Tag Archives: Reworking the button

Peterson Kildare Marathon Restoration

This year has been a roller coaster ride for me; between added responsibilities of watching our new grandson, health issues, and a flair up of my spinal stenosis that put me down for almost two months, I have been unable to do any of my hobbies. Unfortunately this has put a couple of friends that I have pipes to work on in a state of limbo waiting on me. They are not easy clean-ups and they knew going in I am slow – but still I feel badly about it.

This Peterson Kildare 106 billiard had been in my possession for ages it seems to me at least. I have worked on it off and on, loosing track if my progress (and many of my notes and photos) of the process. It went out in the mail today I am happy to say (and the owner is probably happier to hear!).

I knew the pipe needed stem work mostly but when it arrived at my home it was in worse condition than I had anticipated. The stem was really badly gnawed on, with an extra hole bitten through on the bottom. The pipe was very dirty and there was a fill that had partly fallen out; that didn’t really bother the owner, as I recall, but it made me nuts! Here is a look at what the pipe looked like when I got it.

I began cleaning the internals which weren’t bad as it turns out. I cleaned the stummel with alcohol and cotton pads, removing the grime, exposing the missing fill even worse; I knew I had to deal with that as I went along. But first I began to ream the bowl while the stem soaked in an OxiClean bath. img_5027

The OxiClean bath and a scrubbing in clean, warm water with a green Scotch pad left the stem clean and free of oxidation. The amount of work the stem needed was even more apparent now; not only did the bit need a lot of work, there were some very large dents in the stem. I tried to raise the dents with heat but that really made no difference. So I decided to start the process of building the bit up (P-lip, a new for me repair) and filling in the dents with black CA glue and charcoal powder. This took many layers over many days (which turned into months); I had to raise, shape, repeat, over and over to get the P-lip back and to fill the extra hole in the bottom of the stem and the deep divots.

During the interim times I worked on the fill that was partly gone and one other dent that stream wouldn’t raise. I used coarse briar dust from filing not sanding (which I think takes dye better and is less apt to just be a black spot) and CA glue to fill the two spots (the worst one is visible in the very first photo in this post). I accidentally over did the fill, costing myself a lot of extra time. However the patch ended up blending in great in the end. After a lot of working the patch to blend I stained the pipe with a diluted Brown Fiebing’s leather dye, two coats, flamed on, if I remember right. After buffing with brown-Tripoli the stummel looked nice but too dark to see the really nice grain (birds eye and flame) so I wiped it down with alcohol on a cotton pad until it let the gain show through and re-buffed with brown-Tripoli. Now the stummel looked good to me. Back to the stem…

This P-lip drove me to the brink of insanity! Not having a P-lip on hand to compare it to made it more difficult. Filling the bottom hole (that wasn’t supposed to be there) was easy but shaping that top and bottom lip/ridge was a chore. The deep divot just did not want to be filled; the patch shrunk over and over. The huge, dented  draft hole on the top of the stem was a bother, too; I can’t tell you how many times I glued it shut trying to get that button rebuilt! In the end it came out pretty good; there are some tiny scratches visible if you look real close. But all things given, the owner was happy with that, especially since with the holidays and even more babysitting duties for me on the horizon, who knows when I would be able to finish it (again).

After finally getting the work done I finished the pipe off with a few coats of carnauba wax. I want to mention that I followed the instructions, more or less, for Dremel buffing for the stem and the waxing of the stummel. I currently can’t use my buffer so I wanted to give this option a try and am very pleased with the results. Mine is a variable speed Dremel and I used 5,000 RPM for the compounds and 10,000 RPM for the wax.

Hopefully with the new Dremel techniques I’ve learned (thanks again, Dal and Steve) and with some luck (and no small amount of “okay” from my wife) I will find a way to down size my work-needs to be able to work from my kitchen instead of my basement workshop, allowing me to work more when my mobility issues keep me from the stairs.

Restemming a Bruyere Krone Billiard

I am just about finished restemming the lot of pipe bowls I picked up on EBay. This is one of the last two pipes that I have left in the lot below. It is the fourth pipe down in the left column. It has an interesting rustication pattern that reminds of one that is done on Saseini pipes. It is striated around the bowl and then tapers up from the bottom to a striated pattern around the shank. It has a flat bottom on the shank that is smooth and stamped Bruyere in a crown with a large R in the centre of the band on the crown. Underneath the crown is an unfurled banner that is stamped K R O N E. I have no idea of who the maker is or when and where it was made. The stamping is faint so I may be missing a few letters but I think this is an accurate rendering of what is stamped. The finish was pretty dirty with grime in the grooves on the bowl and shank. The rim was caked with a tarry buildup and the grooving on the rim was not visible. There were also place on the finish where the stain was missing and the briar underneath exposed. The inside of the bowl had dust and cob webs and a pretty large cake buildup that would need to be removed. The bowl came without a stem and fitting one would take flattening of the stem on the underside to match the shank.



