409. In the Blink of An Eye

Gary Hamilton, CPG

As the title of this story suggests, and the accompanying photo illustrates, it all happened in the blink of an eye.

Pipemen the world over take pride in displaying and presenting the pipes that they companion on a daily basis. And how best to ready a pipe for a “show and tell” event? Why a good buffing of course!

For the buffing of one’s pipe, there are many options. Ranging from the elaborate to the elementary, pipe enthusiasts have access to various options to keep their collection looking its finest. Options perhaps limited only by one’s imagination, and of course, the purse. Yet, regardless of which path is taken, comparable results are achievable. And no matter which version is used, the principles, physics, and pitfalls of either, are on an equal playing field when it is time to shine up that favorite Peterson 307 sterling mounted spigot.

From the elementary approach…to the elaborate, the principles of buffing are the same.

As pipemen, I’d venture a guess that we, at one time or another, and some more routinely than others, have all tried our hand at buffing a pipe on some variation of a powered buffing wheel. And If you have been in this hobby of pipe collecting for any length of time, odds are that you, like myself, have had that in the blink of an eye moment while buffing your most prized possession.

There you are, buffing away and smiling at your progress, marveling at the shine that is developing on stem and stummel. And then it happens, in the blink of an eye, your pipe is snatched from your fingers. From this point everything goes into slow motion, like you’ve just been inserted into an episode of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone. You watch in astonishment as the pipe goes flying from your hands, bumping and bouncing off everything in its path, and then seemingly going out of its way to make contact with everything else possible before coming to rest in some forsaken corner of the shop. As a devoted pipeman, you rush to the aid of the distressed pipe, picking it up and preparing to perform some type of pipeman’s CPR to make it all better. But the damage is done.

But I don’t really want to go off on a tangent about the pleasures and pitfalls of pipe buffing at the moment. I’d rather get back to that rather unsightly dent in the silver mounting of that Peterson 307 spigot.  However, for those of you that really like a good story from Chuck Stanion, take a look at the Fall 2010 editorial in Pipes & tobaccos magazine (Vol.15 No.3). In a manner that no one other than Chuck Stanion can, he writes of his experience with the “Fluffy spinning doom.” I think you will find it very entertaining.*

Now about that dent. No matter which way you hold the pipe, there it is, just grinning at you daring you to try and fix it. So come along and let’s take up the dare! The first thing we need to do is to remove the silver mount from the pipe’s shank.

In separating the mount from the shank, heat is your best friend. But caution is needed, in that heat is also your enemy.

In some cases, the use of a heat gun (basically a hair dryer on steroids) will provide enough heat to soften the glue allowing the mount to be removed. Once the glue is soft, a slight twisting and pulling will separate the mount from the shank. In this particular case though, nothing doing. That dent just kept grinning at me, and nothing moved.

Plan “B.” I keep a small oil burner on the workbench for times such as this. With the flame, I can concentrate the heat more to where it is needed. Keep your wits about you, as it does get hot. This process is equivalent to playing a game of “chicken” and wondering who will win.

When using either the heat gun, or the oil flame, a best practice is to keep the heat evenly applied around the surface of the mount. Don’t stay in one spot too long with the heat. A steady rotation, like a rotisserie cooker, is what has worked best for me. At this point, I’d also like to point out that the heat method used to remove the mount is done under the premise that the mount is attached with the original factory glue. Which to me, has always had a shellac, or varnish like appearance. Keep in mind though, that some prior “hammer & chisel” pipesmith may have used either a gorilla-strength epoxy or space-age super glue to reattach a loose mount. In this case we can only hope luck will favor a positive outcome. For our case though, we are fortunate to have a factory original glue job.

For those Pete Geeks knowledgeable in the Peterson mount styles, you will recognize this as the “Hinch” mount, created by Peterson silversmith, Jason Hinch, and first appearing in 2015.

What is interesting though, is it appears that the shank of the stummel is shaped to receive the more traditional dome-shaped mount. This mis-match of profiles does leave a void area and the upper shank is not fully supported, or strengthened, around the mortise opening by the mount. Also to be noted is where the glue collected, primarily in one area, prior to setting. This most likely happened after assembly when the stummel was placed on its side.

I thought it fitting at this point to include photos and a passage from The Peterson Pipe: the Story Of Kapp & Peterson (Mark Irwin and Gary Malmberg, Briar Books Press 2018, pp. 31, 225) concerning the work of the silversmith at Peterson.

In the photo above, David Blake is seen spinning a silver mount to the desired shape, using a boxwood template. Notice on the work bench, center-right, are three additional boxwood templates for various shank applications.

I find it very interesting about the personality that each silversmith conveys into his craft at Peterson.

