then some more!! After I was done with my markings, the stummel appeared more like a mosaic of white dots!! Next, I drilled counter holes with a 1mm drill bit mounted on to my hand held rotary tool deep enough to serve as a counter hole while taking care that I did not drill a through and through hole. These counter holes arrest and prevent the spread of the cracks further. The importance of these counter holes cannot be underestimated. In fact, this pipe had been repaired previously and the repairs were solid enough, though without counter holes, that the pipe was smoked by my grandfather for many years. However, in my scant experience in pipe restoration I have seen that the extensive spread of the cracks towards the back of the stummel is a result of lack of drilling a counter hole to arrest the spread!!

I filled these cracks and counter holes with a mix of briar dust and CA superglue using the layering method (layer of superglue followed by sprinkling of briar dust and repeated it till desired thickness of fill was achieved) and set it aside for the fills to cure. I ensured that I filled the thin outer edge of rim top surface that I will subsequently sand down to match with the rest of the rim surface.While the stummel was set aside for curing, I decided to correct the geometry of the stem in relation to the plane of the bowl. The stem was too straight and was awkward to clench. After inserting a pipe cleaner through the stem, I heated the stem with a heat gun till the vulcanite became a little pliable. Holding the tip of the pipe cleaner, I gave the stem a bend, eyeballing it to suit the bowl. Once I had achieved the desired bend, I held it in place under cold running water till the stem had cooled down sufficiently to retain the shape. The stem was now comfortable to clench. Here are the pictures of the stem before (on the left side) and after (on the right side) the bend. Now that the seating of the stem into the mortise and the bend to the stem had been sorted out, I proceeded to sand/ blend the fills and impart a nice black glossy shine to the stem. With a flat head needle file, I sanded these fills to achieve a rough match. I further fine tuned the match by sanding the filled area with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger. I followed it up by sanding the entire stem surface using 400, 600, 800 grit sand papers and finally with a piece of 0000 grade steel wool. This serves to remove the deep seated oxidation and also reduces the sanding marks of the more abrasive sand papers. I also sharpened the button edges while sanding. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove all the oxidation and sanding dust from the surface. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil over the stem and set it aside to be absorbed by the vulcanite. The stem has turned out amazing and now I felt upbeat about completing this project.I wet sand the stem with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. Next I rubbed a small quantity of extra fine stem polish that I had got from Mark and set it aside to let the balm work its magic. After about 10 minutes, I hand buffed the stem with a microfiber cloth to a nice shine. I rubbed a small quantity of olive oil in to the stem surface to hydrate it and set it aside. The stem now had a nice deep black and glossy shine.With the stem completed, I turned my attention to the stummel. In the intervening time when I worked the stem, the stummel crack fills had hardened and cured well. Using a flat head needle file, I sanded these fills to achieve a rough match with the rest of the stummel surface. I further fine tuned the fills by sanding the entire stummel surface with folded pieces of 220, 400 and 600 grit sandpapers. The stummel was now clean and even. On close scrutiny of the cleaned stummel surface, I observed a small crack which I had missed out earlier. I will need to drill counter holes to arrest the spread and extending of these cracks. Under a magnifying glass and bright light, I marked the ends of the now observed cracks with a white correction pen. I mounted a 1mm drill bit on to my hand held rotary tool and drilled counter holes. I filled these counter holes and cracks with a mix of briar dust and superglue. I also took this opportunity to touch up and refill those areas which required further fills and set the stummel aside to cure. Once the fills had cured, I went through the complete cycle of sanding with a flat head needle file followed with 220 grits sandpaper. The fills are all solid and have naturally blended in quite nicely with the entire briar surface. The rim top surface is now evenly thick and with folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper, I created a slight bevel to inner and outer edges of the rim top. I am happy with the appearance of the stummel at this stage of restoration. I polished the stummel with micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 pads. I polished the freshly topped rim surface and the newly created inner rim bevel. I wiped the surface with a soft cloth at the end of the micromesh cycle. The stummel looked amazing with a deep shine and beautiful grains popping over the stummel surface. I was surprised that the rim top surface has the same deep brown coloration as the rest of the stummel surface even though the repairs to the cracks were still sticking out like sore thumbs through the shining stummel surface, I was not overly perturbed having made peace with myself regarding the repairs showing, still I shall attempt to mask them by staining the stummel subsequently. I massaged a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” with my fingers into the briar. The immediate and incredible transformation that takes place is a worthy reward for all the efforts!! I let the balm sit on the surface to be absorbed in to the briar for about 20 minutes. The bowl now looked fresh and attractive with the grains popping out any which way you look at the briar. Even the repairs to the stummel are a lot less visible what with the briar taking up a deep dark and vibrant brown hues. I polished off the balm with a soft cloth to a lovely shine. Next, with a folded piece of 150 grit sandpaper, I sanded the coat of J B Weld from the internal walls of the chamber keeping just a thin layer of coat along the walls. The coat appeared uneven at this stage but once it was coated with pipe mud, the chamber walls would become even and smooth. I decided on giving the stummel a stain wash with a Feibing’s Dark Brown leather dye. I diluted the Feibing’s Dark Brown leather dye in 99.9% isopropyl alcohol in approximate ratio of 1:4 and with a cotton swab, I dabbed the diluted stain over the stummel surface, letting it set for a few moments and thereafter wiping it off with a dry clean cotton swab. I repeated the process till I had achieved the desired coloration. I was pleased with the color of the stummel which highlighted the grains while the stummel repairs were masked nicely. This time around, even the fills had absorbed the stain and blended in nicely with the rest of the stummel. In order to ensure that the stain wash sets in to the briar, I warmed the stummel with a heat gun while being careful that I did not overheat the crack repairs/ fills.Now on to the home stretch… To complete the restoration, I re-attached the stem with the stummel. I mounted a cotton cloth buffing wheel to my hand held rotary tool, set the speed at about half of the full power and applied Blue Diamond compound to the entire pipe to remove all the minor scratches that remained. I wiped/ buffed the pipe with a soft cotton cloth to clear it of any leftover compound dust. With a cotton buffing wheel earmarked for carnauba wax, I applied several coats of carnauba wax. I worked the complete pipe till the time all the wax was absorbed by the briar. The pipe now boasted of a beautiful and lustrous shine. I vigorously rubbed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine and also clean away any residual wax that had been left behind. I vigorously buffed the nickel ferrule with a jeweler’s cloth and brought it to a nice shine. I was very happy with the way this beauty had turned out. The following pictures speak of the transformation that the pipe has undergone. There was only one more issue that needed to be addressed and one that could not be ignored, being a functional issue. After I had lined the walls of the chamber with a thin coat of J. B. Weld, it was necessary to prevent the walls from coming in to direct contact with the burning tobacco. I addressed this issue by mixing activated charcoal and plain yogurt to a thicker consistency, just enough that it would spread easily and thereafter applied it evenly all along the chamber walls after inserting a folded pipe cleaner through the draught hole to keep it open. Once dry and set, this will not only protect the walls but also aid in faster buildup of cake.P.S.: This project was one with many challenging issues that needed to be addressed, the first and biggest being finding an original Peterson’s system P-lip pipe stem, ensuring a snug fit in to the mortise, modifying the stem to function as it is supposed to and finally addressing, fixing and masking all those cracks. But now that the project is completed and the pipe is definitely smoke-able and gorgeous looking, I cannot but thank Steve who goaded me in to working on this pipe in the first place and for all the input/ suggestions rendered during the process to help me preserve memories of ancestor.

I wish to thank each one for sparing their valuable time to read through this write up and sharing this journey with me while I enjoyed working on this treasured inheritance.

 

Finally Getting to Finish a Churchwarden Stem for a Chimera Bowl that Alex gave me.


Blog by Steve Laug

Over a year ago Alex gave me a second bowl by Tedd Weitzman that needed a stem. I recall that when he passed it to me that he said that Tedd had given the bowl to him to finish some time. It was one of Tedd’s early pipes and one that he had never finished. Now the bowl had made its way with Alex from Atlanta, Georgia to Vancouver, BC he moved here. As we spoke about it over the past months Alex thought that maybe it would make a good churchwarden. I figured that it would but I did not have a stem that would work for that at the moment so it went in the box of pipes that I have to work on for Alex.

Sunday evening I took the bowl out of the bowl and had a look at it. I turned it over in my hands several times and studied it. It is an interesting bowl and not a shape that I have a ready name for. Alex has said that it was made around the same time as the Chimera pipe that I had worked on for him previously (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/07/06/adding-some-length-to-a-chimara-blowfish/). Tedd Weitzman commented on the previous pipe and remembered it well. The Blowfish pipe that I wrote about in the above blog was stamped Chimera while this one bore no stamping. It was an unmarked bowl so I was going with Alex’s memory about it. The way that the pipe was designed it worked as a sitter without a stem. Hopefully it would do the same with the new stem I was going to fashion for it. There was some rim darkening on the back side of the rim top and a small nick on the front edge. The mortise was drilled in the peak of the shank end that was almost a tortoise shell shape. Describing it is a bit of a challenge but this might work. If you can imagine a tortoise of turtle shell – the mortise came out where the head and neck would have extended. There was some damage around the thin edges of the shank end and some wear there as well. Here are some photos of the bowl. Tedd and I had another common friend besides Alex – John Offerdahl. I could not immediately get a hold of Alex this morning so I sent a quick message to John. For the life of me I could not remember Tedd’s name or the brand of the pipe that I had done previously. When it was finished Alex had me send it to John who passed it back to Tedd… the circle closes. John responded promptly this morning that the pipe was definitely on that was made by Tedd. It was made during the time that he and Tedd had made pipes under the Chimera name around 2010.

I remembered that the Chimera was a creature from Greek mythology that was often depicted as a creature that was a hybrid. It often was shown as having the head of a lion and a got and a snake’s head at the end of the tail. Throughout time it has been used to mean any fictional creature composed of multiple different animals. Knowing John’s love of literature I was pretty sure that this is what was in his mind when he came up with the brand name for the pipes.

