Tag Archives: WDC Bakelite Pipes

A WDC Bakelite/Briar Pipe like none I have seen before


Blog by Steve Laug

When my brother sent me this pipe I have to say I was surprised and enamored with it. I have cleaned up a lot of WDC pipes over the years and have come to really like them. There is something about them that always gets my attention. The workmanship is generally well done. The materials used are good quality. The briar always tends to have some flaws and is never perfect. But there is something about the brand that I like. Well this pipe is an oddity to me. It is a shape that is similar to some of the CPF pipes I have cleaned up and the combination of briar, brass and Bakelite it really nicely done. The first difference is that this one has a flat rectangular shank and saddle stem. The Bakelite base is rounded and flows into the flattened shank and stem. The stem is also Bakelite or Redmanol as the case may be. It is a rich reddish colour that is translucent and the light really plays with. The second difference is that in a lot of this style pipe the threaded connector and bottom of the bowl is metal. On this one it is white porcelain. When the bowl is removed the threaded connector is also porcelain – a single porcelain unit from the cupped bottom of the bowl to the connector. Those two differences intrigued me.WDC1There is a brass spacer between the base and the briar bowl and at some time in its life the spacer had been reversed and the sharper edges scarred the bowl. The Bakelite is actually notched to receive the sharp turned down edges of the spacer. The bowl had lots of dents and scars – character marks that I wish could talk and tell the story of the travels of this old pipe. The brass rim had long since come loose and was easily removed but for some reason never disappeared as it clung to the rim of the pipe. In the next photo you can see the rim top and the porcelain bottom of the bowl… it almost looks like the old milk glass that my grandmother collected.WDC2After looking at the two pictures above that came from my brother I was looking forward to seeing the pipe in person. When it arrived and I finally took it out to work on it was all that I had expected. The stem was over clocked so that would need to be addressed but I lined things up and took the next set of photos to show what the pipe looked like after my brother did an amazing job cleaning it. (It is great to have him work with me – it really speeds up the process on the restoration. He reams and cleans the pipes and does the dirty work of reaming and removing the debris of the years.) I looked it over to see if there were identifying marks. What I thought was brass may all be what is stamped on the right side of the band – 14K Gold Plated. The left side of the band bears the inverted WDC triangle logo.WDC3 WDC4I took a close up photo of the rim top to show the dents, scratches and scars on the surface. The photo also shows the porcelain cup in the bottom of the bowl. It has three round air holes for directing the smoke into the bottom chamber and into the stem.WDC5I dismantled the pipe to show the many parts that went into its construction. The photo below shows the broken down pipe.WDC6The next photos show the over clocked stem. (I had removed the loose band at this point in the process.) Once the base was screwed onto the stem it was grossly overturned. The metal tenon was set in the stem so it would need to be heated to be able to repair this.WDC7I heated the metal tenon with a lighter and once the glue softened I was able to align the stem and shank very easily. Underneath the band the number 43 had been scratched into the Bakelite shank. I am not sure if that is the shape number or if it is the “autograph” of the assembler of the pipe. Either way it is something that remained hidden for many years. WDC8I set the base aside and worked on the bowl. I removed the rim cap and cleaned off the glue that remained behind on the top of the bowl. It was rough and I was thinking that it was reason that the cap was no longer smooth. I scrubbed out the glue residue in the inside of the rim cap as well with alcohol and cotton swabs. I used a flat blade screw driver to smooth out the interior flat surface of the cap. I wiped down the bowl with acetone to remove the remnants of the finish and then glued the rim cap back in place with an all-purpose glue. I polish the rim with some micromesh and metal polish. I decided to leave some of the dents and dings as to me it gave the pipe character.WDC9 WDC10I cleaned the surface of the Bakelite base and sanded the whole base with micromesh sanding pads from 1500-12000 grit. I rubbed the base down with Obsidian Oil several times throughout the process to give the micromesh some bite as I polished the base. WDC11WDC12I gave the internals a quick clean with alcohol and cotton swabs to remove any of the sanding dust that might have found its way into the bowl base and shank. I also cleaned the airway in the stem at the same time with alcohol and pipe cleaners.WDC13I roughened the area on the base that would be underneath the band to give the glue something to bind to. I used an all-purpose glue and applied it sparingly to the shank. I had previously polished the band with metal polish to remove any tarnish and give it a shine. I pressed it in place and laid the base aside for the glue to set.WDC14I cleaned the inside of the space plate with alcohol and cotton swabs to remove the debris of the years. The spacer appeared not to have been glued in place so I left it that way. I polished it with micromesh sanding pads 1500-4000 grit until it gleamed. I laid it aside until I was ready to put the pipe back together.WDC15I turned my attention to the stem. There were some light tooth marks on the underside of the stem near the button. I sanded these out with 220 grit sandpaper. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cotton pad and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I gave the stem a final wipe down with the damp pad.WDC16 WDC17 WDC18With the stem finished and the glued band dried I put the base and stem back together. I would still need to buff the entirety with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel.WDC19WDC20I used a medium brown stain pen to stain the bowl. I heated the briar and then applied the stain with the pen. I repeated the staining until the coverage was smooth and even.WDC21I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and hand buffed it to raise the shine with a microfibre cloth.WDC22WDC23With all the parts finished I took a final photo of the bowl and the base before putting it back together.WDC24I buffed the completed pipe with Blue Diamond to polish out some of the scratches in the base and the stem. I was not able to remove all of them so I left a few behind to tell the story. I gave the pipe several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I am really pleased with the finished pipe and how it looks. Thanks for looking.WDC25 WDC26 WDC27 Wdc28 WDC29 WDC30 WDC31 WDC32