I went through my box of estate stems and found one that was a good fit to the shank. Once the cleanup of the stem was done and a flattening of the underside of the stem the pipe would look like it came with that stem. The stem had a calcified buildup around the button and some tooth marks as well. The oxidation was not too bad but was present.






The clean angles of the button against the stem were gone so I recut them with needle files to clean up the edge. I reamed the bowl back to bare briar with a PipNet reamer starting with the smallest cutting head and progressing to the one that was the diameter of the bowl without the cake. Once it was cleaned out I scrubbed down the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a soft bristle tooth brush to remove the grime. I scrubbed the buildup on the rim with a soft bristle brass tire brush to remove the tars. Once I had scrubbed it I rinsed it with warm water to remove the soap and dried it off with a cotton towel. I wiped down the bowl with acetone on a cotton pad and prepared it to be stained. After heating it with a heat gun I stained it with a dark brown aniline stain. I used a permanent black marker to touch up the raw briar areas where it was scratched or damaged. I reapplied the stain and flamed it. The newly stained pipe is shown in photos 2 and 3 below.




I sanded the stem with medium grit emery paper to remove the calcification around the button and also heated the tooth marks with a Bic lighter to lift them as much as possible. I “painted” the surface of the stem with the flame to burn off the sulfur of the oxidation that I had loosened by sanding. I repaired the tooth marks on both sides of the stem with black superglue and set it aside to dry overnight.


The next morning I cleaned out the bowl and shank with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and Everclear. I sanded the stem and the superglue patch with 220 grit sandpaper and then with a medium grit sanding sponge to clean up the scratches in the finish. I put it back on the bowl to get an idea of the overall look of the pipe and see if the diameters of the stem fit the shank. I needed to flatten the bottom of the stem some more to match the bottom of the shank and also removed some more of the material on the diameter of both sides to bring it into line with the shank. Once the stem was well fitted I moved on to sanding with micromesh sanding pads from 1500-12,000 grit.








I buffed the stem with White Diamond and a Blue polish. I gave the bowl a light buff with White Diamond to bring up the shine. I gave the bowl a coat of Halcyon II wax and buffed it by hand with a shoe brush. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba and buffed it on the buffer with a clean flannel buff. I think the pipe came out well. Does anyone know anything about the brand?





Making a New Stem for a Peterson’s Kildare XL999

The Peterson’s Kildare is the second pipe down in the left column in the photo below. The second and third photos are of the pipe bowl apart from the lot. The externals were in pretty decent shape but the rim has a heavy buildup of tars and the cake in the bowl is quite thick and hard. To give an idea of the thickness of the cake I was unable to put my little finger in the bowl. The shank was quite large – the tenon is ½ inch in diameter for a snug fit in a clean tenon. The shank itself is 7/8 inches in diameter. It is a large mortise and airway. The pipe is stamped Peterson’s “Kildare” on the left side of the shank and Made in the Republic of Ireland XL999 on the right side of the shank. The finish is quite clean. The top will need to be topped to remove the buildup and dents. I also will need to chamfer the inner edge of the rim to repair the damage that is present on the surface of the rim.




I reamed the pipe with a PipNet Reamer beginning with the smallest cutting head on the T handle and working up to the diameter of the bowl. I carefully ream the cake so as not to damage the bowl roundness or the inner edge of the rim any more than it already is. I emptied the carbon out of the bowl repeatedly until it was clean and empty. I reamed the cake back to bare wood to begin to rebuild on a clean surface. I scoured the bowl and shank with Everclear and cotton swabs and pipe cleaners.



Once the inside was clean I decided to gently top the bowl. I used a medium grit sanding sponge flat on the table top and worked the rim against that to remove the buildup of tars. The first photo shows the set up and the second the result of the topping. Very little briar was removed from the rim, mostly tars. The finish however also was removed so the rim would need to be restained. The third photo shows how I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to bevel/chamfer the inner rim to repair the damage that had been done to the rim.




I sent out several emails and private messages to folks on the online forums to see if I could find a Peterson stem with these dimensions. I received many answers and several possible stems that could work for this pipe. Thanks to those who sent them. For the most part they were either too long or the diameter of the stem was not large enough to fit the shank. Chuck (desertpipe on SF) sent me several that would work. I also have a piece of brindle rod coming that Todd (Sasquatch on SF) was willing to cut for me. So in the end I will have two different stems for the pipe. While awaiting the arrival of the Cumberland stock I decided to turn the tenon on a vulcanite stem blank from Chuck. I turned it with a PIMO tenon tool and fit it to the bowl. The end fit was a ½ tenon for the mortise so I did not need to remove much of the existing vulcanite on the cast stem to make it fit well. To fit the stem on the tool I drilled the airway so that it slid easily over the pin on the tool but did not have too much play. I held the stem and ran the drill over the tenon for a first pass (second photo below) I adjusted the cutting tip and spun it several more times until the fit in the mortise was close. I used the Dremel with a sanding drum to take off more of the material and fine tune the fit (third photo below). I spun it one last time to clean up the face of the stem where it sat against the shank. I want that surface to be smooth and seamless in its fit.