One of the reasons for me taking the pipe out of the box on Sunday evening was that I had received a stem that my brother Jeff had picked up at an auction on Friday. It was an older KBB stem probably from a Yello-Bole. The threads on the screw in tenon were worn and thus the tenon was really not usable. There was a worn and damaged propeller logo on the stem top that was off centre. I think that the stem was a replacement and that the logo was an afterthought. Here is what the stem looked like after I had wiped off the sticky spots and spilled glue that was on the surface. There were some tooth marks and chatter on the button end and the airway and slot were filled with debris and tars. The curve of the stem was perfect and the straight button end worked far better for me than a flared or fishtail end.I heated the metal tenon with the flame of a lighter and softened the glue holding it in the stem. I unscrewed it from the stem with a pair of pliers and wiped down the end of the stem. I faced the stem end on a topping board to make it smooth and square and used my Dremel and sanding drum to give the end a slight taper so that it would fit in the mortise of the bowl. I took a few photos of the stem in place – very roughly with more work to do but you can see the direction I was heading with this one. Yesterday I took my wife and two of my daughters down to Bellingham, Washington to do a bit of shopping with their Christmas money. The mall is great because it has a large circular waiting area that is comfortable and well lit so I planned ahead for my wait. I took the stem and bowl with me along with several folded pieces of 220 grit sandpaper. The girls had a great time shopping and I had a nice coffee and worked on the fit of the stem to the shank. We both had a great day. In the photos that follow you can see the conical shape of the tenon end of the shank. It fits snugly in the shank. This morning I worked on polishing out the remaining oxidation with 220 grit and 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I like the overall look of the stem. I took photos of the stem after sanding it.I rubbed the stem down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish. I have a few tins of this laying around so I am trying to use them up. I have found it is a great pre-polish for my use as it shows me areas that I need to work on with the micromesh sanding pads.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I finished by rubbing the stem down with some “No Oxy Oil” to protect the vulcanite. I am experimenting with the product from Briarville and tracking how it works so I can write a review of it. I cleaned up the darkening on the back side of the rim top and the nick on the front edge with 220 grit and 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I also worked over the areas around the mortise that had nicks and damaged spots with the sandpaper. I was able to smooth them out using the same papers. I polished the rim top and shank end with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down with a damp cloth after each pad. I restained the sanded areas with an Oak stain pen to blend it into the rest of the finish.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 it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed the pipe with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I really like watching the Balm do its magic and bring the briar alive. This interestingly shaped Chimera Bowl has some really beautiful grain all around the bowl and shank. The grain really is quite stunning. The bowl while uniquely shaped is very symmetrical. The placement of the mortise at the peak of the shank would have made fitting a stem difficult. I can see why it was left stemless and unmarked. I decided to go with a military style mount that would fit well without changing the shape of the shank end. The long, bent Churchwarden vulcanite stem is high quality and shined up well. I buffed the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond polish to raise the shine on the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are: Length: 11 inches, Height: 2 ¾ inches, Outside Diameter: 1 ½ inches, Diameter of the chamber: ¾ inch. This uniquely shaped briar bowl and long stem work together to make a Churchwarden that feels great in the hand. Its length makes it a perfect pipe for sitting and reading a good book or watching a movie. It is light in weight which also adds to the charm. It was a pleasant one to work on and a definite change of pace from Bob Kerr’s estate. Thanks for walking through the restoration and restemming of this pipe with me.