Liam Larrigan at work in 1988 turning, or spinning, a silver band.

It is interesting to note how the workbenches look almost identical between the two photos, even though the separation of time is a quarter of a century.

Getting back to the project at hand, we now need to tidy up the interior side of the silver mount so we can see what we have. A good overnight soaking in a bath of denatured alcohol was used to soften the glue residue so that it could be removed.

A Q-Tip was used to help scrub away the stubborn glue remnants. Not making much progress, a second soaking with the denatured alcohol was required to fully remove all of the glue traces.

It is important to remove all the glue and residue so that a clean surface is present to start the dent removal process.

Not much preparation is required of the stummel’s shank. Just remove any loose glue and debris that might hamper the reattachment of the mount.

For the glue that is firmly affixed to the shank, it is best to leave it there. This will act as a guide and provide some support to the silver mount when it is reattached to the shank.

If you look close enough, you can make out the profile of the Hinch mount, in the glue, compared to the shanks more traditional dome mount shape.

Here is a closer look at the sliver mount, cleaned and ready to start the dent removal process.

A bit of 4/0 steel wool was used to very lightly wipe the interior surface of the mount to remove any lingering glue and debris.

That dent looks just as ugly from the inside as it does from the outside. Hopefully soon it will be like it never even happened.

So finally, we get to the part that everyone is interested in. How do you remove the dent?

I know there is more than one way to do most any task, and achieve similar outcomes. This is my method.

I first make a shaping stick; usually out of whatever hardwood I have in the shop. This time it is oak. I shape it on the lathe, paying particular attention to the small end. For it is this end that does the reshaping and removes the dent. I try to shape the end of the stick to have a similar curvature as that of the area in the mount where the dent is located.

Unfortunately, for this specific dent, it is right in the transition area, from the mount’s side to the curved top. Probably the worst place it could be.

I prepare a work-holding board that has a small pad of 3M Removable Mounting Putty on it.

The putty is the key to getting good results. Not only does it hold the mount in position for me to work on it, it also has enough give to it so that when I’m pressing on the dent with the shaping stick, the dent has somewhere to expand to, other than a flat surface.

In operation, I use the stick to push and firmly rub the dent out. A little at a time, stopping often to check the progress and verify that the shape is returning correctly.

At this point, I think I’m about done with the dent removal and reshaping.

A word of caution here though, it is easy to go a bit overboard and actually rub the dent out beyond the original shape. Stop often and check your work.

Start with a light rubbing motion and slowly increase the pressure until you start seeing some movement of the dent. Then start checking your progress, often.

The circled area is where the dent used to be, and I’m all smiles.

Using Titebond III carpenter’s wood glue, the mount is reattached to the shank, and correct alignment is confirmed. After 24 hours of cure time, the silver work is cleaned up and polished. And, in the blink of an eye, it looks like it never even happened.

As I mentioned previously in this story, there is usually more than one way to accomplish a task. Oftentimes we build and develop our skills from listening to, and watching what others have done to accomplish a similar task. I’d like to give a shout-out to Steve Laug, and his website, Rebornpipes.com. For it was Steve’s website that I stumbled into many years ago when I was scouring the interwebs for anything I could find on tobacco pipe restorations.

For those of you that have “The Book” (yeah, the one about Kapp & Peterson), Mark Irwin and Gary Malmberg have included a chapter regarding restorations, of which Steve Laug was a primary contributor. From the book, here is Steve’s version on removing a dent from a domed mount. Like I mentioned, there is usually more than one path to get you to your destination. Although my method and Steve’s is a little different, we both end up with the same results.


Ed. note:  The pipe Gary restored was mine and I need to publicly acknowledge how grateful I am for his wizardry and generosity.  This particular 307 Spigot features an insanely chubby stummel, part of a shipment of bowls K&P received a few years ago. You may have caught its smooth counterpart, companioned by another Pete Geek, in an earlier post.  This rusticated version was from the tail-end of that bag of bowls and I’m so glad I acquired it. I could wish all shape 9s were this chubby, but I’m happy that at least this one is in my rotation.  I had been working on the finish, as I like the rustication but often have reservations about the milky surface coat I see on pipes like this one.  In the process of a DIY to remove the milk-coating and add a bit of shine, the stummel jumped out of my hand and and rest, as you see in the title photo, was misery.

