Tag Archives: Steaming dents in briar

A Desirable REJECT London Made

Blog by Dal Stanton

When I came across this classic half bent billiard while I was trolling through 100s of offerings on eBay’s auction block, I paused. The first thing that claimed my attention was its size. If there was ever a ‘meat lovers sized’ pipe, to use the American burger sound bite, this would be it. The UK seller simply described it as a ‘superb large bowl’. When the pipe arrived, I measured it and it is: length 6 5/16 inches, height 2 3/8 inches, chamber diameter 7/8 inches, chamber depth 1 13/16 inches, and the full stummel width is 1 3/4 inches – 68 grams for those who weigh pipes. A fist-full of stummel! Here is the eBay picture of the Billiard.The other interesting thing about the eBay offering was its marking.  The left shank side reads “REJECT” over “LONDONMADE”.  The only lead I found for this “REJECT” stamping was in ‘Who Made That Pipe?’ by Herb Wilzak and Tom Colwell, which provided only one reference to “Reject” as belonging to the W. H. Carrington Co. started in 1891 by William Henry Carrington in Manchester, England.  This came from the brief Pipedia article which also states that after a century of operation it went out of business.  I found more information in a Pipes Magazine Forum thread  but the source of the information was not cited.

WH Carrington as an entity dates back at least to the late 1880s. It continued to exist for about a century, with liquidation notices appearing in the London Gazette in 1987. Whether or not the business remained in the family that whole time is another matter; I doubt it, but have no evidence one way or the other.

Most threads I read commenting on WHC pipes were about earlier turn of the century pipes with hallmarks – a much earlier vintage.  I came up empty finding information that would confirm that the Reject before me is indeed a WHC pipe except for Wilczak and Colwell’s reference.  With a very nice looking Reject on my work table now, I take additional pictures to fill in the gaps. The question that begs asking is what is ‘Reject’ about this pipe?  Overall, it’s in good shape.  The chamber has very mild cake build up, and the stummel surface shows some small fills and usual dents of wear.  The stem has been cleaned, it seems, very little chatter or oxidation.  I only detect two issues as I look at the Reject London Made.  First, the finish on the stummel is shiny and acrylic-like, which, to me, hides the natural briar.  It is cloudy and I’ll remove it and work on the broad landscape of this stummel real estate to bring out the briar.  I like this challenge!  The other issue is the stem – it is under-clocked and a bit catawampus.  I will heat the vulcanite and restore a good bend in alignment with the pipe.  The reason this pipe was stamped ‘Reject’ coming out of the factory is a mystery to me unless it was destined to be a higher end pipe and the briar had too many imperfections…. Only conjecture and I would appreciate anyone’s input on this.

