Tag Archives: Stainless steel tenons

Review of a Hand Made Medici Bamboo Acorn


When I first saw this Medici Bamboo Acorn pipe I knew that I had to have it. The Medici mark is made by or for Todd Johnson of Todd Johnson pipes. I bought this one and later found out via Adam Davidson that it was carved by him when he worked with Todd. I bought it from a fellow Smoker’s Forums in late 2006 or early 2007. And I have been smoking it since that time and it is a great smoke. Since I had the day off today I decided to write a review on this beauty. The length of the pipe is 6 inches long and the bowl height is 2 inches. The chamber diameter is 3/4 inches and depth is 1 1/2 inches. It is great sized pipe and very light weight. It is comfortable in the hand. The overall shape is something like a ¼ bent acorn with a nicely done bamboo shank extension. The stamping is on the bamboo shank. It is stamped USA over MEDICI over 2006.

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The finish on the outside of the pipe is a gnarly sandblast that highlights the ring grain on the front and the back side of the pipe and birdseye on the sides of the bowl. I have come to love the tactile feel of the sandblast on this pipe. The bamboo shank is a two knuckle piece that is very light coloured and natural looking. There is an ebony ring that is on the shank where it meets the bowl and where it meets the stem. The shank is joined to the bowl by a stainless steel tenon and the stem also has a stainless steel tenon. The shank is unlined bamboo between the mortise and the joint at the bowl. The staining on this appears to be a black but in the light it has highlights of a burgundy or red that shines through.

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The stem itself is a well made saddle stem handcrafted from acrylic. The blade of the stem is well tapered and thin without sacrificing durability. The saddle and blade have been carved in such a way to make it look almost like a military bit with the blade meeting the saddle on a rounded platform. The blade is flattened on the sides tapering back to the button. It is a comfortable bit in the mouth and it so light that it makes an easy clencher. The tenon is stainless and sits against the ebony ring/disk that caps off the open end of the bamboo. The disk is applied in such a way that is forms a band around the end of the bamboo. The button is exactly the way I like them – thinner on the edges with a gentle rise at the centre top and bottom. It fits well behind the teeth for a comfortable feel. The draught hole in the end of the button is also funneled to deliver a mouthpiece that has the same diameter from start to finish. Comfortable and well executed. A pipe cleaner passes easily through the pipe with no obstruction.

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The internal mechanics of the pipe are very well executed. The bowl chamber is drilled to a ¾ inch diameter. The inner edge of the bowl us straight and clean to the rim. The outer edge is sharp and clean with the blast coming right to inner edge of the rim. I don’t believe the bowl was coated. It is actually hard to remember back to the time of the first smoke of this one and it now has a nice solid cake of Virginia tobacco. There were no flaws or visible pits in the interior. The draught hole is centered at the bottom of the bowl and seems to have a slight funnel as well – like a shallow Y- leading into the shank and stem. There is a very easy and open draw to the pipe. The fit of the stem to the shank is very good – smooth and tight with no light showing at the joint. The tenon sits deep in the mortise against the ebony ring/disk. The fit of the tenon is smooth and tight. The edges of the stainless tenon have been polished and rounded so there are no sharp edges. The drilling of the draught in the bamboo shank is straight and centered in the back of the mortise. The air pulls clearly through the pipe with no whistling at all. Using a light to shine through the various airways reveals smoothly executed airways on the inside. It also appears that the stainless tenon that attaches the bamboo and the disk on the bowl is also polished and smoothed out as there is no catch when a pipe cleaner is pushed through the airway.

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Since I was writing this up today I decided to smoke a bowl in while I took down my Christmas light. I loaded a bowl of aged McClelland’s 5100 and puffed on it as I unwound the lights from the columns on the porch. The tobacco packed as easily as I had remembered and kept burning after the second light. I love that about this pipe. Sitting outdoors or inside the thing almost smokes itself. The draught on the pipe is superb. The smoke was uncomplicated and effortless. It was just as I remembered it from the first bowl many years ago. It has always smoked incredibly well and delivered a flavourful and effortless smoke.

