Tag Archives: restemming

Restoring & Restemming an 1851 Ben Wade Silver Clad Cutty

Blog by Steve Laug

Over the past months in preparation for our trip to visit Paresh and his family in Pune, India we talked about what pipes we would work on while visiting. We had the notion that it would be the first ‘International’ gathering of Pipe Restorers. After all Dal Stanton was coming from Bulgaria, Jeff from US, Paresh and Abha and family from India and I was coming from Canada. It was going to be a grand time of restoring and sharing our tips and processes. I brought along a potential stem for either a meerschaum that Paresh had inherited from his Grandfather or from an early Ben Wade Fancy cutty. In the course of our time there Paresh and I looked over the stem I brought with me and tried it on the meerschaum and the Ben Wade. We chose not to use the stem on the meerschaum and it was too large in diameter for the Ben Wade. We decided that I would bring it home and see what I had in my can of stems.

I took photos of the bowl prior to my cleanup and restemming. The pipe came to me with a bone tenon in the mortise. In the process of cleaning the pipe and working to remove the tenon it cracked off in the shank leaving a broken tenon stuck in the shank. Since it was a threaded tenon removing it would be a matter of drilling out the broken portion of the tenon. Other than that the briar was dirty and the varnish finish was spotty. The silver leaves around the rim top and shank end were also tarnished and dirty. There were some dents in the rim top. The shank would have to wait for checking until I removed the broken tenon. The silver shank cap had a series of hallmarks on the top left of the cap. There were three running from the left of the photo to the end of the shank on the right. The first hallmark is a passant lion in a cartouche which signifies that the band is silver and that it was crafted by a British silversmith. The second hallmark was a shield shaped cartouche with three towers in it – two on the wider part of the shield and one below toward the point. This hallmark identifies the city in England where the silver was crafted – in this case Newcastle. The third hallmark was a square cartouche with the capital letter “M” in the box. The “M” is a date letter that will give me the year of the making of the pipe.I turned to a website that I use for dating English silver hallmarks. It is a British Hallmark site that gives the information necessary to interpret the hallmarks on silver items made in Britain (https://www.925-1000.com/dlNewcastle.html). On a chart from silver made in Newcastle from 1702-1884 I found what I was looking for. I have included the chart below with the date letter circled in red.Armed with that information, it was time to start working on the pipe itself. I started by reaming the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer using the first two cutting heads to take the cake back bare briar. I followed that by cleaning up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I sanded the walls of the bowl with a piece of dowel wrapped with 220 grit sandpaper. I sanded the inner edge of the rim with a folded piece of worn 220 grit sandpaper to clean off the silver edge of the cap folded into the bowl. I wanted the walls bare of cake so that I could check the walls for heat fissures or cracking. I cleaned out the inside of the shank and mortise with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol until the swabs came out clean. I was quite surprised that the pipe was as clean as it was given its age and the condition of the cake in the bowl.I wiped down the bowl with acetone on cotton pads to clean off the varnish on the outside of the bowl. I scrubbed it until the finish was natural briar and the grain began to come to the surface of the bowl. I cleaned the tarnish on the silver rim top cap and the shank end cap with a tarnish remover and silver polish. I removed darkening in the carved leaves and flowers on the silver. I scrubbed the silver with a cotton pad to remove the tarnish. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into finish of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The Restoration Balm really makes the grain stands out beautifully.  I buffed the bowl with a microfiber cloth to raise a shine on the bowl and the silver. I took photos of the pipe bowl as it stood at this point in the restoration process. It is a beautiful pipe with an elegance that speaks of the years in which it was manufactured.  I set the stem aside and worked on the stem that I had chosen for a replacement. The amber colour and the flow of the colour in the stem make it a great candidate for an amber look alike replacement stem. Once the airway was drilled the diameter of the replacement tenon I used a tap to cut new threads in the airway of the stem to receive new tenon. I threaded the new tenon into the tapped airway in the stem and took photos at this point in the process. I glued the tenon in the stem with clear super glue and let the glue set. Once it had cured I sanded the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the new stem. I followed that by sanding the stem with 400 grit sandpaper to smooth out the scratches in the surface of the stem. I turned the stem onto the shank to get a feel for what the pipe would look like when it was completed. The following photos show the look of the finished pipe. I still need to polish the stem with micromesh sanding pads and buff it to raise the shine. But I like the way the pipe is beginning to look.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wetsanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each pad. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine and gave it a final coat and set it aside to dry.  I carefully buffed the pipe bowl with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I lightly buffed the stem with Blue Diamond to raise a shine. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing wheel to raise the shine. I polished the silver rim top cap and the band with a jeweler’s cloth once more, then hand buffed the entire pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. This 168+ year old restemmed and restored Ben Wade Cutty is really a beautiful pipe. The grain really stands out with a combination of birdseye, cross grain and swirls surrounding the bowl give it a rich look. The rich contrasting brown stains makes the grain stand out against the silver adornments. It is a proportionally well carved pipe. The polished black acrylic stem had a rich glow. The finished pipe is a beautiful straight Cutty that feels good in the hand and the mouth. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. This pipe will be going back to Paresh in Pune, India very soon. I am excited to hear what he thinks of this beauty. Thanks for walking through the restoration and restemming with me as it was a pleasure to work on.


Restoring and Restemming a Savinelli Capri 915

Blog by Lee Neville

Over the past few months I have been continuing my correspondence with Lee via email. He picked up a couple of pipes for me at a local antique shop in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and sent them to me. We have fired emails back and forth on restoration questions and issues. He also included Charles Lemon of Dad’s Pipes in the conversations and we had a great time. Earlier this week he sent Charles and me an email about a restoration of another pipe that he restemmed. Charles and I spoke with him of the style and size of stem to use. He did a great job on the restemming and the description of the work so I asked him if I could post it on rebornpipes. He was glad to have me do so. Thanks Lee for your work and this second write up. It is great to have you on rebornpipes as a contributor once again! – Steve

Thought I would share my pipe rehabilitation effort of a Savinelli Capri 915.  It showed up in the Winnipeg Ebay lot as a dirty stummel with a snapped-off stem tenon wedged into its shank. Alas, the original stem was not included in the lot.

This is a “Birks” pipe – Henry Birks & Sons, or what it’s now known by these days – “Maison Birks”, is a Montreal-based jewellery/glassware/fine leather goods/timepieces/ silver & gold flatware / object d’art firm in business here in Canada since the late 1800s.  It appears Birks would commission pipes from manufacturers and stamp them with their house name and offer them for sale during special promotions – Christmas, Father’s Day etc.  This Savinelli is the first of two “Birks” pipes I’ve got on my bench to restore.The plan is to clean this stummel up to the natural briar,  treat it to a wax protective finish and fit a replacement stem.  This will be fun as I just received the PIMO stem tenon cutter tool which will make short work of fitting a properly sized tenon on a replacement stem blank.

Stummel clean up
The bowl was in good shape. The rim showed minor discolouration from lighting.  The rim was not obscured by any lava. The previous owner was not a dottle-knocker – luckily no dents or chips on the bowl rim.  I reamed the bowl out with my newly arrived Pipnet set – I started with the smallest head, applying light twisting force and allowing the tool to make its way into the bowl.  This was repeated by the following two larger reaming heads to remove existing cake close to briar.  This was followed by twists with a dowel covered with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the remaining cake, then more twists with 320 / 400 grits to finish the bowl interior smooth. There are no cracks or burnouts in the bowl. The shank cleaned up with a few runs of alcohol-soaked pipe cleaners and q-tips.

I attacked the stummel with a soft toothbrush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the rim discolouration and surface dirt/grease. The accumulated grunge lifted right off after two scrubbing sessions.  I was delighted to see the proprietary sandblasting/rustication is scarcely worn – the deep relief is quite attractive.

The stummel was then covered with masking tape. I clamped the padded stummel in my dremel vise and using a drill bit sized just over the ID of the snapped off stem tenon, ran it in a smidge gently, then reversed the drill and the tenon remnant came out with the drill bit.  This revealed a very fine crack in the mortise end of the stummel.  Using thin CA glue, I lightly dabbed the crack, watching it wick into the crack, then sprayed accelerant to instantly set the glue.  I lightly sanded the mortise face and mortise with 1000 grit paper to ensure any glue squeeze-out was removed before attempting to fit replacement stem

Fitting a new stem
I viewed the Savinelli web site to glean pipe proportions (stummel to stem) as well as canvassing yourselves for your thoughts on replacement stem length. I also found a high-definition image of a Capri 915 online.  Applying some ‘Edmonton Windage’, I ordered an oval tapered stem blank in a 2.25″ length from Vermont Freehand Pipes.

The stem blank on arrival was a bit wider than the stummel shank, so there was some filing and final sanding required to match the stem to the shank profile.

I mounted the replacement stem into the vise and drilled the stem draught hole to accept the guide rod of the PIMO stem tenon cutting tool.  I then mounted the PIMO stem tenon cutting tool and gently took a succession of cuts to arrive with a couple of thou of tenon final size.  I used a strip of 320 grit sandpaper to work the circumference of the tenon to a snug fit into the stummel mortise.  I used a variety of tools to flatten the stem tenon face so it would meet up with stummel mortise surface properly – needle files, sandpaper, a few licks with a very small chisel – all under a magnifier lens working the stem mating surface – testing fit/working it/test fit/working it until I got the proper fit.

