How do Pipe Makers Obtain Outrageously Good Finshes?

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Briar Lee

Lifer
Sep 4, 2021
4,836
13,904
Humansville Missouri
I have a few more of these, all less expensive modern pipes, with just outrageously good finshes.

French made Charatan Trafalgar and Nording 501 Bulldog Spigot.

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The first pipes like this I saw were three Peterson Killarney pipes for $60 about thirty five years ago.

There’s some kind of polystyrene final finish over what I suspect is enhanced grain figure.

How Dey Do Dat?
 

sablebrush52

The Bard Of Barlings
Jun 15, 2013
19,765
45,326
Southern Oregon
jrs457.wixsite.com
You make tens of thousands of these a year and you figure it out.

Speaking only to the top British makers, there were a number of steps involved in getting to what was considered a "flawless smooth". It involved very careful shaping, sometimes going through a "cut down" stage to remove minor imperfections while retaining the pattern shape, several steps of papering, then staining, then more smoothing, and sometimes an application of gum arabic to fill in the minute variations left in the surface, before applying a final wax.
 

Briar Lee

Lifer
Sep 4, 2021
4,836
13,904
Humansville Missouri
You make tens of thousands of these a year and you figure it out.

Speaking only to the top British makers, there were a number of steps involved in getting to what was considered a "flawless smooth". It involved very careful shaping, sometimes going through a "cut down" stage to remove minor imperfections while retaining the pattern shape, several steps of papering, then staining, then more smoothing, and sometimes an application of gum arabic to fill in the minute variations left in the surface, before applying a final wax.

This is sort of a French made counterfeit of a real Charatan.

The too glossy and too perfect “grain” gives it away as a cheap pipe.


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And a couple of years ago there was this guy selling $200 geniune SON pipes that Eric Nording made before he was old enough to shave, as part of a business dispute with his first partner. Mine only cost $30 because it was a second. Such a deal. It even takes a 9mm filter and came pre carbonized.

IMG_3526.jpeg

And that same seller was peddling $30 Lorenzetti Buyere Extra pipes, but smoked only once. They take 9mm filters and are pre carbonized too.

IMG_6364.jpegIMG_6365.jpeg

But this old Weber Golden Wanut is the real coin. This outrageous finish is real, on top of real, flawless flame grain. And you can tell the real one from the modern too good to be true pipes in a glance.

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The three Pete Killarney pipes I bought for sixty bucks got so hot they nearly were unsmokable. I spent a couple of days stripping one and then it was an ugly, plain hot smoker. The other two have cured out stored in a milk barn for thirty years and are decent smokers today.

But there’s a shortcut to outrageous finish.

It involves bowling ball varnish and clever staining.

The other new super finish pipes I have are good smokers, not they’ll wake up Marxmans tomorrow, but for aromatics nobody will ever complain.

That Weber is a dynamite smoker, none better.

And strangely, the Nording seems as good as a non Algerian briar pipe gets, too.

How do they mass produce too perfect pipes?
 

Chasing Embers

Captain of the Black Frigate
Nov 12, 2014
43,431
109,326
There are apparently violent pipe-maker feuds between shellac vs. Danish oil factions. As a longtime amateur woodcarver/woodworker before I ever became interested in pipes, it is quite entertaining how dogmatic some people are, and how offended some people get. puffy
I like shellac. It prevents stain from bleeding and coming off on your hands.
 

burleybreath

Part of the Furniture Now
Aug 29, 2019
971
3,367
Finger Lakes area, New York, USA
And a couple of years ago there was this guy selling $200 geniune SON pipes that Eric Nording made before he was old enough to shave, as part of a business dispute with his first partner. Mine only cost $30 because it was a second. Such a deal. It even takes a 9mm filter and came pre carbonized.

IMG_3526.jpeg
That's one hell of a second.
 

crowbait

Lurker
Dec 29, 2023
25
78
36
Alberta, Canada
I have a few more of these, all less expensive modern pipes, with just outrageously good finshes.

French made Charatan Trafalgar and Nording 501 Bulldog Spigot.

View attachment 275974

The first pipes like this I saw were three Peterson Killarney pipes for $60 about thirty five years ago.

There’s some kind of polystyrene final finish over what I suspect is enhanced grain figure.

How Dey Do Dat?
Contrast staining brings out the difference between the hard grain and the soft grain, which makes it pop and gives it that high contrast look.

In terms of the shine, there is some different schools of thought, but the basis is to run through the entire array or sanding grits from coarse shaping grits like 80 up to polishing (some go as high as micro mesh pads with 12000 grit). Then most will apply a breathable wax finish with a 3 step process on a buffing wheel using tripoli and white diamond, then finish with carnuba wax.
 

Searock Fan

Lifer
Oct 22, 2021
1,907
5,307
U.S.A.
I no longer make pipes so, what the hell, I'll share a few "secrets" with you guys.

To get a nice finish on a bowl.... Before you stain the bowl paint it with a solution of wood filler and water. The thing is you have to make the solution very weak. I used about a spoon full of filler to a pint of water. Of course, different fillers might take different mixes. Paint a thin coat on the bowl (not inside) and let it dry. If you see any clumping of the mix it's to thick. Lightly buff the bowl before staining.

If you're doing a blast or carved finish and want to stain it black, first stain it red, let it day, buff off any thick red spots so you end up with a light red coating. Now stain it with the black. When it dries you'll see the red underneath will make the black really "pop", Without the red you'll get a much duller finish. Good luck. puffy