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I end this post with a picture taken by a friend of me with the pipe in my mouth. I had just received it in the mail and had decided to save it for this occasion. What was the occasion you might ask? It was the wedding of a good friend. He had asked me to officiate at is wedding and when it was over I had gone outside to fire up this pipe for the first time. I did not notice but his photographer shot this picture. It was a gorgeous Vancouver afternoon and a perfect day for a smoke outside the church under one of the trees along the curb.

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Thanks Adam for crafting a beautiful and great smoking pipe. Thanks for providing me with over five years of great smoking. This pipe is a veritable Virginia machine.

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NightOwl PipeWorks Blueprinted Meerschaum


Blog by Steve Laug

I sent off this old lattice meerschaum to Ronni Bikacson for him to do a Blueprint Conversion. He describes the processes he uses on his web site as follows:

“This process combines two of Ronni’s processes that make this pipe a much better smoking pipe. The first is the “Blueprint” technique – this process involves opening the draft bore of a pipe for smooth smoking.  Rather than gouge out huge bores in the shank, I strive to equalize the bore diameter from bowl to bit.  This includes redrilling the shank to 3.5 or 4mm, drilling the stem to 3.5mm as far as possible and then hand finishing the bore to an open slot at the bit.  Each pipe is treated as an individual system; no “one size fits all”.  I also make special mortise sleeves that help a pipe cleaner pass all the way without stem removal.  The result is a smooth, dry smoke without having to fight a pipe cleaner afterwards.

The second is the “Bulletproof Shank Repair” – this process eliminates the need for bands on cracked or broken shanks.  All repair is performed internally with either Delrin, stainless steel, or carbon fiber sleeves. I pioneered this technique in 2003 and have continually worked to improve the efficiency and durability of this repair.

A combination of the two above techniques has resulted in the “Blueprint Conversion” for meerschaums. The old “plumbing” is removed from the shank and replaced with a new sleeve that is bored to align the different draft angles between stem and shank. The stem is Blueprinted and fitted with the appropriate tenon. The result is a world class smoke that will accept a pipe cleaner without disassembly.” http://www.nightowlpipeworks.com/home/index.html

So I sent this pipe off to Ronni. The first series of three photos show the pipe as it was when I received as a gift from a friend. The stem I believe was a replacement and it did not fit well. The diameter of the stem at the shank was larger than the shank and it still had many file marks on it. The tenon was narrow and the draught on the pipe was very tight. The airway was constricted and narrow. A pipe cleaner would not fit through the stem.
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The next two photos show the internals of the pipe. The first is the small tenon with a very small airway and a tight draw. The second is the mortise – which is the same size as the tenon and the airway at the end is narrow like the end of the tenon.
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When I sent it to Ronni and I asked that he also make a new stem for the pipe. He crafted one out of acrylic with a white acrylic band between the black of the band next to the shank and the black of the saddle stem that he made. The contrast with the colouring meer was a nice touch. The first four photos show the marbleized black acrylic with grey and silver highlights.
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This last photo shows the new internals. Ronni opened the shank and inserted a new Delrin insert and made a stainless steel tenon with a wide open draw. The pipe smokes incredibly well now with little effort. I cannot recommend Ronni highly enough for his blueprinting process for meers. It is well done and for me changed a mediocre smoker into a smoking machine!
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A Bewlay Thirty Prince Reborn


Blog by Steve Laug

This pipe grabbed my eye because of the classic prince shape. The bowl was dirty and caked. The rim is tarred and caked as well. The finish was scuffed and dirty, but there looked to be some nice grain underneath. The stem had tooth dents that were quite deep and the oxidation was odd in that it was streaked more than solid. The tenon was stainless steel and quite long. It can be seen in the first picture below. The alignment of the stem to the shank was slightly off as the tenon was inserted into the stem a bit high. In pictures 4 and 5 you can see that the stem is lower than the edge of the shank. ImageImageImageImageImage I reamed the bowl and cleaned the shank. The shank was plugged so I used a straightened piece of wire to push through the clog into the bowl. I repeated the push with the wire until I had cleaned out the shank. I finished cleaning it with many pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and a shank brush and isopropyl alcohol. Once I had finished the bowl I sanded the top with micromesh fibre pads from 1500-2400 grit. I wiped it down with cotton pads soaked with acetone to clean off the finish. Then I put the bowl in the alcohol bath and let it soak while I worked on the stem.

