Tag Archives: Malaga Pot

Restemming & Restoring a Malaga Mixed Finish Pot  


Blog by Steve Laug

This morning I went through my box of stummels (bowls) here and picked out a Pot shaped bowl that had some promise to me. I went through my can of stems and found an oval shaped stem with the casting marks on the sides and button end. The pipe I chose to work on is an interesting Malaga Pot with a mixture of rusticated portions and smooth portions on the bowl and shank sides. 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 was rusticated as were some patches on the front, the sides and the bottom of the shank. The inner edge of the bowl showed some wear. There was a hairline crack on the underside of the shank that extended about ¼ 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 there was a snapped off tenon in the shank. It was crumbling and would need to be pulled. The finish was washed out and bit and tired but still quite redeemable. The stamping on the pipe was clear and readable. On the topside it read MALAGA and no other stamping was on the shank. I took some photos of the bowl before I started to work on it. I took a photo of the stamping on the topside of the shank. It reads as noted above and is clear and readable. I went through some of stems and found an oval vulcanite stem blank. It was the right diameter and once I turned the tenon it would fit the shank. It has casting marks on the sides and on the button end. I also found a unique sterling silver band that fit the shank. It was shaped like a belt and buckle and would look very good.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. There was a broken off tenon in the shank. I tried to pull it with a screw and then moved on to drill it out. I started with a bit a little larger than the tenon in the airway and worked my way up to the size of the shank. When I removed the bit the pieces of tenon fell out on the table top. With the mortise clean I was ready to move on to the next part of the clean up.I cleaned up the rustication on the rim top with a brass bristle wire brush to remove the debris in the rustication. It cleaned up well. I used a Black Sharpie Pen to restain the rustication on the rim top and the sides of the bowl. I rubbed the bowl and shank down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the bowl sides and shank with my fingertips and a horsehair shoe brush to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 10 minutes then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The grain really came alive. It looks better than when I began. The crack on the underside of the shank was a mere hairline what was not long or wide so it would be an easy repair with a bit of glue and a band. I painted the shank end with some all-purpose white glue. I spread it with a dental spatula and pressed the band in place on the shank.I polished the Sterling Silver belt band with some silver polish and a jeweler’s cloth. I was able to remove the tarnish and the band looked very good. I took pictures of the banded shank to show the look of it. Notice that the belt buckle is on the top and the A of the Malaga is perfectly framed on the right side by the buckle. With the bowl finished it was time to focus on the stem. I took out the stem and the Pimo tenon turning tool and set up the tool in my cordless drill. I put the guiding pin in the airway on the stem and adjusted the cutting head. I held the stem in place and carefully turned the tool on the tenon. I used a flat file to smooth out the tenon to fit in the shank. I put the stem in shank for a sense of the look of the pipe. The stem fit well and it looked like it belonged. I sanded the castings off the edges of the stem and the button with 220 grit sandpaper before I took the photo.I removed the stem and worked on it next. I smoothed out remnants of the castings and the scratches in the surface of the vulcanite with 220 grit sandpaper. I 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 Oil Cured Pot with rusticated panels is a real beauty and I think the Sterling Silver Belt 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 Pot feels great in the hand. It is lightweight and the contrast in the browns of the briar, the Silver 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 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: 1 inch. The weight of the pipe is 1.59 ounces/45 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.

