Tag Archives: vulcanite

Recommissioning a Mysterious Freehand, Made in Denmark – Preben Holm?


Blog by Dal Stanton

I came into possession of this attractive Danish Freehand when I acquired what I call the St. Louis Lot of 26 which my son, Josiah, helped me secure when he was a student in St. Louis.  He texted me from St. Louis about this box of pipes that were for sale at an antique shop he found.  Josiah wanted to split the cost of the Lot with me so that I could pick out a pipe in the Lot that would join my personal collection and would be his gift to me. The rest of the pipes would benefit the Daughters of Bulgaria – our work here in Bulgaria with women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  It was a win/win proposition!  I chose as his gift to me the Champion Churchwarden in the center of the picture below.  The rest of the Lot of 26 went to my online collection I call For “Pipe Dreamers” Only! where pipe men and women can choose a pipe – or a pipe chooses them – to be commissioned for restoration.

Andy has commissioned pipes from The Pipe Steward before and I love it when pipe men (and women) keep coming back!  The pipe calling his name from the St. Louis Lot of 26 is the Danish Freehand marked in the picture below.As a return patron of The Pipe Steward which benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria, Andy’s contribution has been appreciated.  His first commission was a striking Monarch Bent Ball (see: Link) and then a Churchwarden I fashioned from a throw-away bowl (see: Link) which was on his list to add to his personal collection.  Andy came back again and commissioned a Trent Lev-O-Lator Half Bent Billiard (see: Link) that turned out beautifully.  His three previous restorations are pictured below. Now, the striking Danish Freehand now on the worktable. Here are pictures of the Freehand that got Andy’s attention. When I first acquired this Lot of 26 and it made its way here to Bulgaria, I was anxious to get a closer look at this Freehand.  When I first saw it in the pictures that Josiah sent, I thought that it might be a Karl Erik.  When I finally looked at the Freehand on the worktable here in Sofia, I had to work hard to find any identifying markers.  With the help of a magnifying glass and carefully angled lighting, I could only make out with certainty extremely ghosted lettering, ‘Made in Denmark’.  The next two pictures show this ghosted lettering.Yet, in the two pictures following with the light angled differently, the second picture being a blow-up of the first, I can make out just above the ‘Made’, I think I can see two letters: ‘N’ and possibly another ‘N’ or a ‘W’?  And to the far right, possibly the number ‘5’ or another letter?  Often these are phantom letters that form from the grain and our desire to see something that’s not there!  Phantom or not, there’s not a lot to go on.With this meager information I looked at Pipephil.eu where you can search by country.  I clicked on Denmark and as you might expect, several options surfaced of Danish pipe names and carvers.  With the possibility of the phantom ‘N’ being the first letter of a name, I looked at the N section to see if any of the names and pipes made by these might resemble the Danish Freehand on my worktable – reaching at straws!With no leads, I sent a note and pictures of this Freehand off to Steve with his rebornpipes.com depth of experience to draw upon again!  Perhaps there was something he would see in the pipe that would lean toward a Danish style and maker.  The next day I received Steve’s reply which was encouraging:

It has the look of a Preben Holm… under the pipes he made is a group of them – freehands labeled Monte Verde I wonder if that is not what is there.

Steve included the Pipephil.eu link that took me to the Monte Verde panel attributed to Preben Holm.  Wow! Again, I look at the lettering on the lower panel of the Freehand and it could be….  The ‘Made in Denmark’ looks like the same, all cap letters.  With Steve’s input the likelihood of Freehand being a Preben Holm is enhanced.Not long ago, wishing to add to my personal collection a Freehand with Preben Holm’s name on it, I landed on eBay a beautiful piece of his workmanship. This Freehand is still in need of restoration but putting it along side of the smaller Freehand on my worktable, one can easily see why Steve says that it has the ‘look of a Preben Holm’.  Looking at the curves, the angles of the cuts, even the grain pattern presentation – the resemblance is there. I’m looking forward to restoring this big boy one of these days!The Pipedia ‘Preben Holm’ article is full of information and examples of his work.  The opening paragraph is enough to capture the impact that his work has had – why, like me, adding a Preben Holm Freehand to one’s collection checks a box on most pipe men and women’s pipe bucket list:

Preben Holm (1947 – 1989) has set some marks in pipe history. Just before his 16th birthday in 1963 he sold pipes to the legendary Pipe-Dan shop and at the age of only 22 he headed 45 employees. He was among the first Danish artisans who made “Danish pipe design” famous in the USA in the 1960’s. More than that he was one of the very first carvers who exceeded this moderate Danish design which based on the classical shapes. “Chaising the grain” they turned out wild and dramatic fancy pipes. Combining smooth with blasted surfaces, showing big areas of the original bark at the top of the bowl and at the end of the stem, these pipes were quite shocking to many elder and more conservative pipesmokers.

When he started to sell his pipes to Lane Ltd. under the Ben Wade label, he caused a hype fairly beyond comparison. Especially in the U.S., as most of his pipes were sold there.

Looking now more specifically at the ‘possible’, perhaps probable, Preben Holm on my worktable, the 1 5/8-inch-deep chamber has a light to moderate layer of cake and the plateau is full of grime and lava flow.I am struck by the vertical grain that the carver took advantage of as he shaped the pipe. In the Pipedia Preben Holm article quoted above, I took special note of the phrase, ‘“Chaising the grain” [sic].  Breaking out of the classic shape mold where shape dictated the pipe, in the Freehand movement Preben Holm revolutionized, ‘chasing the grain’ challenged the carver to allow the grain to shape the pipe’s presentation.  This Freehand definitely chased the grain!  The large briar landscape of the peaked stummel is dirty with thick grime as well as some minor dings and scratches from normal use. The fancy stem has deep oxidation and calcium build-up on the bit.  The bit and button have been mercilessly chewed like cud!  The former steward saved money on not purchasing bite guards but it’s obvious this pipe was loved!  To smoke the pipe hands-free would require this kind of clenching with the size of the stummel.To begin the restoration, using pipe cleaners wetted with isopropyl 95%, the fancy stem airway is cleaned.With the oxidation so thick and with calcium caked on the mouthpiece, before putting the stem into a soak of Before & After Deoxidizer, I decide to get a head start on breaking up the crud.  I use 000 grade steel wool on the stem.  I recently read Jeff Laug’s rebornpipes blog on his cleaning methods (Got a filthy estate pipe that you need to clean?) which is very helpful.  One thing he mentions about stem cleaning is to use ‘Soft Scrub’ which unfortunately I didn’t have for this stem.  I used alcohol with the steel wool, but next time I’ll try to find a comparable product to use here in Bulgaria.After attacking the oxidation and calcium build-up with the steel wool, I’m hopeful that the Before & After Soak will prove to be more productive than in the past with heavily oxidized stems.  The Danish Freehand joins other stems of pipes in the queue for a soak of several hours.After soaking for some time, I use a stiff wire to fish the fancy stem out of the Deoxidizer and allow the fluid to drain.  Notice that I have surgical gloves on – I squeegee the excess fluid off the stem with my fingers.I then wipe/scrub the surface with a cotton pads wetted with isopropyl 95% to remove the raised oxidation.  The Before & After Deoxidizer seems to have done a good job after prepping the oxidation first with the steel wool.At this point, I apply paraffin oil to the stem to begin the rejuvenation of the vulcanite.  I put the stem aside and turn to the stummel.With the stummel in hand, I take a closer look at the conical chamber and the minor/moderate carbon cake build-up.  I’m not sure how well the Pipnet Reaming Tool’s blade heads will fit this chamber, but I’ll give it a go. I use the first two smaller blade heads, but as I suspected, the chamber narrows too much for the blades to reach the floor of the chamber, so I use the blades simply to scrape the walls. It was then that I remembered a reamer that I picked up a few years ago at a flea market somewhere in Kentucky when my wife and I were in the States.  The Kleen Reem Pipe Tool has some years on it.  I remember when I found it, I thought that it might come in handy. I love old boxes and paraphernalia.  The company printed underneath the name is W. J. Young Co. Peabody.  A quick look on the internet revealed that Peabody is in the US state of Connecticut.  The reamer is in a case with several shortened pipe cleaners.  I’m not sure what the function is of the pipe cleaners. Taking a closer look at the reamer I discover the smaller knob on the end unscrews and sheathed inside I withdraw a drill bit.  As I rotate the end knob of the reamer, the three blades expand in unison as a metal cylinder pushes the blades open.  The workings are solid. With my curiosity piqued, I dig a bit more on the internet to see if I can find more information.  I find a classic owner’s leaflet (See: LINK) extolling the benefits of keeping one’s pipe clean and the benefits of the Kleen Reem Pipe Tool. Below the text, a schematic of the reamer clearly describes the critical working parts.The next page of the leaflet solved the mystery of the miniature pipe cleaners.  The picture shows a pipe cleaner hooked on the end of the shank reamer.  I look at mine and discover that its not a hook, but a small hole through the pipe cleaner is threaded.  I would imagine that it puts a lot of torque on the crud in the airway when the shank reamer is rotating. After reading the ‘Directions for Use’ below, I decide to see for myself if the claim holds true: ‘The Kleen Reem Pipe Tool fits any pipe….’ The claim held true, at least for this Danish Freehand!  The end of the reamer blades reached down to the floor of the chamber and I expanded the blades gradually as I rotated the reamer moving up the chamber.  A great debut for this vintage old boy Kleen Reem Pipe Tool!  I follow the Kleen Reem by scraping the walls further with the Savinelli Fitsall Tool and finish by sanding the chamber with 240 grade paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen. After wiping the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to clean the carbon dust, I inspect the chamber walls to find everything looking great.Transitioning to cleaning the external briar surface, using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap, I scrub the surface using a cotton pad as well as a bristled toothbrush on the plateaus – rim and shank. I then transfer the stummel to the kitchen sink where I continue the cleaning using shank brushes with anti-oil dish liquid soap (out of Jeff Laug’s Playbook!) and using warm to hottish water, I clean the mortise and airway.  I also use the brass wire brush on the rim plateau where the lava overflow is still hanging on.  After the cleaning, a few pictures show the results.  The plateau is cleaned of the caked crud and most of the dark color is gone.  The old wax build-up and finish, if there was much of a finish, seems now to be gone.  Fresh briar. Continuing the internal cleaning, pipe cleaners and cotton buds wetted with isopropyl 95% go to work on the mortise and airway. I also employ a small dental spoon to scrape the mortise walls.  When I was doing this I suddenly thought, ‘Why am I not testing out the Kleen Reem shank reamer?’  I pull it out of the Kleen Reem case again and rotate it into the airway.  The reamer grabs with traction and begins to move slowly through the airway as I rotate the reamer.  It makes it through to the draft hole and I retract it without difficulty.  It works!I decide to drink the Kool Aide and try out the miniature pipe cleaners.  I thread one through the hole on the tip of the reamer per the directions I read earlier.  I’m wondering to myself, how is all of this going to fit and move through the airway??  I decide to wet the pipe cleaner some with isopropyl 95% as I do regular pipe cleaners.  I push it into the mortise and the halves of the pipe cleaner fold back like slanted wings as I begin rotating the reamer as I did before.  As before, the reamer grabs and gains purchase while the rotation of the reamer pulls the tool into the airway.  It makes it to the draft hole and as before, before trying with the pipe cleaner, I retract it without trouble.I am amazed!  When I extract the reamer, I discover that the pipe cleaner was neatly embedded in the troughs of the reamer – sweet!  The pipe cleaner provides a slightly expanded ‘brushing’ activity while the reamer does the plowing with its blades.  The second picture below shows the pipe cleaner unwrapped a bit.  I’m impressed with the engineering of this tool. After several more cotton buds and pipe cleaners, they begin to emerge lighter and cleaner and I call it ‘cleaned’ for the moment.The hour is late and before the lights go out, I’ll continue the internal cleaning with a kosher salt and alcohol soak.  This both continues to clean the internal briar walls, but also refreshes the bowl for the new steward’s enhanced enjoyment!  I first fashion a mortise ‘wick’ by pulling and twisting a cotton ball.  The wick serves to help draw the tars and oils out of the briar. I then guide the wick down the mortise into the airway with the aid of a stiff wire.  With the wick in place, the chamber is filled with kosher salt.  Kosher salt leaves no aftertaste unlike iodized salt. With the bowl in an egg crate to keep it stable, I add isopropyl 95% to the chamber with a large eyedropper until it surfaces over the salt.  After a few minutes the alcohol is drawn into the pipe and I again add some alcohol to top it off.  I put it aside, turn out the lights and let it soak through the night! The next morning the soak has done the job.  The soiling of the wick and salt indicates the absorbing action of drawing the tars and oils out of the briar.  After tossing the expended salt in the waste, a paper towel and blowing through the airway clears the pipe of salt crystals.I put the stummel aside to address the chewed-up stem.  I take a few pictures to show the upper, lower then a lateral view of the button.  The results of the biting and clenching are not only the severe teeth damage but also that the button is so compressed, there’s essentially no lip left to hang the pipe normally.  This is not good even when you’re not a clencher.  My approach will first seek to expand and raise the tooth compressions and chatter as much as possible on the upper and lower bit.  I’ll attempt this using the heating method with a Bic lighter.  I don’t believe there’s any way to avoid having to rebuild the button to restore a proper lip to hang the Freehand.  First, using a Bic lighter, I paint the upper and lower bit with the flame.  My hope is to minimize the compressions so that sanding is all that will be necessary on the bit. I take a start picture of upper and lower, then after using the Bic lighter for comparison.

