Tag Archives: Soren pipes by Soren Refbjerg Rasmussen

Restoring a Soren Hand- Carved Sitter Pipe

Blog by Paresh Deshpande

This Soren is the last of the freehand pipes that I had purchased on eBay. Well, this pipe is definitely the smallest of all the four, but it is also the only sitter of this lot!!!!! The medium size of the bowl, angle between the stummel and shank with a fancy stem, lends this pipe a look which is both very attractive and functional at the same time.

The pipe has a combination of smooth surface and sandblast finishes.  These sandblast portions are seen along the entire length of the shank, save for a small smooth portion on the lower surface at the shank end. This smooth portion bears the only stamping seen on this pipe, “Soren” over “HAND-CARVED” over “MADE IN DENMARK”. The upper portion of the stummel shows irregularly designed straight grained smooth surface while the lower portion and the shank, less the stamped portion,  is sandblasted which give this pipe its unique appearance!!! The plateau rim top has a smooth thin surface very close to the inner edge. I absolutely loved this pipe. I searched the internet for information on this pipe. Pipedia has some interesting snippet of information on the carver of this pipe, which I have reproduced below:

“Søren Refbjerg Rasmussen founded a company in 1969, which employed an average of 8 – 12 craftsmen in the 1970’s. The semi-freehands they produced were traded under his prename Søren. Rasmussen himself finished only the very best pipes. So his way of pipemaking closely resembled the ways of Preben Holm, Karl Erik Ottendahl or Erik Nørding. Altogether more than 1,000,000 pipes were sold.

Today he works alone as Refbjerg and manufactures only a small number of pipes in his workshop in DK-2860 Søborg, which are considered to be tremendously precisely executed. The dimensions mostly range from small to medium sized, corresponding to his personal preferences. The shapes adhere to the classical models, but often he gives them a touch of Danish flair. Refbjerg accepts minor faults but never uses any fillings. “Straight Grain” is the only grading, used for his very best pieces. He likes stem decorations made of exotic woods or metal rings.

As Rainer Barbi once stated “Refbjerg uses only briar from Corsica and more than that, he’s the one and only to import it from there, at least in Europe. He’s supplier to the vast majority of the Danish makers”.

Examples and nomenclature, courtesy Doug Valitchka Initial inspection of the pipe revealed the following
There is a thick layer of cake in the bowl. The external surface of the stummel feels solid to the touch and I think there are no issues with the condition of the chamber. However, there are always surprises when you least expect them!!! I have learnt my lessons!!! Thus, condition of the inner walls of the chamber will be ascertained once the chamber has been reamed and the cake is taken back to the bare briar. The plateau rim top and shank end is covered in the overflow of lava, dirt and grime. This will have to be cleaned. The condition of the inner edge will be determined only after removing the cake. The air way in the shank is clogged with oils and tars and will require a thorough cleaning.The stem is firmly stuck to the shank and will not budge. However, other than heavy oxidation, there are no other issues noticed on the stem. The stummel is covered in dust, dirt, oils and grime. The stummel looks dull and lackluster. The grains on the smooth surface and the sandblast are all covered in tars, oils and grime. To be able to appreciate these grains and sandblast, the stummel will have to be cleaned. THE PROCESS
Before I could start the work of cleaning the pipe, I kept it in the freezer for a couple of hours so as to separate the stem from the shank. I removed the pipe from the freezer and tried to remove the stem, but it still did not budge! I let it rest outside for an hour and after applying considerable force, the stem came free. I had followed a YouTube video where the stem was soaked in a solution of hot water and Hydrogen Peroxide in the ratio of 2:1. The stem oxidation had risen to the surface and was much easier to remove. I cleaned the insides of the stem with pipe cleaners and hard bristled pipe cleaners dipped in alcohol. Once the internals were clean and dry, I wiped the stem surface with magic clean sponge and followed it with polishing with micromesh pads. I applied extra virgin olive oil on the stem surface and set it aside to be absorbed by the stem. I am afraid, in my enthusiasm to try out new technique of using Hydrogen Peroxide; I just missed out on taking pictures of each step. Using a Kleen Reem pipe reamer, I removed all the carbon cake from the chamber. This was followed by sanding the inner walls of the chamber with 220 grit sand paper. The internal walls of the chamber were flawless and solid. Thereafter, using Murphy’s oil soap ( undiluted ) and a hard bristled toothbrush on the exterior of the bowl, shank and rim, the pipe was thoroughly cleaned and rinsed under running tap water. I immediately wiped it down with a soft cloth. The sandblast and the smooth surface were now clean and the briar looked clean and solid. I then left the briar to dry out. Once the briar had dried out completely, I rubbed in Before and After Restoration Balm deep into the sandblast as well as the rim top. The bowl was then wiped vigorously with a soft cloth and buffed with a horse hair shoe brush. The result is very pleasing and satisfying to the eyes! I am happy with this progress. This balm is a fantastic product for infusing a nice shine into the briar and giving it a new lease of life.The finished pipe is as shown below. I enjoyed working on this lot of four freehand pipes and each of these pipes has its own individuality and each is beautiful in its own way. I hope you too enjoyed joining me on this wondrous journey of exploring the freehand pipes!!!!!  Thank you for your patience and as always, any suggestions and/ or improvements will help me in learning this art of restoration.