 

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Looking Over My Metal, Nylon and Bakelite Pipes with Threaded Bowls


Blog by Steve Laug

It is funny how the number of pipes one has seems to grow exponentially. It is almost as if they are breeding in the drawers I keep them stored in. This afternoon I thought I would take out assorted metal stemmed pipes and then added the Nylon and Bakelite pipes as well. All of them have threaded bowls that are interchangeable within the brand of pipes. None of them are interchangeable with each other.

The first photo below shows my two Dr. Grabow Vikings. I have two of them and one of them I restemmed. They do not have any stamping on them but the base and the design of the stems matches other Vikings that I have had.
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The next photo shows my three Falcon Bents. All of my Falcon pipes were made in England including the straight shank one in the second photo. The bowls are interchangeable among the Falcons but not on the Grabows. I have refinished all of the bowls. The second and third bowl below were unfinished when I bought them on Ebay so I sanded them and finished them.
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The next photo shows my only Falcon straight. I have had many of these over the years and sold or gave them away. I refinished the bowl on this pipe as well.
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The next photo shows a unique metal pipe – a Dr. Plumb Peacemaker – Made in England. This pipe has a very narrow shank from the top view but a wide shank from the side. The bowl is threaded and only fits the Peacemaker pipes.
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The next two pictured below were made by Kirsten in Seattle, Washington, USA. The top one was a silver barrel and stem I picked up on Ebay. I carved and fitted the meerschaum bowl to fit the barrel. The second one is a Kirsten Mandarin. I bought this pipe in the 80’s brand new. It is a lightweight pipe and has a large diameter bowl. The stem is a thick Lucite and not particularly comfortable.
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The next two photos show a two bowl Bryson metal pipe. I did a write up on the blog on refurbishing this old pipe. It was a challenge. The bowls are actually compressed briar dust – almost like particle board. The grain on the smooth one was a decal. The rustication on the other hides the nature of the material.
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The pipe pictured below has a Nylon stem and base. The bowl is not briar but an alternative wood. It has the appearance of maple but I am uncertain of the wood. It is extremely lightweight. I wrote a blog post on the refurbishing of this pipe as well. If you are interested do a search for Nylon pipes among the posts and you can read about it.
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The final photo shows some of my Bakelite Pipe stems and bases with interchangeable bowls. Three of them are made by WDC. I reworked the bowls and restemmed two of them. The Bakelite stem and base are hard and quite resilient. The bottom pipe in the photo has no name stamped on it and is a Bakelite bowl and stem. I have not seen one of these before and enjoyed refurbishing it.
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These pipes hold a unique place in my collection. I find that I do not smoke any of them that often. The Falcons and Grabows are kept for their uniqueness and their place in pipe and tobacco history. I enjoy working on them. They tend to pass through my collection quite often. Today I have the ones pictured but they may well be gone in the months ahead and replaced by others. The Brylon and the Peacemaker are kept for their uniqueness and will probably remain with me. The Kirstens I smoke and enjoy infrequently but find that I pick them up several times a year to have the dry smoke they offer. The final photo of the WDC pipes and the Bakelite bowled pipe pictures pipes that will remain with me and not be traded or sold unless I find better versions of them.