Rough file work was then required to narrow the stem.  This took about an hour.  I then worked in the round with a file to shape the circumference of the stem to match the stummel profile. Last steps were using 220 sandpaper to work the circumference down as close to the final dimension. I followed that with 400 and 600 grit sandpaper.  I was now a scant hairs-width proud on the stem.  I then replaced the masking tape covering the stummel shank with clear scotch tape and brought the stem into line with the shank profile with 1500 and 1800 micro mesh pads.I filed the stem button into shape and from that point on, it was just applying a succession of micro mesh pads to 12000 to polish the replacement stem. Here is the clean stummel and new stem before finishing.Finishing the Pipe 
I treated the stummel to a coat of Howards Feed and Wax (beeswax, carnauba and citrus oils), let it sit for 30 minutes, then wiped off the excess, followed with a thin coating of carnauba wax over the whole pipe and a rub in with a polishing brush.  Using a cotton buff on my Dremel at 4000 rpm, I ran the buff over the entire pipe to bring out the shine. This pipe cleaned up very nicely and is a joy to hold.  I had fun fitting a new stem that is in proportion to the stummel and I think it’s a close resemblance to the stem originally fitted to the pipe.

Thank you Charles and Steve for your help on stem selection.

Onward and upwards!


Restemming a London Made Pencil Shank Crosby

Blog by Steve Laug

Sometimes restoring pipes can be very frustrating. This evening I was working on an estate Dunhill Tanshell Zulu and the tenon broke off in the shank. I don’t know if it was cracked but I do know that I did very little and the stem was in one hand and the bowl in the other. It is at times like that when a repair person feels like packing it in and doing something else. But that is really not optional so I turned to do something else… still pipe repair related but still something different. I have a box of pipes that my brother sent me recently and in that was a very nice looking long, pencil shank billiard bowl without a stem. I had a cracked shank but otherwise it was a pretty piece of briar and it needed some TLC – a band and a new stem. It seemed like just the thing to take my mind off the frustrating Dunhill. I wrote Jeff about it and he sent me the following photos of what it looked like before he cleaned it. It was a frustrating piece for him even in the clean up. The stem was with it but the tenon had snapped off in the shank. In removing the tenon from the shank the pencil shank had snapped. Maybe I was moving from one frustration to another! The first photos is the parts grave yard – a snapped shank, a chunk of briar, a broken tenon and a broken stem…oh my.Jeff took a couple of photos of the snapped shank and the piece of briar that had come off. At least it was a very clean break. After cleaning the pipe Jeff glued the piece of briar back on the shank and when it arrived it was tight.The bowl and rim were in awful condition. There was a thick lava coat on the rim top and a thick cake in the bowl. There was tobacco debris in the cake and the lava on the rim it was a mess. It was obviously a great smoking pipe and someone’s favourite – though it always surprises me how far some pipemen and women let their pipes go.Even the exterior of the bowl was a mess with spots of grime and tar on the outside of the bowl as can be seen in the following photos. There were nicks and dents in the bowl but beside all that it was a beautiful piece of briar.Jeff took a photo of the only stamping on the pipe – London Made was stamped on the right side of the shank.He had done a great job cleaning up the pipe. When I took it out of the box it did not look much like the pipe pictured above. The bowl had been reamed and cleaned (Jeff followed his usual regimen of reaming and cleaning). The exterior had been scrubbed and the internals were spotless. The piece of briar had been glued in place and the repair was solid. The broken stem/tenon was gone. It was a clean and beautifully grained stummel when brought it to the worktable and took the following photos. I took a photo of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before I started my part of the restoration work. The rim was clean but there was some nicks and dents in the top. The inner and outer edge were in excellent condition and there was darkening toward the back side of the rim top.The shank had a crack in it but had been glued. It would need to be banded. The photo is a little blurry but I have circle the crack in red so that you can identify it.I went through my can of straight stems and found two that had possibilities as well as taking out a band that would fit the shank. I took a couple of photos of my options at this point. I decided to go with the tapered stem as I liked the look of the pipe with that stem.I decided to band the shank first. I rubbed some all-purpose white glue on the shank end and pressed band onto the shank. I cleaned off the excess glue with a damp cloth. The glue would dry and bind the pieces together and hold the band onto the shank end. Once the glue had cured I would fit a new stem. I took some photos of the newly banded shank to show the progress at this point. While the glue on the band was curing I use a needle file to reduce the diameter of the tenon. I had measured previously so I knew what I needed to remove. I sanded it with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the tenon.I fit the stem to the shank and took a few photos to show what the pipe would look like with the new stem. The diameter of the stem at the shank was a little off so it would need to be sanded to reduce it to fit and there were a few tooth marks and some chatter on the stem but otherwise it was looking good. I sanded the rim top with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage and to minimize the darkening. I polished the rim and the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the rim down with a damp cloth after each pad. The photos show the progress. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The bowl and the rim top look very good with the beautiful grain popping around the rim and sides of the bowl. With the bowl finished I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the stem and button surface with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the tooth marks and chatter on the surface of the stem and the button. The stem surface looks better at that point. I forgot to take photos of the process of removing the excess material on the diameter of the stem so that the fit against the band and shank looked better. Once that was done then I started the polishing of the surface with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cloth after each pad. I further polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I wiped it down with a coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. With both parts of the pipe finished I put it back together. I carefully polished the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I carefully worked around the band so I would not get the polishing from the band get on the shank. 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 beautiful natural finish and the grain came alive with the buffing. The rich finish on the briar works well with the polished nickel band and new black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is very light weight and looks quite stunning with its slender shank and stem. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 1/2 inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This one will be going onto the rebornpipes online store soon. It is a nice one for sure and one that will fit well into someone’s collection. Thanks for walking through the restoration and restemming with me on this thin, pencil shank Crosby billiard. It should be a great smoker!

Crafting a Churchwarden for a Lord of the Ring’s Enthusiast

Blog by Dal Stanton

After restoring 3 pipes which Tina chose to gift special men in her life, the final request was to fashion a Churchwarden for her oldest son Thomas, who is a Lord of the Rings “groupie” and of course, he wants a ‘Gandalf Pipe’ to aid in blowing inspired smoke rings!  Tina’s son has been married for a few years and apparently, he and his wife have a Lord of the Rings movie binge at least once a year!

In my research on the Churchwarden shape, as the story goes, there were men back in the days when they didn’t lock churches at night, who were employed as ‘wardens’ of the church – whose responsibility was to guard the premises.  To be faithful to their charge, they were not allowed to leave the walls of the church.  That created an unusual dilemma between guarding the holy confines and the desire to enjoy one’s evening smoke.  The moral dilemma was creatively solved by a stem.  The length of the stem enabled the church wardens to tend to their evening bowls as they stood vigilantly inside the church walls while the stems extended through the windows…so the story goes (see Pipedia’s article).  Of course, everyone knows that Churchwardens were prevalent in Middle Earth as Gandalf spun up fireworks and smoke rings!