* Mark: I realize not everyone owns a complete collection of Pipes & tobaccos Magazine.  For those who don’t, or find their collection  hopelessly disorganized from years of rifling through it (like mine), here is that editoral. And yes, it’s everything you’d expect from that Mark Twain of the pipes world, Chuck Stanion:

And this helpful hint from Ken Sigel, CPG: I have only one thing to add to the discussion. I used to use a variety of wood implements to remove dents, sometimes even adding a judicious of heat to the ferrule once it’s off the pipe. During a dent removal discussion, a jewelry maker pointed me to a tool called a burnisher. It is a softly rounded and bent metal tool with a wood handle. It is used for just this kind of work. I use an 1-1/2″ one I got on Amazon for about $10. I find it really helpful on little “nicks” as well.


I wanted to document here on the blog Austin’s debut as an artisan pipe-maker.  I always find it expands my understanding of the design language of pipes to read the descriptions provided by the copywriters at SPC.

Ken Sigel CPGsnagged this beauty, Austin’s favorite–that shank and bend are simply incredible:

Smooth Bent Egg

Irish artisan Austin Quinlan boasts a shaping style primarily rooted within the realm of Anglo-French carving, though his works often showcase Danish sensibilities, often tinged with enhanced musculature. This bent Egg is a great example of that style, boasting ample substance throughout and offering a robust, hearty feel in hand that emphasizes the form’s impressive curvature. The transition here is wide, with ample room to drape a digit, and it gives way to a thick shank that curls with a gentle taper toward a similarly tapering stem of black vulcanite: the fluid arc of the pair offering a comfortable smoking posture. In addition, this shank and stem admirably support the presence of the bowl, leading the eye toward a sweeping heel via the silhouette’s consistent undercurve. The heel supports a supple, richly curvaceous bowl as it grows softly contoured walls that reach toward the rim and expand softly to an angled, mid-set waistline: the most prevalent curves across the bowl set at the upper aft and lower-mid fore. Delightfully soft in hand, this pipe is dressed in a rich, smooth finish and auburn-tinged stain, revealing a stunning pattern of grain that showcases flame through the flanks of the shank, curving into a pattern of wrapping cross grain at the flanks of the bowl: creating a broad swath of birdseye to appreciate across the underside. -John McElheny

Measurements & Other Details

Length: 5.23 in./132.84 mm.
Weight: 2.10 oz./59.53 g.
Bowl Height: 2.00 in./50.80 mm.
Chamber Depth: 1.60 in./40.64 mm.
Chamber Diameter: 0.81 in./20.57 mm.
Outside Diameter: 1.76 in./44.70 mm.
Stem Material: Vulcanite
Filter: None


Smooth Dublin with Boxwood

Austin Quinlan’s shaping style primarily encompasses pipes of classic English style, though rendered in stout, compact forms and often tinged with elements of Danish and Japanese design. This Dublin from the Irish artisan is a good example of Quinlan’s style, though it eschews most stoutness in favor of a delightfully feathery, handy build that’s primed for portability whenever a reliable smoking companion is needed. Well under five inches long, this pipe can fit easily into a pocket, and its light weight makes for a shape that’s well-suited to clenching despite being straight. The transition is wide, and it pairs the bowl to a fairly short shank, though it’s one extended by a domed fitment of boxwood that marries to the stummel at a trim band of cumberland. This small, subtle accent matches the stem: a short cumberland saddle whose slender tenon and broad expansion ring create an area of negative space that draws the eye to the junction. The back half of the shank, including the boxwood accent, are lined through the draft channel with a length of metal, creating a sturdy, reinforced fit. Up front, the bowl stands on a firm heel and grows thick walls that flare gently and rise to a subtly domed rim, enhancing the understated softness of the walls. Dressed in a warm, rich, auburn-tinged stain, the stummel here showcases handsome grain, with flame flickering up around the walls of the bowl and through the flanks of the shank. -John McElheny

Measurements & Other Details

Length: 4.81 in./122.17 mm.
Weight: 1.00 oz./28.35 g.
Bowl Height: 1.78 in./45.21 mm.
Chamber Depth: 1.52 in./38.61 mm.
Chamber Diameter: 0.77 in./19.56 mm.
Outside Diameter: 1.31 in./33.27 mm.
Stem Material: Vulcanite
Filter: None


Smooth Apple (still available)

After becoming fascinated by the world of pipes, Dublin native Austin Quinlan began buying and restoring estate pieces, expanding his personal collection of smokers while simultaneously learning the tooling and engineering involved in pipe making. Through his refurbishment work and his tutelage under Giacomo Penzo, Quinlan has developed a singular style rooted in the Anglo-French tradition, often crafting muscular compositions with fairly tight-knit frames. A handsome showcase of Quinlan’s style, this Apple boasts a compact length that belies its stout build. Said stoutness is most evident around the bowl and shank, with both sections of the stummel offering a pronounced thickness that keeps the overall composition feeling hefty and sturdy in hand. The shape’s snug footprint makes it perfect for on-the-go smoking, its reduced size enabling it to be easily stowed in a jacket pocket. Dressing this piece is a bright, ruby-hued smooth finish that highlights fetching flame grain and birdseye throughout the stummel. –Davin Hylton

