Tag Archives: W.O. Larsen Pipes

Breathing Life Into a W.O. Larsen Handmade Select Canadian/Brandy


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe in the queue is from a fellow in Florida who picks up some pipes for Jeff and me. It was one of several that he found and sent to us. It is a well-made W.O. Larsen Select, Brandy shaped Canadian. The entire pipe had some beautiful cross grain on the front and rear of the bowl and the top and underside of the shank. It had some great birdseye grain on both sides of the bowl and shank. The bowl has a Brandy snifter shaped bowl and a long, oval shank that defines the Canadian shape. The pipe has a rich medium brown finish that really makes the grain on the pipe stand out. The carver at Larsen did a great job utilizing the block of briar to maximize the grain. The pipe is stamped on the underside of the shank. It reads W.O. Larsen over Handmade over Made in Denmark. On the topside of the shank it is stamped SELECT. The stamping is horizontal on the end of the shank on both sides next to the stem/shank junction. The stem is short, tapered vulcanite and has no marking or stamping on it. This is a beautiful example of the work coming from W.O. Larsen.

Jeff took some photos of the pipe when he received them to show the general condition of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. The pipe was very dirty and well used. There was a thick cake in the bowl and a thick coat of lava overflowing onto the rim top. It was hard to know if the edges of the bowl were damaged or not because of the cake and lava. The exterior of the briar was dirty with grease and oils from being held. The vulcanite stem is dirty and had deep tooth marks on both sides of the stem at the button edge and some wear on the button edge itself. The photos below tell the story and give a glimpse of this beauty. Jeff took photos of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before he started his cleanup work. There was a thick coat of lava on the rim and the cake in the bowl. It shows the mess this pipe was in when we received it. The thick lava overflow on the rim top made it hard to know what the inner edges of the bowl looked like. The outer edge appeared to have deep gouge on the right side of the rim top. I have circled it in red to identify the issue. There is also a general accumulation of grease and grime ground into the finish on the rest of the bowl and shank. He also took a photo of the right and underside of the bowl and shank to show the interesting grain around the bowl and shank. The finish is very dirty but the grain is visible in the photos.Jeff took photos of the stamping on the top and underside of the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and legible. The next two photos show the stem surface. They show the tooth marks and chatter on both sides near the button. There are also some marks on the sharp edge of the button. The stem is dirty and is covered in scratches.I wanted to refresh my memory about the pipes coming out of Ole Larsen’s Copenhagen tobacco shop. I knew that many famous Danish Carvers started their careers carving for the shop. I turned first to the pipephil wesite to get and over view of the brand. Here is the link (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-l2.html). I did a screen capture of the section on the site showing a summary of the brand and the typical stamping. I then turned to Pipedia to do a bit more reading about the brand and the various lines making it up. Here is the link (https://pipedia.org/wiki/W.%C3%98._Larsen). The link took me to some pages on the finepipes.com website. Here is the link to the summary of the history of the brand. I quote it in full. I have marked the pertinent section with bold font to mark out the section on the SELECT series (https://www.finepipes.com/pipes/danish/w-o-larsen?sort=20a&page=2&zenid=562ff4b9d62f4f612d0f6ee60cab1224).

W.O. Larsen was one of the most famous tobacco shops in Copenhagen, with a beautiful store located on Copenhagen’s famous “Walking Street.” During the flowering of the Danish pipe in the ’60’s, they first began retailing pipes by such carvers as Sixten Ivarsson, Sven Knudsen, Poul Rasmussen, and Brakner. Urged on by his store manager Sven Bang, the owner, Ole Larsen, decided to begin making pipes in the basement of the shop. He first hired Sven Knudsen as the pipe maker, who soon passed the job to his protégé Hans “Former” Nielsen. Larsen’s fortunes rose along with the rest of the Danish pipe business, and Former was soon managing a group of carvers in the old Larsen cigar factory. Among these were Teddy Knudsen, Tonni Nielsen, Jess Chonowitch, Peter Hedegaard and others, who were responsible for the Select and Straight Grain series before they branched out on their own. After Former left to start Bentley pipes in Switzerland, his duties were taken over by Soren Refbjerg Rasmussen, while the straight grains were made by Teddy’s student Benni Jorgenson. As Ole’s health began to fail, the reins were taken over by his son Nils. Nils became convinced that the way for Larsen to prosper was by entering the low-end market, and acquired the Georg Jensen pipe factory to make an array of less expensive pipes. This turned out to be a fatal error, and Larsen was recently sold to Stanwell, who continue to produce so-called “Larsen” pipes in their huge factory. Thus ended an important part of Danish pipe history.