I believe the process did minimize the damage as the heated vulcanite expanded toward its pre-damage condition, but we’re a long way from where we need to be! The button was so thin on the top that the flame burned a small bit of the upper lip in the center and it broke off leaving a divot in the middle of the upper lip. To rebuild the button, I mix activated charcoal with BSI Extra Thick Maxi-Cure CA glue.  To help in cleaning, I put scotch tape down on a plastic disk that serves as my mixing pallet, and then clean the bit with a cotton pad and alcohol.  I place a small pile of charcoal on the disk and then a dollop of the glue next to it.  I gradually mix as I pull charcoal into the glue using a toothpick.As the mixture thickens, I trowel the charcoal/CA mixture onto the button to build a mound over the repair site for the button and on the bit area to fill tooth compressions remaining in the vulcanite.  An accelerator is used on each side of the bit to quicken the curing time.After cleaning up, the flat needle file is first used to begin the rough shaping of the button.Starting with the upper side, I file and gradually shape the button.After making progress on the upper bit and button, the patch just above the small air slot that was thin earlier and burned some, is not adequately filled.  With a magnifying glass I see a gap in the patch.To do a quick patch fill above the slot, I fashion a piece of index card into a sharp point that will fit into the slot to form a mold barrier.  I cover the tip of the card stock with a piece of scotch tape to keep the glue from sticking. Using a medium-thick black CA glue, I spot drop the glue in the center above the slot and spray it with accelerator.After waiting a few minutes for the black CA glue to thoroughly cure, I wiggle the card stock out of the slot with no problems of sticking.  The patch above the slot looks good and I continue filing.I finish the roughing out of the upper button with the flat needle file.I transition to filing and shaping the lower button and bit.With the lower roughing out completed, I transition to 240 grade paper and sand to smooth more and to erase the scratching left from the file. Next, using 600 grade paper, I wet sand the entire stem.  I follow this by applying 000 grade steel wool to the entire fancy stem.  It takes some time to work sand in the grooves and around the bulges of the stem.Stem work is the most time consuming and meticulous part of a pipe’s restoration, usually.  I look at the possible Preben Holm Freehand stummel waiting for attention and I would rather put the stem aside and switch to the ‘milk and honey’ part of a restoration, but I press on with the stem applying the full battery of micromesh pads starting with wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400.  I follow this by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  In between each set of 3 pads, I apply Obsidian Oil which helps rejuvenate the vulcanite stem as well as helping retard the development of oxidation. After finishing the micromesh process, I note that the button rebuild patch material has air pockets showing.  This happens often with this repair. To remedy this, I use clear acrylic nail polish to paint the button with the small brush that comes with the bottle.  The acrylic fills the pockets.  After applying, I put the fancy stem aside for the acrylic polish to cure.With the stem on the side, I now take another look at the Danish Freehand stummel.  The grain is beautiful, and the surface is in very good shape but shows normal nicks and scratches from normal wear. I will use micromesh pads to refresh the briar surface but first I cover the area of the last vestiges of the nomenclature.  I do not wish to contribute to its demise.Using pads 1500 to 2400, I wet sand the surface.  Following this, using pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000, I dry sand the large briar landscape.  It’s exhilarating to see the metamorphosis of the grain through each minute gradation of grade provided by each successive micromesh pad.  It’s as if the grain is coaxed out.  I love the grain on the Danish Freehand.  If this is indeed a work of Preben Holm, it is truly ‘chasing the grain.’ To tease out further the natural hues of the briar, Mark Hoover’s product (www.ibepen.com), Before & After Restoration Balm, does the job well. After putting some Balm on my fingers, I work it into the briar surface including the rim and shank plateaus.  I then put the stummel aside for about 20 minutes, then wipe/buff the excess using a microfiber cloth dedicated to this. I follow with another microfiber cloth to buff the surface further.Next, I use another product of Mark Hoover, Before & After Fine and Extra Fine polishes.  Not only does the polishes revitalize the vulcanite, Mark says that it also has properties that continue to fight or remove oxidation.  Starting with the Fine polish, like the Balm, after placing a small amount on my finger, I work it into the vulcanite and let it set for a few minutes.  With the polishes, I like removing the excess initially with a paper towel – it absorbs and is a bit rougher which seems to help in the polishing at this stage.  I follow the Fine with the Extra Fine polish in the same manner.  The stem looks great.Next, I address the plateaus of rusticated briar – a hallmark characteristic of many Freehand pipes.  This Freehand appears to have had a darkened plateau originally and I use a fine point black Sharpie Pen to do the highlighting and darkening. I also darken and freshen the straight highlight carvings on the heel. I focus on the inner two thirds of the rim plateau intentionally leaving some of the rustication on the outer edge natural briar – I like contrasting and texturing.  I do the same with both plateaus and the heel sculpting. In order to ‘weather’ the freshly darkened plateaus so that the black doesn’t look new, I lightly sand the plateaus with the roughest micromesh pad, 1500 grade.  What this also does is lighten the peaks of the rustication giving more depth of contrast – I like this! The home stretch – after mounting a cotton cloth to the Dremel with the speed set at about 40% full power, Blue Diamond compound is applied to stem and stummel. Following Blue Diamond, another cotton cloth buffing wheel is mounted on the Dremel, and maintaining the same speed, carnauba wax is applied to the Freehand.  After applying the wax, I use a microfiber cloth to give the pipe a rigorous hand buffing to raise the shine.If this Danish Freehand is not a Preben Holm, it’s an excellent facsimile.  The vertical grain is mesmerizing.  It reaches up the 2 1/2 inch height of the Freehand’s front bowed bowl section and culminates in the classic rusticated plateau.  The plateau measures 1 3/4 inches across surrounding a 1 3/4 inch deep chamber that will hold an ample load of tobacco.  The length from the front point to the button is 5 3/4 inches.  The button re-build came out well – I’m pleased.  Andy commissioned this Made in Denmark Freehand and will have the first opportunity to claim it in The Pipe Steward Store benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria.  Thanks for joining me!

