Tag Archives: turning a tenon

Restemming & Restoring a “The Londoner” Bent Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

Sometimes the repetitive work on similar pipes and stems gets tiring to me and to alleviate the inevitable boredom I change things up a bit to refresh me. I have a box of stummels (bowls) here that I periodically go through and see if I have a potential stem that would fit them. Sunday afternoon I went through the box and picked out two bowls and found workable stems for them both. They were in different states of need but all had been thoroughly cleaned before I boxed them up. The pipe I chose to work on first is a lovely Bent Dublin stummel. The bowl looked very good. The grain around the sides was quite nice and a mix of flame and birdseye grain. There were a few fills on the right side of the bowl and shank but there were in good condition. The rim top was in excellent condition. The interior of the bowl was clean and there were not any chips, cracks or checking on the walls. The finish was dull and bit and tired but still quite redeemable. The stamping on the pipe was clear and readable. On the left side it read The Londoner in script and there are no other stamping on the pipe. I took some photos of the bowl before I started to work on it.   I took a photo of the stamping on the left side of the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable.I went through some of stems and found this saddle style stem that was close to the right diameter and had a tenon that would work as well. It has a few tooth marks and chatter near the button but it would clean up well.The pipe is stamped “The Londoner” which is not listed with that style of stamp on either Pipephil or Pipedia. There was a Londoner made by Barlings but it is stamped differently than this one and does not have the article in front of the name. So the maker of the pipe remains a mystery for now. Now it is time to work on the pipe.

I started my work on the pipe by fitting the new stem to the shank. I trimmed down the tenon diameter slightly with a file so that the fit in the shank was snug. The stem diameter needed more work so I worked it with a file to match it to the shank. I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it out. I removed the stem and polished the briar (bowl and sanded shank end) with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down with a damp cloth after each pad. It really began to shine. I restained the shank end where I had sanded it to make the transition to the new stem smooth with a Cherry stain pen. The colour was a perfect match. Once the bowl was buffed the newly stained section would blend in well. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the smooth briar with my finger tips. The product is amazing and works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let it sit on the briar for 10 or more minutes and then buff it off with a soft cloth. It really makes the grain sing. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the stem surface with a Bic lighter flame to raise the tooth marks (no pictures). I was able to lift some of them to the surface. I filled in the remaining spots with clear CA glue and once it was hard smoothed out the repairs with 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a cloth and Obsidian Oil. I finished the polishing with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I put the pipe together – the bowl with its new stem. This restored and restemmed “The Londoner” Bent Dublin is a real beauty and I think the chosen stem works well with it. The grain on the bowl came alive with the buffing. I used Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel on both the bowl and stem. I gave both multiple coats of carnauba wax on the wheel then buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. “The Londoner Dublin” feels great in the hand. It is lightweight and the contrast in the browns of the briar and the polished vulcanite stem with the popping grain on the mixed brown stained bowl is quite amazing. The dimensions of the pipe are Length:5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outer diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.62 ounces/46 grams. It really is a beauty. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store in the British Pipe Makers section shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for walking through the restemming and the restoration with me. Cheers.

Restemming & Restoring a “Malaga” Lovat


Blog by Steve Laug

Sometimes the repetitive work on similar pipes and stems gets tiring to me and to alleviate the inevitable boredom I change things up a bit to refresh me. I have a box of stummels (bowls) here that I periodically go through and see if I have a potential stem that would fit them. Yesterday when I finished the old timer on my work I went through the box and picked out three bowls and found workable stems for them. All were in different states of need but all had been thoroughly cleaned before I boxed them up. The first restemmed and restored was a ZETTERVIG Copenhagen Handmade 900 Egg (https://rebornpipes.com/2021/09/04/restemming-restoring-a-zettervig-copenhagen-hand-made-900-egg/). The next one I chose to work on is a lovely Malaga Lovat stummel.  I have worked on a lot of Malaga pipes in the past so I am not a stranger to the brand. I have included the link below to a bit of history on the brand that I compiled.

The bowl looked very good. The grain around the sides was quite nice and a mix of flame and birdseye grain. The rim top had some burn damage on the rear top and inner edge and some darkening all the way around. The bowl was slightly out of round. There was a crack in the underside of the shank that extended about ½ inch up the shank. The interior of the bowl was clean and there were not any chips, cracks or checking on the walls. Examining the mortise it was clean and well drilled with no issues other than the previously noted crack. The finish was washed out and bit and tired but still quite redeemable. The stamping on the pipe was clear and readable. On the left side it read “MALAGA” and on the right side it read IMPORTED BRIAR. I took some photos of the bowl before I started to work on it. I took a photo of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable.I went through some of stems and found this saddle style stem without a tenon. It had been drilled for a tenon but it had never been finished. It was the right diameter and it fit the shank and the look of the pipe very well. It has a few tooth marks and chatter near the button but it would clean up well.I have worked on quite a few Malaga pipes and blogged their restorations, so rather than repeat previous blogs, I am including the link to one that gives some of the history of the Malaga brand and the Malaga Pipe Shop in Royal Oak, Michigan in the USA from a catalogue. It gives a sense of the brand and the history in their own words. Follow the link to get a feel for the brand and the pipemaker – https://rebornpipes.com/2013/02/09/george-khoubesser-and-malaga-pipes/.

With that information in hand I turned to work on the bowl. I addressed the crack in the shank first. I cleaned it and smoothed it out. I used an awl and pressed a small hole in the shank at the end of the crack. I filled in the crack with clear CA glue and pressed it together until it cured. I pressed a brass band onto the end of the shank to further address the crack. It serves that function and also gives it a bit of bling. With that repaired I turned to deal with the rim top issues. I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out and minimize the damage on the rim top. I used a small wooden ball that Kenneth gave me recently to give the inner edge a bevel to minimize the burn on the inner edge and bring the bowl back to round.I shortened the tenon to fit the shank of the pipe. I used the Dremel and sanding drum to remove the shoulder at the top of the tenon above the threads. I shaped the tenon fit with a small file and sanded it smooth. I glued the threaded end of the tenon with clear CA glue and pressed it into the stem. It cures quickly so it is key to move quickly and set it well as  you only get one chance! I put the stem in shank for a sense of the look of the pipe and then wiped the bowl down with alcohol on a cotton pad to remove the debris from the sanding and that was still in the surface of the briar. I liked what I saw. The grain was really quite nice and the band and new stem worked well with the pipe. I removed the stem and polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down with a damp cloth after each pad. It really began to shine. I stained the rim top and edges with a Maple stain pen to match the rest of the stain around the bowl sides. The rim top and inner edge look very good.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the smooth briar with my finger tips. The product is amazing and works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let it sit on the briar for 10 or more minutes and then buff it off with a soft cloth. It really makes the grain sing. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the stem surface with a Bic lighter flame to raise the tooth marks. I was able to lift all of them to the surface. I smoothed out what remained with 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a cloth and Obsidian Oil. I finished the polishing with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I put the pipe back together – the bowl with its new stem. This restored “Malaga” Imported Briar Oil Cured Lovat is a real beauty and I think the brass band and the chosen stem works well with it. The grain on the bowl came alive with the buffing. I used Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel on both the bowl and stem. I gave both multiple coats of carnauba wax on the wheel then buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The “Malaga” Lovat feels great in the hand. It is lightweight and the contrast in the browns of the briar, the brass of the band and the polished vulcanite stem with the popping grain on the mixed brown stained bowl is quite amazing. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outer diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.34 ounces/38 grams. It really is a beauty. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store in the American (US) Pipe Makers section shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for walking through the restemming and the restoration with me. Cheers.

Restemming and Transforming a “Hialeah” Pipe From My Inherited Lot


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

After I had completed the Butz- Choquin A Metz No. 2 pipe (Restoring An Early Butz Choquin “A Metz” No. 2 | rebornpipes), I rummaged through the fast dwindling pile of 40 odd pipes that Abha, my wife, had cleaned up for me to complete my part of further repairs and restoration work.

The pipe that I have selected is one from the huge lot of my grandfather’s pipes that I had inherited. This pipe had always caught my fancy on account of the wonderfully thin, tightly packed straight grains that are seen all around the stummel and shank and also due to its peculiar shape, a rather tall bowl (but not a stack!) with a longish shank and an equally long saddle stem. Overall, it definitely looked quirky to say the least, it’s a LOVAT shape on account of the round shank and a saddle bit but not a classic LOVAT since the stem is as long as the shank!! It’s the carver’s take on a classic shape, I guess. However, there was something about the stem that seemed wrong at the first glance. It was for this reason that the pipe always fell out of favor in the lineup of pipes for restoration. Here are a couple of pictures of the pipe that shows the pipe before Abha, my wife, had done the initial cleaning. From the pictures below, it is amply evident that the stem is not aligned straight in reference to the shank, but is skewed more towards the left (evidenced in the second picture).This pipe has some beautiful densely packed thin straight, also referred to as “Angel hair” grains all around the tall bowl and over the long shank surface. The only stampings seen on this pipe are over the left shank surface and is stamped as “HIALEAH” over “ALGERIAN BRIAR”. These stampings are crisp and clear. The long saddle vulcanite stem is devoid of any stampings.I looked for information on this brand on rebornpipes.com. Unfortunately the search yielded no results (a surprise for sure!!). Next I turned to pipedia.org to understand and establish the provenance of the pipe brand. There is not much information that was noted in the article, but was sufficient to give me an idea of the brand and period of operations. Here is the link to the webpage:-

Hialeah – Pipedia  I quote from the article; “From what I’ve found on the web HIALEAH pipes were sold by Whitehall Products Co. (a division of Helme Products) prior to 1975. Whitehall was in Wheeling, West Virginia, and Helme somewhere in New Jersey. All I’ve seen have been made of Algerian Briar and are reported to be great smokers”.

Thus, this pipe definitely dates to pre-1975

Initial Visual Inspection
Abha, in a deviation from her thumb rule of not taking any “BEFORE” pictures, had taken a few pictures of the pipe to highlight the condition of the pipe before she commenced her initial clean up for me.

