Tag Archives: restemming

A Tiny 2 Star BBB 8881 Apple/Globe Provided An Interesting Challenge


Blog by Steve Laug

When I spoke with a fellow here in Vancouver who had a pipe that he wanted me to fix it sounded like a simple repair. He said that it had a very loosely fitting stem. He asked if he could drop by to show it to me and see if I could fix it. From past experience I have learned to never jump to conclusions about what sounded like an easy repair. When he arrived he showed me his GBD Faux Spigot. It turned out to need far more work than just tightening a loose stem. I wrote about that restoration in a previous blog (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/11/03/redoing-a-poorly-restored-ebay-gbd-super-q-9436/). We talked about his GBD for a bit and he made the decision to have me do a restoration on it. Then he reached into his pocket and pulled out a small plastic bag with a little BBB 2 Star apple of globe shaped pipe. It was stamped BBB in a diamond on the left side of the shank with two ** – one on either side of the diamond. ON the right side it was stamped Made in England over the shape number 8881. He said that he had found it at his parents’ house and really no one there knew where it came from.

Here is what I saw. Starting with externals. The pipe was small – kind of a pocket pipe. The grain on the bowl was quite stunning – a mix of flame and birdseye all around the bowl and shank. The rim top was coated with a thick lava coat and it went into the bowl. The inner edge of the bowl was in rough shape having been hacked clean with a knife. There was a crack on the right side of the shank curving to the underside. It looked to me it was made by the poorly made stem being shoved into the shank. The stem was larger in diameter than the shank and had been rounded over with a file. There were deep bite marks on the surface ahead of the button on both sides. Moving to the internals. The end of the tenon was carved with a knife to make it fit the mortise in the small shank. The inside of the shank was dirty but less so than I expected. The inside of the bowl had a light cake but most of that was gone from the knife job that had left a wounded inner edge on the rim. Looking at the pipe I explained what I would have to do to bring it back to life and restore it to use. It would need, cleaning, reshaping on the rim, a band on the cracked shank that would leave the stamping readable, and a reworking of the stem to make it a fitting addition to the lovely briar of the bowl. The pipe was going to be a fun challenge. I took these photos to give you an idea of what I saw. The previous pipeman who had fit a new stem to an old favourite pipe had done a functional job but it looked rough. It was pretty clean on the inside so it was cared for. It must have been a great smoking pipe for him to fit a new stem and not give up on it when the previous one broke or was lost. It was smokable. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the condition. It is hard to see but the rim top was not smooth. The lava build up was pretty thick and there were some deep nicks and chips in the flat top. The close up photos of the stem reveal the scratches in the vulcanite, the tooth marks and the worn and ill-defined button.  The oversized diameter – prettified to look nice is clear in the photos. I took photos from the side of the pipe to show the stamping on the shank and the prettified stem. In the second photo you can see the crack in the shank curving downward to the underside.I decided to address the cracked shank first. With the crack as large as it was and movable I did not want to further damage it when I worked on the stem and fit of the tenon. I knew that it needed to be banded but that would cover the stamping on the shank so adjustments would have to be made. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to reduce the size of the shank to fit the band I had chosen. I did not take of too much briar and I only damaged the M in Made In England as part of it would end up being covered by the band.I repaired the crack in the shank with super glue and pressure fit the band onto the shank to the point of the end of the sanded portion. I used a Dremel and sanding drum to cut back the band to the width that I wanted. Compare the photos above with the one below to see how much I took off of the band. I topped the band on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper and smooth out the sharp edge with 1500 grit micromesh. I decided that since I was already working with the Dremel and sanding drum that I would take down the excess diameter on the stem as well. I reduced it to sit snugly against the band giving the pipe a classy look.I cleaned up around the inside edge of the band and edge on the shank with a folded piece of 2220 grit sandpaper to smooth things out and make the fit and transition smooth. I lightly sanded the blade portion of the stem and the area of the tooth marks next to the button with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation and clean it up. I fit the stem in the shank and took a photo of the pipe at this point in the process. It was beginning to look like a classic BBB to my eye. With the stem roughly fit to the shank it was time to address the bowl top. I topped it on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. At that point I called it a night. I had to catch a train down to the southern part of Washington from Vancouver in the morning so I thought I would bag up a couple of pipes I was working on and take them with me.I caught the train south from Vancouver, BC at 6:30am. Once we had our seats we were in for an 8 hour train ride. I figure it would be a good opportunity to work on these two pipes. You can see my work table in the photo below. I used the fold down table. It had a lip around it so I spread out a couple of napkins for the dust and went to work on the pipes.I started working on the BBB by addressing the damage to the inner edge of the rim. It was significant with cuts and burns. My topping worked had helped with the top damage and smoothed that out but I need to work on the rim edge. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the sharp edges and bring the bowl back to round. Once I had the rim as round as I could get it and smoothed out the damaged edge I polished it with micromesh sanding pads. I polished the bowl and the rim at the same time. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp napkin after each pad. I touched up the stain around the front of the band and stained the rim top and inner edge with Maple and Cherry stain pens. Together the two stains matched the rest of the bowl.I rubbed down the briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the smooth surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little wall and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The rim matches well but still needs to be polished and buffed to raise a shine on it. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to reshape the button and also to smooth out the marks left by the Dremel when reducing the diameter of the stem. I sanded the tooth marks near the button on each side of the stem to smooth them out.I polished the stem, tenon and metal work with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I was able to remove the damage on the tenon and polish out the dripping varnish on the metal adornment. The stem looked much better at this point in the process. I the polished stem and bowl with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches and raise the shine. I gave the bowl and the stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. This turned out to be a beautiful little pocket pipe in terms of shape and finish. The new nickel band adds a touch of class in my opinion and gives the pipe a new elegance. I look forward to hearing what the fellow who dropped it off for repair thinks of it once he has it in hand and is smoking it. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 4 inches, Height: 1 3/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 inch, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.