After fitting the tenon to the mortise I used the Dremel with a sanding drum to remove the excess vulcanite on the diameter of the stem. I carefully sand with the Dremel and bring the stem as close to the diameter of the shank as possible without nicking the briar. I also sand down the sides of the stem to remove the casting overrun on the stem and button. The idea is to get as close as possible to the stem diameter and then sand the rest of the fit by hand with medium grit emery cloth and 220 grit sandpaper.




I took the pipe back to my work table and removed the stem and sanded it until the fit was perfect and the marks left by the Dremel were gone. The hand sanding is probably the longest part of the process of fitting a new stem. I sanded it repeatedly with emery paper and 220 grit sandpaper until it was smooth enough to move to the next step in the process. At this point I am not looking for a smooth and perfect fit but one that is getting close. I then heat the stem with my heat gun in order to bend the stem to fit the flow of the pipe. I heated it until it was pliable and then bent it over the rolling pin and cardboard tube that I use for getting the curve of the stem smooth and correct.




I took the pipe back to my table and showed it to my sidekick and helper, Spence for his approval. He gave it a sniff and looked it over. It passed his inspection so I continued to sand and shape the shank/stem union. Lots of pieces of sandpaper and emery paper later the stem is getting closer and closer to a good fit.




The button was very tight and I was not able to push a pipe cleaner through the slot so I opened the slot with needle files and reshaped it into an oval that was open and flared back to the airway in the stem.


I sanded the stem with a medium grit sanding sponge and a fine grit sanding sponge to remove the scratches left behind by the sandpaper. Each step of sanding brought both the fit and finish closer to the look I was aiming for with the finished stem.




I wiped the bowl down with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the finish and prepare the bowl for a new coat of stain. I have found that if I do not remove the stain then it is very hard to match the rim to the colour of the bowl. With the finish gone the staining is very simple.



I thinned the stain, a dark brown aniline stain, with isopropyl alcohol – 1 part stain to two parts alcohol. I had picked a stain that matched the previous colour of the bowl and also matched another 999 Peterson that I have here. I heated the surface of the bowl with my heat gun to warm the briar and open the pores in the wood. Once it was warmed I applied the stain with a cotton swab and repeated until I had good coverage over the entire surface. I flamed the stain, repeated the application and flamed it a second time. Once it was dry I took it to the buffer and gave it a light buff with White Diamond to even out the stain coverage and remove the excess on the surface of the briar. I wiped down the inside of the bowl where the stain ran in with a cotton swab dipped in Everclear.







With the bowl finished and ready to buff it was time to finish the work on the stem. I sanded it with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit and dry sanded with 3200-12,000 grit. Each successive grit brought more of a shine to the stem and removed the scratches left behind by previous sanding.




I worked on the slot with a folded piece of sandpaper to smooth out the surface of the inside. I also shaped it with the sandpaper until I had the look I wanted. The oval slot now easily took a pipe cleaner no matter how fluffy.


After much sanding and fitting, the vulcanite stem is finished. The pipe is smokeable while I wait for the Cumberland/brindle rod stock to come from Todd. I like the look and feel of the pipe as it is very close in size and design to the GBD 9438 with a tapered stem. The finished pipe is pictured below after buffing with multiple coats of carnauba wax and with a clean flannel buff.





Dr Grabow Restoration and Stem Repair

Blog by Greg Wolford

I picked up this Dr Grabow Freehand at an antique mall about a month ago when I got the Wally Frank that is visible in the photos, too. It was scratched to heck on all the smooth briar and the stem was chewed completely through. But I went ahead and bought it for three reasons:

– I’ve  never had a freehand
– I have been wanting to restore a stem with a hole or, in this case, a lot of damage
– I got a pretty decent price
So, I picked it up.Greg1




Greg5 I decided to deal with the bowl first, by stripping it with acetone and soaking it overnight in an alcohol bath; I also put the stem in a OxiClean soak at this time.  After removing the bowl from the alcohol bath I then used a brass bristle brush to get all the tar and gunk out of the rusticated top grooves. Then I sanded it to remove all the scratches from the smooth briar and take the old stain off the high points using 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper.Then I used some water based black leather dye on it, getting into the recesses well and wiping of the smooth portions as I went; I wanted to keep that darker contrast in the grooves. After I had it covered to my liking I dried it with the heat gun. Next I went back to 400 grit to take down the high points and smooth areas to remove the small amount of black color from the water based dye. When that looked good to my eye I polished it with 600 grit, wiped it down with 91% isopropyl alcohol on a cotton pad to remove any left over dust and dirt.  I heated it with the heat gun again to make sure the briar was good and dry. When it was nice and warm I applied Fiebing’s dark brown spirit-based leather dye, diluted 2:1 with 91% alcohol and flamed it in; I did this twice. The color was a bit too dark now so I wiped the pipe down, taking care to not soak my cotton pad too heavily or get into the recesses too much, with alcohol until it looked right to me. I then set it aside.Greg6

Greg7 When I soaked the bowl in the alcohol bath I also left the stem in a OxiClean soak overnight. I had removed and washed it well before starting on the bowl so it was ready now to work on.Greg8 I decided to shorten and reshape the stem instead of replacing it or trying to fix the gaping holes. I used a coping saw to cut off the end, saving as much of the stem as I could. The bottom hole had also cracked so it required removing quite a lot of the stem to get most of the crack out. The next step was to grease a pipe cleaner with petroleum jelly and insert it into the stem. I then dripped some Super Glue into the crack and let it set up while I worked on something else.