Fashioning a Second Churchwarden, “Made in England” for a Special Christmas Gift


Blog by Dal Stanton

I completed the first Christmas CW project by repurposing an Italian Permofilter rusticated bowl and mounting it on a Warden stem.  It is to be a gift for my son, Josiah, who came to Bulgaria from St. Louis to celebrate Christmas in Sofia, Bulgaria, with Mom and Dad!  Josiah’s Churchwarden came out well!Our daughter, Johanna, also has come to Bulgaria for Christmas.  She and her husband, Niko, arrived first and so my work fashioning a CW as a Christmas gift for Niko is a bit clandestine trying to keep it a secret until Christmas Day!  Niko hasn’t been easy to figure out for a pipe gift!  I was first going to give him a sculpted Meerschaum because I knew he had one before – a cheaper one that disintegrated in his hand while smoking it.  Yet, after he arrived, he saw that I was working on a Churchwarden for ‘someone’ who had commissioned one (actually, it was Josiah’s Churchwarden that I had commissioned myself!) and he wanted a Churchwarden, which was also on his priority list to add to his collection.  When I fished around regarding which he would rather have – trying not to spill the beans that I was gifting him a pipe, he said that a Churchwarden was higher on the list.  So, the Sculpted Meerschaum goes back into the inventory benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria – our work helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited!The bowl I’m repurposing is from an unbranded petite bent Billiard that is marked only with the nomenclature, ‘Made in England’ on the left shank side and a shape number on the right, ‘950’.  I acquired this pipe in the ‘Lot of 66’ and it has been waiting for someone to commission him in the For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! collection. It is an attractive pipe and the grain shows much potential.  I did a quick search of the main shape number charts of English pipe names such as BBB and GBD but found no reference to a shape 950 that helped me with identifying the origins of this pipe.Now with the stummel on the worktable to transform it into a Churchwarden, I take more pictures to take a closer look.  The chamber has light to moderate cake build up and the lava flow over the rim is thick.  The rim width is also imbalanced with a thinning of the rim on the front left.  Undoubtedly, the point where the former steward drew down the flame to light the blend.The rim also has its share of nicks, cuts and chips.  The stummel also has several dents and pits here and there which need addressing.  As expected, the grime is thick on the darkened stummel.  Yet, the grain underneath shows great potential. The grain is primarily vertically oriented around the stummel. The stummel has the feel of having some age.  By the shape and looks of it, I would guess that it is from the 1960s or earlier.  The plan is to transform the petite bent Billiard into a Churchwarden by mounting it to a precast Warden stem that measures 8 5/8 inches in length.  I acquire Warden stems from Tim West at www.jhlowe.comI begin this CW Christmas project for Niko with the cleaning of the stummel.  First, after spreading paper towel to aid in cleaning, I use the Pipnet Reaming Kit to address the cake build up in the chamber.  I again take a close-up picture of the chamber showing the light cake build up to mark the start.  I use only the smallest of the 4 blade heads available in the Pipnet Kit.  Transitioning to the Savinelli Fitsall Tool, I scrape the chamber walls further and follow by sanding the chamber wall with 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  The left-over carbon dust is then removed with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% and after an inspection of the walls, I find no problems with heating. Moving now to the cleaning of the external surface, the surface is scrubbed using a cotton pad wetted with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap.A brass wire brush is also helpful in scrubbing the rim top addressing the lava caked on it.  I also utilize my Winchester pocketknife to scrape the rim.  To rinse the soap, the stummel is transferred to the kitchen sink where the stummel is rinsed with warm water.  Using different sized shank brushes with anti-oil dish soap, the mortise and airway are cleaned. Finally, after rinsing and back at the worktable, a picture records the results of the cleaning.  The old worn finish is all but gone revealing the briar beneath. The scratches and imperfections are very evident mingling with the distinctive grain patterns. Next, using cotton buds and pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95%, cleaning the internals is addressed. As the picture below shows in stark visual imagery, the internals were a bear to clean!  Using a small dental spoon, I also excavate a lot of tars and oils scraped off the mortise walls.  From what I am able to see and feel down the mortise with the probe, the internal design has a trap and the angled airway is drilled over the top of the trap angling toward the draft hole entering the chamber.  The trap has done the job of collecting the gunk, but the steward did not seem to know that frequent cleaning of the trap would keep this guy in better shape!  Finally, after many expended pipe cleaners and buds, they began to emerge lighter. Later, the internal cleaning will continue with an alcohol and kosher salt soak further to clean and refresh the internals.Now looking at the stummel, I know that the shank will be undergoing a good amount of sanding to shape the shank during the stem fitting process.  Therefore, the restoration work that I now do on the stummel external surface will not progress beyond the shank sanding at this point.  I start at the top looking at the rim’s condition.  It’s in bad shape with nicks and chips around the rim’s edge and the scorching damage resulting in the thinning on the left front quadrant.  I use the topping board to begin addressing these issues. With 240 paper on top of the chopping board that serves as the topping board, I rotate the inverted stummel several times on the board. After a few rotations, I stop to look. With this first picture, the contours of the rim thinning are clearer.  I continue to rotate on the topping board.These next pictures show the progression of the topping a step at a time. I stop with the 240 topping even though edge damage remains.  I will rectify this with beveling instead of removing more rim real estate.  I switch the paper to 600 grade and smooth the rim top further with this finer grade sanding paper.  After several rotations on the board, I’m satisfied with the topping board results.  Nice looking bird’s eye grains are peeking through the rim surface.Addressing the edge problems, 120 grade paper is used first to cut an outer edge bevel to remove the remaining cuts and chips on the edge.  Following the 120 paper 240 grade paper is used to smooth out the bevel.Again to freshen the rim lines after the beveling, I do a very quick topping again with 240 and 600 grade paper.I finish the rim repair by sanding the bevel on the outside and inside rim edges with 600 grade paper.  It looks good.  I move on.Continuing now to address the stummel proper, I will do what I can to spare the remnant nomenclature on the shank sides as I sand out the problems on the stummel.  I use sanding sponges to address the cuts and dents on the stummel surface.  First, using a coarse sponge to sand, I follow with a medium grade and a light grade sponge.  Wow!  This block of briar is impressive with vertical flame grain running around the bowl and as you would expect, bird’s eye grain populating both the heel and rim.  Very nice.  I’ve progressed all I can now with the stummel until the stem sizing and placement is completed.  The first step in this process is to size and fit the Warden precast stem’s tenon into the mortise.  As with the first Churchwarden gift project for my son, Josiah, Niko’s Churchwarden Made in England bowl’s mortise is measured to establish the ideal target measurement for the tenon.  This measurement is 8.61mm. 40mm is added to this ‘target size’ to establish the ‘fat size’ target.  This is a conservative sizing of the rough tenon in order to patiently and more slowly sand the tenon to the target size.  This allows for customizing the tenon as well as avoiding the danger of cutting too much with the Pimo Tenon Turning Tool.  The ‘fat size’ is right at 9mm.Next, to establish a starting measurement sizing of the rough tenon of the precast Warden stem, the PIMO tool is used. To do this, the first step is to drill the airway with a drill bit provided by the PIMO kit to allow the PIMO tool’s guide pin to fit the airway. After mounting the drill bit on the hand drill, the airway is easily enlarged with the bit.  Next, after mounting the PIMO tool on the hand drill, using the Allen wrenches provided by the PIMO kit, I adjust the carbide cutter arm to be just a bit smaller than the rough tenon size.  This is simply to cut a uniform starting measurement size. I accomplish the initial cut and take a measurement of 9.46.  The difference between this measurement and the fat target of 9mm is .46mm. Again, I adjust the carbide cutter arm to close this gap.  After adjusting, I do a test cut by only cutting a little of the tenon and then measure.    The reason for doing the initial test cut is that if you over cut and the tenon is too small… well, you have a very loose fit!  My test cut was too much – 7.63mm! The target size, actual mortise measurement is 8.61mm.    After widening the cutting arm, I make another test cut and measure – 8.93mm.  This is good enough for achieving the fat target. I complete the tenon cut at 8.93mm.  I take the cut all the way to the stem facing – making sure that there is a square cut and no shouldering on the stem facing.Transitioning now to sanding, I first use a coarse 120 grade paper to do the heavy lifting.  As I sand, I test periodically to see the progress of the tenon’s entry movement into the mortise.  I grip the paper around the tenon and then with my other hand rotate the stem to create the sanding movement.  This keeps the tenon round as well. The pictures show the progress. When the tenon is close to fitting, I switch to 240 grade paper.  The stem finally seats into the mortise.When I eyeballed the shank size and the stem next to it, I knew that the shank was a bit larger than the stem and I would need to sand the shank some to taper the shank toward the stem size.  When the stem was seated, I saw how much of an overhang there was – it’s not a little.This angle however, revealed another issue that I did not foresee. On the lower shank, just below the stem is the hollow caused by the angled drilling of the airway.  I take a close-up of this cavity and then remove the stem to show the inverted mortise and drilling. Oh my. This creates some challenges. As if to add insult to injury, I discover another issue.  The tenon has a slight rock or wiggle when it’s fully engaged.  What this means is that the front of the tenon was sanded down too much and is not in contact with the mortise wall.  The tenon closer to the stem facing is making contact.  When I pivot the stem vertically, it rocks a little.  Not good. I decide to address the lose tenon first and think about the rest. To expand the tenon, I use a drill bit to insert into the airway.  I choose a drill bit which is the next size larger than what will fit into the airway.  I then use a Bic lighter to heat the tenon to warm the vulcanite.  When the vulcanite is warm enough, it softens and then I push the bit in the airway which expands the tenon.  After heating and inserting the bit, I take it to the kitchen sink and run cold water on the tenon to set the expanded vulcanite.  With the aid of a pair of pliers, the bit is retracted and again the tenon is inserted into the mortise.  The procedure worked well – the tenon tightened and there is now no rocking.  Moving on. After giving some thought to the conundrum of the shank and Warden stem placement, I recognize that I will not be able to save the bowl’s scant nomenclature.  To taper the shank in a balanced way, will require the sanding to start further up the shank.  I also decide that I will fill the drilling channel with briar dust putty to remove the hollow and make this area solid.  Finally, I decide to fit the shank with a band to mask the hollow as well as to give the emerging Churchwarden an added bit of class. First, to fill the drilling channel, I mix a small amount of briar dust and thick CA glue.  I use a plastic disk as a mixing pallet and to help with cleanup I put scotch tape down to mix on.  After putting a small amount of briar dust on the pallet, thick CA glue is placed next to it.  Using a toothpick, the briar dust is pulled into the CA glue and is mixed with the toothpick.  When the mixture thickens, I use the toothpick to trowel the putty into the drilling channel in the mortise.  I then set the stummel aside allowing the putty to cure through the night – lights out!The next morning, the putty has cured, and I go to work filing the fill to match the curvature of the mortise. A half-circle tapered needle file does the job well. The next pictures show the patch material now filling the hollow of the airway drilling and as well the necessary sanding to remove the excess overhang of the shank facing over the stem. To begin the sanding to remove the excess over the stem facing and to taper the shank, a coarse 120 grade paper makes the work more efficient.  The sanding includes the entire shank to provide a more gradual tapering toward the stem.  Without this, a ‘stuffed pants’ appearance is left.  The stem remains engaged in the mortise throughout the sanding process.After a good bit of sanding, the alignment is looking good.  As usual, on the sides where the precast stem seams are, the sanding is more directed.  The pictures show the alignment at this point using 120 grade paper alone.  The tapering of the shank looks good. I mark the upper side of the stem with a piece of scotch tape so that I later refit the stem with the correct orientation.  The next thing I want to see it how a band or shank cap will work.  Some months ago, the word went out about a pipe man on French eBay selling bags with a variety of copper rings, bands, caps, and spacers at a very decent price.  I don’t know who started the rumor – Steve, Paresh, Victor?, but several of us were able to order a supply for our work desks. The package containing the supply had a card, Pipe Estate at www.pipes-estate.com.  I have been waiting for an opportunity to utilize this addition to my inventory.After dumping the multitude of copper fitments on my worktable, it was fun taking a closer look at all the available sizes and shapes.  But the question always is, will there be one in all these that will work??As if I were holding the Holy Grail, I found a few that looked hopeful, but one was perfect.  A copper shank cap that fit the shank perfectly and reaches over the end of the shank to provide a spacer.  Perfect!Remounting the stem, I oohed and awed at the beauty and wonder of this addition to the creation of this Churchwarden going to Niko for Christmas!  There was a sacrifice in having to sand away the ‘Made in England’ marking on the shank which bums me out in a huge way, but I’m pleased with the shank tapering and the contribution of the copper shank cap to the ensemble. The rest of the Warden stem is awaiting sanding, but for the time, I continue sanding to smooth and finish the stummel.  Following the coarse 120 paper that did the main work on the tapering, 240 and 600 grade papers continue the process of smoothing the shank surface. Next, I put the stummel aside and continue sanding the remainder of the Warden stem with 120 sanding paper. I also use a flat needle file to shape the raw, precast button. Following the filing and 120 grade paper, 240 grade continues the smoothing process by erasing the scratches left behind by the coarser filing and sanding. Following the 240 paper, wet sanding with 600 grade paper erases the scratches of the 240 sanding and then applying 000 grade steel wool completes this phase of the sanding process.  One picture of the entire stem is taken followed by closeups of the upper and lower bit. The full regiment of micromesh pads is applied next by wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400 then dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads, Obsidian Oil is applied to vitalize the vulcanite stem.  Again, I take one picture of the entire stem from the orbital shot and two closeups of the upper and lower bit after the final 3 micromesh pads.With the micromesh process completed, it is time to bend the Warden stem.  I like to draw a template of a bend so that I’m not simply eyeballing the process.  The general goal is to have the mouthpiece of the Warden stem on a parallel trajectory with the plane of the rim.  On the diagram below, I draw a horizontal line representing the plane of the rim.  I also rough sketch the current disposition of the unbent stem.  Then I rough in a bend starting about 1/3 the distance from the shank and complete the sketch parallel with the rim plane.  This is the guide template.The hot air gun focuses on the area about 1/3 up the stem for the first bend attempt.  I bend the fat part of the stem first to have a more even and sweeping bend as it takes longer for the fat part to become supple than the thin part.  As the stem is rotated over the hot air, gentle pressure is applied and when the stem starts to bend, I know it’s reaching the state of shaping.  As the bottom third becomes supple, I move the heating up the stem a bit now to warm the middle.  All the while rotating back and forth and around.After the stem heats enough using the hot air gun, I place the pipe on the template and hold it in place until it holds its position.  I’ve found that even though it takes longer this way, I’ve lost the shape I want if I transition the pipe to the kitchen to run the stem under cool water to quicken the cooling.  The first attempt is good.  There’s a nice flowing bend but the final trajectory is a little wide.The second attempt is very close to what I want, but it’s still a hair wide.One more time heating does the trick.  This time I take the stem to the sink and run it under cool water to cool the vulcanite and hold the bend that has been created.With the Warden stem completed until the final polishing phases, I turn again to the stummel.  Using the full regiment of micromesh pads, with pads 1500 to 2400 I wet sand, followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  The bowl’s grain emerges through the process and I like what I’m seeing.  The bowl is fully wrapped with a vertical flame grain with bird’s eye grain populating the heel and rim – as you would expect being the cross-view perspective of the flame grain. With the hour growing late, I continue the internal cleaning and refreshing process using a kosher salt and alcohol soak. The first step is to fashion a ‘wick’ from pulling and stretching a cotton ball.  The wick serves to draw tars and oils out from the mortise cavity. Using a stiff wire, the wick is guided down the mortise. Then the bowl is filled with kosher salt which doesn’t leave an aftertaste as the iodized version.  The stummel is then placed in an egg carton for stability.Using a large eyedropper, isopropyl 95% fills the bowl until it surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes the alcohol is absorbed, and I top off the alcohol one more time and set the stummel aside to soak through the night.The next morning, the soiling of the salt and wick evidences the processes active through the night.  The tars and oils were drawn from the internal briar surface.  I toss the expended salt and wipe the bowl with a paper towel.  I also blow through the mortise to loosen and remove any remaining salt crystals.To make sure all is cleaned, one cotton bud and one pipe cleaner dipped in isopropyl 95% were all that was needed to verify the results of the internal cleaning – cleaned!  I move on.Next, using Before & After Restoration Balm, the external briar is freshened and enlivened.  Mark Hoover’s Restoration Balm (www.ibepen.com) works very well to bring out the natural hues and to deepen them.  I place some of the Balm on my fingers and work it into the briar surface.  Afterwards, I place it the stummel aside for about 20 minutes to allow the Balm to do its thing.  Then the excess Balm is wiped/buffed off with a micromesh cloth.  The results are as hoped – a beautiful piece of briar is now more beautiful. Before moving on to the fine polishing and waxing phase, the copper shank cap/band needs to be attached to the shank. I test fit the cap over the shank and insert the stem.  The fit still looks good.  Next, with great caution, I place a drop of thick CA glue on the end of a toothpick and this apply the glue to the inside of the ring/cap.  Using the end of the toothpick, I run the glue around the entire underside and then slip it over the shank and press it into place.  I do this without excess glue seeping out from around the edges – relief!  I do not reengage the stem for a few minutes to allow the CA glue to cure – I don’t risk getting glue on the stem! On the home stretch!  With a cotton cloth buffing wheel mounted to the Dremel with the speed set at about 40% full power, I apply Blue Diamond compound to the stem and stummel avoiding the copper band.  When completed, I use a felt cloth to buff the pipe to remove compound dust before applying the wax.  Next, changing to another cotton cloth buffing wheel maintaining the same speed, carnauba wax is applied as well to the stem and stummel followed by a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine.