I begin by plopping the stem in an Oxy-Clean bath even though the oxidation seems very light.  While the stem is in the bath, I use the Savinelli pipe knife to clean up the chamber walls which takes little time.  I follow by sanding the chamber wall with 240 grit paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen.  To clean the carbon dust residue, I wipe the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.  The pictures show the progress. I like working on a clean pipe so I work on the internals using cotton swabs and pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%.  With very little effort the mortise and draft are clean.Moving to the external stummel surface, I use Murphy’s Soap undiluted with cotton pads and a bristled tooth brush to clean the grime off.  The Murphy’s Soap does a good job removing the old shiny finish.Looking closely at the surface, the dent I saw earlier I want to remove using the iron approach, that I have yet to try, but this dent looks like a good candidate.  I’ve read several other restorations where this method was used.  Using a heated clothes iron, I use a wet wash cloth and lay it over the dent area and then I apply the iron to that point.  The concept is based upon the water content of wood being heated and absorbing the water and expanding the dented area – wood is a sponge-like material when wet.  I apply the iron several times and gradually I see the severity of the dent lessening with each heat application.  I can still see the dent but it should be more easily removed using a sanding sponge. Using a medium and light grade sanding sponge I work on the stummel to remove the minor wear nicks and dents on the surface. I like a softer edge on the inner rim lip so I introduce a gentle bevel both to give it a softer look and to remove some scorched areas. I think an inner bevel adds a bit of class as well.  I first use a coarser 120 grit paper to cut the bevel then I follow with 240 grit and 600 grit paper to smooth and blend the bevel.  The pictures show the progress. I now turn to the micromesh pad cycles.  Using pads 1500 to 2400 I wet sand the stummel followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and then 6000 to 12000.  Throughout the sanding, I’m careful to avoid the Reject markings. The grain is looking good.  The pictures show the progress. I put the stummel aside and fish the stem out of the Oxy-Clean bath.  Very little oxidation has surfaced.  I use 600 grit paper and wet sand the stem followed by sand buffing the stem with 0000 steel wool.  The pictures show the progress.Before I proceed further with the internal cleaning of the stem and the external polishing, I want to correct the bend of the stem.  With great difficulty, I am able finally to pass a smooth pipe cleaner through the stem.  The pipe cleaner helps to maintain the airway integrity while I heat and re-bend the stem. Using the heat gun to heat the stem, I turn the stem to apply the heat evenly over the stem to soften the vulcanite making it pliable.  I then straighten both the stem clock-wise to correct the under-clocking.  While still pliable I re-establish the bend over a block of wood and set the new shape under cool tap water.  The first time around, the button was still not ‘clocked’ to my satisfaction.  I reheated and made the additional adjustment and again, set the shape under cool tap water.  I reattach stem and stummel to eyeball things and the newly aligned stem bend and clocked button look good.  I take pictures to chronicle the progress with the stem. I now clean the internals of the stem using pipe cleaners dipped in isopropyl 95%.  The stem is clean but I find that even though I’ve re-bent the stem the pipe cleaners will not move through the bend of the stem.  I decide to open the slot area with a round pointed needle file moving it back and forth in the slot.  After this, I take a drill bit, smaller than the slot opening, and insert it into the airway rotating it against the edges of the airway hoping to expand the internal airway area as it enters the slot.  This seems to help yet the bend is still tight on the pipe cleaners, but they are passing through.  The stem is clean.  The pictures show the progress. Time to bring out the micromesh pads to finish the stem.  With pads 1500 to 2400 I wet sand the stem.  I follow by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and then 6000 to 12000.  With each set of 3 I apply Obsidian Oil to the stem to revitalize the vulcanite, and I love to see the pop of the vulcanite as it moves through the micromesh cycles!  I put the stem aside to dry.  The pictures show the progress. Turning back to the stummel, I decide to apply Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye to the Reject London Made to emulate the darker hues of the original finish.  Since it is an aniline dye, I can lighten the finish to taste by wiping the stained stummel with cotton pads wetted with isopropyl.  The large stummel has a lot of briar real estate to show off with a smattering of different grains – pleasing to the eye and a handful of stummel to boot!  I just acquired Fiebing’s Black Leather Dye and I decide to experiment.  I will add a touch of it to the dark brown to create the blend.  The first snag I run into is that this is the largest stummel I’ve worked on and my usual corks that I use to prop the stummel on the candle stick during the staining process were too small.  I rummaged through our cork supply and found only one large enough.  I warm the stummel to expand the briar enabling the dye to absorb better into the grain.  I apply the dye liberally over the surface with a pipe cleaner folded over.  Then I fire the wet dye and the alcohol content burns off setting the stain.  I repeat the process again to assure total coverage and set the stummel aside to rest.   After several hours, I ‘unwrap’ the fired stummel using the Dremel mounted with a felt buffing wheel.  With the Dremel at its slowest speed, I move methodically over the stummel applying Tripoli compound to remove the crusted fired surface.  I don’t apply too much downward pressure on the briar but I allow the RPMs and the compound to do the work for me.  After completed, I use cotton pads wetted with alcohol to wipe down the stummel to lighten the stained finish and to blend the dye.  After this, I mount a cotton cloth wheel on the Dremel and apply Blue Diamond compound and methodically work the wheel over the entire surface.  After completed, I again wipe the stummel with cotton pads wetted with isopropyl 95%.  I follow this by doing another quick tour over the stummel with the Blue Diamond.  The use of black dye with the dark brown has the effect of darkening the grain which I’m liking as I see the grain surfacing through the compound cycles.   The pictures show the progress.To remove the compound dust, I hand buff the stummel with a flannel cloth.  After mounting the Dremel with a cotton cloth wheel and increasing the speed to 2, one notch over the slowest, I apply several coats of carnauba wax to the stummel and reattached stem.  I follow this with a rigorous hand buffing with a micromesh cloth.  When I experimented by adding black dye to the dark brown I didn’t anticipate the unique hue that would result.  The briar grain veins seem to have latched on to the black and the lighter grains came out with a golden/copper kettle blend that is striking – very interesting and attractive.  If this REJECT – LONDON MADE is a product of the W. H. Carrington Co., I cannot say why it received this factory stamp.  For those who like huge pipes that fill the hand, this big boy, bent billiard fits the bill and needs a new steward!  All the profits of pipes I sell help the Daughters of Bulgaria, an organization we work with that helps women and children who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  If you’re interested in this REJECT, hop over to my blog site, The Pipe Steward.  Thanks for joining me!