A Renewed WDC Bakelite and Briar Pipe Restemmed


I received the Bakelite bowl base in a lot that I picked up on EBay. At first glance I figured I would trash it and not worry about working on it at all. However, I tend to be drawn to working on things that others would throw away so I decided to see what I could do with it. The two bowls pictured below are threaded and both fit the base. The Dublin like bowl, once on the base, was too narrow for the base but the bulldog bowl fit well. It was packed with a cake and there were chips out of the double line band around the bowl. The bowl rim was damaged and the finish was absolutely shot with dark black stains in the briar all around the bowl where the thumb and fingers held the bowl. The Bakelite shank had the WDC in a diamond stamped on it. The ornate band that usually adorned the shank as well as the metal washer like band on the top of the bowl base was missing. The shank had a broken metal tenon stuck deep within it. The surface had scratches in it but none of them were too deep.

Bakelite bowl base and two potential bowls before beginning the process of refurbishing.

Bakelite bowl base and two potential bowls before beginning the process of refurbishing.


The bowl is pictured below. You can see the thickness of the cake and the rough surface of the rim where a previous owner had damaged it when emptying the bowl. The second photo shows the exterior damage and the finish on the pipe. I reamed the bowl to clean out the cake. I decided to take it back to bare wood and start over with the cake. I checked the bowl for cracks and damage but surprisingly there were none to be found. Eventually I would top the bowl.
SIde view of the bowl before refurbishing.

SIde view of the bowl before refurbishing.

Top view of the unreamed pipe bowl showing its condition before cleaning

Top view of the unreamed pipe bowl showing its condition before cleaning


I wiped the bowl down with acetone on a cotton pad, used a dental pick to clean out the grooves and screwed bowl on the base to get an idea how the pipe would look. I also wiped down the bowl base with Everclear to clean off the grime and buildup on that surface. I went through my can of stems in search of a diamond shaped stem that would finish out the look of the pipe. I came up empty-handed so I chose a round stem of the right diameter and length that I could shape to fit the shank. I drilled out the shank to remove the metal tenon and also to open the diameter of the mortise. The original stem had been a screw on one and the metal mortise and the metal tenon were firmly welded together so the drill was the only way to remove it. I opened it as wide as possible while still leaving enough material on the shank to maintain strength. I turned the tenon with the PIMO tenon turning tool and then a Dremel to bring it to the correct size for the new shank. The next two photos show the stem and the fit of the stem to the shank.
WDC base in need of a diamond shaped stem. Necessity is the mother of invention. I used a round Lovat stem.

WDC base in need of a diamond shaped stem. Necessity is the mother of invention. I used a round Lovat stem.


I turned the tenon to fit the mortise and then inserted the stem against the shank.

I turned the tenon to fit the mortise and then inserted the stem against the shank.


Now I needed to shape the stem and remove material to transform the round saddle bit to a diamond saddle bit. I used a Dremel to cut the basic shape in the stem. I proceeded from side to side with the stem on the shank to make sure to match the angles of the shank. I wrote a post on the process for the blog and posted that earlier. You can read about the details of that process on this link https://rebornpipes.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/shaping-a-diamond-shaped-stem-from-a-round-one/ The next eleven photos give a quick look at the shaping work on the stem. It took time and I had to be careful to not damage the shank when I was using the Dremel and sanding drum on the stem.
Figure 3 I used a Dremel to shape the stem to match the diamond angles of the shank. I worked on one side at a time.