Wow!  The grain on this stummel catches the eye with the flame grain circling the bowl.  This bowl works well as a Churchwarden.  The size is perfect, and the shank pitch puts the long flowing Warden stem at a nice trajectory.  The addition of the copper band/shank cap is classy and works very well to transition the bowl and the stem.  I believe my son-in-law, Niko, will enjoy this Churchwarden which will be wrapped and waiting for him under the tree!  Thanks for joining me!

Fashioning a Churchwarden as a Christmas Gift for my Son


Blog by Dal Stanton

One of the advantages of having ‘The Pipe Steward’ in the immediate family is that there’s a very good probability that his gifting patterns might reflect one of his favorite pastimes – restoring pipes!  Over the years, it has given me great joy to gift my loved ones – sons and daughters(!), with pipes that I’ve restored.  There are at least two reasons for this.  First, they receive a beautiful pipe which has been given the TLC that brings it again to a pristine condition – often better than new!  They can enjoy the composite beauty of its shape, grain formations and hues.  Additionally, understanding a pipe’s story through the research and write-up that accompanies each recommissioned pipe adds to the overall appreciation for the pipe.  The pipe itself is the first part of a growing legacy.  Secondly, the fact that the gift has passed through the care and attention of my hands, restoring the pipe’s condition, adds my personal part to the pipe’s legacy.  The ‘Giver’s’ story is added to the pipe and is then associated with the pipe by the loved one that that receives the pipe, becoming its new steward.

My son, Josiah, is coming from St. Louis to join his mother and I for Christmas here in Bulgaria.  He joins his sister, Johanna and her husband, Niko, who have come to Sofia from Nashville.  Both Josiah and Johanna, our two youngest, lived here with us when they were teens.  So, they are coming ‘home’ for Christmas and this is special for them and for us.  Two additional things add to the specialness of this Christmas reunion.  First, Josiah is bringing with him a young lady for mom and dad to meet!  They met in college and have cultivated a relationship.  She’ll be coming to meet his parents….no pressure!  Secondly, Johanna and Niko are also bringing a special gift – we just found out that they are expecting their first little one to add to our growing number of grandchildren!  Gifts are special during Christmas and they come in different ways.  The greatest gift is the reason we celebrate Christmas – God’s gift of his Son, Christ, given to a dying and broken world to bring the gift of life.

For this Christmas, a Churchwarden will be fashioned for Josiah.  I enjoy repurposing forgotten bowls to give them new life by simply mounting them to a long, flowing Warden stem.  The uniqueness of the Churchwarden is that it is not primarily the style of bowl that makes it a Churchwarden, but the length and style of the stem.  From Bill Burney’s description in Pipedia we discover this information.I found two bowls in my box that held CW potential.  A petite ‘Made in England’ Bent Billiard with the shape number 950 on the shank.  No other markings.  It’s a classic petite English pipe which is attractive by itself, but so far, no one has shown interest in adopting him from the ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!’ online collection where pipe men and women commission pipes for restoration benefitting our work here in Bulgaria with women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited – the Daughters of Bulgaria (Incidentally, if you go to this link you will see our daughter, Johanna, a few years ago painting a picture depicting our work with the Daughters).  I believe this bowl will serve as a gift for my son-in-law, Niko – next in queue.  The other bowl is a rusticated bowl with the sloppy stamping not fitting the smooth panel on the shank’s left flank.  Here are the candidates.As I evaluated the two, I decided on the rusticated bowl for my son, that is rustic and will give the newly fashioned CW an ‘Ole World’ feel.  I take a closer look at the ‘Rustic’s’ nomenclature.  The sloppy stamping shows ‘ERMOFILTER’ – with ‘’ER” running over onto the metal stem facing and stem, [over] ‘ORTED BRIAR’ (with the ‘IAR’ running over!) [over] ‘ITALY’, the COM.  Undoubtedly, the stamping’s aim was to reveal the name, ‘Thermofilter’ which is not found in Pipedia but Pipephil.eu has this panel of information with a ‘?’ indicating the COM.  The Thermofilter on my work desk adds Italy as the country of origin.I acquired this pipe while in the US a few years back at Madeline’s Antique Store in Manchester, Tennessee, just off Interstate 24.  It was a quick stop as we were traveling through and saw the billboard and decided to stop.  It was a very fruitful detour as I found a Dunhill in the wild and purchased it for a pittance.  In the picture below, the Dunhill (see link for this restoration: Another Wedding Trip Pick: A 1961 DUNHILL EK Shell Briar Made in England 1 4S) is visible (3rd from the bottom) and reminded me that this was on the trip when Johanna and Niko were married!  The Thermofilter is barely visible on the right edge in the pipe stand.I take some pictures of the rusticated bowl to get a closer look and to mark the start. The bowl is a perfect size for a Churchwarden, which tend to be on the diminutive side.  The half bend will provide a great sweeping trajectory for the Warden stem.  The rusticated surface is dirty and needs a thorough cleaning of the crevasses. I’m attracted to the deep burgundy red finish of the briar.  It should clean up very nicely.  To begin the project, an inspection of the chamber reveals almost no cake at all, if any.  I go directly to the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to scrape the sides and then sand the chamber using 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  To clean the chamber of debris, I wipe it with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.After cleaning the chamber, an inspection reveals no problems with heating cracks or fissures.  Yet, I discover something strange.  On opposite sides of the chamber wall I discover stampings of numbers and perhaps some letters.  I’ve never seen this before and I decide to send a note to Steve to find out if his rebornpipes experience would lend any help. Steve’s response to my inquiry was brief:

Nope never seen that. I have seen small numbers in the bottom of the bowl. Maybe heated like a branding iron. What is the nomenclature?