The chamber had a thick layer of cake with heavy overflow of lava over the rim top surface. The inner rim edge appears to be uneven while the outer rim edge appears sans any damage. The exact condition of the edges will be ascertained once the lava overflow from the rim top surface is removed and the surface is cleaned up. The draught hole is in the dead center and at the bottom of the chamber and this construction should make it a great smoke.The stummel surface was covered in dust and grime of years of usage and subsequent storage. The stummel has developed dark hues of browns and has scratches and dings over the surface, most notably to the heel and front of the stummel. However under all the dust and grime, beautiful tight Angel hair grains are awaiting to be brought to the fore. There are a couple of fills, one to the front of the stummel and another to the shank very close to the stampings. The mortise has traces of old oils and tars, restricting the air flow through the mortise. Whether to refresh the fills or let them be will be decided once the stummel is cleaned and the fills are checked for softness thereafter.  The long vulcanite saddle stem is heavily oxidized with minor tooth chatter in the bite zone. The stem is skewed to the left immediately after the saddle portion of the stem. This flaw makes me believe it to be a shaping issue more than anything and further points to the likelihood of the stem to be handmade. Steve also concurred with my assumptions when we discussed the restoration during one of our video calls. He also pointed out that there was no way to right this wrong other than replacing the stem.Initial Cleaning By Abha…
The initial cleaning on this pipe was done by Abha, my wife (she has cleaned up around 40-50 pipes and these have now reached me for further restoration). She reamed out the complete cake and further smoothed out the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. She further cleaned out the internals of the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol and cotton buds. She followed the internal cleaning of the shank with external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it with paper napkins and cotton cloth.

Next she cleaned out the internals of the stem air way and immersed it in “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution along with the stem of other pipes in line for restoration. Once the stem had soaked overnight, she cleaned the stem under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using Scotch Brite pad. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little olive oil to rehydrate the stem.

Once The Pipe Is On My Work Table…
The cleaned up pipes presents a very clear picture of what needs to be done to restore this pipe to a decent and smokable condition. I really cannot thank Abha enough for all the help and support that she extends me in my pursuance of this hobby. I proceed to carry out my appreciation of the work that needs to be done on this pipe to restore it.

As with all the cleaned pipes that Abha packs, there was a note in the zip lock pouch with issues that she had observed in the pipe. The first point was that the chamber has developed heat fissures. The second point was that she was not happy with the shape of the stem and it appeared odd. Also the seating of the stem in to the mortise was very loose. Here are the pictures of the pipe as I had received. The chamber does appear to have developed heat fissures (indicated with red arrows). The rim top surface is darkened all around, more so at the back of the rim surface. The inner rim edge is uneven while the outer edge is slightly charred in 1 o’clock direction and is encircled in yellow. Close scrutiny of the chamber walls made me realize that there is still a very thin layer of cake in the chamber and it is my experience that this gives an appearance of heat fissures! Only after the cake has been completely removed will I be able to confirm presence of heat fissures or otherwise.The stummel is nice and clean but would benefit from polishing to rejuvenate and bring a nice shine over the briar surface. There is a large fill over the left shank surface and very close to the stampings (encircled in yellow). The fill is solid and I wouldn’t take the risk of refreshing it due to its proximity to the stampings. There are a few dings to the front of the bowl (encircled in red) that would need to be addressed. The mortise has no chips or cracks to the shank face/ shank. There are a few minor pockets of old oils and tars that are seen on the walls of the mortise and would require some invasive measures to eliminate completely.Since the stem would be replaced, I shall not dwell in detail about the stem condition, but am including a few pictures of the stem to show its condition as well as give the readers a perspective about the incorrect shape imparted to the stem at the time it was crafted.The Process
The first issue to be addressed in this project was to replace the original poorly crafted stem. Steve and I went through my small stash of spare stems and selected a small bent saddle stem that was stamped on the left as “ROPP” on a steel roundel. This stem would impart a classic Lovat shape to the pipe and vastly improve the aesthetics of the pipe, or so we thought. Here is how the pipe looks with this bent saddle stem. The tenon would need to be sanded down for it to seat in to the mortise and this would be the trickiest part of this stem replacement. I would have to be very careful to sand the tenon evenly and equally from all around, frequently checking for a snug fit in to the mortise. The replacement vulcanite saddle stem is in perfect condition with no damage to the button or in the bite zone, save for some minor oxidation and very light tooth chatter. I would need to first straighten out the stem followed by sanding the tenon for a snug fit in to the mortise. Only once these issues are addressed would I be progressing to removing the “ROPP” stamped steel plate and filling the area left behind by the removal of the steel plate.

I began the restoration of this pipe by first addressing the suspected heat fissures in the chamber walls. I worked on the stummel by reaming the chamber with a PipNet pipe reamer using the size 3 head. With my fabricated knife, I removed the remaining carbon deposit. Once the cake was reamed back to the bare briar, I used a 150 grit sand paper followed by 220 grit sand paper to remove all the traces of remaining cake and also to smooth out the inner walls of the chamber surface. Finally, to remove the residual carbon dust, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. I was very pleased to note that the chamber walls are sans any damage.With the bowl internals clean, I move to clean the exterior of the stummel, specially the rim top surface. I used a hard bristled tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil soap to scrub the stummel and rim top. After the scrub with oil soap, I washed the stummel under running warm water with anti oil dish washing detergent till the stummel surface was clean and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I simultaneously cleaned the shank internals with the detergent and hard bristled shank brush and set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. The smooth stummel surface has cleaned up nicely with the beautiful Angel hair grain patterns on full display. There are two major fills that are now plainly visible (encircled in green), but they are solid and I shall avoid refreshing them. The darkening and unevenness of the inner rim edge is evident and over reamed in the 1 o’clock direction (encircled in yellow). The ghost smells are completely eliminated and the pipe now smells fresh, odorless and clean. The shank air way is nice and open. I am sure that the pipe will turn out to be a fantastic smoker with a full wide and open draw. Now that I had a fair idea of the extent of topping required to the rim surface, I top the rim on a piece of 220 grit sand paper to address the rim surface darkening, dents and dings. I addressed the uneven inner edge by creating a light bevel to inner edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and index finger. To further smooth out the scratches left behind by the abrasive 220 girt sand paper, I top the rim surface on a piece of 400 grit sand paper. I am very happy at the way the chamber and rim top surface appears at this point in restoration. Next, I decided to address the dents and dings on the stummel surface, notably to the front of the bowl (encircled in pastel blue). Using a whitener pen, I marked all the major areas with dents and dings as I had decided to leave the minor ones as they were. I heated my fabricated knife over the flame of a candle, placed a wet Turkish hand towel over the marked areas and steamed out the dents by placing the heated knife over the towel. The steam generated by placing a hot knife on the wet towel helps the briar to expand within these dents and dings, making for a smooth and even surface. To further even out the remaining dings, I lightly sand the entire stummel with a folded piece of worn out 180 grit sand paper. The stummel appears much better and smooth at this juncture. With the stummel repairs completed, I turned my attention to the replacement stem. The first thing that needed to be done was to straighten the stem. I cleaned the stem internals first and inserted a regular pipe cleaner through the stem airway. This prevents the airway from collapsing when the stem is heated to straighten it. With a heat gun, I heated the stem at the point where the stem was bent, rotating the stem frequently to ensure even heating. Once the stem was pliable, I straightened the stem with my hands by placing it on the flat table. After the stem had cooled down sufficiently, I held it under cold running water to set the straightened shape. Now that the stem was straightened, the next step was to ensure a snug fit of the tenon in to the mortise. Since the tenon was not too large as compared to the mortise, I got down to the arduous and time consuming task of manually sanding down the tenon with a folded piece of 180 grit sandpaper till I had achieved a perfect seating of the tenon in to the mortise. My previous experience had taught me an invaluable lesson; “SAND ONCE AND CHECK TWICE”!! Here I was extra careful and vigilant while sanding the sides of the tenon and frequently checked the alignment of the stem airway, the shank airway and finally, the draught hole. Excess sanding of any one side of the tenon disturbs this alignment even though the seating may appear to be snug and seamless. I gave a final check to the progress being made and the seating was perfectly snug with all the airways perfectly aligned. I am very happy with the progress up to this point!!Close scrutiny of the seating of the tenon in to the mortise under camera magnification revealed a slight gap at the stem and shank face junction. With a folded piece of 180 grit sandpaper, I sand the base of the tenon until I had achieved a seamless and flushed seating of the stem. Discerning Readers must have noticed a dark line starting from the shank end and extending for about an inch and a half towards the bowl (indicated with green arrows). I too thought (with a cringe) that the shank had cracked in the process, but let me assure you that the shank is not cracked and is in fact a dark strand of straight grain…that was really a big relief!!Once I had achieved a snug fit of the tenon in to the mortise, I checked for the flush seating of the stem face with that of the shank and realized that the stem diameter is larger than that of the shank and the extent of sanding that would be required. This would need to be addressed.   But before I could address this issue, it was necessary that the metal plate bearing the ROPP stamping be removed and the cavity created, be filled out. Once this was done, matching the entire saddle portion with the shank face would be accurate and time saving. Using dental pick and a sharp, thin paper cutter, I removed the steel plate and cleaned the gouged out surface with a cotton pad and isopropyl alcohol. I evened out the surrounding area with a worn out piece of 180 grit sand paper and filled the cavity with a mix of CA superglue and black charcoal powder. I set the fill to cure overnight.The next day, I sand the filled cavity with a piece of 180 grit sand paper till I had achieved a rough match with the surrounding saddle surface of the stem. The filled area would be perfectly matched when I sand the entire saddle portion to match the shank face.Now, to match the stem face with the shank face, I unite the stem and the shank. With a sanding drum mounted on to my hand held rotary tool, I sand the saddle portion of the stem till I had achieved a near perfect matching of the stem face with that of the shank face. I further fine tune the match perfectly by sanding it with a 220 followed by 400 grit sand paper. The match is perfect and the pipe as a whole is now looking very nice with the new stem. It still looks very plain and would need a dash of a little bling to complete the transformation!! Also, there is a need to refill the cavity left behind by the steel plate as I noticed a few ugly air pockets. I refilled it with CA superglue and charcoal powder and set it aside for the fill to cure. To add a little bling to the appearance of the pipe, I decided to attach a brass band at the shank end. I selected a band that was a perfect fit and glued it over the shank end with CA superglue and set it aside to cure.I subjected the stummel to a complete cycle of micromesh polish, dry sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit pads. I paid greater attention to polish the rim top surface and the bevel created on the inner rim edge. I wiped the stummel with a moist cloth after every grit pad to remove the sanding dust left behind by the pads. I am happy with the progress being made till now. Just look at the beautiful grain on this piece of briar!! The briar has taken on a nice deep shine with brown of the stummel and the darker brown stains to the grain contrasting beautifully. I really like the patina that is seen over the stummel surface. However, the rim top surface appears lighter than the rest of the stummel due to the topping. I stained the lighter hued rim top surface with a combination of Dark Brown over Chestnut stain pens. I set the stummel aside for the stain to set. The stain combination has helped in perfect blending of the rim top with the rest of the stummel.Next, I turned my attention back to the stem. I began the process of final fine tuning of matching the stem face with the shank face, shaping the saddle for a sharper match with the shank flow, sanding the refill in the saddle and bringing a nice shine to the stem surface by sanding with 320, 400, 600, 800 and 1000 grit sandpapers. I had attached the stem to the shank during the entire sanding job so that I do not end up shouldering the stem face. The closer I came to the perfect match, the higher grit sand paper I used. A lot of patient and diligent work, I reached the point where I felt “no more sanding… this is the perfect seating and perfect Lovat profile!!”. My mantra “LESS IS MORE” was also playing at the back of my mind. I was very pleased with my efforts of transforming the stem as I had achieved a perfect snug seating of the stem in to the mortise and a perfectly matching shank and stem face!!