Also included on the finepipes site was a pipe that was very similar to the one on my worktable. It was similarly shaped and was called a Canadian/Brandy. The most important difference is the Cumberland stem on the one in the photo below. Here is the link to the pipe (https://www.finepipes.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=5_61&products_id=10289&zenid=562ff4b9d62f4f612d0f6ee60cab1224).From the above information I knew that the pipe came from the 1960s and was carved by some of the Danish greats who were responsible for the SELECT and STRAIGHT GRAIN series. Names like Teddy Knudsen, Tonni Nielsen, Jess Chonowitch, Peter Hedegaard and others are some of those associated with the series pipe that I am working on. In many ways it is a high grade pipe made by a great maker but a pipe that I may never know the actual carver who crafted it in WO Larsen’s studio.

Armed with that information I turned to the pipe on my table. Jeff had reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the rim and the grime on the finish of the bowl. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove the lava build up on the rim top and you could see the overall condition of the bowl top and edges of the rim. He scrubbed the stem with soap to remove the grime on the surface. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started work on it. I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the darkening on the top and the deep gouge on the right side of the outer edge of the rim top. Jeff had done an amazing job cleaning off the lava buildup. The outer edge of the rim has some deep nicks on the front of the bowl. The inner edge of the bowl had some darkening and some wear on the left side. The vulcanite stem photos show the tooth marks and the wear on the button surface on both sides. I also decided to take photos of the stamping on both the top and underside of the shank to show its condition. I decided to start my work on the pipe by addressing the darkening and damage to the rim top and edges. I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage and minimize the outer and inner edge damage. I was able to remove much of the damage. To address the gouge in the rim top on the right side I filled it in with clear super glue and continued the topping until it was smooth. I cleaned up the inner edge with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to minimize the damage to the edge.I polished the bowl sides and rim top with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl and rim down with a damp cloth after each pad. As I polished it the sanded rim top began to shine and blend in with the rest of the briar. When I finished polishing the rim top I stained it with a Cherry stain pen to match the colour of the rest of the bowl. Once the stain had dried. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The bowl and the rim top look really good. The pipe looks very good with the rich finish on the bowl and rim. I am very happy with the results. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the damage to the stem and reshape the button. Once the surface was smooth I sanded out the scratch marks and started the polishing of the stem with a folded piece of 400 grit sandpaper. I wiped the stem down with Obsidian Oil and took the following photos.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cloth after each pad. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – Fine and Extra Fine. I wiped it down with a coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I put the stem back on the bowl and polished them both with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and 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 pipe polished up pretty nicely. The grain on the natural brown briar that had darkened over time came alive with the buffing. The finish worked well with the polished black vulcanite stem. Have a look at it in the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 7 inches, Height: 2 1/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This beauty will soon be on the rebornpipes store. It would make a beautiful addition to somebody’s pipe rack. Thanks for walking through the restoration of this Danish take on the Canadian/Brandy shape from the 60s with me as it was a fun pipe to work on.

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Restoring Pipe #17 from Bob Kerr’s Estate – A W.O Larsen Super 15 Bent Stack


Blog by Steve Laug

Continuing with changing things up a bit with Bob Kerr’s estate clean up I decided to work on large and beautiful W.O Larsen Hand Made Full Bent Stack. It was very dirty but there was some beauty underneath the grime and the lava on the rim. Up until this pipe and the Brigham Canadian that I just finished I have focused entirely upon Bob’s Dunhill collection and I will be going back to it eventually. I wanted to continue the change and this Larsen called out to me. It is stamped Super 15 on the underside of the shank, following that it is stamped W.O. Larsen over Handmade over Made in Denmark. The stem is a saddle stem bent to work well with this ¾ bent pipe. The grain and shape on this one was stellar and really called me to careful observation while I worked on it. I took photos of the pipe before I started my cleanup on it. I turned to Pipedia to gather some background on the pipe and to see if I could possibly arrive at a date for its crafting (https://pipedia.org/wiki/W.%C3%98._Larsen). I quote from that article in part to set the stage for this restoration.

