Blog by Steve Laug
Sometimes the repetitive work on similar pipes and stems gets tiring to me and to alleviate the inevitable boredom I change things up a bit to refresh me. I have a box of stummels (bowls) here that I periodically go through and see if I have a potential stem that would fit them. Yesterday when I finished the old timer on my work I went through the box and picked out three bowls and found workable stems for them. All were in different states of need but all had been thoroughly cleaned before I boxed them up. The first restemmed and restored was a ZETTERVIG Copenhagen Handmade 900 Egg (https://rebornpipes.com/2021/09/04/restemming-restoring-a-zettervig-copenhagen-hand-made-900-egg/). The next one I chose to work on is a lovely Malaga Lovat stummel. I have worked on a lot of Malaga pipes in the past so I am not a stranger to the brand. I have included the link below to a bit of history on the brand that I compiled.
The bowl looked very good. The grain around the sides was quite nice and a mix of flame and birdseye grain. The rim top had some burn damage on the rear top and inner edge and some darkening all the way around. The bowl was slightly out of round. There was a crack in the underside of the shank that extended about ½ inch up the shank. The interior of the bowl was clean and there were not any chips, cracks or checking on the walls. Examining the mortise it was clean and well drilled with no issues other than the previously noted crack. The finish was washed out and bit and tired but still quite redeemable. The stamping on the pipe was clear and readable. On the left side it read “MALAGA” and on the right side it read IMPORTED BRIAR. I took some photos of the bowl before I started to work on it. I took a photo of the stamping on the sides of the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable.I went through some of stems and found this saddle style stem without a tenon. It had been drilled for a tenon but it had never been finished. It was the right diameter and it fit the shank and the look of the pipe very well. It has a few tooth marks and chatter near the button but it would clean up well.I have worked on quite a few Malaga pipes and blogged their restorations, so rather than repeat previous blogs, I am including the link to one that gives some of the history of the Malaga brand and the Malaga Pipe Shop in Royal Oak, Michigan in the USA from a catalogue. It gives a sense of the brand and the history in their own words. Follow the link to get a feel for the brand and the pipemaker – https://rebornpipes.com/2013/02/09/george-khoubesser-and-malaga-pipes/.
With that information in hand I turned to work on the bowl. I addressed the crack in the shank first. I cleaned it and smoothed it out. I used an awl and pressed a small hole in the shank at the end of the crack. I filled in the crack with clear CA glue and pressed it together until it cured. I pressed a brass band onto the end of the shank to further address the crack. It serves that function and also gives it a bit of bling. With that repaired I turned to deal with the rim top issues. I topped the bowl on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out and minimize the damage on the rim top. I used a small wooden ball that Kenneth gave me recently to give the inner edge a bevel to minimize the burn on the inner edge and bring the bowl back to round.I shortened the tenon to fit the shank of the pipe. I used the Dremel and sanding drum to remove the shoulder at the top of the tenon above the threads. I shaped the tenon fit with a small file and sanded it smooth. I glued the threaded end of the tenon with clear CA glue and pressed it into the stem. It cures quickly so it is key to move quickly and set it well as you only get one chance! I put the stem in shank for a sense of the look of the pipe and then wiped the bowl down with alcohol on a cotton pad to remove the debris from the sanding and that was still in the surface of the briar. I liked what I saw. The grain was really quite nice and the band and new stem worked well with the pipe. I removed the stem and polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping it down with a damp cloth after each pad. It really began to shine. I stained the rim top and edges with a Maple stain pen to match the rest of the stain around the bowl sides. The rim top and inner edge look very good.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the smooth briar with my finger tips. The product is amazing and works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let it sit on the briar for 10 or more minutes and then buff it off with a soft cloth. It really makes the grain sing. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I “painted” the stem surface with a Bic lighter flame to raise the tooth marks. I was able to lift all of them to the surface. I smoothed out what remained with 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a cloth and Obsidian Oil. I finished the polishing with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. I put the pipe back together – the bowl with its new stem. This restored “Malaga” Imported Briar Oil Cured Lovat is a real beauty and I think the brass band and the chosen stem works well with it. The grain on the bowl came alive with the buffing. I used Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel on both the bowl and stem. I gave both multiple coats of carnauba wax on the wheel then buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfibre cloth to deepen the shine. The “Malaga” Lovat feels great in the hand. It is lightweight and the contrast in the browns of the briar, the brass of the band and the polished vulcanite stem with the popping grain on the mixed brown stained bowl is quite amazing. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outer diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.34 ounces/38 grams. It really is a beauty. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store in the American (US) Pipe Makers section shortly if you are interested in adding it to your collection. Thanks for walking through the restemming and the restoration with me. Cheers.