promise of restoration

I love working on pipes. A lot of pipe smokers hate it and put off their standard biannual day of pipe cleansing. When I started smoking pipes I couldn’t afford nice and/or new pipes so i would buy used ones from antique and junk shops and then refurbish them. Early on i was just doing basic cleaning but as time went on i learned a little more about pipe restoration and even pipe making and really got into messing around with them and reshaping the bowls and bits. Anyway, I found these pictures of one a reworked a while back.

When you pick up an old pipe, and sometimes even an unused pipe, the stem will have a brown, green or sometimes even a yellowish tint to it. What this is, is oxidation, which can be caused by a few things. Oxidation is not only unsightly but gives the vulcanite stem a bad taste. The best way to deal with it is to soak it in pure grain alcohol (like everclear) over night. in the morning it will look like the stem on the pipe above. Yes, it looks terrible but it’s good because it brings all the oxidation and tars to the surface and you can really get in there and bring it back to a black luster much faster and easier.

Once I got the stem back down to the black vulcanite and reshaped it a little bit. I thought it would look good with a slightly bent stem, which can be done multiple ways but because this stem is so thin i went with the most simple. Just boil some water and dip the stem in. be careful though. If you use tongues or something the metal can warm up enough to put dents into the stem. At the time most of my pipes had larger bowls so i wanted to have a few with smaller bowls for quicker smokes, which was quick and easy. After all that a spent some time hand sanding and buffing which is one of my favorite parts of the whole process. It takes the most time but it’s nice to sit around smoking a pipe while slowly working away. Anyway. This was the end product, which i ended up giving to a friend of mine who had recently started smoking a pipe and only had a couple. Unfortunately he broke it doing one of the worst things for a pipe. Tapping out the bowl by holding the end of the stem. BLAH!

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