W.Ø. Larsen is Denmark’s oldest and probably the most famous pipe and tobacco Store, placed in the center of Copenhagen on the main pedestrian street, Stroget. If you visit Copenhagen and do a “pipe crawl” this Store is a must. In the beginning of the 60’s the Store had begun to sell Danish handmade pipes, especially from Poul Rasmussen. This went very well and Poul Rasmussen could not keep up with the demand. W.Ø.Larsen – with their dynamic business manager Svend Bang (he later started in business for himself) – decided to establish their own workshop in rooms next to the Store.

The first manager of the pipe shop was Sven Knudsen, but he soon left to make pipes under his own name. The next manager was Hans Nielsen, also known as “Former” (named after the late British actor George Formby, with whom he had some similarity. By coincidence in Danish Former means Shapes). Under the management of Former the workshop grew and W.Ø.Larsen pipes became a very good name abroad. Among the prominent pipemakers educated here were: Else Larsen (Denmark’s first female pipemaker),Poul Ilsted, Ph. Vigen, Teddy Knudsen, Tonni Nielsen, Peter Hedegaard.

Typical for the W.Ø.Larsen School is the semi-classic shapes, that means classic shapes, but slightly different, often a little more full or round. The pipes often have lower point of gravity. A typical billard would have a bowl shaped more like a pear and the connection between the bowl and the shank would be clearly distinguished. Yellow and orange are colors more widely used for the finish.

The site did not give me a lot of information other than the famous Danish pipemakers who worked for Larsen were many and many of them were favourites of mine. On the site there were links to catalogues from the 60s and I went through each of them looking for the shape of this pipe. The only stacks that were present were straight rather than bent but they looked similar to this one. They were made by Poul Ilsted so I think a good guess on this make would be Ilsted. I cannot prove it but it is my guess. All of the catalogues were from the 1960s and that would fit with the majority of Bob’s pipes.

I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem to show what I was dealing with. This W.O. Larsen bent stack was in pretty good condition considering its age and use. The photo shows the cake in the bowl and the thick buildup of lava on the back side of the rim top. You can see the cake in the bowl in the first photo below. The stem was dirty and oxidized with very light tooth chatter on the top and underside for about an inch ahead of the button. The oxidation was worse on the underside of the stem than the topside. The surface of the stem was also rough.I am also including the photo of the stamping so you can see what it looked like when I examined it. It is clear and readable.With the identification of the pipe as potentially a 60s era W.O. Larsen Handmade I thought it would be good to once again remind you of the pipeman who held this pipe in trust. This is another pipe from the estate of Bob Kerr. I asked his son in law, Brian if he or his wife would like to write a brief biographical tribute to her father, Bob. His daughter wrote the following tribute to her Dad and it really goes well with the belief of rebornpipes that we carry on the trust of the pipe man who first bought the pipe we hold in our hands as we use it and when it is new we hold it in trust for the next person who will enjoy the beauty and functionality of the pipe.

Brian and his wife included the great photo of Bob with a pipe in his mouth. Thank you Bob for the great collection of pipes you provided for me to work on and get out to other pipemen and women who can enjoy them And thank you Brian and your wife for not only this fitting tribute but also for entrusting us with the pipes. Here is his daughter’s tribute to her Dad.

I am delighted to pass on these beloved pipes of my father’s. I hope each user gets many hours of contemplative pleasure as he did. I remember the aroma of tobacco in the rec room, as he put up his feet on his lazy boy. He’d be first at the paper then, no one could touch it before him. Maybe there would be a movie on with an actor smoking a pipe. He would have very definite opinions on whether the performer was a ‘real’ smoker or not, a distinction which I could never see but it would be very clear to him. He worked by day as a sales manager of a paper products company, a job he hated. What he longed for was the life of an artist, so on the weekends and sometimes mid-week evenings he would journey to his workshop and come out with wood sculptures, all of which he declared as crap but every one of them treasured by my sister and myself. Enjoy the pipes, and maybe a little of his creative spirit will enter you!