Not So “Mint” Danish Sovereign Reborn

Blog by Greg Wolford

I picked up this Danish Sovereign off eBay for my son as a gift. I have one in a different shape and he has admired it since I got it. I knew that he had been wanting a Danish pipe and when I was this one it looked to be right up his style-alley.

This pipe came described as in “mint condition” from an eBay seller. It was a Father’s Day gift for my son, his first Father’s Day pipe actually; he took up the pipe only about 8 months ago. The photos the seller provided were not good and none of the problems were shown/disclosed; I could see some oxidation but didn’t expect the chatter and dents.

The seller shipped it not as expediently as I had hoped so the pipe didn’t arrive in time for Father’s Day; it came yesterday. I spent the evening getting it cleaned up for him, not doing anything to alter the originality of the pipe, which is what he wanted. If he decides he wants me to, I may end up sanding it down and re-staining it, filling the dents as needed, to make it much more like new. But that’ll be his call since it’s his gift.

I thought I would try something, actually a few things, different for this project: I used a few new things/processes, yes, but mainly the difference is I took video as I went instead of photos and will show the steps/progress in the video rather than writing it all out. This is something I have been wanting to try and so, now I have! Since it is the first time doing a resto-video I’m sure there will be things that could’ve been done better. And hopefully with time and practice, if this idea seems to “fly”, they will in the next projects.

GBD New Standard Reborn

Blog by Greg Wolford

I picked up the GBD New Standard recently because of its shape mostly: a thick-walled pot. It is stamped GBD in the oval over New Standard on the top of the shank. The bottom of the shank is stamped London England over 9682 with a “P” below and to the right of that.

When I got the pipe it was in pretty good shape: dirty, oxidized, the normal stuff. But it seemed lightly smoked with no cake and no real issues and only light chatter. IMG_5241IMG_5242IMG_5243Nomenclature

You can see in the top a pipe cleaner sticking through the drought hole, showing a well drilled pipe.

You can see in the top a pipe cleaner sticking through the drought hole, showing a well-drilled pipe.

The pipe has a few fills but the are mainly on the bottom – out of sight, out of mind – and I wanted to keep this pipe as original as I could so I didn’t bother with them.

I started with putting the stem into a OxiClean bath; I let it soak for about 45 minutes I believe. While the stems (I actually was doing two pipes at a time, as I often do) soak I did a cotton ball and alcohol treatment on the two bowls. Usually I use coarse salt, not cotton balls, for this but since this bowl appeared to be so lightly used and the second bowl was fairly gunky I thought this would be a good time to experiment with the new-to-me cotton ball treatment. I put one large cotton ball into each bowl, plugged the shanks with cotton swabs and set them up on a steel drainer I have in my kitchen. I then filled the bowls with 91% isopropyl alcohol, slowly, with an eye dropper.

The photos below show the progression of black “stuff” drawn out of the GBD bowl; you may also see some of the tars (brownish-yellow stuff) in the cotton ball from the other pipe. This process started within a minute, the first photo, and then each picture after is after about 15 minutes, with the final result at about one hour.


I don’t know what the black “stuff” was but it sure removed a lot of it in the treatment! As a side note, I found the cotton balls easier to deal with than the salt and it seems to have done as good a job, too. I will probably continue to us this method in the future.

The stems had been soaking for about an hour, maybe 45 minutes, at this time and were ready to come out of their bath. As you can see, quite a lot of oxidation was raised and loosened by this soak.


I then washed the stems in dish liquid and scrubbed them with Bar Keepers Friend and an old toothbrush; this took about an hour, making a paste of the powder and scrubbing, rinsing and wiping, then repeating. The results from that looked like this:


Still a lot of oxidation and work left to go. Next came sanding and polishing with wet/dry paper and micro mesh. I used 320 & 400 wet/dry paper before moving on to the micro mesh. Before the mesh, though, I used the Novus 2 plastic polish on the stem to take off some of the scratches and a little more left over oxidation. I wet sanded with micro mesh 1500-4000 and then polished with the Novus 2 again. I now dry sanded/polished with the remaining grits of 6000-12000, then polished with Novus 1 plastic polish to get to this look


Now I applied my “secret substance” before setting the stem aside to work on the bowl. This is how the stem looks at this point:


What, you may ask, is my “secret substance”? Obsidian oil maybe? No. It is Mothers Back-to-Black automotive polish.

