New Life for a Dark “Malaga” Canadian

Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe in the queue is yet another pipe from the batch of pipes I am cleaning up for Alex – this one is another “Malaga” –a Canadian it is a stained version of the pipe and has some interesting grain around the oil cured bowl and shank. The classic Canadian shape is carved to highlight the grain around the bowl. The pipe is stamped on the top side of the shank. It reads “MALAGA”. On the underside it is stamped IMPORTED BRIAR. The tapered stem is vulcanite and has no marking or stamping. It is a nice looking piece much like many of the pipes Alex is picking up. The bowl had a light cake in the chamber and the rim top and edges were in rough condition. There were dents and nicks and some darkening on the rim top. The outer edges had nicks and there was a chip in the back side of the bowl. The exterior of the briar was dusty with grime and dust. The stem has a lot of tooth marks and some very deep dents in the surface of the stem and button.. The photos below tell the story and give a glimpse of the pipe before clean up. I took a photo of the bowl and rim to capture the condition of the pipe before I started my cleanup work. The bowl had a thin cake and the rim top significant damage to the top and edges of the bowl. The inner edge of the rim seemed to be slightly out of round and showed some burn damage. The outer edge had chips and dents and was rounded. The stem was a mess. There was some deep tooth marks on the stem and the button on both sides.I also took a photo of top side of the shank to show the stamping. The stamping is readable in the photo below and is as noted above – “MALAGA”. The stamping on the underside reads IMPORTED BRIAR very visible in the second photo below.For those of you who are unfamiliar with the brand, I am also including the link to a blog that I wrote that gives some of the history of the Malaga brand and the Malaga Pipe Shop in Royal Oak, Michigan in the USA. Here is the link – That blog also includes links to a catalogue and the history of the pipemaker George Khoubesser. If you are interested to learn more then I invite you to follow the link to get a feel for the brand and the pipemaker.

The bowl had a thin cake so I reamed it with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to get rid of remnants of cake. I finished by sanding the bowl with a dowel wrapped with 220 grit sandpaper until the inside of the bowl was smooth.I decided to address the damage to the rim top and edges first. I topped the bowl on a topping board using 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damaged portions of the rim surface.I filled in the damaged around rim and the bowl with clear super glue. The photos below show the extent of the damaged areas.When the repairs had cured I sanded the briar with a folded piece of 220 followed by 400 grit sandpaper. I used the sandpaper to blend the repairs into the surface of the briar and to smooth out the inner edge of the bowl at the same time.I scrubbed the bowl with a cotton pad and undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap. I rinsed the bowl under running water to wash off the soap and the grime that had been loosened. I cleaned up the inside of the shank and mortise with a dental spatula to remove the tar build up. I ran some cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol through the shank to remove the tars and oils. I also cleaned out the airway in the stem using pipe cleaners and alcohol. I polished the rim and the outside of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding debris. I started the process of matching the stain on the bowl to the repaired and sanded areas I had worked on. I used a Walnut and a Cherry stain to begin the match.I polished the bowl further, wet sanding it with 3200-4000 grit micromesh sanding pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. I wiped the bowl down with alcohol on a cotton pad to further blend the stain into the surrounding finish on the rest of the bowl and shank. I used Black stain pen to further blend the stain into the surface of the surrounding briar. I wiped it off with the alcohol dampened cotton pad. The photos below tell the story. I finished polishing the bowl and shank with 6000-12000 grit micromesh sanding pads and wiped the bowl and shank down after each pad with a damp cloth. The photos show the stain blend on the newly repaired areas. I am pretty happy with the results. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. I buffed the bowl with a microfiber cloth to polish the briar. I took photos of the pipe at this point to show what it looked like. With the bowl finished I set it aside and turned my attention to the stem. I filled in the deep tooth marks and rebuilt the surface of the button with clear super glue. Once the repair had cured I used a needle file to smooth out the repairs to the surface of the vulcanite. I sanded the repairs on the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper to blend the repairs into the surface of the stem. I am happy with the stem surface once that was done. I started the polishing of the surface with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down with a damp cloth after each pad. I further polished it with Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I wiped it down with a coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I put the pipe back together and polished both the bowl and the stem with Blue Diamond polish on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The oil cured finish and the grain came alive with the buffing. The grain really stands out against the dark finish providing a rich contrast. The finish on the briar works well with the polished black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is a well-proportioned, nicely grained Canadian. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 3/4 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 3/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 of an inch. This Malaga Canadian will be going back to Alex to add to his rack of Malaga pipes that are in his collection. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me on another of Alex’s Malaga collection.

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