I reamed the bowl to remove the cake on the walls and the debris that still remained in the bowl. I used a PipNet pipe reamer to start the process. I followed that with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to clean up the remaining cake in the U-shaped bottom of the bowl. I sanded the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. It smooths out the walls and also helps deal with slight damage to the inner edges of the bowl. I cleaned up the rim top and removed the thick lava coat on the back top side of the rim. I used a pen knife blade the edge of the Savinelli Fitsall knife to scrape away the high spots of lava. I used a Scotch-Brite sponge pad to scrub off the remaining lava on the top of the bowl and wiped it down with a bit of saliva on a cotton pad.I polished the rim top with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. Each successive pad brought more shine to the rim top. I wiped the rim down with a damp cotton pad after each sanding pad. The shine develops through the polishing. I cleaned out the internals of the bowl, shank and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until they came out clean.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish of the bowl and shank as well as the surface of the rim top. I worked it into the surface with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the wood. I let the balm sit for about 20 minutes and buffed it off with a soft cotton cloth to polish the bowl. I took photos of the pipe at this point in the process to show what the bowl looked like at this point. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the light tooth chatter on the surface of the vulcanite with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper and worked on the spotted oxidation on the surface. I followed the 220 grit sandpaper with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to minimize the scratching. The two papers combined did a pretty decent job of getting rid of the tooth marks and chatter as well as the oxidation.I polished the stem with Denicare Mouthpiece Polish to take out the oxidation at the button edge and on the end of the mouthpiece. I also worked hard to scrub it from the surface of the stem at the tenon end. I polished out the scratches with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. I put the bowl and stem back together. I buffed the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. 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 pipe polished up pretty nicely. The smooth finish on this W.O. Larsen Handmade Super 15 Bent Stack is quite beautiful and it has some amazing grain around the bowl – a mix of cross grain, birdseye and flame. The contrast of swirling grain looked good with the polished black vulcanite. This Larsen will soon be heading off to India to join Paresh’s rotation. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 3/4 inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This is the 17th pipe from the many pipes that will be coming onto the work table from the Bob’s estate. There are a lot more pipes to work on from the Estate so keep an eye on the blog to see forthcoming restorations. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. I am having fun working on this estate.

 

Restoring a W.O. Larsen 11 Handmade Bent Brandy


Blog by Steve Laug

Charles Lemon of Dadspipes blog picked up a batch of pipes that included a lot of Danish made ones from an estate not long ago. He has been writing about their restoration on his blog. He sent me some photos of the pipes and offered to sell some to me. I chose two of them. The first one was the Larsen that is pictured below. The description of the pipe said that it was stamped on the underside of the shank 11 over W.O. LARSEN over Handmade over Made in Denmark. On the topside of the shank next to the stem/shank junction it was stamped SUPER. The stem had a broken tenon and it was stuck in the shank. Charles had mentioned that he thought it looked like it had been glued in so it would take a bit of work. When I saw the grain on it I decided that it would be a fun piece to work on for my own rack. It has some stunning flame grain on all around the bowl sides and birdseye grain on the rim and the bottom of the bowl and shank.Larsen1I looked up some background on W.O. Larsen and found a great summary on this site. It was helpful and brief so I quote it in full below: https://www.finepipes.com/pipes/danish/w-o-larsen?sort=20a&page=1&zenid=debcdee8f415c1977fb5c359652d6aeb W.O. Larsen was one of the most famous tobacco shops in Copenhagen, with a beautiful store located on Copenhagen’s famous “Walking Street.” During the flowering of the Danish pipe in the ’60’s, they first began retailing pipes by such carvers as Sixten Ivarsson, Sven Knudsen, Poul Rasmussen, and Brakner. Urged on by his store manager Sven Bang, the owner, Ole Larsen, decided to begin making pipes in the basement of the shop. He first hired Sven Knudsen as the pipe maker, who soon passed the job to his protégé Hans “Former” Nielsen. Larsen’s fortunes rose along with the rest of the Danish pipe business and Former was soon managing a group of carvers in the old Larsen cigar factory. Among these were Teddy Knudsen, Tonni Nielsen, Jess Chonowitch, Peter Hedegaard and others, who were responsible for the Select and Straight Grain series before they branched out on their own. After Former left to start Bentley pipes in Switzerland, his duties were taken over by Soren Refbjerg Rasmussen, while the straight grains were made by Teddy’s student Benni Jorgenson. As Ole’s health began to fail, the reins were taken over by his son Nils. Nils became convinced that the way for Larsen to prosper was by entering the low-end market, and acquired the Georg Jensen pipe factory to make an array of less expensive pipes. This turned out to be a fatal error, and Larsen was recently sold to Stanwell, who continue to produce so-called “Larsen” pipes in their huge factory. Thus ended an important part of Danish pipe history.

