Instructables
Picture of How to restore an estate pipe
When I got in to this hobby of pipe smoking and collecting I had a slightly tricky time finding information on restoring estate pipes.  With more and more younger guys like myself taking up the hobby I've decided to make this instructable for the good of all.

I'll start things off by saying welcome!  This a very fun and enjoyable hobby and you should be able to find a lot of enjoyment in your pipes and a great community surrounding it.  

I will also say that yes, smoking is in fact bad for you be it a pipe, cigar, or cigarette.  Since you're here though you probably have already made the decision to smoke and all things considered it's good that you've chosen the pipe.  The dangers associated with smoking are greatly diminished with pipe smoking as inhalation of the smoke is not done and it, like cigar smoking, is largely for the flavour.  Yes nicotine is a part of it but certainly not the main attraction.

Well let's get started shall we?
 
Remove these adsRemove these ads by Signing Up

Step 1: What you will need.

Picture of What you will need.
Alright here is what you'll need...

-An estate pipe to work on (obviously)
-Pipe cleaners
-Reamer. The one pictured is a Castleford set of reamers and is my preferred type.  The other that is used by many is the Senior reamer but I don't really care for it.
-Drill bits.  These are a maybe but good to have just in case.
-Buffing wheels and something to attach them to.  Not really needed but they make your life easier.  Mine attach to my drill.
-Jeweller's Rouge,
-Carnuba wax (optional really)
-High proof alcohol.  Everclear is the preferred but I just used this vodka.
-'Magic eraser' (not pictured)
-High grit sandpaper (not pictured)
-A pipe to smoke while you work (optional)

Now let's get to work.

This indestructable is also a good primer for restoring any old pipe. I have some that are easily 20-25 years old that could use a little love.

gigocorp8 months ago

One tip I thought was good from another pipe restoration tutorial was to always keep the stem moving. Also, you should never put so much pressure on the buffing wheel that it distorts the shape of the wheel. Always use a light touch.

toddzio1 year ago
So, using Saliva is actually a better method. Saliva contains enzymes that clean mildly, and faster than just water.
They actually use human saliva to clean thousand year old mummies.
I imagine the quicker process would prevent the wood from absorbing much moisture.
This is a really great Instructable!

I do have one comment to add, however:
You recommend that your cleaning solvent be vodka, and I apologize in advance in I'm wrong, the cheap plastic jug kind. Springing for top shelf and cleaning your favorite pipe with Zyr vodka or another high-end vodka will leave your pipe with a cleaner taste, much in the same way that Johnny Walker goes down a lot smoother than Chymes whiskey.

Give it a try with your favorite high-proof flavored alcohol and post your reactions!
Great instructable! I've been wanting to learn how to restore estate pipes for a while and now I believe it's really something I can get into. As a matter of fact, my wife has bought a dozen or so pipes for me for Christmas to start my new hobby! Thanks so much!!
Formatt (author)  muldoon19871 year ago
I'm happy that I could help! I hope that you find the process as relaxing, and as rewarding, as I do.
tevans19472 years ago
Another question about stems. I bought a Savinelli De luxe off Ebay and used your steps to restore it. In doing so, I noticed some sticky stuff in the hole where the stem fits to the pipe. Now it fits somewhat loosely and would fall off if I let it. Any idea how to get it to fit tight again without buying and fitting a new stem? THX
Formatt (author)  tevans19472 years ago
I'll direct you to a comment I made on this very same problem. Check the reply I made to gundom2501.
Giving the tenon a quick dip in boiling water can make it swell a bit and make for a tight fit. Just dip it, fit it, and let it cool.
tevans19472 years ago
Ive got a question about stems. I bought a Dunhill on Ebay but the stem doesn't have the dot so it's obviously a replacement and the bite is too thick for my taste. Any idea of what type stem - Vulcanite or Lucite - would have the thinner bite or where I might find such a stem? THX.,
Formatt (author)  tevans19472 years ago
Congrats on the acquisition! By bite I presume you mean the thickness of the stem and this isn't a materials problem but simply how the stem was shaped. You can buy a replacement stem in the material of your choosing from places like PIMO Pipecraft but it will be no small feat to fit it to your pipe. There are no off the shelf replacements for these unfortunately. The best solution to your problem that I can think of is to contact a professional repair person to have one made for you. Pipedia.org has a section on "Care/Cleaning/Repairs" and in that section they list some repair places if that's what you need. The repair person you choose may even throw in a basic restoration.

Before I did that I would just get out a needle file and try to thin it to my liking. After all if you're thinking of sending it out anyway what have you got to lose?

Hope I helped a bit!
tevans19472 years ago
Really appreciate this guide. Two questions about the 'salt and alcohol' treatment.
1 - Cleaning out the chamber afterward. With a cloth or pipe cleaner or pipe tool? Is this to scrap out the chamber some or just to remove remaining salt?
2 - How long should I wait after the completed treatment to smoke the pipe?
THX.
Formatt (author)  tevans19472 years ago
By "clean out the chamber" I mean only to get the remaining grains of salt out. So no more work needed after you've reamed.
As for how long to wait. Your pipe should be dry before you smoke it so if you're confident that it's dry enough that should be just fine.
More detail? After leaving it for a day the alcohol will have surely evaporated and you would only have water left so the higher the proof the better. If you're not sure just leave it for another day if you can stand to wait. I do tend to have a bit of a problem with that myself.

Thanks for reading! I'm glad I can help..


jaysin2 years ago
i have a question i bought a really nice and would be expencive pipe at a auction
someone reamed it wrong the top of the bowl is bigger then the botom and advice how to correct this
Formatt (author)  jaysin2 years ago
Tapered bowls actually quite common. Is there a noticeable step where it gets more narrow or is it smooth? If smooth I would think that it was drilled this way originally.

To fix it yourself would require you to make or buy a bit for drilling bowls. Being a specialty tool these are pretty pricey. So unless you're planning on making and selling pipes it would be more economical to send it to a professional repair person. On the Pipedia website there is a list of professional repair shops. Tim West and Walker Briar Works get many a recommendation. Though I have never used them I would not hesitate if I needed their expertise.
gundom25013 years ago
Since you seem to have done this a bit, perhaps you can help me out. I have a pipe that was given to me by a friend, and the pipe belonged to his grandfather. However, the stem is extremely loose. Do you have any tips for dealing with that?
Formatt (author)  gundom25013 years ago
Well most times that problem can solve itself after a varying number of smokes as the briar absorbs moisture. Rubbing beeswax on the tenon can also be a quick fix. But if it will fall apart if you hold it bowl down by the stem more drastic measures may be needed. Sending your pipe to a professional is one option, giving the tenon a quick dip in boiling water is another, or investing in a "stem tightener kit" from PIMO pipecraft.

http://www.pimopipecraft.com/tools.html

That's about all that comes off the top of my head. Hope it helps!
Thanks for the tips!