Tag Archives: shaping a button

Jen’s Trove No. 4 – Reclaiming a Kaywoodie ‘Flame/Super Grain’ #11 Large Billiard

Blog by Dal Stanton

I think the reason this Kaywoodie stood out to Jen as she was rummaging through my baskets and boxes of ‘Help Me!’ pipes, was the ‘fancy stem’ and the strong, full look of the stummel.  The grain is impressive and it will clean up nicely.  Jen is leaving Bulgaria soon after working with us for a few years.  She’s taking a trove of pipes back to the US to give to the men in her family.  For her too, is the fact that each pipe she purchases will benefit our work with the Daughters of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked in Europe and sexually exploited.  This is the second Kaywoodie she has chosen.  The first was a beautiful Kaywoodie Author (See: LINK) that needed extensive rim repair.  The Kaywoodie now on the work table got my attention too, on the eBay auction block from a seller in North Carolina.  After Jenny rescued it from the basket, I take some pictures of the Kaywoodie she chose. Generally, the pipe is in pretty good shape other than normal time wear and tear issues, but the stem bit might need some work.  The rim and fire chamber are both in good shape, but in need of cleaning and the removal the light carbon cake to bring it to fresh briar for a new start.  In the picture immediately above shows two fills – one filled and one emptied.  The hole looks like a drill hole and I first suspected it was part of a cracked shank repair, but no cracks are evident.  Only these two fills on the stummel will need to be refilled and I’ll see if the other needs to be replaced.  The ‘Fancy Stem’ (I spent time trying to find a name for this type of stem and this is what I came up with via Steve’s assistance!) has serious tooth dents on the upper button lip and a significant dent and chatter on the lower bit.  I also detected that the classic Kaywoodie Synchro-Stem threaded tenon is underclocked a bit – which over time, I discovered, is a normal happening with metal threaded tenons (See from Reborn Pipes: About Stem/Bit Shapes).The nomenclature on the sides of the shank are in bad shape – almost warn off and beyond history’s grasp.  I had to take several looks at the stamping with a magnifying glass at different angles of light – lamp light and sunlight outside on my ‘Man Cave’ balcony on the 10th floor of our former Communist Blok apartment building.  What I can decipher with much effort, is a phantom “Kaywoodie” [over] “***in” offset to the far right of the Kaywoodie stamping above it (under the ‘-die’).  On the shank’s right side, I make a guess at ‘11’ which is a shape number.  These two pictures try to show what I can barely see!  I mark with yellow pen where the ‘K’ starts of Kaywoodie and I underline the ‘***in’ and the 11 in the second picture.With a passion to understand as much as I can about the provenance of the pipes I restore, I know that I’m on a steep learning curve with this only being my second Kaywoodie.  I’ve benefited much from Troy’s expertise, of Baccy Pipes, with Kaywoodie pipes and his help on this Kaywoodie.  I’ve picked up some of the markers that help establish a Kaywoodie’s identity.  The first thing to look at is, what is the “***in” refer to?  Identifying the Kaywoodie line, at least partially, can help place a pipe.  It did not take long as I search Pipedia for a listing of the names of the Kaywoodie lines (see LINK).  What I found is that throughout the years, Kaywoodie has put forward several lines with the word “Grain” making sense of my mystery “***in”:  Straight Grain, Super Grain, Flame Grain, Bird’s Eye Grain, Relief Grain, and Custom Grain – were the Kaywoodie lines that I cataloged from Pipedia.  My next step was to go to the Kaywoodie section of Pipe Phil’s inventory of examples and to see if I could find an example of what appears to be the same script style for the ‘Kaywoodie’ [over] ‘*** Grain’ in cursive, simply to visualize.  The only example I found of the same script for both ‘Kaywoodie’ and ‘Grain’ was this Flame Grain, Meerschaum from the 1947 catalogue that Kaywoodie produced.  A close look of the script follows in picture two.  I think this is a pretty good visual match of the nomenclature style.So, I think it’s safe to say that the Kaywoodie before me was a line suffixed by ‘Grain’.  I don’t know how rare or common the use of the cursive script was with Kaywoodie ‘Grain’ lines, but it could possibly help in identification if one knew.  Another concrete marker I identified was the shape number, ‘11’ which is identified as a ‘Large Billiard’ in the Pipedia Kaywoodie Shapes Guide.   This description seems to be right on with the Kaywoodie before me – a handful of wonderful Billiard briar!  The other marker that I was aware of was the iconic Kaywoodie stem shamrock or club.  From PipePhil.eu, I found this concise description that indicates that the black shamrock in the white dot started to emerge on pipes since 1937:

The cloverleaf logo: the round logo (black cloverleaf in white circle or white cloverleaf in black circle) was first used in 1937. Up until the late 40’s this logo was used on all of the upper grades pipes. The concomitant use of the plain white cloverleaf and the disk inlaid logo continued until the early 80’s.

Up until the late 1940’s/early 50’s, the logo was on top of the stem. After that the logo was moved to the side of the stem (exceptions exist).

The other solid marker that I investigated was the No. ‘11’ shape number.   In Pipedia’s Kaywoodie Shapes Number section, shape number 11 is described:

Shape # Description Years Produced
11 Large billiard 1935-1972

Troy later sent me another helpful link from Kaywoodie My Free Forum that allowed me to see all the Kaywoodie Billiard offerings with the comparison of 2 and 3-digit shape numbers.From the same Forum article, the center column reflects the 2-digit system employed from 1927 to 1972, when the system was changed to a 3-digit system when pipe production (for Kaywoodie, Yello-Bole and Medico) was moved to the Medico factory in Richmond Hill Queens NY as plans for new plant were in process.  The left-hand column above was the 3 digit numbers used during this period for all Kaywoodie and Medico pipes, from 1972 to 1980.  The same article indicated that the 2-digit numbers were only for Kaywoodies produced in the US – that Kaywoodie of London to Cadogan had their own three-digit system.

I took my search for a Kaywoodie ‘Something Grain’, shape #11 to the latest Kaywoodie Catalog that would have a representation of the #11 Billiard at Chris’ Pipe Pages that is consistent with the older Kaywoodie catalogues leading up to it (See: LINK).  See the 5th pipe down on the left:That is the Large Billiard stummel on my work table.  There is one thing that doesn’t line up. The Fancy Stem. I spend extensive time trying to find the No. 11 with a fancy stem flipping through all the Kaywoodie catalogs (referenced above) and found no specimen – not even on another shape.  During this exploration, I sent my forensic findings and some pictures to Troy whose experience with Kaywoodies is extensive.  I wanted to know what I might be missing.  After an enjoyable time of communicating back and forth – pipe restorers’ cyber fellowship, Troy’s experience with Kaywoodie pipes cut through my fog quickly.  Regarding the nomenclature of the Kaywoodie Jenny chose as part of her trove, I’ll let Troy’s observations conclude this Kaywoodie origins adventure!  Thanks Troy!

if the shank is straight then the only thing I can think of is someone took a pre-1972 #11 and re-stemmed it with a 1970’s type quarter bent stem.  If that is the case then it’s a 1955-1972 #11 Flame Grain with a different stem…. Or it could be a Super Grain (1955-1972) with a later Flame Grain type stem.