I was looking forward to seeing it firsthand so I paid Charles and he shipped it on Friday. Wonder of wonders, Canada Post delivered it on Monday. I came home from work to find the awaited box on the table. I opened it and found the Larsen in a bag with the label printed on the outside enumerating it’s stamping. I took it out of the bag and immediately took it to the work table. The photos below show the pipe as it looked when it arrived. It was much lighter in colour than the photo had led me to believe.Larsen2The bowl was dirty and there were some dents and marks in the briar. The rim had a thick coating of tars and the back edge of the rim was worn down from knocking the pipe out to empty it. There was an uneven cake in the bowl. The tenon was stuck in the shank and there were dried bits of glue on the end of the shank and around the end of the stem where someone had glued the stem onto the end of the shank. Fortunately the stem did not stick to the briar but the tenon certainly did. The stem was clean of bite or tooth marks and was lightly oxidized.Larsen3 Larsen4 Larsen5I took a photo of the end of the shank to show the glue spots on the briar and around the broken tenon.Larsen6When I had looked at the initial photo I was uncertain that the stem was original as it looked to be bigger in diameter than the shank. I lined up the broken tenon in the shank with the rough end on the stem and took some photos to see if it actually fit the pipe.Larsen7I decided to try pulling the tenon with my normal screw and it did not budge. It began to shatter and break apart.Larsen8Thus I knew that I would have to resort to drilling out the broken tenon. I set up my cordless drill and put a drill bit slightly larger than the airway in the chuck. I slowly drilled out the tenon, increasing the size of the drill bit until it was the just slightly smaller than the mortise. The last bit I used broke the tenon piece free from the shank and the mortise was clear.Larsen9While I had the drill out I also drilled out the broken tenon in the stem in preparation for the replacement tenon I would use.Larsen10Once the airway was drilled out on the stem I used a tap to thread the newly drilled airway to accommodate the threaded replacement Delrin tenon.Larsen11I used the topping board and 220 grit sandpaper to clean off the glue residue on the end of the stem before I put the new tenon in place. I want a clean, flat surface to work with against the shank when I was finished.Larsen12I used some clear super glue on the new tenon and twisted it into the stem. I put it in the shank to check the alignment several times before putting a few more drops of super glue around the tenon stem union.Larsen13Once the glue dried I put the stem in place in the pipe and took some photos to evaluate the fit.Larsen14 Larsen15With the tenon repair completed it was time to address the bowl. I took some close up photos of the bowl/rim and the stamping on the shank.Larsen16I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer using the third cutting head and took the cake back to bare briar. I cleaned up the reaming with a Savinelli Pipe Knife.Larsen17 Larsen18I sanded the inside of the bowl with a tube of sandpaper. This smoothed out the walls of the bowl and began to clean up the damage on the inner edge of the rim.Larsen19The rim damage on the back side needed to be dealt with so I topped the bowl to remove the damaged area.Larsen20I scrubbed the briar with acetone on cotton pads to remove the wax, grime and oils in the wood. The grain is really beautiful in the photos below.Larsen21 Larsen22I scrubbed out the mortise and airway in the shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners until they came out clean.Larsen23I mixed three of the stain pens together to get the correct brown on the rim. Once it was blended and sanded I stained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain and flamed it. I repeated the process until the coverage was even on the bowl.Larsen24 Larsen25 Larsen26I wiped down the bowl with alcohol on cotton pads to make it more transparent and make the grain show through. It still needed more work but it was definitely getting there.Larsen27 Larsen28The inner edge of the rim needed more work to remove the damage but the colour was correct.Larsen29I used a folded piece of 180 grit sandpaper to bevel the inner rim of the bowl to remove the damaged areas. I followed up by sanding it with a piece of 220 grit sandpaper and continued to sand the inner edge. I sanded the inner edge and rim with 1800-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads.  I restained the inner bevel with a dark brown stain pen to match the finish on the bowl.Larsen30With the bowl finished I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I rubbed it down with Obsidian Oil and dry sanded it with 3200-4000 grit pads. I gave it another coat of oil and sanded it with 6000-12000 grit pads. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and let it dry.Larsen31 Larsen32 Larsen33I buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel and then gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. By now you are all probably very familiar with my process. I buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine and then hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to add depth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is one I plan on hanging onto for my own rack and I am happy with how it turned out. Thanks for looking.Larsen34 Larsen35 Larsen36 Larsen37 Larsen38 Larsen39 Larsen40 Larsen41