Next on the table – A Soren Hand Carved 3 Freehand

Blog by Steve Laug

As mentioned in the last few blogs, Jeff picked up some amazing freehand pipes lately. When I was in Idaho for my mom’s funeral I packed and brought them to Canada. There was a Soren Hand Carved, Granhill Signature, Ben Wade Golden Walnut, Veeja 900 C6 and Viggo Nielsen Hand Finished. All were handcrafted and had interesting shapes and finishes. Some had full plateau rims, some partial plateau rim. Tonight I started working on them. The next pipe I chose was a Soren Hand Carved. My brother had done the entire cleanup – reaming, scrubbing the exterior and cleaning the interior. That left me the finishing work. The bowl has a smooth finish with plateau on the rim top and shank end. The pipe is a pick axe shape with an interesting collar then flares toward the plateau on the shank end. The finish on the pipe was in excellent condition. The vulcanite stem had very light tooth chatter on the top and bottom at the button and was lightly oxidized as well. Jeff had cleaned the rim top and removed the debris in the plateau. He had scrubbed the exterior with Murphy’s Oil soap and a tooth brush to remove the dust and grime that had accumulated there. He reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and touched it up with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He cleaned the interior of the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. It came to me clean and ready to touch up and polish. The stem was cleaned but had tooth chatter on the top and underside near the button and on the surface of the button. I took close up photos of the rim top and the shank end to show the condition of the plateau. I also took photos of the stem to give a clear picture of what I had when I started. I took photos of the underside of the shank to show the stamping there. It read Soren over Hand Carved over Copenhagen over Denmark. On the left side of the collar on the shank the number 3 was stamped. I am assuming that may well be a grade stamp.I needed to refresh my memory on the history and background of the Soren pipes so I went to a previous blog and reread what I had written. https://rebornpipes.com/2016/09/12/repairing-and-rejuvenating-a-soren-danish-freehand/. I quote from that blog post: I looked up the brand on pipephil (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-s10.html) and found that the brand was carved by Søren Refbjerg Rasmussen. Pipes that he made for the European market were mostly stamped “Refbjerg” while those made for the US market were stamped “Soren”. Thus I knew that one I was working on was imported into the US market.

It looked like I was once again working on a pipe made by Soren Refbjerg Rasmussen for the US market as it was stamped Soren. I continued to do reading on another of my go to websites, Pipedia. Here is the link for the article there. https://pipedia.org/wiki/Refbjerg. I quote some of the more pertinent information.

Søren Refbjerg Rasmussen founded a company in 1969, which employed an average of 8 – 12 craftsmen in the 1970’s. The semi-freehands they produced were traded under his prename Søren. Rasmussen himself finished only the very best pipes. So his way of pipemaking closely resembled the ways of Preben Holm, Karl Erik Ottendahl or Erik Nørding. Altogether more than 1,000,000 pipes were sold.

There was also a note from Soren himself regarding the Danbark line of pipes that he made. I think that it is interesting to note that even on these he used the finest Corsican and Grecian briars. I assume that is also true of his other lines as well. I quote the note in full.

“A note from the carver:

I am very proud to introduce my new (!) series of hand-carved Danbark Pipes by Søren. These pipes are crafted from the finest Corsican and Grecian briars. I take a great deal of pride in crafting the Danbark Pipes to be highly functional and so they will provide the smoker with many years of dedicated service. The Danbark Pipes by Søren are available in several different styles and finishes with my personal touch and inspirations. At this time I favor making classic shaped pipes with a slight touch of my own hands and feelings. I do not produce many pipes today but the pipes that I do make available are individually crafted from the finest Corsican and Grecian Briars available to me. I still make free-hand pipes but not as many as I once made. For the past 35 years I have always tried to make good smoking pipes in my workshop located near Copenhagen, Denmark. I have always tried to craft my pipes in such a way as they will be long lasting and best friends with the owners. I take great pride in the shape of my pipes, the drilling of the pipes, and the overall dimensions of the pipes. I enjoy spending my spare time on the very long, rugged coasts of Denmark. I derive much relaxation from being on the coast while angling for Sea Trout with my own hand-tied flies. I find this environment is a great inspiration to me for making pipes. Many times I think to myself, “Inspired by nature, made by me”.  — Happy puffing, Søren”

From that I knew that the pipe in my hands came from the 1970s. It bears the Soren signature stamp which also says that it was made for sale in the American pipe market. Armed with that information I turned my attention to restoring the pipe. I started with the clean bowl, I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the briar bowl and shank. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers, working it into the exterior of the pipe and working it into the plateau areas with a horsehair shoe brush. I wiped it off and buffed it with a soft cloth to polish it. The pipe really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the tooth chatter out of both sides of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. I worked over the surface with sandpaper to remove the tooth chatter and the oxidation.I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with Obsidian Oil to protect and polish the stem. When I finished with the last pad I rubbed it down with Before & After Pipe Polish – both fine and extra fine. I gave it a final coat of oil and set aside to dry. I polished stem and bowl with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The plateau on the rim top and shank end and the smooth Dark and Medium brown contrast finish work very well with the black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I have worked on several Soren pipes by Soren Refbjerg Rasmussen and several Refbjerg pipes over the years and I have always been impressed by his craftsmanship and ability to work a pipe to follow the grain of the briar. He does great work and is quite innovative in terms of shapes, flow and finishes on his pipes. The dimensions of this one are quite large but delicate at the same time. The Length: 7 inches, Height: 3 1/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches wide and 2 inches long, Chamber diameter: 7/8 inches. This one is already sold to Paresh in India who always has an eye out for interesting freehand pipes. I am looking forward to hearing from him once he receives it. It is a beauty! Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this Soren Freehand. I have other Freehands that I will be working on in a variety of shapes and sizes in upcoming blogs.