Figure 3 I used a Dremel to shape the stem to match the diamond angles of the shank. I worked on one side at a time.

Figure 4 Pipe resting against the Dremel with a sanding drum. Shaping progressed quite quickly. This picture shows one side beginning to take shape.

Figure 4 Pipe resting against the Dremel with a sanding drum. Shaping progressed quite quickly. This picture shows one side beginning to take shape.

5 Top view of the shank. Both sides of the round stem are beginning to take on the shape of the shank.

5 Top view of the shank. Both sides of the round stem are beginning to take on the shape of the shank.

Figure 6 Top view after more shaping with the Dremel.

Figure 6 Top view after more shaping with the Dremel.

Figure 7 Bottom view before the Dremel did its work.

Figure 7 Bottom view before the Dremel did its work.

Figure 8 Left side view after the first side has begun to take shape.

Figure 8 Left side view after the first side has begun to take shape.

Figure 9 Bottom view after both sides have begun to take shape.

Figure 9 Bottom view after both sides have begun to take shape.

Figure 10 Right side view of the stem after it began to take shape.

Figure 10 Right side view of the stem after it began to take shape.

Figure 11 Back to the worktable and the hand sanding.

Figure 11 Back to the worktable and the hand sanding.

Figure 12 Hand sanding continues.

Figure 12 Hand sanding continues.

Figure 13 Hand sanding continues.

Figure 13 Hand sanding continues.


The original shank had sported an ornate band and the stain in the Bakelite showed the marks of the band. I did not have any ornate bands in my collection of bands so I chose instead to band it with a nickel band. I shaped the band to fit, beginning with a round band. This took a bit of fussing to get the shape and fit correct. I have written that process up in detail in a previous blog post as well. You can read about the process at this link https://rebornpipes.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/shaping-a-round-metal-band-to-fit-a-square-or-diamond-shank/ Once the band was shaped correctly I heated it with a heat gun until it was pliable and then pressure fit it on the shank of the pipe. The next series of five photos show the process I used to pressure fit the band on the shank. Once it was in place I carefully used my furniture hammer to flatten the band against the shank.
The square is done

The square is done

Fitting a nickel band on the shank

Fitting a nickel band on the shank

Fitting a nickel band on the shank

Fitting a nickel band on the shank

Nickel band fitted on the shank

Nickel band fitted on the shank

Nickel band fitted on the shank

Nickel band fitted on the shank


The next series of four photos show the newly shaped stem in place on the banded pipe. There was still a lot of work to do on the pipe including cleaning the internals and reworking the bowl and rim but the overall look of the “new” pipe is intriguing.
New band and stem in place.

New band and stem in place.

New band and stem in place

New band and stem in place

Bottom view of the newly banded and stemmed pipe

Bottom view of the newly banded and stemmed pipe

Top view of the new band and stem

Top view of the new band and stem


I have included one photo below to give you an idea of the shape of the new stem. I remove a lot of vulcanite to get it from its original round shape to the diamond shape pictured below. The fit and the angles match the shank perfectly. These older pipes are tricky to fit a diamond stem on because none of the sides of the diamond are the same dimensions. Each one is just slightly different so you have to do the fitting work with the stem in place on the shank.
View from the tenon end of the diamond stem at this point in the process.

View from the tenon end of the diamond stem at this point in the process.