With a better understanding of this Kaywoodie in front of me, I start the restoration by reaming the fire chamber.  Since the cake is so thin, I use the Savinelli Pipe Knife to do the job.  After spreading out paper towel to catch the carbon, I employ the knife and it makes short work of the cake.  I follow by sanding the fire chamber with a coarse 120 grade paper, then a 240 grade paper – in both cases wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  I finish by wiping the bowl with cotton wetted with isopropyl 95% to remove the residue carbon dust.  The pictures show the initial clean up.

Next, using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap I address the grime on the stummel using cotton cloth pads.  After scrubbing, I rinse the soap off the stummel with cool tap water, not allowing water in the internals. While the stummel is still wet, I probe the fill on the left side of the shank to see if it had softened and might come out.  It was solid.  The pictures show the progress. I now turn to cleaning the stummel internals because I like working on clean pipes.  Using pipe cleaners and cotton swabs dipped in isopropyl 95%, I go to work.  The internal gunk is thick – I use a curved, spaded dental probe to scrape the sides of the mortise and I remove a lot of old tars and oil built up. After some time working like this, I decide to switch tactics and use a retort to clean the internals and make more efficient headway!  After setting up the system, putting a cotton ball in the bowl, and lighting a candle to heat the alcohol in the capped test tube, the alcohol heats and eventually boils.  When it boils, the expansion forces the hot fluid into the stummel.  Much of the alcohol is initially absorbed into cotton ball so I replenish the alcohol and continue the process.  The rhythm of boil, expansion and then removing from the flame and tipping the stummel so that the expanded alcohol runs back into the test tube, is repeated several times. I pour off the first cycle into a Lord of the Rings commemorative shot glass to compare.  I refill the test tube with alcohol, and continue several more cycles, pouring out the expended alcohol in another shot glass and refilling with fresh alcohol for a 3rd and final cycle.  There is a gradual lightening of the expended alcohol as I picture all three for comparison.  After finishing use of the retort, I finish up again using pipe cleaners and cotton swabs.  The pictures show the progress. Looking at the stummel surface, the old finish does not look uniform so I use cotton pads and wipe down the stummel with acetone to remove vestiges of the old finish.  The acetone worked very quickly.  I again look at the suspect fill on the left side of the shank, and this time I detect a gap on the edge of it. I use the sharp dental probe to remove the old fill. Looking now more closely at the rim, there is a dark ring around the external edge simply indicating wear.  I take a picture of the right side of the rim that shows more wear.  To freshen the rim lines, I decide to lightly top the KW Billiard.  Using a chopping board topped with 240 grit paper I evenly rotate the inverted stummel, checking to make sure I’m staying true. After making sufficient progress with the 240, I switch to 600 grade to smooth further the top surface.  The pictures show the topping progress. With the topping completed, I fine tune the rim freshening by beveling the internal edge of the rim.  I use 120 grit paper rolled tightly to cut the initial angle of the bevel.  I follow the 120 with a rolled piece of 240, then 600.  To me an internal bevel adds class to a stummel.  This #11 Large Billiard stummel looks good.  I also lightly sand around the edge external rim.  This softens the lines.  The pictures show this rim fine-tuning process.To address the small holes on the left side of the shank, using a toothpick, I drop fill the holes using HOT STUFF Special ‘T’ – thick CA glue.  I put a little CA glue on close to the end of the toothpick and allow gravity to run it to the tip to allow a surgical application of the glue.  After applying the thick CA glue, I spray it with an accelerator to cure it more rapidly.  In a few minutes, using a flat needle file then a rolled-up piece of 240 grit paper, I bring the CA patch mound down to the briar surface. I finish by using a rolled-up piece of 600 grit paper to smooth the patches more and blend.  The pictures show the process. To prepare the stummel for sanding, to preserve what is the precious little of this Kaywoodie’s nomenclature, I cut small pieces of masking tape to cover the remnants.  First using a medium grade sanding sponge, I sand the stummel gently removing very small nicks and pits to smooth the stummel.  I follow with a light weight sanding sponge.  Using strategically placed thumb and fingers the masking tape guards did the job.Now to the micromesh pad cycles to bring out the grain on this already attractive Kaywoodie Large Billiard.  Using pads 1500 to 2400 I wet sand the stummel, followed by dry sanding with 3200 to 4000 and then 6000 to 12000 – throughout, guarding the nomenclature.  I am impressed by the quality of the briar grain emerging in the Kaywoodie Large Billiard.  The pictures show what I’m seeing. Putting the stummel aside, it’s time to tackle the Fancy Stem.  Using pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95% I work on the internals.  I also employ the use of long wired brushes that more easily work up into the Kaywoodie 3-hole stinger/tenon system.  Following this, I use a brass bristle brush on the exterior of the stinger/tenon and finish with shining it with 0000 steel wool.With stem internals clean, I look again at the work needed on the upper and lower bit.  The upper button area has tooth chatter but more significant is the compression on the button lip that may need rebuilding.  Looking at the upper lip from the slot side, the lip has a dent that compresses toward the slot.  The lower bit has a significant tooth dent and chatter.  The lower button lip is in better shape.  I take some pictures to mark the problem areas. I decide to use the heating method first to see if this will minimize the damage.  By heating the vulcanite over a flame, the expansion of the rubber will seek out its original shape – at least in part.  I’ll give it a try, then move to sanding and filling.  With a candle lit, I pass the button area over the flame – back and forth several times.  The technique helps on the lower bit but not sufficiently.  The upper bit, button repair was not helped much.  So, using 240 grit paper, I work on the lower and upper bit. Using a flat needle file, I also try to remove dents from the upper button lip.  