I found a bowl that I put aside quite some time ago that

Courtesy of Gonzalo Kenny https://lotr.fandom.com/wiki/Balrogs

I believed would serve well as a repurposed stummel to be mounted as a Churchwarden.  I know that there are strict Warden purists out there who question the validity of repurposing a bowl for use in fashioning a Churchwarden.  Yet, I appeal to Bill Burney’s description of the Churchwarden in his excellent Pipe Shapes Chart published in Pipedia where he says: “Interestingly, all the other styles of pipe are identified by the shape of their bowls, but the churchwarden is identified by its long stem.  The stem can be bent or straight, but it is always very long – 9” to 18” long.”.  There may be ‘true born’ Churchwardens and there are also those Churchwardens who are adopted into the ranks through the promotion of a discarded and forgotten stummel surviving from another lifetime where they served among other mere mortal pipes that they used to be.  For a common bowl to be remounted onto a Warden stem and to experience that metamorphosis is perhaps like when Gandalf transformed through fire in his mortal combat with Balrog – transforming from The Grey to The White….  Perhaps, only Gandalf knows for sure!  The bowl and stem I chose for this transformation are now on my table.The pre-molded Warden Stem comes from my main supplier, Tim West at http://www.jhlowe.com/bits.htm.  The stummel has ‘Real Briar’ stamped on the side of the shank, but what I like a lot is the 1/2 bent shank.  This will yield a very nice sweeping bend in the Warden stem.  The bowl’s size is not too large – perfect for a Churchwarden. Looking closely at the stummel, I see potential grain underneath the dark, marred surface.  The rim has lava flow but has an attractive inwardly slanted rim.  The chamber has light cake.  I take some pictures of the stummel in its current condition. Before I start working on fashioning the new preformed stem, I clean the stummel.  I start by reaming the chamber using the Pipnet Reaming kit.  I only use the smallest of the blade heads and then transition to the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to fine tune the scraping and cleaning.  Then I sand the chamber using a piece of 240 grade sanding paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  Finally, after wetting a cotton pad with alcohol, I wipe the chamber cleaning it from the carbon dust.  I inspect the chamber after finishing and all looks good. Next, turning to the external surface, I take a few more pictures to show the nasty layer of grime over this stummel!  I use Murphy’s Oil Soap undiluted on a cotton pad and begin the scrubbing process.  I also utilize a brass wire brush to clean the rim. The results are good, but the reality is revealed by the cleaning!  The reality of the condition of the stummel is the reason it was in the box with other lonely stummels having given their all and discarded!  The finish is shot and the rim in mangled. Restoring this stummel to fashion a Churchwarden will be a noble endeavor! Next, I turn to cleaning the internals.  Using cotton buds and pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95%, I go to work.  The internals are nasty.  I also utilize and small dental spatula to scrape the mortise walls.  There was a lot of resistance, but the buds started lightening until I was satisfied that the largest part of the cleaning was accomplished.  I’m not too concerned at this point because I’ve already made the decision to put the stummel in a soak of acetone to totally remove all the old finish which will also take care of residual internal tars and oils. The next morning, I fish the bowl out of the acetone bath.  Some of the finish was removed during the soak, but with the use of 0 grade steel wool, I’m able to dispatch the old finish easily after the night’s soak softened the old finish.  The pictures show the raw briar that allows me to start over. With the stummel cleaning process completed, I turn now to fashioning the preformed Churchwarden stem.  I use an electronic caliper to measure the diameter of the mortise to mark the target sizing of the tenon of the preformed stem that will eventually be seated.  The mortise measurement is 7.38mm in diameter.  Using Charles Lemon’s (of Dad’sPipes) methodology, I add 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 is 7.88mm.  From this point, I will sand the tenon by hand which gradually and patiently custom fits 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 measure to give me the distance between the test cut and the ‘Fat’ target.  After cutting the test, I measure it with the caliper and record 8.72mm and subtract the ‘Fat’ target, 7.88mm leaving .84mm 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.  The measurement of the next cut after closing the gap of the carbide cutter arm took off more than I wanted – the measurement is 7.47mm – beyond the 7.88 fat target.  This is why you only to partial cuts at the beginning!I enlarge the gap of the cutter arm a small amount and cut again.  The next measurement is 7.75mm – much better, just falling under the 7.88mm fat target.With this measurement reached, I cut the entire tenon down to the 7.75mm width.  I take the cut to the stem shank facing so a nice straight edge is created, and a ‘shoulder’ is not left from the rough preformed stem.I begin the sanding process by wrapping the tenon with 240 grade paper and rotating the stem and applying pressure strategically with my finger and thumb. I smooth and shorten the tenon a little so that it looks better and doesn’t butt into a ridge that I detect in the mortise which would block the full insertion of the tenon.  I use a flat needle file to do this.The process is slow with a lot of tests and sands… But in time the tenon seats very nicely in the mortise.  Nice!With the tenon snuggly seated in the mortise, the work is far from finished!  The picture shows the offset of the stem and the lip of briar hanging over the stem.  No stem fits automatically!The preformed Warden stem also is not straight but bows to the left through the reach of the stem.  I’ll work on this when I bend the stem later.Using 240 grade paper I begin the process of sanding the junction of the stem and shank.  My goal is to have a seamless transition from shank to stem with no overhanging ridges.  The other issue I see is that both the shank and stem have high spots that need to be sanded down and blended into a uniform flow.  What I want to avoid is the bloomers or stuff-pants look – where the shank balloons out when the sanding has not tapered the flow of the shank from the stem width as it transitions into the shank. It takes time, but in time the ridges have been removed and the tapering through the shank to the bowl looks good. I continue sanding the entire stem with 240 grade paper.  The precast stem is full of ridges and the casting seam down both sides – all of which needs to be sanded away and smoothed.  I also use the flat needle file to form and shape the new button.  I want to retain the curved button slot.  It looks classy! After sanding out the main issues with the new precast Warden stem, I transition to wet sanding using 600 grade paper.  With the bowl and stem united, I sand not only the stem including the shaped button, but also the junction of stem and shank to continue to smooth and blend the tapered transition.  After completing the wet sanding with 600 grade, I use 000 grade steel wool to sand in the same way.  The distance pictures with a Warden stem are always too far away to see detail, but a close-up shows some progress.With the main fabricating and sanding completed with the Churchwarden’s stem, the next step is to bend it.  The 1/2 bent shank of the stummel provides a wonderful trajectory for the bend and sweep of the stem – which emulates more directly Gandalf’s style of Warden.  My goal is to bend the stem so that the final orientation of the bit is generally on a parallel orientation with the plane of the stummel rim which is what is suggested by the ruler in the picture. I remarked earlier that the stem is also a little catawampus to the left as you look down the shaft toward the bowl.  Interestingly, I set up a renewed picture to show this looking down the shaft and my second look at this isn’t as pronounced as it appeared to me before.  The sanding and shank tapering may have mitigated this to some degree. Bending the stem is usually by trial and error to get it right, but the good thing is that the vulcanite stem is very forgiving!  To be on the safe side, though I don’t really believe it to be necessary, I put a pipe cleaner into the end of the stem to protect the airway integrity.I use the hot air gun to warm the vulcanite.  As it’s warming, I gently apply pressure to the bend as the rubber compound becomes supple.  When the stem becomes pliable enough and the bend reaches what appears to be at the right place as I eyeball it, I transfer the pipe to a chopping board where I can use the flat surface and the overhang for the bowl and button expansion at both ends, I press down to straighten the shaft orientation as I hold the bend.  This works very well. The first time around, I decide I need a bit more bend, so I reheat, bend further and then hold the stem firmly against the chopping board until the vulcanite sufficiently cools so that I don’t lose the bend.  To make sure the bend holds I run cool tap water on the stem to seal the bend.I like the results!  The bend is perfect and will present a true Gandalf experience for the new steward of the Churchwarden taking shape.Before I put the newly bent Warden aside to turn to the stummel, I apply paraffin oil to vitalize the vulcanite.Turning now to what was a ‘throwaway’ stummel, I like the grain that made an appearance after the cleaning.  It’s in there!  It just needs some TLC to restore it to the condition that allowed for more beauty to come through.  The briar surface is in surprisingly good condition. There are a few dents and nicks to be expected. There’s a more significant heel bruise where it appears the bowl was thumped on a hard surface.The rim has an attractive inwardly sloping cant which will serve to my advantage in dealing with the residual burn marks and the right side (top in the first picture) of the rim.  The outer edge of the rim is also chewed up a bit. Starting with the rim, I begin by using a coarse 120 grade paper to clean and remove the scorched wood and the dents on the edge.  I follow this with 240 grade paper sanding the canted rim surface.  I’m hopeful this will remove the blemishes but also serve to freshen the rim canted pitch and lines.  I then fine tune with 600 grade paper. The results are great.  The transformation is more than hoped for!  The rim is actually very attractive and some grain peeking out.I do the same with the heel bruise.  I dispatch the blemish quickly with 240 grade paper followed by 600 grade paper.Continuing the sanding, I now sand the entire stummel using sanding sponges.  I start with a coarse sponge, followed by a medium grade then finish with the light grade sanding sponge.  The briar grain is showing up!Following the sanding sponges, I apply the full regimen of 9 micromesh pads.  First, I wet sand using pads 1500 to 2400 then dry sand with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  For a ‘throwaway stummel’ this piece of briar is looking very nice. Throughout the micromesh process, I knew I was approaching a decision point.  The natural briar came out way more than I had thought possible when I began with this stummel.  I can remain with the natural briar or apply a dye.  I decide to apply Fiebing’s Saddle Tan Pro Dye to the stummel not for the purpose of covering blemishes but to bring out the briar grain more which is still somewhat subdued as I look at it.  I assemble my desktop dying components.  After I wipe the stummel with alcohol to clean the surface, I insert two folded pipe cleaners into the shank to serve as a handle.I then heat the briar stummel with an air gun.  As the briar heats, this expands the grain enabling the grain to be more receptive to the dye when it’s applied.Using a folded pipe cleaner, I paint the bowl with the aniline based dye in sections and flame each section as I go.  I use the lit candle to combust the painted section of wet dye and it immediately combusts the alcohol in the dye leaving the pigment to set in the heated wood.  I eventually apply the Saddle Tan dye to the entire stummel and repeat the painting and flaming process again to assure full coverage.  I then put the dyed and flamed stummel on the cork to rest through the night. With the dyed bowl resting I take the Churchwarden stem through the full micromesh regimen.  I wet sand using pads 1500 to 2400 and then dry sand with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads I apply a healthy coat of Obsidian Oil to the stem to vitalize the vulcanite.  The newly polished vulcanite pops!  I take one concluding picture instead of the usual 3 because the picture shows no detail because of the size of the stem!The next morning, I’m ready to unwrap the flamed bowl.  After mounting a felt cloth buffing wheel on the Dremel, I set the speed to the lowest possible to reduce the heating factor.  I then apply Tripoli compound to the bowl to remove the flamed crust to reveal the briar beneath. With the assistance of my wife, she takes a few pictures to show the initial removal of the flamed crust.  It takes me a good bit of time to slowly and methodically go through this ‘plowing’ and polishing process.  I remove dye blotches to make sure what is revealed is the minutia of the grain texture.  Not pictured is after I complete the process with the felt wheel (pictured below) I change to a cotton cloth buffing wheel and increase the speed of the Dremel to 40 % of full speed and again go over the entire stummel with Tripoli compound.  I do this first, to reach into the crook of the shank that is too tight for the felt wheel to reach.  Also, I like the further fine tuning of the Tripoli compounds polishing of the briar surface.  The grain sharpens even more providing the contrasts between the harder and softer woods of the briar.I then wipe the bowl with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% to blend the dyed finish.  The wipe of alcohol evens out the finish and blends it.  Wiping with alcohol will also lighten the finish if I continue to wipe, but I like the tone of the hue where it is so I only to a light wipe for blending purposes.I switch to another cotton cloth buffing wheel, keep the speed on the Dremel and 40% and apply Blue Diamond compound to the stem and stummel.  I don’t join the two because it is easier to work with each individually.  After completing the application of the compound, I wipe both stem and stummel with a felt cloth to remove the compound dust left behind.Finally, I reunite the Warden stem with the repurposed stummel and apply a few coats of carnauba wax to the Churchwarden.  When finished, I give the pipe a vigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to bring out the shine.

Wow!  When I think of where this throwaway stummel was at the beginning of the process and what I see now, it is truly amazing. This Churchwarden’s 1/2 bent shank provides the perfect trajectory for the stem’s gentle, flowing bend to project a pipe that is truly Gandalf worthy!  The grain of the bowl is varied from a vertical flame, a knot with outwardly flowing concentric circles and some bird’s eye thrown in for good measure!  This Churchwarden is certified for Middle Earth distribution for Tina’s son, Thomas.  Tina commissioned  this Churchwarden project along with 3 other restorations (to learn more about commissioning pipes see: For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! ) and each will be boxed and heading to Birmingham, Alabama, USA, from Bulgaria.  All these pipes benefit our efforts here in Bulgaria working with women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited – the Daughters of Bulgaria.  Thank you, Tina!, and thank you for joining me!


