How to Restore Vintage Pipes?

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Newbiepiper

Lurker
Feb 19, 2024
13
4
Jersey City NJ
Hi all!
Let me begin by apologizing if this question has been asked already but, I came across a few pipes my grandfather used when he was alive. Now I want to restore them. Can someone give me any ideas on how to begin this project or point me in the right direction. Trust me I'm not one of those guys that is good with my hands but I want to be and I figured this would be a great start and with the expertise of the people on here I should be in good hands. So if anyone can point or.advise me in the right direction I would very grateful.
Thanks
Lando
 
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Coreios

Lifer
Sep 23, 2022
1,625
2,688
41
United States Of America
I been doing a lot of it lately and its surprisingly easy. I started with cleaning up the stems..... using warm water and oxiclean. Then sanding them first with 600 then 800, 1200, 1500, then finally 3000. Polish them with carnauba wax or mineral oil, they'll look amazing. You can polish the bands several different ways. Use leather dye and fire to to put new stains on and White Diamond then Carnauba on a polishing wheel to make the pipe shine. You can even strip the stain off with sandpaper and use water to put a stain back on. Lots of videos about this stuff and it's not very hard. But you will find there are several ways to do things but better results come from 1 way a lot of times. (I am only referring to wood pipes)
 
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Newbiepiper

Lurker
Feb 19, 2024
13
4
Jersey City NJ
I been doing a lot of it lately and its surprisingly easy. I started with cleaning up the stems..... using warm water and oxiclean. Then sanding them first with 600 then 800, 1200, 1500, then finally 3000. Polish them with carnauba wax or mineral oil, they'll look amazing. You can polish the bands several different ways. Use leather dye and fire to to put new stains on and White Diamond then Carnauba on a polishing wheel to make the pipe shine. You can even strip the stain off with sandpaper and use water to put a stain back on. Lots of videos about this stuff and it's not very hard. But you will find there are several ways to do things but better results come from 1 way a lot of times. (I am only referring to wood pipes)
Oh man thank you so much for replying! When you are talking about the sanding are you referring to cleaning out the bowl? Sorry if I sound ignorant Im just new to all of this. I see you listed items which I'm going to add to my shopping list. But what is white diamond? Also can you point me towards or recommend any videos that I can view to get an idea? I'm really looking forward to this.... I remember growing up and seeing men smoking with pipes and it always seemed so elegant to me. It's a shame no one has followed this tradition. Anyways thank you so much for replying to my post. I really appreciate it.
 
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Coreios

Lifer
Sep 23, 2022
1,625
2,688
41
United States Of America
Oh man thank you so much for replying! When you are talking about the sanding are you referring to cleaning out the bowl? Sorry if I sound ignorant Im just new to all of this. I see you listed items which I'm going to add to my shopping list. But what is white diamond? Also can you point me towards or recommend any videos that I can view to get an idea? I'm really looking forward to this.... I remember growing up and seeing men smoking with pipes and it always seemed so elegant to me. It's a shame no one has followed this tradition. Anyways thank you so much for replying to my post. I really appreciate it.
I was referring to the outside of the bowl. White Diamond is a compound that shines but its a little rough so you use Carnauba wax afterwards to really make it pop. You can get White Diamond on Amazon for about 8 dollars it looks like a long bar of soap. The Carnauba Wax looks the same but its yellowish. To fix the inside of bowls you can buy a reamer but I use a pocket knife just be careful not to cut into the wood just shave the carbon cake back. But with the waxes you just heat them a little so they melt a little bit then run them on a bushing wheel then touch the buffing wheel to the pipe and shine it. A little goes a long way.
 

Newbiepiper

Lurker
Feb 19, 2024
13
4
Jersey City NJ
I was referring to the outside of the bowl. White Diamond is a compound that shines but its a little rough so you use Carnauba wax afterwards to really make it pop. You can get White Diamond on Amazon for about 8 dollars it looks like a long bar of soap. The Carnauba Wax looks the same but its yellowish. To fix the inside of bowls you can buy a reamer but I use a pocket knife just be careful not to cut into the wood just shave the carbon cake back. But with the waxes you just heat them a little so they melt a little bit then run them on a bushing wheel then touch the buffing wheel to the pipe and shine it. A little goes a long way.
Great! Thank you for the clarification! I will be posting photos tomorrow of the pipes I have maybe you can point which one I should start with first.. again thanks for the advice and guidance! I truly appreciate it
 

Newbiepiper

Lurker
Feb 19, 2024
13
4
Jersey City NJ
Sorry forgot you other question; Bare Pipe on YouTube is great also The Southland Piper.
I was just about to write you back and ask! Lol thank you! I will be checking this out tonight when I get home. Oh quick question so got the bowl you just use a regular knife and scrape out the old gunk? You don't sand in there? Or pour anything to clean it?
 

Coreios

Lifer
Sep 23, 2022
1,625
2,688
41
United States Of America
I was just about to write you back and ask! Lol thank you! I will be checking this out tonight when I get home. Oh quick question so got the bowl you just use a regular knife and scrape out the old gunk? You don't sand in there? Or pour anything to clean it?
You can sand it. Like I said theres a lot of different methods. If you wanna really clean it good, after you get the cake out stuff a cotton ball inside and soak it in alcohol, or everclear for a few hours. Some people use salt instead of a cotton ball and soak the salt. I prefer the cotton ball it's less mess. You can also run some alcohol soaked pipe cleaners through the stem to get the gunk out. Don't get alcohol on the finish though unless you don't care about the finish. It's good at removing finishes.
 

Newbiepiper

Lurker
Feb 19, 2024
13
4
Jersey City NJ
Great Thanks for that tip also. I think I like the cotton ball with the alcohol too. Again thx for sharing all of the info! I'll post some pictures tomorrow and see which one you think I should start with again thank you and have a good night!
 

Coreios

Lifer
Sep 23, 2022
1,625
2,688
41
United States Of America
Great Thanks for that tip also. I think I like the cotton ball with the alcohol too. Again thx for sharing all of the info! I'll post some pictures tomorrow and see which one you think I should start with again thank you and have a good night!
Glad you found this forum. Lotta great folks here and they've helped me a lot. Look forward to seeing what pipes you have. Gnight.
 

OzPiper

Lifer
Nov 30, 2020
5,830
31,011
71
Sydney, Australia
Believe me, I’m a real klutz
If I can do it, anyone can.
I don’t repair - just clean up

Start off by going through Steve Laug’s Rebornpipes blogs
Moderator @ssjones posts his work there as well.
Lots of step-by-step instructions with before-and-after pics

Ask questions if you’re stuck.

Good luck with those pipes
 
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OzPiper

Lifer
Nov 30, 2020
5,830
31,011
71
Sydney, Australia
Most of my pipes are estates.

Reaming the bowls followed by a cotton ball and alcohol soak will often be sufficient

Just don’t get alcohol on the outside of the bowl or it will affect the stain

The problem area is more often the shank and mortise.
Shine a bright light into the mortise and shank and do a close inspection.
If it is dirty, remove as much of the tars as possible with small drill bits, jewellers screwdrivers or dental picks until you get back to wood.
It will save you a lot of cleaners and alcohol.
And time
Follow up with shank brushes and alcohol soaked cleaners until they come out white.
 
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Big John Shea

Starting to Get Obsessed
Sep 22, 2019
104
223
Have not read the above posts...

If you're buying a pipe that is in half-way decent shape, and you just want to smoke it, then you don't need many tools.

Buy one of these reamer tools. It will be useful for most pipes that are caked.

Scotte Stainless Steel Reamer Tool 6 Blade Tobacco Pipe Carbon Scraper Amazon.com - https://a.co/d/dfX7vxj

Most of the other work can be done with judicious use of mineral oil (for outside the pipe), alcohol (for inside the pipe), t-shirt fabric and pipe cleaners.

If there are cracks, or serious blemishes in the pipe, or it smells bad, you may need help beyond what I can advise.

I use a few different people to restore pipes. Briarville is always a good option though.
 

Sigmund

Lifer
Sep 17, 2023
1,479
12,592
France
if you ever pick up a large batch of pipes becuase there is one or two you really like it is a convienient and safe way to hone your skills. Its not rocket science but like everything else, there is a learning curve. I enjoyed learning on pipes I didnt care about. Im not at all an expert but I can care for my pipes, clean the insdes and outsides of estates and when called for strip them down to bare wood, restain and refinish. Its a fun process.