With no resolution to this mystery, I move on to cleaning the external surface. I clean the rusticated surface with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap.  A cotton pad starts the process, but I transition to a bristled toothbrush quickly to clean in the craggy cuts of the rusticated surface.   From the worktable scrubbing, I transfer the stummel to the kitchen sink where I continue to rinse the stummel with warm water and clean the internals using long shank brushes.  With warm water, I add anti-oil dish liquid soap and scrub using the shank brushes.  After rinsing again, returning to the worktable I take the following picture of the cleaned stummel.  I notice that the finish is partially removed from the smooth briar panel holding the nomenclature.To complete the removal of the finish on the panel, I wet a cotton pad with isopropyl 95% and rub the smooth briar panel as well as the smooth briar ring circling the shank end.  This will provide a distinct contrast later during the finishing stage. What I also notice from the soiled cotton pad is that the finish color appears to be an Oxblood hue.     Moving now to cleaning the internals in earnest with cotton buds and pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95%, I find that the mortise is clean!  This doesn’t happen often and I’m thankful for the shortened work!I now transition to fashioning the Churchwarden stem.  The first step is to fashion the oversized tenon of the precast Warden stem.  Using the electronic caliper – which was one of the best additions to my tool chest! – I take a measurement of the mortise diameter which is 7.86mm.  This represents the eventual sizing diameter of the tenon after sanding it down to size.The next step is to cut a starting test cut on the tenon using another great addition to my tool chest – the PIMO Tenon Turning Tool that I acquired from Vermont Freehand (https://vermontfreehand.com/).  I keep the directions on the wall in front of me for easy reference!  Before using the tool, the PIMO kit provides a drill bit to pre-drill the airway of the precast stem to fit the Tool’s guide pin.  After mounting the bit on the hand drill, I drill the airway.  Next, I mount the stem onto the PIMO tool which has replaced the drill bit on the hand drill.  Opening the carbon cutting arm to just a bit smaller than the diameter of the raw tenon, I make an initial cut of the tenon for measurement purposes.  The sizing is 9.79mm.  This is the starting point for sizing down the tenon.  Generally, it’s not a good idea to cut the tenon with the PIMO tool aiming for an exact finished target size (7.86) because of the danger of taking off too much.  It is also true that each fitting tends to be different.  So, the approach is to come to the target sizing in a more patient, conservative pace.  I add about .40 mm to the target size of 7.86 which identifies what I call the ‘fat’ target to aim for with the PIMO tool then transitioning to sanding by hand.  Adding .40mm to 7.86 results in a fat target of about 8.26mm.  This means I need to remove additionally about 1.50mm (9.79 minus 8.26) with the PIMO tool.Using the Allen wrenches to adjust the carbide cutting arm to a tighter cut, I first cut a test and measure.  I want to make sure I’m not over cutting before traversing the entire length of the tenon. And I’m glad that I did the test cut!  The test cut measured 6.72 – smaller than the target size!  The second test cut measures at 8.10mm – falling between the fat target and the target size – I go with it.  I cut the entire tenon as well as cutting into the stem facing just a bit to make sure that the edge is squared and not shouldered from the original precast stem.The cut is ideal.  The tenon is still larger than the mortise so that sanding now will ease into the fit and make it more customized.It doesn’t take too long with sanding for the mortise fully to receive the newly shaped tenon.  A coarse, 120 grade paper is used initially to do the heavy lifting then 240 follows to fine tune.  The fit is good.There is no perfect union and this picture shows the shank facing extending a bit beyond the stem facing.I wrap the shank with masking tape to provide some protection to the rusticated finish as I sand to bring the shank facing and stem into alignment.  As before, focusing on the fitting first, I start with coarse 120 and follow with 240 to sand the junction.    When the junction transitions smoothly from the shank to the stem, I transition to the stem proper.  The picture below shows the casting seam down the side of the stem.  This seam as well as the ripples that are always present in a precast stem are sanded out.After some effort, and a lot of rubber dust(!), the ripples and seams are sanded with coarse 120 grade paper.  These pictures are not easy to see detail, but if ripples remained, they would be evident with the different hues on the stem.Next, I work on the bit and button shaping.  You can see the rough condition of the button and the vulcanite excess on the slot.  The darkening of the vulcanite forming a ‘V’ in the middle of the bit shows how the surface of the precast stem dips as it flares out to the stem edge. This will be filed out and the button shaped using a flat needle file.   The following two pictures show the progress of filing.  To remove the valley dip of the surface, I file down the outside valley ridges that are higher.  At the same time, the filing sharpens the button lip.  The first picture shows the initial lateral filing to bring the bit surface into a more level state.The next picture shows the leveled bit surface after the outer quadrants have been rounded and shaped toward the stem edges.The final filing for the lower bit completed.The slot is rough.  After filing the excess vulcanite to level the slot facing, I see a small divot in the inner edge of the slot which I didn’t picture!  A round pointed needle file fits nicely into the slot allowing uniform filing of the inner slot edges – upper and lower.  With the heavy-duty sanding and filing completed. I use 240 paper to fine tune the bit and button shaping.  At this point, the button perimeter is sanded.I follow the fine tune sanding of the button by sanding the entire stem with 240 grade paper.The next picture was to remind me to remark about how nasty working in rubber dust is!  It, without question, is the least desirable part of fashioning new Churchwardens!  This Bulgarian designed work cloth will be going into the soak tonight!The Warden stem is transitioned to the kitchen sink where 600 grade paper is employed to wet sand the entire stem. During the entire sanding process, the stem and stummel remain joined so that the sanding creates a perfectly uniform union with stem and shank. Before transitioning to the micromesh phase, I file the end of the tenon where excess and rough vulcanite persists.  Using the flat needle file, it is dispatched quickly.The question in my mind is whether to bend the stem now or go directly into the micromesh phase.  By leaving it unbent at this point makes continued sanding easier, and this is what I do. Using 1500 to 2400 grade micromesh pads I wet sand the stem followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads I apply Obsidian Oil to condition the vulcanite.  I only show one picture of this process instead of the usual 3 because capturing the detail with the long stem is not possible. I do, however, take close-ups of the upper and lower bit. The next step is to bend the Churchwarden stem.  The goal is to bend the stem so that the end of the stem, the bit, is on a parallel trajectory with the plane of the rim of the stummel.  I sketch a template to help visualize and compare.I use a hot air gun to heat the vulcanite.  I continually rotate and move the stem over the hot air to avoid scorching the stem and to heat more evenly a section of the stem.  To begin, I focus the bend more toward the middle of the stem, where the stem is thicker.  If I heat the entire stem at once the thinner portion at the end of the stem will heat and bend first creating a sharper angle – which I am trying to avoid.  A sweeping bend is what I like best.As the stem is heated, gentle pressure is applied so I know when it becomes supple enough to start bending.  The first step focusing on the middle bend is below.  After I bend it, I hold it in place until I run it under cold water in the kitchen sink to hold the bend.  As expected, the trajectory of the end of the stem is still a little high.  The next step of heating I avoid the middle of the stem and heat the section about 3/4 up the stem – the thinner section.  After heating and bending more, again I take the stem to the sink to cool the stem with water to hold the angle.  The template shows that I’m in the sweet spot.  Notice I inserted a pipe cleaner in the end of the stem to be on the safe side – guarding the integrity of the airway as it bends.  It looks good and I move on. Next, the stummel awaits attention.  After removing the freshly bent CW stem and putting it to the side, I take a fresh look at the rusticated stummel that, to me, resembles craggy tree bark.  I like it! Before addressing the stummel, I first run the smooth briar nomenclature panel and ring around the end of the shank though the full battery of micromesh pads, 1500 to 12000. I like the craggy/smooth contrast.My aim with the stummel is to refresh the hue, which appears to be a subtle Oxblood.  Using Fiebing’s Oxblood aniline dye, I will apply it like I usually do – painting and flaming with a lit candle.  Then, during the following ‘unwrapping’ stage, I will not use Tripoli compound as I usually do.  The reason for this is that the compound will get caught in the crags and that would not be fun to remove.  I think the felt buffing wheel on the Dremel will be enough by itself to effectively unwrap and abrasively buff to remove excess crusty flamed dye.  Creating more contrast in the craggy landscape of the rusticated surface and the smooth peaks of the rustication is the aim.  At least this is my hope!  I assemble my desktop staining kit.  After wiping the stummel with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to clean it, I warm the stummel over the hot air gun to expand the pores in the briar to help it be more receptive to the dye.  Then, using a bent over pipe cleaner, I apply the Oxblood dye in sections and flame the wet dye with a lit candle.  The alcohol in the dye combusts with the flame and sets the dye in the briar surface. After working through the entire stummel painting and flaming, I set the stummel aside to rest for several hours allowing the dye to set.Later, with a cotton cloth wheel mounted onto the Dremel and the speed set to 40% full power, I apply Tripoli compound only to the smooth briar nomenclature panel and ring around the shank end.Next, I mount a felt cloth buffing wheel onto the Dremel, setting the speed to the slowest possible, and go over the entire surface working the edges of the buffing wheel in the valleys and ridges of the rusticated surface.  The slower speed is to avoid over heating – I don’t want to start a fire with the coarser buffing wheel!I also concentrate on the upper peaks of the ridges that present very small smooth briar surfaces that are buffed.I like the contrasting effect of this process – the changing hues of the Oxblood from valleys to peaks with the smooth briar and rough briar – nice.Not pictured is mounting another cotton cloth buffing wheel onto the Dremel, setting the speed at 40%, and applying Blue Diamond compound only to the smooth briar nomenclature panel and ring around the end of the shank and to the Warden stem remounted to the stummel.  Finally, with another cotton cloth buffing wheel mounted onto the Dremel, set at the same speed, I apply carnauba wax to the entire pipe – stem and stummel. Over the rusticated surface, I increase the speed of the Dremel to about 60% full power to create more heat to dissolve the wax in the rusticated landscape.  This helps in keeping the wax from caking in the rough surface. I finish the newly formed Churchwarden by hand buffing with a micromesh cloth and brushing the stummel with a horsehair brush to raise the shine.

The Oxblood coloring of this rusticated bowl came out exceptionally well. My eyes are drawn to the contrasting of the flecks of smooth reddish briar populating the rusticated landscape.  The rustic feel of the bowl is enhanced by the ring of Oxblood smooth briar transitioning from the rough bowl to the long, black Warden stem.  The Oxblood shank ring contrasting with the stem simply pops.  Of course, the long, sweeping bend of the stem is why every pipe man or woman wants at least one Churchwarden in their collection.  This Churchwarden is heading under the Christmas tree here in Bulgaria as a gift for my son. My joy is completed knowing that in the future, when he pulls it out and fills it with his favorite blend and settles in to have some moments of reflection that he will reflect on this special Christmas in Bulgaria!  Thanks for joining me!  Merry Christmas!

Restoring and Restemming an LHS Rusticated Sterncrest Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

I am doing periodic repairs for a local pipe/cigar shop. They give my card to people who come in needing pipe repair. On Monday I received a call from a fellow who had an older LHS pipe that he had picked up in Europe on a trip. It turned out he lived around the corner from my house and he and his wife walked over with the pipe. It had an interesting rustication pattern around the bowl and shank that was unique. It sported a gold band on the shank that was original. The bowl exterior was very dirty. The rim top had lava overflow in the grooves and the bowl had a very thick cake inside it. The inner and outer edges of the rim looked very good. The stem had been jerry-rigged to function on the pipe before half of the button and back end of the stem had broken off. It looked like someone had used a knife and cut down the stem to make it a saddle stem. They had also carved a button on the stem. The saddle on the stem was in very rough condition and the carving marks in the stem surface were very rough. The young guy and his wife who dropped it off were hoping to get a new stem made and I was hooked and want to do that for them. I took photos of the pipe when it arrived so I had a benchmark to work with. I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It was very readable and was stamped Sterncrest of LHS in a diamond and underneath Imported Briar. Next to it was stamped 14K. The gold band was also in good condition but scratched. I also include a photo of an LH Stern sign that was included on Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/LHS). I have included the information below from the article on Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/LHS). It gives a great brief history of the brand that is a quick overview of the Company.

Ludwig Stern, a successful pipe manufacturer since 1893 and closing around 1960, reorganized his company along with his brother Hugo Stern, opening a factory in 1911. They named the company L&H Stern Smoking Pipes & Holders. The newly formed company was moved into a six story building on the corner of Pearl and Waters street Brooklyn, NY.

Thoroughly organized in all departments, and housed in a well-lighted and ventilated modern office and manufacturing building, the firm of L&H Stern Inc. is located near the first arch of the Manhattan bridge, near the river and convenient to the Brooklyn bridge, which makes it accessible from all the hotels in the metropolis for visiting buyers. The structure is six stories with a seventeen-foot basement, with light on three sides through prismatic glass windows, the first floor being seven feet above the sidewalk. Light enters the upper floors from all four sides.