Wow – Restoring a Huge Mario Grandi Blowfish!


Blog by Steve Laug

I have finished many of the pipes on my desk for refurbishing or repair and decided it was time to do something a little different that was a lot less work. I turned again to the group of 42 pipes that Jeff and I purchased from a pipeman who can no longer smoke because serious illness. It is a pleasure to be able to support this Brother of the Briar in this very hard season of his life. He had some beautiful pipes in his collection and with some work we will get them cleaned up and into the hands of other pipemen and women who can carry on the legacy of the briar.

The fifth of the pipes that I am working on is a monstrously large Mario Grandi Blowfish with a dual finish of smooth and sandblast. The smooth portions have great grain and the sandblast portion on the right side adds depth to the shape. The sandblast portion has some darker brown stain in the valleys of the blast that really are a nice touch. There is an acrylic black insert in the shank and a smooth shank cap. It is stamped on the left side of the shank Mario Grandi over Fatta in Italia. It is another nice piece of briar that the carver accommodated the shape to highlight. The turned fancy, vulcanite stem shifts shape from the round bead to a four sided panel in the blade of the stem. When it arrived at Jeff’s house and he opened the box he could see it was a beautifully grained piece of briar and an interestingly carved pipe. The pipe was dirty but there was little damage to the bowl or stem. There was some chipping on the right side of the shank extension – almost like tooth marks. Perhaps it had fallen prey to a dog’s attention. The rim top had darkening and tars flowing up from the thickly caked bowl. But it did not appear to be burned or charred. The stem was in good condition – just lightly oxidized and a little dirty. There was calcification and tooth chatter on both sides of the stem near the button. Overall the large unique pipe was a beautiful piece that must have been enjoyed by the previous pipeman who had held it in trust. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his clean up work. Jeff took photos of the bowl and the rim top to show the condition of the bowl and rim. You can see the lava and darkening on the rim top. You can also see the cake in the bowl and the tobacco debris stuck to the walls.   Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish – the pipe looked pretty good and the grain on the sides and bottom of the bowl was very pretty. The contrast between the smooth and the sandblast portions was quite nice. The next three photos show the damage to the shank extension. It almost looks the pipe was bitten by a dog or dropped on a rough surface without the stem in place. He took photos of the stamping on the left and underside of the shank. He missed the number on the right side of the shank. The stamping was very readable as noted above. It is a beauty!  He took some photos of the fancy vulcanite stem surfaces to show their condition. There were not any deep tooth marks just some calcification and light chatter ahead of the button on both sides.I turned then to Pipedia to see what I could find out about Mario Grandi pipes. I read through the page to gather some information. Here is the link (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Mario_Grandi). I will quote from the article.

The Mario Grandi line was created in late 2006 by Aldo Pierluigi and his family as a sub-brand of their mainstay brand Mastro Beraldi.

Mario Grandi often show unusual and imaginative shapes – some really take getting used to. Every now and then you may find a pipe with some minor negligence concerning the workmanship. To give an example: the shank /stem junction sometimes shows a little split. Even though the quality is generally very high and you will hardly find any other (mainly) hand-crafted pipes at such affordable prices.

Outside Italy Mario Grandi pipes are officially offered by *futurepipes* on eBay. More than 2,000 pipes have been sold since December 2006. The offers change almost daily.

Now I had the information I wanted to know on the brand it was time to begin to work with it and clean it up. It really is a beautiful pipe. I am getting more and more used to Jeff cleaning up the pipes before I work on them. So much so that when I have to clean them it is a real chore! This pipe was dirty just like the other ones in the collection. 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 briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looked really good once it was clean. There was no damage and the sandblast stood out with stark contrast around the bowl. The rim top showed some beautiful sandblasted birdseye on the beveled surface. He cleaned the stem internals and scrubbed the exterior and the result looked very good. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it was impressive. I took photos before I started my part of the work. I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show what the cleanup of the rim top looked like. It was a real beauty. The sandblast and the contrasting smooth areas on the rim really highlighted the grain patterns on the rim top and they were very clean! I also took close up photos of the stem to show condition it was in. It would not take a lot of work – just sanding out the light tooth chatter and polishing with micromesh sanding pads.I took a photo of the chipped/chewed area on the shank extension. It had cleaned up nicely and did not actually look too bad. In fact in many ways it matched the sandblast on the right side of the bowl. I would probably leave it as it is as a fill would definitely detract from the beauty of the pipe.I took a photo of the stamping on the shank of the pipe. On the left it read Mario Grandi over Fatta in Italia. I started my work on this pipe with the bowl. I polished the bowl and rim with worn micromesh sanding pads. I sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped it down between pads with a soft cotton cloth. You can see the progress in the shine as you go through the photos.  I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the briar with my fingertips and a horsehair 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 grain stand out. 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 sandpaper and 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the remaining oxidation and tooth chatter on the surface of the stem on both sides.I polished the stem 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 to protect and preserve the newly cleaned and polished stem.  This was another fun pipe to work on since Jeff had done the heavy work in cleaning it. Once I was finished I put the fancy vulcanite stem back on the bowl and polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl 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 depth and look of the sandblast portion stands out in real contrast to the smooth portions and makes the pipe vibrant. The pipe polished up really well. The polished stem looked very good after the buffing. This is a big pipe and it feels great in my hand and I am sure that it will feel even better radiating the heat of a good smoke. It must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it from the pipeman who we bought it from. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions of this large blowfish are Length: 8 inches, Height: 3 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This is one is a unique beauty that is eye catching. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store shortly. If you are interested in adding it to your collection email or message me. 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.

