A Stately Stanwell Handmade Canadian of Denmark Comes Back to Life

I acquired this attractive Stanwell Handmade Canadian from a seller in Kallithea, Greece, just south of Athens.  The final bid was sufficient and the Canadian made its way to Sofia, Bulgaria, where we were living, and it joined other pipes in the ‘For “Pipe Dreamers” ONLY!’ where pipe men and women can commission pipes that whisper their names benefiting the Daughers of Bulgaria – helping women and girls who have been trafficked and sexually exploited.  Pipe man Darren, of Pennsylvania, and a member of the Chester County Cigar Club – Holy Smokes that meets in Landenberg, PA., saw the Stanwell and added this pipe to the others he had commissioned.  Here are pictures of the Canadian on the worktable. The nomenclature is stamped on the upper side of the Canadian oval stem.  From larger to smaller and larger lettering again is stamped, STANWELL [over] HANDMADE [over] DENMARK, the COM.  The Stanwell shape number is 56 which is a Canadian shape with an oval stem.  The dimensions of the Stanwell on the worktable are Length: 5 5/8 inches, Height: 1 3/4, Rim width: 1 3/16 inches, Chamber width: 3/4 inches, and Chamber depth: 1 9/16.Pipedia’s article describing the history of the Stanwell name is worth reading (see: Pipedia Stanwell) and since the closing of Stanwell’s pipe factory in Burup, Denmark, transferring production to Italy, my sense is that Stanwell pipes stamped with Denmark, will increase in collectability as time goes on.  Here is the announcement in the Pipedia article:

In the fall of 2009, we heard the announcement that the Stanwell pipe-factory in Borup, Denmark, would close its doors at the end of that year due to poor returns and financial losses. Indeed, a sad message, especially as Stanwell was the only remaining pipe-factory in Scandinavia. However, it did not mean that the Stanwell-pipe was dead but the owner, Scandinavian Tobacco Group (STG), had decided to move the production to Italy. So, beginning in 2010, all Stanwell pipes are made there.
Of course we did not want this to happen, but we have to accept it, and hopefully the high quality of the pipes Stanwell makes will remain in the future. And most important of all–the cooperation with Danish pipe makers to create new shapes will continue. Due to that cooperation Stanwell has played an important role in the development of Scandinavian pipe-making, and it is a comfort to know that it has not come to an end. Scandinavian Pipe makers, Jan Anderson, 2012, page 15

Pipephil.eu adds this bit of information about the Stanwell transition of pipe production to Italy:

Brand & factory were established in 1942 by Poul Nielsen. The company has been owned since 2000 by Nordisk Tobaks Kompagni A/S.  The factory in Borup crafted all Stanwell pipes from 1965 until 2009. From 2010 on the pipes are crafted by Barontini (Italy) exept for the limited editions.