Pictures show the progress. The first pictures below show the sanding/filing progress on the upper lip.  I’m not satisfied with the results as I will need to remove more of the button than I want to remove the dents.  I wanted to see if I could repair the lip without rebuilding the lip, but this will not be possible.  I’ll need to mix activated charcoal powder with CA glue to rebuild the upper button lip and fill the dent on the lower bit.I open one capsule of activated charcoal and mix it with Hot Stuff Special ‘T’ CA glue. This CA glue is extra thick.  After cleaning the patch areas with a cotton ball and isopropyl 95%, I place a small puddle of ‘T’ CA glue on an index card, and use a toothpick as a mixer and trowel. After reaching a molasses-like viscosity with the mixture, I apply the mixture to the dent and the upper button lip.  I apply more mixture than necessary to enable later sanding down, shaping and blending the patches.  To shorten the curing time for the patches, I spray each with an accelerator.  The pictures show the progress. Back to filing and sanding.  Using a flat needle file, I file the patches down.  I follow by using 240 grit paper to fine tune bringing the lower bit dent patch down to surface level.  I blend the patch further using 600 grit paper. I do the same with the lower button lip.  After shaping the bit with the flat needle file, I use 240, 600 grit papers. The process with the button is a gradual filing, sanding and shaping until the button emerges and looks balanced.  Pictures show the progress. Above the slot, during the sanding, I notice a pinhole – what appears to be a small air pocket.  There are also very small air pockets on the upper button lip repair.  This is normal and I use a toothpick and drop-fill the hole with CA glue. I then paint a thin coat of CA glue over the button lip to fill the air holes.  I quickly spray the glue with an accelerator to shorten the curing.  I then finish the button sanding out the air pocket fills. I complete this phase of repair by using 0000 steel wool to the upper and lower bit.   The lower bit patch will blend more as I polish the stem.  The button looks good.  The pictures show progress. With the repair to the bit completed, I now turn to the Fancy Stem.  Even though there is no oxidation, I use 0000 steel wool to buff the entire stem to remove many small nicks and scratches on the surface.  I then begin the micromesh pad process by wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400.  I follow by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 then 6000 to 12000.   After each cycle, I apply Obsidian Oil to revitalize the vulcanite.  The Fancy Stem is looking good.  The pictures show the progress. I again take the stummel after completing the stem sanding.  During the stem work, I had in the back of my mind the consideration of the next step working with the Kaywoodie ‘Flame/Super Grain’ stummel.  The stummel’s natural briar color is dark and rich with grain flow – horizontal, bird’s eye and flame.  My idea is to add some pop to the grain by staining the stummel with a light brown dye.  This will not darken the stummel, but perhaps it will lighten the softer wood grains.  We’ll see!  I take a few pictures of the stummel to mark the progress.  Using a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%, I wipe the stummel down to assure it’s clean. I use a cork inserted into the bowl to use as a handle and I warm the stummel using the heat gun to warm and expand the grain helping it to be more receptive to the dye.  I then apply a generous amount of Fiebing’s Light Brown Leather Dye to the stummel using a folded pipe cleaner.  When covered thoroughly with dye, I ‘flame’ the stummel with a lit candle which immediately burns off the alcohol in the aniline based dye.  This sets the hue in the grain.  After a few minutes, I repeat the process again and then set the stummel aside to rest.  The pictures show the process. After several hours, the stummel is ready to ‘unwrap’.  Using the Dremel, mounting a felt buffing wheel, at the slowest speed, I apply Tripoli compound to the surface to remove the fired crust.  I take a picture to show the contrast from the crust, and the emerging grain.  After the Tripoli, I lightly wipe the stummel with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95% to blend the dye further.  After this, using a cotton cloth buffing wheel mounted on the Dremel, and notching up the speed to ‘2’ (fastest is 5), I apply the slightly less abrasive compound, Blue Diamond.  I love to see the rich tones of the briar grain emerge during this process.   Before I apply the carnauba wax to the stummel, I have a couple of corrections to apply.  The first is to correct the under-clocked stem.  Using a lit candle, I heat the metal tenon so that the vulcanite loosens its grip and I quickly screw the tenon in until it tightens and I apply pressure carefully to advance the stem.  I repeated the heating process a few times until I reached the desired stem position.  The pictures show the process. The second thing I wanted to do before applying the carnauba wax was to coat the fire chamber with pipe mud.  I have this tutorial bookmarked on Reborn Pipes here: LINK.  I noticed minor heat fissures in fire chamber earlier which is shown in the first picture below.  Applying a coat of pipe mud will simply coat the chamber, filling the fissures, and provide the foundation for a new cake to develop.  To create the pipe mud, I use a mixture of cigar ash (thanks to my colleague, Gary!) and water.  I make sure that the cigar ash is finely ground using the flat end of a pipe nail and I remove any solid debris.  I put ash in a shot glass and water in a small bottle and I add water using a large eye-dropper and mix with the pipe nail until I achieve a paste like viscosity.  I then use a pipe cleaner to paint the mud to the chamber wall and tamp it using the spoon end of the pipe nail tool.  I’ll wait about an hour for the mud to fully set up.  The pictures show the process. Now for the home stretch.  With stummel and stem reconnected, I apply several coats of carnauba wax to the Large Billiard stummel of this Kaywoodie Flame/Super Grain.  I use a cotton cloth buffing wheel mounted on the Dremel at the same speed (2) and methodically apply the carnauba using the sheen reflection on the surface to guide my application.  After applying carnauba, I change to a clean cotton cloth buffing wheel and go over the surface again to bring out the shine and more fully blend the wax.  Finally, I hand buff the pipe with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine more.