Transforming a Hornless Sculpted Bull’s Head into a Churchwarden with Horns


Blog by Dal Stanton

I would have never come up with this on my own.  Seth already commissioned the restoration of a French GEFAPIP 500 Bent Bulldog which he found calling his name in the online collection of pipes I call, For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!.  The Bulldog needed a lot of stem work which included deep oxidation, a button rebuild and re-seating the stem/shank fit.  I was pleased with the results of that transformation pictured below.While I was working on the GEFAPIP Bulldog, Seth emailed me with a question – could he commission a Churchwarden project by repurposing another pipe’s bowl listed in For “Pipe Dreamers” Only!.  A Sculpted Bull’s Head with a bent stem had gotten his attention and with a little ‘dreaming’ applied, Seth could envision the Bull’s Head mounted on a Warden stem.  I found the Bull’s Head in the inventory and pulled it out to look at through Seth’s eyes… Yep!  I could see it, too.  What was missing in the mix were the Bull’s horns.  I responded that we could do this and after working out the details, I added the Bull’s Head CW project to follow the Bulldog project! Here are pictures of the Sculpted Bull’s Head which got Seth’s attention: The Bull’s profile is detailed and a bit on the whimsical side, especially with his missing horns.  He seems to be smiling in the picture above.  There are no identifying marks on the pipe.  When the Bull made it to the worktable, the question that came to my mind was how would I fashion the missing horns?  I took this question to ‘Google search’ to find other sculpted bull heads to get some ideas.  I clipped a screen shot of the search results and you can see that the horns are not uniform which is true of real bulls.  I looked through the pictures to see if I could find a bull that resembled Seth’s Bull, but I could not.  The interesting thing was that I found that many bull heads were from Italy.  What I noticed as well, was the similarities and differences between the pipes.  The eyes were made of differing materials and also the shaping of the ears situated behind the horns were distinctive and showed bulls sculpted by the same ‘school’ or carver.  After concluding the online search, I decided that I would send a note to Seth asking him to do the same search and to let me know what horns looked best – with the understanding this Bull’s Head will be mounted at the front end of a Churchwarden stem.  I’m thinking about the balancing and general look.  After sending the email, I place the Bull’s Head stummel with a Warden stem to get an overall sense of proportion.  I like it!I begin the Sculpted Bull’s Head Churchwarden project with the general cleaning of the stummel before fashioning the stem.  I take a picture of the chamber showing very little cake buildup, but I do see vestiges of the former steward’s tobacco.  I use the Savinelli Fitsall Tool to scrape the walls of the narrower than usual chamber.  After wrapping 240 grade paper around a Sharpie Pen, sanding the chamber removes more carbon.  I finish this phase by wiping the chamber with a cotton pad wetted with isopropyl 95%.  After inspecting the chamber, I determine that all looks good. Moving to the cleaning of the external surface, using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and a bristled tooth brush I go to work scrubbing all the crevasses of the sculpting.From the worktable, I transfer the Bull’s Head to the kitchen sink where I rinse the surface with warm water as well as clean the internals.  Using anti-oil dish soap, long shank brushes scrub the internals.  Afterwards, the stummel is rinsed thoroughly – inside and out.The appearance of the Sculpting is realistic, especially the carving around the eyes. I continue cleaning the internals using cotton buds and a pipe cleaner – all dipped in isopropyl 95%.  The internals are good, and I move on.With the stummel clean, it’s time to begin fashioning the Warden stem.  The first step is to take some measurements using my German made electronic caliper – one of the best additions to the toolbox I’ve made.  I measure the internal diameter of the mortise to establish the target size of the tenon.  The measurement is 6.80mm.  Next, after mounting the drill bit provided by the PIMO Tenon Turning Tool set, the airway is drilled out to receive the Guide Pin of the TTT. After drilling the airway, the TTT is mounted.  The first cut of the tenon is intentionally larger to act as a starting point for the measurement.  In the picture below the guide pen is in the now enlarged airway.  In the past, I’ve learned the hard way that it’s critically to cut the tenon of the precast Churchwarden stem all the way to and through the raw stem facing.  I’ve put an arrow at the facing that is shouldered coming from the casting.  If this shoulder is not removed, it simply migrates to the pipe which is not good.I do the initial cut of the tenon through the ‘shoulder’ so that a sharp 45-degree angle is left which will be able to seat more exactly with the shank facing.Again, I measure and the tenon after the initial cut and it is 8.92mm.  The difference between the starting cut and the target size of the tenon (6.80mm) is 2.12mm. In order to approach the target size conservatively through sanding, 40mm is added to the target size of the tenon to create a ‘fat’ target – to leave a bit of sanding to be able to customize the fit.  Adding .40mm to 6.80mm gives a fat target of about 7.20mm.  This is what I aim for with the PIMO Tenon Turning Tool before transitioning to sanding the raw tenon.After a few cuts closing in on the ‘fat’ target, I settle for 7.31mm.  I now transition to sanding. Using a coarse 120 grade, I pinch the paper around the tenon as evenly as possible and rotate the stem while holding the paper stationary.  My goal is to size down the tenon evenly so that the whole tenon is maintaining contact snuggly on the mortise walls once seated.  Progress is patient as I sand and test the fit. As the progression moves closer to completion, I transition to 240 grade paper to do the final sanding.The tenon is fitting well – snug but not too tight.  The pictures below show the seated stem.  The stem is almost perfectly flush with the upper shank, but the stem is fat on the lower quadrant.After taping the shank with a layer of masking tape to buffer the briar from the heavy sanding, I attack the fat lip of the lower stem using coarse 120 grade sanding paper.  The goal is to sand the excess vulcanite to form a uniform shank/stem union.After achieving a good union at the shank, I continue the sanding with the 120 paper over the entire precast Warden stem.  The stem, even though it is new, has the casting seam down both sides that needs sanding and uneven rippling that needs smoothing. After the 120 grade paper, I follow by sanding the entire stem with 240.After the stem proper has been sanded, I switch the focus to the rough precast button.  Pictures of the upper and lower raw button show the imperfections that are first filed using a flat needle file.After doing the major shaping with the file, I follow with 120 and 240 sanding papers to fine tune the button shaping.Without a doubt, the least pleasing aspect of fashioning Churchwardens is sanding the stems and dealing with all the rubber dust!  I’m thankful to move to the fine sanding stage by wet sanding with 600 grade paper followed by applying 000 grade steel wool to the entire stem.Next, with the stummel and stem united, I remove the masking tape to begin sanding with micromesh pads.  At this point, I focus the sanding on the stem/shank junction and the stummel.  Sanding the shank with the stem engaged keeps the junction edges from shouldering.  I also sand the stummel to clean it up.  There’s no doubt that this Bull’s Head sculpting will remain ‘rough’ and rustic, but I want to sand the smooth briar points of the Bull’s head: shank, underside, muzzle and the high points of the sculpting ridges.  Pictures of the landscape show the smooth briar patches that will be the focus of the micromesh pads. I begin by first wet sanding with pads 1500 to 2400, followed by 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000. Next, I address the stummel’s hue.  The original pictures of the Sculpted Bull’s Head indicate an original darker stummel.  What I believe will look good is to darken the stummel again and then lightly sand the peaks of the sculpting to bring out highlights giving the overall appearance more depth and contrast. The crevasses of the sculpting will hold on to the darkened hue while the peaks will lighten.  I’ll use Fiebing’s Dark Brown Leather Dye to do the job.  After removing the stem, I clean the stummel using a cotton pad and isopropyl 95%. It takes a bit of time as I get into each crevasse of the sculpting.I assemble the staining station and use the hot air gun to warm the stummel before applying the stain. This opens the briar to help its receptivity to the dye. Unlike my normal approach of flaming the aniline dye after painting it on the briar surface, with the rough texture I apply a simple dye wash and allow it to dry and set. I use the bent over pipe cleaner to apply dye in all the crevasses of the sculpted surface.  After applying the leather dye, I let the stummel rest for several hours.With the stummel resting now, I turn back to the stem.  Before, with the stummel attached, I have already applied micromesh to the junction area.  Now I continue with the rest of the stem starting with wet sanding with micromesh pads 1500 to 2400 then dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  Between each set of 3 pads, Obsidian Oil is applied to the stem.  Steve did an informative blog on comparing Obsidian Oil with Briarville’s, No Oxy Pipe Stem Oil (See LINK).  His conclusion was that both seemed to be equally good products.  What I didn’t know before reading Steve’s blog was about the anti-oxidation properties of Obsidian Oil.  It doesn’t remove oxidation if already present, but it hinders the growth of oxidation.  As a result, I’ve started using Obsidian Oil for the maintenance of my own pipes in rotation. Putting the stem aside for the time, I take up the stummel which has been resting for several hours after applying the dye.  I use a cotton pad wetted with alcohol to give the stummel a wipe to remove excess dye. Next, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel with the speed set at about 40% full power.  I apply a light application of Blue Diamond compound and I intentionally keep the compound light because I want to avoid caking in the crevasses.  My focus is primarily buffing on the smooth briar and the peaks of the sculpting.After application of the compound, I use a felt cloth to give the stummel a rigorous buffing to remove the compound dust from the surface.  I very much like the results.  The effect I was shooting for with the contrast between the smooth briar peaks and the darker crevasses is evident. The rough, rustic texture is preserved but the smooth briar pops in comparison.  I’m surprised also by the mahogany leaning hue resulting from the dark brown dye that I applied.  The following pictures show what I see. I decide to condition the dried Sculpted Bull’s Head stummel using Before & After Restoration Balm. I place some Balm on my fingers and work it well into the crevasses of the sculpting and over the smooth briar surfaces.  During this process, I note that the dye applied to the stummel earlier is coloring the Balm somewhat as it’s worked into the briar.  I also see some coloring on my fingers.  After working the Balm in well, I place it aside to allow the Balm to do its thing and then I use a cotton cloth that I will discard to wipe the excess Balm which is also colored somewhat with the fresh brown dye that is lifting off the stummel. To address the leaching dye issue, which is normal for newly dyed woods – briar is no exception, is to heat the stummel with the hot air gun which helps the dye to fully leach.  When the stummel is heated, I wipe it first with a cotton cloth and then with a paper towel.  The hopeful result of this is after the pipe reaches his new steward, when the steward fires it up for the first few uses, dye will not leach on his hands from the heated stummel – or be minimized greatly!Next: bending the Warden stem.  After reuniting the stem and stummel I place the pipe on a piece of paper to sketch the angle of curve needed to help as a template.  I first draw a horizontal line to serve as the plane of the plateau.  I use the horizontal shelf behind the angled chamber stack to line up with the horizontal plane.  After outlining the unbent angle, I sketch the bend to bring it into alignment with the horizontal to serve as my template.Even though the bend needed is not great, a pipe cleaner is inserted into the end of the stem to guard the airway integrity during the bend.  Using the hot air gun, the middle of the stem is heated because this is where I want the bend to be so that the end of the stem resolves nicely along the horizontal plane.  I remove the stummel so that I can place the stem flat on the template after it is heated so that the stem is not angled or twisted to the left or right during the vulcanite’s supple stage.As the stem heats, I’m careful to keep ‘up’ up, so that the fit of the stem in the mortise isn’t accidentally flipped!  As the rubber heats, I gently apply pressure to the bend area.  When the heating has sufficiently warmed the vulcanite, I bring the stem to the template and create the bend according to the template and hold it in place for a few minutes as the rubber cools and the bend is held in place.  The first attempt renders perfect results!  I move on.With the stem now bent, I catch it up with the stummel by applying Blue Diamond compound to the entire stem.  After mounting a cotton cloth buffing wheel onto the Dremel and with the speed set at about 40% full power, I apply compound to the stem.  After finishing the application, I wipe/buff the stem with a felt cloth to remove the leftover carbon dust.I’m very pleased how things are shaping up.  Before the final polishing, I have one project left which is a little daunting: the horns.  I’ve been thinking throughout (and even before starting!) the restoration how I was going to address the fashioning of the horns.  The sides of the Bull’s head have holes which provide the diameter of the horn mass.  As I looked at many examples on the internet of sculpted Bull’s heads, I found that there are a several varieties of horn style which is true with real life bulls!  To narrow in on a style, I described sending Seth an email asking him to do some online research.I received his reply stating that he liked the shorter, stockier horns that turn up slightly on the ends.  He also sent a couple pictures to illustrate his desires which were very helpful.  As I’ve thought about this part of the project, fashioning one horn is not the greatest challenge, but fashioning two is!  The challenge is to match the two but in reverse orientation – left and right horns!  The pictures Seth provided are helpful, but there is a contrasting complexity even between the two examples he sent.  The picture on the left shows the horns set on a vertical platform shaped on the side of the bull’s head to allow the visible horn to have more mass with (I’m assuming) a smaller peg inserted into the holes.  Whereas, the example on the right, more like what I have on my worktable, the horn diameter and mass are confined to the diameter of the hole.  It seems to be that the general proportion of the examples Seth sent below and many of the online examples I’ve seen is that the visible horn is about half the width of the bull’s head. Unfortunately, in my 10th floor flat in the formerly Communist period apartment block, I do not possess much in the way of precision wood working equipment, like a lathe!  Shaping the horns will be by hand using a Dremel, files and sanding paper.  I plan to use cherrywood as the material for the horns.  Cherry trees grow almost everywhere in Bulgaria and there are several in the green area in front of our block.  A couple years ago I harvested a couple very straight branches from a cherrywood tree in the front green area to dry out and to use with a project of restoring a French made cherrywood Ropp stummel and stem.  I trimmed them down and they’ve been in my bucket waiting for some time – now, very much dried and ready.  The Ropp project will continue to wait! I begin with horn number one.  First, I cut a length of the cherrywood stem the width of the bull’s head.  I know that roughly half of this will be the horn.  The other half will be what is eventually inserted in the hole which is the ‘peg’ side.In order to give a center orientation for the peg, I use a small sanding drum to trace a guide circle.After drawing a line around the piece of wood to mark the extent of peg shaping, I use a sanding drum in a circular motion around the end  and gradually shape out the peg. As I was progressing on shaping the horn peg, I notice the line of a grain crack – ugh.  I decide to see if it might work after some sanding and filing, but the crack will be a problem.  I’m hoping that this is not characteristic of this wood! I move on and start over.With the second start, I decide not to cut the short piece of cherrywood but to shape the horn peg first.  I do this so that I can save wood if I must cut it off again and restart.  Again, I mark the center horn peg template and use the sanding drum mounted on the Dremel to shape the peg.I sanded and tested the fit a few times until the horn peg finally found home in the side of the bull’s head! Next, I cut off the smaller piece measuring to leave a little more than half the width of the Bull’s head.  I leave extra length to enable me to sand down to a good fit.Next, with the picture that Seth sent to me showing the horn style he likes, I draw a horn template on the cherrywood inserted into the hole.  The most critical thing at this point is to have a guide to help me stay within close parameters of proportion as I shape the horn step by step.Remembering that the first horn is easier than the second, I use the rounded angle of the sanding drum to create a consistent angle for the upswing of the horn tip.  I’ll do the same for the second horn to minimize differences.  With the Dremel set to slow, I press the drum into the wood to create the horn tip upswing angle. I then remove the remaining excess wood on the upper side of the horn bringing the top parallel with the upper side of the peg. Next, I turn the horn shaping over, with the horn tip facing down, to now work on the bottom of the horn. The hand saw cuts the excess off the cherrywood piece so that the cut is very close to the end of the horn.  This saves on sanding.Again, using the sanding drum mounted on the Dremel, I begin to take wood off the lower side of the horn piece.  I start by sanding a horizontal base-line which identifies the horn’s lower side.As the sanding moves toward the end of the cherrywood – toward the horn tip that is facing downwardly, I curve the sanding so that the angled underside of the horn is shaped toward the inverted horn tip.The roughing out of the upper and lower horn is looking good and it resembles a paddle at this stage.  The next 3 pictures show the horn from the different angles and the excess wood on the end identified by the template is still needing to be sanded to better define the horn tip. I insert the rough horn into the bull head to make sure I’m tracking in a good direction.  I’m looking for good proportions. So far, very nice – but again, the first horn is easier!I transition to a smaller sanding drum to begin the removal of the excess wood on the front and back portions of the rough horn.  The horn starts to emerge very nicely during this part of the sanding which is patient – I am very careful sculpting with the sanding drum.  I can’t replace wood!After patient shaping, I test the emerging horn and it looks great!  The proportions are good on both the horizontal and vertical axis.With the challenge of now replicating the roughed-out horn, but in reverse, I try to emulate the same process and patiently move step by step.  I draw the peg template and again use the drum to shape out the peg.When the peg arrives in time with a good fit, I use the finished horn to draw a template on the second horn piece.Again, using the sanding drum, the angle is notched out creating the pitch toward the horn tip.As before, I then remove the excess on the top bringing it roughly parallel to the upper side of the peg.  With this done, I cut the cherrywood for a more manageable piece.To shorten this part of the write-up, after much careful sanding, shaping and test fittings, I arrive at two roughed-out horns.They aren’t identical but close enough to pass for the real deal!To leave the horns in semi-rough condition with some texture, I sand both with 240 and 600 grade papers.  This smooths the cherrywood but keeps the horns more rustic.I’m not sure what it will do with the raw cherrywood, but I apply Before & After Restoration Balm to see what happens.  After applying the Balm with my fingers, I let the Balm do its thing for about 20 minutes.  The light cherrywood didn’t change much, but there is a more of a ivory-like hue to it now. Not bad.Almost in the home stretch.  Using BSI Maxi-Cure Extra Thick CA glue, I glue the horns in place.  After placing a drop in each hole, with a toothpick, I spread the glue around the circumference of the hole.  I then insert each horn and pitch it up as Seth requested.Now the home stretch.  All that is lacking is applying carnauba wax to the pipe.  After reuniting stem and stummel, I mount a cotton cloth buffing wheel to the Dremel and set the speed to about 40% full power.  I apply carnauba wax to the stem and Sculpted Bull’s Head stummel and horns.  I’m careful to go light on the wax in the sculpting staying primarily on the smooth briar and peaks. After application of the wax, I give the Churchwarden a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to raise the shine.Oh my!  I love it, and I trust that Seth will as well.  His idea of turning this Sculpted Bull’s Head into a Churchwarden is a winner hands down.  The sculpting cleaned up nicely and the dark brown dye with the contrast highlighting with smooth briar is attractive, but the rustic air of the pipe is preserved.  I’ve never fashioned horns in a restoration before this project, but I believe the Bulgarian cherrywood looks good and does a good job emulating the horns.  Fashioning the horns wasn’t easy, but I’m pleased with the outcome. As the commissioner of this project, Seth will have the first opportunity to acquire this Sculpted Bull’s Head Churchwarden from The Pipe Steward Store.  This pipe benefits the Daughters of Bulgaria, women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Thanks for joining me!