Advertisements

Finishing the Restoration and Restemming a Custom-Bilt Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

Not long ago I was speaking with Paresh and Abha on Facetime and they showed me a second pipe that they wanted me to finish for them. This one was a Custom-Bilt billiard that had come to him from the estate of his Grandfather. It had a threaded tenon stem and a shank that had no threads. I have never seen a Custom-Bilt with a threaded mortise and tenon so it was a fair assumption that the stem was not original. It had been wrapped with glue and tape to make it fit in the shank and the fit was awful. Paresh wanted me to fit a new stem on the pipe for him. Abha had done a magnificent job cleaning the pipe so it was really a simple restoration for me – just fit a stem and finish the bowl. The briar was clean and lifeless so it would need some attention to breathe life into it again. He wanted me to pick up where he had left off and finish the pipe for him. The pipe was stamped on the left side of the shank Custom-Bilt and on the underside it was stamped Imported Briar. It would be interesting to see what I could do with it. When the pipe arrived this is what it looked like. You can see the remnants of wrapping and glue on the metal threaded tenon. There were tooth marks in the surface of the vulcanite stem on both the top and underside near the button. The first photo below shows the rim top and the inside of the bowl. Both were very clean and the rustication was in great condition as were the inner and outer edges of the bowl. The second photo shows the end of the shank with the glue on the inside of the mortise and the lack of threads that would be present if the tenon that was on the stem would work with this pipe.I took some photos of the stamping on the left and underside of the shank. The left side reads Custom-Bilt and the underside reads Imported Briar.I took close up photos of the stem. You can see the metal tenon on the end of the stem. There is some oxidation and there are the tooth marks on the stem top and underside.I wanted to refresh my memory on the history of the brand. I knew that his one was one of Tracy Mincer’s pipes because of the hyphenated name stamp. I looked on Pipedia and read Richard Esserman’s write up on Bill Unger’s Book. He gives a great summary of the history there. I quote a section of it below. (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Custom-Bilt(Rich Esserman))Tracy Mincer started the original Custom-Bilt pipes it appears in 1934. Bill meticulously details the start of the Company, how it was financed, the changes in the original ownership, how the company distributed its product, the manufacturing process, certain patented items, and other interesting stuff.

Mentioned briefly in this chapter was the fact that Custom-Bilt was producing big, carved pipes using Algerian briar for production up to WW II. One important employee, Hetzer Hartsock, stated: I can tell you something about that rough texture that Custom-Bilt had. One reason rough textured was used was not only for looks but it could hide flaws in the briar. [The process gave] A very uncontrolled cut. Then he [Tracy] would buff it out. [page 25]

Custom-Bilt pipes retailed between $5.00 and $15.00 in the 1940s. According to an ad, standard Dunhill pipes were selling for $12.00 and $13.50, Parker pipes $7.50, GBD for $6.00 and Comoy’s $7.50. Not mentioned was that special Dunhills could retail up to $100 and certain Comoy’s up to $25.

In 1946, the name was changed to Custombilt after Mincer began an association with Eugene J. Rich, Inc. There were some big changes in advertising and distribution. The slogan “AS INDIVIDUAL AS A THUMBPRINT” began at this time as well.

In the early 1950’s, Tracy Mincer developed severe financial problems that caused him to stop making the Custombilt, and he lost the name. In 1953, Leonard Rodgers bought the company and emphasized tobacco pouches and butane lighters. (However, it appears Mincer was working on his new pipe, the Doodler.) In 1968, Rodgers sold the Company to Consolidated Cigars. In the early 1970s, Wally Frank Co. bought the Custombilt trademark and began to produce their version of the pipe in 1974 or 1975. Hollco Rohr owned the Weber pipe factory, located in New Jersey, and produced the Custombilt pipes there. In 1987, the pipes were made out of the Butz-Choquin factory (France) and then Mexico until the late 1990s. Currently, the Custombilt name is owned by Tobacalera of Spain.

I set the bowl aside and decided to work on the stem. The diameter of the stem was perfect for the pipe so I needed to remove the metal threaded tenon and replace it with a Delrin tenon. I heated and scraped away all of the glue and tape on the threads of the tenon and those that bound it to the stem. I held it tight with vise grip pliers and turned the stem. It would not come out no matter how I turned or pulled on it. I decided I would have to use more drastic measures. Using the vise grip pliers as a vise I set up my cordless drill to drill out the tenon. I started with a bit slightly larger than the airway in the tenon and drilled it. I was hoping it would catch and pull the tenon out. First bit was a failure. I worked my way up to a bit slightly smaller than the diameter of the tenon and worked on it. The extended portion of the tenon broke off and I was left with the piece in the stem. I drilled it out with a bit and the bit grabbed the piece and it all came out.Once the metal was removed from the stem I cleaned out the hole in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners to remove the debris. I smoothed out the threads to leave grooves in the tenon insert. Once I had it smoothed out enough I tried it in the stem. The fit was perfect. I cut deeper grooves in the tenon with a file and coated it with black super glue. I pressed it into the stem and lined it up so the fit was straight.  I set it aside to let the glue cure. While the glue cured I worked on the bowl. I scraped the glue out of the inside of the mortise using a pen knife. The glue had hardened so it took repeated scraping to get rid of it and bring the mortise back to bare wood.When the glue cured I tried the fit of the stem in the mortise. The stem fit well on the shank. I put it in place on the shank and took photos of the pipe at this point in the process. I rubbed down the briar with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the smooth surface of the briar with my fingertips and into the rustication patterns with a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed the bowl with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The grain is really starting to stand out. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil to remove the sanding dust on the vulcanite. I wiped it down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I polished stem and bowl with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. 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 natural oil finish works well when polished to really highlight the variety of grains around the bowl and shank. The polished black vulcanite stem works together with the beautiful grain and worm trail rustication in the briar to give the pipe a rich look. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 5 3/4 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 inches. I will be sending the pipe back with the others that belong to Paresh. I have one pipe left to finish for him. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this well-made Tracy Mincer Custom-Bilt. 

Ben Wade’s in the House, Part 2


Blog by Joe Gibson

Finished Pipes, ready for an afternoon smoke. The tobacco is last tin of out of production Viking Odin’s Wind.

Which Stem for Which Pipe?

When the Ben Wades arrived, the Martinique came with a beautiful, amber colored but transparent acrylic stem. There was a minor amount of tooth chatter near the bit, but nothing I felt the need to repair. The airway, on the other hand, was black from being smoked. The stem was tight in the mortise and didn’t readily pull out.

The Royal Grain, as I mentioned in the previous post, still had a vulcanite tenon stuck in the mortise. I decided to work on the Martinique stem first and deal with finding a stem for the Royal Grain later.