The Decline of Restoring Old Pipes, Part 4/4: Fixing a Meerschaum Shank Everyone Thought Was Beyond Repair

Blog by Robert M. Boughton
Copyright © Reborn Pipes and the author except as noted

 To him that will, ways are not wanting.
— George Herbert, in Jacula Prudentusm or Outlandish Proverbs, Sentences, &c. (posthumous, 1651). 

Part 1 hypothesized that the discontinuation, illegality and dwindling or total unavailability of vital materials, used in antique and other very old pipes, will lead to a serious crisis in restoring these heirlooms and otherwise prized implements of contemplation to their original conditions.  My main theme was the need for those of us in the business – having considerable, moderate or little experience under our belts – to learn how to overcome these difficulties that will become more acute all too soon.  In hindsight, I should have emphasized better the need for those who now have the know-how to use their own perhaps self-discovered and unique (read proprietary) heroic measures to cooperate in sharing them with the rest of us.

Part 2 described the first of three such repairs I have completed, its example being a Colossus Pipe Factory (CPF) Best Make turned lion’s head meerschaum with a gold band and genuine cherry red amber stem that needed reconnecting with a new bone screw tenon.  Five years after I began searching for the one part, I was compelled to send the otherwise restored CPF to a specialized repair service that may have been the only place capable at the time to affect the rehabilitation – for lack of a proper bone tenon or anyone to whom I could turn for instruction on how to repair damage to the inner shank.  Now I know the necessary work was relatively minor.

Part 3, taking the form of a fable, told of the misadventures of the Restorer during his two-year quest to cleanse of all evils a Kaufman Brothers & Bondy Blueline Bakelite dated by its owner to 1911 and entrusted to the Restorer’s care for a simple cleaning and restoring.  The ensuing calamities must be read to be believed.

I became involved with this small old meerschaum smooth bent billiard by the most unusual circumstances of any restoration I’ve made so far.  My pipe club meetings take place the third Thursday of every month in a back room of the local Moose Club Lodge, where the Ladies of the Moose are gracious enough to cook a special dinner for us at a low price that just covers their expenses, not counting the tips we’re more than happy to contribute.

Before dinner was served at the December meeting, one of the ladies, Sherry, happened to buy two of my pipes.  One was the best I had, a beautiful Ben Wade by Preben Holm Danish freehand, and the other a vintage Dr. Grabow easy bent natural billiard.  Sherry didn’t know much about pipes but liked those two, which I let her have at the 15% club discount minus the usual $8.00 shipping fee.  She mentioned finding at a yard sale a little pipe, in a leather case, she described as very dirty but white underneath with a broken stem.  She thought it might be antique.  I told her it was probably meerschaum, explained what that meant, and  encouraged her to bring it with her the night of the next meeting so we could all have a look and see what might be done.

Before dinner was served at the January meeting, Sherry handed me the little brown case.  There’s something mysterious about such objects, teasing the beholder to approach and open them and reveal the secrets hidden within.  Nothing we’ve been taught by fables, folklore and outright superstition entreating us not to meddle with common-looking doodads, unless we’re prepared to face the unknown but likely negative consequences, is powerful enough to stay our hands.  “Aladdin and the Magic Lamp,” which was not added until 1704 to the original Arabic tales from the 8th-14th centuries, comes to mind.  The tale of the powers of the Magic Lamp, during more than three hundred years of oral and other popular re-telling, has been altered from its actual story in which all ends well to a warning to be careful what we wish lest we get what we ask for.  But in this event, the contents pf the brown case appeared benign. The top felt lining of the open box identified the meerschaum billiard as a First Quality, but whether that was an old brand name or the importer I have not been able to determine.  Sherry’s main concern, of course, was if her $8 yard sale find could be fixed so she could smoke it.  Seeing the severe damage to the inner shank, my hopes were not high.  I observed the stem that was with the meerschaum was too short and also smaller in diameter than the shank and suspected its use as a replacement of the original may have caused or worsened the harm. Still, with wishful thinking, I thought the gutted, ragged shank of the little pipe (only 5” long) might be mended with Plaster of Paris or some sort of putty.  I was sitting next to Don Gillmore, the artisan pipe maker whose business is called DW Pipes, and he nixed those ideas.  Any new stem and tenon, Don said, would not support the billiard’s weight with the sort of shank repair I proposed.  We passed it around the table, and that was the general opinion.  For such a small pipe, it was rather heavy, and at least part of me had to go along with everyone else’s verdict.

Sherry also wondered how old the First Quality pipe was.  The group conclusion was that it dated to between the turn of the 20th century and the 1930s.  Everyone agreed the stem was Bakelite, but in a later experiment that ended with shocking results I proved that was erroneous.  More about that later.

And so I had to tell Sherry, choosing my words with special care, that her pipe was very old but there was nothing we could do to attach a new stem.  Still I thought there might be some way to accomplish the feat.  I kept that to myself, however, instead offering to clean up the pipe and make it look nice, at least, at no charge.  I could see the well-masked disappointment on her face and had to bite my tongue to hold back my seemingly irrational hope so as not to risk another let-down.  For the meantime, Sherry let me take the pipe for cleaning.

George Herbert’s proverb, later reiterated as “Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” is the prefect prelude to this blog.  Everyone else present at the January meeting of my local pipe club reached the same conclusion, that the restoration was impossible given the severe damage and known methods of repair I proposed that were intended for small jobs of meerschaum patchwork,  I even consulted our host, Steve, in a short exchange of emails in which I suggested more and more creative (meaning desperate) approaches   I should have accepted the wholly sensible belief that the smooth little billiard was past fixing when I received Steve’s emphatic consensus that any such approach would not support the inherent torque between the stem and shank.  In fact, for a moment I did give up hope   

I’m afraid my mind was already ensnared by what my dad always called a steel trap, however, and I had to find a means of escape even if it required sending the pipe to miracle workers such as the folks at Norwoods Pipe Repair, who had bailed me out several times already.  I was growing tired of such surrender, but with that end in mind, I sent Norwood the younger photos clarifying the damage and text adding every possible material of the main parts to be used, in the preferred order.  As always with that fine business, I had a positive response the same night.  Assured the job could be done, I prepared a realistic estimate of the amount Sherry would pay, with parts, labor, shipping there and back and the 11% tax included, and forwarded the good news to Sherry.

But you see, another aspect of Herbert’s collection I like is the comparison of the modern sense of the word outlandish in the book’s subtitle being “freakishly or grotesquely strange or odd” compared to the now archaic meaning, from the Old English utlendisc, as foreign or not native.  I also appreciate the translation of the main title, from Latin, referring to careful darts.

Remembering the antique CPF turned lion’s head meerschaum pipe I sent to Norwoods to have the original amber stem reattached with a new bone screw tenon, I took a closer look at the shank as it appeared before and after the wonderful work that was accomplished.  An outlandish notion in both senses of the word began to form in my mind.Notwithstanding my good faith communication with Norwoods, I knew I could accomplish the task myself.  Because of the way the CPF’s previous shank threading was filled with some permanent solution, sinking the new bone tenon within it, all I needed was a practicable guess as to the solidifying substances used.

Thinking it might present somewhat of a difficulty to Don, I drove to his house and showed him the CPF.  After examining the shank for a few seconds, Don suggested epoxy mixed with powdered wood.  He half-filled a plastic 35mm film tube with the latter – more than I’d need for far more meerschaum repairs than I could make in quite a while – and said the epoxy was up to me.  Of more importance to me was his change of opinion regarding my ability to accomplish the task.

I cut in half my previous estimate of Sherry’s cost to fix her meerschaum pipe and sent her a new email asking if I could proceed with the work, guaranteeing the price.  It was the only time I’ve bid on a job, and my goal being less to make money than to demonstrate how this kind of meerschaum repair could be performed by almost any restorer (not to downplay my experience more than is appropriate), I decided to undercut the competition with assertive style.  Her reply was that if I was confident I could do the work, get on with it.

With the pipe already cleaned by then, I had reluctantly concluded an amber bit was not viable at the time because of general unavailability of any color without sending the pipe to someone else to do the work.  I only had to acquire a Bakelite stem of an appropriate length and color (as close as possible to the orange of the poor replacement shown above, based on Sherry’s wish) and a selection of bone tenons and Teflon push-pull sets from which to choose when I decided the type I would use.

JH Lowe turned out to be the single supply store I found with all of the above but sold the push-pull sets in 12-packs.  I would only need one, and thinking I’d save on my expenses, I ordered a three-pack from Royal Meerschaum.Also, the JH Lowe bit page did not mention available colors, and the closest length was 3”, the standard.  For the pipe to fit its case as it had when first made, the bit needed to be 2½”.  On a tip from a friend, I called Tim West of JH Lowe and asked if he had any orange or even yellow Bakelite bits of the right length that were pre-bent.  Every source I had found, online and friends, stressed that Bakelite could not be bent.

CORRECTION TO PART 1: In the first blog of this series, I noted that hand-crafted old pipes, including the stems, were made to the exact and often eccentric specifications of the maker, and therefore one of the problems “for purposes of restoring old stems made of Bakelite…[is that] any necessary replacement can be reworked in only one way: fitting an over-sized stem of an otherwise suitable candidate to a shank by serious sanding or other such methods.  Any other alteration, such as bending or threading, is strictly impossible.”  When Tim repeated that Bakelite bits were pre-fashioned for individual pipes, I told him I was aware of that obstacle and it was, indeed, the cause of my greatest difficulty – finding one already bent.  Without a bent Bakelite stem, I added, I could not complete the project at hand.  With a little reluctance, Tim then insisted that although it is “tricky at low temperatures, Bakelite can be bent.”  He assured me he has succeeded in bending Bakelite “a little but not much.”    