L&H Stern is known to every important wholesaler and jobber in the country. LHS manufactures a complete line of briar pipes. Ginmetto wood pipes are also made, as well as Redmanol goods, the man-made amber. The first substitute for amber. Everything, even down to the sterling silver and other metal trimmings are made under one roof.

To begin the process of the restoration on this pipe I decided to see what kind of stem I had to replace the one that came with the pipe that was dropped off for me. I went through my can of stems and found a thin tapered saddle stem. It was more delicate looking than the broken one and I felt like it would look very good with the lines of the rustication on the bowl and shank. It was in good condition other than some light oxidation. 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 the third cutting head on the PipNet pipe reamer. I took the cake back to bare briar. I cleaned up what was left with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and finished with sanding the bowl with a piece of dowel wrapped with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the walls on the bowl.   With the cake cleaned out of the bowl, it was time to clean the shank and airways. I used alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners to scrub out the shank. I scraped the walls of the shank and mortise clean with a dental spatula to clean up the built tobacco lacquer on the walls. Once it was scrubbed clean the pipe smell much better.I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime. I used a brass bristle brush to scrub the rim top with the soap. I rinsed the grime off the bowl with warm water and dried it off with a soft cotton cloth. Once the grime was gone I found flecks of white paint in the grooves of the rustication. I picked them out with a dental pick and used the wire brush to clean up the debris of the paint flecks. 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 and worked it into the rustication with a horsehair shoe brush. The balm work to 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.  I sanded the scratches and tooth chatter out of the stem surface and the saddle with 220 and 400 grit sandpaper. I worked it over to remove the oxidation that remained in the stem surface.I rubbed the stem down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish. I have a few tins of this laying around so I am trying to use them up. It does a pretty good job polishing the stem.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. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it a coat of a new product I am experimenting with from Briarville Pipe Repair. It is called “No Oxy Oil” and it is made to protect the stem from oxidizing. I set it aside to dry.   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 to the textures and the various browns of the bowl and shank. This LH Stern (LHS) Sterncrest Billiard was another fun pipe to work on thanks the fact that I could in essence start over with it. The thin saddle stem looks really good with the rustication on the bowl and shank. The original 14K Gold band on the shank looks very good breaking up the shank and the stem. It is a real contrast and binds it all together. It really is a quite stunning piece of briar with an unusual rustication on 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 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This newly stemmed piece of  pipe history will soon be going back to my neighbour who I think is really going to enjoy it. It is a piece of he and his wife’s travels so now he can enjoy it with the memories of the find. 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 Replacing a Broken Tenon on a Scandia 263 Danish Freehand


Blog by Steve Laug

I am currently not taking on anymore restoration work from the internet or groups that I am part of on Facebook because of the large amount of estate pipes that I am working on to sell. But I have my name in at a local pipe shop here in Vancouver, British Columbia to do repair work for the shop as it comes in. there are no other pipe repairers in Western Canada that I am aware of so I feel a bit of an obligation to take care of these folks as they come. Fortunately there are not a lot of referrals but periodically they get pipemen or women stopping by with work – that is where I come in. They give them my number and email and then the repair work is between us. On Wednesday this week I received an email from one of their customers, Ron in Victoria, B.C. about a pipe that had been dropped and had a broken tenon. He described the broken stem and that left me with some questions. I had him send me photos of the broken pipe so I would be sure to have a clear picture of the issues. He said that the shank was not cracked and really the only issue was the tenon. He send the photos below so I could see what he was speaking of. Not too big an issue really – a cleanup and tenon replacement and the pipe would be good to go.After our emails back and forth he put it in the mail to me. It arrived on Friday and I took it out of the box to see what I was going to be dealing with on this pipe. Descriptions and photos are one thing but I like to have the pipe in hand to examine for myself. This is what I saw. The pipe was dirty and dull looking. There was some faint stamping on both sides of the shank. It was stamped Scandia over Made in Denmark on the left side and had the shape number 263 on the right side. There was a very uneven cake in the bowl that was crumbling. The tenon had snapped off almost smooth against face of the stem. The stem had some tooth marks and was oxidized. There was a faint SC on the left side of the saddle. It appeared that someone had tried to glue the tenon back on the stem – unsuccessfully. There was a lot of sloppy glue on the end of the stem and tenon. I took some photos of the pipe as it looked when it arrived. He had taped the broken tenon on the underside of the stem. The bowl itself was dirty with a crumbling cake about half way up the bowl from the bottom. The plateau rim top had tars and some darkening on the right top and edges. There was a large sandpit on the left side of the bowl near the rim and one on the underside of the shank that would need to be dealt with.  I removed the taped on broken tenon from the stem. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to take down the sharp edges of the old tenon remaining on the face of the stem. I wiped the face down with acetone on a cotton swab to remove the old glue. It was a sticky mess but came off quite easily with the acetone. When it was clean I used a series of drill bits to drill out the airway to accommodate the new threaded tenon. I usually start with a drill bit slightly larger than the airway and work my way up to the one that fits the tenon end. I used my cordless drill and the airway as the guide for each successive drill bit. This keeps things lined up.Once I have the airway drilled to accommodate the end of the tenon. I use a tap to thread new airway. The tenon replacements I use have a hip around the middle that I need to take down. I use a Dremel and sanding drum to smooth things out. I also rough up the threads to reduce the diameter to make room for the glue that I use to set the tenon in the stem.I used a needle file to smooth out the slight ridge at the end of the tenon. I sanded the tenon smooth to clean up the fit. I would further polish it once it was in place in the stem. I dribbled some Krazy glue on the threads and quickly turned it into the stem making sure that the alignment was correct.I took photos of the new tenon before I polished and finished it. The tenon is solid and the alignment in the shank is perfect. I set it aside to cure and turned my attention to the bowl.With the stem repaired I remembered that Ron had asked me to give him some background information on the brand so I paused at this point to gather the info. I turned to Pipephil’s site (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-s4.html) to get a quick overview. As expected the Scandia brand is a Stanwell second line. In this case the sandpits make it clear why it has this designation. I have included a screen capture of the pertinent section from the site.I turned then to the section on Pipedia that dealt with the Stanwell Sub-brands the Scandia pipe listed there (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Stanwell#Sub-brands_.2F_Seconds). I followed several other links listed on the article to check who designed this particular shape for Stanwell (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Stanwell_Shape_Numbers_and_Designers). Bas Stevens, a dear friend who know longer is living compiled a list of the shape numbers and their designer. The 263 was not listed there however, I remembered that the shape was actually a Stanwell shape 63. That shape was a Freehand with a plateau top and a saddle mouthpiece and was designed by Sixten Ivarsson.

To verify that my memory was correct I did a quick Google search for images of the shape 63 for comparison purposes. I include the photo below with thanks to http://www.Bollitopipe.it for the image (https://www.bollitopipe.it/en/hand-made-polished-royal-guard/18983-stanwell-royal-guard-63-bark-top.html). You can see that the shape is identical so that it is clear that the 263 and the 63 are the same shapes.With the background information gathered and summarized I turned my attention to the cleanup of the bowl. I reamed the crumbling and uneven cake out of the bowl. I left a very thin cake on the walls of the bowl. I cleaned up the small bits toward the bottom of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe knife. I finished by smoothing out the slight cake on the walls with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around some doweling. I a soft bristle brass brush to clean off the debris in the plateau finish on the rim top. I was able to remove most of the darkening at the same time. While not flawless it looks significantly better.To clean the surface of the briar and remove the oils and dirt I scrubbed the briar with a tooth brush and undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap. I rinsed off the bowl under warm water and dried it off with a soft cotton cloth. The finish looks much better with stunning grain. The sandpits are quite visible now that the pipe is clean. I repaired the sandpits with a few drops of Krazy Glue. I slightly overfill the pit with the glue as it shrinks as it cures. Once the repairs cured I sanded them with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the rest of the bowl. I polished the entire bowl with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper in preparation for the micromesh polishing. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. After each pad I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. The photos tell the story. I used a black Sharpie pen to darken in the deep grooves on the plateau as it would help to mask the darkening on the right and left side of the rim top and it would highlight and give depth to the finish. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the plateau rim top and the rest of the briar 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 to raise the shine. I really like watching the Balm do its magic and bring the briar alive. With the bowl finished I turned my attention to polishing the stem. I sanded the surface of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the remaining oxidation in the vulcanite and the last of the light tooth chatter.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I used some liquid paper to touch up the “SC” on the left side of the stem. I applied it and let it dry and cure. Once it had cured I scraped the excess off with a tooth pick. The “SC” looks very good.  I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it a coat of a new product I am experimenting with from Briarville Pipe Repair. It is called “No Oxy Oil” and it is made to protect the stem from oxidizing. I set it aside to dry.I am happy with how this pipe looks compared to what it looked like when it arrived in pieces. It definitely has that Stanwell look to it – very Danish Freehand looking. I am excited to be on the homestretch with it and took it to the buffing wheel and polished it on the wheel 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 to the blacks and browns of the bowl and shank. This Scandia Made in Denmark Freehand was fun to bring back to life. It really is stunning piece of briar whose shape follows the flow of the grain. 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 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This beautiful pipe will be going back to Ron tomorrow. If the mail is as fast as it was bringing it to me he should have it in hand by the first part of the week. I hope that he enjoys this beauty and that it serves him well. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting one to bring back to life.

