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Tight Fitting Stem

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    cbrand

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    I have 3 pipes I'm fixing up really just for fun. One of my pipes has a stem that is way to tight. My Question is, should I sand Dow the tenon or open up the mortise a little? I do have a caliper to get measurements accurately.

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    Posted 4 years ago #
  2. newbroom

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    Try rubbing a pencil lead on the tenon. Graphite will lubricate it. changing any original dimensions should be your last resort, imo. also, beeswax is sometimes suggested. I like the graphite method, and of course, when you meet resistance that is excessive, try the freezer for a few minutes.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  3. jazz

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    My experience tells me that what Newbroom said is correct. Graphite does work for me as does putting the pipe in the freezer for 20 mins to get the stem off initially.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  4. chasingembers

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    The shanks could also be gunked up. Try some grain alcohol on a q-tip to swab it out.

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    Posted 4 years ago #
  5. drwatson

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    Not to totally disagree with the others, but,, I'm going too. Although those options may work, adding beeswax can eventually gunk up. It's kinda like putting a band aid on an artery.. To fix the problem forever, sand the tenon with about 600 grit wet/dry sandpaper. Go slow and even. I personally like my tenons to push and pull out easy. And I have never had a cracked shank.

    John
    Posted 4 years ago #
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    Anonymous

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    cbrand - not really wishing to disagree with the others, but ....

    graphite is a quick fix. However with extended use can wear a tenon. While it does lubricate it also has "fine grit".

    beeswax is best used to assist loose fitting stems. This only corrects a pipe with the issue that is due to prolonged non use and thus has "dried" up. If the tenon has shrunk or mortise been enlarged there are other methods used to correct a loose stem.

    Cleaning the mortise is step #1. Swab out any residual gunk inside the mortise. You may use alcohol or water, on a q-tip or pipe cleaner ( bent in half etc to make the correct sized swabbing surface ). Once cleaned allow the pipe at least 2 days to dry. Then carefully try and re insert the stem.

    IF you get a "squeaking" noise .... stop.... and gently back the stem out. That "squeak" sound is your first warning that the stem / tenon / mortise junction are too tight. Do not listen to the sound and you chance cracking or snapping the shank.

    To lubricate a tenon use an over dried piece a of bar soap. Try and find an unscented bar if possible. Rub the tenon on the soap and wipe off the excess. Now try and re insert the stem. If it "squeaks" , back out, apply more soap and re insert. It should go in smooth and quietly. There should be very little resistance. If there is too much resistance, then move on to more drastic measure. Hardened bar soap is what the carvers in St Claude France have used for decades. Soap has no grit and just enough oil to lubricate without wearing on the tenon OR in the mortise. Taught to me by an old French taught pipe maker.

    That would be very carefully removing some material from the tenon. If you've not done this type of alteration in the past I suggest sending the pipe out to a pro.

    ww

    Posted 4 years ago #
  7. kcvet67

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    Don't be too quick to do anything that's irreversible. Estate pipes that haven't been smoke in a while often have problems with the stem fit. Usually this manifests as a stem that's too loose, but it can occasionally be too tight. Usually these problems will straighten out on their own after smoking half a dozen bowls. The primary cause is that the wood surrounding the mortise has dried out too much, but if the pipe was stored in a humid environment it's possible that the briar has swelled a little causing the stem to be too tight. Until you're sure that this isn't what's happened, I'd advise postponing any sanding and just use graphite or beeswax. If the problem persists you can always sand it later but you can't put back what's been sanded away.

    "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."
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    Posted 4 years ago #
  8. jpmcwjr

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    Would the latter case- too humid, shank swollen imperceptibly in the mortise— be the one time you might want to leave the stem out for a few hours at a time, trying the fit in between each round?

    I know that you believe you understood what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
    Posted 4 years ago #
  9. georged

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    Lubricating a tight-fitting mortise & tenon is categorically a bad idea, because the pressure must go somewhere. (In fact, adding a layer of lube actually increases the pressure slightly because the lube takes up space.)

    I've lost count of the number of cracked thin-shanked pipes that have been sent to me as the result of the pencil trick; and---trust me on this one---re-cutting a conical mortise & tenon back to cylindrical (and then getting them to fit properly) from a lubed tenon being jammed into a thick shanked pipe is not easy to do.

    The catch is that reducing the diameter of a tenon while keeping it uniform is a fiddly business in its own right. (Though functionality is easy to achieve, getting a factory-perfect result is not.)

    Dogs live such short lives... and spend most it waiting for us to come home
    Posted 4 years ago #
  10. allan

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    Georged

    What then, do you recommend?

    Allan
    Posted 4 years ago #
  11. georged

    georged

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    What then, do you recommend?

    Reducing the tenon's diameter.

    Doing that well---not making it into a cone or an hourglass shape, or making it too small/loose fitting---is the issue. That can be done with strips of sandpaper, but practice is usually necessary to get a good result. If you don't have a dial caliper to monitor consistent-diameter-over-length, test fitting frequently can also work.

    If you decide to DIY, 600 grit is probably the best compromise between not taking forever and getting a decently smooth finish. Cut it into strips slightly narrower than the tenon is long, and pinch grip the paper together after a single fold/wrap around the tenon. (DO NOT squeeze the paper directly on the tenon---that will create a Coke-bottle "waist"). Then turn the tenon in one direction only, with about 70% of the pinch-pressure applied nearer the base of the stem. If you don't consciously do that, what feels like even pressure will actually be higher toward the end of the tenon, and you'll slowing make it into a cone shape.

    Either measure often, or test fit often. Move to a new spot on the paper strip each time you re-start the process.

    When the fit feels right, the raw material will likely still squeak and chatter a little. A smooth "glide" fit always takes a touch of beeswax. (Unless the tenon is Delrin, of course.)

    Me? I stopped messing with all that some time ago and use machines, but no one here is likely to have either them or the specialized supporting tools required to do it that way.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  12. drwatson

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    This is a tight stem, it's not landing a man on the moon! Clean it sand it and be done with it. Or soap it and you will have a awesome bubble pipe.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  13. mcitinner1

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    @ Docwatson, Brother no offense but you just down played the most experienced pipe specialist on this forum. His business is "Precision Pipe Restoration". If you haven't seen this thread, check out his shop.
    http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/your-work-shopkitchen-table#post-782165

    http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/sav-320-ex-broken-stem#post-782014

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    Posted 4 years ago #
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    Anonymous

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    I am sure DrW meant no disrespect to George, who I have known for a few years. After all ... we are brothers from a different Mother, but I must agree with DrW. While George is one of the foremost pipe "specialists" on this forum, he is not the only one.

    Opinions on the ways to correct the OP's issue vary.

    Before any "alteration" should be attempted, the first step is to determine what the root cause of the issue is. Sanding a tenon or re shaping a tenon or mortise is the last step anyone should attempt. I am sure George would agree with that.

    George and I do agree 100% on the Graphite / pencil lead method. Bad news with long term use. A quick fix, one time, maybe in a pinch.

    The soaping a tenon is a tried and true method that has been used for decades by carvers. I can attest to it's quality after cleaning 1000's of estate pipes over the past near 20 years, myself.

    ww

    Posted 4 years ago #
  15. admin

    Kevin Godbee

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    Thanks for being a member and participating.

    Thread title fixed.

    Please see rule 9 here along with the rest of the forum rules

    I sent you 2 private messages about this, but they have not been opened.

    Thanks!

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    Posted 4 years ago #
  16. georged

    georged

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    This is a tight stem, it's not landing a man on the moon!

    That depends on standards and expectations. At the lowest level pipes are simply tobacco access devices, and the right answer when fixing one is whatever returns it to functionality. At the the highest level, pipes are objects of artfulness and precision equal to anything produced by humans in any medium.

    Spending a half hour to achieve a perfect stem fit on an example of the first type would be pretty silly. Equally true, though, is a result that is in ANY WAY short of matching the workmanship and quality of the rest of the pipe when working on the second type is categorically unacceptable.

    In short, it's the owner who gets to decide, whether they do the work themselves or hire it done.

    Because the majority of the pipes I work on are high grades whose owners care about them a LOT, my replies to "how to" questions on boards like this one are often seen as overkill by smokers & collectors who aren't "perfection chasers".

    My apologies for that, but I don't know any other way to do it. Or even think about the problem.

    PS to WhiteWolf --- please PM me your real name. I haven't any idea who you might be based on what you've said on this board.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  17. drwatson

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    @ Docwatson, Brother no offense but you just down played the most experienced pipe specialist on this forum

    I'm not sure exactly how agreeing is down playing???

    I have pipes from 20 bucks to 600 bucks, they are all my babies and I am one of the most anal, perfection driven people I know.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  18. admin

    Kevin Godbee

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    Cbrand - Please check your private messages. I don't like to post these types of requests in public, or highjack a thread, but you are not receiving notifications because you do not have your email filled in on your account. Please fix that as it is a requirement to have an account here. Thanks.

    Posted 4 years ago #
  19. calabashed

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    Have you owned the pipe since it was new, or picked up estate? An old trick to fix a loose stem is to heat the tennon slightly and tap it end first on a hard surface to flare it out. It's easy to make it way too tight this way (like far beyond what you'd expect if it was factory new), if that sounds like what you've got might want to take a close look at the tip of the tennon to see if it's been given this treatment.

    Posted 4 years ago #
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    cbrand

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    The pipes in question are easily as old as I am (29). The stems were hard to remove but it was possible. I ended up using what was available to me which was a dremel , 120 grit flap wheel and my caliper. The wheel was a wide as the tenons that were on average .5 mm wider then the mortise. I fired of the dremel and on a low speed and rotated the tenon around it. The result was two snug fitting stems. I don't dare to clean it up better as the may become to loose.

    Posted 4 years ago #

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