Just to be on the safe side, I ordered a 3” straight bit that was dark reddish brown, a 2½” “orange or yellow” bit Tim was sure he had in a back room, whether or not it was bent, and a 12-pack of assorted bone tenons.  Both bits were pre-drilled for the “push” side of the set.  Given Tim’s qualification of the bending process being chancy at low temperatures, I reasoned, if need be I would crank the oven up a little at a time and see if the world’s first synthetic plastic became more malleable.  But Tim came through with all of it, including a 2½” easy bent yellow bit, leaving my experiment for a later date – but not too far in the future, perhaps even as a follow-up to these four blogs. By the way, Tim is experiencing technical difficulties with his website navigation menu.  As a workaround solution, he has made sure that browser searches for JH Lowe pull up direct links to each of his pages.  He apologized for the temporary inconvenience.

The basic cleaning of Sherry’s pipe was finished the morning of January 18, the day after she left it with me for that reason.  I started with a simple wipe down using a small part of a paper towel and purified water and was amazed by the difference. Meerschaum rims tend to be easier to rid of char than wooden ones, and this was no exception, despite the awful looking burns, using super fine “0000” steel wool.  Exercising great care, I used a reamer to begin clearing the crusty chamber of built up cake, followed by 150-, 320-, 600- and 1000-grit papers.  I also applied the three finest-grit papers to the shank opening to make it smooth.I finished cleaning the outer stummel with a soft tooth brush dipped in purified water.Now, here’s where I had to start making the big decisions, the first of which was to use a modern push-pull set instead of a bone screw tenon for which the pipe was made.  I wanted to use the bone tenon, but that was my ego trying to get the better of me.  The most important factors were the integrity of the bit to shank connection and the pipe’s ultimate lasting use to its owner.  The next two photos show how the push-pull set is designed to be installed and the perfect fit of the push half in the bit.The reality of the situation, however, was that the correct insertion, or receiving, side of the Teflon set was the same diameter as the shank.  In other words, there was no way whatsoever that the right way would work.  Again, I wanted to go with a bone tenon that would have been good for my own use, but that would have meant more work and less strength for the pipe in terms of the higher risk of the actual owner breaking the fragile bone.

Since the latter was all that mattered, I used the easiest and safest improvisation of reversing the order of the push-pull set.  Even this required widening the mortise, and the only tools available to me for the procedure – one each slotted and Phillips head screw driver and a small but sharp pen knife – could best be described as inadvisable.  I proceeded with a mix of confidence and willingness to pay the price of a similar, name brand and definitely antique replacement complete with its own case that I took the precaution of making sure was available to Buy Now on eBay.

Starting with the pen knife, I whittled away the roughest area of the mortise, then inserted the slotted screwdriver with minimal force and very slowly turned the head until there was no resistance.  That left the mortise round and the thickness of the meerschaum even but a tad too small for the short end of the push side to fit snugly.  The Phillips head was wide enough to slide into the mortise with the same minimal force as before, and a couple of slow turns made the hole perfect.  The one good aspect of using the Phillips head was that it roughened the inner wall as the instructions for the upcoming epoxy and powdered wood application suggested.I had to pay Don one more visit to have the bit opening widened to accommodate the push-pull part usually inserted in the shank.  With his big power drill press that could be set to stop at the exact depth required, the task took Don only a few minutes.  I also picked up a band I wanted to put on the pipe, not for repairing a crack but for cosmetic and further support purposes.  Although I wanted to use a sterling band, the only type Don had on hand that fit was a 12½mm nickel one.Back at my own modest home workshop that night, using a file, I scuffed the parts of each push-pull half to be inserted in the bit and shank, as shown below with the shank side.  Then I ran a pipe cleaner through the mortise and draught hole of the stummel and another through the bit’s airway to prevent excess epoxy and shaved wood mix from seeping and setting inside either.  Sliding the Teflon parts over each cleaner so they were just above the connection points, I mixed a small amount of epoxy and powdered wood and applied the mix to the upper halves of the scuffed areas one at a time and pushed each into place when it was ready, knowing the adhesive concoction would spread out over the whole connectors.  The initial bonding took 60 seconds, during which time I moved both cleaners back and forth a fraction to assure they didn’t stick. Nine minutes later, the epoxy mix fully set, I removed the two cleaners that came out with no resistance.  The hardened, even fill of the adhesive solution is clear in the last photo.  I gave the push tenon inside the shank a good tug to test the bonding, and it didn’t budge.  Poking the re-cleaned thin metal shank clearer of my three-piece tool into the opening of the stem’s push-pull half, I angled it to grip the inner side and tugged, again without any movement of the part.

The longest, most difficult labor of the entire restoration still awaited me: matching the 15½mm bit opening to the 12½mm shank.  Most people think of 3mm as a small measurement, but any pipe restorer knows it’s a massive discrepancy. All of this adjustment required 150-grit paper and hours – over a period of days – of patience not to eliminate a fraction of a millimeter too much of the Bakelite after so much effort.  Here it is close to the end of the first stage, before sanding down the left shank to get rid of the chip and make the two halves of the pipe flush. Also still remaining was much of the tapered bulge, especially on the top, but I slowly worked it down before adding the band with a few tiny dabs of Super Glue.  Adding the band showed the sides of the shank that still needed to be evened out, which I did with 220-grit paper and super fine steel wool. After that, there was still one problem I had to address.  The mouthpiece was so wide that the leather case would not snap shut.  That meant an assault on both sides of the mouthpiece with 150-grit paper.  Fortunately, Bakelite, like acrylic, is more forgiving than Vulcanite/Ebonite as far as scratches go, and it was nice and smooth after a full course of micro mesh.  I also buffed the bit with carnauba on my electric wheel. Case closed, so to say.CONCLUSION
Not forgetting the mishap with the short, undersized bit that was used by a previous restorer, I determined it was not Bakelite.  After speaking with Tim at JH Lowe and before I received the needed parts that included a stem of the correct length and already bent, I decided to prepare for the possibility of needing to bend it.  And so I pre-heated the oven to 250° F and placed the old bit inside on a piece of aluminum foil.  Not even 10 minutes later, in the living room, my eyes were watering, and I noticed smoke and a noxious odor.  Rushing to the oven and opening the door, I beheld what can only be described as vampire remains after exposure to sunlight.  Really, nothing was left but a small outline of black soot.  Even the tenon that we all believed to be bone had vanished.  Recovering from the shocking sight, I realized the bit had been the cheapest variety of plastic.

To be sure, Norwoods, with its two generations of experience, would have returned a pipe finished with a perfectly shaped bit, not to mention one made of orange amber and connected with a bone screw tenon in keeping with the ideal of completing such restorations with all of the original materials.  As far as my substitution of a Teflon push-pull tenon set goes, I stand by my decision that was based on the owner’s need for enduring enjoyment of her First Quality meerschaum pipe.  Concerning the slight bulge that remains in the bit, I’ll just say I did the best I could in the time allowed, by hand using paper without even the benefit of an electric sanding wheel.

Still, I will follow up with Sherry and offer to give the bit the finishing touches it could use.  But this restoration was a success in that I learned how to repair a mangled meerschaum shank on my own and now share the experience so that other restorers will have the same ability.  That, after all, was the highest goal of this series.


The Decline of Restoring Old Pipes, Part 3/4: Sir Daryl and the Golden Blueline Bakelite

Blog by Robert M. Boughton
Copyright © Reborn Pipes and the author except as noted

Once upon a time there was a man who was about to go on a long journey, and right before his departure he asked his three daughters what he should bring back to them. The oldest wanted pearls, the second, diamonds, but the third said, ‛Dear Father, I’d like to have a singing, springing lark.’ — The Brothers Grimm, Jacob and Wilhelm, from “The Singing, Springing Lark,” in Children’s and Household Tales (1815)

Part 1 hypothesized that the discontinuation, illegality and dwindling or total unavailability of vital materials, used in antique and other very old pipes, will lead to a serious crisis in restoring these heirlooms and otherwise prized implements of contemplation to their original conditions.  My main theme was the need for those of us in the business – having considerable, moderate or little experience under our belts – to learn how to overcome these difficulties that will become more acute all too soon.  In hindsight, I should have emphasized better the need for those who now have the know-how to use their own perhaps self-discovered and unique (read proprietary) heroic measures  to cooperate in sharing them with the rest of us, as Part 4 will demonstrate without the help I would have preferred but with other expert assistance that is very much appreciated.

Part 2 described the first of three such repairs I have completed, its example being a Colossus Pipe Factory (CPF) Best Make turned lion’s head meerschaum with a gold band and genuine cherry red amber stem that needed reconnecting with a new bone screw tenon.  Five years after I began searching for the one part, I was compelled to send the otherwise restored CPF to a specialized repair service that may have been the only place capable at the time to affect the rehabilitation, for lack of a proper bone screw tenon or anyone to whom I could turn for instruction on how to repair the damage to the inner shank.  Now I know the necessary work was relatively minor.  Having determined the approximate technique used to repair my CPF, I will share the knowledge with anyone who cares to read the next and final installment, in which I mend a more damaged meerschaum shank and re-stem the pipe.

Once upon a time, in the sixteenth year of the third millennium, there lived a young man who dwelt in the center of a place of medium size.  When it was founded by Spaniards three centuries earlier the sage brush- and tumbleweed-blown burg was a dukedom known as Alburquerque, with two r’s, named in honor of a now long-forgotten duke of the proud nation that settled it.  But long before our tale began, the name was shortened, probably because of common misspelling, to Albuquerque, with only one r.