While we don’t know with 100% certainty whether this Kaywoodie #11 Large Billiard is a Flame Grain or a Super Grain, I believe the grain is a cut above the norm looking at its quality.  It has a beautiful flow of grains and is quite attractive.  The Large Billiard fills the hand well with an interesting, tapered Fancy Stem, that probably came later and is not original with the older #11 stummel.  I’m happy to provide this Kaywoodie to add to Jenny gift trove as she goes back to the US.  Jen’s purchase benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria, our work here in Bulgaria with women and girls sexually exploited and trafficked.  For more information about this work, take a look at The Pipe Steward.  Thanks for joining me!


Aged Imported Briar Poker with Red Dot

Blog by Dal Stanton

My wife and I were on Interstate 24 nearing Manchester, Tennessee, returning to the Atlanta area after the wedding of our daughter in Nashville.  The billboard beckoned and, of course, I responded by taking the next exit!  Madeline’s Antiques & Uniques had the look of a classic pipe picker’s paradise and I was not disappointed! I’m thankful for my wife’s patience and her eagle eye.  She helped ferret out hidden pipes in need of help and a new home.dal1 dal2 dal3In Palmetto, Georgia, I laid out the haul and recorded the picture above – including the six-pipe pipe stand!  The poker on the lower end is before me now on my work table back in Sofia, Bulgaria.  The left side of the shank has Aged over Imported Briar in a cursive script.  The other remarkable characteristics of this Poker are the red dot on the stem and the screw in tenon with a metal mortise receiver.  Always hopeful of identifying a pipe’s heritage I landed on a thread written in 2013 in Pipesmagazine.com (Link) of someone seeking information about a pipe with the exact nomenclature, dot and screw in stem, just a different shape, an Author shape instead of the Poker before me.  While pedigree is still inconclusive, one helpful comment in the thread summed up well the possibilities:

The “Aged Imported Briar” stamp suggests this is made in the U.S. The screw-in stem is typical of
Kaywoodie and perhaps Jobey which was made for a few years in the U.S. However the design and
shape of this pipe is not Jobey-like. I don’t know Reiss-Premier, but if it is a U.S. outfit, that could
be it. If I understand correctly, the “imported briar” stamp was typical of U.S. pipes at a certain period
when other woods were being used for pipe bowls and there was some misgiving about some of the
woods used. This was a reassurance that the pipe was good quality and safe.

The best guess is the US company, Reiss-Premier, as the source of this Poker because of the dot (See Pipephil.eu) identification.  Reiss-Premier had a factory in Chicago from 1930-1959 and was responsible for the term “Drinkless” which was well known with many Kaywoodie pipes (See Pipedia) which Reiss-Premier also produced.  If the clue about the authenticity verification of briar stated above is accurate, this Poker possibly dates back to WW II days (40s and 50s) when briar supply from Europe was scarce.  Notwithstanding, there is little doubt that this Aged Imported Briar Poker has seen better days and those days are many days ago.  On my work table I take some additional pictures to get a better idea of the challenges with this pipe.dal4 dal5 dal6 dal7 dal9 dal10 dal11The poker is an iconic shape – the name comes from the flat bottomed cylindrical shape of the stummel.  While men dealt hands of poker they could put their pipes on the table without fear of dumping ash on the winnings.  This Poker has heavy cake in the bowl and the rim is in rough shape – I’ll need to remove some valuable briar real estate to reestablish a flat top look, hopefully the Poker won’t turn into a Poker Pot shape in the process!  The stummel heel has some dents and scratches from doing what it was intended to do – sit.  The briar is all but concealed by the old clouded finish – but there is nice looking briar underneath!  I detect a small root branch knot in the grain pattern that will add to the ‘old school’ quaintness of the Poker.  There are signs of wear on the stummel, but I’ll not remove them all – signs of the paths and stewards this Poker has served along the way!  The stem has oxidation and the upper button lip looks like a 9 iron took a divot out of it.  The button will need rebuilding.

