Tag Archives: using a lighter to bend a stem

Breathing New Life into an Astleys 48 Cherrywood

Blog by Steve Laug

The third pipe from my recent pipe hunt that I chose to restore was the last one pictured below. It is a rusticated Astleys Cherrywood style pipe with a tight rustication pattern resembling a sandblast. I think the process may have been to rusticate and then to sand down the high spots until they were smooth. The texture is really well done and comfortable to hold. The pipe is a light weight with a classic look.IMG_2049The finish was in pretty good shape with a few worn spots where the stain was rubbed off on both the bowl and shank. The rim had a buildup of tars and oils that had hardened and formed a scale on the rim. The bowl had a thick cake that choked out the diameter of the bowl. The stem had been over bent to the point it hung oddly in the mouth rather than the way the original bend had made it hang. It was also oxidized and had a buildup of calcium around the button end of the stem that covered several deep tooth marks on both the top and bottom sides of the stem.IMG_2115 IMG_2116 IMG_2117 IMG_2118As shown in the photo above the bowl had been stamped on the smooth bottom of the bowl. It read Astleys over 109 Jermyn St.Under that was stamped London over 48. I looked up the shape in an old Astleys catalogue (page pictured below) and found the 48 was round Cherrywood Briar. The description stated that it was a copy of an old English cherrywood with a flat base. The correct bend can also be seen in the photo below from the catalogue.astleys-booklet_page_07I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and took the cake back to bare wood. The oily, sweet, aromatic smell was more than I wanted to deal with in terms of ghosting.IMG_2231IMG_2232IMG_2233IMG_2234I cleaned out the internals with isopropyl alcohol and cotton swabs and pipe cleaners until they came out clean. I scrubbed the pipe with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a soft tooth brush for the sides and shank. I used a brass bristle tire brush to clean off the buildup on the rim. I then scrubbed the rim again with soap. When the scrubbing was finished I rinsed it with running water and dried it off with a cotton towel.IMG_2238IMG_2239IMG_2240IMG_2241IMG_2242I used the stain pens from Greg to touch up the worn spots on the finish of the bowl and shank. I buffed the bowl with a shoe brush once the stain was dry.IMG_2243IMG_2244IMG_2245IMG_2246Once the bowl was cleaned and buffed I turned to work on the stem. I used a needle file to give better definition to the crease on the button and clean up the bit marks on top of the button on both sides. I heated the tooth marks with a Bic lighter to raise them and then sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the small marks left behind. I also sanded to remove the calcium and oxidation on the stem.IMG_2247IMG_2248Up to this point I worked on the stem off the pipe. I avoided the area on the saddle where it sat against the shank so as not to round the shoulders. I cut a plastic washer and put it between the stem and the shank to allow me to work on the shoulders without damaging them when I sanded. I lightly reworked that area with the 220 grit sandpaper and then sanded the entire stem with medium and fine grit sanding sponges.IMG_2249IMG_2250There were still some small divots in the top of the stem so I removed it from the pipe and sanded them once more with the 220 grit sandpaper and the sanding sponges.IMG_2251I sanded the stem with the usual battery of micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil between each set of three pads. As the stem absorbs the oil the oxidation comes to the surface and the oil makes sanding much simpler. When I finished with the 12,000 grit pad I gave it a light buff with White Diamond.IMG_2252IMG_2253IMG_2255I gave the light spot on the shank shown in the above photo a touch up of stain and then put the stem back on the pipe and buffed the whole pipe lightly. I gave the bowl several coats of Halcyon II wax and then buffed the stem with more carnauba. I gave the entire pipe a light buff with a soft flannel wheel. The finished pipe is shown below.IMG_2256IMG_2257IMG_2258IMG_2259