February 20th is International Pipe Smoking Day! This is the perfect day for all pipers to be loud and proud about our pipe smoking hobby, so get out there and do your bit to support and encourage pipers everywhere!
As February 20th in Canada tends to be a little on the nippy side, I decided this year to do my pipe proselytizing by mail. The idea came to me when I bought a box of estate pipes last Fall. Sorting through the pipes after I got my purchase home, I found five sandblasted pipes without markings or logos of any kind, but that had all clearly come from the same maker’s hand. None were alike in shape or size, and after close examination, I concluded that this set of five pipes was most likely made by a home carver for his own use.
The glimmer of an idea. I come from a family of five boys, all now grown and spread across the country with families of our own. We try to get together once each summer, but it’s tricky to make it all work sometimes. Hmm. Five pipes, five brothers. Serendipity! I would recondition the pipes to make IPSD gift pipes for the unholy lot referred to by all that have ever met us as “The Boys”. I started the project by getting everything cleaned up. Each pipe was reamed and inspected for internal damage; remarkably, all five were in very good shape under the layer of cake. The exterior of the stummels was cleaned with Murphy’s Oil Soap and the internals with alcohol and pipe cleaners. The stems were soaked in Oxyclean and warm water, then given my usual scrub-down with Magic Eraser and 600-2000 grit wet sandpaper. I took a file to a few of the buttons to sharpen edges and adjusted the fit of several stems in their mortises. Then all five pipes were freshened up with a cotton ball and alcohol treatment.
I restained the pipes with Fiebing’s Saddle Tan and Black leather dyes to approximate a Shell Briar style finish, and buffed briar and stems with White Diamond compound before applying Carnauba wax to shine and protect.
Knowing none of my brothers would have pipe tobacco on hand, I packed up enough for a bowl or two to go with each of my starter sets. Then pipes and baccy, along with a “How to Pipe” instruction sheet and a personal note for each of The Boys, were packed securely, ready for distribution.
Two pipes were hand delivered locally, with the other two sent out by Canada Post. With any luck, they will arrive on time for IPSD this Saturday when I will raise a bowl in a salute to the remarkable gentlemen I call brothers. Cheers, Boys, and welcome to the larger fraternity of the Brothers of Briar!