It is likely that the Handmade line originated in or before the 1960s and 70s because there are several catalogs with pictures of Handmades listed and specifically the Canadian shape number 56 (See: Link).  I enjoy reading dated catalogs describing the virtues of the Stanwell crafted pipes and the shapes listed.The catalog provides a picture of the various Handmade examples in the actual size and available in smooth and sandblasted finishes. The Stanwell Handmade on the worktable is an attractive Canadian shape which I like a lot.  The shank is oval which adds stylistically to me.  The bowl and long shank are generally in good condition.  The chamber has light cake, and the rim is in good shape – only minor darkened discoloration.  The stummel doesn’t appear to have any fills and simply needs cleaning. The stem’s Stanwell logo is thinning and the stem has deep oxidation and both upper and lower bit has deep bite compressions.  The upper and lower button also has compressions. It appears from the damage that the former steward liked to chew on this guy hands free ☹.  There’s little doubt that this pipe was in the primary rotation.The restoration begins with cleaning the stem airway with 1 pipe cleaner moistened with isopropyl 99%.Next, to deal with the heavy oxidation in the vulcanite stem, the stem is placed in Briarville’s Pipe Stem Oxidation remover for several hours.After the time is sufficient, the stem is fished out of the Oxidation Remover which was no small feat, and the surface is rubbed briskly with a cotton cloth to remove the raised oxidation.  The Oxidation Remover did a great job raising the oxidation.  Another pipe cleaner wetted with isopropyl 99% is run through the airway to clear out the Oxidation Remover.To condition the vulcanite stem, paraffin oil is applied to the stem and put aside for the oil to be absorbed.The chamber has barely any cake build up and the rim has minor discoloration from lighting practices on the rear of the rim.I run through the reaming process with two blades, scraping with the Savinelli Fitsall Tool, and sanding the chamber with 240 paper wrapped around a Sharpie Pen, and as I said above, very little carbon was to be removed.The chamber after cleaning looks good.Next, switching to the cleaning of the external briar surface, a starting picture is taken.Using undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap, the Canadian stummel is cleaned with a cotton pad.  The burn marks on the rim were a little stubborn.  A pocketknife was carefully used to scrape the thin lava crusting and this was followed by scrubbing with a brass brush which does not damage the briar but adds some cleaning leverage.The stummel was next taken to the sink where hot water and liquid anti-oil dish washing soap were used with shank brushes to clean the internal mortise and airway.  After scrubbing, the stummel was thoroughly rinsed and brought back to the worktable.Next, the internal cleaning is continued with pipe cleaners and cotton buds wetted with isopropyl 99%.  It doesn’t happen often, but the internals take very little effort to clean.  This Stanwell Handmade Canadian was well maintained by his former steward.With the general cleaning completed, a general survey of the stummel reveals beautiful briar – oh my!   The rim cleaned up well.The grain on the stummel is distinctive and expressive.  I see no fills after the cleaning.The only thing that catches my eye is a dark spot on the upper side of the oval shank that remained through the cleaning.  I’ll keep my eye on it through the sanding process, but it appears to be a darkened area in the briar. The briar is in good condition and to simply clean minor nicks and scratches, the two finest sanding sponges are used – medium and fine grades. Next, the full set of 9 micromesh are used to sand/polish the stummel.  Starting with wet sanding, pads 1500 to 2400 are used.  Next, the stummel is dry sanded with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  The grain has emerged very nicely through the micromesh process. The finish on this Stanwell Handmade is phenomenal.  To bring out the natural briar hues even more, Mark Hoover’s Restoration Balm (www.Lbepen.com) is used.  Putting some Balm on my fingers, the Balm is worked into to briar until the briar surface is fully covered.  The stummel is then put to the side for about 15 minutes to allow the Balm to do the job.After the 15 minutes is done, the stummel is wiped/buffed with a balm dedicated microfiber cloth to remove the excess Balm and to buff up the shine.  The Balm does a great job! The stummel goes to the side and the stem returns to the worktable.The condition of the stem is proof positive that this Canadian was well loved by the former steward.  The stem has been chewed and it’s apparent that the Canadian was in service a lot.  The black vulcanite is difficult to picture and to see the contrast and contours of the bite compressions on the bit and button lip.  First looking at the upper bit and button, the compression is deep, and the right side of the button is gone which is difficult to make out in the picture.  The tooth chatter is significant as well. This view better shows the right-side collapse of the button.  This will take a bit of effort to rebuild.The lower bit shows a compression that has a deep pit in the bit and right side of the button lip is dented in because of it. Again, the chatter is significant on the underside. Since the damage is extensive, it will require practically a rebuild of the upper button and to fill the deep compressions.  To do the patch work, instead of using black CA glue, I’ll use regular clear CA glue mixed with activated charcoal.  I believe this patch material will be better with such a large area.  To begin, a piece of index card stock paper is fashioned to insert into the slot.  This is to guard the airway from the patch material.  Scotch tape also covers the wedge.Next, a film of petroleum jelly is placed on the wedge as well which helps the wedge from sticking to the patch material.A small amount of activated charcoal dust is placed on the scotch tape covered plastic disk.  This helps in the cleanup.  Next to the mound of charcoal dust is placed some regular CA glue.Using a toothpick, charcoal dust is pulled into the glue and mixed.  