When I came back to it, the glue was hardened and I was ready to move on to the next step: making a new button. I began this process by scoring a line along the top and bottom of the stem where I wanted the button with a cutoff wheel on my Dremel. After I had the new button laid out, I then started to shape it with various needle files. I began shaping from the button back, forming it into shape with the rest of the stem. This took considerable time to get it even and “natural” looking. When I was satisfied I then began to shape the end of the button.Greg9

Greg10 I shaped the bit with needle files, too, again using several to get the shape right. The first step for this was getting the angle to look right on the top; this didn’t take as long as I expected. I then began to form the bottom of the bit, trying to match the shape of the top as close as I could; this took more time and effort than I’d expected.

Making a new drought hole was something new to me. And was not without its challenges either. I used my needle files, again, to start shaping the new hole, making it a bit taller as well as wider than the hole that was left in the cut off stem. I took the extra time to fan the drought hole, too, partly because I wanted to and partly to see if I could do it. This ended up being some of the most time-consuming and tedious work of the entire project: I needed to make sure I didn’t go too thin in any direction but I wanted the hole to really funnel out well. I am pleased with the results and the way it smokes and would say it was worth the extra time and effort to accomplish it.Greg11

Greg12 After all the shaping I wiped the stem well with alcohol to clean it off for a test fit – to my mouth. The test failed; the bit was too long and too steep. So back to the files I went. I filed, tested, filed, tested a few times until it felt comfortable in my mouth and looked good to me. Now time to get it shiny again.

I began with a fine/medium grit sanding sponge. It worked very well to get in and around the bit to smooth it a bit more and to take out the file marks. I then began wet sanding with grits 220/320/400. At this point I applied some Novus 2 plastic polish. The Novus line come in three grades: 3 – the most course, 2 – the second, and 1 – the final polish. I began using this product on my motorcycle windshield a few years ago and loved it. I have numbers 1 & 2 but have yet to try 3.

After using the Novus, I began with the micro mesh, wet sanding with grits 1500/1800/2400/3200/4000 (I’m not looking at the numbers but I believe that was the correct grit numbers. I applied the Novus 2 again and then polished with micro mesh 6000/8000/12000. Now it was off to the buffer with pipe and stem.

I buffed the pipe several times around with Tripoli to get the color just where I liked it. I then moved onto the white diamond for both the pipe and stem. I took a little extra time on the stem to make sure I fine tuned the button a little more, testing it every so often. After buffing the pipe and stem with white diamond I changed to a metal buffing wheel with blue rouge to polish the metal tenon on the stem; I hate a nicely polished stem that hasn’t has the metal (if there is any) not polished, too.Greg13


Greg15 Several coats of carnauba wax was then applied to both pipe and stem. I did the final buffing with my “mushroom” on my cordless drill. I like the control I have with it and also the fact it’ll reach almost anyplace with little effort. The final touch was to polish the rustication with a soft toothbrush to make sure I didn’t have any wax residue left.Greg16 There were, and still are, some fills in the pipe but I wasn’t particularly concerned with them. Several are on the shank and it would have been “dicey” to try to fix them without ruining the nomenclature. There was one fill on the side that fell out, presumably from the softening of the putty in the alcohol bath. I missed that one until after I had already started smoking it.  If I’d seen it earlier in the process I would have fixed that one but now it’s there for the duration.Greg17 (I couldn’t get a good focused shot of the finished button.)

A New Stem and a New Look For a Larsen Special

I got this Larsen Special in a lot I picked up for a very cheap price. The stem that was on it is in the bottom of each picture to give an idea of what it looked like. The shank extension is made of vulcanite and was very oxidized when it came to me. The stamping on the pipe is actually on the extension and it is faint. It is visible with a jeweler’s loupe and is stamped Larsen Special and Handmade in Denmark. The bowl was badly cake and the finish was almost flat with dark soiled spots of grime on the surface. The rim was covered with a lava overflow of tars and oils. I decided as soon as I saw it that the stem had to go. I had no idea what I was going to do with it but I knew it was history.

I cleaned the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap undiluted on a soft cotton cloth and cut through the grime and grit on the surface without damaging the finish at all. I used the same thing on the rim and was able to remove the lava. There was a bit of darkening that remained but no burn or charring. I used micromesh and Oxyclean on the vulcanite shank extension. I avoided sanding around the stamping as it is very light and I did not want to compromise it any more than it was. I was able to get the majority of the oxidation cleaned off the end and then coated it with some Obsidian Oil and let it sit for a while. Once it had dried I rubbed it with a soft cloth and then took the pipe bowl to the buffer and gave it a good buff with White Diamond, carefully avoiding the stamping. Then I coated the bowl and shank with carnauba wax and buffed with a soft cotton buffing pad. The grain on this pipe is absolutely beautiful. I really like the look of it. The bowl is quite large and it is clean and trouble free once it was reamed and cleaned.

I looked through my stem can and found this Lucite/amberoid stem that I thought would look perfect with the pipe. It is a military style bit so I sanded it enough to give it a snug fit and then used micromesh sanding pads 1500-12,000 grit to sand and polish the stem. I opened the slot and made it into an oval shaped flared opening in order to better disperse the smoke. The old stem is still in the box. I am not sure what I will do with it but it will not find a home with this old Larsen ever again.

Oh this one is a keeper by the way and is regularly in my rotation. It smokes English and Balkan tobaccos like it was made for them. I think I will go and fire up a bowl now.


New Life for a BBB Short Dog

I picked up this little BBB Bulldog on EBay and knew it would take some work. In the photo below you can see the cut in the stem – a groove or channel that served as a dental grip for the pipe. It is just in front of the button. There was some minor oxidation on the stem as well. The button had an orific opening (round hole in the button) rather than a slot. The rim and sides of the bowl were dirty and there was some darkening around the edges. The bowl was caked with a thick cake that would need to be reamed. The photo below is the one that was on EBay.

When the pipe arrived it was smaller than I had imagined. No problem there as I like these pocket sized pipes. The stamping on the shank only had the BBB logo in the diamond. No name or other identifying marks were on either side of the shank. The stem did not have the BBB stamp or roundel. The finish was not too bad. The majority of work would need to be done on the rim and the top edges of the bulldog bowl. The stem was going to take some work to get rid of the trough that had been cut in it by a previous owner as a kind of dental bit. The bowl was not as caked as it had appeared in the original picture but had been over reamed and was out of round. The walls at the top appeared to be thinner than normal on a pipe of this shape.


You can see the size of the pipe from the photos above with the ruler. It is four inches long and delicate in the hands. I went to work on the stem first with my needle files and sandpaper to remove the trough on the top of the stem and the underside of the stem. This took some work as it could have radically changed the slope of the stem. I worked to keep the angle looking right from the saddle to the button. It took quite a bit of time to remove the excess vulcanite and reshape the blade of the stem. I sanded the stem smooth and then progressed through the micromesh grits 1500 through 12000. I put it back on the pipe and took it to the buffer and buffed it with White Diamond until it shone. Then I removed the stem and set it aside while I worked on the bowl.

The bowl needed most of the work on the area of the rim and the edges following down the bowl. There was lava and also darkening. I worked on the rim and the darkening with acetone on a soft cloth. It removed the majority of the darkening and grime. I decided to top the bowl minimally to smooth out the surface. I chamferred the inner rim with a folded piece of sandpaper to minimize the chatter from the over reaming. The pipe was given a coat of medium brown aniline stain, flamed and then buffed gently with White Diamond. The entirety was given multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed with a soft clean flannel buff. The final picture below has a Canadian penny included to give an idea of size. This will be helpful to those who are familiar with US and Canadian money. To others who are not you can refer to the photos above with a ruler. This is a nice little pipe that smokes very well. It also fits nicely into a coat pocket or shirt pocket!




Stem Repair Just for the Practice

Blog by Steve Laug

Sometimes I just repair a stem because it is there and I can get the practice working with it. Such was the case with the pipe below. It is a very low end pipe with a nylon stem and a metal tenon that holds a paper filter. The bowl of the pipe was rusticated and definitely not a favourite shape or style of mine. This one would not be a pipe I kept or would be tempted to add to the collection. It was solely a pipe that would provide me an opportunity to work on the tooth dents, the bite through holes on the top and the bottom of the stem near the button as pictured in the two photos below. A decision had to be made whether to fill the hole with super glue or to cut of the bitten through end of the stem and reshape a new button. The dents and holes were very big and the stem was truly a mess.
I used heat from a heat gun and boiling water to raise the tooth dents in the stem and then sanded it to provide a smooth surface in front of the button. I wanted to minimize the amount of the stem that I would have to cut off should I choose that method.


I used heat from a heat gun and boiling water to raise the tooth dents in the stem and then sanded it to provide a smooth surface in front of the button. I wanted to minimize the amount of the stem that I would have to cut off should I choose that method.


Once I had leveled the stem out, I again studied the bite through areas. It was clear to me that I was going to cut off the stem and reshape the button. I used a Dremel to cut back the button and the damaged area of the stem. The next three photos show the result of the cut back. I did not have to remove nearly as much as I originally thought I would as the heat had raise many of the tooth marks in the stem. I sanded the stem to smooth out the flow and slope of the stem and remove the remaining tooth damage. Even though the photos are a bit out of focus you can see the work that was done on the stems. If I had doubted that the stem was made of nylon it became very clear as I sanded it. The grey hue of the material can be seen in the photos below.

Once the stem surface was smooth and the remaining dents were minimized it was time to take out the needle files and begin to cut the new button on the stem. I used a square bladed needle file to do the initial cuts in the button. I am always concerned to make a clean straight edge on the button so I find that a square blade with no taper or tip makes that task simple. I then clean it up with a flat bladed file and smooth out the transition between the button and the slope of the stem. The other files in the pictures below are used to shape the button and to define its final form. The three photos below show the files and the progress in cutting the new button. You can also see that the small dents that remained are disappearing in the shaping of the button. Care must be taken not to cut the edge too deeply and recreate the hole in the stem again. In this case I had enough meat on the stem to allow me to cut a well defined button.

Once I had the button cut and defined I put the stem on the pipe to continue the process of refining the line of the stem and smoothing out the transition to the button. I wanted to taper the button toward the lip rather than leave it flat so you can see that in the profile picture below. The stem is just about finished by the time these photos were taken and only needed the final sanding to bring the stem to completion.

The stem was then sanded with 400 and 600 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the deep scratches and then followed that with micromesh sanding pads from 1500-12000 grit. The finished stem is picture below both in profile and from a top view. The new button is comfortable and the slot is open and passes a pipe cleaner easily.

The pipe provided a great opportunity to work on a stem restoration and the recreation of a button and it has since found a new home in the rack of a happy pipe smoker who needed some pipes for working outside and in the yard. This is a perfect yard pipe and should continue to deliver a great smoke to him as long as he chooses to keep it.

A Second Bewlay Olde 49 Bent Billiard Repaired and Rejuvenated.

Here is the mate of the other Bewlay Olde 49 bent billiard that I posted about recently. They had both been sitting in my box of pipes to repair and refurbish for several years now. Yesterday I worked on the first one and restemmed it. This afternoon I decided to work on second one. The finish was exactly like the other one – grime ground into the surface and the wax and shine were gone. The top of the bowl was tarred and caked. The stem had been chewed through. The button was gone and the previous owner had made it into some kind of dental bit but cutting a groove in the stem along the end of the chewed off portion. It was a mess. I decided to cut off the chewed portion of the stem and then rework a button into the smooth surface of this one rather than restem it. I find that often this takes far more time to do this than it would just to cut a new stem for it. Such was the case with this one.

I used my Dremel with the sanding drum on it to cut back the damaged stem. I removed just under ½ inch of the stem. I cut it back until there was plenty of vulcanite over the airway on the top and bottom so that I could work in the new button and open the airway into a nice slot. The next series of pictures show the cut off stem. You can see that there is plenty of stem left for the work of shaping a new button.

The next four pictures show the stem from the end and then from the top and the bottom to give a good idea of what the stem looked like once I had removed the damaged material. I worked on the end of the stem to keep it a straight cut. I would eventually curve the ends of the new button but at this point I wanted to keep a straight edge to work with. You can see from the airway pictured in the first picture that there is plenty of vulcanite above and below the airway for the new button to be cut.

I used a rasp with a flat straight edge to do the initial cutting work on the button. I followed up with the flat needle file to clean up the work after the rasp did the initial work. The first two photos below show the freshly cut button. The first photo is of the underside of the stem. The button is cut to match an existing Bewlay stem that I have here. I also wanted it wide enough that I could taper it on the ends and the front edge after I had cut the slot. The second photo shows the topside of the stem after the initial cut of the new button. You can see from that photo that the left edge of the button has a slight indentation in it that will need to be worked on to make the button have a smooth and flowing shape.

The next series of four pictures show the stem after I have smoothed out the initial cut of the rasp with the needle file in the picture. The edge of the button is becoming distinct and clear. The first picture shows the underside of the stem and the clean flow of the button. The second picture shows the topside of the stem. Notice that the line is at a slight angle in the photo. That will be corrected once the left side of the button has been built up with some super glue. Pictures 3 and 4 show the shape of the button and how it is beginning to take the final shape – the oval or “football” shape that was on the old Bewlay pipes. At this point I had not begun to work on the airway to open it up and make a smooth slot into the stem.

I continued to work on the button and the surface of the stem to smooth out the transition and shape and to give some definition to the edge of the button. I used a variety of sandpapers and emery cloths to do the work. For emery cloth I used medium and fine grit and for sandpaper I used 240 and 280 grit. The next two photos show the look of the stem at this point. The line of the button on the top is now straightened out. The spot on the bottom edge of the button in the first photo is the cleaned up divot or dent in the button.

In the next two photos I wanted show the developing profile of the stem and button. The button is actually beginning to show quite clearly and is distinguishable from the surface of the stem.

Quite a bit more sanding needed to be done to clarify the edges and the cut of the button. In the next two photos you can see the new button very clearly. I also had used some clear super glue to build up the top of the button and fill in the divot. I sanded it smooth once it was dry. In the first picture below you can see that the divot is gone and a black spot is in its place. The second photo shows the ongoing development of the underside of the stem and button.

I then used my needle files to work on the slot and open up the airway from the button end. I used an oval needle file to begin to cut the ends of the slot open. The four pictures below show the development of the slot from the start to the finished shape that I was aiming for. It is a nice open draw and should deliver a good smoke. In the fourth picture you can also see that I have tapered the button back toward the slow so that it is a good smooth transition and is comfortable in the mouth. I used a folded strip of emery cloth and 240 grit sandpaper to sand the inside of the slot and smooth the internals.

At that point I decided to take a break from the stem and work on the bowl finish. I wiped down the bowl and rim with acetone to clean off the existing finish and give me a clear surface to work with. This one also has some interesting grain patterns under the old finish. It is a bit more mixed cross grain and birdseye with no real pattern to the grain like the other Olde 49. But it cleaned up nicely.

I sanded the stem some more with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12,000 grit to get rid of the file marks and sandpaper marks that were left behind. I wet the stem and sanded them through the various grits. The photos below show the rich blackness of the stem that has come back with all the sanding.

At this point I decided to restain the pipe. I did so with a Dark Brown aniline stain. I flamed it to set the stain and stained it a second time. I took pictures but the batteries on the camera gave out at this point and I was left with no photos of the stained pipe. It was dark like the other Bewlay pipe so I wiped it down with acetone on cotton pads to lighten the colour. The picture below gives a bit of a look at the pads and the dark stain that came off with the wash. The pipe is a little dark. This was the last of my batteries and the only picture that came out at this point in the process.

The next four pictures are of the finished pipe. The stain came out very nicely with the grain coming through very well. I buffed it with White Diamond once I had wiped it down with the acetone. The shine came up well on this one. I also buffed the stem with White Diamond and then gave the pipe several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a soft flannel buff.

The last picture is of the two Bewlay Olde 49 pipes together and ready to smoke. In person they are not quite as red as they come out in these photos. The rich older brown stain really matches these two well.

Reshaping a button and stem on a Bewlay Bulldog

I picked up this nice older Bewlay Bulldog in a group of pipes I got off of Ebay. It was part of a lot that included two other Bewlay’s and two Barlings as well as quite a few other older pipes. This one is a nice little Bulldog – 4 ¾ inches long. When it arrived the stem was really a bit of a mess. The previous owner seemed to have cut off a portion of the stem and cut a groove on the top of the stem and the bottom as well to form some sort of new button. You can see from the first two photos below what the stem looked like. There were channels on the top and bottom of the stem that were about a ¼ inch wide and went the width of the stem. The stem was a bit oxidized and the bowl was dirty and tars and carbon were built up on the rim.


The next two photos show the stem in profile and you can see the channels if you look closely at the button area of the stem. The button had no real profile or shape to it. The briar was very nice on this one so I really wanted to rework the stem and keep the original stem intact.


I used needle files to begin to reshape the stem and the button. There was a lot of material to remove to even out the slope of the stem to the button. I also needed to reshape the button to make it truly a button. The slot needed to be cut in the button as well as there was only the end of the airway and it was very close to the top of the button. The next series of four photos show the work of the needle file in reshaping the stem. The groove on the top of the stem is shown in the first photo and you can see that it was not too deep. The angle of the blade to the saddle however was very steep and the stem was thick. While the groove is gone there still was a lot of work to do in reshaping the angles of the stem. In the second photo you can see the work done on the underside of the stem. This groove was very deep and there was a lot of work to do to smooth the surface to remove the groove and reshape the angles on the blade of the stem. All the work done at this point was done with flat blade needle files to smooth the grooves, flatten the stem and shape the button. The third and fourth photos in the series show the stem in profile so that you can see the button begin to take shape and the grooves begin to be blended into the surface of the stem blade.


I decided at this point to use my Dremel with the sanding drum to thin the stem down and to work out the groove on the underside of the stem. The next series of five photos show the stem after the sanding with the Dremel. I was careful to not cut too deeply in the top of the stem as the airway seemed very close to the surface of the stem. I thinned the upper portion of the stem just before the saddle. I wanted the slope from the saddle to the button to be gentler and to make the bit thinner. The first two photos show the stem after sanding the top of the stem with the Dremel. The third photo shows the underside of the stem where I sanded to thin the stem and to remove the groove. At this point the groove is just a simple line that is cut in the stem. The groove is gone. The rest I decided to remove with sandpaper and hand sanding. The last two photos in the series show the stem in profile to give an idea of the slope from the saddle to the button and how the shape is beginning to develop. There was still much sanding to do.


From this point on I used sandpaper to shape the stem. The next series of four photos were taken after I sanded the stem with 240 grit sandpaper to remove the marks and scratches from the Dremel sanding drum. The shape is beginning to get close to what I am aiming for in terms of thickness and slope of the stem from saddle to the newly formed button. You will note that the top edge of the button is still pretty shallow – that is because the airway is pretty close to the surface at this point and I do not want to sand through it. The groove on the top and the line that was left in the above photos of the bottom of the stem are gone.


I then switched to a finer grit sanding pad. The pad is pictured in the photos below. It is pink foam with fine grit sandpaper attached. It allows me to follow the bends of the stem and to get in close to the button and smooth the scratches out even more. I also used it to sand the saddle to remove the oxidation on the flat parts. The next series of two photos show the new look to the stem and button. They are close ups of the stem in profile. I wanted you to see the slope of the stem and the shape of the button. The sanding foam worked great to be able to smooth out the lines and the edges of the stem so that the edge of the diamond saddle follow to the end of the button in a nice smooth slope. The last four photos show the stem once it has been wiped down with some Isopropyl alcohol after finishing with the sanding foam. There is still a bit of oxidation on the stem but the angles and flow of the stem look natural and the button is clearly visible.


I restained the bowl at this point just for a change of pace. The next series of photos show the bowl of the pipe after I had wiped it down with acetone. From that point I went on to restain it with some oxblood aniline stain.

This series of photos show the restained bowl and the remaining oxidation that needed to be dealt with on the stem.


In the next photos the pipe is finished. Before it got to this point I sanded the bowl and the stem with micromesh sanding pads from 1500-6000 grit to polish the bowl and rim and to finish polishing the stem. The 1500 grit micromesh worked well to remove the remaining oxidation on the saddle and the remaining scratches on the stem. From there each course of sanding with the different grits of micromesh added more and more shine to the stem. The biggest change in the polishing comes with the shift to 4000 and 6000 grit. I then took the pipe to the buffer and used White Diamond to finish the polishing of the entire pipe and then gave it several coats of carnauba wax to make it shine.


Rebuilding a chewed and dented stem with super glue

I just finished reworking this old stem from an Imperial Two Point Made in London Lovat. The stem was very unique in that it is a p-lip design though slotted in the airway. I have a second one that I am working on that has the same stem so I believe this is one of the hallmarks of the Two Point. That being the case I decided to restore the stem rather than cut a new one. You can see the state of the vulcanite from the three pictures below. The first picture is of the top of the stem. There were three major tooth dents in the surface of the stem, two chunks out of the edge of the button and a piece missing out of the edge of the lip of the slot. The second picture is of the underside of the stem. There you can see one major dent from teeth and also several smaller dents. There is also a dent in the edge of the lip of the pipe that has moved the straight line with a dip in it. The third picture shows the slot in the end of the stem, it is a bit out of focus but you can see the missing piece at the left side of the top edge.


I used my heat gun set on low to lift the dents as much as possible before working on the stem with sandpaper and superglue patches. I cleaned the surfaces of both the top and bottom of the stem after heating and then sanded them with 240 grit sandpaper to remove oxidation and anything that would prohibit the glue from sticking. In the first photo below you can see the two patches on the dents that remained after heating on the underside of the stem and the work that has been done straightening the line. I decided to work on the underside first as it needed a bit less repair. Once the glue was dry I turned the stem over and patched the top side. In the second photo below you can see the super glue patches on the surface of the stem, the two dents on the edge of the button to build up the edge. Once it was dry I planned on using needle files on both top and bottom to sharpen the edge of the button to a crisp restored look.


The next two photos show the top and bottom surfaces of the stem after sanding with 240 grit sandpaper to bring the glue patches flush with the surface and using the needle files to sharpen the edges of the patched button.


The next picture (I apologize for the blurriness but I think it still is clear enough to see the point I am making) shows the work that was needed to rebuild the lip of the button on the topside where the chip was. I carefully layered in black superglue making sure not to close off the airway. I used a greased pipe cleaner folded in half in the airway of the slot to provide a base to build on. Once the base was buildt I stood the stem on end and gradually layered in super glue to build up the top edge of the slot. The goal was to return it to a smooth rounded crown with a clean straight slot for the airway.


The next two pictures show the build up area on the end of the button. It is a shiny black spot in the photo at the bottom right edge of the button. Each one shows a bit more of the build up to give an idea of the process. I would have to recut the edge of the button on the top side when the build up was complete.


When I had the surface filled to satisfaction I recut the edge of the button with the needle files and also sanded the surface with 240 grit sandpaper and 400 and 600 grit wet dry and water to smooth out the fill. I then proceeded to use my normal list of micromesh pads from 1500-6000 grit to finish the stem. I put the stem back on the pipe and buffed it with White Diamond. I took it back to the work desk and gave it a coat of Obsidian Oil, wiped it off when dry and gave the stem a final coat of carnauba wax. The pictures below show the finished stem. The first one shows the topside and the rebuilt crown of the button. The glare and shadows on the picture do not allow you to see clearly the recut edge but it is straight and clean. The second picture shows the underside of the stem and the crisp straight edge of the button. The final picture is an end shot to show the slot and the curve and flow of the crown of the button.


Overall I am pleased with the repair and now have a renewed pipe.