The bowl was really very easy since I didn’t plan on totally refinishing it. I wiped it down several times with acetone to take off the old finish and get the grime off of it. I then wiped it down a few times with cotton pads dampened with alcohol. I lifted a small amount of stain in the process but not enough to really change the color of the pipe, only enough to let the grain pop a bit more. The most time-consuming part here was rubbing, with alcohol then saliva on cotton swabs, to clean the rim. There were a couple of small dents I lifted with steam ( I heat an old “butter” knife with a heat gun and apply it to a dampened cotton towel that is laying over the dent) but can’t actually recall how many or where they were they were so incidental. The next photos show the stummel before taking it to the buffer:


I then buffed the stummel with Tripoli before reassembling the pipe and buffing the whole thing with white diamond and then carnauba wax. Here is the finished pipe:


This photo is slightly over exposed


Resurrecting an Old Weber Silver Grain Apple

Blog by Steve Laug

The fifth pipe of the six that I picked up in the antique malls in Washington State is a Weber Silver Grain Apple. It was probably the cleanest of the six in terms of work that would need to be done to bring it back to life and usefulness. The stem was oxidized and very pitted. The vulcanite was actually rough to touch. It was not the typical roughness I have come to expect in old vulcanite stems but more pitted with visible pits and ridges. There were two tooth marks – one on the top and one on the bottom of the stem about ½ inch above the edge of the button. The button itself was still very clean and the slot was the typical wide open oval that I have found on most of the older Weber pipes I have worked on. It was stamped Weber over SILVERGRAIN on the left side of the shank and IMPORTED BRIAR on the right side of the shank. On the underside of the shank there were some fairly deep gouges to the briar. The finish was not too bad just very dirty. The rim and inside lip of the bowl were very caked with tars and buildup and the bowl was caked with a light build up that was uneven around the sides of the bowl. There were also dings in the sides of the bowl that would need work. The W in a circle stamping on the stem was basically gone other than a small bottom edge of the circle. The silver band was dirty.


I decided to start work on this refurb by reaming the bowl and cleaning the bowl and shank. I used cotton swabs on the shank as it is a wide open drill from mortise to bowl. I believe this is because of the stinger apparatus that the Weber pipes used. It creates a chamber where the smoke swirls around the stinger and cools as it is then drawn to the stem and the mouth of the smoker. Once the bowl and shank were clean I worked on the outside of the bowl. I first lightly sanded the tars and buildup on the rim and the inner edge of the bowl to remove them. I used 320 grit sandpaper and lightly worked the area over to remove the buildup and to work on the inner edge. Once the rim was free of the tars and buildup I wiped the bowl and rim down with acetone on a cotton pad. The first wipe of that can be seen in the dark stains on the cotton pad in the pictures below. I also sanded the deep marks on the bottom of the shank. I steamed them a little to raise them and then sanded them to be as smooth as possible. I could not remove them entirely as the wood fibres were broken and would not rise totally. Sanding it to make it smooth would change the profile of the bottom of the shank so I brought is as far up as I could and smoothed out the roughness with the 320 grit sandpaper. I also cleaned the silver band with some tarnish remover and a jewelers polishing cloth. The band is stamped STERLING and came back to a clean shine.


Once I had removed the grime and tars from the bowl and shank I took it to the buffer and buffed the pipe with Tripoli and White Diamond. The resultant shine and colour was excellent so I decided not to restain the pipe at all but to leave it natural and give it some wax. The next series of photos show the bowl and shank when I had finished the buffing. The stamping is still crisp and sharp as I lightly buffed over those areas. I also buffed the stem to remove some of the roughness of the vulcanite and prepare it for sanding. I did a bit of sanding around the tooth marks and chatter in front of the button before buffing.