Cleaning the Perspex Stem

The Perspex stem before cleaning.

The first problem was separating the stem from bowl without breaking anything. Since I planned on soaking the bowl in alcohol, I dipped the pipe and stem in the jar and let it set for a minute or two. The stem then came off the pipe easily and I rinsed it off in clean water.

With oxidized vulcanite stems, I do an Oxyclean soak to bring the oxidation to the surface. I’ve never tried an Oxyclean bath on acrylic or Perspex stems. With those, I usually just wipe the outside down with alcohol and do the inside with pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol. The one thing you never want to do is soak the stems in alcohol. It could possibly cause “crazing” or cracks in the airway. Some

people even report stems breaking after soaking in alcohol.

Tip #1: The shank brush tool is great for cleaning tobacco residue from the bit. I find it does the job faster than just pipe cleaners.

I was hoping dipping regular, tapered pipe cleaners in alcohol would remove the discoloration from the airway and sterilize it. And it did, to an extent. After 10 pipe cleaners the airway was a little cleaner, but I could still see the old tobacco stain. I probably would have gone to my bristle pipe cleaners, but I didn’t The solution for this situation? I switched to a shank brush pipe tool. It’s ideal for cleaning the shank and  the tenon and airway of a pipe stem. I dip it in alcohol and run it through the stem until it comes out fairly clean. I follow that with pipe cleaners dipped in water.

The Royal Grain Stem Replacement. Maybe?

Initially I planned to have a stem made for the Royal Grain. Then I remembered the Preben Holm stem I had sitting in my desk. It’s a mismatched stem from a Søren freehand I bought in early August. I easily removed the broken tenon by inserted a drill bit into the airway by hand and twisting and pulling it out.

Tip #2: When buying pipes in “junktique” shops and malls, check the stems for stamps or logos. It will help you identify the pipes and may also tell you if the stem is the correct one for the pipe. I use mismatch stems as a point in talking the seller into lowering the price.

Black Vulcanite Preben Holm stem and a Perspex Ben Wade

Stems are usually made to fit the pipe it’s going with and I have never found one stem to perfectly fit a pipe other than the one it’s made for.

The Preben Holm stem fitted the Royal Grain. Maybe a tighter fit than I like, but it a fit and I can always work on the mortise or tenon to make it better. On top of that, a friend from one of the pipe forums, had a Ben Wade stem he is sending me. One way or the other I have a stem for the Royal Grain. Or, did I?

 

But Which Stem for Which Pipe?

So, there I was. Sitting with two clean and polished pipe bowls and two stems. I picked up the Perspex stem and inserted it back into the Martinique. And, the bowl almost slipped off the stem. The logo on the Perspex is the Ben Wade logo. This should fit.

I’m guessing that the fit was so tight at the start because both the mortise and the tenon was so dirty. Once the cleaning removed the residue, it became loose.

Just on a lark, I decided to try the Perspex stem on the Royal Grain and it slid into place easily and looked like it was made for it. I also liked the way the amber color matches to the darker finish of the Royal Grain.

I then inserted the vulcanite Preben Holm stem into the Martinique. It is a snug fit but not a tight fit. May not be the original stem, but it is close enough.

Part 1: Ben Wades in the House

© J. Gibson Creative Services. September 5, 2018

Ben Wade’s in the House, Part 1


Blog by Joe Gibson

Not Ben Wade the U.S. politician or Ben Wade the baseball player and scout, but Ben Wade pipes. Specifically, a Ben Wade Martinique and a Ben Wade Royal Grain produced by Preben Holm in Denmark.

I first saw the Martinique and the bowl for the Royal Grain at Penny’s Little Flea Market just outside of Marion, MS two weeks ago. They were tempting targets, but I passed on them for a Preben Holm Delight. I kept thinking about the Ben Wades. Finally, the wife told me to call and see if I could buy them. They arrived two days later.

Pre-cleaning Preparation

Honestly, my first thought was, “What did I get into here?” The bowls were covered in dirt and grime.

Before Cleaning. (left) Royal Grain, (right) Martinique

The bowls had scratches and I couldn’t tell how deep they were. The good news? No heavy cake and funky, sour smells. Still, I decided that best course was a 24-hour soak in isopropyl alcohol.

The Perspex stem on the Martinique had very minor tooth chatter near the bit and was dirty. It was also stuck and took a few minutes to loosen enough to pull out. Since I planned on doing an alcohol bath, I dipped the pipe and stem in the alcohol for a few minutes and allowed me to separate the two.

The Royal Grain had its own issue which I didn’t remember seeing. The mortise still had the broken tenon of a vulcanite stem still stuck in it. I resolved this issue by twisting a drill bit into the airway BY HAND. The bit dug just enough into the vulcanite that I was able to pull the tenon out. My guess is the pipe was dropped and the stem broke off because the tenon really came out easy. Finding a new stem would be a later problem.

Both pipes have some of the plateau around the rim. The Royal Grain looked like more worn down of the two, almost like the previous owner hammered the rim on his ashtray.

As I decided earlier, I dropped both pipes into containers of isopropyl alcohol and left them alone for 24 hours.

Bowl and Airway Cleaning

After the soak, I cleaned the airway and draught hole first.  My reasoning behind working on the airway, draught hole and bowl first is simple. The cake and any residue is still saturated and soft. I think this makes any reaming I have to do easier.

Using bristle pipe cleaner dipped in the same alcohol, made relatively quick work of removing cake and residue from the airway. It also opened up the draught hole. Ten pipe cleaners later and I was satisfied with the cleanliness of the airway.

Tip #1:  I use bristle pipe cleaners for deep cleaning. Be careful on Perspex or acrylic stems as the bristles can cause some scratching in the stem airway.

After sanding with 300 and 600 Grit SandpaperFor the bowl I started with my homemade pipe knife. The biggest mistake some beginning home restorers/pipe smokers make is using a pocket knife to ream the bowl. You risk damaging the briar by using a sharp knife.  In my case, I made a pipe knife from a small folding pocket knife with about a 2-inch blade. Using my bench grinder, I rounded off the point and ground down the edge until it was almost as flat as the spine. It won’t cut paper or butter.

I should point out that I don’t ream down to bare wood but ream until the cake is thin and even all the way around. I generally finish the bowl work with 320 grit sandpaper wrapped around my index finger. This smooths out the cake even more and removes even more of the cake without damage to the briar.