The first order of business is to clean the stummel starting with reaming the bowl and washing down the exterior with Murphy Soap to get a better perspective on the stummel condition.  I also plop the stem into an Oxi-Clean bath to start working on the oxidation.  I’m not sure what effects the bath will have on the red dot so I cover it with Vaseline before the plunge.  I take the Pipnet reaming kit and use 2 smaller of the 4 blades available.  I follow the reaming blades with the Savinelli pipe knife to fine-tune the ream and finish with wrapping 240 grit paper around a dowel rod and sand the chamber.  Using cotton pads and Murphy Oil Soap I scrub the exterior of the stummel and use a brass wire brush to work on the rim which loosens nicely the lava flow without scratching the wood.   The pictures show the progress. dal12 dal13 dal14 dal15I take another close-up of the rim damage from a lateral perspective to illustrate how much briar I will need to take off through topping to achieve a level lid to this Poker.  A bunch!  I take a chopping board covering it with 240 grit paper and carefully rotate the inverted stummel not leaning into the sloping angle of the damaged area.  I don’t want a slanted top!  I check the progress often and ‘free-stand’ the inverted stummel with the help of a right angle I try to keep things perpendicular.  The pictures show the progression of the topping. dal16 dal17 dal18 dal19 dal20When I arrive at a point where almost all damage is eradicated, I stop the topping with 240 grit paper and with 120 grit paper rolled up I shape a bevel on the inside and outside of the rim removing the remainder of rim damage.  After the 120 grit cuts the initial bevel I follow with 240 and 600 grit paper on the inside and outside of the rim.  Finally, I lightly top the stummel again but now with 600 grit paper over the chopping block.  I do this not only to smooth the rim surface, but it also serves to sharpen the circular bevel line around the circumference of the rim – inner and outer.  It gives the rim a very classy, finished look to me.  The pictures show the progress.dal21 dal22 dal23Since the heel of the stummel has scratches and edge damage as well, I repeat the process described above for the heel as well except for using only 600 grit paper to ‘top’ the bottom – not 240.  I only needed to clean and smooth the surface layer not remove real estate.  The bottom bevel utilized 120 then 240 then finally 600 grit sanding papers.  In the last picture of the set below, there remains a small damage spot that I fill with a superglue patch which I will smooth and blend later.  This Poker will be ready for any high-class card table!  The pictures tell the story!dal24 dal25 dal26 dal27 dal28With rim and heel repairs completed, I fish the stem out of the Oxi-Clean bath and it did the job of raising the oxidation out of the vulcanite.  I’ve started inserting a pipe cleaner into the stem before dropping it in the bath making it much easier to fish it out (picture 1 below).  I wet sand the stem with 600 grit sanding paper to take off the mother-load layer of oxidation raised on the stem, then I follow with 0000 steel wool.  After inspecting the stem, I see more oxidation around the button and shank areas – I use 240 grit paper on those more stubborn areas, then again 600, then 0000 steel wool.  In anticipation of doing the button rebuild, I want a clean stem so using pipe cleaners (bristled and non) dipped in isopropyl 95% I clean the stem internals.  It did not take much effort and now to the button repair.  The pictures show the progress.dal29 dal30 dal31I take a close-up of the upper button area to get another look.  It is apparent that the former steward of this Poker had a favorite hold to keep his (or her J) pipe in place while the cards were dealt and considered.  The dent on the button resembles compression damage more than biting or scissor action.  You can see just to the left of the button (up the stem) a bite mark.  My forensic opinion is that the bite is the eye tooth and the compression represents the work of the molar behind – the pipe being clamped on the side to keep the hands free for gathering new cards and tossing those less desirable aside.  I would guess the steward of this Poker was right handed, too – the compression being on the right side leaving most the stem toward the center of the mouth for puffing.  Nope, can’t tell how tall he was!  Yes, I do believe now it was a ‘he’ because a ‘she’ probably wouldn’t mouth-clamp the pipe but put in down on the table and then deal another round J.  Fun and forensics aside, I need to rebuild the upper button area.  First, I attempt to raise the ‘eye tooth’ bite with heat – I ‘paint’ the area with a candle flame.  It seems to have done the trick.  Then, taking 240 grit paper I rough up the button area and then clean the button area with a Q-tip dipped in alcohol.  I mix a batch of charcoal powder and ‘Extra Time Control’ super glue into a toothpaste thick consistency.  I put a mound of charcoal on an index card (so it can be tossed when done) and place a small puddle of super glue next to it and begin to mix – adding more charcoal a bit at a time until I reach the consistency needed to stay in place on the button.  I use a toothpick as a trowel and gradually build and mound over the button that later will be sanded and shaped with a needle file.dal32 dal33 dal34 dal35 dal36 dal37Setting the stem aside to allow the charcoal super glue putty to cure overnight, I turn back to the stummel.  I take medium and light weight sanding sponges and sand the surface, careful to avoid the Aged Imported Briar nomenclature on the shank.  The briar is beginning to emerge and the metal band/mortise is shining up nicely.  I realize that I was anxious to start on the external briar and forgot about the internal muck.  Taking pipe cleaners and Q-tips I clean the internals dipping them in isopropyl 95%.  Time to turn out the lights.dal38 dal39The next day has arrived and I’m anxious to work on the button rebuild that has cured overnight.  I take a picture to mark progress and using a flat needle file I file down the cured charcoal superglue gradually – patience.  The following pictures journal the shaping of the restored upper button that had the most compression damage.  I use the flat needle file to do the button shaping and then follow with 240 grit paper to fine tune and to remove the file marks from the vulcanite.  I’m pleased with the progress.dal40 dal41 dal42 dal43The lower button presented more challenges.  Pictured below I could detect two pockets in the charcoal superglue putty.  To avoid filing off too much of the new button build I elect to apply black superglue and charcoal mix to fill the pockets.  I’ll let these fills cure before sanding and finishing the button repair and then moving on to the stem restoration.dal44 dal45Putting the stem aside, I begin to micromesh the stummel in anticipation of applying a light brown stain.  I begin by wet sanding with micromesh pads 1500 to 2400.  I follow this with dry sanding using 3200 to 4000 then 6000 to 12000 – careful to avoid the Poker’s stampings on the side of the shank.  I enjoy watching the briar grain emerge.  The nickel (I think) band/mortise is shining up very well.  The pictures show the progress. dal46 dal47 dal48Oh my…here I go again.  I intended to apply Fiebing’s Light Brown Leather Dye to the Poker – I just brought it back to Bulgaria from the US and I wanted to give it a try.  The grain of this Poker bowl is very active with a mixture of dark and lighter grains.  I mentioned earlier a knot as well…. I’ll be thinking about this….  I thought and I will apply the light brown Leather Dye as originally planned.  I will see how it looks and I can use a cotton pad with alcohol to lighten the stain as needed.  This is one of the advantages of aniline stains and dyes – these I could not easily find here in Bulgaria.  I’m not sure if the staining will impact the metal band, but I decide to wrap it in masking tape just in case.  I wipe the stummel with a cotton pad and alcohol just to make sure the surface is clear of saw dust from sanding.  I use my air gun to warm the stummel before application of the dye.  I apply the dye with a folded pipe cleaner which I saw Steve do – it is much easier to use compared to a dauber that usually carries more dye than is needed and is messier.  At least this is my experience.  After applying the dye liberally over the entire bowl, I flame it by lighting it with a candle.  The alcohol base in the dye burns off very quickly and does not hurt the wood.  Then, I repeat the application again and flame it.  By doing this I assure that the entire surface has been covered.  I’ll wait until morning to unwrap the ‘package’ and look at the grain.  The picture shows the aftermath.dal49With the stain settling, the stem is ready for the home stretch.  The button super glue patch is cured, so I take 240 grip paper and finish smoothing and shaping the button.  I follow the 240 with 600 grit paper then 0000 steel wool over the entire surface of the stem.  Beginning with micromesh pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand the stem and follow with an application of Obsidian Oil to the vulcanite.  Then with micromesh pads 3200 to 4000 then 6000 to 12000 I dry sand the stem following each set of 3 pads with an application of Obsidian Oil.  I like the polished vulcanite pop and the red dot stands out nicely.  The pictures show the progress.dal50 dal51 dal52 dal53 dal54Now to unwrap the stummel!  After staining the stummel with Light Brown Leather Dye I take a cotton pad with alcohol on it and wipe down the surface.  This smooths the stain and lightens it slightly.dal55 dal56Reattaching the stem and stummel, with the Dremel felt wheel set at the slowest speed (RPMs) I use Tripoli compound to begin fine tune polishing the surface.  I follow Tripoli with applying Blue Diamond with felt wheel, rotating it methodically over the surface, allowing the high speed of the wheel and the compounds to do the work.  Following the compounds, I wipe/buff the stummel with a cotton cloth to remove the powder residue from the compounds.  Switching to a cotton wheel, and increasing the speed of the Dremel by one number, I apply several coats of carnauba wax to both stummel and stem and finish the restoration of the Aged Imported Briar Poker with a brisk buff with a micromesh cloth.  This old Poker is looking great.  I’m pleased with the button work and the briar makes me smile – it is very active and I enjoy the root knots here and there.  This Poker will again make the card table a more enjoyable experience for some new steward who gives him a home.  Thank you for joining me!dal57 dal58 dal59 dal60 dal61 dal62 dal63 dal64 dal65