Getting Rid of a Foul Smell in a third pipe – a Malaga Pot


Blog by Steve Laug

I have a box of some 25 pipes that I am working through for a friend here in Vancouver. The next group of four pipes that I am working on came to me in a sour, stinky condition. Alex had smoked them and found that as he smoked them each one became fouler. From my experience this happens when a pipe has not been thoroughly cleaned in the process of restoration. Sometimes even if it has been cleaned, the first few smokes draw out a foul taste and in this case an odor that made me put the four pipes in a zip lock bad to keep the odor contained. They really stunk! On Sunday evening I decided to give the foursome a cotton ball and alcohol treatment to draw out the oils and tars in the briar. I pushed cotton balls into the bowl and a folded pipe cleaner in the shank and used an ear syringe to fill the bowl with isopropyl alcohol. I set the pipes aside to let the alcohol do its work overnight. I know many of you use kosher salt and alcohol and that certainly is your choice. For me however the cotton balls work just as effectively in providing a medium for the foul juices drawn out of a pipe to be deposited. They are also easier to clean up and they do not leave residual salts in the briar. In the morning I took a photo of the finished work. You can see the effectiveness of the treatment.I took the cotton out of the bowls of the pipes and wiped the bowl down with pipe cleaners and cotton swabs to dry them out. The pipe I decided to work on is the beautifully grained straight pot, the third pipe from the right in the photo above. It is stamped on the left side of the shank “MALAGA” and on the right side of the shank is stamped Imported Briar. Alex has grown to love Malaga pipes and continues to pick them up on eBay and other places on his journey. It was another pipe that the seller said was clean but after several smokes Alex deemed it unsmokable. It was now up to me to figure out what was going on. I examined the pipe when I took out the cotton balls and alcohol and I learned a few things about it that would need to be addressed. The rim top and inner and outer edges of the rim were in rough condition. It looked like the pipe had been used for a hammer. The finish was spotty with nicks and marks. The bowl had some cake inside and it too would need to be reamed out. The stem was the best of the lot. It was clean and was free of tooth marks or chatter. I wondered what the airway was like but that is an easy clean up. I took some photos of the pipe at this point. I took a close up photo of the bowl and rim to capture the damage to the rim top and light cake in the bowl. The rim top was in bad condition with nicks and cuts. The inner and outer edges were rough. The bowl was out of round. It needed some more work to clean it up but at least the cotton ball alcohol treatment had rid the pipe of the rank smell. The stem was in the best condition of the four pipes. It did not have tooth chatter or marks and was not oxidized.I took a photo to capture the stamping on the right and left side of the shank. The first photo shows “MALAGA” on the left side of the shank. The second photo shows the stamping on the right side it reads Imported Briar. The stamping on this pipe is readable.Now that the stink was gone I did not even think of cleaning the shank and airway I just immediately went to the most irritating part of this pipe – the beat up rim top and edges. I topped it on a topping board with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the damage to the rimtop and to try to minimize the damage to the inner and outer edges. The rim top looked significantly better as can be seen in the second photo below. I cleaned up the outer edge with some sandpaper and wiped it down. I filled in the deep nicks in the edge with briar dust and super glue.I sanded the edge repairs with 220 grit sandpaper to blend them into the surface of the briar. I would polish out the scratches later but for now the edge was at least smooth. Once the outer edge was cleaned up I worked on the inner edge. I used a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper and smoothed out the edge. I gave the edge a slight bevel to take care of the rim damage and darkening that was present.I polished the rim top and the rest of the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I used the wet sanding on the first three pads to give me the traction to remove the scratches in the briar and the dry sanding to polish the briar. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth. At this point in the process the finish looked very uneven to me – even spotty. I decided to wipe down the bowl and shank with isopropyl alcohol to remove the uneven finish. I was able to even out the look of the finish to a point where I was happy with the look.  I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the bowl and shank 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. The following photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. The bowl and the rim top look really good and the damage is gone. I am very happy with the results. It was at this point that I realized that I had not reamed the bowl or done any cleaning of the internals after the cotton ball and alcohol treatment. I had been so intent on cleaning up the damaged rim that I totally skipped my normal pattern of work. So I went back to ream the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I sanded the inside of the bowl with a piece of dowel wrapped with 220 grit sandpaper to remove all remnants of the cake. When I was finished the bowl walls were smooth and clean.I cleaned out the airway in the shank and stem with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and isopropyl alcohol. I cleaned out the mortise in the shank with cotton swabs and alcohol until the mortise walls were clean and looked bare. I stopped and checked out the smell of the pipe and it was clean and fresh smelling.The stem on this Malaga was flawless. There were no tooth marks and no chatter. The stem absolutely glow it was so clean so there was nothing to be done with it. I wiped it down with some Obsidian Oil to protect and deepen the shine but otherwise it was perfect.

I put the stem back on the bowl and polished the pipe 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 grain came alive with the buffing. The rich brown finish on the briar works well with the polished black vulcanite stem. The finished pipe is a beauty and feels great in the hand. Have a look at it with the photos below. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 3/4 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 9/16 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. This one will be going back to Alex with the other two previously foul pipes that I worked on. Thanks for walking through the restoration on this now great looking “Malaga”. It is really a beauty. I think Alex should get a better smoke from it now.