Pipe Surface and Finish

One of the reasons I decided on the alcohol bath was what looked like white paint specks on the Martinique. I was hoping the alcohol would dissolve the white specks. It didn’t.  After the pipes had air dried for a couple of hours, I started working over them with 320-grit dry sandpaper.

Tip #2: Protect the stamping on the briar with painter’s masking tape before starting the sanding process.

The Martinique (top) and the Royal Grain (bottom). The Royal Grain is coated with Butcher Block Conditioner

It took a little longer on the Martinique because of the white specks and the curved areas. After wiping off the sanding residue with an alcohol wipe, a second sanding of the Martinique removed all the specks and the surface scratches.  The Royal Grain, being a more smooth, flatter surface was easier to sand.

After the initial dry sanding, I started wet sanding with 600-grit sandpaper. Let me point out something here. I make the decision to wet or dry sand a pipe based on how I see the pipe at the time. Sometimes my first step is wet sanding, sometimes I don’t wet sand until I get into the finer grits of finishing sandpaper or micro-mesh pad. The theory behind the wet sanding is that it provides a smoother, glossier finish to the wood. Whether others will agree with me or not, it works for me.

By the time I worked my way up to the 12,000 grit micro-mesh pad, I had a semi-glossy appearance and both pipes felt as smooth as glass. Normally, this is where I apply caranuba wax and buff. I went one step further and applied Howard Butcher Block Conditioner to the Royal Grain. The condition contains a food grade mineral oil, beeswax and caranuba wax. Instructions were to apply with a soft cloth and let dry for 15 minutes before wiping off the excess. I used a cotton ball for the application and let it set for probably 20 minutes. I really like the color and the way the grain popped out. I resisted the temptation to do the same to the Martinique.

Next: Which Stem for Which Pipe?

© J. Gibson Creative Services. September 5, 2018

 

Crafting a New Stem for a Cortina Factory Denmark 22 Freehand Stack


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table was one that my brother Jeff picked up on an eBay auction from a seller in Franklin Tennessee almost two years ago. I know it seems like a long time ago and I suppose it is but I have boxes of pipes to refurbish here and this one came up today! It was in a box with the freehand pipes that I have been working my way through. It is an interestingly shaped sandblast pipe that is a stack. When I first looked at it I did not see any stamping on the shank. As I examined it today I found stamping on the thin band of smooth briar between the horn shank extension and the bowl. It stamped around the band and reads CORTINA FACTORY DENMARK with the shape number 22. The pipe looked pretty good when he got it from the seller. There was dirt and grime in sandblast finish on the bowl. The horn shank extension was oxidized and tired looking. There was a metal mortise inset in the horn to protect it from splitting. There was a light cake in the bowl and the inner and out edges of the bowl were in good shape. The contrast brown finish on the pipe was in excellent condition. I am not sure if the stem on the pipe was the original as the tenon was very long and the fit in the shank was snug but not deep. It was lightly oxidized but in decent condition. I think a stem with a shorter tenon and snug fit to the shank would work well. I would also see if I could shape one to follow the shape of the horn extension. I would have to see what I could find in the can of stems. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup up work. Jeff took photos of the stamping on the pipe. The first photo shows the shape number 22 on the smooth band. The second shows the CORTINA stamp on the smooth band. The third and fourth photos show the stamping Denmark Factory. The next photo shows the shank end – a mottled horn with the metal mortise insert. The stem is in place but you can see that the diameter of the tenon is smaller in diameter than the insert. The second photo below shows the striations in the horn shank extension. The stem was dented and worn. I wanted to replace it with a different stem than the replacement that came in it so I was not too concerned with the stem condition.Jeff had scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil soap and removed the dust and grime that had accumulated there. The finish looked very good once it had been scrubbed. He lightly reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and cleaned it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He cleaned the interior of the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. The pipe came to me clean and ready to do the restoration and restemming. I took some photos of the bowl to show the condition at this point in the process. I took some photos of the horn shank extension. At first I thought it was acrylic but as I worked on it I was sure that it was real horn. It was a unique and pretty piece of polished horn. It need to be polished but it was unsplit and in good condition.As has become my practice when working on restoring pipes I did some research on the Cortina Factory Denmark brand name. Pipedia noted the brand but had no information to give in terms of the company or a time frame. I also looked on Pipephil’s site and found a listing for the brand. I have included a screen capture from that site (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-c7.html). The first pipe in the photo shows the Cortina brand and stamp that is the same as on the pipe I am working on. The second one is attached to the Georg Jensen brand and the stamping is actually very similar. It makes me wonder if the Cortina was not a line of pipes made by Georg Jensen. I have no proof of that other than the connection shown in the screen capture below.I started my restoration of the pipe armed with the little bit of information that I could find on the brand. I polished the horn shank extension with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad to remove the sanding dust. Once I had finished with the last pad I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil to enliven the horn and preserve it. I turned from the horn shank extension to work on the sandblast briar of the bowl. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the briar bowl and the rim top as well as the briar shank. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers, working it into the exterior of the pipe. I worked it into the blast with a horsehair shoe brush. After it had been sitting for a little while I buffed it with a soft cloth to polish it. The pipe really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I had a stem in my can of stems that had turned portions that as the shape of the shank extension on the pipe. Once the stem is cleaned up I will point out the shapes more clearly. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to shape the tenon to fit in the mortise. I sanded the oxidation to remove it from the rest of the stem. I took a photo of the new stem next to the one that had come with the bowl. You can see the variation in the shape of the stem. The top one has a very long tenon that fit into the shank up to the spot where the oxidation begins. It is longer than the new stem and the shape is not quite right. On the new stem I have boxed in the shapes in red that parallel the shape of the shank extension.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust on the acrylic. I polished the stem with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and I set it aside to dry. I polished stem and bowl with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The contrasting brown stain on the sandblast, the variegated swirls in the horn shank extension and the polished vulcanite stem worked together to give the pipe a unique look. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This is one of those interesting unknown Danish Pipes that I think could possibly lead back to Georg Jensen but we will probably never know for sure. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 6 1/2 inches, Height: 2 1/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 inches. This one will be added to the rebornpipes store soon. If you are interested in adding it to your collection send me an email to slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this piece of Danish pipe making history.