The stem was in need of quite a bit of work. I buffed it to begin with using Red Tripoli and then took it back to the work table to sand it with a medium grit sandpaper on a foam back to allow me to really work with the angles of the stem and button. I sanded with that sandpaper until the surface began to get smooth and I could feel the smoothness. I then progressed to the 320 grit sandpaper and worked on it longer. It took quite a bit of sanding to remove the ridges and pits. Once I had it to that point I decided to use the Maguiar’s Scratch X 2.0 and rubbed it on by hand and scrubbed the stem with a soft cotton pad to clean off the polish and the oxidation. I then worked with my micromesh sanding pads and wet sanded with the 1500-3200 grit pads. I then used another wipe down with Maguiar’s and then used the 3600-6000 grit pads on it. The next series of photos show the stem after all of the work described above and you can still see the roughness of the finish and the pitted oxidized state of the stem.ImageImageImage

At this point in the process I started over with my sanding of the stem. I again used the medium grit foam back sanding sponge and broke up the finish. I wanted to smooth out the pits in the vulcanite. I sanded and buffed with red Tripoli and then sanded it once again with the foam back sanding sponge. I wiped it down with a damp cloth and could see that I was finally gaining some ground on the roughness of the stem. I then sanded it with some 320 grit sandpaper and dampened the stem before sanding. I sanded it until the stem was smooth to my touch. I again wiped it down with a cotton pad and was ready to move on to the 400 and 600 grit wet dry sandpaper. I sanded the entire stem with these two grits and then buffed it with White Diamond and was pleased to see that I had the oxidation beat and the pitting was minimized. I then wet sanded with 1500, 1800 and 2400 grit micromesh sanding pads, polished the stem with Maguiar’s Scratch X2.0 and then moved on to 3200-4000 grit micromesh pads. I dry sanded with these pads and then took the stem and pipe to the buffer again and buffed it with White Diamond. I brought it back to the work table and wiped it down with some Obsidian Oil and let it dry while I did a few other things. Once it was dry I finished sanding with 6000, 8000 and 12,000 grit micromesh pads. I used these dry and once I was finished I gave the bowl another coating of wax and the stem a coating of Obsidian Oil and then several coats of carnauba wax. The finished pipe is pictured in the next series of photos.ImageImageImageImage

The bowl is only finished with multiple coats of carnauba wax and buffed and polished. I did not use any stain on the bowl. In the final photo above you can see the dent in the bottom of the shank that remains but the roughness of the edges has been minimized. The silver band was also coated with several coats of wax to slow down the tarnishing. I lightly buffed the whole pipe on my buffer with a soft flannel buffing pad.

A Unique BBB Tigergrain Bulldog

Blog by Steve Laug

This unique pipe has become a favourite of mine. I have not seen one like it since I picked this one up. It is stamped on the left side with the BBB logo (three B’s in a Diamond) and under that TIGERGRAIN. There is a small nick in the shank just below the stamping. On the right side it is stamped London England over the shape number 420. The stem is a translucent blue green almost like some of the glass pieces that my grandmother had in her sideboard. It has the brass BBB logo in a diamond inserted. When it came to me it was dirty. The bowl had a thick cake and needed to be reamed. The stem was darkened with brown stains in the airway. The rim was tarred and had some dents that were quite deep. The finish was in pretty good shape other than the deep set grit and grime. The bands around the bowl were filled in with grit as well. Underneath it all I knew there was a uniquely beautiful pipe.

I reamed the bowl back to the briar. I like to start with a clean pipe, as I find I can exorcise previous ghosts more easily that way. I wiped down the surface with Murphy’s Oil Soap, undiluted, and scrubbed the rim with a soft bristle tooth brush. Once I had the grime and grit removed I buffed it with White Diamond on the buffing wheel and then steamed out the dents on the bowl and rim. I do this with a damp cloth and a hot table knife. I heat the knife over the gas flame on my cook stove and then put the damp cloth on the dent and apply the hot knife. The hiss and the steam released seem to raise the dents in the briar. I then buffed the pipe yet again and polished it with carnauba. The grain has a striped look to it which is the reason for the tigergrain stamping I suppose. I love the look of the grain and the patina on the old pipe.

I then turned my attention to the stem. I used some goop hand cleaner on a pipe cleaner and scoured the airway on the stem. It took quite a few pipe cleaners and patience to get the brown stains and oils out of the translucent stem. Once that was done I also needed to deal with the tooth chatter on the stem. I used heat on the stem first – a quick pass over the heat gun did the trick. Care had to be exercised so as not to heat the stem too much and straighten the bend or melt it. I used micromesh pads 1500-6000 grits to polish the stem after that. Once I was satisfied that the marks were smooth I reinserted the stem on the bowl and gave the entirety a final buff with White Diamond and then several applications of carnauba wax. I finished by buffing the pipe with a clean flannel buff.


