Redoing Old Tefillin Battim Can Often Yield Very Satisfying Results.
In this section we will explore what can and what cannot be done with battim that are in need of repair, and battim that look very old and worn out.
Tefillin Battim Redo Pricing:
The typical cost of a tefillin redo is $185. This price only covers the work on the battim. If the parshios are to be checked add $75. For a computer scan of the parshios add $40. For new retzuous, see the retzuous page. For new plastic tefillin boxes (an option most people will choose) add $15. In some cases the redo may cost more, as in the case described below which cost $235 for the battim work alone because the grove for the stitching was not straight. It rarely costs more than this for the battim work, because at a certain point, it just makes sense to buy new battim.
Tefillin Battim Redos
A tefillin redo is the process of removing all of the finish from a set of battim, sanding them down, and refinishing them. When all goes well, they can look so stunning it is hard to belive that they are old. This is one of the side benefits of gassos battim: they are thick enough to sand down without making holes in them. Whenever I start a redo I always have high hopes, but the truth is that not every redo that I start will actually be completed. I won’t really know if a set of battim can be made to look like new until all the paint is removed and we see if there are any underlying problems that affect the overall kashrus of the battim. In the pictures below you can see a set of battim that a customer brought me to start the process of a redo. His goal was to give his son the tefillin that his father used while he was alive. Many people come to me with this goal in mind, but at the same time, they want to present their son with a set of tefillin that not only helps them connect with their past, but also have a nice appearance. Nice looking tefillin are important, as part of every mitzvah is that the objects that we take for their performance should be nice (this is a halacha that you can read more about in my guide Hiddur Mitzvah and the Purchase of Tefillin and Mezuzos). Perhaps equally important is that we want our children to feel good about their tefillin. If they see their friends with beautiful tefillin and their own tefillin look like the ones pictured below, they may not relate to connection with their past in the same way that an adult does. A tefillin redo is a way to fulfill both objectives. We can make an old set of tefillin look new and respectable, and at the same time maintain the connection with our past.
Lets take a look at a real set of tefillin that a customer brought me to redo. As you can see, they are looking pretty shabby. Lets follow the process and see how far we can get with these battim.
If you look at the bottom two pictures you will see that the inside of the battim are uneven and disorganized, with a notch missing on the wall of the compartment on the left side. There is not much we will be able to do about the inside. Neat, even compartments is better in halacha, and better practically, as it is easier to put the parshios in and not put stress on them. Notice the difference in the new set of Starek Battim in the bottom picture.
Here is what we found after we took the paint off:
Now lets take a look at the results:
What you see now are tefillin that more or less look new. In this case since the owner wanted to use as much as possible from the old set, the old retzuous have been reused. When we change the retzuous, most people would think that it is a new set of tefillin.