To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, I went through the complete set of sand papers and micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads. I wiped the stem with moist cloth after each pad. At the end of micromesh cycle, I polished the stem with “Before and After Fine & Extra Fine” paste. The finished stem is shown below.Turning back to the stummel, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the Angel hair grain patterns displayed in their complete splendor. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush. The contrast of the natural lighter brown patina of the stummel with the dark browns of the grain adds an interesting dimension to the appearance of the stummel. To check and verify the correctness of the alignment of the stem airway, the tenon opening, shank/mortise airway and finally through the draught hole, I did the PIPE CLEANER TEST.  The pipe cleaner passed through cleanly and without any obstruction from the slot end right through the draught hole. I checked the draw and though it was smooth, it felt a tad bit constricted. I further opened the draw by funneling the tenon end with a thin sanding drum mounted on the hand held rotary tool. The draw is now silky smooth and effortless!! Unfortunately, I missed out on taking pictures of the process, but I am sure the readers have a general idea of what had been done.I have now reached the homestretch in this restoration project. To complete the restoration, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and polished the stummel and stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks from the stem surface that remain from the sanding. I mounted another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. The finished pipe with a new brass band looks amazingly beautiful and is ready for its new innings with me and be enjoyed for a long time.

Restemming and Restoring a No Name Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

This morning I received another call from a customer sent to me by the local pipe shop. The fellow had a pipe that needed to be restemmed. He said he would stop by and drop the pipe off for me to work on. Irene and I were out and about so he left it in the mail box. When Irene brought it down to me in the shop the smell was overwhelmingly strong and filled the room with the overly sweet smell of years of aromatic vanilla smelling tobaccos. It was in a plastic bag and once I opened the bag it was even more pungent. The bowl was filled with a thick cake that took over half the diameter of the bowl. There was tobacco debris stuck on the walls of the bowl. The cake was sticky and tacky with the tars and oils. The exterior of the pipe was cake with sticky substances around all the sides and on the rim top. The rim top had been beat up and was in rough condition with a thick buildup of lava on the top. The finish was in rough condition with a lot of nicks and gouges around the sides of the bowl and shank. It was really a mess. The stem was chewed and split in half at the button forward for about an inch up the stem. Once I removed it the inside of the shank was as smelly as the rest of the pipe. I took photos of the pipe before I began my clean up. I took a photo of the rim top to show condition of the bowl. You can see the damage to the top and the inner and outer edge. You can see the thick cake in the bowl and the thick lava coat on the heavily damaged rim top. It is a very dirty pipe. I also took photos of the stem to show its condition. It has tooth marks and cracks on the top and underside of the stem near the button.  You can also see that the stem does not fit tightly against the shank but has gaps on both sides. I took the pipe apart and took photos of the pipe as a whole. It is in rough condition and I think that the stem was a replacement at some point in its life.The pipe stunk so bad and filled the room with the odor to the degree that I decided to clean the bowl before restemming the pipe. I reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer using three of the four cutting heads. I removed the cake back to bare walls so I could check for damage to the inside of the bowl from heat or otherwise. I scraped the remainder of the cake from the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife and scraped the rim top at the same time. I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with a tooth brush and undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap. I worked to get the thick grime off the outside of the bowl and shank. I rinsed it with running water and rinsed off the soap and grime. I cleaned out the shank and the airway into the bowl with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and isopropyl alcohol to remove the tars and buildup in the shank. I wanted the shank clean before I fit a new stem.I built up the inside edge of the bowl and the damage to the rim top with super glue and briar dust. I layered the mixture on the rim and rebuilt the inner edge. Once I had it built up I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. Once I topped it smooth I stained the rim top with a Maple Stain Pen. I found a stem that was the same diameter as the ruined stem. I turned it on the PIMO tenon turning tool and my hand drill. I took the excess material off the diameter and the length of the stem to get a snug fit in the shank. I took photos of the fit of the stem to the shank. The fit of the stem to the shank end was the same as the previous one.There was a gap on both sides and it sat firm against the top and bottom. I examined the shank end and saw that it had been damaged and was no longer flat. I decided to square it up with a thin brass band as it would give a flat surface for the stem to face against. I glued and pressed it onto the shank end and set it aside to cure.   I used the Dremel and sanding drum to take down the excess diameter of the stem and sanded it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper. Once I had the fit correct I put the stem in place on the pipe and took photos of the fit and look at this point in the process.    I filled in the nicks and chips in the finish with briar dust and clear super glue. Once it had cured I sanded them smooth with 220 grit sandpaper. I wiped the bowl down with isopropyl alcohol to remove the finish and the dust on the briar.  I restained the bowl and shank with a light brown aniline stain. I flamed it with a lighter and repeated the process several times until I had the coverage that I was looking for.Once the stain had cured I took the pipe off the cork and took photos of the stained look of the bowl and shank with the brass band.   I wiped the bowl down with isopropyl alcohol to make the stain more transparent. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down between pads with a damp cloth. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The Balm did its magic and the grain stood out.    I sanded out the scratch marks on stem from the Dremel with 220 grit sandpaper. I started polishing it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further the stem. The photo below shows the polished stem.  This pipe has come a long way from where it was when I received it to restem. It is not flawless but it looks better. The Vancouver piper who it belongs to has received far more that what he originally wanted – just a new stem. The briar around the bowl is clean and looks better. The rich brown stains gave the grain a sense of depth with the polishing and waxing. The rim top while not perfect is far better. I put the newly fitted vulcanite stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inch, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The pipeman will be picking it up soon and will be reintroduced to this pipe. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.

Restemming and Restoring a Weber Rusticated Oom Paul


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table came to us from a pipe hunt Jeff and I did in Washington earlier this year. We picked this Weber Imported Briar Bowl sans stem at an Antique Mall along the way of the hunt. The rusticated finish was unique and allowed some nice flame and straight grain to come through in the smooth portions of the bowl. On the right side of the shank it was clearly stamped with the Weber oval logo [over] Imported Briar. The finish is smooth other than the rusticated or carved portion on the left side of the bowl toward the front. The rim top and first ¼ inch of the bowl side below the rim top is smooth as is the shank end. The pipe bowl was filthy with grime and oil ground into the briar of the bowl and shank sides. There was a lot of dust in the carvings on the bowl sides. The bowl had a thick cake and a thick overflow of lava on the rim top.  The rim edges – both outer and inner – looked very good. Jeff took some photos of the bowl to show its overall condition and shape before he started his cleanup work. He took photos of the rim top and bowl to give a clear picture of the thickness of the cake and the lava on the rim top. He took photos of the stamping on the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable.   I turned to Pipedia to see if I could figure out the stamping on the pipe and found a good article on the history of the brand (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Weber_Pipe_Co.). I quote from that article below.

Carl B. Weber was a German from Bavaria. Aged 21 he emigrated to the USA in 1911. In 1938 he established Weber Briars Inc. in Jersey City, New Jersey. Later renamed in Weber Pipe Co..

The firm grew to be one of the giants of American pipe industry focusing itself in the middle price and quality zone. Trademark: “Weber” in an oval. Beside that Weber – especially in the years after 1950 – was a most important supplier for private label pipes that went to an immense number of pipe shops. Alone in New York, exactly the same pipes were found at Wilke’s, Barclay Rex, Trinity East, Joe Strano’s Northampton Tobacconist in Ridgewood, Queens, Don-Lou in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn… Nearly all pipes for Wilke were unstained and many models, for example the “Wilke Danish Bent”, could hardly deny originating of Weber.

Among others well reputed pipemaker Anthony Passante¹ worked for Weber.

Weber Pipe Co. owned and manufactured Jobey pipes – when mainly sold in the USA by The Tinder Box from 1970’s – 80’s. In addition Jobey / Weber bought Danish freehands from Karl Erik (Ottendahl). These pipes were offered as Jobey Dansk. Ottendahl discontinued exports to the United States in 1987 and in the very same year – obviously only as a ghost brand – Jobey was transferred to Saint-Claude, France to be manufactured by Butz-Choquin.

Carl B. Weber is the author of the famous book “Weber’s Guide to Pipes and Pipe Smoking”.