At the time the events of this account began to unfold, more than half of the almost one million souls who called the Land of Enchantment home tried to get along in its fast-growing and biggest metropolis, but perhaps lacked faith in the higher powers.  Gun-related deaths and evils in general were far above average compared to the other 49 quasi-independent lands of the constitutional federal republic they composed.  This was before Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands and Panama were granted the same status, although they did not ask for it, and despite the attempts of Texas, Hawaii and California to rule themselves   Most of the people still believed they were part of a true democracy, which of course does not exist.

The young man, whom we will call Sir Daryl, had a high-tech job that his life in general and education and training in particular had prepared him to perform with the greatest skill.  He also enjoyed his work, as much as any man likes the chronic rising from bed day in and day out and spending long hours away from home and friends, so that was a good thing.

But Sir Daryl’s real love in life was going on quests for beautiful and rare tobacco pipes that were bestowed with magical powers.  Sir Daryl’s keen eyes and a preternatural knack for recognizing the magic when he saw it aided him in his never-ending search.  Even when he traveled for business purposes, without fail he seemed able to sniff out the rare and hidden examples of the craft that awaited him   All of the precious shapes and styles he discovered in this fashion were his for the taking at prices so low he could not bring himself to turn them down.  Sometimes Sir Daryl wondered at his aura of luck in locating the treasures but did not spend much time fretting over his ostensible good fortune.  As his tastes grew more refined, which such appetites always arouse, Sir Daryl turned to antiques.

Unaware that his friends were beginning to notice the signs of a peculiar spell that was known to afflict many pipe collectors of his period, before counter-spells were found to eliminate the problem, Sir Daryl became obsessed with the thrill of the chase and ultimate liberation of these fine prizes from their previous, unworthy guardians.  And they were much admired by all who beheld them

One of Sir Daryl’s most splendid finds was crafted by the renowned house of Kaufman Brothers & Bondy and given the enticing name Blueline Bakelite, the creation of which he was able, with his considerable fact finding skills, to pinpoint to the second year of the second decade of the twentieth century.

Alas!  Sir Daryl so wanted to savor the gold-banded billiard beauty that he took it with him to his weekly informal pipe get-together early one Friday evening, still in the box in which it arrived with the day’s mail.  He settled back in the cushioned chair that had his name on it and prepared a bowl with an excellent Virginia Perique concocted with miraculous properties that made his body seem weightless and his mind travel to far-off places, not all of which he had ever seen outside of these visions.

With the slowest possible deliberation, Sir Daryl struck a wooden match and kindled the top layer of the divine amalgam in expectation of an ethereal treat, Almost immediately, his typical serene and content composure twisted into a spasm of intense revulsion apparent to his friends all about the low, round table where everyone had set out tins and other glorious, colorful containers with concoctions from around the globe that group custom made free for the trying.  Sir Daryl began to retch and reached for a tissue paper to spat out the evil spell that began its sorcery in his mouth and thence to wind an insidious path into his throat.  With the greatest of luck that was his hallmark, Sir Daryl cast out the vile spirit.

Being a naturally kind, trusting soul, the only mistake Sir Daryl made was in believing the minion who sold him the pipe with the false claim that it had been cleansed of all evil.  As Sir Daryl’s breath returned with the color in his face, one of his peers, who sat closest to him in another deep cushioned chair to his right, happened to be gifted with the power of perception.  Suspecting the foul truth of the matter, the wise aficionado asked if dottle was the problem.

Still unable to speak in a clear voice, Sir Daryl handed his newest prize to the other man, one of several Restorers present round the small table, and sipped from a bottle of mineral water, the better to wash away the diminishing remnants of old leaf and other substances too frightful to mention in this story conceived for young, impressionable children.

The Restorer scrutinized the various parts of the instrument and offered his services to Sir Daryl, for a modest fee, of course, and a deal was struck.  The trustworthy Restorer said with his natural sense of fidelity that he would return the treasured and still un-tested Blueline Bakelite the next day.  Little did he then know of the otherworldly obstacles that would befall him, beginning later that very night.

Enchantment, as a point of interest and special significance, concerns the subjection to or bewitchment by magical influences.  Some enchantments are made for good – and others not.

Thank you, Omniscient Narrator, for that lovely, florid introduction, and for providing the most charming and flattering title you could come up with for my chapter in some other hero’s tale.  I don’t mean to be rude, but I must set a couple of facts straight, if only for the sake of dispelling that whole fidelity thing you pinned on me.

For one thing, I didn’t “offer” my services, it was more like begging Sir Daryl to grant me the honor of taking his beautiful but badly marred and filthy 1911 billiard – yes, that’s the year our Narrator meant to say in his own rather prosaic, ho-hum way –home with me.  I asked whether he wanted the final stain to adhere to the original dark brown or be lighter and was not surprised when he opted for the former. Anyone with eyes will see the KB&B was messed up outside from the shots of it I snapped as soon as I was home, which I’ll dig up some place and show in a minute.  As far as its innards go, I know more than I really needed to about that because I just had to see what Sir Daryl’s little fit was all about and later tried it in private with some of the cherriest aromatic there is.  The consequence indeed was every bit as nasty as my friend Sir Daryl let on!

Daryl in the chair with his name on it

And enough with your Sir Daryl nonsense.  He’s just a man like I am, and his name is Daryl Loomis.  Even if I didn’t know him for going on five years now, I should know his real name because he’s bought about nine pipes from me, and that’s by far the record for one person.  I suppose, based on what you said about his taste in pipes and all, this must mean I sell some pretty good ones, although I admit I never let an antique go to Daryl or anyone else.

One last thing: if I had known what was going to happen in the middle of the night, I never would have accepted the $25 Daryl paid me in advance.  Come to think of it, I would not have taken the unique pipe at all.  Then again, maybe if I had the power to see back and forth and all over Time like a certain Narrator, I suppose I would have just avoided the whole mess in the first place.  I’ve always hated trippy thoughts like that.  At any rate, at least then you wouldn’t have this grand fable to tell, would you, big guy?  And forget about any singing, springing larks popping up!  Quite the opposite is in store, in fact.  I’ll bet the old codger of a Narrator ends up claiming he knew that all along and only meant it as foreshadowing.

Anyway, I found the shots I snapped, and here are the first of them. When held to the light, as I did and will prove in good time, the Bakelite stem is remarkable in its similarity to genuine cherry red amber.  That is a seeming contradiction in terms, I’m aware, as the word amber, from the Latin and Greek origins, means orange. However, the actual stem material is a synthesis of phenol and formaldehyde resins made in a process of intense heat and pressure known as thermosetting.  The first synthetic plastic, Bakelite provided a cheaper alternative, when amber was the rage, that was difficult to differentiate from the real thing with the naked eye and was therefore popular in the manufacture of pipes during the early 20th century.

Other than the need for a serious cleaning and retorting of the inner pipe, Daryl’s Blueline Bakelite had inexplicable dark black blotches on the left middle and right rear sides of the bowl.  I never determined the cause of the stains, as I ended up having no better option to choose as the source of the marks, but there were two I ruled out: scorching with long-inflicted match or lighter flames and burnouts.  Scorches would have come out much easier than these deep flaws, and burnouts never would have cleared up.  There was also the telltale damage to the chamber that was not present.  By the way, the restoration process will be shown in a time lapse style rather than my usual frame by frame style.

The following photos were taken after a preliminary Everclear soak, during which the band came off.  I followed that with a light sanding using 600-grit paper. I reattached the band with Super Glue.  A whole lot of sanding later, starting with 150-grit paper and working back up to 800, succeeded in eliminating the blotch on the left shank, but a specter remained on the right.  A terrible slope, lacking a better word, on the right side of the rim is also apparent now for the first time in the photos I took after the scar on the left was eliminated with considerable work.  But that would have to wait to be righted. I know this was cockeyed thinking, but I wanted to see if staining would cover the spot on the right of the bowl rather than continuing to abrade the wood.  I used Lincoln Brown aniline stain, flamed it with a Bic and micro meshed to the correct shade.  Obviously, the attempt failed.I had worked on the pipe from roughly 8 p.m. the previous night, after returning from my pipe get together, and it was sometime around 4 a.m. Saturday.  True enough, I could have used a break for sleep, but I don’t blame the unthinkable calamity that happened next on my own fatigue.  Although I accept full responsibility for what followed by the simple fact that the rare and precious pipe was in my custody, and would even be happy to blame myself for some error, that was not the cause of the awful event that occurred without warning.

As I had done many times, with the same great care and patience, I unscrewed the stem from the bone tenon.  There was no resistance, no mis-threading, nothing whatsoever wrong – until the sickening sound and feel of bone that was, one second, solid, and the next, several disjointed pieces that didn’t even fit together and more or less pulp left in the shank and stem.  And the infernal softness of the sound it made when it shattered, not a snap, crackle or even a pop, but as closely as I can describe it, like the effortless breaking between a pinkie and a ring finger of the softest piece of chalk.  There I was, exhausted as I readily admit, with the bone tenon broken and crushed in my hands, the remnants scattered on the floor in bits and fine powder. Almost three years after the pipe restoration went all the way south (and I’m sure everyone knows the figurative distance and final destination I’m suggesting), I still remember most how the unimaginable tragedy lacked any definitive sound.  I know now that the bone material had passed its life expectancy long before and might have failed at any moment.  In hindsight, I am grateful it happened to me rather than Daryl.

Here is the ghastly reality my numb mind had not even processed yet as I saved the horror for the record, by pure dazed habit, after frantically trying to graft the three tangible splinters of the tenon together with Super Glue.  Note the Frankensteinian product of my mad attempt at surgery on the tenon and the perfect evenness of the fault line leading to a total impaction of the stem hole.I tried my best to sleep and, late in the morning when I got up, considered the remains, my hope to find I had dreamed the whole fiasco obliterated with less noise than the plan-changing event a few hours before.  I decided to put the stem aside for the time being.  Why tempt further catastrophe when such things have a way of finding us, like the only two certainties in life of which Christopher Bullock seems to be the first person to warn us, in his 1716 farce, The Cobler of Preston.