It is a comfortable pipe in hand and mouth. It measures just under 6 inches long. The bowl is ¾ inch in diameter. It smokes very well and has proved to be a great Virginia Flake pipe. I find the colour of the stem is a cool and relaxing bonus to the smoke.


A Frustrating Brigham 1 Dot Rehabilitation

This old Brigham came to me in a box pass here in Canada. Brigham pipes were made in Canada in the old days and had an aluminum tenon/filter holder. When I took it out of the pass I thought it would be an easy clean up and I could put it back in the box on the next pass through. The other day I took it out to clean it up and this is what I found when I took the stem out. The aluminum tenon/filter holder had literally been eaten away. The hard rock maple filter must have been the original and it too had been eaten away. It was stuck in the corroded and rough tenon and I could not get it off. I used a light to shine down the mortise and the aluminum end of the filter was stuck in the airway. It was perfectly situated to not block the airway at all but it was there. The stem also had some thick white build up all around the button end. The only good part of the mess was that there were just a few small tooth dents on the stem. The bowl exterior was in good shape. The inside of the bowl was caked with a very tarry and oily aromatic smelling stuff. The rim was thick with the same tars as the bowl.

I used a hack saw to cut off the aluminum filter holder/tenon. I cut it off the same length as a regular tenon and used a file sandpaper to clean up the rough edges after the cut. Once that was done the maple filter had to be coaxed out with a dental pick until it broke free and came out. I do not believe it was ever removed since the day it was purchased from Brigham. It was unbelievably tarred and oily. The end of the filter that was stuck in the airway was more of a problem. The aluminum seems to have bonded to the walls of the mortise. I tried the freezer method to see if it would break free – no luck. I went on to clean and restain the bowl as described below before filling the bowl with cotton bolls and alcohol to see if the tars will break free from around the aluminum. I am going to let it sit over night with the soak and see what happens. The soaking did not work. So I tried to drill it out I started with a bit the same size as the metal end of the filter. I worked my way up to larger bit to open it and see if I could back it out. The trouble is the situation of the insert is right against the opening into the bowl so I opened it as wide as I could without damaging the airway. So now there is a small metal tube in the end of the airway that is open to the bowl. It is probably ¼ inch deep so it will act like a sleeve in the airway. It looks to me that it will stay there!

I cleaned off the rim with acetone on a cotton pad while carefully keeping the acetone off the sides of the bowl. I also followed that with micromesh pads – sanding it with 1500-6000 grit pads. There were three dent marks at between one and two o’clock on the photo above. I steamed them out with a hot knife and wet cloth. These dents easily came out of the rim and the surface was smooth and after sanding they virtually disappeared. I reamed the bowl back to bare wood and sanded the remaining surface of the bowl.

I worked on the stem quite awhile. I used emery cloth, medium grit to remove the white build up and the tooth marks on the stem. They were not too deep but would not lift with heat. Once I had them removed I worked on the stem with 240 grit sandpaper and 400 and 600 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the scratches. Then I worked over the stem with 1500-12,000 grit micromesh pads. When the stem was shiny I took it to the buffer and buffed it with White Diamond. I gave it several coats of Obsidian Oil to bring the vulcanite some life. Then I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect it. The first picture below is of the underside of the stem and the second one is the topside of the stem. The tooth marks and scratches are gone.

I restained the rim of the bowl with medium brown aniline stain and wipe it on and off with a cotton pad. I was trying to match the smooth portions on the side of the shank. The finished stain was a perfect match to the rest of the bowl. I buffed the rim with White Diamond as well and waxed it with Halcyon II wax to give the bowl a shine. I buffed it with a clean flannel buff. The finished pipe is pictured in the last series of photos.

Four Pipes Restored – #1 Charatan Special Shape 44

Blog by Al Jones

Recently a friend asked me to restore four pipes that came from the estate of a family friend . This gentleman, from Ohio, had previously gifted me two wonderful GBD’s from this same estate. So, I was more than pleased to restore this quartet for him to enjoy.  From research into this group of pipes and my two, I belive they were purchased from the old Smokers Haven in Ohio.