It was time to work on the pipe. Jeff had cleaned up the pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife.  He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the shank with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. I took photos of the pipe bowl once I received it.  I decided to put a brass shank band on the pipe because I really like the look of a thin band between the wood and the bent stem on an Oom Paul. I just sold and English made one that I had done that with and really liked the looks. It is purely cosmetic as there are no cracks. I smoothed out the shank end with 220 grit sandpaper and polished it lightly with a 1500 grit micromesh pad. I pressed the band in place on the shank end and took some photos to show how it looked.   I went through my stem and chose two stems that would work with the pipe. The first one was a saddle stem. I had been drilled for a filter and was quite shiny. I was not sure if it was rubber or if it was plastic. I sanded the tenon down so that it would fit the pipe.I put it on the pipe and took photos. It was slightly smaller in diameter than the band on the shank but it did not look too band. I liked the overall look of the pipe with this stem. I set up my heat gun to bend the stem. I inserted a pipe cleaner in the airway and started heating the stem surface. I checked it regularly and found that the surface of the stem had split the length of the underside on the airway. I pitched the stem and went back to the work table to fit the second stem. This time I would use a rubber cast stem that had a taper rather than a saddle. It was also virtually the same diameter as the shank end with the band. I put it on my PIMO tenon turning tool and took the tenon down to where it almost fit the shanks and sanded it by hand for the snug fit I was looking for. I sanded the casting marks on the sides of the stem with my Dremel and sanding drum to smooth them out. I put the stem on the bowl and took photos. I would need to remove some of the vulcanite on the top of the stem to match the diameter of the shank. I liked the overall look of the new stem.  I used the Dremel and sanding drum to remove the excess vulcanite from the top part of the stem to match the shank.   I put a pipe cleaner in the stem and heated it with the heat gun until the vulcanite was flexible.  I bent it so that the pipe would sit comfortably in the mouth and hang nicely. I removed the new stem and turned my attention to the bowl for a while. I would come back to polishing the stem shortly. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and into the carvings around the bowl with a horsehair shoe brush. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 10 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine.    I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. I sanded the stem surface to remove the scratches, Dremel marks and casting marks and blend them into the surface of the vulcanite with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing of the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.   I polished the vulcanite stem with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.  This Weber Imported Briar Rusticated Oom Paul came out really well with the brass band and the new stem. The briar and vulcanite stem taper make for a great looking pipe now that it has been restored and restemmed. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel using a light touch on the briar. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Weber Oom Paul fits nicely in the hand and hangs well in the mouth. Once it is packed with tobacco and fired up I am sure that it will feel great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in adding this pipe to your collection send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. There are many more to come!

Replacing The Military Mount Stem Of a Beautiful “Selected Briar” Billiard


Blog by Paresh

I had been procrastinating restoration work on this pipe for long, primarily for want of spares. This was one of my inherited pipes that had its horn stem completely shot!! I had been waiting for a suitable replacement stem, preferably a horn stem and so when I received my stash of around 40 vulcanite and 20 horn stems (a mix of used and new stems), this pipe moved up the queue for refurbishing.

This pipe has an old world charm about it what with its classic billiard shape and military mount horn stem. The stummel has a mix of Bird’s eye grain on the front, back and at the foot of the stummel with cross grains to the sides of the bowl. The shank has beautiful cross grains that run the entire length of the shank. It appears as if these straight grains emanates from the shank end and move up towards the bowl shank junction. It is stamped on the left side of the shank as “SELECTED” in block with letter S being larger than rest of the letters, over “Briar” in artistic hand. The shank end nickel ferrule is stamped as “EP” in a rhombus over three American faux hallmarks. The stampings are crisp and clear. The lack of COM stamp or brand name makes me believe this pipe to be a BASKET PIPE and the faux American hallmarks points to the probability of this pipe being made for the American market. The stamp “EP” stands for ELECTRO PLATED nickel ferrule as I know.

The horn stem points to the vintage of this pipe as being from prior to 1920s when vulcanite rubber gained prominence as a stem material.

The dating of this pipe as prior to 1920s is my guesstimate based primarily due to fitment of a horn stem. Any concrete and substantiated information on this pipe and its dating will be a huge learning for me and fellow readers of rebornpipes!!

Initial Visual Inspection
This pipe has the classic straight Billiard shape with a medium sized bowl. The stummel boasts of a mix of Bird’s eye grain on the front, back and at the foot of the stummel with cross grains to the side of the bowl. The shank has beautiful straight grains all round. The stummel surface is covered in a lot of dust and dirt. There are a couple of fills in the briar but that does not mean that the quality of the briar is sub standard. The carving, hands feel and appearance of the pipe, even in this condition, screams high quality and excellent craftsmanship. There is a decent layer of cake in the chamber. The stem has been cut short before and is heavily damaged with a through hole on one of the stem surface and few deep bite marks in the bite zone. Here is how the pipe appears as it sits on my work table. Detailed Visual Inspection
The chamber has an even layer of thin cake and appears to have been reamed and never smoked thereafter. The smooth rim top surface is scratched and it seems that the rim top has been scrapped to remove overflowed lava. Both the inner and the outer rim edges are beveled and appear sans damage. The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be commented upon after the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. The chamber odors are mild. The draught hole is dead center and at the bottom of the chamber and that makes me believe that it should great smoke. The stummel appears solid to the touch all around and hence I do not foresee any serious damage to the walls in the form of burnout/ deep heat fissures/ lines or pits. To address the damage to the rim top, I shall top the surface on 220 grit sand paper. The reaming and subsequent cleaning of the chamber and mortise should completely eliminate the ghost smells from the chamber.The smooth stummel surface has taken on a layer of aged patina, through which one can make out the beautiful mix of Bird’s eye grain on the sides and at the foot of the stummel with cross grains to the front and back of the bowl. The shank displays tightly packed lovely cross grains that run the entire length. There are two fills in the entire stummel (encircled in yellow), one on the right side and another in the shank, adjacent to the stamping and close to the edge of the ferrule. The vintage of the pipe and years of uncared for storage has added layers of grime and dust over the stummel surface giving the briar a lifeless and bone dry look. Thorough cleaning of the stummel surface and rinsing it under warm water should highlight the grain patterns while preserving the patina. I shall refresh the fills with a mix of briar dust and superglue. The fill near the stampings on the shank will need to be worked on very carefully, if I have to preserve the stamping and which I always ensure!! It will be easy job if the ferrule can be separated from the shank end. The mortise shows accumulation of oils, tars and gunk and will need to be cleaned up. However, I have to admit that it is not as clogged as I am used to on my grandfather’s pipes. The horn stem in military mount style is completely shot!! You name an issue that a restorer is likely to come across in a stem, it is present and how!! Though personally I feel that every stem is repairable to an acceptable standard, however, in this case I feel that a stem replacement is in order to improve both the aesthetics as well as functionality of this pipe. Have a look at the pictures below to get an idea of the issues that this stem brought to the table…The Process
The first step in this restoration was to identify a suitable stem that would replace the old and chewed up horn stem. I FaceTimed with Steve and we went through the lot of horn stems that I had received. We shortlisted a straight military mount style specimen of brand new horn stem with a round orifice. It would suit the pipe both functionally and aesthetically. However, it did not have a taper and the slight belly swell that the original horn stem had. We ended the conversation with a few tips that Steve gave to help me work through this project. On a hunch, I got the slightly bent vulcanite stem that I had earmarked for another project, an early 1900s BEN WADE, and checked it out against the stummel. The extreme flare at the slot end, the taper and the size made me reconsider the horn stem that Steve and I had shortlisted. This vulcanite stem had the Castello like military mount stem and it really looked fantastic. I shared the pictures (shown below) of all the three stems, including the original and the vulcanite stem with Steve and promptly received the characteristic response from Steve, “Ohhh! The vulcanite stem looks like it was made for this pipe…I would definitely go with the vulcanite”. Decision made, the slightly bent vulcanite stem would be the one replacing the horn stem. I am definitely being ambitious to achieve Castello like shape to the stem, but there is no harm in trying!! The replacement vulcanite stem too came with its own set of damages. The stem was deeply oxidized with heavy and deep tooth indentations in the bite zone over the upper stem surface. The lower stem surface had a large chunk of vulcanite chewed off from the bite zone, including the button. The button edge on the upper stem surface is also deformed with heavy tooth indentations. The tenon has been unevenly sawed off, definitely an amateurish job, but it would save me some work nevertheless!! The stem would need to be straightened out first. The bite zone and buttons on either surfaces will have to be reconstructed and reshaped. Thereafter, the issue of seating of the stem in to the mortise will have to be dealt with. Before progressing to stem repairs proper, I decided to straighten out the stem first. I inserted a pipe cleaner through the stem prior to heating as the pipe cleaner prevents the collapse of the air way. With my heat gun, I gently heat the stem till it was pliable. I gently pressed the stem against the flat table surface and held it in place till the stem had sufficiently cooled and retained the straightened shape. I further cool it down under running cold water and set the straight shape. This heating also raised the tooth chatter and bite marks to the surface in the bite zone. The stem has been perfectly straightened out and some of the tooth chatter has been raised to the surface. The quality of vulcanite on this stem is top class.Next I inserted a triangulated index card covered in scotch tape in to the slot. The tape prevents the mix of superglue and charcoal from sticking to the index card/ seeping in to the air way and blocking it. I mixed superglue and activated charcoal powder and generously applied it over the bite zone, including over the buttons, on either surfaces of the stem and set it aside to cure. Once the fill has hardened, I shall file and sand the fills to match the surface of the stem and sharpen the button edges on either surface. I have been using CA wood superglue and this glue hardens immediately and allowed me only a few seconds of application whereas the all purpose CA superglue allowed me enough time to get an even spread over the damaged surface.   While the stem fills and repairs were curing, I worked on the stummel by reaming the chamber with size 2 PipNet reamer head. With my fabricated knife, I further scraped the chamber walls to remove the remaining carbon deposits. Once the cake was reamed back to the bare briar, I used a 150 grit sand paper followed by 220 grit sand paper to remove all the traces of remaining cake and also to smooth out the inner walls of the chamber surface. Finally, to remove the residual carbon dust, I wiped the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with 99.9% pure isopropyl alcohol. The chamber walls are sans any damage. The outer and inner rim edge is in great shape. The rim top surface itself is peppered with dents/ dings and scratches which will be addressed by topping. The ghost smells are greatly reduced and may be eliminated after the shank/ mortise are thoroughly cleaned. This was followed by cleaning the mortise with cue tips, pipe cleaners and shank brush dipped in isopropyl alcohol. I scraped the walls of the mortise with my dental tool to remove the dried oils and tars. The mortise was pretty clean and it did not take too much effort and pipe cleaners to get it nice and clean.  With the bowl internals clean, I move to clean the exterior of the stummel. I used a hard bristled tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil soap to scrub the stummel and rim top. For this stummel cleaning, l I used Murphy’s Oil soap as I wanted to preserve the old patina that had developed on the stummel and was not sure how the Briar cleaner product would affect it. After the scrub with oil soap, I washed the stummel under running warm water with anti oil dish washing detergent till the stummel surface was clean and dried it using paper towels and soft cotton cloth. I simultaneously cleaned the shank internals with the detergent and hard bristled shank brush and set the stummel aside to dry out naturally. The stummel surface has cleaned up nicely with the beautiful grain patterns on full display. The ghost smells are completely eliminated and the pipe now smells fresh, odorless and clean. The shank air way is nice and open. I am sure that the pipe will turn out to be a fantastic smoker with a full wide and open drew. I also noticed that the shank has a distinct taper towards the walls of the mortise. I prefer to have my tenon as close to the walls of the mortise as possible to ensure minimum gap between the air openings and the taper on this pipe means that the military mount stem tenon end will have to be shaped so. Next I addressed the issues of the two fills in the stummel surface. With a sharp dental tool, I gouged out the fill to the right side and one at edge of the ferrule on the left side of the shank. I covered the stampings on the left side of the shank with a scotch tape to prevent the briar dust and superglue glue mix from spreading over and ruining the stampings. Using the layering method, I filled these gouges with a mix of briar dust and CA superglue till the mound of the mix was slightly above the rest of the stummel surface. This helps in a better blending of the fill with the rest of the stummel surface while sanding and reduces the scratches caused by the use of a needle file as you have a correct perspective of the sanding that is required. I set the stummel aside for the fills to cure. While the stummel fills were set aside to cure, the next afternoon, I worked on the stem fills which had cured completely. With a flat head needle file, I worked on the filling till I had achieved a rough match with the surrounding surface and had sufficiently sharpened the button edges. I further sand the fills with a piece of 180 grit sand paper to achieve a better match. I used a slot file to even out the horizontal slot edges and widen it a bit. The reconstructed button over the lower surface needed to be refilled to make the button and the slot end face even. I spread the mix of charcoal and superglue over the button edge and slot end face on either sides again and set the stem aside for the refill to cure. With further stem repairs being on hold, I turned back to the stummel repairs. Using a flat head needle file, I sand the fill till I had achieved a rough match with the surrounding stummel surface. I sand the entire stummel with a piece of 220 grit sand paper to further blend in the fills with the stummel surface. I topped the rim top surface on a piece of 220 grit sand paper, checking frequently for the progress being made as I hate to loose briar estate any more than absolutely necessary. The scratches over the rim top have now been completely addressed. The inner rim edge bevel appeared to be slightly uneven at the front and at the back end of the rim top (encircled in blue) and I decided to freshen and even out the bevel. With a folded piece of a 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger, I create a slight bevel on the inner edge of the rim top surface. I am careful so as not to alter the profile of the stummel by excessive topping or creation of the bevel. I am pretty pleased with the appearance of the rim top and edges at this stage. The following pictures show the progress being made and improvements to the inner and outer rim edges. With the stummel repairs almost complete, save for the micromesh and wax polish, I worked the stem. The fill had cured and with a flat head needle file I sand the fills and reshape the buttons. I further sand the fill and buttons with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. I am pretty happy with the way the stem repairs have shaped up and also the buttons now have a nice crisp edge to them.   I followed up the repairs to the bite zone by addressing the issues at the tenon end of the stem. I sand the tenon end over a piece of 180 grit sandpaper to a smooth and even face.  I marked the approximate length of the mortise over the stem from the tenon end with permanent marker. This would give me a reference point from where I would need to turn the tenon. I mounted a 150 grit sanding drum on to my hand held rotary tool and sand the tenon end. While sanding the tenon end, I always had the profile of the Castello stem at the back of my mind. I checked for the seating of the stem in to the mortise frequently and stopped once I had an approximate seating. I fine tuned the seating by further sanding of the tenon end with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper. When I checked the seating, I realized with a cringe that there is a substantial vertical gap (indicated with yellow arrows) between the stem and the shank end on either surface while the sides are a perfect fit. Another FaceTime consultation with Steve and we both reached a conclusion that there was no option but to rebuild the upper and lower stem surface afresh to cover the gap between the stem and shank end since other shortlisted stems would not do justice to the pipe’s complete appearance. So what followed was a tedious, laborious and time consuming process of filling with a mix of activated charcoal & superglue, curing, sanding, checking the seating and repeating the process till I achieved a snug fit of the stem in to the mortise. I have explained the entire process in just two lines, but in reality it took me 4 complete days to achieve the desired results. The pictures below will give the readers an idea of the process that was involved. At this stage of restoration, I had achieved a rough seating of the stem in to the  mortise and discerning Readers would have noticed minor gaps between the stem and shank end. I too had observed this gap but am not perturbed by this as this issue will be addressed when I fine tune the seating by sanding with higher grit sandpapers. Also, if the issue persists, I can always resort to rebuilding and readjusting as necessary.    Thereafter, again began the process of fine tuning the seating of the stem in to the mortise by sanding with 320, 600, 800 and 1000 grit sandpapers. The technique that I used is very simple; sand one side, check the seating and if the seating is not snug, sand the relevant side and continue to do so till I achieved a snug airtight fit. The closer I came to the perfect fit, the higher grit sand paper I used. A lot of patient and diligent work of 7 hours, I reached the point where I felt “no more sanding… this is the perfect seating!!”. My mantra “LESS IS MORE” was also playing at the back of my mind. I had simultaneously sanded the entire stem surface through all the above mentioned grit sand papers. I was very pleased with my efforts as I had achieved a perfect snug seating of the stem in to the mortise while being able to maintain the semblance of a Castello like stem!!To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, I went through the complete set of micromesh pads, wet sanding with 1500 to 12000 grit sandpapers. I wiped the stem with moist cloth after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil to rejuvenate the vulcanite. At the end of micromesh cycle, I polished the stem with “Before and After Fine & Extra Fine” paste. The finished stem is shown below.  For the readers to get a perspective of the stem transformation I am including the pictures below of the stem before the modifications to fit the shank were started. The gentle and seamless flare to the stem at the tenon end on both surfaces looks cool, akin to a Whale back!To check and verify the correctness of the alignment of the stem airway, the tenon opening, shank/ mortise airway and finally through the draught hole, I did the PIPE CLEANER test.  The pipe cleaner passed through cleanly and without any obstruction from the slot end right through the draught hole.With the stem repairs, transformations and micromesh polishing complete, I turned my attention back to the stummel which was yet to be polished with the micromesh grit pads. I wet sand the entire stummel with 1500 to 12000 grit micromesh pads, wiping frequently with a moist cloth to check the progress. I really like the looks of the stummel at this point in restoration. The grain and the clean lines of this piece of briar is really appreciable. The few scratches that were noticed over the stummel surface too have been addressed at this stage. Next, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful grain patterns displayed in their complete splendor. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush. The contrast of the dark browns of the Bird’s eye and cross grains with the natural patina of the rest of the stummel adds an interesting dimension to the appearance of the stummel. I have now reached the homestretch in this restoration project. To complete the restoration, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and polished the stummel and stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks that remain from the sanding.    I mounted another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. With a jeweler’s cloth, I cleaned the nickel ferrule to a nice deep shine. The finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and is ready to join my collection. I only wish it could share with me its life story of the past years while I enjoy smoking my favorite Virginia blend in it or maybe an English blend or maybe just keep admiring it!! Big thank you to all the readers who have joined me on this path by reading this write up as I restored and completed this project.