Pulling charcoal dust into the mixture continues slowly until the mixture is about the consistency of molasses. At this point, the charcoal mixture is troweled onto the compression and button on the upper side to rebuild.  The patch is sprayed with an accelerator to quicken the curing process to keep the patch in place.The same is done on the lower side.  After the patches have been applied, the stem is put aside to allow the patches to fully cure.With the stem on the side through the night, the decision to multitask and continue the internal cleaning of the stummel is a good idea.  To continue the cleaning, 2 cotton balls are used along with isopropyl 99% alcohol to soak the internals.  The soak helps to draw out more tars and oils from the briar and to refresh the bowl. One of the cotton balls is stretched and twisted to act as a wick and is guided down the airway with the help of a stiff wire.  The other cotton ball fills the chamber.Next, the stummel is situated in the egg crate so that the rim and the end of the shank are level.  Then using a large eye dropper, isopropyl 99% is used to fill the chamber until it surfaces over the cotton.After a few minutes, the alcohol is absorbed into the pipe and more alcohol is used to top off.  The stummel is then put aside and the lights go out.The next morning the soiled cotton shows that the soak did the job by further drawing out the tars and oils.Just to make sure all was clean, another pipe cleaner and a few cotton buds confirmed the cleaning.  Moving on!The patches on the bit and button cured through the night and the wedge came out with no problem.My approach for filing the patch is to start on the slot facing to flatten it to define the end of the stem.Next, the flat needle file starts on the upper bit to define the button lip as it files down the patch over the bit and compression patch.A square needle file is also helpful to further define the button and file down the patch.Next, the button is shaped with the flat needle file. The filing is completed on the upper bit and button.The same process is used to file and shape the bit and button on the lower side.With the filing completed, next 240 sanding paper is used to continue to shape and smooth the patches on the upper and lower.To smooth the vulcanite and address any residual oxidation, the sanding is expanded to the entire stem with the 240 paper.Next, the stem is wet sanded using 600 grade paper and then 0000 grade steel wool is applied.  At this point in the sanding process, it is easier to examine the patches and to see problems.  As often is the case, large patches show air bubbles that are caught in the patch material and then when sanded, are exposed as pits.  The upper patching, on the bit and the button, are more significant.  The lower needs the compression to be touched up.Starting with the lower, a small drop of black CA glue is used to touch up the smaller compression left on the bit.After the lower patch sets up, the stem is flipped and hoisted on a toothpick to keep the lower patch clear of the mat.  Black CA glue is again spread over the bit patch and over the button lip.After the glue has cured, the process of removing the patch mound is repeated by filing, sanding with 240 then 600 paper, then applying 0000 grade steel wool.  The results are good.  The button rebuild and the patches are practically invisible.  I move on!The next step in the sanding/polishing of the Stanwell Canadian stem is to apply micromesh pads to the surface.  Starting with wet sanding, pads 1500 to 2400 are used.  This is followed by dry sanding with pads 3200 to 4000 and 6000 to 12000.  To guard against oxidation and to condition the vulcanite, between each set of 3 pads Obsidian Oil is applied.  That newly polished vulcanite pop emerges through the cycles.  Nice! From the micromesh pads, Blue Diamond compound, a fine abrasive, is next applied.  With the Stanwell stem and stummel reunited, a cotton cloth buffing wheel dedicated to the application of the compound, is mounted on the rotary tool. After setting the speed on the rotary tool to about 40% full power, the compound is applied.After application of the compound is complete, the pipe is buffed with a felt cloth.  This is done to remove the fine compound dust hanging on to the briar surface in preparation for applying the wax.One project is left before the wax is applied.  To refresh the Stanwell stem logo which acrylic paint is applied to the logo.  The logo is a bit thin on the right side and we’ll see how well the paint adheres to the fine imprints of the logo.A drop of paint is spread over the logo.Next, a cotton pad is used to daub the wet paint to thin it and to quicken the drying.Next, a toothpick is used to gently scrape the excess paint from the logo.  The is done by using the flat edge of the toothpick over the logo.  The result below took several tries before the paint stayed in the logo imprint for the most part. I’m not 100% happy with the results but it’s what I can do.  Moving on.After another cotton cloth buffing wheel is mounted onto the rotary tool, carnauba wax is applied to the stem and stummel.  After the entire pipe is covered, the pipe is given a rigorous hand buffing with a microfiber cloth to remove excess wax and to raise the shine.This Danish made Stanwell Handmade is an example of the elegant Canadian shape.  Canadians are appreciated for the long lines and briar landscaped enhanced by the lengthened shank.  The grain patterns on this Stanwell are beautiful with much to survey while the ample bowl is packed with one’s favorite blend.  As the commissioner of this Stanwell, Darren will have the first opportunity to claim him from The Pipe Steward Store benefiting the Daughters of Bulgaria. Lest we forget how far we’ve come, a ‘before and after’ comparison follows.  Thanks for joining me!

4 thoughts on “A Stately Stanwell Handmade Canadian of Denmark Comes Back to Life

  1. tabunah

    Dal, what an amazing restoration! The grain is resplendent and to see what appeared as birdseye along the rim was a particular pleasure. Thank you for sharing your love for pipes, and as well as your extraordinary skill for restoring to full use what others thought damaged!

    Liked by 1 person

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