New Life for an Unusual Freehand pipe – a Granhill Signature 1 50


Blog by Steve Laug

I have been working my way through some freehand pipes that my brother Jeff picked up recently. There are some amazing freehand pipes among them. The one on the work table now is another Granhill Freehand. I have already restored a beautiful large freehand Granhill earlier this summer (https://rebornpipes.com/2018/06/09/another-large-and-unique-freehand-pipe-a-granhill-signature-1-100/). It was a Granhill Signature 1 100 where this new one is a Granhill Signature 1 50. The pipe looked pretty good when he got it. There was dirt and grime in the plateau on the rim top. The edges were clean and undamaged. The bowl had a pretty thick cake inside. The finish on the pipe was an oil finish on natural briar. There were some carved trails up the sides of the bowl and the shank that had been lightly sandblasted and had an interesting texture. The stem was a replacement stem of cast vulcanite. It was oxidized but in decent condition. The acrylic stem on the other Granhill made me want to put the same kind of stem on this one as well. We would have to see. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his cleanup up work. Jeff took photos of the rim top to show the grime and dirt in the crevices of the rim top. There was also some darkening around the inner edge of the rim top and some lava build up that was overflowing onto the inner edge.He also took a photo of the stamping on the shank. The stamping is very clear and readable.The stem was in decent condition. The surface of the vulcanite was pitted and oxidized. There was some light tooth chatter on both sides of the stem near the thin button.Jeff had cleaned the rim top and removed the debris in the plateau. He had scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil soap and removed the dust and grime that had accumulated there. The oil finish disappeared and there was natural unfinished briar and once it was scrubbed it was clean and unstained briar. He lightly reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and cleaned it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He cleaned the interior of the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. The pipe came to me clean and ready to do some light touch ups and polishing. The stem was cleaned but had tooth chatter on the top and underside near the button and on the surface of the button itself. I took close up photos of the rim top to show the condition of the plateau. It was very clean and there was no damage to the inner or outer edge of the rim. Jeff had been able to remove all of the tars and oils and lava coat on the edge of the bowl. The photos of the stem to give a clear picture of what it looked like before I cleaned it up. They also show the smooth shank end on this particular pipe. There was a slight bit of plateau on the top of the shank end in the second photo.In my earlier blog on the other Granhill I had done research on Pipedia to find information. I found two potential makers of the brand though they separated the name into two parts Gran Hill. The first possible maker was Michael V. Kabik with some of them stamped Made in Denmark. The spelling of the name was noted to come in other versions: Granhill, Gran-Hill. The second possibility comes from Lopes book where he states that the brand also was used by a Fargo Tobacconist, Lonnie Fay, who made freehands bearing this stamp in the 1970s. To me the similarity of the pipe to other Kabik pipes that I have worked on made me go with him as the maker of this pipe as well.

I went back to Pipedia and spent time reading about Michael Kabik (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Kabik). Here is a summary of what I found.

Michael Victor Kabik or Michael J. Kabik, now retired artisan and pipe repairman, was born in Annapolis, Maryland in 1950. As a student he was fascinated by science, but finally turned to the arts. In the early 1970s he started working as an artisan and designer for Hollyday Pipes Ltd., and when the company closed he set up in his own right.

Kabik writes as follows:

…In the 1960s, I had helped Jay build Jay’s Smoke Shop and was his first employee. Since that time, he had set up one of the very first freehand pipe-making operations in the U.S. along with his partner, Chuck Holiday, called CHP-X Pipes. The staff consisted of four full-timers actually making the pipes and perhaps another four in sales and office work. Chuck, who did the actual design and carving, had long since had serious disagreements with Jay and split. Chuck’s replacement from the staff was quitting, and Jay was in a bind. Jay offered me the job, and I gladly accepted. The fellow quitting was supposed to train me for two months but left after two weeks, leaving me with an awesome responsibility. I felt as though the future employment of all these people depended on me as the designer and cutter…and it did.

…Sadly, CHP-X closed its doors two years after my arrival, due primarily to distribution, sales force problems, and other issues to which I was not privy…In love with a medium that satisfied my creative impulses while, pretty much, paying the bills, I bought up the essential equipment and produced pipes on my own. I did this from a farm house my wife and I rented in Phoenix, Maryland. I produced pipes under the name KANE, Gran Hill and others I can’t remember as well as a private label line for a store in, I believe, South Dakota.

…In 1973, I was approached by Mel Baker, the owner of a chain in Virginia Beach called Tobak Ltd. Mel was interested in producing a freehand pipe line and was alerted to my product by Al Saxon, one of his managers and a former CHP-X employee. Mel wanted to relocate me to Virginia Beach, give me carte blanche, and recreate the CHP-X studio with, of course, a new name for the product. I’m sure my answer came very quickly.

…We decided on the name Sven-Lar. Why? Well, when I bought out CHP-X, I also got a small drawer full of metal stamps that were created for private-label work. The Sven-Lar name was conceived but never realized. Aside from having the stamp already made, there were other reasons we chose Sven-Lar. First, we were making a line of pipes in the Danish freehand tradition and also, sadly, we knew the difficulty American pipe makers had breaking the foreign market mystique barrier. The latter certainly played a big part in the demise of CHP-X.

After rereading the previous blog I was pretty certain that the pipe I was working on was another one made by Kabik. I turned my attention to restoring the pipe. I started with the clean bowl, I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the briar bowl and the rim top as well as the briar shank. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers, working it into the exterior of the pipe. I worked it into the plateau top with a horsehair shoe brush. I wiped it off and buffed it with a soft cloth to polish it. The pipe really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I wrapped a piece of dowel with 220 grit sandpaper and sanded out the inside of the bowl to smooth the walls. I removed all of the remaining cake on the walls of the bowl.I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I looked over the replacement stem and decided to not use it. I went through my stem collection and found a nice brown swirled acrylic stem that I thought would look good with the pipe bowl.  It was very similar to the stem on the other Granhill I worked on so I decided to use it instead. I took photos of the two stems side by side for comparison.I sanded the tenon end with a Dremel and sanding drum and smoothed it out with 220 grit sandpaper to adjust the tenon to the same diameter as the tenon on the replacement stem. It did not take too much work to adjust the fit to the shank.I sanded out the tooth marks out of both sides of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. I worked over the surface with sandpaper to remove the tooth chatter, marks and to smooth out the surface. There were tooth deeper tooth marks on the top side of the stem that I would need to fill in and work on. I filled in the dents with clear super glue. Once the glue cured I sanded them smooth with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the acrylic. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust on the acrylic. I polished the stem with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and I set it aside to dry. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad to remove the sanding dust. Once I had finished with the last pad I wiped it down with a light coat of olive oil to collect the dust and to give some depth to the finish. I polished stem and bowl with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The plateau on the rim top and the smooth natural oiled finish work very well with the swirled brown acrylic stem. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. While I have worked on other Michael Kabik pipes (a CHIP-X) this is the second Granhill pipe of his that I have restored. It is well crafted and is very similar to the CHIP-X that I worked on in the past. The shape, finish and flow of the pipe and stem are very well done. The dimensions are Length: 6 1/2 inches, Height: 2 1/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 inches. This one will be added to the rebornpipes store soon. If you are interested in adding it to your collection send me an email to slaug@uniserve.com or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this Granhill freehand.