Cleaning up a Svendborg Danish Handmade Bark Inka Bent Apple 21


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the work table is another one that is a bit of a mystery to me. It is obviously one that I picked up on one of my hunts or in a trade as it has not been cleaned at all. The mystery is that I have no recollection of finding the pipe so I have no way to connect it to a time period. I do know that it has been here for quite a while and I am just now getting to it. I try to eventually work the pipes we find into the restoration queue so that I can keep them moving. This one is a full bent apple shaped pipe. It has some nice mixed grain around the bowl and shank with a vulcanite shank extension. It was stamped on the underside of the shank and reads Svendborg [over] Danish Handmade. On the left side of the shank it is stamped Bark [over] Inka and on the right side is the shape number 21. The finish was dirty with dust and grime ground into finish. There was a cake in the bowl and some lava overflow on the rim top. The inner edge of the rim did not look too bad as far as I could tell. The vulcanite shank extension and stem were both oxidized. The stem was a mess of oxidation, calcification and grime with tooth marks and chatter ahead of the button on both sides. There was very faint Svenborg ∞ (infinity sign) logo on the left side of the fancy saddle stem.

Before I started working on it I did a bit of research on the brand to remind myself of what I knew of the maker. I turned to Pipephil’s site first (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-s14.html). I did a screen capture of the information on the site. I did a screen capture of the pertinent information and have included it below. I copied and pasted the side bar information below:

Brand founded in 1970s by Henrik Jørgensen, Poul Ilsted and Tao Nielsen. They bought an old factory (Nordisc Pibefabriker) in Svendborg on Funen Island. Poul and Tao gradually bow out from machine manufactured pipes (1982) and Henrik Jørgensen manages the brand until its takeover by Design Berlin (D) in the late 90ies. Kaj C. Rasmussen jointed the firm for several years. 17 employees worked for this brand under Henrik Jørgensen direction.

I then turned to Pipedia and found that an article on the brand that was helpful and interesting to read (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Svendborg). I have included the first part of the article below.

Jens Tao Nielsen and Poul Ilsted Bech met each other when working together for Erik Nørding and soon became close friends. Both felt a bit tired to make nothing but bizarre fancy shapes and agreed they wanted to produce pipes of more style and more classicism. They decided to establish their own brand “Tao & Ilsted” – But how to do it?

A good fortune brought them in contact with Henrik Jørgensen, a passionate pipe lover and a wealthy Copenhagen banker who was willing to retire from bank business and change his career to become a pipemaker. The trio joined in 1969 and decided to start a new pipe brand together. Nielsen and Ilsted started to search for a suitable workshop while Jørgensen took care of the finances. In early 1970 the partners found an old, closed down pipe factory in Svendborg on Funen, and bought it shortly after for a mere 16.500 Danish Kroner. It was the earlier Nordic Pipe Factory – Nordisc Pibefabriker – maybe the oldest Danish pipe factory. And now it became the home of Svendborg Piber.