The next series of pictures show the bowl after I took it out of the bath. I reinserted the stem so that I could work on the bowl a bit more. You can see from the pictures in this series of photos that I had buffed the stem with Tripoli and also done the initial sanding of the stem and removed most of the surface oxidation. ImageImageImageImage

At this point in the process I pressure fit a band on the stem to help with the alignment of the stem. There was enough give in the stainless steel tenon to hold it in place with the nickel band. The band also gives the little prince a classy look (at least in my opinion!). I then did a lot more work on the stem. I used a heat gun to raise the bite marks as much as possible. They came up significantly but not completely. I sanded the stem near the button with 240 grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface. The five pictures below show the sanding process. I used a medium grit sanding pad after the 240 and then also used a fine grit sanding pad. I was trying to minimize the dents and isolate the deeper dents. The fourth and fifth picture below shows the stem after sanding. I wiped both the top and the bottom of the stem down with alcohol to clean the surface and prepare it for the super glue patches. ImageImageImageImageImage

The next two photos show the super glue patches. I used clear super glue on these patches as the dents were black and I was hoping that the clear would allow the black from the vulcanite to show through the glue and make the patches blend in clearly and match. You will notice that I used drops of super glue and applied it by dropping the glue on the stem. Once one side was dry I dropped the glue on the other side. ImageImage

Once the super glue was dry I sanded it with 240 grit sandpaper and the fine grit sanding block.  The next two photos show the first stages of the sanding. The spots are still large and very visible in these photos. I continued to sand them until they were well blended. Once it was finished I used micromesh pads to sand it until it was smooth. ImageImage

The next two photos show the stem in its finished condition. I sanded it with micromesh pads – 1500, 1800, 2400, 3200, 3600, 4000, 6000, 8000, 12,000 grits to bring the stem to this final state. The patches are well blended into the finish of the stem and are virtually invisible to those who don’t know where to look. ImageImage

The next series of four photos show the pipe after buffing with several coats of carnauba wax and then a soft flannel buff. The finish came out very smooth and the patches are not visible. The stem looks new. In the light of the flash a hair on the underside of the stem is visible. The pipe is now ready to fire up with its inaugural bowl. ImageImageImage

Reworking an Imperial Treble Zulu – Stainless Steel Tenon


I picked up this older Imperial Tobacco Co pipe – a Zulu shape number 354. The shape number makes me wonder if the pipe was made by Comoy’s. Maybe someone here knows for sure. The number is missing on the Comoy’s shape number chart on Pipedia. The pipe is interesting to me for several reasons. It is the third in a group of three pipes by Imperial that came to me in an EBay lot. The first two were Two-Points and this one a Treble. I had not heard or seen this line before these came my way. The other reason is that several pipes in this lot had stainless steel tenons! The Treble has one and at first I thought it was original – the stem did not fit well as the tenon was stuck in the bowl and the stem would not seat all the way to the shank. The bowl was in pretty nasty shape. With lots of darkening and the grain virtually obscured under dirt. The rim was caked and tarred. The bowl was full of broken cake and cobwebs. The stem was gnawed with deep bite marks, the button destroyed and the tenon stuck in the shank.