Instead, I turned to the mangled rim and working with a double-sided 150/180-grit sanding pad painstakingly returned it to full health. When I was finished with the rim, it was looking good.  I even managed to give it a slight inward slant before reaming and sanding the chamber smooth.Other than the missing tenon, everything was beginning to look up again.  Outside was warm and sunny, bare wisps of clouds here and there in the blue sky.  When the other incomprehensible disaster struck, I felt like a lightning rod on an old barn swaying and creaking in the storm of the century.

This time, no ifs ands or buts, it was my fault despite the inherent danger of meddling with Bakelite or any other synthetic plastic.  I had no trouble with some dental tools I somehow got my hands on, wheedling out a chunk of packed bone here and another there from the shank, and the mother lode popped out nice and easy   Then it was the stem’s turn, and it was ornery.  I just started to make a decent dent on the harder bone inside the tiny stem hole when I just plain blew it.  I heard it that time, the crack amplified by my ears the way a bolt from Zeus struck the railroad tracks a few yards from me as I walked home from work in Granby, Colorado just before my 21st birthday.  I was watching the storm coming closer and saw nature’s electricity hit the rails.  That flash up in the Rockies made me jump a foot in the air, but the explosive soundwave a heartbeat later sent me flying across U.S. Hwy. 40, forget about the non-stop two-way traffic between the Berthoud and Rabbit Ears Passes..

Once again, in the frenzy of emotions over my double-destruction debacle starting with the bone tenon and then the stem, I hastened to glue the two pieces of the stem together before taking pictures.  The first was while the glue was still setting, the second after I micro meshed off the excess glue and to show the great color as well as how closely the small piece fit into the big, and the third just for the sake of showing the end view.Regardless of my initial frazzled audacity to think I might be able to right this wrong, my sense of morality is intact enough that I know I would have rejected the notion of passing off the fatally flawed stem as undamaged no matter how seamless the result may have been, but I was still relieved to have any temptation removed.

The star-crossed shadow that came to lurk around every corner began to seem a curse.  Since the day I restored my first pipe, until then the thought of giving up the whole endeavor for good never occurred to me.  At that lowest point of all my work reclaiming old and worn estate pipes, to crib from Steve’s site motto, I came a breath away from scattering all of it with my arms and hands to the walls about me or wherever else they might crash and shatter – the remains of the KB&B, dozens of other pipes awaiting my attention and every tool I had acquired, all of which I didn’t yet know was soon to be stolen from me anyway.  But that’s a different story I’ll tell when I’m ready.  This was in the spring of 2016, when my life in general was, to me, dangerously pointless.  I considered selling what I could and scraping together everything I had to find Daryl a suitable replacement.  That was really all I cared about, but it was enough.

I am well aware that some readers of my blogs view my style of writing as feigned or, a little worse, contrived.  My unorthodox approach to blogging pipe restorations doesn’t help, and my habit of falling into literary mimicry now and then may annoy many of the more experienced contributors to this forum.  That’s just not how I approach any writing project, which happens to be with the same imagination and enthusiasm I try to put into the actual pipe work.  I needed a year from the completion of this particular trial merely to face the unpleasant truths of the experience and find the words to describe it, however fanciful they may strike some folks.

But I did finish the job, although it took two years and the unwavering patience of my friend Daryl to be done with it.  In that respect, the Narrator’s appellation of Sir Daryl is well warranted.   Now I can finally let everyone know something that’s been on my mind for too long: anyone who doesn’t buy the bald self-analysis of my strengths and weaknesses I just finished sharing once and for all can believes what he will and sod off.  I’m not going away, and this is for the rest of you, who hopefully know who you are and that I appreciate the encouragement.

With more time to work on the pipe afforded to me by the unhappy but, for Daryl, fortunate destruction of the tenon if not the stem while both were my responsibility to replace, I was able to eradicate the mark on the right side of the bowl.  The next shots show the re-staining and micro meshing to the correct original dark shade of brown.  Thanks to the intrinsic problems with Windows 10, the key shot of the right side was lost, and I only have one showing the final result after eliminating the remaining scratches from the excessive but necessary sanding used to make the black marks disappear, which I accomplished with every sanding and smoothing resource at my disposal. Desperate to get Daryl’s pipe back to him, I was willing to offer as a temporary solution my real cherry red amber stem from the CPF Best Make turned lion’s head meerschaum I restored in Part 2.  Preparing for that possibility, I straightened the amber by heating it in the oven.  The second pic shows the original Bakelite stem above the straightened amber stem, in which I had placed a bone tenon I happened to have on hand but that didn’t fit.  The length of the amber stem is a little longer, but I expected it would at least mollify Daryl.All of the events and work occurred during a relatively short period of time in 2016.  Not until two more years passed did I find Norwoods Pipe Repair, and Kenneth Norwood assured me he could replace the bone tenon and even the same color of Bakelite stem.  At last I can show the parts he returned with the pipe I sent him.  The replacement, as it turned out, was also a little longer than the original, but I was confident Daryl would be more than pleased.Only two years after taking on the task of cleaning and restoring the KB&B that had such wonderful potential, all I had to do was retort the pipe.  I did so immediately, and as the replacement parts arrived, believe it or not, the same day as our monthly pipe meeting, I was able to return the gorgeous completed pipe to its owner that night. THE END OF THE LONG JOURNEY
Thus ends our tale of the long and arduous task of the unlucky but persistent Restorer…who almost never faltered in his pursuit of Right versus Wrong.

And everyone lived, happily ever after.

The fourth and final Book in this series will tell the tale of the first venture by the heroic Restorer, since thus he clearly needs to be described, into the small and secretive world of meerschaum repairers in his quest to be of service to a Good Lady.  Anyone who has ever had dealings with this lonely coven will understand how they covet and guard above all else the alchemies they devise as theirs and theirs alone.  But our hero will reveal, for the whole world to know at long last, the wondrous knowledge he has uncovered with the aid of unanticipated paladins – in particular an Artisan of high renown who dwells in the same town as the Restorer.SOURCES

Fashioning a Churchwarden from a Dimpled Bent Billiard Bowl

Blog by Dal Stanton

The great thing about the Churchwarden shape is that it is the only pipe that is identified not strictly by the shape of the bowl but by the length of the stem.  Bill Burney’s Pipedia Pipe Chart explanation describes this unique characteristic of the Churchwarden shape.  When I received an email from Coleman, he was looking to add a Churchwarden to his collection.  He wrote:

Hey Dal, I was browsing your website love the pipes, wanted to see if you had any more churchwardens available for commission or sale. I’ve always wanted one, and I can’t think of a better place to buy one than from Daughters of Bulgaria. The longer the stem the better. I really liked the billiard churchwarden, and the French imperial one in the shop that’s already sold. Do you think you’ll get anymore?

Last time I was with Coleman was he was an intern serving with us here in Bulgaria about 5 or so years ago.  He was single then, but as life happens, he is now happily married to Rebecca for 4 years!  He had spoken to Rebecca about adding a Churchwarden to his collection from The Pipe Steward and was agreeable to Coleman’s acquisition because the sales benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thank you, Rebecca!

Coleman described wanting a Billiard stummel with a bent shank.  I rummaged through potential stummels that could be repurposed to fashion an acceptable Churchwarden for Coleman.  I found three good candidates and sent pictures to him.  In the end, he settled on the Dimpled Bent Billiard in the center which has great promise for a beautiful display of natural briar grain with interesting rusticated accents.  We discussed the terms and came to an accord and I placed Coleman’s Churchwarden project in the queue.

Taking the stummel out and placing it on the work table, when I first acquired the Dimpled Bent Billiard, it came in the Lot of 66 I got off the eBay auction block.  When I initially looked at it, I did not see anything that looked like markings.  With a closer look now, I can just make out on the lower side of the shank the COM being France – I can barely make out ‘ANCE’.  The markings are now so thin that they have nearly passed out of remembrance and undoubtedly will with this fabrication.  I take a closeup of the ghosted marking on the lower shank.What I was not looking for but what is obviously revealed in the closer look at the lower shank is a small stress fracture in the briar.  I take a few more pictures with different angles of light highlighting it.  The good news is that the crack is isolated – not going through to the shank end. I’m assured of this after inspecting closely looking at the shank end and mortise.  My guess is that the small, barely visible crack was formed from a fall where the stem was the first to hit and it pressed up and in opposite reaction, the tenon pressured downwardly on the lower mortise wall and the stress crack resulted on the lower shank. A guess.  I’ll think about what needs to be done about the crack and address it later.The accenting rusticated dimple effect is interesting giving the smooth briar contoured, rustic relief – I like it, and so did Coleman.  The grain shows nice potential in the pictures below. The chamber has some carbon cake build up – I’ll be removing it to give the briar a fresh start.Finally, I take a picture showing the stummel and the Warden stem together – what we’re aiming for!  The bend of the shank sets the stage for a nice, long sweeping Warden stem.I start the Warden fabrication by cleaning the stummel.  Starting with reaming the chamber, I use only the smallest blade head from the Pipnet Reaming kit and follow by scraping the chamber wall with the Savinelli Fitsall tool.  Finally, after wrapping 240 grit paper around a Sharpie Pen, I sand the chamber removing more of the carbon and getting down to the briar.  To remove the carbon dust, I wipe the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol.  After an inspection of the chamber, it shows no signs of heat damage with cracks or fissures.To clean the external briar, I use undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a cotton pad to scrub.  I also get into the dimples to clean them.  On the rim, the internal lip of the rim is darkened from scorching.  I use a brass wire brush to clean the rim, but even after scrubbing the darkened briar is still evident. The internals of this stummel was no picnic!  Using pipe cleaners and cotton buds dipped in isopropyl 95%, I clean the mortise and airway.  I also do a lot of excavating of tars and oils by scraping the mortise walls with a dental spatula which you can see wiped in plenty on the cotton pad in the picture below.  Using a long shank brush, I’m able to scrub the airway.  It took a good bit of time, but the buds started lightening until enough progress had been made.  Later, I will continue the cleaning by giving the bowl a kosher salt and alcohol soak.I decide to move forward with the stummel repair before beginning the shaping of the Churchwarden stem.  I have two issues to address before moving on.  The rim is scorched and even after cleaning a dark ring persists around the inner lip of the rim.  With the rim already rounded, I will simply go with that flow and bevel out the internal rim damage.  The other challenge is to address the small stress crack on the lower shank.