The article also included this set of pages from a catalogue that were interesting as they included the Bark line. The philosophy that drove the brand is also there to read.Now it was time to clean up this pipe and get it restored. I cleaned the pipe with the methodology that Jeff and I have developed. The pipe was a mess when I took it out of my box here so I was curious to see how well it would cleanup. I took some photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. You can see that it is filthy but has some great grain in the blast and on the smooth portions. It has a really nice sandblast that is deep and rugged. I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem surface. I wanted to show the condition of the cake in the bowl and look of the rim top and lava overflow. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the tooth marks and the calcification, oxidation and generally condition of the stem surface.    I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank and it is faint but readable under the grime. It is stamped as noted above. It is also stamped on both sides of the shank.I removed the stem for the shank and took a photo of the bowl and stem to give a picture of what it looked like. It is a great looking pipe under the grime.I decided to start my restoration by getting rid of the cake in the bowl and cleaning up the rim top. I reamed it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I sanded the inside of the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. Once I finished the bowl was smooth and clean. I was glad to see that there was no internal damage.  I scraped the inside of the tenon with a pen knife to remove the buildup of tars. I followed that by scrubbing out the internals of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean.  I was not able to push a pipe cleaner through the shank to the bowl. There was some obstruction in the way that impeded the airflow.      I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Once it is polished it will come to life. I scrubbed the oxidized shank extension with Soft Scrub All Purpose scrub and cotton pads to remove the oxidization. It took a bit of elbow grease and hard scrubbing to remove the oxidation but it looked very good.      I decided to pause and try to clean out the shank and try to remove what was clogging the airway in the shank. I could not push a pipe cleaner through the shank it was blocked and when I blew air through it and it was very constricted. I probed the shank with a dental pick and was surprised when this piece of plastic wrap came out of the shank. It explained the buildup I took off the tenon when I first clean it. It appeared that something had been glue to the tenon and now I knew what it was.  Without it the airway and flow was unobstructed.With the obstruction out of the airway the tenon was far too loose in the shank. Something would need to be done to make the tenon fit snug in the shank. I decided to make a Delrin sleeve for the tenon. I thought about making Delrin insert for the vulcanite shank extension but decided to do it this way. I drilled out a replacement tenon with a variety of drill bits. I held it in a set of vise grips and opened the tenon.Once it was open I pressed it onto the existing tenon.  The fit on the tenon was perfect and the fit in the shank was much better than originally. I would clean up the new tenon adapter so that the fit in the shank would be snug but smooth.  The tenon was wide open and excellent airflow. I put the newly sleeved tenon in the shank and took a photo of the pipe at this point.   The stem needed to be bent to fit the profile of the bowl and to hang well in the mouth. I put a pipe cleaner in the stem and heated it with a heat gun until the vulcanite had softened. Once it had softened I bent it to the correct angle. I put the stem on the pipe and took a photo of the new bend. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth and shoe brush to raise the shine.    I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub polish to remove the oxidation. While it did not take it all out it removed much of the oxidation. I filled in the small tooth dents next to the button with Black Super Glue and set the stem aside to let the glue cure. Once it cured I smoothed it out with a needle file and sharpened the edges of the button.   I sanded the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the remaining oxidation and to blend the repairs into the surface of the stem. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.  I left a little oxidation around the stamp so as not to damage it more. This restored Svendborg Handmade Bark Inka 21 Bent Apple is a nice looking pipe. The contrasting brown stains on the pipe worked really well with the polished vulcanite shank extension and fancy turned vulcanite stem. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel keeping a light touch on the buffing wheel for the bowl. I followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Svendborg Bent Apple fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in carrying on the previous pipe man’s legacy with this pipe send me a message or an email. I have more to work on of various brands. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.

An Interesting Pipe To Work On – a GBD Prehistoric Xtra Horn


Blog by Paresh Deshpande

This pipe has attracted the attention of my wife, Abha, since the time I had received three huge boxes of pipes that once belonged to my Grandfather. So when she took the plunge of helping me in restoring all these inherited pipes, this was one of the first she had earmarked for cleaning up. After she had done the initial cleaning up, this pipe languished at the bottom of the pile of around 50 plus pipes that she had cleaned up. And it was during the period of my stay at home on compulsory leave due to the countrywide lockdown to contain the spread of CORONA VIRUS (COVID-19) that this pipe came up for restoration.

The pipe with its forward canted Horn shape with a long military mount vulcanite stem has a delicate feel and look to it. It has beautiful and deep sandblast with some astonishing grain patterns that are seen over the stummel surface. The shank end is adorned with a gold ferrule that adds a touch of classy bling to the appearance of the pipe. It is stamped at the foot of the stummel as “PREHISTORIC” in Gothic hand followed by “GBD” in an oval over “XTRA”. The gold ferrule is stamped as “GBD” in an oval over four different shaped cartouches bearing the stampings, from left to right, numeral “6 (or is it 9 ?) in a rhombus followed by purity grade number “.375” in a rectangle followed by date code letter “F” and lastly the symbol of the city Assay Office that has worn out but I guess it appears like a LION HEAD with protruding lines from the four corners. The vulcanite stem is stamped, not very deeply, on the left side as “GBD” in an oval over “XTRA” in a slight upturned arch. The stampings, save for the Assay Office, is crisp and clear. There is plenty of material available on pipedia.org on the brand GBD that makes for an interesting read. The link below should take you to the relevant page on pipedia.org. For the sake of brevity, I have reproduced only the relevant portions that are related and of interest with respect to the pipe that I am working on (https://pipedia.org/wiki/GBD).

Early GBDs were made only in one single grade concerning the wood’s quality, later supplemented by a second one, and there was only a very limited number of finishes. But toward the end of the 19th century, the demand changed. For example the Britons preferred darker stainings. More differentiated customer’s wishes made the introduction of additional markings necessary. GBD Xtra and GBD Special were very early models who’s names indicated special final treatments and / or fitments. The standard quality was stamped simply with GBD.

There is a very simple explanation for GBD’s program to turn more “British”: GBD became a British company soon after the turn of the century! In 1902 Marechal and Ruchon sold GBD to A. Oppenheimer & Co. in London.

The claims after the 1st World War demanded further distinctions. First of all was the London Made, which became the Standard London Made, followed by the New Era— in 1931 the top model asking 12½ Shilling. The Pedigree, although sketched around 1926, was not produced until the later 1930s. The New Standard was introduced in order to give the popular Standard of the 20s a higher rank in value. The Prehistoric, a deeply sandblasted black pipe, that still carried the small GBD Xtra stamp, was entirely new and unusual.

Dating GBDs
Xtras haven’t been made since the 1930’s.

That this pipe currently on my work table was made from 1918 to 1930s can be inferred from the information gleaned above:

(a) GBD Xtra and GBD Special were very early models whose names indicated special final treatments and / or fitments.

(b) The ferrule stamping of AO points to the fact that the pipe is post 1902 as Marechal and Ruchon sold GBD to A. Oppenheimer & Co. in London in 1902.

(c) The Prehistoric, an entirely new and unusual line that still carried the small GBD Xtra stamp, was introduced after WW I.

(d) Xtra hasn’t been made since 1930s.

To pinpoint the year of make of this pipe, I decided to follow the stampings on the ferrule. Here, I was not very sure about the Assay Office hallmark as it was pretty buffed out and the numeral could have been a 6 or a 9. But having worked and researched a few silver hallmarked pipes, I guessed that the Assay Office hallmark should be a lion head. I visited https://www.gold-traders.co.uk/hallmarks/

This site is a step-by-step guide to help identify the carat/ purity, Assay Office and year of hallmark on all things gold. All things matched up perfectly and I have included a screen shot of the final result.From the above, it can be conclusively indentified that this GBD Prehistoric Xtra was made in England (London Assay Office) in 1921, give or take a year as the ferrules were always sent to the Assay Office in bulk to be used over a period of time, usually a year.

Initial Visual Inspection
As I have mentioned above, this pipe was initially handled by Abha and she is not in a habit of taking many pictures as she works on each piece of briar. There are not many pictures to give the readers an idea about the condition of the pipe before she had worked her magic and presented me with a nice clean canvas to carry forward my repair and refurbishing tasks. I have included a description of the initial condition of the pipe as documented by her.

This pipe has a rather small and narrow bowl in a classic Dublin shape with a pronounced forward cant. The chamber tapers towards the foot and has a chamber depth of about 1 ¼ inches. The chamber had an even layer of thick hard cake. There was a heavy overflow of lava over the rim top surface. Through this thick layer of lava, a crack is clearly visible over the rim top (marked with yellow arrows) that extends over both the inner and outer stummel surface on the right side in the 5 o’clock direction. The rim top was darkened considerably and I had suspected a charred inner rim edge in 6 o’clock direction (marked in green). The condition of the inner walls of the chamber can be commented upon after the cake has been taken down to the bare briar. The ghost smells in the chamber are not very strong.The deeply sandblasted stummel surface has very beautiful grain patterns and is covered in dust and grime. The fact that the sandblasted patterns are dusty and filled with dirt is accentuated more due to the contrast of dark and medium brown stains on the stummel and the shank. The briar was looking lifeless and bone dry and had taken on black dull hues. The mortise was full of oils, tars and gunk and air flow was restricted.

The high quality vulcanite stem was deeply oxidized. Some minor tooth chatter and calcified deposit were seen on both the upper and lower stem surfaces in the bite zone and at the bottom of the button edge respectively. The tenon end had accumulated ash and oils/ tars that had dried out on the inside as well as on the outside. The horizontal slot has scratch marks which will have to be addressed.    Initial Cleaning By Abha…
The initial cleaning on this pipe was done by Abha, my wife (she has cleaned up around 40-50 pipes and these have now reached me for further restoration). She reamed out the complete cake and further smoothed out the chamber walls with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper. She cleaned out the internals of the shank with pipe cleaners and alcohol and cotton buds. She followed the internal cleaning of the shank with external cleaning of the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and hard bristled tooth brush and dried it with paper napkins and cotton cloth.

Next she cleaned out the internals of the stem air way and immersed it in “Before and After Deoxidizer” solution along with the stem of other pipes in line for restoration. Once the stem had soaked overnight, she cleaned the stem under running warm water and scrubbed the raised oxidation from the stem surface using scotch brite pad. She further removed the oxidation by scrubbing the stem with 0000 grade steel wool and applied a little olive oil to rehydrate the stem.

The Process
The stummel crack was something that would essentially require materials and equipment that are available to me at my work place; therefore, I had no option but to relegate the stummel repairs to a later date.