Rebirthing a Stem for Jennifer’s Dad’s Second Champ of Denmark 4 Freehand


I decided to change things up a bit and work on another of Jennifer’s Dad’s pipes. For the next pipe from the estate of George Rex Leghorn I have chosen a nicely shaped Champ of Denmark Freehand. This one has been sitting for a while now while I debated what to do about the broken stem. I find that sometimes the best solutions come to me when I wait! You may not have read about this estate before, so I will retell the story. I received an email from Jennifer who is a little older than my 64+ years about whether I would be interested in her Dad’s pipes. My brother Jeff and I have been picking up a few estates here and there, so I was interested. Here is the catch – she did not want to sell them to me but to give them to me to clean up, restore and resell. The only requirement she had was that we give a portion of the sales of the pipes to a charity serving women and children. We talked about the organization I work for that deals with trafficking and sexual exploitation of women and their children and she decided that would be a great way to carry on the charitable aspect of her Dad’s character. With some great conversation back and forth she sent the pipes to Jeff and he started the cleanup process on them. Once he had finished cleaning them all he sent them to me to do my work on them.

The Champ of Denmark pipe is stamped on the underside of the shank CHAMP over of Denmark and below that is the number 4. It came to us with a broken stem about an inch, inch and ½ above the tenon. The beautiful straight and flame grain around the bowl and up the shank is visible through the very thick coat of grime. It seemed like it had a dark stain but hard to tell. There were oil stains from George’s hands on both sides of the bowl obscuring the grain. It was so dirty that it was hard to see the colour well. There was a thick cake in the bowl and it had overflowed with lava into the plateau on the bowl top and shank end. It was a dirty and tired looking old pipe. The stem was badly oxidized but there were not any tooth marks or chatter on the surface. The button was in good shape. It had been sitting in boxes for a lot of years and it was time to move ahead with the restoration. Jennifer took photos of the pipes she was sending. I have included two she included from this pipe. I had some decisions to make regarding this stem. Should I replace it or should I fiddle with a repair? I would have to think that through.When the box arrived from Jennifer, Jeff opened it and took photos of each pipe before he started his cleanup work on them. There were two Champ of Denmark Freehands in the box – both were in bags and both had broken tenons and stems. There is something about classic Danish Freehands that is intriguing and I like working on them. The shapes seem to really capture the flow of the grain on the briar and this second pipe is no exception. The briar appeared to be in good condition underneath the grime. The finish looked intact under the grime. The bowl had a thick cake that had hardened with time. The lava overflow on the plateau rim but it could very well have protected the rim from damage. We won’t know what is under it until Jeff had cleaned it off. The stem was broken in the middle between the turned four sided decorative bead and the blade. It looked as if it had snapped when George was trying to remove a stuck stem. But that was a piece of the history of the pipe I would never know for certain. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started working on it. I include those below.Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava build up on the plateau rim top and on the shank end as well. It was thick and hard but hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage. The lava coat looks horrible but it points to a well-used, favourite smoking pipe. George must have enjoyed this old timer and when the stem broke he must have been frustrated.Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the finish – the grime and grit all over the sides and flat bottom of the bowl. It is a dirty pipe. Jeff took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the shank. It is very clear and readable. It reads as noted above.Jeff took photos of the top and underside of the broken stem showing the scratching, oxidation and tooth chatter on the stem surface. You can also see where the stem snapped – it is a very clean break and it is totally fixable. I will need to see if I have a small piece of tenon that can serve to join the two parts of the stem.When I worked on the previous Champ of Denmark back in June of 2019 I had done some research on the brand (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/06/22/restoring-jennifers-dads-champ-of-denmark-4-freehand/). I turned to that previous blog and quote that here in full:

I looked on the Pipephil site to get a quick overview of the brand. In the back of my mind I remembered a connection to Karl Erik. I could not remember the details of the connection (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-c4.html). I did a screen capture of the section on the brand that was shown on the site. I have included it below.In summary it says that the brand was distributed by Larsen & Stigart a tobacconist in Copenhagen, Denmark. The warehouse had a workshop that had such famous carvers as Soren Eric Andersen, Karl Erik Ottendahl and others.

I turned then to Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Champ_of_Denmark) to see if I could get a bit more information. I quote in full from that site:

“Champ of Denmark” were made for and distributed by Larsen & Stigart by Karl Erik Ottendahl. Larsen & Stigart had some indoor carvers at certain times, too (e.g. Søren Eric Andersen) and among other things they managed to supply Dunhill with wild Danish fancy pipes.