First, I address the rim.  After taking a close-up of the rim to mark the starting point.  In succession, I pinch rolled pieces of sanding papers between my thumb and the inner rim from coarser to less coarse grades: first 120, then, 240, 470 and 600 grade papers.  This removes the damaged briar and freshens the rim and it looks much better.  The rounded rim will look good as a Churchwarden.  Before and after pictures follow: Now, I decide to address the pressure crack on the lower shank.  I will drill two counter-holes at the ends of the crack to guard against the crack growing.  This stops the possibility of the crack creeping in the future.  Drilling these holes is not easy using a hand held Dremel extension with a 1mm drill bit.  Not only do I have the ‘shakes’ as an obstacle of accomplishing a good, true hole drilling, but the depth of the drilling is also of concern.  The shank is not a thick piece of briar!  I do not want to see sunlight coming into the mortise! The first picture is simply of the crack – difficult to see with a magnifying glass.  In order to help guide the drilling, I use a sharp dental probe, again with the aid of a magnifying glass, to mark the ends of the crack with an imprint where the counter-holes will be drilled.Next, I change out the Dremel clamping and mount a 1mm drill bit into the handheld extender.  This is where the jitters really start jittering.  Perhaps, one day I’ll secure a more stable drilling platform but today is not that day!  Thankfully, and I do mean thankfully, the drilling goes well.  Not too much shaking nor too deep. Next, I use thin CA glue because the crack is very subtle, and I want the CA glue to fill and penetrate what it can.  I apply CA glue to the two holes and crack and apply briar dust to the patch.  Hopefully, this aids the holes to later blend.  I put the stummel aside to allow the patch to cure.Several hours later I make it back to the work table and the shank patch has cured and I begin filing the mound with a flat needle file until the patch mound is almost flush with the briar surface.  I then switch to sanding with 240 grade paper to bring the patch flush with the surface and finish at this point with 600 grade paper to smooth it out and blend it.  The patch looks good and I believe the repair was necessary.  It should blend well with the surrounding bird’s eye grain. Time to focus on fashioning the Warden stem with the use of the Pimo Tenon Turning tool which has been a very useful addition to my instruments in my restoration toolbox.  I keep the directions on the wall in front of me!  The visuals give an idea of how this tool works to quickly and accurately resize a tenon.The precast stem is 8 5/8 inches long.  I begin by measuring the inside diameter of the mortise using an electronic caliper.  The measurement is 8.50 mm.  This represents the critical target width of the tenon to fit the mortise.  The precast tenon is obviously fat and I use the Pimo Tool to take off a layer of the fat tenon simply to serve as a starting point.I first pre-drill the airway with the drill bit provided by the Pimo kit to allow the guide pin of the Turning Tool to fit into the airway.After the first ‘fat’ cut of the tenon, the tenon is 9.60mm.  My goal is not to cut the tenon exactly at 8.50mm for a ‘perfect’ fit, but to give myself about .40mm of extra width to then conservatively sand my way to a good tenon/mortise fit. Every mortise is different, and I have found it better to go at it slowly.  So, adding .40 to 8.50 gives me a tenon target width of about 8.90 to aim for using the Pimo tool. With the hex wrench provided I turn the set screw to the left to reduce or tighten the Carbide Cutter Arm of the Pimo tool.  Again for an initial measurement, I only cut small portion of the tenon and measure (picture below).  There’s always the chance of taking too much off!  The test measurement is 8.79mm.  This cut results in the tenon being underneath the 8.90 conservative target but still above the 8.50mm critical measurement.  I take the tenon down to that measurement and begin sanding. To smooth off and form the end of the rough tenon, I make quick work of it with a sanding drum mounted on the Dremel.Gradually sanding with 240 grit paper as well as using a flat needle file, eventually I achieve a good fit.  The tenon is snug but not too snug.You can see in the next picture the overhang of the shank which needs to be sanded down flush with the stem butting against the shank face.  What I also notice is that the face of the stem is shouldered – or down-turned.  This is from not taking off enough vulcanite to have a flat face surface for the stem face to seat against the shank face.  Not shown is remounting the Pimo tool onto the drill and shaving off a bit more of the stem face to improve the junction.  With the flattening of the stem face the tenon seats well.  I go to work sanding the shank to bring it flush with the stem.  I also taper the sanding up the shank to achieve more flow – not having the stuffed pants look.  After sanding the shank/stem junction looks great. Even though the Warden stem is a new precast stem, it must be shaped, filed and sanded to remove vulcanite ripples and manufacturing seams.  I work on the button area with the flat needle file and then 240 grade paper.  I also fully sand the entire stem with 240 grade paper.  You can see manufacturing ripples in the new stem which the sanding smooths out. After completing the sanding with the 240 grade paper, I wet sand the entire stem with 600 grade paper followed by applying 0000 steel wool.  The Warden stem is looking great.  It’s difficult to take good pictures of the Warden stem because the view is always from orbit to get the full length!  So, I provide a few close-ups as well.To hydrate the vulcanite, I then wipe it down with paraffin oil, a mineral oil.I refit the stem with the Dimpled Billiard stem to get a look at the progress.  I’m liking what I’m seeing.Now I need to bend the stem.  I use a hot air gun to heat the vulcanite to make it supple and bendable.  I first put a pipe cleaner in the airway just to make sure the airway does not collapse during the bending.  The general aim is to give the Warden stem a gentle and flowing bend so that the end of the stem is generally in a parallel orientation with plane of the rim.In the end, I re-heat, re-bend, re-heat and re-bend a few times until I was satisfied. I think it looks good.  I go for the flowing look which is more ‘Gandalf-like’ – the subjective bar for all Churchwardens!  I think this will be agreeable to Coleman.With the Warden stem bent, I start the micromesh process by wet sanding the stem with pads 1500 to 2400, then dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  After each set of 3 pads I apply Obsidian Oil to continue to hydrate the vulcanite.  There is a pop to the freshly sanding/polished vulcanite!Turning now to the stummel, I use sanding sponges to clean the surface of the Dimpled Billiard removing minor cuts and nicks.  I first take some starting pictures then sand the stummel with a coarse sponge followed by medium and then, finish with a light grade sponge.  The sanding goes over the top of the rusticated dimples.  To get into and clean, sand and polish the dimples, later I will use the compounds and the Dremel to do this. I then go directly to sanding with micromesh pads starting with wet sanding pads 1500 to 2400, then dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  I enjoy watching the grain emerge during the micromesh process. Before going any further with the stummel polishing, I continue the internal cleaning using kosher salt and isopropyl 95% as I indicated earlier. I begin by forming a wick by stretching and twisting a cotton ball to insert into the mortise.  I then fill the bowl with kosher salt, which unlike iodized salt, does not leave an after taste.  I then place the stummel in an egg crate for stability and add isopropyl 95% to the bowl until it surfaces over the salt.  I wait a few minutes while the alcohol is absorbed and top it off once again.  I then set the stummel aside to soak for several hours. The soak did the job.  The discoloration of the salt and wick show the absorbing action of the salt and alcohol.  I toss the expended salt in the trash can, wipe the bowl out with a paper towel and blow through the mortise as well to dislodge remnant salt crystals.  I finish off by expending a few more alcohol wetted pipe cleaners and cotton buds to make sure all is clean, and it is.  Moving on. With Coleman’s agreement, I’m staying with the natural grain color and because of this I utilize Before & After Restoration Balm to condition the briar surface.  The Balm deepens and enriches what is already present in the grain and I like the subtle improved results of using it.  I put some Balm on my finger and rub it into the surface.  The Balm’s texture begins as a thinner oil-like thickness and then gradually thickens into a wax-like texture.  I work the Balm into the rusticated dimples as well. After fully covering the surface, I wait about 30 minutes and then wipe/buff the excess Balm. I use a toothpick also to make sure the dimples are not holding collected Balm.  A few ‘After’ pictures to compare.  It looks great! With the Balm applied, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel at 40% speed.  I then apply Blue Diamond compound to the stummel surface taking special care to work the compound into the rusticated dimples. The sanding processes do not get into the crevasses but pass over.  Using the smaller buffing wheel, I’m able to direct the compound into the crevasses.  I also apply Blue Diamond to the Churchwarden stem.  Its easier to keep the stem and stummel separate because of the size of stem and the rotating motion I use with the Dremel.  After completing application of the Blue Diamond, I apply carnauba wax to the stem and stummel using another cotton cloth buffing wheel and leaving the speed the same.  After completing application of the wax, I unite stem and stummel and give the newly born Churchwarden a rigorous hand buffing to raise the shine.

The fabrication of this Dimpled Billiard Churchwarden came out great.  I’m pleased.  The rusticated Dimpled Billiard has beautiful grain with a splay of grain spreading to the rim and much bird’s eye populating the heel of the stummel.  Often, rustication is used to hide blemishes in a lesser quality bowl, but this is not the case with this stummel.  The rusticated dimples are interesting shapes on a beautiful canvas of briar grain.  I believe Coleman will be pleased.  He commissioned this Dimpled Billiard Churchwarden and has the first opportunity to acquire it from The Pipe Steward Store.  This pipe benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria – women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!