I start this project by addressing the tooth chatter on either surface in the bite zone. Since vulcanite has a property to expand and regain its original shape when heated, I heat the bite zone with a candle flame to raise the tooth chatter to the surface. The deeper bite marks were filled with a mix of CA superglue and activated charcoal and set aside to cure. Once the fills had cured, using a flat needle file, I reshaped the button and roughly matched the fills with the rest of the stem surface. I further fine tuned the match by sanding the filled area with a folded piece of 220 grit sand paper pinched between my thumb and forefinger. I followed it up by sanding the entire stem surface using 400, 600, 800 grit sand papers and finally with a piece of 0000 grade steel wool. This serves to remove the deep seated oxidation and also reduces the sanding marks of the more abrasive sand papers. I also sharpened the button edges while sanding. I wiped the stem with a cotton swab and alcohol to remove all the oxidation and sanding dust from the surface. I applied a little Extra Virgin Olive oil over the stem and set it aside to be absorbed by the vulcanite. To bring a deep shine to the vulcanite stem, Abha polished it by wet sanding with 1500 to 2000 grit sandpapers followed by further wet sanding with 3200 to 12000 grit pads. She wiped the stem with a moist cloth after each pad and rubbed it down with Extra Virgin Olive oil to rejuvenate the vulcanite. The finished stem is shown below.  Further repair and refurbishing work would have to be put on hold till I rejoin my work place.

Part II
Finally back at my work place…… After enjoying a compulsorily extended leave of three months with family and having honed my culinary and domestic chores skill set, I was happy to rejoin my duty and get back to completing the pending pipe restorations.

I took a closer look at the crack on the right side of the stummel in the 5 ‘O’ clock direction. This crack extends over the rim top surface and in to the chamber. With my sharp dental pick, I probed and removed all the charred briar wood from the crack and also dislodged the entire lava overflow that had embedded itself in to the crack over the rim top. It was a big relief to note that the crack did not go all the way to the outside of the stummel. Here are a couple of close up pictures of the crack to the chamber wall and outer stummel surface at this stage. I conferred with my Guru and mentor, Steve, over Face Time video call and after seeing the crack, he concurred that it was best to fill just the crack inside the chamber with J B Weld followed by a coating of activated charcoal and yogurt to the entire chamber for further protection. Before proceeding with further repairs, I decided to thoroughly clean the rim top and the stummel again to remove all the dirt and dust that had accumulated since last one year and also to completely remove the lava overflow from the rim top surface. I cleaned the stummel using Murphy’s Oil soap and a hard bristled tooth brush. With a brass wired brush, I cleaned the rim top to remove the lava overflow. The stummel and the rim top have cleaned up nicely.   Next I decided to address the crack to the stummel surface. I marked the end point of the crack on with a sharp dental tool under magnification. This helps to identify the end point later with naked eye and also provides initial traction for the drill bit to bite in. With a 1 mm drill bit mounted on to my hand held rotary machine, I drilled a counter hole at the end of the crack, taking care not to go too deep and end up drilling a through-hole. I had to mark and drill a second counter hole as I later realized that the crack extended slightly below the first one that I had drilled. I ran the sharp dental tool along the crack to remove the dirt and debris that may have been lodged in the crack. I filled the drilled holes and the crack to the stummel surface with a mix of CA superglue and briar dust. I also filled the crack at the rim top surface with the mix of superglue and briar dust and set the stummel aside for the fills to cure. A few hours later, the fills had hardened completely. I sand them down with a flat head needle file to achieve a rough match with the rest of the stummel. I fine tuned the match with the rest of the surface by further sanding with a piece of 180 grit sandpaper. I used a tightly folded 180 grit sand paper to sand the fills and had carefully moved along the ridges of the sandblast to achieve a near perfect match. I vigorously brushed the rim top with a hard bristled brass wired brush to further blend the fill with the rest of the rim top surface.    Now that the external repairs are done, I decided to address the crack to the wall of the chamber. To protect the crack from coming in to direct contact with the burning tobacco and also to prevent the heat from reaching the external crack to the stummel and causing a burnout, I plan, firstly, to fill only the crack of the chamber with J B Weld followed by a second coat of activated charcoal and yogurt to the entire chamber which would assist in faster cake formation. J B Weld is a two-part epoxy Cold Weld that consists of two parts; hardener and steel which are mixed in equal parts in a ratio of 1:1 with hardening time of 5-6 minutes and complete curing time of 6-8 hours. I poured the contents of the two tubes and mixed it well. With a flat bamboo frond, I applied this mix and filled the intended crack. I worked fast to ensure a complete and even filling of the crack and set the stummel aside for the J B Weld to harden.By the next afternoon when I got back to working on this pipe, the J B Weld coat had completely cured and hardened considerably. With a folded piece of 150 grit sandpaper, I sand the weld coating to a smooth surface till I had as thin a coat as was essential to protect and insulate the crack from the direct heat of the burning tobacco. The Weld coat has completely covered only the crack which can be seen as a thin line. I am very pleased with the repairs at this stage.I refreshed the stem logo by first coating the logo with a white correction liquid and once it had dried, I wiped it lightly with a cloth. I polished the stem surface with “Before and After Extra fine” stem polish developed by Mark Hoover. This polish helps in removing the minor scratches left behind due to sanding while imparting a nice shine to the stem.   Next, I rubbed a small quantity of “Before and After Restoration Balm” deep in to the briar with my finger tips and let it rest for a few minutes. The balm almost immediately works its magic and the briar now has a nice vibrant appearance with the beautiful grain patterns displayed in their complete splendor. I further buffed it with a horse hair brush. The dark browns of the raised portions of the sandblast contrasts beautifully with the rest of the dark stummel and makes for a visual treat. It really is a nice piece of briar. Now that the cosmetic aspects of this pipe have been dealt with, all that remained was the functional aspect that needs to be taken care of. The J B Weld coated crack needs to be protected from the direct heat of the burning tobacco and for this; I coat the complete chamber walls with a mix of activated charcoal and yogurt and set it aside to harden naturally. The mix has to be of the right consistency; neither too thick nor too runny. It should be of a consistency that is thick enough to spread easily, evenly and stick to the walls. Also the coating should not be very thick. A thin film is all that is required. Another important aspect to remember is that it is essential to insert a pipe cleaner in to the mortise and through the draught hole for two reasons; first is obviously to keep the draught hole from getting clogged and secondly, the pipe cleaner absorbs all the moisture from the mix and helps in faster and even drying of the coat.To put the finishing touches, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel on to my hand held rotary tool and polished the stem with Blue Diamond compound. This compound helps to remove the minor scratch marks that remain from the sanding.  Next, I mount another cotton buffing wheel that I have earmarked for carnauba wax and applied several coats of the wax. I finished the restoration by giving the entire pipe a rigorous hand buffing using a microfiber cloth to raise the shine further. Lastly, I polish the 9 carat gold ferrule with a jeweler’s cloth to a nice and radiant shine. The blast pattern on this finished pipe looks amazingly beautiful and coupled with the vintage, shape rarity and the contrast that the gold ferrule imparts, makes it quite a desirable pipe. This pipe shall be joining my small collection of GBDs to be admired and be happy that I have restored it to its former beauty and functionality. P.S. In one of my previous blogs, I wrote that the question “Why do I enjoy bringing these old battered and discarded pipes back to life?” had popped up in my mind. I gave my third reason in my last write up and in all my subsequent write ups I intend to share with you, my readers my reasons as to why I really love this hobby.

The fourth reason is that every restoration project that I undertake is a new challenge for me. It sets my adrenaline pumping as I see the beauty of the pipe being unraveled before my eyes as I progress through each process of restoration. It helps me keep myself motivated and I wake up to each morning with enthusiasm to address the challenges that any project throws at me. Upon successful completion of repairs and refurbishing of a pipe to make it beautiful and most importantly FUNCTIONAL, gets me to a nice peaceful sleep at night… isn’t that what we all strive for?     

I wish to thank each one for sparing their valuable time to read through this write up and each one is in my prayers. Stay home…stay safe!!

 

Restoring & Restemming a Celtic Craft Block Meerschaum from Bob Kerr’s Estate


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe I have chosen from the four remaining pipes from Bob Kerr’s Estate is a Genuine Block Meerschaum with a damaged stem. This is the last of Bob’s Block Meerschaum pipes that I have to work on. (Bob’s photo is to the left). If you have not “met” the man and would like to read a bit of the history of the pipeman, his daughter has written a great tribute that is worth a read. Because I have included it in most of the restorations of the estate to date I thought that I would leave it out this time. Check out some of the recent Dunhill restoration blogs (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/01/restoring-the-last-of-bob-kerrs-dunhills-a-1962-dunhill-bruyere-656-f-t-bent-billiard/).

This Meerschaum is stamped Celtic [over] Craft on the left side of the shank. On the underside it is stamped Genuine Block Meerschaum. Over that on the shank end was stamp GT at the top and below the stamp read N14 which is probably the shape number. The fancy vulcanite stem is oxidized, calcified and has a large chunk missing from the underside of the button and stem. From the damage it looked to me like it needed to be replaced. The exterior of the bowl is grimy and dirty. The black flumed top was worn and tired looking on both the rim top and the shank end. There is a thick cake and lava overflow on the rim top. It is thick enough that it is hard to know if there is any damage on top and edges but it looked like there was some damage. Jeff took photos of the pipe to show its general condition before he did his cleanup.   The exterior of the pipe was very dirty – grime and grit ground in from years of use and sitting. This one was obviously one of Bob’s favourites. The rim top was covered with a coat of thick lava that overflowed the bowl. There was also some damage on the rim top and edges of the bowl. The bowl itself had a thick cake with flecks of tobacco stuck in the cake on the sides.  Jeff took photos of the sides and the heel of the bowl to give a better feel for the condition of the bowl. It is dirty but the rustication is interesting. The next photos show the stamping on the sides of the shank. The left side is clear and readable and reads as noted above. The stamping on the underside of the shank was also clear and readable as noted above. Jeff also took photos of the stem shank connection with the stem in place and the stem removed. The tenon was metal and inset in the end of the stem. The shank end was filthy and worn.  The stem was dirty and extremely oxidized, calcified and had tooth marks on both sides ahead of the button. It was missing a large chunk of vulcanite from the underside of the stem and button.   I have not heard of the Celtic Craft brand but the way it was made and the stamping style and placement on the pipe and the finish on the pipe was identical to the look and feel of the block meerschaum pipe that restored earlier – a BELT (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/06/11/restoring-a-heavily-smoked-belt-meerschaum-peterson-like-pipe/). I turned to that blog to check if it was possible that the CELTIC CRAFT pipe was made by the same company. While there was nothing definite I am convinced that it is made by the same company. I quote from that blog:

The BELT brand is not one that I am familiar with. I have never heard of the brand in my years of doing this work. I decided to pause before I started my part of the work on the pipe and see what I could learn on the web. I looked on Pipephil’s site and could find nothing listed. I did the same on Pipedia and initially found nothing either. I did a google search for the brand and low and behold the brand came up under Danish Pipe Making Companies under the heading London Meerschaum (https://pipedia.org/wiki/London_Meerschaum). I quote the brief article below as taken from Jose Manuel Lopes book.

