Well, not sure this thread is still alive but I thought I might document how I approached my pipe restoration project. You see, I bought a large used humidor on eBay that happened to come with five old beat up pipes, a tobacco pouch and about 8 ounces of dry tobacco (which, when rehydrated wasn't bad at all). The pipes include an Essex, a Surrey, a Straight Grain, a Kaywoodie and a no-name, all smooth wood, no blast or rustication. My goal was to restore these pipes to be good, every day smoking pipes that I would be proud to use having restored them myself.
Anyway, here is the process I used:
1. Disassembly of pipe briar from stem. Put the stems aside
2. Scrape bowl using pipe reamer back to the wood or as close as I could get
3. Vigorous rub down of briar with acetone and nubby rag to remove whatever coating might be over the stain
4. 0000 steel wool scrub down that did a great job of removing stains, burn marks and minor dents and scratches
5. Packed the briar with kosher salt, filled with EverClear. Kept filling as it evaporates.
6. Waited 24 hours
7. Dug out salt/alcohol mix, fill bowl half way with EverClear and then used pipe cleaner to ream out the shank.
8. Wiped the whole briar down with clean shop towel until dry.
9. Buffed the entire surface of the briar with polishing wheel on Ryobi bench grinder (gave the wood a nice gloss and smooth surface)
10. Applied successive layers of mineral oil over 12 hours
11. Applied two layers of tung oil at 24 hour intervals, polishing with microfiber towel
12. Applied two layers of Paragon Wax at 24 hour intervals, polishing with microfiber towel
The wood really came alive and brightened up quite a bit.
The stems are obviously very old. One has a piece of vulcanite (or whatever it's made of) missing from the mouthpiece but it's still smokable. The other four are just old stems, highly oxidized and dreary. I considered chlorinating them but have so far held off, not sure if I would ruin them, and thinking that they might not be so easy to replace.
So far, here is what I have done:
1. Using EverClear and pipe cleaners, I cleaned the interior thoroughly. They weren't too bad inside.
2. I took a razor and gently worked off some of the heavy oxidation by the mouth piece where the plastic formed an edge. It was really just gentle scraping and didn't scratch or harm the stem.
3. I took a toothbrush and some Barkeeper's Friend and worked the stems to try to break up the oxidation. I wasn't that impressed with the result although some came off. I used my finger and also a rag to apply more pressure and it seemed to work a bit better. Still, bite marks and scuffs still existed along with some discoloration. I may have used my 0000 steel wool on some of the stubborn patches but wasn't aggressive at all with it.
4. Then I turned on the bench grinder with polishing wheel and shined up each stem. This turned out to be a good idea and I think it added a bit of glossy shine to the stems. Don't forget to wear eye protection.
5. Finally, I applied Paragon Wax to the stems which did a nice job of preserving my progress and adding some depth to the color and appearance.
The final result made me happy. The wood looks great, the exposed metal pieces are also very presentable and the stems are very acceptable. I should have taken "before" pictures as the contrast with the final result would have been fun to see.
I hope this helps someone out there doing a pipe restoration for the first time. This was my first time and I found this thread to be very helpful in steering me in the right direction.
My best to you.