I was able to remove the tenon from shank with a big pair of channel locks and some serious twisting and turning. I filed the end of the tenon and cut grooves in it so that the epoxy would have something to bite into when I pushed it into the stem. I then slid a pipe cleaner into the stem and threaded the tenon on the cleaner. When I got down to the stem I mixed some epoxy (two part mix) and painted it on the tenon. I let it set for a few moments and then pushed it into the stem. I wiped off the excess around the stem and tenon junction. I set it aside and worked on the bowl. ImageImage

I reamed the bowl and cleaned both it and the shank. Then I used a fine grit sanding pad that I have here to work on the lava on the top of the bowl. Once that was done I wiped down the bowl with isopropyl alcohol to remove the grime and the finish. The next photos show the bowl after the initial cleanup. From there I put it in the alcohol bath and went back to work on the stem. ImageImageImage

The next series of two photos show the bite marks on the stem and the state of the button. The bite marks were very deep and some were actually cuts in the stem material rather than just dents. I used my heat gun to raise the dents as much as possible but honestly they did not come up very much at all. This one would be a bit of a challenge. I used sanded the stem around the button and the dents with 240 grit sandpaper to get the oxidation off that area. I was going to use the superglue to repair these bite marks and needed a clean surface to work with. Once I had sanded the area clean I used a dental pick to pick away the brown left in the dents. I wanted to clean out the dents as much as possible and roughen the surface in the dent for a good bond with the glue. The first picture shows the top of the stem, the second shows the bottom. ImageImage

Once they were clean and ready I washed the area down with some isopropyl alcohol to remove any remaining sanding dust. Then I put drops of superglue in the holes on the underside of the stem first. Once they were dry I did the same with the dents on the top side of the stem. The three photos below show the glue in place – they appear as shiny black spots in the photos.ImageImageImage

I set the pipe stem aside to thoroughly dry and took the bowl out of the alcohol bath. I dried it off and then sanded the top of the bowl with the fine grit sanding pads that I have. The top is showing some nice grain and the tars are coming off nicely. ImageImageImage

I wiped down the bowl and rim with acetone (fingernail polish remover) to remove the remaining finish and grime. The white cotton pads in the background of the next three photos show what still remained on the bowl after the alcohol wash. I wanted to get the bowl down to bare briar so that I could refinish it and then give it a new coat of stain. My goal was to highlight the beautiful grain on this one. ImageImageImage

I guess I must get a bit bored doing the same thing or something, because I went back to the stem to sand the patches that I had made. I used emery cloth to get the patches even with the surface of the stem. The next series of three photos show the progress on cleaning up the stem and evening out the stem surface. The patches are beginning to fade and blend into the stem. ImageImageImage

After sanding the stem I cleaned out the stem and the shank. It was a dirty process. The first picture below shows just a few of the many pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. I dip them in the cap filled with isopropyl that is pictured in the photos and swab out the stem and shank with them. ImageImage

I reinserted the stem in the shank and wiped the entirety down with an alcohol soaked cotton pad. I wanted to see where I was at with the stem and the bowl. You will notice the addition of a band in the photos below. Once I refit the stem I could see that the stainless tenon was indeed a replacement and that it was misdrilled – it was set in the stem too high making the match at the tenon impossible. I decided to work on the shank rather than pull the tenon, redrill the hole in the stem and reinsert a bigger tenon. I could still do that should I desire. I sanded the shank a little to reduce the gap between the stem and shank. Then I pressure fit a band on it to guide the stem to the proper fit. It worked well actually and the stem lines up nicely now. ImageImageImageImage

I took the next two photos to show the state of the stem patches at this point in the repair process. You can see that they are virtually invisible on the top of the stem and just slightly visible on the underside. At this point I continued to sand the stem and work at the area around the button to redefine it and to blend in the patches. I used a fine grit sanding pad and an extra fine grit pad to remove the scratches and to make the button area more defined. I then worked over the stem with the usual list of micromesh pads from 1500-6000 grit. ImageImage

I restained the bowl with an oxblood stain and buffed the entirety with White Diamond and then gave the pipe several coats of carnauba wax and buffed with a soft flannel buff to bring out the shine to the pipe. You can see from the profile shots that the button is more clearly defined and the flow of the stem looks correct from the bowl to the button. The patches on the stem have blended quite well and though still visible if you look closely are smooth and black. ImageImageImageImage