In an endnote under the article on Karl Erik (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Erik) I found some more information. I quote the endnote in full.

¹ It is almost impossible to draw a sharp line between some of these brands… Larsen & Stigart – once a famous Copenhagen pipe shop, now almost forgotten – offered pipes produced by KE stamped “Larsen & Stigart” as well as pipes stamped “Larsen & Stigart” + “Champ of Denmark” or “Larsen & Stigart” + “Shelburne”. Almost needless to say, there are pipes stamped “Champ of Denmark” or “Shelburne” only. And the only reason is inconsistent stamping??? (BTW Larsen & Stigart employed own indoor carvers for appr. one decade – e.g. Søren Eric Andersen. They even managed to supply Dunhill with wild Danish fancy pipes.)

Now I had the verification of the link to Karl Erik Ottendahl. The pipe was most probably made by him for the pipe shop in Copenhagen. Before I get on to cleaning up the pipe I thought I would once again include the tribute that Jennifer wrote to her Dad for the blog. She also sent some photos and an article that her Dad wrote for Jeff and me to be able to get a feel for him. I have included those below. Note in each of them that he is holding a pipe in his left hand. I asked her to also send me an email with a brief tribute to her Dad. Here is her tribute from an email to me.

Steve, I want to thank you again for accepting my dad’s pipes.  They were so much a part of my dad’s life that I could not simply discard them. But as his daughter, I was not about to take up smoking them either. *laughing* I think my dad would like knowing that they will bring pleasure to others.  I know that I do.

I’m not sure what to say about his pipes. I always remember Daddy smoking pipes and cigars.

First a bit about my dad. Though my father, George Rex Leghorn, was American (growing up in Alaska), he managed to join the Canadian Army at the beginning of WWII, but in doing so lost his American citizenship.  He was fortunate to meet a Canadian recruiting officer who told him the alphabet began with “A” and ended with “Zed” not “Zee”, and also told him to say that he was born in a specific town that had all its records destroyed in a fire.  When the US joined the war my dad, and thousands of other Americans who had made the same choice*(see the link below for the article), were given the opportunity to transfer to the US military, and regain their citizenship.

After WWII, my dad, earned his degree at the University of California Berkeley and became a metallurgist. There is even a bit about him on the internet.

He loved taking the family out for a drive, and he smoked his cigars on those trips. (As a child, those were troubling times for my stomach.)

I most remember my father relaxing in his favorite chair with a science fiction book in one hand and a pipe in the other… Sir Walter Raleigh being his favorite tobacco… and the pipes themselves remind me of him in that contented way.  If I interrupted his repose, he’d look up, with a smile on his face, to answer me.

It seemed he smoked his Briarwood pipes the most, though he had others.  At the time, it was only the Briarwood I knew by name because of its distinctive rough shaped bowl.  And it was the Anderson Free Hand Burl Briar, made in Israel, which I chose for his birthday one year, because I thought he might like that particular texture in his hand.

At least two of his pipes, he inherited from his son-in-law, Joe Marino, a retired medical laboratory researcher (my sister Lesley’s late husband)… the long stemmed Jarl (made in Denmark), and the large, white-bowled, Sherlock Holmes style pipe.  I believe Joe had others that went to my dad, but Lesley was only sure about those two.

The Buescher, corncob pipe my older sister Lesley bought for Daddy while on one of her travels around the States.

A note on the spelling of my sister’s name…

My dad met my mother, Regina, during WWII and they married in Omagh, Ireland.  My mother was English and in the military herself.  The English spelling of Lesley is feminine, and Leslie masculine, in the UK… just the opposite of here in the United States.  I guess my mom won out when it came to the spelling of the name.

I’ll send you photos of my dad soon, along with his WWII experience story.

Jennifer

*https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2013/10/22/the_americans_who_died_for_canada_in_wwii.html

I am getting more and more spoiled on working on pipes that Jeff cleaned up. So much so that when I have to clean them it is a real chore! This pipe was a real mess just like the other ones in the collection. 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 briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looked really good when I got it. The rim top plateau looked lifeless but clean. We were not sure what I would do with the stem so Jeff cleaned the internals and scrubbed the exterior in case I chose to try to repair it. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver for the second stop of its restoration tour it looked very good. I actually forgot to take many photos before I started my part of the work but I did have one with the pipe and the broken stem. The briar is beautifully grained and clean. The rim top plateau is cleaned as well. It looked good. The shank extension was vulcanite and it was badly oxidized and would need to be sanded and polished.My first thought was to replace the broken stem with another freehand stem. I went through my stems and chose the one that is shown in the photo below. The length was right and the tenon was close. I set up my cordless drill with the PIMO tenon turner and adjusted the diameter of the tenon to fit the shank extension. I put it in the pipe and took a photo of the pipe to get a sense of how it looked. I actually did not like the shape of the stem or the way it looked. I would need to think through how to address the snapped stem. I was not happy with the look of the new stem. It was too think and clunky looking to me to fit the style of the pipe. I decided not to use it so I did not even bother bending it. I turned back to the broken stem and thought long and hard about it. I went upstairs and had a coffee and a short nap before I finally came up with a plan. I headed back downstairs and dug through my parts boxes for broken tenons. I even keep those around when I pull them from a shank. I have a good assortment of them in various diameters. I picked two possibilities and laid them out. From the two I chose the smaller one. Now the plan was beginning to take shape. I was going to drill out the two parts of the stem and rejoin them together with the piece of tenon. (Forgive the blurry photo but you get the idea. I would drill a hole in each end and use the tenon to rejoin them.I started opening the airway in both halves of the stem with a drill bit slightly larger than the airway. I worked my way up to the bit that is shown in the photos. It was the slightly smaller than the piece of tenon that I was going to use for the joint.I reduced the diameter of the short tenon piece with a Dremel and sanding drum. I worked on it until the fit in the drilled airway was perfect. Once that was done I used the Dremel and sanding drum to take down the diameter a bit more on the second half of the tenon. I topped it on the topping board using the blade side as a handle. Once the fit was right on both sides I glued it in the blade side with clear Krazy Glue and pressed it into the hole.  I cleaned up the end of the tenon and coated it with a layer of clear Krazy Glue. I pressed the second half of the stem in place on the tenon insert and aligned the four sided bulb on the tenon end of the stem.I set the stem aside to let the repair cure and turned my attention to the oxidized shank extension. I sanded the oxidation off with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. The third photo shows the plateau top and how the nooks and crevices look on the rim top. I polished the bowl and rim with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiped it down between pads with a soft cotton cloth. You can see the progress in the shine as you go through the photos. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl and the plateau on the rim top and shank end with my fingertips and a horsehair 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 grain stand out. 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.  Jeff’s clean up of the rim top looked very good. I decided to leave the darkened areas and darken the remaining valleys in the plateau with a Black Sharpie Pen to give the rim top a contrast look with the high smooth spots. It also gives the plateau more definition and gives it a clean look. The finished rim top looks very good.I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I inserted a pipe cleaner in the stem to protect the airway from collapsing when I heated it. I painted the surface of the stem with the flame of a BIC lighter until the vulcanite was soft. Once it was pliable I bent it to match the angle of the bowl top. I held it at that angle and cooled it under cool water to set it.I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper and 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to smooth out the repair in the middle of the stem and to remove the oxidation that remained on the stem surface. I smoothed out the repair in the mid-section of the stem with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper on the edge of my pen knife blade. I followed that with the 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I rubbed the stem down with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish and a cotton pad to remove remnants of oxidation and to further blend in the sanding. The stem was showing some promise at this point in the process.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I finished by wiping it down with Obsidian Oil after each pad and set it aside to dry. I carefully buffed the stem with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and did the same for the bowl and vulcanite shank extension. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax separately as the angle of the stem and shank made buffing this a bit tricky. 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 polishing of the briar makes the grain really pop. The polished black vulcanite bit seemed to truly come alive with the buffing. This Freehand feels great in my hand and is what I would call and Egg/Oom Paul. It is one that could be clenched and smoked while doing other things as it is very light weight for a pipe this size It must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when we received it from Jennifer. There should be a lot of life left in this Champ of Denmark by Karl Erik. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 ¼ inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This is one that will go on the rebornpipes online store shortly. If you want to carry on the pipe trust of George Leghorn let me know. Thank you Jennifer for trusting us with his pipes. 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.

Refreshing a Dunhill Root Briar 708 F/T Oval Shank Canted Stack for Alex


Blog by Steve Laug

Around Christmas time I got together with Alex to enjoy some great hot cocoa, smoke our pipes and talk about all things pipes. I always have a great time when we get together and this time was no exception. He greeted me at the door with slippers and an old smoking jacket. I took my seat in the living room among his latest pipe finds and was handed a great cup of cocoa. I set it down and we both loaded out pipes with some new Perretti’s tobacco that he had picked up. We touched the flame of the lighter to the tobacco and sat back and blissfully enjoyed the flavour. As we did Alex walked me through his latest finds. There were some amazing pipes to look at and savor. He had found several really nice pipes – 3 different Dunhill pipes that he wanted me to work on for him. I have already written a blog on the Dunhill Wanghee Tan Shell Briar with a Bamboo shank (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/08/refreshing-a-dunhill-tanshell-w60-t-1962bamboo-lovat-for-alex/). I have also written a blot on the reconstruction of a nice little Shell Briar Lovat(https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/11/breathing-life-into-a-worn-and-beat-up-dunhill-shell-briar-ec-canadian-for-alex/). The third Dunhill he had picked up is a shape number I could find little information on – a shape 708F/T Root Briar. For lack of a better title for the shape I have called it a canted stack.