An Interesting Churchill’s Volcano Brought to Life

Blog by Steve Laug

The next out of the box of pipes from my brother is the one below. It is stamped Churchill’s on the smooth underside of the shank. The shape number 882 is along the shank stem junction on the underside. I have refurbished several Churchill’s pipes from their pipe shop in Norwich. I wrote a bit about that shop when I did a refurbish on a Churchill’s Bent Pot. The link to that article is as follows: https://rebornpipes.com/2013/09/08/churchills-bent-pot/. This pipe had a rustication that is very similar to those I have seen on Lorenzo pipes. The stem on this pipe is stamped Italy on the underside. The finish was tired and dirty but the rustication was in good shape. The rim was solid with no damage to the inner or outer edge but it was thick with tars. The bowl was reamed while I was visiting in Idaho. The stem was in good shape at first glance. It was oxidized but there were no tooth marks. As I examined it I found that the stem had been cut off and a new button was cut into the surface. The slot was also reshaped. The button itself was very thin as the stem was also thin at this point.Church1 Church2I took a close up photo of the rim and the stamping on the underside of the bowl. The rim is dirty but the rustication is in good shape with no burn marks or damage. The stamping is also very clear.Church3I scrubbed the rim with a brass bristle wire brush to remove the tars and oils that had built up there. Once it was loosened I scrubbed it with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to clean off the grime in the finish. I rinsed the bowl with warm running water to remove the grime and soap.Church4 Church5The next photos show the cleaned finish on the pipe.Church6 Church7I used the dental spatula to scrape out the inside of the shank and break the tars and oil build-up away from the walls of the shank and mortise. I cleaned out the mortise and airway in the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol.Church8 Church9I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the oxidation. I built up the button with black super glue to add thickness and enable a grip on the button.Church10 Church11I used a file to shape the button and recut the sharp edge against the stem surface. I sanded it with 180 grit sandpaper to smooth out the areas in front of the button on the top and the bottom sides.Church12 Church13I continued to shape the stem surface and the button with 220 grit sandpaper and also used the needle files to open up the slot in the button and reshape that.Church14I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to clean off the oxidation. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded the stem with 3200-4000 grit sanding pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding the stem with 6000-12000 grit pads and gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I let the stem dry.Church15 Church16 Church17I stained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain and flamed it. I repeated the process until the coverage was good. I hand buffed the bowl with a shoe brush. I gave it a light coat of olive oil and hand buffed it again. I rubbed the surface down with some Conservator’s Wax and then hand buffed it with the shoe brush for a final shine.Church19 Church20I buffed the pipe lightly with Blue Diamond polish on the wheel and then gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad and then hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The rustication has depth and textures both visually and tactilely. It feels great in the hand. The shape of the bowl and the faux military stem give the pipe a classic look with a flair that is almost Danish looking. I like the finished look of this one. Thanks for looking.Church21 Church22 Church23 Church24 Church25 Church26

What are the options for repairing a damaged stem?

Blog by Steve Laug

Over the years that I have been working on pipe restoration I have found that when working on badly damaged stems I have 4 basic choices on how to deal with the damage. They are stated in the form of a simple list below but each one will have to be detailed out to understand the implications of the choice.
1. Cut it off
2. Build it up
3. Splice it
4. Replace it

Choice #1 – Cut it off

This sounds pretty brutal but it really is a pretty easy repair to work on the chewed stem. I generally see how far back I have to go to get enough stem material on the top and bottom of the stem to shape a new button. Once I have a pretty clear idea of that I put a piece of cellophane tape on the stem to get an idea of how it will look with that bit of stem removed. Sometimes the new stem length just does not work. If it is too short it is awkward. If not then it can be reworked and still look acceptable. I have even cut back badly broken billiard stems and crafted a Lovat shaped pipe that looked really good. The decision is yours and cannot be reversed without making a new stem for the pipe.

The process is quite simple. Once I have marked the part of the stem I plan to remove I use a Dremel with a sanding drum to remove the damaged portion. It works quite quickly. The only caution is to keep the line straight as you are removing the broken part of the stem. This line is not only the horizontal one across the surface of the stem but also the vertical one looking at the pipe from the end. Others use a coping saw or hacksaw to remove the broken area. I prefer a Dremel. With the end removed the stem is ready for reshaping. I use needle files to cut a new button on the stem. I do that by filing a straight line across the top and bottom of the stem making sure that they align.Broken1


Broken3 Once the new button line is in place I use a flat needle file to file back the slope of the stem to the button line. I am careful not to go to deep but judge depth by the amount of material above the opening in the stem end. Once I have the slope set and the button more defined I use the flat needle file to clean up and define the edge of the button. I want a good sharp edge on the inside of the button to catch behind the teeth. I use 220 grit sandpaper to clean up the slope and smooth out the file marks.Broken4

Broken5 When I get the stem shaped the way I want it I then move on to the shaping of the button. I like a button that is shaped like an oval that tapers outward to the edges on both sides. I sand and file and file and sand to shape it. When I have the shape correct I also slope the button backward toward the airway on the stem end. I generally am working the button to look as much as possible like the one that was originally on the stem. I use pictures of the stem from the internet or from the camera that I took to get the look just right.Broken6 After the button is shaped I work on the airway in the end of the button. I want it to be a slot. I use the needle files to open the airway. I flair it from the opening like a Y. The idea is to create an opening that is funnel shaped. I start with a flat file and work toward a round and an oval needle file I shape the ends of the slot to match the shape of the button as much as possible. When I finally have the slot open I fold a piece of sandpaper and work on the inside of the slot to smooth out the file marks.Broken7


Broken9 I finish by sanding the stem with micromesh sanding pads and polishing it to give it a shine. Here are some photos of the finished stem.Broken10

Choice #2 – Build it up

I have used this method quite a bit with variations. I have used it repair bite marks and bite throughs on stem. The basic procedure is to clean up the affected area on the stem with alcohol and sandpaper to prepare it for the buildup. I leave the area slightly roughened to give the repair something to grab on to. Once all loose debris, sanding dust and oxidation is removed you are ready to begin the patch. The stem I am using to illustrate the process had holes on both sides of the stem and both were large. Alongside both sides there were also many tooth dents that needed to be addressed as well. In this case those dents would provide a strong base for what would be a large patch.Broken12

Broken13 I grease a piece of folded paper or a nail file with Vaseline and insert it into the slot on the stem. I want to have a slick base for the glue to sit against but not fasten to. I also do not want to close off the airway and this method has worked well for me for many years.Broken14

Broken15 With the folded paper inserted it is time to begin to build up the repair. I use medium viscosity black super glue that I get from Stewart MacDonald online. I build up the edges of the repair first. Some folks will use an accelerator at this point to speed up the process. I have also done so but find that the glue is more brittle and I have had patches fail after using it. So I have learned to “patiently” wait for the glue to harden. Others mix in fine charcoal powder or grit with the superglue and feel that it gives a stronger patch. I have done that as well but did not choose to use that on this stem repair.Broken16

Broken17 As the first layer of glue dried I continued to build the patch inward to the middle and thicken it as well. The process took several days and included at least four layers of glue.Broken18

Broken19 Once the last layer of the patch was finished I set the pipe aside to cure for several days. When it was dry I sanded it with 180 grit sandpaper and then 220 grit sandpaper to level out the patch and the surrounding stem.Broken20

Broken21 I used needle files to sharpen and define the edge of the button. I sanded it with a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge. The patches show up still in the surface of the stem as a slightly different colour but once the stem is sanded with micromesh they begin to disappear.Broken22



Broken25 The finished stem looks like new.Broken26

Choice #3 – Splice it

On the blog, Jacek Rochacki has written of splicing a repair and reshaping the stem. I am inserting his procedure at this point to explain the choice he uses.
Instead of cutting/removing the damaged part and carving the lip/button of what is left, I would proceed in different way. Keeping in mind my wish of keeping original dimension, proportions, form, I would try to reconstruct damaged stem/mouthpiece as following:

By using sharp cutting tools – engravers/burins, scrapers or in case of better equipped “workshop corner” – cutters, like those used by jewelers for stone settings, or even a sharp pocket knife, a frame saw and needle files I would work on the damaged area making it a proper shape a piece of the same material carved that I will later shape/carve to fit what is missing. The words “making it of proper shape”, may be a subject for another longer text. But as sort of inspiration may be the different ways dentists use to “elaborate” holes in teeth so that the filling will be kept securely in place. In a stem the situation is easier as we have good binding glues and are binding together the same kind of materials – vulcanite/ebonite to vulcanite/ebonite.