 

Fashioning a Churchwarden from a Forlorn, Throw away Billiard – a story of the Phoenix


Blog by Dal Stanton

The Greek mythological Phoenix is a long-lived bird that cyclically regenerates or is otherwise born again, according to Wikipedia.  It is regenerated out of its own demise, from its own ashes.  The images that come to mind are Harry Potter-esque – the Phoenix’s name is Fawkes and “as stated by Dumbledore, they are extremely loyal creatures, and are capable of arriving to the aid of beings who share a similar devotion. This was how Fawkes arrived to assist Harry in slaying the Basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets during his second year at Hogwarts” (LINK).  The tear of the Phoenix could also bring healing and recovery from near death.

What does the Phoenix have to do with pipes and Billiards?  True confession: I enjoy immensely working on vintage pipes with well-known and sought names like Dunhill, Savinelli, Comoy’s, Stanwell, GBD, Jeantet and BBB.  But truth be known, I LOVE taking the throwaways, the discarded, the ‘only good for the waste heap’ pipes – that make most people cringe and reach for latex gloves – to take these pipes and see what I can do to help.  There is a satisfaction at the end of such projects that translates into, ‘Wow! Who could have imagined…!”  The discovery of hidden beauty that was always there, but no one took the time to help it emerge.   I guess, at the core of it is the sense that sometimes people are treated in such a way or may view themselves in such a way that does not reflect the often hidden value that people intrinsically have.  Helping is seeking to bring new life out of the ashes of the past.