“London Meerschaum made some pipes under the name of BELT or THE BELT, I had this confirmed by Bonds of Oxford St. who have 5 smooth bowl versions in stock at the time of writing, these look very similar to standard system full bent Peterson Meerschaums, the smooth versions have silverware stamped L&JS {Les & Dolly Wood, Ferndown} and has Belt and Genuine Block Meerschaum stamped on the bowl. I have seen 1 rusticated version with the same silverware and 2 of which I own 1, have gold plated ware with no hallmarks and are also stamped Belt and Genuine Block Meerschaum. Both smooth and rusticated have P-Lip type stems though the air hole is not on top but at the end as with most non Peterson P-Lips that I have come across. I do not know when London Meerschaum ceased trading but I can say from the one Belt that I own, it’s a very fine pipe and not cheap, well over the £100 mark when new.”

These pipes were evidently sold at least as early as the 1950’s. These may have been made by, or are affiliated with Pomeroy & Cooke Ltd., (Pipes, Artisans and Trademarks, by José Manuel Lopes).

One of the readers of that blog responded with the following information. It cleared up the information above and called the information that it was a Danish Company called London Meerschaum into question.

Jambo/Belt was based in Nothhamptonshire, a small town north of London.

In my mind it was a Manx Made African Meer and now the information trail was twisted. It is now purported to have been made in Denmark, or in Nothhamptonshire near London or on the Isle of Man. Confusing and strange provenance for this old meer but I personally lean toward the Manx Pipes Connection. Now it was time to work on the pipe itself.

With over 125 pipes to clean from Bob’s estate I took a batch of them to the states with me when I visited and left them with Jeff so he could help me out. Jeff cleaned the pipes with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. Once he finished he shipped them back to me. This one was a real mess and I did not know what to expect when I unwrapped it from his box. He reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer and cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed out the internals with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the meerschaum and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks very good with an interesting rustic finish around the bowl and shank. Jeff scrubbed the stem with Soft Scrub and soaked it in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked a lot better. I took photos before I started my part of the work.  I took close up photos of the rim top and the stem surfaces. The rim top looked better but was rough. Some of the surface had been worn smooth. It was clean however and the flumed colour on the rim and shank end had faded with the cleanup work. The stem was another story all together. The metal tenon was good but the threads in the shank were worn so that it would not align. The issue for me was that the metal would continue to wear down the meer and make the fit looser over time. There were deep nicks on all the sharp edges of the diamond stem. The large chip out of the underside of the button and stem was bigger and rougher than I expected. Even though I could rebuild the damaged area I decided that the stem would need to be replaced on this one.    I took photos of the stamping on the shank of the pipe. It is readable and clear. The text reads as noted above.   I took the stem off the shank and took a photo to give a sense of the flow of the pipe. The stem is a bit of a turned freehand stem so I pretty much could use any other turned freehand stem as a replacement.I started my work on the pipe by dealing with the rim top. I used a brass bristle brush to clean up the rim top. I wanted to check out damage to the rim top so the brass bristle brush would remove any remaining grit in the rustication.I used a black stain pen to touch up the flumed top of the bowl, edges and the shank end. The rim top and shank end looked much better.   I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to replacing the stem. I went through my can of stems and found one that would look interesting with the shape of the pipe. It was a new cast stem. I would need to cut off the tenon and drill out the stem for a new tenon.I used the Dremel and sanding drum to cut off the tenon. I had a Delrin tenon that was made to screw into the stem. I found that reversing it and turning it into the shank was a perfect fit. I used a series of drill bits to drill out the end of the stem to receive the smooth end of the tenon. I used the Dremel and sanding drum to remove the excess vulcanite from the stem so that when the tenon was screwed into the shank the stem sat flush in the shank. I glued the tenon in place in the stem with clear super glue and set it aside to let the glue cure.Once the glue cured I turned the stem into the shank and took photos of the pipe as a whole. Still lots of sanding to do but I like the fit of the stem to the shank.   I cleaned up the stepped down stem area on the end of the stem with a needle file to fit in the inset shank end. I also used the file to reduce the thickness of the button. I then heated the stem with a lighter flame to soften the vulcanite. Once it was soft I bent the end of the stem to match the stem that I was replacing. I screwed the stem into the shank and took a photo of the pipe at this point in the process. I am starting to like the looks of this pipe.   I removed the stem from the shank and sanded out the file marks and shaped the button with 220 grit sandpaper and followed that with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to start the polishing.   I used a potter cutting tool to open up the slot in the end of the button. I wanted to reshape it and open it enough that a pipe cleaner would easily move through the airway.   I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.    I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth and shoe brush to raise the shine. This interestingly finished rusticated Celtic Craft Genuine Block Meerschaum Freehand/Poker from Bob Kerr’s estate looks very good. Even though it is not my personal favourite it must be a great smoking pipe. The finish cleaned up well on the pipe is in great condition and works well with the polished vulcanite taper replacement stem. I carefully buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Clapham’s Beeswax Polish and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Meerschaum fits nicely in the hand and I think the rustication will feel great when it heats up during smoking. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. If you are interested in carrying on Bob’s legacy with this pipe send me a message or an email. I have more to work on of various brands. Perhaps one of those will catch your attention. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.

A Blasticated Capri Bent Billiard that came with a story


Blog by Steve Laug

A few days ago I received a call at work from a fellow who was just leaving the local pipe shop in Vancouver that refers people to me for repairs. I have to tell you this guy had a story that I had not heard before. He was driving and chatting at the same time. He said that he had picked up a pipe that fast becoming a favourite of his. He was driving and smoking it when he accidentally dropped it out of the window. It seems like the car was moving – at least slowly in his story. The bowl went one way and the stem took off. He stopped and picked up the bowl and could not find the stem. What was not clear to me was what happened to the stem. He said that there was no broken tenon in the shank. He only had the bowl. He stopped by my house and left the bowl in his Autoplan Car Insurance plastic bag in my mail box. He had his phone number and name on the bag. This morning I called to see what kind of stem he wanted on the pipe and it turns out he is a tugboat captain. He said the stem was tapered and rubber. He would be back to Vancouver in two weeks and would get a hold of me then. So that is the story of this pipe.

I actually had no idea what to expect when I returned to my house. My wife had brought the bag inside when she came home. I asked about the pipe and she handed me the Autoplan bag. I took the pipe out of the bag and took photos. The pipe appeared to have what I call a blasticated finish. It is typically done when someone rusticates a bowl and then sandblasts it afterwards. It gives it a very interesting look. The finish was almost new other than several rough spots of road rash around the rim top, heel and sides. The beauty of this type of finish is that it is very forgiving when it has this kind of damage. I took some photos of the pipe before I did any work on it. You can see it is a bent billiard, it is made by Capri and it is sans stem. I went through my cans of stem options and found only one thick tapered stem that would actually work on this pipe. The tenon was not turned and it was an unused blank that still had some casting marks on the sides and button. I quickly sanded the tenon to see what I was working with. I could see that with a bit of work it would be a good fit for this pipe.I used a wire brush to knock off the loose bits from the road rash and then used a walnut stain pen to touch up the damaged areas on the finish.Now it was time to work on the stem. I set up my cordless drill and put the PIMO tenon turning tool in the chuck. I set the cutting head for the first pass on the tenon and spun the stem on the drill to remove excess rubber.I measured the diameter of the mortise again and reset the cutting head on the PIMO. I spun the stem once more and took it down to a close fit. I filed and sanded it the rest of the way.The shoulders on the cast stem were slightly rounded and the diameter of the stem was a little bigger than the diameter of the shank. I used a rasp to remove the excess material and reduced the stem to a very close fit on the shank.I sanded the file marks out of the stem sides with 220 grit sandpaper. There still needs to be some fine tuning but the stem is beginning to look like a fit. I took photos of the pipe with the new stem at this point to have a look. I worked on the sides of the stem diameter to fine tune it. It was definitely looking better. It was time to bend the stem to fit the flow of the bowl. I set up my heat gun. I put a pipe cleaner in the airway of the stem to keep the airway from crimping. I moved the stem over the heat until the vulcanite softened. I used round handle of a chisel for the shape of the bend and bent the stem until it looked right on the bowl. I always try to bend the stem to get the same angle on the bend as the flat top of the bowl.I put the stem back on the bowl and took photos of the look of the pipe now. I like the look of the stem and the flow of the pipe. I still want to shape the shank stem fit some more so the flow is uninterrupted. I removed the stem and turned my attention to finishing the restoration of the bowl. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar with my fingertips and a horse hair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. The contrasts in the layers of stain really made the rustication shimmer and show depth. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The pipe really looks good at this point. I am very happy with the way the pipe is looking at this point in the process. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded it with 220 grit and 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to smooth out the remaining marks on the stem. I had coated the tenon with a light coat of clear fingernail polish to protect the fit during all of the fiddling and sanding I was doing.  I have experienced damaging a tenon because I was careless so I will often do this when restemming a pipe now. I still needed to smooth out the tenon a bit but it was starting to look really good.I polished the stem surface with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each pad to remove the sanding debris. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I hand buffed it with a cloth. I gave it a coat of Briarville’s No Oxy Oil even though it does not work as well on acrylic as it does on the vulcanite it was designed for. It works to give a top coat to protect and preserve the newly cleaned and polished stem.  This was a change of pace to the normal day to day restoration I have been doing. Fitting a stem to a bowl is interesting and it is time consuming. Once I was finished I put the new vulcanite stem back on the bowl and polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservators Wax and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I 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 Capri Bent Billiard with the new stem polished up really well. The polished stem looked very good after the buffing. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions of this pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. For a low cost pipe this little billiard is eye catching. I will be calling the fellow who dropped it off and let him know the pipe is finished. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next pipeman or woman.