Alex had reamed the pipe and cleaned the pipe very well. The bowl was clean. The rim top had a lot of damage including burn marks and dents. The bowl was also very far out of round with damage around inner edge. There were burn marks on the inner and outer edge toward the right front side of the bowl. The finish looked very good around the bowl other than the burn mark on the left side where it looked like the bowl had been laid in an ash tray against a hot ash. He had already enjoyed smoking it and was hooked on it. He asked if I could take it home with me and see what I could do about the rim top damage and the burn mark on the bowl. I told him I would take it home and have a go at it. The pipe was stamped on the left side of the shank with the following nomenclature: 708F/T at the bowl shank junction followed by Dunhill over Root Briar. The Dunhill Root Briar stamp is faint but readable with a lens and light. The right side reads Made in England followed by what looks like a 2 (another 1962?) and a Circle 4 A. The 4 is the size of the pipe and the A is the designation for Root Briar. The stamping on the right side of the shank is also faint.

When I got home I laid it aside and today took it up to work on it. I examined the pipe to see what I was working with and took some photos. You can see from the first photo below that there was a burn mark on the left side mid bowl. It was a cosmetic burn marks in the finish but not too deep. It was like the pipe had been laid down in an ashtray. The rim top had significant darkening and damage. The stem was in good condition other than tooth chatter on both sides just ahead of and on the top of the button. Overall the pipe was in good condition. I took a close up photo of the rim top. You can see the darkening on the rim top and the damage on the front inner and outer edge of the bowl. The inner edge was hacked up like it had been poorly reamed with a pocket knife. There were also nicks and deep scratches in the rim top. It was in rough shape. The stem looked pretty good. There was tooth chatter on the top and underside of the stem and on the button surface itself. Otherwise the stem was in very good condition.I took a photo of the stamping on the underside of the bowl. You can see that it reads as noted above. It is indeed faint but with a lens and light it is very readable.I decided to start the refurbishing by addressing the issues with the rim top and inner edge of the bowl. I lightly topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper. Once it was smooth I worked on the inner edge of the bowl with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I also cleaned up the burned outer edge on the rim front. I sanded the burn mark on the left side of the bowl with the 220 grit sandpaper and was able to minimize the burn a bit. It was deeper than I initially thought. I polished the rim top and bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the bowl down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth to remove the dust and debris left behind by the sanding. I used a Maple Stain Pen to blend the sanded area on the side of the bowl and the rim top with the rest of the finish on the bowl. I have found that this particular stain pen works well to match the stain on the Root Briar.With the finish cleaned I rubbed it down with Before and After Restoration Balm. It is a product developed by Mark Hoover to clean, enliven and protect briar. I worked it into the briar with my fingertips. I let it sit while I went and had some lunch. When I came back I buffed it off with a cotton cloth. You can see the results below. While the burn mark did not disappear it is significantly lighter than when I started. The rim top also looks much better. I set the bowl aside and turned to address the tooth chatter on the stem surface. The stem was in excellent condition other than that so it did not take a lot of work. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to sand out the tooth marks and then started the polishing with 400 grit sandpaper.I polished it further with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish – a red paste that does a great job in removing the oxidation remnants in the crease of the button and also polish out some of the lighter tooth chatter.I finished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down after each pad with a damp cotton pad to remove the dust. I polished it with Before and After Pipe Polish – both fine and extra fine. I finished by wiping the stem down with some No Oxy Oil that I received from Briarville Pipe Repair to experiment with. Once I finished I put the stem back on the shank and carefully buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond polish. I wanted to polish out the minute scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and the stem several coats of carnauba. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad and hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth. The finished Root Briar pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a great pipe and certainly looks better than when I began the process. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 7/8 inches, Outer Bowl Diameter: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber Diameter: ¾ of an inch. The pipe will soon be heading back to Alex so he can continue to enjoy it. This is a beauty that he can enjoy as he carries on the trust of these Dunhill pipes. Thanks for walking with me through the restoration.

Restoring a Beautifully Grained Leonard Payne Original Apple with a Unique Stem


Blog by Steve Laug

After brief foray into restoring a couple of other pipes I am back to Bob Kerr’s estate (his 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 over 60 restorations to date I thought that I would leave it out this time. Be sure to check out some of the recent Dunhill restoration blog (https://rebornpipes.com/2020/01/01/restoring-the-last-of-bob-kerrs-dunhills-a-1962-dunhill-bruyere-656-f-t-bent-billiard/).

Bob Kerr seemed to enjoy collecting Canadian pipes as much as I do. He had quite a few Canadian made pipes including some nice older Brigham pipes and some specific pipes made by Peterson’s of Dublin for import into Canada. When I was cataloging Bob Kerr’s Estate and came across this pipe I examined it with a light and lens and could read the stamping. On the left side of the shank it read Leonard Payne in his characteristic looped signature. Under that it was stamped Original. On the right side of the shank it is stamped Made in Canada. The finish on the bowl was dirty but undamaged. There was some lava build up on the front edge of the rim top. There was darkening around the inner edge of the bowl and there was some damage on the inner edge. The bowl had a thick cake on the walls and there were shards of tobacco stuck in the cake. The stem was lightly oxidized and there was some tooth chatter on the top and underside of the button. The button end of the stem was quite unique. There was an airway coming out of either side of the stem and a round slot in the end of the button. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started the cleanup work. Jeff took photos of the rim top and bowl to show its condition. The rim top was covered with a coat of thick lava that overflowed the bowl. It was primarily on the front side 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 of the bowl to give a better feel for the beautiful grain around the sides and heel of the bowl. It is truly a beautiful pipe. He took a photo of the left and right sides of the shank. The stamping is clear and reads as noted above. The tapered stem has a capital ‘P” on the left side.The stem was lightly oxidized and seemed to be high quality vulcanite. There were no tooth marks or chatter which was unusual for Bob’s pipes. It is a unique stem in that there was an airway exiting on both sides of the stem at the button. The main slot on the button end was an oval hole so in essence the stem seemed to introduce air from the sides to the main airway to deliver a cool smoke. I turned to a previous blog that I had written on the first Leonard Payne pipe that I worked on to gather the information on the brand and remind myself of the background of this pipe. Here is the link (https://rebornpipes.com/2013/11/16/a-pipe-maker-i-had-never-heard-of-leonard-payne-pipes/). I quote the pertinent parts of that blog below:

The stamping was Leonard Payne on the left side of the shank and Made in Canada on the right side. The stem bears a green dot in the centre of a white circle on the left side of the stem. I decided to do a bit of research on the web and found the following advertisement that highlighted the pipes. Further digging with Google came up with this short note from alt.smokers.pipes forum. It was written by Mike Glukler of Briar Blues. I quote it below in full. (https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/alt.smokers.pipes/RrICLiVgE2o) “Leonard Payne was based in B.C. for many years. He came to Canada from England. He had shops in Surrey, B.C. and Kelowna, B.C.Interesting fellow. Gruff as the day is long. When you bought a pipe it was handed to you in a paper bag. No sock, no box. Most of his pipes carried a “carburetor” system at the shank / stem junction.Another Payne idea was his shanks. Almost all his pipes were two pieces. He’d turn the bowl and shank, then cut off the shank and reattach with glue (not always with the same piece of briar, so many did not match grains). His thinking was that the shank being the weakest link, if cut and glued would never break and thus “correcting”the weakest link.You may find his pipes on E-Bay on occasion listed as a Len Cayne. The P in his stamping looks more like a fancy upper case C.”

Turning now to the restoration of this beautifully grained Leonard Payne smooth apple. Jeff cleaned this filthy pipe with his usual penchant for thoroughness that I really appreciate. This one was a real mess and I was looking forward to seeing what he had done with this one when I took it out of his box. It looked amazing and CLEAN and other than the stem work needing very little effort on my part. 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 briar and the lava on the rim top. The finish looks good with great looking grain around the bowl and shank. The rim top and front of the bowl was severely damaged with burns. The condition of the inner and outer edges was rough. The stem looked a lot better but damage was evident on the button. Jeff soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer to remove the oxidation on the rubber. The pipe was ready for me to carry on the next part of the process.  I took some close up photos of the rim top and also of the stem surface. I wanted to show how well it had cleaned up. The rim top was clean and undamaged.  The inner edge had some damage that left it rough and slightly out of round. The outer edge of the bowl looked good.  I also took close up photos of the stem to show the tooth marks on the stem and the button surface.  The last photo shows the twin bore stem with the twin airways coming out in the button.I took a photo of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It reads Leonard Payne with a curled L and P and under that is stamped Original. There is a P stamped on the left side of the taper. The right side of the shank reads Made in Canada.I decided to start my restoration work on this one by dealing with the rough inner edge of the bowl. The rest of the pipe looked very good and some polishing would give it some depth and life. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to give the inner edge a light bevel and bring the bowl back to round.I wet sanded with 1500-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads to polish the bowl. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the dust and debris from sanding. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to get it deep in the briar. The product works 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 photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded both sides of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the remaining oxidation. I followed that by sanding them with a folded piece of 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to begin the polishing.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I wiped the stem down with Briarville’s No Oxy Oil to preserve and protect the stem. I am so glad that I went back to work on a pipe that Jeff had cleaned up for me. It certainly makes things go faster and easier for me. I put the stem back on the bowl and polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl 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 bowl looks really good. The contrast between the browns of the briar and the polished black vulcanite stem work very well. The pipe feels great in my hand and I am sure that it will feel even better radiating the heat of a good smoke. It must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was in when I received it from Bob’s estate. Have a look at it with the finished photos below. The dimensions are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. A fellow in Eastern Canada sent me a message on Facebook saying he was looking for a Leonard Payne pipe and wondering if I had one. This was one of those times when I could say YES. I am looking forward to what he thinks of his “new” pipe. I think he will enjoy it for many years to come and perhaps it will pass to the next pipeman who will hold it in trust. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog.