First up on the bench was this massive Charatan Special billiard. I’ve seen these Specials before, but they almost always have a saddle stem. This one has a lovely tapered stem. The pipe is 7″ long and at exactly 100 grams, a hefty hunk of briar. This one is a shape 44 and has the Lane stamp.

Paired with a 4K Castello to give you a perspective on the size of the pipe:

Each of these four pieces had a heavy layer of grime on them (as did the two GBD’s in my collection) and a very thick layer of tar on the bowl top.  The had some small tooth impressions that lifted out with some heat.

The tars on top came off with some light scrubbing. I soaked the stem in a mild Oxyclean solution to remove some stubborn oxidation. I stayed away from the “CP” stamp. It is light, but visible. I did not soak the bowl on this one, just gave it a light reaming. The owner smoked all of these pipes very hot and did a fair bit of damage to the inside of the bowl.  I was afraid to remove the cake filling that was filling in the crevasses. With a little use, the cake should build over these spots and the pipe should still have a long life, the briar is still very thick all over. There were a few dents on the bottom of the bowl. They lifted out nicely with an old kitchen knife held over a propane torch and a wet cloth.

After soaking the stem, the oxidation was removed with 1500 and then 2000 grit wet paper.  I then moved to using the last three grades of Micromesh sheets (6000>8000>12000).  The stem was then buffed first with Tripoli and then White diamond rouges.  A final buff with Blue Magic Plastic polish was the final step.

The tars on the bowl top were removed with a very mild solution of water and alcohol as I didn’t want to lighten the stain.  As the heavy layer was removed, I switched to plain water on a cloth.  The bowl was buffed with Tripoli, White Diamond and then Carnuba wax.  The briar really cleaned up nicely.

The finished pipe is a very regal looking piece.

I’ll detail the other three pipes from this estate in future essays.

Al Jones, aka Upshallfan

Refurbished a Karl Erik Apple

I picked this beautiful older Karl Erik apple up on EBay. When it arrived I loved the looks of it and decided to work on it immediately upon opening the package. It had many dents in the sides of the bowl and front and back. The bowl had some darkening along the back side of the bowl near the rim. It was not charred or burned just darkly stained. The rim was clean of tars and oils and the bowl had been reamed already. It was a very clean pipe other than the darkening and the dents on the rim and bowl sides. The stem was oxidized minimally and had a few bite marks on it that were not too deep. There was not a lot of work to do on this one so I went to work. ImageImage

I took it into the kitchen and turned on one of the gas burners on the stove. I wet a dish cloth so and laid it on the counter next to the stove. I heated my old butter knife over the flame. I placed the folded wet dish cloth on the dents that are visible on the sides of the bowl to steam them out. The hiss of the hot knife on the damp cloth generated the steam that lifted the dents. I worked on the dents on both sides of the bowl and on the rim. When I was finished the dents were gone. I washed the exterior of the bowl down with some isopropyl alcohol to clean off the darkening along the top edges of the bowl on the back side and on both sides. It came off quite easily. Once that was done I sanded the bowl with micromesh pads to smooth out the finish and prepare it for restaining. I stained it with a medium brown stain. I buffed it with White Diamond and then gave it several coats of carnauba wax.

I used my heat gun to lift the tooth marks on the stem near the button and then sanded it with 240 grit sandpaper and also the usual 400 and 600 grit wet dry sandpaper and water. Once they were smoothed out I sanded it with micromesh 1500-6000 grit and then put it back on the bowl. I  buffed and polished the whole pipe and waxed it again. It is a beautiful little pipe that I will enjoy smoking.

Using steam to lift dents in briar

ImageIn the early days of our marriage, my wife and I bought a lot of used furniture. Today many would call them antiques but then they were just used furniture and were quite inexpensive. I bought a book on working with furniture called the Furniture Doctor by George Grotz in which he gave all kinds of helpful tips on restoring wood furniture. One of the tips that I used for years was a simple procedure for raising dents in wood. He explained a process of steaming the wood to lift the dents. I can’t remember his exact method any more as I have modified it and made it mine over the years so I don’t know where George leaves off and Steve takes off. It seems to me that it was a simple procedure of place a damp cloth on the dent and applying heat to the surface to make steam. I always used a steam iron from the laundry closet to do this. I would wet a cloth and place it on the dent and then apply the hot steam iron to it. There would be a resultant hiss and steam released. I would repeat the procedure until the dent was gone. Then I would refinish the piece with sand paper and stain it again to match.

