Restorations, Uncategorized

Retouching Fills on a Dan Pipe Shape Reformed 18

I recently worked my way through the cleanup and restoration of a newly acquired pipe collection sent to me from a fellow Ontario, Canada pipe lover. The collection of Danish pipes represented a few different brands, but was heavily weighted in favour of Pipe Dan pieces. Not having worked on a Pipe Dan pipe for a while, I refreshed my memory with a quick look through, which offered this synopsis of the brand:

Brand created in 1943. The shop (Danish name: Pibe-Dan) which closed in 1991 was run by H. Dan Christensen. He sometimes designed pipes but he is merely renowned for having helped young artisans like Tom EltangPreben HolmJes Phillip VigenHans Hartmann… Pipe-Dan let the pipe maker stamp his own name on a pipe along with the shop’s name. The line name “Shape-Reformed” means that a traditional shape had been redesigned. Do not confused this brand with the German tobacconist Dan Pipe Cigar & Company (Hafenstrasse 30 D-21481 Lauenburg / Elbe) or with Pipe-Den US tobacco shop.

– from

With the origins of the pipe in hand, I turned to the pipe itself. This series of images shows the condition of the pipe on arrival at the shop. There were a few condition issues that would need sorting – a crust of carbon “lava” on the rim, a fair amount of oxidation on the Vulcanite stem, and a dirty, greasy feeling finish – but my eyes were immediately drawn to a number of factory fills that had turned a bright white against the reddish briar.

The pencil shank is stamped with “DAN” and “Shape Reformed” on the left flank and “Pipe Dan” over Copenhagen” and “18” over “12 9” on the left flank. I am assuming that “18” is the shape number, while “12 9” might represent a date code of some kind. If anyone can clarify, please comment below.

This post is going to focus on blending those bright fills into the surrounding briar, so I’m not going to distract you with the basic cleaning process. Suffice to say that the stummel was cleaned and sanitized inside and out, while the stem’s airway and slot were also cleaned. You’ll notice in the pics below that I left removing the oxidation from the exterior of the stem until the end of the project.

With the briar clean, I took a few close pics of the problem fills. They were smooth to the touch, not sunken like many old putty fills, but they shone practically iridescent against the darker wood.

With any restoration, I try to take the path of least resistance and use the least invasive techniques first. On that footing, I coloured each of the fills with a dark stain pen and topped them with some clear CA glue. This works a good portion of the time, but since these fills were level with the surrounding briar, the CA and the stain coat simply sanded off when I smoothed out the patches. I would need to take a more aggressive approach to tame these spots.

Arming myself with a slot file and a dental pick, I removed as much of the old fill material as I could without digging too deeply into the briar. A few small bits of white fill as still visible at the bottom of the indents, but those were soon covered by a layer of CA glue mixed with briar dust when I drop-filled the trouble spots.

I let the patches sit overnight to cure completely before filing and sanding them smooth. The colour of the fills was already much better, but as happens with CA glue, the new fills had cured with tiny micro-bubbles. When sanded smooth, these bubbles left tiny pits in the fills. Again I reached fore the stain pens and clear CA glue, first adding a dark brown colour to the patch, then filling the tiny pits with a top coat of clear CA glue.

I again left the stummel to rest overnight, then sanded the fills smooth again. This time the surface finish looked nice and smooth, so I moved on to refinishing the stummel. A base coat of black leather dye went onto the briar and was allowed to dry. I then removed as much black dye as I could, leaving the colour only in the more absorbent grain.

To restore the original red colour, I applied a top coat of Black Cherry leather dye and again let it dry completely before hand buffing the excess away with a soft towel.

To seal the colour coats and deepen the finish, I wiped the stummel with mineral oil, leaving it to sit for just a few minutes beofre again hand buffing away the excess.

I set the freshly oiled stummel aside for the evening to rest and find a new equilibrium before taking the entire pipe to the buffer for a good run on both the Red Tripoli and White Diamond wheels. Buffing the stummel brought out the lovely grain on this briar while also removing the oxidizes surface layer of the Vulcanite stem. When the stem was a deep black again, I gave the entire pipe a few coats of Carnauba wax to add shine and a layer of UV protection.

The finished pipe looks much better than it did just a few days earlier. The briar is now clean, fresh and free of carbon buildup, and the original stem looks good as new. Even better, the deeply distracting white fills have been toned down and pushed into the background where they belong.

This handsome Dan Shape Reformed pipe is ready to enjoy and has been returned to its new steward. May he enjoy it in good health for many years to come.

Thanks for joining me for this exercise in fill rehabilitation. I hope you enjoyed the journey.

Until next time, Happy Piping! Here’s the finished pipe.


1 thought on “Retouching Fills on a Dan Pipe Shape Reformed 18”

  1. What interesting background to these Pipe Dan pipes. I imagine it’s a one of kind then. Nice to bring them back to life. Someone is going to enjoy that.

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