I took on this project to demonstrate how I use black superglue to repair deep bit marks/bite throughs on vulcanite stems. I had this old Grabow stummel in my box and I found a stem that looked good on the bowl. The bowl had a small hairline crack in the shank so I pressure fit a band on it for a repair. The bowl needed to be topped so I did that after banding. I restained the top to match the bowl colour. I used a dark brown aniline stain that I mixed with isopropyl alcohol until I got the match I was looking for. I stained and flamed the rim to set the stain. The stem was in pretty rough shape but I decided to use it anyway and take it on as a project. The button was almost gone from the deep bite marks. There were three bite marks on the underside of the stem near the button and on bite mark on the top of the stem. I decided to use the boiling water trick to try to raise the dents as much as possible. These were deep bite marks and the edges were rough so my guess was that they would not come up to the surface with the heat. I then sanded the surface of the stem with medium grit emery paper to remove the surface marks and dents and then smooth out the area of the deep bite marks. I work to have a semi rough surface for the superglue to bond with so I am not sanding it smooth as much as working it over to make it clean. The next three photos show the state of the stem after I had sanded it and readied for patching.
Once I had sanded the surface smooth I used my needle files to recut the sharp edge of the button and rework the flow and angles of the button. I also used the needle files to carve the surface of the stem and provide a gentle slope to the new button area. I have found that often when recutting the button and defining its shape it is easy to cut a trough and make a hump in front of the newly shaped button so I always start about half way up the stem and use the file to change the taper to flow to the edge of the button. This served the dual purpose of removing high spots on the bite marks and to help identify the actual holes that would need to be patched. The next two photos show the file work on the stem.
Once I had the slope correct and the button shaped I put the stem in the ebony block I had drilled with a mortise to allow me to sand the rest of the stem without rounding the shoulders of the stem. I wanted the stem shank junction to be smooth and well fit. I also wanted the oxidation removed from the stem before I patched it with the superglue. I did not want the oxidation to remain in the holes that I would patch or on the surface of the stem. I sanded it down and removed the oxidation. I spent extra time around the bite marks. I also picked out any loose debris in the marks with a dental pick and then wiped it down with alcohol to remove the dust and provide a clean surface for my patch work.
The next series of three photos show the patch in place. I use black superglue that I pick up from Stewart-Macdonald http://www.stewmac.com/shop/Glues,_adhesives/Stewart-MacDonald_Super_Glues.html I have found that it really works well. I drip it on the cleaned hole and make a bubble of superglue. This particular glue dries slowly so I do one side of the stem at a time. I let it dry for over an hour before turning it over and doing the same thing on the other side of the stem. Once I have made the patch I set the stem aside to dry overnight. I do not want to touch it or sand it until it has had that time to cure and become hard. I have tried sanding sooner but always end up patching the holes a second time because of my impatience.
Once the glue has cured and is hard it forms a small bubble of black on the surface of the stem. I sand the bubble flat to the surface and taper of the stem. I use a 320 grit sandpaper to accomplish this sanding. At this point in the process I am not looking for shininess or polish I am only trying to blend the patch into the surface of the stem. The next five photos show the process of sanding down the bubble and the look of the resulting patch on the stem. The tooth marks are gone and in their place is a black patch that with a bit more polishing and sanding with micromesh will blend into the stem well and give a new polished look and comfortable feel to the stem.
The underside of the stem. Notice the patch near the button after sanding with 320 grit sandpaper. The patch on the underside is larger than the one on top but it not as deep.
The bubble of black superglue on the top of the stem. The white dust on the stem is not a problem as the bubble is dry at this point and ready to sand.
The top side of the stem after the initial sanding of the bubble. It is almost smooth and needs to be wet sanded with the micromesh sanding pads.
Top side of the stem after the patch has been wet sanded with 1800 grit micromesh sanding pads.
The top side of the stem after the patch has been wet sanded with 1800 grit micromesh sanding pads. There are still scratches that remain in the stem on both the top and the bottom that more sanding will remove. The patch will also blend in better as the stem itself begins to shine.
The next series of photos show the stem as I sand it with the various grits of micromesh sanding pads. Between the 2400 and the 3200 grit sanding pad I scrubbed the stem with Maguiar’s Scratch X2.0 to polish out some of the remaining scratches.
The top side of the stem after wet sanding with 1800 grit micromesh sanding pads.
The underside of the stem after wet sanding with 1800 grit micromesh pads.
The top side of the stem after wet sanding with 2400 grit micromesh pads. The patch is beginning to be harder to see on the surface of the stem.
The underside of the stem after wet sanding with 2400 grit micromesh pads.
The top side of the stem after I polished it with the Maguiar’s Scratch x2.0. The patch is blending in very well on the top side. If you did not know where it was it would be hard to see.
The underside of the stem after polishing with the Maguiar’s. The patch is also beginning to blend in very well on this side of the stem as well.
The top side of the stem after I had dry sanded it with the 3200 grit micromesh pads.
The underside of the stem after dry sanding with the 3200 grit micromesh pads.
Topside of the stem after sanding with 3600 and 4000 grit micromesh pads. The patch is virtually hidden to the camera at this point as the stem begins to shine.
Underside of the stem after sanding with 3600, 4000 grit micromesh pads.
Top side of the stem after sanding with 6000, 8000 and 12,000 grit micromesh pads.
The underside of the stem after sanding with 6000, 8000 and 12,000 grit micromesh.
The next series of four photos show the finished pipe after buffing with carnauba wax and a soft flannel buff to give it a shine. The pipe is restemmed, repaired and ready for it next smoke.