When I got into refurbishing pipes I decided to try the same thing. I had not read about it anywhere, though since I have seen others speak of it. I tried the cloth and steam iron but found it too cumbersome to use the big iron on a small dent on a smaller pipe. The iron just over shadowed the pipe. I tried using just the tip of the iron and it worked quite well but I wanted a bit more of a vantage point when I was doing the steaming. I wanted to see that I was actually placing the heat on the dent. So I tried a few methods from the tip of a soldering iron to a lighter to try to accomplish the same thing.

Then one day I was frying a couple of eggs on our gas stove and the lights came on. I laid aside the frying pan and ran down to my work bench for a pipe I was working on to put my idea to the test. I wet a dish cloth (shhh don’t tell my wife!) and then took one of the butter knives from the cutlery drawer. I heated the tip of the blade over the gas flame for a few seconds and then applied it to the wet cloth on the dent in the pipe. Viola! It worked exceptionally well. I repeated it several times on the dents on the rim and around the sides of the bowl and was amazed at how I could put just a bit of the wet cloth and the hot tip of the knife exactly on the spot. It really left little to work out once I was finished. The wet spot under the towel quickly dried and the finish was only left with a matte look to it. I took it to the buffer and within moments the matte area was polished and the pipe was as good as new.

Over the years now I have used this method on lifting dents in the shank area of pipes, on the sides of bowls and on the rims with great success. I have refined it a bit from those early days of experimentation so now I use a small piece of cotton cloth and a “not so new” butter knife that I requisitioned from the kitchen cutlery drawer. I love the control you have over the field of repair. To be able to directly target the spot of the dent and not put the wet cloth on the entire side of the bowl is amazing. I keep using it and reworking it to find other ways to do the work but I come back again and again to the kitchen stove, fire up the gas burners and work on the dents. I have learned, by and large, to do this when the kitchen is not occupied by my wife or daughters as they go about their preparations for dinner – you see, you can teach the old dog new tricks!

Give the trick a try, experiment with it and post here to let us know how it works for you.

Refurbished Mastercraft Bulldog

Another old timer, a Mastercraft Bulldog was in my box of bowls without stems. The squat shape of this little bulldog caught my eye.

The bowl pretty rough looking. The finish was gone and the top had been used as a hammer so it was badly dented and the roughening of the wood left a lot of splintering edges. It was also badly caked and still had a remnant of tobacco left in the bowl. Since it was missing its stem I have no idea when the bowl and tobacco got separated from the stem. I have a coffee can in which I keep a wide range of stems that I have picked up and another can of stem blanks that need to be shaped and fit to the new pipe. For this pipe I found an old stem in the can that was a perfect fit once I removed the old stinger type insert. The stem was badly oxidized virtually brown. There were no tooth marks on the stem and no dents that needed to be repaired.

I reamed and cleaned the bowl and shank until the pipe cleaners came white. I use 99% isopropyl alcohol for doing this as I find that it works well and evaporates quickly leaving no residual tastse. The top had been hammered so much that the bowl had to be topped so that it would be smooth again. The trick with this one was not to remove too much of the top and thus change the angles of the bulldog shape. So I removed enough to give me a smooth surface to work with but not enough to change the shape. Once it was topped and sanded I put it in the alcohol bath and left it while I worked on cleaning up the stem.

I had soaked the stem in a mixture of Oxyclean to soften the oxidation and prepare it for the sanding that would be necessary to clean it. Once I remove it from the soak I buffed it with Tripoli to remove the oxidation that had softened and then sanded it with 240 grit sandpaper. Once I had removed the brown surface I used 400 and 600 grit wet dry sandpaper to continue the smoothing and polishing process. I finished the stem with the micromesh pads from 1500 – 6000 grit. Then I set it aside to wait until I had finished bowl and polish the entirety on the buffer.

I took the bowl out of the alcohol bath and sanded it with the micromesh pads to remove the surface scratches and remaining marks in the bowl surface. I steamed out the dents with a damp cloth and a hot knife and then sanded them smooth again. I restained this bowl with a Medium Brown stain. I flamed it to set the stain, inserted the stem and then took it to the buffer and buffed it with White Diamond to polish it. The entirety was then given several coats of carnauba wax. This one found a new home with someone who loved the shape and it is providing a great smoke for them. ImageImageImage