With the stem fitting correctly it was time to tackle the bowl. I set up my board and emery paper so that I could top the bowl. The first photo shows the set up. The second photo shows the state of the bowl rim when I started the process.
Set up for topping the bowl

Set up for topping the bowl

Reamed and ready to top

Reamed and ready to top


Once I had it topped I decided to wipe it down with acetone on a cotton pad to remove the finish and the grime from the topping. The next three photos show the clean bowl and the topped bowl. The finish work would take some time but the bowl was ready to move on to the next stage of rejuvenation.
Wiping down the bowl with acetone

Wiping down the bowl with acetone

Wiping down the newly topped rim with acetone

Wiping down the newly topped rim with acetone

Wiping down the bowl with acetone

Wiping down the bowl with acetone


I sanded the bowl with 240 and 320 grit sandpaper and finished sanding with a fine grit sanding sponge. The next two photos show the cleaned and prepped bowl ready for staining. The dark oil stains on the sides of the bowl would not come out. I wiped the bowl down with repeated washings of acetone and the surface was clean. I also sanded the stem with the sanding sponge while I worked on the bowl.
Bowl sanded, in place and ready to stain.

Bowl sanded, in place and ready to stain.

Bowl in place, sanded and ready to stain.

Bowl in place, sanded and ready to stain.


I decided to restain this old timer with an opaque oxblood aniline based stain. I wanted the opacity so that the dark stains would be minimized beneath the new stain and would eventually be blended in through smoking the pipe. I applied the stain and then flamed it. After flaming I hand buffed it to remove the excess stain. I also used a cotton pad and a dental pick to clean out the grooves on the bowl.
Stained with oxblood stain.

Stained with oxblood stain.

Stained with oxblood stain.

Stained with oxblood stain.


The next series of four photos shows the hand buffed bowl in place on the pipe base. The finish was matte at this point and still needed to be taken to the buffer to raise the shine. The third photo shows the rim. The surface is smooth but there is still damage to the inner edge of the rim. I chose to leave that without reworking it too much. I did not want to change the roundness of the inner bowl and decided that I could live with the nicks in the inner edge.
Left side of the pipe with a hand buff on the newly stained bowl.

Left side of the pipe with a hand buff on the newly stained bowl.

Right side of the newly stained bowl with a hand buffed surface.

Right side of the newly stained bowl with a hand buffed surface.

Top view of the hand buffed newly stained bowl.

Top view of the hand buffed newly stained bowl.

View of the underside of the bowl and Bakelite bowl base.

View of the underside of the bowl and Bakelite bowl base.


The next three photos show the pipe after I had buffed it with White Diamond. The bowl shines and the dark marks around the bowl show faintly beneath the finish but add a flair of character to the old pipe.
Buffed with White Diamond

Buffed with White Diamond

Buffed with White Diamond

Buffed with White Diamond

Buffed with White Diamond

Buffed with White Diamond


The next series of three photos are included to give an idea of the polishing process that went into bringing the stem work to completion. Again I invite you to read the post mentioned above on the transformation of a round saddle stem to a diamond shaped one to understand the full work that the shaping took to bring it to this place.
Stem sanded with 320 grit sandpaper

Stem sanded with 320 grit sandpaper

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Stem sanded with 320 grit sandpaper

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Stem sanded with micromesh sanding pads


Once I had finished polishing the stem with the various grades of micromesh from 1500-12,000 grit I took the pipe to the buffer once again and buffer the entirety with White Diamond and then gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax to protect it and to give it a deep shine. The next series of four photos show the finished pipe. It is ready to load up with a favourite tobacco and be gently sipped in the solitude of an afternoon on the porch.

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Refurbed and old timer – WDC Bakelite


I finished up a pipe that is stamped WDC in a triangle and Bakelite on the shank. The bowl is briar and by the way the stem is put together it is clear that it is an old timer. It has a screw mount stem with a bone tenon and the red Bakelite stem has an orific button.

The bowl was caked and had cob webs! (no kidding). The bowl and shank were cleaned and reamed as usual. The stem had bite marks and needed to be sanded and then finished with micro-mesh pads and finally a trip to the buffer and Tripoli and White Diamond. The bowl was re-stained with cherry and then buffed and polished. The stem was over turned a bit so heated the tenon water and it seemed to expand (?) a bit and loosen so I was able to straighten it out on the shank and it fit perfectly. I wonder if on these old bone tenons that the hot water may actually expand them a bit – not sure how that works but it certainly worked with both of the ones I did today.

Thanks for looking and all of your comments. It made for a great day and it is good to look back and see the work completed today!

Before:

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After:

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