When the newly carved material is fixed into the missing area with glue, I work with files and drill bits to achieve desired missing shape. Then I proceed with finishing techniques. Let us look at the pictures:Broken28


Broken30 Others have actually cut off the broken portion of the stem after matching it to a similar style and shaped stem. The also cut off the replacement stem so that the undamaged areas match perfectly. A small stainless steel tube can be used to join the two pieces of stem together and black superglue can be used to hold it together and to fill in the joint of the two stems. Once the glue has cured then the repair can be sanded and blended together so that it does not show at all.

Choice #4 – Replace it

The fourth option is to fit a replacement stem on the pipe or make one from vulcanite or Lucite rod stock. I do not have a lathe so I usually use precast stems and do a lot of shaping and fitting and improvements on the blank. The photos below show a new stem that I fit to a Lovat pipe for a friend. I used an old saddle stem that I had here so I did not need to use a precast one. This one just needed adjustment and fiddling to make it work well.
The original stem had a large bite out of the end of it the underside next to the button.Broken31 I choose a stem that is similar in shape and style that was the same length. It had a slightly larger saddle portion on the stem but I liked the look of it and figured it would work. I turned the tenon down slightly to make for a snug fit in the mortise.Broken32 In this case I sanded the stem down to remove the oxidation from the surface and also to remove the slight tooth marks and tooth chatter that was there.Broken33

Broken34 After sanding with the 220 grit sandpaper I used a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge to clean up the stem further and remove scratches.Broken35

Broken36 I sand the finished stem with micromesh sanding pads to polish it.Broken37 After sanding with the 12000 grit pads I buffed it with Blue Diamond Plastic Polish and then with carnauba wax and a soft flannel buffing pad. The finished stem is shown below.Broken38


Restoring a Comoy’s Tradition Shape 225 Bent Dublin

Blog by Steve Laug

The second Comoy’s I picked up on the recent hunt was a beautifully shaped 225 Tradition. It is a shape that I love for its graceful flow and bend. The stamping on it was weak but visible under a lens. The left side of the shank was stamped Comoy’s over Tradition and the right side was stamped 225. I looked up the shape on Chris Keene’s Pipe Pages and found this page on a 1960’s catalogue http://pipepages.com/64com19s.htm . It is the 225 shape at the bottom of the page.

When I picked it up the pipe the stain on the briar was slightly faded. The stamping was weak. On the side where Comoy’s Tradition was stamped it is very faint, though still visible with light. On the side of the shank where the shape number was stamped the 2 and the 5 are clear and the middle 2 is very light. The bowl was caked and the rim was caked with tars and carbon build up. The inner bevel was clean and undamaged though dirty with tars and the outer edge was also very clean. The exterior of the pipe had no dents of dings. The stem was a replacement and was missing the usual step down tenon that I have come to expect and the existing tenon was shorter than normal. The stem itself was oxidized and had a large bite through on the underside. Of the six pipes (GBD and Comoy’s) that I picked up all but the little bulldog have the same issue.




The photo below shows a closer look at the bite through on the underside of the stem. It’s size, the length of the stem and the fact that it was an obvious replacement stem made my decision of whether to try to repair the hole or to cut the stem back quite easy to make.

I used a Dremel and sanding drum to cut the stem back to solid vulcanite and remove the damaged spot and the button. This would necessitate recutting and shaping a new button on the stem as well as reshaping the slot in the button.


After cutting it off I took it back to the worktable to prepare it for the new button. I wiped the stem down to remove the dust from cutting and to clean the surface so that I could get a good clean line on the button.


I used files, a wood rasp and various needle files to cut an edge for the new button on both the top and the bottom sides of the stem. I also used the files to cut back the stem on the slope before the new button on both sides of the stem. The stem needed to be thinned down from the button forward to the shank for more comfort in the mouth and to keep the graceful lines of the shape intact. I used the needle files to carve back the stem thickness and smooth out the lines so that the button did not look choked and pinched at the line. Once I had a clean slope on the stem previous to the button I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to further highlight the angles of the button.



I sanded the end of the new button to give it a slope toward the slot and to remove the sharp edge look of the new cut. I opened up the button to give it a funnelled shape to the airway and also made it oval. The side profile photos give a clear look at the stem and the angle of the stem previous to the new button.





I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer to get rid of the cake and to clear away the debris from the inner edge of the bowl. I cleaned the rim with saliva on a cotton pad and scrubbed until I had removed the tars and buildup from both the top and the inner bevel of the rim.

I sanded the stem to further define the button and shape it using 220 grit sandpaper and a medium grit sanding sponge. When I was happy with the overall shape of the stem, I sanded its entirety to remove the oxidation. I finished sanding it with my usual regimen of micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12,000 grit pads.






When I had finished sanding with the final grits of pads I put the stem in the shank and buffed it with red Tripoli to remove some of the scratches that still remained on the underside of the stem near the button and then buffed the whole stem with White Diamond. I lightly buffed the pipe as well before taking it back to the worktable to give it a top coat of red mahogany Minwax stain. I rubbed the stain on the bowl to bring back some of the reddish colour that I have found in my other Tradition pipes and used them to match the colour on this pipe.




I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil to preserve the vulcanite. And when the stain was dry I gave it a light buff with White Diamond. I finished by giving the entire pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax to preserve and give it a shine. The finished pipe is picture below. It is cleaned and ready to continue a life of service.




Opening the Slot in the Button with Needle Files – A Photo Essay

Blog by Steve Laug

This afternoon I was thinking it would be helpful to write up a tutorial on how I use needle files to open the slot on a pipe stem. In this photo essay I describe in a step by step breakdown the process I use to open the slot. I will describe it and illustrate it with pictures of the stem at each step and the files that I use to do the work. In the past I have just done the work but never documented it so this will be interesting for me as well as you.

