Blog by Steve Laug
When this Mario Grande Olivewood Billiard came to my worktable it had a large hole in the topside of the stem. There was also a large chunk missing from the bottom side of the button. The rest of the stem was in pretty decent shape and the combination of olivewood and acrylic looked quite nice. This repair would take a while as I would need to layer the patch materials and build up the hole until it was a solid flat patch on the stem. Blending it in with the black of the acrylic would also be a challenge as no two blacks are identical but this would be an interesting repair. The rebuilding of the button would also require careful application of the patch and a reshaping of the slot once it cured.
I greased two pipe cleaners with Vaseline petroleum jelly so that when I put the patch in place it would not stick to the pipe cleaners. I wiped down the surface of the stem with alcohol on a cotton pad to clean it before I put the pipe cleaners in place. I inserted one from the tenon end and one from the button end as the hole was larger in width than one pipe cleaner. I wiped away the excess Vaseline that squeezed out of the hole with a damp alcohol pad to make sure the surface was clean and the patch would stick.
I mixed one capsule of finely ground charcoal powder (I get this at a pharmacy where it is sold as a digestive) with some black super glue (cyanoacrylate glue). I mixed them together until I had some thick paste that could be applied to the hole. I have found that the combination of the two hardens and makes a secure patch. I applied it to the hole in the stem with a dental pick making sure that I pushed the glue into the hole and against the pipe cleaners. I did not want it to be just a surface repair but one that bonded to the edges of the hole. I did not use the accelerant on this repair as I find that when I spray it on the glue it leaves air bubbles and I have to sand and repeat the repair. When it was dry at the surface, I removed the pipe cleaner carefully from the airway and then turned the stem on end and rebuilt the area where the button was damaged and missing a piece of acrylic. I applied the glue mix with the dental pick and pressed it into place in the missing area. I also build up the edge of the button where it was missing. This was a bit tricky in that I did not want to close the airway.
I set the stem aside to cure for two days before I began the sanding of the patch and the shaping of the button. When I picked up the stem to begin sanding I took the following photos of the hardened glue.
Once I had filed the excess flat I went back to sanding with 220 grit sandpaper. I sanded the stem flat and then used medium and fine grit sanding sponges to clean up the scratches. There were still small air holes in the patch that needed to be addressed. I applied some more black super glue not mixed with charcoal to fill in the air holes in the patch. Once the patch dried I sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper, a medium and a fine grit sanding sponge and then moved on to sanding with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanded with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I paused between sanding and wiped off the dust to check the small air holes.
Once I finished with the micromesh pads I buffed the stem and bowl with Blue Diamond to polish and give it a shine. I gave it multiple coats of carnauba wax and then buffed it with a clean flannel buff to raise the shine to another level. The finished pipe and stem are shown in the photos below.