I want you to meet my forlorn Billiard stummel.  I’m sure that one past day he enjoyed the attention of a steward.  He proudly was settled on the rack with other proud pipes of The Rotation.  One day something happened, and he lost that favored position, and everything changed.  I found him in a bag of a second-hand/antique vendor in Sofia, Bulgaria’s ‘Antique Market’ in the city-center.  The bag was full of broken and discarded stems, stummels and other things unrecognizable.  He had no stem.  I plucked him out of the bag along with a few other pieces, paid the vendor a very small sum for what had no value to the vendor or to anyone else.  The small Billiard stummel was marked with the most generic of all markings, ‘Real Briar’.  Absolutely nothing special.  Here are pictures of the redeemed Billiard on my worktable. I just completed the restoration of a Monarch Pat. 1989069 – 1074H Bent Ball  for Andy, a pipe man living in Maryland, who attends the church where I was formerly the pastor on the Eastern Shore – the peninsula created by the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean east of Washington DC.  Andy commissioned the Monarch from the ‘For Pipe Dreamers Only!’ section on my blog.  He told me he was also hoping to land a Peretti Oom Paul and a Churchwarden someday.  He had seen several of the Peretti Lot of Oom Pauls that I had already restored and recommissioned for new stewards and was hopeful.  I had no more Perettis to share, but I proposed that I could fashion a Churchwarden from repurposed stummels.  I also had one 8-inch Warden stem left in my stores.  Not long ago, I completed a fun restoration I called ‘A Tale of 3 Church Wardens’ – where I fashioned 3 Churchwardens that all found new stewards in Germany.  I directed Andy to check out the post to decide what he wanted to do.  It didn’t take long and he decided to add a Churchwarden to his Monarch Bent Ball – each of these pipes benefit the work we do here in Bulgaria with the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited to find a new life and hope.  The next question for Andy was what stummel would mast the Warden stem and rise from the ashes like the Phoenix?  Here were the options I sent to Andy with a warning not to be distracted by the color or condition – to look only at the shape.  Here’s what he saw.From the top, his choices were a Rhodesian, a Panel, a carved Apple and the forlorn Billiard.  Andy chose the classic Billiard shape, influenced mainly by the longer shank which will add a bit of flow to the Churchwarden he would become when transformed.  The interesting factoid that I reported before, in my writeup of the 3 Churchwardens, was from Bill Burney’s Pipedia Pipe Chart. It provides the framework for forlorn bowls to rise as the Phoenixes.  What brings this power?  A Churchwarden stem:As you would expect, our Billiard that Andy chose has many challenges.  The worst of his obvious problems is the rim which has been chewed and gnarled! It has a large divot on the internal lip over the shank.  Also, on the shank side, the rim slopes away having endured a ‘skinned knee’ experience.   The old finish is totally old and the stummel has some small fills that need checking.  Yet, underneath the grime and tired finish – where there is finish, is briar grain with potential.  I begin the story of this Billiard hoping to rise as a Phoenix by doing the basic cleaning of the stummel before fashioning the precast Churchwarden stem.  To mark the beginning of the restoration, I take a picture of the Billiard stummel with the Warden stem – the place where Pipe Dreamers begin!I take a picture of the chamber and see that there is very little cake build up, but I also see that it appears someone took a pocket knife to the chamber in the past – with little care.  I take the Savinelli Fitsall Tool and I ream the bowl of residue carbon.  Following this, I sand the chamber with 240 grit paper by wrapping the paper around a Sharpie Pen seeking to clean it but also to smooth the top of the chamber where knife marks were.  I then clean the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl to rid it of carbon dust.  The chamber wall seems to be in good shape – no cracks or heat fissures are visible, but I will need to do a bit more sanding – I’ll wait to do this along with the rim repair. Now I turn to internal cleaning of the stummel.  Using cotton buds dipped in isopropyl 95%, I realize very quickly that the grunge in this mortise and airway was thick.  I put the cotton buds down for a time and start scraping the mortise walls with dental spatulas.  I also insert a drill bit the size of the airway and hand turn it to excavate the tar and oil buildup.  In time the cotton buds started coming out less soiled.  I plan to give the stummel a kosher salt and alcohol soak through the night to clean the internals further and freshen the stummel for the new steward.  The pictures show the grunge warfare!With the stummel cleaned, I now turn to the precast Churchwarden stem.  I begin by pulling out my new electronic caliper that I acquired when I fashioned the 3 Churchwarden stems before.  I take an internal measurement of the Billiard’s mortise, which is the target.  The reading is 8.13 mm.  For a conservative target in shaping the new tenon on the precast Warden stem, I add .40 mm to the 8.13 which gives me a conservative target of 8.53 mm.  I now mount the drill bit to drill the tenon’s airway enlarging it to receive the guide pin for the Pimo Tenon Turning Tool, which I also just added to my tools.  I mount the Pimp Tenon Turning Tool into the drill chuck and cut a conservative practice cut on the tenon to get an initial measurement.  The practice cut measurement is 8.96 mm which means I need to remove around .43 mm to arrive at the conservative target of 8.53 mm.  The purpose of the conservative target is to get close to the exact size of the mortise, but not quite.  This leaves room to sand the tenon to fashion the custom size because every mortise is different.  The fit between the newly fashioned tenon and the mortise must be snug but not too tight. I crank down the blade on the Tenon Turning Tool a bit and make another practice cut and remeasure.  Now, I have a perfect example of why doing practice cuts is a good idea!  The next measurement was 8.23 – only .10 mm off the actual mortise size – too close for comfort.  I don’t want to risk taking off too much.  I back the blade off a little and recut.  I come to an 8.49 mm which is good.  Using a flat needle file, 120 and 240 grit papers I gradually bring the size of the tenon down.  After MANY filings/sanding and testing the fit in the mortise, I can seat the tenon snugly into the mortise.  The shank is slightly larger than the diameter of the stem when the stem is inserted into the mortise.  The picture below shows how the briar is extending at this point, but as I look around the shank, the amount of overhand is not the same.  I use the flat needle file to start bringing the briar overhang flush with the Warden stem. The picture below shows the shank having that ‘stuff pants look’ as the taper of the shank to the stem is not gradual.  To address this, I file and sand around the shank to create a more gradual tapering from the bowl through the shank to the Warden stem.  Most of the briar bulging was on the shank sides not on the upper and lower areas which look pretty good. After a lot of sanding with a flat needle file, 120 and 240 papers, I arrive at a nicer tapering from shank to stem.  I sacrificed the ‘Real Briar’ stamping on the left side of the shank for the more balanced look on both sides of the shank.  I thought about it for a few minutes, and sanded away in favor of a reborn Phoenix!  The shank overhang has been sanded out and the shank/stem junction is flush.  I like the flow from bowl, through the shank, and into the stem.  Before bending the stem, while still in the same customized position, I also file and sand down the sides of the precast stem to remove the seams created by the casting halves.  I aim for rounding the stem. With the Billiard’s straight shank, the bend will be very small and subtle.  Last time I fashioned Churchwarden stems I found that I was consistently overbending the stem and then I would need to back off the bend for the best look.  I place pipe cleaners in the stem at both ends to maintain the integrity of the airway during the heating and bending process.  I use a hot air gun and warm the vulcanite in the area where I make the bend.  As it warms, the vulcanite, a rubber compound, becomes supple and is fashioned easily.  After making the bend, by simply eyeballing it, I take the heated stem to the sink and cool it with tap water to set the bend.  I remount the bent stem and I like it.  It has a gentle bend, not too much.  The Phoenix is coming to life!Looking now to the stummel, I use a sharp dental probe to test the very small fills on the stummel.  They seem to be solid.  I then look at the gnarly rim.  The next step is to remove the damage by utilizing the topping board.  Using a chopping block, I place a sheet of 240 grade paper on it.  After inverting the stummel on the board, I begin to rotate the stummel over the paper.  I’m thankful for the fact that Churchwardens typically have smaller bowls.  That’s good news because I’m taking a bit of briar off the top.  After a while, there is still a divot on the inside of the rim over the shank which I will address by creating a bevel.  After the 240 grade rotation, I then use 600 for a bit and finish the topping. Using 120 grit paper, I start carving a bevel on the inside lip of the rim.  I follow by moving to the outside edge of the rim.  