The stem I have chosen to open the slot on is a Peterson 69 that has a replacement bit that was fit by Howard Schultie of Schulties Pipe Repair. Howard did an amazing job of fitting the stem with a great tight fit in the end cap of the older Peterson that I sent him. I topped the bowl and restained it when it arrived yesterday. I only had one issue with the stem when I examined it and that was that it came with a fairly small slot that made fitting a pipe cleaner a chore and the draught a bit tight as well. I removed the stem and blew air through the bowl and the airway was nice and open. I slid a round needle file into the stem from the tenon end up to the bend and it too appeared to be open. From that point on the airway narrowed as it moved toward the slot. The slot was narrow and the v shaped funnel at the slot was shallow. I like a more open slot and deeper v in the button and end of the stem so I went to work on it with the files.

Picture of stem before opening the slot Image

The files that I use – (left to right) flat rectangle, rounded blade with point, flat blade, wedge blade, oval blade, round blade

I do the filing with my right hand while holding the stem in my left hand. I probably could use a bench vise to hold the stem but I do not have one set up on my temporary worktable. I start the filing with the flat rectangular bladed file or a flat pointed file depending on which fits in the slot. In this case the flat rectangular blade was too thick so I used the pointed flat blade to begin. I filed the top and bottom edge of the slot to open it up wider. My preference for the slot is that is an elongated oval shape so I started by opening these top and bottom edges first. I also slanted the edges of the slot inward toward the airway. I have found that doing so allows me to use the thicker round and oval files to shape the ends of the slot.

The next series of four pictures show how the stem progressed as I used the pointed needle file to open the top and bottom of the slot and the slope of the edges inward. Each photo shows more progress until the fourth picture which shows how the slot looked when I was finished with the flat pointed blade.




Once I had opened the top and bottom of the slot I could use the wedge file to deepen the v funnel in the airway. This takes a bit of work to keep the angles even on both side of the airway. The wedge file keeps the slot rectangular and really focuses the cutting of the file on the sides of airway and slot. Once I have the angles filed and the v deepened I change to the oval file and keep working both sides of the slot until I get the slot to the correct depth. The oval file also rounds the edges of the v on the inside of the slot and also rounds the corners of the outer edges of the slot. The next series of three photos show the progress of the rounding of the edges and the deepening of the v funnel. The last of the three shows the state of the slot when I had finished this step in the process.



When the v funnel is completed I used the round file to round the edges of the slot on both ends. I also used it to widen the slot in the process so that it extends the equally to both sides of the button and the top and bottom. It is getting closer to the goal of the oval smooth slot.

At this point in the process I use the folded piece of sandpaper in the photo above to work on the inside of the slot to smooth out the roughness left by the filing. I used 240 grit sandpaper to work on the inside until it was smooth and then shifted to 400 and 600 wet dry to finish the sanding. The final picture below in this series of four photos shows the state of the slot after sanding.




After finishing the basic shaping of the slot I decided to line up the files that I used to get the stem to this point. The next series of four photos show the files and the current appearance of the reshaped and opened slot. ImageImageImageImage

After taking these photos I did quite a bit more sanding on the internals of the slot. I used the folded sandpaper pictured above to open it up and smooth it out. The first photo shows the finished shape of the slot. From there I used fluffy pipe cleaners to clean out the sanding dust and vulcanite bits that were left in the stem and slot from the sanding. The second photo shows the finished slot after I had sanded it with the 240 grit, 400 and 600 grit sandpaper and water to get it smooth. ImageImage

The final photo below shows the finished slot. It is no longer the slight slot but is now a wide open and oval shaped slot. It easily takes a fluffy pipe cleaner with little effort. The draught is now very open. The internals are shaped in a wide open v shaped funnel that comes to a point ½ inch into the slot. Each side of the v is gradually sloped to the airway at the bottom. The whole process did not take too long. From start to finish I spent 45 minutes. I like the finished appearance of the slot far better than the original one. The feel in the mouth and the draw is comfortable. Image

The Everyman Pipe from the 1920’s Era

Blog by Steve Laug

This featherweight cutty shaped pipe came from the 1920’s or earlier. I bought it in a lot of that era pipes on EBay and it arrived as pictured below. It is stamped The Everyman Pipe on the left side of the shank and Made in England in a Circle and shape number 195 on the right. When this arrived in the package of the other old timers it was pretty grimy. The bowl needed serious cleaning and the rim was dented and had rough spots. It needed to be topped as steaming it would not raise the broken spots that came from tapping it out. When the surface of the wood is actually broken and not just dented steaming will not raise the grain significantly and the only repair I know is to sand it off and make it smooth and crisp again. The challenge then is to match the stain so the bowl and rim blend.

I reamed and cleaned the bowl and the airway in the shank. The pipe cleaners came out very dark and tarry at the beginning. I decided to use a drill bit the same size as the airway to clean out the gunk before going back to the pipe cleaners. I use a T handle to turn the bit into the shank by hand to remove the tars and open the airway again. I finished cleaning the shank with fluffy pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol until they came out clean. I wiped down the bowl with acetone to remove the old wax and the grime from the bowl and then used my topping method – a hard, flat board and an anchored piece of 240 grit sandpaper – and topped the rim. (I have since learned from someone that a good way of doing it is to anchor the sandpaper on a Masonite clipboard and sand the rim that way. It works great.)


The stem needed the most work as it was a round tube of vulcanite. I wonder if it was not made to be like a clay tavern pipe. The previous owner had notched the top of the stem to make it easier to hold with his teeth and keep it from rolling. The notch was a fairly deep V cut that was only on the top of the stem. I used needle files to cut a new button on it and then my Dremel with a sanding drum to taper the stem back to the button. The original had a slight bend in the stem so I left that. The button I shaped for the stem is rounded and crowned to fit the orific airhole like those found on pipes of a similar age. After cutting the button and shaping it, the stem needed a lot of sanding to remove the scratches and oxidation. I used 240 grit sandpaper on the entirety to clean up the deeper scratches and remove the oxidation. I then progressed through the wet dry sandpapers and the micromesh pads until I had a good smooth finish on the stem and a good clean button.


I set the stem aside and restained the rim and bowl to match what appeared to be the original colour of the pipe. I used an oxblood undercoat and a dark brown top coat to get the richness of the original finish. I coated the stem with Obsidian Oil and then inserted it in the shank. Once it was dry I took the pipe to the buffer and used the White Diamond to give it a final buff before giving it several coats of carnauba wax.

The pictures below show the finished pipe with its newly shaped and polished stem: