Finishing a pipe is sometimes as laborious a process as the rest of creating it! Sanding to a smooth shine is a big part of it, as the better a natural sheen to the wood, the better it will hold its gloss from waxing and polishing later. I use sandpaper from 80 grit to 8000 grit, as well as fine grade steel wool, and do most of my compounding and polishing on the buffing station pictured (See here for a step-by-step pictorial of how to build such a workstation).

The amount of work depends on what finish I'm after. Some pipes are simply stained, others have a multi-stage staining applied to really highlight the grain, and others still are left completely bare. The latter finish is the simplest in terms of labor, but aso the rarest, since pipes that are flawless enough to leave natural are few and far between. I use water, oil, and alcohol-soluble aniline dyes, grain darkening agents, some extremely old & natural wood staining treatments, and even colorings made from tobacco leaves to stain my pipes, depending on the end color desired.

If the pipe is going to be stained, there's quite a process involved. I will generally stain in repeating stages, where one dark understain will be applied, sanded and buffed, and then another applied over it. Eventually I'll finish with the surface color, which is chosen to look its best with the various tints of under-colors showing through it. The pipe will then be waxed and stamped with its year of creation, its grade, any special stampings, and finally the Talbert Pipes logo. Collectors take note - Following our return to the USA in 2009, we have returned to using our original Talbert Pipes logo stamp in place of the Talbert Briar stamp used while we were in Brittany. In future, this should make it very easy to differentiate our US-made and French-made pipes on the collector market.