Measurements & Other Details

Length: 4.23 in./107.44 mm.
Weight: 1.40 oz./39.69 g.
Bowl Height: 1.43 in./36.32 mm.
Chamber Depth: 1.06 in./26.92 mm.
Chamber Diameter: 0.78 in./19.81 mm.
Outside Diameter: 1.73 in./43.94 mm.
Stem Material: Vulcanite


Sandblasted Bent Dublin

Austin Quinlan boasts a meticulous shaping acumen with a keen eye for detail, one informed by experience restoring estate pipes as he first delved into the hobby of pipe smoking. Over time, the Irish artisan would sharpen his skills in shaping, engineering, and finishing, studying under Italian carver Giacomo Penzo to learn the essentials of artisan pipe design. With an affinity for vintage pieces, much of Quinlan’s style is informed by the stout, compact proportions of traditional English and Irish pipes, with this piece pairing those sensibilities with a Danish gesture. Fluid and curvaceous, this bent Dublin eagerly fills the hand with its hearty bowl, whose oval-shaped figure provides a comfortable fit in hand as its walls flare broadly from the sweeping heel toward the domed, chamfered rim. A broad transition out back leaves plenty of room for a thumb to rest, giving way to a muscular shank that curls upward from the bowl and meets a gingerly downturned tapered stem, the pair granting this piece a poised profile. The stummel wears a craggy sandblast that unveils a wealth of stimulating texture across the briar, its inky complexion complementing the stem’s jet-black vulcanite for a reserved palette overall. –Joshua Carroll

Measurements & Other Details

Length: 5.36 in./136.14 mm.
Weight: 1.60 oz./45.36 g.
Bowl Height: 1.65 in./41.91 mm.
Chamber Depth: 1.38 in./35.05 mm.
Chamber Diameter: 0.76 in./19.30 mm.
Outside Diameter: 1.60 in./40.64 mm.
Stem Material: Vulcanite


Sandblasted Tulip

With an affinity for vintage pieces, much of Quinlan’s style is informed by the stout, compact proportions of traditional English and Irish pipes, though he draws from a variety of inspirations for his distinctive shaping. As such, this Tulip displays the carver’s versatility with its lean physique and clean line work, making for a sleek design overall. The composition sees a pert, supple bowl posed up front with a forward cant, its walls contouring naturally to the hand as they curve from the heel toward the subtly flared, undulating rim. Out back, a slender shank emerges from the bowl and joins to a lithe stem with a broad expansion ring at its base, the arrangement accentuating the bowl’s active stance. Dressing the stummel is a crisp, ruby-hued sandblast that reveals waves of rippling growth rings wrapping around the bowl, offering plenty of engaging texture for the fingers to explore. — Joshua Carroll

Measurements & Other Details

Length: 5.81 in./147.57 mm.
Weight: 0.90 oz./25.51 g.
Bowl Height: 1.60 in./40.64 mm.
Chamber Depth: 1.29 in./32.77 mm.
Chamber Diameter: 0.76 in./19.30 mm.
Outside Diameter: 1.42 in./36.07 mm.
Stem Material: Vulcanite


Smooth Bent Apple

After becoming fascinated by the world of pipes, Dublin native Austin Quinlan began buying and restoring estate pieces, expanding his personal collection of smokers while simultaneously learning the tooling and engineering involved in pipe making. Through his refurbishment work and his tutelage under Giacomo Penzo, Quinlan has developed a singular style rooted in the Anglo-French tradition, often crafting muscular compositions with fairly tight-knit frames, with this bent Apple being one such design. Although this piece boasts some stout proportions, most notably at the bowl and shank, its fluidly bent aft side imbues the overall form with an expressive curvature that balances out the denseness of the briar. Additionally, this piece is a fairly compact one, measuring less than five inches long, and as such, it’s primed for on-the-go smoking, especially when considering the abbreviated saddle stem’s demure downturn. Dressing this piece is a warm, vibrant smooth finish that highlights gorgeous flame grain across the bowl and shank alike. –Davin Hylton

Measurements & Other Details

Length: 4.65 in./118.11 mm.
Weight: 1.70 oz./48.19 g.
Bowl Height: 1.51 in./38.35 mm.
Chamber Depth: 1.15 in./29.21 mm.
Chamber Diameter: 0.77 in./19.56 mm.
Outside Diameter: 1.75 in./44.45 mm.
Stem Material: Vulcanite

 Thanks to Smokingpipes.com
for text and photos


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