Fashioning a Churchwarden by Reclaiming an East German Howal Sculpted Apple Bowl


Blog by Dal Stanton

One of the ways I can help benefit women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited – the Daughters of Bulgaria,is by fashioning Churchwardens from discarded repurposed bowls.  I enjoy taking discarded bowls, no longer serving any purpose, and after restoring them, mounting them on the fore of a long, flowing Warden stem.  Suddenly, the metamorphosis is realized – the neglected and discarded again becomes a treasure, sought after with great value.  John, from Utah, saw another CW I created – Fashioning a Churchwarden from a Dimpled Bent Billiard Bowl when I posted it on the Old Codgers Smoking Pipe Facebook group, and he reached out to me to explore commissioning a Churchwarden for himself.  This was the Dimpled Bent Billiard Churchwarden got his attention:After some months, John’s CW project finally worked its way through the queue, patience always appreciated(!) – and as I told him before, when his project was on the worktable, I would contact him with choices for a bowl.  I spread out a selection of bowls next to a Warden stem and ruler.  The selection included bent and straight shanks and smooth and rusticated surfaces – and different shapes.  The unique thing about the Churchwarden shape is that its designation is not determined primarily by the shape of the bowl but by the length of the stem.  After taking a few pictures, and sending them to John, he made his choice.John’s chose a very nice-looking sculpted Apple shape pictured on the right, in the middle.  Through this choice, he expressed that he preferred a straight rather than a slightly bent Warden stem.  When I pulled that bowl aside and took a closer look at the shank, I discovered that on the left side was stamped the name, ‘Howal’ [over] ‘Bruyere’.Howal is not a well-known name in the West, but I became familiar with it after seeing several Howals here in Bulgaria – formerly under the Warsaw Pact, behind the Iron Curtain of the Former USSR.  Having previously restored a Howal – a rusticated Dublin, I enjoyed the research of the Howal name which was a mystery to me.  My research uncovered not only the origins of the pipe in former East Germany, but that the city where Howals were produced was a historical center for pipe manufacturing in Germany that pre-dated WW2.  A fascinating story that I wrote of in this restoration: Checkered History and Heritage of an East German Howal Old Briar Rustified Dublin.

Pipedia’s article that I sited in that write up was both interesting and helpful in understanding the predecessor of and origins of the Howal name:

C.S. Reich was founded by Carl Sebastian Reich in Schweina, Germany in 1887. By its 50th jubilee in 1937 C.S. Reich was the biggest pipe factory in Germany.  In 1952, however, the owners of the company were imprisoned and the company itself was nationalized as Howal, an abbreviation of the German words for “wood products Liebenstein” or “Holzwaren Liebenstein”.  By the 1970’s Howal, after acquiring many other smaller pipe making firms, was the sole maker of smoking pipes in East Germany. In 1990, with the fall of the Berlin Wall and reunification of the Germanys, the company was closed.

As I reread that previous research on the history of the Howal name for this write-up, I decided to restate my observations in full because I don’t restore Howals often and the history and human story draws me to retell the story as I transform this Howal bowl into a Churchwarden.  From the previous restoration (my present comments in brackets):

While helpful for a broad sweep, I discovered much missing from this [Pipedia] summary and it raises more questions.  From another interesting source, Edith Raddatz’s lecture on tobacco pipe production in Schweina [a link which unfortunately is no longer working!] at the Tobacco Pipe Symposium in 2003, it describes a history of pipe production in this central German village that was reminiscent of my research into France’s pipe mecca, St. Claude.  A strong development of the pipe making industry can be traced in the 1800s to the apex of the C.S. Reich Co. being Germany’s largest pipe producer in 1937, but Raddatz’s lecture reveals that other producers of pipes were also based in the German village of Schweina.  Pipedia’s article above describes how the owners of the C.S. Reich Co. were arrested and imprisoned followed by the nationalization of the Reich Co. and becoming ‘Howal’, an acronym for “Wood Products Liebenstein” – Bad Liebenstein was the town that bordered and absorbed the village of Schweina. The question begs to be asked – which, unfortunately introduces the human tragedy wrapped around the name ‘Howal’ – Why were the owners arrested?  In an unlikely source, the website of the ‘Small Tools Museum’ adds the names of those imprisoned: shareholders Robert Hergert and Karl Reich.

Edith Raddatz’s lecture (referenced above) brings more light to the difficult geopolitical realities these people faced (Google translated from German – brackets my clarifications):

By 1945 the company, which had meanwhile [passed to] the next generation – Kurt Reich And Walter Malsch – [had] about 100 employees.   Among them were many women who mainly did the painting work.  At the beginning of the 1950s, an era ended in Schweina. The first [oldest] tobacco pipe factory in Schweina closed their doors. There were several reasons for this. Kurt Reich passed away in 1941, [and] Walter Malsch [in] 1954.  The political situation in the newly founded GDR made the conditions for private entrepreneurship difficult. The heirs of the company “AR Sons” [Reich family] partly moved to West Germany. The operation was nationalized, and later toys were made there.

In post WWII occupied Germany, the Soviet occupied section was declared to be a sovereign state and the German Democratic Republic (GDR) was established in 1949 (See link).  With a rudimentary understanding of Marxism and the economic philosophy undergirding it, it is not difficult to deduce what brought the demise of the C. S. Reich Co. and the formation of Howal.  Solidification of the FDR’s hold on power paralleled the necessity to nationalize private ownership and to institute a State-centered command economy.  These efforts gained momentum and forced companies/workers to work more with no additional pay.  In 1952, the year that the owners of C. S. Reich Co., were arrested, this edict was advanced (See link):

In July 1952 the second party conference of the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED) took place in East Berlin. In SED General Secretary Walter Ulbricht‘s words, there was to be the “systematic implementation of Socialism” (planmäßiger Aufbau des Sozialismus); it was decided that the process of  Sovietization should be intensified and the importance of the state expanded. The party was acting on demands made by Soviet premier Joseph Stalin.[2]

As a result, today Germany remembers the Uprising of 1953 which started in East Berlin, as factory workers revolted against the repression of the GDR, and spread to all East Germany.  Many lost their lives as Moscow responded to squelch the unrest with tanks on the streets.  In play also, was the mass exodus of people fleeing to West Germany, which included, per Edith Radditz’s lecture, the Reich family, who would have been heirs of the family’s legacy and company – pipe making.  Also, in 1953, completing the State forced abolition of any Reich claim, the largest pipe making company of Germany was seized, nationalized, and changed from C. S. Reich Co. to Howal.  As ‘Howal’, pipes continued to be produced, undoubtedly with the same hands and sweat of the people of Schweina, along with other wooden products, such as toys.  In the Pipedia article I quoted above, it said:

By the 1970’s Howal, after acquiring many other smaller pipe making firms, was the sole maker of smoking pipes in East Germany. In 1990, with the fall of the Berlin Wall and reunification of the Germanys, the company was closed.

My curiosity piqued, what does it mean when it says that Howal acquired many other smaller pipe making firms?  Should we question whether these words can be understood in the normal free market enterprise way we are accustomed?  Doubtful.

…So, as I had written before regarding the checkered history of the Howal name.  Now, as I look again at the Howal sculpted Apple bowl on my worktable, I take a few more pictures to mark the starting point and to take a closer look. I very much like John’s choice of a bowl to fashion a Churchwarden.  The sculpting of the classic Apple shape will look very nice as a Warden – with a rustic, ‘Olde World’ look to it.  The condition of the Howal bowl is generally good.  The chamber has a heavy cake which will be removed to give the briar a fresh start and to check the chamber wall for heating problems.  The rim has some crusting lava overflow that needs cleaning. The rusticated surface with the intricate ribs carved into the sculpting also needs scrubbing to remove grime lodged in the wood.  Before working on the stem, I start the Howal Churchwarden project by using the Pipnet Reaming Kit.  After taking a picture of the chamber showing the tightening chamber as the cake thickens, I use the two smallest blade heads of the 4 available and ream the chamber.  The cake proves to be stubborn – hard as a brick.  After the Pipnet Kit, transitioning to the Savinelli Fitsall Tool, clearing the cake continues as the tool scrapes the chamber wall. Finishing this phase, I wrap 240 paper around a Sharpie Pen and sand the walls and then wipe the excess carbon dust with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.