Cleaning Up a Third Wrecked Pipe for a Fellow Pastor in Vancouver – A VB Apple


Blog by Steve Laug

Lately I am not taking on more work for repairs from email or online requests as I am just too busy. I still get the odd referral from the local cigar and pipe shop that I feel obligated to repair or restore. They tend to be spread out a bit so I can fit them in among the other work that I am doing for estates. Earlier this week I received a phone call from a fellow who had been referred to me by the shop. In our conversation he said that he had some pipes that the stems were all loose on and he wanted to know if I would be able to help him. I have learned to not make any arrangements until I have the pipes in hand and have examined them. He came over Friday afternoon to let me have a look at the pipes. He handed me a bag and inside there were four or five extra stems that he had brought for my use. There were also three old and tired pipes. They were in very rough shape. Two were apple shaped pipes stamped VB and one was a Croydon billiard. The stems were indeed loose on two of the pipes and stuck on the third pipe. The bowls were clogged with a thick cake to the degree that I could not even get my little finger in them. The stems had a thick layer of calcification and some tooth marks. They needed a lot of work.

We talked about the pipes and that he had held them for a long time hoping for a repair. He had spoken with the cigar and pipe shop and they had led him to me. Now he could actually have a hope of smoking them again. In the course of the 30 minute or so conversation he asked me what I do for work. I told him I was a Presbyterian minister working with an NGO dealing with the sexual exploitation and trafficking of women and children in 7 countries and 12 cities around the world. We talked about that a bit then he laughed and told me he was a United Church Minister who had taught in a variety of schools as well as pastored various parishes. We had a great conversation and I took the pipes and told him we would connect again once I had them finished.

The last pipe from the threesome is on the table now. It was probably in the best shape of the three pipes. It was in rough condition but not as bad as the previous two pipes. The bowl was clogged in precisely the same manner – a thick hard cake and no air would pass through the shank. The finish was shiny with varnish and worn and spotty with blackening on the right side of the bowl and both sides of the shank. It appeared to be an oily black not a burn. The rim top was a real mess with thick hard lava overflowing all around the bowl onto the rim. The stem was loose in the shank and was oxidized with calcification extending for about an inch up the stem from the button. In the midst of the calcification were the same deep tooth marks that appeared to be rounded rather than sharp so I may well be able to lift them out with a lighter flame. The slot in the button was plugged with a pin hole sized airway going through it. This third pipe is exactly like the others and I honestly do not know how this pipe was smoked the last time it was used. This was another of those pipes that I really dreaded working on because I just sensed that one thing would lead to another and the restoration would be almost endless. I took photos of the pipe before I started to record this anxious moment! I took some close up photos of the bowl and stem to show what I was dealing with on this pipe. You can see the density of the cake. It is not totally clear in the photo but the bowl is filled on the second half of the bowl and packed solid. This bowl appeared to be the only one that he had not reamed with a knife. The bowl was not slanted and the cake was evenly heavy all the way around the bowl. The rim top is rough as noted above and looking at the photos it too appears to have been used as a hammer. It is very rough to touch. The stem is a mess as can be seen. There is some oxidation and a thick coat of calcification from the button forward. That too is rock hard. Both the stem and the shank are plugged with no air passing through them.I took a photo of the stamping to show the brand on the pipe. It is a brand I have never heard of or worked on. There is little information available on it. It is stamped VB on the left side of the shank and Prima on the underside.Fortunately it was the same brand as the second pipe that I worked on. The only difference was the stain and the PRIMA stamping on the underside of the shank. I did some digging on the brand to see what I could find out with this additional information and there was nothing more to be found. I am including what I found on the previous VB pipe on Pipephil’s index page (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/index-en.html) I found my first and only clue. Under the section called logos with two letters I found the VB listed. It took me to a listing under Holiday pipes. There was no further information on the country of origin or on the maker other than Holiday. I checked on pipedia as well and there was nothing. I have included a copy of the screen capture of the listing on Pipedia (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-h3.html#holiday).After posting the first VB pipe I received two comments on the blog regarding the stamping. I really appreciate getting information like this so if you ever have info please do not hesitate to send it. Here is what the first commenter, Liebaart sent me:

The VB logo is from the Vinche Company, a Belgian distributor. See their page: https://www.v-k.be/documents/catalog.xml?lang=en&open=NAV%5CPIJPEN%5CVINCHE&from=0

The second commenter, Joris D. Sutter (may be the same gentleman) sent the same information. The V.B logo refers to the company Vinche, a Belgia distributor. Have a look at their website here : https://www.v-k.be/documents/catalog.xml?lang=en&open=NAV%5CPIJPEN%5CVINCHE&from=0

This was very definitive information for me. I now knew that the pipe was from the Vinche Company a Belgian distributor. I am still wondering though if the pipe was made in Holland as suggested previously… the new information does not negate that possibility!

Once again I could no longer postpone starting the work on this old pipe. It was the last of threesome and I could return them to the old pastor. And besides that this is what I do – I am a pipe refurbisher. It was time to get started on this beast. I learned from the previous two pipes in the lot that the cake and calcification were very hard. I dropped the stem in a Oxyclean bath and the bowl in an alcohol bath. I figured while I worked on other pipes the cake and calcification would begin to soften a bit.When the pipe and stem had been soaking for about 4 hours I pulled them out of the respective baths. The bowl looked better externally. The alcohol had cut the shiny finish and removed some of the grime on the bowl. The cake in the bowl was definitely softer so I think it would be easier to remove. The stem came out and the bath had removed much of the oxidation and calcification. It had also softened what remained. The photos below show what I saw.The alcohol bath had softened the hard cake enough that I could directly ream it with the PipNet pipe reamer using the third cutting head. It easily worked through the cake and I was able to take it back to the bare walls of the bowl. I wanted to check and see if there was damage like there had been on the other two pipes. The good news was it was free of damage. I cleaned up the edges and bottom of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I sanded the inside of the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel to further smooth out the bowl. I broke through the clogged airway in the shank with a piece of stiff wire. I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper and removed the damaged areas on the surface. Once I had finished the rim top was flat now I could deal with the edges of the bowl. I filled in the damage on the edges of the bowl with clear Krazy Glue and Briar dust. Once it dried I cleaned up the topping once again and then used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the inner and outer edge of the bowl. With the bowl reamed and the rim top repaired and clean I decided to work on the exterior of the bowl. It was unbelievably grimy and sticky. I scrubbed it with a tooth brush and undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap. I rinsed it under warm running water to wash away the soap and debris. I repeated the process until the exterior was as clean as I was going to get it at this point. I dried it off with a cotton cloth and took photos to show the result. I cleaned the mortise and the airway in the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. I used the drill bit on a KleenReem tool to clean out the “crud” (hardened tars and oils) in the airway in the shank. I scraped the inside of the mortise with a pen knife. I opened the slot in the button with a dental pick and pushed pipe cleaners through the debris in the stem. I scraped away the majority of the calcification with the pen knife while I was cleaning the stem. Once I had finished – many pipe cleaners and cotton swabs later the airway was unobstructed to the bowl and the pipe had begun to smell clean. I sanded the exterior of the bowl and rim with a medium grit sanding sponge to remove the nicks, scratches and remnants of the original finish. I sanded the strange dark stains on the right side of the bowl and both sides of the shank at the same time. While I w not able to remove them I reduced them enough that I was hoping the stain I was going to use would cover them. I stained the bowl and shank with a Fiebing’s Tan Stain. It has a nice reddish tint to it that shows up once I have buffed and sanded it. I applied the stain, flamed it with a lighter and repeated the process until I was happy with the coverage. I would carry on with the bowl in the morning. The stain would dry overnight.In the morning when I got up I took photos of what the bowl looked like after the stain had cured all night. There are wet looking patches but they are not wet…just shiny! I wet sanded with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads to smooth out the finish on the bowl and prepare it for staining. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the dust and debris from sanding. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl, the rim top and shank with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I find that the balm really makes the briar come alive again. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed it with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The pipe really looks good at this point. It looks much better than when I took it out of the bag. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the surface of the stem with the flame of a Bic light to raise the tooth marks. It raised them all some but two small dents remained on both sides of the stem.I filled in the remaining tooth marks with clear Krazy Glue and let it cure. I like the clear glue on this kind of stem as it dries clear and the black of the stem shows through making for a very good blend with the existing material.Once the repairs cured I reshaped the button edge with a needle file. I flattened out the repaired spots at the same time. The stem was beginning to take shape.I sanded the repaired areas on both sides of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the stem. I followed that by sanding them with a folded piece of 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to begin the polishing.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I wiped the stem down with Briarville’s No Oxy Oil to preserve and protect the stem. This was another challenging pipe to work on and I did the heavy work without Jeff. I put the stem back on the bowl and polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl 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 grain pops through enough to let us know it is there and my repairs to the rim of the bowl blend in really well. I am pleased with the look of the pipe. It really has exceeded my expectations for it when I first took it out of the bag it was in when dropped off. The contrast between the reddish, tan stain of the briar and the polished black vulcanite stem look very good together. The pipe feels great in my hand and I am sure that it will feel even better radiating the heat of a good smoke. It must have been a fine smoking pipe judging from the condition it was when I received it from the pipeman who dropped it off. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ¾ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. I am looking forward to what the old clergyman thinks of his second “new” pipe. I think he will enjoy it for many years to come and perhaps it will pass to the next pipeman who will hold it in trust. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog.