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Restoring stems/briar without a buffing wheel.

This is a discussion on Restoring stems/briar without a buffing wheel. within the General Pipe Forum forums, part of the Pipe Smokers Forums category; I'm about to start giving the salt treatment to about 7 estate pipes I won off of Ebay. Some of ...

  1. #1

    Young Fish mr.norcal's Avatar


    Restoring stems/briar without a buffing wheel.

    I'm about to start giving the salt treatment to about 7 estate pipes I won off of Ebay. Some of the stems are highly oxidized, and some are not much. I've been pouring over the tutorials and videos on the internet and trying to find the best way to bring these pipes to a nicer look, without having to shell out for a bunch of shop equipment.

    I'm worried about using a dremel because of the speed, and the fact that I am most assuredly, a buffing "noob".

    I do have access to a corded drill - but not a workbench, etc.

    From what I have put together, is it possible to use Barkeepers Friend to take the oxidization off of a stem, and then shine it up with Paragon Wax/ Halcyon II Wax? Will the barkeepers friend make it too rough?

    Also, after cleaning the briar - would the same Paragon Wax/Halcyon II Wax get a decent result?

    I'm not looking to take a pipe from a 2 to a 10 - but more like a 2 to a 6.

    Any thoughts?

  2. #2

    Full grown Puffer Fish pffintuff's Avatar


    Re: Restoring stems/briar without a buffing wheel.

    I've used a low speed drill with a buffing wheel and had great results. 1st, I give the stem a bath in bleach for about a 1/2 hour, then wet sand down to 1600 grit. Buff on the wheel with toothpaste and then olive oil. Cover all logos with petroleum jelly.
    You're gonna get a lot of opinions on this one. But use whatever you have at hand.

    As far as the briar, carnauba wax is considered the best. I've tried beeswax and olive oil and it does help, but doesn't give you the luster and shine.
    Last edited by pffintuff; 06-14-2011 at 08:34 PM.

  3. #3

    Alpha Puffer Fish Firedawg's Avatar


    Re: Restoring stems/briar without a buffing wheel.

    drill has worked for me with a small buff wheel attachment and rubbing compound.
    I wish I could write as mysterious as a cat.
    Edgar Allan Poe

  4. #4

    Evolving Lead Puffer Fish Andrewdk's Avatar


    Re: Restoring stems/briar without a buffing wheel.

    As far as stem buffing goes if you don't have or want to use power tools, there is another option and I know this is going to sound weird but nail buffers work Ok. There's a vid on youtube but I can't remember the title sorry, I've tried it and it will bring a 2 up to a 6 but definitely not a 10 unless you want to spend hours at it. However even an extremely fine grit sandpaper will do a reasonable polish.
    The land of milk and honey, a safe haven and the last bastion of freedom - http://www.tobaccocellar.com/andrewdk

  5. #5

    Snail Whisperer


    Re: Restoring stems/briar without a buffing wheel.

    I use a Dremel, even on my estate Dunhills...

    Contrary to what you may have read or heard, they work fine, if care is taken.

    I use the flexible extension with the drill hanging on a hook.

    The secret is to hold the wheel as lightly (finger & thumb) as possible and only let it polish under its own weight.

    Small areas at a time, not the whole stem at once. Until you get the hang of it.

    You will know when you are pressing too hard, you will smell the burning rubber!

    If you spend too long on one spot, it will go 'clouded'. That's ok, let it cool for a minute and it will buff out.

    My procedure for my estates is:

    1. Bleach soak for an hour maybe less depending on how bad the oxidisation is and soak for 30 minutes in alcohol (I use Whisky).

    2. Sand with wet & dry, starting with 800 grit and on up to 2000.

    3. Buff out sandpaper marks with dremel polish.

    4. Polish with a good quality car polish.

    5. A light layer of Beeswax, polished by hand with a lint free cloth.

    I don't have the space or access to a drill polisher, so just had to make do with the dremel. I remember being a bit nervous the first time, but it worked just fine. Just take your time and don't rush it.

    After smoking a pipe I will often just run the beeswax bar along the stem and polish it, takes a minute. It seems to have cut down on oxidisation dramatically.

    For bowls, I generally soak (whisky again) after a light reaming (if needed) and polish the outside with Beeswax, also using the dremel, brings up a lovely shine and pulls out the grain.

    Hope that helps.


  6. #6

    Leading Puffer Fish Jeff10236's Avatar


    Re: Restoring stems/briar without a buffing wheel.

    The best way to go that I've found, if you want to do it by hand, is steel wool (not the kind that is impregnated with soap, get plain steel wool- you should be able to get it on Ebay or at an auto supply store) with a paste style stem polish (like Brebbia), followed up by really fine grain sandpaper (500-2000 grit). Works very well.

  7. #7

    Intolerable Curmudgeon GuitarDan's Avatar


    Re: Restoring stems/briar without a buffing wheel.

    These are my opinions...

    Bees wax is wonderful for the joint between the stem and the briar. It can make a loose fit better, and also keep the joint from becoming stuck. It's far too soft for exterior use of the briar to be of any protection. It doesn't look as nice as Carnuba as it's MUCH less clear/reflective. It softens under heat sooner than Carnuba, and feels sticky.

    At the very least, use something like this: 2007263 Cut up an old cotton t-shirt for application, and use clean ones to buff when dry. 3 "coats" (one per day) will do quite well.

    As far as stem buffing tools go; you can get nice results from this Design Nail - Design 4-Way Buffing Wand

    Apply wax to the stem to keep oxidation away.

    There you go; enough supplies to maintain a lifetime of pipes for less than $20... As a plus, you can work in the living room while watching TV... and not annoy your wife!

    Remember: the slower "hand powered" process is far less likely to yield a ruined pipe; compared to a buffer or even a cordless drill...
    It'd be pretty impressive to heat a stem up excessively by hand!

    Avoid Bri-Wax, as it contains powerful solvents that can react/ruin plastics, finishes and stains...

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