After completing the removal of the cake and cleaning the walls, an inspection reveals no heating problems.  I move on.Next, using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap I begin the external cleaning. I also employ a bristled toothbrush to get into the crevasses of the sculpted vertical sweeps, which are more detailed upon closer inspection. Within each crevasse, fine lines have been carved to provide a classier sculpted appearance. I like it. From the picture above, the lava flow caking on the rim is evident. A brass brush helps with removal of the crusting without damaging the briar underneath. The sharp edge of my Winchester pocketknife also helps as I carefully scrape the rim surface. From the worktable, I take the bowl to the sink and there using different sized long shank brushes with some anti-oil dish soap, I scrub the internal mortise under warm water.  After a thorough rinsing of the soap, I bring the bowl back to the worktable. The cleaning did a good job. I can now see the rim more clearly with a cut on the right side and some light damage on the left. The cleaning also reveals the residue of old finish on the smooth briar which shows up dark and shiny in the picture.  I’ll remove these patches with sanding.Starting with the rim, I take another picture showing the damage on the top and the bottom of the picture’s orientation.  The rim is sloped downwardly to form beveled rim peak. This is attractive and accentuates the Apple shape’s peaked rim. Going with this flow, I use 240 grade paper and sand the rim to freshen the lines and to remove the damage.  I show a few pictures to show the freshening progression. I follow the 240 paper by dry sanding with 600 grade paper on the rim.  I’m liking the emergence of a smooth grain contrast underneath.  A few blemishes remain on the rim at this point but I like the more rustic look – some imperfections on the rim accents the overall look.Next, to address the patches of old, dark shiny finish on the bowl’s surface, I dry sand using a 1500 micromesh pad to remove the old finish patches from the smooth briar surfaces of the sculpted motif.  I intentionally leave the rough rusticated briar in the sculpting untouched to preserve the original, darkened patina.  I’m aiming for an attractive contrast between the smooth briar, which will naturally lighten through the restoration process, revealing briar grain, with the rough, darkened sculpted briar. Not forgetting where I am in the cleaning process, I return to working on the internals with cotton buds and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95% – the strongest rubbing/cleaning alcohol available to me here in Bulgaria.  For a smaller Apple bowl, the internals were rife with old oils and tars.  I also did much excavation of tars and oils using the small dental spoon as well as drill bits.  With the bits, I hand turn a bit that is the same size as the drilling diameter which scrapes the wall.  The gunk seemed to have no end, yet finally, the cotton buds started to lighten, and I call the cleaning provisionally finished.  Later, I’ll continue the cleaning and refreshing of the internals by using a kosher salt and alcohol soak. Now to the stem fabrication.  I cease the stummel work at this point because there will be additional sanding as I size and sand the stem with the shank.  I take a few pictures to mark the starting point.  John prefers a straight stem for his Churchwarden which is not a problem.  The precast Warden stem has a very slight bend as it arrived on my table.  This will remain as it helps with maintaining the up/down orientation of the mounted stem.  The picture below shows the rough tenon oversizing which will be shaped to form a good junction with the Howal shank and tenon seating in the mortise. No shank/stem fitting is the same which means that sanding and finetuning the junction is always required.  The picture below illustrates this – the mortise drilling is slightly higher in the mortise which means that the upper thickness of the shank/mortise briar will be thinner and the lower will be slightly thicker.  Shaping the stem fit must factor this offset.The first step in fashioning the CW stem is to size the tenon.  I use the PIMO Tenon Turning Tool that I purchased from Vermont Freehand.  I keep the instructions tacked on the wall in front of me for a reminder and safe keeping!  A very useful tool to have for fashioning tenons.First, using an electronic caliper to measure the diameter of the mortise marks the target sizing of the tenon of the precast stem.  The mortise measurement is 7.95mm in diameter.  Using Charles Lemon’s (of Dad’s Pipes) methodology, I add about 50mm to this exact measurement to give me my ‘fat’ target.  The ‘fat’ target is what I will aim for when bringing the tenon down to size using the PIMO Tenon Turning Tool.  The ‘fat’ target (7.95mm minus 50mm) is about 8.45mm.  From this ‘fat’ point, I will sand the tenon by hand which gradually and patiently custom sizes the tenon to the mortise.The first thing needed is to pre-drill the tenon airway with the drill bit provided by the PIMO tool.  This enlarges the airway slightly enabling the insertion of the PIMO tool guide pin.  I mount the drill bit to the hand drill and drill out the airway.Next, the PIMO Tenon Turning Tool is mounted on the hand drill and I cut a small test sizing to give me the distance between the test cut and the ‘Fat’ target.  After cutting the test, I measure with the caliper and record 9.23mm and subtract the ‘Fat’ target, 8.45mm, leaving about .78mm to remove using the PIMO tool. Using the Allen wrench provided with the PIMO tool, I close the gap of the cutting arm and cut again.  I only cut a small portion out of the end of the tenon and then measure – this additional test cut guards from taking off too much.  The measurement of this test cut after closing the gap of the carbide cutter arm is 8.45mm.  On the button!  I finish the cut to the stem facing and begin sanding the tenon down. Using 240 grade paper, I uniformly sand the tenon so that the fit is snug, but not too snug.  As I sand the tenon, I often test the progress by inserting the tenon into the mortise.  I NEVER force the tenon to make it fit – a cracking sound of a shank is not a happy thing!I come to a point where the end of the tenon was butting up against the closing ridge from the mortise drilling.  I could detect the bump in the mortise.  Using the sanding paper and a flat needle file, I focus on tapering the end of the tenon so that it can navigate the narrowing mortise.  I don’t want to cut off the end of the tenon as a longer tenon provides a bit more strength for the longer stem’s reach.Finally, a good snug fit it accomplished and the stem is seated well.  The next step in the project is to fashion the shank around the new stem.  The pictures following show the overbite of the shank which needs sanding.To protect the Howal nomenclature and provide a sanding barrier, I wrap masking tape around the shank.  Using 240 sanding paper, I begin the process of sanding to bring the shank and stem into alignment. After making good progress, I discover a dimple at the seam of the precast stem just at the tenon facing. I’ve seen this before. To take the dimple out by sanding also will remove the corresponding briar on the shank side.  This I don’t wish to do more than is necessary.  I could also use the PIMO Tool to shave off more of the facing to remove the dimple.  Yet this would shorten the overall length of the Warden stem – not a good solution either. To remedy the dimple, after cleaning the area with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol, I spot drop regular CA glue on the dimple and immediately give it a spray of an accelerator so that the glue patch stays in place.  I don’t want CA glue running down the tenon facing!Shortly after, I rejoin the stem and Howal stummel and continue sanding the patch area.  The patch did the trick. The pictures show the results and the shank and stem are now in alignment.  I move on. Even though a precast Warden stem is new, it doesn’t arrive on the scene ready for action. Precast stems will usually not have smooth surfaces but tend to be ‘wavy’ – a leftover from the casting process. Therefore, sanding the entire stem is necessary. To do the initial rough sanding of the stem I use a coarse 120 paper to do the heavy lifting. As I sand the stem, the first picture below reveals what I’m describing as sanding reveals the rippled surface. After much sanding and bothersome rubber dust(!), the stem is shaping up well.  I’m liking what I’m seeing.With the rough sanding of the stem-proper done, I shape the button using the 120 grade paper and a flat needle file.  The first two pictures show the starting point and sanding – upper then lower. My day is ending, and the final project is to continue the internal cleaning and refreshing of the stummel.  To do this I use kosher salt and isopropyl 95% to give the internals a soak which helps draw out the tars and oils embedded in the internal briar.  I first stretch and twist a cotton ball to serve as a ‘wick’ that helps draw the oils out of the mortise walls.  Using a stiff wire, I guide the wick down the mortise and airway.  I then fill the bowl with kosher salt – kosher doesn’t leave an aftertaste as iodized salt. After placing the stummel in an egg carton that keeps it stable, with a large eyedropper I fill the bowl with isopropyl 95% until the alcohol surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes, the alcohol is absorbed, and I refill the bowl with alcohol.  I put the stummel aside to soak through the night. The next morning, the salt and wick are soiled indicating the activity of the soak through the night.  I toss the expended salt in the waste, wipe the chamber with paper towel and blow through the mortise to dislodge any salt crystals left behind.  To make sure all is clean, I again employ a pipe cleaner and cotton buds dipped in isopropyl 95% to finish the cleaning.  Not long after, the buds are emerging clean.  I move on. I return now to a reunited stem and stummel, using 240 sanding paper I now start the fine tuning of the stem after the coarse 120 paper. To show the completed condition of the stem after the 240 grade paper sanding, two close-ups show the improved texture of the sanded surface.Next, for more fine tuning of the stem’s surface, I wet sand with 600 grade paper and follow by applying a buff with 000 grade steel wool.  I love to see the emergence of the buffed-up vulcanite stem!  I keep the stem and stummel united throughout the sanding process to assure that the stem’s tenon facing remains sharp and in alignment with the shank – shouldering the stem is not an option!Turning back to the Howal bowl, I remove the masking tape and take some pictures marking the stage of progress. I like the rustic look this bowl already has.  My approach will be to run the bowl through the full regimen of micromesh pads to bring out the shine and briar of the smooth briar surfaces – going over for the most part, the sculpted surfaces.  At that point I’ll determine if I need to darken the shank end that was lightened because of the stem sanding.  I also will freshen the darker sculpted sections with a stain stick.  I’ll keep the stem and stummel joined through this process which will aid me later when I continue with the micromesh process on the stem. I take pictures of the bowl to mark the starting point. Beginning with micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  The pictures show the progression. The grain came out of the smooth briar nicely.  Now, to freshen the sculpted sections.  With the fine lined carvings in each sculpted section, briar dust has collected from all the sanding.  I first brush the carvings with a bristled brush.  This removes a good deal.  Following this, with an alcohol wetted cotton bud, I wipe out each carved section.  Next, using a very dark brown dye stick which turns out to be a mahogany, which looked the best after blending with the original surface, I trace the carvings darkening the sculpted briar.  After finishing, I give another quick sanding over the smooth briar surface with the last of the micromesh sanding pads, 12000.  I do this to clean off any inadvertent overrun of the dye stick onto the smooth briar and to sharpen the lines. Using Before & After Restoration Balm, I place some on my fingers and work the Balm into the briar surface.  I’m careful to work it into the crevasses of the sculpting.  B&E Restoration Balm is an excellent product from Mark Hoover at www.ibepen.com that raises the natural hues in subtle ways that enhances the presentation of the pipe.  After thoroughly working the Balm into the briar surface, I set the bowl aside for 20 minutes to allow the Balm to do its thing.  The second picture shows this state.  After 20 minutes, I wipe the excess Balm with a cotton cloth and then buff the stummel with a microfiber cloth to thoroughly remove the excess Balm and to raise the shine.The next step is to apply Blue Diamond compound to the entire pipe.  After reuniting stem and stummel, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel, set the speed at about 40% full power and apply a light application of the compound focusing primarily, but not exclusively, on the smooth briar sections.  I keep it light because I do not want the compound to cake up in the rusticated ridges of the sculpting.  I apply the compound to the smooth and rusticated surfaces and to the stem.Following the compound, I use a felt cloth to wipe the pipe to clean it of compound dust.  I don’t want compound mixing with the waxing phase.After switching to another cotton cloth buffing wheel, maintaining the same speed, carnauba wax is applied to the entire pipe.  As with the compound, I go easy on the rusticated ridges not wanting wax to cake.  After applying wax to the entire pipe, I use a microfiber cloth to give the Howal Churchwarden a rigorous hand buffing to remove excess wax and to raise the shine.The Howal Sculpted Apple bowl looks great mounted on the bow of the Churchwarden stem!  I’m pleased how the smooth briar surfaces cleaned up and how the grain provides a striking contrast with the sculpted design.  The added rusticated ribs in the carvings adds a nice detail.  The overall presentation of the Howal Sculpted Churchwarden gives a very old, rustic feel.  I’m glad John was patient waiting for this Churchwarden to come to life.  He will have the first opportunity to add this pipe to his own collection from The Pipe Steward Store.  This Churchwarden project benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!