I create the bevel by pinching the rolled piece of sanding paper under my thumb and then methodically move it around the rim putting pressure on the paper.  The continuous movement is what keeps the bevel consistent.  I then follow with 240 paper for both the inside and outside edges of the rim.  I think it looks good – what an improvement!To address the stummel surface to remove the top surface and scratches and old finish, I start by using a coarse sanding sponge on the entire stummel.  I follow the coarse sponge with medium and then light sanding sponges.I decide now to continue working on the stem.  Using a flat needle file and 240 grit sanding paper I continue smoothing and shaping the stem.  I work on the rough button with the file to shape it with the file.  I sand the entire stem with 240 grit because, even though the stem is new, the vulcanite contains ripples and ribs from the casting process.  I work the stem with sand paper so that it’s smooth and the stem is rounded.  From filing and 240 grit, I sand the entire stem with 600 grade paper.  I finish this sanding phase by sanding/buffing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool.  The pictures show the progress. My day is ending and I finish at the worktable with a kosher salt and alcohol soak to further clean and refresh the stummel.  I create a wick from a cotton ball by stretching and twisting the cotton.  I then insert/stuff the wick in the mortise and airway.  I then put the stummel in an egg crate to stabilize it and fill the bowl with kosher salt which leaves no after taste as does iodized salt.  I then use a large eye dropper to fill the bowl with alcohol until it surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes I top off the alcohol.  I set the stummel aside and turn out the lights.The next morning the kosher salt and alcohol soak did the job – the salt and wick are soiled by drawing out more tars and oils from the mortise and airway.  After dumping the expended salt, I wipe the chamber with paper towel to remove the old salt.  I blow through the stummel as well to clear out the left overs. To make sure all is clean, I run a few more cotton buds dipped in isopropyl 95% through mortise.  Moving on.Time to micromesh the Churchwarden stem.  Using pads 1500 to 2400 I wet sand the stem.  Following this, I dry sand using pads 3200 to 4000 and then, 6000 to 12000.  After each set of 3 pads, I apply Obsidian Oil to the stem to enrich the new precast Warden stem.  I take only one picture at the end because it’s difficult enough to see the detail of black vulcanite with regular sized stems, with the Churchwarden stem, the picture is from orbit!With the stem drying, it’s time to begin the micromesh sanding of the stummel.  Using micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 I wet sand the stummel.  As has happened on previous restorations, the wetting of the stummel during the wet sanding process spelled the end of the once solid fills that I saw before.  The fill material must be made of a water-soluble material – not sure what it is, but it isn’t anymore! The fills fully disintegrated.The detour means that I need to apply patches to the pits – I mix briar dust and thick CA glue to form a putty that I apply to the holes.  I first use a sharp dental probe to make sure the pits are free of debris.  I use an index card to do the mixing by placing some dust in a pile. I then place some of the CA glue next to the briar dust.  Using a toothpick, I gradually draw a bit of the dust into the glue while mixing it with the toothpick.  I continue to do this until the putty reaches a molasses-like consistency. I then apply the putty to the places needed – there are a few. After applying the briar dust putty, I spray the patches with an accelerator to cure the patches more rapidly.  Then, using a flat needle file, I begin filing down the patches to near the briar surface.  Then I use 240 grit paper to remove the remaining excess patch material bringing the fill flush with the briar surface.  Following the 240 paper, I use 600 grit paper on each of the patch areas.  Finally, I return to the initial micromesh pads and sand the patches with 1500 to 2400 grade pads.  The detour is complete, back on track.  The pictures show the patch repairs.  These patches will blend very well. I pick up again by dry sanding using pads 3200 to 4000 and then 6000 to 12000.  The pictures show the finished result.  I enjoy so much watching the grain emerge during the micromesh process.  This lonely stummel just may be a Phoenix after all!At this point, aiming for the color preferences Andy described when he commissioned the Billiard, I will stain the stummel using the base as Fiebing’s Saddle Tan Pro Dye but add to it just a bit of Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye to darken it a bit.  I believe this will add more depth to the grain contrast – or I hope!  After mixing the dyes in a shot glass, and inserting a cork into the shank to act as a handle, I then warm the stummel using a hot air gun.  This expands the briar making the wood more receptive to the dye.  After warmed I apply the stain using a folded pipe cleaner.  After the stummel is completely covered, I flame the aniline stain using a candle.  The alcohol in the dye immediately combusts leaving the dye set in the grain.  After a few minutes, I repeat the same regimen including flaming.  I then set the stummel aside to rest and settle through the night.  The next morning, after an early 5AM trip to the Sofia Airport to drop off a summer intern who was returning to the US, I returned to the worktable ready to ‘unwrap’ the Billiard that had been dyed the night before.  I enjoy this a lot!  I mount a felt wheel on the Dremel, set to the lowest speed, and begin removing the flamed crust encasing the stummel.  I use the coarser Tripoli compound to do this.  As I work the buffing wheel methodically over the surface, I avoid applying too much downward pressure but allow the felt wheel, speed and compound to do the work. During the process, I purge the wheel often to clean it and keep it soft. After finishing with the felt wheel, I switch to a cotton cloth wheel and apply Tripoli to the crook between shank and stummel which the felt wheel is unable to reach.  After the Tripoli, I wet a cotton pad with alcohol and wipe down the stummel to blend the new stain and to lighten it a bit.In the same manner as the Tripoli compound, I apply Blue Diamond, a finer compound.  I mount another cotton cloth wheel on the Dremel, increase the speed to about 40% of full power.  I apply the compound to both stem and stummel.  After I finish, I wipe down both stem and stummel with a felt cloth to remove compound dust in preparation for applying the carnauba wax.  Before applying the wax, I want to add a special touch to this reborn Phoenix Billiard Churchwarden.  I decide to band the shank – always a nice touch.  I pull out my collection nickel bands and find one that fits over the shank but leaves about a 1/4 inch slack between the end of the shank and the end of the band.  To slide the band safely up the shank I heat the band with a hot air gun while on the shank at the tension point.  As the band heats, it will expand microscopically.  After a time of heating, I turn the shank downward and gently but firmly press down against a thick cloth on the hard wood surface.  This pressure moves the band up the shank a few millimeters and the cloth cushions the end of the band so it doesn’t bend with the pressure.  If one presses too hard and tries to expand the band too quickly, the nickel can rip – that is not good.  I got through the heating and pressing cycle a few times and the band is seated well.  I remount the stem and eyeball the band placement.  It looks good and I think the new steward will like this touch of class a lot for this Phoenix Billiard Churchwarden. Before I wax the pipe, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel that I use exclusively on nickel.  I want to shine the band up before applying wax.  I set the speed at 40% and apply White Diamond compound to the band.  I’m careful not to run the buffing wheel over the band to the briar as it can discolor the wood. I learned this the hard way in the past.  I’m not sure what the chemical process is, but when polished at high speed, a dark residue is produced.  You can see it on the White Diamond bar as well as on the wheel.  This is another reason why each compound and use have a dedicated wheel.  After finishing with the White Diamond buffing, I buff the band with a microfiber cloth and, oh my!  How it shines!Now, the home stretch.  Time to wax the pipe.  Again, I change to another cotton cloth wheel dedicated to carnauba, maintain a 40% speed on the Dremel, and apply a few applications of the wax to the stem and stummel.  I finish the polishing by hand buffing the Churchwarden with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine.

Few words describe the transformation of this lonely Billiard into a Phoenix.  Again, I’m amazed at the beauty in what God has created, even that which we often pass by with the shrug of the shoulders.  The gain revealed in the Billiard is beautiful.  The rim, gnarled as it was, looks great and is not diminished by the briar I was forced to take off.  As I look at it, the slightly squatter bowl works very well as the mast of the long, flowing Churchwarden stem.  The band mounted on the shank simply rocks, what can I say.  Andy commissioned this Billiard now Phoenix Churchwarden and he will have the first opportunity to acquire it in The Pipe Steward Store.  This pipe benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thank you for joining me in the telling of the story of the Phoenix!